(Week-of-unrelated-quotes catch-up post, three of five.)
From Eliot Weinberger’s critique of a show at the Met, “The World of Khubiliai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty,” which closed last month:
Yuan meant “origin”—as in “back to the origins”—and Khubilai [Khan] revived ancient Confucian court rituals and had a dynastic history written in the traditional manner to justify its heaven-endowed legitimacy. His greatest claim as a Chinese emperor was that the Yuan eventually unified the country as it had not been in centuries. The Jin Dynasty had conquered half of the Song Dynasty, but the southern portion continued on for 150 years. The Southern Song, a wealthier and more populated region, with some 50 million people, had become weak and bankrupt as—in a pattern that has become all too familiar—the rich managed to legally avoid paying taxes while military expenses greatly increased.
—Eliot Weinberger, “Xanadu in New York,” The New York Review of Books, 23 December 2010