Kashgar: The Sunday Livestock Market
Xinjiang – Uyghur Autonomous Region
People’s Republic of China
July 2, 2017
My Dear Carnivorous Friends,
Kashgar is “The End of the Line” for man and beast. (Mostly beast.)
Unless and until I venture further south and west, towards Tashkurgan and the Pakistan border, Kashgar is “the end of the line” for me and for other Silk Road travelers in China.
But for most of the four-legged domesticated creatures here at the Sunday Livestock Market, Kashgar truly is “the end of the line.”
The Livestock Market is hot under the midmorning desert sun.
The market is dusty. Dusty? Dusty is too mild a word.
The market is noisy. Noisy? Farm Animals are everywhere, each belting out its unique howl of discomfort. What is the word that describes the sound of hundreds of nervous animals combined with the racket of diesel-operated motorized vehicles of every size and description?
I shuffle along and squeeze my way amidst the crowds. I watch every step for fear of stopping on or stepping in something unpleasant. I take care to in walk in front of the beasts. I dodge impatient and overloaded trucks.
Despite my camera and my smile, almost no one in the crowd pays the slightest attention to me.
“Business is Business” and the business is selling and buying cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and horses (no camels today), each one still living and breathing and available for close inspection.
In a word, the two-thousand-year-old Sunday Livestock Market is “exhilarating.” A Must See for every traveler in Xinjiang. As the guidebook concludes, “A pulsating crush of man and beast.”
Jan – Mostly a Vegetarian
Don’t believe me? Here’s an excerpt from my guidebook: *
The Livestock Market starts at dawn, when traders begin to bring in the animals – some walk under their own steam but these days trucks are often used to transport much of the stock to market. An entrance fee must be paid, and this gives access to a huge walled-in area of dust and stones perhaps two football pitches in size.
Around the edge near the two entrances, stalls are set up selling horse tack, food and drinks, but everywhere else wooden posts are lined with yaks, cows, bulls, camels, fat-tailed sheep, goats, donkeys (with or without carts) and horses, all for sale at the right price.
By 1pm the market ground is heaving; dust is everywhere, and battling your way through the chaos can be almost claustrophobic – watch out for kicking camels or donkeys.
Heated negotiations develop over purchases, and these are usually refereed by a middleman, and the deal finally being sealed with a handshake and exchange of money.
At the far end of the market area, where the crowd thins out, horsemen ride their mounts back and forth to show their worth, while small groups of potential buyers stroke their beards inscrutably, eyeing up each steed in turn.
In all the heat and dust, a fresh slice of Hami melon is a godsend, sweet and refreshing and will invigorate you as you return for one last look at the pulsating crush of man and beast inside.
*Xinjiang: China’s Central Asia. Odyssey Books and Guides. Hong Kong. 2012. Pp 219-220.