THE SILK ROAD
Winter Quarter 2005
Instructors: D. Waugh and possible guest lecturers
Office: 103E Smith
Class Hours: Hist/SIS 225, MWF, 8:00-9:20. Class meets in Smith 304, but probably will change to a different room as soon as possible.
Office Hours: MTW 9:30-11:00, and by Appt.
Messages: mailbox, Smith 315 (History Office); tel.: 206-543-5790
The course web site is: http://faculty.washington.edu/dwaugh/hist225/05hist225syl.html
If you have bookmarked in your computer the previous syllabus, be sure to delete that address and replace it with the new one.
Many of the required materials for the course are available only on-line; access to the online materials may require a password. See the hard-copy handout for access and password information; be sure to save it.
The course is an introduction to the history of cultural and economic interchange across Eurasia from approximately the beginning of the Common Era (CE=Christian Era [AD]) to approximately the beginning of the eighteenth century. The term "Silk Road" commonly designates the East-West overland trade routes, established around the beginning of the Common Era when Chinese silk began to reach the West and falling into disuse primarily because of Europeans' opening of sea routes to the East beginning in the late fifteenth century. It is likely that at various times even well before the appearance of European ships in the Indian Ocean at the end of the fifteenth century, the east-west maritime trade was more significant than the overland trade. While that sea trade will enter our discussions, the focus here will nonetheless be on the traditional land routes. The map below provides one idea of those traditional routes:
Here "Silk Road" will be used in a general sense. The routes were many. Some of the most important exchange was not east-west but north-south and was cultural rather than economic (the latter certainly involving more than silk). Moreover, it was relatively rare for those involved in the Silk Road to travel the whole route. The most persistent patterns of interaction were regional, and the actors more often than not indigenous. Thus the historic features of the Silk Road arguably began well prior to the Common Era and continued well beyond the "opening of the sea routes"--even into the twentieth century.
The course will examine subjects such as the importance of Inner Asian physical geography, the interaction of nomadic and sedentary peoples, the spread of important religions and resulting cultural syncretism, and, of course, the mechanisms and products of trade. To understand such topics requires some knowledge of Eurasian political history. However, there is a deliberate effort here to avoid bogging down in the details of reign dates and confusing successions of states about which we often know precious little. The scope of the course allows only summary treatment of some of the most important political entities. An effort will be made to provide guidance through the political maze by use of various chronological tables. To a considerable degree, examination of a single state among many or a handful of cities among a multitude can provide an understanding of basic themes and processes.
The course will be challenging both for the student and the instructor. The scope of the undertaking is one obvious reason: no one has the breadth and depth of expertise to grasp fully all the subjects which may arise during the quarter. There is no real textbook; the nature of the subject leads one often in quite diverse directions. At first glance it may seem that the course requires an inordinate amount of reading. Be aware though that there is a kind of deliberate open-endedness here, which invites you to follow topics which you may find to be of particular interest. The main written work is all essays on broad assigned topics; there are a great many possibilities for selection of appropriate material for good answers. You cannot be expected to read everything, although you are expected for each essay to show that you have looked seriously at a range of material and thought carefully about it. This is an invitation to active, not passive learning, and not an invitation to do only enough to get by. You should exercise your intellectual independence to inquire into what the instructor hopes you will agree is fascinating material.
There are no formal course pre-requisites, although some acquaintance with at least some part of the pre-modern history of Eurasia is certainly useful. Students should all have e-mail accounts and must be able to access web-based materials using one of the standard Internet browsers. Some of the required course materials will be available only through the password-protected course web site. Access to some on-line course materials may be possible only via a UW account. Since many of the web materials include pictures (which take some time to load), they may best be viewed through a high-speed internet connection and/or using the networked computers on campus. Students should also expect to participate in the electronic discussion site (E-Post) which has been created for this course.
Since much of the material presented in class is not duplicated in the assigned readings, regular class attendance is extremely important. Attendance will not be recorded, but the instructor will make some effort to track active class participation in order and will track participation in electronic discussion. Active participation will be rewarded with a grade bonus (up to 10% of the course grade). Grades will otherwise be based in the first instance on the several written assignments, all of which must be completed to receive credit in the course:
- map quiz 5%
- 4 short essays 75%
- a take-home final exam 20%.
There is no mid-term exam. An explanation of the grading system is linked in a separate file.
Additional details regarding the written assignments are in separate files on the course web site, linked to the highlighed words.
The map quiz requires that you be able to locate on your outline maps the items on the list in the file linked to this syllabus. Most can be found in any good modern atlas, although a few may require using a historical atlas; various historical maps are linked in a separate file or may be found on the Silk Road Seattle website, which also features an interactive set of maps that allow you to test your geographic knowledge. You presumably will need to purchase two copies of each of the maps; be sure to keep one unmarked and bring it to the map quiz. The map quiz is scheduled for Wednesday, January 19 at the beginning of class; no makeup will be given, unless you can provide a documented medical excuse. Given the fact that this course deals with areas of the world whose geography is likely to be unfamiliar to you, the map quiz encourages you to master key geographic data that will be points of reference throughout the quarter.
The short essays should each be 4-5 pp. in length (double-spaced, with adequate but not excessive margins), responding to questions assigned in the detailed schedule below, which also specifies the due dates.
Each essay should include notes (as appropriate, for example in identifying the sources of quotations), indicate clearly quotations and close paraphrasing, and include a bibliography of all sources consulted. Late essays will be penalized .5. In the first instance, the goal of each essay will be to deepen your understanding of material in specific assigned readings, but the goal will also be to encourage synthesis from any other relevant course materials (e.g., lectures). Sources beyond (but not in place of) the assigned ones may also be used.
The final exam question will be posted no later than the beginning of the last week of classes. The question will test your ability to deal analytically with some of the broad themes of the course and support general arguments with reference to specific evidence, especially from primary source readings (e.g., Marco Polo). The final exam will be due no later than 5 PM on Tuesday, March 15, the day of the scheduled exam for the class. Late final exams will not be accepted, the one exception being a documented medical excuse and prior warning that you will not be able to finish the exam on time.
The essays and final exam must be clearly written in correct English. They should include a bibliography of all sources consulted, and must indicate quotations by appropriate punctuation and annotate their sources with specific page references. Failure to identify specifically where you are using the words of others is plagiarism, as are some other kinds of failure to provide proper attribution. Plagiarized work does not represent satisfactory completion of the assignment and must be re-done before credit can be awarded. A second instance of plagiarism will result in witholding of credit and submission of the case to the University Committee on Academic Misconduct for determination of appropriate sanctions. You should read the web page regarding Academic Conduct and the separate page for more details on the important subject plagiarism, which provides a clear idea of what is acceptable and what is not. Also, read the statement of departmental and university rules, attached in a separate file. For proper form of citations and bibliography, click here or pick up from library reference the appropriate handout. Either MLA or Chicago Manual of Style standards are acceptable.
Some study tips are linked in a separate file.
The following books are required and have been ordered for the class. With the few exceptions (e.g. for Marco Polo) noted in the detailed schedule , you are advised to read them in their entirety. Lest you be concerned about the number, most are in fact quite short.
- Sally Hovey Wriggins, The Silk Road Journey with Xuanzang (Westview, 2004; ISBN 0-8133-6599-6; rev. and updated ed. of: Xuanzang: A Buddhist Pilgrim on the Silk Road [Westview, 1996; ISBN No. 0-8133-3407-1]). A good popularization, with a lot of illustrations and maps.
- Roderick Whitfield et al., Cave Temples of Mogao: Art and History on the Silk Road (Getty Conservation Institute PB, 2000; ISBN 0-89236-585-4). A valuable introduction to one of the most important sites along the Silk Road; lavishly illustrated with pictures of the Buddhist murals in the Mogao caves and of some of the books found in the famous "hidden library" there.
- Xinru Liu, Silk and Religion: An Exploration of Material Life and the Thought of People AD 600-1200 (Oxford PB, 1998; ISBN No. 019564452-2). Gives a good sense of the production and importance of Silk all across Eurasia, although the author is weakest on the Western end of the story. Bookstore reported that a limited number of copies available--probably one for every two students in class; you may have to share with someone.
- Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo, tr. Ronald Latham (Penguin PB, 1958; ISBN No. 0-14-044057-7). Valuable first-hand account, although somewhat re-shaped by literary convention.
- Richard Frye, The Golden Age of Persia (Sterling Publications, 2000; ISBN: 1842120115). Valuable especially for the observations on Persian culture.
- Richard C. Foltz, tr. Conversations With Emperor Jahangir By "Mutribi" al-Asamm of Samarqand (Mazda, 1998; ISBN No. 1-568-59069-5). An intriguing short primary source shedding light on the Central Asian and Persian connections of the Mughal court in India.
You should purchase Rand McNally outline maps RG433: Middle East and India; and RG440: China and Japan (two copies each).
The following books have been ordered in a limited number of copies as recommended reading:
Also recommended, but not ordered:
- Xinru Liu, The Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Interactions in Eurasia (The American Historical Association, 1998; ISBN No. 0-87229-106-5). A good, short (50 pp.) introductory overview.
- Susan Whitfield, Life along the Silk Road (UCalif. Pr., 2001). Semi-fictionalized "biographes of Silk Road "types," based solidly on the real historical evidence. By the director of the International Dunhuang Project of the British Library.
- Arthur F. Wright, Buddhism in Chinese History (Stanford PB, 1971; ISBN No. 0-8047-0548-8). A classic short treatment, good for an understanding of the way in which Budddhism was integrated into Chinese society and thought.
Apart from the books listed above, course materials are available on-line. Links to them are provided under the weekly assignments below. You will find a significant number of the relevant resources on the website "Silk Road Seattle," which your instructor is continuing to develop.
- Thomas J. Barfield, The Nomadic Alternative (Prentice-Hall PB, 1993; ISBN No. 0-13-624982-5). The best introduction to the culture of nomads. Book is currently O/P but has been used in course in previous years; used copies probably may be found.
