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Silk Road in China - The First International Business and Cultural Road in the World


Map of China Silk Road

Silk Road was opened by Zhang Qian of Han Dynasty. It starts from Xi’an via Gansu and Xinjiang to Middle Asia and west Asia and also connected the land route-ways of the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Because among the products from the east to the west, the silk is most influential,so this road was called Silk Road, and this road basically fixed in the period of West Han dynasty and East Han dynasty and included southern road, middle road and northern road. Silk Road is one historical trade road across the Eurasian continent. It improves the friendly relationships between China and other countries of Asia, Europe and Africa. China is the hometown of silk, during this special trade road; the silk is the best representative. In the end period of Ming Dynasty, the sea Silk Road and northwest Silk Road appeared at the same time.

Silk Road is the best evidence or historical relic to show the ancient connection or cultural exchange between China and Europe.

More Details of Culture and History of the Silk Road in China.

The Silk Road(Si Chou Zhi Lu, 丝绸之路) exclusively means the official road opened by Zhang Qian(张骞) in West Han Dynasty (202AD-8BC). However, based on the latest discovery and research result, the Silk Road includes two different routines---The Silk Road on the Land and The Silk Road on the Sea. Authoritatively, the Silk Road on the Land starts from today’s Xian (Anciently called Changan and the national center of Han and Tang Dynasties), though some historians or Silk Road researchers hold a different viewpoint that Luoyang, Henan province is the starting city of ancient Silk Road. Generally speaking, the silk road of the land passes Gansu, Xinjiang, Mid and West Asian Regions, and lastly reaches the Europe (at the time under the reign of Rome Empire), exactly the region of Mediterranean Sea. This is the most influential and famous routine for it used to be main channel, even the only way, of Chinese businessmen to do silk business with westerners. After hundreds of years, it was finally named The Silk Road.

Additionally, this channel used to be comprised of three branches: West Way, Middle Way and East Way. But they mostly just existed in the territory of China, and re-coincided eventually in mid and west Asia. Another channel has not been highly emphasized over the past hundreds of years. Fortunately, thanks to the modern scholars’ researches and efforts, this unknown way to the western world was enormously known in the world. This channel in China is called The Sea Silk Road, or The Silk Road of the Sea. Apart from two famous Silk Roads mentioned above, there are also the Silk Road of the Grasslands, Southwest China’s Silk Road and the Silk Road of the Oasis.
The Silk Road on the Land

The Silk Road on the land is the most famous one, even the oldest part of China Silk Road System. It takes advantage of the long history, world-wide reputation, and sophisticated multi-cultural show. Originally opened by Zhang Qian for connecting the mid-and-west Asian countries or tribes to jointly fight against the intruding of the Huns, a powerful people in northern Asia, the Silk Road is widely said to be the golden route connecting the west Asia and Europe. From the political and military alliance for regional security to the business and culture exchange, The Silk Road of the Land transferred its mission and represented a higher level of spiritual sharing and connection of humankind, which brings the eternality to this vessel of humankind’s understanding to himself and internal harmony and balanced development. So, the Silk Road on the Land is one of the best evidences or historical relics to show the original globalization and internationalization when China was in prosperity.
In general, the Silk Road roughly includes three parts: South Way, Middle Way and East Way, which are roughly mentioned above.

The East Way from Xian to Yumen Pass and Yang Pass was opened in Han Dynasty. This way is also comprised of many different branches, which used to be called North Line, South Line and Middle Line. Considering the safety and facility to pass the Liupan Mountain(六盘山) and cross the Yellow River, three lines all started from Xian or Luoyang and then coincided in Wuwei and Zhangye,and then went to Dunhuang via West Yellow River Passageway(河西走廊)

The North Line ranged from Jingchuan to Wuwei via Guyuan and Jingyuan, and it was the shortest route, but travelers used to be also troubled with short supply of water. The South Line from Fengxiang to Zhangye via Tianshui, Longxi, Linxia, Ledu and Xining is a long route. The Middle Line from Jingchuan to Wuwei via Pingliang, Huining and Lanzhou is a moderate option. The attractions or destinations travelers would see is Xian, Xumishan Grottoes, Maijishan Grottoes, Bingling Temple Grottoes, Wuwei, Zhangye, Jiuquan, Dunhuang, Mogao Grottoes and Yulin Grottoes. In the 10th century, Northern Song Dynasty opened a new route called Qinghai Channel from Tianshui to West-Asian Region to avoid entering the area of Xi Xia, a minority’s government used to intrude Song Dynasty, and gradually, this road became a new business road.

