I have previously shown 16 episodes from NHK’s famed Silk Road Series, which began as a adventurous project in 1980 and produced 12 episodes in the 1st series, and 18 episodes in the second.
The other 14 episodes were not available online at that time, and I have since learned that NHK in the early 2000s continued with a 3rd (10 episodes, unavailable at present) and 4th series (5 episodes), making 45 episodes in all.
The films I will show over the next five weeks are from the fourth series, and concern the countries lying more westward along the Silk Road, including the Caucasus, the Saudi peninsula, Central Asia and parts of the Middle East.
These, of course, do not directly concern Buddhism, or Buddhist themes, but they do seem to me to have a lot to offer in explanation about countries that were linked with the Buddhist East through the trade routes.
The first of the episodes today concern the countries in the southern Caucasus: Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. These cultures, which are split between Muslim and Orthodox Christian belief systems, seem to have been at war with each for as long as anyone can remember.
One of the latest wars was in the late 1980s, and 90s, and was called the Nagorno-Karabakh war owing to the region that was being fought over. In this episode we meet some of the refugees from this war, and the quest to return to their homeland.
We also find out something about the wine-making skills of the Armenians and hear from a couple who lived in a village where Muslims and Christians were friends, until the war started, and who have been parted ever since. There are some very poignant stories from a region in conflict.
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