Research 2

From classic Silk Road novel “One Thousand and One Nights.” The story of Shahrazad. Painting by Edmund Dulac from a 1911 edition of The Thousand and One Nights.


Classic Silk Road Histories, Literature, Philosophies and Religions

Chaos Monster and Sun God – Mesopotamian god (with thunderbolts) battles Gryphon ; often associated with battle of Marduk vs Tiamat – story from Enūma Eliš. Some sources interpret the image as [Bel-Merodach] Marduk (with thunderbolt) fighting Tiamat eg History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria Vol. 3 (Maspero, G.; Sayce, A. H.) ,



(Formerly known as Khorasan)
Pata Khazana – 隐藏的宝藏,用普什图语写成,是一本普什图诗歌选集,其根源可能可以追溯到大约 8 世纪。

Pata Khazana – The Hidden Treasure, written in Pashto, is an anthology of Pashto poetry, which may have roots going back to about the 8th Century.

Amir Kror Suri(卒于 771 年)也被称为 Jahan Pahlawan,是 Ghor 的第一任国王,根据 Peta Khazana 的说法,他是一位著名的战士,也是普什图语的第一位诗人。Amir Kror Suri (d. 771) also known as Jahan Pahlawan was the first king of Ghor, and according to the Peta Khazana was a renowned fighter, and first poet in the Pashto language.

Khattak 的 Khushal Khan – 战士和诗人出生于 Hijrah (ACE) 1613 的 1022 年
Khushal Khan of the Khattak – Warrior and poet was born in the year 1022 of the Hijrah (ACE) 1613

Pata Khazana, by M Hotak
普什图语 Khushal Khan Khatak 诗人战士
Pushtun Khushal Khan Khattak Poet Warrior

鲁米(Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi,1207-1273)是 13 世纪波斯逊尼派穆斯林诗人、法学家、伊斯兰学者、神学家和苏菲派神秘主义者。 他出生在巴尔赫(今阿富汗),是整个中亚地区最著名的穆斯林诗人和穆斯林哲学家之一。

Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, 1207-1273) was a 13th Century Persian Sunni Muslim poety, jurist, Islamic Scholar, Theologian and Sufi mystic. He was born in Balkh, present day Afghanistan, and is one of the most famous Muslim poets, and Muslim philosophers throughout the entire Central Asian Region.

阿富汗诗人名单、阿富汗诗歌译本和当代诗人精选:For a list of Afghan poets, selection of translations of Afghan poetry and contemporary poets:

Grigor Narekatsi 951

由于亚美尼亚教会几个世纪以来为根除“异教传统”所做的共同努力,在 4 世纪初亚美尼亚基督教化之前的最古老的亚美尼亚文学传统中,只有少数残片得以幸存。 基督教亚美尼亚文学始于大约 406 年,梅斯罗普发明了亚美尼亚字母,目的是将圣经书籍翻译成亚美尼亚语。

亚美尼亚 Armenia

Only a handful of fragments have survived from the most ancient Armenian literary tradition preceding the Christianization of Armenia in the early 4th century due to centuries of concerted effort by the Armenian Church to eradicate the “pagan tradition.” Christian Armenian literature begins about 406 with the invention of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop for the purpose of translating Biblical books into Armenian.
Grigor Narekatsi 951 – 1011 (translated by Thomas J. Samuelian)
Armenian Poems

阿塞拜疆 Azerbaijan

“The 7th century epic (dastan), the “Book of Dede Qorqud” (Kitabi Dədə Qorqud), written in Azerbaijani, remains an original source for the culture and history of the Azerbaijani people. This dastan describes in 12 tales the struggle for freedom and independence by the Oghuz Turks, the ancestors of Azerbaijanis. Currently, two original manuscripts of the dastan are preserved in the Vatican Library and in the Saxon State Library in Dresden.

The “Book of Dede Qorqud” in English can be downloaded from: (Registration is required.) Amazing and powerful stories of the ancient world, love and treachery, honor and sacrifice; a treasury of stories of the real Silk Road.

Maidens’ Tower in Baku Photo by G. Brundage

English Translation of the Khamsa of Nizami (Mirror of the Invisible World, Tales from the Khameseh of Nizami) can be downloaded here. This is an illuminating work, even in English, transcendent in feeling, beauty, love, the fickleness of fate, and the wickedness of evildoers. This version also contains some of the original artwork.

Mahammad Fuzuli (1494-1556)
His three great collections (Divans) are in these languages, but the most famous is the 4,000 couplet-long rendering of the Middle East favorite Leili and Mejnun in Azeri Turkish. Some of his other poems can be found amongst this amazing collection of Ottoman Turk poetry translations:
“Fuzuli is one of the greatest Azeri-Turkish poets.


