Early China: History, Legends, and Myths


vesicles

Colonel
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

The distinction between Confucianism and Legalism has not been as clear as you would have thought. In virtually every dynasty, there has been a blend of both Confucianism and legalism. When the society becomes chaotic, the government tends to invoke Legalism policies. Then they shift to more calm Confucianism policies when the society becomes more harmonious and prosperous.

For instance, Tang Dynasty has a prolonged period of Legalism when Wu Zetian was in power. She used the infamous “Ku Li” (or brutal officials) to purge anyone who dares to oppose her. When she felt that the society was more stable, she abolished the brutal tactics and implemented more calm policies. One of her most capable brutal officials was so proud of his own heinous work that he actually wrote a book on how to purge other officials. He especially emphasized how to frame those innocent officials, various ways to turn their family members against them, etc etc etc.

The Martial Emperor of the Han dynasty also used “brutal officials” extensively to force everyone to follow his orders. Similarly, he went to more mild policies later on. Of course, the Martial Emperor became paranoid in his old age and started another around of Legalism harsh policies. He later wrote an article to publically apologize for his harsh treatment of his people.

Ming dynasty’s Jin Yi Wei and the infamous East Factory were other excellent examples of the implementation of the Legalism, which emphasizes self-monitoring among co-workers, neighbors and family members.

There is a famous Chinese saying: you must be heavy handed during chaotic times. This is exactly the Legalism belief. And the Chinese have followed this belief all this time, even though their central believe is the Confucianism. I view Mao’s period is an extension of the Legalism. Everything done during the Cultural revolution has been done by others in ancient China. Yes, the scale is so much bigger, but the nature of things has not been changed. If you read a little on the history of the brutal officials in Han, Tang and Ming dynasties, you will see that.
 
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taxiya

Colonel
Registered Member
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.
Maybe you have not heard of "
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"? Confucianism cloth over Legalism?

(汉)宣帝曾多用刑吏,当太子(元帝)向他建议多用儒士时,他的回答是:“汉家自有制度,本以霸王道杂之,奈何纯任德教,用周政乎?
Translation:
When the crown prince suggested to use more Confucianists, the emperor said "Han (dynasty) has its own rule, the principle is a mix of Confucianism and Legalism, why (change to) purely use Moralism (=Cofucianism) like the (previous faild) Zhou dynsty?"
Note:
霸道: Legalism, punishment+award, rules.
王道/德教: Confucianism, teaching, convincing, setting model examples.
Why the emperor equated Zhou dynasty practice with Confucianism? Because the central idea of Confucius is the "restoring the Zhou's rite", "复周礼".

Apparently, Chinese emperors have never relied on Confucianism alone in their rule from the very beginning. I have to say that "Chinese cultural = Confucianism" is an over simplicity in the a similar way as "in the western eyes all Chinese eat rice" or "All Chinese are short and thin" or "Chinese food are healthy".
 

taxiya

Colonel
Registered Member
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.

No, Yin (殷) is the name of the capital city of the later half of Shang dynasty from around 1200BC. It is the modern day city of Anyang. The clan name of the royal house of Shang is Zi (子), which later developed to many family (branch of clan) names.

Yin as a family name was only adopted by some decedents of the royal house after Shang dynasty was replaced by Zhou dynasty.

Formally, the dynasty is always and only "Shang", informally it is called "Yin Shang", but never "Yin dynasty". Yin in "Yin Shang" is prefix/adjective to differentiate the later half of Shang after 1200BC after the relocation of the capital from the earlier half. It is the same practice of "Li Tang" to distinguish the Tang dynasty (618-907) from other "Tang dynasty" established by other houses such as the Turkic Shatuo's Later Tang dynasty (Shatuo adopted Li as their family name). Other examples include "Zhao Song" dynasty vs. earlier "Song" kingdom in the Zhou dynasty. When there is no ambiguity, there is never such prefix, such as Sui is not called "Yang Sui". There are times when Qing was referred by "Man(Manchu) Qing" by modern Han nationalists on the racial/ethnical ground, but that is a modern invention that is not based on historical purpose nor based on Chinese traditional political theory.
 
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Tam

Colonel
Registered Member
Timeline recently released this amazing documentary about the life and times of the Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty. A ruthless dictator that ruled with an iron fist, or an efficient and humane administrator that brought an empire to an unprecedented golden age, emancipated women, and made sure that her people and her soldiers were always fed.

 

Tam

Colonel
Registered Member
The story of General Qi Jiguang and the effort to build the Great Wall. Two hour documentary.

 

Tam

Colonel
Registered Member
Timeline's documentary about China's tomb pyramids that is the resting place of the Qin and the Han Emperors, and the evolution to the more efficient and humane use of natural pyramids by the Tang Emperor. It is interesting that none of the imperial tombs have been opened. I have a theory that Chinese archeologists may already know where the tombs are, but in respect to the dead especially these being the emperors, they have not opened these tombs, or revealed their locations to preserve them. They have only gone on to open the tombs of relatives of royalty, officials, rich and prominent people, and generals of that time.

 

vesicles

Colonel
Timeline's documentary about China's tomb pyramids that is the resting place of the Qin and the Han Emperors, and the evolution to the more efficient and humane use of natural pyramids by the Tang Emperor. It is interesting that none of the imperial tombs have been opened. I have a theory that Chinese archeologists may already know where the tombs are, but in respect to the dead especially these being the emperors, they have not opened these tombs, or revealed their locations to preserve them. They have only gone on to open the tombs of relatives of royalty, officials, rich and prominent people, and generals of that time.


