Why is it called 'Silk' Road?
China was the first country in the world to breed silkworms and produce silk fabric. This craft skill reached a fairly advanced level in the Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 256 BC). As the major export to Europe, and being the representative handicraft of this ancient country, 'silk' was used to name this great route by German geographer, Ferdinand von Richthofen.
World's Oldest and Longest Trade Route
The term 'Silk Road' in a narrow sense refers to an ancient overland trade route formed in the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC – 9 AD). This route stretched 4,350 miles from Chang'an (today's Xian) to western China, central Asia, and even to Europe, enabling these regions to have better communications in diplomacy, business and culture.
A World Cultural Heritage Declared by Three Countries
Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an – Tianshan Corridor' was successfully inscribed in the World Heritage List in 2014. It was the first multinational application ever, declared by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and China.
European Nobilities' Fascination with Silk
China's silk fabric was introduced into western countries through this old trade route. People were unfamiliar with this product at the beginning, and made many guesses at how it was produced. According to the record, the idea that silk was picked from trees was widely accepted by folks in Europe. Clothes made of this fabric were always best sellers, and were considered a social status symbol. Even the gorgeous Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, was also a big fan of the silk. This fascination led to an increasing demand for this product, and promoted the development of this trading route.
Revival of Modern Silk Road Economic Belt
A 'One Belt One Road' strategy was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. Based on the ancient trade route, it created the world's longest and most promising economic development zone. With this initiative, the old trade route once again displays its vigor and dynamism to advance economic cooperation and cultural communication among Eurasian countries.