Private Luxury Workshops during the Han Period
Seminar in the New Approaches to Chinese Studies series
Thursday, March 07, 2002
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
275 Dodd Hall
ANTHONY BARBIERI-LOW (Univ. of Pittsburgh) The rulers of ancient China operated a vast and complex system of state-sponsored workshops to supply their courts with ritual implements and markers of status. Private-sector production was mostly limited to small-scale agriculture, domestic production, and trade in decorative items. This began to change dramatically during the Warring States period (ca. 453-221 BC) when private workshops arose to supply a growing wealthy class with luxuries and exotics. This talk is a preliminary examination of the relationship between those private workshops and the well-developed state-sponsored system during the subsequent Han period (202 BC-AD 220). In part it focuses on the innovative techniques of marketing employed by artisans and masters in these shops, which might be considered some of the earliest competitive advertising employed in East Asia. Professor Barbieri-Low began to study Chinese history in 1992 at UC Santa Cruz, after leaving a brief career as a computer programmer and network technician in Silicon Valley. He completed his B.A. in Asian History in 1994 and the following year entered Harvard University to study Chinese history and archaeology. In 1997 he completed an M.A. in East Asian Studies at Harvard with the thesis, "Wheeled Vehicles in the Chinese Bronze Age" (later published in Sino-Platonic Papers). He transferred to Princeton University and completed his Ph.D. in 2001 in Chinese Art and Archaeology with the dissertation, "The Organization of Imperial Workshops during the Han Dynasty." He is currently Assistant Professor in the History Department at the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include the technology and organization of production in Ancient China, the social and economic history of the Qin and Han periods, and contacts between East Asia and the West. In his research he seeks to combine textual, epigraphic, stylistic, and archaeological approaches to culture and history.
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