The Perfumed Palace: Islam's Journey from Mecca to Peking
Portrait of one of the oldest Islamic communities in the world
By M.A. Aldrich and Lukas Nikol
Hardback 304 Pages
ISBN : 9781859642276
Publisher : Garnet Publishing
About The Book
While it is not widely known, Islam first arrived in China in the 7th century CE and rapidly became an integral part of China’s social fabric. By 996 CE, Muslims had established a presence in Beijing (which we call “Peking” because of its classical resonance), and so began a process of blending so far-reaching that today, casual observers of northern China, whether Chinese, Muslim or Western, might be completely unaware of their existence.
Loosely themed around the Five Pillars of Islam, The Perfumed Palace explores the life and culture of the Muslims of China’s capital city who, over the centuries, have developed such a harmonious synthesis of two great civilisations. Accompanying the text are more than 100 colour photographs taken by photographer Lukas Nikol on visits to the Muslim Quarter in Peking and to the Muslim villages that dot the countryside in its outlying counties.
The photographs encompass everything from daily life, festivals, markets, schools, mosque architecture and numerous other leitmotifs of the capital’s Muslims. Several 1930's black-and-white photographs from the Harvard-Yenching Library add a further historical dimension to this visual depiction of Muslim Peking.
The book is completed by specially commissioned reproductions of sini calligraphic scrolls, a form of Arabic calligraphy that incorporates Chinese-style brush strokes in a vertical format, like traditional Chinese writing. These breath-taking combinations of Arabic and Chinese calligraphy are an art form unknown outside China.
About The Authors
M.A. Aldrich has lived in Greater China for more than 18 years. He is a partner in the Beijing office of a London-based international law firm. He is the author of The Search for a Vanishing Beijing: A Guide to China’s Capital Through the Ages and is also a contributor to Beijing: Portrait of a City.
Lukas Nikol is a professional photographer and graphic designer living in Munich. He is a frequent traveller to the Far East. In 2006, he published, with Christian Kracht and Eva Munz, Die Totale Erinnerung, which is the first unauthorised photographic study of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. An English version, entitled The Ministry of Truth: Kim Jong II’s North Korea, was released in 2007.
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