Central Asian Art

  1. In The Footsteps of Marco Polo Marco Polo (1254 1324) was not the only medieval European to travel the Silk Road, but he is probably the most famous. Marco lived in Venice which was the western end of the trade route from China. Marco's father and uncle grew rich from that trade. In 1271, the seventeen-year-old Marco joined them on a journey that would last twenty-four years and take him more than 24,000 miles, through the deserts and mountains of the Middle East and Central Asia, and further than any of his European predecessors. They traveled to China and the court of Khubilai Khan (1214 1294), the ruler of the Mongols who controlled the largest empire in the world. Learn about their journey and the arts of the famous Silk Road that they traveled.

  2. Monks and Merchants The Silk Road was the first transcontinental highway of the ancient world. It was a vast network of roads that connected China with Central and Western Asia, the Mediterranean and the Indian subcontinent. Adventurers, traders, monks and pilgrims traveled the route, bringing luxury goods, new ideas and religions to the many communities it linked. Learn more about the Silk Road through the many splendid artworks at this site.

  3. Silk Road Encounters This web site was developed by the Silk Road Project. You can learn about the geography, history, religion, art, music and trade that flourished for centuries along the great route that linked the major cultures from China to the Mediterranean.

  4. Samarkand, Uzbekistan Samarkand was an important oasis and trading center along the Silk Road. Many religions and cultures influened its peoples. This web site shows you three sacred shrines in Samarkand. The influence of Islamic architecture is seen in the intricate geometric patterns in the shrine complex of Saint Muhammad Ibn Ismail al-Bukhari.

  5. The Legacy of Ghenghis Khan At the time of his death in 1227, Genghis Khan had unified the Mongol people, organized a nearly invincible army of fearless nomadic warriors, and set into motion the first stage in the conquest of an enormous territory that would be completed by his sons and grandsons. This large and fascinating web exhibition examines the important artistic and cultural achievements that occurred in China and Iran after the Mongol invasions. Ghenghis Khan Here is another web gallery about Genghis Khan with a small selection of artworks.

  6. The Caves of the Thousand Buddhas One thousand six hundred years ago, this area was a busy desert crossroads on the caravan routes of the Silk Road that linked China and the West. Traders, pilgrims and other travellers stopped at the oasis town to stock up with provisions, pray for the journey ahead or give thanks for their survival. Wandering monks began to carve caves into the long cliff stretching more than one mile along the Daquan River. Over the next thousand years more than 1000 caves of varying sizes were created. Around five hundred of these were decorated as cave temples. This site tells you the story of the caves and the art works found there.

  7. Oriental Architecture If you are interested in seeing more examples of Central Asian architecture, visit this web site then click on the link to Afghanistan. You will have a choice of many architectural examples to explore. Photographs are donated by generous people so quality varies, but it is fascinating to see many details and get an idea of the size of a building or temple.

  8. Dancing Demons: Ceremonial Masks of Mongolia Mongolia has been home to diverse nomadic tribes for thousands of years. The rugged mountains and extreme climate has made life difficult. But the people celebrate the New Year with demon masks that drive out the evil that had built up over the year. Explore the fanastic masks of this incredible festival.

  9. Cave As Canvas The sub-title of this web gallery is: Hidden Images of Worship along the Ancient Silk Road. You'll learn about the discovery of these 1800 year old caves and how they were created and decorated.

  10. Buddhism: A Journey Through Asia For over 25 centuries Buddhism has grown and flourished - and sometimes declined and disappeared - all over southern and eastern Asia. This short web essay gives you a brief overview of the Buddhist religion and three beautiful artworks.

  11. The Muslim Heritage This website will link you to articles and information about the Muslim religion, its artistic heritage and many other topics, explaining this faith of millions of people world-wide. You can learn about the beginnings of the Islamic faith 1,400 years ago and about issues vital to Muslims today.

  12. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a wonderful feature, the Timeline of Art History. There are hundreds of beautifully illustrated articles on special topics organized chronologically, or from the oldest to the newest, as art developed around the world. Here are topics and artworks of interest for this period of art history.

    • The Legacy of Genghis Khan Most people think of Ghengis Khan (1162-1227) and the Mongols as bloodthirsty conquerers. Yet Khan and his successors brought peace and prosperity which allowed the arts to flourish. This introduction will lead you to seven other sites with artworks from royal and religious artists.
    • Carpets from the Islamic World 1600-1800 AD Traditionally, carpet weaving had been a minor craft based on patterns passed down from generation to generation. Under the Mughal Dynasty carpet weaving was transformed into a statewide industry with patterns created in royal workshops. Here are examples of the brillian floral and geometric designs.
    • The Art of the Timurid Period 1370-1507 The Emperor Timur brought craftsmen from his many conquered lands to decorate his capital of Samarqand. Their paintings, books, and artchitecture were densely patterned, brightly colored jewels.
    • Flowers Underfoot Seven carpets created in the royal workshops of Mughal India are included in this exhibit. You can enjoy the lovely designs and learn how they were constructed.
    • Horses in Mongolian Art These four beautiful artworks show you how nuch the Mongol culture respected and loved their horses.

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