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Full Access Along The Musk Routes: Exchanges Between Tibet and The Islamic World

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Along The Musk Routes: Exchanges Between Tibet and The Islamic World

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From as early as the ninth century onwards, Arabic literature praises the quality of a typical and highly desirable product of Tibet, musk. In Arabic and Persian as well as Tibetan and Hebrew texts musk is discussed in a variety of genres such as geographical, zoological, religious and medical literature as well as in travellers' and merchants' accounts. These sources reveal an active trade route, which existed between Tibet and the Islamic world from the eighth century onwards. After discussing this set of trade routes, the article focuses on a comparison between the medical uses of musk in Arabic and Tibetan medical sources. The great number of similarities between the uses of musk in these two medical traditions suggests that along with the substance, there were also exchanges of knowledge. Hence we propose that following the model of the 'Silk Roads' and its cultural aspects, similar cultural interactions took place along the 'Musk Routes', which linked Tibet and the Islamic world.


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