Sogd and China: priority trade ties | Статья в сборнике международной научной конференции


Рубрика: 1. Общие вопросы исторических наук

Опубликовано в

II международная научная конференция «История и археология» (Пермь, май 2014)

Дата публикации: 07.05.2014

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Библиографическое описание:

Гойибов Б. С. Sogd and China: priority trade ties [Текст] // История и археология: материалы II Междунар. науч. конф. (г. Пермь, май 2014 г.). — Пермь: Меркурий, 2014. — С. 9-12. — URL (дата обращения: 21.06.2018).

There are many historical facts, indicating of sogdiancities as well as sogdian people, ensuring the realization of economic and cultural functions ofthe international route. There were known craftsmen's quarters and villages, specializing in the production of export goods (Bukhara, Samarkand, Khujand, Nahshab, Zandana, Iskidzhkat and Nahshab, Pendjikent and other craftsmen). Sogdian merchants acted not only within their own state, but also far beyond its borders. Sogdians (it is striking that the terms Sughd and Sogd mean an ethnic name in the literature in uzbek language and are used as the name of a specific location or the governing. In some cases, this situation may cause certain confusion when it comes to people or locality. Therefore, we believe that it is possible for the name of the ethnic group to use the term Sogdians, and as a historical and geographical location to use the term Sughd) penetrated deep into Central Asia, and their colonization went along trade routes. The Sogdian estates appeared in the oases of the Tarim, around Lobnor, in Gansu. The Sogdian settlements emerged in Mongolia and Ordos. There was developed territorial federation of Sogdian cities, which were well-fortified, had their own military units and wide trade as well as diplomatic ties. In Central Asia, the role of Sogdian language and the Sogdian writing primarily determined by their use in international trade and by their cultural significance. The Sogdian merchants actually kept a significant part of the international caravan trade in check. Simultan eously, the Sogdians became the bearers of new achievements, contributed to the spread of information, the integration of cultural ties. Objective and comprehensive study of the contribution of the Sogdians in international exchange, defining the place and role of Sogd inthe creating conditions for the functioning of o the Great Silk Road will enrich national history. The interest in the studying the trade routes linking the East and the West, the contribution of the Sogdians and other people of the Great Silk Road even emerged in an antiquity. Greco-Roman scientists began to collect data on distant countries and ways to them, when the silk and other exotic goods reached the Mediterranean. At the same time the first works on trade routes and their directions began to appear. The information about the cultural and commercial exchange between Central Asia and China were given in the Chinese chronicles since I st century B. C. till VII-VIII centuries. The interest in international did not weaken even in the Middle Ages. Many connoisseur of geography, especially those of the Arab Caliphate described caravan routes, towns and trading points along the international traces.

From this point of view the ties of Sogd assumed a crucial significance in the earlyMiddle Ages.

Many countries are striving to explore the background of economic history and its participation in the world culture. The development of a wide complex of scientific investigations in the field of economy, history and socio-economic ties of the ancient Sogd with the countriesof Europe, Russia, the Far East, Primorye and China, as well as a cultural integration, an interexchange of the achievements in science and technology and the interpenetration of worships and other intellectual skills seems topical. From the late antique period, the monuments of arts and the architecture of Sogd are found in the widespread territory from Rome to China. It has been already scientifically identified the characteristics of the main traces of trade routes with varying level of details, which were presented in the chronicles of history and geography and the box planes of Chinese and Arab-Persian writings. But in the meantime, socio-functional traces’ study, the ways of their origin and the mechanism of economic and cultural impacts had been insufficiently investigated [9, c. 5–15.].

As it is evident from the materials of the latest investigations, both in the ancient period and the early Middle Ages, China was considered as priority destination of the trade and the exchange of Sogd. Many investigators are inclined to believe that the merchants of Sogd began to develop markets in China in IV-III centuries. B.C. already, soon after the conquest of Sogd by Greek-Macedonian army led by Alexander the Great. Therefore, one can assume that the Sogdian colonization of Central Asia began long before Zhang Tsan’s travel to Westfall (the years from 138 to 126 B.C) [4, c. 120]. Owing to historical conditions the Great Silk Road had become a tool of economic and industrial integration of the cities. For example, the Sogdian merchants mainly exported from the country silk, hemp, silver, gold, ammonium chloride, mercury, medicinal herbs, brass, emerald and red glass, some types of cotton fabrics and others [6, с. 7].

