Early China: History, Legends, and Myths

Discussion in 'Military History' started by solarz, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Colonel

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    You welcome it bring back my childhood memory too. Let say we are lucky we still get the glimpsed of old china But the tradition is diminishing with time I applaud the valiant effort of young people to retain and revitalized the tradition
     
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  2. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Colonel

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    This is amazing
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/ancient-china-colossal-waterway-system-200836934.html
    A recently excavated hydraulic system is rewriting the history of early Chinese engineering. Four years of research have revealed that the water management system of the Liangzhu, an agricultural Neolithic society known for their jade objects, took an estimated 3,000 people nearly a decade to build, and pushes back the date of China's earliest known large-scale water engineering project to about 5,100 years ago.

    From 2009 to 2013, a team of researchers used a combination of archaeological samples, remote sensing data, geographic modeling, and satellite imagery to analyze how the Liangzhu people managed the water in the Yangtze Delta between 5300 B.C. and 4300 B.C. The delta, which drains into the east China Sea, was underwater up until about 7,000 years ago. (According to Forbes, it's currently poised to become a "megaregion" that already contains many of China's wealthiest cities and generates almost a quarter of the nation's GDP.)

    The researchers traced a system of high dams, low dams, and levees that they propose represents one of the world’s oldest and largest known hydraulic engineering projects. Previously, the oldest known comparable systems were Mesopotamian, from around 4,900 years ago. A paper describing the findings was published December 4 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Corresponding author Yijie Zhuang, who researches Chinese archaeology at the University College London, told Newsweek over email that the dams were built surprisingly quickly given their sheer scale.

    [​IMG]Top photo: A structure of the Meirendi bank with wooden planks still standing upright. Bottom photo: The Bianjiashan pier, wooden stakes still were preserved, forming a T shape. PNAS

    The Liangzhu society was agrarian, and the Yangtze Delta was its hub. The researchers estimate that the thousands of laborers moved more than 10 million cubic feet of earth to build the dams, in addition to what they describe in the paper as a network of artificial canals, ditches, and moats more than 18 miles long that supplemented the river's natural channels.

    "The scale of landscape transformation at Liangzhu indeed was unparalleled in its era," the researchers wrote in their paper, "thereby opening a window into how such a system originated and developed largely in isolation."

    By that they mean that the waterway system wasn't constructed in the service of some expanding empire, but primarily for the benefit of the city's own inhabitants. The network of canals allowed the Liangzhu to scale up their rice farmlands, which sustained their entire population.

    [​IMG]

    Per the UNESCO World Heritage Center (WHC), the Liangzhu Ancient City is located in a wetland environment, and all six city gates discovered so far are waterway entrances, linking the water networks outside to the one within. The site is currently on the “tentative list” for UNESCO protection, based on a combination of political, economic, and religious importance, including the potential for “unearthed cultural relics” like jade artifacts, which were buried with members of the nobility. According to The Smithsonian's Museum of Asian Art, the quality of the Liangzhu's jade was "outstanding," and its use was copied by other Neolithic cultures that the Liangzhu came in contact with through China's river systems.

    T]he remains including city walls, foundations of large architectures, tombs, altars, residences, docks and workshops imply existence of the largest ancient city of late Neolithic Age in the Yangtze River basin,” reads the WHC case for registering the site for UNESCO protection.

    Zhuang says he and his colleagues hope to pin down locations of the system’s water-releasing outlets and figure out how the society managed its reservoirs. As The Smithsonian notes, the Liangzhu had no formal system of writing, so our understanding of them is limited; this hydraulic system is proving a vibrant source of insight into their culture.

    This article was first written by Newsweek
     
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  3. siegecrossbow
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    siegecrossbow Colonel
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    Reminds me of the legends of Da Yu.
     
  4. solarz
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    solarz Colonel

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    That would be approximately 1000 years later.

    What this sounds like is that the legends of the Huangdi and Yandi tribes contained quite a bit of truth. You don't get 3000 people to work together out of nowhere, there must have been a large and organized society prior.
     
