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Sunday, March 15, 2015

CHINESE TURKESTAN: A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY THROUGH an ANCIENT CIVILIZATION by Ryan Pyle



Published by Ryan Pyle Productions in 2014

Photographer Ryan Pyle has traveled extensively throughout China and India, Luckily, he brings his camera along and takes plenty of pictures. 

This book focuses on the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the most trackless part of the old Silk Road that has connected Europe and China off and
on for well more than 2,000 years. The Uyghur are Muslim and their large but sparsely populated homeland lie at the crossroads of Islam and secular Communist China. Their territory touches Tibet, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

What Pyle calls Chinese Turkestan is often at odds with the rest of China. The Uyghur are Muslim while China actively promotes secularism. China seems bent on modernizing as quickly as possible but the Uyghur sometimes seemed locked in the past. As Pyle notes in his introduction, "There were many occasions when I stood in a crowded marketplace, enveloped in the early morning haze of coal smoke amidst the cacophony of livestock traders, noodle, bread, and dumpling makers, blacksmiths, knife and carpet sellers, feeling like a time-traveler transported to some bygone era."

Pyle does note the modern world's encroachment with many of his pictures. The first picture in the main body of the book is that of a family playing in one of those grotesque plazas with statues extolling some virtue of an idealized and devoted citizen who is all-too-happy to live for the state that Communist countries excel at creating. 

But, most of the pictures have a National Geographic-type feel to them. They show regular people doing regular jobs pretty much they way that they have been done as long as anybody can remember. Pyle has chosen to shoot all of his pictures in black and white. Black and white can be powerful and it often is in this collection. But, I found myself wishing for just one color photo of the landscape so that I could get a better feel for their environment.

The book can be found here on Amazon.com:  
Chinese Turkestan: A Photographic Journey Through an Ancient Civilization


I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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