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Re: Chang Chien - The Man who 'discovered' Europe

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  • omabi_us
    Thanks for taking the time to post this fascinating information! I have seen Chang Chien s name mentioned briefly before and am eager to learn more about him.
    Message 1 of 21 , Mar 1, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      Thanks for taking the time to post this fascinating information! I
      have seen Chang Chien's name mentioned briefly before and am eager to
      learn more about him. Sounds like "Lords of the Rim" might be a great
      place to begin. Any other suggestions?

      p.s. I'm delighted to have time to check out Dragon Seed again . . .
      I've missed you!



      --- In DragonSeedLegacy@yahoogroups.com, "kitmengleong" <kmleong@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > Chang Chien (Zhang Qian) - The Man who 'discovered' Europe
      >
      > Excerpt from "Lords of the Rim", Bantam Press 1995, Peggy &
      Sterling
      > Seagrave.
      >
      > "This was the first time China looked outward. As the Han domain
      > spread far and wide, ambitious young men began careers as
      > explorers. One who ventured bravely across the steppes of Central
      > Asia in 139 BC - fourteen centuries befor Marco Polo and sixteen
      > centuries before Columbus - 'discovered' Europe, the Mediterranean
      > and the Alantic Ocean. Thanks to Chang Chien's reconnaissance,
      > nomad raids diminished and the first garrisioned Silk Roads were
      > established between China and the West. Another trade route
      through
      > Burma to Siam and India (long used secretly by Chinese merchants)
      > was officially identified. And the sea route from South China
      > across the Indian Ocean to Arabia and Africa was found to be seeded
      > already with small Overseas Chinese merchant colonies more than two
      > thousand years ago.
      > Before Chang Chien's secret mission, the Chinese government knew
      > and cared little about what lay beyond its borders. The treeless
      > steppes spread like a broad superhighway from Mongolia to Bulgaria,
      > the killing field of wild nmad cavalries. As far back as 3000BC
      > merchants in Mesopotamia, Persia and India started long-distance
      > caravan trade with each other around the Asian mountain ranges.
      > Raiding these caravans and isolated trading posts provided an easy
      > source of food and luxuries to the nomads. Over the ages they
      > struck in wave after wave, from the Cimmerians and Scythians to the
      > Huns and Mongols. They swarmed out of nowhere, massacred villages
      > on the edges of the steppes, then vanished.
      > On China's borders, the most aggressive of these nomads were the
      > Hsiung-nu, who ruled the wastes from the Pamirs to Siberia. They
      > led as many as three hundred thousand horsemen at a time in
      > homicidal raids on border cities, killing for fun. The Chinese
      were
      > unable to wage long punitive campaigns deep into the deserts or
      > steppes because hundreds of wagon teams were needed to carry
      > provisions for as little as three months. When they withdrew, the
      > nomads simply resumed their guerrilla raids. In the Han Dynasty a
      > new alliance of Hsiung-nu tribes brought a fresh wave of fear to
      > outlying districts. As first the Han emperors chose the soft
      > weapon, by sending frightened pricesses to the nomad Son-of-Heaven,
      > or Shan-yu, but efforts to buy a lasting peace failed because
      > centuries of conflict had made a tradtition of treachery.
      > Prospects improved when Emperor Wu-ti learned of a split in nomad
      > ranks. A prisoner reported that the Hsiung-nu had murdered the
      > ruler of the tribe called the Yueh-chih, and disgraced his spirit
      by
      > using his skull as a drinking cup. The Yueh-chih, who had then
      fled
      > westward across the desert with a burning grudge, might no be
      > willing to ally with China against the Hsiung-nu.
      > The emperor decided to send a secret agent to sound them out.
      > Among the officers who applied for the job was Chang Chien. A
      tough
      > and intelligent soldier, he was a perfect scout because his good
      > nature assured him of a warm welcome wherever he went. He was
      given
      > the official role of ambassador and set out with a retimue of a
      > hundred guided by a Hsiung-nu prisoner named Kan-fu, an expert
      > archer who knew secret sources of water in the desert.
      > Personally, Chang Chien was motivated by curiousity as much as by
      > ambition. At a time when expanding the empire was a fashionable
      > idea, a poor but talented man could make his fortune while
      > satisfying his own craving for adventure.
      > Few Chinese had ever gone by choice into the steppes or acress
      the
      > trackless wastes of the Takla Makan and Gobi deserts. During times
      > of chaos and insurrection, educated Chinese mandarins or generals
      > sometimes defected to the nomads or to the southern barbarians.
      > Mountain passes in the north, west and south were convenient
      > doorways to safety...
      > Chang Chien's party travelled west for many days, crossing
      deserts
      > and mountain ranges until, deep in nomad territory, they were
      > ambused and taken before the maximum leader, the Shan-yu. He
      > thought their whole mission was ridiculous: 'Do you suppose that if
      > I tried to send an embassy to the kingdom of Yueh, that the Han
      > would let my men pass through China?'
      > He put Chang Chient under house arrest for the next ten years,
      > looked after by the faithful servant Kan-fu. To help pass the
      time,
      > Chang Chient was given as beautiful nomad wife, who bore him a
      > strapping son. Eventually the warriors stopped guarding him
      > closely, and Chang Chient fled with his wife and son and servant to
      > continue his sacred mission to the west.
