There is still much to be learned about the ancient migrations of modern humans and the degree of isolation of the major centres of civilization as they evolved on all continents. Across the continent of Eurasia the steppes of Central Asia represent such formidable geographic barrier and boats so crude that we assume connections between East and West in prehistory were few and far between. We can only speculate about the kind of exchange that occurred between these two regions and the degree of independence of origin of ideas and social traditions. We can, however, discern two cores of civilization developing from about 10,000 years ago, one extending from Mesopotamia across the Fertile Crescent and includng trade along the Tigris, Euphrates, and Nile rivers, extending to the Indus river valley in the east, as well as the eastern Mediterranean in the west. The civilization in China was based around river valley communities along the Yellow and Yangtze rivers.
Ancient human migrations – the Asian core
Anthropologists describe the migration of nomadic modern humans out of Africa, and beyond the Arabian peninsula, about 70-80,000 years ago. Ice Ages restricted migration but opened up land bridges. Current evidence suggests India & Australia were colonized c. 65,000-55,000 BP, Europe c. 45,000 BP, SE Asia c. 30,000 BP, the Americas c. 15,000 BP. Reoccupation of northern Europe i.e. British Isles occurred c. 11,000 BP after the last Ice Age.
Migration path of modern humans, Homo sapiens, out of Africa based on mtDNA The flattened map makes relative distances more clear. Numbers are thousands of years before present India & Australia were colonized c. 65,000-55,000 BP, Europe c. 45,000 BP, SE Asia c. 30,000 BP, Americas c. 15,000 BP. Reoccupation of northern Europe i.e. British Isles occurred c. 11,000 BP after the last Ice Age Courtesy Wikimedia Commons Accessed 18 June 2013
The nomadic lifestyle underwent a dramatic transformation as humans entered a phase of cultural differentiation with the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution just after the last Ice Age when, in the ‘lucky latitudes’ between 20o-35o N in Eurasia and 15o S to 20o N in the New World there arose the fortunate conjunction of suitable climate, environmental conditions, and availability of domesticable organisms that made agriculture possible as the cultivation of cereals and raising of livestock. This then followed by the establishment of civilizations governed from urban centres or cities. Nomads had little chance of resisting the armies and technology that were established in these urban societies.
Though agriculture had emerged independently in at least five regions, the history of urban dvelopment is more complicated. Cities in China appeared about 1000 years after those in the West and although there was independent origin of agriculture and writing Chinese urban development was probably influenced by cultural diffusion of, for example, bronze, horses and chariots, and funeral rites (Anderson). In the West there were the civilizations of the Fertile crescent in Mesopotamia, the Middle East, and Egypt whose influence quickly spread to the Indus Valley and Ganges delta. In Asia agriculture had developed along the river valley communities that emerged along the Yellow and Yangtze rivers before spreading to the north, then south. In the Americas there were the civilizatons of mesoamerica.
East & West
By about 7000 BCE there is some differentiation between the West and the rest of the world (Morris 2011) although agriculture probably developed independently in six or seven sites across the world (in the Americas Oaxaca in Mesoamerica and the Andes of Peru – in Europe in the eastern Sahara, Fertile Crescent, and possibly Indus Valley – in East Asia in the Yangtze and Yellow River valleys – and in the Pacific in New Guinea).
The Western core developing out of Mesopotamia
In the West there was the Mesopotamian core – founded on wheat, barley, and rye around 9000-8000 BCE (radiating into Greece c.7000 BCE, Egypt c. 5000 BCE, Italy 6000 BCE, Central Europe c. 5000 BCE, Portugal about 5000 BCE, NW Europe and Britain c. 4000 BCE) the movement from its origin in the Near East to NW Europe taking about 5000 years (see Morris p. 107). This Mesopotamian core also probably influenced the agriculture of the Indus Valley in Pakistan.
The Eastern core developing out of China
Until recently evidence suggests that modern humans reached southern East Asia via the Indian subcontinent about 60,000 years ago, spreading rapidly northward. Though Japan was occupied as early as 30,000 BCE its cultural influences derive from China and Korea. However, from Fuyan Cave in Daoxian (southern China) have recently been excavataed 47 human teeth unequivocally assigned to H. sapiens and dated at more than 80,000 years old and an inferred maximum age of 120,000 years. The study indicates fully modern humans present in southern China 30,000–70,000 years earlier than those in the Levant and Europe indicating southern China was inhabited earlier than central and northern China on the dispersal route of modern humans.
In East Asia the domesticated cereals were rice and millet which well established in China by 6000 BCE, Korea by 4400 BCE, to Vietnam, Cambodia Laos and Thailand and NW Borneo by 2000 BCE, millet had arrived in Japan by 2600 BCE but agriculture was not seriously adopted until about 600-500 BCE when there were rice paddies in Kyushu. There were the civilizations of China diverging into Japan (Morris p. 128). These dates correspond roughly to the development of agriculture and civilizations in the New World.
China’s first settled communities emerged in prehistory along the northern Yellow (Huang-he) and southern Yangtze River valleys with divergent traditions. The harsh northern loess plains proved amenable to the cultivation of millet first recorded c. 7000 BCE while the warmer and wetter south was more suited to rice whose cultivation began c. 5000 BCE dating back to the Neolithic era and the Xia dynasty (c. 2070-1600 BCE) although evidence of hierarchical society, bronze work, and writing on durable media did not develop until the Shang dynasty and culture of the Huanghe valley (c. 1600-1046 BCE) with its many similar but smaller and semi-independent centres. These societies were concerned with order, harmony, and tradition in am anner reminiscent of Egypt in the West.
ZhouDynasty – ca. 1050–256 BCE Qin Dynasty – 221–206 BCE Han Dynasty – 206 BCE–220 CE Six Dynasties – 220–589 Sui Dynasty – 581–618 Tang Dynasty – 618–906 Five Dynasties – 907–960 Song Dynasty – 960–1279 Yuan Dynasty – 1271–1368 Ming Dynasty – 1368–1644
We can learn much about ancient civilizations from archaeology, genetics, and linguistic analysis. But the power of the written word cannot be disputed, even when it lacks credibility. Writing, the hieroglyphics of Egypt and the cuneiform of Mesopotamia, developed about 1000 years before writing in China.
The history of Imperial China spans a period of 2200 years from the beginning of the Qin dynasty in 221 BCE to the end of the Qing dynasty and the formation of the Republic of China in 1912 CE during which the population increased from 40 million to 400 million people (Anderson).
For a year-by-year visualization of Asian empires see The History of Asia: Every Year https://youtu.be/c8TNvvjoqvw.
Chinese writing & literature
The earliest decipherable written text occurs as inscriptions on bronze vessels and oracle (divination) bones of the Longshan culture in the late Shang period c. 2500-2000 BCE.
