Zhang Chengzhi recently published “In the ruins of an outbreak: Travel in Al-Andalus, the Islamic Spain which enjoyed a brilliant civilization from the 8th to the 15th century. This book, which is not translated, is presented in details by Bruce Humes (1).
Zhang, after six trips to Andalusia, Morocco, Portugal, delivers a very personal book illustrated with photos and drawings, stories of his travels but also study of the relationship between Moors and China, the Uighurs and the harbour of Quanzhou in Fujian, irrigation techniques for growing figs …
Zhang Chengzhi is quite an amazing character: he was born in 1948 in Beijing from Hui parents (Chinese Muslim), from Shandong. Atheist and activist in Beijing University, he was the first at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution to use the term “Red Guards”.
Then he spent four years in Inner Mongolia where he learned Mongolian. He then returned to Beijing University in the Department of Archaeology. He began publishing in 1978 and studied history and anthropology of Chinese minorities before heading to Japan to conduct research and study Japanese.
Several titles are translated into French, including “My Beautiful Black Horse” (P. Picquier 2002) and ” Northern Rivers “(Panda 1992): romantic wide country space, lyrical descriptions and glorification of nature cannot hide the lack of epic developments.
In 1984, he moved to northern China and spent six years with the Muslims of the southern part of the Ningxia province. He converted to Islam and wrote a famous book “History of the inner Muslim soul in China, banned as from its release and explores the tragic history of the Muslim uprisings in the 1860s, and the influence of Sufism. A very dramatic change for a former Red Guard!