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1. Sui-Tang Chang'an: A Study in
2. The development of bathing customs
3. Cambridge Junior History: Ancient
4. Immortals, Festivals and Poetry
6. Sacred Economies: Buddhist Monasticism
7. Buddhism and Taoism Face to Face:
8. Philosophy and Religion in Early
9. Historical Dictionary of Medieval
10. The Cambridge History of Ancient
11. The Troubled Empire: China in
12. Marco Polo: Overland to Medieval
13. Great Clarity: Daoism and Alchemy
14. China between Empires: The Northern
15. The Age of Confucian Rule: The
16. China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The
17. The Cambridge History of China,
18. The Cambridge History of China,
19. The Cambridge History of China,
20. The Making of a Savior Bodhisattva:

1. Sui-Tang Chang'an: A Study in the Urban History of Late Medieval China (Michigan Monographs in Chinese Studies)
by Victor Xiong
Hardcover: 416 Pages (2000-07-25)
list price: US$85.00
Isbn: 0892641371
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Chang'an was the most important city in early imperial China, yet this is the first comprehensive study of the Sui-Tang capital in the English language. Following a background sketch of the earlier Han dynasty Chang'an and an analysis of the canonical and geomantic bases of the layout of the Sui-Tang capital, this volume focuses on the essential components of the city--its palaces, central and local administrative quarters, ritual centers, marketplaces, residential wards, and monasteries. Based on careful textual and archaeological research, this volume gives a sense of why Sui-Tang Chang'an was considered the most spectacular metropolis of its age.
Victor C. Xiong is Associate Professor of Asian History and Chair of East Asian Studies, Western Michigan University. He has written several articles on the urban, cultural, and socioeconomic history of early imperial China, with special focus on the Sui-Tang period.
... Read more

2. The development of bathing customs in ancient and medieval china and the history of the Floriate Clear Palace
by Eward H Schafer
 Unknown Binding: 82 Pages (1956)

Asin: B0007JVJSG
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3. Cambridge Junior History: Ancient and Medieval China (Cambridge Junior History)
by Chris Dunshea
 Paperback: 48 Pages (2001-02-22)

Isbn: 0521776503
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4. Immortals, Festivals and Poetry in Medieval China: Studies in Social and Intellectual History (Variorum Collected Studies Series)
by Donald Holzman
Hardcover: 342 Pages (1998-10)
list price: US$140.00 -- used & new: US$126.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0860787664
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The papers in this volume are concerned with the themes of religion, poetry and song in early medieval China. Religion is to the fore in the first two sections, dealing with Daoist immortals and their cult, as reflected in poetic works of the first three centuries AD. Also examined are the songs used in religious ceremonies and the origins and history of the cold food festival. The last group of articles includes a major study of the poems of Ji Kang (223-262) as well as other poetry of the 4th-5th centuries, and an analysis of the changing image of the merchant from the 4th to the 9th centuries. ... Read more

by Joseph, Wang Ling, & Derek J. Price Needham
 Hardcover: Pages (1960)

Asin: B002VMJNTE
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6. Sacred Economies: Buddhist Monasticism and Territoriality in Medieval China (Sheng Yen Series in Chinese Buddhist Studies)
by Michael J. Walsh
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2010-03-02)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$40.91
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Asin: 0231148321
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Buddhist monasteries in medieval China employed a variety of practices to ensure their ascendancy and survival. Most successful was the exchange of material goods for salvation, as in the donation of land, which allowed monks to spread their teachings throughout China. By investigating a variety of socioeconomic spaces produced and perpetuated by Chinese monasteries, Michael J. Walsh reveals the "sacred economies" that shaped early Buddhism and its relationship with consumption and salvation.

Centering his study on Tiantong, a Buddhist monastery that has thrived for close to seventeen centuries in southeast China, Walsh follows three main topics: the spaces monks produced, within and around which a community could pursue a meaningful existence; the social and economic avenues through which monasteries provided diverse sacred resources and secured the primacy of Buddhist teachings within an agrarian culture; and the nature of "transactive" participation within monastic spaces, which later became a fundamental component of a broader Chinese religiosity.

Unpacking these sacred economies and repositioning them within the history of religion in China, Walsh encourages a different approach to the study of Chinese religion, emphasizing the critical link between religious exchange and the production of material culture.

... Read more

7. Buddhism and Taoism Face to Face: Scripture, Ritual, and Iconographic Exchange in Medieval China
by Christine Mollier
Paperback: 241 Pages (2009-06)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$22.00
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Asin: 0824834119
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Christine Mollier reveals in this volume previously unexplored dimensions of the interaction between Buddhism and Taoism in medieval China. While scholars of Chinese religions have long recognized the mutual influences linking the two traditions, Mollier here brings to light their intense contest for hegemony in the domains of scripture and ritual. Drawing on a far-reaching investigation of canonical texts, together with manuscript sources from Dunhuang and the monastic libraries of Japan - many of them studied here for the first time - she demonstrates the competition and complementarity of the two great Chinese religions in their quest to address personal and collective fears of diverse ills, including sorcery, famine, and untimely death. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Useful for Laypersons as well as the religious or scholarly
Mollier surveys a few of the 40,000-odd manuscripts found in a sealed chamber at Dunhuang, with a particular eye to the relations between Taoism and Buddhism.