The Hundred Schools of Thought (諸子百家/诸子百家) is the name given to philosophers and schools that flourished from 770 to 221 B.C.E., an era of great cultural and intellectual expansion in China. It is also known as the Golden Age of Chinese philosophy because a variety of thoughts and ideas were freely developed and discussed. Below is a short list of some of the most famous 100 Schools of Thought.

Imaginary portrait by Wu Daozi (685–758), Tang dynasty, Public Domain

Confucianism (儒家)
Chinese “Classic Texts” defined as originating before the Qin Dynasty (221 BCE) are called Zhōngguó gǔdiǎn diǎnjí. They are summarized as the Four Books and the Five Classics.
The Four Books of Confucianism are Chinese classic texts that Zhu Xi selected in the Song Dynasty as an introduction to Confucianism. They were in the Ming and Qing Dynasties made the core of the official curriculum for the civil service examinations The Five Classics were compiled or edited by Confucius himself (551-479 BC).
The Four Books are: The Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Analects of Confucius, and The Mencius (Mengzi) anecdotes and conversations of Mencius, a disciple of Confucius.
The Four books can be downloaded here: (James Legge Translation) (Other translations)

孟子(公元前 371-289 年)或孟子。 他的工作的一个主要原则是人性是正义的和人道的。 公民对统治者政策的反应体现了这一原则,一个有正义和仁慈政策的国家自然会繁荣。 公民有自由,有良好的统治,就会有时间照顾他们的妻子、兄弟、长辈和孩子,受到礼节教育,自然会成为更好的公民。Mencius (371–289 BC), or Mengzi, who formulated his teachings directly in response to Confucius. One primary principle of his work is that human nature is righteous and humane. The responses of citizens to the policies of rulers embodies this principle, and a state with righteous and humane policies will flourish by nature. The citizens, with freedom from good rule, will then allocate time to caring for their wives, brothers, elders, and children, and be educated with rites and naturally become better citizens.

The School of Law or Legalism (法家), who maintained that human nature was incorrigibly selfish; accordingly, the only way to preserve the social order was to impose discipline from above, and to see to a strict enforcement of laws,

Taoism or Daoism (道家; Dàojiā; Tao-chia; “School of the Way”) developed into the second most significant stream of Chinese thought. Its formulation is often attributed to the legendary sage Laozi (“Old Master”), who is said to predate Confucius, and Zhuangzi (369–286 BC). Painting on right: “The subject deals with the story of Laotzu riding an ox through a pass. It is said that with the fall of the Chou dynasty, Laotzu decided to travel west through the Han Valley Pass. The Pass Commissioner, Yin-hsi, noticed a trail of vapor emanating from the east, deducing that a sage must be approaching. Not long after, Laotzu riding his ox indeed appeared and, at the request of Yin-hsi, wrote down his famous Tao-te ching, leaving afterwards. This story thus became associated with auspiciousness.”

Laozi Riding an Ox (1368–1644) by Zhang Lu, National Palace Museum

Mohism or Moism (墨家) was developed by followers of Mozi (also referred to as Mo Di; 470–c.391 BC),

Mozi Photo of paining by Vjacheslav Rublevskiy, CC0

Mozi taught that everyone is equal in the eyes of heaven. He believed that the decision of who is in power should be based on meritocracy, or those who are worthy of power should receive power. Mozi invoked heaven and called upon the Sage Kings to support his precedents. Mozi’s philosophy emphasized universal love, social order, the will of heaven, sharing, and honoring the worthy. During the Warring States period, Mohism was actively developed and practiced in many states, but later fell out of favor when the legalist Qin dynasty came to power in 221 BCE.

The School of Naturalists or Yin-yang (陰陽家/阴阳家) synthesized the concepts of yin-yang and the Five Elements.

武经七书 Seven Chinese military classics

– The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Sunzi)

– 三十六计 The Thirty-Six Stratagems

– 黄世功三策 The Three Strategies of Huang Shigong

– 司马之法 The Methods of Sima

– 吴起 Wuzi

尉缭子 Wei Liaozi

– 六韬 Six Secret Teachings



The “Four Master Works” (四大奇書 sì dà qishù) of Chinese Literature are:

三国演义 Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Peach Garden Ceremony

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is traditionally attributed to Luo Guanzhong, a playwright who lived sometime between 1315 and 1400 (late Yuan to early Ming period) known for compiling historical plays in styles which were prevalent during the Yuan period.

