07 August 2013: Things Chinese

Every item covered has a written history of its own, and Kapp’s approach to history is comprehensive.The Nation

things chineseThe traditional arts and crafts of China are a perennial source of fascination for many, and have served as muse for a diverse range of subjects and interests over the years, from the music of Bartók to the movies of Bertolucci to the catwalks of St. Laurent. As evidenced in the book Things Chinese, the Chinese influence in world culture is both eternal and ubiquitous, touching everything from the commonplace to the unusual – from food, music and art to architecture, movies and fashion. For many collectors, the cornucopia of items characteristic of Chinese culture are highly sought after – they include armchairs, beds, cabinets, bamboo steamers, silk dresses, tea sets, Buddhist figures, calligraphy, chopsticks, lanterns, miniature landscapes, cigarette posters, fortune sticks, puppets, cricket cages, silk dresses, seals, calligraphy and Mao Memorabilia.

things-2In Things Chinese, Author Ronald Knapp narrates the stories behind each of these items, training his expert eye specifically on their individual histories, cultural values and customs. Photographer Michael Freeman translates the textual description of each item into gloriously detailed images, capturing the nuances of each with every click of his camera. The ‘cataloguing’ of objects is neatly divided into six parts — Household Furnishings, Arts and Crafts, Personal Possessions, Eating and Drinking, Games and Amusements and Religious Icons. Mr. Knapp has been carrying out research on cultural and historical geography in China’s countryside since 1965 – Things Chinese represents one of several books on Chinese architecture. Michael Freeman is one of the most widely published photographers worldwide, having worked for many major international magazine and book publishers, including 30 years with the Smithsonian Magazine.

If you like Things Chinese, you may also enjoy The Peranakan Chinese Home: Art and Culture in Daily Life, Chinese Houses of Southeast Asia: The Eclectic Architecture of Sojourners and Settlers and Chinese Houses: The Architectural Heritage of a Nation.