Against a background of interfaith rivalry (in which Taoists could depict Lao-tzu reincarnating as Buddha to convert the foreigners, whilst Buddhists had Lao-tzu as Buddha's disciple) she unpicks some interesting stuff about similar doctrines appearing in the texts of the two different faiths. Buddhist longevity sutras turn out to have stolen their texts wholesale from Taoist originals; Taoism in return modelled an entire deity upon a Buddhist bodhisattva.

There is much local colour for anyone who has an interest in this kind of thing -- descriptions of witchcraft practices (watch out for 'gu'!) and use of the Big Dipper, etc., revealing morsels of practice and belief. Whole texts are translated; the scholarship is very able and at times wry.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good scholarly work
Very good scholarly work on the re-examination of ancient traditions

One comment: Some scriptures, e.g. Sutra for Pacifying Houses and Sutra of Incantations of the Eight Yang, probably have earlier Taoist versions. It's more likely the Buddhist versions were adapted from lost Taoist versions, since concepts like "Pacifying Houses" and "Yang" (as in "Yin-Yang") have much longer history in Taoist traditions. ... Read more

8. Philosophy and Religion in Early Medieval China (S U N Y Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture)
Hardcover: 375 Pages (2010-07)
list price: US$80.00 -- used & new: US$79.99
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Asin: 1438431872
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An exploration of Chinese thought during a time of monumental change, the period after the fall of the Han dynasty. ... Read more

9. Historical Dictionary of Medieval China (Historical Dictionaries of Ancient Civilizations and Historical Eras)
by Victor Cunrui Xiong
Hardcover: 856 Pages (2009-01-16)
list price: US$150.00 -- used & new: US$119.34
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Asin: 0810860538
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The Historical Dictionary of Medieval China fills an urgent need for a standard reference tailored to the interest of Western academics and readers. The history of medieval China is related through the book's introductory essay, maps, a table of Dynastic Periods, a bibliography, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on key people, historical geography, arts, institutions, events, and other important terms. ... Read more

10. The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC
by Michael Loewe, Edward L. Shaughnessy
Hardcover: 1180 Pages (1999-03-13)
list price: US$199.00 -- used & new: US$153.97
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Asin: 0521470307
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The Cambridge History of Ancient China provides a survey of the cultural, intellectual, political, and institutional developments of the pre-imperial period. The four subperiods of Shang, Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States, are described on the basis of literary and material sources and the evidence of recently found manuscripts.Chapters on the prehistoric background, the growth of language, and relations with the peoples of Central Asia provide the major context of China's achievements in the 1,500 years under review. The teachings of China's early masters are set alongside what is known of the methods of astonomers, physicians and diviners.A final chapter leads the reader forward to imperial times, as described in the volumes of The Cambridge History of China. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars The cambridge history of ancient china
Absolutely the most detailed and helpful research publication that I have found on this subject.

5-0 out of 5 stars compelling history
This volume is everything the 15 volume series the Cambridge History of China ought to be, and is easily the best single-volume pre-Qin history currently available in English. While it is true that there is sufficient information available to have made at least three volumes of this size, and would have covered the territory with more detail, there is no question that this volume belongs in every serious student of China's library. For more specific coverage, there are now numerous other volumes available to fill in the gaps for the specialists. Thankfully, the authors used Pinyin in this volume, rather than the outmoded Wade-Giles used in the series. The writing in this volume is also entertaining, and the addition of occasional illustrations adds interest to the archeological side of the discourse. Highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars Great comprehensive introduction to ancient Chinese history.
Volume is in English but has excellent Chinese characters (Hanzi) along with Hanyu Pinyin for Chinese terms.Very comprehensive summary (with photographs) of ancient Chinese History.Only thing missing is a .pdf version because this volume is heavy and difficult to travel with.

5-0 out of 5 stars Indispensable
I waited a long time to buy this book, being somewhat daunted by its enormous price.When I finally ran across a copy on the used market for a reasonable sum, I picked it up.I could not be more pleased.The quality of the scholarship is sensational, the illustrations are superb.I was especially surprised at the extraordinary volume and quality of the illustrations (albeit all black and white), since I was expecting straight text.There is nothing out there in English that approximates the sophistication, charm, or scholarly depth of this volume.Don't be dissuaded by assertions that it is a difficult read; to the contrary, this is a very accessible and addictive text, even for those with little familiarity in the area of ancient Chinese history.

In summary, both the scholarship and the sheer reading pleasure of this book exceed all expectations.One of the best volumes of ancient history I have had the privilege of reading.If you are interested in the subject, you cannot live without this (though I recommend attempting to purchase it used!)

3-0 out of 5 stars Now I finally had a chance to read this
Cambridge History of China is usually of very high standard, both in terms of historiography and integration of latest scholarly research.

However, as I read this pre-volume covering the long period from the 'beginning' till 221BC, I find several noteworthy defects:
1) Clearly the editors' choice of making it a single volume is a mistake.As it stands, the book is already really thick, while for each of the topics it covered, there is really not sufficient depth.
2) In my personal opinion, the most critical happenings in the period is the technology improvement during the Eastern Zhou period (e.g. spread of use of iron) which drove the development of new political organization and the flowering of political philosophers from Confucius to Xun Zi.Unfortunately technology development in Eastern Zhou is not at all covered in this volume.