The story begins like this: In You Province, a man named Liu Bei saw a poster recruiting men who could join a volunteer army to surpress the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Liu Bei was of the Imperial Family, but his father died when he was young and he was very poor, living off selling straw sandals. He sighed, thinking that he could not do anything. A man named Zhang Fei heard the sigh and questioned Liu Bei furiously why he had sighed. Liu Bei and Zhang Fei expressed their thoughts about wanting to join. United by a common cause, they went to the bar to drink and met another like-minded soul in Guan Yu. The three of them then became sworn brothers. Due to their ages, Liu Bei became the eldest, Guan Yu the second and Zhang Fei the youngest.

Silk painting by Sekkan Sakurai (1715–1790)

This book has it has a total of 800,000 words and nearly a thousand dramatic characters (mostly historical) in 120 chapters. The novel is among the most beloved works of literature in East Asia, and its literary influence in the region has been compared to that of the works of Shakespeare on English literature.

沼泽的不法之徒 Outlaws of the Marsh

Water Margin (Shuihu zhuan) is one of the earliest Chinese novels written in vernacular Mandarin, and is attributed to Shi Nai’an. It is also translated as Outlaws of the Marsh and All Men Are Brothers.

Wu Song slaying a tiger (Summer Palace mural) Public Domain

Corruption in government leads a group of men to become outlaws though they remain forever loyal to the emperor. This is an all too real novel with extraordinary characters, settings, action and drama.

Those who haven’t fallen in love with reading, might do so reading this book. A free PDF version can be downloaded here.

西游记 Journey to the West

Journey to the West (西遊記; pinyin: Xī Yóu Jì) is a Chinese fantasy novel published in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty and attributed to Wu Cheng’en. The story is about “Stone Money” (Sun Wu Kong) who accompanied Silk Road traveler Xuanzang to India to collect Buddhist scriptures. This is a great novel for young readers to jump from a low-intermediate level to life-long reader.

红楼梦 Dream of the Red Chamber

A scene from the story, Public domain artwork by Xu Baozhuan (1810-1873)

Free download here.

Dream of the Red Chamber (Honglou Meng) is a novel composed by Cao Xueqin in the middle of the 18th century.

Honglou meng is a book about enlightenment [or awakening]. … A man in his life experiences several decades of winter and summer. The most sagacious and wise is certainly not submerged in considerations of loss and gain. However, the experiences of prosperity and decline, coming together and dispersing [of family members and friends] are too common; how can his mind be like wood and stone, without being moved by all this?  - A commentary on the novel by writer Jiang Shunyi, dated 1869

中国古代史 Ancient histories of China

Records of the Grand Historian, inherited from Sima Tan 司馬談 (father) by Sima Qian 司馬遷

After 206 BCE there were the Twenty-Four Histories with the Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian starting the series of histories for various dynasties. Never in world history had such a voluminous collection of histories ever been compiled and written. These works are utterly astonishing.


屈原 Qu Yuan (343 BC-278)

Qu Yuan (343 BC-278) was unquestionably one of the greatest poets in world history. He was author of the anthology Chu Ci, or Songs of the South, and Shi Jing, or Classic of Poetry, also called the Book of Songs, though perhaps his most famous poem was “The Lament” which admonishes corruption. After his exile upon the order of the king, he is said to have committed suicide by way of jumping in a river to protest corruption.

A small part of Qu Yuan’s poem The Lament:

“Three ancient kings there were so pure and true
That round them every fragrant flower grew;
Cassia and pepper of the mountain-side
With melilotus white in clusters vied.
Two monarchs then, who high renown received,
Followed the kingly way, their goal achieved.
Two princes proud by lust their reign abused,
Sought easier path, and their own steps confused.
The faction for illicit pleasure longed;
Dreadful their way where hidden perils thronged.

Danger against myself could not appall,
But feared I lest my sovereign’s scepter fall.”

曹操 Cao Cao (155 – 220)

A portrait of w:Cao Cao from w:Sancai Tuhui. Public Domain

Cao Cao was the antagonist in the classic book “Romance of the Three Kingdoms referred to above. And yet 1) he was the ultimate victor of those wars and he and his progeny went on to become China’s emperors, and 2) in China he is revered without rancor alongside the three heroes he ultimately defeated.

王勃 Wang Bo (649-676)

辞别杜副省长赴蜀 Farewell To Vice-Prefect Du Setting Out For His Official Post In Shu
By Wang Bo
“By this wall that surrounds the three Qin districts,
Through a mist that makes five rivers one,
We bid each other a sad farewell,
We two officials going opposite ways….
And yet, while China holds our friendship,
And heaven remains our neighborhood,
Why should you linger at the fork of the road,
Wiping your eyes like a heart-broken child?”

