- Series: Encounters with Asia
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (December 5, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812240529
- ISBN-13: 978-0812240528
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,555,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ethnic Identity in Tang China (Encounters with Asia)
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"The author has ranged far and wide, plucking nuggets of material from dynastic histories, gazetteers, contemporary scholarly treatises, memorials to the emperor, poetry, and artwork. This is a groundbreaking book."—Peter B. Golden, Rutgers University
"Striving to be objective and balanced, the author presents a fascinating look into the ways the Han Chinese conceptualized their non-Han ethnic Other, and vice versa. The concluding argument, that Tang China marks a key shift from ethnic pluralism to a model of Chinese cultural exclusivity, is a thought-provoking one."—Choice
About the Author
Marc S. Abramson holds a Ph.D. degree in East Asian studies from Princeton University and currently works for the U.S. Department of State.
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Top customer reviews
The book discusses two groups within the Tang elite--the Confucian-educated [literati] Han elite (who would eventually take over in the Song), and those who by nature of skills or marriage or special position overcame (?) their "Other" origins to yield power and influence. But if the ruling family's roots were Central Asian, wouldn't they have started being the power-yielding clan with the Confucian literati having to earn 'their' place in the royal court? And how and when did this structure evolve? Without understanding the beginning identity of the Li clan, we have no starting point.
To what extent was the court--and here's the real question--fascinated by (?), intrigued by (?), guided by (?), dedicated to (?) Central Asian customs and practices? Was it "fun" to dress in Central Asian clothing or was it natural? Did Tang elite women ride horses as a given or was it an exotic 'hobby'? Yes, some Tang elites were bilingual, but who, when and why? (and not just that some Chinese literati learned Sanskrit because they were interested in Buddhism). What languages did An Lushan speak? To whom? When? Was the 'rogue' crown prince Chengqian who loved to dress in Central Asian clothing and imitate its customs the sole such example? He's also described as a fool--was he ridiculed because he was a fool or because he lived like a central Asian? How 'Turkic' was the Tang royal family and the court really?
So despite the many pages of examples of how non-Han (elite and non-elite) were treated, labelled, described, taxed, relocated, etc. I finished feeling disappointed. Perhaps its unfair to seek the answer to such questions when all we really have are a handful of official records written by Han Chinese court historians, but I finished feeling this work would perhaps have been better titled, <i>Foreigners in the Eyes of the Tang</i>; <i>Ethnic Identity in Tang China</i> seemed to promise more.