However, V. A. Livshits believes that there is no direct written evidence in favor of trade relations between the Chinese and the Sogdians [10, c. 8].

It has been already noted that the Sogdians already settled trade and agricultural colonies down the Silk Road in the III. century B. C., in particular, in the Seven Rivers, Jungariy, the East Turkestan, and the cities of Chang'an, Dunhuang, Turpan, Khotan and other cities of the East Turkestan [11, c. 8–10].

Japanese orientalist, Yutaka Yoshida, found the legal document drawn up in Sogdian in Urumqi, China. This document was drawn up in Chinanchkande or Chang'an — the eastern capital of the empire of China which was solely inhabited by the Sogdian traders. There was a question of the purchase of a slave in this document, and the buyer was the Chinese. But the document was drawn up in the Sogdian language. This fact indicates that in the V-VI centuries the Turks and the Chinese themselves had a good command of the Sogdian language. The exact date of the document could not be fixed. It dated approximately on the early Vth century A. D. [15, p. 95–126].

The Sogdian colonies appeared already in the III-IV centuries along the trade routes in the oases of the Tarim, around Lake Lobnor, as well as in Gansu. According to the researcher, K. Baypakov, in V-VII centuries Sogdian intensive colonization of the river of Talas’ valleys, Chu and Ili in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan led to the creation of more than 300 towns there, populated solely by the Sogdian merchants. The Sogdian merchants actually kept a significant part of the international caravan trade in check [13, 66–70].

Simultaneously, the Sogdians became the bearers of new achievements, contributed to the spread of trade skills and urban life among ethnic Tatars and Turks.

Famous Chinese pilgrim visited Hiuen Tsang in the year of 630 several Sogdian towns in the Suyab valley. Here is what he wrote in his diary: “Coming over 500 li in the north-west of the limpid lake (Issyk-Kul), arrived in the town of Sui-e, i.e., modern Suyab. This city is in a circle 6–7 li. The traders from different countries mixed with hu (the Sogdians) live here... People dress in woven and woolen clothes. There are situated dozens of isolated cities, and each of them has its own foreman in the western part of the Sui-e” [8, c. 19].

The Sogdian merchants from China mainly exported silk and silk products. Chinese silk penetrated into Bactria and Sogd much earlier than it had been anticipated before. According to Chinese chronicles “Tsyanhanypu”, written by the historian, Ban Gu, in the years from 58 to 82 A.D. the residents of Kabulistan and Kandahar, experienced in tissue-woolen fabric, were skilled in the embroidery of silk [4, с. 179].

Silk trade developed with the utmost speed. Silk had become an important exported good of China to Byzantium. Later, this initiative passed to the Sogdian merchants. The silk trade from Sogd to Byzantium mainly functioned in VII-VIII centuries. On the way to Byzantium the silk fabrics partially settled in Khujand, Bukhara, Samarkand, Chach, Kashgar, Kucha, Turfan, Dunhuang and other cities of East Turkestan, and also gold bullion, of which local jewelers manufactured ornaments [11, c. 24–26].

The other Sogdian city in East Turkestan was Turfan. The residents of this city lived so replete of food that supplied with grain and tissues not only the population of the Tang Empire, but the nomads of Eastern Turkestan. According to Chinese chronicles “Tan shu” there were two markets in Turfan: one at the western gate of the city, the other — on the eastern one [12, c. 165]. The woolen fabrics as well as various crafts and agriculture products occupied an important place in the trade with the steppe. In return it was received horses and raw materials, especially wool, leather, skins for handicraft production from Turks.

Many stock-breeders and farmerswho lived close by the Great Silk Road, had being involved in this natural intercontinental trade exchange. There were participated not only the cities, but also large settlements of Sogdian confederation in this trade exchange.

