Life along the Silk Road / Edition 4

Overview

In the first 1,000 years after Christ, merchants, missionaries, monks, mendicants, and military men traveled on the vast network of Central Asian tracks that became known as the Silk Road. Linking Europe, India, and the Far East, the route passed through many countries and many settlements, from the splendid city of Samarkand to tiny desert hamlets. Susan Whitfield creates a rich and varied portrait of life along the greatest trade route in history in a vivid, lively, and learned account that spans the eighth through the tenth centuries. Recounting the lives of ten individuals who lived at different times during this period, Whitfield draws on contemporary sources and uses first-hand accounts whenever possible to reconstruct the history of the route through the personal experiences of these characters.

Life Along the Silk Road brings alive the now ruined and sand-covered desert towns and their inhabitants. Readers encounter a Uighur nomad from the Gobi Desert accompanying a herd of steppe ponies for sale to the Chinese state; Ah-long, widow of a prosperous merchant, now reduced to poverty and forced to resort to law and charity to survive; and the Chinese princess sent as part of a diplomatic deal to marry a Turkic kaghan. In the process we learn about women's lives, modes of communication, weapons, types of cosmetics, methods of treating altitude sickness in the Tibetan army, and way s that merchants cheated their customers. Throughout the narrative, Whitfield conveys a strong sense of what life was like for ordinary men and women on the Silk Road-everyone from itinerant Buddhist monks, to Zoroastrians and Nestorian Christians seeking converts among the desert settlers, to storytellers, musicians, courtesans, diviners, peddlers, and miracle-workers who offered their wares in the marketplaces and at temple fairs.

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Editorial Reviews

Liya Li
Enlightening new book. . . . recounts the history of the eastern Silk Road, from Samarkand to Chang¹an, through ten individual composites based on the historical record who lived in different city-states along the eastern Silk Road from the 8th to the 10th centuries. Whitfield¹s skillfully crafted tales take readers on a journey back to the heyday of the Silk Road and enable them to relive its people¹s unusual existence.
—(The Bloomsbury review)
Richard Foltz
Wonderfully written and highly evocative. . . . Armchair travelers and historians will certainly enjoy reading it.
Liya Li
Enlightening new book. . . . recounts the history of the eastern Silk Road, from Samarkand to Chang¹an, through 10 individuals ‹composites based on the historical record‹who lived in different city-states along the eastern Silk Road from the 8th to the 10th centuries. Whitfield¹s skillfully crafted tales take readers on a journey back to the heyday of the Silk Road and enable them to relive its people¹s unusual existence.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2580520232146
  • Manufacturer: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 253
  • These items ship to U.S. address only. No APO/FPO.

Meet the Author


Susan Whitfield runs the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library, providing Internet access to over 50,000 pre-eleventh century Silk Road manuscripts now in collections worldwide. She has written several books and articles on China, including China: A Literary Companion.
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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Preface
Note on Names and Romanization
Map
Introduction 1
The Merchant's Tale 27
The Soldier's Tale 55
The Horseman's Tale 76
The Princess's Tale 95
The Monk's Tale 113
The Courtesan's Tale 138
The Nun's Tale 155
The Window's Tale 174
The Official's Tale 189
The Artist's Tale 206
Epilogue 223
Further Reading 226
Table of Rulers, 739-960 230
Index 232
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Customer Reviews

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