The Ming World draws together scholars from all over the world to bring China’s Ming Dynasty (1368-1662) to life, exploring recent scholarly trends and academic debates that highlight the dynamism of the Ming and its key place in the early modern world.

The book is designed to replicate the structure of popular Ming-era unofficial histories that gathered information and gossip from a wide variety of fields and disciplines. Engaging with a broad array of primary and secondary sources, the authors build upon earlier scholarship while extending the field to embrace new theories, methodologies, and interpretive frameworks. It is divided into five thematically linked sections: Institutions, Ideas, Identities, Individuals, and Interactions.

Unique in its breadth and scope, The Ming World is essential reading for scholars and postgraduates of early modern China, the history of East Asia and anyone interested in gaining a broader picture of the colorful Ming world and its inhabitants.

chapter |10 pages


ByKenneth M. Swope

part I|113 pages


chapter 1|17 pages

Mapping the background

The uncertain influence of the Ming state and imperial leadership
ByThomas G. Nimick

chapter 3|17 pages

How Yongle learned to stop worrying and love the gun

Perspectives on early Ming military history
ByTonio Andrade

chapter 4|14 pages

The paradoxical effect of autocracy

Collective deliberation in the Ming official merit-evaluation system
ByYang Wei

chapter 5|22 pages

Deserts and islands

The politics of border control, 1547–49
ByRoland L. Higgins

part II|76 pages


chapter 6|19 pages

Cartography in the Ming

ByKenneth J. Hammond

chapter 7|11 pages

Gender and religion in the Ming

ByAnn Waltner

chapter 8|24 pages

Adopting The Orphan

Theater and urban culture in Ming China
ByYuming He

chapter 9|16 pages

Theater and society in the Ming world

ByHsiao Li-ling

part III|103 pages


chapter 10|14 pages

The Han-ness of Ming China

ByLeo K. Shin

chapter 11|20 pages

The Hall of Supreme Harmony as a simulacrum of Ming Dynasty construction

ByAurelia Campbell

chapter 12|17 pages

The Confucian ideal friend

ByYing Zhang

chapter 13|21 pages

The lineage organization in Ming China

A case study of Haining in the sixteenth century
ByIvy Maria Lim

chapter 14|25 pages

Soaring dragon amid dynastic transition

Dates and legitimacy among the post-Ming Chinese diaspora
ByXing Hang

part IV|97 pages


chapter 15|11 pages

The legend of Tang Saier

ByKenneth M. Swope

chapter 16|21 pages

Wang Yangming in Chuzhou and Nanjing, 1513–1516

“I have only two words to say: ‘Be truthful!’”
ByGeorge L. Israel

chapter 17|23 pages

Zhang Dai’s (1597–1680) music life in late Ming China

ByJoseph S. C. Lam

chapter 18|19 pages

The making of an empress in life and death

Empresses Xiaoduan’s and Xiaojing’s burial goods in the Ding Mausoleum
ByLuk Yu-ping

chapter 19|17 pages

From peasant rebel to Ming loyalist

The career of Li Dingguo
ByKenneth M. Swope

part V|97 pages


chapter 20|16 pages

The Ming as a Eurasian power

ByEdward L. Farmer

chapter 22|17 pages

Dai Viet in the Ming world

ByJohn K. Whitmore

chapter 23|21 pages

Korean eunuchs as imperial envoys

Relations with Chosŏn through the Zhengde reign
BySixiang Wang