Let’s begin the history with a mystery of the five Ws –Who, What, When, Where, and Why, of Silk Route?
Silk Route is a network of trade that connected China with Europe, Asia, and North Africa that later expanded worldwide resulted in the exchange of interactions that led to the beginning of a modern world.
Silk route, the ancient trade link that connected China with West and exchanged ideas, philosophies, religious beliefs, and other trade exchanges. Spices, traditional goods, religions, languages were all exchanged. All these
made a sea change in the making of a new tough socio-economic era. Technology, literature, art, science, etc. began to develop.
Who started Silk Route?
This happened before the birth of Christ. An emperor Wu-Ti sent a Chinese man named Zhang Quian on a mission to the western region of China. His journey resulted in the rise of the Silk Road is now considered one of the most foremost expedition. He is called the father of Silk Road.
What is Silk Route/Road, when did it happen, from where to where?
The Silk Road was a network of trade routes that connected the east and the west precisely Eurasia and north Africa, the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century. Trade links were through both land and sea. It included everything- economic, cultural, political, and social interactions.
Silk Road- the name itself explains it.
The most valued commodity of that time transported through these trade networks, Chinese Silks. This trade outspread and many other goods exchanged, as well as ideologies, philosophies, religions, culture, technologies, etc. got swapped along with diseases. This is also how the bubonic plague hit the world, way through the silk road.
During the first century CE, luxury fabric silk had become a problem and exported at high costs from China itself. To continue the exports, merchants elucidated and re-wove the fabric into thin sheer fabrics, and the finer it went, the more
transparent the garment appeared. In the year 14CE, the Imperial Senate made it illegal for men to wear silk, stating Eastern silks should no longer degrade the male sex.
The trade was boycotted by the Ottoman empire with the west and closed the routes, and ultimately it caused an end to the Silk Road. When the Silk Road closed, new trade routes were needed to find to meet the demand for goods. Thisled to the Age of Discovery (1453-1660 CE), which led to the foundation for water routes too. This also led the Europeans to influence their western cultures and religions in other regions. Thus, the Silk Road had an impact on world trade.
Why was Silk Road so Important?
The penny-plain answer is ‘It expanded trade and commerce worldwide”.
Just trade and commerce?
No. Let’s see what else was influenced by the Silk Road.
As mentioned above, silk was the main commodity that traded, as it was so hotly desired, it was also used as a currency in Central Asia, and travel across Asia always happened as silk was available only in China at that time. Therefore the spices from East Indies, glass heads from Rome, silk, ginger, lacquerware from China, fur from animals, and slaves from regions all traveled along this route. Cultural segmentation also happened. Earlier mentioned, the plague was also spread along with goods and wiped out 10% of the Roman population.
Sogdians of Central Asia often acted as a medium for trades between India and China. They translated Sanskrit sutras into Chinese and spread the Buddhist faith. Like ways, many religions traveled along the routes and fit into the regions.
By the end of the Silk Road and the beginning of the Age of Discovery led to worldwide trade and interactions, and thus, Silk Road became a vital milestone in the making of a modern world. Hence the commerce brought new faiths, ideas, and goods to places they had not previously been. Now a part of the silk road still exists in the form of a paved highway connecting Pakistan and the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, China.