Early China: History, Legends, and Myths

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

  1. solarz
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    solarz Colonel

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    Again, I would have to disagree with this.

    First, culture is not like religion. Religion is identifiable through a dogma and an organization. Religion can be a part of a culture, but culture is not comparable to religion. You can say the Catholic religion is still the same because there's still a Pope making decrees from the Vatican. On the other hand, can you say Protestantism is still the same religion as Catholicism? A lot of Protestants would disagree vehemently.

    Second, it doesn't matter what how you define "adapt" vs "change", the fact of the matter is, Chinese culture evolved throughout the millenia. If the Tang and Song cultures, as different as they are, are still considered the same Chinese culture, then why should you consider the culture of the PRC to be non-Chinese just because it differs in certain aspects with ROC or Qing culture?

    Third, Chinese culture is NOT "basically based on Confucianism", and Confucius did NOT just compile and codify what was already there. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I feel that you need to improve your knowledge of Chinese history. The story of Confucianism, of the Hundred Schools of Thought, of the struggle between Confucianism and Legalism (Legalism won), is well documented. I would highly recommend you do some reading on this subject. Xi Jinping, by the way, is very much a Legalist.

    Fourth, as the German philosopher Thomas Mann noted, "Everything is Political". Culture is inseparable from politics. Tang had a liberal and diverse culture because it was strong and powerful, dominating the Asian continent. Song had an insular and conservative culture because it was vulnerable and pressed on all sides by adversarial states. Song had a strong distrust of its generals (a culture that ultimately led to its downfall) because its founding emperor was a general who betrayed his liege lord. You cannot get any more political than that!

    The May 4th movement was not a movement against Confucianism. It was a movement against Feudalism and Imperialism. It was not self-hate, but a desire for self-renewal. Again, I recommend you read up on Chinese history, preferably from Chinese sources. The May 4th movement and the Cultural Revolution are two completely different events, separated by a half century.

    Finally, the quote you like so much is typical of foreigners who ascribe to Orientalism. Richard Nixon, during his visit to China, referred to China as "mysterious". Zhou Enlai promptly corrected him: "China is not mysterious to us". The author of your quote thinks the pinnacle of Chinese achievement is "astrology, alchemy, geomancy and fortune-telling".

    No, Hendrik, the Chinese way of looking at life is not through art, it is through Li (礼). Often imperfectly translated to English as "etiquette", Li encompasses so much more than just etiquette. Every Chinese way of thinking, from the Zhou dynasty to modern PRC, boils down to Li. If there is something that defines Chinese culture uniquely, it is this adherence to Li. During the Warring States era, the difference between "barbarians" and "Chinese" (华夏), was whether they followed Li or not.
     
    #41 solarz, Dec 7, 2017
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  2. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Brigadier

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    Religion has dogma Culture has value they are the same thing with different name Both culture and religion are part what is called culture
    We are talking about the definition of culture here Even protestant believe in holy trinity the only difference is they don't recognize the authority of pope and does not believe that bible should be interpreted by the church other than that it is still the same religion and dogma
    So yeah it does not change

    Confucianism along with Buddhism and Tao are part and parcel of Chinese culture I can't imagine Chinese culture without Confucianism It is like hamburger without patties

    And I know all about legalism and Confucianism but legalism has not left imprint in the Chinese history except the brief Qin dynasty with disastrous result that it was repudiated forever in the anal of Chinese civilization.Effort underway to resurrect it once in a while but never take traction.

    Tang and Song maybe different in clothing, political style, or any other outward appearance of culture But the basic value is still the same thing

    You don't have to lecture me on the Chinese history and civilization I live in it I don't read Chinese history thru the lens of CCP

    May 4th movement strart with protest against league of nation handed German possession Shandong to Japan even though China is the winner in WWI. It is gross injustice

    What I am saying by beginning is that may 4th and cultural revolution is kindred spirit basically they are repudiating existing order including culture

    I include the article to give it perspective but I don't wrote the article
     
    #42 Hendrik_2000, Dec 7, 2017
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  3. solarz
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    solarz Colonel

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    No, Legalism is the basis of all Chinese dynasties since Han. Confucianism was repackaged by Legalists as a means to control the population. In fact, I suspect this is the purpose Xi Jinping has in mind when he started to promote Confucianism again.

    https://baike.baidu.com/item/法家思想#4_1
     
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  4. solarz
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    solarz Colonel

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    That is the point. Chinese culture is still Chinese culture, but it adapts, changes, evolves, according to historical circumstances.

