Of Thoughts and Swords

A blog about Science, Philosophy, Wargaming, Literature and other things, in three or more languages.

Reading: Chinese History

Here I am again with the next one down. Chinese Weapons from the Bibliotheca Orientalis series, first published 1932 in Shanghai was a short read. Back then E.T.C. Werner assembled about 40 pages of text and several dozen illustrations of Chinese weaponry of different time periods. Which is, while being quite informative, honestly a mess regarding the organization of knowledge.

The pattern is always the same, a category of weapons is named and then everything he knows about them is written down. Basically a fine approach, but the singular blocs aren´t always structured chronologically, rather everything is simply put together. Most of the time the Chinese work is mentioned from which the information is drawn, yet without explanation what kind of works these are. A behavior that is not surprising, because back then a sinologist knew all the important works by heart and would not need to look up anything in order to know what is meant. Sometimes the Internet is a bad thing.

Also the Chinese letters are given for every single mentioned item or work, which is great, even though the gruesome Wade-Giles transcription is used. Well it was the rage in these days, so you have to cope with it. The inclusion of the Chinese script is also a nice thing, as back then including them in texts was quite arduous, unlike today when every computer can write these with the flick of the wrist. Still modern works often lack the Chinese or Japanese script in their glossary. People just got so lazy.

The illustrations are also very simple. They manage to give an outline of the weapons´ shapes, but not more.

The information about the different items is confuse and sometimes unstructured but mostly valid. Some of the information is outdated, as the claims about bad iron works in Warring States China. Such information was simply not available at the time of writing.

All in all it contains interesting stuff, but is almost exclusively for a knowledgeable reader who already knows a bit about the topic. The bad writing style (leaning to the matter-of-fact style) makes reading not a pleasant endeavor, so some patience is required. The book is more of a (small) tome of knowledge, where which weapons were used and not a lecture for the uninitiated. Good to have for reference, but hardly more.

Next on my list is…yet undecided, but probably something about swords, I will keep you posted.

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This entry was posted on March 14, 2015 by in Scientific, Swords and tagged , , , .
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