The Travels of Marco Polo

The Travels of Marco Polo

Marco Polo is arguably the most famous Western traveler to have journeyed on the Silk Road. As a young merchant, he began his journey to China in 1271 and his travels lasted for 24 years. During this time he became the confidant of Khubilai Khaan (1214-1294). Upon his return he became a prisoner of war. This book is the tale of his travels that were documented by Rustichello of Pisa and gives a fascinating account of religions, customs, trades and ways of life in the near and far East during the reign of Khubilai Khaan.

Means of survival, means of development; handicrafts and tourism on the Silk Roads in Mongolia today.

Tourism makes an important contribution to modern society and culture, with museums and craft-production, in particular, providing key elements. The components that make up contemporary tourism, including the role played by museums in Mongolia, the representations of Mongolia in Europe, and traditional craft-production, could play a significant role in the development of this sector of the Mongolian economy. It is clear that the performing arts are now established and recognised.

They travelled on me, said Gang

A series of stories about life on and around the River Ganges, including poetic and mystical musings, as recounted by a female personification. Here she recounts tales of the many visitors who, over time, came to her shores, as well as those who have sailed on her waters to embark on adventures and discover new bounties. Visitors mentioned, include the first Aryans, as well as the film director, Frederico Fellini.

The rise and fall of the Hami Kingdom (cc. 1389-1513)

The example of the rise and fall of the Hami Kingdom, which existed between 1389 to 1513, illustrates the external forces and the religious and political vicissitudes that were at play during a pivotal time in the history of Central Eurasia. Until the arrival of the Turkic people, the region was known for its extreme diversity of ethnic groups and as being a central meeting place of eastern and western cultures. From ancient times, the region had been inhabited by Indo-European-speaking people who followed Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism and Buddhism.

One phase of Silk Road’s influence on Japan

Objects, including those found in the Fukinoki tomb in Nara, demonstrate the cultural and artistic influences that arrived in Japan via the Silk Road. The designs of dragons and phoenixes, which can be seen on gilt belt plaques, bear a striking resemblance to similar ones that have Scythian origins. Meanwhile a gilt bronze crown that was found there, is very similar to a crown discovered in North Afghanistan.

Early Chinese and Middle-Eastern objects from archeological sites in Thailand reflecting cultural exchange

As a meeting point for travellers by land and sea routes, Thailand’s situation in Southeast Asia acted as a land bridge between the mainland to the north and the archipelagos to the south. Archaeological finds, including coins, ceramics, and beads provide evidence of cultural interactions, migration, and the settlement of a variety of ethnic groups. Indians were among the first visitors (by land), sharing trade links and spreading their faiths (Buddhism and Hinduism).

Chinese rock inscriptions in the Indus Valley (North Pakistan)

A great number of inscriptions have been discovered along the Silk Roads that followed the Hunza and Gilgit rivers, including thousands of petroglyphs on the banks of the Indus river. The dates of these rock carvings fall roughly into three periods – Pre-Buddhist, Buddhist, and Post-Buddhist. So far only one inscription has been published, which intimates that “Gu Wei-long, envoy of the Great Wei, (is) now dispatched to Mi-mi,” - the place of destination being probably modern-day Maimargh, a small country that was to the south of Samarkand.

Traditional mediaeval Indian sea-charts

The use of sea-charts as an aid to practical navigation was in vogue much before the advent of the European colonial traders in the North Indian Ocean is almost an accepted fact. Yet, such sea-charts do not appear to have survived on the Indian, Arab or African shores. Marco Polo, on his return voyage from China to Venice towards the end of 13th century, is reported to have seen the use of sea-charts by Indian seamen.

Silk routes within China as seen in archeological discoveries

The route of the Chinese section of the Silk Road has always varied during its long history. However, three key routes have been identified – the main line (starting in Xian and passing through to Wuquia, to the west of Kashi), and two other routes (both arriving eventually in Wuwei (Liangzhou). Apart from precise literary records, relics such as imported foreign coins (e.g. Byzantine, Sassanian and Arabian), gold- and silver-ware, decorations, glassware and Chinese silk all serve as tangible evidence of significant trade along these three routes.

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