TRANSPORTATION ALONG THE SILK ROAD
Chinese-produced Silk Road goods carried overland to Europe were not loaded onto camels and carried from China to Europe. Goods made their way westward in a piecemeal way, with a lot trading and loading and unloading at the caravan stops along the way.
Different caravans carried goods during different sections, with traders coming from the west exchanging thing like gold, wool, horses or jade for silk coming from the east. The caravans stopped at fortresses and oases along the way, passing their loads from trader to trader, with each transaction increasing the price as the traders took their cut.
Few people traveled the Silk Road from one end to the other as Marco Polo did. Many were simple traders who took goods from one town or oases to the next and then returned home, or they were horsemen who earned an income from trading and transporting goods between settled towns. After the 14th century, much of the silk from the East was shipped from a Genoan port on the Crimea to Europe.
According to UNESCO: “The process of travelling the Silk Roads developed along with the roads themselves. In the Middle Ages, caravans consisting of horses or camels were the standard means of transporting goods across land. Caravanserais, large guest houses or inns designed to welcome travelling merchants, played a vital role in facilitating the passage of people and goods along these routes. Found along the Silk Roads from Turkey to China, they provided not only a regular opportunity for merchants to eat well, rest and prepare themselves in safety for their onward journey, and also to exchange goods, trade with local markets and buy local products, and to meet other merchant travellers, and in doing so, to exchange cultures, languages and ideas.” [Source: UNESCO unesco.org/silkroad ~]
Websites and Sources on the Silk Road: Silk Road Seattle washington.edu/silkroad ; Silk Road Foundation silk-road.com; Wikipedia Wikipedia ; Silk Road Atlas depts.washington.edu ; Old World Trade Routes ciolek.com;
See Separate Articles: CAMELS: TYPES, CHARACTERISTICS, HUMPS, WATER, FEEDING factsanddetails.com ; CAMELS AND HUMANS factsanddetails.com ; CARAVANS AND CAMELS factsanddetails.com; BACTRIAN CAMELS AND THE SILK ROAD factsanddetails.com ; SILK ROAD factsanddetails.com; SILK ROAD EXPLORERS factsanddetails.com; SILK ROAD: PRODUCTS, TRADE, MONEY AND SOGDIAN MERCHANTS factsanddetails.com; SILK ROAD ROUTES AND CITIES factsanddetails.com; MARITIME SILK ROAD factsanddetails.com; DHOWS: THE CAMELS OF THE MARITIME SILK ROAD factsanddetails.com;
Animals and Trade on the Silk Road
Sand dunes in Xinjiang Daniel C. Waugh of the University of Washington wrote: “Animals are an essential part of the story of the Silk Road. While those such as sheep and goats provided many communities the essentials of daily life, horses and camels both supplied local needs and were keys to the development of international relations and trade. Even today in Mongolia and some areas of Kazakhstan, the rural economy may still be very intimately connected with the raising of horses and camels; their milk products and, even occasionally, their meat, are a part of the local diet. The distinct natural environments of much of Inner Asia encompassing vast steppe lands and major deserts made those animals essential for the movement of armies and trade. The animals' value to the neighboring sedentary societies, moreover, meant that they themselves were objects of trade. Given their importance, the horse and camel occupied a significant place in the literatures and representational art of many peoples along the Silk Road.” [Source: Daniel C. Waugh, University of Washington, depts.washington.edu/silkroad *]
