Constance A. Cook. Death in Ancient China: The Tale of One Man's Journey. China Studies 8. Leiden: Brill, 2006. viii, 296 pp. Hardcover $125.00, ISBN 9004153128. The resting places of the dead are revealing windows into ancient cultures. The ways that a particular culture understands death, treats the dying person, and handles the corpse tell us a great deal about its values. For those of us whose understanding of ancient civilizations comes primarily through their transmitted religious and philosophical literature, a book like Constance Cook's Death in China: The Tale of One Man's Journey serves as a valuable guide to the material culture that constitutes a treasure trove of information regarding those cultures' understandings of death. The focal point of Cook's study is the tomb of Shao Tuo, an official in the Chu court who was buried in 316 B.C.E. The book is an exhaustive inventory, analysis, and interpretation of the content and layout of this tomb, with close attention paid to the texts and art found in the tomb and the arrangement of the tomb itself. Scholars must often think in generalities, and there are many books written about "the ancient Chinese." Over time, however, the people
China Review International – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Nov 28, 2008
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