The Silk Road

camelsilkrouteI visited the Hermitage again, this time to see their “Silk Road Exhibition; Treasures from the Hermitage“.

The Silk Road stretched from China to Europe through various central Asian countries, it crossed borders, cultures and languages allowing trade for centuries. It’s a fascinating route – the cultures and languages along it are diverse and so are the treasures in the exhibition.

There are a pair of merchant’s trousers, which means you’re looking at silk that was woven more than a thousand years ago. Wall frescoes from many of the trading station have been restored and show the legends of the time. There’s a wall of coins from across the route, and there are figurines whose faces show the diversity of people involved in this most famous of trading routes.

The artifacts are beautifully presented, with good information about the treasures. It’s set up so that you can travel “east to west” or “west to east”, which is a nice touch reflecting the travel on the Silk Road. Although few traders travelled from one end to the other – instead going back and forth between trading posts.

What I missed was a sense of context, the exhibition focused on the discovery and recovery of the artifacts by various Russian explorers. I care less about that than the culture behind the frescoes, the people who traded, and the babble of the marketplace.

The exhibition is on until 5 September 2014, daily from 10am to 5pm. Tickets cost 15 euro, although entry is free with a Museumkaart.

 

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