Iran & China Historical Relations
Compiled and written in parts by:
History of relationships between Iran & China can be viewed and written from two perspectives, a Chinese perspective or an Iranian one. Goal of this short paper is to catch a few points based on both perspectives. First of all it’ll brief on the first signs of relationships between two nations in the bed of history. And then a little treat on current similarities and what is happening in the current days.
Back in the history
Name of China in Persian language written as چین read exactly as Qin in pinyin writing of Chinese mandarin language implies the starting point of mutual acquaintance ...view middle of the document...
The people are settled on the land, cultivating the fields and growing rice and wheat. They also make wine out of grapes. They have walled cities like the people of Dayuan (Ferghana), the region contains several hundred cities of various sizes. The coins of the country are made of silver and bear the face of the king. When the king dies, the currency is immediately changed and new coins issued with the face of his successor. The people keep records by writing on horizontal strips of leather. To the west lies Tiaozi (Mesopotamia) and to the north Yancai and Lixuan (Hyrcania)." (Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, trans. Burton Watson).
Following Zhang Qian's embassy and report, commercial relations between China, Central Asia, and Parthia flourished, as many Chinese missions were sent throughout the 1st century BCE: "The largest of these embassies to foreign states numbered several hundred persons, while even the smaller parties included over 100 members... In the course of one year anywhere from five to six to over ten parties would be sent out." (Shiji, trans. Burton Watson).
The Parthians were apparently very intent on maintaining good relations with China and also sent their own embassies, starting around 110 BC: "When the Han envoy first visited the kingdom of Anxi (Parthia), the king of Anxi dispatched a party of 20,000 horsemen to meet them on the eastern border of the kingdom... When the Han envoys set out again to return to China, the king of Anxi dispatched envoys of his own to accompany them... The emperor was delighted at this." (Shiji, 123, trans. Burton Watson).
Parthians also played a role in the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism from Central Asia to China. An Shigao 安世高, a Parthian nobleman and Buddhist missionary, went to the Chinese capital Luoyang in 148 CE where he established temples and became the first man to translate Buddhist scriptures into Chinese.
Like their predecessors the Parthians, the Sassanid Empire maintained active foreign relations with China, and ambassadors from Persia frequently travelled to China. Chinese documents record thirteen Sassanid embassies to China. Commercially, land and sea trade with China was important to both the Sassanid and Chinese Empires. Large numbers of Sassanid coins have been found in southern China, confirming maritime trade.
When the Chinese state of Shu Han fell in 263 CE to Cao Wei, many of its refugees such as nobles and troops fled west to Sasanian Persia. and on various occasions, Sassanid kings sent their most talented Persian musicians and dancers to the Chinese imperial court. Both empires benefited from trade along the Silk Road, and shared a common interest in preserving and protecting that trade. They cooperated in guarding the trade routes through central Asia, and both built outposts in border areas to keep caravans safe from nomadic tribes and bandits.
There are record of several joint Sassanid and Chinese efforts against their common Hephtalite enemy....