I think the editors under-utilize many research works recently published in Chinese, while focusing too much on renewing the 'story' with archaeological findings.(As such, the chapter on Shang archaeology actually seems to be very up-to-date.)

Overall, I rate this as 3-star, because of the above-mentioned defects... ... Read more

11. The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties (History of Imperial China)
by Timothy Brook
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2010-06-15)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$24.95
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Asin: 0674046021
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The Mongol takeover in the 1270s changed the course of Chinese history. The Confucian empire–a millennium and a half in the making–was suddenly thrust under foreign occupation. What China had been before its reunification as the Yuan dynasty in 1279 was no longer what it would be in the future. Four centuries later, another wave of steppe invaders would replace the Ming dynasty with yet another foreign occupation. The Troubled Empire explores what happened to China between these two dramatic invasions.

If anything defined the complex dynamics of this period, it was changes in the weather. Asia, like Europe, experienced a Little Ice Age, and as temperatures fell in the thirteenth century, Kublai Khan moved south into China. His Yuan dynasty collapsed in less than a century, but Mongol values lived on in Ming institutions. A second blast of cold in the 1630s, combined with drought, was more than the dynasty could stand, and the Ming fell to Manchu invaders.

Against this background–the first coherent ecological history of China in this period–Brook explores the growth of autocracy, social complexity, and commercialization, paying special attention to China's incorporation into the larger South China Sea economy. These changes not only shaped what China would become but contributed to the formation of the early modern world.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Good Introduction
Another fine book in the Belknap Press History of Imperial China.This volume covers the Yuan (Mongol) and Ming Dynasties.As with other books in this series, Brook focuses on major themes rather than a detailed narrative.The three major themes explored by Brook are the development of a relatively powerful state encompassing both North and South China, the stresses imposed by the Little Ice Age, and the increasing integration of China into the emerging global economy.In the course of discussing these themes, Brook includes some useful discussions of demographic history, economic history, social history, and intellectual history.

Brook shows well the continuity of the Yuan and Ming periods.He emphasizes the unification of North and South China that occurred under the Yuan with the accompanying expansion of Imperial authority and particularly the Emperor's power.Despite the claim of the Ming founder to restore traditional Chinese institutions, Brooks shows how the Emperor continued to be the fulcrum of government, sometimes with deletrious results when the Emperor was incompetent, disinterested, or unable to control court politics.The Yuan also established Beijing as the capital, necessitating resuscitation of the Grand Canal, which contributed a great deal towards imperial economic integration and creating the enormous internal market that characterized the dynamic Chinese economy.The achievements of the Yuan & Ming states are particularly impressive in the context of the stresses of the Little Ice Age.Brook documents a number of periods he refers to as sloughs in which climate events and other major stresses produced famines and/or epidemics in China.These events are associated with major political changes, including the fall of the Yuan and the Ming.Also impressive in this context is the increasing integration of the global economy.The enormous Chinese economy and its expanding trade across the South China Sea are complements of the expansion of European economies and the exploitation of the Americas.

Brook's thematic analysis is very successful but this book perhaps suffers from insufficient narrative.The fall of the Ming is covered well but it would have been informative to have more narrative about the Yuan conquest and the fall of the Yuan.The discussion of China's expanding trade and influence in the South China Sea but relatively little narrative or analysis about the Yuan and Ming relations with Inner Asia.There is a good bibliography.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very insightful book on Chinese history
In 1271 Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty. But, this dynasty marks a monumental shift in the history and culture of China, with the Mongol invaders placing their unique stamp on the country. The replacement of the Yuan Dynasty with the Ming Dynasty, was in certain ways an attempt to return China to its "pristine" past, but in many more ways the Ming continued ways of the Yuan, confirming the changes that the Mongols made. This is the history of China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, a history of political and cultural transition that occurred in the midst of environmental changes, a time known in Europe as The Little Ice Age.

I must say that I found this a surprisingly good book. The author did a good job of telling the history of the two dynasties in an informative and yet interesting manner. He goes through the various factors acting on China, including the growth of the South China Sea trade (and the arrival of the Europeans) and the various changes in the environment, but does not attempt to give too much weight to any one.

