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China (British Museum)

A History in Objects

Jessica Harrison-Hall


The history of China – brilliantly told and brought vividly to life through 7,000 years of objects from fine art to the everyday

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This illustrated introduction to the history of China offers a fresh understanding of China’s progress from the Neolithic age to the present. Told in six chapters arranged chronologically, through art, artefacts, people and places, and richly illustrated with expertly selected objects and artworks, it firmly connects today’s China with its internationally engaged past.

From the earliest archaeological relics and rituals, through the development of writing and state, to the advent of empire, the author charts China’s transformation from ancient civilization into the world’s most populous nation and influential economy, offering the reader a myriad historical insights and cultural treasures along the way. This accessible book presents an eclectic mix of materials including Chinese theatre, the decorative arts, costume, jewelry and furniture-making, running through to the most recent diffusion of Chinese culture.

Published to coincide with the reopening of the British Museum’s Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia, this book will stimulate, fascinate and inform anyone interested in one of the greatest and most influential nations of the modern world.

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'Varied and enticing … China: A History in Objects is a tour de force, distilling complex historical phenomena into manageable chunks explored through material evidence'
The Art Newspaper

'Beautiful and comprehensive … an accessible introduction to the history of China'
History Revealed

'Harrison-Hall is an informed guide with a skilled and curatorial eye … [China] contains enough fascinating titbits to intrigue the most casually interested of readers'
Times Literary Supplement

'A strong narrative thrust helps propel the reader through 6,000 years … rewarding and very visually satisfying'
Oriental Ceramic Society

'impressive and thoughtful… a must read'
International Examiner

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.0 x 17.0 cm

Extent: 352 pp

Illustrations: 609

Publication date: 2 November 2017

ISBN: 9780500519707

Contents List

Introduction • 1. Early China: Neolithic to the Unification 4000–221 bc • 2. Empires 221 BC–AD 960 • 3. Emperors, Scholars and Merchants 960–1279 • 4. Mongols and Ming 1271–1644 • 5. Qing: The Last Dynasty 1644–1911 • 6. Modern China 1911–present

About the Author

Jessica Harrison-Hall is Head of the China Section, Curator of Later China, Vietnam and the Sir Percival David Collection of Chinese Ceramics at the British Museum, London.

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