The first book to analyze and survey the extraordinary arts of this vast region by material. Throughout history, the beauty and value of the arts of Asia have been derived largely from the exquisite quality of the natural materials from which they are crafted. Materials have spiritual significance in the Asian cultures that use them, and the art is often born from that significance. For instance, jade, because of its hardness and durability, has long been associated with immortality in China, while bamboo, which bends and sways in the strongest winds, symbolizes flexibility in East Asian cultures. Many of the materials that are most often used in Asia were actually discovered, invented, or first worked there, and they pervade every aspect of life?practical, religious, and artistic. Often materials are not what they seem to a Western eye. "Rice" paper is made from mulberry wood pulp; jade is not carved?it is too hard?but abraded. Lacquer, now used for luxury decorations, was originally a protective coating on food vessels. Ten chapters, illustrated with over 400 photographs, are devoted to the most significant materials: jade, silk, porcelain, lacquer, ivory, bamboo, paper, gold, wood, and stone. Each chapter is divided into three main sections: the characteristics of the material, its historical and social significance, its etymology, and its associated legends; the techniques by which it is transformed into art objects; and, country by country, the principal artistic styles used throughout Asia. Complete with details of museums with major collections and of where to buy Asian art, and photographs of Asian art used in contemporary interior design, this book will not only serve the needs of the ever-growing number of collectors but also be seen as required reading for any student of Asia and its cultures. Featuring work from: Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet, and Vietnam. Over 400 color illustrations.