Saturday, February 29, 2020

Book Review On Life Along The Silk Road History Essay

Book Review On Life Along The Silk Road History Essay The book that I had been given for review is† LIFE ALONG THE SILK ROAD†. The book offers a glimpse into the character and characters of the Eastern Silk road between AD 750 and 1000. The author of the book Susan Whitfield is the director of the British Library sponsored Dunhuang project, which makes a remarkable collection of Ancient Silk Road manuscripts including those acquired by legendary explorer Sir Auel Stein, available on the internet. Her knowledge of this treasure trove of primary material shows throughout the book. She has written extensively about china and therefore is in a good position to give an account of the all the details regarding the network of roads and paths crossing central Asia and concentrates on the 8th to 10th centuries A.D. The author has an extensive research on the Mongolian Empire and middle kingdom. She has travelled to central Asia several times and has written this novel as reflection of the stories of the Silk Road. She has dedicated the book to prof.Edward Schafer whom she credits for literary excavation of this historic trade route. This book Life along the Silk Road gives a rich account of the varied history of the Silk Road. It is a good read for people with special interest in history. The book recounts the stories, the lives of ten individuals who lived along the Silk Road in different era. The tale of ten different individuals a merchant, a soldier, a horseman, a monk, a nun among others, all form a different walk of life. The author has tried to reconstruct the history of the route through the personal experiences of these characters. The region covered in the book corresponds to modern day eastern Uzbekistan, western China, Mongolia, south to the Himalayas and including Tibet. Today that region is largely occupied by Turkic peoples, mainly the Uighur, as well as Chinese colonists and is more Islamic than not. In the time period covered by the book it was more Indo-European in character, mainly Buddhist, and a great deal more cosmopolitan, with many towns and cities home to Turks, Indians, Chinese, Tibetans, and Mongolians as well as followers of Manicheism, Zoroastrianism, Nestorian Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and shamanism. Many Silk Road towns, once some of the most populous cities in the world, now have largely been reclaimed by the desert sands due to a decline in population and a drop in the water table, a land now rich in archaeology but vulnerable to thieves looking for artifacts to sell on the black market. The major source of information for this book and indeed much of the scholarship done on this region and era comes from the over forty thousand documents uncovered in a Buddhist cave complex outside Dunhuang, now in Gansu province, China. Sealed up in the eleventh century, it was uncovered by accident in 1900. Though many of these precious scrolls, paintings, and sculptures have been lost since then for various reasons (and others tainted by the existence of forgeries ), more than enough remained; the importance of the Dunhuang documents cannot be overstated. A whole field of study, Dunhuangology, grew up around the study of the documents. Not only were there many Buddhist texts, but as paper was rare and often recycled (and once Buddhist scripture was written on paper it was considered nearly blasphemous to destroy at that point), many non-Buddhist writings were preserved, unique in providing glimpses into the lives of everyday people.

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