China's Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang Dynasty

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Oxford University Press, 2004 - History - 317 pages
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The Tang Dynasty (618-907), traditionally regarded as the golden age of China, was a time of patricians and intellectuals, Buddhist monks and Taoist priests, poetry and music, song and dance. In China's Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang Dynasty, Charles Benn paints a vivid picture of the lifestyle behind the grandeur of the Tang culture.
All aspects of day-to-day life are presented, including crime, entertainment, fashion, marriage, food, hygiene, dwellings, and transportation. Attend an ancient feast to celebrate an imperial birthday, where ale was served in elaborate pitchers before a meal of fourteen hors d'oeuvres and twenty-three courses. Learn which colors concubines used for their eye makeup and beauty marks, and what jealous wives did to discourage such enhancement. See the similarities between today's pubs and the Tang alehouses, where women were hired to dance and sing to encourage patrons to stay longer and spend more money. Decide for yourself why Yangzhou, a city on the Grand Canal close to the Yangtze River, was considered one of the greatest cities in the Tang Dynasty.
Benn translates and paraphrases his classical Chinese sources from the Tang era with fresh and polished prose. He also includes his own illustrations of everything from tools and hairstyles to musical instruments and courtyard dwellings. A history of the rise and fall of the dynasty is presented, as is a look at the societal structure of the aristocracy, bureaucracy, eunuchs, clergy, peasants, artisans, merchants, and slaves. This thorough explanation provides fascinating insight into a culture and time that is often misunderstood by Westerners and brings alive both the everyday routine and the timeless splendor of this intellectually and artistically powerful epoch. Enjoy your journey in China's Golden Age, and come back to the present with a greater understanding of this amazing time.

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User Review  - hemlockclock - LibraryThing

One of the text books used in my Mediaeval Chinese History course. I loved the way it described little things like the way the women wore their make up (and the canges in the styles) along with adding little anecdotes about the customs. I learned a lot and kept the book after the class was over. Read full review


Cities and Urban Life
House and Garden
Clothes and Hygiene
Food and Feasts
Leisure and Entertainment
Travel and Transportation
Crime and Punishment
Sickness and Health
Life Cycle
Death and the Afterlife
The Fall
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About the author (2004)

Charles Benn is an independent scholar and an adjunct professor at The University of Hawaii.

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