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Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Continue the self-drive tour in Xinjiang.

This section of the Taklamakan Desert Highway passes by many "mysterious sites" that once flourished along the ancient Silk Road, the most famous of which is probably the world-famous "Lost Land" of Minfeng County, Hotan Region.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Nia Ruins, located in the desert more than 100 kilometers north of Minfeng County, Hotan Region, is also a must-see on our driving tour of the desert highway. At the end of the last century, our archaeologists, together with foreign experts, conducted a preliminary systematic excavation of the site and identified it as the location of the "Jingjian Kingdom", one of the 36 kingdoms of the Western Region.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

In the first few years, with the proliferation of all kinds of tomb-raiding and adventure-themed literary works, the "Ancient City of Jing Jie", a common term that originally existed only in archaeological materials, was rendered mysterious overnight. In addition, the Nia site, a national key cultural relics protection unit is still not open to ordinary tourists, "seduced" many tourists who came to the name can not stop.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Well, since we are in Minfeng, only one step away from the "ancient city of Jing Jie", how also have to be close to the water first to get a few stars it. So I took advantage of this "near at hand" geographical advantage, specially read the history of a book, and a good visit to the museum, plus all the way to sweep listen, search a bunch of "clues", we will share in this article to share. If you can't get to it, you can read it as a story to relieve your boredom.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

The Jingjian Kingdom, an ancient western kingdom that mysteriously disappeared in the Jin Dynasty. The reason why it is said to have "mysteriously disappeared" is summarized in these three reasons.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

First, it has signs of "overnight" emptying.

In the ancient times when science and technology were not developed, the harsh environment of the Taklamakan Desert was not suitable for human settlement and survival, so the history books also recorded from time to time some small "oasis" countries in the face of irresistible factors by the king with all the people collectively "move "The legend - our previous travelogue mentioned in the "Dawakun" is a similar story to come. But -

The Seikoku is different.

Archaeologists have confirmed through excavations and studies of the Nia site that this mysterious kingdom, which was "clicked", disappeared in one go. Let's look at these "click" signs.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

The archaeologists found a number of human and animal skeletons, exposed or half-hidden in the sand, on the trails in the city and in the open areas around them, in a shape that gives the impression of "panic" (perhaps an illusion, to be confirmed).

Through the excavation and protection of the dwellings and corrals in the Jingjie City, the archaeologists found that their structures were intact and did not look at all like they had been attacked by a geological disaster, much less the kind of emptying that follows a collective relocation: the

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: A wooden bowl unearthed in the desert.

Buddha statues and pagodas are erected in the "square" of the main city, and the textile instruments in the handicraft workshops still have threads wrapped around them, while some homes still have half-eaten bones in the wooden bowls in their kitchens. In addition, archaeologists have found wooden bridges from the ancient Niazi River in the outer edges of the ancient city, still neatly and tidily spanning the riverbed. Although the river channel has been abandoned, but the water has gone, the road is still there ......

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: Remaining Buddha statues and pagodas in the ancient city of Jingjie.

More than a hundred years have passed since the relic thief Stein discovered traces of the Seikoku. Over the past hundred years, Chinese and foreign scholars have been divided over the speculation of the Jing Jie Kingdom, and so far, there is no definite historical theory. In other words, the Jing Jie Kingdom is a.

I put the answer in front of you, but you can't say "once upon a time" of such an "inexplicable" existence.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: The ancient Nia River channel.

Secondly, there are very few historical records about the Jingji Kingdom.

It is well known that there are 36 countries in the West - this is not a legend, but a fact.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: Niagoo town in Minfeng.

In B.C., there were indeed 36 kingdoms in the West, but after intermittent wars and divisions, they became more than 50 kingdoms, large and small, at the beginning of A.D. - including the Jingjian Kingdom.

Later, the powerful state of Ü-Tsang (today's Hotan region) annexed a number of smaller states one after another, including the mysterious state of Jingjian. This time it was recorded in the Book of Han: "The Jingjue Kingdom, the king ruled Jingjue City, 8,820 miles from Chang'an."

