Life Along the Silk Road

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( su 298 valutazioni fornite da Goodreads )
 
9780520232143: Life Along the Silk Road

In the first 1,000 years after Christ, merchants, missionaries, monks, mendicants, and military men traveled on the vast network of Central Asian tracks that became known as the Silk Road. Linking Europe, India, and the Far East, the route passed through many countries and many settlements, from the splendid city of Samarkand to tiny desert hamlets. Susan Whitfield creates a rich and varied portrait of life along the greatest trade route in history in a vivid, lively, and learned account that spans the eighth through the tenth centuries. Recounting the lives of ten individuals who lived at different times during this period, Whitfield draws on contemporary sources and uses firsthand accounts whenever possible to reconstruct the history of the route through the personal experiences of these characters.

Life along the Silk Road brings alive the now ruined and sand-covered desert towns and their inhabitants. Readers encounter an Ulghur nomad from the Gobi Desert accompanying a herd of steppe ponies for sale to the Chinese state; Ah-long, widow of a prosperous merchant, now reduced to poverty and forced to resort to law and charity to survive; and the Chinese princess sent as part of a diplomatic deal to marry a Turkish kaghan. In the process we learn about women's lives, modes of communication, weapons, types of cosmetics, methods of treating altitude sickness in the Tibetan army, and ways that merchants cheated their customers. Throughout the narrative, Whitfield conveys a strong sense of what life was like for ordinary men and women on the Silk Road--everyone from itinerant Buddhist monks, to Zoroastrians and Nestorian Christians seeking converts among the desert settlers, to storytellers, musicians, courtesans, diviners, peddlers, and miracle-workers who offered their wares in the marketplaces and at temple fairs. A work of great scholarship, Life along the Silk Road is at the same time extremely accessible and entertaining.

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Review:

With a nod to the storytelling traditions of the ancient central Asian bazaars that it describes, Life Along the Silk Road is a wily half-breed of a history book. Mixing narrative and historic minutiae, each chapter introduces an inhabitant of the Silk Road at the end of the 10th century. Following the lives and stories of the Merchant, the Soldier, the Monk, the Courtesan, and others, Susan Whitfield brings the dramatic history of pre-Islamic central Asia down to a human scale, fleshing out the battles of conquest and trade with the details of everyday life.

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 Aurel Stein, available on the Internet. Her knowledge of this treasure trove of primary material shows throughout the book. What is the choicest cut of meat from a camel? The hump. The Chinese recipe for curing possession by demons? It involves a number of ingredients, including a broiled centipede, with all the legs removed. What ancient Silk Road town was famous for its dancing girls? Read and see. --Ken Peavler

From the Back Cover:

For several centuries while Europe was in what have been called the Dark Ages, emperors in palaces of gold and jade, possessing every luxury that the known world had to offer, with scientific knowledge from Babylonia and China, medicine from Greece, India, and Tibet, and a myriad of artistic and cultural traditions, fought each other for control of the greatest trade route in history--the Silk Road. This book looks at the lives of people in these empires--from princesses to laborers--on the pre-Islamic Silk Road, before it was eclipsed by maritime trade.

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Susan Whitfield
Editore: University of California Press (2001)
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Descrizione libro University of California Press, 2001. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. newWe Ship Every Day! Free Tracking Number Included! International Buyers Are Welcome! Satisfaction Guaranteed!. Codice libro della libreria 10000003431N

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