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Grant number: FA-50167-04

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FA-50167-04

Anthony J. Barbieri-Low
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA 15260-6133)

Artisans in Early Imperial China

I propose to complete a book-length manuscript during the fellowship tenure. The book will present a social history of artisans during Early Imperial China (221 BC-Ad 220). As in the Roman world, an artisan in China was defined as anyone or made or decorated things with their hands. In China, this label included painters, sculptors, founders, masons, woodcarvers, and many other occupations. Because artisans toiled with their hands, they were denigrated by Chinese intellectuals and men in power. Thus, few historical texts record their activities or describe their living and working conditions. In fact, no monograph in English has ever attempted to detail the social and economic circumstances of this group. I intend to use a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to reconstruct the lives and careers of men and women in this vital social group in Early China. I will utilize the scattered references to artisans in received texts, and bolster them with analyses of excavated workshop sites, pictorial depictions of artisans at work, recently excavated contemporary texts, and inscriptions carved on objects by the artisans themselves. I will break down this social history contextually, separately addressing "Artisans in Society," "Artisans in the Workshop," "Artisans in the Marketplace," "The Illustrative Artisan," and "The Un-free Artisan." The last chapter mentioned will provide and up-to-date treatment of slavery and convict labor in Early China, a field of vital interest to comparative labor historians.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
East Asian History

Program:
Fellowships for University Teachers

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2004 – 5/31/2005