Freer Gallery of Art Arthur M Sackler Gallery Gallery Guide Arts of the Islamic World
Luxury Arts of the Silk Route Empires
Two thousand years before today's "global economy," an exchange network linked the continent of Asia via the Silk Route. Between the first and eighth centuries of the common era, the empires and states of Asia often came into conflict as they competed for territory and other resources or sought to dominate their neighbors in religious and political arenas. Yet the sea and overland routes between China and the eastern Mediterranean—the Silk Route, or Silk Road—also fostered peaceful interaction, both cultural and commercial. Merchants, ambassadors, and pilgrims transported crafted goods and raw materials acquired from distant realms: spices, precious metals, musical instruments, rare medicinal herbs, objects used in worship and ritual. Silk, the most famous of these long-distance luxuries, reached southwest Asia by the first century B.C.E. from production centers in China.

next page
Silk Road / 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Spherical bowl

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art
Exhibition List | Online Exhibitions

All presented material is copyright © Smithsonian Institution, 2008 except where otherwise noted.