Often our knowledge of history is only as good as the literature that records it; Metailie lists Chinese and Japanese literature as follows:
Pre-1800 pp. 670-681
Post-1800 pp. 682-695
Western literature on Eastern plants pp. 696-711
Philosophy and literature developed during the Zhou dynasty (1046-256 BCE) which was strained by both external and internal pressures in the 8th century BCE fragmenting into smaller states in the Spring and Autumn period and reaching full expression in the Warring States period. Between eras of kings and warlords, various dynasties have ruled parts or all of China extending on occasion to Xinjiang and Tibet.
In 221 BCE Qin Shi Huang united warring kingdoms calling himself ’emperor’ (huangdi) of the Qin dynasty, marking the beginning of imperial China. Successive dynasties then developed academic bureaucratic systems to administer wide-ranging territories. The last Qing dynasty (1644-1912) was supplanted by the Republic of China in 1912 and, on the mainland, by the People’s Republic of China in 1949, resulting in two de facto states claiming to be the legitimate government of all China.
From 206 BC until 1912 CE administration was by elite Scholar-gentlemen selected by stringent examination and well-versed in calligraphy and philosophy. Overall periods of unity and disunity alternated with periods dominated by steppe peoples who were eventually assimilated into the Han population.
The classics of Chinese literature date to the Han dynasty.
Chinese technology and commercial acumen was far in advance of that in the West until the early modern period. It is noted for the invention of gunpowder, the compass, printed money, large and sophisticated sailing ships, and the printing press.
Contact between Occident and Orient
In the centuries preceding and following 0 CE the great Eurasian civilizations – Roman, Indian, and Chinese – engaged in commercial and diplomatic exchanges. These contacts declined in the third century CE to dwindle away although civilizations were aware of one-another’s existence despite separation by seas, mountains, or deserts. Occasional adventurers would risk exploratory journeys to experience these other worlds. Scholars are still uncertain of the degree of Chinese isolation and the extent to which similarities in civilizations of West and East were a consequence of parallel development or cultural exchange.
From West to East
In the Roman era there was overland trade between East and West but mediated by Parthian and Arab middlemen. Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, broke this hold on Eastern trade by establishing a direct maritime link with India. By 1 BCE, he had reopened the Red Sea by forcing the Sabaeans out of Aden and converted it into a Roman port. Ships were soon sailing from Aden directly to India across the Arabian Sea, blown by the monsoon winds recently discovered by a Greek mariner named Hippalus. From May to October the monsoon blows from the southwest across the Arabian Sea, while the countermonsoon blows from the northeast between November and March. Thus, direct round-trip voyages, eliminating middlemen and the tedious journey along the coasts, could be made in eight months. Strabo, a Greek geographer during the time of Augustus, stated that 120 ships sailed to India every year from Egyptian ports. Augustus claimed that “to me were sent embassies of kings from India,” probably to specify the towns within the Roman Empire and in India where foreign merchants might freely conduct their business and practice their own customs and religions.
As the modern era approached new connections with th eeast were opened up by Marco Polo (1254-1324) and Venician merchant, explorer, and writer who described his travels to the East in Livres des merveilles du monde (The Travels of Marco Polo, c. 1300) which excited European intelligentsia as the first detailed chronicle of China, describing a civilization well in advance of Europe of his day with great wealth and thriving commerce. On his 24-year travels to Asia he met Kublai Khan, returning in 1269 to find Venice at war with Genoa. He was imprisoned, and here he dictated his travels to a cellmate, his account inspiring many subsequent adventurers including Christopher Columbus.
At the time when the European Age of Discovery began China was a technologically and intellectually more accomplished society: it had already invented the seed drill, astronomical observation, the mechanical water-clock, gunpowder, ink, paper, the printing press, suspension bridge and impressive ships ten times the size of the Santa Maria that Columbus sailed to America. But in 1424 the Chinese emperor Zhu Di died and Chinese society turned inward.
From East to West
The study of plants in China
Though the ancient Chinese possessed a ‘varied and abundant knowledge about plants’ this was not of a theoretical and scientifically systematized kind and only in the late 19th century ’did even the notion of a specific domain devoted to the study of plant life, in other words ‘botany’, appear in China’. Plants in China as presented in the most accomplished plant work, the Zhi wu mingshi tu kao (1848) of Wu Qijun were approached ’from an entirely different conceptual framework and, in any case, lacked any formalization that might have made [scientific] exchanges possible’. (M. p. 534)
In China, as elsewhere in the world and in history, academic interest was focused on food and the power of plants as materia medica.
How did we arrive at today’s plant attitudes and practices? To what degree are customs and traditions culture-dependent and which have a degree of inevitability about them? It would appear, for example, that the advent of agriculture created the conditions for scaling human activity in such a way that, in the absence of natural disasters, one people could dominate another.
One way of getting at least partial answers to such questions is to compare sites of independent urban origin with little or no connection to other cultures: these centres of origin then become human experiments allowing us to compare the different paths of cultural change.
By the ‘West’ is meant those civilizations emanating from the Mesopotamian core, including the Near East and India.
Western and Eastern intellectual traditions
Broad comparisons like this immediately draw attention to exceptions and contradictions. The following observations are intended to be contextual generalisations rather than accurate and universal historical observation.
Western philosophy, as it was inherited through the Greek tradition (mostly the triumvirate of Socrates (c. 470-c. 399 BCE) , Plato (428-348 BCE) and Aristotle (c. 384-322 BCE)) can be characterised as the exploration of the distinction between science and religion. Philosophy of the Pre-Socratics was the precursor to Western science as it explored naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. Later, philosophy would serve as an interlocuter between science and religion. But it separated itself from the religion of its day – from Greek and Roman mythology to Judeo-Christian theology. In the West, then, two modes of thinking dominated – one more concerned with explaining the operations of the natural world and the other with spirituality and moral behaviour.
Eastern Philosophy was more concerned with human nature and ways that humans can find peace and harmony through integration with society and the world as expressed mostly through the thinking and ideas of an Eastern triumvirate of Confucius (551-479 BCE), Guatama Buddha (6th to 4th century BCE) producing Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, and the possibly legendary Lao Tzu producing Taoism (c. 604-531 BCE)).
The point is often made that the Western approach tends to be individualistic, enjoying personal freedoms but often combined with a strong egoism, while the Eastern tradition is more collective, emphasising the public good but with a corresponding emphasis on conformity. More precisely, Westerners see objects as existing independently in empty space while Easterners believe space is filled with gi out of which objects are made and which connects them. Action at a distance was known and believed in the East about 2500 years ago (acoustics, magnetism, tides) while this only became accepted in the West in the 18th century. For objects differing in colour, shape and substance Westerners give priority to shape while Easterners give priority to substance. For the Easterner a specific object has parts that are not the same as the object itself (the whole) while a single substance can be split up into parts that are the same as the whole.
