Traveling to the Heart of Asia: A History of Western Encounters with Mongolia

On 17 May 2016, Isabelle Charleux, deputy director of the GSRL, gave a lecture at the international workshop on: Travelling to the Heart of Asia: A History of Western Encounters with Mongolia.

The conference in Brno (Czech Republic) is organized by the Department for the Study of Religions of the Masaryk University.

The theme of the international workshop is the history of travelling to Mongolia from the earliest contacts until the middle of last century.

In this case, Mongolia is perceived as a vast region with Mongolian population, and thus as a wider area than the present Mongolian state.

Contributions focus both on concrete journeys of travellers of various professions, and on more general aspects of cross-cultural exchange and international relations ensuing from such travels.

In this context Isabelle Charleux gave a lecture on :

The Inner Mongol city of Hohhot/Guihua according to Western travellers’ accounts
In her paper she focused on the Hohhot city. She explained that most of the Western travellers to southern/Inner Mongolia in the 19th and early 20th century visited this Blue City, then known as Guihuacheng.
Hohhot was composed of:
  • an Old City populated by Han Chinese and Mongols,
  • of a New city–a Qing dynasty garrison named Suiyuan–
  • and of a commercial district that developed in-between.

Travellers’ accounts and photographs gave precious information on this cosmopolitan city, its many temples and monasteries, and its caravanserais and workshops, which have been for their greatest parts destroyed in the course of the 20th century, especially during the Cultural Revolution (for the religious buildings) and in the 2000s (for the houses, shops and caravanserais).

 

Download the program of the conference.

Download the abstracts of the conference.