Kucha: The Ancient Ruins of Subashi




June 27, 2017


Xinjiang’s most extensive Buddhist site lies in a riverbed 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the modern city of Kucha.

The Ancient Ruins of Subashi date from the Third Century CE and includes towers, halls, monasteries, dagobas (domed-shaped shrines) and houses, all severely damaged by time and the elements of the desert.  Yet the basic mud brick construction materials are clearly evident.

The city held several thousand inhabitants but was sacked and burned in the Ninth Century and had been abandoned by the Thirteenth Century.

As I stroll along the modern wooden walkway past the major structures on this western side of Subashi, it occurs to me that from the Third Century to the Ninth Century is a period of six hundred years.  Six hundred years of prosperity and spiritual growth.  From our current perspective, that time line is similar to the birth of Columbus until today!

Who sacked Subashi?  Why? 

I have my suspicions.

We know who sacked Jerusalem, and Constantinople, and Khartoum and Omdurman, and Cajamarca, and Wounded Knee and Baghdad and Mosul.  And we know why.

Six hundred years from now, in which city of ruins will Jan’s equivalent-traveler take his stroll and shoot his photographs?

In the meantime, my pleasant desert excursion ended in a shaded area with two travelers from Japan.  Along with the local drivers, we sacked and devoured the sweet core of quite a large yellow watermelon.


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