Just As The Silk Roads Spread Religions, Religions Strengthened The Silk Roads

Just As The Silk Roads Spread Religions, Religions Strengthened The Silk Roads


The ancient Silk Road greatly contributed to the religious and cultural exchange between religion between Asia and the West. Dating back from the second century BC up to the fifteenth century AD, splendid civilizations among India, China, Greece, Rome, and Persia was exchanged along this trade route that was famous during that period, and this made the route a great “religious and cultural bridge” between Europe and Asia.  This paper focuses on “how religions accompanied merchants as well as their goods along the overland trade routes in Asia during the pre-modern times” (Liu 7). Some of the religions include


During the first century, Buddhism came to Yutian, now referred to as Hetian. From here, it spread quickly across the vast Western Regions. It took a while, until the Eastern Han Dynasty that Buddhism was introduced in Asia, and particularly China. In the following centuries, most of the monks played crucial roles in the Buddhism development in Asia. They traveled ancient using the Silk Road to India with an aim of studying sutras, and this greatly contributed to the “Buddhism propagation”.



Shamanistic and Judaism

After “ Perceiving the trade benefits that were associated with the neutral religious status of the Radanites, eventually, the Khazar elite embraced Judaism.” (Liu 102). On the other hand, people from the shamanistic stepper origin often believed that the Sufi masters had magic powers and “ like Christians and some of the other religions that came before them, frequently assumed a tradition role that was filled by the shamans. Just like the shamans, they were in some cases believed to be in a position to fly” (Liu 142).


Nestorianism, Manicheism, and Zoroastrianism were the three religions that were referred to as the “Three Foreign Religions” during the Tang Dynasty.  Dating back from the fifth century up to the first century, Zoroastrianism as a religion spread across the Western Regions of Asia. It was considered as the earliest religion that reached this region.

It was once the Persia state religion. After the beginning of the Arab Empire, Zoroastrianism had to move towards the east region. It rapidly developed during the Northern and Southern Dynasties as well as the Tang Dynasty. This religion disappeared largely after the Song Dynasty although its practices were still carried out on by the Tajiks and Uygurs.


Manicheism is a religion that was made up of several other religions including Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and ancient Greek ideas. Contrary to Zoroastrianism, it remained popular among the common people in China and across Asia although it was not allowed to spread in the Tang Dynasty it still greatly influenced people.


Nestorianism, a Syrian Christianity school, has many doctrines and dogmatas that are different from traditional Christianity. It was introduced in Asia in 635 through the time-honored Silk Road.  After a development of a 150-year during the Tang Dynasty, this religion started to decline.


From the seventh century, Arab Muslims moved to Asia through the Silk Road while used the sea route to spread the religion. Islam during this period had a profound impact on the spiritual beliefs across Asia especially Asia. The regions that Muslim religion spread were termed as “uniformly Muslim regions” (Liu 6) and the authors argue that the phenomenon was likely to lead to steady and early interactions with Muslim traders.

In most areas, Islam attracted converts mainly because of its commercial appeal and this to some explains “the ‘failure’ of some religions mainly Christianity along. By the sixteenth century, Islam had become the “dominant religion across Central Asia.”


To add to the political and economic exchange between the West and East, religions from the West were introduced into Asia especially China through the world-famous route. Manicheism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, and Nestorianism were cultural treasure across ancient west that were bestowed upon Asia during this period.  The Silk Road, which is considered as being the “geographic construct” where there was the “the movement and transformation” of all religions which inhabited many religions for thousands of years.

The book helps the readers in gaining an appreciation for the considerable religious syncretism considerable degree that took place along the Silk Road following cross-cultural encounter and contact. It is an excellent text that can be used concerning Eastern religion particularly on the historical “economic-social-religious” development that took place in Asia.

Works Cited

Liu, X., (2012). The Silk Roads:  A Brief History with Documents. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s


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