This volume offers a comprehensive and authoritative account of botanical knowledge in China from ancient times to the end of the seventeenth century. In this highly illustrated study, Georges Metailie explores the perception and use of a wealth of plants and vegetation in China before the introduction of modern botany. Drawing from a number of original Chinese texts, which have been translated for the first time, Metailie gives new insights into a variety of aspects of plant knowledge in ancient China. Chapters are devoted to traditional botany and sources of classification, aquatic plants, fungi, horticultural techniques, fruit production, grafting and the influences of ancient Chinese plant culture on Europe. This volume combines technical expertise in the identification of plants with historical and anthropological sensitivity to propose a new, non-teleological view of scientific knowledge about the botanical world in ancient China.
Georges Metailie is Emeritus Director of Research at the National Centre for Scientific Research, and member of the Centre Alexandre Koyre, Paris, France. Beginning with the study of ancient Chinese botanical knowledge, he is now mainly working on the comparative study of the history of knowledge about plants and animals in China and Japan since the sixteenth century. For more than twenty years, he has been lecturing at the National Museum for Natural History in Paris in the field of ethnobotany. He is an honorary fellow of the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge, UK, a foreign member of the Washington Academy of Sciences, USA, and received, in 2006, with Francine Fevre, the Auguste Chevalier Award of the Academie des Sciences in Paris, France.
List of abbreviations; Series editor's preface; Author's note; 1. Sources of traditional botany and the various classifications; 2. The description and illustration of plants; 3. Knowledge of plant life; 4. Horticulture and its techniques; 5. Plants and botanical exchanges. The Chinese contribution to the rest of the world; 6. Conclusion; Bibliographies; Index.