Foreign Devils on the Silk Road

Foreign Devils on the Silk Road The story of the intrepid men who at great personal risk led the long range archaeological raids on the Silk Road incurring the undying wrath of the ChineseThe Silk Road which linked imperial Rome

  • Title: Foreign Devils on the Silk Road
  • Author: Peter Hopkirk
  • ISBN: 9780719564482
  • Page: 454
  • Format: Paperback
  • The story of the intrepid men who, at great personal risk, led the long range archaeological raids on the Silk Road, incurring the undying wrath of the ChineseThe Silk Road, which linked imperial Rome and distant China, was once the greatest thoroughfare on earth Along it traveled precious cargoes of silk, gold, and ivory, as well as revolutionary new ideas Its oasis towThe story of the intrepid men who, at great personal risk, led the long range archaeological raids on the Silk Road, incurring the undying wrath of the ChineseThe Silk Road, which linked imperial Rome and distant China, was once the greatest thoroughfare on earth Along it traveled precious cargoes of silk, gold, and ivory, as well as revolutionary new ideas Its oasis towns blossomed into thriving centers of Buddhist art and learning In time it began to decline The traffic slowed, the merchants left, and finally its towns vanished beneath the desert sands to be forgotten for a thousand years But legends grew of lost cities filled with treasures and guarded by demons In the early years of the last century foreign explorers began to investigate these legends, and very soon an international race began for the art treasures of the Silk Road Huge wall paintings, sculptures, and priceless manuscripts were carried away by the ton nd are today scattered through the museums of a dozen countries.

    One thought on “Foreign Devils on the Silk Road”

    1. Murder! That was the diagnosis of the famed German archaeologist Albert Von Le Coq upon discovering the remains of a Buddhist monk wrapped in blood-stained robes at the ancient west-Chinese site of Karakhoja. And this unfortunate monk wasn't alone, as a nearby room housed over a hundred of his friends; stacked like cord-wood and bearing horrifying wounds. How did this massacre happen and why? Was it a government power-play? Religious persecution? Perhaps a barbarian raid?A consistent theme in ar [...]

    2. Foreign Devils on the Silk Road tells the story of several archaeologists (Aurel Stein, Paul Pelliot, Klementz, von Le Coq and Langdon Warner to name a few) who travelled across the barren lands of the Taklamakan desert in the early 20th Century, on a quest to search for remains of Asian ancient civilizations.To say "search for remains" might be a bit of a euphemism; because what these people did was plain pillaging. They took away whatever stuccos, paintings, figurines, scrolls and other stuff [...]

    3. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, until the 1920s, several European and American explorers searched western China for artifacts associated with the silk road, which was a collection of trails connecting China with the Middle East and India. The significance of this area is that it preserved writing and artifacts of a variety of religions, principally Buddhism but also Nestorian Christians and Manicheasm, whose early history has not survived elsewhere. The area they searched [...]

    4. Peter Hopkirk's books on central Asia have two virtues that are not often found together: they are learned, thoroughly researched works that wrap their scholarship in anecdote and conflict. Foreign Devils takes the author in the steps of a handful of sturdy explorers and antiquarians who, between about 1890 and 1940, ventured into the Taklamakan, Lop Nor and Gobi deserts in search of evidence of the civilisations which once flourished there and are now buried beneath the sand. Literally thousand [...]

    5. Diverting account of various European explorers/archaeologists who explored (or as far as the Chinese are concerned) raided the deserts of Central Asia for artefacts from various oasis based lost cities/trading posts dotted along the Silk Road (which started at Xian) dating from when an outward looking Chinese empire traded with the West and India, but which later became covered in sand as the irrigation systems which created the oases were left to decay.

    6. A delightful Indiana Jones like account of the exploration of the Taklamakan desert in what is now the Xinjiang province of Eastern China. This was - and probably still is - truly the last frontier!

    7. This is one hell of a book. The adventures described herein are mind-bogglingly awe-inspiring, while the savagery is heart-breaking. The beginning of the book gives a very odd perspective which is not duplicated in the body of the text; that is, I was expecting a mildly moralistic tale against the deprivations and thievery of the "foreign devils" - the Europeans and, in the case of Langdon Warner, American - who saved the archaeological heritage of the Silk Road. The Chinese consider these peopl [...]