      > Riding as fast as they could to Ferghana, in what is now
      > Tadzhikistan and Uzbekistan, they were made welcome by its king,
      who
      > provided them with guides and interpreters for the next leg of
      their
      > journey. Eventually Chang Chien caught up with the displaced Yueh-
      > chih people, the original goal of his secret mission. He found
      them
      > totally changed. In the intervening years, they had captured the
      > rich region of Bactria south of the Oxus River and made themselves
      > its new rulers, living a sensual and indulgent life at the expense
      > of its people. The last thing they wanted was to forfeit this
      > pleasant existense to resure their old blood feud with the Hsiung-
      > nu. As to avenging their dead king whose skull had been used as a
      > drinking cup - his son was no longer interested.
      > Bactria, which sprawled from the Caspian Sea down past the Hindu
      > Kush to the frontier of India, had just been abandoned by the
      Greeks
      > as the last vestiges of Alexander the Great's empire collapsed.
      > There were still many Hellenes in Bactria, so at this moment
      ancient
      > China was brushing its fingertips against those of ancient Greece.
      > Chang Chient learned things no CHinse officer before him had ever
      > known. After a year in Bactria gathering exotic intelligence, he
      > resigned himself to the failure of his original mission and began
      > the long trek back to China, hoping that the things he ahd heared
      > about the West would keep his head on his shoulders. He took a
      > route from Afghanistan through the Hindu Kush, along the northern
      > slope of the Himalayas to eastern Tibet. He planned to give the
      > Hsiung-nu a wide berth and re-enter China from Tibet, through the
      > teritory of the less dangerous Chiang barbarians. But as he and
      his
      > tiny party were crossing the high desert above the great salt marsh
      > called Lop Nor, a lunar landscape well known in those days only to
      > small herds of wild Tibetan ass, he was ambushed once more by the
      > wily Hsiung-nu and detained for another year.
      > The leathery old Shan-yu who had been his host during his
      previous
      > captivity chose that awkward moment to die. A rival chief attached
      > and set himself up as the new ruler of the nomad federation. IN
      the
      > midst of this turmoil, Chang Chien once again fled into the night
      > with his family and his trusty servant.
      > Reaching the imperial court after an arduous mission lasting
      > thirteen years in all, Chang Chien regaled Emperor Wu-ti for days
      > and nights with his reports of places far and strange. Instead of
      > losing his head, he was rewarded with the post of palace
      > counsellor. Kan-fu, the former slave, was given the title 'Lord
      Who
      > Carries Out His Missions'.
      > Chang Chien told his emperor about the nomads, the great Takla
      > Makan deser, and the isolated mountain valley of Ferghana where
      > people raised 'horse so magnificent that they sweat blood'. After
      > Ferghana, he reported, all the rivers flowed west into the Caspian
      > and Aral seas, where there are many potential allies against the
      > Hsiung-nu. He talked at length about the Wu-sun nomads, who could
      > muster thirty thousand mounted archers. They were led by Kun-mo, a
      > legendary warrior who, as a child had been left in the desert to
      die
      > but was saved by vultures that fed him meat, and wolves that
      suckled
      > him. Beyond were other nomads, with ninety thousand mounted
      bowmen,
      > and around the Aral Sea were the Yen-tsai with one hundred thousand
      > archers. Together they could form an army nearly a quarter of
      > million strong.
      > The emperor listened spellbound to Chang Chien's accounts of
      > Bactria, and a kingdom to the south-west called Persia, whose
      people
      > lived in walled cities and kept records by writing horizontally on
      > strips of leather. Among the Persians were merchants from
      > Mesopotamia, and from a great western sea, the Mediterranean.
      > Beyond, in a regions that was very hot and damp, were giant birds
      > that laid eggs as big as cooking pots. Still farther, beyond the
      > Mediterranean, were other countires and a great ocean.
      > 'In my travels, I saw bamboo canes and cloth from our regions of
      > Chiung and Chu (Szechuan),' Chang Chien told the emperor. 'When I
      > asked how they obtained such articles they told me "Our merchants
      go
      > and buy them in the markets of India."' India, he had learned, was
      > a hot, wet kingdom on the great river south-east of Persia, whose
      > people rode war elephants into battle. 'Now if the Indians obtain
      > trade goods from south-western China, they cannot be far. Instead
      > of trying to reach India by crossing the deserts of the mountains
      to
      > the west, a more direct route would be south by way of Shu.'
      > ....
      > In recognition of his many discoveries, Chang Chien was given the
      > title Marquis Po-wang ("Broad Vision"). he took part in various
      > military campaigns against the Hsiung-nu, but misfortune struck
      when
      > he arrived late at a rendezvous, and found that his general's army
      > had been wiped out. Disgraced and sentenced to die, Chang Chien
      was
      > allowed to live only on the condition that he pay a stiff fine and
      > give up his noble title.
      > A chance to redeem himself came when Emperor Wu-ti asked him to
      > set out once again far to the west to secure the alliance he had
      > propsed with the Wu-sun nomads in Turkestan. He was to offer their
      > leader, Kun-mo, rich gifts and bribes to attack the Hsiung-nu from
      > the rear. A treaty between China and the Wu-sun would intimidate
      > everyone, the emperor said, and they would all grovel at China's
      > feet and send tribute.
