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The Southern Silk Road

Silk is a great invention of ancient Chinese people, it transported to the West long ago. In BC Western, China has already called "Sailisi country", which means the origin place of silk. From Luoyang, Changan to westbound, via Qinzhou (now Tianshui in Gansu province ), over Jincheng (now the West of Lanzhou), across the Hexi Corridor, neither go out Yangguan nor Yumen, west to  over Congling to central Asian countries and Rome, this channel was known as the Silk Road in West.

     The Southern Silk Road refers to through Pingxi County (now Xining) into the grass, or north to Zhangye, or westward to Nanjiang by going out of Chaidamu Basin, it was called Qiang middle way in Han Dynasty, and called Tuguhun Road or Qinghai Road in Northern and Southern Dynasties in Chinese history. After the 4th century AD, the situation of territory separation among heroes emerged in Hexi Corridor, with the frequent war and traffic obstruction, the political ambassadors and businessmen from the east and west changed this way through Qinghai, that’s the reason why the south Silk Road would be prosper. From Xining east to Jincheng, Chang An, or South to Bashu, or west through the southern territory of Xinjiang to communicate Southern and Northern dynasty, it charged the important tasks of material and cultural exchanges, so it has left the important historical sites in history.

 

   In the rush of the crowd on the Silk Road, the number of domestic and foreign Buddhist monks occupied the most. According to historical records ,as follows (1) AD 399 (the Longan three years during Eastern Jin Dynasty ), the monk Fa Xian selected Xining to west for morality. At his age of 64, he started from Chang An, pass Longban,across Yuanchuan, through Xining, north to Biandukou and to Zhangye toward west, he studied and toured in India, Nepal and other countries. He returned from the island in AD 411, translated classic scripture of Sutra in Jiankang (now Nanjing ), and composed "travels around countries with Buddha" (2) In AD 420, monk Tanwujie ( also named Fayong) went to the west for seeking morality, through Lanzhou and Xining, walked along the north bank of Qinghai Lake, and through Chaidamu Basin to the west to India. (3) In AD 518 (the Northern Wei Dynasty) monk Song Yun went to the west through here. Song Yun was born in Dunhuang (in Gansu province), who was the monk of the Chong Li Temple in LuoYang. The mother of the Ming emperor of Northern Wei dynasty send Song Yun, Hui Sheng and other people to Tianzhu County for experiences and knowledge to show her sincerity to Buddha. Song Yun and his partners start from LuoYang, via Tianshui, Longxi, Lintao, cross the river from Yongjing to Xining, they arrived  Chiling ( now RiYue mountain )after about 40 days. This place is the boundary of Northern Wei with defense.West to Tuguhun City, over the Altun to Shanshan. Song Yun and his partners traveled and visited all traces of Buddha in Tianzhu, and abstained 170 classic sculptures about Sutra, they spent three years went back to motherland by the same way.(4) In AD 559(the first year during Wucheng in the Northern Zhou ) Qiantuo Luo people, through the south territory of Xinjiang and Hetian,Chaidamu district to Xining, east to ChangAn.

In addition, according to historical records, Tuguhun caravan was quite active, they always went to many places to communicate. Known as Persia horse with high quality in Tuguhun, they gave birth to the famous Qinghai Cong, which reflected their contacts with Persia.This case can be  proved through the 76 Persian coins which excavated from food hall site in Huang temple street in Xining 1956. Through the study of some relevant experts, these coins belonged to silver coins of the Sasanian dynasty and Pirooz dynasty. Bulk silver coins unearthed in Xining, confirming the important position of the south Silk Road in East-west trade. Furthermore, in 1984 big tombs found in Dulanreshui (where located many tombs), unearthed a large number of silk fabrics, including two pieces of brocade pattern with exotic style and the image of the Sun God. Also unearthed an silver pot with Persian shape. According to this, these late Northern Persian tapestry and Yin Hu, becoming an important historical story of cultural exchange and Silk Road on the evidence. These brocades and Persian silver pot in late Northern have become an important evidence of cultural exchange and historical story on the Southern Silk Road.

This Southern Silk Road is also connected to a musk road. It indicated the output channel mainly for musk product trading from ancient Tibetan to the Roman Empire. The well known Tangbo ancient path linked Chang An and Tibet through Qinghai, some parts of the ancient path were called musk road, and later became the trunks to govern Tibet in Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties.

With the development of history to the Northern Song Dynasty, the road of Hexi Corridor was impeded again, the authority of Qinghai in Tang dynasty carried Preferential Trade Policies, the Southern Silk Road through the Qinghai flourished again. The sea road gradually opened after southern Song, although the silk road on Continental were not abandoned, the function has been  reduced.