The Tea Horse Road Chronicles - Remnants
Within the tidy remnants of a former ‘Tea and Horse Trade Office’ in Mingshan County, near Ya’an in Sichuan, Jamyan and I wandered for 25 bizarre and wondrous minutes. As we made our way in to the horse dung and incense-tainted world, it was as though everything briefly became another world. It was here to this ‘office’ that horses that came from Tibet would be brought, traded (and taxed), bought and sold. This office was despised in the past as tax offices are despised everywhere but played host to thousands of horses a year in its time. Now it played host to three ancient women who showed up daily to sweep the floors, play mahjong, and chat over tea. When we arrived we were told to pay an admittance fee, though it seemed that it was up to us whether we did or didn’t. We did and walked ourselves through the damp and dark spaces that had seen so much life of the Tea Horse Road. This portrait was taken just as we left, and as much as I didn’t want to disturb the three elders, I couldn’t help but ask. The whole place felt lonely and forgotten and so did the ladies. I expected a rejection from her when I asked, but she just nodded and that was it. As we left the decaying little remnant of trade from another time, one of the ladies said “Thanks for coming”.