In language, Westerners hold the individuality of objects as crucial and so there is a clear distinction made between singular and plural nouns, while Easterners derive singular and plural from the context, not the words. To Westerners ‘wholeness’ is a collection of individual items while to an Easterner ‘wholeness’ denotes indistinctness, unity, or one-ness. Easterners viewing a picture perceive it as a whole, while Westerners focus on the individual objects: Western mothers emphasise nouns (objects) to their children while Eastern mothers accentuate verbs (actions). So ‘Do you want more tea?’ can emphasise either the tea or the drinking, the objects or the interaction. The West sees the world through nouns, the East through verbs. Objects in the East are a consequence of ‘arising’ or ‘becoming’ or bringing about while in the West objects are ‘being’ or ‘existing’. Is an object blue because of its surroundings or extrinsic conditions, or is it blue because of its intrinsic properties. Easterners tend to view causation as part of a complex web of interaction and external factors while Westerners see causation in a more simple linear way: the properties of the whole are a result of its parts and causation often arises internally – an object’s properties control its behaviour. In the West if a person behaves kindly then they are said to be kind, that is, they have a disposition to be kind: in the East a person’s behaviour is considered dependent on that of others – a smiling person in a group of frowning people is not considered happy as the background (jang, field, context or situation) matters. Childrens’ drawings portray situations from outside as a context while Western children are part of the scene, they take a viewer’s role. Yin and yang are sunshine and shade: every object has a partner. Shown pictures of a banana, panda and monkey, Westerners pair the monkey and panda as being in the category ‘animal’, Easterners pair monkey and banana with the relationship being the strongest point of association.
The West has accentuated a tradition of analysis, the breaking down of objects into their component parts (meaning derived from separation and interpretation), whether it be of nature, language or other factors: the world is a collection of individuals and create categories that depend on the properties of the objects. From this springs formal classifications, scientific and mathematical development as proportion. The Eastern convention is more often that of synthesis, the establishment of connections that bring objects together into greater wholes – the relationship between an object and its context.
Islam is a tradition that has a shared a history of both these traditions.
Botany, plant science, science & ethnobotany
Following casual usage sinologists like Emil Bretschneider had referred to any plant-centred studies and literature as ‘botany’ as does Bray in the series volume on agriculture in China. Bray is forthright in her views ‘… agriculture is not a science but a technology … it is ‘… not … theories … but a body of wisdom‘ … ‘… theory is far removed from practice …’ (p. xxiv). Unfortunately the casual approach on the one hand or, on the other, the ‘no-nonsense, all-is-clear’ attitude to terminologies and categories can obscure some of the difficulties of cultural translation.
Métailié studied in depth the written work of Chinese scholars (which he refers to as literati). Many had adopted an encyclopaedic approach in the production of materia medica, horticultural monographs, agricultural manuals, and descriptions of exotic plants but they were without any overall systematic formalization (p. 4). Using dictionary definitions of botany (mostly referring to a specific plant discipline within the broader discipline of biology, to studies of plants within geographic regions, or the study of properties of a particular plant or plant group) he concluded that the word ‘botany’ was not appropriate to his findings. There was no specific word in Chinese of equivalent meaning, no overall named body of plant knowledge, no equivalent of a botanical manual or flora (p. xxxii) until the word zhiwuxue, denoting plant science in the Western sense, was introduced in 1858.
Métailié refers to the Confucian Classic, the Great Study or Da xue and its emphasis on ‘the investigation of things’. He mentions Confucian emphasis on zheng ming, the use of correct names, and the insightful comments in 1735 of Chen Yuanlong who recommends the study of living things as a quest for: the reality of things (shi); names (ming); and categorizations (lei).
In this spirit Métailié preferred the more relaxed ethnobotanical approach to ‘the study of plants’ that he found in the work of American botanical historian Edward Lee Greene in his Landmarks of Botanical History (1983) who suggested that botany did not begin with written history but was present in the terminology of the colloquial languages of prehistory, including the folk use of binomial nomenclature. This confirmed Métailié’s conviction that ‘’traditional’ or ‘indigenous’ ‘Chinese botany’ should be studied from an anthropological point of view rather than, a priori, as a stage in a process that led to modern botany’, that ‘My rejection of a teleological approach [the linear progression of scientific knowledge] was to make it possible for me to consider the content of all the Chinese sources, not in comparison to post-Linnaean texts but within their own context.’
At the 1977 Edinburgh International Congress on the History of Science Needham (1900-1995) had expressed the view that ‘ … there is only one unitary science of nature … built up … by groups of mankind … as an absolute continuity between the first beginnings of astronomy and medicine in ancient Babylonia or ancient Egypt, through the natural knowledge of medieval China, India, Islam and the classical Western world, to the breakthrough of late Renaissance Europe … we must not see the traditional sciences of China or India simply as ‘failed prototypes’ of modern science … but we must never deny the fundamental continuity and universality of all science …’
Needham had presented ancient Chinese botanical knowledge by comparing it systematically with modern botany that, for example, ‘Li-Shih-Chen (1518-1593) … brought classification in botany to a Magnolian or Tournefortian level’. Métailié considered this comparison inappropriate because there is not a ‘…difference of level within the same scientific domain’ but ‘… two different concepts for the study of plants’. Métailié also objects to Needham’s ‘fusion point’ when Western and Chinese approaches to plant knowledge unite ‘… so that all ethnic characteristics melted into the universality of modern science’. Needham believed that this occurred in about 1880 when Chinese botanists ‘… could talk about Linnaean families …’ to establish a ‘… correlation … between … Chinese traditional plant names and Linnaean binomials
Métailié notes that in 1858, an eight-chapter book entitled Zhiwuxue (botany) was published in Shanghai by the London Missionary Society Press. It was written by Chinese mathematician Li Shanlan (1811-82) in collaboration with two missionaries, Alexander Williamson (co-author for the first seven chapters), and John Edkins (co-author for the last chapter). The book was a Chinese adaptation of English botanist John Lindley’s An Outline of the First Principles of Botany (1830). Most of the following books on botany published in China were by foreigners. The first to be written by a Chinese author, Ye Lan, was a popular rhyming text published after 1895. None of these texts, all written by non-botanists, would have enabled anyone to practise botany or identify plants. The first Chinese botanists were former students educated abroad, mostly in Japan, the United States or Europe, who began working in their own country after 1910. One of them. Professor Hu Xiansu, wrote in 1937 that ‘the development of modern botany came about after the Republic … in truth, only after 1916 did botanical research and collections progressively get under way’. (cited p. 12) Métailié also notes that the only continuity between this traditional botany and modern botany was the salvaging of terminology and nomenclature from the ancient texts, a task undertaken largely by Japanese scholars.
