Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In China, Myths of Social Cohesion

By ANDREW JACOBS, NYT
AUG. 18, 2014

KASHGAR, China — They come for the camel rides, the chance to dress up like a conquering Qing dynasty soldier or to take selfies in front of one of the most historic Islamic shrines in Xinjiang, the sprawling region in China’s far northwest.

But the busloads of Chinese tourists who converge on the Afaq Khoja Mausoleum each day are mostly interested in a single raised crypt amid the dozens of tombs ensconced under the shrine’s soaring 17th-century dome. It is the one said to belong to Iparhan, a Uighur imperial consort, who, according to legend, was so sweetly fragrant that she caught the attention of a Chinese emperor 2,700 miles away in Beijing — and was either invited to live with him or dragooned into the palace as a trophy of war.

“The love between her and the Qianlong emperor was so strong, after she died, he sent 120 men to escort her body back here for burial,” one guide explained, eliciting nods and knowing smiles from the crowd. “It was a journey that took three years.”

(More here.)

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