This Project is now complete
This research project sought to provide a new perspective on the history of a period of crucial importance to China and the wider world, a history that for the first time fully integrated the evidence of material culture with the enormous textual record. The years 1400 to 1450 saw the creation or consolidation of many of the cultural, social and political themes which were to dominate China’s history from then on. These include developments as fundamental as the definitive decision to place the political capital in the north, while the south-central region became economically dominant (a dichotomy which still pertains today). The early Ming period defines contemporary Chinese conceptions of their own history, and China’s relations to the rest of the world. Understanding that history is crucial, if policy makers and a wider public are to comprehend China’s self-image, which is a key shaper of its current and future actions on the world stage. In contemporary China the period 1400-1450 is popularly regarded as a golden age of international engagement and a model for modern China.