Chinese classical furniture is esteemed throughout the world for its beauty, functionalism, and influence on contemporary design aesthetics. Sarah Handler's stunningly illustrated volume traces Chinese hardwood furniture from its earliest origins in the Shang dynasty (c. 1500 to c. 1050 B.C.) to the present. She offers a fascinating and poetic view of Chinese furniture as functional sculpture, a fine art alongside the other Chinese arts of calligraphy, architecture, painting, and literature.
Handler, a widely respected scholar of Chinese furniture, uses her knowledge of Chinese social, political, and economic history to provide a backdrop for understanding the many nuances of this art form. Drawing on literary and visual evidence from excavated materials, written texts, paintings, prints, and engravings, she discusses how people lived, their notions of hierarchy, and their perceptions of space. Her descriptions of historical developments, such as the shift from mats to chairs, evoke the psychological and sociological ramifications.
The invention of a distinctive way to support and contain people and things within the household is one of China's singular contributions, says Handler. With more than three hundred exquisite illustrations, many in color, Handler's comprehensive study reveals "the magical totality of Chinese classical furniture, from its rich surfaces and shrewd proportions down to the austere soul of art that resides in the hardwood interiors." Austere Luminosity recognizes Chinese classical furniture as one of China's premier arts, unique in the furniture traditions of the world.
From Library Journal
Numerous books have illustrated Chinese furniture, but this is the first major work to reach beyond picturing collectors' trophies and place Chinese furniture in the context of the culture. The Chinese were the only civilization outside of Europe in premodern times to adopt a daily lifestyle based on chairs, tables, and other accessories rather than the mats, cushions, and trays prevalent in the rest of the world. What caused this movement up from floor level, and how was it reflected in the design and use of specific pieces of furniture? Further, how did it culminate in the creation of the magnificent rosewood furniture of the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties? A former curator of the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture who also taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, Handler discusses these topics and hosts of others in the clear, well-informed text. Approximately 118 color and 204 black-and-white images of single pieces of furniture and woodcuts from historic texts show comparable furniture in daily use. Handler has effectively woven the narrow subject of Chinese furniture design into the larger tapestry of Chinese life. Recommended. David McClelland, Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Blends art history with social history to trace the evolution of Chinese hardwood furniture."--"Art and Antiques magazine
From the Inside Flap
"Sarah Handler has written a true cultural history of Chinese furniture. Her book is a highly erudite blend of art history and social history, yet with a structure as transparent and elegant as that of a fine piece of Ming-style furniture."Klaas Ruitenbeek, Louise Hawley Stone Chair of Far Eastern Art, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and author of Carpentry and Building in Late Imperial China: A Study of the Fifteenth-Century Carpenter's Manual Lu Ban jing
From the Back Cover
"Sarah Handler has written a true cultural history of Chinese furniture. Her book is a highly erudite blend of art history and social history, yet with a structure as transparent and elegant as that of a fine piece of Ming-style furniture."―Klaas Ruitenbeek, Louise Hawley Stone Chair of Far Eastern Art, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, and author of Carpentry and Building in Late Imperial China: A Study of the Fifteenth-Century Carpenter's Manual Lu Ban jing
About the Author
- Publisher : University of California Press; First edition (October 1, 2001)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 425 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0520214846
- ISBN-13 : 978-0520214842