Friday, 5 September 2014

Maritime Silk Road Luxuries of the Han Dynasty

(People's Daily Online)    September 04, 2014
A crystal clear aquamarine necklace, an exquisite gold bracelet, an amethyst bracelet in bright colors - none of the jewelry pictured comes from modern times, but from the tombs of the Han Dynasty. Buried underground for thousand years, the jewelry preserves its glamor in Hepu Museum in Beihai City.
The book of Han Shu recorded that Hepu was the earliest departure port of the Maritime Silk Road in the Han Dynasty. Nobles and businessmen would set off from Hepu to Southeast Asia to exchange crystals, pearls, and amber for silk and gold. Thousands of Han tombs have been discovered in Hepu, and in those tombs substantial quantitieess of crystal, agate, amber, and gold accessories have been found.
Of all the pieces in the museum, the aquamarine necklace is the most attractive. The curator of the museum, Lian Shiming, explains that this necklace was the first Han Dynasty aquamarine gemstone to be discovered. This most precious type of aquamarine, also known as beryl, is light blue. The four gemstones of the necklace are matched in this exact color. Most aquamarine comes from the seas of West Asia, and aquamarine was first used for jewelry in the West. "It was used for blessing a safe voyage, or for love and happy endings," says Lian. This necklace, once the property of a county magistrate in the Han Dynasty, now bears witness to the Maritime Silk Road.

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