- David Morgan, The Mongols (Blackwell PB, 1990; ISBN No. 0-631-17563-6). The best short overview of Mongol history. Much of the course reading concerning the Mongols will be drawn from primary sources rather than reading a secondary account such as Morgan's.
Schedule of Class Meetings and Specific Assignments
Note: The syllabus introduces the week with a short narrative description of what is important in both lectures and readings. For some weeks you then find a list of study questions (i.e., questions to think about as you do the reading); in other weeks, those questions are integrated into the specific listings of readings. The assigned essay topics (coming approximately at two-week intervials) will provide you with further focus as to what is important in the reading. Be aware that the reading assignments are "open-ended" in the sense that I suggest much more than you would reasonably have time to cover. The "minimum" is the asterisked sections of the readings or asterisked individual items. Many of those items are short and primarily intended for reference (for example chronologies); some are relatively brief web pages. In the case of longer items (e.g., the Han Histories or Marco Polo), I suggest which parts deserve particular attention. Items beyond the "minimum" are to lure you into exploring additional materials. Just as the topic of the "Silk Road" is open-ended, so also are the possibilities for learning relevant material about the subject. One purpose of our course is to stimulate you to want to learn more, recognizing that your time is limited and you cannot do everything. This syllabus has been designed in part to open to you possibilities for following up on subjects that you may find of particular interest.
Week I. Introduction; geography; nomads.Overview of this week's material:
The geography of the Silk Road challenges the modern student just as it did the historic traveller. We are entering a world of often unfamiliar and threatening landscapes, replete with strange names. Our first challenge then is to learn something about where events take place so that we are equipped with basic vocabulary for understanding our readings (preparation for your map quiz over the next two weeks will help you in this task). To understand the history of the Silk Road requires more--that we gain a sense of the ways in which geography may have determined patterns of human settlement and interaction--why is pastoral nomadism to be found where it is and not somewhere else; what is the relationship amongst mountains, deserts and oasis cities; why do some cities thrive and others die. Our first impressions may be that travel along the Silk Road is nigh impossible. Yet travellers continued over the centuries to follow in most of the same paths as their predecessors, despite desert sandstorms or blizzards in mountain passes.
Even though historically pastoral nomads have been looked down upon by sedentary peoples, one can argue that the nomads were the key to the functioning of the Silk Road, and their role in "creating" it may even be traced back several thousand years. Empires created by nomads--the Mongols are a good example--often dominated Eurasia and controlled the trade routes. Rulers whose ancestral traditions were nomadic frequently played a major role in the spread of religions of the book. So before embarking on Silk Road history, it is necessary to acquire some understanding of how nomads live, the ecology of pastoral nomadism, and what the nomads' values are. It is particularly valuable to read the early written (what we might term "primary") sources about nomads and not simply rely on what modern scholars tell us about nomadic life. Part of our task in the course is to think about how we might go about writing history--that is, how do we document conclusions with reference to primary sources, and what are the strengths and limitations (e.g., biases) of those sources.
Study questions: Here are some questions to help stimulate your thinking as you do your readings this week. You may not find obvious answers to all of them.
- When and why did the "Silk Road" begin?
- Is it one route or many? Do routes change in importance over time? What factors might determine specific routes of travel?
- Do modern borders have much of anything to do with earlier history? What kinds of "borders" might have been relevant in earlier times?
- What are some examples of places whose names have changed over time?
- Why are mountains important? Should we think of them only as an obstacle to tavel?
- How does one live in the desert?
- How does geography determine occupation/way of life?
- What are some of the kinds of impacts of humans on the environment? Did humans bring about environmental change only in modern times?
- Are there differences between the perception of geography by ancient observers and by modern people? What do people know and how do they interpret it?
- To what degree do you think for most people the horizon is the limit of their world (now and historically)?
- Regarding nomads:
- How do the biases of sedentary peoples affect our ability to learn about the nomads from the historical written sources?
- Nomads occupy a particular geographical/ecological niche which has tended historically not to be suitable for other types of human habitation. Where are nomads found and why?
- Why do nomads move, and do they move aimlessly? What are some geographic considerations (for example, altitude) which might affect the patterns of nomadic movement?
- What some specific examples of cultural adaptation of the nomads for frequent movement?
- What is "shamanism"? What are some of the key elements of what we might term nomads' "world view" and belief system? Might we imagine that nomads' beliefs make them particularly receptive to the messages of "religions of the book" (notably Christianity and Islam)? What did people like William of Rubruck think about that matter?
- Are nomadic and sedentary cultures incompatible and thus the relations generally hostile? Or might we better think of a kind of mutual dependence or symbiosis? Are nomads self-sufficient?
- Does nomadic culture change?
- Why would nomads seem to be so important for the history of the Silk Road (apart from the fact that your instructor says they were)?
- Jan. 3. Introduction to course; physical geography.
- Jan. 5. Physical and human geography.
- Jan. 6. (not required, but a lecture well worth attending if you are free:). Prof. Valerie Hanson (Yale University), "The Early History of Buddhism: A Case Study of the Niya Site in Xinjiang During the Third and Fourth Centuries A. D.," 2:30-4:00 PM in Art Bldg., Rm. 4. This lecture is in conjunction with a very interesting (and for us relevant) course on Art and Religion in China, being taught this quarter by Prof. Susan Huang.
- Jan. 7. Nomads and their culture.
*Readings: Note, the asterisk here prioritizes doing all that is indicated under this heading.
- Chronology: The Horse, Camel and Wheel.
- For parallel comparative chronologies for various nomadic and sedentary empires look at the
Metropolitan Museum Timeline of Art History.
The nomadic groups that may particularly interest you here include the Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu), Yuezhi (Kushans), Sakas, Turks, Uighurs, Tanguts (Xi-Xia), and Mongols. You will find this timeline provides a wonderful way to access a rich collection of art materials for various periods and cultures that are relevant to our course.
- David Christian, "Silk Roads or Steppe Roads? The Silk Roads in World History" (Project Muse, requires UW account access) in pdf format, or, in html format. (To view files in pdf format requires that your computer have the Adobe Acrobat reader, which can be downloaded and installed free. Pdf files preserve the original formatting of a publication. Most of the Library electronic journal databases present the material in pdf files. If you are saving computer files, pdf ones occupy a lot of space; html files, which also will load faster into your browser, occupy a relatively small amount of space.)
Christian's article is an important argument for the antiquity of the Silk Roads (going back to at least 2000 BCE), the role of "trans-ecological" exchanges, not merely "trans-civilizational" ones, and the crucial role of the pastoral nomads in establishing a unity of Afro-Eurasian history.
- For an introduction to nomadic culture, with a lot of images, read the "Traditional Culture" pages on the Silk Road Seattle website. The one on religion may be of particular interest.
- Read the short web page on horses and camels in the virtual Art of the Silk Road exhibit (some overlap with "animals" page under "Traditional Culture").
- Denis Sinor, "Horse and Pasture in Inner Asian history" (use password 2 for access).
Good for its discussion of ecological issues.
- Also, skim some in the primary sources (all of which you will be reading for later assignments), especially-- If you must choose only one for now, make it Rubruck, who is especially valuable for details about the nomadic culture of the Mongols. Frequently his observations from the thirteenth century coincide with those about some aspects of the lives of Central Asian herders today. What you should be looking for is material that tells about the physical geography and difficulties of travel in various regions; also general characterizations of peoples (e.g., the nomads and their way of life).
- Xinru Liu, The Silk Road, for an overview of important aspects of the whole course.
- Although they may be hard to appreciate without the illustrations which accompanied them, there are texts of five lectures your instructor gave recently as an overview of the Silk Road, the emphasis being on the perspective from travel accounts. For those lectures (not required reading), click here. The first lecture is the one most relevant for this week.
- To complement your reading about the geography pertaining to the overland routes of the Silk Road, you might wish to look at the stimulating overview of the importance of the Indian Ocean for trade and cultural exchange: Andrť Wink, "From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean: Medieval History in Geographic Perspective."
- You may wish to examine one or more of the following art web pages pertaining to nomads. For each, begin by locating the peoples on the linked map page and by reading the summary on the Information page.
- The Hu Peoples;
You should note that material objects (at least some of which we often look at as "art") may provide important information to supplement the descriptions of culture in written sources. In particular you will wish to consider the way that the "art" of the nomads may reflect their life style and views of their relationship with the natural world. Also, be alert to evidence that may point to interaction with sedentary peoples and indications of a process of sedentarization of nomadic groups.
- You may also wish to explore exhibitions of nomad art on the Metropolitan Museum website:
- An optional article to read, if you are interested in the degree to which the "typical" nomadic tent of Eurasia, the yurt, was widespread at a very early time: David Stronach, "On the Antiquity of the Yurt."
Week II. From the "Wool Road" to the Silk Road.
Deciding where to begin a historical narrative is always a challenge, since history rarely fits within any convenient scheme of periodization. This is true of the Silk Road, where in recent years some scholars are pushing its origins back into the remote millennia before the Common Era, arguing with some conviction that there is considerable evidence of the movements of peoples across Eurasia and trade in goods over long distances (see the article by David Christian assigned for Week I). While recognizing these facts, here we will begin our story in fairly conventional fashion, at the moment when China becomes unified under the Qin and then the Han rulers (ca. 200 BCE), which coincides, probably not accidentally, with the unification of many of the northern nomads in the Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu) confederation. This is the period when we can begin to document from written sources an ongoing relationship between nomads and sedentary peoples which results in considerable amounts of precious goods such as silk being sent off into inner Asia. This is also the time when the Chinese rulers sent missions westward which helped consolidate Chinese control over inner Asian routes of trade and brought to China knowledge of Western Eurasia. Finally, this is the time when in Western Eurasia, we begin to find the first substantial evidence about a major influx of goods from the East. By around the beginning of the Common Era, we know that eastern goods, among them silk, were becoming common in Imperial Rome.
