Silk, Slaves, and Stupas: Material Culture of the Silk Road
Following her bestselling Life Along the Silk Road, Susan Whitfield widens her exploration of the great cultural highway with a new captivating portrait focusing on material things. Silk, Slaves, and Stupas tells the stories of ten very different objects, considering their interaction with the peoples and cultures of the Silk Road—those who made them, carried them, received them, used them, sold them, worshipped them, and, in more recent times, bought them, conserved them, and curated them. From a delicate pair of earrings from a steppe tomb to a massive stupa deep in Central Asia, a hoard of Kushan coins stored in an Ethiopian monastery to a Hellenistic glass bowl from a southern Chinese tomb, and a fragment of Byzantine silk wrapping the bones of a French saint to a Bactrian ewer depicting episodes from the Trojan War, these objects show us something of the cultural diversity and interaction along these trading routes of Afro-Eurasia.
Exploring the labor, tools, materials, and rituals behind these various objects, Whitfield infuses her narrative with delightful details as the objects journey through time, space, and meaning. Silk, Slaves, and Stupas is a lively, visual, and tangible way to understand the Silk Road and the cultural, economic, and technical changes of the late antique and medieval worlds.
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The designs on the jade plaques used in the earrings 3 The design on the belt plaque from grave
Form of glass bowls found in Hepu and Guixian South China
Engraving of a wooden boat from the tomb of the king of Nan
Coin of Wima Kadphises
Tamgha of the Kushan kings used on the coins
Coin of Kaniška I
Coins of Huviškas 11 Coin of Vasudeva I
Plan of Sanchi Stupa
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almanac Amluk Dara Ancient Arab archaeological Archaeology argues Asian Axum Bactrian belt plaques Blue Qurʾan bowl Brill British Library British Museum Buddha Buddhist burial Byzantine Cambridge Central Asia central China century BC chapter China Chinese Christian codex coins color cultures dating decoration discussion Dunhuang dynasty early East edited elite emperor Empire Eurasia evidence ewer example excavated Faxian folios Gandhāra glass gold Greek Hellenistic Hephthalites History horse hunter silk India Islamic jade Kharoṣṭhī Khotan Khotanese Kidarites king kingdom Kushan Kushan Empire manuscripts material monastery monks Muthesius northern notes objects Olivieri original Oxford paintings parchment period piece possible present-day printed probably produced region relics remains River Roman routes rulers Sasanian scholars script scrolls shows Silk Road slaves Sogdian sources Stein steppe stupa suggests Swat valley Tarim textiles texts Tibetan tomb trade Turkic University Press Wang Whitfield Xian Xianbei Xiongnu Xuanzang Yuezhi Zhao