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Bringing Heaven to Earth : Chinese Silver Jewellery and Ornament in the Late Qing Dynasty (Paperback)

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About this item

The prowess of Chinese creative abilities in the decorative arts in the 19th and early
20th centuries was well known globally, but, while much has been written about
Chinese textiles and on the influence of the East on European styles of the time, the
story of the influence of Western formats and tastes on the manufacture of Chinese
jewelry in the period has, amazingly, never been told. In examining 50 objects of
extraordinary quality from an important private North American collection, this
book seeks to redress the situation and reveal the splendor of silver and silver-gilt
jewelry of the late Qing dynasty.

An ancient and sophisticated culture, the Chinese – who have since records
begun made up about a quarter of world’s population – had almost everything they
could need or want within their own borders … except for silver. The metal had
long cultural, commercial and governmental associations but had to be imported
largely from South America, after both national and Japanese reserves were quickly
exhausted by huge Chinese demand. Beginning in the mid 19th century – where
the story told here begins – after two successive defeats in the Opium Wars,
sixteen treaty ports were established on coastal and inland cities, enabling Western
merchants freer movement and trade with the Chinese.

The 50 pieces of jewelry and ornament presented here have been beautifully
photographed and carefully documented. In superb unrestored condition, the objects
incorporate exotic materials like tiger-shark teeth, teak wood, amber, precious and
semiprecious stones from India and Sri Lanka, enamel, as well as finely carved and
pierced nephrite, jadeite and lapis lazuli. Daoist imagery and motifs dominate but
with the inclusion of some surprising Buddhist imagery as well. Though not from the
imperial collection of the Qing, these exquisite pieces were seemingly commissioned
and worn by prosperous members of the society from all over the vast country. The
differences in manufacture, even in this varied sample of 50 items, is striking. Their
appeal is more than just aesthetic, and their design and decoration speak of the
social, religious, economic and political climate of their time. Questions regarding
the sale and consumption of these object are discussed, and changing local and
foreign tastes in the wake of the fall of the Qing dynasty and the establishment of the
Republican period are also addressed.
Number of Pages: 199
Genre: Antiques + Collectibles, Art
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Casemate Pub & Book Dist Llc
Author: Elizabeth Herridge & Frances Wood
Language: English
Street Date: November 22, 2016
TCIN: 51765942
UPC: 9780995557703
Item Number (DPCI): 248-32-8190
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