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What Is the Silk Road?

Views:87     Author:Site Editor     Publish Time: 2019-12-10      Origin:Site

The Silk Road is divided into the Silk Road on Land and the Silk Road on Sea. 


The Silk Road on Land originated in the Western Han Dynasty. The Emperor Wudi sent Zhang Qian to the Western Region to open the capital Chang'an (Xi'an) as the starting point, through Gansu, Xinjiang, to Central Asia, West Asia, and connected to the Mediterranean countries. The original function of the Silk Road on land was to transport ancient Chinese silk, including silk fabrics and silk clothing. In 1877, German geographer Lichhofen wrote in his book "China" that "from 114 BC to 127 AD, the trade road in western region between China and central Asia, China and India" was named "the Silk Road", which was quickly accepted by academics and the public and was formally used.


The Silk Road on Sea is a sea passage between ancient China and foreign traffic trade and cultural exchanges. The road is mainly centered on the South China Sea, so it is also known as the South China Sea Silk Road. The Silk Road on Sea was formed during the Qin and Han Dynasties, developed from the Three Kingdoms to the Sui Dynasty, flourished in the Tang and Song Dynasties, and transformed into the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is the oldest known maritime route.

The History of Silk Road

Western Han Dynasty

In the pre-Qin period, the channel connecting China's East and West exchanges already existed, but the Silk Road really formed in the Western Han Dynasty. When Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, the Central Plains began to communicate with the Western Region. In 60 BC, the Han Dynasty established the Western Regions in the Western Regions. This symbolizes that the Silk Road has entered the era of prosperity from the Western Han Dynasty. In 2 BC, Buddhism officially began to be introduced to China through the Silk Road. In 16 AD, the Western countries cut off the connection with the XinMang regime, and the Silk Road was interrupted.

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Eastern Han Dynasty

In 73 AD, Ban Chao attacked the Northern Xiongnu and went to the western regions. Then Ban Chao was appointed as the capital guard of the western region by the Eastern Han Dynasty. Ban Chao operated in the western region for 30 years and strengthened the connection between the western region and the mainland. In 97 AD, Ban Chao sent his deputy envoy Gan Ying to the Qin Kingdom (Roman Empire), extending the Silk Road from Asia to Europe, and once again opened up the fading silk road

Wei and Jin Dynasties

During the Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern Dynasties, the Silk Road continued to develop, mainly including the Oasis Silk Road, the Desert Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road. During this period, the exchanges between China and the West promoted the connection and exchange between the East and the West, promoted the exchange of economic trade and production technology between the two sides, and promoted the prosperity of Chinese Buddhism and the development of ritual music culture. 

Tang dynasty

The prosperous period of silk road communication was Tang Dynasty. Tang Dynasty was the most developed and powerful country in the world at that time, and its economic and cultural development level was at the forefront of the world. 


Buddhism was introduced to China since the Western Han Dynasty, and reached its peak in the Sui and Tang Dynasties. During the period of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, the eminent monk Xuan Zang traveled through the Silk Road to India to collect scriptures and give lectures, which lasted for 16 years. His book "Journey from Great Tang to Western Regions" recorded the politics, society, customs and customs of various countries in India at that time. It is still the first important material for Indian scholars to study the medieval history of India.


China's papermaking was introduced to European countries through the Silk Road in the Tang Dynasty. Through the Silk Road, the exchange of medicine, dance, martial arts and some famous animals and plants has increased the horizons of both sides.


The smooth and prosperous Silk Road in the Tang Dynasty further promoted the exchange of ideas and culture between the East and the West, and produced many positive and far-reaching effects on the development of mutual social and national ideology.

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Song and Yuan Dynasties

In the Northern Song Dynasty, the actual territory was greatly reduced, and the government failed to control the Hexi corridor. In the Southern Song Dynasty, it was even more unable to set foot in the northwest. The decline of the silk road was increasingly obvious, while the rise of the maritime silk road gradually showed signs of replacing the land silk road.


During the Mongolian period, Mongolia waged three wars on the west and south. In addition, with setting up the posts and the restoration of the Eurasian transportation network enabled the long-distance trafficking in Europe and Asia to flourish again. 


In the Yuan Dynasty, the purpose of the silk road communication changed obviously. Most of them took the religious and cultural exchanges as their mission, rather than the merchants as their leading role, which reflected the decline of the Silk Road from the side. 

Ming and Qing Dynasties

After the middle of Ming Dynasty, the government adopted the policy of closing the country to the outside world. At the same time, shipbuilding technology and navigation technology developed continuously, and sea transportation replaced land transportation, which made the Silk Road trade decline in an all-round way. 


Nowadays, China is proposing to use innovative cooperation mode to jointly build the "Silk Road Economic Belt" as a great cause for the benefit of people of all countries along the way. The Silk Road is not only a trade channel for selling real silk products such as silk garments, silk pillowcases, silk dresses, and silk eye masks to the West, but it has a richer meaning.


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