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in answer to Jake's query

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  • leech541@aol.com
    Dear Jake, Since I m the guy who used the ancestral homeland phrase I guess I should be the one to address your curiosity and respond to the group as a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 17, 2001
      Dear Jake,

      Since I'm the guy who used the "ancestral homeland" phrase I guess I should
      be the one to address your curiosity and respond to the group as a whole.
      First, as always, I am dazzled by your knowledge and scholarship, and I
      appreciate your vigilance over unsubstantiated claims regarding marbling
      history.

      I apologize if it seemed to you that I claimed that Urumqi, Xinjiang is the
      cradle of marbling. I was trying to make the case that since Urumqi was the
      site proposed by our hosts, it would be central to our Silk Road explorations
      (Turfan, Kashgar and if we're lucky, Dunhuang) and therefore a de facto
      "homeland" for anyone with an interest in anything to do with paper, be it
      marbled or otherwise. The statement came too easily, and I'll be more careful
      next time.

      I couldn't agree with you more about the need "to use words like 'maybe'
      'possibly' and perhaps'"(I prefer a shrug and a "who knows?"), so my use of
      the word "must" in connection with "ancestral homeland" was unfortunate.
      Sorry.

      However, if only to play the devil's advocate, I think I'd like to stick to a
      Silk Road source for the origin of marbling. I am not in any way the scholar,
      linguist, archivist or theologian to produce "hard" evidence of this, but as
      an artist and a sometimes traveler to Asia it makes perfect "sense" to me.
      There is also plenty of wiggle room there, given the breadth through space
      and time that the Silk Road extends.

      I'm not the first person to suggest the Silk Road as possible source of
      marbling (I wish I were that imaginative, original and daring!) but in the
      meantime I'm at least willing to try the idea on for size.

      Another way of looking at the delightful examples you provided - rather than
      to illustrate confusion - is to, as you say, "connect the dots", and at least
      look in the direction they point. I would hate to miss the forest for the
      trees. "Not knowing" is a far better reason to travel than to seek
      confirmation of one's beliefs. Preconceived ideas are the heaviest part of a
      traveler's baggage. These gatherings of marblers are something absolutely new
      in the universe, and I think the experience of looking at the Silk Road
      through the eyes of many marblers is an opportunity too good to pass up. If
      someone would like to put together a marblers' trip to India or Iran I'd love
      to be part of it.

      One of my fondest marbling memories came from the gathering in Istanbul,
      during our boat ride on the Bosporus. At one point the sky was full of
      particularly wispy clouds, and twenty (maybe more) marblers spontaneously
      raised their arms to make swirling gestures toward the heavens. Anecdote yes,
      but it means more to me than any "convincing proof" about the geographic
      origins of marbling ever will.

      (Oh, and for the record, I know my 3 short weeks in Turkey can't hold a
      candle to the years you spent studying there. Nevertheless, they meant a heck
      of a lot to me. I guess it only takes a second to get struck by lightning!)

      So that's all I have to offer. I wish it were more exciting news but I guess
      we'll all have to wait for that.

      Very best wishes,
      tom
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