      > This time Chang Chien went well prepared, with three hundred
      > soldiers, six hundred horses, tens of thousands of cattle and
      sheep,
      > and wagonloads of gold and silk as gifts. When the caravan reached
      > Turkestan, Kun-mo was thunderstruck by the sigh of these riches but
      > refused to consider an alliance. Chang Chien stopped his men from
      > unloading: 'The Son of Heaven sent me with these gifts, and if you
      > do not prostrate yourself immediately to receive them, I will take
      > them all back!" This was too much for the ragged nomad chief, who
      > threw himself down and offered to sign anything. Before he could
      > change his mind, Chang Chien returned to China with the treaty and
      > was awarded with the title Grand Messanger. He died peacefully a
      > year of so afterward, happy and revered, one of the world's great
      > early explorers.
      > Thanks to his pioneering travels, sweetened with the bribes only
      > an emperor could dispense, emissaries arrived in China from India
      > and Persia For the first time, China established diplomatic and
      > trade relations with nations on the Caspian, and Black Sea, the
      > Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean, countries that a few years
      > earlier only her much-despised merchants had known existed.
      > Han's new nomad allies, attacking from the west, helped defeat
      the
      > Hsiung-nu. Emperor Wu-ti personally led a victory parade to
      > celebrate the triumph.
      > Eager to acquire Ferghana horses for his own stables, Wu-ti found
      > the breeders reluctant to share their treasured steeds, so in 104BC
      > he despatched a large Chinese military force beyond the Pamirs,
      > where they had little difficulty persuading Ferghana's rulers to
      > change their minds.
      > Once China's desert frontier was secure, four international trade
      > routes came into regular use - two Silk roads, north and south of
      > the Takla Makan desert, a Jade Road through Burma to India and
      Siam,
      > and a sea route across the Indian Ocean. Merchants from Roman
      > Europe could venture safely along caravan routes guarded by Han
      army
      > outposts, stopping in oases where they mingled with Chinese
      traders.
      > Bolts of shimmering silk became the luxury item most sought after
      by
      > Roman women."
      >
    • kitmengleong
      Hi! Haven t heard from you in a looooong while! How have you been? Busy writing your books? Lords of the Rim is a pretty entertaining read but as Kenneth
      Message 2 of 21 , Mar 1, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Hi!

        Haven't heard from you in a looooong while! How have you been? Busy
        writing your books?

        Lords of the Rim is a pretty entertaining read but as Kenneth would
        probably jump in a tell you, written not as serious history but rather
        sensationally. ;)

        I personally love these stories of early explorers too. I think there
        are a whole bunch of other stories in the files area. I'll see what
        else I can dig up for you on Chang Chien if you like.

        Jieming
        DragonSeedLegacy
        ChineseCultureOnline


        --- In DragonSeedLegacy@yahoogroups.com, "omabi_us" <goatmountain@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Thanks for taking the time to post this fascinating information! I
        > have seen Chang Chien's name mentioned briefly before and am eager to
        > learn more about him. Sounds like "Lords of the Rim" might be a great
        > place to begin. Any other suggestions?
        >
        > p.s. I'm delighted to have time to check out Dragon Seed again . . .
        > I've missed you!
        >
        >
        >
        > --- In DragonSeedLegacy@yahoogroups.com, "kitmengleong" <kmleong@>
        > wrote:
        > >
        > > Chang Chien (Zhang Qian) - The Man who 'discovered' Europe
        > >
        > > Excerpt from "Lords of the Rim", Bantam Press 1995, Peggy &
        > Sterling
        > > Seagrave.
        > >
        > > "This was the first time China looked outward. As the Han domain
        > > spread far and wide, ambitious young men began careers as
        > > explorers. One who ventured bravely across the steppes of Central
        > > Asia in 139 BC - fourteen centuries befor Marco Polo and sixteen
        > > centuries before Columbus - 'discovered' Europe, the Mediterranean
        > > and the Alantic Ocean. Thanks to Chang Chien's reconnaissance,
        > > nomad raids diminished and the first garrisioned Silk Roads were
        > > established between China and the West. Another trade route
        > through
        > > Burma to Siam and India (long used secretly by Chinese merchants)
        > > was officially identified. And the sea route from South China
        > > across the Indian Ocean to Arabia and Africa was found to be seeded
        > > already with small Overseas Chinese merchant colonies more than two
        > > thousand years ago.
        > > Before Chang Chien's secret mission, the Chinese government knew
        > > and cared little about what lay beyond its borders. The treeless
        > > steppes spread like a broad superhighway from Mongolia to Bulgaria,
        > > the killing field of wild nmad cavalries. As far back as 3000BC
        > > merchants in Mesopotamia, Persia and India started long-distance
        > > caravan trade with each other around the Asian mountain ranges.
        > > Raiding these caravans and isolated trading posts provided an easy
        > > source of food and luxuries to the nomads. Over the ages they
        > > struck in wave after wave, from the Cimmerians and Scythians to the
        > > Huns and Mongols. They swarmed out of nowhere, massacred villages
        > > on the edges of the steppes, then vanished.