While China had been unified in the brief period of the preceding dynasty, it was under the Han that for the first time and for a long period China was ruled as a great empire. One of the most interesting aspects of Han history to trace is how they developed an interest in Inner Asia and expanded in that direction. Further, one would wish to consider what the impact of that expansion may have been on state priorities and finances. For the first time, it seems, China began to learn seriously about regions in Central and Western Asia. What were the circumstances in which that knowledge was acquired and what in particular seems to have been of interest to the Han in those other regions? Did the Han control the early Silk Trade?
Another important set of questions is what happens culturally when nomads and sedentary peoples interact over long periods of time. In reading the Han histories, you already have an idea of how the Han consciously were hoping to seduce the Xiongnu with the lure of sedentary luxuries and thereby weaken them. From very early times, we can document how the nomads valued objects from sedentary cultures and incorporated their artistic motifs into what the nomads themselves produced. Similar evidence can be found in the arts of the sedentary peoples themselves, attesting to the influence of nomadic culture. Particularly interesting for us are the cases where nomads establish themselves permanently as rulers over sedentary areas and become patrons of sedentary culture.
- Jan. 10. Video: "The Mummies of Urumchi" (Nova); the significance of Indo-Europeans in Early Inner Asia. A few photos and a full transcript of the text to the video are on the WGBH web site.
- Jan. 12. Video: "Glories of Ancient Chang-an" (CCTV/NTK, in series "The Silk Road"). The Han and Central Asia.
- Jan. 14. Patterns of Chinese Interaction with Their Neighbors. Will include clip from video: "In Search of the Kingdom of Lou-Lan" (CCTV/NTK).
- Chronology: Early Chinese relations with Inner Asia.
- If you have not done so, finish readings on nomads from week I.
- Web pages on the Hu peoples, the Xiongnu, the Sakas and the Han.
- Acquire some background about the history of China under the Han Dynasty. I can recommend the article by the late UW Professor Jack Dull under China: History: The Han Dynasty, in Encyclopaedia Britannica online (accessible from reference page of UW libraries, UW-restricted). You will find some useful background too in the opening chapter of Wright.
- Read selections from Han histories about Xiongnu.
Of particular relevance here are sections
These sections give a Chinese perspective on the culture of the nomads and provide one of our principal sources of information on Chinese relations with the nomads. As you read, consider some of the following questions: What evidence do the sources provide of Chinese bias in assessing nomadic culture? Who had the upper hand in the relationship between the Xiongnu and the Chinese? Might we construe this evidence as suggesting a kind of symbiotic relationship? Why might we use this evidence to argue that it was precisely under the Han that the "Silk Road" began?
- I (Beginnings of Relations with the Hsiung-nu),
- II ( Relations with the Hsiung-nu in the Reign of Emperor Wu-ti),
- IV ( Relations with the Hsiung-nu Following the Reign of Emperor Wu-ti),
- V (A Chinese Memorial Discussing Strategy of the Building and Maintaining of the Great Wall), and
- VI (A Chinese Memorial Arguing Against Campaigns Deep into Hsiung-nu Territory).
- Web pages on trade routes and silk.
- Web page on Chang'an/Xian.
- Web pages on
Han defenses at Dunhuang.
Select "Dunhuang as a Military Outpost" and read through the set of pages linked there. Perhaps this will add to your understanding of what the Great Wall was and where it went. Why was Dunhuang such an important center? We will return to Dunhuang in more detail later.
- Should you wish to know more about what China knew about Central and Western Asia beginning in the Han era, do some skimming in the texts about the "Western Regions." There are two options here on the web:
- translation 1 (Hirth);
- translation 2 (Hill), with extensive annotation, some of which provides fascinating material on such things as products of trade.
- For some interesting ideas on why Han Emperor Wu Di was so anxious to acquire the "Heavenly Horses" from the West, see Huo Wei, "Cultural Exchange and the Quest for Immortality: The Heavenly Horse of the West and the Divine Dragon of China."
- For the human interest side of the nomad/sedentary relations, you may wish to learn about some incidents involving the unfortunate Chinese women sent or dragged off into the steppe to marry nomadic rulers. Some such cases became quite famous and inspired poetry and art.
- One example is that of
Chao-Chun . (You need password 2 to access this.)
- The poem
"Eighteen Songs of the Nomadic Flute" and painted scroll illustrating it.
This cycle seems to have become known in the Middle East in the 14th or 15th centuries and influenced paintings done at one of the Timurid courts in northern Iran then.
- For an example of such a painting, go to Middle Eastern painting showing a Chinese princess being taken off at night into the wilds. What was it like for the women who were sent or dragged off into the steppe to marry the nomads? What would be the impact of those marriages on the nomads themselves?
Essay No. 1 (due Wednesday, Jan. 19): The early Chinese sources provide a particular perspective on nomads and the way they interact with sedentary peoples. Given what you have been learning about nomads from your reading and from discussions in class, discuss the degree to which you think the picture in the Chinese sources is an accurate one. What might need to be added or changed and why? Be sure to illustrate your contentions with specific examples.
Week III. Cultural and political interactions East and West.
The history of the Silk Road is the history of the interaction of cultures. Nowhere is this more evident than right in the center of the routes connecting East and West, North and South. That is, a lot of the most striking evidence for Silk Road history is to be found in the areas of southern Central Asia (today's Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan) and Afghanistan--a region that included what was known as Bactria. It is precisely in these regions that, thanks to Alexander the Great's conquests, Greek culture became intrenched and began to interact with local traditions. As the successor states to Alexander in Bactria declined, rulership in this region was assumed by leaders of various nomadic groups who came from north and northeast Asia. Among the new entities was the Kushan Empire, which by the 2nd century CE stretched across Bactria and through Gandhara (Eastern Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan today) and down into northern India. The Kushans presided over a striking artistic synthesis among Greek, local Central Asian, and Indian traditions, and it was under the Kushans that the spread of Buddhism north from its Indian homeland really accelerated.
The story of the Silk Road includes the spread of religion. The first of the "religions of the book" to concern us is Buddhism, which originated in South Asia and then spread north and east. While it reached China both by the sea routes around Southeast Asia and by overland routes, we will be concerned primarily with the latter. There is abundant evidence about the transmission of Buddhism through the territories of the Kushan Empire into Central Asia and then following the trade routes around the great Taklamakan Desert in what is today Xinjiang (western China). Buddhism brought with it the religious and artistic traditions of India, which then combined with Chinese traditions in striking ways.
- Monday, January 17, is a holiday. No class.
- Jan. 19.Essay No. 1 due at class. Map Quiz at beginning of class. The legacy of Alexander the Great in Bactria.
- Jan. 21. The origins and spread of Buddhism. Guest lecturer: Prof. Kyoko Tokuno, who teaches East Asian religions in the UW Program in Comparative Religion.
- What kind of evidence do we have to determine the range of cultural influences in Bactria? What is the function of coins? What, specifically, do coins from the Bactrian region tell us?
- Does the establishment of the Kushans follow a recognizable pattern for Inner Asian history?
- Thinking of geography (given the preponderance of mountainous territory dividing them), how might you explain the apparently intimate connection between South and Central Asia?
- What are the basic elements of Buddhist belief regarding suffering and how to achieve liberation from it? In Buddhist belief, how does a person acquire merit?
- What contributed to the early development and spread of Buddhism (here, not necessarily thinking about Buddhism in China)?
- What are some of the basic postulates of Confucianism and Daoism? Which of these might be seen to conflict with or to coincide with Buddhist belief?
- Early Buddhist art seems to reflect what artistic influences?
- What is a stupa? What relationship does it have to ritual practice in Buddhism?
- How do those spreading a faith address the problem of translation of scriptures? Might this question give us some ideas about the importance of Central Asians in the transmission of Buddhism to China? Think about what languages would have been involved in this process and who would command them.
- What is some of the evidence we have about the role of imperial patronage in the spread of Buddhism in China? How important was "private" patronage?
I. Han China and its neighbors and foreign contacts.This reading reveals details of the interaction between the Han and the northern nomads (a relationship that was far from one-sided) and provides a sense of how far the Han's vision of the world extended in the era when in the conventional telling the Silk Road was first being established all the way across Asia.
- *If you have not already done so, finish selections from Han narrative histories (website).
- This is optional, but to learn about what the the Chinese knew about the "West," look at John Hill's translation of the relevant chapter of the Hou Han Shu, where you might focus your attention on some of the key peoples or regions (e.g., Kushans, Parthians, Rome). It will be worthwhile returning to some of that material in connection with the class discussions over the next couple of weeks. Hill's notes, which cannot simply be read through easily but are worth dipping into, contain extraordinary nuggets of information on a variety of topics including specifics about the products mentioned in the texts.
II. The Crossroads of Asia.
- *Xinru Liu, "Migration and Settlement of the Yuezhi-Kushan: Interaction and Interdependence of Nomadic and Sedentary Societies" (Project Muse, UW account access required), in html format; in pdf format. The case of the Yuezhi/Kushans is an important example of how nomads settle and then create an important state which fosters the spread of religion and other aspects of economic and cultural exchange. The article is rather detailed; skim for the essence.
- *Web pages on Alexander and the Silk Road and the Seleucids. Be sure to look at the maps and the art objects.
- *Web pages on the Mauryans, Kushans and (optional) the Guptas. Be sure to look at the map and the art objects. Should you wish to see more, there are some nice images of the spectacular objects that attest to the wealth and international connections of
Bactria (follow path: Ancient Mode of Production>AncientCentral Asia>The Kushan Empire).
Unfortunately, there is little commentary here. The location where these items were found, Tillya-tepe, is south of the Oxus in northern Afghanistan. The objects come from what probably was a Kushan graveyard in the first century CE. It had been thought that the Tillya-Tepe hoard disappeared under the Taliban, but it was recently found safely locked away in a vault in Kabul.
- Optional: If you want to learn more about Bactria and in particular the kinds of documents produced by its culture, see the quite accessible short article by one of the experts on the ancient languages of that region, Nicholas Sims-Williams, "On Kings and Nomads: New Documents in Ancient Bactrian Reveal Afghanistan's Past" part 1, continuation. (Files in pdf format requiring Adobe Acrobat reader.)
- *Web page with Bactrian and Kushan Coins.
