Ancient Tea-horse Road History
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Ancient Tea-horse Road History

Update: Mar. 1st, 2013

Ancient Tea-horse Road

Ancient Tea-horse Road History

The Ancient Tea-Horse Road was the key traffic hinge for tea and horse business between Tibetan people and Han people. It was formed at that time. It originated from the southern Tibet along Yarlung Zangbo River and ended in Qamdo Prefecture by way of Nyingchi Prefecture. The Ancient Tea-horse Road was divided into the southern route and the northern route in Qamdo Prefecture. They were named Yunnan-Tibet Ancient Tea-horse Road and the Sichuan-Tibet Ancient Tea-horse Road. Yunnan-Tibet Ancient Tea-horse Road was leading to the south from Qamdo Prefecture along Lancang River and Jinsha River Valley by way of Chaya County, Mangkang County, Deqyen County, and Zhongdian County. It finally connected to the tea producing area of western Yunnan Province. The Sichuan-Tibet Ancient Tea-horse Road was divided to the southern route and the northern route again. The northern route was leading to the tea producing area of Ya-an City of Sichuan Province by way of Gyangda County, Dege County, Ganzi, Luho and Daofu. The southern route was leading to the tea producing area of Ya-an City by way of Chaya County, Zuogong County, Mangkang County, Batang County, Litang County and Yajiang.

According to the historical record, the Ancient Tea-horse Road was becoming popular when people started the commercial intercourse between Tang Dynasty and Tubo Dynasty. Both of the tea and the teacup were appeared during Tubo Dynasty and used by the great masters. It was a long time of hundreds of years to have the cultural communication and commercial intercourse between Tang Dynasty and Tubo Dynasty so that more and more nobles and royal families of Tubo Dynasty started to drink the tea.

But the Ancient Tea-horse Road was becoming more and more popular in Song Dynasty. It was the time when Tubo Dynasty disrupted. At that time drinking the tea became the important part of local people's daily life in Tubo Dynasty. So that the quantity demanded of the tea was highly required and increased. Hence Song Dynasty started to manage the commercial intercourse of the tea along the Ancient Tea-horse Road and made it more prosperous. The period of great prosperity of the Ancient Tea-horse Road was available in Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. The Ancient Tea-horse Road became not only the economical ties of Tibetan people and Han people, but also the important political ties and the cultural ties. It played a very important role for the government and local people at that time.

Tea and Horse Transaction

The Tea and horse transaction was a political policy used by many dynasties in Chinese ancient history. The government established the customs pass in the tea producing area in Sichuan Province and Yunnan Province and the traffic hinge nearby the gathering place of the ethnic minority. They approved the laws and regulations to manage the commercial intercourse of the tea and the horse. The ethnic minorities would exchange the tea with their horses there. The ethnic minorities were not allowed to deal the transaction secretly; otherwise they would be put to death. The officers would be also punished.

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