UN plans 'virtual Silk Road'
Bukhara: one of the architectural gems of the Silk Road
By Louise Hidalgo in Tashkent
The United Nations cultural agency, Unesco, has published a collection of stories from countries along the Silk Road - the ancient network of trading routes that linked Europe and Asia 1,000 years ago.
The book, which is intended for use in schools, is part of Unesco's contribution to the UN year for the Culture of Peace and it is hoped that it will later be published on the internet, in a range of different languages.
br clear=all> The book brings together more than 40 stories, collected from 21 countries stretching from East Asia to Central Asia and the Caucasus and on to Italy and the Middle East.
These countries lay on what was the world's richest trade route before a sea passage was opened to India.
For centuries, silks and perfumes, gold, ivory and wine used to flow along it, traversing some of the highest mountains and the bleakest deserts on earth.
With this trade came new ideas and religions, and in Central Asia today the remains of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, even the Shamanism of the nomads of the steppe can all still be found.
br clear=all> It is this cultural diversity that UNESCO says it wanted to reflect in the book which is entitled simply, Tales from the Silk Road.
Each story has its own moral twist, from the Syrian tale of a farmer who buried his treasure to teach his sons the pleasure of tilling the earth, to the Chinese story of one man's greed that led to the sea becoming full of salt.
The stories have all been translated into English and Uzbek and illustrated by Uzbek painters, and the hope is that in future they can be published on the internet in the languages of all the contributing countries.
Unesco describes this goal as the creation of a virtual Silk Road.
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