Visitors to museums in Luoyang and Xi'an often come across Tang dynasty figurines with deep set eyes, pointed noses, thick eyebrows and beards, wearing turbans riding on camels. This is the realistic portrayal of Sogdian caravan traders who trekked the Silk Road in between China and Central Asia in the 5th and 6th centuries. Many of them settled in China and some even served in the Tang court, the infamous general and rebel An Lu Shan being one of them. They came from Sogdiana, a strip of fertile land lying in between Amu Darya and Syr Darya, sandwiched by lofty mountains and deadly deserts.
It was also from here that the ambitious Tamerlane set out to build a huge 12th century empire which covered present day Central Asia, the Balkans as well as Iran and Afghanistan. Apart from being a conqueror, he was also a patron of the arts and many of his legacies can still be seen today. The excursion will bring us to Samarkand and Bukhara, the gems of ancient Sogdiana, as well as to Khiva, one of the best preserved ancient caravan cities in Central Asia, to explore the history and culture of the place through visits to impressive mosques, mausoleums, madrassahs, bazaars and museums.
We are privileged to have as our guest lecturer, 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 HK 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 HK Museum of Art, the HK Museum of History, HKU Museum and Art Gallery, 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 an Honorary Research Fellow at the former Centre of Asian Studies.