The Golden Peaches of Samarkand
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The Golden Peaches of Samarkand

A Study of T'ang Exotics

Edward H. Schafer

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The Golden Peaches of Samarkand

A Study of T'ang Exotics

Edward H. Schafer

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About This Book

In the seventh century the kingdom of Samarkand sent formal gifts of fancy yellow peaches, large as goose eggs and with a color like gold, to the Chinese court at Ch'ang-an. What kind of fruit these golden peaches really were cannot now be guessed, but they have the glamour of mystery, and they symbolize all the exotic things longed for, and unknown things hoped for, by the people of the T'ang empire.This book examines the exotics imported into China during the T'ang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907), and depicts their influence on Chinese life. Into the land during the three centuries of T'ang came the natives of almost every nation of Asia, all bringing exotic wares either as gifts or as goods to be sold. Ivory, rare woods, drugs, diamonds, magicians, dancing girls—the author covers all classes of unusual imports, their places of origin, their lore, their effect on costume, dwellings, diet, and on painting, sculpture, music, and poetry.This book is not a statistical record of commercial imports and medieval trade, but rather a "humanistic essay, however material its subject matter.""The most essential thing the reviewer can say about this book is, 'Read it!' It is probably the most informative, most scholarly, and most delightfully written book on China that has appeared in our time. It is a heartening reminder that scholars still have an interest in studying history in terms of people, in examining people's intimate reactions to the little human things that occupied their daily lives."—Jour. of Asian Studies"A pure delight....Scarcely any aspect of T'ang life is omitted, so that bit by bit Mr. Schafer builds up a reasonably complete picture of an entire civilization. Mr· Schafer writes with urbanity and wit."—Sat. Rev."A fascinating survey of T'ang culture as reflected in the use and demand for exotica....Rarely has the reviewer come upon a book so enjoyable and informative·"—Jour. of the American Oriental Society.

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Year
2016
ISBN
9781787201125

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{1} Laufer (1919), 379; TFYK, 970, 11b; THY, 99, 1774; THY, 100, 1796.
{2} Reischauer (1955a), 82, referring to perishable goods taken by Japanese travelers.
{3} Soper (1950), 10, tells of a native of Silla in Korea who bought up large numbers of the paintings of the master Chou Fang and took them home with him.
{4} Takakusu (1928), 22.
{5} Balazs (1931), 52–54, has a general account of the foreign trade of China in this period.
{6} Coedès (1948), 68.
{7} Bagchi (1929), 77, 346–347.
{8} P. Pelliot, Mémoires sur les coutumes du Cambodge (1951), p. 81.
{9} V. Gabain (1961), 17.
{10} For an excellent summary of the history of this era, see Goodrich (1959), 120 ff.
{11} Prices were high for about the first ten years of the reign of the dynasty, but low during most of the seventh century, though slightly higher again in its final decades. Ch‘üan (1947), 102–109. As to the taxes, see Balazs (1931), 43–55, and Pulleyblank (1955), 125. The corvée could be commuted by an extra portion of silk cloth. In remote parts of the empire, the tax was simplified; thus the peasants of Lingnan paid only rice, and the subjugated Turks sent sheep and coins. It was modified also in great commercial and industrial cities; the business center of Yang-chou paid its primary taxes in money instead of in grain and silk; the manufacturing town of Ch‘eng-tu paid them both in silk. The three levies were named tsu (in grain), tiao (in cloth), and yung (in labor). There were also lesser taxes on land and household, proportional to the size of the holding.
{12} Pulleyblank (1955), 27.
{13} Pulleyblank (1955), 48–49.
{14} Ogawa Shōichi (1957), 97; Schafer (1951), 411. Characteristic were the “Old Style” prose (ku wen) and the imaginative short story. Pulleyblank (1960), 113, has tried to link the cultural renaissance with a movement toward a spiritual revival of the dynasty itself.
{15} Ch‘üan (1947), 109–126, esp. 111–112. In the capital, rice cost 500 times ...

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