Treasures of China: The Glories of the Kingdom of the Dragon

Treasures of China: The Glories of the Kingdom of the Dragon

by John Chinnery
     
 

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Treasures of China presents a portrait of a country and civilization that has fascinated outsiders for millennia—through its arts and its achievements; by its innovations and its intellectual ideas; and not least because it has long been the most populous nation on Earth. Arranged dynasty by dynasty, from the mysterious Xia (ca. 2000 bce) to the last…  See more details below

Overview

Treasures of China presents a portrait of a country and civilization that has fascinated outsiders for millennia—through its arts and its achievements; by its innovations and its intellectual ideas; and not least because it has long been the most populous nation on Earth. Arranged dynasty by dynasty, from the mysterious Xia (ca. 2000 bce) to the last imperial rulers, the Qing (1644–1912 ce), the history of the greatest imperial power in East Asia is traced in seven chapters, from the Crucible of a Civilization through to Imperial Zenith and Decline. This is a fascinating account of imperial power, war, and invasion, as well as a journey of discovery—relating both the development of diverse decorative arts and crafts as well as the growth of ideas spiritual, philosophical, and political. Each chapter balances history with an illuminating commentary that not only explains the art forms but also reveals the nature and significance of their rich symbolism, from metalwork and calligraphy to painting, architecture, and more. Illustrated throughout with works of art which blend beauty, harmony, color, and texture, Treasures of China celebrates this astonishing civilization’s truly magnificent contribution to the cultural and spiritual heritage of humankind.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
China, "the only ancient civilization to have survived up to the present day," represents a massive undertaking for historians; fortunately, this consideration and celebration of Chinese art from Scottish historian Chinnery, beginning in the Neolithic era and ending just before the 20th Century, is a wholly worthwhile effort. Some of the oldest pieces are the most fascinating, including a detailed hair ornament carved out of jade with a turquoise inlay, believed to date from 2000 BCE. Another highlight is the Terracotta Army, 6,000 life-sized clay soldiers built to protect China's first emporer, Shihuangdi, in the afterlife. Though concerned primarily with art, captured in more than 170 striking color images, this volume also provides a remarkably concise but thorough account of general Chinese history; also noted are important moments in fashion and literature (the Chinese translation of the Buddhist text Diamond Sutra, from 868 CE, is the world's oldest printed book). Also discussed at length is the Chinese language, an art form in itself and "the world's oldest writing system still in use." This beautiful volume should fascinate anyone with an interest in Far East history and art.
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Library Journal

This book's title doesn't do justice to its contents. While it often makes sense to name entries in the same series consistently-in this case an originally British series that also includes Treasures of Islam, Treasures of the Buddha, and Treasures of the Andes-this book really is more than decoration for the coffee table. Chinnery, formerly a professor at Edinburgh University, has written a popular but thorough history of China from the Neolithic period to the end of the last dynasty in just seven chapters. Readers unacquainted with China will be able to follow the nonacademic writing, but more maps would have made the geographical references clearer. Examples of art and architecture on every page complement the narrative. The photography and printing are superb, and the modern book design creates a sumptuous feeling with plenty of red and gold ink. An eye-popping introduction to Chinese history and civilization for a general readership, this book would be of most value to public libraries.
—David McClelland

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781844836215
Publisher:
Watkins Media
Publication date:
01/01/1999
Pages:
244
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 12.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

John Chinnery is former Head of the Department of East Asian Studies at Edinburgh University, Scotland, where he lectured on the History of Chinese Civilization. He was a founder member, and is now Honorary President, of the Scotland China Association. His first visit to China was in 1954, as part of a cultural delegation to the newly founded People’s Republic of China which was cordially received by the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. He witnessed the Great Leap Forward firsthand, but was unable to visit China again until after the Cultural Revolution; now he is an annual visitor. He has written many articles about China for academic journals and in 1974 he translated Mao Zedong’s unpublished letters and speeches, which were published as Mao Tse-tung Unrehearsed. He contributed the articles “The Role of the State” and “Family and Society” to China.

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