Search This Blog

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Along the Tea Horse Road in China

The Ancient Tea Horse Road refers to a network of trade routes in Yunnan.  The route starts in Menghai and ends in Lhasa.  Many rivers are crossed en route,including the Mekong and the Yangtze, and the road has some very high altitude along the way (exceeding 12,000 feet at times), and the transit time was on average 6 months each way.  The network first emerged in significant terms during the Tang dynasty (618–907), reaching its zenith during the late-Qing period (1790s to 1911) and the first half of the twentieth century.

Today the route still includes remnant paths and roads, bridges of various sorts (arched, cantilever, and cable), caravanserais (madian 马店), market towns (large and small), staging posts, and shrines and temples (including mosques and even a few Christian churches)—all elements of what is now termed 'tangible cultural heritage'. As for the intangible cultural heritage of the route, it consists of a trading network that highlights the centrality of tea in the lives of the many ethnic groups in Yunnan (and beyond). The 'intangible' also refers to the rapid disappearance of the caravan itself, which for as long as recorded history, using a variety of 'beasts of burden' (oxen, horses, donkeys, mules, yaks and, at times, people), was the main conduit for the transportation of goods and ideas to and from Yunnan.[7] The tea road was not only an important route for commercial activity (including the trade in tea, salt, medicinal products and luxury goods) but also for cultural exchange, especially between Tibet and Southwest China (it was another important entry point for Buddhism into China, in addition to the more well-known Silk Road).

No comments:

Post a Comment