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." This website is a truly comprehensive resource for teaching about the Silk Road. See especially the EDUCATION>TEACH section for teaching websites 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, Simpson Center for the Humanities
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
 
The Caves of the Thousand Buddhas
The British Museum
An introduction to the "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas," or Qianfodong, "situated at Mogao, about 25 kilometres southeast of the oasis town of Dunhuang in Gansu province, western China, in the middle of the desert. ... At some point in the early 11th century, an incredible archive - with up to 50,000 documents, hundreds of paintings, together with textiles and other artefacts - was sealed up in one of the caves. Its entrance concealed behind a wall painting, the cave remained hidden from sight for centuries, until 1900, when it was discovered by Wang Yuanlu, a Daoist monk who had appointed himself abbot and guardian of the caves." With 19 images, each with explanatory text.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/online_tours/asia/caves_of_the_1000_buddha...
 
In the Footsteps of Marco Polo: A Journey through the Met to the Land of the Great Khan
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Follows the 24,000-mile journey of Marco Polo (1254-1324) from Italy through the Middle East and Central Asia to China and the court of Khubilai Khan.

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/bibliography/?id=11542
 
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
 
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: http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/luxuryarts/default.htm
 
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."

Go to Museum Resource: http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/content/3879/
 
Silk Road Encounters Education Kit
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." Download the TEACHERS GUIDE and SOURCEBOOK, both in .pdf format, under Resources at the far right. The TEACHERS GUIDE includes 6 model lesson plans that "bring together activities that reinforce students' basic knowledge of the Silk Road with concepts on the diversity of exchanges in the arts, belief systems and ideas." The SOURCEBOOK "provides the background material you need to familiarize yourself with the Silk Roads as you plan your activities on this theme."

Go to Museum Resource: http://www.silkroadproject.org/Education/Resources/emSilkRoadEncountersem/tabid...
 
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: http://www.amnh.org/education/resources/rfl/web/silkroadguide/
 
Traveling the Silk Road: My Journey on the Silk Road
American Museum of Natural History
An online "travel journal" to introduce visitors to the 2010 AMNH exhibition on the Silk Road. With an interactive map and "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: http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/silkroad/journey.php
 
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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