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  5. taxiya
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    taxiya Captain
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    I'd like to remind people that culture is like water, it changes. Something will be lost, or deliberately dropped, something new will be picked even imported. Keeping something from 1000 years ago is not a definition of a culture. Picking up something foreign does not make one being less of oneself. People should keep an open mind, a mind willing to accept change. This is a principle.

    In practice, Chinese language has changed a lot, while Japanese retained some pronunciation and meaning of words from the Han, Tang and Song dynasties. That does not make Japanese more Chinese than Chinese. In other words, whatever Chinese changed to is still Chinese (culture), whatever Japanese retained (from older China) still does not make them more Chinese. This also applies to clothing, rites, food, holidays etc. This also applies to any sub-region within China. Nobody in a sub-region can claim to be more Chinese than others, nobody can claim to be some kind of "legitimate heir" of China. Everyone and anyone who identifies as Chinese are as much as anyone else.

    Examples:
    1. King Zhao Wuling introduced "barbarian" dressing, that does not make Kingdom Zhao (modern day Hebei province) foreign and less Chinese than anywhere else.
    2. All these kingdoms adopted "barbarian" dressing soon afterwards, does that mean Chinese culture died 2000 years ago? If anyone today claims Taiwan is more Chinese because they retain while mainlanders drop, then is the Dropper Chinese or is the keeper Chinese?
    3. Kingdom Chu, Wu, Yue were vastly "non-Chinese" region at their foundation 3000 years ago. Who dares to say modern day Hubei, Hunan, Anhui and Zhejiang are not Chinese?
    4. Tang dynasty (nobody deny its Chineseness) introduced a foreign religion, adopted lots of Turkic and central Asian customs. Many modern day Chinese family of Li, Shi, Ai are Turkic, as well as Liu being Xiongnu. I am sure no Li today can be sure that they are not Turks. The foreign musical instrument Pipa, Huqin are part of Chinese culture brought in by these foreigners. Anyone want to excludes them from Chinese culture? If do so, what is left to define Chinese?
    5. Ming, Qing, ROC and PRC inherited "Province" and many governmental institutions introduced during Yuan dynasty. Should we expel them just because Yuan should be seen as "foreign"?
    6. 3000 years ago, Zhejiang and Jiangsu region widely practiced tattooing while the northerners don't and seeing such practice as barbarian, that does not make people from this part being more or less Chinese, no matter if they keep or drop their practices.
    The list of examples is endless, so I will stop here. But I must say I am disappointed that TODAY many Chinese adopted the western concept of culture and nation which are very narrow minded and close to racism, and then reapply and re-interpret Chinese culture and history backwardly.

    China was a multicultural, multi-origion country from the very start. 5000 years ago, several small groups of people in the northern plain from eastern Gansu to western Liaoning, from southern Inner Mongolia to Henan started nation building which we see Xia, Shang and Zhou. 3000 years ago, these people have effectively merged into one began to expand to south and east, incorporating today's Zhejiang, Sichuan and Yanzte river valley. 2000 years ago, the Han dynasty brought in Fujian, later dynasties just keep on bringing in and consolidate.

    We either accept we are all Chinese so long as one identify so, or we have to accept there is no Chinese. It is not about conforming to political correctness or official ideology, it is the fact of how China comes to be China.
     
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  6. taxiya
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    taxiya Captain
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    At one point, many Chinese dynasties are "outsiders" themselves. The very first imperial dynasty Qin is outsider to the other eastern kingdoms, writing different scripts and speaking different dialect/language (depend how one defines). Qin's predecessor Zhou is foreigner from the west who was a fief of Shang. If one accept Zhou and Qin's conquest of the rest of China, one should not regard the later "outsiders" (Mongol, Qidan, Manchu etc.) any less rightful Chinese. China is a snowball.

    Imagine if Romans and whoever succeeded them was able to keep Europe as one unified empire until today, who would be the foreigners, outsiders and invaders?

