Papers on Premodern History IV

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Room B

  • Chaired by Jörg Henning Hüsemann
  • Ting Cheung Wong, “A General Investigation of the First Attempt at Restoring the Lower Course of Yellow River from 1048 to 1057”
  • Erling Torvid Hagen Cao Agoey, “Perceptions of Climate Change during the 17th-Century Cold Period in Jiāngnán”
  • Qiong Zhou, “Study on Landscape Disasters in Yunnan Ethnic Areas in the 17–20th Century”

Ting Cheung Wong, “A General Investigation of the First Attempt at Restoring the Lower Course of Yellow River from 1048 to 1057”

The Northern Song imperial government modified the North China Plain by initiating three major restoring projects on Yellow River during the mid-11 century to early 12 century. During this huge environmental drama (Prof. Zhang Ling described), people and environment were well-interacted together. In order to understand how the North China Plain was shaped after 12 century, and how the successors took actions for the consequences, we have to identify the sequence of this environmental drama. This paper is going to explain the ins and outs of the first attempt at restoring the lower course of Yellow River from 1048–1057. By this paper, how a human project that eventually changed the entire lower river course of the Yellow River for more than 700 years will be clarified. Moreover, this paper will also demonstrate how scholar-officials interact with the environment through the government decision-making aspect.

Erling Torvid Hagen Cao Agoey, “Perceptions of Climate Change during the 17th-Century Cold Period in Jiāngnán”

My paper will examine which perceptions of climate change and the related climate events existed during the 17th century in the Jiāngnán region of Eastern China. This was a period where a worldwide cyclical turn to gradually colder weather during the so-called Little Ice Age led to increased rates of natural calamities. It also saw an increasingly serious social crisis in much of China that culminated in the last dynastic change.
Presenting the various factors that influenced thinking about climate and the related climate events, I will argue that the Chinese views in this era were manifold, complex and sometimes contradictory. Among the aspects that affected views of climate, there were theoretical concepts such as moral meteorology and correlative thinking—including also the political implications of climate events. Moreover, a number of supernatural phenomena, including Heaven, different kinds of , the Five Phases and mythological creatures such as dragons, were seen as causing certain climate conditions.
My research shows that differences existed between what was perceived as the causes of climate events on a more theoretical level and in each individual case. Moreover, when it comes to the so-called “heavenly omens” of gazetteer and historiographical tradition, this research will challenge some previous scholarly analyses of their interpretation. I will argue that climate conditions, even when they were often presented as omens, were in most cases not interpreted as such—including in political cases like dynastic changes, though with an exception for the signs related to agriculture memorised by the farmers.

Qiong Zhou, “Study on Landscape Disasters in Yunnan Ethnic Areas in the 17–20th Century”

Since the 17th century, the content of Yunnan’s “Eight Sceneries” landscape has gradually enriched, and the “Eight Sceneries” culture has gradually flourished. In the mid and late 19th century, the “Eight Sceneries” landscape declined due to the overflow of the “Eight Sceneries.” What’s more, due to the influence of human activities and the changes of environment, the “Eight Sceneries” landscape was profoundly affected by different disasters such as floods, droughts, debris flows, earthquakes, and so on. Although it left behind a special type of “Eight Sceneries Culture,” it showed the impact of disasters on the ecological and human landscape. First, the landscape of some disaster areas disappeared. Second, new landscapes appeared after the disaster. Third, the original landscape changed after the disaster. Many natural landscapes were artificially restored and more humanistic connotations were added. It shows the destructive and reshaping effects of disasters in landscape changes.

Understanding Shang-Zhou Bronze Craftsmanship

Controlling, Curating, and Organising
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room B

  • Organised by Maria Khayutina, Cao Bin
  • Maria Khayutina, “Controlling and Restricting or Curating and Competing: Bronze-Casting Facilities in the Wei River Valley”
  • Bin Cao, “The Xiaomintun Bronze Foundry-Site in Anyang and the Origin of Bronzes from Daijiawan-Shigushan in Baoji”
  • Ondřej Škrabal, “Bronze Inscription-Making Management during the Shang and Zhou: Evidence of the Epigraphic Content and Form”
  • Yitzchak Jaffe, Discussant