For example, from Bokharan Sogd, from the village Zandana, cotton fabrics exported to the distant countries — China, Iran, Syria, India, as well as in Rome. The trade with China was especially brisk one in V-VII centuries.

The information on the excavations of the ancient Paykent gives the direct indication that paykent people conducted the trade with China. The key role in this trade with China was assigned to Samarkand, the eastern gate of which is called — “Dari Chin”, i.e. Chinese Gate. The arrival of the caravan of sogdian merchants, who were curiously scrutinized by the Japanese pilgrims, was stated in one of the Chinese chronicles. [14, c. 25]

Many Iranians, Sogdians and Tokharistan, who mainly engaged in trade, lived in the western capital of China, in Chan’an city, and also in Lyand zhou. There were lived a lot of Buddhists, making their way to China through Central Asia, including the Zoroastrians and the Nestorians, some of which had been already professed the Zoroastrian religion in the V century in the same Chan’an city. The Zoroastrian temples since long existed in Chan’an, as reported by Chinese sources, and in 631 in the same Chan’an new renovated the Zoroastrian temple was newly renovated. It has already been mentioned, that many Sogdian merchants lived in Luoyang. The Zoroastrian templealso actedin this city. Here, according to E. Sheffer, there were three “sacred fire”, i.e. the Zoroastrian temples.

The Sogdians, the Iranians, the Uighurs, the Turks and other ethnic groups in Central Asia were interested in Chinese market, apart from the Chinese themselves. According to the investigations of the same E. Sheffera, in Luoyang — “Divine capital” of Empress Wu, for foreigners, who drove here commercial matters there were standing temples. The Sogdian population prevailed in the western capital of China — the city of Chan’an. Tang Government of China had even in this city sartavakov’s office (literally “cameleers”), which served only the Sogdian merchants. E. Schaefer believed that this term was derived from the Sanskrit term “sarthvak” and mean “a trader, a cameleer” [14, c. 36–39].

In turn, the Turks joined the silk trade in VI century. They did not produce silk. They received it in return for the supply of the herds of horses to China. Since the Turks themselves did not possess the art of trade, the main mediators in their silk trade with Byzantium became the same Sogdians. Silk trade brought Turksthe huge revenues. Turks got the opportunity to sell through the Sogdian merchants spoils and contribution paid by China. This issue was well expressed by L. N. Gumilev [7, c. 18–19].

The main subject of trade with China was Sogdian silk. There were mostly exported raw silk and silk products from China, as well as porcelain and writing paper. In the IV-V centuries the Sogd confederation started producing its silk and silk fabrics. There were depicted in wall paintings of Balalyktepa, that in southern Uzbekistan, richly decorated clothing of silk fabrics for noble characters. In weaving workshops of the cities of Central Asia artistic fabrics was made ​​of wool and cotton. However, since the II-III centuries A. D., the remains of silk fabrics on a number of monuments of Central Asia, along with colouredthe woolen fabrics for trousers, and soft shoes, coats, cloaks and small hats, were discovered. Later, in the V-VI centuries, there was established own cocoon production in Sogd. They had ceased to be the monopoly of China. At the relevant time, the silkworms were grown in Fergana, Sogd, Khorasan and even in the cities of Byzantium. In the area of Tokharistan there were found the remains of wool, silk fragments: three fragments of Bittepa, one of the old Termez, and also one of the aforementioned settlement Balalyktepa [1, c. 20–53]. Another example is: the expensive silk clothes were worn by the characters of the wall painting of the Buddhist temple at Kalai Kafarnigan that close to the city of Vahdat. There was depicted the initial stage of silkworm breeding in Sogd on Afrasiab paintings, which dated from the first half of the VI century [2].

The fragments of silk fabrics discovered during the excavations of Mug settlement. For example, Samarkand agreement of 712 year obliged the Sogdians annually to export Arabs, on account of dzhizyi and slaves, silk of harir sort, one of which was estimated in 80 drachmas [5, c. 3–9].