    Regarding Japan, I assume you are comparing Japan's invasion of China in the late 1800s until 1945 to early "foreigners" like Mongol and Manchu? There is a huge difference, and the difference is not about brutality, but the change of people's mind of the concept of nationhood (to the modern one). For example, Qin's unification was very brutal, no less than what one may perceive the Mongol's in the 1200s, Qin killed hundreds of thousands of POWs of Zhao just after one battle (checkout the name Baiqi). Qing dynasty in the 1800s wiped out the Zhungaer Mongols in Xinjiang. All these are tragedies, but it is commonly practiced by everyone back then because that is accepted war conduct, there was nothing called human right back then. So those brutality did not hold a point. BUT entering late 1800 the western concept of nationhood based on "race" was widely accepted by both Chinese and Japanese. Japanese would never be accepted to rule China as Mongols and Manchus were even IF Japanese army behaved much more humane. Put it simple, no historians would call Qinshihuang illegitimately invaded others and occupied China even though everyone calls him a brute. Same applies to Kublai's Yuan, the Ming saw him as legitimate. But that won't apply to a hypothetical emperor of Japanese blood in 19th century. If that happened in the 18th century before the arrival of modern concept from west, it would be another dynasty because Chinese and Japanese would all adhere to the old Sino-centric world view.
     
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  7. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Colonel

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    I believe you are confusing culture with something else
    Culture never change Here is the definition of culture
    What is culture?
    - culture is defined as the behaviours and beliefs of a particular social, ethnic, or age group, as well as the ways of living built up by a group, from one generation to another.


    China is the only culture that still in existence from bronze time exactly because it never change until modern time Mao time to be exact
    You are talking about clothing but that is not culture it has nothing to do with culture. I know for sure because women from my community wear different formal clothing than typical Chinese clothing but that does not make them less Chinese
    More than anything it is the expected behavior, value, belief, ethic, and way of life that is the marker of culture and not clothing
    That what define Chinese ness heck one can even loose a language yet if one follow those set behavior, ethic, belief, way of live then it does not really matter

    In this respect China has not change much since the antiquity only in modern time Mao try to redefine this culture with cultural revolution and we see what a disaster the result it is

    Nobody deny the contribution of foreign influence in Chinese culture but the Chinese majority does not convert to HInduism or Islam . The core of Chinese value , belief, custom are still the same. They might not wear Kimono after the Ming dynasty but the core belief of Confucianism stay intact

    And you are confusing Chauvinism with cultural identity. NO ONE here say that Chinese culture is the best or we look down on other culture

    To the contrary knowing one culture give one more confidence to interact with other culture. If you can stand as an equal you will have better chance in relationship. Here the overseas Chinese has an edge since we have interact with the western world for centuries.so we don't have hang up we don't slavishly worship them nor are we looking down on them
    To be honest I am very disappointed at the behavior of some Chinese in mainland I don't want to elaborate it is too incendiary

    But what we are saying is that people grounded in his or her culture will most likely better adjusted individual and more social responsible
    That is what culture are for to foster in individual to behave more responsibly

    And how are they going to transmit those cultural behavior By way of tradition and custom and here is the definition of Tradition
    What is tradition?
    - tradition is the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.

    So ritual is designed to reinforced those value by participating in ritual one is constantly reminded of those value and belief however absurd the ritual is
    Ritual is also to remind us who we are and our place in society and duty toward the society as well as hope, reinforce bonding in community.

    In SEA we still perform this activity not as subregional chauvinism but as self identity specially if you live in open city subject to constant bombardment of other influence

    You cannot have better society just by enforcing rule and law only A compact and well behavior society based on tradition is complement to the rule of law
    The food scandal in China is proof of this . China has one of the toughest law in the world but that does not prevent selfish people to commit crime and disregard their responsible to the society at large. I mean there crime committed in other country too but not as gross as what happened in food scandal
    During Mao era those crime does not exist because then they still believe in communism ideal.