The rise of complex over-regional political systems coincides in China with the spread of bronze-casting technology. Especially bronze vessels and bells are understood as symbols of political power and authority. The ability to curate and control the production of bronze is thus regarded as a key factor of the political organisation of the Shang and Zhou dynasties. Therefore, it is crucially important to understand how the bronze production itself was organized and how the political elite interacted with craftsmen. The accumulation of data about excavated bronzes, excavations of bronze-smelting and bronze-casting sites with associated residential and mortuary complexes, as well as archaeometallurgical investigations of the recent decades shed new light on and raise many new questions about Shang-Zhou craftsmanship. This panel brings together archaeologists, epigraphers, and historians, including one invited discussant, to ponder on the following issues: 1) How the raising Zhou elite acquired Shang bronze-casting know-hows? 2) Was Zhou bronze-casting centrally controlled or multiple facilities were concurrently in use? 3) What the analysis of excavated bronze artefacts suggests about the degree of organisational complexity of bronze-casting?
The panel intends to stimulate critical debates and to boost interdisciplinary cooperation within the field of Early China studies.

Maria Khayutina, “Controlling and Restricting or Curating and Competing: Bronze-Casting Facilities in the Wei River Valley

The control of bronze production is often imagined as a major lever of political control in the Shang and Zhou polities. Many scholars believe that the respective royal houses alone run bronze workshops that were able to cast ritual vessels that the kings distributed as gifts among their subordinates, thus securing their loyalty. Private casting would not be possible either due to the extreme complexity of the bronze industry, or because the kings would prohibit it to prevent the devaluation of their gifts. High standardisation of vessels’ appearance is often mentioned as evidence of centralised control. Various data accumulated during recent decades reveal that polities on Shang and Zhou peripheries produced bronze vessels, often copying models from the royal centres, but also producing objects with local characteristics. The most intriguing question is now whether bronze-casting in the Shang and Zhou core areas was indeed centrally managed? The present paper focuses on the Wei valley, presumably, directly supervised by the Zhou court, and argues that apart from the royal house, other major aristocratic lineages curated workshops that produced bronze ritual vessels. Based on the analysis of bronze li-tripods excavated from different places, it identifies and maps several local traditions that followed different standards. The analysis of palaeography and contents of the vessels’ inscriptions, as well as a comparison of bronze and pottery li from the same localities, are further used to verify the hypothesis of decentralised bronze-casting.

Bin Cao, “The Xiaomintun Bronze Foundry-Site in Anyang and the Origin of Bronzes from Daijiawan-Shigushan in Baoji

After the Zhou conquest of Shang, the political centre shifted to the west and western elites began extensively using bronze. The present paper explores the relationships between the bronzes from Daijawan-Shigushan cemeteries in Baoji (hereafter DSB) and the Xiaomintun foundry in Anyang, suggesting that the latter was still in use after the conquest and that it was controlled by and served the needs of the westerners. The specific DSB features include qi-halberds, qi-halberds with phoenix patterns, and the palm-shaped horn décor. Similar features have been attested on pottery moulds from Xiaomintun. Scholars debate whether these bronzes represent war booty, or they were cast by the westerners after the conquest. The analysis of the DSB assemblages demonstrates that they date from the early and even from the early middle Western Zhou. Considering these chronological relationships, the above-mentioned specific bronzes were likely cast in Xiaomintun after the founding of the Western Zhou state. Comparable features appear on the bronzes from the earlier Guojiazhuang tomb M160 in Anyang. Many of these bear a lineage emblem representing a footprint within the ya 亞-shape. This emblem may be related to the Zhou descent myth and may suggest the occupant’s Zhou identity. Zhou’s representatives could live in Anyang as hostages, while Shang craftsmen could produce bronzes according to their taste. After the conquest, the Zhou could continue using Shang craftsmen in the Xiaomintun foundry to cast bronzes with specific characteristics.

