The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, June 28, 2010

China's Tea Horse Road

For hundreds of years a thriving trade took place between China and Tibet along a road hundreds of miles long known as the Tea Horse Road. The Tibetans wanted Chinese Tea, and the Chinese wanted Tibetan horses. 

National Geographic Magazine had a great article on this piece of history and culture. An excerpt from the article is below. The whole article may be read there. Check out the whole thing. There are some great pictures and interactive features.

The Forgotten Road

Chinese tea and Tibetan horses were long traded on a legendary trail. Today remnants of the passageway reveal grand vistas—and a surprising new commerce.

By Mark Jenkins
Photograph by Michael Yamashita
Deep in the mountains of western Sichuan I'm hacking through a bamboo jungle, trying to find a legendary trail. Just 60 years ago, when much of Asia still moved by foot or hoof, the Tea Horse Road was a thoroughfare of commerce, the main link between China and Tibet. But my search could be in vain. A few days earlier I met a man who used to carry backbreaking loads of tea along the path; he warned me that time, weather, and invasive plants may have wiped out the Tea Horse Road.

Then, with one wide sweep of my ax, the bamboo falls. Before me is a four-foot-wide cobblestone trail curving up through the forest, slick with green moss, almost overgrown. Some of the stones are pitted with water-filled divots, left by the metal-spiked crutches used by hundreds of thousands of porters who trod this trail for a millennium.


Emlyn said...

That is a really interesting article - thanks for posting about it!

Rick said...

There's always omething good in National Geographic and The Smithsonian Magazines. Thanks for stopping by.