This is a splendid book on cultural interactions across Eurasia from approximately the 3rd-10th centuries CE. In keeping with its title, the book itself crosses many boundaries—disciplinary, national and conceptual—to provide us with an awe-inspiring picture of the ‘different forms of transmissions, transgressions, hybridizations, dialectic encounters, syntheses, and transformations that occurred when peoples and cultures came into contact’ (Introduction, p. 16). Although the focus is on China, the canvas is actually much wider, covering West, South, South East, Central and North East Asia, together with Europe. The subject matter encompasses diverse elements of social life and material culture, including art and iconography, ritual practices, literature, science and technology, trade, diplomacy, gender and rulership. Each of the studies is a model of scholarship in its own specific field, as testified to by the impressive bibliographies of primary and secondary sources appended to each essay. While this means that from the point of view of the non-specialist reader, some parts of the book make for difficult reading, it also means that the important insights provided by this book, which illuminate a whole range of issues, stand on a solid bedrock of scholarship.
December 2015, volume 39, No 12