Ondřej Škrabal, “Bronze Inscription-Making Management during the Shang and Zhou: Evidence of the Epigraphic Content and Form”

While inscribed bronzes constituted only a fraction of the manufacturing output of bronze workshops during the Shang and Zhou periods, they serve as the main source of information not only on the political and social history of their times but also as important sources for hypotheses on the modes of production and distribution of ritual bronzes. Unlike in the second half of the first millennium BCE, however, there is no direct textual evidence in the earlier epigraphy evincing the division of labour behind the creation of bronze objects, and despite some very recent breakthroughs in the archaeology of bronze casting, there remain significant lacunae in our knowledge of workflow and division of labour in the bronze workshops. To shed more light on various aspects of the management of bronze inscription making in Shang and Zhou bronze workshops, this paper explores the indirect evidence of scribal hands, omissions, corrections and other infelicities both in writing and formatting of the inscriptions; such approach can not only deepen our understanding of the complexity of the organisation and related hierarchies but also can offer insights into the interaction of aristocrats with the workshops as well as into the control or supervision mechanisms, thus contributing to the study of the social and political organisation of bronze casting in Early China. Considered together with the development of inscription-making techniques and the recent archaeological discoveries, this paper also provides subsidiary evidence for the study of the process of vulgarisation of bronze casting between the 9th and 6th centuries BCE.

Reflecting on the Dunhuang Manuscripts

Transmission and Transformation
9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room B

  • Organised by Dou Xu
  • Chaired by Christoph Anderl
  • Duo Xu, “The Chosen Scores—the Dunhuang Music Manuscripts and Its Transmission in Medieval Japan”
  • Nikita Kuzmin, “Many Faces of Guanyin jing—Pictorial and Textual Analysis of the Tangut Version from Dunhuang”
  • Tursunjan Imin, “A Case Study of the Old Uyghur Names in Dunhuang Tibetan Manuscript P.T. 1283”
  • Jing Feng, “Rediscussion of the ‘Scroll-Codex’ Transformation in the History of Chinese Books”

Dunhuang, located in the north-west of China, was situated at the conjunction of the Silk Roads of the Gansu corridor that linked Central Asia with medieval China. Due to the extensive exchange of trade and religion this location facilitated, Dunhuang thus became a meeting point for various cultures, a fact highly evident in the Dunhuang manuscripts. This panel will examine various aspects of the Dunhuang manuscripts, with a particular focus on their reflection on matters such as the transmission of the manuscripts during different periods and locations, the transformation of the book forms and textual content in different languages. This panel aims to exam the manuscripts not only focusing on the textual content but also its materiality, also offers new perspectives on the manuscripts by combining different methodological approaches and disciplines. The panel has been organised by Xu Duo, with Christoph Anderl as chair and discussant. Among the four participants, Xu Duo is presenting the Dunhuang music manuscripts, to explain the copying and transmission of the music notations in between Tang China and Japan; Nikita Kuzmin is considering the Guanyin sutra in Dunhuang manuscripts as a case study, comparing the textual and pictorial aspects of the sutra in its Chinese and Tangut editions; Feng Jing will discuss the change of the Dunhuang manuscripts from scrolls to codices, especially the codices that made from reused scrolls; Tursunjan Imin will analysis the old Uyghur names in the Dunhuang Tibetan manuscripts, which is translated from one language to another.

Duo Xu, “The Chosen Scores—the Dunhuang Music Manuscripts and Its Transmission in Medieval Japan”

There are currently three Dunhuang manuscripts on display in the Bibliothèque nationale de France containing musical symbols and notations—P.3808, P.3539 and P.3571. Especially in P.3808, music scores demonstrate a musical notation including the finger positions on the short lute, rhythm and instructions of the performance. The three manuscripts are dated around the 9th–10th century, and the actual producing locations of the three manuscripts are still a matter of discussion. In addition, a number of music scores such as the Tenbyō Biwa score found in Japan contain features, which suggest they were likely created during the Tang dynasty in China (sometimes between 7th–9th century), copied, and taken to Japan. Interestingly, many of the symbols and notational writing systems found in the Dunhuang musical manuscripts are very similar to those being preserved in Japan. This paper will firstly introduce the Dunhuang music scores, with an in-depth explanation of their writing habits, the content of the manuscripts, and usage of musical symbols; secondly, the paper will compare and analysis the musical notes in the Dunhuang manuscripts and the music scores from Japan which were copied during Tang dynasty. As such, this paper aims to explore the process of the copying of music manuscripts from Tang-era China to Japan, with an emphasis on the actual function and usage of the musical manuscripts. The paper will also attempt to explain the transmission of the musical manuscripts—musical instruments and musical pieces also travelled between Tang China and Japan.

