I'm now into the "pretty pictures" section of this book - the photographs of the items that were in the exhibition. Obviously I can't put those in a blog post, but each section is introduced with a short essay and I discuss the first four of those below.
Chapter by Chapter
This is the catalogue for an exhibition of the same name that ran at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from November 2005 to April 2006. I didn't go to see it myself, but I've borrowed the book from my Dad who did. A lot of the book (as befits an exhibition catalogue) is full of pictures of the objects that were displayed. It starts with three general essays, then each section of objects has some introductory text. It also has a map of China, and of the Forbidden Palace.
Late Imperial China: The Ming and Qing Dynasties
This last chapter of the book covers about 550 years from the start of the Ming Dynasty in 1368 through to the overthrow of the last Qing Emperor in 1911 (plus a coda about the rest of his life up to his death in 1967).
Great Changes: The Tang-Song Transition (Second Half)
This is the second half of the chapter on the Tang & Song dynasties & it covers the Song Dynasty and the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty. The time period covered is from 960AD through to approximately 1370AD.
Great Changes: The Tang-Song Transition (First Half)
From one extreme to the other - this chapter of my book is so long I've actually split it into two and this post is about the first half. This covers the Sui and Tang dynasties of China (and the immediate aftermath of the Tang), and about 400 years from 581AD to 960AD.
Partition and Conflict: The Period of Division
This is a short chapter, just 18 pages, and probably I should've read it right after the last one & done a post about the two together. But then again, it covers another 400 years from about 200AD through to about 600AD. And about half a thousand different names and kingdoms (some exaggeration for effect here ;) ). So it was a bit confusing.
Unification and Expansion: The First Chinese Empires
This chapter of the book covers the Qin Dynasty & the two halves of the Han Dynasty, who ruled China between 221BC and 220AD. The Qin Emperor was the first ruler to unite China under the rule of a central authority rather than the feudal states of previous dynasties. The Han emerged initially as the result of a peasant uprising against the second Qin Emperor, and subsequently ruled over China for about 400 years.
The "Three Dynasties": The Ancient Kingdoms
I've decided to write up notes on the non-fiction books I'm reading in chunks, coz frequently that's how I read them - in sections, with fiction in between to clear the palate, so's to speak :)