- Optional: Additional material the history of the Kushans, including some selections from primary sources about them here.
- Web page on Petroglyphs in the Indus and Hunza Valleys. For some additional information and images of these petroglyphs and for links to a lot of other petroglyphs in Eurasia, you may wish to check the web site at the University of Heidelberg.
- *Web page for the Wardak Vase. Think about what the inscription reveals concerning patronage of Buddhism.
*III. Begin (and continue next week) reading about Buddhism and the other religions of China. Note there are additional readings on Buddhism in the next two weeks, specifically concerning the pilgrim monks and the art of the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang. Your essay no. 2 will provide some focus for this reading.
- For religion in China other than but also including Buddhism, read: "The Spirits of Chinese Religion". You should pay particular attention to aspects of the other religions in China which either facilitated the spread of Buddhism or may have hindered its spread.
- Chronology: Spread of Buddhism.
- We assume you will learn basics regarding Buddhism and its spread. There are many possible web resources to consult. Choose from among:
- Web pages on Buddhism and Buddhist art. Be sure to study all the pages and all the images. Note there are some alternative, short introductions to Buddhist art, for example Discovering Buddhist Art (Seattle Art Museum), click on "Learn About Buddhism."
- For the early history of Buddhism in China I strongly recommend: Wright, Buddhism in Chinese History, Chs. 1-2.
Week IV. Cultural and economic exchange along the Silk Roads.
Much of our knowledge of the early Silk Road comes from the discoveries made by archaeologists in the ruins of the towns around the Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin of western China (Xinjiang). The important centers of the Southern Silk Road include Lou-Lan and Niya. Discoveries made there include objects of daily life, many of which illustrate the cross-cultural connections of the region. In addition, there is a lot of written material, including administrative documents. Strikingly, the languages and alphabets of such documents include ones from South Asia.
Who was responsible for the transmission of objects and beliefs from one cultural region to another? Among the key groups of people throughout the history of the Silk Road were the various merchant diasporas, such as the Sogdians (at other times, the role was taken over by Jews, Armenians, or Indians). Unlike the Kushans, Sogdians never established a great empire. Their homeland was in the region occupied by today's Samarkand and the oases that extend up the Zeravshan River into Tajikistan. Although rulers only over small city states that usually were dependent on greater empires, the Sogdians were the merchants par excellence. Their influence can be found from the third to the eighth centuries across the Silk Road, where they established colonies in China and left inscriptions attesting to their presence in the mountain valleys of northern Pakistan. The Sogdians were important for their religious and cultural eclecticism, evidence of which may be found in the extraordinary paintings preserved in the ruins of their cities.
While there are debates as to how exactly Buddhism and other religions were transmitted along the silk roads, it is clear that traveller/monks played an important role. Among the great travellers on the Silk Road were Faxian and Xuanzang, who went from China to India and back, and whose narratives provide us with insights into the perils of travel and the nature of the flourishing Buddhist communities they encountered along the way. During their travels, they greatly enhanced their knowledge of Buddhist doctrine; they brought back to China copies of Buddhist texts which they were then in a position to help translate. They also contributed to the spread of Buddhist iconography by bringing back paintings and statues.
- Why was Niya important and why did it die?
- What are merchant diasporas?
- Did merchants travel the whole length of the Silk Road? If so, starting when?
- Where do we find evidence about Sogdian activity?
- What were the mechanisms of finance and exchange?
- What were some of the components of Sogdian culture?
- When pilgrim monks headed off to India form China, what were some of the things that particularly interested them? What do you think their most significant contributions were to Buddhism in China?
- Jan. 24. Cultural Diversity at the Edge of the Taklamakan Desert: the Evidence of the Ancient Texts. Guest lecturer: Prof. Richard Salomon. Prof. Salomon directs the Early Buddhist Manuscript Project at UW, which is in the process of publishing the earliest known copies of Buddhist texts. Will include segment of video: "Across the Taklamakan Desert" (CCTV/NTK).
- Jan. 26. Merchant diasporas: The Sogdians
- Jan. 28. Buddhism in China; the pilgrim monks.
I. For Prof. Salomon's lecture:
- *Chronology: Kings of Shan-Shan.
- *A few primary source texts: documents from Niya (still to be posted and linked). Although it is somewhat technical, for the history of Niya and its kingdom, based on a reading of those documents, you might wish to consult (this is not required) the still very important, long article by John Brough, "Comments on Third-Century Shan-Shan and the History of Buddhism." He published a supplement to the article in the same journal in 1970.
- *Review material on Kushans.
- *Xinru Liu, Silk and Religion, Introd., Chs. 1-2. She argues for the importance of the connection between Buddhism and the consumption of and trade in silk.
- Most of the following are optional, but you should try to look at the asterisked items and get a preview of Niya:
- *William Rust and Amy Cushing, "The Buried Silk Road Cities of Khotan."
This provides a sweeping overview, including a lot of material on the archaeological discovery of the sites by people like Aurel Stein.
- Specifically on Niya, the pages being scanty on its history, but with some nice images:
- Wang Binghua "The Most Important Findings of Niya in Taklamakan"
A somewhat stilted summary of archaeological work.
- *Jonathan Tucker (with photographs by Antonia Tozer), Ever Silent Spaces The Forgotten Town of Niya"
Part of a travelogue. Tucker has published a large-format, lavishly-illustrated book on the Silk Road.
- A brief review of a new book on Textile finds at Niya, Legacy of the Desert King
I include it here because of the photos.
II. The Sogdians.
- *For background on the cultural world of ancient Iran, Frye, Golden Age, Chs. 1-2. You will want to review this material when we take up more fully the western end of the Silk Road in Week V.
"Trade Diasporas." (To access this, use password no. 2.)
While there is very little here of direct relevance to the early Silk Road
trade, Curtin's discussion of social, economic and political processes
provides a conceptual framework in which to try to understand the
activities of the Sogdians and other merchant diasporas - Central Asian
Muslims, Jews, Armenians, and Indians. Such diasporas all seem to have
played key roles in the trade across Eurasia, even into the period when
European capitalism penetrated the Asian markets.
- *Albert Dien, "The glories of Sogdiana."
- *de la VaissiŤre, "Sogdians in China." Those with ambition and time are strongly urged to read the article by Skaff, listed just below.
- Recommended for a detailed (including effort at quantification) analysis of Sogdians in the "Chinese West": Jonathan Skaff, "The Sogdian Trade Diaspora in East Turkestan During the Seventh and Eighth Centuries"; also, shorter, with some detail on linguistic issues: Nicholas Sims-Williams, "The Sogdian Merchants in China and India."
- *The ancient Sogdian letters. These are very important primary sources which reveal interesting details about the Sogdian trading networks in China and their connection with the "home office" in Samarkand. They do not make for straight-forward reading, but it is important that you understand the nature of the sources with which we need to work to reconstruct the history of the Sogdian merchants.
- *The brief web page and art examples from the Art of the Silk Road.
- *The relevant portions of the Samarkand web page.
- Should you wish more on Sogdian art: Markus Mode,
"Court Art of Sogdian Samarqand in the 7th Century A.D." and
Markus Mode, "Pandzhikent, a town site in ancient Sogdia." Panjikent was located upstream on the Zerafshan River from Samarkand/Afrasiab.
- This is emphatically optional, but if you are really interested in Sogdians, there are a number of very interesting, often detailed and scholarly articles, in an issue of the on-line journal Transoxiana honoring Boris Marshak. Note especially
- Matteo Comparetti, "The Role of the Sogdian Colonies in the Diffusion of the Pearl Roundels Pattern"
- Annette L. Juliano, "Chinese Pictorial Space at the Cultural Crossroads"
- Etsuko Kageyama, "Use and Production of Silks in Sogdiana"
- Lin Ying, "Sogdians and Imitations of Byzantine Gold Coin Unearthed in the Heartland of China"
III. Chinese pilgrim monks.
- *Finish/review previous week's assignment on Buddhism.
- *Faxian's account of his visits to the Buddhist sites in India. Note that he precedes Xuanzang by more than two centuries. There is also a shorter excerpt from his account.
- *Read selectively from what purports to be Xuanzang's own account of his 11000-mile odyssey. One learns from this a lot about his particular interests as a Buddhist monk, but apart from what he tells one about religion along the way, he is good at describing other aspects of life along the Silk Roads. Should you feel the need for some background on Xuanzang, there are summaries based on Wriggins's book, one entitled "Xuanzang on the Silk Road," and a second in an on-line encyclopedia.
- *(This is the secondary, illustrated, version of what is in Xuanzang's own account): Wriggins, Xuanzang, entire. You should not read only Wriggins (who does quote some of Xuanzang himself), but be sure to read selectively in Xuanzang's own account. You may prefer to start with Wriggins though to set the stage, although I tend to think it is always good to start with the primary source, since it requires you think more creatively.
- Recommended: Wright, Chs. 3-5. This will provide an idea of the further development of Buddhism in China. If you wish, read also Ch. 6 on "The Legacy of Buddhism in China."
Essay No. 2 (due Friday, Feb. 4): Some have written about the Buddhist "conquest" of China. Given what we might posit about the process of the spread of any major religion and what you have learned from the evidence about the spread of Buddhism, does that descriptive term seem to be appropriate? You should consider a number of things here, keeping in mind the chronological framework of the evidence. To what degree did Buddhist belief coincide with or contradict indigenous Chinese beliefs? What aspects of Buddhist doctrine seem to have been particularly appealing and why? Who was responsible for the spread of Buddhism? What difficulties stood in the way of those wishing to promote the faith? Much of your evidence should be drawn from the travels of Faxian and Xuanzang, the material on sutras and their illustrations, and evidence from sites such as the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang, Turfan, and Yungang. Note, the first section of readings listed for next week is relevant here.
Week V. Dunhuang. Introduction to the western end of the Silk Road.
