Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Material Culture, Power, and Identity in Ancient China

Xiaolong Wu

Cambridge University Press

Publication Date:
April 30, 2017


In this book, Xiaolong Wu offers a comprehensive and in-depth study of the Zhongshan state during China's Warring States Period (476–221 BCE). Analyzing artefacts, inscriptions, and grandiose funerary structures within a broad archaeological context, he illuminates the connections between power and identity, and the role of material culture in asserting and communicating both. The author brings an interdisciplinary approach to this study. He combines and cross-examines all available categories of evidence, including archaeological, textual, art historical, and epigraphical, enabling innovative interpretations and conclusions that challenge conventional views regarding Zhongshan and ethnicity in ancient China. Wu reveals the complex relationship between material culture, cultural identity, and statecraft intended by the royal patrons. He demonstrates that the Zhongshan king Cuo 嚳 constructed a hybrid cultural identity, consolidated his power, and aimed to maintain political order at court after his death through the buildings, sculpture, and inscriptions that he commissioned.

Table of Contents:

List of figures
List of maps
List of tables
1. Historical setting and approaches to the study of an ancient state in Warring 
    States China
2. Life, death, and identity in Zhongshan: sorting out the archaeological 
3. Royal mortuary practice and artifacts: hybridity, identity, and power
4. Inter-state politics and artistic innovation during the reign of King Cuo 嚳
5. Statecraft and Zhongshan bronze inscriptions
6. Funerary architecture, kingly power, and court politics

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