The “relationship between the rulers of China and the nomads who controlled the supply of horses continued down through the centuries to shape important aspects of the trade across Asia. At times the substantial financial resources of the Chinese empire were strained to keep frontiers secure and the essential supply of horses flowing. Silk was a form of currency; tens of thousands of bolts of the precious substance would be sent annually to the nomadic rulers in exchange for horses, along with other commodities (such as grain) which the nomads sought. Clearly not all that silk was being used by the nomads but was being traded to those further west. For a time in the eighth and early ninth centuries, the rulers of the T'ang Dynasty were helpless to resist the exorbitant demands of the nomadic Uighurs, who had saved the dynasty from internal rebellion and exploited their monopoly as the main suppliers of horses. Beginning in the Song Dynasty (11th-12th centuries), tea became increasingly important in Chinese exports, and over time bureaucratic mechanisms were developed to regulate the tea and horse trade. Government efforts to control the horse-tea trade with those who ruled the areas north of the Tarim Basin (in the Xinjiang of today) continued down into the sixteenth century, when it was disrupted by political disorders. *\
“Visual representations of the horse and camel may celebrate them as essential to the functions and status of royalty. Textiles woven by and for the nomads using the wool from their flocks often include images of these animals. One of the most famous examples is from a royal tomb in southern Siberia and dates back more than 2000 years. It is possible that the mounted riders on it were influenced by images such as those in the reliefs at Persepolis where the animals depicted were involved in royal processions and the presentation of tribute. The royal art of the Sasanians (3rd-7th century) in Persia includes elegant metal plates, among them ones showing the ruler hunting from camelback. A famous ewer fashioned in the Sogdian regions of Central Asia at the end of the Sasanian period shows a flying camel, the image of which may have inspired a later Chinese report of flying camels being found in the mountains of the Western Regions. *\
Horses and the Silk Road
Daniel C. Waugh of the University of Washington wrote: “With the development of the light, spoked wheel in the second millennium B.C., horses came to be used to draw military chariots, remains of which have been found in tombs all across Eurasia. The use of horses as cavalry mounts probably spread eastward from Western Asia in the early part of the first millennium B.C. Natural conditions suitable for raising horses large and strong enough for military use were to be found in the steppes and mountain pastures of Northern and Central Inner Asia, but generally not in the regions best suited for intensive agriculture such as Central China. Marco Polo would note much later regarding the lush mountain pastures: "Here is the best pasturage in the world; for a lean beast grows fat here in ten days" (Latham tr.). Thus, well before the famous journey to the west of Zhang Qian (138-126 B.C.), sent by the Han emperor to negotiate an alliance against the nomadic Xiongnu, China had been importing horses from the northern nomads. [Source: Daniel C. Waugh, University of Washington, depts.washington.edu/silkroad *]
“The relations between the Xiongnu and China have traditionally been seen as marking the real start of the Silk Road, since it was in the second century B.C. that we can document large quantities of silk being sent on a regular basis to the nomads as a way of keeping them from invading China and also as a means of payment for the horses and camels needed by the Chinese armies. Zhang Qian's report about the Western Regions and the rebuff of initial Chinese overtures for allies prompted energetic measures by the Han to extend their power to the west. Not the least of the goals was to secure a supply of the "blood-sweating" "heavenly" horses of Fergana.” The Han Dynasty explorer Zhang Qian, wrote in the 2nd century B.C.: “The people [of Fergana]...have...many good horses. The horses sweat blood and come from the stock of the "heavenly horse." *\
“The best known example to illustrate the importance of the horse in the history of Inner Asia is the Mongol Empire. From modest beginnings in some of the best pasturelands of the north, the Mongols came to control much of Eurasia, largely because they perfected the art of cavalry warfare. The indigenous Mongol horses, while not large, were hardy, and, as contemporary observers noted, could survive in winter conditions because of their ability to find food under the ice and snow covering the steppes. It is important to realize though that the reliance on the horse was also a limiting factor for the Mongols, since they could not sustain large armies where there was not sufficient pasturage. Even when they had conquered China and established the Yüan Dynasty, they had to continue to rely on the northern pastures to supply their needs within China proper. *\