Nikita Kuzmin, “Many faces of Guanyin jing—Pictorial and textual analysis of the Tangut version from Dunhuang

In 1959 Chinese archaeologists discovered two Tangut sutras in a stupa near Mogao grottoes in Dunhuang. One of them is an almost complete printed edition of the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra—Guanshiyin pumen pin (Guanyin jing). One distinguishing feature of this version is that its frontispiece contains a depiction of Water-Moon Guanyin accompanied by a donator and a gandharva. Moreover, the sutra’s narrative is supplemented by a string of images running across the top of each folio. Although such pictorial narratives are not commonly seen in Buddhist scriptures of Central and East Asia, different editions of Guanyin jing include a large number of illustrations and present various forms of text-image relationships. In this paper, I will discuss this unique feature of the Tangut edition from Dunhuang in comparison with others, ranging from tenth-century manuscripts discovered in Mogao Cave 17 to Song–Yuan woodblocks. While previous scholarships have mainly focused on particular editions of the sutra, my research aims for a comparative analysis of various sutra versions. This methodology enables me to trace the evolution of pictorial and textual narratives of Guanyin jing as well as its pictorial-textual transition from Sinitic to the Tangut version. I suggest that the appeal of its content for lay Buddhist practitioners triggered the formation of its text-image symbioses. Together with other Tangut materials from Dunhuang, it sheds light on the religious life of the Tanguts in Dunhuang.

Tursunjan Imin, “A Case Study of the old Uyghur names in Dunhuang Tibetan Manuscript P.T. 1283”

Dunhuang manuscript P.T. 1283 is one of the most important and unique cases among the old Uyghur manuscripts, which had been written in Tibetan script. P.T. 1283 contains textual contents on both its recto and verso. On its recto, there is a Buddhist text written in Chinese, and its verso contains two textual units in Tibetan. In fact, the second textual unit has been known as ‘Report on Kings Remaining in the North’ in English and ‘byang phyogs na rgyal po du bzhugs pa’i rabs kyi yi ge’o’ in Tibetan. Previous researchers have believed this text was being translated or excerpted from old Uyghur. In this paper, I am trying to analyse the old Uyghur names in this Tibetan text, in order to provide evidence that this text was originally translated from an old Uyghur text; secondly, I am also aiming to explain the tribal names which had been mentioned in the Tibetan text, to explain the relations in between the Dunhuang region and its neighbours in medieval times. Overall, by analysing the old Uyghur names, it proves that the transmission of the Dunhuang manuscripts may have been based on the transformation of the scripts and languages.

Jing Feng, “Rediscussion of the ‘Scroll-Codex’ Transformation in the History of Chinese Books”

The transformation from scrolls to codices is a frequently mentioned topic in the history of books, no matter in the West or East. In China, this shift revealed itself in the early emergence of codices in Dunhuang around the ninth century. Entering the eleventh century, folded-leaf books replaced scrolls becoming the dominant book form in China. In the historiography of Chinese books, this transformation has been related to a book form named “whirlwind”, and it is believed that this book form was the intermediate link that bridged scrolls and codices. My paper, supported by codicological research on codices discovered in Dunhuang library cave, argues that the ‘scroll-codex’ transformation was less relevant to the whirlwind binding. Physical evidence uncovers a direct link between scrolls and codices, indicating that there was another passage from scrolls to codices without whirlwinds’ involvement. More importantly, material details related to the production and use of Dunhuang codices articulates that the appearance of this new book form is closely related to the cultural contacts in this region throughout the ninth and tenth centuries.

