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Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9789811889738

Price: £25

ON SALE: 2nd May 2024

Genre: Humanities / History / Regional & National History / Asian History

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The history of Asia can be told through its great port cities: Guangzhou (Canton), Shanghai, Nagasaki, Basra, Aden, Jeddah, Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai (Bombay), Colombo, Batavia (Jakarta), Manila, Singapore, and many others. For millennia, port cities have been centres of global trade and the exchange of goods, peoples, cultures and ideas. They developed into cosmopolitan, multicultural societies and evolved distinctive, hybrid styles of art, architecture, material culture and ways of living. They were also crucibles of innovation, and have played an enormous, though under-appreciated, role in the spread of new technologies, new forms of creative expression and new ways of thinking throughout Asia.

This book takes the reader on an epic journey across maritime Asia and the Indian Ocean, stopping at 60 port cities along the coasts and rivers of China, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Japan, Korea, the Middle East and Africa. The timeframe of the book is equally sweeping, reaching back some two thousand years to port cities of the distant past and forward again to those of the present. The stories of these great port cities are brought alive through explorations of artworks in museums, literature, architecture, food, fashion and popular culture. Every chapter is illustrated with photographs, maps or archival material.

Stopping and sojourning at each of these port cities, museum director Kennie Ting tells an evocative, multi-layered tale of their living heritage, even as he paints a vivid picture of their importance in history. In doing so, he follows in the footsteps of generations of explorers and travellers who have wandered across the globe in the quest for knowledge, and recorded their experiences for posterity.