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The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of T'ang Exotics
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The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of T'ang Exotics

4.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  47 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
In the seventh century the kingdom of Samarkand sent formal gifts of fancy yellow peaches, large as goose eggs and with a color like gold, to the Chinese court at Ch'ang-an. What kind of fruit these golden peaches really were cannot now be guessed, but they have the glamour of mystery, and they symbolize all the exotic things longed for, and unknown things hoped for, by th ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 6th 1985 by University of California Press (first published January 1st 1963)
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Hadrian
Mar 24, 2015 Hadrian rated it really liked it
The Golden Peaches of Samarkand is charming encyclopedic study of the material culture and aesthetic trends of the Tang Dynasty.

Now the subtitle is a modest exposition of what's in the book. It's an extensive history of the things that the T'ang Dynasty wanted to import from the 7th through the 10th centuries. Now this book was written before Orientalism and the questions of exoticizing everything that isn't in Western Europe or just from the view of the historian. But this book manages to play
...more
Mel
The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A study of Tang exotics by Edward H. Schafer is probably one of the earliest, if not the earliest, book written about the Tang dynasty. It's more encyclopedia than book, and for that reason it's the first book about China that I haven't read cover to cover in a long time. Each chapter is devoted to a different aspect of culture, metals, clothing, jewels, food, books, animals, etc. The book is concerned primarily with the exotic items given to the dynasty as tribu ...more
Michael Shea
Nov 09, 2015 Michael Shea rated it liked it
This book took me several years to read. I have to admit, this is a very niche topic. Over the years I have looked for books that cover East-West communication over the Eurasian landmass. I am fascinated that the Roman and Chinese empires knew of each other, but never had direct contact. This book fits in that genre. It lists the different types of items presented to the emperors of Tang China as tribute gifts. It then proceeds to talk about where these items came from, who presented them, what ...more
Bryn Hammond
This famous book is a bit spoilt for me by his uncritical quotation of the Chinese on the Uighurs. In Schafer's text too they are 'arrogant, haughty' and nothing else, their behaviour when in China enough to disgust a civilized person. He doesn't seem unfair on other ethnic groups, so this sticks out for me.

On the T'ang and the foreign, and foreigners in China, I found such insight and understanding in this one: Ethnic Identity in Tang China.
Sylvia Volk
Nov 26, 2011 Sylvia Volk rated it it was amazing
More nonfiction should be like this. This is a book that, well, describes stuff ... but saying so is like walking out of a candy shop and saying, "Well, that was a place that sold sugar." Schafer has assembled chapter after chapter of gorgeous things from T'ang China: the horses, the books, the gemstones, the references to strange herbs now unknown to science. It's a book of wonders, a very old-fashioned thing, and so yummy that I could put on weight just leafing through the chapter on horses.
Maury
Mar 13, 2014 Maury rated it really liked it
An amazing compilation of research about Tang imports, which manages to be both encyclopedic and engaging.
Jayme
Jul 22, 2011 Jayme marked it as to-read-non-fiction
Mentioned in the acknowledgements for Under Heaven.
David
Aug 19, 2014 David rated it really liked it
An amazing compilation of research about Tang imports, which manages to be both encyclopedic and engaging.
Admiral
Jun 11, 2013 Admiral rated it liked it
More encyclopedic than a novel, but very valuable in that way.
carly
Jul 08, 2011 carly rated it really liked it
School Book.
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An American sinologist and a noted expert on the Tang dynasty. Schafer's most famous works include The Golden Peaches of Samarkand and The Vermilion Bird, which both explore China's interactions with new cultures and regions during the Tang dynasty.

Schafer earned a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1947. He then became a professor of Chinese there and remained at Berkeley until hi
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