The contemporary Chinese view is that ‘Modern plant biology research in China started in the 1930s, when overseas plant biologists Pei-sung Tang (trained in the U.S.) and Tsung-Le Loo (trained in Japan) returned to China and set up research and training programs in plant biology.’ China’s program of reform and opening to the world in the late 1970s proved a turning point for the sciences in China following the decade of upheaval during the Cultural Revolution. After 1978 economic reforms increased economic growth and subsequent improvement in scientific funding and access to international expertise and resources. Support comes mainly from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. The number of Chinese scientists, international research collaborations, and number of publications has risen dramatically since 1990.
Needham often referred to pre-Western botany as ‘traditional botany’, implying a crude and rudimentary botany on its way to a mature and unitary plant science marked by a foundation in universally applicable scientific principles. Métailié believed that his studies revealed ‘… an autonomous and original domain that may be called ‘traditional Chinese botany’ and describes his own work as ‘… an essay on ethnobotanical history’. (p. 13)
This difference of opinion raises various issues in the history and philosophy of science: whether there is indeed a unitary science of which botany is a member; whether science advances or proceeds from one paradigm, or narrative, to another;
The most sophisticated Chinese plant classification is that of Li Shizhen (pp. 77-99).
Western commentary on Chinese cultural relation to plants
Western commentary on Chinese cultural plant relations is set on the bedrock of works by Emil Bretschneider (1833-1901) who was a Baltic German sinologist and member of the Académie Française. Graduating from the University of Dorpat, Estonia, he worked within the Russian Empire, posted as a physician to Tehran (1862–65) and from 1866 to 1883 to Pekin. Bretschneider built up his own herbarium working in the mountains close to Pekin and, from 1880, sent herbarium specimens to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Among his influential writings are: ‘On the Study and Value of Chinese Botanical Works’ (1870), ‘Early European Researches into the Flora of China’ (1881), ‘Botanicum Sinicum’ (1882), and his vast ‘History of European Botanical Studies in China’ (1898).
Plant introduction to the West from China
Cunninghame (1698); Ternstroem (1735); d’Incarville (1740); Osbeck (1750); Torin (1753); Haxton, Main (First Diplomatic Mission) (1792); Kerr (1804); Abel(Second Diplomatic Mission) (1816); Potts (1821); Parks (1823); Fortune (1843); Jean Soulié (1860-1900); David (1862); Delavay (1867); Henry (1881); Potanin (1884); Paul Farges (1892-1903); Wilson (1899); Forrest (1904); Meyer (1905); Purdom (1909); Kingdon-Ward (1911); Farrer (1914); Rock (1922).
Well before the 19th century, plants depicted in Chinese paintings, textiles and ceramics had caught the eyes of European plant collectors. Captains of East India Company tea-clippers putting in to Canton (Guangzhou) were begged to bring these home. Foreign officials could live in Canton while the merchant fleet was visiting, otherwise they were to live on the island of Macau. Better-known among these were John Livingstone, Thomas Beale, and John Reeves (a company tea inspector) who were all keen gardeners that lived there for more than 20 years, Reeves especially opening an immediate communication with Banks and returning 100 living plants to the Horticultural Society when on leave in 1816, and many plant illustrations completed by Chinese artists now known as the Reeves Collection.
Kew Pagoda – Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London – 2006 Constructed by Sir William Chambers in 1761 Courtesy Wikimedia Commons – Targeman – Accessed 9 March 2018
1700-1755 Coastal ports and environs
Benjamin Torin had become a resident in 1753 and in 1770 returned to Kew a cargo of plants that included Daphne odora, Osmanthus fragrans, Cordyline terminalis and Murraya exotica (now M. paniculata). John and Alexander Duncan who were surgeons in the company in the years 1782-1796 so sent plants to Banks at Kew.
Staunton’s gardeners collected about 220 specimens and 7-8 novelties including Macleaya cordata and Rosa bracteata.
Physician Abel’s team amassed many plant specimens, Hooper assembling living plants and 300 packets of seed but much was lost when the ship ran aground before the trip home which included an audience with Napoleon on St Helena. Abelia chinensis (A. x grandiflora) was one of the few survivors.
Even in the early 19th century the British demand for Chinese plants greatly exceeded supply. This prompted the appointment of gardeners specific to the task. Gilbert Slater (influential in the company, owning several of its ships) who wanted specific plants for his Essex garden, sent out three gardeners, the only one to return being his Scottish foreman James Main. Banks sent William Kerr and The Horticultural Society sent John Potts and John Parks.
1780-1825 Macao & Canton
James Main (c. 1775-1846) was a Scottish botanist-gardener of Edinburgh. His trip to China, overseen by Banks, was funded by wealthy plantation owner George Hibbert (1757-1837) a Fellow of the Royal Society (1811) and Linnean Society whose gardener Joseph Knight was probably the first to cultivate Proteaceae in England. According to chronicler Loudon ‘The collection of heaths, Banksias, and other Cape and Botany Bay plants, in Hibbert’s garden, was most extensive, and his flower-garden one of the best round the metropolis’. He is commemorated in the genus Hibbertia. Main also experimented, for the Loddiges nursery, with different methods of plant storage aboard ship. He met up with Kew’s Masson at the Cape, and in Canton Stronach and Haxton but was not allowed to visit the famous Fa Te nurseries. By this time he considered the camellias bred in Europe superior to those available in China. His ship, HMS Triton, set sail for England in 1794 with the members of the second Macartney expedition. Main had made many plant collections including a host of live plants but a collision in the Channel meant that he had no record of what happened to his and other plants but survived as assistant writer to Loudon’s Gardener’s Magazine.
William Kerr (d. 1815) Scottish gardener at Kew sent to China by Banks in 1804 as the first resident professional collector, remaining for 8 years and returning to Britain from Canton, Macao, Cochinchina, and Manila. Kerr established European plants in China, sent plants to not only Kew but Calcutta and St Helena, eventually appointed superintendant of the Colombo botanic garden in Ceylon where he died in 1814, probably a consequence of opium addiction. In Macau alone he supplied samples of 238 plants new to European gardeners and science (129 of wild species he collected himself). Banks was especially interested in the use of plants for cordage and fibre.(C. pp. 98-101).
From the Horticultural Society came John Potts in 1821-2 returning after one year and followed by John Parks in 1823-4 who returned with chrysanthemum and Camellia reticulata varieties and Aspidistra lurida. Both were assisted by Reeves and Beale in Macao.
