Selections from the Preface by Walter B. Denny.
Russ Fling approaches his subject with some fundamental questions:
- What, in fact, are these beautiful things?
- How old are they?
- Where do they come from?
- Who made them?
- Why did they make them?
- How do we describe and evaluate them?
In short, he takes the teacher's perspective, determining what the major questions are, and providing answers based on his own pragmatic assessment of the source materials, the published record, and the visual facts. Presenting the results of his extensive research as a teacher might present it to a class of intelligent lay persons, he gives us a book that is both a narrative and a reference, examining its subject from historical, geographic, economic, ethnic, and typological perspectives, and then including a wealth of source data in its appendices.
Using his own collection primarily as a point of departure, rather than a set of absolute standards, he provides the interested reader with a fascinating story of the attitude of Central Asian cultures toward beautiful things, and examines the results of this attitude with precise and informative writing, a deep aesthetic appreciation, and most important of all, an open mind. The result is a book that will inform and delight, instruct and entertain. An engineer-turned-collector, then a collector-turned-teacher, Russ Fling has given us all an important gift of knowledge and beauty.