"A welcome study of aspects of Chinese history that have evaded the attention of traditional Chinese scholars. The author clarifies the social place of the artisan and the effects that official patronage and legal restrictionss brought to bear on his work. He shows much about the working conditions in which the masterpieces in our museums were fashioned."
"The author has taken the reader . . . into the complexities of the often hidden depths of early Chinese society. Barbieri-Low has opened up a whole new field and raised challenging questions . . . [for] many new areas of research."
"Artisans in Early Imperial China is a major contribution to our understanding of ancient China and to the cross-cultural study of craft production. I expect it will provide readers with a new appreciation for the ancient artisans behind the art objects that they see, as Barbieri-Low hoped."
-Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies
"Artisans in Early Imperial China fills an important gap in the field . . . . Barbieri-Low has produced a solid and insightful work on a topic neglected by scholars in both China and the West."
"Barbieri-Low pulls off a major achievement: reconstructing the life and work of the craftsmen who created early China's most impressive works of art. Combining artistic, archaeological, and textual evidence, he gives us a finely drawn portrait of how they created objects, how they suffered, and how other strata viewed them . . . . The author's rich description of these little-known historical subjects stands out as an exemplary work of social, artistic, and archaeological history."
-Association for Asian Studies Levenson prize committee
"Barbieri-Low's study provides us with a multifaceted perspective of the lives and working conditions of Han artisans . . . . By providing a bold and grounded interpretation of the lives of artisans, Barbieri-Low has done much to enhance our understanding of the lives of the men who served the elite. More generally, he has illuminated the social and economic dynamics of the early empire."
-American Historical Review
"Barbieri-Low's book is extremely successful in explicating the social and economic conditions around laborers during China's early imperial period."
"[Barbieri-Low's] history of the people in the early workshops, marketplaces, construction sites and foundries who produced art imbues their activity with a vivid sense of contemporary life and times through a combination of solid research and enthusiastic engagement with his subject."
"Featuring a thoroughly scholarly approach with copious notes, a glossary of Chinese characters, and an exhaustive bibliography, this book presents a wonderfully fresh viewpoint; it is a veritable goldmine for students and scholars of Chinese culture. Essential."
"A sapient guide through not only the bustling, state-regulated markets, but back down the production line to the small private workshops where many of the goods. . . were produced. . . . Barbieri-Low splendidly reanimates [the artisans] lost lives, and gives them due credit for greasing the wheels of China's first empires."
-Time Magazine, Asia Edition