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date: 18 April 2024

Zhang Qianlocked

Zhang Qianlocked

  • Shujing WangShujing WangPeking University, School of Archaeology and Museology


Zhang Qian was a prominent diplomat of the Western Han dynasty in ancient China. Under the threat of the powerful nomadic federation called the Xiongnu, Emperor Wu dispatched Zhang Qian to Central Asia to establish military alliances with the Yuezhi and the Wusun. Zhang Qian also led a diplomatic mission to the kingdoms near the southwest frontier of Han China. His pioneering travels profoundly affected not only Sino-foreign relations in the centuries around the common era but also the development of the Silk Roads. His reports provided the Han government with firsthand information on the states in the Western Regions and beyond and greatly contributed to the exchanges of goods, knowledge, and ideology between Han China and the outside world. In later periods, he became an icon of long-distance travel. Wall paintings, legends, and decorative themes that were created based on his journeys clearly demonstrate his continual influence. More recently, in 2014, a tomb attributed to Zhang Qian was included as a site on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


  • China

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