    The current president of China Xi Jinping is strong proponent of Chinese culture value and He liberally quoted Chinese sage in his speeches
    I think he know what is missing in Chinese modern life

    I really don't like Japan politic but I have no problem with Japanese people In general they are well behave,polite and has strong reverence for their culture
    You see this in their temple, festival, daily life
     
    #37 Hendrik_2000, Dec 5, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  8. taxiya
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    taxiya Captain
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    Or you are defining culture in a narrow and static sense? In a way like, modern day Chinese wear jacket instead of robe is not Chinese or westerner practicing Christianity rather than Greco-Roman practicing multi-god and philosophy being non European?

    Culture changes just like everything else.

    What makes Chinese is one identify himself to be so and remains adaptive to the new environment.
     
  9. solarz
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    solarz Colonel

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    Sorry, but that is completely wrong. For example, the culture of Tang and the culture of Song were vastly different. Where Tang was sexually liberal, Song was extremely prudish. Tang was extremely multicultural, Song was culturally closed off. Tang revered warriors, Song revered scholars.

    You are also wrong in believing that Mao Zedong was responsible for changing the Chinese culture. Modern Chinese culture traces its roots to the May 4th movement. Chinese Republican values were introduced by Sun Zhongshan. Mao Zedong implemented the Chinese Republic that Sun Zhongshan outlined.

    Never forget the Opium War. Emperor Kangxi defeated the Russians in 1689, resulting in the treaty of Nerchinsk that ensured the security of China's northern border. 200 years later, the Qing dynasty hardly made any progress, believing itself to be the pinnacle of civilization. British warship rudely disabused China of this notion. This is what happens when you worship culture for the sake of culture.

    China is the longest continous civilization in the world because its culture is constantly renewing itself by incorporating new, useful ideas, and discarding old, obsolete traditions.

    When the Chinese suffer defeats and setbacks, the first thing we do is learn from our adversaries. King Wu of Zhao learned from the nomadic barbarians and built the greatest cavalry force among the Warring States. The kingdom of Zhao was Qin's most formidable adversary, despite the former being saddled with an incompetent political leadership.

    When the Qing dynasty was forced to sign unequal treaty after treaty, people like Sun Zhongshan, Lu Xun, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai spearheaded China's cultural renewal. The People's Republic of China does not owe its success to the Annals of Confucius or the Tao Te Ching. Its success is built upon Republicanism, Nationalism, and Capitalism, all Western concepts.

    The essence of Chinese culture is the ability to adapt and assimilate.
     
    #39 solarz, Dec 6, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
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  10. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Colonel

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    Culture is like religion.When you ask me if Catholic religion today is the same as the time of Christ
    I would say no but if you ask me is the religion the same I would say yes
    Because the basic tenet of the catholic church is still the same the believe in holy trinity, Resurrection and redemption
    I would say the same with the Chinese culture which is basically based on Confucianism

    But Confucius merely compile,assembled and codified what was already there. The common wisdom of Chinese people and that has not change over millenia

    Adaption is not the same as change You need periodically adapt to the modern world. But the basic tenet of Chinese culture is the same The belief in the goodness of human being, the believe that by cultivation one can bring the best in human being . The teaching of Confucius emphasize this righteousness(doing the right thing) integrity.loyalty compassion.

    Politic and culture is not the same. I think the 4th may movement is reaction of inability China to resist the colonial invasion and blame the failure to the Confucius teaching which is completely wrong. Japan follow more or less Confucian ethic and yet she is able to resist the west encroachment. Instead they should blame the Qing government refusal to modernize
    I would say that the 4th may is the beginning of the cultural revolution because both of them are based on self hate. About time China recover from this disastrous self hate and start to "own" their culture as lucretius so finely said
    Mao destroyed Chinese culture Deng Xiaoping rebuild it ! when he let Chinese people to take control back to their life. Xi will own the traditional Chinese value system as symbolically when his first act of presidency is bringing the whole cabinet to the National museum of China and talk about rejuvenation of Chinese nation

    I like specially this passage

    The Chinese way of looking at life was not primarily through religion, or philosophy, or science, but through art. Instead of religion, the Chinese preferred the art of living in the world; instead of rationalization, they indulged in poetic and imaginative thinking; and instead of science, they pursued the fantasies of astrology, alchemy, geomancy and fortune-telling.

