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Material Culture, Power, and Identity in Ancient China

Wu, Xiaolong

978 1 107 13402 7
List price(s):
110.00 USD
85.00 GBP
110.50 EUR

Publication date:
9 February 2017

Short description: 

This book is a comprehensive and in-depth study of a mysterious state of China's Warring States Period (476-221 BCE): the Zhongshan.

Full description: 

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 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; Acknowledgements; Introduction; 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 evidence; 3. Royal mortuary practice and artifacts: hybridity, identity, and power; 4. Inter-state politics and artistic innovation during the reign of King Cuo; 5. Statecraft and Zhongshan bronze inscriptions; 6. Funerary architecture, kingly power, and court politics; Conclusion; Appendixes; Bibliography; Index.


Xiaolong Wu is Associate Professor of Art History at Hanover College, Indiana. He received his BA in Chinese archaeology from Beijing University and his PhD in Art History from the University of Pittsburgh. His research interest focuses on the material culture of late Bronze Age China and its interactions with the Eurasian Steppe, and issues related to ethnicity, hybridity, agency, and political power.




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