Key Points

Although the Silk road from China come the West was initially formulated throughout the reign of Emperor Wu that Han (141–87 BCE), it to be reopened by the Tang realm in 639 CE when Hou Junji dominated the West, and remained open up for nearly four decades.The Silk roadway was the most crucial pre-modern Eurasian profession route, opening long-distance political and economic relations between the civilizations.Though silk was certainly the major trade item exported indigenous China, countless other goods were traded, and also religions, syncretic philosophies, and various technologies, and diseases, additionally spread along the Silk Road.In enhancement to financial trade, the Silk roadway served together a means of transferring out social trade among the human beings along its network.Chinese maritime presence increased substantially during the tang period, providing rise to huge seaports and trade relations with Africa, India, and also beyond.

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Pax Sinica

A period of tranquility in east Asia, preserved by Chinese hegemony, during which long-distance profession flourished, cities ballooned, standards of life rose, and the population surged.

Silk Road

An ancient network that trade paths that because that centuries were main to cultural interaction through regions of the eastern continent connecting the West and East native China come the Mediterranean Sea.


Through use of land profession along the Silk Road and maritime trade by sail at sea, the flavor were able to acquire many brand-new technologies, cultural practices, rarely luxuries, and modern-day items. From the middle East, India, Persia, and central Asia the tang were able to acquire brand-new ideas in fashion, new types of ceramics, and improved silver-smithing. The Chinese also gradually embraced the foreign principle of stools and chairs as seating, whereas before they had constantly sat on mats placed on the floor. In the center East, the Islamic human being coveted and also purchased in bulk Chinese goods such together silks, lacquerwares, and also porcelain wares. Songs, dances, and musical instruments from international regions ended up being popular in China throughout the flavor dynasty. This musical instruments had oboes, flutes, and tiny lacquered north from Kucha in the Tarim Basin, and percussion instruments from India such as cymbals. In ~ the court there to be nine musical ensembles (expanded from 7 in the Sui dynasty) representing music from transparent Asia.

There was great contact with and also interest in India as a hub for Buddhist knowledge, with famed travelers such as Xuanzang (d. 664) visiting the South asian subcontinent. After a seventeen-year-long trip, Xuanzang regulated to bring back an important Sanskrit messages to be translated into Chinese. There was additionally a Turkic–Chinese dictionary easily accessible for serious scholars and students, and also Turkic folksongs offered inspiration to some Chinese poetry. In the inner of China, profession was facilitated by the cool Canal and also the flavor government’s rationalization of the better canal system that reduced expenses of carrying grain and also other commodities. The state also managed roughly 32,100 km (19,900 mi) that postal organization routes by horse and also boat.

The Silk Road

Although the Silk roadway from China to the West was at first formulated throughout the power of Emperor Wu (141–87 BCE) during the Han dynasty, it was reopened through the tang in 639 CE when Hou Junji (d. 643) conquered the West, and also remained open up for virtually four decades. It to be closed after ~ the Tibetans caught it in 678, but in 699, throughout Empress Wu’s period, the reopened once the tang reconquered the four Garrisons that Anxi originally installed in 640, as soon as again connecting China straight to the West because that land-based trade.

The Silk roadway was the most vital pre-modern Eurasian profession route. The tang dynasty established a second Pax Sinica and the Silk Road reached its golden age, through which Persian and Sogdian vendors benefited native the commerce between East and also West. At the same time, the Chinese empire welcomed foreign cultures, make it really cosmopolitan in its metropolitan centers.

The Tang captured the critical route with the Gilgit sink from Tibet in 722, lost it to the Tibetans in 737, and also regained the under the command that the Goguryeo-Korean general Gao Xianzhi. When the one Lushan Rebellion ended in 763, the Tang realm had when again lost manage over its western lands, as the Tibetan realm largely cut off China’s direct accessibility to the Silk Road. An internal rebellion in 848 ousted the Tibetan rulers, and Tang China regained that is northwestern prefectures indigenous Tibet in 851. These lands contained vital grazing areas and also pastures for raising steeds that the Tang empire desperately needed.

