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        Communication & Transportation: Early Islamic Impact in China

        The connections between the Near East and the Far East go back thousands of years. Before the rise of Islam in the eighth century, this connection was represented by the Silk Road, an overland caravan system in which goods moved between Mesopotamia and China. With the rise of Islam, the route became a conduit for the spread of ideas and goods that were traded between Muslims and Chinese. As Islam continued to move east over the next centuries, Muslims were introduced to a number of Chinese innovations that greatly influenced Islamic culture.

        Take a look at the images in this Media Gallery to learn more about the way the expansion of Islam furthered trade, transportation, and communication with China and the wider world. Be sure to also read the background essay and complete the worksheet in the Support Materials.

        Ms C-860 fol.43a Poem from an Album of Poetry, c. 1540-50

        This image shows a sixteenth-century Persian paper poetry book with gold leaf produced in the Transoxiana region, possibly at Bokhara. Persian School, (16th century); Persian. Medium: gold leaf, pigments and ink on paper. Provenance: Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg, Russia / Giraudon.

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        Map of the South of Russia and Azerbaijan

        This is an image of a map of the south of Russia and Azerbaijan produced by the celebrated tenth-century Persian geographer and cartographer, Al Istakhri (Al-Estakhri). His atlas 'al-Masalik wa al-Mamalik' also gives descriptions of roads, cities, and monuments throughout the Islamic world. Persian.

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        Chinese Soldiers Exercising Outside the Walls of a City

        This image shows camels in use by the Chinese for long-distance trade. The introduction of camels by Muslims to the trade routes provided an alternative mode of transportation in Asia, as well as throughout the ancient world. Alexander, William (1767-1816). English.

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        Pilgrims Going to Mecca, 1861

        This 1861 oil painting by French orientalist painter Léon Auguste Adolphe Belly (1827-77) shows Muslims making their pilgrimage to Mecca. Orientalist paintings depicted aspects of Middle Eastern and Islamic culture for specifically European audiences. Such orientalist paintings were very popular.

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