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The Conservation of Nature Under the T'Ang Dynasty

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image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

The study of the history of man's knowledge of plants and animals is all the more necessary in that it has been neglected in favor of the study of the development of tools. For instance, as Lewis Mumford has pointed out 1), knowledge of the modes of reproduction and growth of plants was more necessary to the development of agriculture in Neolithic times than was the invention of such tools as the spade, the hoe, and the plow, around which most conventional notions of "technological history" revolve. In presenting a paper, then, on attitudes towards the preservation of living things and their habitat in medieval China, I hope to redress the balance of interest, if only slightly, in favor of man's direct involvement with the natural world, and away from study of artifacts preserved in museums. It is, of course, necessary to do this through the study of documents. This paper is divided into two parts. In the first I will discuss some cultural factors which seem to have influenced policy relating to the conservation of nature, and in the second I will discuss some of the particular measures undertaken to make policy effective.

Affiliations: 1: University of California, Berkeley


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