From River Ili to Syr Darya: The Land In Between With Dr. Joseph Ting 丁新豹博士
In conjunction with our autumn trip to Kazakhstan, the HKU Museum Society is organising a pre-trip lecture for the trip participants. However, please note that this PowerPoint presentation cum lecture by Dr Joseph Ting is open to everyone!
The stretch of land lying in between the two great rivers in Central Asia, located within present day Kazakhstan is rich in historical heritage as it was once a section of the celebrated Silk Road, the main thoroughfare of East and West in the olden days. Over two thousand years ago, it was the homeland of the Saka and Usun (烏孫) whose burial mounds, known as kargans are prominent sights in the Ili River basin. In one these kargans, archaeologists excavated bodies dressed in pieces of gold accompanied with horses adorned with deer horn. Known as the golden man of Issik, it is one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in Central Asia.
The legendary monk Xuanzang (玄奘) passed through present day southern Kazakhstan in his pilgrimage to India in 630 AD. He was greeted by the Kagan of the Gokturks, who controlled this section of the Silk Road at the time. It subsequently came under Chinese rule in 7th century when Tang power was at its height. But in 751AD, an allied Arab army vanquished Tang forces under the command of General Gao
Xianzhi, a Korean general, at Talas near present day Taraz, thus secured effective control over western central Asia. It was a turning point in history as it marked the decline of Chinese influence and the rise of Islam in central Asia. Shymkent, Otrar, Sayram and Turkestan in southern Kazakhstan were all caravan towns along the Silk Road which led to Tashkent and beyond. They flourished during the epochs of Karakhanid and Karakhitai but were razed to the ground by Genghis Khan’s forces. Remains of the Timurid period can still be seen.
We are privileged to have as our guest speaker, Dr. Joseph Ting. He majored in Chinese Literature and Chinese History from HKU and graduated with a BA degree in 1974. He was conferred an MPhil in 1979 and a PhD in 1989, also from HKU. Dr. Ting joined the Hong Kong Museum of Art as an Assistant Curator in 1979 and was appointed Chief Curator of the HK Museum of History in 1995. He retired in 2007 after serving for 28 years. He is currently an Honorary Assistant Professor in the School of Chinese at The University of Hong Kong, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
He is Honorary Advisor to many art and cultural institutions, including the University Museum and Art Gallery in HKU, the HK Museum of Art, the HK Museum of History, the Shenzhen Museum and Guangdong Provincial Museum. He is also a Member of the Antiquities Advisory Board, the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust and the Education Bureau of Hong Kong, an Honorary Fellow of the HKU and Hong Kong Institute of Education, and was an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre of Asian Studies.