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Lost Oasis on the Silk Road, 03 The Kizil Grottoes

This is the 3rd part of a 3-hour documentary made by Chinese Central Television (CCTV) on the Silk Road kingdom of Kucha (here called Kuqa).

The Kucha kingdom was the largest in the Tarim Basin, as can be seen from the map below, and it controlled the northern Silk Roads, making it a very prosperous kingdom.

The people who inhabited the kingdom at that time were of European stock, and their language, Tocharian (here called Toxci) is related to the western branch of Indo-Aryan.

They were also Buddhists following the Sthavira school of Sarvastivada, unlike their neighbours who all became Mahayanists.

The documentary has been split into 9 sections, and I will show three sets of three films for the next three weeks.

The first set traces the pre-history of the peoples of the region, finding European skeletons from as long as 4,000 years ago, and also their rediscovery by European explorers in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, and the decipherment of their language.

It also focuses on the agriculture and trades that helped support their lives, their societal organisation, and shows something of the art works they produced, especially the remains of one of the most extensive monastic cave complexes in China at Kirkil.

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