Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Ruins of Kocho: Traces of Wooden Architecture on the Ancient Silk Road

Lilla Russel-Smith; Ines Konczak-Nagel

Berlin Museum für Asiatische Kunst

Publication Year:


The ancient city of Kocho (Goachang 高昌) surrounded by desert sand, was an important oasis on the Ancient Silk Road. Situated near Turfan in Xinjiang, China the region is becoming an important tourist destination with a newly built high-speed rail link to central China. One hundred years ago expeditions competed to explore this area. A large number of early medieval wooden objects were brought to Berlin by the so-called German Turfan Expeditions (1902-1914) saving them from locals looking for fuel in the cold winters. An international project (2014-2015) researched these uniquely preserved architectural elements which lay undisturbed in the sand for hundreds of years. Beautiful carved wooden capitals and panels reminding us of Roman and Byzantine architecture are exhibited for the first time. Lavishly painted beams could be reassembled illustrating exactly traditional Chinese technologies described in 11th century building manuals. The ruins where they were found were also documented using historical and modern photographs. This volume presents the results of the research project and accompanies the exhibition.

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You can download the TOC of the book here:

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