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(2015)Mapping Silk Road with Silks
Zhao Feng(National Silk Museum, China)

Since the German geographer F. von Richthofen described the Marinus’s route between the Greek and China as the Silk Road in his great book, China, scholars have tried to draw many maps of the Silk Road. Among those maps, there is only one map, made by a senior archaeologist, Dr Xia Nai, with those spots where silks have been excavated. (fig.1 Xia’s map of Silk Road) However, this map was first published in 1972, and the information used in this map was from the publications in the first half of 20th century.

 

 

It was a dream for me to draw a map of Silk Road with all the excavations of silks on the Silk Road. So in 1992, when I published my first book, Tang silks and Silk Road, where I have a map with those sites where silks were excavated. However it was only focused on the findings of Tang dynasty.

 

Since 2006, some investigation tours have been made by our team, including the China National Silk Museum and Donghua University, the former China Textile University in Shanghai.  

 

Dec 2006, Taklamakan Desert


A textile and costume study tour along the Taklamakan desert was organized by Donghua University and Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology. More than ten archaeological sites with textile excavations were visited and the formal report was published in 2007.

2006-2008, Uzbekistan

Two trips were made to focus on the archaeological textiles from Monchak-tepe in Fergana, where a lot of taquete silks with spun silk and plain weave silks were found.

 

2013-2014, Russia

With the help from Naslidie in Stavropol, we took more than two trips to northern Caucasus and searched for the silks from the 9th to 10th centuries, including those sites: Machevaya Balka, Arkhis, and Hasaut. Silks found in those sites are now collected at the the State Hermitage Museum, Kherkesk Museum, Stavropol Museum and Museum of Archaeology in Moscow.


In the same time, Some Mongol silks were have learnt and partly studied, for instance, those from Dzhuhta, Stravropol Region, 1988; Riabicher, Rostov Region, 2007; Berenzhnovka, Saradov Region, 1952-53; Cuva, Kalmikia Rep, 1982; Uvek, Saradov Region; etc.

May 2015, Tajikistan

A special trip was made this spring to Tajikistan, especially in the ancient Sogdian area, including Penjikent site, San Jahar military architect, Mug Mountain, as a military fortress, where not only the silks but also cotton textiles were found.

 

Aug. 2015, Gansu and Xinjiang


One more recent textile study trip was made by the China National Silk Museum and Donghua University, from Xi’an to Dunhuang, even to the Khara Khoto, with many textile findings. On the other hands, we found many early archaeological silks and textiles in the neighborhood of this area, such as Majiayuan in Gansu, and Habahe, and Quman in Xinjiang, etc. For the exhibition of Silks from the Silk Road, we borrowed silks pieces from this area, showing the Silk Road with silks.


In this case, we are drawing a new plan for MSRS project (Mapping Silk Road with Silk). Its goal is to carry out comprehensive and systematic survey of textile resources along the Silk Road (including unearthed textile pieces, literature, images bearing textile information on murals, and ethnological textiles), and have these resources digitalized, and achieve international sharing through website, database, publication, etc., so as to lay a solid foundation for international study on Silk Roads textile in the future.

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