The Middle Way from Yumen Pass and Yang Pass to Pamir Plateau of Middle Asia was opened in Han Dynasty as well. It mainly consisted of the lines in the region of west-Asian Region. But these lines were not stable but changed as the change of oasis and deserts. It mainly had three lines: the South Line, the Middle Line and North Line. The South Line also called Yutian Way(于阗道) ranged from Yang Pass to Pamir Plateau via many small states or regions. The Middle line started from Yumen Pass to Fergana Valley via the north side of Taklimakan Desert(塔克拉玛干沙漠), Lop Nor(罗布泊), Turpan and Kashi

The West Way from Pamir Plateau to Europe was opened in Tang Dynasty. From the west of Pamir Plateau to the Europe is west part of Silk Road of the land. Its three lines were absolutely in unison with these of the middle way. And the line to Istanbul or Constantinople via Caspian Sea was opened in the middle term of Tang Dynasty. The North Line along the northern side of Aral Sea, Caspian Sea and Black Sea reached Istanbul. Many international cities were available on this line like Urumqi and Almaty. The Mid Line from Kashi to Mashhad of Iran and then coincided with the south line. The famous cities and attractions include Kabul, Peshawar, Karakorum Avenue and Bamiyan’s Destroyed Buddha and so on.

Zhang Qian's Visit to West Asia

The Silk Road on the Sea

Starting from different harbors of southern China like Guangzhou Port and Quanzhou Port, Chinese fleet went westwardly and got to Southeast Asia, India and Arabia, even some farther area. And this rout was called The Silk Road on the Sea. The same as the Silk Road on the Land, the Sea Silk Road extended from near area to the far place. As the advancement of technology and the collection of navigation experience, the mileage was also continually extended. During the period of Wei, Jin and South-North Dynasties, the navigation technology of China and India has been quite advanced. The Monk Fa Xian(法显) was a historically-recorded figure who went to India for Buddhism Sutras by land and returned by seaway. In Tang Dynasty, the maritime trade between China and Arabic Region developed enormously, and plenty of monks went and returned between China and India by sea. In Yuan Dynasty, as the fast upgrade of seamanship and development of shipbuilding, all the conditions are satisfied for further navigation. Marco Polo, the world-famous traveler, arrived in China via the Silk Road and returned to Italy by sea. In Ming Dynasty, the Sea Silk Road extended further, and the most famous event is Zheng He’s huge fleet towards the western world, and they reached the eastern coast of Africa, the farthest region they reached in 1405. The huge waves were the biggest natural obstacle of the Sea Silk Road, but this problem was finally tackled as the collection of navigation experience and the development of navigation technology. The maritime trade takes advantage of lower transportation cost and larger transportation capacity, and it brought the Sea Silk Road the great potential and finally surpassed The Silk Road on the Land after Song and Yuan Dynasties. It gradually became the major channel of Sino-west communication.

Southwest China’s Silk Road

Centered on Dali, Yunnan province, Southwest China’s Silk Road was the trade line between China and India. It also extended to Southeast Asia or entered India via Tibet region. In Han Dynasty, Zhang Qian visited to west region and discovered the Bamboo Stick of Sichuan in Rome, which was said to be bought from India. So the connection between India and Sichuan existed indeed. This judgment stimulated Emperor Wudi of Han Dynasty in the aspect of extending the Southwest Road, but finally failed for the complicated ethnic relations in southwest region. During the period of Wei, Jin, South and North Dynasties, China possessed more learning about this road, and in Sui and Tang Dynasties, the relevant records appeared. Many merchants and monks went and returned between China and India. Compared to the northern Silk Road, the Southwest Silk Road was not short of water but troubled by the high mountains, and the flooding. Besides, the frowziness of climate also brought diversity of disease. What is more important, the complicated landforms and the multiple ethnics would also become the obstacles. In Tang Dynasty, Yunnan became a part of China’s territory, and then the Southwest China’s Silk Road became popular and welcomed.
                                                                                                >> Find more amazing Silk Road Tours

Golden City in silk road tours:
Xian(西安):The Terra-Cotta Warriors besides Han and Tang Dynasty Show is the absolute highlight in your China tour.

Lanzhou(兰州)The wide-spread beef and mutton Lanzhou Noodles is really mouthwatering.

Xiahe(夏河):It is known as the "Little Tibet".

Zhangye(张掖):You can appreciate majestic Danxia Landform and ancient culture here.

Dunhuang(敦煌):One of the most famous World Cultural Heritage "Mogao Grottoes" lies in the city.

Turpan(吐鲁番):It is regarded as a fantastic place which is famous for the sweetest grapes and the "Flaming Mountain".

Urumqi(乌鲁木齐):It is the important city on silk road and also the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Kashgar(喀什噶尔): The name means "Jade gathered place"(玉石集中之地)


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