The Silk Road was not only the channel for the merchandise, but also the medium of which, forms, styles, fashion and music been transported between the East and West. The transportations underwent upon the Silk Road went by the Kingdoms of Central Asia and China. There is no doubt that Central Asia is the melting pot of different civilizations, was also the point of departure of stylistic influences on the art of Central China. The rich culture along the Silk Road have enabled art historians to research Indian, Kushan, Iranian, Syrian and other influences on the painting and sculpture of Miran, Bamiyan, Kucha, Penzhikent, Khotan, Turfan and Dunhung.
The multi-culture wave from Central Asia had reached China under Tang Dynasty on the high. For instance, the ornamental designs on the bronze showing animals facing each other. The artistic aspects from Central Asia were a fashion that affected daily life in areas such as clothing, cooking, music, etc. Moreover, Persian music had been appreciated in the palace of the Tang Emperor while Persian food is served at the table of the gentry and women dressed with Persian style clothes. This enthusiasm for the exotic was soon spread out to other regions of China as well as Japan who had close relations with China in the Tang period. Several traces of the influences still exist there, with the objects, instruments and textiles preserved at the famous Shoso-in, the depository of treasure from the Todaiji temple at Nara, and also more diffuse influences, such as music.
Among the artistic fashions of Central Asia inspiration that then developed in the Chinese capitals, music and dance occupied a special place. Orchestras played the music of Kocho, Kashgar, Bukhara and Samarkand and India, from these Kingdoms of Central Asia with their distinctive instruments such as flutes, percussion (gongs and drums) and stringed instruments, harps, lutes and the pipa of Iran. The music of Kucha was the most popular one of all. As music, the exotic style of dance influenced China in wide. There are figurines of dancing girls and orchestras discovered in the tombs dating from Tang Dynasty. Along with the music and dance, the tradition of drinking grape wine was imported mainly from Liangzhou, Gansu in the 7th century. In addition, the puppet shows and the game of polo were also carried into China from the Central Asia.
Through the excavations of the art along the Silk Road, we have evidence of the significant interchange between East and West. The exchange of culture is powerful till now today cause we can still felt the interactive among our daily lives.
Porcelain is a new kind of pottery. The earliest type of porcelain was produced during the Han dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). Porcelain is made by mixing white china clay (kaolin) with china stone (pertuntze) and then heat them to a temperature over 1300 degree. The fusion of the particles creates thin walls without loss of strength. This technique was believed to be mastered by the potters in the Tang dynasty. People in China and people in the west defined it in their own way. To the Chinese, porcelain is like stoneware. The body is hard and resonant. The surface is covered with a hard feldspathic glaze. To the West, porcelain is a hard, resonant and translucent white-bodied ware.
of making porcelain were introduced to Central Asia through the silk route
during the 9th century. At that time people found porcelain products in
the ruins of the Abbasid city of Samarra in Iraq. That city was once a
summer residence of the Muslim leaders from 836 to 883. Later, porcelain
was brought to Europe during the 15th century and was introduced by the
Arabs into Spain, and then to Italy, Germany, France, Holland and England.
It reached Japan after 1600.
The "Jade Horse" is an example of art created by people with admiration to the horse. It is made out of jade, a stones treasured by the Chinese as a symbol for excellence and purity (Cohen, China 29).
Horse is one of the animals favored by the Chinese rulers. The name 'flying horse' is given to the animal because of the beauty in its running motion. It is used in the combat by Wu-ti, the Han Emperor, in the warfare against the Huns. Upon knowing a type of horses, Ferghana horses, with exceptional quality for warfare, Wu-ti assigned a mission to purchase horses from Ferghana. During the transport, many horses have died of dehydration and lack of nutrients. To resolve the problem, Wu-ti sent out a second mission with veterinarians (Hopkirk, 16).
The merchant travelers in the Silk Road used camel as transportation because of its ability to carry heavy loads and its ability to adapt to dry humidity. Though camel was commonly used in the Silk Road, the speed of the camel is by far the slowest. The speed is "four miles an hour unloaded and two and a half to three miles an hour when loaded up. The average load was around three hundred pounds per camel. At this pace, a caravan might cover thirty miles a day" (Foltz, 10).