“The early Chinese experience of reliance on the nomads for horses was not unique: we can see analogous patterns in other parts of Eurasia. In the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, for example, Muscovite Russia traded extensively with the Nogais and other nomads in the southern steppes who provided on a regular basis tens of thousands of horses for the Muscovite armies. Horses were important commodities on the trade routes connecting Central Asia to northern India via Afghanistan, because, like central China, India was unsuited to raising quality horses for military purposes. The great Mughal rulers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries appreciated this as did the British in the nineteenth century. William Moorcroft, who became famous as one of the rare Europeans to reach Bukhara in the early nineteenth century, justified his dangerous trip north from India by his effort to establish a reliable supply of cavalry mounts for the British Indian army.” *\
Camels and the Silk Road
Daniel C. Waugh of the University of Washington wrote: “Important as horses were, the camel was arguably of far greater significance in the history of the Silk Road. Domesticated as long ago as the fourth millennium B.C., by the first millennium B.C. camels were prominently depicted on Assyrian and Achaemenid Persian carved reliefs and figured in Biblical texts as indicators of wealth. Among the most famous depictions are those in the ruins of Persepolis, where both of the main camel species — the one-humped dromedary of Western Asia and the two-humped Bactrian of Eastern Asia — are represented in the processions of those bearing tribute to the Persian king. In China awareness of the value of the camel was heightened by the interactions between the Han and the Xiongnu toward the end of the first millennium B.C. when camels were listed among the animals taken captive on military campaigns or sent as diplomatic gifts or objects of trade in exchange for Chinese silk. Campaigns of the Chinese army to the north and west against the nomads invariably required support by large trains of camels to carry supplies. With the rise of Islam in the seventh century CE, the success of Arab armies in rapidly carving out an empire in the Middle East was due to a considerable degree to their use of camels as cavalry mounts. [Source: Daniel C. Waugh, University of Washington, depts.washington.edu/silkroad *]
“The camel's great virtues include the ability to carry substantial loads — 400-500 pounds — and their well-known capacity for surviving in arid conditions. The secret to the camel's ability to go for days without drinking is in its efficient conservation and processing of fluids (it does not store water in its hump[s], which in fact are largely fat). Camels can maintain their carrying capacity over long distances in dry conditions, eating scrub and thorn bushes. When they drink though, they may consume 25 gallons at a time; so caravan routes do have to include rivers or wells at regular intervals. The use of the camel as the dominant means of transporting goods over much of Inner Asia is in part a matter of economic efficiency— as Richard Bulliet has argued, camels are cost efficient compared to the use of carts requiring the maintenance of roads and the kind of support network that would be required for other transport animals. In some areas though down into modern times, camels continue to be used as draft animals, pulling plows and hitched to carts. *\
Kuo P'u wrote in the A.D. 3rd century: The camel...manifests its merit in dangerous places; it has secret understanding of springs and sources; subtle indeed is its knowledge. Mei Yao-ch'en wrote in the A.D. 11th century:
Crying camels come out of the Western Regions,
Tail to muzzle linked, one after the other.
The posts of Han sqeep them away throught he clouds,
The men of Hu lead them over the snow.
