Object Proposals

March 19th, 2016|0 Comments

Item #46: “Sogdian Ancient Letter II”

According to the notes, this letter was from a merchant in China to his family and business partner in Samarkand ca. 312 AD. If there’s a possibility to know what it actually said, I will be looking for what he mentioned the life in China as a merchant, how was the cultural effects to him and how he was treated as an “outsider”.

Item #155: “Abschied der Chao Chun (33 v. Chr.)”

I’ve looked up the word “abschied” and it means farewell in German. If I’m right, this piece is about Wang Chao Chun (or Wang Zhao Jun) was sent out of China (by Emperor Yuan) to marry the Xiongnu in order to establish friendly relations with them. It was during Han Dynasty. There are some Chinese descriptions (I suppose) on the painting as well and I can translate them if needed. I want to look up if Xiongnu back then had any relations with the Sogdians since Ancient Chinese had so many names when calling the other ethnics who lived around the country.

Item #163: “Yang Guifei Mounting a Horse”

I guess this piece is about the same with item #156 “Yang Guifei” and item #162 “Consort Yang Mounting a Horse”. Similar to the “Central Asians Presenting Tribute Horses”, I will be looking for the historical sources to see how Chinese affected the Sogdian culture. And I’ve looked at the notes of item #156 “Yang Guifei” where it says “Zhou Wenju (active mid-10th century), attributed. Anonymous, Yang Guifei Mounting a Horse, Song (or Ming?) dynasty…” I’m confused about this part of the description, does it mean this painting was found in Song or Ming Dynasty, or it is from Song or Ming Dynasty? Because as I know, Yang Guifei was from Tang Dynasty; but Zhou Wenju was from Southern Tang, which was conquered in 976 B.C. by Song Dynasty so it’ll make sense.

Item #167: “Central Asians Presenting Tribute Horses”

One of my focuses on the proposal will be Sogdians in China, I am interested in seeing this kind of piece. I am familiar with the paintings and I think I can probably find out more historical sources on this painting. This painting is from Tang Dynasty and viewing the Sogdains from the Chinese perspective, it will be interesting in viewing how the two cultures were affecting each other. Also I was thinking adding item #168 as well since it is also about Central Asians Presenting Tribute Horses.

Item #239: “Fragment of an Ornamental Tile”

“Embroideries were probably used as gifts from the Han court to the Xiongnu Chanyu and may have formed part of the payment of tribute.” From the description I suppose I can find some connections between Ziongnu and Sogdiana. For this piece I will have to focus on Han Dynasty and see how the Chinese interact with the other ethnics who built relations with them. I have to look more carefully with painting on the fragment, from the image I can’t really figure out what they painted on the fragment.

Item #244: “Fragment of Patterned Textile”

This piece cannot be viewed clearly through the image, I hope I will have the chance to look at the real piece or a clearer version of it. The descriptions helped a lot though, there are lots of parts of the piece that connect with Chinese culture, I hope when I look at the clearer piece I’ll be able to figure out the cultural connections between Sogdiana and China.

Course Bibliography:

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).

Christine’s Theme Proposal

February 29th, 2016|0 Comments

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.

Course Bibliography:

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.