Introduction to the book
Chronicling the traditions of Chinese life and culture, The Art of Chinese Living is a visual cornucopia and an epic cultural immersion into everything from cuisine and history to art and rituals, calligraphy and music, to artefacts and interiors, and from widespread national traditions to the minutiae of daily family life. Spanning over 1,100 stunning pages and divided into the four seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter – this lavish four-volume set in a cloth-bound box is alive with culture.
The author, Xiang Yao, grew up in Taiwan and is the mother of three children. She is also the senior partner of KRIS YAO | ARTECH, where she manages the administration and public relations for the firm. She started these books during the years when her three children left home to go to university in the United States; it was intented as a loving reminder to them not to forget their inherited culture. It took her five years to complete all 270,000 words, and to amass its large collection of exquisite visuals. It is now beloved by many readers all over the world. As she explains, ‘This set of books is a gift to all Chinese people, as well as all those who have a love for Chinese culture. My objective was to enable people to access Chinese culture in their everyday lives, rather than view it as something that can only be appreciated in museums or history books.’
The books use a clear, encyclopedic arrangement to depict a map of cultural life, while also promoting family values and environmental wellness. The text is an exploration of a way of life and its relationship to inherited culture. The Art of Chinese Living received much attention after its first publication in Chinese, not only because it was a fundraising project to establish a new university in Taiwan, but also for its rich content, which embraces so many of the important aspects of Chinese culture.
The passion and research that have gone into producing this masterpiece are palpable on every page, from the 10,000 commissioned photographs and illustrations to the incredible gatefold pages and painstaking detail. It is a love letter to Chinese culture written by a mother keen to share her passion for incredible traditions both big and small with her own children, and those of families around the world – whether looking to rekindle a connection with their own traditions or eager to learn more about China, its history and culture. From recipes and home-made gift ideas to an epic timeline of Chinese dynasties and cultural artefacts, The Art of Chinese Living is a joy to behold and a treasure to share.