The Silk Road -- Connecting East and West

The Silk Road -- Connecting East and West

The Silk Road was a system of routes through which ideas, trade, religion and the arts between China and the Western world flowed. Today, you can visit the ancient cities in Western China along these historical routes by taking a Silk Road tour.

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Excerpt from A Musical Journey: From the Great Wall of China to the Water Towns of Jiangnan, Chapter 2: Silk Road -- Connecting East and West

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The Silk Road is a series of caravan routes which connected China and Europe some 2,000 years ago. Along these paths the exchange of ideas and inventions between East and West changed the world forever.

In the 19th century, the name Silk Road was given to these historical trails by a German geographer, Ferdinand von Richthofen.

Paper, printing, gunpowder and the compass -- the Four Great Inventions of China -- reached

the West through the Silk Road. Buddhism, one of China’s three teachings along with Confucianism and Taoism, was imported from India through the Silk Road.

In China the Silk Road began in the Chinese capital Changan (modern-day Xian) in Shaanxi province and passed through Gansu province and Xinjiang Autonomous Region. In the Middle East it crossed Iran, Iraq and Syria before reaching the Mediterranean Sea.

Trade flourished in the oasis towns where caravans stopped to refill supplies. Buying and selling was carried out by a chain of middlemen. Going west, the Chinese traded with the Persians who dealt with the Syrians who did business with the Greeks who supplied the Romans.

The Roman nobles loved to wear clothes made of silk and paid a hefty price for the exotic fabric – in gold! Then only the Chinese knew how to produce silk. The Romans called the Chinese “silk people”.

Other than silk, furs, ceramics, jade, bronze and lacquer objects, horses, gold, gems, perfumes, spices, dyes and textiles were traded on the Silk Road.

About 600 years ago, as sea trade became popular, the Silk Road Silk Road declined, leaving behind a rich legacy.



New Folk Music from A Musical Journey

Central Asian traders on camels laden with treasures brave the Taklamakan Desert to reach China. Foot bells and the tambourine are featured in this original composition.


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