Excerpt from Catalogue of an Exhibition of Chinese Applied Art: Bronzes, Pottery, Porcelains, Jades, Embroideries, Carpets, Enamels, Lacquers, &C
In making such a high claim, which is abundantly justified by fact, it must not be forgotten that we are dealing with the doings o... f a race rather than a nation a race inhabiting a district larger than Europe, yet content to live and work under ancient ideals that have changed so slowly as to seem incapable of change. Opposition to change is one constant element of human nature all the world over, and in China the in¿uence of the philosophy, the mode of government and the religious beliefs of the people have, hitherto, tended to make the change so slow that, to a superficial Western observer (our direct knowledge only goes back a few centuries) they seem not changes, indeed, but the absence of any desire for change.
From the geographical situation of the Chinese lands and the fact that a great barrier of desert and steppe is interposed between them and the West, singularly little knowledge can be derived, from outside, of the early history of this far-off people. Their own historical records have, fortunately, been preserved for many, many centuries with devout and almost holy care;and though it is still believed that much of myth and tradition is inevitably mixed with the oldest Chinese accounts of their incipient civilization, it is possible now to check, to some extent, their written histories by contemporary objects recently disinterred from ancient graves in various parts of the Empire and particularly in Western and Northern China and in Manchuria.
At the earliest period for which this kind of evidence is available, the Chinese appear as a great, peaceful, pastoral and agricultural race inhabiting the northern part of what we now know as China. They were already distinguished workers in stone and in bronze they had made the first silken tissues known to history and their pottery presents certain distinctive features of spirit and technique, though it naturally has a strong family likeness to the primitive pottery of other early races.
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