    You insist on an artificial break between the pre-Mao and post-Mao Chinese culture. No such distinction exists in reality. Mao may have launched his own ideology, but Chinese culture has always had ideological clashes: from the Hundred Schools of Thought, to the Xinhai revolution. China has always taken foreign ideas and made them its own. Communism is no different: Mao Zedong took Soviet Communism and turned it into Chinese Communism. Soviet Communism was a disaster. Chinese Communism rejuvenated the nation.
     
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  5. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Brigadier

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    The earlier Chinese dynasty was shrouded in mystery I find them fascinating years ago I read this book by KC Wu noted historian and politician It's title is Chinese Heritage still available in Amazon.com https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K._C._Wu
    https://www.amazon.com/Chinese-Heritage-K-C-Wu/dp/051754475X
    He based this book on Cannon of king Yao. It is well written book and describe in very detail and easy to read style the origin of Chinese civilization starting with Yellow emperor and Yu the great . A Fascinating book I would highly recommend for those of you who is buff of Chinese history

    As usual the western critic question the existence of Xia dynasty they said there is no written record or tortoise shell oracle bone (Jiaguwen). like Shang or latter Zhou dynasty. I guess some of it originated in their disbelieve that there is ancient civilization rivaling the Egyptian
    But recent archaeological find and geological find give credence to the Chinese believe that there is such thing as Xia dynasty. To settle once for all a team of Archeologist, historian and geologist was assembled in 2007. And one brilliant Chinese geologist Qinglong Wu, was working as a postdoc at the China Earthquake Administration's Institute of Geology in Beijing, when his team found ancient lakebed sediments in the Jishi Gorge at the upper reaches of the Yellow River, about 1300 kilometers west of Beijing. They speculated that at some point a lake had formed in the gorge behind rubble from a landslide. If that dam gave away, they reasoned, it would have caused a major flood.
    This and the finding of Erlitou civilization dovetail nicely with the "great flood" theory advanced by the Chinese. I already posted this news back in 2016 in Science thread But here it is to jog the memory as well as excellent video of Erlitou culture.
    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/massive-flood-may-have-led-chinas-earliest-empire




    [​IMG]

    An ancient landslide once blocked the Yellow River at Jishi Gorge in China, shown here. The resulting lake eventually burst through the rubble dam, causing what may have been one of history’s largest floods.

    Qinglong Wu

    Massive flood may have led to China's earliest empire
    By Dennis NormileAug. 4, 2016 , 2:00 PM

    Many cultures trace their origins to the hazy horizon where history meets legend. In China's case, that blurry line occurs sometime between 2200 B.C.E. and 2000 B.C.E., when a legendary hero named Yu tamed Yellow River flooding and earned a mandate to become the founding emperor of the Xia dynasty, the country's first. That’s the story according to texts written long after the fact, and many Chinese believe their civilization started with emperor Yu. But archaeologists have been unable to find convincing evidence for either the flood or the Xia dynasty itself.

    Now, an international team of scientists drawn from the fields of archaeology, anthropology, seismology, and geology have gathered disparate evidence from ancient texts, sedimentary deposits, earthquake-triggered landslides, and skeletons in collapsed cave dwellings to craft a scenario presented this week in Science that they claim supports the legend of a great flood and hints that the Xia dynasty might be real. If the findings hold up, they could lend credence to early historical texts and help resolve a long-running debate over the origins of China and its people.

    It is "a groundbreaking study," says Qingwei Sun, an archaeologist at Peking University in Beijing who was not involved in the work. Still, "more data is needed [for the findings] to be widely accepted," he says.



    The paper was nearly a decade in the making. In spring 2007, the study's lead author, geologist Qinglong Wu, was working as a postdoc at the China Earthquake Administration's Institute of Geology in Beijing, when his team found ancient lakebed sediments in the Jishi Gorge at the upper reaches of the Yellow River, about 1300 kilometers west of Beijing. They speculated that at some point a lake had formed in the gorge behind rubble from a landslide. If that dam gave away, they reasoned, it would have caused a major flood.

