The history of trade is embedded in the history of cloth. Silks and other textiles have much to do with the way history has unfolded. Even a slight interest in the topic brings context to the function and value of cloth.
Between Winds and Clouds, by Bin Yang, is a scholarly work on the history of the southwestern silk road. The book studies the topic from the second century BCE. Imagine the cloth of two thousand two hundred years ago.
Between Winds and Clouds says, “When Zhang Qian saw cloth and bamboo canes from Sichuan in Bactria of the late second century BCE, he suspected a route between Southwest China and India. So he reported on this possibility to Emperor Wu,51 who then dispatched his envoys to explore the way to India.”
The Silk Road has several “branches”. The southwestern silk road is actually thought to have existed as early as four hundred BCE. The book says, “One piece of evidence they cited was what Ji Xianlin, a most famous scholar of Sino-Indian cultural relationships, discussed the word cinapattas in Arthasastra, a Sanskrit work of around the fourth century BCE. Cinapatta was translated by Ji into “bunches of Chinese silk,” implying that Chinese silk was known to Indians at that time.”
The book continues, “The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, written by a Greek of the mid-first century, says, “After the region (Chryse) under the very north, the sea outside ending in a land called This, there is a great inland city called Thinae, from which raw silk and silk yarn and silk cloth are brought on foot through Bactria to Barygaza.”
But as it always happens, life moves on, things change. Between Winds and Clouds says, “There were not too many sources of the SSR after the fourth century [AD], with the Maritime Silk Road flourishing.”
You can read the entire book and many other books at Gutenberg<e>.
- Great Silk Road Today (robertg69.wordpress.com)
- Yale Silk Road Database | Yale University Library (library.yale.edu)
- Discover the secrets of the Silk Road – before everyone else does… (projectworldawareness.com)