Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asiaby Peter Hopkirk
Pub. Date: 01/30/1984
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
The Silk Road, which linked imperial Rome and distant China, was once the greatest thoroughfare on earth. Along it traveled precious cargoes of silk, gold and ivory, as well as revolutionary new ideas. Its oasis towns blossomed into thriving centers of Buddhist art and learning. In time it began to decline. The traffic slowed, the merchants left and finally its
The Silk Road, which linked imperial Rome and distant China, was once the greatest thoroughfare on earth. Along it traveled precious cargoes of silk, gold and ivory, as well as revolutionary new ideas. Its oasis towns blossomed into thriving centers of Buddhist art and learning. In time it began to decline. The traffic slowed, the merchants left and finally its towns vanished beneath the desert sands to be forgotten for a thousand years; however, legends grew up of lost cities filled with treasures and guarded by demons. In the early years of the last century foreign explorers began to investigate these legends, and very soon an international race began for the art treasures of the Silk Road. Huge wall paintings, sculptures and priceless manuscripts were carried away, literally by the ton, and are today scattered through the museums of a dozen countries. Peter Hopkirk tells the story of the intrepid men who, at great personal risk, led these long-range archaeological raids, incurring the undying wrath of the Chinese.
University of Massachusetts Press
- University of Massachusetts Press
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.43(w) x 8.51(h) x 0.86(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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Hopkirk has written a fascinating account of the systematic and at time wanton plundering of the artifacts along the silk road during the first decade of the 20th century. Although for most of the 20 the century this was accepted as rightful and correct, it is increasingly viewed by scholars and laymen as nothing short of the plunder of another civilizations patrimony. That aside the book is an engrossing read both from the standpoint of the hazards experienced during these expeditions and the discoveries made. To set the record straight, those countries who have ammassed such artifacts should in good concience return them to the country they despoiled it from--China. Only then can a comprehensive study be made of them and the results shared with the world.
This fascinating documentary highlights early 20th century European and Japanese archaeologists who explored the cities, oases and monasteries in the remote Taklamkan Basin from Kashgar to Dunhuang, and returned ancient Buddhist, Khotanese, Sanskrit, Nestorian and Chinese manuscripts, statues and art to libraries and museums of their origin countries, before the Red Chinese began to notice the region and shut off foreign exploration. The work contains unique archival photographs of the towns, digs, people and relicts found. The book briefly covers some of the controversial and questionable tactics used by foreign archaeologists in obtaining the treasures. The archaeologists later came to be reviled by Red Chinese officials and writers for 'plundering' the region, which was used for H-bomb testing by the Chinese in the later half of the 20th century. This is one of my favorite books on the Silk Road.