China Magnificent: Five Thousand Years of Chinese Art

By Dagny Carter | Go to book overview

X
THE GLORY THAT WAS T'ANG

THE remarkable recuperative powers of the Chinese civilization have never found a satisfactory explanation. During periods of foreign invasions, which nearly always followed in the wake of political and imperial decadence, China again and again seems to have been facing the fate of other ancient peoples who had their day and ceased to be, only to rise as the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of destruction and despair to new life and glory.

Karlgren in his Chinese History points out that these periods of renewal have invariably, almost to the present day, been preceded by periods when barbarian invasions from the North brought the infusion of a more aggressive stock to the non-aggressive peace-loving Chinese race which seemingly needed such stimulation for renewed activity.

The splendid indigenous Han Dynasty was preceded by the half-barbarian Ch'in conquest and the ascendency of the mixed race of the border states. When this virile infusion had spent itself during the four hundred years of the Han Dynasty, there followed another four hundred years in which all of North China's population became thoroughly mixed with the foreign element, to be followed by the T'ang era, which marks the apex of China's political, artistic, and cultural attainments. Karlgren labels his conclusions from these historical observations as "perhaps fantastic," but in seeking an explanation for China's recuperative power they give valuable food for thought.

While foreign invasions brought new customs, caused changes in language and even may have changed ethnic characteristics, Wilhelm in his Short History of Chinese Civilization finds in the ideographic script of the Chinese an explanation for the fact that the Chinese civilization, in spite of all these changes, continued its traditions. China's literary

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China Magnificent: Five Thousand Years of Chinese Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Part One - Graves and Altars 1
  • I - Stone-Age Graves And Prehistoric Sites 3
  • II - Feudal China 11
  • III - Nomad Invasions 27
  • IV - The Empire Builder 41
  • V - Imperial Expansion 49
  • VI - The Graves of the Sons of Han 59
  • Part Two - Temples and Palaces 73
  • VIII - The Dark Ages 83
  • IX - Cave Temples 95
  • X - The Glory That Was T'Ang 109
  • XI - The Art of the T'Ang Era 117
  • XII - Artistic Fulfilment 135
  • Part Three - Shops and Marts 153
  • XIII - Conquered China 155
  • XIV - Ming Nationalism 165
  • XV- The European Expansion and China 181
  • XVI - The Manchus 191
  • Bibliography 209
  • Index 217
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