At that time, the entire "greater than Tep" circle, together with the Ronglu, drainage, Pishan, Chiang Mi, the countries are counted, a total of only 50,000 people. You say that the land is wide and the people are sparse, and the powerful nomadic tribes on the other side of the mountain come to disturb a people from time to time, resulting in a very unstable situation. So when the Han Dynasty took care of the Xiongnu, they immediately appointed a Western Region Protector and set up a Western Region Protectorate. This was the first time that the Chinese government officially ruled the area.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

In a very small number of history books, the place where the Jingjie Kingdom is located used to be a hub of a city pass through the East and West, connecting the Central Plains with Central Asia and even the West, an important trade route, known as the "Eastern Gate" of Ü-Tsang. The monk Xuanzang, who was traveling westward through the area of Minfeng, recorded a city of Nirang, saying that it was "three or four miles in circumference, in the middle of a large swamp ...... from which all the people came and went.

Although there is a great controversy among later generations on whether the "Nirang City" in "The Records of the Western Regions of the Tang Dynasty" is the present-day "Nia Ruins" and whether it is the location of the former site of the Jingjian Kingdom, one thing is certain: although this former "Western Paradise" in the eyes of the "Tang Monk" is a decaying scene, it is still a desert oasis.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

After 1700, when the Jing Jie culture surfaced again, people realized that it had been treasured in the desert in such a way. The artifacts unearthed here make people can't help but be deeply fascinated by it ......

Third, the "strange" artifacts unearthed at the Nia site do live up to its "mysterious" name.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: The 3700-year-old "desert boots".

| Coins

The coin excavated from the Nia site is very special. Its minting technique is inherited from Greece, the camel and horse design on the reverse is from Central Asia, and the inscription on the obverse is in Chinese seal script (no picture, please make up your own mind).

In other words, in those early centuries of AD, the coinage used by the Jing Jie people was a combination of the three regional cultures of Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle Kingdom. This tells the world from another perspective that this place had assumed a very important role as the "throat" in the historical process of frequent cultural and trade exchanges between the East and the West on the ancient Silk Road. The Chinese characters on the obverse of the coins conveyed an enormous amount of information at a time when multinational coins were circulating in the Western region and trade was flourishing.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

We all know that the inscriptions on the obverse of coins usually represent the "official" ideology: "Whoever does more business with me is the boss", "Whoever is my boss, I will put in the most prominent position ". So, despite the fact that the Jingjue Kingdom was extremely important geographically, pinching the "throat" of the key routes between China and the West, the act of solemnly printing Chinese characters on the front shows that the Jingjue people's heart to submit to the Central Plains was firm. Or we can understand it this way.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

In the era when the 36 western countries were in turmoil and suffering from the invasion of nomadic tribes (such as Xiongnu), the trade between the people of the Jingji Kingdom and the Central Plains was the most frequent. Perhaps, until this kingdom "suddenly" disappeared, it was always looking forward to the "East" (the call and care) - the Nia site excavated This is illustrated by the "Five Stars from the East in China" brocade.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

| Textile Printing & Dyeing

This is an artifact that has stunned the archaeological community in China and abroad.

On the one hand, the printing, dyeing and weaving techniques of this solemn piece of fabric are more advanced than ever before by modern hands; on the other hand, the abstract totem shown on its front is a symbol of an ancient people who roamed the Mediterranean coast of Asia Minor (controversial, to be examined), but located at the most prominent part of the picture are still eight large Chinese characters.

However, there are no historical records and descriptions of it, and scholars are not sure whether it is a tribute or a commodity, an official act or a folk origin, in short, this treasure has not yet a landing, the Jingjue Kingdom perished in the vast yellow sand ......

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: The incense bag and purse clutched in the hands of a dry corpse unearthed in the ancient tomb of Nia site.

In fact, many artifacts unearthed in the ancient tombs of Nia (and its neighboring ancient western countries such as Ü-Tsang) tell people that the ancient western people's textile printing and dyeing technology has reached an extremely exquisite level in B.C. The quality of those carpets, clothing and all kinds of woolen silk products is no different from modern pure handmade technology. And, the textiles excavated from the Nia site are especially vivid in color and luster, with dynamic patterns and a blend of East and West, and with a strong ancient Greek mythological style in the stories in their home decoration patterns. However -

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: Nia people's clothes, well-made, the style is rich in design.

