Photography:Last Caravan on the Silk Rome exhibition in Rome

Begins on 15/2, features historic route at Trajan's Market

13 February, 14:28

(ANSAmed) - ROME, FEBRUARY 13 - Travelling the Silk Road by camel caravan might be viewed as an act of madness, but this was "the only way to tangibly perceive the significance of history inside of us". One of the most fascinating and unique trips of the contemporary era was born from this incredibly original idea, which seemed like sheer madness to many. Arif Asci relived the historic itinerary, one of Turkey's most famous photographers, who in 1996 decided to journey the ancient commercial route that linked China and Rome as a caravan traveller. In Rome, this long route will be brought back to life starting tomorrow in a photography exhibition entitled The Last Caravan on the Silk Road at Trajan's Market. The exhibition consists of 90 snapshots documenting the journey of these modern caravan travellers who trekked 30km a day, slept in tents and fed their camels with plants from the desert for 18 months. It is difficult to describe what the photographs were able to immortalise: the scarlet hues of the silks that were sold at the old Kashgar Bazaar in Xinjiang, their manufacturing in the city of Hotan, the crossing of the Taklamakan Desert, crossing the Tian-Shan Mountains or frozen rivers. It is difficult to describe the emotion that one experiences during an expedition while crossing through Uzbekistan, in Samarcanda, Bukhara and Khiva, or the sensations one feels when travelling through Kirghizstan, Turkmenistan and Iran to reach Canakkale in Turkey. An expedition totalling 12,000 kilometres allowed the group made up of four professionals (3 photographers and a film director) to document their experiences, also recorded on video. Their trip through time started in Xinjiang in China and ended in Turkey, allowing them to encounter men and women, traditions, odours, colours and landscapes, which were harsh at times. Their snapshots tell the story of the daily life of the Uyghurs, a Turkish speaking Muslim people living in northwest China, who for years have been fighting with Beijing for recognition of their rights. It is difficult, said the Turkish photographer at the beginning of the pamphlet created for the Roman exhibition, to get a Chinese visa. A letter from the former Turkish President, Suleyman Demirel, to his Chinese counterpart, President Jiang Zemin, changed the mind of the Chinese authorities, he explained. Some of the most beautiful photographs include Registan Square in Samarcanda; the bright eyes of a Tajik girl in Bukhara; the Zoroastrian Fire Temple in Iran and the Selim Mosque and the Fortress of Bayezid, Ishak Pasa, in Turkey. "A valuable study," wrote the Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister, Ertugrul Gunay, "which Turkey is entering in the first Silk Roads Biennial in Rome." The exhibition was organised under the Silk Roads International Cultural Biennial and is being promoted by the City of Rome's Cultural Affairs and Historic Centre Councillor's Office - Cultural Heritage Bureau with the collaboration of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the Turkish Embassy and Culture and Information Office in Rome. The Last Caravan on the Silk Road exhibition will open tomorrow night at 6pm and will stay open between February 15 and April 15. (ANSAmed).

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