The Silk Road’s Influence on Culture in Southern Asia
The Silk Road had a profound impact on Southern Asian culture and its expansion. For four centuries after the collapse of the Mauryan Empire, the Kushan kingdom played a major role in regional trade via the Silk Road until it declined in the third century C.E. The road spanned across the main trade routes which were across the northern half of the subcontinent and the, “Kushans thrived on the commerce that passed through the area” (Spielvogel & Duiker, 2013).
The Silk Road was a connecting road between the Roman Empire and China. It provided an important channel for the spread of technology, ideas and material goods. Holy sites in India were frequently visited by many Buddhist monks who used the Silk Road to travel from China to India and, “The exchange of visits not only enriched the study of Buddhism in the two countries, but also led to a fruitful exchange of ideas and technological advances in astronomy, mathematics, and linguistics.” (Spielvogel & Duiker, 2013) The Kushan kingdom began to emerge as a powerful entity with the Silk Road not only because of its ability to provide the delivery of goods but because it enhanced the importance and power of the popularity of Buddhism. The Rome-China trade was also incredibly important to the Kushan kingdom and society.
The influence that the Silk Road had on Kushan society created a culture where prestige was important and more attainable. Merchants became wealthy and successful and even the Kushan monarch in the second century C.E., Kanishka, began practicing Buddhism and enhancing its popularity. One of the ways that the Silk Road affected culture is in the way Buddhist architecture was affected. Buddhist architecture became highly decorated with local and imported precious stones acquired through merchants. Although the kingdom began to decline in the third century C.E., the Silk Road was a major transporter of goods and ideas that ultimately had a significant impact on Asian culture.
Spielvogel, J. J., & Duiker, W. J. (2013). The Essential World History. Cengage Learning.
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