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Ming: 50 years that changed China

by Craig Clunas

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Ask anyone what single object they associate with China and the most common answer will be a Ming vase. Probably without even knowing the dates of the Ming dynasty (1368?1644), people are aware of the fragility of its porcelain, its rarity and value. But porcelain is just one part of the story of one of the most glorious époques of China's past. By focusing on the significant years of the early Ming dynasty and through the themes of court people and their lives, extraordinary developments in culture, the military, religion, diplomacy and trade, this magnificent book brings the wider history of this fascinating period to colorful life. This was an age of great voyages of exploration, undertaken for many reasons including trade and diplomacy. Long before the regular arrivals of Europeans in China, court-sponsored expeditions were sent to Asia, the Middle East, and the African coast, bringing back knowledge of and objects from lands thousands of miles away--gold, gems and foreign fashions. This period also saw the compilation of the world's first comprehensive encyclopaedia (worked on by over 2,000 scholars); the undertaking of major building projects such as the Forbidden City and Ming tombs; the creation of beautiful textiles, paintings, ceramics, gold, jewellery, furniture, jade, and lacquer.… (more)
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This book is a superb catalogue and lasting souvenir of the current exhibition, Ming , 50 years that changed China, taking place at the new Sainsbury gallery at the British Museum , It's on until early 2015 . the exhibition is proving to be hugely popular with prebooking required . The premise of this exhibition is that Chins's moment was between 1400 and 1450 when China was the largest and most powerful state in the world and run by one family , the Ming Family . Chinese seamen ventured to Africa , the Middle
East and Asia and went on voyages of discovery . ideas and commodities flowed between countries . It was the era when scholars were at work compiling thousands of literary volumes and Beijing became the capital . The Forbidden City was built and artists and craftsmen flourished in creating stunning objects in rare , precious and ordinary materials .... Jade , lacquer, porcelain, gold , enameling , bronzes , textiles , silks, fine paper . The book captures the best of the exhibition and is a fine quality production with chapters mirroring the organization of the exhibits, such as the arts of war, the arts of peace, beliefs, miracles and salvation , commerce and trade. More than 10 principal Chinese museums have contributed objects as well as museums in Korea , the UK , France, Germany and the USA . hence the exhibition and this book is a distillation of 15th and 16 th C treasures
  Africansky1 | Oct 17, 2014 |
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Ask anyone what single object they associate with China and the most common answer will be a Ming vase. Probably without even knowing the dates of the Ming dynasty (1368?1644), people are aware of the fragility of its porcelain, its rarity and value. But porcelain is just one part of the story of one of the most glorious époques of China's past. By focusing on the significant years of the early Ming dynasty and through the themes of court people and their lives, extraordinary developments in culture, the military, religion, diplomacy and trade, this magnificent book brings the wider history of this fascinating period to colorful life. This was an age of great voyages of exploration, undertaken for many reasons including trade and diplomacy. Long before the regular arrivals of Europeans in China, court-sponsored expeditions were sent to Asia, the Middle East, and the African coast, bringing back knowledge of and objects from lands thousands of miles away--gold, gems and foreign fashions. This period also saw the compilation of the world's first comprehensive encyclopaedia (worked on by over 2,000 scholars); the undertaking of major building projects such as the Forbidden City and Ming tombs; the creation of beautiful textiles, paintings, ceramics, gold, jewellery, furniture, jade, and lacquer.

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