Heavenly Horses

Heavenly Horses

I confess I’d never heard of them until I actually saw them. We were traversing the Silk Road from East to West and after an exciting but arduous (‘bring your sense of humour’) journey we found ourselves near the Ferghana Valley of Eastern Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. It was vividly spectacular.

Featured Image: Photo(s) courtesy of Sarah Howey.

Fellow professional Maitland veterinarian Digby Rayward is watching milking of the mare with rapt fascination. Mare’s milk is a vitally important commodity in the high country of Kyrghistan! It’s a very long way to the nearest supermarket! Digby might have known fermented mares’ milk provides ‘Kumiss’?; which is the local alcoholic brew! After the mild shock of the first sip its a nice thing to do around the fire in the Yurt at night!

Ferghana Valley Eastern Kyrgyzstan and near the Kamchik Pass, Uzbekistan

Dayuan (Uzbekistan) 130 BCE                     Ferghana Valley (highlighted) post-1991

To say the journey from Western China (Urumqi and Kashgar) via the Tuergate Port was ‘interesting’ would be the antithesis of hyperbole. It’s at very high altitude for a start (>4000m). Being western tourists we were processed quite quickly during the freezing night. Coming in the opposite direction there was/were a 5 kilometres long string of Chinese trucks queued up waiting for access across the border. These were returning from long journeys from as far away as Western Europe bringing much needed goods and chattels to the new consumers in modern China. Chairman Mao’s enemies-of-the-state capitalist roaders and running dogs are unleashed! It was the Silk Road revisited yet again in the 21st century; after 2000 plus years of successful trading both ways. Our first stop was a fascinating town ‘Naryn’ in Eastern Kyrgyzstan where we stayed at the ’English Boarding House’. The fare was limited because resources were restricted. We ate the best available.

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Kashgar Horse Markets

Kashgar Horse & Livestock Markets



Photos courtesy of Sarah Howey


The famous livestock market just outside of China’s westernmost city has met every Sunday for thousands of years. A crucial hub on the Silk Road, Kashgar has served as an oasis and trading post between China, the Middle East and Europe for ages. Bazaar is Uighur language meaning market and trade place. The traditional bazaar was originally held on Sundays but is currently divided into two sections. One is for livestock from the district open only on Sundays .The bazaar is open every day of the week for handicrafts, clothes, and food but it’s on Sundays that things really heat up. That’s when local farmers mostly of Uighur descent gather to buy and sell livestock including sheep, goats, camels and horses. At present there are more than 20 large scale bazaars in Kashgar of which the one located at the East Gate of Kashgar City is the largest. This bazaar also named ‘International Trade Market of Central and Western Asia’ is the largest international trade market in Northwest China enjoying the fame ‘Material Fair of Central Asia’.

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