    8. This is a fascinating history of the efforts of numerous Western archaeologists to uncover the secrets of Buddhist art and culture in the far west of China. Starting in the very late 1890's and continuing through the mid 1920's, western explorers discovered, excavated and, in many cases, removed to their home countries countless priceless manuscripts, sculptures and paintings.The Brit, Sir Aurel Stein, is probably best known of these explorers - and also the most hated by the Chinese for his rem [...]

    9. Interesting account of how (mostly) European travellers and explorers plundered the relics of the Chinese Turkestan.The story is engaging and contains parts of adventure and bits of cultural explanation behind every discovery. The structure is pretty simple, as every chapter(s) is devoted to a particular expedition of a explorer/looter.Personally I miss a deeper account on the Russian side (if Langdon Warner deserved a chapter, I´m pretty sure Prejevalsky -or others-deserved one too), also on t [...]

    10. Storia ricca di azione, misteri, agenti segreti e surreale comicità.Eppure è storia vera. Anzi, è un vero e proprio saggio sulle spedizioni europee (e non solo) che tra la fine del 1800 e le prime decadi del '900 si sono avventurate nelle mitiche terre del Takla Makan, il più impenetrabile e affascinante dei deserti.

    11. Intrepid travelers from Sweden, Germany, France, Japan and America scour the vast desert lands of Central Asia for century old treasures and antiquities of the famous Silk Road. Gripping stories, intriguing cast of characters.

    12. This isn’t as good as The Great Game. But i still liked it. Perhaps in is one of the lesser Hopkirks, but I don’t know as haven’t read the rest of the Peter Hopkirks yet!

    13. This isn't nearly as good as "The Great Game," but Hopkirk delivers an enjoyable historical romp through the Taklamakan ("You can get into it but can never get out") Desert in western China, in the company of some intrepid archaeologists/geographers/treasure-hunters/culture-despoilers/foreign-devils.

    14. Every now and then I stray across a book which fills me with wonder. Long since, I’ve thought my capacity for such waves of pleasant surprise was dimming – and then along comes another one and zaps me.“Foreign Devils on the Silk Road” is one such. It’s not very long, but it’s riveting. It’s no more than a fairly sober account of plain facts, when all is said and done. And yet, again and again I found myself thinking, ‘well how did they do it, how did I not know about this?” Eve [...]

    15. Hopkirk is writing in an older idiom and with an imperial perspective, but this is still an entertaining adventure yarn. The struggles and events feel like a more realistic Indiana Jones and the archeological discoveries in the Taklamakan really were awe-inspiring.

    16. The German archaeologist and explorer Albert von le Coq must have felt satisfaction when he saw the frescoes he had brought back along dangerous roads from Central Asia finally safely displayed in the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. He had carved these Buddhist masterpieces from the walls of the caves around Turfan in the west of China, where they had, in his view, been at risk from the iconoclasm of the local Uighur population and the vicissitudes of war and banditry. It was an arrogant, thought [...]

    17. This fascinating but now probably somewhat dated work feeds into my growing fixations with the twin areas of exploration writing and of the Silk Roads and Central Asia. It concerns a fairly brief archaeological gold rush against the background of the Great Game and an emerging revolution in China. Before the Chinese indignantly slammed the door and curtailed foreign access to their Western deserts, a plague of archaeologists descended on this region and stripped it of caravan-loads of ancient te [...]

    18. Really enjoyed reading this book. Never realized there was so much intrigue and events surrounding the Central Asian region. Too bad this is all the past. Would be good to see how things are today.

    19. Hopkirk's first book. It is structured like his others--intertwined narratives from the first-hand accounts of explorers, plus additional material from the India Office library and it's declassified intelligence and diplomatic files, as well as secondary histories. However, this one only lightly deals with the "Great Game," focusing instead on European and Japanese attempts to discover and secure the lost treasures of Chinese Turkestan for their respective museums. Its most prominent characters [...]

    20. I've rarely enjoyed a book as much as I did Peter Hopkirk's the Great Game. Written in a adventure novelistic style, it tells the story of 19th and early 20th century British and Russian adventurers who risked life and limb as they tried to win Central Asia for their empires. The stories are nearly incredible, with very young men traveling under amazingly harsh condition and with little background. Not surprisingly, they often died whether at their imperial opponents hands or at the hands of the [...]

