Primary Sources Connect Women to the Silk Roads


Lesson Goals

•  develop a familiarity with a variety of primary source materials concerned with Silk Road periods.

•  develop critical skills in analyzing and evaluating texts, art work, and legends as sources of political and social history.

•  create descriptions of visual and written sources which can provide gender balance to Silk Road lessons.

Overarching Guiding Question: What information can be deduced about the ways diverse societies along the Silk Roads portrayed women?

As group, or individually, students examine the sources. For each, they discuss or make notes regarding:

•  at least two things that it reveals about the lives of women in the time and region in which it was found.

•  ways in which the source can be used as an example of Silk Road history.

•  if it shows a sphere where women held some status, or where women had little power.

•  if it brings attention to the mixing of cultures in Silk Road regions.

Lesson #2: Clues to Economic life

•  Some sources indicate the types of work women did. Identify those that illustrate:
    1) women as entertainers,
    2) women’s domestic responsibilities,
    3) women as consumers of Silk Road products.

•  Find one source that illustrates the life of poor a woman; another that illustrates the life of a wealthy woman.

Lesson #3: Story Suggestions

•  Selective two items and write a short description of each, and your ideas on how they might have been used.

•  Select one or two sources, and write or draw a story about the life of someone who was represented in the image or written account.

•  Choose one image or written account and write a paragraph discussing your reactions to the piece.

Lesson #4:  Adding Women to Silk Road Content on the Web

Search the Web for other primary source images of objects and accounts documenting Silk Road culture. Are women represented? If not, what do the objects represented seem to stress about Silk Road lives?

To provide gender balance to the websites you have found, use one of primary sources from this list and create your own lesson. Include:

 1) a short description of the primary source,

 2) prompts or interesting questions about about it,

3) how it might be used to connect women to the website information.

Analyze, for example, the Silk Route treasures found in site “Treasures Along the Silk Roads” by the Asia Society. This lesson includes nine primary sources, but none about women. The site asks for comments. Your source description and interesting questions might be inserted here.

Choose A Primary Source

Influential Women Women and Silk Production Exploring Primary Sources
  Tang dynasty’s Wu Zetian   Making Silk   Primary Source Lessons
  Princess Wencheng   Wearing Silk  
  Sorghaghtani Beki   Reviving Silk Traditions  
  Empress Irene    

Lyn Reese is the author of all the information on this website
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Women in World History Curriculum