I don't know if it is because the local people believe in Buddhism, but the Jingjian people uphold the principle of "no killing" in the mulberry silk weaving industry. Here we have to say one more thing: I previously traveled to Jiangnan, in Wuzhen, Nanxun, Xincheng and several other ancient towns in the silk weaving workshops have seen the production process of silk products, it is actually a bit ...... cruel:.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: A handmade silk weaving workshop in Wuzhen.

A silkworm, the normal end of its life, begins by nibbling on mulberry leaves.

After the baby silkworm is full, it spits out silk and wraps itself into a cocoon, after which it turns into a moth and flies away. This is bad, once the moth breaks out of the cocoon, the high-quality silk will be destroyed. Therefore, practitioners have to do a timely action after the spring silkworms stop spitting silk: put the cocoon into boiling water to boil. On the one hand, this can soften the collagen of raw silk to get a more refined silk products, on the other hand, to scald the silkworms to prevent them from pupating. And, the cocoons unearthed at the Nia site tell the story.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: Boiling silkworm cocoons.

Although the Jing Jie people have been very advanced in textile printing and dyeing technology, but they are extra compassionate to the silkworm pupae, are waiting for that moth to grow freely and break out of the cocoon, before reeling with that rough, ragged wadding. So you can imagine that the quality of the early silk products of the Jingjue people (including those excavated in the western countries) was relatively poor - this situation continued until after the Tang dynasty to improve.

As we mentioned in the previous travelogue, in the 10th century, the western region suddenly emerged a huge area of the Khara Khan dynasty, once annexed the Ü-Tsang, including the kingdom of the Jingjian, since then, traces of Buddhism disappeared overnight in the land, replaced by Islam.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: The door panel of an ordinary dwelling in the Seikoku, the workmanship is no different from modern techniques.

| Text |

Archaeologists dug up some wooden journals from the Nia site and were amazed to see the writing on them.

This script is called Kharosthi, which originated 2,200 years ago and was an official common script in ancient India during the Ashoka period. Some people may say, the "Ü-Tsang cultural circle" where the kingdom of Jingu is located was a "Western Buddhist country" more than a thousand years ago, so it is not surprising that the Indian script ...... appeared. However, note: the Kharosthi language, although invented by the Indians, but in India itself, it actually did not circulate for a long time -

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

The historical records of northwest India from two thousand years ago show that the Kharosthi language was lost after the Kushan Empire died, so that no one could decipher what was written on the wooden plaque for the next thousand years. It was only in the 18th century that a foreign archaeologist explored the mystery. So.

When the archaeologists found them at the Nia site, they were surprised and excited to learn that Kharosthi had been used for centuries as the common script of the Jinyu people in a foreign country, even though it had disappeared in India, and they were a little bit scared - what was left here could be the artifact that influenced the course of world history. Nia, more than expected, should not be underestimated.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

Above: Two main scripts are popular in the Jingji Kingdom: Kharosthi and Chinese.

In addition, the archaeologists also sporadically deciphered on these wooden sketches engraved with Kharosthi, Jin Dynasty, there was a handful of strong nomadic tribal forces coveting this desert oasis where the Jing Jie State was located, and the Jing Jie people were perennially disturbed ...... so the scholars of the Jing Jie State "overnight disappearance" is more inclined to be the cause of the "raid" resulting in the death of the state, rather than "demolition".

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

For two thousand years, this vast desert where the Nia site is located has experienced too many ups and downs, and many, many stories have been buried forever in the yellow sand for lack of written records. Because there are few early cultural relics, scattered reference materials, and a large number of relics have not been excavated or discovered, scholars have been affected to do historical examination and accurate judgment of historical materials before the Han Dynasty. Nowadays, we can only get through the limited excavated artifacts (pictures) to simply enjoy the stories and legends.

The ancient city of Seiketsu is a mystery to this day. I'm afraid that before this mystery is solved, there is no opportunity to go in and stroll around ......

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins

The Xinjiang trip continues, so we'll talk about it in the next post. Remember to follow me and remember to come see.

I'm Big Red Sister, the anchor of the Travel Channel on Audible Radio, a professional travel player, focusing on niche play and sharing cold destinations. Travel is not an attitude, but life itself.

Xinjiang Desert Highway Driving Tour: Passing by the "Ancient City of Jingjie" and Talking about the Mysterious Nia Ruins