Sandy sounds of camel bells on the prosperous Silk Roads… For all those dynasties, there were frequent intercultural changes among people's lives: envoys, merchants, soldiers, officials on the Silk Roads all get involved. Diverse civilizations developed and fermented on the Silk Roads.
Named “Gathering in the Galaxy: Great Treasures from the Silk Roads”, this pure online 3D exhibition is the first exhibition curated on the Silk Road Online Museum (SROM) “Online-Curating” platform. It contains 79 artifacts from 47 museums all over the world. The artifacts come from 17 countries and are with more than 30 kinds of materials. Among them, there are national-level precious treasures that need to be inspected by the customs meticulously, murals that are difficult to transport, and fragile ceramic and porcelains. However, as an online 3D exhibition, the artifacts eventually get the chance to “gather" together “remotely" online.
“Gathering in the Galaxy: Great Treasures from the Silk Roads” takes the geographical space of the Silk Road as the clue and the “Silk Roads Map” as the Prologue. The exhibition is divided into four chapters: “Steppe Silk Road”, “Silk Road of the Desert Oasis”, “Maritime Silk Road”, and “Buddhist Silk Road”. Most of the artifacts in the exhibition have detailed descriptions, and some with an introduction of background information, also often supplemented by the annotation of academic terms, plus some interesting news about the provenance. The audience can “stop” in front of each artifact, enjoy the story of the Silk Roads, enhance the understanding of the Silk Roads, and directly feel the intimate and intermingled cultural exchanges between diverse civilizations.
To view the 3D exhibition on your phone, please scan the following QR code:
Prologue: Silk Roads Maps
German geographic geologist Ferdinand von Richthofen raised the concept of the “Silk Road” in his book China in 1877. And the first “Silk Road Map” in the world was then included in this book. “Gathering in the Galaxy: Great Treasures from the Silk Roads” starts by showing a sculpture of Ferdinand von Richthofen and his first Silk Road Map in the book China. Following next is the “Mural of ZHANG Qian's Mission to the Western Regions”. ZHANG Qian has pioneered the Silk Roads and always been remembered today. Another “Silk Roads Map” was shown next, which was meticulously drawn by HUANG Shijian, an expert in East and West Exchanges. HUANG’s “Silk Roads Map” has been the most detailed and most accurate Silk Road Map in the world so far. Moreover, the “Hexi Post-house Road Book” is also on the show, it reflects the name, order, and number of the sparkled post-houses on the Silk Roads in the Han dynasty.
So far, as we looking back to the concept of “Silk Roads”, trying to find the origin of the Silk Roads, we can feel the prosperity of the Silk Roads meanwhile the hardships of making the maps of Silk Roads. Even though the Silk Roads have been in the world for thousands of years, today, people still cannot hesitate to look back into the thousands of years of history, to outline the prosperity and routes of the Silk Roads from time to time.
Steppe Silk Road
The Steppe Silk Road, also known as the “Northern Route” and the “Fur Road”, was a historical transportation road from mainland China to Inner Mongolia in Northern China, and it reached South Asia, West Asia, Europe, and North Africa through Central Asia grassland in the west. The Steppe Silk Road appeared slightly earlier than the Silk Road of the Desert Oasis.
As early as the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, there were Chinese silk embroidery fabrics found in the tombs of nomadic people, such as in the Pazyryk Cemetery in Ulagansky District, which proved that at that early times the nomadic people had already connected silk trade with the mainland China. As an important route of the Silk Roads, the Steppe Silk Road is a bridge between East and West and is an important way of economic and cultural exchanges among Eurasia districts.
Silk Road of the Desert Oasis
Two thousand years ago, the East and the West came to a turning point in history. In the West, the Wars of Alexander the Great and the Rise of the Roman Empire were vigorous and ambitious. In the East, Emperor Hanwu sent Zhang Qian to the Western regions. The East and the West’s rushing to each other laid a foundation for opening up the Silk Road of the Desert Oasis.
