The Journey of Maps and Images on the Silk Road


This book covers new ground on the diffusion and transmission of geographical knowledge that occurred at critical junctures in the long history of the Silk Road.

Much of twentieth-century scholarship on the Silk Road examined the ancient archaeological objects and medieval historical records found within each cultural area, while the consequences of long-distance interaction across Eurasia remained poorly studied. Here ample attention is given to the journeys that notions and objects undertook to transmit spatial values to other civilizations. In retracing the steps of four major circuits right across the many civilizations that shared the Silk Road, The Journey of Maps and Images on the Silk Road traces the ways in which maps and images surmounted spatial, historical and cultural divisions.

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Biographical Note
Philippe Forêt, Ph.D. (1992) in Geography, University of Chicago, is a Researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Zurich and an Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham. He is the author of Mapping Chengde (Honolulu, 2000) and La véritable histoire d’une montagne plus haute que l’Himalaya (Paris, 2004), and the coeditor of La Haute-Asie telle qu’ils l’ont vue (Geneva, 2003) and New Qing Imperial History (London, 2004).

Andreas Kaplony, Dr. (1986) in History and Arabic studies and Habilitation (2001) in Islamic studies, both from the University of Zurich, is an Assistant Professor at the Oriental Institute, University of Zurich. He is the author of Konstantinopel und Damaskus: Gesandtschaften und Verträge zwischen Kaisern und Kalifen 639–750(Berlin, 1996) and The Ḥaram of Jerusalem 324–1099 (Freiburg i.Br., 2002), and the coeditor of the Arabic Papyrology Database ( (2006) and Documentary Letters from the Middle East: The Evidence in Greek, Coptic, South Arabian, Pehlevi, and Arabic (1st–15th c CE) (Berne, 2008).
Review Quotes
"Cet ouvrage est donc un moment fort dans la constitution d’un corpus de données qui permettront une réflexion sur les relations entre l’interculturalité et les objets graphiques qui la rendent visible." – Hervé Regnauld, in: espacestemps
"… a rich feast for both experts and general readers and will invite far more transnational research on the Silk Road." – RANIN KAZEMI, Department of History, Yale University, in: Int. J. Middle East Stud. 42 (2010), 323–367
"Accompanied by beautifully reproduced color figures, the articles in this volume weigh intriguing questions about the transmission of visual knowledge, considering, for example, how cultural blind spots can lead to copyists’ inaccuracies or how indigenous and foreign styles can affect one another. It is a rich feast for both experts and general readers and will invite far more transnational research on the Silk Road." – LIANG CAI, in: Int. J. Middle East Stud. 42 (2010)
Table of contents
Transliterations and Conventions
List of Illustrations and Maps

Foreword - Lorenz Hurni

Preface: What Is a Map? - Valerie Hansen

INTRODUCTION - Philippe Forêt and Andreas Kaplony

1 Traces of the Silk Road in Han-Dynasty Iconography: Questions and Hypotheses -
Nicolas Zufferey

2 Visualizing Pilgrimage and Mapping Experience: Mount Wutai on the Silk Road - Natasha Heller

3 The Mapping of Sacred Space: Images of Buddhist Cosmographies in Medieval China -
Dorothy C. Wong

4 Lost in Translation: Gridded Plans and Maps along the Silk Road - Jonathan Bloom

5 Square Horoscope Diagrams in Middle Eastern Astrology and Chinese Cosmological Diagrams: Were These Designs Transmitted through the Silk Road? - Johannes Thomann

6 The Intrusion of East Asian Imagery in Thirteenth-Century Armenia: Political and Cultural Exchanges along the Silk Road - Dickran Kouymjian

7 Comparing al-Kāshgharī’s Map to His Text: On the Visual Language, Purpose, and Transmission of Arabic-Islamic Maps - Andreas Kaplony

8 The Book of Curiosities: A Medieval Islamic View of the East - Yossef Rapoport

9 Celestial Maps and Illustrations in Arabic-Islamic Astronomy - Paul Kunitzsch

10 Revisiting Catalan Portolan Charts: Do They Contain Elements of Asian Provenance? - Sonja Brentjes

CONCLUSION - Philippe Forêt and Andreas Kaplony

Appendix: List of Geographical Nomenclature in al-Kāshgharī’s Text and Map - Andreas Kaplony

General Bibliography
For all those interested in the history of religions, fine arts, cartography and geography, and cultural and scientific exchanges in pre-modern Asia and Europe, as well as for scholars and students in Arabic, Armenian, Buddhist, Chinese, Inner Asian, Medieval, Turkish studies, and, of course, in Silk Road studies.
Index Card
Collection Information