The Southwestern Frontier of Early and Medieval China

Re-envisioning the Dynamics of Empire
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 2

  • Organised by Chun Xu
  • Jörg Hüsemann, Chair
  • Chun Xu, “The Collapse of the Imperial Frontier in Yunnan (300–750)”
  • Alexis Lycas, “The Southwestern Frontier in Tang China: Bureaucracy and Ethnography in the Man shu (Book of the Southern Barbarians)”
  • Lia Wei, “Highlands Meet History: A Comparative Study of Burial Caves along the Upper Yangzi River at the Fall of the Han Empire”

In the study of early and medieval Chinese peripheries/frontiers, one may identify three major problems: 1) an obsession with dichotomies: Han/barbarians (huayi 華夷), the raw/cooked, or sedentarism/nomadism, which leads to the notion of linear borders (physical, figurative and imaginary alike); 2) a Sinocentric (meta)narrative that adopts models of acculturation; and 3) an over-emphasis on the political and institutional, and geographically on the North and the Northwest. These perspectives often fail to address the place-based evidence of empire-building in the peripheries, and, in particular, the interrelations between ecology, culture and political power. A holistic and decentred approach to early imperial frontiers is necessary to understand the dynamics of empire, and indeed what it means to refer to China as an empire. This panel examines the southwestern frontier of early and medieval China in modern-day Sichuan and Yunnan not as a defensive line (jiao 徼) or simply a “buffer/contact zone” of fuzziness, but as converging and overlapping networks of military posts, administrative centres, information gathering, ecological relations, belief, and ritual systems and ethnolinguistic communities, in which the imperial state was by no means the only or even the major actor. The panel places at the centre of the analysis the role of merchants, local great families, allied chiefs, rice, and cast iron. In doing so, we argue that the establishment, consolidation, and decline of imperial power in the southwestern frontier is often dictated in response to changing circumstances in the networks, rather than simply by political actors.

Chun Xu, “The Collapse of the Imperial Frontier in Yunnan (300–750)”

This paper addresses the local cultural and political dynamics that culminated in the demise of imperial power in Yunnan during the Six Dynasties and gave rise to the Nanzhao-Dali kingdom in the following centuries. It sets out to examine the decline of imperial power from a local perspective, by seeing early imperial Yunnan as an imperial frontier comprising of networks of Han military posts, farming settlements, trade routes, and allied native tribes, with which the Chinese empire projected its power and on which local elites, Han and indigenous alike, capitalised to maintain a socio-political order. The imperial frontier collapsed when 1) trade networks were dismantled and rebuilt by new ecological and economic relations in Yunnan; 2) relocation and concentration of population removed the manpower base for imperial institutions, and, more importantly, 3) local elites started to forge new identities that no longer depended on imperial titulature, among other traditions of the political culture, and started to adopt new ideologies. The paper serves as a reminder of that, in terms of strategy, ideology, and practice, perspectives from the periphery differ substantially from those from the centre and calls for a more integrated approach to the frontiers as a whole in the study of the early Chinese empire.

Alexis Lycas, “The Southwestern Frontier in Tang China: Bureaucracy and Ethnography in the Man shu (Book of the Southern Barbarians)”

My contribution to this panel will address issues of bureaucratic management in the frontier territory through the double lens of historiography and ethnography by focusing on the little-studied Man shu 蠻書, or Book of the barbarians, a ninth-century work by the official Fan Chuo 樊綽. The tumultuous history of Yunnan under the Tang, and the fact that “Man shu” is only one of the retrospective titles attributed to Fan Chuo’s work—alternative titles include Yunnan zhi 雲南志 (Gazetteer of Yunnan) and Yunnan shiji 雲南史記—suggest that this work was as much an ethnographic account of frontier/unruly people as it was a bureaucratic attempt at ordering the information known at the time about a zone that was not politically integrated in the Tang empire. Specifically, I will explore two intertwined directions. First, I will probe whether this ethnographic account could or should be understood as a proxy for an actual administrative and fiscal survey of a frontier territory. Second, this will help assess the importance of this text for the history of geographical knowledge, as it was produced during a period when local writings underwent important changes, from Six Dynasties accounts on local customs and oddities to Song and later local gazetteers.

