Profile: Two sisters in China's Xinjiang strive to shed light on ancient Silk Road civilization

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-15 18:35:59|Editor: huaxia

by Xinhua writers Zhang Zhongkai and Zhang Xiaolong

URUMQI, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- History buffs who visited the Loulan Museum in south Xinjiang's Ruoqiang County and the local prefecture museum would probably marvel at two female guides as well as the display of unique collectibles.

Ramira Memet, 28, and Raela Memet, 35, are sisters working in two different cities, but in pursuit of similar goals -- shine the spotlight on their hometown's history.

They were born in Ruoqiang, home to the ancient Loulan, or dubbed the Oriental Pompeii. Loulan was a prosperous settlement built around 2,000 years ago to serve traders transiting through the ancient Silk Road. However, with time, references to Loulan mysteriously disappeared.

The elder sister Raela was not into history initially. She used to work as a bank teller in Ruoqiang after graduation until a contest made Raela foray in a different direction.

Raela bagged the first position in a prefecture-wide event in 2008 and was chosen to represent Ruoqiang for promoting its sweet Chinese dates and Loulan culture. "Later, many people asked me about Loulan, but I only had half-baked information," she said.

The watershed moment in her career came a year later when the local cultural relics bureau sought professional commentators. Despite pushbacks from her family, Raela quit her banking job and joined the bureau. "I have to live up to the title of 'Loulan Girl'."

Raela's newly found passion inspired her sister, as well. Ramira chose to major in ethnology out of interest to learn more about Xinjiang and Loulan's history.

In 2016, Raela was transferred to the Museum of Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, to which Ruoqiang belongs. "There is an independent exhibition room to showcase the Loulan culture. Now, I have a bigger stage to introduce my hometown." In the same year, Ramira graduated and filled her sister's vacancy in the Loulan Museum.

"Learning history has enriched my understanding of the relics," Ramira said, citing the remains of silk fabrics that well demonstrate the exchanges along the ancient Silk Road.

Better transportation and booming tourism have allowed more people to visit the two museums. Over 100,000 visits were made to the Loulan Museum last year, while the Museum of Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture registered more than 210,000 visits.

Both the sisters enjoy introducing the relics and the history behind to students.

"When we were young, we had limited opportunities to learn about these precious collections and their history. So, we would like to open a new window for the youths so they can comprehend the past and be proud of their hometown," Ramira said. Enditem