According to Chinese sources of information, it is obvious that the silk fabrics produced in Huttalyane in the VII-VIII centuries. It even rivaled with China. In 687, the Embassy of the Tang Court presented Tokharistan “golden robe” [3, c. 93]. The cotton also came to China only in the III century.

From the cities of Sogd сonfederation and the regions of Central Asia to China there were exported products made ​​of gold, pearls, precious semiprecious stones, including carnelian, Badakhshan lapis lazuli, rock crystal, jade from Khotan and other goods from the cities of Sogd сonfederation and the regions of Central Asia. In spite of the remoteness of China, in that country from Sogd, mainly from Samarkand, the famous Samarkand and Khorezm melon peaches, arranged in special boxes lined with ice, were delivered. In the year 744 in China gems and horses were sent by the rulers of Samarkand, Kesh, Maymurga, Kattakurgan and Tokharistan [14, c. 296].

According to E. Schaefer, in different years of the VII-VIII centuries carnelian utensils, in particular vase and Carnelian bed were sent to China from Samarkand and Tokharistan. Another example: in the 741, the mission of Tokharistan delivered in the Chinese city of Chang'an colored glass, raw carnelian and other items. It is also reported that the pieces of precious jade were raised from the bottom of the two rivers merged near Khotan. The residents of Khotan believed that the Khotan jade is the moonlight turned to crystal [14, c. 296]. E. Schaefer called Badakhshan as the birthplace of lapis lazuli. The lapis mainly were obtained in Kokcha River valley, which flows into the Amu Darya. Lapis is also was extracted in Chach. For example, when in 750, the Chinese general Kao Hsien-chihconquerd Tashkent, along with gold he brought to China a lot of lapis [14, c. 305].

In the VII-VIII centuries the Sogdian trade was controlled by the administration of Tang, China, but the Sogdian merchants actually kept a significant part of the international caravan trade, in particular on the routes, marching through the Tarim Basin and the city of Dunhuang in check. The commercial operations, which conducted by the Sogdians, Samarkand were subsidized by successful Samarkand merchants — they provided loans, gave orders for commercial transactions [10, c. 9]. Unfortunately, in the VIII-IX centuries, especially after the battle near Talas in 751 between the Arabs and China, many prerequisites, which contributed to the prosperity of more than the millennial dialogue “East-West”, had disappeared.

After the fall of the West-khanate the Sogdian colonies in the Seven Rivers gradually dwindled. It has been mentioned, the role of the Sogdians in the economic life of the Western Khanate was very significant — they control a significant part of the economic life of the state, including the currency issue. The Sogdian cities dwindled themselves. The part of the Sogdians returned to their historical homeland, and the remaining part of them gradually assimilated with the Arabs and other Turkic population.

As a conclusion we can say that the Sogdian stook an active part in trade on the intercontinental Great Silk Road over thousand years. Through this way, handicraft products, a variety of trade goods and the culture of the Sogdians reached to China.

On the basis of the aforementioned views it is possible to make the following conclusions:

-                   The trading activities of the Sogdian over the Central Asia prepared the political, socio-economic and ethno-cultural ground, and alsotriggered off the process of ethno-cultural rebirth of the singlecommunity on a huge area. Even the removal the Great Silk Road to Sogd and China brought together people and nationalities living in this area on the basis of economic partnership in the political and ethno-cultural aspects;

-                   The Sogdian colonies made function of intermediary in the trade-economic, political and cultural ties between the people of China and Sogd. These trade settlements developed into the cities, and there was occurred the synthesis of settled and nomadic culture. The Sogdian language and script in this period reached its peak and served to bring together the customs and traditions of the parties.

In the Great Silk Road the settled and nomadic cultures found the community and mutually enriched. Political stability, economic development and cultural revival, often connects to the stability of this road, and also this foundation was the incentive for the development of the relations between China and Sogd.


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Основные термины (генерируются автоматически): VII-VIII, V-VII, III, V-VI, Ташкент, Великий шелковый путь, ART-FLEX, III-IV, II-III, Центральная Азия.


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