Camels, Horses and the Arts of the Silk Road
Daniel C. Waugh of the University of Washington wrote: “Given their importance in the lives of peoples across inner Asia, not surprisingly camels and horses figure in literature and the visual arts. A Japanese TV crew filming a series on the Silk Road in the 1980s was entertained by camel herders in the Syrian desert singing a love ballad about camels. Camels frequently appear in early Chinese poetry, often in a metaphorical sense. Arab poetry and the oral epics of Turkic peoples in Central Asia often celebrate the horse. Examples in the visual arts of China are numerous. Beginning in the Han Dynasty, grave goods often include these animals among the mingqi, the sculptural representations of those who were seen as providing for the deceased in the afterlife. The best known of the mingqi are those from the T'ang period, ceramics often decorated in multicolored glaze (sancai). While the figures themselves may be relatively small (the largest ones normally not exceeding between two and three feet in height) the images suggest animals with "attitude" — the horses have heroic proportions, and they and the camels often seem to be vocally challenging the world around them (perhaps here the "crying camels" of the poet quoted above). [Source: Daniel C. Waugh, University of Washington, depts.washington.edu/silkroad *]
“A recent study of the camel mingqi indicates that in the T'ang period the often detailed representation of their loads may represent not so much the reality of transport along the Silk Road but rather the transport of goods (including food) specific to beliefs of what the deceased would need in the afterlife. Some of these camels transport orchestras of musicians from the Western Regions; other mingqi frequently portray the non-Chinese musicians and dancers who were popular among the T'ang elite. Among the most interesting of the mingqi are sculptures of women playing polo, a game which was imported into China from the Middle East. The 8th-9th century graves at Astana on the Northern Silk Road contained a wide range of mounted figures — women riding astride, soldiers in their armor, and horsemen identifiable by their headgear and facial features as being from the local population. It is significant that the human attendants (grooms, caravaneers) of the animal figures among the mingqi usually are foreigners, not Chinese. Along with the animals, the Chinese imported the expert animal trainers; the caravans invariably were led by bearded westerners wearing conical hats. The use of foreign animal trainers in China during the Yüan (Mongol) period of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries is well documented in the written sources. *\
Apart from the well-known sculptures, the images of horse and camel in China also include paintings. Narrative scenes in the Buddhist murals of the caves in Western China often represent merchants and travelers in the first instance by virtue of their being accompanied by camel caravans. Among the paintings on paper found in the famous sealed library at Dunhuang are evocatively stylized images of camels (drawn with, to the modern eye, a sense of humor). The Chinese tradition of silk scroll painting includes many images of foreign ambassadors or rulers of China with their horses.’ *\
Silk Road Camels
Bactrian camels were commonly used on the Silk Road to carry goods. They could be employed in high mountains, cold steppes and inhospitable deserts.
Bactrian camels are camels with two humps and two coats of hair. Widely domesticated and capable of carrying 600 pounds, they are native to Central Asia, where a few wild ones still live, and stand six feet at the hump, can weigh half a ton and seem no worse for wear when temperatures drop to -20 degrees F. The fact they can endure extreme hot and cold and travel long periods of time without water has made them ideal caravan animals.
Bactrian camels can go a week without water and a month without food. A thirsty camel can drink 25 to 30 gallons of water at one go. For protection against sandstorms, Bactrian camels have two sets of eyelids and eyelashes. The extra eyelids can wipe sand like windshield wipers. Their nostrils can shrink to a narrow slit to keep out blowing sand. Male Bactrian camels slobber a lot when they get horny.
The humps store energy in the form of fat and can reach a height of 18 inches and individually hold as much as 100 pounds. A camel can survive for weeks without food by drawing on the fat from the humps for energy. The humps shrink, go flaccid and droop when a camel doesn't get enough to eat as it loses the fat that keep the humps erect.
Silk Road Caravans
Until fairly recently caravans with Bactrian camels were widely used in mountainous areas to carry flour, forage, cotton, salt, charcoal and other goods. In the 1970s, Silk Road routes were still used to carry enormous blocks of salt and caravanserai offered accommodation for less than few cents a night. Trucks have largely replaced caravans. But camels, horses and donkeys are still widely used to move goods on trails that can not accommodate vehicles.
In a caravan, five to twelve camels are typically roped together head to tail. The caravan leader often rides and even sleeps on the first camel. A bell is tied to the last camel in the line. That way if the caravan leader dozes off and there is a sudden silence the leader is alerted that someone may be trying to steal the camel at the end of the line.
