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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies

Animals as Diplomatic Gifts along the Maritime Silk Roads


Alexander Jost, Paris-Lodron-University Salzburg

Date and Time

25 May 2022, 15:00–16:00 CET

Location (online and on-site)

To attend online via Zoom, please register by submitting the registration form.

The lecture will also be held as an on-site event: University of Zurich, Room SOD-1-104, Schönberggasse 9, 8001 Zürich


Research project «Sino-Indo-Iranica rediviva», Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies – Chinese Studies


When looking at single instances of diplomatic exchange, gifting animals often appears as marginal and curious. A closer observation, however, reveals that this is a very systematic phenomenon, which can be encountered in earliest historical sources and reaches until present times. The maritime spaces of the Pacific and Indian Oceans are surrounded by extremely various types of animal habitats as well as human political cultures in direct and indirect connection with each other for Millennia. Therefore it forms an ideal instance for an investigation of this topic. This presentation will not only discuss the process of gifting animals itself but will also relate it to questions of cosmologically relevant symbolism and of human-animal relations as well as of the practical issues encountered when transporting and keeping animals.