The History of Silk Route
In the glittering fashion world, the silk is considered a highly valued fabric. The glossy colours, richness, gold thread and the smooth texture make it a precious one. The production of silk is a very complicated process. From the cocoons of Silk Worms, raw silk has to be extracted, spun into thread and then it has to be woven into cloth.
The techniques of silk production were first invented in China around 7000 years ago. They kept the method very secret for thousands of years and did not reveal a word about it to anyone fearing others may copy it and start production. Let's learn more about silk and the world famous Silk Route.
On business purpose, the Chinese went to many parts of the world carrying silk with them. They went on foot, horseback and on camels. The ways they travelled came to be known as the Silk Route. The route was really a rough and tough one as it had to cross many mountains, deserts, etc.
The Chinese rulers as a business courtesy sent gifts of silk to rulers in many countries including Iran and countries in West Asia. The knowledge of silk spread from here to the rest of the world especially to the West. It was considered a fashion in the period, i.e. around 2000 years ago, amongst the rulers and the rich ones in Rome. It was very very expensive since it had to be brought all the way from the distant China. In that time, no proper road or transportation was available. It had to be passed through the dangerous paths through forests, mountains and deserts. So naturally it was a very difficult and time-consuming task to transport silk. To make things worse, people living along the route started fleeing the traders. They demanded payments from the traders to pass through the route.
Seeing the situations, some rulers came to the rescue of the traders and began to take advantage of the situation. They tried to control the major portion of the route. They started charging tax for the transport. They also expected and accepted tributes, rich gifts from the traders, who travelled the route. Their plan was right as the traders gave it all in abundance for a smooth and speedy transport.
The Kings in return protected them from the robbers. Attacks on the traders were blocked by the Armed Forcess of the Kings.
The Kushanas, who ruled over the Central Asia and North-West India about 2000 years ago were the reputed rules who dominated and controlled the Silk Route. Peshawar and Mathura were their two major centres of power. Taxila was also included in their kingdom. It was during their rule, a branch of the Silk Route extended from Central Asia down to the sea ports at the river Indus. Silk was shipped from here to the West and to the Roman Empire. Interestingly the Kushanas were the earliest rulers of the sub contents to issue gold coins. These coins were used and circulated by the traders along the Silk Route.
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© 2012 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth