Sunday, November 15, 2015

Carpe Diem #859 The Silk Road

Dear Haijin, traders and travellers

It was a world of real travellers, who journeyed with serious purpose, in what was a golden age of trade. The silk road enabled the Greeks to spread the newly-encountered ideas of Buddhism to China and other Asian countries, and introduced the western world to silk. Cities like Dubrovnik, Venice and Genoa thrived through the silk road, but in reality, this trade route brought prosperity to every town, village and caravanserai it touched on. For hundreds of years before, and after the birth of Christ, the silk road thrived. And what do we know of Christ himself, before he reached his thirties? Did he too, take to the silk road? Was he too exposed to the philosophies of Greco-Buddhism? Did he come back to Palestine with ideas fermenting in his mind, for the Silk Road was also a trade of ideas.

Variants of the Silk Road and some products traded

This Silk Road, to me, illustrates the real reason for travel, not as leisure, but as purpose, with an objective to seek, find, meet, trade and link societies, culture, ideas and objects useful and valuable to different civilisations. Because of the Silk Road we discovered new tastes and sensations, and were able to advance as a civilisation, spiritually and in the pursuit of development and improvements of life.

The poduction of silk from China, was kept a closely guarded secret for centuries. It was easy to carry, and keep, so represented an ideal material to trade, as well as a quality one. The Chinese received horses, and initially, grapes and an important crop used for feed, seeds of lucerne. Carpets, curtains, blankets and rugs came to China from East Mediterranean and Central Asia, as well as  camels, cotton, exotic fruits, and leopards and tigers.

From China, caravans brought Chinese porcelein chinaware, umbrellas, varnish, medicines and perfumes, as well as a large variety of spices, tea, rice, corals and amber, and high-quality Chinese paper, mirrors, weapons, ivory and turtle shells.

Indonesia, known as the Spice Islands, specialised in spices, precious jewelry, metalwork, wood and saffron, among other products.

India exported fabrics, further spices and semi-precious stones, dyes and ivory. Iran exported silver products, and Rome, Venice, Dubrovnik and Constantinople exported honey, fur, bark, cattle, and unfortunately slaves; people mostly from northern Europe.

As mentioned, as well as wealth everywhere it touched, the routes of the Silk Road disseminated philosophy and religion, too, notably Buddhism, as far as Bamyan in Afghanistan. Christianity and Islam also travelled the trading routes, as well as Hinduism to Bali, and Zoroastrianism and Manicheism, as travelling merchants absorbed the cultures encountered and brought them back home with them.

Your haiku today should reflect this important and largely peaceful historical trading route: use an object, or two traded on the Silk Road, or something you imagine was traded, in your haiku. If you use two objects, or ideas you could see how they juxtapose together to bring that haiku moment, using methods Chevrefeuille has explored in haiku writing techniques.

I hope you have found something among the items traded on the Silk Road, or two things or more, to focus your haiku on.

Here are a couple of efforts by myself.

homeward bound— 
with precious dreams in my bag
I kiss her copper wrist

her cinnamon taste— 
and the silk she wraps herself in
for both I travel miles!

This episode is open at 7.0 pm, CET. Link your haiku below, and have fun exploring this ancient exotic trading route!


  1. Oh my your haiku are so deliciously penned!! and you have given us so many ideas for this prompt to write about journeys on this Silk Road.

  2. Both absolutely stunning haiku, Kristjann ! You have raised the bar on these:)