Relations between China and India underwent a dramatic transformation from Buddhist-dominated to commerce-centered exchanges in the seventh to fifteenth centuries. The unfolding of this transformation, its causes, and wider ramifications are examined in this masterful analysis of the changing patterns of interaction between the two most important cultural spheres in Asia. Tansen Sen offers a new perspective on Sino-Indian relations during the Tang dynasty (618-907), arguing that the period is notable not only for religious and diplomatic exchanges but also for the process through which China emerged as a center of Buddhist learning, practice, and pilgrimage. He proposes that changes in religious interactions were paralleled by changes in commercial exchanges. For most of the first millennium, trading activities between India and China were closely connected with and sustained through the transmission of Buddhist doctrines. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, however, secular bulk and luxury goods replaced Buddhist ritual items.
Moreover, policies to encourage foreign trade instituted by the Chinese government and the Indian kingdoms transformed the China-India trading circuit into a key segment of cross-continental commerce.