Seminar calls for more dialogue on impact of Silk Route

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

NEW DELHI - The two-day international seminar on “Silk Routes: Connecting the Cultures Beyond Borders”, which concluded Tuesday, brought the spotlight back on the ancient Silk Route as a bridge between Asian cultures.

The seminar, hosted by the National Museum Institute and the Iranian Cultural Centre, urged sustained interaction between nations to further unravel the extent and impact of the silk route, which has been the melting pot of diverse cultures.

The ancient silk route helped build a pan-Asian aesthetic, cultural and religious mosaic spinning off into economic bounty for the nations located along the route. The silk route, a trade conduit spanning 6,500 km, was an extensive network of routes that spread across Asia connecting east, south and western Asia to the countries along the Mediterranean.

It extended to northeast Africa and even touched Europe. The route, dating back to 3,000 years, derives its name from the Chinese silk trade which flourished across the continent during the reign of the Han dynasty.

Presiding over the valedictory function, K.V. Thomas, minister of state for food, consumer affairs and public distribution, said that a comprehensive study of the impact of the silk route on the commonalities in Asian cultures requires “more such efforts to strengthen international collaboration at different levels”, a communique issued by the National Museum said Tuesday.

The seminar was a follow-up to a similar international seminar on “The Art of Central Asia and the Indian Sub-Continent in Cross Cultural Perspective” held in March 2007. The current seminar was an attempt to look at the subject of Central Asia in totality beyond contemporary borders.

“The Silk Route became a melting pot of many cultures. Various religions spread their doctrines along this network of interconnecting roads. Buddhism was introduced to China from India. Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism also voyaged through this ancient route. Iran, which lay in a strategic position on the Silk-Route, invested in the maintenance of existing roads and in the building of new ones. This network helped the central Asian countries gain access to the warm waters of the Persian Gulf, thus furthering trade by sea,” said Anupa Pande, dean of the National Museum Institute, while addressing the gathering.

According to Asozada Khudoynazak, the official representative from Tajikistan, “the impact of the Silk Route was so strongly felt that in countries like Afghanistan, some villages are still known as silk villages and some mountains are referred as the silk mountains”.

Elaborating on Japan’s contribution to the Silk Route, Maqsooda Sarfi Shiotani of the Kazazawa Gakuin University, Japan, said: “Though Japan remained isolated from the world at large, it was not excluded from the influence of the Silk Route in Japan.”

“The Shosoin Treasure Repository in Nara is home to 9,000 pieces of art found along the Silk Route from China, India, Iran and other places,” Shiotani said.

Presenting a paper on some prominent Sufi centres on the Silk Route, academician Syed Liyaqat Hussain Moini of the department of History, Aligarh Muslim University, said: “Travelling was an essential part of the ‘tarbiyat (journey)’ among the ’sufi sheikhs’ and they frequented the Silk Route to spread their message of universal love, brotherhood and harmony. They also established several ‘khankhas (refuge)’ along this route to serve travellers along the route.”

He said: “Khurasaan in Afghanistan is one such important Sufi centre along the route.”

Filed under: Diplomacy

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