The Silk Road Series 13/16: Across the Pamirs


At the end of 2010 I posted a 12-part series of films made by NHK and CCTV in 1980 about an expedition along the old silk roads crossing China and from Xi-an to the Pamir Mountains.

This series is one of my all time favourites, and I have watched it all the way through no less than three times! But it always galled me that it broke off half-way and that the rest of the series was not available.

As I understood that the second half had not been translated I had no hope of ever seeing it, except by chance in Japanese or Chinese, neither of which I understand.

But fortunately the further 18 episodes have now been translated (or maybe always were translated?), and I will embed them once a week on a Friday over the coming months.

The 13th in the series takes the Karakoram Highway across the Pamirs and down into Pakistan. At the time of filming this 645km long rd. had only been open around 5 years, and was a very perilous journey.

On the other side of the mountains the team descend to the township of Hunza, where we get the first glimpses of the giant Buddha Reliefs carved into the mountains in this area.

They then pass down the valley until they come to Gilgit, with its ancient monasteries at Chilas along the Indus Valley and Thakot, and on into the Gandhara Region, which was such an important role in the history of Buddhsim.

It was here that the first Buddha images were made, and we see many fine examples, now kept in the Museums at Peshawar and Lahore, which include the famous fasting Bodhisattva Statue. We are also told something about the seminal role King Kanishka played in the propagation of the religion.


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