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World Centre: China in Late Antiquity, 400 to 1000

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Abstract

This chapter concerns China’s relationship to the outside world in the period of the T’ang dynasty 618 to 907, more particularly the period of the ‘Golden’ T’ang down to the great rebellion of An Lu-shan in 755, though sidelong glances will be taken at the periods of the Northern Wei and Sui which preceded and of the ‘Silver’ T’ang, Five Dynasties and early Sung which followed. Its argument is that in this period, which we will call late antiquity, the separate worlds of classical antiquity were drawn into a new unity, thanks to the magnetic pre-eminence of T’ang China — political, social, economic, and intellectual — and to the acquisitive cosmopolitanism of the T’ang court. For a brief moment under emperor Hsüantsung, 712–756, China was genuinely the centre of the world, the heir and supplanter of the Buddhist world institution. The new secular synthesis, however, was precocious, rarefied and fragile, and collapsed when the rebellion of An Lu-shan destroyed the extravagent imperial court which supported it.1

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Notes

  1. 1.
    For T’ang China, see particularly Edward H. Schafer, The Golden Peaches of Samarkand (University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles 1963)Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© S. A. M. Adshead 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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