I have read a number of books on Chinese history, and too many authors present the various dynasties as following one after another machinelike, as if the fall of one and the rise of another is of no great importance. Quite the contrary, Prof. Brook does a great job of showing the importance of Yuan and Ming Dynasties in the evolution of early China towards modern China. I found this to be a very insightful book on Chinese history, and I highly recommend it to all. ... Read more

12. Marco Polo: Overland to Medieval China (Beyond the Horizons)
by Clint Twist
 Library Binding: 46 Pages (1994-02)
list price: US$24.26
Isbn: 0811472515
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13. Great Clarity: Daoism and Alchemy in Early Medieval China (Asian Religions and Cultures)
by Fabrizio Pregadio
Hardcover: 392 Pages (2006-02-27)
list price: US$65.00 -- used & new: US$64.60
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Asin: 0804751773
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This is the first book to examine extensively the religious aspects of Chinese alchemy.Its main focus is the relation of alchemy to the Daoist traditions of the early medieval period (third to sixth centuries).It shows how alchemy contributed to and was tightly integrated into the elaborate body of doctrines and practices that Daoists built at that time, from which Daoism as we know it today evolved.The book also clarifies the origins of Chinese alchemy and the respective roles of alchemy and meditation in self-cultivation practices.It contains full translations of three important medieval texts, all of them accompanied by running commentaries, making available for the first time in English the gist of the early Chinese alchemical corpus. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars For scholars only.But really well written.
Pregadio has been a major internet research source for a few years.He has managed to grasp alchemical concepts and translate them into usable academic material.If you are a researcher into Daoism, alchemy or Chinese history from the first millenium, then you might enjoy this book. ... Read more

14. China between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties (History of Imperial China)
by Mark Edward Lewis
Hardcover: 352 Pages (2009-02-15)
list price: US$31.00 -- used & new: US$30.68
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Asin: 0674026055
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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After the collapse of the Han dynasty in the third century CE, China divided along a north-south line. Mark Lewis traces the changes that both underlay and resulted from this split in a period that saw the geographic redefinition of China, more engagement with the outside world, significant changes to family life, developments in the literary and social arenas, and the introduction of new religions.

The Yangzi River valley arose as the rice-producing center of the country. Literature moved beyond the court and capital to depict local culture, and newly emerging social spaces included the garden, temple, salon, and country villa. The growth of self-defined genteel families expanded the notion of the elite, moving it away from the traditional great Han families identified mostly by material wealth. Trailing the rebel movements that toppled the Han, the new faiths of Daoism and Buddhism altered every aspect of life, including the state, kinship structures, and the economy.

By the time China was reunited by the Sui dynasty in 589 ce, the elite had been drawn into the state order, and imperial power had assumed a more transcendent nature. The Chinese were incorporated into a new world system in which they exchanged goods and ideas with states that shared a common Buddhist religion. The centuries between the Han and the Tang thus had a profound and permanent impact on the Chinese world.

(20100101) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars turbulent times
In this second volume of a six volume series on the history of imperial China the roughly 400 years between the decline of the Han dynasty and the emergence of the Tang dynasty are covered. Politically, these were rather turbulent times, during which China was divided into various kingdoms, which themselves were governed by successive regimes. In the Northern part of China, most of these regimes were coming from non-Han groups, which assimilated into the Han main culture in different degrees, which is complicating the political and cultural history even further.
For this book Mark E. Lewis has chosen the same structure as in his other two contributions to the series - The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han (History of Imperial China) and China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty (History of Imperial China), i.e. he is only giving a rather short narrative of the political history, and then covers the development of various aspects like urban and rural society, religion, literature and family during the period in question. Due to the complexity of the political history with its many short-lived states and governments, however, this set-up of the book does not work as well as in the other books. Consequently, for me a lot of re-checking with the time table in the attachments was required in order to keep on track while reading the various chapters.
Nevertheless, the book is still (comparatively) nice to read and informative, and it shows how certain differences between Northern and Southern China started to develop. Under consideration that there is hardly any other work on this period available, the book still fully deserves four stars.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not yet the definitive history of this important period
The Northern and Southern Dynasties period is understood to be a key formative period in the history of China; many of the structures that informed the subsequent Tang period originated in this age. So this book is valuable because it provides an overview of the period; the corresponding volume of the Cambridge history has not yet been published.

However, this work is weak in structure and seems to lack a unifying vision. Very often it reads like a sequence of abstracts of primary research strung together; in general, it fails to articulate a clear and compelling vision of how society changed in this period and what drove the changes. The maps are too approximate to help any real understanding of the places mentioned in the text, even to someone who is quite familiar with the modern geography of China.

This was a time of very substantial changes: just to mention two aspects, non-Han people took military and political control of North China, and eventually formed a mixed-race ruling elite; and massive population movements took place between North and South, but also between urban and rural areas. The similarities and differences with the history of the Western part of Eurasia at the same time are fascinating, but the author hardly even mentions them; nor is there any real effort to tackle the "why" of such massive change: why did the non-Han gain the upper hand? why did the economy change? how did economic change affect political change? It is almost as if the author tried to avoid any Marxist interpretation of history, and in doing so precluded himself from shedding any light on the connection between economic and political structures.

I am not a specialist, but I cannot believe that these questions have never been addressed. The bibliography is very rich, running to over 10 pages, and I plan to use it as the springboard into a deeper investigation of the period.

2-0 out of 5 stars missing important aspects
I absolutely agree with the comment below.
It would be fair to say that this period is not so easy to write a textbook in English.
To me, most of my understandings of this period first came from Japanese books written by Miyazaki and Tanikawa (both were professors @ Kyoto U). Unlike this book by Lewis, they all have a clear vision and perspective of this period, although they did not try to sell out their ideas.

