The Hagia Sophia is one of the oldest sites of continuous worship in the world and an iconic symbol of cultural exchange across Eurasia. Since its founding in the year 537, the Hagia Sophia has alternately served as a Christian church and Islamic mosque for many centuries. In 1935, it was turned into a museum, which is now visited by millions of people every year. In July 2020, it was again converted back into a mosque, thereby eliciting a wide range of reactions from the global community. In response to this renewed attention—and in some cases controversy—our former editor Daniel C. Waugh has taken the opportunity to revisit his voluminous photographic archives and has assembled an engaging photo essay about the art, architecture, and history of the Hagia Sophia. To access the full essay, please click here.
It gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of Vol. 17 (2019) of The Silk Road. We begin with a critical re-examination of Richthofen’s vaunted distinction as the inventor of the phrase “the Silk Road” and an in-depth interview with Roderick Whitfield on his career working with the Stein collection in the British Museum. Next up are stimulating features on the forgotten history of the Museo Indiano in Bologna, knotted carpets and cultural exchange along the Taklamakan, Sogdian fashions in early Tang China, modern Chinese colophons on the Dunhuang manuscripts, and a photo essay on camel fairs in India. Book reviews by Susan Whitfield, Samuel Rumschlag, Charles J. Halperin, and Barbara Kaim follow.
Did Richthofen Really Coin “the Silk Road”?
Some Notes on Sogdian Costume in Early Tang China
Sergey A. Yatsenko
An Analysis of Modern Chinese Colophons on the Dunhuang Manuscripts
Justin M. Jacobs
Camel Fairs in India: A Photo Essay
Recent Excavations of Xiongnu Graves on the Left Bank of the Ulug-Khem in Tuva
Marina Kulinovskaya and Pavel Leus
Sogdians in Khotan
On the Northern Branch of the Great Silk Road: A Celadon Dish from the Excavations at Novgorod the Great
Marina Anatol’evna Rodionova and Iakov Viktorovich Frenkel’
It gives me great pleasure to introduce Volume 16 of The Silk Road. After more than fifteen years in the capable hands of longtime editor Daniel C. Waugh, The Silk Road baton has now passed into my hands. Much like parenthood, the responsibility of managing an annual journal is equal parts both blessing and burden, the latter marked by daily anxieties so consuming as to occasionally disrupt one’s evening slumber. Then come the minor triumphs that remind us why we got into this business in the first place: the production of fresh knowledge and dissemination of exciting new discoveries derived from the lands and peoples who continue to animate the historical rubric of the Silk Road.
The latest volume of The Silk Road fully lives up to this promise. Our excursion through place and time begins with a fascinating archaeological report by Marina Kulinovskaya and Pavel Leus on recently excavated Xiongnu graves in Tuva, lavishly illustrated with nearly fifty color photographs from the field. We are then treated to Jin Noda’s analysis of Japanese intelligence agents in Russian and Qing Inner Asia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Next up is Zhang Zhan’s in-depth reassessment of ancient Sogdian documents from Khotan and what they can tell us about the status and occupations of these far-flung travelers during the first millennium CE. Zhang’s philological analysis is followed by Li Sifei’s investigation into the complex subject of Chinese perceptions of “Persians” and “Sogdians” during the Northern Zhou, Sui, and Tang dynasties. Marina Rodionova and Iakov Frenkel’ then encourage us to transfer our attention to the other, far less popularized end of the Silk Road, with a detailed case study of how a Mongol-era Chinese celadon made its way to the Novgorod Kremlin in Russia. Continue reading
The international scholarly yearbook Quaderni di Studi Indo-Mediterranei (whose editor is the Iranologist Prof. Carlo Saccone at the University of Bologna) devotes each volume to a different theme. Vol. 12 (2019) of QSIM is scheduled to appear in 2020. Its theme is “Sino-Iranica’s Centennial. Between East and West: Exchanges of Material and Ideational Culture. Commemorating the publication, in 1919, of Sino-Iranica by Berthold Laufer (1874–1934).”
Laufer showed the importance of contacts between the Iranic world and China as reflected in the exchange of items of material culture, and this also involved exchanges between Iran and more western cultures, such as the Graeco-Roman world, and Syria. Moreover, he also showed how trade with India and Indo-China percolated into such exchanges. Continue reading
Buddhist sculpture from Gandhara is in a sense well known, but there is still much to be learned from it. Ulf Jäger (independent scholar, Germany) analyzes the sculpted imagery on a necklace, which leads into the subject of how centaurs are to be found across Eurasia and how the perception of them changed.
A carved granite slab in the Gyeongju National Museum in Korea has images in roundels whose iconography suggests widely ranging connections to the West in the Unified Silla period. Hongnam Kim (Asia Museum Institute, Korea) analyzes the Western influences of this iconography, concluding that it is likely that the craftsman who executed the work was familiar with Christian imagery.
When the Oirad Mongols defeated the Ming and captured their emperor at Tumu in 1449, they could have invaded Central China and perhaps brought down the still young Ming state, but did not. By examining the significance of the Chinggisid legacy both for the Mongols and the Ming, Johan Elverskog (Southern Methodist University) explains why.
Slave soldiers from Central Asia often rose to power in the Islamic world. Jere Bacharach (University of Washington, Seattle) analyzes one of the rulers of Egypt in the 10th century CE who sought to emphasize his Central Asian family heritage in his titulature and coinage.
The latest issue of The Silk Road is now available. Volume 15 features articles on defensive communication networks through Wakhan and Chitral, caravanserais in the Golden Horde, an analysis of the circulation of silver coins in Gaochang, an investigation into the Central Asian ties of a tenth-century Muslim ruler in Egypt, and a new look at the infamous Tumu incident and the Chinggisid legacy in Inner Asia, among many others. For the full table of contents and links to individual articles, please click here. This issue also marks the beginning of the online-only format of the journal, with the print version ceasing publication. Last but not least, the 2017 volume is the last one to be edited by Daniel Waugh, who will now have more time to pursue his many other scholarly pursuits. I wish him all the best, and take comfort in the knowledge that he will continue to lend his assistance and advice for many years to come. Looking ahead, I am eager to begin the process of assembling the 2018 volume, and look forward to receiving interesting and timely contributions from around the world.
– Justin M. Jacobs, Editor, The Silk Road