Lia Wei, “Highlands Meet History: A Comparative Study of Burial Caves along the Upper Yangzi River at the Fall of the Han Empire”

This research is located in the peculiar environment of the upper Yangzi River (Changjiang 長江), under the weakening rule of the Eastern Han dynasty. Cultural exchanges between plain and highlands are addressed through a comparative survey of rock-cut cemeteries along with minor and major southern tributaries of the Yangzi. While most surveyed caves date to the late Han period, this article does not lose sight of the wider phenomenon of cliff burials in South China. Correlations are proposed between burial typologies and the nature of southwards routes, which are crucial for a period that predates detailed accounts of the area in historical sources. This article is part of an effort to refine our understanding of the regional network routes on the Southwest frontier, what we could call a “proto-historical geography”, by avoiding the a priori attribution of burial practices to cultural groups. To the narrative of imperial occupation in the Southwest, this research opposes the consistency in type and the distribution of an alternative type of funerary landscape over a 500km belt south of the Yangzi. The funerary landscape uncovered allows us to further understand locational strategies, riverine routes, and the role of frontier groups.

Emotions in China

Doing Research on the History of Emotions
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Room 2

  • Organised and Chaired by Angelika C. Messner
  • Angelika C. Messner, “Doing Emotions & Experiencing Pain in 17th Century China”
  • Sharon Sanderovitch, “Voice, Visage, and the Imperial Person/a: On the Construction of Royal Emotions in Imperial Edicts and Panegyrics of the Han Dynasty”
  • Rodo Pfister “Inner Cinnabar, Introspection and Body Maps—The Medieval Chinese Selbstgefühl (Self-Consciousness)”
  • Valerie Pellatt, “Baring the Chinese Soul: Depiction of Emotional States and Character Traits in the Stage Directions of huaju of the Early Twentieth Century”
  • Lee Cheuk-yin, Discussant

Sinologists so far contributed extensively to the emotion lexicon in the Chinese past, recognizing that emotions are differently perceived and conceptualized in aesthetic, philosophical and medical contexts. However, what is extremely missing, are microscopic-like close readings of texts that refer to everyday experiences and related practices. Refraining from any haste abstraction and generalization this panel aims at exploring practices and narratives in relation to emotions and their role in exploring new spaces of knowing. Each of the four papers presents particular moments in Chinese history by discussing their emotion-related relevance.”

Angelika C. Messner, “Doing Emotions & Experiencing Pain in 17th Century China“

The memory narrative Yangzhou shi ri ji 揚州十日記 (Record on the Ten Day [Massacre] at Yangzhou, 1645) reveals insights into the ways people experienced pain and suffering in the course of the traumatic experience of a massacre upon the city population during the dynastic fall. In this text, physical pain due to cruel injury as well as emotional despair (tong 痛 and shang 傷) are expressed throughout in terms of visceral processes and changes. Medical texts on the other hand hardly ever refer to qing 情 (emotions, love) from a meta-perspective, but rather tackle the issue of the basic fabric of daily life from the perspective of a logic of the concrete.  Dwelling on the meticulously studied cases of emotional suffering as they are presented in the writings of Chen Shiduo 陳士鐸 (1627–1707), my paper seeks to integrate concepts and words with corporeal realities of emotion and suffering. Tracing the various techniques to resolve crisis and suffering and by bringing them together with the collective terms for the heart, lung, spleen, liver and the kidneys, and with the related technical terms denoting the physiological functions of generating and storing qi 氣 and related pathological changes, I shall argue for new ways to doing research on emotions in history. 

Sharon Sanderovitch, “Voice, Visage, and the Imperial Person/a: On the Construction of Royal Emotions in Imperial Edicts and Panegyrics of the Han Dynasty”

Recently, the relation between rulers’ projected emotions, strategies of power, and monarchic government has received formal acknowledgement from scholars of both the history of emotions and monarchic institutions. A section on “Monarchies” in the recently published Early Modern Emotions: An Introduction (2017), and a chapter on “Ruling Emotions” in the new Routledge History of Monarchy (2019) are one indication for this reciprocity. Informed by this developing sensibility in the global, mostly theoretical discourse, I examine the construction of royal emotions in Han edicts and panegyrics—that is, in representations of the imperial voice and in poetic portraits of the imperial figure. Centering on two periods in the long span of the Han dynasty—the reigns of Wendi 文帝 (r. 180–157 BCE) of the Western Han and Zhangdi 章帝 (r. 75–88 CE) of the Eastern Han—I highlight two points of importance for the study of early-imperial Chinese monarchy and the history of emotions more broadly. First is the role of emotions of self-assessment (guilt, remorse, fear of misperfomance) in the construction of the Chinese monarch’s authority, in addition to joy, grief, and paternal love that are more familiar from discussions of early-modern European monarchies. The other, complimentary point of analysis concerns the cultural and institutional practices that supported the construction and projection of royal emotions in textual products that were thereby cast and perceived—to draw on Peirce’s typology of signs—as indexes of the imperial person rather than icons of the imperial persona.