From the beginning of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, the power of the Eastern countries gradually became strong, and they wanted to get rid of the disturbance of the Huns and control the Western regions. From Chang’an to Ferghana, Central Asia, and Bactria, the rudiment of a yellow sand-covered and oasis-connected silk road is emerging. Envoys, merchants, monks, and others were busy in exchanges. Silk brocade, Hu Xuan dance, and dazzling glass were introduced to each side. The Silk Road of the Desert Oasis is not only the main artery for the integration of the East and the West, but also a bright pearl in the human history of civilization.
Maritime Silk Road
The Maritime Silk Road, also known as the “Ceramic Road”, the “Spice Road”, the “Tea Road”, and the “Silver Road”, etc. runs from the southeast coast of China, across the South Asian islands, through the Persian Gulf, and reach as far as Africa. The Maritime Silk Road expands through a wide range of regions, including Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, China, South Korea, Japan, etc. The Maritime Silk Road has a far-reaching impact on the birth and prosperity of global trade.
French sinologist Emmanuel-èdouard Chavannes is the first scholar to propose the concept of the “Maritime Silk Road”. Plus, the greatest contribution to the Maritime Silk Road is the navigation technology invented by Arabs, including shipbuilding technology and sailing. Moreover, the innovation of navigation tools, such as compass and map drawing, also have a powerful effect on the development of the Maritime Silk Road. Riding the wind and waves, gold and silver shine, white porcelain with the fragrance of tea, people benefit from each other and reach sustainable development.
Buddhist Silk Road
Among UNESCO’s five Silk Roads Expeditions, the Buddhist route was also included in 1995. Trade and tourism are flourished along the Silk Roads, in the meantime, the cultural and spiritual communications were intimate while prosperous. There are countless religions spreading along the Silk Roads, but the most prominent one should be Buddhism.
Buddhism came into being in the 6th century BC, while Buddha statues came into being in the 1st century BC. Walking along the Silk Roads, lonely envoys and travelers need the support of faith. The concrete Buddha statue brings people comfort in the real world, and also extends the imagination to the future world. Hellenistic style, Gandhara art, and Confucianism's thoughts of entering the world are all integrated into the Buddha statues. Buddha’s statues are not only artistic achievements but also the witness of history, the integration of spirits, and the crystallization of diverse civilizations. The appearance of Buddha reflects the migration in ethnic groups, changes of dynasties, and the integration of ideas and philosophies.
Yilan Wang, Yajuan Zhou, Haowei Wang (Donghua University), Jianyun Chen
Chenying Zhou (Obsidian Display & Design Co. Ltd), Yilan Wang
China Maritime Museum, China Port Museum, Datong Museum, Dunhuang Academy, Fujian Museum, Gansu Museum, Guizhou Provincial Museum, Hainan Museum, Hepu County Museum, lnner Mongolia Museum, Inner Mongolia University, Jilin Provincial Museum, Lvshun Museum, Maritime Silk Road Museum of Guangdong, Ningbo Museum, Ningxia Museum, Quanzhou Maritime Museum Fujian, Shanghai Museum, Shimao Maritime Silk Road Museum of Fujian, Sichuan Museum, Tang West Market Museum, Turfan museum, Xinjiang Museum, Yungang Grottoes Research Institute, Zhejiang Provincial Museum
Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Greece; Art Institute of Chicago; British Library; British Museum; Cleveland Museum of Art; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Gyeongju National Museum; Harvard Art Museum; Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum; Jakarta Maritime Museum; Joseph Déchelette Museum, Roanne, Museo Kordilyera, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Islamic Art, National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan, National Museum of Denmark National Museum of History of Azerbaijan National Museum of the Philippines, Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, Bangkok, State Hermitage Museum, State Historical Museum in Russia
(arranged in alphabetical order)
Platform Support: Coohom 3D Interior Design (Hang Chen, Ji Ya, Pu Xuan, Muying Xia, Wei An, Ling Hang, Tian Le, Song Guo)
Silk Road Online Museum Website Technical Support: Quan Wang, Fatima Khai Ly Do (Vietnam), Yuren Jin, Yuanhong Lou, Xuanming Sun