I. The People: Who are the Sogdians?
For this theme I will be looking at Sogdians who lived in 7th to 10th century China, which was during the Tang Dynasty. Tang in the Chinese history was a rich and strong dynasty in many perspectives: politically, economically, culturally, and even religiously. In this dynasty with frequent cultural exchange between Eastern and Western Asia, I want to look for how much of the Chinese culture did those Sogdians actually carry, what were the roles of those Sogdians played in this time period and what was the view on those “foreigners” from the Chinese perspective. For example, Cosmopolitanism and the Tang by Annette Juliano and Judith Lerner has described the “Chineseness” of Tang Dynasty and how it spread its culture to the other regions/ ethnic groups. The theme will be involving some of the history of previous Chinese dynasties as well since there will be research on when did the first Sogdian arrive in China.
II. Economics/ Politics: Trade/ The Silk Road
For the second theme, I want to look for the economic power that Sogdians had carried on the region of Silk Road. According to historical records, Sogdians were excellent merchants and they played a major role of the Silk Road trading network (between China and Central Asia). I want to look deeper in this part that how this network were established and working to make the Sogdians rich. The lecture from Sören Stark actually showed us that the Sogdians were too rich that they had to put in effort to secure their wealth from other ethnic groups.
Also in this theme, I will focuse more on the relations between Sogdian merchants and ancient China. According to Sogdians in China: A Short History and Some New Discovers, China has always been their main market. Besides trades, there were also lots of tributes from Sogdia to China in Tang Dynasty such as the Heavenly Horses.
III. Sogdians in China: “Zhaowu Jiuxing Ren” & An Lushan Rebellion
Sogdians during the Tang Dynasty were actually given last names by the Chinese emperor/ government. “Zhaowe Jiuxing Ren”, which means “People of the Nine Place-names”, such as An, Kang, Shi, etc. “In the Chinese records, these Sogdians are called ‘Zhaowe jiuxing ren’, referring to the Chinese surnames that Sogdians commonly adopted and which reflect the region in Sogdiana from which they came”(Feng). An important part of Chinese-politic history involving Sogdians was during Emperor Xuanzong of Tang named “An Lushan Rebellion”, which was led by An Lushan and Shi Simin who were both Sogdians. An Lushan Rebellion was the turning point of the Tang government (which made the emperor flee) and I will be looking more into this part of the history.
Sims-Williams, Nicholas. “The Sogdian Merchants in China and India” in Cina e Iran da Alessandro Magno alla dinastia Tang, ed. A. Cadonna & L. Lanciotti (Florence: Leo S. Olschki Editore, 1996), pp. 45-67.
Lerner, Judith. “Zoroastrian Funerary Beliefs and Practices Known from the Sino-Sogdian Tombs in China,” in The Silk Road 9 (2011): pp. 18-25.
Naymark, Alexsandr. “Seleucid Coinage of Samarqand?” Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society, no. 221 (2014): 16–20.
Juliano, A.L. and Lerner, Judith. Monks and Merchants: Silk Road Treasures from Northern China (New York: Abrams, 2002).
Vaissière, Étienne de la. Sogdians in China: A Short History and Some New Discoveries. The Silk Road, The silkroad Foundation Newsletter.