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Sensuous Surfaces: The Decorative Object in Early Modern China
by Jonathan Hay
Reaktion Books, 2015
Cloth: 978-1-86189-408-3 | eISBN: 978-1-86189-846-3

With Sensuous Surfaces, Jonathan Hay offers one of the most richly illustrated and in-depth introductions to the decorative arts of Ming and Qing dynasty China to date. Examining an immense number of works, he explores the materials and techniques, as well as the effects of patronage and taste, that together have formed a loose system of informal rules that define the decorative arts in early modern China.
Hay demonstrates how this system—by engaging the actual and metaphorical potential of surface—guided the production and use of decorative arts from the late sixteenth century through the middle of the nineteenth, a period of explosive growth. He shows how the understanding of decorative arts made a fundamental contribution to the sensory education of China’s early modern urban population. Enriching his study with 280 color plates, he ultimately offers an elegant meditation, not only on Ming and Qing art but on the importance of the erotic in the form and function of decorations of all eras. 

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