On his return from the Western Regions,Envoy Zhang Qian bought back to the Central Plains a fine steed,the Ferghana,as well as some of the most commonly seen crops today.At the same time Chinese silk Products and cast iron technology were also introduced to Europe.Through the Silk Road,many western crafts,religion and arts entered China,producing an enormous impact on the development of Chinese culture.
*Introduction of Sugar Processing Technology into Central Plains
As one of the birthplaces of sugar canes,India on the Indian subcontinent was the first country in the world that invented the sucrose brewing technology.According to historical records,as early as during China’s Western Han Dynasty,sucrose brewing technology appeared in India. Although China began to grow sugar canes as early as during the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Period,the Chinese did not master the sugar producing technology.Western Jin historian Sima Biao wrote in his book Han Book Continued:”Solid honey is produced in Tianzhu Kingdom.” Here solid honey refers to “sucrose”,which used to be a precious tribute from the Western Regions to the Central Plains dynasties and only the imperial family and aristocrats were entitled to enjoy such luxury.In one of the document fragments found in Dunhuang,there is following description about the ancient Indian sugar processing technology:”India produces sugar canes and can make the finest sucrose.” Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty sent envoy Wang Xuance to ancient India to study sugar refining technology. The Emperor also ordered sugar canes be cultivated in large area of Yangzhou region for trial production of sucrose. However”both the color and the texture of the sucrose produced in Yangzhou were far away from those made in Western Region”(Tang Tang Book Updates-Story of Western Regions). China’s sugar technology improved since the Tang Dynasty and the quality of sucrose also improved significantly. Through continued renovation and improvement on the basis of brown sugar manufacturing technology,Ming Dynasty craftsmen invented the bleaching technique which enabled the production of white cane sugar.
*Introduction of Glass into Central Plains
Glass had several names in Chinese language. Glass recorded in the Chinese classic was often a specialty of the West. Its emergence in the Central Plains was closely related to trade and travels along the Silk Road. Early Tang scholars Yan Shugu quoted from a historical book titled Wei Strategy the following statement:”Daqin Emperor produces glass of ten colors including red,white,black,yellow,green,orange and purple.” Here “Daqin” refers to the Eastern Roman Emperor. According to research glass was invented by the Sumerians living in the Mesopotamia region about 5000 B.C. By 2000B.C. Phoenicians living in the east bank of the Mediterranean passed the glass-making skills to Egyptians who improved the technology to its peak. As early as 1000 B.C.glass beads produced in the Western Region entered the Chins’s Xinjiang ares. With the official opening of the silk road
and by the 5th century,glass manufacturing technology was introduced to China by Dayuezhi trader from the Central Asia.