Ban Chao

Silk Road - Ban Chao

Ban Chao was a famous general leader and diplomat in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220). Living in the Western Regions for about 31 years, he put down numerous rebellions and built diplomatic relations with more than 50 states, which guaranteed the long-lasting peace and harmony along the Silk Road.

Ban Chao was born in Pingling (present Xianyang in Shaanxi Province) in 32 AD. His father, Ban Biao, was an official compiling history. His brother, Ban Gu, was the author of Han Shu, a book about the Western Han Dynasty. However, Ban Chao was uninterested in writing history. He respected Zhang Qian and Fu Jiezi very much and wanted to live a military life.

In 73 AD, Ban Chao joined the army led by General Dou Gu to fight against the Northern Huns (Xiongnu). During the war, he and other soldiers successfully made a sneak attack on Yiwu (now Hami). The emperor admired his talents and sent him to the Western Regions to carry out a diplomatic mission. Ban Chao set out on this journey with 36 attendants. They killed the Hun's envoys in Shanshan (Qargan), persuaded the king of Yutian (Hetian) to kill the Hun's envoys there and subjugated the king of Shule ( Kashgar), who united with the Huns to attack the Han Empire. Therefore, Shanshan, Yutian and Shule established friendly relationships with the Han Empire and agreed to be under its dominion.

In 75 AD, Qiuci (now Kuche or Kuqa) and Gumo (in Aksu) frequently attacked Shule. Ban Chao held on to the country for about three years. In 78 AD, leading the soldiers of Shule and Yutian, he fought against Gumo and vanquished it. During the following years, Ban Chao defeated Shache (Yarkand), Da Yuezhi, Qiuci, Gumo, Wensu (west of now Yanqi), Yanqi (Qarashar, the ancient state in the Tarim Basin), Weixu and Weili (in the northeast of Korla). In 94 AD, more than 50 states of the Western Regions were under the control of the Eastern Han. In order to trade with the Roman Empire directly, Zhang Qian dispatched Gan Ying to Rome in 97 AD, but he only reached the Persian Gulf. In 102 AD, Ban Chao returned to Luoyang and before long he died there.

Related link: Silk Road in Eastern Han Dynasty

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