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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Silk, Slaves, and Stupas: Material Culture of the Silk Road

Author:
Susan Whitfield

Publication Date:
March 2018

Publisher:
University of California Press




Abstract:
Following her bestselling Life Along the Silk Road, Susan Whitfield widens her exploration of the great cultural highway with a new captivating portrait focusing on material things. Silk, Slaves, and Stupas tells the stories of ten very different objects, considering their interaction with the peoples and cultures of the Silk Road—those who made them, carried them, received them, used them, sold them, worshipped them, and, in more recent times, bought them, conserved them, and curated them. From a delicate pair of earrings from a steppe tomb to a massive stupa deep in Central Asia, a hoard of Kushan coins stored in an Ethiopian monastery to a Hellenistic glass bowl from a southern Chinese tomb, and a fragment of Byzantine silk wrapping the bones of a French saint to a Bactrian ewer depicting episodes from the Trojan War, these objects show us something of the cultural diversity and interaction along these trading routes of Afro-Eurasia.

Exploring the labor, tools, materials, and rituals behind these various objects, Whitfield infuses her narrative with delightful details as the objects journey through time, space, and meaning. Silk, Slaves, and Stupas is a lively, visual, and tangible way to understand the Silk Road and the cultural, economic, and technical changes of the late antique and medieval worlds. 

Table of Contents:

A pair of steppe earrings
A hellenistic glass bowl
A hoard of Kushan coins
Amluk Dara Stupa
A Bactrian Ewer
A Khotanese plaque
The Blue Qur'an
A Byzantine hunter silk
A Chinese almana
The unknown slave

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