Most works in much Western scholarship (such as Albert Dien and Lewis) have been to delve into some specific questions (Buddhism, Fine Arts, etc) rather than generalization. The recent book from Harvard University Press is also based on the collection of independent articles, which is not so much for general readers.
For the Western readers, in addition, one of difficulties for non-specialists to comprehend this period would be the delay of long-waited publication of the CHC volume.2., as the reviewer below mentioned. This book not so much transcends as follows the existing intellectual tradition.

When I purchased this book, I expected the readable textbook summarizing major aspects of this period within a unifying theme. well... This book does not seem to satisfy my expectation. The author focused more on cultural history a bit loosely organized way which resonates the edited book by HUP I mentioned above.

The lack of his discussion of political event and ethnicity in fact shocked me a lot. The book title betrays me since the author did not make a strong link to Han and Tang dynasties. How it is possible to understand this period without considering two major aspects (political division and ethnic diversity)? Why, unlike the aftermath of the Roman Empire, Chinese established another unified Sui-Tang Empires after the collapse of Han Empire and three centuries of political division thereafter? The history of ethnic relations is crucial yet this book never took it seriously, if not completely ignoring).

Also military history (of the late Norther Dynasties) should have been discussed more since it is crucial to understand the rise of Sui-Tang empires. The Fubing (military conscription) system, Guan-long group, Six Garrisons are the core of the birth of later empires. In addition, we should realize that all the dynastic changes in the Southern Dynasties were driven by warlordism and factionalism (from Eastern Jin until Chen). This book will not help the reader to comprehend such complex mechanism both in the Northern and Southern Dynasties.

Finally, this book missed the population dynamics occurred in this period.How many non-Han peoples moved to North China (Central Plains)? In turn, how many Han Chinese were migrated to the south of Yangtze River? How they interacted with local natives? What happened after the three centuries of mutual interactions?

If I am not so biased, i) ethnicity, ii) military history and warlordism, iii) political events and iv) population dynamics (emigration of Han peoples to South China and influx of non-Han to Central Plains) must not be excluded.

So I instead read the works of Chen Yinge, Tang Changrou, Zhou Yiliang and others to fill the gap. The author did not introduce and summarize such brilliant scholarship. He should have made it accessible to those who cannot read East Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean).
I hope forthcoming CHC vol. 2 would look more systematic and resourceful.

Be honest, if Amazon provided the preview, I might have not purchased this book after reading the chapter organization.

5-0 out of 5 stars Clear, readable introduction
This is a broad overview of the political and cultural changes in the period.The book is clearly and well written, with good maps and useful illustrations.The reviewer who says there is nothing new here is off the mark, at least for the non-specialist.

5-0 out of 5 stars an absolute gem
This book is an absolute gem. The author has a very sophisticated understanding of the period. He not only describes major events, but subjects them to subtle interpretation. Although he covers basic political history, he also introduces a wide range of social, economic, cultural, and intellectual issues. Prior to this book, the Northern and Southern Dynasties were something of a black hole - there wasn't a good English introduction to the period. This elegant book fills the void admirably, and provides the perfect introduction to an important era. ... Read more

15. The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song Transformation of China (History of Imperial China)
by Dieter Kuhn
Hardcover: 368 Pages (2009-03-16)
list price: US$36.50 -- used & new: US$30.00
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Asin: 0674031466
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Just over a thousand years ago, the Song dynasty emerged as the most advanced civilization on earth. Within two centuries, China was home to nearly half of all humankind. In this concise history, we learn why the inventiveness of this era has been favorably compared with the European Renaissance, which in many ways the Song transformation surpassed.

With the chaotic dissolution of the Tang dynasty, the old aristocratic families vanished. A new class of scholar-officials—products of a meritocratic examination system—took up the task of reshaping Chinese tradition by adapting the precepts of Confucianism to a rapidly changing world. Through fiscal reforms, these elites liberalized the economy, eased the tax burden, and put paper money into circulation. Their redesigned capitals buzzed with traders, while the education system offered advancement to talented men of modest means. Their rationalist approach led to inventions in printing, shipbuilding, weaving, ceramics manufacture, mining, and agriculture. With a realist’s eye, they studied the natural world and applied their observations in art and science. And with the souls of diplomats, they chose peace over war with the aggressors on their borders. Yet persistent military threats from these nomadic tribes—which the Chinese scorned as their cultural inferiors—redefined China’s understanding of its place in the world and solidified a sense of what it meant to be Chinese.

The Age of Confucian Rule is an essential introduction to this transformative era. “A scholar should congratulate himself that he has been born in such a time” (Zhao Ruyu, 1194).

(20100201) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Good Introduction
Another nice entry in the Belknap series on Imperial China.Kuhn opens with a set of chapters that lay out the basic narrative.This covers the origins of the Song state in the politically fragmented milieu that followed the demise of the Tang state, the emergence of competing states founded by Inner Asian and Manchurian groups in northern China, the withdrawal of the Song to southern China, and the eventual conquest by the Mongols.He stresses the innovative features of the Song state, particularly the development of the Confucian bureaucracy.The chaos that followed the end of the Tang apparently resulted also in the extipation of the aristocratic, essentially feudal families that dominated much of China.In their absence, the founding Song Emperors were able to greatly expand the examination system and make Confucian bureaucrats the center of the state.This appears to have also expanded Imperial authority. A very useful aspect of Kuhn's narrative and subsequent analyses is that he provides information not only about the Song but also about the competing non-Chinese states of northern China during this period. Kuhn stresses also the diplomacy of the Song, a largely succcessful effort to accomodate the reality of powerful states to the north of the Song.