    In traditional China, not everything had to be logical as long as it worked beautifully. Tradition may have been obscured by modernization, but the roots have not been forgotten. A mere 70 years of communism is a blip in its 5,000-year-old culture. Expect to see the rebirth of the Chinese Dragon in a high-tech jacket.

    Read this excellent article in Asia Times
    http://www.atimes.com/chinese-culture-vies-hammer-sickle/
    Chinese culture vies with hammer and sickle

    The National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is held every five years in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The stage is always dominated by the classic symbol of communism: the hammer and sickle.

    But with the invariable photo-ops and the hosting of foreign dignitaries for state visits or international gatherings, the backdrop is entirely different. Rather than the hammer and sickle, we see a monumental view of a mountainous landscape partly shrouded by mist. In the middle of the landscape is a waterfall cascading from the mountains into the river below.

    The dailyReport
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    Like the hammer and sickle, the landscape is symbolic. In classic Chinese art, this image is known as a water-mountain picture. Water-mountain represents the Chinese view of Creation. Water is yin, mountain is yang.

    The ancient Chinese said: “When the yin and the yang, initially united, separated forever, the mountains poured forth water.” The mysterious something that governed the separation of yin and yang is symbolized by the dragon, that most Chinese of all Chinese symbols. Today, China combines a Western ideology and the rediscovery of its own ancient and unique world view to create a modern state.

    After World War II, China used Western ideology, science and technology to become a global power. While a foreign ideology, communism was not inimical to Chinese culture. Mengzi, a near-contemporary of Confucius, first proposed what may be seen as a collectivist system. Mengzi (Mencius) referred to the ancient Luoshu grid, the nine-field square that was the blueprint for China’s ancient capitals cities, to encourage the development of social communities. He wrote:

    I would ask you, in the country where the nine-square division [Luoshu] is observed, to reserve one division to be cultivated on the system of mutual aid, [would this not deserve consideration?] … The central square is the public field, and the eight families, each having its private hundred acres, cultivate this public field in common. And not till public work is finished may they presume to attend to their private affairs.

    The modern Chinese historian Feng Yu-lan pointed out that Mengzi’s proposal had “socialist implications.”

    Even critics of China will agree that the Chinese are first and foremost pragmatic. Since the market reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping under the slogan “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” China became a hybrid system that has economically outperformed nearly all other countries in the world. China today is by some measures the largest manufacturer in the world, and the list of industries in which it is leading the world is growing by the day, with artificial intelligencebeing the next target.

    A joke making the rounds in China goes like this: The United States has two political parties but cannot change policies; China can change policies but cannot change political parties. While a simplification of a complex issue, the same Chinese will whisper that the US political system was developed more than 200 years ago and may no longer be able to respond to rapidly changing social dynamics and global economic realignment. The Chinese experience suggests that ideology is a means to an end rather than a means in itself, as it is in the US.

    The days of China learning from the West are coming to an end and the Chinese will have to draw on other sources to take over the torch. They do not have much of a choice but to reach into their own 5,000-year-old culture.

    The “mountain-water picture” is probably a sign of things to come. It is the essence of Chinese cosmogony in which esthetics was a guiding principle. This often overlooked aspect of China was best articulated by the American scholar George Rowley, author of Principles of Chinese Painting. Rowley compared Chinese with Western and India culture and wrote:

    The Chinese way of looking at life was not primarily through religion, or philosophy, or science, but through art. Instead of religion, the Chinese preferred the art of living in the world; instead of rationalization, they indulged in poetic and imaginative thinking; and instead of science, they pursued the fantasies of astrology, alchemy, geomancy and fortune-telling.

    In traditional China, not everything had to be logical as long as it worked beautifully. Tradition may have been obscured by modernization, but the roots have not been forgotten. A mere 70 years of communism is a blip in its 5,000-year-old culture. Expect to see the rebirth of the Chinese Dragon in a high-tech jacket.
     
    #40 Hendrik_2000, Dec 7, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
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