Chinese Silks


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Edited by Dieter Kuhn; Foreword by James C. Y. Watt; Contributions by Chen Juanjuan, Huang Nengfu, Dieter Kuhn, Li Wenying, Peng Hao, and Zhao Feng

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The first comprehensive history of China's most luxurious textile and its enduring influence on Chinese civilization and art

Over the past fifty years, archaeological explorations in China have unearthed a wealth of textile materials, some dating as far back as five thousand years. In this magnificently researched and illustrated book, preeminent Western and Chinese scholars draw upon these spectacular discoveries to provide the most thorough account of the history of silk ever written.

Encyclopedic in breadth, the volume presents a chronological history of silk from a variety of perspectives, including archaeological, technological, art historical, and aesthetic. The contributors explore the range of uses for silk, from the everyday to the sublime. By directly connecting recently found textile artifacts to specific references in China's vast historical literature, they illuminate the evolution of silk making and the driving social forces that have inspired the creation of innovative textiles through the millennia.

Published in association with the Foreign Languages Press, Beijing

Dieter Kuhn is professor emeritus of sinology, University of Würzburg, Germany. James C. Y. Watt is Brooke Russell Astor Chairman Emeritus, Department of Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Chen Juanjuan was senior research fellow, Palace Museum, Beijing. Huang Nengfu is professor at the Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University, Beijing. Li Wenying is deputy director, Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology. Peng Hao is professor of archaeology, Wuhan University, and senior research fellow at Jingzhou Museum, Hubei. Zhao Feng is vice director, China National Silk Museum, Hangzhou; director, Chinese Centre for Textile Identification and Conservation, Hangzhou; and professor of textile and costume history, Donghua University, Shanghai.

"This comprehensive history of silk draws on recent archaeological discoveries and art historical perspectives to cast fresh light on an ancient material."—Apollo Magazine

"This publication makes a significant contribution not only to the study of Chinese silk, weaving and embroidery, but the references and translations from early Chinese texts add a wonderful insight into the social history of China."—Judith Rutherford, The Asian Arts Society of Australia

"Encyclopaedic… [Chinese Silks] covers everything from nuts and bolts of sericulture to the history of silk in Chinese literature, with illustrations of scraps of ancient silk fabrics brought to light be archaeology and of the most extravagant Qing dynasty imperial robes. The result, in Chinese Silks, is book as monument."—Holland Cotter, International Herald Tribune

‘Encyclopaedic in breadth, this volume goes beyond a simple chronological history of silk; it investigates from a variety of perspectives – archaeological, technological, cultural, historical, aesthetic and economic. […] In this magnificently researched and illustrated book, pre-eminent Chinese and Western scholars draw upon these spectacular discoveries to provide the most thorough account of the history of silk. The task of reviewing such a detailed history of this fine fabric is not for the faint-hearted but the authors have done a magnificent job, casting a new light on an ancient textile culture. Embroiderers wishing to research the history of embroidery will find plenty to study here, along with many fine illustrations.’ - Embroidery

Awarded the 2012 R. L. Shep Ethnic Textiles Book Award given by the Textile Society of America.
ISBN: 9780300111033
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Foreign Languages Press, Beijing
624 pages, 9 x 12
600 color + 50 b/w illus.
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