The Journey of Xuanzang is a lavishly illustrated 12-part biography of the great Chinese traveler and translator Xuanzang, based on Records of the Western World and A Biography of the Tripitaka Master.
In this last episode we first visit Kashgar, the Town of Beautiful Tiles, which is where the Silk Road meets up again, after crossing the Taklamakan desert via two different roads.
This week the expedition, which has been traveling along the southern trade routes, doubles back and explores the area along the northern route.
The theme that runs throughout this week’s episode is music and dance. It includes some of the most interesting ethnographic photography of the Uighars in Kucha along the southern route passing through the Tian Shan mountains.
Although there is little of archeological interest in this episode, it remains one of the most memorable as the team take a trip along the newly constructed Turfan to Korla railway, which must be one of the really great railway journeys in the world.
The expedition continues its journey westwards through Turfan, The Land of Fire, visiting a dried-up lake 150 metres below sea level, and the Fire Mountains on the way.
There is very little archeology or art in this episode. The expedition flies over the desert in search of the ruins at Dan-dan Oilik, which was visited by Aurel Stein, but fails to find it as it had been covered by the desert at the time.
This episode sees the expedition crossing the southern route of the Taklamakan desert, which in the Uighar language means the place from which no living thing returns.
This is an hour-long programme made for the PBS Nova Series about the European looking mummies discovered in the Taklamakan Desert. The mummies are unusual in that they simply survived because of the extreme dryness of their burial ground in the desert.