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Featured Topic: Art & Trade on the Silk Road

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The International Dunhuang Project: The Silk Road Online
The British Library
The International Dunhuang Project is "a ground-breaking international collaboration to make information and images of all manuscripts, paintings, textiles and artefacts from Dunhuang and archaeological sites of the Eastern Silk Road freely available on the Internet and to encourage their use through educational and research programs." A truly comprehensive resource for teaching about the Silk Road; see especially the education section for pages on various topics, including Buddhism on the Silk Road, medicine on the Silk Road, and cultural dialogue on the Silk Road.

Go to Museum Resource: http://idp.bl.uk/idp.a4d
 
Ancient Trade Routes between Europe and Asia
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
A brief discussion of ancient trade routes between Europe and Asia, including the Silk and Spice Routes and the Incense Route. "New inventions, religious beliefs, artistic styles, languages, and social customs, as well as goods and raw materials, were transmitted by people moving from one place to another to conduct business."

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/trade/hd_trade.htm
 
Art of the Silk Road
University of Washington
Online exhibit "organized as part of Silk Road Seattle, a collaborative public education project exploring cultural interaction across Eurasia from the first century BCE to the sixteenth century CE." With text and images organized into four categories: 1) Cultures (with a timeline from 400 BCE to 1600 CE); 2) Religions (Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Nestorianismism, Islam, Manichaeism); 3) Trade (text about trade routes, horses and camels, silk); 4) Intercultural Exchange.

Go to Museum Resource: http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/exhibit/index.shtml
 
Buddhist Art and the Trade Routes
Asia Society
An extensive site, covering three main topics: 1) Trade Routes; 2) Buddhism and its Imagery; and 3) India: Origins of Buddhist Art. Also discusses the Buddhist art of specific regions -- Korea/Japan; China/Mongolia; Himalayas; Southeast Asia; and Sri Lanka. With maps, images, a glossary of terms, and bibliography.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.asiasocietymuseum.org/buddhist_trade/index.html
 
Buddhist Caves at Ajanta
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Learn about Buddhist caves. This is one of a series of caves excavated out of the volcanic rock that extends along a cliff overlooking the Wagora River at Ajanta, about two hours north of the present-day city of Aurangabad, in Maharastra state in western India.

Go to Museum Resource: https://education.asianart.org/resources/buddhist-caves-at-ajanta/
 
Chinese Buddhist Cave Shrines
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Explores ancient Buddhist cave shrines in China, including why the sites were created and the major sponsors and patrons. Includes 4 min video.

Go to Museum Resource: https://education.asianart.org/resources/chinese-buddhist-cave-shrines/
 
Connecting China and the Near East – Cross-cultural Influences in Art
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Students will be able to explain how two objects (canteens)show the movement of artistic styles and ideas between the Near East and China.

Go to Museum Resource: https://asia.si.edu/learn/for-educators/teaching-china-with-the-smithsonian/les...
 
Defining Yongle: Imperial Art in Early Fifteenth-Century China
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
See the online exhibit as well as the exhibition publication.

Go to Museum Resource: https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2005/yongle-imperial-art
 
How to Identify a Buddha
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
"The earliest surviving representations of the Buddha date from hundreds of years after his death, so they are not portraits in the usual sense. Buddha images vary greatly from place to place and period to period, but they almost always show these conventional features..." Downloads includes student handouts and a teacher packet on Hindu Buddhist Art. See also An Introduction to Buddhism.

Go to Museum Resource: https://education.asianart.org/resources/how-to-identify-a-buddha/
 
Illuminated Manuscripts: The Sacred Art of Narration
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Students will: 1.) Identify the format and elements of a sutra. 2.) Examine why sutras (the teachings of the Buddha) are important historical and religious documents. 3.) Analyze why the writing of sutras is considered an important religious act. 4.) Construct and illustrate an accordion book manuscript based on the sutra format used during the Goryeo dynasty. Downloads include Visual Guides, a Lesson Plan, and Teachers Packet.