        > > On China's borders, the most aggressive of these nomads were the
        > > Hsiung-nu, who ruled the wastes from the Pamirs to Siberia. They
        > > led as many as three hundred thousand horsemen at a time in
        > > homicidal raids on border cities, killing for fun. The Chinese
        > were
        > > unable to wage long punitive campaigns deep into the deserts or
        > > steppes because hundreds of wagon teams were needed to carry
        > > provisions for as little as three months. When they withdrew, the
        > > nomads simply resumed their guerrilla raids. In the Han Dynasty a
        > > new alliance of Hsiung-nu tribes brought a fresh wave of fear to
        > > outlying districts. As first the Han emperors chose the soft
        > > weapon, by sending frightened pricesses to the nomad Son-of-Heaven,
        > > or Shan-yu, but efforts to buy a lasting peace failed because
        > > centuries of conflict had made a tradtition of treachery.
        > > Prospects improved when Emperor Wu-ti learned of a split in nomad
        > > ranks. A prisoner reported that the Hsiung-nu had murdered the
        > > ruler of the tribe called the Yueh-chih, and disgraced his spirit
        > by
        > > using his skull as a drinking cup. The Yueh-chih, who had then
        > fled
        > > westward across the desert with a burning grudge, might no be
        > > willing to ally with China against the Hsiung-nu.
        > > The emperor decided to send a secret agent to sound them out.
        > > Among the officers who applied for the job was Chang Chien. A
        > tough
        > > and intelligent soldier, he was a perfect scout because his good
        > > nature assured him of a warm welcome wherever he went. He was
        > given
        > > the official role of ambassador and set out with a retimue of a
        > > hundred guided by a Hsiung-nu prisoner named Kan-fu, an expert
        > > archer who knew secret sources of water in the desert.
        > > Personally, Chang Chien was motivated by curiousity as much as by
        > > ambition. At a time when expanding the empire was a fashionable
        > > idea, a poor but talented man could make his fortune while
        > > satisfying his own craving for adventure.
        > > Few Chinese had ever gone by choice into the steppes or acress
        > the
        > > trackless wastes of the Takla Makan and Gobi deserts. During times
        > > of chaos and insurrection, educated Chinese mandarins or generals
        > > sometimes defected to the nomads or to the southern barbarians.
        > > Mountain passes in the north, west and south were convenient
        > > doorways to safety...
        > > Chang Chien's party travelled west for many days, crossing
        > deserts
        > > and mountain ranges until, deep in nomad territory, they were
        > > ambused and taken before the maximum leader, the Shan-yu. He
        > > thought their whole mission was ridiculous: 'Do you suppose that if
        > > I tried to send an embassy to the kingdom of Yueh, that the Han
        > > would let my men pass through China?'
        > > He put Chang Chient under house arrest for the next ten years,
        > > looked after by the faithful servant Kan-fu. To help pass the
        > time,
        > > Chang Chient was given as beautiful nomad wife, who bore him a
        > > strapping son. Eventually the warriors stopped guarding him
        > > closely, and Chang Chient fled with his wife and son and servant to
        > > continue his sacred mission to the west.
        > > Riding as fast as they could to Ferghana, in what is now
        > > Tadzhikistan and Uzbekistan, they were made welcome by its king,
        > who
        > > provided them with guides and interpreters for the next leg of
        > their
        > > journey. Eventually Chang Chien caught up with the displaced Yueh-
        > > chih people, the original goal of his secret mission. He found
        > them
        > > totally changed. In the intervening years, they had captured the
        > > rich region of Bactria south of the Oxus River and made themselves
        > > its new rulers, living a sensual and indulgent life at the expense
        > > of its people. The last thing they wanted was to forfeit this
        > > pleasant existense to resure their old blood feud with the Hsiung-
        > > nu. As to avenging their dead king whose skull had been used as a
        > > drinking cup - his son was no longer interested.
        > > Bactria, which sprawled from the Caspian Sea down past the Hindu
        > > Kush to the frontier of India, had just been abandoned by the
        > Greeks
        > > as the last vestiges of Alexander the Great's empire collapsed.
        > > There were still many Hellenes in Bactria, so at this moment
        > ancient
        > > China was brushing its fingertips against those of ancient Greece.
        > > Chang Chient learned things no CHinse officer before him had ever
        > > known. After a year in Bactria gathering exotic intelligence, he
        > > resigned himself to the failure of his original mission and began
        > > the long trek back to China, hoping that the things he ahd heared
        > > about the West would keep his head on his shoulders. He took a
        > > route from Afghanistan through the Hindu Kush, along the northern
        > > slope of the Himalayas to eastern Tibet. He planned to give the
        > > Hsiung-nu a wide berth and re-enter China from Tibet, through the
        > > teritory of the less dangerous Chiang barbarians. But as he and
        > his
        > > tiny party were crossing the high desert above the great salt marsh
        > > called Lop Nor, a lunar landscape well known in those days only to
        > > small herds of wild Tibetan ass, he was ambushed once more by the
        > > wily Hsiung-nu and detained for another year.
        > > The leathery old Shan-yu who had been his host during his
        > previous
        > > captivity chose that awkward moment to die. A rival chief attached
        > > and set himself up as the new ruler of the nomad federation. IN
        > the
        > > midst of this turmoil, Chang Chien once again fled into the night
        > > with his family and his trusty servant.