The events of the Opium War of 1840-2 put an end to collecting for about 20 years. But the British had taken Hong Kong, occupied the beautiful islands of Chusan, and gained trade access to Amoy, Foo-chow, Ning-po and Shanghai. Reeves, who had returned to England in 1831 persuaded the Horticultural Society to reinvigorate the collecting.
1843-1860 Northern China & resident collectors
Robert Fortune (1812-1880) a Scotsman employed at the in the hothouse of the Society gardens in Chiswick after extensive training at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh volunteered and was given an extensive list of possible introductions compiled by Reeves and paid the standard £100 p.a. setting up base in Hong Kong where he was assisted by the well-established sons of Reeves and Beale, the latter Thomas Beale having a fine garden in Shanghai.(C. p.102) His explorations were mainly around the treaty ports and north China. He returned with a fine collection of plants, accepted the post of Curator at the Chelsea Physic Garden, and published his travelogue Three Years Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China (1847).
His second visit to China was as an employee of the East India Company seeking to procure tea varieties for the plantations that were then being established in India at Sikkim and Assam but he managed to also collect garden plants, housed temporarily in Beale’s garden including seed of the funeral cypress Cupressus funebris. No longer answerable to the Horticultural Society his plants were distributed to nurserymen.
A third, less eventful trip for the company lasted from 1852-56, then a fourth, again related to tea, from 1858-9 for the American Government. With the Indian rebellion and winding up of the East India Company in 1858 the plantations deteriorated along with Fortunes teas which were eventually replaced by the Indian Assam variety.
Bretschneider estimated that he introduced about 190 new species and varieties of which about 120 were new and probably ignored the many garden cultivars.
Coates (p. 110) remarks that Fortune was a man of his times: he deplored heathen Buddhism trusting in the success of Christian missionaries; he was devoted to Queen and country while being convinced of his own moral superiority – that Chinese were his superiors in number only; in his journals he did not mention his wife and family or any correspondence with them.
1860-1922 Western China
War broke out again between China against England, France, Russia, and America in 1857, concluding in 1860 and opening yet more ports to trade. Access to inland regions launched a new phase of horticultural exploration that moved from northern into Western China.
Armand David (1826-1900) French naturalist who went to Pekin as a missionary in 1862. Interest in his specimens, mostly zoological, sent to the Paris Museum of Natural History prompted his three scientific expeditions into Mongolia – 1866, 1868-69, 1872-74. Returning to France he found more than 80 species grown from seed collected by him and growing in the Paris Museum gardens. His collections included many species of rhododendron, gentian, and primula. He is commemorated in the genus Davidia. Director Franchet hadreceived1577 specimens from him, about 250 new to science and published in Plantae Davidianae (1884).
Jean Delavay (1838-1895) a French missionary who collected plants for Henry Hance of the British consular service in Canton and Hong Kong. Returning to Paris in 1881 and meeting David and the Director of the Paris Museum René Franchet, Delavay was persuaded to send future collections to Paris. This initiated a flood of specimens as Delavay sent 200,000 specimens of more than 4000 species, about 150 new augmented by those of other missionaries Farges (c. 4000; 1892-1903) and Soulié (c. 7000; 1890-1905). On a second visit Delavay was stationed in near Tali-fu in Yunnan. It is likely that more garden plants were introduced to the West by Delavay than by any other botanist. Paul Farges (1844-1912) French missionary on the NE border of Szechuan from 1892-1903 sent specimens to the Paris Museum and, like Delavay and Soulié, sent seed to nurseryman Maurice de Vilmorin (whose nursery was in a Paris suburb and estate that was a former hunting lodge of Louis XIV of France) . Jean Soulié (1858-1905) a medical missionary who collected on the border of Tibet.
In the period 1860 to 1900 Russia undertook several scientific expeditions: Przewalski and Komarof in Turkestan, Tibet and Manchuria and Potanin to Mongolia. Potanin made two horticulturally important expeditions to Western China in 1884 and 1893.
Grigori Potanin (1835-1920) student political rebel he redeemed himself to be financed by the Imperial Russian Geographical Society to Western China from 1884 to 1886, taking his botanist wife who helped prepare the haul of 12,000 specimens representing about 4000 species. A second expedition was mounted in 1893 with about 10,000 specimens collected as well as seed and drug plants. Augustine Henry (1857-1930) was an Irish medical student from Belfast who became a Medical Officer and Assistant Inspector of Customs in 1881, first in Shanghai and then Ichang in 1882. His official recording of medicinal plants generated an interest in botany, correspondence with Kew, and the collection of specimens. In the first year he sent 1000 specimens including 10 new genera to Director Thistleton-Dyer who found funds to support a couple of expeditions which produced a rich harvest for later Western gardens. He also gained the assistance of Chinese collectors. Ernest Wilson (1876-1930) was a gardener trained at Hewitt’s Nursery Solihull and Birmingham Botanic Gardens then in 1897 to Kew. The Harry Veitch nursery in Coombe Wood employed him for 6 months and on the advice of Thistleton-Dyer sent him out to China in 1899 via America’s Arnold Arboretum where he was to learn about plant transportation and meet the famous Professor Sargent. Though instructed to concentrate on obtaining seed of Davidia he collected many more horticultural gems mostly in the steps of Henry. In a second season of collecting (1901) he sent back 35 cases of bulbs and roots, and over 900 herbarium specimens, returning to Coombe Wood in 1902. A second trip to the West followed but when he returned in 1905 the Veitch nursery was in decline, winding up in 1914. In the meantime a third expedition was sponsored by Harvard University and Sargent, emigrating to America to eventually become Keeper of the Arnold Arboretum. A fourth expedition followed in 1910. His novel introductions number over a thousand. His travelogue appeared in 1913 A Naturalist in Western China.
Private patron Arthur Bulley (1861-1942) a wealthy cotton broker had followed the exploits of Henry who stimulated his interest in garden plants. In 1904 he approached Isaac Balfour, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh to suggest a collector – that manbeing:
George Forrest (1873-1932) a Scotsman trained as a chemist who roved in Australia before joining the herbarium staff at Edinburgh where he worked for two years before setting off on his Chinese assignment in 1904. Forrest managed to employ teams of people during his exploration, which enabled him to send back 200 pounds of seed of 400-600 species and about 3000 herbarium specimens. He was able to exploit the craze for rhododendrons that was sweeping Western horticulture at this time, the English Rhododendron Society founded in 1915. His Chinese journeys spanned 28 years specializing in rock garden and alpine plants, especially primulas and rhododendrons. His impact was vast. He died on the last of his journeys in 1932, this expedition alone amassing at least 300 lb of seed representing 400-500 species.
