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The Vermilion Bird
T’ang Images of the South
by Edward Schafer, Agassiz Professor of Oriental Languages, University of California
  • Recovers, through the medium of its literature, the actual character of the monsoon realms of 7th century T’ang China
  • Schafer examines the thoughts, emotions, imaginations, and daily lives of the men of that era for evidence of the changes inspired by their conquest of southern territories

  • By the eminent Sinologist Edward H. Schafer, author of a range of highly readable books on Chinese history

"A work of immense and devoted scholarship, a mine of fascinating information, a delight to read, and an indispensable work of reference on Medieval China." —Journal of Asian Studies

"In addition to its meticulous and rigorous scholarship, The Vermilion Bird is a model of imagination, taste, and good writing." —Asian Perspectives

In the 7th century, the great T’ang nation was obliged to re-conquer the southernmost portion of what had been considered Chinese territory for many centuries. The region had in fact remained largely an unassimilated wilderness, whose heavily forested marshes - monsoon lands with fringes of the true tropics - corresponded roughly with modern North Vietnam along with the Chinese provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong.

This book attempts to recover, through the medium of its literature, the actual character of the monsoon realms of T’ang - a scattering of palisaded garrisons, isolated monasteries, and commercial towns, all surrounded by dark, haunted woods. The soldiers, administrators, colonists, and political exiles who lived there were constantly threatened by hostile inhabitants, disease, wild animals, and supernatural powers. On the other hand, there were new and beautiful plants and fruits, enchanting limestone grottoes, and ravishing landscapes.

Published by Floating World Editions
Published 2006, 392 pp.
ISBN 1 891640 37 2, paperback, £29.99