        > > Reaching the imperial court after an arduous mission lasting
        > > thirteen years in all, Chang Chien regaled Emperor Wu-ti for days
        > > and nights with his reports of places far and strange. Instead of
        > > losing his head, he was rewarded with the post of palace
        > > counsellor. Kan-fu, the former slave, was given the title 'Lord
        > Who
        > > Carries Out His Missions'.
        > > Chang Chien told his emperor about the nomads, the great Takla
        > > Makan deser, and the isolated mountain valley of Ferghana where
        > > people raised 'horse so magnificent that they sweat blood'. After
        > > Ferghana, he reported, all the rivers flowed west into the Caspian
        > > and Aral seas, where there are many potential allies against the
        > > Hsiung-nu. He talked at length about the Wu-sun nomads, who could
        > > muster thirty thousand mounted archers. They were led by Kun-mo, a
        > > legendary warrior who, as a child had been left in the desert to
        > die
        > > but was saved by vultures that fed him meat, and wolves that
        > suckled
        > > him. Beyond were other nomads, with ninety thousand mounted
        > bowmen,
        > > and around the Aral Sea were the Yen-tsai with one hundred thousand
        > > archers. Together they could form an army nearly a quarter of
        > > million strong.
        > > The emperor listened spellbound to Chang Chien's accounts of
        > > Bactria, and a kingdom to the south-west called Persia, whose
        > people
        > > lived in walled cities and kept records by writing horizontally on
        > > strips of leather. Among the Persians were merchants from
        > > Mesopotamia, and from a great western sea, the Mediterranean.
        > > Beyond, in a regions that was very hot and damp, were giant birds
        > > that laid eggs as big as cooking pots. Still farther, beyond the
        > > Mediterranean, were other countires and a great ocean.
        > > 'In my travels, I saw bamboo canes and cloth from our regions of
        > > Chiung and Chu (Szechuan),' Chang Chien told the emperor. 'When I
        > > asked how they obtained such articles they told me "Our merchants
        > go
        > > and buy them in the markets of India."' India, he had learned, was
        > > a hot, wet kingdom on the great river south-east of Persia, whose
        > > people rode war elephants into battle. 'Now if the Indians obtain
        > > trade goods from south-western China, they cannot be far. Instead
        > > of trying to reach India by crossing the deserts of the mountains
        > to
        > > the west, a more direct route would be south by way of Shu.'
        > > ....
        > > In recognition of his many discoveries, Chang Chien was given the
        > > title Marquis Po-wang ("Broad Vision"). he took part in various
        > > military campaigns against the Hsiung-nu, but misfortune struck
        > when
        > > he arrived late at a rendezvous, and found that his general's army
        > > had been wiped out. Disgraced and sentenced to die, Chang Chien
        > was
        > > allowed to live only on the condition that he pay a stiff fine and
        > > give up his noble title.
        > > A chance to redeem himself came when Emperor Wu-ti asked him to
        > > set out once again far to the west to secure the alliance he had
        > > propsed with the Wu-sun nomads in Turkestan. He was to offer their
        > > leader, Kun-mo, rich gifts and bribes to attack the Hsiung-nu from
        > > the rear. A treaty between China and the Wu-sun would intimidate
        > > everyone, the emperor said, and they would all grovel at China's
        > > feet and send tribute.
        > > This time Chang Chien went well prepared, with three hundred
        > > soldiers, six hundred horses, tens of thousands of cattle and
        > sheep,
        > > and wagonloads of gold and silk as gifts. When the caravan reached
        > > Turkestan, Kun-mo was thunderstruck by the sigh of these riches but
        > > refused to consider an alliance. Chang Chien stopped his men from
        > > unloading: 'The Son of Heaven sent me with these gifts, and if you
        > > do not prostrate yourself immediately to receive them, I will take
        > > them all back!" This was too much for the ragged nomad chief, who
        > > threw himself down and offered to sign anything. Before he could
        > > change his mind, Chang Chien returned to China with the treaty and
        > > was awarded with the title Grand Messanger. He died peacefully a
        > > year of so afterward, happy and revered, one of the world's great
        > > early explorers.
        > > Thanks to his pioneering travels, sweetened with the bribes only
        > > an emperor could dispense, emissaries arrived in China from India
        > > and Persia For the first time, China established diplomatic and
        > > trade relations with nations on the Caspian, and Black Sea, the
        > > Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean, countries that a few years
        > > earlier only her much-despised merchants had known existed.
        > > Han's new nomad allies, attacking from the west, helped defeat
        > the
        > > Hsiung-nu. Emperor Wu-ti personally led a victory parade to
        > > celebrate the triumph.
        > > Eager to acquire Ferghana horses for his own stables, Wu-ti found
        > > the breeders reluctant to share their treasured steeds, so in 104BC
        > > he despatched a large Chinese military force beyond the Pamirs,
        > > where they had little difficulty persuading Ferghana's rulers to
        > > change their minds.
        > > Once China's desert frontier was secure, four international trade
        > > routes came into regular use - two Silk roads, north and south of
        > > the Takla Makan desert, a Jade Road through Burma to India and
        > Siam,
        > > and a sea route across the Indian Ocean. Merchants from Roman
        > > Europe could venture safely along caravan routes guarded by Han
        > army
        > > outposts, stopping in oases where they mingled with Chinese
        > traders.
