426 pp.numerous coloured and black and white illustrations, note, glossary, bibliographical references, 4to, 29 x 22 cm. dw.
An extraodinarily detailed work on Opium, its culture, paraphernalia and artifacts. "The smoking of opium was a very large subject in the past centuries both in international context and for the Chinese as a nation. This work does not focus on the purely political role opium played, but indicates the impact on daily life and the genesis of a narcotic culture which soon evolved. There was an almost hypnotic, irresistible attraction which the exotic fragrance of smoking this narcotic yet benevolent substance had over large parts of the Chinese population both in China and abroad. The general healing and life-enhancing properties of opium combined with the leisurely ritual using the beautiful, symbol-adorned smoking paraphernalia. Only toward the mid twentieth century did the smoking of opium finally fade away under strong political pressure, but also giving way to a faster, less leisurely lifestyle. During almost three centuries, from smoking tobacco with opium to the final sublimely refined mode of smoking pure opium in a peculiar, Chinese-designed pipe, the transformation from medicine to antimalarial fumes to a heavenly fragrance widening perceptions of existence, opium smoking captivated a huge number of people. It initiated capital accumulation to start new ways of economic development, it aided countless artists (singers, actors, artisans) to perform their skills, it improved memory and alertness to pass examinations, it supported the poor to withstand backbreaking work. The list of opium's benefit is long and it touched all strata of society. The arts and craft illustrated and described are now rare witness to the enormous fascination opium smoking held over many millions of people for such a long period. The book serves as a visual guide to the material culture of opium smoking as well as the underlying fabrics of its integration into Chinese daily life." Publisher.
Stock ref: 14163