Silk Road

Elderhostel Modern Wing Silk Road

Silk Road

at the

Art Institute




The "Silk Road" essentially came into being from the 1st century BC, following the efforts by China to consolidate a road to the Western world and India, both through direct settlements in the area of the Tarim Basin and diplomatic relations with the countries of the Dayuan, Parthians and Bactrians further west.



the treasured silks

China of the Tang Dynasty



the Bactrian camel

Bactrian Camels are over 2 meters (7 feet) tall at the hump and weigh in excess of 725 kg (1,600 lb). They are herbivores, eating grass, leaves, and grains, capable of drinking up to 120 litres (32 US gallons) of water at a time. Their mouths are extremely tough, allowing them to eat thorny desert plants.

They are supremely adapted to protect themselves against the desert heat and sand, with wide, padded feet and thick leathery pads on the knees and chest, nostrils that can open and close, ears lined with protective hairs, and bushy eyebrows with two rows of long eyelashes. Thick fur and underwool keep the animal warm during cold desert nights and also insulate against daytime heat.




the pig pen


mill wheel



The ancient Chinese had bronze bells called zhong (鐘) which were used as musical instruments. Some of these bells were dated from 2000 to 3600 years old. These bells can each produce two tones. These bells usually have inscriptions on them from which scholars used as references for studying ancient Chinese writings.


Celadon Vase

Celadon ware refers specifically to that decorated with a subtle bluish green glaze originally made in China's Zhejiang province, i.e., Longquan celadon. Wares of this shade of green in general, initially from Zhejiang but later from other areas as well, are also referred to as celadon although this is not precisely taxonomical because, without a reduced atmosphere when firing, a yellow or brown glaze could be obtained on the same wares. In this case, the term applies only to the visual appearance and the color has come to be known as celadon.



the work camel of the trade route


Silk Road routes

Notably, the Buddhist faith and the Greco-Buddhist culture started to travel eastward along the Silk Road, penetrating in China from around the 1st century BC.


Buddha in Lotus position

The Kushan empire, in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent, was located at the center of these exchanges. They fostered multi-cultural interaction as indicated by their 2nd century treasure hoards filled with products from the Greco-Roman world, China and India, such as in the archeological site of Begram.


The heyday of the Silk Road corresponds to that of the Byzantine Empire in its west end, Sassanid Empire Period to Il Khanate Period in the Nile-Oxus section and Three Kingdoms to Yuan Dynasty in the Sinitic zone in its east end. Trade between East and West also developed on the sea, between Alexandria in Egypt and Guangzhou in China, fostering the expansion of Roman trading posts in India. Historians also talk of a "Porcelain Route" or "Silk Route" across the Indian Ocean. The Silk Road represents an early phenomenon of political and cultural integration due to inter-regional trade. In its heyday, the Silk Road sustained an international culture that strung together groups as diverse as the Magyars, Armenians, and Chinese.


man with teeth

Under its strong integrating dynamics on the one hand and the impacts of change it transmitted on the other, tribal societies previously living in isolation along the Silk Road or pastoralists who were of barbarian cultural development were drawn to the riches and opportunities of the civilizations connected by the Silk Road, taking on the trades of marauders or mercenaries. Many barbarian tribes became skilled warriors able to conquer rich cities and fertile lands, and forge strong military empires.

The Silk Road gave rise to the clusters of military states of nomadic origins in North China, invited the Nestorian, Manichaean, Buddhist, and later Islamic religions into Central Asia and China, created the influential Khazar Federation and at the end of its glory, brought about the largest continental empire ever: the Mongol Empire, with its political centers strung along the Silk Road (Beijing in North China, Karakorum in central Mongolia, Sarmakhand in Transoxiana, Tabriz in Northern Iran, Astrakhan in lower Volga, Solkhat in Crimea, Kazan in Central Russia, Erzurum in eastern Anatolia), realizing the political unification of zones previously loosely and intermittently connected by material and cultural goods.


head rest

The main traders during Antiquity were the Indian and Bactrian Traders, then from the fifth to the eighth c. the Sogdian traders, then the Persian traders.


now the Silk Road is largely through Muslim regions

The Roman Empire, and its demand for sophisticated Asian products, crumbled in the West around the 5th century. In Central Asia, Islam expanded from the 7th century onward, bringing a stop to Chinese westward expansion at the Battle of Talas in 751. Further expansion of the Islamic Turks in Central Asia from the 10th century finished disrupting trade in that part of the world, and Buddhism almost disappeared.

Text from Wikipedia

Oriental Influence on the West


in this Chinese pottery made for the Western trade
an Eagle replaces the Chinese dragon



Oriental influence on the door


and the cabinet


Oriental Influence in Meisen China

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Elderhostel Modern Wing Silk Road

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