    21. For a period of about 25 years, beginning at the turn of the 20th century, a number of archaeological expeditions, led by European explorers, were conducted along the paths of the old Silk Road that skirted the massive Taklamakan desert. These expeditions uncovered numerous fascinating sites, such as oasis towns, monasteries, and fortresses, all of them dating back to the heyday of the Silk Road in the 9th to 12th centuries. They found Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and Manichaean artworks and manu [...]

    22. I don’t normally gravitate to stories about archeology, especially so if they do not involve Harrison Ford. This book came to me as one of the lighter, easier reads about the Silk Road, a subject we are focusing on at work. It was well worth the time and an apt primer on turn-of-the-century archeology and ancient China. Like any good bit of non-fiction, this story had me digging through an encyclopedia to understand what else was going on around the globe at the time, to fill in my own history [...]

    23. The Silk Road has become to Xinjiang as the Great Wall is to China. The first foreigners to cross this important set of trade routes were kindly referred to as merchants but around the turn of the century another group of foreigners would step foot here and be labeled devils. The individual accounts of these daring explorers have long since been out of print but the tales of their adventures have been preserved in a book that makes Xinjiang’s buried history as intriguing as a stroll along the [...]

    24. I read this at the recommendation of my son's friend Cho, and because I recently visited some of the areas talked about in the book. I am not normally a non-fiction reader and I was afraid this would be dry and "scholarly" I was very pleasantly surprised. It was a very quick read, and I was fascinated, impressed and disgusted with the adventurers who visited these areas on the Silk Road and either rescued, saved or plundered an immense number of archeological treasures, such as scrolls, art, fre [...]

    25. A scholarly tale of six men on a quest for the treasures of the Silk Road; Sven Hedin of Sweden, Sir Aurel Stein of Britain, Albert von Le Coq of Germany, Paul Pelliot of France, Langdon Warner of the United States, and Count Otani of Japan. These foreigners - artists, academics, and archaeologists (and in the minds of many, shameless adventurers, robbers, and tomb raiders)- removed a myriad of wall-paintings, manuscripts, sculptures, and other treasures from lost and ancient cities along the ro [...]

    26. Hopkirk's book focuses primarily on the men who travelled the Silk Road in search of ancient treasures. Clearly I was born the wrong sex, in the wrong time; while a lot of these men may be considered treasure-hunting rogues, many of them were highly intelligent, gifted, and brave to have completed these expeditions and excavations, and they have my awe and respect. Their stories and rivalries were very interesting to read.The other theme of the book touches on the status of these lost treasures. [...]

    27. I really didn't know how to rate this book. Honestly, in comparison to most other books I've read, it's a great book, like all of Hopkirk's books, but it just didn't meet the standards of a book like Setting The East Ablaze, so I had to recognize that in its rating. I think it was missing an in depth explanation of the artifacts. In fact, Hopkirk's body of work is missing a book on the precolonial era of Central Asia, I think he would have pulled it off with fantastic pinash, but alas, it is not [...]

    28. The history of Swedish, Russian, French, British, German, Japanese, and American exploration and treasure hunting along the old Silk Road trade route(s) in Chinese Central Asia between 1895 and 1925. Thousands of manuscripts in many Asian and Central Asian languages as well as Sanskrit and Persian, Graeco-Indian Buddhist paintings and sculpture were carted off and now reside in some 30 museums in over a dozen countries. China permitted this looting of its archeological, philological, and art tre [...]

    29. It's wonderful. It reads like a novel. But it's the real account of the lives and expeditions of the British, German, French and Russian archaeologists, orientalists that explored the Silk road at the turn of the 1900's. It's fascinating, entertaining, thrilling to read. Hopkirk knows his subjects, makes it real and puts the reader at the centre of the action. We judge their actions with the values of our times, theirs was a race to see who could get the most pieces for their country, bypassing [...]

    30. Una maravilla de libro, único, de los que ofrecen información única bien narrada, porque el autor se entrevistó con todos los interesados y él mismo está fascinado por el tema. Un libro de los que te hace soñar y buscar en Internet información sobre lo que lees, fascinado. Que te documenta sobre una curiosa etapa histórica dejando que seas tú quien decidas sobre el asunto"In the autumn of 1923, two Americans floundered westwards along the old Silk Road in blinding rain and through rive [...]

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