The Land of the Blue Poppy: Travels of a Naturalist in Eastern Tibet

Overview

In 1911, Francis Kingdon Ward (1885–1958) set off on his first solo expedition and collected hundreds of plant species, many previously unknown. From Burma, he headed into the Hengduan Mountains of north-western Yunnan province, exploring along the Mekong, Yangtze and Salween rivers in the region between eastern Tibet and western Sichuan. In 2003, this area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the world's most biodiverse temperate zones, its extraordinary topography arises from its position at the ...

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The land of the blue poppy: travels of a naturalist in eastern Tibet

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Overview

In 1911, Francis Kingdon Ward (1885–1958) set off on his first solo expedition and collected hundreds of plant species, many previously unknown. From Burma, he headed into the Hengduan Mountains of north-western Yunnan province, exploring along the Mekong, Yangtze and Salween rivers in the region between eastern Tibet and western Sichuan. In 2003, this area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the world's most biodiverse temperate zones, its extraordinary topography arises from its position at the collision point of tectonic plates. This fascinating book, first published in 1913, was one of the most popular by a prolific author. It is generously illustrated with Kingdon Ward's own photographs and maps from the trip. The blue poppy of the title is Meconopsis speciosa, which Kingdon Ward described as the 'Cambridge blue poppy'; rather than the famous 'Tibetan blue poppy' (Meconopsis betonicifolia) that he later brought to England.

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CHAPTER III ON THE LI-TI-FING North of Tali are bare rounded hills of red earth, and richly cultivated plains tucked in amongst the mountains where, mile on mile, wave fields of kidney-bean, wheat, and blue-flowered flax. Sometimes we would meet strings of women carrying loads of salt, cotton, beans, or rice to the local market and driving mules laden with planks and firewood. Curiously enough these women supported the loads on their backs by means of a strap passing round the forehead, after the manner of jungle tribes and dwarf races, thus walking with bent backs and contracted chest; and certainly, except for their clothes, the people about here had nothing Chinese in their appearance, being mostly Minchia with a very pronounced type of countenance. One evening we came upon an isolated limestone hill, curiously sculptured into holes and caves, and from its base issued two very hot springs smelling strongly of sulphurous gases. Such springs are abundant in Western China at the foot of every great mountain range. On the fourth day after leaving Tali we reached Chien-ch'uan, an important market city standing at the head of a small plain, partly occupied by a lake, from which rises the Yang-pi river. Continuing northwards, the undulating valley began to take on more and more the character of plateau country, the ascent being very gradual, albeit we were hemmed in by mountains on either side, those to the east still capped by winter snow. There was little cultivation now, the valley floor being frequently boggy and used chiefly for grazing purposes, while the uncleared mountain slopeswere covered with brushwood below and with pine forests higher up. Abruptly came the head of thepass, and the narrow plateau seemed quite suddenly to drop away into a big blue valley, in...
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Table of Contents

1. The call of the red gods; 2. On the plateau of Yunnan; 3. On the Li-ti-p'ing; 4. Up the Mkeong valley; 5. A-tun-tsi; 6. A journey to the Salween; 7. Through the Lutzu country to Men-kong; 8. Doker-la – the sacred mountain; 9. On the road to Batang – the last town in China; 10. Across the China–Tibet border; 11. The wonderful Mekong; 12. Mountain and monastery; 13. Over the Run-tsi-la; 14. A winter journey amongst the Lutzu; 15. Through the land of the cross-bow; 16. The revolutionist occupation of La-chi-mi; 17. the last of the Mekong; 18. Back to Burma; 19. The land of deep corrosions; Appendices; Index.

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