The three great centuries of the T'ang dynasties embrace the period of conquest and settlement which swept the barbarians before the Chinese, bringing many of them into bondage -- the 7th century-and extend to the 10th when the power of the state was fatally weakened. Professor of Oriental Languages at the University of California, Edward Schafer has done monumental research into primary and secondary sources, as his bibliography bears witness, and from these sources he has recreated on extraordinarily detailed portrait of a people and their exotic arts and customs. To some extent he has drawn his own conclusions on the material imports which fed these tastes and which found their reflection in a poem, an edict, a short story. Foreigners played a vital part, though they were treated in cavalier fashion, exposed to social and economic disabilities, but used to secure the materials needed to feed the taste for the strange. Domestic animals and wild birds, furs and feathers, plants, woods, foods, textiles, minerals, drugs, metals, jewels -- all are touched upon, and in many cases foreign sources are indicated for things we have some to think of as typically Chinese. This is a beautiful book, rather sparsely illustrated but with a fascination in the richness of the textual material. Limited in audience to specialists in the field- a growing one- of Orientalia.