Author Tan Yan
Publisher • China Travel & Tourism Press
Language English &Chinese
Page material gelatine plate paper
Extending ahead is a boundless desert. Over the azure sky flies a line of wied geese while heard in the vast wilderness is the repeated ding-dong of camel bells. Along with the rhythm of the sounding bells, a camel caravan, heavily laden with silks, is waddling on towards the west. Seen swiftly over from the west all of a sudden is a herd of steeds, which with heads high and hoofs in the air are galloping to the east. This is the very "Silk Road" as described by men of letters over a long time ago in the past.
China is the hometown of silks, the production of which in the Yellow River reaches was started as early as over 4000 years ago. Later in around the 5th century, the Chinese silk began to be shipped to the west, being sold and distributed to so far as India, Roman Empire and Greece. Zhang Qian, an outstanding adventurer of the Western Hah Dynasty was twice sent from Chang'an to the west, thereby opening up the vital communication line running from east to west and thus making possible the Chinese silks to be shipped in great amount to the west. And still later in the long run of times, numerous Chinese people of different nationalities and the peoples of middle and western Asia had been coming and going day and night along the main communication line of over 7000 kilometers with camel caravans or on horse-backs. In the meantime, pearls of the Mediterranean, 'fine steeds from the western regions had been taken ceaselessly along the road to the then Chinese capital of Chang'an whereas the beautiful silks of China were flying over to the west, adding much luster to the ancient Roman market. For thousands of years this ancient communication line had played a very important role in the economic and cultural exchanges and in bringing up the friendly relations between the peoples of the east and the west. Hence it is reputed as the beautiful "Silk Road". However, towards the 15th-16th centuries when other means of communications were opened from Europe to the east, the Silk Road gradually sank into oblivion, which, buried in the vast wilderness of desert, has become a testimony' symbolizing the exchanges and friendship between the peoples of the east and the west in history. At present, many foreign historians, archeologists and tourists old and young in tens of thousands defying
thousands of miles, come to this Chinese Silk Road for visits at their own discretion, seeking for something old and brilliant to muse over and reflect upon, thereby leaving them a wonderful impression.
Gansu Province, ranging over the eastern part, occupies a very. important place ahmg the Silk Road of more than 7000 kilometers long. The section of the Silk Road traversing through the Gansu Province covers a total of over 1600 kilometers, about one fifth of the whole length of the Silk Road. The four famous prefectural towns to the west of Long - Wuwei, Zhangye, Jiuquan and Dunhuang are all those of great importance in ancient times. Therefore, it has left over a great number of historical sites, footprints of celebrities and rich and varied
cultural relics. The most renowned ones among them are the Maijishan Grottoes in Tianshui, Bingling Grotto Temple in Yongjing County and the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang; the ruined sites of Yangguan and Yumen Passes and in addition, the Jiayu Pass, the western end of the Great Wall-No. 1 Magnificent Pass under Heaven and so on and so forth.
In order to make it easier for businessmen, tourists and others-the Silk Roaders to understand the Silk Road Culture, facilitate their tours and studies on the antiquities and things of old along the road the author would like to give readers the knowledge in the form of bilingual versions in Chinese- and English and in a way as detailed as possible. It is hoped that thi~ book would do some good to the Silk Roaders to know, understand and help better solve their Silk Road complexes.
At last ! would like to acknowledge that in the writing and compilation of the book I cited now and then some materials from some Chinese copies as part of the contents. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to those who've made great efforts in bringing out the related books or materials in Chinese.
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