China A History in Objects

Jessica Harrison-Hall


This illustrated introduction to the history of China offers a fresh understanding of China’s progress from the Neolithic age to the present. Told in six chapters arranged chronologically, through art, artifacts, people, and places, and richly illustrated with expertly selected objects and artworks, it firmly connects today’s China with its internationally engaged past.

From the earliest archaeological relics and rituals, through the development of writing and state, to the advent of empire, the author charts China’s transformation from ancient civilization into the world’s most populous nation and influential economy, offering historical insights and cultural treasures along the way. This accessible book presents an eclectic mix of materials including Chinese theater, the decorative arts, costume, jewelry, and furniture-making, running through to the most recent diffusion of Chinese culture.


A superb introduction to China's past. explaining and illustrating it through artifacts drawn mainly from the collections of the British Museum… The author incorporates a wide range of recent historical, archaeological and scientific research. China: A History in Objects is a tour de force, distilling complex historical phenomena into manageable chunks explored through material evidence. The clear and confident narratives accompanied by a wide range of compelling Chinese artifacts will delight beginners and specialists alike.

— The Art Newspaper


Jessica Harrison-Hall


Jessica Harrison-Hall is Head of the China Section, Curator of Later China, Vietnam, and the Sir Percival David Collection of Chinese Ceramics at the British Museum, London.