March 1, 2017

CHINA / KAZAKHSTAN / KYRGYZSTAN - Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor (UNESCO WHS)

The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes that were for centuries central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the East and West and stretching from the Korean peninsula and Japan to the Mediterranean Sea. While the term is of modern coinage, the Silk Road derives its name from the trade in silk (and horses) carried out along its length, beginning during the Han dynasty (207 BCE - 220 CE). The Chinese took great interest in the safety of their trade products and extended the Great Wall of China to ensure the protection of the trade route.

Trade on the Silk Road played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, the Goguryeo kingdom (Korea), Japan, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, the Horn of Africa and Arabia, opening long-distance political and economic relations between the civilizations. Many other goods were traded, as well as religions, syncretic philosophies, and various technologies. Diseases, most notably plague, also spread along the Silk Routes. In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was a route for cultural trade among the civilizations along its network.

In 2014, UNESCO designated 5,000 km stretch of the Silk Road network from Central China to the Zhetsyu Region of Central Asia (passing through China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) as a new World Heritage Site called Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor. It took shape between the 2nd century BC and 1st century AD and remained in use until the 16th century. Falling to 154m below sea level and rising to 7,400m above sea level, the routes touch great rivers, alpine lakes, crusty salt flats, vast deserts, snow-capped mountains and "fecund" prairies.

The climate varies from extreme drought to semi-humid; while vegetation covers temperate forests, temperate deserts, temperate steppes, alpine steppes and oases. The 33 components included in the routes network are categorized into four regions and include capital cities and palace complexes of various empires and Khan kingdoms, trading settlements, Buddhist cave temples, ancient paths, posthouses, passes, beacon towers, sections of The Great Wall, fortifications, tombs and religious buildings. The ones with the links are depicted on the postcards which make up my collection and are presented on my blog:

1. Central China - ancient imperial capitals in the Central and Guanzhong Plains of China.
  • Luoyang City of the Eastern Han to Northern Wei Dynasty - Luoyang, Henan Province
  • Dingding Gate, Luoyang City of the Sui and Tang Dynasty - Luoyang, Henan Province
  • Longmen Grottoes (a preexisting World Heritage Site) - Luoyang, Henan Province
  • Hangu Pass - Lingbao, Henan Province
  • Shihao section of Xiaohan Route - Xin'an County, Henan Province
  • Weiyang Palace - Xi'an, Shaanxi Province
  • Daming Palace - Xi'an, Shaanxi Province
  • Giant Wild Goose Pagoda - Xi'an, Shaanxi Province
  • Small Wild Goose Pagoda - Xi'an, Shaanxi Province
  • Xingjiao Temple - Xi'an, Shaanxi Province
  • Bin County Cave Temple - Bin County, Shaanxi Province
  • Tomb of Zhang Qian - Chenggu County, Shaanxi Province
  • Maijishan Cave Temple Complex - Tianshui, Gansu Province
2. Hexi Corridor in Gansu Province, connecting China Proper and Xinjiang.
  • Bingling Temple Grottoes - Yongjing County, Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province
  • Yumen Pass - Dunhuang, Gansu Province
  • Xuanquanzhi Posthouse - Dunhuang, Gansu Province
  • Mogao Caves (already inscribed on the World Heritage List) - Dunhuang, Gansu Province
  • Suoyang City Ruins - Anxi, Gansu Province
3. North and South of Tianshan Mountains in Xinjiang, China
  • Qocho (Gaochang) City Ruins - Turpan
  • Jiaohe Ruins - Turpan
  • Beshbalik (Beiting) City Ruins - Jimsar County
  • Kizil Gaha Beacon Tower - Kuqa (Kucha)
  • Kizil Caves - Kuqa
  • Subash Buddhist Temple Ruins - Kuqa
4. Zhetysu Region of the Ili and Talas Valleys of Kazakhstan and the Chuy Valley of Kyrgyzstan
  • Site of Kayalyk - Almaty Province, Kazakhstan
  • Karamergen - Almaty Province, Kazakhstan
  • Talgar - Almaty Province, Kazakhstan
  • Aktobe - Jambyl Province, Kazakhstan
  • Kulan - Jambyl Province, Kazakhstan
  • Akyrtas - Jambyl Province, Kazakhstan
  • Ornek - Jambyl Province, Kazakhstan
  • Kostobe - Jambyl Province, Kazakhstan
  • Suyab (Site of Ak-Beshim) - Chuy Province, Kyrgyzstan
  • City of Balasagun (Site of Burana) - Chuy Province, Kyrgyzstan
  • City of Nevaket (Site of Krasnaya Rechka) - Chuy Province, Kyrgyzstan
Silk Road - Wikipedia
Silk Road UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Wikipedia
Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor - UNESCO official website

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