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Material remains from sites along the silk routes reflect close relations between long-distance trade and patterns of cultural and religious transmission. Demand for Chinese silk and luxury commodities which were high in value but low in volume stimulated commerce. Valuable items such as lapis lazuli, rubies, and other precious stones from the mountains of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kashmir probably led travelers to venture into these difficult regions. Some of these products became popular items for Buddhist donations, as attested in Buddhist literary references to the "seven jewels" () and reliquary deposits (see Xinru Liu, , pp. 92-102). Long-distance trade in luxury commodities, which were linked with the transmission of Buddhism [see essay on Buddhism and Trade], led to increased cultural interaction between South Asia, Central Asia, and China.

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The day after I read Cotter's review, I decided to do a column for the . About a year ago, as I mentioned in an earlier column, I bought several volumes of the, but I had noticed that I had not read any of Volume XXXV, 1929-31. So I opened up the book rather arbitrarily to the column of March 2, 1929, on "Buddhism and Christianity", a most pertinent topic considering John Paul II's remark on Buddhism in and his . Just as I was about to begin my essay on Buddhism (hold your breath), however, I thumbed backward to the Chesterton column of February 16, 1929. Its title was, I could hardly believe it, "On the Essay"! I, being only fourteen months old when it was written, had never seen this essay before; it was like discovering gold in your own backyard. I thought maybe Professor Cotter might like a copy of it, so I xeroxed it. I figured I knew exactly what Chesterton would say in his essay.


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) The last chapter of the Wei Shu, "An Essay on Buddhism and Taoism," composed in the mid-sixth century, has been translated by James Ware (T'oung Pao 30, (1933), pps. 101-181), and by Leon Hurvitz (Yün-kang volume 16 Supplement, Kyoto, 1956). See also Eric Zürcher, The Buddhist Conquest of China (Taiwan reprint, 1970), passim, for references to official persecution of the Buddhist community.