We met Jason at 10:30 to make a visit to the Livestock trading section of the Kashgar Market, which takes place at a dirt fairgrounds about fifteen minutes outside town. We had read that there were also horse demonstrations there, but when we arrived, the market was devoted to the trading of thousands of goats, cattle, and donkeys by perhaps hundreds of Uyghur, Tajik, and Kirghiz farmers.
There were also wide food tables for typical Uyghur snacks and drinks, and a few knife sellers who claimed to have made the knives themselves, although that’s pretty unlikely, from what I now understand. We also saw a fair number of European tourists there, some in a group with a tour guide, so the livestock market is definitely on the list of places to visit while staying in Kashgar!
The business of the day was not to be deterred by a few tourists snapping pictures, I can assure you! As the farmers negotiated with each other in loud voices, they shook hands with a loud clap when their hands met, I think to improve the energy flow of their bargaining. We saw lots of animals being sold and bought, and lots of RMB bills being exchanged.
It was a bit of a madhouse, since most of the animals themselves are quite noisy, and the area was packed with tethered goats, quietly waiting to meet their new owners, huge cows and bulls trying to meet, fall in love, and consummate the act, all in a few minutes, donkeys braying and generally being stubborn (as they’re famous for), and guys bargaining with one another in the middle of a circle of perhaps a dozen more guys, watching and listening, and probably offering advice, too!
It was hard for us to get around, since every square inch of space seemed to be taken up with either an animal, or a circle of farmers, or a donkey cart, but we did manage to see everything there was to see in an hour and a half or so, and we then headed back towards town.
Our destination was Abakh Khoja’s tomb, the holiest place in Xinjiang Province for Sufis. In the 17th century, he was a powerful ruler of many Silk Road towns that we have visited, including Kashgar, Korla, Kuqa, and Aksu. He was revered as second in importance only to Mohammed, and five generations of his family are buried in the mausoleum here. The buildings are handsomely designed, in a style similar to that used for the Taj Mahal, with green and blue glazed ceramic tiles and ornamental brickwork. Unfortunately, the tomb complex, which at one time also included a center of learning as well as a mosque, now stands empty except for tourists.
We repaired to the Eden Cafe, our favorite oasis in the heat of midday Kashgar, to have a leisurely lunch and a delicious pot of saffron tea.