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Luxurious NetworksSalt Merchants, Status, and Statecraft in Eighteenth-Century China$
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Yulian Wu

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780804798112

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804798112.001.0001

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Cultured and Cosmopolitan Men (tongren)

Cultured and Cosmopolitan Men (tongren)

Objects, Merchants, and the Manchu Court in High Qing China

(p.186) Conclusion Cultured and Cosmopolitan Men (tongren)
Luxurious Networks

Yulian Wu

Stanford University Press

The conclusion argues that the Huizhou salt merchants emerged as “cultured and cosmopolitan men” who distinguished themselves with knowledge and skill in a wide range of fields, being famed for their managerial prowess. Through their production and consumption of a variety of objects, these merchants played multiple roles in the fluid material world of High Qing China, whether as the emperor’s informal agents or arbiters of taste, lineage patrons or moral advocates. By playing these roles, these salt merchants also constructed a dynamic and fluid urban-rural and central-local relationship in the high Qing period. Study of these salt merchants thus sheds new light on the Qianlong emperor’s political strategy in Jiangnan and reveals the differences and transformations of consumer cultures in China from the late Ming to the high Qing.

Keywords:   Cultured and cosmopolitan men, tongren, salt merchants, Qianlong emperor, Huizhou, network, salt monopoly, material culture, luxury consumption, ethnicity

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