Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Balasagun (八剌沙衮)

The Barana Tower is probably the most famous historical relic of Tokmok, at what was  Balasagun, at the foot of Tian Shan.

Balasagun was once the capital of the Turkic Kara-Khanid Khanate (疏勒國, 黑汗國, 喀喇汗國), around 1100 AD. And later the Kara-Kithai (喀喇契丹), also known as Western Liao (西遼), around 1200 AD.  It is no surprise that Turkey has strong interest in Kyrgyzstan. 

The climb up and down the stairs can be challenging.  But it is worth it. 

At the top of the tower, one can see flocks of cows, green fields, …, and in the distance, some of the snow-capped mountains of Tian Shan. 

There are many petroglyphs - carved tomb stones - near the tower.  Most of them are carved with human figures (hence “stone grandfathers”) holding wine glasses.  Not quite sure what the wine glasses signify. 

Today the place is popular for wedding photographs.  The wine glasses may seem peculiarly fitting from this point of view.  

Over the past 2,000 years, many people have passed through these crossroads to elsewhere.  Some have conquered and since perished.  Some have stayed.  Today different ethnic groups are here, and I understand sometimes there are conflicts.  I pray that people will respect one another and find ways to live with one another.   Nationalism can be useful in helping people come together, to fight imperialism and colonialism, to beat off oppressors.  But more is needed now, when we have to live with one another. 

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