China-Bangladesh Relation: 1st Century to 13th Century A.D. 1

By Muhammed, Tanweer | Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies, Spring 2015 | Go to article overview

China-Bangladesh Relation: 1st Century to 13th Century A.D. 1


Muhammed, Tanweer, Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies


INTRODUCTION

China and Bangladesh are separated by the formidable geographical obstacles of the Himalayas. China and Bangladesh today share a border along the Himalayas with Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar acting as buffer states. Bangladesh sees China situated at the crossroads of overland trading routes. From beginning of history China knew about enormous properties and wealth of Bengal and Bengal also knew about China what was the cradle of Civilization. But in the medieval age this relation has been becoming multidimensional way. many monks, scholars and traders, craftsmen, service holder and officers came to Bengal and many people went to China for same reasons. Our thesis therefore will describe the Relation between Bangladesh and China from the 1st century to 13th century A.D.

From the very beginning of the history , a trade route build a relation between Bangladesh and the Chinese seaport, sea-trade no doubt came from ports of India viz. Daybul, Nirun, Patala, Suparaka. Barygaza, Tagara, Muziris, Nelkynda, Ariake, Tamralipti, Gange, Saptagrama, Sarandib, etc. and passed through the Canton(Guangzhou), Shanghai, Beihai, Shenzen, Ningho, Dalian, Dandong, Fuzhou, Guangzhou,Nanjing and many Ports. The ancient city ports of Bengal viz. Tamralipti, Gange, Vanga1 and Saptagrama i.e Satgoan2 were great centers of maritime trade and commerce in ancient days, attracting sailors and merchants from both the eastern and western seas. This contact continued throughout the medieval period. Here Chinese Accounts, a very important source material of Bengal history, have been dealt with in two sections: Ancient and Medieval.

Chinese monks, scholars and traders of the Qin Dynasty, visited the ancient Vedic kingdom of Pundravardhana, located in present-day Bogra and Rangpur,(Bangladesh) as

early as the 2nd century BCE, by travelling across the south-west Silk Road. The history of Bengal from the fall of the Mauryas (2nd century BC) to the rise of the Guptas (4th century AD) is obscure. The discovery of some beautiful terracotta figurines at Mahasthana, tamralipti and chandraketugarh, datable in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, proves that Bengal continued to flourish in the Subga and Kusana periods. It appears from the accounts of The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea and Ptolemy that in the first two centuries of the Christian era the whole of deltaic Bengal was organized into a powerful kingdom with its capital at Gange, a great market town on the banks of the Ganges. We have evidence of widespread trade between Bengal and China as well as other countries. The Milinda-Panho mentions Yanga in a list of maritime countries where ships congregated for trade.

Bangladesh and China have a rich heritage of cultural interactions and trade which developed on the south-west silk route , the ancient tea route and the maritime silk road. The Silk Route in Sikkim is an offshoot of an ancient trade route which came from Lhasa, crossing Chumbi (Cumbi) Valley and passed through Nathula Pass and finally took the port of Tamralipti (present West Bengal). From Tamralipti, this trade route took to the sea and reached Samatata, Harikela, Sri Lanka, Bali, Java and other parts of the Far East. We find the mention of Tamralipti Gange and Herikela (Chittagong) as a busy sea-route on Bay of Bengal in Fa Hein's accounts as early as AD. 400. This portion of the Old Silk route through Bhutan, East Sikkim and West Bengal was quite less travelled but is expected to have been discovered by traders as early as First Century AD. Most of the Mountain Passes in this region of the Eastern Himalayas are around 14,000 feet above sea-level and stays snow covered from November to April, which makes this route one of the most inhospitable regions on earth. The distance between Lhasa and Tamralipti through this nearly obscure part of the Ancient Silk Route was around 900 kms, which is significantly less than other seaports from Lhasa and this route was comparatively a safer land route option for the traders' caravans. …

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