When Asia Was the World: Traveling Merchants, Scholars, Warriors, and Monks Who Created the "Riches of the "East"

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Da Capo Press, Dec 4, 2007 - History - 400 pages
8 Reviews
While European intellectual, cultural, and commercial life stagnated during the early medieval period, Asia flourished as the wellspring of science, philosophy, and religion. Linked together by a web of religious, commercial, and intellectual connections, the different regions of Asia's vast civilization, from Arabia to China, hummed with commerce, international diplomacy, and the brisk exchange of ideas. Stewart Gordon has fashioned a look at Asia from A.D. 700 to 1500, a time when Asia was the world, by describing the personal journeys of Asia's many travelers--the merchants who traded spices along the Silk Road, the apothecaries who exchanged medicine and knowledge from China to the Middle East, and the philosophers and holy men who crossed continents to explore and exchange ideas, books, science, and culture.--From publisher description.

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Review: When Asia Was the World

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It was reassuring to see that Xians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists agreed that travel is a necessary part of becoming an educated person. Shira Destinie MEOW Date: Saturday, June 9. 12014 HE (Holocene Era) Read full review

Review: When Asia Was the World

User Review  - Goodreads

A series of "Traveler's tales", describing people and cultures and the flourishment of trade in the East during 500 to 1500. Each chapter focuses on a different period of time, a different traveler ... Read full review


Monasteries and Monarchs Xuanzang 618632 CE
Caliph and Caravan Ibn Fadlan 921922 CE
Philosopher and Physician Ibn Sina 10021021 CE
Ingots and Artifacts The Intan Shipwreck circa 1000 CE
Pepper and Partnerships Abraham bin Yiju 11201160 CE
Nobles and Notables Ibn Battuta 13251356 CE
Treasure and Treaty Ma Huan 14131431 CE
Blood and Salt Babur 14941526 CE
Medicines and Misunderstandings Tomé Pires 15111521 CE
The Asian World 5001500 CE
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Page 17 - Thus I accomplished a journey of more than 50,000 li; yet, notwithstanding the thousand differences of customs and manners I have witnessed, the myriads of dangers I have encountered, by the goodness of Heaven I have returned without accident, and now offer my homage with a body unimpaired, and a mind satisfied with the accomplishment of my vows. I have beheld the Ghridrakuta Mountain, worshipped at the Bodhi tree : I have seen traces not seen before ; heard sacred words not heard before ; witnessed...
Page 16 - Y6g&charya-blmini-s"astra, and to investigate doubtful passages. I have visited and adored the sacred vestiges of our religion, and heard the profound exposition of the different schools. My mind has been overjoyed, and my visit here, has, I protest, been of the utmost profit. I desire now to go back and translate and explain to others what I have heard, so as to cause others also to be equally grateful to you, with myself, in hearing and understanding these things ; and for this reason I am unwilling...
Page 6 - The Master of the Law having visited the celebrated Masters all round, devoured their words and examined their principles ; and so he found that each followed implicitly the teaching of his own school ; but on verifying their doctrine he saw that the holy books differed much, so that he knew not which to follow.
Page 2 - ... finely lined eyebrows, and bright eyes. He wore his dress large, and his girdle was full, loving to be recognised as a scholar. Born in those times, and a man of a remote district, he was simple in his manners and contented — and sought neither honour nor preferment. Anticipating the decay and fall of the Sui dynasty, he buried himself in the study of his books. Many offers of provincial and district offices were pressed on him, which he persistently refused ; he declined all magisterial duties...
Page 9 - ... caused an additional supply of necessary provisions, and each day he pressed on him food provided from the king's own store. The Master of the Law, seeing that he would be detained by force in opposition to his original design, declared with an oath that he would eat nothing, in order to affect the king's heart. So he sat in a grave posture, and during three days he neither ate nor drank ; on the fourth day the king seeing that the Master was becoming fainter and fainter, overcome with shame...
Page 11 - ... blinded with the glare, so that it cannot long gaze at them. The icy peaks fall down sometimes and lie athwart the road, some of them a hundred feet high, and others several tens of feet wide. On this account the extreme difficulty of climbing over the first, and the danger of crossing the others. Moreover the wind, and the snow driven in confused masses, make it difficult to escape an icy coldness of body though wrapped in heavy folds of fur-bound garments. When desirous of food or sleep there...

About the author (2007)

Stewart Gordon is Senior Research Scholar at the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan, and author of three books on Asia. He lives in Ann Arbor.

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