        > > Bolts of shimmering silk became the luxury item most sought after
        > by
        > > Roman women."
        > >
        >
      • omabi_us
        Hi Jeming! Yes, as usual, I m knee-deep in piles, scraps and wads of paper, writing and rewriting. I relish sensationalized history as well as seeing it
        Message 3 of 21 , Mar 28, 2006
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          Hi Jeming! Yes, as usual, I'm knee-deep in piles, scraps and wads of
          paper, writing and rewriting. I relish sensationalized "history" as
          well as seeing it debunked. Great discussion!

          Please do dig up more files about Chang Chen.

          Kenneth, please share your sources, too.
          Omabi



          --- In DragonSeedLegacy@yahoogroups.com, "kitmengleong" <kmleong@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > Hi!
          >
          > Haven't heard from you in a looooong while! How have you been?
          Busy
          > writing your books?
          >
          > Lords of the Rim is a pretty entertaining read but as Kenneth would
          > probably jump in a tell you, written not as serious history but
          rather
          > sensationally. ;)
          >
          > I personally love these stories of early explorers too. I think
          there
          > are a whole bunch of other stories in the files area. I'll see what
          > else I can dig up for you on Chang Chien if you like.
          >
          > Jieming
          > DragonSeedLegacy
          > ChineseCultureOnline
          >
          >
          > --- In DragonSeedLegacy@yahoogroups.com, "omabi_us" <goatmountain@>
          > wrote:
          > >
          > > Thanks for taking the time to post this fascinating information!
          I
          > > have seen Chang Chien's name mentioned briefly before and am
          eager to
          > > learn more about him. Sounds like "Lords of the Rim" might be a
          great
          > > place to begin. Any other suggestions?
          > >
          > > p.s. I'm delighted to have time to check out Dragon Seed
          again . . .
          > > I've missed you!
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > --- In DragonSeedLegacy@yahoogroups.com, "kitmengleong"
          <kmleong@>
          > > wrote:
          > > >
          > > > Chang Chien (Zhang Qian) - The Man who 'discovered' Europe
          > > >
          > > > Excerpt from "Lords of the Rim", Bantam Press 1995, Peggy &
          > > Sterling
          > > > Seagrave.
          > > >
          > > > "This was the first time China looked outward. As the Han
          domain
          > > > spread far and wide, ambitious young men began careers as
          > > > explorers. One who ventured bravely across the steppes of
          Central
          > > > Asia in 139 BC - fourteen centuries befor Marco Polo and
          sixteen
          > > > centuries before Columbus - 'discovered' Europe, the
          Mediterranean
          > > > and the Alantic Ocean. Thanks to Chang Chien's reconnaissance,
          > > > nomad raids diminished and the first garrisioned Silk Roads
          were
          > > > established between China and the West. Another trade route
          > > through
          > > > Burma to Siam and India (long used secretly by Chinese
          merchants)
          > > > was officially identified. And the sea route from South China
          > > > across the Indian Ocean to Arabia and Africa was found to be
          seeded
          > > > already with small Overseas Chinese merchant colonies more than
          two
          > > > thousand years ago.
          > > > Before Chang Chien's secret mission, the Chinese government
          knew
          > > > and cared little about what lay beyond its borders. The
          treeless
          > > > steppes spread like a broad superhighway from Mongolia to
          Bulgaria,
          > > > the killing field of wild nmad cavalries. As far back as
          3000BC
          > > > merchants in Mesopotamia, Persia and India started long-
          distance
          > > > caravan trade with each other around the Asian mountain
          ranges.
          > > > Raiding these caravans and isolated trading posts provided an
          easy
          > > > source of food and luxuries to the nomads. Over the ages they
          > > > struck in wave after wave, from the Cimmerians and Scythians to
          the
          > > > Huns and Mongols. They swarmed out of nowhere, massacred
          villages
          > > > on the edges of the steppes, then vanished.
          > > > On China's borders, the most aggressive of these nomads were
          the
          > > > Hsiung-nu, who ruled the wastes from the Pamirs to Siberia.
          They
          > > > led as many as three hundred thousand horsemen at a time in
          > > > homicidal raids on border cities, killing for fun. The Chinese
          > > were
          > > > unable to wage long punitive campaigns deep into the deserts or
          > > > steppes because hundreds of wagon teams were needed to carry
          > > > provisions for as little as three months. When they withdrew,
          the
          > > > nomads simply resumed their guerrilla raids. In the Han
          Dynasty a
          > > > new alliance of Hsiung-nu tribes brought a fresh wave of fear
          to
          > > > outlying districts. As first the Han emperors chose the soft
          > > > weapon, by sending frightened pricesses to the nomad Son-of-
          Heaven,
          > > > or Shan-yu, but efforts to buy a lasting peace failed because
          > > > centuries of conflict had made a tradtition of treachery.
          > > > Prospects improved when Emperor Wu-ti learned of a split in
          nomad
          > > > ranks. A prisoner reported that the Hsiung-nu had murdered the
          > > > ruler of the tribe called the Yueh-chih, and disgraced his
          spirit
          > > by
          > > > using his skull as a drinking cup. The Yueh-chih, who had then
          > > fled
          > > > westward across the desert with a burning grudge, might no be
          > > > willing to ally with China against the Hsiung-nu.