Winter Caravan Through the Pamirs
In 1971, the French explorers Sabrina and Roland Michaud accompanied a winter camel caravan that followed the same route that Marco Polo took through the Wakhan, a long valley between the Pamirs and the Hindu Kush that extends like a finger in northeast Afghanistan to China. [Source: Sabrina and Roland Michaud, National Geographic, April 1972]
The caravan was operated by Kyrgyz herdsmen who lived in the high valleys. It followed the frozen Wakhan River through the 140-mile-long Wakhan corridor from the Kyrgyz's home camp at MulkAli, about 20 miles from the Xinjiang (China) border, to Khanud, where sheep were traded for salt, sugar, tea and other goods. Goods were carried on the backs of Bactrian camels. Men rode on horses.
The round trip of 240 miles took about a month and took place in the middle of winter. When the caravan was ready to go the ropes and felt padding of the camels were checked. A supply of bread was taken to supply food for the entire journey. The Kyrgyz caravaneers traded one sheep for 160 pounds of wheat with the Wakhis at their destination. The Kyrgyz need the Walkis for food supplies. The Walkis need the Kyrgyz for sheep, tallow, milk products, wool, felt and meat. Sheep are not brought with the caravan, They are delivered later.
The caravan existed because the Kyrgyz herdsmen could rely on milk from their animals for sustenance in the summer but in the winter they survive on bread and tea and had to trade to obtain these goods. In the past the Kyrgyz had traded with caravans that came up from Kashgar in China. But that route was closed down in the 1950s by the Chinese. After that the Kyrgyz started heading westward
Traveling on the Winter Caravan Through the Pamirs
Bezeklik Temperatures in the Pamirs often drop below -12 degrees F. The cameelers wore hats with floppy earflaps and protected their hands with extra-long sleeves. On icy trails sand was often placed on the ice to help the animals get a better grip. At night the camels and cameleers slept in stone shelters, often infested with rats and full of smoke. When the caravan stoped the camels wer prevented from lying down for two hours so they wouldn't get cold from snow melted by their hot bodies.
On frozen rivers it was possible to hear water rushing underneath ice that was three feet thick. Sometimes the caravans leaders placed their ears to the ice to listen for weak spots. If they could hear the loud sound of rushing water then they knew the ice was too thin. Sometimes animals broke through and drowned or froze to death. Special care was taken with the heavily loaded camels. When the ice was slippery they walked in mincing steps.
The Kyrgyz caravan traversed one high mountain pass. Describing a particularly treacherous stretch on the trail, Sabrina Michaud wrote, "On a narrow ledge over a dizzying precipice, my horse slipped and fell on its forelegs. I pull on the reins and the animals struggles to its feet. Fear dampens my body as we climb onwards...Ahead a camel slips and collapse on the path; it kneels and tries to crawl...Risking their own lives, men unload the animal so that it can stand up, then load it again, and move on."
Stops on the Silk Road
Between towns and oases people on long caravans often slept in yurts or under the stars. Caravanserais, stopping places for caravans, sprang up along the routes, offering lodging, stables and food. They were not all that different from guesthouses used by backpackers today except that people were allowed to stay for free. Owners made their money from charging fees for animals and selling meals and supplies.
In the larger towns, the larger caravans stayed for a while, resting and fattening up their animals, purchasing new animals, relaxing and selling or trading goods. To meet their needs were banks, exchange houses, trading firms, markets, brothels and places where one could smoke hashish and opium. Some of these caravan stops became rich cities such like Samarkand and Bukhara.
Traders and travelers had problems with local food and foreign languages like modern travelers. They also had to deal with rules prohibiting certain native costumes and get permits to enter city gates, which explained their wants and needs and showed they presented no threat.
Caravanserai on the Silk Road
In the old days caravans stopped and picked up water and supplies at caravansaries, walled fortresses along major trading routes. Caravanserais (or khans) are buildings specially built to shelter men, goods and animals along ancient caravan routes, in particular along the former Silk Roads. They had rooms for caravan members, fodder and resting places for animals and warehouses for storing goods. They were often in small fortresses with guards to protect the caravans from bandits.
