T'ang Cosmopolitanism
The Silk Road in Poetry

by Ryan Morehouse, Rebekka Devino and Kris Nason, (Bangor High School, 2001)

"Bamboo from the southern hills was used to make this pipe.
And its music, that was introduced from Persia first of all,
Has taken on new magic through later use in China.
And now the Tartar from Langzhou, blowing it for me,
Drawing a sigh from whosoever hears it."

~Li Qi, from "On Hearing an Wanshan Play the Reed-Pipe"

During the Tang Dynasty, the Silk Road had its greatest affect on every day Chinese life.  Merchants from such places as Persia, Mongolia, India, Europe and Africa came into Ch'ang-an to market their wares. These people brought with them new ideas and technologies that became part of the lives of the Chinese people. This gave the Chinese a new perspective on life outside of the Tang dynasty. In this story, the Tang dynasty is brought to life by Wang Shi-Ren, a fictional character who aspires to be a great poet. In his adventures, he experiences many of the foreign influences within Ch'ang-an, a center of commerce and culture. As you join in the streets of Ch'ang-an, be sure to take note of the many references to the ideas and technologies that are mentioned previously in this website, and to think about the attitudes that the poems demonstrate towards foreign influence.


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