Rodo Pfister, “Inner Cinnabar, Introspection and Body Maps—The Medieval Chinese Selbstgefühl (Self-Consciousness)”

Su Shi (1037–1101 CE) evokes a hanging scroll—a “Master Yan Luo”—as a lifestyle element in his heptasyllabic regulated poem Travel to Zhang’s Mountaineer Garden. He furthermore transmits the Treatise on the Oral Instruction about Nourishing Life, wherein such a depiction of the inside of the male torso is used to visualise in meditation the inner topography of one’s own living body. The mediative use of such body maps is documented for the period of at least the 11th c. to the 15th c. CE (Pfister 2016). For literati and high officials alike these were a means to cultivate and modulate their bodily feeling of oneself (Selbstgefühl, Frank 2002). Chen Pu (fl. 1078 CE?) describes in his psychologic masterpiece Mister Chen’s Instructions on the Inner Cinnabar nine phases of transformation. With a high grade of specificity the adept is guided through the learning process. This includes altered states of consciousness, changes of the integral bodily self, or the interpretation of inner light experiences (phosphenes and visuall hallucinations), occurring during meditation in the calm room, where sensory input is reduced. The concept of the bodily self (shēn 身) forms the base of the lived experience and emotions. As the feeling of oneself it can be modulated by the mere-exposure effect of body maps, or by prolonged training of meditative techniques.

Valerie Pellatt, “Baring the Chinese Soul: Depiction of Emotional States and Character Traits in the Stage Directions of huaju of the Early Twentieth Century”

The spoken Chinese drama which evolved from the beginning of the twentieth century created a need, and an opportunity, for Chinese playwrights to explore overtly and in some depth, the personality traits and transient emotions of the characters they created. The need arose from the raising of the fourth wall, and the absence of the traditional prologue, self-introduction and asides customary in traditional forms. The newly introduced spoken drama (huaju) required actors to express themselves fully as characters without any third person explication. This constraint, however, gave playwrights a platform to tell the director and actors exactly what they intended the character to be. Without the traditional costume, symbolism and gesture which informed the audience of the age, occupation, rank and gender of the roles, there was a need for some prescription. No longer reliant on symbolism, the actors had to represent realistically the personalities of the characters they played, from their own experience, or that of the playwright or director. Cao Yu’s directions focus on the nature of people, not only on how their appearance reveals their inner turmoil, but also on explicit labelling of what troubles them. The establishing directions at the beginning of acts and scenes, and the parenthetic directions within the dialogue became a new theatrical vehicle and, perhaps unintentionally, a window onto the Chinese psyche. The stage directions of the drama of the early decades of the century invite a detailed analysis in psychological terms.

Aspects of Death in Early Medieval China

4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room B

  • Organised by Jakub Hrubý, Andreas Janousch, Annette Kieser, and Monique Nagel-Angermann
  • Chaired by Andreas Janousch
  • Andreas Janousch, “Approaching Death (linzhong 臨終): Deathbed Rituals during the Six Dynasties (222–589)”
  • Annette Kieser, “Concepts of Death and Burial during the Six Dynasties (222–589)”
  • Monique Nagel-Angermann, “Death and Burial: Narratives about the Rulers of the Sixteen States (300–430)”
  • Jakub Hrubý, “Early Medieval Testamentary Edicts”
  • Antje Richter, Discussant