The Buddhist monastic complexes along the Silk Road preserve striking evidence of the artistic achievements promoted by the patrons of that faith. Noteworthy among such centers is that of the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang, at the eastern end of the Taklamakan. Dunhuang was long a major administrative, trade and religious center along the Silk Road. The Mogao Caves provide an unbroken chronicle of Buddhist art from the early fifth century to the fourteenth as well as abundant written documentation about life in the local communities. The art of the caves displays a variety of influences, some of them coming from India and via Central Asia. The caves also offer insights into the role of patronage in support of Buddhism. Among other highlights is the way that the cave paintings reflect the importance of Mahayana Buddhism, in some cases illustrating important texts such as the Lotus Sutra.
So far we have been looking mainly at the eastern half of the Silk Road, but now we must retrace our steps chronologically and pick up the threads of what is happening on the western end, starting with Imperial Rome and its successor Byzantium, exploring the world of the Nabataens, and then moving into the cultures in the Iranian regions of the Middle East prior to the coming of Islam. Among them are the Parthians and the Sassanians; it was under the latter that the very important religion of Zoroastrianism spread widely along the silk roads. The Persian/Iranian heritage of what later becomes the Muslim Middle East and Central Asia is incredibly rich and important. It was in this milieu, as we have seen already, that the Sogdian merchants flourished.
- Jan. 31. The Transmission of Buddhism to China
- Feb. 2. The Assimilation of Buddhism in China.
- Feb. 4. Rome and the Western End of the Silk Road. Includes film clip on Palmyra.Essay No. 2 due.
I. Dunhuang and the Buddhist art of the Mogao caves.
II. Rome and the western end of the Silk Road.
- *Chronology: Selected Buddhist cave temples in China.
- *Read Whitfield et. al., Cave Temples of Mogao. This is an excellent, accessible book, full of nice pictures. There is, naturally, some overlap with the web-based materials which follow.
- *Dunhuang--various materials on its history. The page concerning elite religious patronage is available on the course website.
- *Review, as appropriate, web pages on Buddhism and Buddhist art.
- *Art pages for the Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties.
- *Excerpts from the Lotus Sutra (Expedient Means, The Parable of the Imaginary City, and the chapter on the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara); also, if you have time, the Parable of the Burning House;
- *Murals in the Mogao Caves illustrating the Lotus Sutra texts are here;
- Optional: Jataka tales and their illustrations.
- Optional (since much would repeat preceding readings): Dunhuang materials on the Silk Road Foundation website, where several pages have been written by another great expert on the art of the caves, Prof. Ning Qiang.
- There are many other famous Buddhist cave complexes along the Silk Roads both in Central China and in the Tarim Basin. If you are interested, you can learn about them from several short web pages:
Learn from this cave site in northern China provides about the role of imperial patronage in the success of Buddhism. The giant Buddha statuary shows definite Western influences.
- The Oases of the Northern Tarim Basin. An introductory overview of the Buddhist centers along the Northern Silk
Route. There are several very nice images of the paintings from the Kizil caves.
- *Chronology: Rome and the East.
- *Web pages on Rome's Eastern Trade and on Byzantium. For those with more ambition and time, I strongly recommend the article by Parker listed below.
- *For much of our Silk Road history once past the first centuries, "Rome" really means "Constantinople." In addition to the short, preceding article on art, you should at least skim my article on "Constantinople/Istanbul," to get an idea of the cultural richness of the long-time Western terminus of the Silk Road.
- Recommended: One of the most important primary sources which tells us about the "opening" of the sea routes in the Indian Ocean bringing Asian goods to N. Africa, the "Periplus of the Erythrean Sea." Only at the very end of this is there a rather brief indication of the connections to China. The web page has an animated map showing the effects of the monsoon winds on navigation. Also, remember the article by Andrť Wink, recommended under Week I, for an overview (long-term) of the importance of the Indian Ocean trade routes.
- *Albert Dien, "Palmyra as a Caravan City." An excellent, illustrated overview of one of the major trading centers in the Middle East.
- Recommended, if you want more than Palmyra for "western" centers of trade: Learn about Petra as an important center (in today's Jordan) of trade with the East. There is a short introduction at Petra: Lost City of Stone (American Museum of Natural History), but you might explore more detail (especially on trade issues) in the very rich website
on Nabataea: Nabataeans. I recommend going to "Main menu" and reading pages under "History" and "Trade."
- Recommended for an excellent treatment of Rome's Eastern trade and the impact of the Eastern goods in Rome: Grant Parker, "Ex Oriente Luxuria: Indian Commodities and Roman Experience." This provides a much more substantial overview of the subject than does the short web page on Rome's Eastern Trade listed above.
- *Xinru Liu Silk and Religion, Chs. 3-5. Some of this looks ahead chronologically and might best be skimmed now but read more carefully later. This is a good source for an understanding of the importance of Silk in the Christian world of the West.
III. The Persian world prior to Islam.
- *Frye, Golden Age, Ch. 3 (also review Chs. 1, 2).
- The Iranian Cultural Information Center has a web site with some decent photographs and brief explanatory text regarding various important Persian cities. They can be accessed from an image map of the country. Of particular relevance here would be to look at the section on Persepolis, since this will provide a sense of the historic legacy beginning with the Achaemenids.
- *Study the web page on the Parthians; supplement it with selective exploration of material at parthia.com.
- *Learn about the Sassanians from web pages: Sassanians; and about ancient Persia and the Sassanians in the The University of Calgary History Department's "The Islamic World to 1600". In the second of these, be sure to read the page on Zoroastrianism.
- To the degree that you feel you need to know more about Zoroastrianism, there is a good overview in lecture notes from a course at Univ. of Pennsylvania. Also, see the brief discussion on the web page on Zoroastrianism in the Art of the Silk Road exhibit.
- Recommended: Read at least some of the "Records of Ardashir" (the founder of the Sassanian Kingdom). There is interesting material in the text on matters such as religious belief and its interconnection with royal power.
- *Review what you read earlier about the Sogdians.
Week VI. Tang China and East-West cultural exchange; the rise of Islam.
Many look upon the culture of China in the Tang era (7th to early 10th centuries) as the epitome of sophistication and elegance, and above all cosmopolitan incorporation of foreign influences. Insofar as this may indeed have been the period when China was most open to foreign cultures, we can learn a great deal about the cultural impact of Silk Road connections during the Tang period. We find, for example, interesting evidence about the establishment of foreign colonies in China, often accompanied by the introduction of new religions. One good example is Nestorian Christianity, which was introduced by Syrian missionaries in the seventh century and at least for a time enjoyed the support of the Tang rulers even if it never became widely popular. The Tang also welcomed the Persian princes who fled the Arab Islamic conquests. Chinese tomb sculptures and even Buddhist painting provide striking evidence of the ways in which the cultures of West and Central Asia became popular at least among the Chinese elite in the Tang period. At the same time, especially as the Tang began to decline in power and found themselves forced to rely on foreign military aid from groups such as the nomadic Uighurs, a strong reaction against things foreign developed in some conservative circles.
The establishment and flourishing of the Tang Dynasty coincides with the emergence of Islam as a world religion and the creation with surprising rapidity of a huge Islamic cultural sphere extending from the Western Mediterranean to the Far East. The rise of Islam had a profound influence on culture and trade all across Eurasia. Islamic culture incorporated many elements of the traditions in the regions into which the Arabs expanded--from Byzantine architecture and mosaics to Persian and Indian literary themes. Islamic beliefs spread amongst the nomads of Central Asia, and Islamic merchants came to dominate the Silk Routes all the way into China. Major Islamic commercial settlements were to be found in the Tang capital, Chang'an, and in the ports of Southeast China. Over time, Silk Road cities which had been dominated by Buddhism and faiths such as Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism and Nestorian Christianity increasingly became islamicized. The history and culture of the Islamic world will be a central focus of our attention in the remaining weeks of the course.
- In what ways might Imperial policy and political success have influenced the degree to which foreign culture was popular under the Tang? Might we imagine that such cultural influences spread equally through all social classes?
- Why would Nestorian Christianity (which was considered heretical by the mainstream Christian sects) be the one to spread first across inner Asia to China? What aspects of Christianity might have been incompatible with traditional Chinese religious beliefs?
- What are the five "pillars" of Islam? Is Jihad one of them?
- What is the difference between Sunnis and Shiites?
- Who are Sufis in the Islamic tradition?
- What is the relationship between Islam and the other "religions of the book" in Western Eurasia--notably Judaism and Christianity?
- What did early Islam "inherit" from the Classical world?
- To what degree do Quranic prescriptions specify some of the features of what at least some Muslim groups have insisted historically are part of the requirements of the faith (e.g., with regard to the position of women; with regard to imagery; with regard to commerce)?
- How easily did Islam "convert" Central Asians? Do we seem to find some compromises about basic requirements of the faith? Do we see evidence of syncretism with other religious traditions?
- Feb. 7. The Persian World Prior to the Rise of Islam I. Guest lecturer: Prof. Joel Walker.
- Feb. 9. Tang China and "The West"
- Feb 11. The rise of Islam; video: The Arabs make Their Entrance: Islam and Empire.
I. T'ang China:
- If you feel the need for some background information on the history of Tang China, there are several possibilities, the first two being the best choices:
- *An excerpt from the excellent Cambridge Illustrated History of China by UW Professor Patricia Buckley Ebrey).
- Longer, but very good, is Denis C. Twitchett, "The Tang Dynasty," under China: History, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on-line, accessible via reference pages of UW library, UW-restricted.
Also, a short overview
- or a more detailed page, where you may find of particular interest the separate page on women under the Tang, many of the important ones of foreign birth. Empress Wu, who is featured on this page, was significant as the only female ruler in her own right and as an important patron of Buddhist art at places such as Dunhuang.
- *Review appropriate material on art and Dunhuang assigned last week.
- *There are many other possibilities for learning about the cosmopolitan culture under the Tang. As time permits, choose from among:
- Silkroad Foundation web page on exoticism in the Tang period.
- Of particular interest are funerary ceramics (mingqi),
which often portray foreigners in Tang elite service, foreign fashions, and other aspects of elite culture attesting to the international contacts of the period.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art web page on Tang.
