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Power and Silk: The Central State and Localities in State-owned Manufacture during the Ming Reign (1368-1644)
Dagmar Schäfer(MPIWG, Germany)
This essay discusses the logistics of princely robes in the early Ming. Delineating structures and implications of state-owned silk manufacture in the 14th century Chinese world, I tackle two historiographic issues: first, the comparison between material culture and literary account and second, how the analytical view is impacted by both the politics of history, and temporal framing, that is, the choice of start and end point of historical account. Silk in China is a particularly appropriate subject for this analysis because of its long history and because historical accounts stress continuities and shifts of silk technologies and their management within political ideals of rulership and social development. Contemporary and modern historians concur with the dynastic timeline often ignoring strong evidence to the contrary.


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