"Abduction of a Lady with her Porcelains" is a painting from Fatch Album for Shan of Iran. This painting depicts a strange world with people such as the black man at the upper left corner, the nomads of the Steppes, the Chinese officials, and the Chinese Princess at the center. The Chinese princess is being escorted by the Mongols. The group is probably sending her to a distant place, where she will become the wife or a concubine of a prince. The marriage should be the reinforcement of some political alliance (Cohen, China 37). The driver in the foreground of the wagon is turning the head around to the dowry. He is looking back to reassure that the precious gold and porcelains are in security. The men with the sticks are guarding at the front and back of the traveling group. Behind the mountain, there is a group of people interacting in a different activity. The Arabic inscriptions, the black man at the corner, and the ram appear to be cutouts, which are glued on to the painting. Inter-marriage such as "Abduction of a Lady with her Porcelains" suggested that mixed marriages in the Silk Road are very common. People from different walks of life had come together in the Silk Road not only for trading, but also for exchanging of religious ideas and friendship.
Polo game is introduced to the Tang in the eighth century by the nomads.
The history and origin of the game is unsure, but many historians believe
that the Iranians or Tibetans develop it in the central Asia. The game
is described by Tang Yu, in 779AD: "Hooves of a hundred horses gather,
bright and close together, The ball leaps up, the stick drivers it, as
they ride together and apart, Of red oxhide their straps, of yellow gold
their bits. They lean their bodies and bend their arms around the horses'
bellies, A thunderclap answers hands' movement, the divine bead races."
Trading silk textile products was the first way that China was first known to the outside world. According to the history, it was the consort of the Yellow Emperor in the 3000 B.C. who gave silkworm to the Chinese and taught them how to spin and weave silk so that it could be made into articles of clothing. In the Han dynasty (202 B.C. - 220 A.D.), silk was already a major element in the Chinese economy. At that time the Chinese were still the only people who could weave silk. They exported silk to other countries, which were eager to obtain this fine fabric. To the Greeks silk was known as ser, and they called the Chinese people the Seres.
There were many different textile arts include gauze, quilting, embroidery and damask. And among them, embroidery was only done by hand with a needle and required patience and skill. Large quantity of embroideries was transported to Europe through the silk route. Embroidery was also considered as the special domain of woman of all classes. Every Chinese girl had to learn the skills with needle. A girl's intelligence was determined by these skills, just as a man's intelligence was determined by his technique in calligraphy. When a girl became engaged she had to present pieces of embroidery to all the relatives and friends of her prospective bridegroom for their critical appraisal. In the 17th to 18th centuries A.D., in countries such as Spain and Portugal embroidery, silk was used for screens and wall hangings, clothes, shoes, fans, banners, bed covers and tobacco pouches. And textile arts include silk weaving, tapestry and silk embroidery were used to make costumes such as all imperial robes wore by the emperor.
There was little information about the origins of Chinese carpets since nothing has been written on the subject in China. However, people can trace the origin to the northwest region of China. First of all, people needed wool to make rugs and carpets, and wool could only be obtained from the regions where there were many sheep or camels. Those regions would probably be Kansu, Mongolia, or Turkestan. And the skills of wool weaving were carried on by the people in those regions.
Some people claim that the Chinese were the first to weave rugs with a thick pile and that they were made as early as the Hsia dynasty (around 2205 B.C.). On the other hand, some experts from school thought that nothing could possibly have originated in China. They insisted that the idea of wool weaving was introduced into China only a few centuries ago. However, in a treasure trove of the Tang dynasty in Japan there were many fine examples of Chinese rugs of the 8th century, with grayish white grounds, brown border, and designs worked in brown and indigo blue. It proves that the idea of rug weaving was originated from China, but some time later, perhaps during the Yuan dynasty, when China was ruled by the Mongol people, the weavers exchanged their skills with those in Persia and China, and the Chinese had substituted the use of the Persian knot for their own use.