This article shortly discusses the evolution of the traffic along the so-called Silk Road after the Mongols in order to demonstrate ― after other authors ― that the road did not break off completely in the middle of the fourteenth century. The author notably evokes the embassies between the Timurid realms and the Ming court, both claimants of the Mongol heritage, notably those coming from provincial courts of the Timurid Empire (Kerman, Isfahan, and Shiraz). The continuation of exchanges under Shah Rukh and Yongle is briefly evoked, as well as the later interruption of Ming embassies to “Samarqand” (a Chinese metonymy for Timurid Central Asia), and continuation of Central Asian embassies to China with primarily commercial goals. The author notably endeavours to show that initial diplomatic misunderstandings were overcome by pragmatic responses, the Chinese emperor ceasing to insist on his alleged superiority. He demonstrates that “an almost modern system and network of diplomatic and political exchanges” developed under Yongle’s reign (1402-24) between Western, Central, and Eastern Asia. At the same time, growing “incompetence” of Ming diplomacy is put forward for explaining the interruption of Ming diplomatic activity in Central Asia from the mid-fourteenth century onwards. See also, on this important topic: Charlotte von Verschuer, “Die Beziehungen zwischen den ersten Ming-Kaisern und Timur von Samarkand,” Nachrichten der Gesellschaft für Natur und Voelkerkunde Ostasiens 130 (1981) : 62-77.

The Redaction
CER: II-3.1.B-118