The Economy of Images: Visual Culture in China 1400-1700

Prof Craig Clunas, Sussex University



This is a list of recommended reading for a specific course, giving some general bibliography, and additional background reading. You can also find the course outline in the GLAADH website. [link to: Course Outline: Econ imges course.doc]


This bibliography includes: [make this list hyperlinks to appropriate bookmarks down the page]

         General Reference Books on China

         General Books on Chinese History

         Some Books Specifically About the Ming period (1368-1644)

         Books on Chinese Literature

         Books on Chinese Painting

         Artistic Theory

         Books on Ming arts other than painting

         Pronunciation hints for Chinese names written in the pinyin system:



General Reference Books on China

C. Blunden and M. Elvin, Cultural Atlas of China, 1983

W.T. De Bary, W. Chan and B. Watson eds, Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol II, 1960

M. Dillon, Dictionary of Chinese History, 1979

A. Herrmann, An Historical Atlas of China, 1966

The Times Atlas of World History


General Books on Chinese History

K.C. Chang ed., Food in Chinese Culture (New Haven and London, 1977) [Has excellent chapter on Ming food]

M. Ch'ien, Traditional Government in ImperialChina, 1982

Mark Elvin, The Pattern of the Chinese Past, 1973

J.K. Fairbank, E.O. Reischauer and E.M. Craig, China: Tradition and Transformation, 1979

J. Gernet, History of Chinese Civilisation, 1982

R. Huang, China: A Macro-History, 1988

C.O. Hucker, China's Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History, 1975

David Johnson, Andrew J. Nathan and Evelyn S, Rawski eds, Popular Culture in Late Imperial China, 1985

K.S. Latourette, The Chinese; their history and culture, 1962

J.T. Meskill et al. Introduction to Chinese Civilisation, 1973

D. Nivison and A.F. Wright eds, Confucianism in Action, 1959

B. Smith and W. Weng, China: A History in Art, 1973


Some Books Specifically About the Ming period (1368-1644)

Chu-tsing Li and James C.Y. Watt eds, The Chinese Scholar's Studio: Artistic Life in the Late Ming Period (New York, 1978)

C. Chang & C.H. Chang Crisis and Transformation in 17th-century China (Ann Arbor, 1992)

Urban Life in the Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties (Singapore, 1994)

C.O. Hucker, The Censorial System of Ming China, 1966

C.O. Hucker, Chinese government in Ming times: seven studies, 1969

R. Huang, 1587, A Year of No Significance: the Ming Dynasty in Decline, 1981

F. W. Mote and D. Twitchett eds, The Cambridge History of China, Volume 7: The Ming Dynasty 1368-1644, Part 1, 1988, Part 2, 1998 [The first volume is straight year by year history, the second is essys on aspects of Ming society, e.g. religion but very poor coverage of the arts]

John Dardess, A Ming Society: Tíai-ho County, Kiangsi, fourteenth to seventeenth centuries, 1996


Books on Chinese Literature

David Tod Roy trans., The Plum in the Golden Vase, (Chicago, 1993) [This is a brilliant translation of the greatest of Ming novels, and gives a lot of insight into daily life in a wealthy merchant household]

H.C. Chang, Chinese Literature: Popular Fiction and Drama, 1973

W. Dolby, History of Chinese Drama, 1976

W. Dolby, Eight Chinese Plays from the 13th Century to the Present, 1978

C. Egerton trans, The Golden Lotus, 1972

C. Hsia, The Classic Chinese Novel, a Critical Introduction, 1968

F.W. Mote, The Poet Kao Ch'i, 1336-1374, 1962

W. R. Nienhauser ed., The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature, 1986

G. Whincup, The Heart of Chinese Poetry: an Anthology of Translations, 1987

The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature


Books on Chinese Painting

Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting (New Haven, 1998)

James Cahill, The Painterís Practice (New York, 1994)

Wu Hung, The Double Screen (London, 1996)

Wen Fong, Possessing the Past (New York, 1996) [Catalogue of a major exhibition of material from the National Palace Museum Taipei, includes many of the works we will be looking at]

Kao Mayching, Paintings of the Ming Dynasty from the Palace Museum (Hong Kong, 1988)

Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting: The Collections of the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, and the Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, 1980)

Susan Bush and Christian Murck eds. Theories of the Arts in China (Princeton, 1983)

Jessica Rawson ed., The British Museum Book of Chinese Art (London, 1992)

Rose Kerr ed., Chinese Art and Design (London, 1991)

Anne Farrer, 'The Brush Dances and the Ink Sings': Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy from the British Museum (London, 1990)

R.H. Van Gulik, Chinese Pictorial art as Viewed by the Connoisseur (New York, 1981)

Richard Barnhart, Peach Blossom Spring: Gardens and Flowers in Chinese Art (New York, 1983)

J. B. Harley and D. Woodward eds,The History of Cartography, Volume 2, Book 2: Cartography in the Traditional East and Southeast Asian societies (Chicago, 1993)

Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, Volume 5, Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth (Cambridge, 1959) [sections on cartography]

Kiyohiko Munakata, Sacred Mountains in Chinese Art (Urbana, 1991)


Artistic Theory

Susan Bush and Hsio-yen Shih, Early Chinese Texts on Painting (Cambridge, MA, 1985)

A. Murck and Wen Fong eds., Words and Images: Chinese Poetry, Calligraphy and Painting (Princeton, 1991)

Lin Yu-tang, The Chinese Theory of Art, 1967

Osvald Siren, The Chinese on the Art of Painting: translations and comments (New York, 1963)

Christian F. Murck ed., Artists and Traditions: Uses of the Past in Chinese Culture (Princeton, 1976)



Books on Ming arts other than painting

Craig Clunas, 'Books and Things; Ming Literary Culture and Material Culture', in Frances Wood ed., Chinese Studies, British Library Occasional papers 10 (London, 1988), pp.136-43.

Shelagh Vainker, Chinese Pottery and Porcelain: from prehistory to the present day (London, 1991)

Michael Butler, Margaret Medley and Stephen Little, Seventeenth-century Chinese Porcelain from the Butler Family Collection (Alexandria, 1990)

Stephen Little, Chinese Ceramics of the Transitional Period: 1620-1683 (New York, 1983)

Susanne Valenstein, A handbook of Chinese Ceramics (New York, 1989)

Derek Clifford, Chinese Carved Lacquer (London, 1992)

Regina Krahl & Brian Morgan, From Image to Conformity: Chinese lacquer from the 13th to the 16th century (London, 1989)

Hu Shih-chang, 2,000 Years of Chinese Lacquer (Hong Kong, 1993)

National Palace Museum, Exhibition of Tapestry (Taipei, 1989)

Rose Kerr, Later Chinese Bronzes (London, 1990)

V.M Garrett ed., Heavenís Embroidered Cloths: one thousand years of Chinese textiles (Hong Kong, 1995)


Pronunciation hints for Chinese names written in the pinyin system:

X, pronounce like an `s'

Q, pronounce like `ch'

Zh, pronounce like `j' as in `jam'


SO:- Xiang, say `See-ang'; Qin, say `chin'; Zhou, say `joe'.