"Eastern Magnificence & European Ingenuity": Clocks of Late Imperial China
The period from the late sixteenth to the late eighteenth centuries was one of complex change for the Chinese. Europe was eagerly looking to the East with an interest in developing a China market, not just in commercial and diplomatic enterprises but in evangelical ventures as well. The resulting contacts produced significant cultural exchanges and appropriations, as well as misconceptions and stereotypes. Profoundly affected by these interactions were the areas of technology and the decorative arts. Europe became enamored of Chinese style, and a fashion known as chinoiserie permeated the decorative arts. In China, one result of Sino-European contact was the introduction of a new and important technology: the Western mechanical clock.
Called in Chinese zimingzhong, or "self-ringing bells," these elaborate clocks were used as status symbols, decorative items, and personal adornments, and only occasionally as timepieces. Most importantly, they were signifiers of cultural power: Europeans, whether missionaries or ambassadors, controlled the introduction of both object and technology, and they used this control to advantage in gaining access to the highest reaches of Chinese society.
Through her focus on technology and the decorative arts, Catherine Pagani contributes to an overall understanding of the nature and extent of European influence in late Imperial China and of the complex interaction between these two cultures. This study's interdisciplinary approach will make it of interest to those in the fields of art history, the history of clockwork and of science and technology, Jesuit history, Qing-dynasty history, and Asian studies, as well as to the educated general reader.
Catherine Pagani is Associate Professor, Asian Art History, University of Alabama.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
archival arrived artists astronomical automata automaton Beale Beijing British catalog Chapuis Chinese court Chinese emperor Chinois chinoiserie clock in China clockface clockmakers clocks and watches Cox's craftsmen cultural Descriptive early East India Company eighteenth century elaborate clocks elaborate clockwork Emperor of China Europe European clocks Father Forbidden City foreign Geneva gifts Guangzhou Heavenly Clockwork Henri Maillardet Heshen horological horology I'Horlogerie Suisse imperial collection Imperial Household Department James Cox Jaquet-Droz et Leschot Jesuits John Kangxi emperor Lazarists letter London Macao Macartney embassy makers manufacture Matteo Ricci mechanical clock Ming missions motifs Needham Neiwufu nese nineteenth century objects pagoda painted enamels Palace Museum palace workshops Paris Perregaux and Perrot pieces porcelain presents produced Qianlong emperor Qianlong period Qing dynasty Qingdai Relations de I'Horlogerie Ripa self-sounding bell sent seventeenth century Song's Staunton style Suzhou Swiss tion Ventavon Wang watchmaker Western wrote Yuanmingyuan zaobanchu
Page 258 - The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, being a large Collection of the most Elegant and Useful Designs of Household Furniture in the Gothic, Chinese and Modern Taste.
Page 258 - A descriptive inventory of the several exquisite and magnificent pieces of mechanism and jewellery, comprised in the schedule annexed to an Act of Parliament, made in the thirteenth year of the reign of His Majesty, George the Third ; for enabling Mr. James Cox, of the City of London, jeweller, to dispose of his Museum by way of Lottery.