Book brings furniture to the table, as a seat of philosophy
Updated: 2013-01-22 10:56
By Zhao Xu (China Daily)
Mi Hongbin's new book, Dao Amidst the Implements of Life - Traditional Furniture and Chinese Culture, sheds light on China's traditional furniture making. Provided to China Daily
Chinese have a sophisticated history of transcribing thoughts into living environments - especially when it comes to furniture making.
So, the Forbidden City Publishing House recently released a book series that examines traditional wooden furniture as manifestations of Chinese aesthetics and philosophy.
Dao Amidst the Implements of Life - Traditional Furniture and Chinese Culture is independent scholar Mi Hongbin's book.
The publication traces the history - the development of intellectual and political thoughts, in particular -behind choices of materials and styles in different periods.
An apt metaphor to describe the book would be to peek at a dimly lit interior through latticed wooden windowpanes. Mi's language is full of beauty, subtlety and well-intended ambiguity.
The narrative style, with its sprinkling of anecdotes, serves just the right amount of history to whet readers' appetites.
The series' second book, Time-Vested Beauty - The Elegance of Gold-Shimmering Nanmu is a laboriously rendered portrait of nanmu, or "nan" wood.
Polishing the wood brings out a glitter in the grain that resembles mountains and oceans.
The wood has been highly valued throughout Chinese history and is inextricably linked to its changing sensibilities.
The book's several contributing authors provide a kaleidoscope of perspectives, making it ideal for an omnivorous reader.