Arthur Bulley now required another collector and this time Balfour recommended:
Frank Kingdon-Ward (1885-1958) an Englishman who had taught in Shanghai and had experience on expeditions. His life of botanizing for 50 years included around 25 expeditions through Tibet, North Western China, Myanmar and Assam (NE India).
Plant introduction to China
In 1803 Kew Gardener William Kerr was sent and a Chinese gardener returned to Kew to learn western gardening techniques which were being adopted in Canton.(p. 113) By the early 19th century the main dealers were the Hong merchants dealing from their opulent suburban gardens. John Barrow’s Travels in China(1804) reported that in Fa Tee there were nurseries for both vegetables and ornamental plants that were being supplied to Canton.
European collectors desired both wild and cultivated plants and this contrasted with the narrow range of local supply. ‘I have tried in vain to get the gardeners at Fa Tee to collect their own wild plants, of which they have so many beautiful ones …’ (John Reeves in Gardeners Magazine 1835 p. 112).
Nineteenth century Western plant trade influenced a change in Chinese ideas about the commercial value of plants and the role of gardens perhaps most evident in the port city of Canton (now Guangzhou) as the main focus of East-West trade under the Canton trade system of 1757-1842. Chinese gardens had been private places for mental enjoyment and scholarly contemplation of shanshui (landscape) but in Canton, under the influence of foreign ideas and trade, public gardens with beds of both indigenous and foreign plants were opened for walking, shopping, and relaxation. Potted plants were displayed in a new way along the edges of the straight promenades.
Hong tea merchant Pan Youdu is said to have entertained Europeans and exchanged his plants for those sent from Banks in Kew.The first wisteria transported to the West was cut from a plant in the garden of merchant Pan Changyau (p. 114).
Confucian traditions of status, rank and academic concerns had created gardens depicting rural and agrarian landscapes with water and rocks as major elements and the borrowing (jiejing) of scenery, especially mountains, rivers, and countryside. Flowers did not feature. Garden theorist Ji Cheng (b. 1582) wrote Yuan ye (Garden Craft) published in 1638.
This tradition was now challenged by a rich new mercantile class of traders and their interests who introduced mercantile scenes. Interest in Western plants had developed in the 18th century Qing court. This exchange included not only plants and expertise but images of individual plants and gardens.
In 1839 the Opium Wars began, treaty ports were opened, and Cantonese merchant dominance was broken and Western influence would become more blatant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the construction of Western-style mansion villas, botanical gardens, and parks in cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Yuen Lai Winnie Chang 2015. Nineteenth Century Canton Gardens and the East-West Plant Trade. In: ten-Doesschate Chu, P. & Ning Ding (eds). Qing Encounters: Artistic Exchanges between China and the West. Getty Research: New York
Questions to be answered
If the human-plant relationship did develop independently in East and West then we must first compare the most obvious distinctions or categories of plant use which, for the West, would be agriculture, horticulture (as food crops, garden plants and gardening), forestry, medicine, and spices.
We can then examine if there is any equivalence in plant science and the traditions of plant literature, nomenclature, description, classification, and illustration. As in the West Chinese society was hierarchical and dynastic so the question arises as to the use of plants by different social strata.
Culturally questions also arise as to the symbolic, religious and cultural significance of plants while economically and ecologically it is useful to know the degree of commercialization of plants including the volume and variety of plants imported and exported.
Organisms are described and classified in many ways according to our selected purposes and interests. So, we might organize plants according to their food value (cereal, vegetable, fruit) or medicinal use. Most day-to-day plant classifications are anthropocentric: they group plants according to the various ways in which we use plants. The scientific classification of plants is based, not on the relationship of plants to people, but on their relationship to one-another. The value of this is that when similarities and differences are examined using the best available scientific techniques we can formulate an approximation of plant evolution – the way in which plants diverged from a common ancestor.
The criteria on which classifications are based.
The same today applies to societies. Complex modern cities and their people are not better in any moral sense, only different in various ways.
Western science is currently undergoing a re-examination of its philosophical foundations. This relates to two long-held assumptions – firstly, that there is a scientific method distinguishing science from other forms of critical thought and, secondly, that there is a single scientific truth to which all scientific explanation is ultimately leading and to which it approximates ever more closely.
The view adopted here is that there is no uncontroversial scientific method and no scientific unity … no ultimate or foundational scientific truth. These positions are discussed and defended elsewhere.
This does not mean that there is no means of comparing and assessing different explanatory systems. We can probably agree, when comparing two explanations, that the better one allows us to manage the natural world by making reliable predictions.
So far as living organisms are concerned there is an intuitive approach to this objective. We need to establish the best possible categories of the organism’s structures and functions such that the link between the two provides the best possible predictions.
In the case of plants this cashes out into a terminology for the various structures and predictive power can be added when the parts of an organism can be described at different scales as when examining plants through a microscope reveals cellular structure that can help explain nutrient and water transmission.
There are several points that need to be made when comparing Chinese ‘ethnobotany’ and Western plant science. Assuming agreement about the basic taxonomic unit, it is possible to both know and, to record for posterity, different amounts of information about its geography, ecology, properties, uses etc.
Ethnobotany was for the most part utilitarian. Much can be learned about plants and their relationships by comparing their similarities and differences and to do this requires an extensive standardised morphological (and other) terminology. The more detailed the language describing the structures the greater the precision of communication about the plant. In this sense plant knowledge is cumulative. A further depth of understanding is added when it is realized that the similarities and differences between organisms are a consequence of descent with modification (evolution).
Nelumbo nucifera (the Western Latin species epithet) is described in the earliest texts (as in the Er Ya of the 4th-2nd centuries BCE) in a generalised way with a description of its general appearance and uses.
Incas had no writing.
These agricultural communities came into existence independently but influenced to varying degrees subsequently.
There was a certain path of material development that was independent of religion, philosophy, social conventions, economics, and technology.
One consequence of the creation of systematic categories is that they give us a way to understand and explain the world through the creation of academic domains that explore a restricted range of categories. The works of Theophrastus in ancient Greece suggested such categories: essentially plant geography, morphology, classification, ecology, sexuality, and physiology as a way of comprehending both plants themselves and their relation to humans. In China all these matters were addressed in general terms – plant growth was discussed in relation to soils, climate, mode of cultivation, salinity, altitude, aspect, heat, cold, wind and more – there was no formal systematization of thought alone these lines or a community tradition of detailed experimental investigation.
Theory of Five Phases. While the number four had special significance in the cosmology of the West (notably the elements earth, air, fire, water), it was the number five in China (water, wood, fire, earth, metal) and five body organs, five domesic animals, five favourite flowers, five seasons etc.)
