Chinese workers in the third century B.C. created seven thousand life-sized terracotta soldiers to guard the tomb of the First Emperor. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, China exported more than a hundred million pieces of porcelain to the West. The Chinese throughout history have produced works art in astonishing quantities - and have done so without sacrificing quality, affordability, or speed of manufacture. Lothar Ledderose takes us on a remarkable tour of Chinese art and culture to explain how artists used complex systems of mass production to assemble extraordinary objects from standardized parts or modules. These systems have deep roots in Chinese thought - in the idea that the universe consists of ten thousand categories of things, for example - and reflect characteristically Chinese modes of social organization. Originally presented as a series of Mellon lectures at the National Gallery of Art, Ten Thousand Things combines keen aesthetic and cultural insights with a rich variety of illustrations to make a profound new statement about Chinese art and society.
Lothar Ledderose holds the chair of East Asian Art at the University of Heidelberg. He is an internationally renowned scholar of Chinese art and calligraphy. He has curated numerous exhibitions on Asian art including Treasures from the Forbidden City (Berlin, Vienna, 1985), The Terracotta Army (Dortmund 1991), Japan and Europe (Berlin 1993), and an exhibition of Chinese painting of the Ming and Qing dynasties (Baden-Baden 1985). His books include Mt Fu and the Classical Tradition of Chinese Colligraphy (Princeton) and Felsen and Orchideen.