The Great Silk Road — Asia Travel

The Great Silk Road

Honor and praise to the ancient merchants who were pioneers. Someone left home for a far way because that could enrich him, and someone was called in a road just by curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Rumors about the legendary riches of distant lands scattering with unusual speed, pushed the boldest of people for the road. Over the centuries, trade routes were created, firstly in distinct regions, and then over more vast areas. Thus, all countries and continents were involved in the global trade cycle.

The Silk Road is the road which is known by everyone all over the world. From age to age it connected the East and West, enriching the culture of different countries, importing not only goods but also new knowledge, philosophies and even religions.

Originally, this road had a lot of names: «Lapis lazuli Way», «Teal Way», «Jade Way» and even glass one. The names speaking for themselves show the importance of goods in diverse countries. That is quite understandable, because the axiom of trade means: traders always tried to bring the goods which could be expensive to sell and that had a little weight. And precious stones always had a big price for the people of all countries.

Lapis lazuli from Badakhshan, carnelian from Bactria and Sogdiana, Khorezm turquoise were extremely valued in the ancient East. Jade from Khotan and Yarkand (Central Asia) was in huge demand at the court of the Emperor of China. Glass products, which manufacturing center was the Eastern Mediterranean, were demand worldwide.

However, the main trade equivalent, which gave the name of the highway, was silk. For a long time, Chinese masters kept the method of its manufacturing in a secret. But according to the well-known legend, a monk revealed to the world a secret of making this miracle having brought a cocoon in his pikestaff. Although there is another version, on which the Chinese princess who married, has taken away a precious gift in her updo.

The glory of Chinese silk very quickly spread around the world until the Iberian Peninsula in the west of Europe. Caravans, carrying a precious cargo pulled from a distant Asia. So many fires were lit at night, so many dogs were barking following caravans. For the protection of merchants special detachments of soldiers were formed and also fortified caravanserais were built.

The East — West Road, entitled «Silk Road» had several lines and branches. But on the verge of old and new eras the most significant ways became the southern and northern roads. Northern road ran along the southern Tien Shan mountain edge along the Tarim river, turning to the Ferghana Valley and Central Asian interfluve, after that it went through the Volga downstream and the Northern Black Sea reaching the Greek colonies. On the caravans road a variety of trade and craft settlements, caravanserai grew up; rich cities were arisen such as Merv in Turkmenistan, Bukhara, Samarkand, Urgench, Khiva — in Uzbekistan, Otrar, Turkestan, Taraz, Ispedzhab — in Kazakhstan, Julie, Suyab, Novokent, Balasagun, Borskoon, Tash-Rabat, Osh, Uzgen – in Kyrgyzstan. The Southern road was a main line and led to the Daqing through the Pamirs, Balkh, Merv, Gekatompil and Hamadan. Then it was divided into two branches, which stroke out to Syria and Armenia.

For centuries, the Silk Road repeatedly had changes. Traveling around it was difficult, dangerous and very durable. For example, caravan which went from Beijing to the Caspian Sea must overcome the path from 250 days and up to a year. However, the trip was worth it. Since ancient times the Silk Road was not only a guide of the trade paths, but also a carrier of culture. Poets, scientists, philosophers, pilgrims were often traveling with caravans. Thanks to them, the world became acquainted with Christianity, Buddhism and Islam, learned about the manufacturing of gunpowder, silk and paper, was able to evaluate the music, dance and fine arts of different nations.

In XI-XIII centuries, the trade was interrupted. And it was resumed only during the reign of the Mongols exactly for three hundred years. But because the invention of shipping lanes, as well as political instability in Central Asia, the trade by the Great Silk Road disappeared at all.

The Great Silk Road is gone, but a monument to people, who paved this unique way, linking East and West are the ancient cities of Uzbekistan: Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisyabz, Termez with their architectural and historical heritage, represent centuries-old great culture.