- Since Sassanian material is influential in Tang art, keep in mind
Sassanian art. You should be looking for possible borrowings of motifs (e.g., "Classical dancing figures"), shapes (e.g., metal ewers and then their Chinese ceramic imitations).
- For a good example of foreign cultural influences in Tang China, read about
- Tang poetry provides a sense of the importance of the relations with the "Tartars" (this probably means generically the nomads on the frontiers) and at least a few glimpses of such foreign borrowings as music. The poems you might find of particular interest include the following numbers (scroll down to get to them): 036-038, 041, 050-051, 057-059, 064, 075, 309, 316.
- For some additional Tang-era material that highlights some aspects of foreign borrowing and the often disapproving Tang responses to it expressed in poetic form. (Password 2 to access this.)
- Although this is not directly related to the Silk Road, you might wish to read about tea drinking under the Tang.
- Optional: In anticipation of our focus on the rise of Islam next week, should wish to learn what the Chinese sources reveal about the first Chinese encounters with the Arabs, read an early work by a famous Arabist,
H.A.R. Gibb. (JSTOR, through UW Library).
- Recommended for a kind of syncretic and semi-fictionalized but still very historically accurate picture of life on the Silk Road in the last quarter of the first millennium CE: Susan Whitfield, Life along the Silk Road (UCalif. Pr., 2001).
II. Nestorianism. This is but one (and a very good) example of cultural diversity along the Silk Road; the history of Nestorianism under the Tang offers insights into the cosmopolitan nature of culture in Tang cities such as Chang'an.
III. Islam (reading also is for next week). Your essay no. 3 provides the focus for this reading.
- *Web page on Nestorianism.
- *The Nestorian tablet of the year 781. Think of this as a Nestorian "advertisement" of their faith. You might see if you can detect in the text ways in which some Christian doctrines were glossed over in order not to offend Chinese sensibilities, or phrasing adopted which might suit the Chinese cultural context.
As time permits, explore the rich resources of www.nestorian.org to learn more about Nestorianism in various parts of Asia. You will probably wish to come back to this later when we deal with the Mongols, since Nestorians are important under them.
- Another option for material on Nestorians in China is Esha Emmanual Tamras, "Assyrian Christian Missions in China, 635-1550 AD," which has several detailed pictures of the famous Nestorian stele.
- As necessary, review earlier materials on pre-Islamic Middle East (Rome/Byzantium, Iran/Persia/Sassanians, Sogdians).
- *Chronology: The Rise of Islam and its Spread into Central Asia.
- *Quick overview of Islam; Introduction to the Articles and Pillars of Islam. I would strongly recommend reading a few suras of the Quran. Many options are available, with some excerpts to be found on a WSU web site.
- *The University of Calgary History Department's "The Islamic World to 1600". This provides a fairly detailed overview of Islamic world history, nicely organized and well illustrated. For this week and next, read the last three sections of "Islamic Beginnings" (starting with "The Arabian peninsula"), the pages on the Caliphate and the First Islamic Dynasty, and the introduction and Abbasid section of the "Fractured Caliphate." Other sections of this website will be assigned for later weeks. Note that you will also find information on pre-Islamic Arabia in the pages about the Nabataeans assigned above.
- Optional: If you are interested in what happened In Sogdiana in the time of the first penetration of Central Asia by the Arab conquerors of the region, see Aleksandr Naymark, "Returning to Varakhsha."
This is more about Sogdian culture than anything Islamic.
- For an insight into how the Arabs borrowed from their Byzantine predecessors in the Middlle East but then thought the better of it, read about
early Arab coins:. (Access using Password 2.)
- *For Baghdad in its glory days, choose from among:
- Yakut's description of Baghdad under the Abbasids. A historic text by one of the great medieval Arab scholars.
- intellectual life.
- Also, a very informative piece, with some effort to make the subject relevant to contemporary concerns is Peter Watson, "Crossroads of
Culture," The New York Times, April 21, 2003, p. A25.
To have free access to the New York Times archive, you must first register (it is very simple and worth doing).
- *Frye, Golden Age, Chs. 4 (skim), 5 (pay attention to Khorasan, pp. 93-end), 6 (skim), 7-9 and 12 (read carefully). You should skim most of the detailed "political" history, but read carefully what he says about the relationship between Islam and other religious movements and the role of Iranian/Persian culture in the creation of the Islamic cultural synthesis.
- *Xinru Liu, Silk and Religion, Chs. VI-end. This will be valuable to give some substance to your understanding of the importance of urban commercial life in the Islamic world and the role of patronage in promotion of the arts and commerce.
- *For Islamic culture, read selectively in the Calgary web pages "The Arts, Learning, and Knowledge," and in the pages on the arts of Islam in the Art of the Silkroad exhibit: Spread of Islam, and Later Islamic Dynasties. You should pay particular attention to examples which demonstrate interaction with pre- and non-Islamic cultural traditions.
- *Read about at least one of the great medieval Islamic authors or scientists:
There are a lot of choices here.
- Ibn Sina came from the region of Bukhara. We tend to know him in the West as Avicenna.
For a lively introduction.
For an emphasis on his mathematical contributions.
- Al-Biruni was one of the great encyclopedic intellectuals of his day.
- The beginnings of Islamic Turkic literature are connected with two individuals, Yusuf Hass Hajib and Mahmud Kashgari, both of whom are associated with the Karakhanid state that ruled medieval Kashgar and replaced the Samanids in Bukhara. You can learn a lot about these authors from Robert Dankoff, "Qarakhanid Literature and the Beginnings of Turco-Islamic Culture." Dankoff has translated the major works of both authors.
- *The arts of the Islamic world are striking and important. In addition to the Silk Road Seattle Art of the Silk Road pages mentioned above, you should at least sample from the following. You might think about issues such as what the main architectural forms are, the role of calligraphy and geometric decoration, the place of anthropomorphic representation.
- Excellent overview of Islamic art with striking images from one of the best museum collections in U.S., at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art
- Various nice pages on Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum, which can be accessed through their timeline for the period 500-1000.
- A very informative article by Jonathan Bloom article on paper and papermaking. Bloom has written a book on the subject which has been beautifully published by Yale University Press and is the co-author of an excellent volume on Islamic art and architecture in the Pelican History of Art series that Yale publishes. Although in fact the knowledge of paper making moved from China to the west earlier, many still connect the transmission with the Battle of Talas, at which the Arabs defeated the Tang armies in Central Asia in 751. For the story about paper history, see
- Islamic Arts and Architecture Organization has a rich site worth some exploration.
- Short but nicely illustrated web pages including Islamic art of Persia on this
Iranian heritage site.
Essay No. 3 (due Wednesday, February 23): Islam had a positive impact on
cultural exchange and development across Eurasia. This can be seen in the syncretism
involving pre-Islamic cultural traditions, in the promotion of trade and urban
development, and in the active cultural and artistic exchange with both East
and West. Would you agree or disagree? Illustrate your response with specific
Week VII. Islam (ctd). Early Turkic empires.Overview:
In the regions north of China proper (by this I mean in particular Manchuria and Mongolia) new tribal groupings would continue to emerge and form significant political entities that interacted with China and often played a significant role in internal Chinese affairs. The history of these entities (which in some cases were ethnically and linguistically Turkic) exhibits the familiar patterns acculturation under the influence of sedentary centers. We have seen this in earlier centuries in the case of the Xiongnu. The first of the great Turkic states flourished from the sixth down into the eight century. Its extent and wealth can be appreciated from the Buddhist monk Xuanzang, who visited the Turk emperor in the region of what is today Kyrgyzstan. As the Turk Empire disintegrated, part of its former territories in the eighth century came to be ruled by another Turkic group, the Uighurs. The Uighurs were strong enough to save the Tang Dynasty from rebellion (at a price) and were influenced both by Chinese culture and that of the west transmitted by Central Asian merchants. For a time Manichaeism became the main religion of the Uighur elite. Many of the Uighurs converted to Buddhism; at least some who lived in Uighur territories in the Tarim Basin were Nestorian Christians. Eventually the descendants of the Uighurs would become Muslims.
With the decline of the Tang Dynasty, the territories of its vast empire were divided among competing political forces. Even though the Chinese heartland would flourish under the Song in the 11th and 12th centuries, areas in the north and west fell into other hands. The Tanguts (ethnically Tibetan) flourished astride the Silk Road in the northwest of metropolitan China. In the north, the Khitan/Liao and then the Jurchen/Jin made the transition from pastoral nomadism to patronage of sedentary (especially Buddhist) culture and established dynasties which ruled northern China. The rise of the Mongols under Chingis Khan brought an end to the independence of these groups; it was under the Mongols that once more China would be united, this time as part of an empire far larger than any that had earlier been known.
- Feb. 14. Islam, II. Videos: "Once Upon a Time: Baghdad during the Abbasid Dynasty"; "The Muslim Town: urban Life Under the Caliphate."
- Feb. 16. Turkic states.
- Feb. 18. The Tanguts. Includes part of video: "The Dark Castle" (CCTV/NTK).
I. *Islam: Continue readings from last week.
II. Early Turkic empires.
- *Chronology: The early Turkic states of Inner Asia.
- I would strongly recommend you read one of the famous Runic inscriptions left by the rulers of the Western Turk empire in the early 8th century, since these give an idea of the "world-view" and concerns of these very important inner Asian leaders, who interacted with the Chinese (among others) and straddled the trade routes across a major part of Asia. You can find the inscriptions linked to the Turkic History web page. Click on the blue "Sources" button and then on the new page scroll down to "TŁrkic." Of the three major inscriptions linked there, you might choose in the first instance the one by Bilgš Kagan. The website has other information on it which can help to contextualize the document.
- *Chronology: Tibetans, Uighurs and T'ang.
- *The Uighurs.
- *Manichaeism: Manichaeism was especially important among the Uighurs.
- *The New T'ang History on the History of the Uighurs," tr. Colin Mackerras. At least skim in this, to get a sense of the nature of the relations between the T'ang and the Uighurs--there is a lot here pertaining directly or indirectly to economic issues. The texts give a clear idea of Chinese biases about the Turkic nomads (for a time the dynasy owed its existence to them). It is easy enough to skip over details of military campaigns.
