Silk, Robes, and Relations Between Early Chinese Dynasties and Nomads Beyond the Great Wall

  • Xinru Liu
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Soon after agriculture appeared on the North China plain, the relationship between sedentary agricultural societies and nomads on the steppe became a serious issue in Chinese history Warfare with various nomadic groups was recorded from the times of the Shang (ca. sixteenth to eleventh centuries BCE) and the Zhou (ca. eleventh century to 771 BCE) dynasties. A more diplomatic means in dealing with the nomads, using silk products as an expression of good will, began with the Former Han dynasty. Han rulers sent silk as gifts and dowry for princesses who were married to the nomads, functionally a bribe to prevent invasion of the frontier. At the same time, they also used silks to form alliances with the sedentary societies on the oases of Central Asia against the nomads.


Silk Textile Silk Product Nomadic People Northern Dynasty Nomadic Group 
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© Stewart Gordon 2001

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  • Xinru Liu

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