Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Zhang Qian -- Pioneer of the Silk Road in History of China

Emperor Wudi Liu Che heard that the Huns (Xiongnu) had invaded a country in the west of the Empire Han and killed their king, and they were searching vengeance; so he wanted to get in touch with this country and ally with them to fight against the Huns.


Zhang Qian (164 B.C. -- 114 B. C.) volunteered to search for that country; Zhang’s early life experiences, as a commoner, were unknown in the history of China.


However, at that time, the Huns were still quite powerful, and the famous general Wei Qing, who achieved huge military success, was still a slave taking care of a princess’ horses.


Soon, Zhang Qian and his team were captured by the Huns, and he was assigned a wife by the King of the Huns, who tried to make him surrender for several times.


But Zhang never surrendered; ten years later, he and his wife found an opportunity to escape to another country.


In an endless desert of over 2000 years ago, they experienced countless dangers and challenges; but Zhang Qian was firm and never gave up.


In the end, he finally found the country that he was looking for, but the king of that country was satisfied with their current lives and already gave up seeking for revenge anymore. 

When Zhang and his group decided to go back home, they got caught by the Huns again.


Later, when the King of the Huns passed away, Zhang escaped.


Then he finally got back to his country, the Han Empire, after 13 years of difficult adventure.


Having left with a big group of hundreds of people, however, he came back with only one guide.


He never found an ally to fight with the Huns, but he brought back much valuable information about other countries in the west of the Empire Han.


Emperor Wudi was very happy with his loyalty and achievements. Soon, Zhang Qian was rewarded with a noble title, then got assigned many military tasks with marshal Wei Qing and Huo Qubing. 


Later, Zhang went westward for the second time and finally connected the Silk Road.


This time, Wei Qing and Huo Qubing had already defeated the Huns and largely extended Han’s territory, so Zhang and his group went safely and successfully.


On this trip, as a brilliant diplomat, Zhang reached and connected with many countries in West Asia, had them establish diplomatic relations with Han, and brought back many types of food and animals. 

Zhang was a brave and determined explorer, an extremely loyal diplomat and also a good militarist.


His achievements influenced not only the history of China, but also other countries alongside the Silk Road.


He passed away old and sick, peacefully. His offsprings never got involved with politics; they worked as common peasants for the next following millenniums.


Now, his descendants, who are mainly living in two towns in China, are still memorizing him every year.