Silk Roads

A mappa mundi, a representation of the known world – Asia is at the top, separated from Europe (6-9 o’clock) and Africa (3-6 o’clock), Tours, Bibliothèque Municipale, 973 (15th century, France)

There was no single road connecting Asia, Africa and Europe known as the Silk Road. Instead, there was a network of roads, like blood vessels in a body. There were Silk Roads, carrying ideas and goods across the vast expanses of the three continents.

Culture and technology circulated up and down these roads, providing exchanges between faraway lands. Languages travelled both ways, more fluently than their speakers. Ideas flowed more rapidly than silkworms spun their cocoon.

The Silk Roads were the first construction site of the global village, a vast project of connecting disconnected points through cultural rhumb lines.

Books are miniature silk roads, moving ideas back and fro, pushing reason and imagination against the four cardinal points. The networks we weave across our green cocoon can be smooth as silk or rough as rope.

Cultural exchange is the result of trade, but occasionally it can exist in the absence of established trade routes. When contact is forced despite the natural or human obstacle, new networks follow in its wake, new silk roads are formed.

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