    Following a hunch that came during a sleepless night in July 2008, Wu traveled 25 kilometers downstream from the gorge, where a major earthquake had destroyed numerous cave dwellings in a Neolithic settlement called Lajia. Subsequently, a thick layer of mud engulfed the ruins and the victims, preserving them for discovery in the 1990s. Wu found that the Lajia mud matched material from Jishi Gorge, suggesting that the same earthquake that had destroyed the dwellings had also triggered the upstream landslide that set the stage for the flood. Because the sediment was quite different from what would have been washed into the ruins by rainstorms, "the earthquake and flood must have occurred in the same year," says Darryl Granger, a geologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, who is a co-author of the paper.

    At that point, Wu began thinking that this event could be the basis for China’s great flood legend. "I didn’t tell others because it would invite laughter," he says. Instead, he quietly gathered evidence from lake deposits in the gorge and flood sediments downstream, and reached out to specialists around the world to help him interpret the data. The team concluded that the landslide created a dam 200 meters high that choked off the mighty Yellow for 6 to 9 months. The rising water finally overtopped the rubble and then quickly washed it away, causing a torrent that could have been among the largest floods of the Holocene epoch, Granger says. It is difficult to determine when ancient floods happened, but radiocarbon dating of the Lajia human remains pegged the catastrophes to about 1900 B.C.E.

    How a great flood may have spurred China’s first civilization.

    Science

    The massive flood “provides us with a tantalizing hint that the Xia dynasty might really have existed," says David Cohen, an archaeologist and co-author at National Taiwan University in Taipei. The devastating flood could have inundated settlements even a thousand or more kilometers downstream, he says, and created chaos from which a new political order emerged. This sequence of events neatly fits the legend of Yu controlling the flooding by dredging channels to confine the Yellow River and its tributaries. This feat, the ancient texts say, allowed him to claim a mandate as the first emperor of the Xia dynasty.

    The timing is curiously coincidental. Around 1900 B.C.E., Cohen says, Chinese society was transitioning from the Neolithic to the Bronze age. The date also correlates with what is called the Erlitou culture, which is known from palace buildings and bronze smelting workshops discovered near Zhengzhou, about 2500 kilometers downstream from Jishi Gorge. Many scholars have argued that Erlitou is a manifestation of the elusive Xia dynasty, but a link is not firmly established.

    Nevertheless, with hard evidence of a catastrophic flood occurring at a time of social and political change, "It's an amazing story of all these different lines of evidence coming together," Cohen says. “If the great flood really happened, then the Xia dynasty likely happened, too,” he concludes.

    "It's a thought-provoking piece of work," agrees Tristram Kidder, an archaeologist at Washington University in St. Louis in Missouri, who works on several sites on the lower Yellow River. "They've done a great job showing that there was a major, catastrophic flood.”

    But Haiwang Liu, an archaeologist at the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in Zhengzhou, China, who collaborates with Kidder, says that at their sites in the lower Yellow, "no hard physical evidence of great floods during that time has been found." And Lothar von Falkenhausen, an archaeologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, cautions against "proposing too direct a linkage between such environmental events with semimythical accounts recorded in texts of much later date."

    The new paper's findings are also at odds with other recent studies, which have proposed alternative explanations for both the Jishi Gorge deposits and the Lajia sediment, says Wenxiang Wu, a geographer at the Chinese Academy of Sciences's Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research in Beijing. He adds that recent radiocarbon dating refinements have suggested the Erlitou culture thrived between 1750 B.C.E. and 1530 B.C.E.—much later than the proposed new date for the Xia dynasty. The paper "needs more supporting evidence," for its claims regarding a great flood and the Xia dynasty, Wenxiang Wu concludes.

    Qinglong Wu, now at Nanjing Normal University, acknowledges the paper is certain to stir up several long-simmering controversies. But in trying to make sense of disparate historical and physical evidence "our data involves fewer contradictions" than alternative explanations, he says.

    One point all agree on is the need for further study. Finding evidence for a great flood along the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River "would undoubtedly strengthen the persuasiveness of the paper,” Sun says. Wu’s team "sets out a hypothesis we can follow up—it gives us something to look for," Kidder says.
     