Go to Museum Resource: https://education.asianart.org/resources/illuminated-manuscripts-the-sacred-art...
 
International Dunhuang Project: Silk Road Exhibition
The British Library
An extensive image archive featuring manuscripts, paintings, textiles, sculptures, murals, coins, and other artifacts from six Silk Road excavation sites: 1) Samarkand; 2) Khotan; 3) Kroraina; 4) Miran; 5) Dunhang; 6) Gaochang. Excellent descriptive text with most objects. Also includes maps, site diagrams, and some photographs.

Go to Museum Resource: http://idp.bl.uk/education/silk_road/index.a4d
 
Lesson Plan: The Silk Road [PDF]
The Art Institute of Chicago
Grades 7–10 English Language Arts, Social Science. See also The Silk Road History Lab.

Go to Museum Resource: https://www.artic.edu/assets/43d01149-b415-2110-9102-f39931e27c7f
 
Life in China: Tang and Song Dynasties
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
This unit includes interdisciplinary suggested activities and downloadable handouts for approaching this subject through skill sets applied across world history studies. Download student hand outs, discussion points, comparisons, and activities. See also a spotlight on the art object, Camel, approx. 690–750.

Go to Museum Resource: https://education.asianart.org/resources/life-in-china-tang-and-song-dynasties/
 
Luxury Arts of the Silk Route Empires
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
"Two thousand years before today's "global economy," an exchange network linked the continent of Asia via the Silk Route. Between the first and eighth centuries of the common era, the empires and states of Asia often came into conflict as they competed for territory and other resources or sought to dominate their neighbors in religious and political arenas." A brief illustrated guide, focused mostly on metalwork and pottery.

Go to Museum Resource: https://asia.si.edu/exhibition/gallery-guide-luxury-arts-of-the-silk-route-empi...
 
Mapping the Silk Road (interactive)
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Students analyze objects from South Asia, West Asia, and China to connect to the travel experiences of ancient merchants and traders, develop an understanding of the breadth of the land and sea trade, and explore how art and ideas travel and change over time and place.

Go to Museum Resource: https://education.asianart.org/resources/mapping-the-silk-road/
 
Monks and Merchants: Silk Road Treasures from Northwest China, Gansu and Ningxia, 4th-7th Century
Asia Society
Features more than 35 objects organized into the following topics: 1) Heavenly Horses; 2) Nomadic Rulers; 3) Buddhism and China; 4) Buddhist Cave Temples; 5) Bodhisattvas; 6) Monks; 7) Merchants and Currencies; 8) The Tang Dynasty. Each topic has overview text, and each object is accompanied by short descriptive text. An additional topic on the Silk Road itself gives extensive background information on the geographical, historical, religious, and cultural context of the Silk Road.

Go to Museum Resource: http://sites.asiasociety.org/arts/monksandmerchants/index.html
 
Museum Collections of Silk Road Art
University of Washington, Simpson Center for the Humanities
"[A]nnotated descriptions of and links to the websites of major art museums exhibiting objects of interest for the study of the Silk Road" from the University of Washington's Silk Road Seattle, "an ongoing public education project using the 'Silk Road' theme to explore cultural interaction across Eurasia from the beginning of the Common Era (A. D.) to the Seventeenth Century."

Go to Museum Resource: http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/museums/srmuseums.html
 
Playing with Shadows: An Introduction to Shadow Puppetry
The Kennedy Center, ArtsEdge
"Discover the secrets behind the art of shadow puppetry in this multimedia exploration, designed for grades 5-8, which explores this age-old art form through animations, videos, interactive activities, and more." With questions for discussion and two related lesson plans (see left-hand column): "Puppets on the Move: China and the Silk Road" and "Shadows & Light, Science & Puppetry." Uses Flash.

Go to Museum Resource: https://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/multimedia/series/AEMicrosites/playing-with...
 
