Xiaoqing Yan

Xiaoqing Yan嚴小青is Associate Professor at the Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, China. Her research focuses on the history of spices in China.


A Study of Spices and the Historical Development of Aromatic Culture

in China*


The use of spices in food has contributed to the aromatic culture in traditional China. Its long history may be divided into two periods: pre-Song and post-Song. Before the Song dynasty (10th-14th centuries) spices were mostly indigenous, whereas after the Song a variety of them came from abroad and underwent further development in China. This paper delineates the history of Chinese aromatic culture from its

emergence to maturity. In the modern period, the eight major regional cuisines in China are all inseparable from the use of spices. Spices are not only an integral part of food culture but also invested with symbolic and even spiritual significance.