According to UNESCO: “Caravanserais, large guest houses or inns designed to welcome travelling merchants, played a vital role in facilitating the passage of people and goods along these routes. Found along the Silk Roads from Turkey to China, they provided not only a regular opportunity for merchants to eat well, rest and prepare themselves in safety for their onward journey, and also to exchange goods, trade with local markets and buy local products, and to meet other merchant travellers, and in doing so, to exchange cultures, languages and ideas. [Source: UNESCO unesco.org/silkroad ~]
“As trade routes developed and became more lucrative, caravanserais became more of a necessity, and their construction intensified across Central Asia from the 10th century onwards, and continued until as late as the 19th century. This resulted in a network of caravanserais that stretched from China to the Indian subcontinent, Iran, the Caucasus, Turkey, and as far as North Africa, Russia and Eastern Europe, many of which still stand today. ~
“Caravanserais were ideally positioned within a day’s journey of each other, so as to prevent merchants (and more particularly, their precious cargos) from spending days or nights exposed to the dangers of the road. On average, this resulted in a caravanserai every 30 to 40 kilometers in well-maintained areas.” ~
Caravanserai History and Architecture
A typical caravanserai was a set of buildings surrounding an open courtyard, where the animals were kept. The animals were tied to wooden stakes. The rates for a stopover and fodder depended on the animal. Caravanserai owners often supplemented their incomes by gathering manure and selling it for fuel and fertilizer. The price for manure was set according to the animal that produced it and how much straw and grass was mixed in. Cow and donkey manure was regarded as high quality because it burned the hottest and kept mosquitos away.
According to UNESCO: “Linked to the rise of Islam and the growth of the land trade between the Orient and the West (then to its decline because of the opening of the ocean routes by the Portuguese), the construction of most of the caravanserais spanned a period of ten centuries (IX-XIX century), and covered a geographical area the centre of which is Central Asia. Many thousands were built, and together they form a major phenomenon in the history of that part of the world, from an economic, a social and a cultural point of view.” [Source: Pierre Lebigre, "Inventory of Caravanserais in Central Asia" Website on Caravanseraisunesco.org/culture ]
“They are also remarkable for their architecture, which is based on geometric and topologic rules. These rules use a limited number of elements defined by tradition. But they articulate, combine and multiply these elements so that within an overall unity, each one of these buildings possesses characteristics, which are specific to it. As such, they well illustrate the concept of a "common heritage and plural identity", which emerged during UNESCO’s studies of the Silk Roads, and which is particularly evident in Central Asia. Unfortunately, except for some of the really well known ones, usually considered as historical monuments, especially when situated inside towns such as khan Assad Pacha, Damascus – many have been completely demolished and those which remain are, for the most part, slowly disappearing. Nevertheless, a certain number are really worth restoring and some could be rehabilitated in today's world and used for different functions, such as those related to cultural tourism.
Caravanserai in Khiva Uzbekistan
In Khiva, Uzbekistan, Caravanserai and the Tim Trading Dome (near the East Gate) are part of chain of at the Palvan Darvaza (East Gate) Square. They were on one side of the square with Allakuli-Khan Madrasah while the Kutlug-Murad-inak Madrasah and Tash Hauli palace were on the other side. [Source: report submitted to UNESCO]
After the completion of the Harem in the Palace, Alla Kuli-Khan started construction of the caravanserai, a two-storied building of a caravanserai near the fortification walls adjoining the market. This market the completion of the market square. A multi-dome Tim (a trade passage) was built around the same time as the caravanserai. Soon afterwards Madrasah Alla Kuli-Khan was built.
The caravanserai and a covered market (tim) were finished in 1833. The caravanserai was built for receiving caravans. It two gates (western and eastern) were equipped for the arrival of goods loaded on camels, processing the goods and preparing the camels for their departure and journey onwards or back to where they came from. Through a gate the middle of walls of a caravanserai lead to the trading house. The trading house was two stories high and had 105 hujras (cells) .
