The Tea Horse Road Project’s mission is to compile, preserve, and share the history and culture of the Tea Horse Roads.
The Tea Horse Roads are a vast array of cultural, religious and commercial threads tied together by an intricate network of caravan roads, trails and paths along land and water. Along these routes the constant movement and exchange of goods, the steady flow of people and pack animals, the cultural baggage, both tangible and intangible.
The Tea Horse Roads is also an epic novel, a world rich in history, rich in human life, stories set against landscapes beautiful and bleak, heroic deeds of endurance and resourcefulness, muleteer and pack animal slogging their way across unforgiving terrain, battling withering blizzards and other extremities of weather, the sheer staying power of moving caravans from one point to the next, and the journeys themselves that go beyond the prospect of material gain or commercial benefit.
There is much to document in our understanding of these trade routes, their commercial, political, cultural and strategic importance, their role in the growth and decline of settlements, towns, cities, the nexus between the establishment of businesses–carvanserai, roadside taverns, stores–and the flow of goods and people, where our understanding of transportation and trade (so inextricably bound together) is informed by a “robust engagement” with the historical texts (Buddhist/Daoist literature, official histories, travel journals, songs, poetry, etc), provincial and county archives but also illuminated by an imaginative fire.
Here I compile, edit and translate its history from Chinese sources, one text at a time. I will also insert excerpts from English sources as well as from my own writings which are italicized and marked [PM].
I will continually be adding new material to enlarge and refine what is already published. The website will therefore be under permanent reconstruction.
In many respects, this labour of love is in lieu of a book on the tea horse roads that I will probably never write due to lack of time and lack of many other things, and remains very much a work in progress.