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Sponsor a Sutra Or.8210/S.3969

By Vic Swift 7 December 2010

IDP would like to thank the Archaeological Tours group for their kind sponsorship of Or.8210/S.3969.
Tour group posing in front of a desert ruin.

This group of twenty-four Americans and one Israeli, under the auspices of Archaeological Tours in New York City, spent twenty-three days traveling the Silk Road of China. Our tour began with three days in Xian visiting the tombs of the Han emperor Jingdi, the Tang emperor Gaozong, and the first emperor Qin Shi Huang, as well as the Forest of Stellae and the Great Goose Pagoda. It continued on to Lanzhou with a boat ride to the cave temples of Bingling and an afternoon at Labrang Monastery where, after our tour, we came upon monks rehearsing a sacred dance. While in Dunhuang, we traveled through the desert to see the ruins of the Jade Gate, the western-most extension of the Great Wall. Near Turpan, we toured the ancient Uighur city of Gaochang and the Bezeklik Grottos. Outside Urumqi, we walked through the ancient city-state of Jiaohe, where this photo was taken. Hotan served as our base for a tour of a traditional silk production facility, a bus trip to the new museum at Melikawak, China’s oldest Buddhist temple, and a camel ride to the ancient stupa of Rawak. Before arriving in Kashgar, the western terminus of China’s Silk Road, we stopped to visit the sixteenth-century Altun Mosque in Yarkand. Throughout our tour we enjoyed the exhibits in several provincial museums, fine food — expecially Uighur delicacies — and Professor Thorp’s always informative lectures.

We were deeply moved by the six centuries of Buddhist art we explored in twenty Mogao cave temples during our two-day visit. To emulate past donors but in a twenty-first century manner, we pooled out dollars and asked Professor Thorp to select a sutra for digitization from the IDP web site. He chose this Manichaean text because it presents a minority faith and because it is written in beautiful calligraphy. Like pilgrims before us, we hope by sponsoring this sutra to gain some merit, if not in this world, then in the next.

Pictured in front of the stupa in the ancient citadel of Jiaohe are, front row from left to right: Shirley Pan, Parida Mohamed (CITS Guide), Pat Ketchum, Marjorie Lewis, Pat Wolf, Daphna Barr, Ruth Ben-Zvi, Sally Ashley, Alice Pickering, Susie Thorpe, Lynne Lambert, Lange Schermerhorn, Robert Thorp (Lecturer), and Kathy Cohen. In the back row stand Emmet Brennan, Bob Ketchum, Robert Johnson, Andrea Schneck, Tom Pickering, Ann Marie Kohlligaian, Margaret Hosier, Brenda Diaz, Li Katz, John Baynes, Pedro Diaz, and Ron Story. Kristen Knutsen, the Tour Manager, is not in the photo because she is taking it.


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