王维 Wang Wei (699-761)

李白 Li Bai (Li Po, 701 – 762)

There are no contemporaneous portraits of Du Fu; this is a later artist’s impression. Public Domain

Even his biography is poetic:
“A Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty, Li Po (also known as Li Bai, Li Pai, Li T’ai-po, and Li T’ai-pai) was probably born in central Asia and grew up in Sichuan Province. He left home in 725 to wander through the Yangtze River Valley and write poetry. In 742 he was appointed to the Hanlin Academy by Emperor Xuanzong, though he was eventually expelled from court. He then served the Prince of Yun, who led a revolt after the An Lushan Rebellion of 755. Li Po was arrested for treason; after he was pardoned, he again wandered the Yangtze Valley. He was married four times and was friends with the poet Tu Fu.”

“The bright moon lifts from the Mountain of Heaven
In an infinite haze of cloud and sea,
And the wind, that has come a thousand miles,
Beats at the Jade Pass battlements….
China marches its men down Baideng Road
While Tartar troops peer across blue waters of the bay….
And since not one battle famous in history
Sent all its fighters back again,
The soldiers turn round, looking toward the border,
And think of home, with wistful eyes,
And of those tonight in the upper chambers
Who toss and sigh and cannot rest.”

Stone Dragon’s note: I visited Jade Gate, Yumenguan in April 2017 in Gansu Province. It was in the time of Li Bai the end of the civilized world in Chinese eyes, the gate through which exiles and soldiers left, often or usually never to return. Looking westward is appears a most forbidding and desolate land. The above poem reflects some realities of the soldiers’ life.

玉门关 Yumenguan – The edifice above was once part of a most formidable and very long wall. Photo by Stone Dragon
这扇门也是与马部落进行贸易的门户,对一些人来说是流放之地,对另一些人来说是一个受欢迎的家。 穿过这扇门,走过、行进和骑过历史。 石龙摄
This gate was also a doorway for trade with the horse tribes, a walk into exile for some, and a welcome home for others. Through this gate walked, marched and rode history. Photo by Stone Dragon

中国有很多优秀的诗人。 There were and remain so many awesome Chinese poets.

苏轼 Su Shi (1037-1101)
唐伯虎 Tang Yin (1470-1524)
曹雪芹 Cao Xueqin (1715-1763)
徐志摩 Xu Zhimo (1897-1931)
鲁迅 Lu Xun (1881-1936)

To name but a few.

禅 Chán – Zen (Buddhism)

禅宗起源于中国,和尚达摩在嵩山少林大悟。 英文单词“Zen”起源于日本,在这种哲学传播到日本之后的数百年才出现。“Zen”的正确原始词是中文的“禅”。Zen Buddhism originated in China with monk Bodhidharma who attained his great Awakening at Songshan Shaolin. The English word “Zen” is of Japanese origin and came about hundreds of years later after the transmission of this philosophy to Japan. The correct, original word for “Zen” is “Chán” in Chinese.

A very useful article for students of Zen Buddhism is: “How to think with Chan Gōng​’àn” (如何用 禅公案 思考 禅公案 ) by Robert H. Sharf, in a book titled: 案例思考——中国文化史专业知识 Thinking with Cases – Specialist Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History, Edited by Charlotte Furth, Judith T. Zeitlin, and Ping-chen Hsiung, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 2007. 您可以从这里索取全文: You can request the full-text from here. I did and received a free copy.


Muslim Contributions to Chinese Martial Arts

For a fascinating history of Muslim contributions to Chinese martial arts see: 1001 Years of Missing Martial Arts by Smirna Si. A PDF version can be downloaded here:


“Georgian literature starts with the fifth century hagiographic work, The Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik. The hagiographic works, historical chronicles and hymns are followed by that gem of twelfth century secular literature The Knight in the Panther’s Skin. It anticipates the historical-cultural epoch of the fourteenth to fifteenth century, the European Renaissance with its humanistic ideals, and furthermore, contemporary European ideas (“The lion’s whelps are equal, be they male or female”).

“It is unimaginable to speak of Georgian Christian culture without mentioning the Georgian translation  school that started in the ninth to tenth centuries in the Mount Athos Iveron Monastery, and developed alongside European culture. It produced translations of Western and Eastern literary masterpieces, the originals of which are often lost and scholars study them based on their Georgian translations. From the nineteenth to twentieth centuries, Georgian literature absorbed and evoked all Western traditions: realism, symbolism, Dadaism, futurism, absurdism etc. at the same time Georgian drama and theater evolved.”

