03 Jul 2002, 19:07 UTC
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC - VOA's radio magazine in SpecialEnglish.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today we present a specialreport about a festival now taking place on the Mall in Washington,D.C. It honors the people who lived and worked along the ancientSilk Road between Europe and Asia.
Silk Road Visit
Each year, the Smithsonian Institution holds a Folklife Festivalin Washington, D.C. on the Mall between the Capital building and theWashington Monument. This year the festival is called "The SilkRoad: Connecting Cultures, Creating Trust."
Traders in the ancient world used the Silk Road to transportgoods across Asia to Europe. They carried goods from Japan to Italyand to all of the countries in between.
World famous musician Yo-Yo Ma created the Silk Road Project toteach people about the nations and people of the Silk Road today. Hejoined with the Smithsonian Institution to honor the people and thecountries of the Silk Road at the festival in Washington.
Yo-Yo Ma says the ancient Silk Road was very much like the moderncomputer communications system called the Internet. It permitted theexchange of ideas, music, food, technology and culture.
During the Silk Road Folklife Festival, visitors are meetingpeople from many countries and learning about their cultures. Thecountries include Japan, China, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey,Russia, and the city of Venice, Italy.
Visitors can hear Chinese storytellers. They can watch men fromMongolia demonstrate their sport of wrestling. They can eat Japanesefood while listening to music from Afghanistan. They can watchartists make Indian and Syrian jewelry.
Best of all, they can talk to the people who do this beautifulwork -- people like Ahmet Sahin of Kutahya, Turkey. Mister Sahinmakes ceramic dishes and wall hangings. He trained with hisgrandfather, also named Ahmet Sahin. Grandfather Ahmet Sahin isconsidered the greatest master of Islamic ceramics of the twentiethcentury. The Sahins traveled to Washington, D.C to take part in thefestival. They sell their ceramics and urge people to visit Turkey.
The Silk Road Folklife Festival celebrates the living traditionsof the ancient Silk Road lands. It is presenting more thanthree-hundred artists and crafts people, musicians and dancers frommore than twenty countries. And, for the two weeks of the festival,these people of the Silk Road are sharing their many differentcultures with one another and more than one-million visitors.
Food on the Silk Road
An important part of the yearly Smithsonian Folklife Festival isthe food. This is especially true at the Silk Road festival.Visitors can buy foods from Japan, China, Afghanistan and Italy. Andcooks from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Italy, India and Uzbekistan showhow to prepare foods from their countries. Mary Tillotson tells usmore about food and the Silk Road.
People along the trade paths exchanged vegetables, fruits, andspices that would influence the kinds of food they prepared. Eachcountry on the Silk Road has its own kind of cooking, yet is linkedto all the others.
Bread is one example. People eat flat bread in India, Pakistan,Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and much of China. Rice has become animportant part of cooking all over the world. Noodles are also foundin many countries. For many years, people believed that the Italianexplorer Marco Polo brought noodles, or pasta, from China to Italyin the thirteenth century.
But food history experts say that is probably not true. They saythat pasta probably was created first in Iran. An Arab cook bookwritten in the tenth century describes the first food made of pasta,and says it was invented by a Persian king. Food history experts saythe Arabs probably first brought pasta and the wheat needed to makeit to Italy in the ninth century.
No one knows how the Chinese learned to make pasta. But the namesof some Chinese foods made of noodles are similar to those in othercountries along the Silk Road. For example, "mantou" is the Chinesename for a sweet food similar to bread. In Japan, a steamed bread iscalled "manzu." In Korea, pasta filled with meat is called "mandu."In Tibet, people eat stuffed dumplings and call them "momo." Andcountries of central Asia prepare a steamed filled pasta called"manti."
Smithsonian experts say that the link among all these foods andtheir names is a sign of early communication among the cultures ofthe Silk Road. In this way, food traditions traveled along theancient Silk Road and are still influencing cultures all over theworld today.
Music of the Silk Road
Music is an important part of the cultures of people who livealong the ancient trading paths that went from East Asia to Europe.It also is an important part of the Silk Road Folklife Festival.Shep O'Neal tells about some of the kinds of traditional music beingplayed at the Festival.
Music is often said to be a bridge between cultures. This is astrong belief of the organizers of this year's Silk Road FolklifeFestival. So during the festival visitors can enjoy liveperformances of unusual music from many areas of the world. Thereare throat singers from Khakasia, Russia. The Beijing Opera. Musicfrom the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan. Venetian folk music fromItaly.
To continue this musical exchange, Smithsonian FolkwaysRecordings has produced a two-CD set called "The Silk Road: aMusical Caravan." It contains examples of the different kinds ofmusic being performed at the Festival. It gives a taste of the richmusical life that exists today in the lands of the Silk Road. And itshows how musical instruments and sounds were exchanged.
This Armenian song is played on a kind of clarinet called a dudukand a kind of drum called a dhol. The song is called "Dance of TamirAgha."
((CUT ONE: Dance of Tamir Agha))
The Khakas live in the republic of Khakasia in southern Siberia.Their rich musical traditional includes throat singing called Khai.Here, a Khaka sings a Khai while playing a stringed instrument.
((CUT TWO: Khai))
We leave the Silk Road now with a traditional piece from theUyghurs of Xinjiang, China. It shows the influence of Chinese,Middle Eastern, Indian, Arab and Persian music.
((CUT THREE: Chabbiyat Tazi Marghul))
This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And Ihope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC - VOA'sradio magazine in Special English.
This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Marilyn Christiano,Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson. Our studio engineer was AlAllerby. And our producer was Paul Thompson.