This annotated bibliography was prepared in in 1998 in conjunction with a planned University of Washington Alumni Association Tour  of "China and the Silk Road."  The list may be of some value for those with a general interest in travel and the culture of the "Silk Road."

Recommended Reading/Viewing

The items here cover many aspects of what you might find of interest in China along the "Silk Road." The choice has been governed in part by the itinerary of the UW Alumni Association "China and the Silk Road" tour, which will visit Beijing, Urumqi, Kashgar, Turpan (Turfan), Dunhuang, Xian and Shanghai. Be aware though that not all stops or sights along the way are covered here; conversely, some of what is may not be part of the tour. A second principle of selection is to include that which is in print and/or may be readily available in a public library. There are many large and expensive art books which easily could be added for places such as the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang, but the odds are it would be difficult for you to obtain them. Where I give an ISBN number, the book is likely in print and purchasable. I will appreciate any suggestions you might have for additions to the list.

Peter Neville-Hadley, China and the Silk Routes. London: Cadogan; Old Saybrook: Globe Pequot, 1997 (ISBN 1-86011-052-5). My choice for a guide book in part because it is very well informed and in part because of its focus specifically on locations we might consider were part of the Silk Road. The author travels frequently to China and maintains an electronic discussion list for those interested in China travel.

Irene M. Franck and David M. Brownstone, The Silk Road: A History. New York: Facts on File, 1986. One the better introductions to the Silk Road.

The Silk Road. A six-part video series produced jointly by Japanese (NTK) and Chinese (CCTV) television and first aired in 1990. Individual subtitles are: 1. The Glories of Chang-an [Xian]; 2. A Thousand Kilometers Beyond the Yellow River; 3. The Art Gallery in the Desert [on Dunhuang]; 4. The Dark Castle; 5. In Search of the Kingdom of Lou-lan; 6. Across the Taklamakan Desert. Stunning photography and interesting material both on the art and archaeology and on aspects of contemporary life, interspersed, however, with a lot of stretches of empty desert and blowing sand. There is a copy of the set at UW Bothell library.

Patricia Buckley Ebrey, The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge, etc.: Cambridge University Press, 1996 (ISBN 0-521-43519-6). A nicely illustrated and very accesible introduction to Chinese history, by a leading expert who teaches at the University of Washington.

Yang Xin, Richard M. Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting. New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press; Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1997 (ISBN 0-300-07013-6). A large format and fairly expensive introduction by leading specialists, among them Prof. Wu Hung of the University of Chicago, who contributed the excellent section on "The Origins of Chinese Painting (Paleolithic Period to Tang Dynasty)." Includes some illustrations from the caves at Dunhuang.

William Watson, The Arts of China to AD 900. New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 1995 (Pelican History of Art series) (ISBN 0-300-05989-2 (v. 1)). Well-illustrated, including photographs of many of the fine bronzes that are in the collection of the Shanghai Museum which we will visit. There are sections on the painting in the Dunhuang caves, although Watson's expertise is really better represented in what he says about metal objects and sculpture.

Mario Bussagli, Central Asian Painting. Geneva: Skira; NY: Rizzoli, 1979 reprint of 1963 ed. A standard introduction, with emphasis on the early Buddhist painting from locations such as Khotan, Miran, and Turfan.

Arthur F. Wright, Buddhism in Chinese History. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1959(1971). ISBN 0-8047-0548-8. A short, paperback introduction.

Sally Hovey Wriggins, Xuanzang: A Buddhist Pilgrim on the Silk Road. Boulder, Co.: Westview, 1996. ISBN 0-8133-3407-1. Nicely illustrated and readable account about one of the most famous travelers on the Silk Road, a Chinese monk who went all the way from Chang-an (Xian) to India, via Dunhuang and Samarkand, in the seventh century and brought back a treasure trove of important Buddhist manuscripts and images.

The Great Chinese Travelers. Ed. and introd. Jeannette Mirsky. Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1974. ISBN 0-226-53182-1. Selections and retelling from the travel accounts of several important Chinese who traversed parts of Inner Asia, among them Xuanzang.

Peter Hopkirk, Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia. Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1984. ISBN 0-87023-435-8. Somewhat melodramatic account of the archaeological endeavors and rivalries of scholars such as Stein, Pelliot and LeCoq, who "discovered" many of the antiquities of the Silk Road in the early twentieth century. The title of the book refers to the later criticism mounted by the Chinese about the "looting" of their treasures, even though much of what the European scholars took would have been lost forever had it remained in situ. The issue is a very sensitive one in China.

Aurel Stein, On Ancient Central-Asian Tracks. Brief Narrative of Three Expeditions in Innermost Asia and Northwestern China. Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1974. ISBN 0-226-77174-1. Stein was undoubtedly the greatest of all those early archaeologist/explorers. The book is the summary version of his discoveries as he presented them in a lecture tour in the United States. He also published multi-volume scholarly studies of the material as well as extended "personal narratives" that are very accessible to a general reader and richly illustrated with his photographs. For many important locations, these are still the most detailed studies that we have.