Certainly inspiring of great literature and poetry is Kartlis Deda, the Mother of Georgia that towers over the capital city of Tbilisi.

Kartlis Deda symbolizes the Georgian national character: in her left hand she holds a bowl of wine to greet those who come as friends, and in her right hand is a sword for those who come as enemies. Photo by Stone Dragon, ‎July ‎19, ‎2016

在第比利斯,一个人永远不会迷路,因为只要环顾四周,就会看到佐治亚之母高高耸立在索洛拉基山上,从而能够确定自己的方向。One can never get lost in Tbilisi as just looking around one will see the Mother of Georgia high upon Sololaki Hill and so be able to orient ones’ self.


印度教 – 吠陀经 Hinduism – The Vedas

There are four Vedas, the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. The Vedas are the primary texts of Hinduism. They also had a vast influence on Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Traditionally the text of the Vedas was coeval with the universe. Scholars have determined that the Rig Veda, the oldest of the four Vedas, was composed about 1500 B.C., and codified about 600 B.C. It is unknown when it was finally committed to writing, but this probably was at some point after 300 B.C.

罗摩衍那 The Ramayana

Painting inspired by Ramayana. Photo by The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202. Public Domain

The Rāmāyana is a Sanskrit epic composed in India over a period of nearly a millennium, with scholars’ estimates for the earliest stage of the text ranging from the 7th to 4th centuries BCE,[4][5] and later stages extending up to the 3rd century CE. Ramayana is one of the two important epics of Hinduism, the other being the Mahābhārata. The epic, traditionally ascribed to the Maharishi Valmiki, narrates the life of Rama, a legendary prince of Ayodhya city in the kingdom of Kosala. The epic follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest urged by his father King Dasharatha, on the request of Rama’s stepmother Kaikeyi; his travels across forests in the Indian subcontinent with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana – the king of Lanka, that resulted in war; and Rama’s eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king amidst jubilation and celebration. This is one of the great classics of world philosophy and literature.

佛教 Buddhism

坐佛 – Hadda 2 世纪 – 公元 3 世纪 雕像身着全套僧袍,坐在 Dhyana Mudra(冥想位置)。 摄影:G. Brundage 阿富汗国家博物馆。
Seated Buddha – Hadda 2nd – 3rd Century CE The statue has full monastic gown and is seated in Dhayana Mudra (meditation position). Photo by G. Brundage National Museum of Afghanistan.

犍陀罗佛教典籍是迄今发现的最古老的佛教手稿,可追溯到公元前 1 世纪至公元 3 世纪,也是最古老的古印度手稿。 它们代表了现今巴基斯坦西北部和阿富汗东部的犍陀罗佛教文献,并以犍陀罗语书写。

The Gandhāran Buddhist texts are the oldest Buddhist manuscripts yet discovered, dating from about the 1st century BCE to 3rd century CE, and are also the oldest ancient Indian manuscripts. They represent the literature of Gandharan Buddhism from present-day northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, and are written in Gāndhārī.

Buddhist text Gandhara birchbark scrolls (1st c) British Library CC0

Buddhist literature can be roughly divided into Sutras and the Vinayas, with Sutras being the teachings, and Vinayas dealing with monastic rules. In Chinese, these are known as 經 (pinyin: jīng). These teachings are assembled in part of the Tripiṭaka which is called the Sutta Pitaka. There are many important or influential Mahayana texts, such as the Platform Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, that are called sutras despite being attributed to much later authors. The Lotus Sutra is considered by many contemporary Buddhists the one that should be read first. Likewise the Diamond Sutra is considered most special. Followers of Shaolin and Zen Buddhism might be most interested in the Lakavatara Sutra as it is believed that was the one Sutra memorized by Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen and the Shaolin. A book titled “Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra” by D.T. Suzuki and Daisetz Teitaro is also considered very good.

A good collection of Buddhist Doctrinal works in English can be downloaded from here:

Yogic Philosophy and Practice

A statue of Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, meditating in the lotus position. Patanjali Statue In Patanjali Yog Peeth, Haridwar CC BY-SA 3.0 Photo by Alokprasad accessed via Wikipedia.

“The ancient roots of yoga philosophy and  practice lean on three main texts: The Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and The Hatha Yoga Paradipika. The latter two are the primary source for the practical knowledge of the Yoga technique.”

对丝绸之路国家历史、文学、哲学和宗教的回顾在下一页继续:研究 3。它目前正在建设中。

This review of Silk Road Nations’ histories, literature, philosophies, and religions is continued on the next page: Research 3. It is currently under construction.