Anxi (Parthia)

Anxi (Parthia)

Anxi is the ancient Chinese name for Parthia. Anxi was described by the Chinese explorer Zhang Qian who visited the neighbouring countries of Bactria and Sogdiana in 126 BC, making the first known Chinese report on Parthia. In Chinese, the name "Anxi" (pronounced anshiak in Tang Dynasty Chinese) is a transliteration of the name Arsaces, founder of the Arsacid Dynasty of Parthia.

Zhang Qian clearly identifies Parthia as an advanced urban civilization, which he equates to those of Dayuan (in Ferghana) and Daxia (in Bactria):

"Anxi is situated several thousand li west of the region of the Great Yuezhi (in Transoxonia). The people are settled on the land, cultivating the fields and growing rice and wheat. They also make wine out of grapes. They have walled cities like the people of Dayuan (Ferghana), the region contains several hundred cities of various sizes. The coins of the country are made of silver and bear the face of the king. When the king dies, the currency is immediately changed and new coins issued with the face of his successor. The people keep records by writing on horizontal strips of leather. To the west lies Tiaozi (Mesopotamia) and to the north Yancai and Lixuan (Hyrcania)." (Shiji, 123, Zhang Qian quote, trans. Burton Watson).

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