Freer Gallery of Art
Jefferson Drive and 12th Street, SW
Gallery 16 Floor Plan
A vast network of caravan trails has long linked the oasis settlements spread across the Central Asian desert. For nearly two millennia these trade routes, now collectively known as the Silk Road, facilitated the spread of Buddhism and provided a course for the long-distance exchange of luxury goods between merchants and traders in China and the West. The impact of foreign imports on the arts of China is particularly apparent in objects dating from the 6th century through 8th century, when Chinese artisans explored new materials (e.g., silver and gold), techniques, forms, and decorative patterns. Exceptional examples of objects and tableware—most made in the vicinity of the Tang capital at Chang'an (modern Xi'an)—are featured. In addition, on view are portions of an elaborate stone burial couch that was apparently made for the tomb of one of the traders from Sogdiana (modern-day Uzbekistan and Tajikistan).