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Fascination Silk Road

If you just look at a physical map of Europe and Asia you would be hard pressed to say where one continent ends and the other begins. Especially around the eastern Mediterranean, the Black and Caspian Seas this vast and wide open setting has — through thousands of years of history — contributed to a geographical push and pull, a constant mixing through wars and migrations as the fortunes of empires and civilizations waxed and waned.

Travel writers reporting from this region throughout the centuries have rarely agreed on any line or point where Asia ends and Europe starts or vice versa. Thus it is that Georgia, by some reckonings, is considered to be the easternmost outpost of Europe while Turkey, extending far to the west of it, counts as part of Asia. In terms of culture the transition between Asia and Europe is even harder to make out, and the realities of the countries in this region reflect this to this day.

Mediterranean coast south of Beirut.

The Silk Road was the epitome of a wide ranging trade network connecting Europe and China. For centuries it served the exchange of precious metals, gemstones, spices and foods, carpets and fabrics with silk the most sought after material among them. As part of its massive Belt and Road project China is currently rebuilding a modern version of the Silk Road from East to West.

Networks dedicated to trade also carry immaterial goods: languages, literature, music, art, the preparation of food, as well as religions, world views and systems of law. Both the term "Silk Road" and what used to be called the "Orient" cannot be precisely delineated or associated with specific countries but rather signify vast regions where cultures merge and blend into each other.

Taklamakan Desert near Dunhuang.

A vivid example of a mixture evolved over centuries is Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. Until the 3rd century Georgia was part of the Roman Empire. After that, the territory of today’s Georgia saw the rise of various kingdoms that eventually merged but kept getting battered by pressure from without. Arabs, Seljuks, Mongolians and especially the Persian and Ottoman empires claimed ownership of the fertile lands along the Caucasus Mountains. Russia, the third great power in this constellation only made itself felt in the 18th century.

Georgia reached the largest territorial expansion during its heyday under Queen Tamar between 1184 and 1213. Today, a larger-than-life statue of Queen Tamar stands guard over Tbilissi on a hill above the capital. The traces of the various ruling dynasties are still very much in evidence across the city today. Navid Kermani writes:

“In the garden of the Writers House, the second of the grand institutions of literary Tbilissi I am captivated once again by the symbiosis of pre-revolutionary splendor, Soviet formalism, oriental melancholy and a few choice dabs of western flavor signaling a global sensibility, as well as the hedonism manifested in its menus and wine lists. Wherein lies the appeal of the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous, which is currently so typical for the city? […] That a place does not deny its history, does not tear down and gloss over what came before, what grew over time, but allows these things to coexist, thus acknowledging the transitoriness of the present. […]”

Quote translated from: Kermani, Navid. 2018. "Entlang den Gräben. Eine Reise durch das östliche Europa bis nach Isfahan." S. 227. München: C.H. Beck oHG.

Nowadays, the image of the West about the Orient is often distorted by one-sided media coverage. The vision of Silkroad Designs is to arouse a genuine interest in these regions of the world and to provide a more discerning view. Thus, Silkroad Designs' products reflect the beauty and rich cultural heritage of the countries along the Silk Road. Let them inspire you.

Silkroad Designs' products reflect the beauty and rich cultural heritage of these world regions.