- Chronology: the Tanguts.
- The Tanguts
- The Khitans and the Liao.
- Vladimir Minorsky, "Tamim ibn Bahr's Journey to the Uyghurs." An Arab account of his trip to Mongolia to the Uighur capital. (JSTOR)
- Frye, Golden Age, Ch. 10 (esp. section on Samanids), 11.
- On the Ghaznavids and especially the Seljuks.
- Architecture of the Delhi Sultanate.
II. Start reading on the Mongols. (Do not be alarmed at the length of the list--this reading continues for the next two weeks and, as usual, there are options.). Your essay question no. 4 provides a focus for this reading, but see also the "Overview" for next week.
- *Review earlier course material on nomadic culture (e.g., traditional culture pages of Silk Road Seattle).
- *Calgary web pages on "The Mongol Invasions," up to section on Timurids.
- Recommended: David Morgan, The Mongols (Blackwell PB, 1990).
- *Chronology: The Mongol Empire.
- *Selections from Juvayni, on reason for conquest of Central Asia by Chingis Khan and what happened to the Central Asian cities. (Access using Password 2.)
An important primary source, by a learned Iranian who lamented the destruction of some of his homeland but who worked for the Mongols (even in Karakorum) and wrote one of the best-informed early histories of them. Given his obvious biases against the Mongols, his evidence is all the more striking for its apparent even-handedness in explaining reasons for conquest and the fact that not all urban centers were destroyed.
- *For totally negative views on the Mongol invasions, choose either a learned Arab, Ibn al-Athir or a Russian chronicler describing the sack of Riazan on the Oka River way up in Eastern Europe. (Access using Password 2.)
- The Black Death. One of the clubs often used against the Mongols is to blame them for bringing the Black Death (the Plague) to Europe. Various resources which you might wish to explore can introduce this subject:
For a quick overview of the Plague in Europe, U/Calgary website; for a substantial discussion of the role of trade in spreading the plague.
The issue of the Silk Roads as transmitters of such unpleasant things as disease is certainly part of our story, but we might question whether that is a problem specific only to the Mongol period or necessarily any worse then than in other eras. There can be no question about the impact of the plague where it hit. For those who wish to know more about the important subject of the transmission of infectious diseases and their impact on world history, I recommend the book by William H. McNeill, Plagues and Peoples, which includes a chapter devoted to the Mongol period.
- *My short essay balancing the positive and negative views about the Mongols: The Pax Mongolica.
- *Read selectively in William of Rubruck's mid-thirteenth-century eyewitness account of the Mongol Empire. Since you have already looked at what he says about nomadic culture, you might pay particular attention to his description of the Mongol capital, Karakorum, and what his account reveals about religion under the Mongols. To my mind, this is perhaps the single best contemporary description of Mongol culture. It has its biases and limitations in understanding, but much seems quite accurate. Optional: A shorter and and (in comparison with Rubruck) limited account of the Mongols by another Franciscan, John of Plano Carpini, who traveled some years earlier out to Mongolia is also available on the web; also, for another perspective from a bit later, there is a travel account by a Nestorian clergyman, Rabban Sauma, who was sent on a mission to the West by Khubilai Khan and later became head of the Nestorian Church.
- You may find of interest my short web page on Karakorum, the capital of the Mongol empire in the thirteenth century before it was replaced by Beijing. This would provide something of a visual accompaniment to reading Rubruck's first-hand account of his visit there.
- *Marco Polo, in which eventually you should be sure to read Chs. 1-3, 6, and then selectively according to interest, in Chs. 4-5. It is important to remember that this account was not put in writing in its present form until well after many of the events, it is full of literary stylization and invention, but at the same time provides valuable information about life in the Mongol Empire at its peak under Khubilai Khan, who ruled in China. Marco Polo is enamoured of Khubilai and things Mongol.
- *For another account written well after the events, in many ways more "factual" than Marco Polo's but providing a very different (Arab/Islamic) perspective, read excerpts from Ibn Battuta dealing with the Western parts of the Mongol Empire in the 1330s.
- *Specifically on the issue of trade under the Mongols:
- Excerpts from Pegolotti's merchant handbook attesting to the viability of the Eastern trade routes well into the fourteenth century..
- For information showing the changing importance of Chinese silk imports in the Mongol period in Italy, Robert Sabatino Lopez, "China Silk in Europe in the Yuan Period"(JSTOR).
- Religion under the Mongols. You can learn a lot on this subject from your various primary sources. If you have time, here are a couple of additional resources on some interesting aspects of the subject.
- A conversion account relating how the Khan of the Golden Horde adopted Islam. (Access using Password 2.) The important issue here is the way in which Sufi preachers seem to have offered something which intersected with pre-islamic rituals and beliefs. The story is written well after the event, at a time when Sufi organizations or orders were well established in Central Asia and probably therefore reads a lot back into the earlier history.
- For the role of sufi mystics in conversion of the Mongols in the Middle East, see the article by Reuven Amitai-Preiss, "Sufis and Shamans: Some Remarks on the Islamization of the Mongols in the Ilkhanate."
- Christianity. For a secondary overview: Gregory Guzman, "Christian Europe and Mongol Asia: First Medieval Intercultural Contact Between East and West."
- *For an important primary source (highly recommended), a letters by the pioneering Catholic bishop in China, John of Montecorvino.
- According to time and interest: Art under the Mongols. Product warning: if you are seriously interested in the art, you will be spending a lot of time on the second and third of these.
Essay 4. (due Wednesday, March 9): Is it possible to derive from contemporary accounts ("primary sources") an objective picture of the Mongols and their impact on the historic "Silk Road"? Is the picture that emerges one of wanton destruction, constructive development (including flourishing trade), cultural openness, or some combination of these? Be sure to illustrate your essay with specific examples and critique the sources from which they come. Note: I am not looking here for a summary of my "Pax Mongolica" web page. You must show you have read carefully and thought about the primary sources (Ibn al-Athir, Polo, Rubruck, Ibn Battuta, Pegolotti, etc.), and you must base your essay in the first instance on your analysis of them.
Week VIII. The Mongols (I)Overview:
While there is a tendency by some to emphasize the Mongols as a destructive force, under them the Silk Road flourished as never before. At its peak, their empire extended from Europe to Korea and from the forests of Siberia to the Persian Gulf. Unlike the Xiongnu and other nomadic groups which never conquered China, the Mongols did. We have very substantial written documentation about the Mongols from eyewitnesses, which is one reason we will dwell on the Mongol period here. Everyone knows of Marco Polo. He lavishly praised Khubilai Khan, who completed the Mongol conquest of China. Everyone should know about the Franciscan William of Rubruck, who preceded Marco Polo, the Persian Ata-Malik Juvaini, who was writing when Marco was still young, and the Moroccan Ibn-Battuta, whom some consider to have been an even greater traveller than Marco. We learn from the study of the Mongols a great deal about the creation and raison d'etre of nomad confederations, the way in which the nomads interacted with sedentary peoples and were particularly interested in trade, the nature of religious tolerance whereby many faiths might flourish under Mongol patronage. There is striking evidence about the movement of peoples east and west under the Mongols thanks to imperial policies of conscription but also, presumably, the attraction of opportunities in distant regions, to which travel was possible thanks to the Mongol control of the overland routes across Asia. Even in the era when the empire had split, which came surprisingly quickly after it reached its apogee, European observers attest to the possibilities of traveling in relative safety all the way from West to East.
- Is there a conflict between the evidence of sources such as Ibn al-Athir and the Riazan tale on the one hand, or Juvayni or Ibn Battuta on the other? How might we resolve it if there is one?
- Why did the Mongols under Chingis Khan conquer Central Asia? What do we learn from Juvayni about Mongol culture and international connections prior to that and about the importance of, e.g., international trade for the Mongols?
- Pay attention to the chronology of the rise and fall of the various parts of the Mongol Empire. Can we generalize about Mongol impact in Eurasia on the basis of events of ca. 1220, the 1230s, 1258 or the 1330s? (Why might I have chosen these dates?)
- Why do Franciscans visit the Mongol court in the 13th century, and what do they observe? Do they come across as particularly "objective" observers?
- Who were the Christians they encountered amongst the Mongols? Who are the "idolaters"? Is there any reason to think the Mongols were particularly open to a variety of religions and that Mongol rule provided an environment which encourage religious toleration?
- What else do we learn from William of Rubruck's description of the inhabitants of the Mongol capital, Karakorum? You might want to compile a list of the different ethnic and religious groups he meets and the functions fulfilled by their representatives.
- Did Marco Polo go to China? How might one try to prove or disprove that he did?
- Is Ibn Battuta more or less biased/accurate than Marco Polo? In what ways?
- What was the position of Constantinople in the Silk Road trade in this period? How important was Chinese silk?
- Can we blame the Mongols for the Black Death and significant population decline in China under the YŁan (Mongol) Dynasty?
- Mon., Feb. 21, holiday. No class.
- Feb 23. On the eve of the Mongol invasions. Essay No. 3 due at class.
- Feb. 25. The Creation of the Mongol Empire.
*Continue Mongol reading from last week.
Week IX. The Mongols (II). After the Mongols: The Timurids and the Ming; the Mughals.
The heirs to the Mongols in Central Asia and much of the Middle East were the Timurids, whose dynasty was founded by another of the infamous conquerors, Tamerlane (Timur the Lame) in the last third of the fourteenth century. Tamerlane's capital of Samarkand was one of the great cities of the Silk Road. We know a great deal about it and the commercial life of the period from a contemporary observer, the Spanish ambassador Clavijo. The architectural splendors of Samarkand still impress us today. There is very interesting evidence about the relations between Tamerlane and his successors on the one hand and the China of the new Ming Dynasty on the other. At least in the early period of the Ming, China still looked outward. The early fifteenth century was the era of the great Chinese treasure fleets in the Indian Ocean, and a period when the overland trade into inner Asia was still quite important. The commercial and artistic exchanges between East and West are particularly important in this period for the development of the decorative arts in the Islamic world. Ceramics and painting contain striking evidence of Chinese influence.