Albert von Le Coq, Buried Treasures of Chinese Turkestan: An Account of the Activities and Adventures of the Second and Third German Turfan Expeditions. London: Allen and Unwin, 1928 (also an Oxford UP reprint much later, now O/P). The Germans were the first to do major study near Turfan and in other sites north of the Taklamakan desert. The book is valuable because of its coverage of Gaochang (Khotscho) and the caves in the Sengim Gorge, which are on the itinterary of our trip.

Elizabeth Wayland Barber, The Mummies of Urumchi. New York and London: Norton, 1999. ISBN 0-393-04521-8. Perhaps the most interesting exhibits in the Urumqi museum are several mummies, which have been excavated at sites around the Taklamakan. This popularly written treatment places them on a broad historical and cultural canvas and will be of particular interest to those wanting to learn about ancient textiles, the area of the author's expertise.

Mysterious Mummies of China. Nova Adventures in Science. Boston: WGBH video. ISBN 1-57807-093-7. A video well worth watching, which can be ordered directly from WGBH ( It somewhat exaggerates the idea that the Chinese have tried to keep secret the likely indo-european identity of the people who left these mummies on the fringes of the Taklamakan two thousand or more years ago.

C. P. Skrine, Chinese Central Asia. London: Methuen, 1926 (with later reprints, 1971, 1986, 1994). Skrine was British consul in Kashgar in 1922-1924. He traveled extensively in western Xinjiang and made careful observations of local life which he then reinforced with additional research as he was writing up his notes. A very readable book for the local geography and culture, including good descriptions of Kashgar itself.

Gunnar Jarring. Return to Kashgar: Central Asian Memoirs in the Present. Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1986. ISBN 0-8223-0664-6. An important scholar of the languages and literature of the Uighurs of Xinjiang, Jarring also served in major diplomatic roles. Fifty years after he had been in Kashgar, he returned; the book juxtaposes his memoirs from the first stay with observations on changes in the intervening period.

Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia. New York etc.: Kodansha, 1994. ISBN 1-56836-0223. A very popular if rather simplistic and anglo-centric narrative of the diplomatic rivalries among Russia, Britain and China in Inner Asia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Ella K. Maillart, Forbidden Journey from Peking to Kashmir. New York: Holt, 1937. Maillart and Peter Fleming (see next item) with very little support endured an epic journey along the southern branch of the Silk Road, experiencing its difficulties pretty much in the same way that caravaners in earlier times would have. Either account offers a good sense "for what it must have been like." I prefer Maillart, partly because she pricks the balloon of Fleming's stuffiness; she really is the better writer of the two.

Peter Fleming, News From Tatary: A Journey from Peking to Kashmir. London: Cape, 1936. Fleming wrote this from a reporter's perspective of a particular interest in current events and with a reporter's limitations of not being able to rise above the prosaic. Yet his book has received much more acclaim than Maillart's ever did.

The National Geographic is always a good source for interesting articles and photographs relevant to the trip. Often the older issues from the 'teens and 'twenties provide visual impressions that capture traditional life as it may have been centuries earlier. An example is the November 1928 issue, which had articles tracing Marco Polo's travels across Eurasia and describing Buddhist ceremonies in Tibet. Among the recent articles of relevance are:

Audrey Topping, "China's Incredible Find: The First Emperor's Army," NG, Aug. 1992, pp. 440-459, which describes the discovery of the famous terracotta army at the Qin tombs near Xian which we will be visiting.

O. Louis Mazzatenta, "China's Warriors Rise from the Earth," NG, Oct. 1996, pp. 68-85, an update on the excavations of the terracotta army, with good pictures of the way they are displayed today.

O. Louis Mazzatenta, "A Chinese Emperor's Army for Eternity," NG, Aug. 1992, pp. 114-130, on another of the important tomb excavations near Xian.

Thomas B. Allen, "Xinjiang," NG, March 1996, pp. 2-43, with wonderful photos by Reza showing famous cities such as Kashgar and the ethnic diversity of Xinjiang, including the mountain Kazakhs, whom we visit near Urumqi. In the same issue, the related article, "The Silk Road's Lost World," pp. 44-51, introduces the famous mummies of the Taklamakan and shows artifacts from their culture.

Mike Edwards, "Genghis Khan," NG, Dec. 1996, pp. 2-37, illustrates (in the superb photographs of James Stanfield) the history and contemporary culture of the Mongols, who conquered China in the 13th century and presided over a flourishing period in the history of the Silk Road. This issue contains an excellent map supplement on the Mongols. The same team produced the sequel article, "The Great Khans," NG, Feb. 1997, pp. 2-35, which discusses, among others, Kubilai Khan.