The most comprehensive contemporary account of Chinese plant study is that of Georges Métailié (2016) in which he claims that there is ‘no Chinese term that might have even one of the modern meanings of the word ‘botany’’ or ‘any term that refers to any traditional knowledge specifically about plants’ … before 1858 when the word zhiwuxue (loosely equivalent to the Western word ‘botany’) was introduced. This is the date when the London Missionary Society Press published a Chinese adaptation of Englishman John Lindley’s (1799-1865) An outline of the first principles of botanywhich had been published in London in 1830. There was also no Chinese equivalent of the western Flora as an account of the plants growing within a selected geographic region and a limited quest for the systematization of plant knowledge, standardisation of terminology, or development of a theoretical framework of understanding.
Métailié therefore chose to avoid the word ‘botany’ and, instead, refer to the Chinese cultural and academic relation to plants as ‘ethnobotany’.
Métailié also chooses to make a philosophical point about science. The editor of the series in which his account appears (Joseph Needham) had early expressed the view that ‘ … there is only one unitary science of nature … (there is) … fundamental continuity and universality of all science’. Needham’s view was that western science constituted a ‘level’ of scientific development that exceeded that present in China.
The most elaborate Chinese plant classification system was that of Li Shizhen (1518-1593) which encompassed 1095 mostly cultivated medicinal plants in five major sections: grasses, grains, vegetables, fruits, and trees. This was a utilitarian classification that contrasts with the 200-year later western classifications based on mutually exclusive morphological characters. Métailié preferred to regard the Chinese plant world as different, using different concepts and procedures. Western science was not more mature, more highly developed, or of a higher level it was simply ’an autonomous and original domain that maybe called ‘traditional Chinese botany’’. It was different in the way that western botany of the early modern period was different from the medicinal study of plants that preceded it.
The fusion of Chinese ideas with western science would not occur until about 1880 when there was a recognition of ‘western’ plant families and the linking of Chinese traditional names to Linnaean Latin binomials although it was introduced mainly by students educated in Japan, USA, or Europe around 1910, and gathering momentum after 1916.
Description & illustration
From Japan to Britain
Chinese garden heritage arrived in Britain via Japan.As in the West, Chinese garden traditions emerged under the influence of the powerful, wealthy and scholarly officials of the higher ranks of society. Gardens related to wider philosophical concerns. Confucianism considered mostly human relations (self-actualization), while Daoism was a more expansive world view, relating humans to the world and cosmos (love of nature) having a more relaxed approach to existence than the formal Confucian insistence on rights and rituals. Formal rectilinear houses (fang-zi – suggesting social order, and often occupied by many people) were separate from the gardens (yuan– suggesting spontaneity, creative imagination, and harmony with nature).
Connections with Western traditions of a similar and ancient period are uncanny – perhaps made more similar by Western interpretation. Ancient rulers preserved large areas of land for hunting. Legend tells of the artificial lakes and terraces of Zhou dynasty rulers (c. 1027-256 BCE). Qin Shi Hang unified the disparate Chinese states in 221 BCE and in his Shanglin Park he demonstrated his imperial power by assembling collections of rare animals and plants, many introduced from conquered territories in a tradition continued by Han Emperors from (206 BCE – 220 CE). Poetry and literature of this period extols the virtues of the garden as a universal microcosm, especially the themes of: natural landscape embellished; imperial riches symbolized; and Island of the Immortals recreated. Han Emperor Wudi associated gardens with Chinese Immortals by constructing magical islands considered replicas of their spiritual home. This imperial tradition also included vast palace precincts, orchards, farmland, hunting parks, and lakes. To this was added elaborate entertainments with artificial structures of various kinds. The theme of magnificent gardens passed into other dynasties and included elaborate water features. Even the last dynasty of Manchus, which ruled China for 250 years from the 17th century, expected a magnificent garden as a relaxing reward in a retirement free from public duties.
Records of private gardens before the Han dynasty are scarce but lakes and constructed rockeries with streams are reported in the Han cities along the Yellow River (Huang He). During the Han dynasty Confucianism was strong and substantial gardens were more likely to be constructed as places of peace and self-cultivation by elite bureaucrats of the civil service (entered via demanding examinations on the Chinese classics) than the aristocracy.(K. p. 114)
From the 5th century Buddhism and its monasteries exerted an increasing influence as gardens became more spiritual interpretations of nature, this being associated with movements in poetry and landscape painting epitomised in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) country estate of Buddhist Wang Wei whose scroll painting and poems were admired down the ages. Also in the Tang dynasty the collection and arrangement of rocks reached new heights (smaller rocks and pebbles were later preferred in Japan). By the time of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), regarded as a golden age of gardens and arts in general, rocks were an integral part of every garden, the larger ones opened to the public on festival days.(K. p. 114)
The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) continued the idea of gardens as spiritual places for the indulgence of literary and artistic interests. These traditions were recorded in the most comprehensive treatise on gardening in China, the Yuan Ye of 1634. From the mid 16th century private gardens, of both scholars and merchants, with their pools and pavilions flourished in the cities. Some remain behind walls in the centre of cities.(K. 115)
The Chinese word for landscape, shanshui, means ‘hills and waters’ and this emphasis on hard landscape is key to the Chinese garden. To these basic elements are added archiecture and only then are trees, shrubs, and flowers introduced. Balance and harmony through feng shui principles and the philosophy of yin and yang are critical elements of garden philosophy.(K. 115) Plants are favoured for their symbolism, architectural impact, scent, and traditional value (often through literary associations) rather than for their variety – like the pine, plum, and bamboo as the ‘Three Friends of Winter’. (K. 116) Favourites include the chrysanthemum (probably the longest cultivated flower in China), lotus, bamboo, peach, orchid, peony and bonsai is popular. Another significant difference from the West is the preference for water over lawns. Chinese gardens of the kind discussed were not academically stifling, they were created for relaxation and the gentle engagement and stimulation of the intellect through a diversity of arts.(K. 116)
Chinese garden history
Speculation about Chinese gardens was fuelled by stories recounted by returning Dutch and Flemish traders recorded by William Temple (originator of the English landscape originator of the English landscape garden movement) in the 1680s.(Brown p. 176). Father Attiret gives an early account of the Emperor’s summer retreat in Ch’ien-lung The Garden of Perfect Brightness which was published in Paris in 1749 (English translation 1752) as one of th efirst substantial garden descriptions.
Botanical historian Métailié approaches Chinese gardens by considering the relation between the owners and their plants rather than detailing their structure – or cultural, social and economic functions. As usual it is the academic, or wealthy, high-ranking government officials, and merchants – the literati – who have bequeathed us a written account of their motivations.
