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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
December 2018
Print publication year:
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Creative Commons:
Creative Common License - CC Creative Common License - BY Creative Common License - NC Creative Common License - ND
This content is Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Book description

This volume opens a door into the rich history of animals in China. As environmental historians turn their attention to expanded chronologies of natural change, something new can be said about human history through animals and about the globally diverse cultural and historical dynamics that have led to perceptions of animals as wild or cultures as civilized. This innovative collection of essays spanning Chinese history reveals how relations between past and present, lived and literary reality, have been central to how information about animals and the natural world has been processed and evaluated in China. Drawing on an extensive array of primary sources, ranging from ritual texts to poetry to veterinary science, this volume explores developments in the human-animal relationship through Chinese history and the ways in which the Chinese have thought about the world with and through animals. This title is also available as Open Access.


‘This thoughtfully edited collection offers rich and varied work by an interdisciplinary community of scholars thinking with and about animals over the longue durée of Chinese history. The volume demonstrates the value of ranging broadly across region, time period, and source, and readers will find exciting new work on animals in agronomy, ritual practices, consumption of all sorts, literature, ethics, material culture, and much more.'

Carla Nappi - University of British Columbia

‘This thought-provoking collection represents both the cutting edge of animal studies and a necessary foundation for future scholarship. It reveals the profound material and symbolic influence of animals on state and society, and offers fresh insights into the impacts of four thousand years of human activity on zoological China.'

Sigrid Schmalzer - University of Massachusetts, Amherst

‘Animals through Chinese History is a major contribution to Chinese, as well as animal studies. Bringing together leading experts, it explores the changing attitudes towards given species, and the animal world at large, across Chinese history. This rich volume is a must read for anyone interested in Chinese conceptions of nature no less than the global history of the human interaction with non-human animals.'

Meir Shahar - Tel Aviv University

‘Animals through Chinese History represents an exciting contribution to the fields of Chinese studies and animal studies. The collection brings together the insights of leading specialists to provide a valuable resource for both scholars and students.’

Rebecca Doran Source: Journal of the American Oriental Society

‘Drawing upon an impressive range of primary sources, this volume constitutes a collection of essays from various scholarly disciplines that seek to 'open the door to the rich field of animals and knowing in China'.'

Joseph Chadwin Source: Religious Studies

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Full book PDF
  • Animals through Chinese History
    pp i-ii
  • Earliest Times to 1911
  • Animals through Chinese History - Title page
    pp iii-iii
  • Earliest Times to 1911
  • Copyright page
    pp iv-iv
  • Contents
    pp v-vi
  • Figures
    pp vii-viii
  • Tables
    pp ix-ix
  • Contributors
    pp x-xi
  • Acknowledgements
    pp xii-xii
  • Chronology of Dynasties
    pp xiii-xiv
  • Knowing Animals in China’s History
    pp 1-19
  • An Introduction
  • 1 - Shang Sacrificial Animals
    pp 20-45
  • Material Documents and Images
  • 2 - Animal to Edible
    pp 46-63
  • The Ritualization of Animals in Early China
  • 3 - Noble Creatures
    pp 64-83
  • Filial and Righteous Animals in Early Medieval Confucian Thought
  • 4 - Walking by Itself
    pp 84-98
  • The Singular History of the Chinese Cat
  • 5 - Bees in China
    pp 99-117
  • A Brief Cultural History
  • 7 - Animals as Text
    pp 139-159
  • Producing and Consuming ‘Text-Animals’
  • 9 - Animals in Nineteenth-Century Eschatological Discourse
    pp 181-198
  • 11 - Animals as Wonders
    pp 217-232
  • Writing Commentaries on Monthly Ordinances in Qing China
  • 12 - Reforming the Humble Pig
    pp 233-243
  • Pigs, Pork and Contemporary China
  • Bibliography
    pp 244-273
  • Index
    pp 274-278


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