Monday, June 06, 2011

The Sogdians

I am now moving on to Uzbekistan - or as it used to be known 'Sogdiana'.

It turns out there is a singer in Uzbekistan called Sogdiana. She sings in Russian, English and a lot of other different languages, and I think her video reflects this exotic mixing - of both languages and culture. Uzbekistan seems to be a melting pot of styles and influences; and I think this film contains many of them: the Mongolian horse, the Arabic and Indian dancing, the Chinese silks and embroidery, and then, of course, the Russian language.

The Ancient Greels knew all about the Sogdians. They were always up for a bit of a rumble, but Alexander the Great manged to sort them out in 329BC. This turned out to be the making of them ...eventually (after the little inconvenience of being enslaved, transported or massacred) because they took up trading instead. In 138 BC Zhan Qian, the emissary of the Chinese Emperor, came across them, and for the next twelve hundred years they were the main tradesmen along the Silk Road, transporting not just goods such as silk, glass, paper, coral, amber and glass, but also religions such as Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. They spoke and wrote a version of Aramaic and it became the common language of trade along the Silk Road.

This is just a section from the fourth chapter of Frances Woods's Silk Road. It is a book I've been wanting to read for years (in fact ever since I got it).


Anonymous marly youmans said...

Is all this great new enterprise of reading going to end with Silk Road travels and a book?

Sun Jun 12, 08:06:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

I fervently hope so, Marly!

Sun Jun 12, 09:25:00 pm  

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