ARTH 193B Discussion Set 3. From Emperor Wu-Tis Interest in Central Asia

ARTH 193B: Discussion Set 3

From Emperor Wu-Ti’s Interest in Central Asia

The Ferghana horse is understood to be the mount of the renowned Genghis Khan. The horse is also known as heavenly horse or Tian Ma. It is alleged that the Ferghana horses were celebrated for sweating a red, blood-like fluid. The Ferghana horses were symbols of stature and power.

Chang Ch’ien or Zhang Qian was the commander of the guards at the imperial palace gates.

The Xiongnu was a Turkish-speaking wandering tribe, and China’s most formidable foreign opponent. Li Guangli was a general in Han Emperor Wu-ti’s army who was appointed to lead the expedition to capture the famous Fergana horses from Fergana after the king of Fergana declined to trade the horses with gold coins from Emperor Wu-ti.  

From Western Influences…Northern Chinese Ceramics

The slip-coated earthenware covered container symbolizes the union of domestic cultures and foreign influences. It may have been created in China in the Northern Qi era (550-557).

The meaning of its bountiful decoration and complicated iconography puzzle scholars. Some origins of the motifs include Khotanese earthenwares, Yotkan, and the Akterek ruins.

Origins of the celadon-glazed stoneware jar include, Northern China, Shouzhou kiln, Khotanese, and the West. The jar was based on the green-glazed earthenware flask.

From Sogdians in China…

The Sogdians were residents of lush valleys enclosed by deserts, in particular the Zeravshan valley. Between the first millennium CE, and between the 5th and 8th centuries CE. In Kashkadarya and Zeravshan River basins.

Sogdians main market was China. It started in the first century BCE.

The Hu from Kangju are Sogdians, whereas the Yuezhi are traders from Gandhara and Bactria, the Kushan Empire fashioned by Yuezhi tribes.

“Kang” indicates a Chinese family name of the natives of Samarkand, and “An” is a Chinese family name of the natives of Bukhara.

The ancestors of Shi Shewu held the title, “Sabao”, a record of the Sogdian word sartapao, meaning chief-caravaneer. It also meant the head of the local Sogdian community. The title disappeared from the records after the middle of the 7th century.

In the 7th century there was a negative development in the official situation of the Sogdian communities. The Tang transformed the autonomous Sogdian communities insecurely integrated into the mandarinal hierarchy into increasingly restricted “submit counties” devoid of Sogdian hierarchy. Following the fall of Sogdians, the Iranians became the key traders with China in the mid 8th century.

From Iran: Between East and West

An example of Iranian influence on Chinese ceramics is the painted pottery of the late Chalcolithic and Neolithic periods. The painted pottery culture of Iran formed a bridge between the painted pottery cultures of Mesopotamia and other regions of China at Kansu.

The Chinese blue and white ceramics were inspired by the late 12th and 13th century blue and black under glaze painted wares of Kashan and Rakka, as well as the derivative Sultanabad wares of the Mongol period.

There are traces of partial silk that was woven with other textile materials. These partial silks were woven with expensive silk yarns imported from China.

An illustration of Sasanian motifs is the great elephant silk. The pattern travelled west to Spain

From Silk Road or Paper Road:

The expression “Silk Road was invented by Ferdinand von Richthofen (1833-1905). He was an Austrian explorer and geologist.

Paper is a pad of cellulose fibers, crushed in water and gathered on a screen and dried out. Paper came from southeastern China. It surfaced in the Middle East in the late 8th century and the West in the late 10th century.

Papyrus was utilized as writing support in ancient times. It is a plant found along the banks of river Nile. Parchment is also a writing support that was prepared from animal hide. Codex was a writing format that was found in the Mediterranean world. Suq al-Warraqin was a stationers’ market. It referred to a street lined up with booksellers and shops that sold paper.

The libraries of the Muslim world had hundreds of thousands of volumes owing to the spread of papermaking, while the libraries in Europe held a handful of books.

From East Meets West under the Mongols:

This article defends the Mongols in that it paints a different picture that depicts the Mongols as responsible for the introducing the flow of trade in Eurasia.

Marco Polo depicts the Mongols as industrious people and advanced in communication infrastructure. While Ibn Battuta depicted the Mongols as sophisticated shrine builders. 

A paiza was a passport or conduct of safe passage worn by envoys or officials traveling on government dealings, in order to insure their safety. The yam was an official communication system set up by the Mongols in the reign of Ögödei.

Under the Mongols, textiles were often presented to members of courts and also played a role of display of art mastery. Some types that could be found include nasij, nakh, panni tartarici, and “cloth of Tartary.” There are no viable reasons as to why very few samples of these textiles can be found today.  

The reason for the downfall of the Pax Mongolica squabbling and chaos in China as well as the outbreak of the plague referred to as the Black Death.

From Siyah Qalem and Gong Kai: An Istanbul Album Painter and a Chinese Painter of the Mongolian Period:

Siyah Qalem was a painter, and an artist. The name means “Black Pen”.

Gong Kai was a scholar-official as well as a writer and a painter. He was born in 1222 in Jiangsu province in south China.

The paintings are similar in that they help in transfer of symbolism, artistic impact and meaning. Gong Kai painted the Emaciated Horse (Souma). While Siyah Qalem painted the Hazine albums.

Ren Renfa was a court official, painter and a writer.

The influence of the demon paintings came from the Zhong Kuei legend.

Zhao Mengfu was producer of symbolic paintings. The significance of the Lion and the Bull paintings is symbolism of Zhao Mengfu’s sheep and goat painting that represents two Chinese acquaintances compelled during the period of barbarian invasion to select between serving the invaders and proud but agonizing resistance.