          > > > The emperor decided to send a secret agent to sound them
          out.
          > > > Among the officers who applied for the job was Chang Chien. A
          > > tough
          > > > and intelligent soldier, he was a perfect scout because his
          good
          > > > nature assured him of a warm welcome wherever he went. He was
          > > given
          > > > the official role of ambassador and set out with a retimue of a
          > > > hundred guided by a Hsiung-nu prisoner named Kan-fu, an expert
          > > > archer who knew secret sources of water in the desert.
          > > > Personally, Chang Chien was motivated by curiousity as much as
          by
          > > > ambition. At a time when expanding the empire was a
          fashionable
          > > > idea, a poor but talented man could make his fortune while
          > > > satisfying his own craving for adventure.
          > > > Few Chinese had ever gone by choice into the steppes or
          acress
          > > the
          > > > trackless wastes of the Takla Makan and Gobi deserts. During
          times
          > > > of chaos and insurrection, educated Chinese mandarins or
          generals
          > > > sometimes defected to the nomads or to the southern
          barbarians.
          > > > Mountain passes in the north, west and south were convenient
          > > > doorways to safety...
          > > > Chang Chien's party travelled west for many days, crossing
          > > deserts
          > > > and mountain ranges until, deep in nomad territory, they were
          > > > ambused and taken before the maximum leader, the Shan-yu. He
          > > > thought their whole mission was ridiculous: 'Do you suppose
          that if
          > > > I tried to send an embassy to the kingdom of Yueh, that the Han
          > > > would let my men pass through China?'
          > > > He put Chang Chient under house arrest for the next ten
          years,
          > > > looked after by the faithful servant Kan-fu. To help pass the
          > > time,
          > > > Chang Chient was given as beautiful nomad wife, who bore him a
          > > > strapping son. Eventually the warriors stopped guarding him
          > > > closely, and Chang Chient fled with his wife and son and
          servant to
          > > > continue his sacred mission to the west.
          > > > Riding as fast as they could to Ferghana, in what is now
          > > > Tadzhikistan and Uzbekistan, they were made welcome by its
          king,
          > > who
          > > > provided them with guides and interpreters for the next leg of
          > > their
          > > > journey. Eventually Chang Chien caught up with the displaced
          Yueh-
          > > > chih people, the original goal of his secret mission. He found
          > > them
          > > > totally changed. In the intervening years, they had captured
          the
          > > > rich region of Bactria south of the Oxus River and made
          themselves
          > > > its new rulers, living a sensual and indulgent life at the
          expense
          > > > of its people. The last thing they wanted was to forfeit this
          > > > pleasant existense to resure their old blood feud with the
          Hsiung-
          > > > nu. As to avenging their dead king whose skull had been used
          as a
          > > > drinking cup - his son was no longer interested.
          > > > Bactria, which sprawled from the Caspian Sea down past the
          Hindu
          > > > Kush to the frontier of India, had just been abandoned by the
          > > Greeks
          > > > as the last vestiges of Alexander the Great's empire
          collapsed.
          > > > There were still many Hellenes in Bactria, so at this moment
          > > ancient
          > > > China was brushing its fingertips against those of ancient
          Greece.
          > > > Chang Chient learned things no CHinse officer before him had
          ever
          > > > known. After a year in Bactria gathering exotic intelligence,
          he
          > > > resigned himself to the failure of his original mission and
          began
          > > > the long trek back to China, hoping that the things he ahd
          heared
          > > > about the West would keep his head on his shoulders. He took a
          > > > route from Afghanistan through the Hindu Kush, along the
          northern
          > > > slope of the Himalayas to eastern Tibet. He planned to give
          the
          > > > Hsiung-nu a wide berth and re-enter China from Tibet, through
          the
          > > > teritory of the less dangerous Chiang barbarians. But as he
          and
          > > his
          > > > tiny party were crossing the high desert above the great salt
          marsh
          > > > called Lop Nor, a lunar landscape well known in those days only
          to
          > > > small herds of wild Tibetan ass, he was ambushed once more by
          the
          > > > wily Hsiung-nu and detained for another year.
          > > > The leathery old Shan-yu who had been his host during his
          > > previous
          > > > captivity chose that awkward moment to die. A rival chief
          attached
          > > > and set himself up as the new ruler of the nomad federation.
          IN
          > > the
          > > > midst of this turmoil, Chang Chien once again fled into the
          night
          > > > with his family and his trusty servant.
          > > > Reaching the imperial court after an arduous mission lasting
          > > > thirteen years in all, Chang Chien regaled Emperor Wu-ti for
          days
          > > > and nights with his reports of places far and strange. Instead
          of
          > > > losing his head, he was rewarded with the post of palace
          > > > counsellor. Kan-fu, the former slave, was given the
          title 'Lord
          > > Who
          > > > Carries Out His Missions'.
          > > > Chang Chien told his emperor about the nomads, the great
          Takla
          > > > Makan deser, and the isolated mountain valley of Ferghana where
          > > > people raised 'horse so magnificent that they sweat blood'.
