The Red Buddha Hall Road Revisited: Tibet, China and their Struggle for the Silk Road through the Pamir

Religions of the Silk Road Lecture by John Mock, UCSC

Monday, September 26, 2011
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
6275 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

UCLA Program on Central Asia
Religions of the Silk Road  Lecture Series

Wakhan, the remote north-eastern district of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province, is intimately connected with the Silk Road.  Wakhan’s archeology is known largely from Aurel Stein’s travels in 1906 and less so from the work of Austrian, German and American teams in the early 1970s.

On five trips to Wakhan in 2004-2007, John Mock had the opportunity to re-visit all sites described by Stein.  This talk expands upon Stein’s descriptions and presents an initial analysis of several new finds. These include the site Lien Yun, which Stein discussed but was unable to locate, Tibetan inscriptions, Tibetan-style fort complexes and watch towers, numerous rock carvings that appear to represent Silk Route caravan trade, and older rock carvings depicting wild yak hunting in the Pamir. These discoveries offer new information on the Tibetan Empire in Central Asia,  the history of the Silk Road, and the early inhabitants of the Pamir.

Photo of "Kansir Fort above Korkut village, Wakhan, Afghanistan," copyright John Mock

Religions of the Silk Road: Transformation and Transmission in the Heart of Asia, is a lecture series co-sponsored by the UCLA Program on Central Asia and the Center for the Study of Religion

Before the rise of the maritime empires of Europe, the ancient trade routes of Central Asia served as one the world’s most vital thoroughfares of religious traffic. From the goddesses of prehistoric Eurasia through the Iranian religions of Zoroaster and Mani, to the Buddhism transferred from India and the Judaism, Christianity and eventually Islam carried in from the Mediterranean west, almost all of the major religions of Asia were imported into the oasis towns that lined the route between Persia and China. Yet if the monks, books and relics who moved along the ‘silk road’ point to a history of religious transmission both into and through Central Asia, important questions remain about what happened to these religious forms in their long periods in transit. Placing the question of transformation alongside that of transmission, the current series of talks excavates the neglected history of Central Asia’s own contributions to the religions of the old world.

 


Sponsor(s): Center for European and Russian Studies, Asia Pacific Center, Center for the Study of Religion