According to the map, the land-based “New Silk Road” will begin in Xi’an in central China before stretching west through Lanzhou (Gansu province), Urumqi (Xinjiang), and Khorgas (Xinjiang), which is near the border with Kazakhstan. The Silk Road then runs southwest from Central Asia to northern Iran before swinging west through Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. From Istanbul, the Silk Road crosses the Bosporus Strait and heads northwest through Europe, including Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Germany. Reaching Duisburg in Germany, it swings north to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. From Rotterdam, the path runs south to Venice, Italy — where it meets up with the equally ambitious Maritime Silk Road…The Silk Road represents China’s visions for an interdependent economic and political community stretching from East Asia to western Europe.
China’s ‘New Silk Road’ Vision Revealed, The Diplomat, 9 May 2014
This beautiful cobalt blue dish, so very 21st century and yet nearly 2,000 years old, was created in Roman times, somewhere around the Mediterranean basin. It crossed Asia through Persia (where it was painted) and arrived in Japan, approximately in the fifth century, where it was buried in a mound, near Nara (Scientists: Glass dish unearthed in Nara came from Roman Empire, Asahi Shimbun, 13 November 2014).
It traversed centuries, the largest continent, various civilizations, to eventually resurface today, as the United Nations are urging Central Asian nations to work with China towards the implementation of the plan for a New Silk Road, a sophisticated network of high-speed rails, pipelines, ports and optical fiber cables that will link Europe to the Far East.
There is something deeply fascinating and symbolic, almost magical, about this synchronicity. The creative power of humankind bridging centuries, continents and cultures to allow remote people to meet, then and now (viz. internet users around the world, enchanted by this marvellous story).
Never, in their wildest dreams, would the “Roman” crafter and the Persian painter of this exquisite object have guessed that it was fated that their delicate creation would travel so far, and so well, as if to incontrovertibly demonstrate that globalization is our destiny, for East and West have a very long history of trade, curiosity, journeying, exchange, and mutual appreciation.
The dish will be on display at the Tokyo National Museum until December 7.