The Mongol Century: Visual Cultures of Yuan China, 1271-1368

Hardback: $65.00
ISBN-13: 9780824851453
Published: February 2015

Additional Information

288 pages | 162 illustrations, 141 in color
  • About the Book
  • The Mongol Century explores the visual world of China's Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), the spectacular but relatively short-lived regime founded by Khubilai Khan, regarded as the pre-eminent khanate of the Mongol empire.

    This book illuminates the Yuan era – full of conflicts and complex interactions between Mongol power and Chinese heritage – by delving into the visual history of its culture, considering how Mongol governance and values imposed a new order on China's culture and how a sedentary, agrarian China posed specific challenges to the Mongols' militarist and nomadic lifestyle.

    Shane McCausland explores how an unusual range of expectations and pressures were placed on Yuan culture: the idea that visual culture could create cohesion across a diverse yet hierarchical society, while balancing Mongol desires for novelty and display with Chinese concerns about posterity.

    Although in recent years exhibitions have begun to open up the inherent paradoxes of Yuan culture, this is the first book in English to adopt a comprehensive approach. It incorporates a broad range of visual media of the East Asia region to reconsider the impact Mongol culture had in China, from urban architecture and design to tomb murals and porcelain, and from calligraphy and printed paper money to stone sculpture. Fresh and invigorating, The Mongol Century explores, in fascinating detail, the visual culture of this brief but captivating era of East Asian history.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Shane McCausland, Author

      Shane McCausland is Reader in the History of Art of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has organized numerous exhibitions and published widely on East Asian and contemporary art.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • [McCausland] has mined the publications on this short, 100-year dynasty, including contemporary and recent periodical studies, to give a fuller and respectful understanding to this period; he goes deeply into historical events to give readers a rich view of China during this era of foreign occupation.
    • This book take on one of the most fascinating of China's dynasties, the Mongol Yuan, presenting an overarching study of its cultural complexity, illuminated by the visual arts. McCausland uses the capital's cityscape, paintings and and objects as entries into seven larger themes that range from the nature of Mongol urbanism to the global branding of the Mongols through the widespread export of blue-and-white porcelain. McCausland is a nimble writer and he has crafted a much more granular and balanced view of this accomplished and flawed dynasty than anything so far published in English ... a must-read.
      Patricia Berger, Professor of Chinese Art, University of California, Berkeley
    • One of the first reliable social histories of Yuan-dynasty art and a useful contribution to Chinese art history.
      Morris Rossabi, Distinguished Professor of History at the City University of New York and Adjunct Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History at Columbia University
    • This s an important contribution to the study of the Mongol-Yuan period in China. Using a wide variety of sources, Shane McCausland has not only written a general study of Yuan-dynasty visual and material culture, he has also created a fine introduction to the Mongol period in China. He makes clear the poly-ethnic nature of Yuan society and redresses the view that the Mongols had little impact on Chinese civilization ... McCausland has achieved his aim of drawing out the distinctiveness of Yuan culture. The Mongol Centuryis a fascinating entrée into what it meant to live in Yuan-period China.
      David Ake Sensabaugh, Ruth and Bruce Dayton Curator of Asian Art, Yale University Art Gallery
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