While many would bring the story of the Silk Road to an end with the dawn of European maritime penetration of the Indian Ocean at the end of the fifteenth century, there is abundant evidence about the continuation of many of the well established patterns of overland cultural and economic interaction well down into modern times. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are a time of the flourishing of some of the great land-based empires of Eurasia. None is more impressive than the Mughal Empire, established in northern India in the second quarter of the sixteenth century and developing into one of the richest states in Asia. The Mughals maintained a place of prominence and power down into the eighteenth century. Their ancestry could be traced to the Mongols and Timurids, and the Mughal rulers retained a considerable interest in their Central Asian heritage. The overland trade routes into Central Asia and Iran from Mughal northern India continued to flourish. Europeans were welcomed at the Mughal court, where some of the rulers displayed the same kind of openness to various religions that we have seen earlier amongst the Mongols. One of the most interesting of our travel accounts of the Silk Road is that by an early seventeenth century Jesuit, GoŽs, who heads off from Agra in India through Afghanistan and then, turning eastward, traces the Northern Silk Road around the Tarim Basin.
- Feb. 28. The Pax Mongolica.
- March 2. The Timurids and the Ming.
- March 4. The Mughals
*I. Finish reading on the Mongols.
II. Timurids and Ming. In doing these readings, with the focus on the Timurids, think about the ways in which Tamerlane and his successors continued the pattern established by the Mongols of promoting selective urban and commercial development and how the royal courts provided the stimulus for artistic exchange and development.
- *Chronology: The Timurids.
- *Calgary web page on the Timurids.
- *Clavijo selections. A Spanish ambassador's description of Timur's empire and especially his capital, Samarkand in the early 14th century. Provides very valuable material on state promotion of industry commerce and the nature and extent of Timurid commercial relations. This account is worth a lot of your time this week, even at the expense of doing some of the other assignments.
- *Web materials on Samarkand. The introductory page contains links to other pages devoted to the Shah-i Zinde mausoleum complex, Tamerlane's Bibi Khanum Mosque, and Ulugh Beg and his observatory.
- Chronology: Ming Trade with Inner Asia.
- Recommended: Morris Rossabi, "A Translation of Ch'en Ch'eng's Hsi-YŁ Fan-Kuo Chih". (Access via Password 2.) A Chinese ambassador's description of Timurid Herat in the early 15th century.
- Recommended: Babur on Alisher Navoi and the culture of Timurid Herat in the late 15th century. Brief selection about one of the important bi-lingual (Chagatay Turkic and Persian) poets and patrons of the arts in the late 15th century. Babur (the first Mughal Emperor) had literary abilities of no small consequence; he exercises the prerogative of "royal literary critic."
- *Morris Rossabi, "The Tea and Horse Trade with Inner Asia during the Ming." (Access via Password 2.)
Valuable for argument about importance of overland trade (and trade more generally) to the Ming. Can skim some of the details about institutional arrangements which illustrate the way the government tried to control and promote the trade. Rossabi has written a lot else on the overland trade in 15th and 16th centuries. You can get here some of his ideas about why and how that trade declined (the argument has nothing to do with European competition on the oceans). It would also be of interest here to compare and contrast the Chinese approach to dealing with the nomads and the horse trade under the Ming and then back earlier in the time of the Han and Tang.
- Recommended: If you wish to learn about the Ming "treasure fleets," there are some excerpts from a wonderful little book by Louise Levathes, When China Ruled the Seas.
We cannot get a very good idea of Chinese trade with the west unless we take into account the very significant sea trade, which seems to have peaked under the early Ming. Would this not be the most likely way for objects such as porcelain to reach the Middle East in the quantities they did?
- Art. (Explore according to time and taste, but do explore.)
- Islamic Art.
- For background on the Islamic art on which the Timurids build: Metropolitan Museum/LACMA exhibit, "The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256-1353."
- An overview of Timurid art.
- For more on art of Timurid courts, the Metropolitan Museum Exhibition "Sultan 'Ali of Mashhad , Master of Nastacliq".
- The Art of Ming China: An overview of Ming Art.
- From Metropolitan Museum timeline, select portions of "West Asia, 1400-1600"
and/or look at "China, 1400-1600."
- The Collections of the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. Some of sections have quite a bit of descriptive text. The ones below do not, but the images should raise some interesting questions for you about cultural and economic exchange and artistic influences. We learn something about the volume and importance of Ming trade to the Middle East from the porcelain collection of the Sultans....
- Porcelains in the Topkapi Museum.
- Painting in Persia under the Timurids.
- China, Chinoiserie and Painting in Turkestan under the Timurids.
III. Mughals. The particular focus here should be on the way in which the Mughals consciously drew upon their Central Asian and Middle Eastern cultural heritage and the degree to which many of the Mughal rulers encouraged a kind of cultural syncretism. Further, be aware of the way in which Mughal economic power and trade with Safavid Iran and Central Asia meant that the overland routes of the "Silk Road" continued to flourish even in the era of European competition on the sea routes.
- *Read a survey of Mughal history. A short overview is that by Prof. Vinay Lai of UCLA. A more detailed survey is part of the University of Calgary History Department's "Islamic World to 1600" pages. This reading will help provide context for the more specific readings below and be useful as you work on the final paper.
- *Chronology: The Naqshbandi Order and its Interaction with the Mughals.
- *Babur, and Tarikh-i Rashidi selections. Here, be selective. I find of particular interest what we can learn from these texts about the continuation of the traditional nomadic culture and the processes by which Islam came to be the dominant religion in many of the central territories of the former Mongol Empire.
- *Foltz, tr., Conversations with Jahangir, entire. For Foltz's more extended discussion of the Mughals and Naqshbandi Sufi order, one of the important aspects of the material in this primary source, see the selection linked below to your readings for the final week of the course
- *Mughal India's Timurid Heritage--web page on art.Recommended: Web pages with additional detail on Mughal Architecture in the India section of Silk Road Seattle. Your choices here are Humayun's Tomb in Delhi, the Itimad al-Dawla and the Taj Mahal mausolea in Agra, or the palace complex at Fatehpur Sikri. You really should know something about the Taj Mahal. Fatehpur Sikri is particularly interesting because of the issues it raises about cultural syncretism.
*IV.Morris Rossabi on the end of the overland Eurasian trade. Argument about Inner Asian political disorders causing end of traditional overland trade. (Access using Password 2.)
*V. Contemporary accounts about trade and travel on overland routes. For this week, read at least one (preferably two) of the following (Steel and Goes are particularly recommended); for next week, I recommend Olearius and/or Chardin (whose focus is Safavid Persia). These texts are relevant also for the final exam question:
- Anthony Jenkinson's account of his travels through Russia to Bukhara in Central Asia in the 16th century.
- The Journey by Richard Steel from the Mughal Empire through Persia in 1615-1616. Steel worked for the British East India Company.
- The Journey of Benedict GoŽs Overland from India to China, 1603-1607. GoŽs was a Jesuit priest.
- Excerpts from Adam Olearius' account of Safavid Persia. Olearius was the secretary of a German embassy that traveled to Persia through Muscovite Russia.
- Excerpts from Jean Chardin's account of Safavid Persia. Chardin was a French jeweler and commercial agent.
Week X. The Crossroads of Asia.
Among the important trading partners of the Mughals was Safavid Iran. The Safavid dynasty established itself in Iran at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It was under Shah Abbas I (1587-1629), a contemporary of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar and his son Jahangir, that Isfahan, the Safavid capital, became the glorious city we know today. The economic policies of the Safavid state promoted silk production and trade as one important source of imperial revenue. We know a great deal about that trade from European sources. One of the new players in the overland trade in this period was Muscovite Russia, through whose territories travellers such as the Englishman Jenkinson and the German Olearius attempted to establish trade routes for the Europeans. However, it turns out that some of the conventional wisdom about a European takeover of the Asian trade is at very least misleading. This is a time when Europeans were competing for control of the trade routes, but the trade itself was often in the hands of Armenian or Indian merchants. The material on the Mughals and Safavids, spread over the last two weeks of the course, thus forms an appropriate conclusion to our course, since it encourages reflection on the degree to which the patterns of overland trade and cultural interaction we have witnessed in earlier centuries continued down into "modern" times.
- March 7. The Safavids.
- March 9. Asian Merchants and the Continuation of the Silk Road Trade.Essay No. 4 due at class.
- March 11. Conclusion.
*I. The Safavids.
*II. Read as much as you can (ideally at least two of selections, all of which are accessible using Password 2). I would prioritize either Dale or Steensgaard, so you learn about some of the Asian merchants.
- Gommans on the Indo-Afghan trade (esp. the role of the nomads).
Interesting evidence about continuing importance of horse trade through Afghanistan.
- Richard Foltz on the Naqshbandiya Sufis and the Mughals.
One of the many aspects of close Central Asian connections with Mughal India. The book from which this is taken contains a lot else on the subject; there are several places in the Conversations with Jahangir book where Sufi connections figure prominently.
- Stephen Dale on Indian Multani merchants.
From a pioneering work trying to give to the Indian merchants their rightful place in the larger picture of Asian trade.
- Rudolph Matthee on silk production in Iran.
From a very good book on politics and trade in Safavid Iran.
- Nils Steensgaard on the Armenian merchant Hohvannes.
From a controversial book that, as in this section, perhaps diminishes the significance of the Asian traders and their sophisticated networks. The example here is a fascinating one. How much one should generalize from it is an interesting question.
III.Optional: The great rival of the Safavids and the empire that would dominate the Middle East and much of the Mediterranean world in the 16th and 17th centuries was that of the Ottoman Turks. For an overview of Ottoman History, read in the UCalgary web pages. For information about Bursa, an important Ottoman city in Western Anatolia that was a center of silk production, read the brief account in Silk Road Seattle.
Final Exam due no later than 5:00 PM, Tuesday, March 15.