Despite the many western travelers coming right into China come live and trade, countless travelers, mainly religious monks, recorded the strictly border regulations that the Chinese enforced. As the monk Xuanzang and also many various other monk travelers attested to, there were numerous Chinese government checkpoints follow me the Silk road where take trip permits right into the Tang realm were examined. Furthermore, banditry to be a problem along the checkpoints and oasis towns, together Xuanzang additionally recorded that his group of travelers was attacked by bandits on multiple occasions.

The Silk roadway also influenced Tang empire art. Horses came to be a far-reaching symbol that prosperity and also power and also an tool of military and also diplomatic policy. Steeds were likewise revered as a loved one of the dragon.


Tang duration jar. A Tang duration gilt-silver jar, shame in the format of north nomad’s animal leather bag, decorated with a steed dancing v a cup of alcohol in that is mouth, as the steeds of Emperor Xuanzong were trained come do.

Seaports and also Maritime Trade

Chinese envoys had actually been cruising through the Indian s to India since perhaps the 2nd century BC, but it was throughout the Tang dynasty that a strong Chinese naval presence was discovered in the Persian Gulf and also Red Sea, right into Persia, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Egypt, Aksum (Ethiopia), and Somalia in the Horn that Africa.

During the tang dynasty, countless foreigners came and lived in countless Chinese urban for trade and also commercial ties with China, consisting of Persians, Arabs, Hindu Indians, Malays, Bengalis, Sinhalese, Khmers, Chams, Jews and also Nestorian believer of the close to East, and also many others. In 748, the buddhism monk Jian Zhen defined Guangzhou together a bustling mercantile center where many huge and impressive international ships concerned dock.

During the an Lushan Rebellion Arab and Persian pirates burned and looted Guangzhou in 758, and foreigners were massacred at Yangzhou in 760. The Tang federal government reacted by shutting the port of Canton down for about five decades, and also foreign ship docked at Hanoi instead. However, once the harbor reopened it thrived. In 851 the Arab merchant Sulaiman al-Tajir observed the production of Chinese porcelain in Guangzhou and also admired that is transparent quality. The also detailed a description of Guangzhou’s mosque, that is granaries, its local federal government administration, several of its created records, and the therapy of travelers, in addition to the usage of ceramics, rice-wine, and also tea. However, in another bloody illustration at Guangzhou in 879, the Chinese rebel Huang Chao sacked the city and also purportedly slaughtered thousands of aboriginal Chinese, together with foreign Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Muslims in the process. Huang’s rebellion was at some point suppressed in 884.

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The Chinese involved in large production for abroad export through at least the time of the Tang. This to be proven through the discovery of the Belitung shipwreck, a silt-preserved shipwrecked Arabian dhow in the Gaspar Strait close to Belitung, which contained 63,000 pieces of tang ceramics, silver, and also gold. Beginning in 785, the Chinese started to speak to regularly in ~ Sufala ~ above the eastern African coast in stimulate to cut out Arab middlemen, through various modern Chinese resources giving comprehensive descriptions of trade in Africa. In 863 the Chinese writer Duan Chengshi (d. 863) listed a detailed description of the servant trade, cream color trade, and ambergris trade in a country called Bobali, which historians suggest to be Berbera in Somalia. In Fustat (old Cairo), Egypt, the reputation of Chinese ceramics there resulted in an enormous demand for Chinese goods; hence Chinese frequently traveled there. Throughout this time period, the Arab seller Shulama created of his admiration for Chinese seafaring junks, but noted that their draft was also deep because that them to get in the Euphrates River, which compelled them to ferry passengers and cargo in tiny boats. Shulama also provided that Chinese ships to be often an extremely large, with capacities of approximately 600–700 passengers.