Silk path exhibition opens in Britain

An exhibition entitled "The Silk Path: Trade, Travel, War and Faith" has opened in the British capital. It has been organized by the British Library and the British Museum, and will run through September 12.

According to curator Susan Whitfield, the exhibition features items from China, Japan, India and France. About 300 manuscripts, printed books, decorative artworks, and other objects dating from the period of flourish of the Silk Path have been put on display in the British Library.

Since the Silk Path linked Spain in the west with China in the east and Samarkand in the north with India in the south, the British Library's exhibition brings together artifacts from various cultures and historical periods, including Chinese books, silk prints representing Christian saints, and Persian glass wares, to give just a few examples.

Ms. Whitfield is also in charge of the international project Dunhuang, which is being pursued by the British Library in conjunction with scholars from other countries and whose aim is to study the life and history of the countries and regions crossed by the Silk Path in the first millennium AD.

A computer database listing archeological finds all along the Silk Path will be compiled in St. Petersburg before the end of this year, Ms. Whitfield revealed in a RIA interview. According to her, the St. Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, at the Russian Academy of Sciences, holds thousands of period manuscripts obtained by Russian expeditions in the first half of the 20th century.

Similar databases are already up and running at the British Library and the Chinese National Library, our interviewee said. According to her, the conversion of available images into the digital format, the preparation of captions, and systematization will begin in St. Petersburg with the next few months; the whole process of database creation will take about six months to complete. Ms. Whitfield did not say anything about the sources of financing the work, but it seems likely that the Dunhuang project she is running will cover all the expenses.

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