The first comprehensive survey of furniture created during the Ming and early Qing dynasties, China's golden age of furniture making, by the man who is widely regarded as the world's leading authority on the subject. Packed With information, yet written in a refreshingly non-academic style, the book strikes a balance that will make it of interest to both the connoisseur and the novice. The introductory text offers a concise history of the period (1368-1735), during which commercial development encouraged the production of superbly designed and finished tables, chairs, stools and beds. Contemporary accounts of the styles and costs of these domestic artifacts bring the period to vivid life and provide the reader with insights into the gradually evolving tastes of the time Especially helpful are discussions of the origins of the pieces, their forms, joinery and uses, as well as the various woods used in their construction. The pieces range from wine tables to daybeds, from picnic boxes to sugar-cane squeezers. Included as well are descriptions of the decorative techniques (invariably highly sophisticated) used to embellish the surfaces. Diagrams and drawings do much to clarify the written descriptions, and there are 332 color plates of both individual pieces and room interiors to illustrate the work. The photographs are as elegant as the objects they depict and are extraordinary in their subtle coloration--no mean feat when dealing with what are basically monochromatic subjects. The inclination of details and of shots taken from differing angles lend the plates a sense of immediacy often lacking in art books of this sort. Glossaries of English and Chinese terms are handy reference guides, though a bibliography of Chinese works on the subject may prove less useful to the general reader. A strikingly beautiful example of Sino-American cooperation.