          After
          > > > Ferghana, he reported, all the rivers flowed west into the
          Caspian
          > > > and Aral seas, where there are many potential allies against
          the
          > > > Hsiung-nu. He talked at length about the Wu-sun nomads, who
          could
          > > > muster thirty thousand mounted archers. They were led by Kun-
          mo, a
          > > > legendary warrior who, as a child had been left in the desert
          to
          > > die
          > > > but was saved by vultures that fed him meat, and wolves that
          > > suckled
          > > > him. Beyond were other nomads, with ninety thousand mounted
          > > bowmen,
          > > > and around the Aral Sea were the Yen-tsai with one hundred
          thousand
          > > > archers. Together they could form an army nearly a quarter of
          > > > million strong.
          > > > The emperor listened spellbound to Chang Chien's accounts of
          > > > Bactria, and a kingdom to the south-west called Persia, whose
          > > people
          > > > lived in walled cities and kept records by writing horizontally
          on
          > > > strips of leather. Among the Persians were merchants from
          > > > Mesopotamia, and from a great western sea, the Mediterranean.
          > > > Beyond, in a regions that was very hot and damp, were giant
          birds
          > > > that laid eggs as big as cooking pots. Still farther, beyond
          the
          > > > Mediterranean, were other countires and a great ocean.
          > > > 'In my travels, I saw bamboo canes and cloth from our regions
          of
          > > > Chiung and Chu (Szechuan),' Chang Chien told the
          emperor. 'When I
          > > > asked how they obtained such articles they told me "Our
          merchants
          > > go
          > > > and buy them in the markets of India."' India, he had learned,
          was
          > > > a hot, wet kingdom on the great river south-east of Persia,
          whose
          > > > people rode war elephants into battle. 'Now if the Indians
          obtain
          > > > trade goods from south-western China, they cannot be far.
          Instead
          > > > of trying to reach India by crossing the deserts of the
          mountains
          > > to
          > > > the west, a more direct route would be south by way of Shu.'
          > > > ....
          > > > In recognition of his many discoveries, Chang Chien was given
          the
          > > > title Marquis Po-wang ("Broad Vision"). he took part in
          various
          > > > military campaigns against the Hsiung-nu, but misfortune struck
          > > when
          > > > he arrived late at a rendezvous, and found that his general's
          army
          > > > had been wiped out. Disgraced and sentenced to die, Chang
          Chien
          > > was
          > > > allowed to live only on the condition that he pay a stiff fine
          and
          > > > give up his noble title.
          > > > A chance to redeem himself came when Emperor Wu-ti asked him
          to
          > > > set out once again far to the west to secure the alliance he
          had
          > > > propsed with the Wu-sun nomads in Turkestan. He was to offer
          their
          > > > leader, Kun-mo, rich gifts and bribes to attack the Hsiung-nu
          from
          > > > the rear. A treaty between China and the Wu-sun would
          intimidate
          > > > everyone, the emperor said, and they would all grovel at
          China's
          > > > feet and send tribute.
          > > > This time Chang Chien went well prepared, with three hundred
          > > > soldiers, six hundred horses, tens of thousands of cattle and
          > > sheep,
          > > > and wagonloads of gold and silk as gifts. When the caravan
          reached
          > > > Turkestan, Kun-mo was thunderstruck by the sigh of these riches
          but
          > > > refused to consider an alliance. Chang Chien stopped his men
          from
          > > > unloading: 'The Son of Heaven sent me with these gifts, and if
          you
          > > > do not prostrate yourself immediately to receive them, I will
          take
          > > > them all back!" This was too much for the ragged nomad chief,
          who
          > > > threw himself down and offered to sign anything. Before he
          could
          > > > change his mind, Chang Chien returned to China with the treaty
          and
          > > > was awarded with the title Grand Messanger. He died peacefully
          a
          > > > year of so afterward, happy and revered, one of the world's
          great
          > > > early explorers.
          > > > Thanks to his pioneering travels, sweetened with the bribes
          only
          > > > an emperor could dispense, emissaries arrived in China from
          India
          > > > and Persia For the first time, China established diplomatic
          and
          > > > trade relations with nations on the Caspian, and Black Sea, the
          > > > Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean, countries that a few years
          > > > earlier only her much-despised merchants had known existed.
          > > > Han's new nomad allies, attacking from the west, helped
          defeat
          > > the
          > > > Hsiung-nu. Emperor Wu-ti personally led a victory parade to
          > > > celebrate the triumph.
          > > > Eager to acquire Ferghana horses for his own stables, Wu-ti
          found
          > > > the breeders reluctant to share their treasured steeds, so in
          104BC
          > > > he despatched a large Chinese military force beyond the Pamirs,
          > > > where they had little difficulty persuading Ferghana's rulers
          to
          > > > change their minds.
          > > > Once China's desert frontier was secure, four international
          trade
          > > > routes came into regular use - two Silk roads, north and south
          of
          > > > the Takla Makan desert, a Jade Road through Burma to India and
          > > Siam,
          > > > and a sea route across the Indian Ocean. Merchants from Roman
          > > > Europe could venture safely along caravan routes guarded by Han
          > > army
          > > > outposts, stopping in oases where they mingled with Chinese
          > > traders.
          > > > Bolts of shimmering silk became the luxury item most sought
          after
          > > by
          > > > Roman women."
          > > >
          > >
          >
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