Kuhn follows the narrative chapters with a series of informative chapters that cover social, intellectual, and economic history.At its apogee, the Song state was the most highly developed society of its time, and arguably had some features, that would not be duplicated by western cultures until well into the 19th century.The Song society depicted by Kuhn had a relatively large population and tax base, and despite its relatively small bureaucracy, relatively efficient tax collection allowing Song governments to support relatively large infrastructure projects.It was also a relatively urbanized and economically dynamic society, with a high degree of trade, monetization, technological innovation, and credit markets, very much a laissez faire state.Much of this seems to have been promoted by a rationalistic version of Confucianism, which Kuhn describes as an original reformulation of Confucian doctrines.Kuhn is very good on popular religion, the roles of women, and how artistic trends mimic larger social trends.There is a nice bibliography.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent and accessible history of the Song Dynasty
The author provides an useful summary of the thrust of this book:

"Previous dynasties had relied on the great families, aristocratic officials, scholars, and military men. It was only during the Song empire that thinking and writing, government and administrative action, were brought down to a common denominator, one which Peter K. Bol encapsulated in his translation of Confucius's term siwen as "this culture of ours." During the Song dynasty, a new self-consciousness and self-esteem took shape among the people who identified themselves as descendants of the Han Chinese. The social system they invented during the Song empire became the paradigm for what Chinese and Westerners of the twentieth century would refer to as "traditional China.""

This historic reality means that most readers in the West know more about the era than they realize; somehow "traditional China" seems to have lasted much longer in our collective cultural understanding.

Power resided in a class of scholarly officials (chosen by a civil service type examination) who adapted Confucianism to China's culture and government. The officials improved the economy, reduced taxes, and introduced paper money. Their "rationalist approach" created inventions in printing, shipbuilding, weaving, ceramics manufacture, mining, and agriculture.

As the previous five star review here on Amazon indicates, this is a very rewarding introduction to the era.

"A scholar should congratulate himself that he has been born in such a time" (Zhao Ruyu, 1194).A general reader like myself should congratulate himself for being able to read such an excellent survey of an important era in Chinese history.

Robert C. Ross2010

5-0 out of 5 stars Nice Overview of the Song Dynasty
This is a very nice overview of the Song dynasty.It's comprehensive yet concise.The book begins with a historical overview and then proceeds thematically.The chapters are:

1. A Time of Turmoil
2. Model Rulers
3. Reforming into Collapse
4. The Song in the South
5. Three Doctrines
6. Education and Examination
7. Life Cycle Rituals
8. Exploring the World Within and Without
9. Transforming the Capitals
10. A Changing World of Production
11. Money and Taxes
12. Private Lives in the Public Sphere

Chapter 7 has an interesting discussion of the education of women and women's property rights.Chapter 8 has a nice overview of Song dynasty literature, scroll paintings and scientific developments.The book has black and white photos of scroll paintings, diagrams of Buddhist temples, and makes good use of maps.I enjoyed this book and would recommend it highly. ... Read more

16. China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty (History of Imperial China)
by Mark Edward Lewis
Hardcover: 368 Pages (2009-06-30)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$34.65
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Asin: 067403306X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The Tang dynasty is often called China’s “golden age,” a period of commercial, religious, and cultural connections from Korea and Japan to the Persian Gulf, and a time of unsurpassed literary creativity. Mark Lewis captures a dynamic era in which the empire reached its greatest geographical extent under Chinese rule, painting and ceramic arts flourished, women played a major role both as rulers and in the economy, and China produced its finest lyric poets in Wang Wei, Li Bo, and Du Fu.

The Chinese engaged in extensive trade on sea and land. Merchants from Inner Asia settled in the capital, while Chinese entrepreneurs set off for the wider world, the beginning of a global diaspora. The emergence of an economically and culturally dominant south that was controlled from a northern capital set a pattern for the rest of Chinese imperial history. Poems celebrated the glories of the capital, meditated on individual loneliness in its midst, and described heroic young men and beautiful women who filled city streets and bars.

Despite the romantic aura attached to the Tang, it was not a time of unending peace. In 756, General An Lushan led a revolt that shook the country to its core, weakening the government to such a degree that by the early tenth century, regional warlordism gripped many areas, heralding the decline of the Great Tang.

(20100501) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars heyday of Chinese history
In this third volume of the Havard University Press "History of Imperial China" the author M.E. Lewis gives an account of the period of the Tang dynasty, from its origins in the early seventh to its end in the early tenth century. As in his previous books, Lewis gives a relativily short chronological history, and then dwells on foreign policy, social developments and the development of buddhism, daoism and confucianism. He puts a particular focus on the cultural live during this period, which is seen by many as an apogee of Chinese history, generating some of China's most famous poets.
While for my taste the chronological history could have had a bigger space in this book, due to the (relative) political stability during this period, the brevity of this chapter is not so much of a drawback as it was in his previous book (China between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties (History of Imperial China)), which was dealing in a much more turbulent period.
Lewis writes eloquently on his subject, and so the book is relatively nice to read. Together with the other books of this series, it gives a rather detailed insight into the long lasting history of the Chinese Empire, at this at a price which is also affordable for the general public, and not just for libraries.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great General Resource on the Great Tang
This was the first book in the History of Imperial China series that I've read, and if the other volumes live up to the informative and comprehensive quality of this one, I can see this series perhaps supplanting the unwieldy Cambridge series.