Parallels with Western garden tradition are uncanny and we must be aware of viewing history through western eyes. From antiquity to the 17th century come the words yuan (park) and yuan you and yuan ye (enclosed park) and the apparent distinction between princely park and enclosure, orchards, and kitchen gardens. From the Xi Jin dynasty (265-316) comes yuan lin as a pleasure garden of various sizes and distinguished from the above by Métailié through the expression ‘villa garden’.
We only know of these gardens from the historical literature, only one account the Yuan ye (The Figuration of Gardens) by Ji Cheng, written from 1631 to 1634, tells us about the structural features of the great parks of antiquity although this century especially produced other technical texts and personal accounts but few that provide plant inventories.
A poem of the 11th century, Shi jing, refers to a pleasure garden like a game reserve with beautiful birds and animals and a lake. It is a ‘Park of Marvels’ with a ‘Pool of Marvels.’
An imperial park of the Qin was ruined at the beginning of the Han dynasty but was restored and enlarged as 137 BCE under Han emperor Wu (ruled (140-87 BCE). The Xi jing za ji of Ge Hong (283-364) contains a list of its plants including reference to cultivars like the 10 kinds of ‘pears’ that included purple and bronze forms, different-shaped leaves, selections from the Gobi Desert resistant to cold, gifts from other parts of China. Seven kinds of jujube, four chestnuts, and 10 peaches, 15 plums, three apples etc.(p. 448). This garden contains botanical and horticultural rarities including plants brought as tribute suggesting, as in similar Western gardens, the power, influence, economic awareness, and aesthetic sensitivity of the Emperor.
This period saw a variation of the theme of a garden as a microcosm of nature to a greater appreciation of individual plants and animals, especially birds, that occurred in the gardens of the scholar literati as exemplified by the plant and rock garden of Li Deyu (787-850) near Luoyang around 825.
Li Deyu had read the Yuan ting cao mu shu (c. 690-701 – Commentaries on Garden Plants), now lost, using it to develop his own ideas supplemented by further knowledge of plant names gained by studying the poems of the Shi jing His list of ornamental plants and rocks included gifts of ornamental plants as well as a collection of medicinal plants. He gives the provenance, most coming from the lower Yangtzi valley. His collections probably constitutes a ‘miniature imperial park of the ancient sort’,(Schafer 1965, p.108) Li Deyu being more a plant collector than a garden artist his collection also resembled a botanical garden.
Buddhism probably arrived in China in the first century Han dynasty brought by missionaries from India. The monasteries included kitchen gardens, orchards, trees and ornamental plants, the food plants catering for a vegetarian diet. The monks, both those arriving and those returning from overseas, imported new plants. Plants recorded as arriving from the West by this method included: Terminalia chebula, Myrobolan; Shorea robusta, Robust Shorea; and Artocarpus heterophyllus, Jackfruit.(p. 453)
The Chinese literature on plants comprised books like western encyclopaedias, dictionaries, horticultural monographs, agricultural treatises, and materia medica. Most authoritative among Western commentators on the Chinese garden is Maggie Keswick. Chinese gardening philosophies have arrived in the West largely via Japan.
Chinoiserie was a European court fashion. The period of Chinoiserie in the West epitomized by the construction for Princess Augusta of a Chinese 163′ pagoda in Kew Gardens in 1761. It was inspired by engravings of the porcelain tower of Nanking and a Chinese Tea pagoda, was part of a reciprocal interest in Western plants in China.
‘When the dates of particular cultural developments (dogs, cultivated plants, fortification, writing, villages, territorial expansion, domesticated animals, full-scale farming, towns and buildings) are compared between East and West – the process of progressive urbanization – they are not only remarkably similar but they arise in a similar order although displaced back by about 2000 years in the East
Morris p. 130
Citations & notes
 Stanyon, R. Sazzini, M. and Luiselli, D. 2009. Timing the first human migration into eastern Asia. Journal of Biology 8(2): 18  Chinoiserie – the European interpretation and imitation of Chinese and East Asian artistic traditions especially in the decorative arts – garden design, architecture, literature, theatre, and music. First appearing in the 17th century but popularized in the 18th century due to the rise in trade with China and East Asia  Keswick 1986, pp.111-116  Keswick 1986, p.111  Keswick 1986, p.112  Wu Liu 2015  Mencius (372–289 BCE or c. 385–303 BCE) was a Chinese philosopher often considered second only to Confucius  Haodong et al. 2006  Clarke, 2007
Anderson, E.N. 2014. Food and Environment in Early and Medieval China. University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia Clarke, G. 2007. A Farewell to Alms: a Brief Economic History of the World. Princeton University Press: Woodstock, UK. Coates, A.M. 1969. The Plant Hunters: Being a History of the Horticultural Pioneers, their Quests and their Discoveries. McGraw-Hill: New York Haodong C., Karplus, V.J., Hong Ma, Xing Wang Deng. 2006. Plant Biology Research Comes of Age in China. The Plant Cell DOI: https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.106.045393 Keswick, M. 1986. China. pp.111-116 In: Oxford Companion to Gardens. Oxford University Press: Oxford Marks, R.B. 2012. China: Its Environment and History. Rowman & Littlefield: New York Métailié, G. 2015. Science and civilization in China. Volume 6. Biology and biological technology. Part IV: traditional botany: an ethnobotanical approach. (transl. Janet Lloyd). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge Morris, I. 2010. Why the West Rules – For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future. Picador: London Wu Liu et al. 2015. The earliest unequivocally modern humans in southern China. Nature volume 526: 696–699
Puga, R. (2012). The First Museum in China: The British Museum of Macao (1829–1834) and its Contribution to Nineteenth-Century British Natural Science. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 22(3-4), 575-586. doi:10.1017/S1356186312000430
Chinese inventions included cast iron, the ploughshare, the stirrup, gunpowder, printing, paper money, the magnetic compass, clockwork escapements, most of which were thought at the time to be western inventions.
Historian Mencius records significant deforestation by 300-400 BCE, China failing to restore these cleared forests in the manner later followed by Japan. A thorough environmental history of China has been written by Robert Marks (2012).
Holway, T.M. 2018. History or Romance? Ernest H. Wilson and plant collecting in China. Garden History 46(1): 3-26.
Stimulated by the travelogues of Marco Polo Europe was captivated by Oriental, Far Eastern, or exotic mystique from the mid- sixteenth century reaching a height in the mid-eighteenth century. Though apparent Spanish traders brought large amounts of Chinese porcelain, lacquer, textiles, and spices from Chinese merchants based in Manila.
Artistic style in interior design emulating Chinese styles in architecture, ceramics. Elaborate court ritual was perceived as an indication of civilization, possibly rivalling the sophistication of Greece and Rome. Attracted by the mystery of restricted access glimpsed through the wider East Asian trade that included Japan, Korea and SE Asia and few first-hand accounts many by early Jesuits.