China's Cultural Heritage: The Qing Dynasty, 1644-1912

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Westview Press, 1994 - History - 386 pages
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The Qing Dynasty (1644–1912)—a crucial bridge between “traditional” and “modern” China—was a period remarkable for its expansiveness and cultural sophistication. In this extensively revised and expanded edition of his highly regarded book, Richard J. Smith shows how the Chinese of the Qing Dynasty viewed the world; how their outlook was expressed in their institutions, material culture, and customs; and how China’s preoccupation with order, unity, and harmony contributed to the remarkable cohesiveness and continuity of traditional Chinese civilization. In addition to offering a new and challenging interpretation of Chinese culture as a whole, he provides a fresh perspective on a wide variety of topics, from gender issues, philosophy, religion, and mythology, to language, aesthetics, and symbolism. He also examines a number of important but too-often neglected aspects of traditional Chinese daily life, including divination, food, music, sexual practices, festivals, child-rearing, and games.Based on the author’s careful rethinking of certain themes and arguments presented in the first edition, this revised version of China’s Cultural Heritage also draws heavily upon the enormous body of new scholarship on Chinese history and culture that has appeared in the last decade. Although focused primarily on the Qing Dynasty, the book not only sheds valuable light on the distant past but it helps us to understand China’s contemporary problems of modernization. A concluding chapter systematically explores the legacy of traditional Chinese culture to the twentieth century.

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The Qing Inheritance
The Qmg Political Order
Social and Economic Institutions
Language and Symbolic Reference
Social Life
Tradition and Modernity 18601993
A Note on Chinese Names
About the Book and Author

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Page 146 - States, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.
Page 140 - If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame. "If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of shame, and moreover will become good.
Page 143 - By the ruler's cultivation of his own character, the duties of universal obligation are set forth. By honouring men of virtue and talents, he is preserved from errors of judgment. By showing affection to his relatives, there is no grumbling nor resentment among his uncles and brethren. By respecting the great ministers, he is kept from errors in the practice of government. By kind and considerate treatment of the whole body of officers, they are led to make the most grateful return for his courtesies....
Page 152 - The more taboos and prohibitions there are in the world, The poorer the people will be. The more sharp weapons the people have, The more troubled the state will be. The more cunning and skill man possesses, The more vicious things will appear. The more laws and orders are made prominent, The more thieves and robbers there will be.
Page 142 - Never has there been a case of the sovereign loving benevolence, and the people not loving righteousness. Never has there been a case where the people have loved righteousness, and the affairs of the sovereign have not been carried to completion. And never has there been a case where the wealth in such a State, collected in the treasuries and arsenals, did not continue in the sovereign's possession.
Page 146 - The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue, throughout the empire, *first ordered well their own States. Wishing to order well their States, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts.
Page 126 - I fear that we shall have to say that while the five-element and two-force theories were favourable rather than inimical to the development of scientific thought in China,8 the elaborated symbolic system of the Book of Changes was almost from the start a mischievous handicap. It tempted those who were interested in Nature to rest in explanations which were no explanations at all.5 The Book of Changes was a system for pigeon-holing novelty and then doing nothing more about it.
Page 142 - See to be the minister of instruction, to teach the relations of humanity: how, between father and son, there should be affection; between sovereign and minister, righteousness ; between husband and wife, attention to their separate functions ; between old and young, a proper order ; and between friends, fidelity...
Page 293 - Today's China is an outgrowth of historic China. We are Marxist historicists; we must not mutilate history. From Confucius to Sun Yat-sen we must sum it up critically, and we must constitute ourselves the heirs of all that is precious in this past.
Page 146 - At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the decrees of heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.

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About the author (1994)

Richard J. Smith is professor of history and director of Asian Studies at Rice University.

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