Dynamics, Stability & Tradition: The Role of the Religions of Iranian Speakers in Central and Eastern Asia
Iranian speakers—especially Sogdians, Bactrians, and Khotanese—had their homeland in Central Asia. Especially the former two are known as the traders on the Silk Roads and dominated the trade route up to China. They had contact with various religions, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Christianity (especially the Church of the East, so-called Nestorianism), Buddhism and Islam through their trade activities.
Because of their religious diversity, the Iranian speakers often played a major role as the cultural intermediaries in Central and Eastern Asia. Thus, the contact with them triggered the dynamic change for several ethnic groups. On the other hand, the Iranian speakers were also impacted by others in their religious orientation. The above-mentioned introduction of Buddhism among some Sogdians can be counted as one of those examples, because it probably happened through the contact with Chinese. In addition, a certain contact with Tocharians, Indo-European speakers in Central Asia, can also be indicated.
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