19.05.2008 - 19.05.2008 33 °C
In Central Asia the Silk Road connects not only East and West but also South and North. Amir Timur's empire (14./15. century AD) included a large part of present day India and from India Buddhism spread along the Silk Road into China and other parts of Eastern Asia as far as Japan. The area has been the object of the Great Game between Russia and Great Britain in the 19th century and once their respective spheres of influence had become delimited (and after Russia's defeat in the Japanese War 1905), focus shifted to the northwestern parts of China. In 1906 C.G. Mannerheim from Finland was commissioned by the Russian General Staff to explore the military potential of this area in an allegedly scientific expedition. The scientific part of Mannerheim's journey conducted together with French archeologist Paul Pelliot started in July 1906 in Andizhan and continued from Osh across the Irqesh Tam pass to Kashgar where it arrived in October the same year. After Kashgar Mannerheim continued until Beijing (old spelling in Mannerheim's travel account: Peiping), collecting a large number of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and artefacts mainly from the Xinjiang province that now form the Mannerheim collection of the Finnish National Museum. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of this great Asia expedition on horseback, Tony Ilmoni and Kristian Nyman rerode the entire route on horse from Osh to Beijing in 2007 and it is from their highly interesting website (http://www.mannerheim1906.com/en/The_Route/) that I adapted the title* for this blog entry.
For short description of the Mannerheim expedition: http://idp.nlc.gov.cn/archives/news15/idpnews_15.a4d
GPS and photos: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=25267