Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Books: China, People Place Culture History

The accomplished author Anchee Min writes the prologue to China, People Place Culture History, a handsome book published by DK Publishing. The book runs to over glossy 350 pages and, as it title suggests, covers China's history, geography, and culture with magnificent photographs. For instance, the Songzanlin Buddhist 17th century monastery in Yunnan draped in mist and the Grand Canal near Wuxi in Jiangsu are particularly beautiful examples of landscape photography.

Most of the photographs -and there are over 700 of them in this coffee table book- are by Christopher Pillitz, as well as by Chester Ong and Gary Ombler.

While China: People, Place, Culture History is an exhaustive and comprehensive compilation, I found its section on People to be its most compelling. This carries photo essays (based on the "a day in the life" model) on a variety of interesting people and their professions...some modern, others traditional. Among the best in my view are the Farmer in Shaanxi, the Calligrapher in Beijing, the Tea Pickers, the Musical Intrument Makers of Kashgar, the Buddhist Monks at the Atsong monastery in Qinghai, the Chinese Herbalist in Yunnan, the Cricket Seller in Beijing, the beautiful Jeweller in Suzhou and the Opera Performers in Zhejiang. I was especially drawn to the photo essay on the Mosuo Matriarch in Yunnan.

This book is a must-have for anyone wanting to have a fresh look at China, whether for travel, business or intellectual reasons. I found it extremely useful from a travel photographer's perspective, since I'll use it as an inspiration (and guide) for my own future phototravel plans to this magnificent country.

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