    #45 Hendrik_2000, Dec 23, 2017
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  6. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Brigadier

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    There is no Communism in China today It is name only but they keep it to prevent another dislocation
    Only 30% of the mean of production is in the hand of state. China today is capitalist society with authoritarian government. Franch is probably more socialist than China
    China is succesful because it learn from history and release the tremendous creative drive of Chinese people , coupled with old Mandarin tradition of selecting good and capable administrator.Those 2 are the enabler of Chinese reform

    Also in the early day of reform China did get help from overseas Chinese with capital, management expertise and marketing savy which enable them to flourish
    No other country has that facility. So Chinese experience is unique

    The Chinese diaspora’s role in the rise of China
    14 September 2016
    http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2016/09/14/the-chinese-diasporas-role-in-the-rise-of-china/

    Author: John Lee, Canberra
    In 1995, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade published a 350-page report on overseas Chinese business networks, calling them ‘one of the main forces driving the dynamic growth that characterises the region’. This interest reflected the economic clout of the then 50-odd million diaspora Chinese — living mostly in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia. In the early 1990s this diaspora was described as rivalling Japan as a business influence across Asia, with a collective wealth comparable to China’s GDP

    China’s stupendous growth since the mid-1990s has overshadowed the diaspora, but this only obscures its key enabling role in China’s rise. ‘Diaspora’ is of course a reductionist term that elides the variation among overseas Chinese in history, outlook and circumstances — most are not wealthy businessmen.

    But those who are have played a pivotal role in developing China’s export industries, and mediating its economic integration with the region in ways that have allowed China to grow fast while retaining key features of its pre-1979 political economy. As such, the diaspora has effectively given China a resource unavailable to any previous rising power
     
    #46 Hendrik_2000, Dec 23, 2017
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  7. Tam
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    Tam Junior Member
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    Watching a new anime, which is actually a remake of a popular anime and mange before, the Hoshin Engi, or the Hoshin List. The story is based on a highly fantastical and romanticized take of Chinese mythology and history, this time relating to the fall of the Shang Dynasty, called Yin Dynasty in the story, which the last Emperor was seduced by a nine tailed fox vixen called Dakki (Daji as she is referred to in other literature). The story gives me the Journey to the West kind of vibes where gods or immortal hermits (sennin) battle demons or yokai. The original story is based on a Ming Dynasty work called The Creation of the Gods, the manga series Hoshin Engi is by Ryu Fujisaki.

    The gods, watching the oppression caused by the seductress Dakki upon once prosperous land, creates a plan to destroy the old kingdom and place a new one in its place. The plan was laid for an immortal hermit named Taikobo to execute this plan, which is aimed in the defeat and banishment of Dakki and her 365 minions. Once he realizes he cannot defeat Dakki on his own, he sets out to assemble a group of warriors and other immortal hermits.

    Some things I don't understand quite exactly. Paopei or Pipa refers to a sacred weapon or tool used by Doushi and Sennin?


     
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  8. solarz
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    solarz Colonel

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    Ugh, like almost all Japanese piracies of Chinese myths and legends, this one massacres the original source.

    "Feng Sheng Yan Yi" is a 16th century novel about the fall of the Shang dynasty and the rise of the Zhou dynasty, with gods, demons, and magic added in. Like "Journey to the West", this is a piece of literature, not a myth or legend.

    "Pipa" is a musical instrument.
     
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  9. vesicles
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    vesicles Major

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    Yes, pipa is a musical instrument to ordinary people like us. In the “Feng Sheng Yan Yi”, a demigod general uses a magical pipa, which is supposed to be powerful enough to destroy the entire universe if the user chooses to.

    Nowadays, if you go to any sizeable Buddhist temple, you will see 4 ancient warriors in full battle armor standing/sitting inside the front gate, two on each side. They are 4 Me brothers (their family name is “Me”). They are Me Lihong, Me Lihai, Me Liqing and Me Lishou. Me Liqing, the third brother, holds a pipa and would be the demigod using the Pipa in the novel. These 4 brothers are very formidable enemies of the agonists in the story. In addition to the Pipa used by Me Liqing, Me Lihong uses an magical umbrella, which can absorb and suck anything in the universe into his umbrella. Me Lihai uses a magical sword, which is the master of all swords in the world. Me Lishou, the little brother, has a pet weasel, which can turn as huge as an elephant (when he wants to eat you) or as small as a mouse. They are eventually killed by Huang Tianhua, a demigod on the good side. And after their death, the brothers become gods and the guardian generals for the heaven palace.
     
  10. vesicles
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    By the way, Yin is the family name of the royal family of the Shang dynasty. That’s why Shang dynasty is sometimes referred to as “Yin Shang”. So I guess, in that sense, one can also called the Shang dynasty as Yin dynasty.
     
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