Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire - SILKROAD
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Promoting, Supporting & Sustaining Arts, Culture & Heritage






Heart of the Silk Road has been developed by the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, contact us at
603-323-7302, or email info@aannh.org



Ancient caravan routes along which
luxury goods as well as technology, religion and ideas were traded
between East and West.

the trade routes, commodities, geography, culture and history of ancient and modern Silk Road civilizations.

a thematic unit for teaching about the Silk Road across the curriculum at any grade level

about the current conditions in Afghanistan, focusing on the livelihoods, education, and family lives in today's Afghan villages

beautiful map books which follow the Silk Road from the Mediterranean to China and can be adapted for all subject areas.

inspiration in the rich colors and design motifs of the Silk Road and create silk organza banners or other Silk Road products

the ancient and modern medium of wool felting while learning about its role in modern Afghan livelihoods

a Yurt to understand how its simple design is perfectly adapted to life on the central Asian steppe


Using the extraordinary history and arts of the Silk Road, and working with a group of outstanding artists, scholars, and teachers, the Heart of the Silk Road project is creating a model for arts- and humanities-based interdisciplinary teaching that brings to life the ways in which studying and practicing the art of a region or culture illuminates the social, economic, religious, historical and political life of that culture and also offers a rich pathway to interdisciplinary teaching and to working with students towards an understanding of the complexity of today’s world.

Through an array of opportunities that provide direct experience with Silk Road art forms to social studies specialists, classroom teachers, special educators, and media-center resource people as well as to parents, community artists, and students, we hope to expand and enhance the role that cultural studies play in educating New Hampshire students.


Graduate Course, Plymouth State University: The Heart of the Silk Road
This course provides a highly adaptable curriculum model for integrated, interdisciplinary teaching, using the fascinating cultures and history of the Silk Road--the ancient caravan routes along which luxury goods as well as technology, religion and ideas were traded between East and West. Against this backdrop of early globalization and current conflicts, course participants will explore through text and textile arts a thematic unit for teaching across the curriculum at any grade level. Classes will combine arts and humanities to introduce the depth and breadth of ancient and modern Silk Road cultures. Exploration will include visual presentations, discussions, and the creation of a portfolio integrating Silk Road patterns and themes. (3 credits, also available for CEUs)



The Heart of the Silk Road: An Introduction
The Heart of the Silk Road is an educational caravan introducing the Silk Road as a thematic teaching unit, working with artists and scholars to create a multi-layered learning experience. This interactive workshop will use both arts and humanities to introduce the ancient and modern cultures along the Road. You will leave with a rich array of resources, ideas, and research strategies for developing the Silk Road as an integrated curriculum.

Mapping the Silk Road
Working from ancient design sources, participants will create a richly detailed atlas/maze book following the Silk Road from the Mediterranean to China. Math, geology, geography, social studies, and science are involved in this multi-textured approach, which increases learning and reinforces the connection between seemingly isolated cultures.

A Silk Road Banner: Lessons in Luxurious Commodities
Following the caravans of the ancient Silk Road from oasis to desert, mountains to plains, this hands-on workshop leads participants through the cultures and history of the traditional trade routes. You’ll trace Marco Polo’s journey with surface design techniques easily adapted to the classroom. Come prepared to paint, tone, stamp, sew, and draw a luxurious scroll on silk organza. Social studies, math, geography, language arts, and science are involved in this multi-textured approach.


Drawing Back the Veil: A Visual Presentation About Everyday Life in Afghanistan
Using her own photographs, video and original artifacts, Rachel Lehr will lead age-appropriate discussions on current conditions in Afghanistan. The focus is the domestic concerns of women and children—livelihoods, education, and family lives in today’s Afghan villages.

Community Programs including talks, lectures, and performances.

Material Cultural Trunk: Understanding Culture through Everyday Objects (K-12)
Trunks that include objects of everyday life – clothing, books, money, utensils, pictures, and crafts – stimulate discussion about another culture and offer students direct opportunities to analyze, hypothesize, compare and contrast life in another society with our own. Rachel Lehr introduces our specially created "Afghan Culture Trunks" filled with objects – from burqas to rugs – she has collected in Afghanistan; shows photos and video clips; and discusses her work in Afghan villages, which includes starting a school and creating a nonprofit that trains women to do heritage handcrafts. Trunks can be borrowed as part of residencies that can include traditional cooking and art and craft projects. Focus can be on objects and issues of interest to elementary, middle- and high-school students, including the lives of girls and women


Map Books (with Betsy Giberson)
Using the grid method of image transfer, students will map out the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road. A folded book will be constructed from the map. The importance and techniques of ancient mapping will be discussed.

Magic Carpets (with Betsy Giberson)
The rich colors and design motifs of the ancient Silk Road will be used to illustrate large cloth banners. Subject content will include trade routes, commodities, geography, culture and history.

Feltmaking (with Rachel Lehr)
During multi-day residencies involving the entire school body or a core group, students will learn about the ancient and modern medium of wool felt, its unique properties and crosscultural history. Students will make something to keep and work together on a mural for the school.

Setting Up The Yurt (for schools with multi-day residencies)
As a community building exercise the participants will work together to erect a yurt that belongs to the NH State Council on the Arts and is on loan to the Heart of the Silk Road project. (A yurt is a round shelter made of sticks and wool felt and used by the central Asian pastoral nomads from antiquity to the present.) Understanding the yurt’s simple yet elegant design, perfectly adapted for the environment and conditions of the central Asian steppe, introduces the concept of the nomad vs. oasis dweller and provides an ideal lesson in the integration of mathematical concepts such as geometry, aerodynamic considerations, and natural resources.

Interested in Silk Road music? Call or email us to hear about this year's multicultural music programs.