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A World Trimmed with FurWild Things, Pristine Places, and the Natural Fringes of Qing Rule$
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Jonathan Schlesinger

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780804799966

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804799966.001.0001

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The View from Beijing

The View from Beijing

(p.17) One The View from Beijing
A World Trimmed with Fur

Jonathan Schlesinger

Stanford University Press

A momentous change occurred in eighteenth-century China: fur, together with other products that seemed both exotic and natural, became popular. What meaning did natural objects have in everyday life? Using archival and literary evidence, pawnshop records, travel accounts, and sumptuary laws, the chapter shows how consumer patterns and marketplace understandings of nature shifted through the course of the eighteenth century. From a world where no Chinese word existed for products such as “marten” and “Manchurian pearl,” consumers ushered in a new one where connoisseurship of furs marked elite status, and words existed for every part of each animal’s anatomy. Though faux furs, farmed ginseng, and imitation wild Mongolian mushrooms flooded the street, knowing consumers sought the real thing: undyed, uncultivated products from the far north. While at first a court fashion, by the mid-eighteenth century nature was for sale throughout the streets of Beijing.

Keywords:   Fashion, China, eighteenth-century, Beijing, consumers, connoisseurship, ginseng, mushrooms

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