Sirens in the Sand


Some say that the great TaklaMakan desert is like a sea of sand.  That is why it might not be surprising that legends abound of Sirens in this strange sea.  While we normally think of Sirens luring Greek sailors onto the treacherous rocks – they can be just as deadly in the trackless distances of the Tarim Basin.

In the Loulan district there is said to be an enchanted oasis.  Some of the trees in this oasis bear precious stones instead of fruit.  In the midst of the magical spot is a magnificent palace with walls of porphyry, jasper, and jade.  Spendid arabesques cover the wall, lace-like tracery fills the windows, and its golden domes and minarets sparkle in the sun.  Fountains play all day in its courts, and gem-like singing birds warble continually around it.  It is inhabited by women more beautiful than can be imagined, who appear on its roofs and beckon to those who visit the oasis to enter.  But no human being has yet entered that palace, for, whenever anyone attempts to cross the threshold, the building receeds before him.  In this way, the hapless traveler is drawn further and further into the desert.  Many have been lost in just this way.


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Return to Tarim Tapestry M.D. Coverley