Peter Goullart Eland Published: October 2017 Price: £12.99
ForgottenKingdom is like listening to a recklessly indiscreet but brilliant local wit, whose stories about his neighbours keep you both laughing and longing for more.
Peter Goullart spent nine years in the all but forgotten Nakhi kingdom of south-west China based on the mountain capital of Likiang. He had a job entirely suited to his inquiring, gossipy temperament, which was to get to know the local traders, merchants and craftsmen in order to decide which to back with a loan from the co-operative movement.
So we attend magnificent banquets, meet ancient dowagers, handsome warriors, Mandarin officials descended from ancient dynasties as well as caravans of merchants from Tibet and Burma and the mysterious Lobos highlands.
We are able to immerse ourselves in the complex society of old China, which believed simultaneously and sincerely in Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, in addition to their ancient Animism and Shamanism.
Goullart left on the last plane out, in 1949, burdened only by happy memories of this paradise which he fortunately wrote down six years later.