Mr. Lewis provides a surprisingly detailed survey of one of the most interesting Chinese dynasties in about 300 pages (plus appendices, notes and index). No small feat, considering the vast wealth of in-depth scholarly work available regarding the Tang. That is not to say, of course, that this is a merely a brief skimming of the highlights; to the contrary, Mr. Lewis gives us a wonderful grounding in the geographic and political climate before taking us deep into the streets of Chang'an and Luoyang, to the countryside of the Central Plain, or to the mountain retreats of the eremitic Tang poets. Ample citations of Tang prose and poetry, as well as cultural anecdotes, are present to give the reader a learned picture of what it meant to be a student of the 'jinshi' examinations, a singer in the pleasure quarter, or a court poet.

This is, however, a scholarly work through and through. Well cited and referenced, the information given is well-chosen and aimed squarely at those seeking to learn about the Great Tang, as opposed to being simply entertained by its many colorful nuances. Mr. Lewis is a strong writer for this kind of book, and his prose is easy to follow and to the point. This may not be the best choice for bedtime reading, but it is accessible to all readers, especially those new to the subject.

I highly recommend this book to any beginning student of Chinese imperial history, and to any reader interested in learned writing on one of the most important eras in one of the most important civilizations in the world. ... Read more

17. The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 1: The Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 BC-AD 220
Hardcover: 1023 Pages (1986-12-26)
list price: US$229.99 -- used & new: US$227.67
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Asin: 0521243270
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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This volume begins the historical coverage of The Cambridge History of China with the establishment of the Ch'in empire in 221 BC and ends with the abdication of the last Han emperor in AD 220. Spanning four centuries, this period witnessed major evolutionary changes in almost every aspect of China's development, being particularly notable for the emergence and growth of a centralized administration and imperial government. Owing to their pioneer achievements and the heritage that they left for later empires, these dynasties have rightly been regarded as a formative influence throughout Chinese history. Important archaeological discoveries of recent years have made a new approach possible for many aspects of the period. Leading historians from Asia, Europe, and America have contributed chapters that convey a realistic impression of significant political, economic, intellectual, religious, and social developments, and of the contacts that the Chinese made with other peoples at this time. Like the other volumes in the series, volume 1 summarizes the information given in primary sources in the light of the most recent critical scholarship. As the book is intended for the general reader as well as the specialist, technical details are given in both Chinese terms and English equivalents. References lead to primary sources and their translations and to secondary writings in European languages as well as Chinese and Japanese. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Need The Right Edition
Great content, very illuminating.Unlike the other three, one-star, reviewers, I have an authorized Taiwanese reprint, and the binding is great!Maybe you can score a copy from someone living there.

1-0 out of 5 stars I have to agree....
I have to agree with the previous two reviewers...I have bought several (very expensive) volumes of the Cambridge History of China and the Cambridge History of Iran and they all suffer the same appalling binding...I'm afraid of reading them lest they fall apart in my hands!

While I appreciate 'print-on-demand' technology allows publishers to continue to produce books that only generate limited demand, that doesn't excuse $150+ volumes from being so poorly but together. The Cambridge University Press should either dramatically drop the price of these volumes to reflect the quality of their production, or even better, improve both the binding and print quality to reflect their price.

As an aside, the copies I have of The Cambridge History of Ancient China and The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire, which don't seem to be 'print on demand', are fine and of the quality I would expect.

The chances of me buying other volumes from this or any other Cambridge University series is pretty slim, which is too bad as the contents of the books themselves are generally brilliant.

1-0 out of 5 stars Great book, appalling binding
I fully agree with the previous reviewer. For such an expensive volume, the binding is atrocious and I expect this book to disintegrate before too long.I am also writing to Cambridge to convey my disgust.

1-0 out of 5 stars Very poor binding for an expensive book. Cambridge fails
Cambridge University Press is giving itself a very bad press by publishing an expensive series made with a binding process that is good for pocket books, but absolutely insufficient for reference books of such a prestigious house.Many other Cambridge History Series are produced with high quality binding (stitch) as they deserve.In a modern world in which sections of books can be easily downloaded and printed individually, prestigious reference series can and should be made with high quality binding and can carry the appropriate price premium. ... Read more

