This article provides a nuanced look at an eastern Iranian people whose contribution to both the material and ideological culture of the “Silk Road” is just beginning to come to light. The centrality of Sogdian involvement in trade with both China and India is evidenced from recently deciphered textual sources dating to the fourth and fifth centuries CE, respectively, and from the fact that Sogdian was a lingua franca of the merchant routes through Central Asia into China. Although Sogdian became the main language of dissemination of Buddhist, Manichaean, and Christian texts to the Chinese, both iconographic and textual evidence attest to the continuity of the indigenous Zoroastrian tradition in both Sogdiana and among the Sogdian communities from Turpan to Changan.

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