Rooms of the first floor served as shop fronts for the merchants. Rooms at the top floor functioned as a mekhmankhana (hotel) . The building was planned very conveniently and simply, it consists of a spacious yard with two-storied building cells surrounding the yard of the caravanserai. All hujras of the caravanserai faced the courtyard. Only the second row hujras located on the southern part, like hujras (cells) of the Madrasahs faced the square. The hujras are overlain in the traditional way: “balkhi” style with arches of an identical form. They clearly differ from arches facing the courtyard. The road leading into the courtyard is lined on both sides by portals. Inside the wings of the portal spiral stone staircases lead to the second floor.
The rent for a storehouse was 10 soums a year; for khujdras (housing) 5 soums, paid with silver coins (tanga). Nearby was a madrasah. To get inside the Madrasah one had to pass through a special room, go past the freight area under the twin domes of pass into the courtyard of the caravanserai. To make it more convenient for loading goods the middle of the courtyard sat in a slight depression. Due to the fact that the building was overloaded with activity from the mekhmankhana (hotel), barn and shopping area, later on and indoor shopping area was attached.. Today, the Tim building and caravanserai seem to be a single whole, but are careful examination inside walls of these buildings were separate based on the remains of the portal of the caravanserai and the lower part of the arch. Guldasta (floral bouquet) still can be seen on the remains of the corner towers.
Skilled Khiva masters very skillfully constructed domed Dalan (spacious long corridors) of the Tim. Two rows of small domes converge at the larger dome in front of the caravanserai gates exactly the same they do at the entrance to the dome in the western part of the Tim. Despite the fact that the bases of the domes are a complex in shape (in a quadrilateral or trapezoid form, or in a hexagonal shape), the masters easily managed to construct using an imaginative constructive solution. The Tim's interior is illuminated through the holes arranged under the domes. A specially-appointed rais (person in charge) was responsible for keeping the order in the market and making sure the weights were correct. If someone committed a breach of the established procedure or norms, or engaged in abuse and treachery, he was immediately publicly chastised and punished with blows from a darra (thick belt whip) in accordance with the law
According to the established requirements of the time foreign merchants rented hujras for a few years. Trade caravans that were in constant motion provided these merchants with goods. This implies that at this caravanserai they traded not only with local merchants, but also with Russian, English, Iranian and Afghan traders. In the market it was possible to find a Khivan alacha (striped cotton fabric of handicraft work), silk belts, as well as, unique jewelry of the Khorezm masters, English cloth, Iranian silk with mixed yarns, silk fabrics, wadded blankets, belts, Bukhara boots, the Chinese porcelain, sugar, tea and there are a lot of various such kind small goods.
Inside the caravanserai there was a Divankhana (a room for special government officials) where the prices were set for the goods brought by merchants and traders. There was also an room for “Sarraf”s (moneychangers) who exchanged money of merchants from different countries at the existing rates. Here the Divanbegi (Head of Finance) charged “Tamgha puli” (fee for stamping, permission stamp to import, export and sell goods). All the collected money went not to the Khan’s treasury but was spent to the maintanance of the library of Alla Kuli Khan Madrasah built in 1835. The presently building of the caravanserai like many of the buildings in Khiva was restored in the Soviet period using traditional methods
Image Sources: caravan, Frank and D. Brownestone, Silk Road Foundation; camel, Shanghai Museum; places CNTO; Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Silk Road Seattle, University of Washington, Library of Congress; New York Times; Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; China National Tourist Office (CNTO); Xinhua; China.org; China Daily; Japan News; Times of London; National Geographic; The New Yorker; Time; Newsweek; Reuters; Associated Press; Lonely Planet Guides; Compton’s Encyclopedia; Smithsonian magazine; The Guardian; Yomiuri Shimbun; AFP; Wikipedia; BBC. Many sources are cited at the end of the facts for which they are used.
Last updated August 2021