Dunhuang crescent moon lake

by He Yulei

Earth, how are you doing? (Issue I/2018)


The crescent moon is like a mysterious dream. It lies on the edge of the Kumtag Desert in western China and has not been buried by sand for thousands of years, nor does it evaporate from the heat. It is named after its shape and surrounded by the Mingsha Mountains, which are also called singing dunes. On bright days the dunes "sing", sometimes they sound like thunder, sometimes like violins or woodwind instruments. The dunes, which change their height permanently depending on the humidity, consist of grains of sand in five different colours: red, golden, green, black and white.

Old historical texts and manuscripts from the nearby Mogao caves prove that miraculous powers have been attributed to the place since the third century BC. There are different legends about the lake’s origins. Some say that it was created by God and brings health, healing and a long life. At the foot of the dunes are the ruins of a temple in honour of the god of spring. The lake is currently 100 meters long and 25 meters wide from north to south, measuring five meters at its deepest point. However, the water level is lower than twenty years ago.

Translated by Jess Smee



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