Most of the Qin (only two emperors), Hang and Tang imperial tombs have been found. In fact, for Hang imperial tombs, as soon as the tombs were finished and the dead emperor was moved in, almost all of the Hang imperial tombs had villages built next to them (typically on the northeastern corner of the tombs). Military troops and workers, with their families, had been moved to these villages to guard and maintain the tombs. For ancient Chinese, these tombs are not only the sites for burying the dead emperors, but also a place for praying and commemorating. So in addition of the actual tombs, they built temples for praying. Not only that, they also built palaces so that people can rest after they are done with the praying. So these tombs are typically huge complexes. Thus, the locations of these tombs are well-known. I can now tell you that most of the Hang imperial tombs are located to the north/northeastern side of modern-day Xi An. Most of them are now well-known tourist attractions.

As to opening the tombs, most of the tombs have been opened and studied by archeologists. The only unopened tomb would be the one of the First Emperor. There have been many rumors as to why they don’t want to open his tomb. The only logical one would be that scientists have detected high level of mercury coming from the tomb. This is consistent with the myth that the First Emperor ordered his workers to build rivers using mercury in his tomb. The modern scientists are worried that they would cause serious mercury contamination of the surrounding areas if they opened the tomb too soon. So now they are waiting until someone can come up with ways to contain the potential outbreak of mercury once they open the tomb. Of course, this is only rumor.
 
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taxiya

Colonel
Registered Member
As to opening the tombs, most of the tombs have been opened and studied by archeologists. The only unopened tomb would be the one of the First Emperor. There have been many rumors as to why they don’t want to open his tomb. The only logical one would be that scientists have detected high level of mercury coming from the tomb. This is consistent with the myth that the First Emperor ordered his workers to build rivers using mercury in his tomb. The modern scientists are worried that they would cause serious mercury contamination of the surrounding areas if they opened the tomb too soon. So now they are waiting until someone can come up with ways to contain the potential outbreak of mercury once they open the tomb. Of course, this is only rumor.
I assume you are still talking about imperial tombs as Tam's post that you replied was about emperors.

In this case, I must say that all the imperial tombs opened so far (since the fall of Qing in 1912) were by tomb raiders, never legally approved acts.

There is only one tomb that was officially excavated and studied only after it had already been broken in and vandalized by the radical red guards during the "Culture Revolution" (Ming tomb in Beijing). Those responsible were not punished due to the political climate at the time.

Only tombs of aristocrats were officially excavated. But with the principle of preserving on spot being preferred.

As for the opening of Qin Shihuang's tomb. Guo Moruo has proposed it in the 1960/1970s, but was rejected by Zhou Enlai on two grounds. First, there is no way to preserve it once opened because the burial mount is so huge no modern construction tech can build a structure large enough to cover it without any supporting columns in the middle. Second, it is argued by many other historians that only a recurring excavation should be done if damage is imminent instead of out of "curiosity". Mercury was not an known thing back then. P.S. I dislike Guo Moruo for this reason and others.

There are voices recently made proposal again arguing the technology advancement. But they are in extreme minority. I know one and only one such person.

Here is my "superstitious suspicion" of why these tombs are not and probably never be opened.
1. Opening tomb is a capital offence and one of the most despised act anybody can do to anybody in China.
2. On top of that, destroying imperial tombs of previous dynasty is welcoming karma, encouraging people to act in a manner without any respect of any authority.
For the first reason, although CCP is atheist, they are people with emotions and deep cultural roots, they don't do things that is against culture and ordinary people's feelings, pretty much like communist does not condemn their parents for being religious.
For the second reason, CCP has began dialling down the support/approval of historical rebelling figures, for example, a TV series of Taiping Tianguo was made but never broadcasted although the movement was regarded as justified rebelling against the Qing dynasty's corruption.
 

Hendrik_2000

Brigadier
Chinese archaeologists find 5,000-year-old mysterious tomb
Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-01 08:32:53|Editor: Liu

ZHENGZHOU, May 1 (Xinhua) -- With a bow in the left hand, a jade weapon in the right and 18 pieces of lower jawbones of pigs on his feet, what power, force and wealth did he possess 5,000 years ago?

The identity of the owner of a tomb recently discovered by archaeologists at Huangshan ruins in the city of Nanyang, central China's Henan Province, has aroused discussions.

"The tomahawk-like jade weapon is a symbol of power," said Ma Juncai, head of the archaeological team and researcher with Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology.

"Meanwhile, other discoveries including a single wooden coffin, burial objects such as jade wares, stoneware, pottery and a large number of lower jawbones of pigs showed that the owner had power, force and wealth when he was alive," Ma said.

He added that this is the highest-grade clan tomb of Qujialing culture found in southwest Henan and even in the middle reaches of the Hanjiang River. Qujialing culture is a late Neolithic culture centered primarily around the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

Archaeologists also found two house ruins during the late Neolithic Yangshao culture near the suspected clan leader's tomb, each with an area of more than 120 square meters. They are believed to be jade processing workshops, with jade materials, semi-finished and finished jade articles and jade-making tools unearthed at the location.

"The house ruins are very meaningful for studies on the housing structures and building techniques of Yangshao culture," said Luan Fengshi, a professor with Shandong University.

The Huangshan ruins, discovered in 1959, has an area of more than 200,000 square meters. It is of great significance to the study of cultural exchange between the north and south of the Neolithic Age.
owner arouses discussions...
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