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the golden peaches of samarkand

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THE GOLDEN PEACHES OF SAMARKAND
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Introduction
There has been an increasing association of globalization with the twentieth and the start of the twenty-first centuries resulting to the overshadowing of earlier periods. Looking at globalization from a global history perspective would reveal that globalization began way before the start of the twentieth century. The book “The Golden Peaches Of Samarkand” creates a correlation between the silk road and the political, cultural, and social relations among different civilizations. Research into the Silk Roads, for instance, provides a distinct way of conveying the importance of relations between cultures. Historians acknowledge that the origin of the Silk Roads can be traced back to the Tang dynasty campaign of Zhang Qian to Central Asia in the 2nd century. However, contacts between China and Central Asia undoubtedly precedes this time as supported by the discoveries of silk in tombs located in the Middle East before the Tang mission.
Between the 2nd century BCE and 16th century CE, however, there was persistence in commercial activities in Silk Roads, with some conspicuous exceptions. Caravans stopped travelling to China or Iran in of weak or chaotic situations and when merchants and other travellers did have any form of protection while travelling across Eurasia. In the course of these unstable times, there were fragile associations as the only people who would travel were missionaries, traders, and entertainers, in spite of the turbulence.

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The Tang and Yuan dynasties witnessed the growth of the Silk Roads. The author indicates that there was a remarkable exchange of information, goods, and tactics during the ruling of the Tang. The author takes a thorough examination of the literary texts, encyclopaedias, and histories, revealing a large volume of information that indicate the wide range of the Silk Roads trade carried out by the Tang. Commercial activities and tribute in terms of animals, birds, medications such as herbs, aromatics, jewels, relics, and books were exported to China. A majority of the items were luxury goods with a small percentage of the goods being made up of bulky necessities that were appropriate for the long duration of the journey as a result of their magnitude and size. The products were accompanied by tributes such as slaves, dwarfs, and people who looked exotic, who the Chinese considered impressive and were assigned trivial responsibilities in the history of China. During the same time, inventions by the Chinese were able to find their way to other dynasties. The secret related to the production of silk, which were only produced by the Chinese, had been disclosed to the Byzantine Empire long before the Tang discovered it, while freed Chinese slaves introduced the use of paper to the Arab militaries from Samarkand in the 19th century. Chinese weavers and gold craftsmen were able to survive invasions by Muslims in Bukhara and distributed designs and motifs of the Chinese people.
While Silk Roads commerce accounted for a comparatively small part of the Chinese economic activities, it greatly influenced the culture of the country. Musicians of Turkic origin and dancers from Central Asia, were invited by the Tang rulers, the actual nexus of the Silk Roads, to entertain people at court, leading to fads for external music, dance, and costume. The Chinese were able to adopt the musical instruments used by the Middle Eastern people, a factor that led to the enrichment of the Chinese music. It is apparent that Li Bo, one of the greatest poets of China, was heavily influenced by Central Asian music. His poetry features aspects of Turkic music which influenced his rhyme and irregular meters, which is not a surprise considering he was born near the north-western border of China. Stronger evidence of Chinese fascination with foreigners as a result of its effect on their culture is the Tang multi-coloured ceramic figurines that often had depictions of Silk Roads travellers. Entertainers, merchants, as well as guardian depictions in the ceramics from Central Asia and the Middle East were treasured by the elite community in China, as most of them were found in tombs. Those who facilitated the Silk Roads trade were similarly prized, as were the multi-coloured ceramic horses and camels, a few of which were quite big in size.
The introduction of foreign religions had the greatest and long-lasting impact on the culture of the Tang Silk Roads. At first, Buddhism was able to reach China through the oases of Silk Roads in the course of the Han dynasty. In the subsequent centuries, Buddhism writings were brought in and translated into the local language. There was an increase in the rate of interaction between the native Chinese and the Buddhists outside of China in the course of the Tang dynasty, leading to the travelling of famous pilgrims as the Xuanzang to India and the larger Central Asia to assist the Buddhist masters in their studies and t assist in the collection of Buddhist artifacts and texts. Frequent travels by the pilgrims naturally resulted in increased Sino-Indian interaction not only regarding religion but also in such fields as commerce and cultural transmission.
Bibliography
Schafer, Edward H. 1963. The golden peaches of Samarkand: a study of Tʻang exotics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Sims-Williams, Ursula, and Susan Whitfield. 2004. The Silk Road: trade, travel, war and faith ; [published on the occasion of the exhibition at the British Library, 7 May – 12 September 2004. Chicago, Ill: Serindia [u.a.].

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