Silk Road

Silk Road Course 2020

Following the success of the Silk Road Summer School held last July under the direction of Drs. Alison Ohta and Susan Whitfield, the Society is planning a new Silk Road course to be held in July 2020. The dates have not been fixed but if you would like to register your interest and availability please contact Alison Ohta ao@royalasiaticsociety.org

The influence of the interactions enabled by the Afro-Eurasian trade routes known as the Silk Roads are much in discussion today, especially with China’s Belt Road Initiative. But what is the story of the Silk Road? Does such a concept make sense? What does it mean in terms of the history and arts of pre-modern Afro-Eurasia?

This 4-day course will introduce the term, its history and the 20th century explorations which brought the role of central Asia to the fore. The course will then look in some detail at aspects of Silk Road art and technologies: silk production, books and printing, glass, ceramics and metalware. There wil be a focus on the designs and aesthetics
travelling along Silk Road, whether found on silk, books or metalware. The participants will have the chance to see original manuscripts and books at the British Library and the Royal Asiatic Society, introduced by their curators.

This is a course intended for a general audience. No prior knowledge is required, although a short bibliography will be supplied for those wishing to do some reading in advance. The group will be limited to 12-15 people and therefore there will be ample opportunity for questions and group discussion.

Silk Road Summer School
Silver stem cup with parcel gilt decoration, 4.8 cm high, made in 8th-9th century China. The shape is inspired by Sogdian and Sasanian pieces, which in turn were inspired by Hellenistic examples. The decoration contains both traditional Chinese and elements from outside. Art Institute of Chicago, 1945.308.
Silk Road Summer School
Limestone carving with pigment, 38 cm high, of a bodhisattva head from the Buddhist rock-cut temple site at Xiangtang Mountain in southwest China, mid-6th century. This site was created under the rule of the Northern Qi dynasty (550-577). Buddhism came into China along the Silk Roads and became established under the patronage of non-Chinese rulers during the 4th to 6th centuries AD. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 14.50.
Silk Road Summer School
Earthenware statue of an imperial horse, 76 cm tall, made in 7th-8th century China with a three-colour glaze popular at the time. Horses, many of them bought from Silk Road neighbours and paid with silk, were essential to Chinese military and court life at this time and are frequently represented in art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1991.253.12.
Silk Road Summer School