Dissemination of Central Plains Technology and Culture
Among the commodities exported to the West through the Silk Road, silk was naturally the most famous item. In his book Buddhist Records of the Western World, Xuan zang recorded the following story about the dissemination of the sericulture technology: around the time of 420-440 when the Silk Road was re-opened, king of Qusadanna Kingdom, located in present-day Khotan in Xinjiang, was so impressed by the elegance and beauty of silk from China. So he sent his envoy to the Central Plains and requested to buy silkworm eggs and mulberry seeds from the Han Chinese. The request was not only turned down, but also raised the alarm of the imperial court who strengthened its interrogation and examination of people crossing the border or staying at the posthouses, in order to prevent the outflow of mulberry seeds and silkworm eggs. Later the Qusadanna king proposed marriage to a Han princess. When he came to receive his bride, he tipped her to bring silkworm eggs and mulberry seeds. The princess secretly hid some silkworm eggs in her hair and brought them to her new home. She also brought with her some women who had the skills of sericulture and silk weaving. When they arrived in Qusadanna, they built a “deer-shooting city” where they taught local women to grow mulberry trees and raise silkworms. Not long after, the country was full of mulberry trees. Sericulture and silk reeling were quickly popularized. According to archaeological findings, remains of ancient mulberry trees have been unearthed both in the Lop Nur sand sea and ruins of the ancient Shanshan Kingdom. It has been identified that these ancient mulberry trees were planted before the 4th century, which was just about the time when mulberry and silkworm were allegedly spread to the West.
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