18. The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 5 Part One: The Five Dynasties and Sung China And Its Precursors, 907-1279 AD
Hardcover: 1128 Pages (2009-03-23)
list price: US$180.00 -- used & new: US$144.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521812488
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This first of two volumes on the Sung Dynasty (960-1279) and its Five Dynasties and Southern Kingdoms precursors presents the political history of China from the fall of the T'ang Dynasty in 907 to the Mongol conquest of the Southern Sung in 1279. Its twelve chapters survey the personalities and events that marked the rise, consolidation, and demise of the Sung polity during an era of profound social, economic, and intellectual ferment. The authors place particular emphasis on the emergence of a politically conscious literati class during the Sung, characterized by the increasing importance of the examination system early in the dynasty and on the rise of the tao-hsueh (Neo-Confucian) movement toward the end.In addition, they highlight the destabilizing influence of factionalism and ministerial despotism on Sung political culture and the impact of the powerful steppe empires of the Khitan Liao, Tangut Hsi Hsia, Jurchen Chin, and Mongol Yüan on the shape and tempo of Sung dynastic events.Cambridge Histories Online ... Read more

19. The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 3: Sui and T'ang China, 589-906 AD, Part 1
Hardcover: 870 Pages (1979-09-27)
list price: US$241.99 -- used & new: US$125.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521214467
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The Cambridge History of China is one of the most far-reaching works of international scholarship ever undertaken, exploring the main developments in political, social, economic and intellectual life from the Ch'in empire to the present day. The contributors are specialists from the international community of sinological scholars. Many of the accounts break new ground; all are based on fresh research. The works are written not only with students and scholars but also with the general reader in mind. No knowledge of Chinese is assumed, though for readers of Chinese, proper and other names are identified with their characters in the index. Numerous maps and tables illustrate the text. Volume 3, covers the second great period of unified imperial power, 589-906, when China established herself as the centre of a wider cultural sphere, embracing Japan, Korea and Vietnam. It was an era in which there was a great deal of rapid social and economic change, and in which literature and the arts reached new heights of attainment. ... Read more

20. The Making of a Savior Bodhisattva: Dizang in Medieval China (Studies in East Asian Buddhism)
by Zhiru
Hardcover: 305 Pages (2007-10)
list price: US$52.00 -- used & new: US$35.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0824830458
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Invaluable study of the Chinese Jizo!
When I visited Japan, I was intrigued by the "kawaii" images of Jizo in temples, along the roads, and literally everywhere. I have read Chozen Bay's popular books on Jizo. But I still wondered aboutthe Indian and Chinese sources for Jizo. So I was thrilled to read this historical and cross-disciplinary study of the formative phase in the Chinese Jizo cult. The book amply satisfies my curiosity. It paints a brilliantly nuanced and compelling picture of the early Chinese development of Jizo. Besides literary works, the author critically analyzes the visual images and popular narratives, thus concretizing the medieval cultic practices. There is also a thorough discussion of scriptural sources, both the key texts as well as lesser known works from Buddhist manuscript collections around the world. The careful analysis reveals how Chinese culture, politics, society, and religion have helped to shape this bodhisattva. Rigorously researched and elegantly written, the book is an excellent resource for scholars and practitioners interested in Dizang/Jizo practices, as well as those studying Buddhist cults in general. It is also a must read for those interested in medieval religion and society in China.

5-0 out of 5 stars Impeccably researched and definitive!
Better known to western circles as Jizo, his Japanese form, Dizang (Kshitigarbha) is one of the four major bodhisattvas in China. In Chinese monasteries and temples today, Dizang usually oversees the memorial tablets of the dead in a dimly lit hall, segregated from the world of the living. Zhiru's book critically analyzes a spectacular array of materials: art, epigraphy, narrative, ritual, and scripture. It masterfully scrutinizes one textual genre after another with enviable ease, and even shifts gear from literary sources to visual and material artifacts with unfaltering command. The reader encounters many faces of Dizang: the classical bodhisattva in Mahayana scriptures; a patron saint in divination rites; a shaman priest exorcising spirits; the filial daughter working out her dead mother's salvation; a psycho pomp leading the dead from underworld judgment to heavenly rebirths -- just to name a few. The range is fascinating, and the careful analysis offers many brilliant, compelling insights into medieval Chinese society and religion. Dizang is shown to be far more than anunderworld deity. The appendix contains meticulous translations of three obscure texts on Dizang. These texts are relatively unknown to both the scholarly and religious audience; two of these are from manuscript archives and translated for the first time into a Western language. I highly recommend the book as one of the best books I have read on Chinese Buddhism. Despite the rigor of the scholarship, the book is written in an engaging and lucid style. It is an essential compendium for those interested in Dizang/Jizo, or deity cults in East Asia.And a terrific contribution to the studies of Buddhism and Chinese religion.

5-0 out of 5 stars A majesterial contribution ...
Most Chinese know Dizang only as the patron saint of the dead presiding over the temple rites during the seventh lunar month, the season of the dead in the Chinese liturgical calendar.But few really know the formative phase of his cult in medieval China. Zhiru's book fills in this gap excellently. One strength of this study is the way it resolutely resists easy, reductionist characterization of religious development. All the old stereotypes are expertly deconstructed. Instead, foraying through an admirably broad corpus of materials, both literary and visual as well as non-canonical and canonical, the book successfully captures the dynamic fluidity of the making of Chinese Buddhism. The conclusion offers deep insights into the place of Buddhist cults in Tang religion and society. The book is also a superb storehouse of information about Dizang in China, as well as in India, Central Asia, and other parts of East Asia. ... Read more

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