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Art In An Age Of Entertainment

Look at her style. Look at her hands. Look at the color. This is a captivating piece. As he describes the Chinese pottery figurine of a woman in stylish clothes, Fred Brooks is indeed a man captivated. Moving to a fierce-looking earthenware sculpture, he lets his hands take flight as he points out key features. You can see the workmanship, the wonderful scary face, mustache and armor and especially these breastplates.

Brooks is a docent in his own home The Old Greenwich house that he and his wife, Jane, have turned into a showcase for the ceramic art of the Tang Dynasty, 618 to 907, a glorious period in Chinese history.

Way ahead of their time, Tang emperors ruled over a China so forward-looking, accomplished and cosmopolitan that it eclipsed its contemporaries in both the arts and sciences. They established a civil service, reformed agriculture, improved communications, set up a legal system and subdued their nomadic neighbors. By securing the Silk Road, they made it the most famous superhighway of all time ,a conveyor belt not just for goods but also for people, ideas and traditions.

While London was just a market town, the population of the Chinese capital, Chang'an (now X'ian), and its suburbs numbered more than two million. Priests from India and Southeast Asia and traders and embassy officials from Central Asia, Arabia, Turkey, Korea and Japan mingled in the busy streets of the thriving metropolis, strategically located at the eastern terminus of the Silk Road. Much as many centuries later immigrants would stimulate New York, these foreigners energized and enriched the country.