Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Silk Road

PALACE TREASURES from the East arrived on my doorstep last night! I could barely contain my excitement as I opened the package sent by Sans of "My Maharajah's Palace" Blog. The contents were not so much a mystery because Sans had made a Blog Post about these gifts a few weeks ago. But the question of WHICH colors I would receive was about to be answered! The ribbons are just BREATHTAKING in real and close up! Gold, Silver, Green and Turquoise are the colors she has given to me! They are a TREASURE beyond measure because they are the GIFT of a Friend from afar! She wrapped them so carefully to keep them safe and dry on the voyage!

But once unwrapped and glittering in this morning's sunshine, I could not help but think of how far they traveled to reach me here, CONTINENTS and OCEANS away! The OTHER side of the WORLD, in fact! These were treasures from the FAR EAST! That fact alone makes them EXOTIC and MYSTERIOUS!
For thousands of years, the EAST has been the source of all things Precious to Westerners..... Porcelain, Gold, Jewels, Spices, Silk...... and they Traveled here along the Fabled SILK ROAD.....

To BEGIN with, you must remember that in THOSE days, the Earth was still FLAT and Oceans surrounded the LAND. For the Medieval Europeans travel was difficult and DANGEROUS. Most people lived their entire lives in their own small regions. The CRUSADES, undertaken in the Early Middle Ages, first brought the Westerners into contact with the TREASURES of the East. And once they were aware of these riches, there was no looking back! Slowly but surely the wealth of the East was brought to the West. But the Road was Long and Hard and Mysterious. Here is a map from the "Penguin Atlas of Medieval History" that shows the trade routes around Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. It also shows the Western end of the Silk Road. Silk, in those days was a secret guarded carefully by China, and the only way for silk cloth to reach the West was along the Silk Road that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea all the way to China.
Marco Polo, the son of a merchant from Venice is reputed to be amongst the first Westerners to travel the Silk Road to China and Back again. At least, he is the First to WRITE the TALES of his journeys to the East, in 1274 AD, and so he became enshrined in the annals of Western History. Here below is one of numerous Medieval Illuminations that portray Marco Polo on his travels. I believe this is taken from a Catalan Atlas drawn in 1375 by Abraham Cresques. You can see the travelers have joined with a Caravan of Camels laden with their treasures.
So you will not be at all surprised when I show you the Camels laden with the Package that has journeyed all the way from SINGAPORE!
It was one of a CARAVAN that surely trekked over lands too many to number on it's passage to the WEST!
They traveled for days......
And eventually they would reach the Ports of the Mediterranean Sea! There the Silks would be loaded onto ships that would take them to the Ports of Europe. Here below is a Medieval Illumination of Venice..... supposedly of the time of Marco Polo, but actually showing a later view, drawn in the fourteenth century.
And here is a view of a boat being loaded with goods... this is from my favorite Boccacio's "Decameron" that is so full of useful illuminations of everyday life in the later Middle Ages. It actually shows two parts of the story, loading the ship and the man being rescued after a shipwreck.... demonstrating the kinds of dangers involved in so long a voyage! Alas, I have no ship to show you the package from SINGAPORE on it's voyage over the seas.....
And even once the ship has reached Port on the Western shores of Europe, it is still a long journey over land to the Castle. Here is a Medieval Illumination showing travelers on the road, some with their packs on their backs, and some with pack animals to carry their goods.
The road to the Castle is a LONG one! But the silks were carefully loaded into strong chests and strapped to the back of a trusty pack horse. It takes yet MORE WEEKS to traverse the land and so reach their DESTINATION!
You can imagine the SURPRISE and AMAZEMENT of the humble Castle folk when the chests are opened to reveal the treasure within......
They have NEVER seen such treasures!
I THINK Henry is Speechless!
Just LOOK at the Beautiful GOLD embroidered and spangled silks!
Here, come closer!
And the other chest.....
Belle is sure she has NEVER seen anything so BEAUTIFUL in her life!
So, dear readers, can you forgive me for wandering off on my Medieval Fantasy Trip down the SILK ROAD as I contemplate the beautiful GIFTS that have come to my Castle in the WEST from Sans' PALACE in the East? Even though I am on a continent not yet KNOWN in Medieval Times, and there are no REAL Castles in this land.... my Medieval Castle Dollhouse will be forever blessed by these treasures! They will be PERFECT for adorning the future GOWNS of the future Ladies of the Castle.... not to mention trimming the BED Curtains of the Lord and Lady's bed, as well as turning into CUSHIONS for their chairs! I am certain that there will be MANY future blog Posts that feature these beautiful ribbons!
And to think that they came all the way from the EAST!

Palace Treasures from the East


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  2. What a delightful post for a quiet Sunday afternoon , my dear Betsy :). I dare say I have enjoyed every picture and every word. :) My goodness, the camels, the chests , the extent you went to create this story. Did you have fun?

    I believe there was to be no treasures from Singapore during the medieval time. We were only named Singapore in the 1300s and until 1819, was mainly a fishing village.

    Journeys and treasures from India were common however and definitely part of The Silk Road :). These ribbons have travelled to Singapore from Bombay, India. Let's just pretend they went to you from Bollywood Bombay :).

  3. Dear Sans! I did hope to amuse you! :) The camels are the part of my Nativity that I did not show on my blog because they take up too much room! The three kings carrying gifts and the two camels and one horse are too large for dollhouse scale.... but they look okay carrying those chests!
    And of course, Singapore was only a dream in the Middle Ages.... but I had to include it in my Fantasy Journey! :)
    I hope you are resting well and feeling stronger every day!

  4. Btesy, it is the best post about Sans gifts ever! They truly look like precious treasures in the chests. I love the whole story and the camel caravan:D Thank you for this silk road trip!:D

  5. LOVED your story and pictures! What a fun post, and Sans really sent you some beautiful trims! I love how colorful Indian trims are. I am fortunate to live in an area with a large amount of Indians have settled and have access to some incredible Sari shops. I am always so amazed to see all of the colors and sparkles everything has!!

  6. Hi Ewa! I am really glad you enjoyed it! Sometimes these ideas just take over and insist on being done! Sans' ribbons really are a treasure!

  7. Thank you Patty! I'm glad you enjoyed the trip! We have a few shops with Indian cloth and Saris in this area.... I have a LARGE collection of stunning embroideries..... but I would never cut them up for minis.... so now I have trims that I can use freely on my minis!

  8. Thankyou for the exotic trip down the Braid Road - thoroughly enjoyable, and a fitting tribute to the very generous Lady of the East!! :D

  9. What a creative way to tell a story:)