Southwest Silk Road

The Southwest Silk Route is the second of its kind in China. As early as over 2,000 years ago, China's silk products were world-famous, gaining a global renown. The well-known "Silk Route" was the main route for the exportation of silk during the Hang and Tang Dynasties. However, previous to the opening of this route, there was already the Southwest Silk Route extending from Sichuan to Burma and India via Yunnan. Like its northwest counterpart, it has made great contributions to world civilization.

According to historical accounts, when Zhang Qian (?-444 B.C.) was on his mission to Bactria (now the northern part of Afghanistan) in 122 BC, he saw some Shu cloth and "qiong" bamboo sticks imported from Sichuan to India and came to know that merchants from Sichuan had a long time before traveled to India for trade via Yunnan and Burma. Afterwards, the Han empire, having removed obstacles imposed by the Kunming tribes around Erhai Lake, recruited a great amount of armed laborers to undertake on a large scale the building of the Bonan Route. Passing what is now Xiaguan and Yongping and crossing the Lancangjiang River, this road extended via Baoshan and Tengchong far into Burma, India and other countries. In the Tang Dynasty, it prospered and throve even more, showing no decline during a long period of time. Up to now there still can be found many historical relics along this route.

For instance, on the famous Bonan Mountains at Yongping one can still see the stone-paved ancient road winding over the sublime and awe-inspiring mountain ranges. The place near today's Jihong Bridge on the bank of the Lancangjiang River used to be a famous ancient ferry in the Western Han Dynasty. In the 12th year of the reign of the Han Emperor Mingdi (A.D. 69), Yongchang Prefecture was instituted in what in Baoshan today, thus causing the road's further development. In 1982, a tablet was unearthed near the present-day Yunnan-Burma Highway (formerly the Burma Road) between the Nujiang River and the Gaoligongshan Mountain, bearing the inscription: "Lujiang Bawan and Tanzizhai in Lujiang are the two important post stages on the road that lead to Tengyue, Longling and Burma". This tablet unearthed at the ancient stage is a most convincing material evidence to this effect.

During the Han and Tang Dynasties this line of communications modes closer the ties of friendship between China and the countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. It provided an important condition for developing the economy and culture of the various nationalities on China's southwestern border.

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