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DateEvent
07 November 2019A JOURNEY THROUGH 3OOO YEARS OF CHINESE CIVILISATION
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01 November 2017 Old Father Thames
09 November 2016ART DECO and its influence on design 1920 to1939
20 October 2015Rome: From Constantine via the High Renaissance to the Baroque Era

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A JOURNEY THROUGH 3OOO YEARS OF CHINESE CIVILISATION ANNE HAWORTH, Thursday 07 November 2019

LECTURE 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO CHINA'S CIVILISATION, CULTURE AND CIVILISATION

Its early history, languages and topography of fertile regions, sacred mountains and deserts. ln spoken Chinese, China is'Zhong Guo', which translates as 'The Middle Kingdom' and expresses the central world position which China occupies in the mind-set of the Chinese. The initial focus is on the fertile Yellow River area in the north: 'The Cradle of Chinese Civilisation.' Studying materials such as ritual bronzes and polished jades and the philosophies of Confucius and Lao Zi,  will show  how this ancient civilisation evolved. A new era began with the reign of Qin Shi Huang Di, (259-210 BC), China's First Emperor, famous for his 'Terracotta Warriors' and the consolidator of The Great Wall. The Silk Routes  linked China to lands further West from where Buddhism was introduced. During the first millennium AD, changing dynasties, turbulence and golden ages of peace defined the country's history. The cosmic role of the emperors, the literati who valued gardens, calligraphy, painting, poetry and tea-drinking, the making of silk and ceramics and the impact of the natural world are all important themes. China's classical era called the Song Dynasty when exquisite paintings and ceramics were produced.

LECTURE 2: CHINA FROM THE YUAN DYNASTY TO THE MING DYNASTY (1271-1644) 

During the late 13th century, a relentless power appeared on China's northern frontier in the shape of the invading Mongols, who established the Yuan Dynasty (1278- 1368), with its capital at Dadu (modern Beijing). This era of conflict  witnessed the expansion of sea-borne trade and contacts with SE Asia and the lslamic World. Blue and white porcelain was introduced - a commodity which was to become so crucial to world trade. Marco Polo is said to have visited China in this era. After the Yuan came the cultural flowering of the Ming Dynasty, when an early emperor, Yongle, built The Forbidden City in Beijing. This was to be was the Imperial residence for almost 500 years. lt is now the Palace Museum, housing the treasures and art collections accumulated by generations of emperors during the Ming and succeeding Qing Dynasties. The development of the  lmperial Collections in Beijing, the growth in trade at first with the Arabs and later with the Portuguese and Dutch and the importance to China of the literati world of the classical Ming Dynasty garden.

LECTURE 3: THE QING DYNASTY (1644-1911) TWILIGHT DAYS OF EMPIRE, REVOLUTION AND THE TRIUMPH OF MODERN SHANGHAI

As the Ming Emperors lost the Mandate of Heaven, China witnessed invasion once more, by the Manchus from beyond the Great Wall, who established the Qing Dynasty. The first Emperors of this Dynasty were powerful. They honoured the ancient riies and were major collectors and patrons of art, the 18th century Qianlong Emperor was one of the greatest patrons of art the world has known. During the 18th Century, trade flourished with the Western trading companies based at Canton, among which the English East India Company was dominant. During the 19th century, the Westerners sought to expand their interests, leading to the devastating Opium Wars and establishment of the Treaty Ports, such as Shanghai. The abdication of the last emperor in 1911 was followed by civil wars, the victory of Mao's Communist armies and in later years, China's Awakening.

 

RECOMMENDED READING:  Jessica Rawson, (ed.), 'The British Museum Book of Chinese Art', London 1992 Rose Kerr, (ed.), 'Chinese Art and Design', London 1991 Frances Wood, 'The Silk Road, Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia', London 2003 Chiu Mei Ho and Bennet Bronson, 'Splendours of China's Forbidden City; The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong', London and New York, 2004 Rosemary E. Scott, 'For the lmperial Court; Qing Porcelain from the Percival Foundation of Chinese Art', New York 1997 Oliver, lmpey, 'Chinoiserie', London, 1977 Dawn Jacobson, 'Chinoiserie', London 1993 Maggie Keswick, 'The Chinese Garden: History, Art and Architecture' .(a classic lovely book recently  reprinted in a new edition).  Rupert Faulkner, (Ed.), 'Tea East and West', London 2003 John Carswell, 'Blue and White; Chinese Porcelain around the World', Richard Kilburn and Colin Sheaf, 'The Hatcher Cargoes' Marina Warner, 'The Dragon Empress', London 1974 Daniele Vare, 'The Maker of Heavenly Trousers' (a charming book and part of a series. Has recently been reprinted as a Penguin Modern Classic) Eileen Chang, 'The Rouge of the North'and other books, which bring to life the pre-war world of Shanghai from a Chinese perspective.