A rich diversity of handicrafts were exchanged on the Silk Road. China’s major exports included silk, porcelain, lacquer ware, ironware, gold & silver ware, and other luxuries. By the 4th century AD, it had become fashionable for a European aristocratic man to wear clothes made of silk. The Arabic canon The Koran acclaimed silk as the dress material of the paradise. Porcelain became a major commodity to the West with the rise of Maritime Silk Road which was more efficient and convenient for transport the fragile porcelain. Tangsancai tri-colored glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty is known worldwide as an outstanding representative of ancient arts. And the quantity of chinaware possessed became a measure of fortune and education for a Mexican nobleman. Chinese lacquer ware, along with Chinese paintings, furniture and chinaware, was a hot sought-after during the Sinomania in Europe from late 17th to early 18th century. French King Louis XIV was a fervent lover of Oriental arts. His court rooms were said to be full of Chinese furniture, chinaware, vases, and lacquer ware.

In return, the Silk Road transmitted back to China a wider range of handicrafts. Items of any aspect of everyday use were traded, some becoming integrated in the lives of the Chinese. Emperor Lingdi of Han Dynasty was addicted to clothes, tent, bed, stools, konghou (musical instrument like a harp), flute, dancing etc. from the ethnic minority peoples in the north and west, and the whole aristocracy and all men of standing in the capital followed suit. Lifestyle of the Han people was influenced by these imports via the Silk Road. For instance, beginning from somewhere during the Southern & Northern Dynasties (420-589AD), the Chinese started sitting on stools or chairs, as compared against formerly kneeling on their own heels on the ground. Glass was introduced to China from the Middle East during Tang Dynasty, as is evidenced by the twenty pieces of excavated glassware in Famen Temple, Shaanxi Province. The Chinese’ interest in foreign commodities is manifested in the list of collectables of the Late Ming & Early Qing Dynasties period. Western clocks, glasses, tobacco bottles, and satin were popular items for the upper class people. The Qing Dynasty palace factory engaged the service of a number of Jesuit missionaries to manufacture timer and glass ware. In the 18th & 19th centuries, furs from Russia and North America, and pearls and sandalwood from Southeast Asia found a good market in China.
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