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ANCIENT CHIANG MAI Volume 6

ANCIENT CHIANG MAI Volume 6

The sixth of a series exploring the Peoples, Cultures and History of Northern Thailand. 12 articles, 18,000 words, 60 images

The beautiful old walled city of Chiang Mai, set amid the forested mountains and fertile valleys of northern Thailand, is the historic capital of the former Lanna Kingdom. Founded in 1296 by King Mangrai the Great, it did not become fully part of Thailand until 1939, and even today the region retains a distinctly different character, with its own language, culture, cuisine and even temperament.

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PAGES FROM THE LINDISFARNE GOSPELS

PAGES FROM THE LINDISFARNE GOSPELS

Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne

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GRAHAM GREENE’S VIETNAM

GRAHAM GREENE’S VIETNAM

Graham Greene spent much of the period 1951-1954 in Vietnam while he was writing ’The Quiet American’. 100 images, maps

‘Nothing nowadays is fabulous and nothing rises from its ashes’

Graham Greene, The Quiet American (1955)

When the novelist and traveller Graham Greene penned his darkly prophetic masterpiece of Vietnam, The Quiet American, in the mid-1950s, he was intimately acquainted with a country very different to the one so rapidly emerging today. The phoenix Greene refers to is Phuong, youthful mistress of the cynical and worldly-wise Saigon based British correspondent Thomas Fowler. Yet Phuong, whose name means phoenix, is clearly intended as a metaphor for Vietnam itself. Greene was, quintessentially, a man of his time. Nobody else has written so eloquently or so prophetically of Vietnam in the last savage throes of French colonialism and the coming nightmare of American involvement.

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OLD SHANGHAI

OLD SHANGHAI

City of Wealth, Inequality and Vice. More than 100 illustrations, maps, bibliography

Old Shanghai was China‘s richest and most corrupt city. At its heart were the International Settlement and the French Concession – islands of affluence and colonial privilege set amidst a sea of poverty and deprivation. Yet Shanghai was also China’s most progressive and innovative city, home to Chinese cinema, modern music and a flourishing literary scene.

The 1920s and 1930s were Old Shanghai’s heyday, a period of sybaritic indulgence, revolutionary intrigue and Japanese imperialist machinations when fortunes were made and lost. Opium fumes filled the streets, while cabarets and fine restaurants jostled for space with brothels and soup kitchens. Truly, there was nothing egalitarian about colonial Shanghai, except that anyone sufficiently clever or ruthless stood a chance of amassing a fortune, regardless of race or background.

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CHIANG MAI AND THE LANNA KINGDOM

CHIANG MAI AND THE LANNA KINGDOM

An account of the Culture, History and People of Northern Thailand, illustrated with more than 100 colour images and a bibliography

The concept of Thailand as a unified state populated by a single majority people, the Thai, is a relatively new concept dating from the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932. Until the early decades of the present century, it was commonplace to regard the citizens of the central plains and Bangkok, the capital, as Siamese, and their country as Siam.

The area around Chiang Mai, by contrast, was considered a separate – though often subsidiary – kingdom, styled Lan Na, or ’One Million Rice Fields’. Its inhabitants spoke a separate, though related, Tai language. They dressed differently, the women wore their hair long in contrast to the cropped Siamese, and the men covered their bodies with dense, intricately patterned tattoos.

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MALDIVES - ISLAND REALM

MALDIVES - ISLAND REALM

Beyond its picture-perfect tourist islands, the Maldives Archipelago is home to a sophistictated but little-known culture that dates back more than two thousand years

Asia’s smallest and least-known nation, the Maldives, lies scattered from north to south across a broad sweep of azure ocean south-west of Sri Lanka. Nearly two thousand islands, together with innumerable banks and reefs, are grouped in a chain of nineteen atolls extending from a point due west of Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, to just south of the equator.

The atolls – the name is indigenous, the only word of Maldivian to have been adopted by English – comprise massive rings of coral perched on the peaks of a submerged mountain range. Some are only a few miles wide, but in the far south the great atoll of Suvadiva is more than forty miles across. The northern and central atolls are separated from each other by comparatively narrow channels of deep water, but in the south, especially at Addu Atoll, the channels are wider and more treacherous.

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HEROES OF THE WATER MARGIN

HEROES OF THE WATER MARGIN

An illustrated companion to the classic Chinese novel

All Men are Brothers

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THE ARABIAN INCENSE ROAD

THE ARABIAN INCENSE ROAD

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Perhaps the oldest trade route known to history, preceding the Silk Road by at least five hundred years, the Incense Road – also known as the Incense Route or Incense Trail – comprised a complex network of overland and maritime trade routes connecting the Mediterranean World of Antiquity with Southern Arabia, the Horn of Africa and India’s Malabar Coast. These distant lands were the sources of fragrant resins and barks such as myrrh, frankincense, cinnamon and sandalwood used in the manufacture of incense, a product greatly desired and valued in the ancient civilisations of Egypt and Persia, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.

The use of incense subsequently spread from these regions to Greece and to Rome, where fragrant smoke was used for religious purposes, ritual purification and to mask bad smells. As with silk on the silk road, incense was light, easily transported and rare, making it an ideal and highly valuable substance to trade.

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