Puppets on the Move: China and the Silk Road
The Kennedy Center, ArtsEdge
This lesson is part of the unit: 'Teaching Shadow Puppetry.' Through map-making, research, and class discussions, students will gain an understanding of the dynamics of trade in China along the Silk Road and the role of trade in urbanization throughout the Han, Tang, and Song dynasties. The lesson will culminate in student-produced and student-created shadow puppet performances that demonstrate students’ understanding of Chinese culture during the days of the Silk Road and of the connection between trade and urbanization.

Go to Museum Resource: https://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators/lessons/grade-6-8/Puppets_on_the_...
 
The Silk Road [PDF]
Pacific Asia Museum of USC
Lesson plan designed for grade 6, focusing on preparing students to explore works of Asian art. “Enduring Questions: How did societies interact with each other? How did connections between societies increase over time? How did the establishment of the Silk Road increase trade, the spread of Buddhism, and the connections between China and other regions of Afro - Eurasia?”

Go to Museum Resource: https://pacificasiamuseum.usc.edu/files/2019/03/USC-PAM-My-Masterpieces-Curricu...
 
Silk Road Encounters: The Music of Strangers
The Silk Road Project
"As a symbol of the crossroads between civilizations, peoples, and cultures, the Silk Roads offer rich materials for students to explore diverse but inter-related topics on geography, trade, art, music, religion, and history." Includes several on-line video lessons plus a curriculum guide meant to accompany the film of the same name. See also: Curriculum Guide [PDF].

Go to Museum Resource: https://www.silkroad.org/resources-tmos
 
The Silk Roads in History
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
“There is an endless popular fascination with the “Silk Roads,” the historic routes of economic and cultural exchange across Eurasia. The phrase in our own time has been used as a metaphor for Central Asian oil pipelines, and it it common advertising copy for the romantic exoticism of expensive adventure travel. One would think that, in the century and a third since the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term to describe what for him was a quite specific route of east-west trade some 2,000 years ago, there might be some consensus as to what and when the Silk Roads were. Yet, as the Penn Museum exhibition of Silk Road artifacts demonstrates, we are still learning about that history, and many aspects of it are subject to vigorous scholarly debate.” An excellent rich site on the Silk Roads.

Go to Museum Resource: https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/the-silk-roads-in-history/
 
The Spread of Buddhism Across Asia
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Understand, through the analysis of artifacts and maps, how Buddhism changed as it spread across Asia and came to reflect the countries that embraced it. Downloads include a slideshow and handout on Buddhist artifacts and a lesson plan.

Go to Museum Resource: https://education.asianart.org/resources/the-spread-of-buddhism-across-asia/
 
Traveling the Silk Road: Educator's Guide
American Museum of Natural History
Online educator's guide to the 2010 exhibition at the AMNH that takes visitors "along the world's oldest international highway, on a voyage that spans six centuries (AD 600 to 1200). (The exhibition) showcases four representative cities: Xi'an, China's Tang Dynasty capital; Turfan, a bustling oasis; Samarkand, home of prosperous merchants; and Baghdad, a meeting place for scholars, scientists, and philosophers." Featuring activities for grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12, standards correlations, map, glossary, and more.

Go to Museum Resource: https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/traveling-the-silk-road/educator-resources
 
Traveling the Silk Road: Is the Silk Road an example of globalization? [PDF]
The Field Museum
In this lesson plan students will explore the “Silk Road” trade networks through museum resources and a reenactment of exchange along the route.

Go to Museum Resource: https://www.fieldmuseum.org/sites/default/files/silk_road_activity.pdf
 
Traveling the Silk Road: Take a Journey
American Museum of Natural History
An online "travel journal" to introduce visitors to the 2010 AMNH exhibition on the Silk Road. With an interactive series of articles covering "stops" in Baghdad, Samarkand, Turfan, and Xi'an. The section on Xi'an covers silk-making and music of the Tang-dynasty era.

Go to Museum Resource: https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/traveling-the-silk-road/take-a-journey
 
Treasures Along the Silk Roads
Asia Society
Lesson plan in which students generate word maps that act as creative writing prompts, using images of art objects from the Silk Roads.

Go to Museum Resource: http://asiasociety.org/education-learning/resources-schools/secondary-lesson-pl...
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