The Silk Road - Episode 7
Khotan-Oasis of Silk and Jade
A camel caravan brings big chunks of jade down from the Kun-Lun Mountains south of the Taklamakan Desert. Comments on religious significance of jade in China; picture of spectacular suit of jade armor from a tomb. People searching for jade in a river; then the jade market in town. The silk industry–weaving and spinning. The famous tale of the “Silk Princess” who smuggled silkworms out of China and is depicted in one of paintings discovered by the archaeologist Aurel Stein. Expedition searches for that site in the desert (Dandan Oilik) but fails to locate it.
Scenes of typical Uighur market day in Khotan, but Japanese film crew play the foolish tourists. A silk dance, with the female dancers carrying plates of cocoons. Visit to the local ice house in the heat of mid-summer. Some rather silly dialogue (When did you get the ice? In January? Oh, you mean in winter!) and a remarkable assertion that Uighurs have little furniture in their houses today because once (hundreds of years ago!) they were nomads. Other somewhat demeaning comments on Uighurs. Mosque scene with some 5000 worshippers on Friday–China as a bastion of freedom of religion today. A little about history of Khotan as a Buddhist center before the arrival of Islam in tenth century. Visits there by Xuanzang, the 7th century pilgrim, and by Marco Polo in the thirteenth century.