Friday, August 12, 2011


So when was it built? Who built it? What is it? What happened to it? Why is it in a state of disrepair? Does anyone know? More to the point, does anyone care?

Yarkand is one of those small cities settled between Kashgar and Hotan in China's Xinjiang Province, which modestly assumes an insignificant air. In actual fact its past was anything but insignificant.

Wandering round the vast cemetery close to the centre of the old city one comes across some large mausoleums and a number of mysterious remains. There is a feeling that one is not getting the whole picture, there must be more to this place than meets the eye. Beggars line the paths of the cemeteries and worshippers come to seek healing and blessing, they tie strands of cloth to auspicious trees and pray at the graves.

The small mausoleum, or shrine, in the picture is amongst a scattering of other such monuments, some much larger with beautiful patterned tiles dating from who knows when? I would think they are at least a few centuries old.

I love Yarkand and feel sad that its history lies so hidden. If the kind of remains one sees in Yarkand existed in an English field there would be a ticket office, a tea room and public information galore, not so here. One young boy I asked reckoned that the remains were really old, at least sixty years!

The watercolour worked well with the shadows of an overhanging tree and the colours, though a little stark, do reflect the dry, dusty surroundings of this desert oasis. Check it out on

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