Koss R. A., Plotnikova M. M. «Ten-thousand-mile tea road» and local identity’s formation (the examples of Irkutsk and Hankou) (.pdf)


The ten-thousand-mile tea road is a tea trade road connecting Asia and Europa from the 17th century until the early 20th century. The ten-thousand-mile tea road had a great impact on economic and cultural development of the cities laying on its path. The paper shows the influence of the «ten-thousand-mile tea road» on the formation of local identity in Irkutsk and Hankou. Irkutsk became a rich merchant city due to its advantageous geographical position and tea trade with China. There was a warehouse for all goods delivered by Russia and China. Hankou was a tea collecting and distributing center. In 1861, Hankou was opened as a commercial port and soon it became the biggest tea distributing center in China. Led by modern tea processing industry, Hankou also became the largest processing and exporting center in modern China for tung oil, cow and sheep leather, and other agricultural products. The «ten-thousand-mile tea road» had an important influence on modern transformation of Wuhan city. Trading activity influenced positively on the appearance of Hankou: for example, buildings with two or more floors began to appear in Hankou since the early 19th century and belonged to guilds, shops, stores and non-government agencies. In China, the history of tea trade is connected with the Chinese government’s actions to include the «ten-thousand-mile tea road» into the world heritage list of the UNESCO. Chinese historians note that China presented a generous gift to the newly rising European industrial revolution, because tea trade gave a huge amount of taxes and contributed to economic development of many countries, including Russia. In Russian Empire, a group of merchants in Kyakhta made their fortune in tea trade, as well as a group of Shanxi merchants due to tea trade occupied a dominant position in Chinese business. The representatives of Shanxi Province monopolized tea trade and opened a transport passageway of 5300 kilometers form Wuyi Mountain in Fujian to Kyakhta in Russia.


Key words: local identity, Irkutsk, Hankou, «ten-thousand-mile tea road», Chinese historiography.


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