How did men and women during Early Medieval China (2nd to early 7th centuries CE) approach death? How did they prepare for it? And, how were the dead provided for in their abode, the tombs? These are only a few of the questions that the papers of this panel intend to bring into focus. As Emily Vermeule has powerfully argued in her classic study on Aspects of Death in Early Greek Art and Poetry, the shared experience of all sentient beings, death, could be imagined in a simultaneous multiplicity, depending on artistic and literary genres, religious affiliations, familial traditions, and ritual context. It is the express purpose of this panel to bring into focus this multiplicity in the expectations and imaginations, both as the living were approaching the moment of death and later after their demise, of their condition as the deceased in the tomb. To this end, the panel unites not only historians of different fields (religious traditions, political, and social history), but also specialists of material culture, archeologists, to stimulate a multidisciplinary debate across the scholarly disciplines. Based on careful contextual readings and analyses of a wide variety of textual sources – such as official dynastic histories, ritual texts, biographical writing, Buddhist and Daoist scriptures and historical writing – as well as material evidence from burial archaeology this multidisciplinary approach will provide a more complex understanding of the elites’ notion of death and the role it played in their lives during Early Medieval China.

Andreas Janousch, “Approaching Death (linzhong 臨終): Deathbed Rituals during the Six Dynasties (222–589)

In many religious traditions all over the world the critical process when an ill or old person approaches death became highly ritualized. Famously, in the Tang dynasty (618-906) in Pure Land Buddhism the moment of death (linzhong) was soteriologically so charged, as it temporarily opened the door to escape the samsaric cycle, that precise instructions were issued to ensure the rebirth in a pure realm of a buddha. The proposed paper intends to explore the diversity of ways this critical moment, linzhong, was anticipated, lived, imagined, and represented during the Early Medieval period, when practices were not yet highly standardized, when, in fact, new practices were emerging together with the burgeoning variety of innovative religious methods and rituals (both Buddhist and Daoist), and when the north-south divide facilitated the diversification of local customs. For this purpose, a wide range of written sources will be analyzed. These include, prescriptive and descriptive, religious and non-religious, circulated and entombed (muzhiming 墓誌銘) texts: biographies of Buddhist monks/nuns and laity (Gaoseng zhuan 高僧傳, Biqiuni zhuan 比丘尼傳), the standard dynastic histories, Shishuo xinyu 世說新語, anomaly accounts, and biographies of other religious specialists among others. Casting the net widely, the paper pretends to work towards a typology of deathbed rituals, not only to shed a light on the prehistory of later, more well-known practices but also to capture the multiplicity of the condition of the dead. 

Annette Kieser, Concepts of Death and Burial during the Six Dynasties (222–589)

This paper will focus on the material evidence from burial archaeology in Early Medieval South China. A large number of tombs have been excavated around the former capital of the Six Dynasties of the South, Jiankang (modern Nanjing), and also in secondary centres that were located along the Yangzi river as well as its tributaries. Given the long time span as well as the wide geographical distribution of tombs, a certain diversification was to be expected. However, an analysis of the structure of these tombs, their ornamentation as well as the remaining burial goods reveals an astonishing range of differences in design and content from tombs excavated in neighbouring burials even. Several case studies from different parts of Southern China will focus on these differences. Taking into account the historical background, my paper will offer possible explanations for the manifold burial patterns evident in the south. It will show that diversity not only reflects burial patterns of various social but also different ethnic groups. Very pronounced local differences of the burials may also point to local centres or strongholds. This analysis will pave the way for a deeper comprehension of the different concepts concerning death and “eternity” as well as the treatment of the deceased. It will also contribute to our understanding of the southern Chinese society in a period of unrest and migration during Early Medieval China.

Monique Nagel-Angermann, “Death and Burial: Narratives about the Rulers of the Sixteen States (300–430)”

The period of the Sixteen States (300–430) in northern China was characterized by rather short-lived regimes mostly founded by non-Han rulers, some of them avid supporters of Buddhism. Narratives about their history were composed by later historians, the Shiliuguo chunqiu 十六國春秋 by Cui Hong (478–525), the Weishu 魏書 by Wei Shou (506–572) and the Jinshu 晉書 ordered by Tang Taizong (r. 626–649) and compiled by his historians between 646 and 648. Although the Sixteen States was condemned as illegitimate, they left their mark on the political and cultural development of China. Testaments and last wills are acknowledged as valuable documents revealing personal concepts of death as well as political statements of intent. Moreover, it is well attested, that imperial burials can serve as demonstrations of power closely connected to ritual and religion. A comprehensive analysis of the attitude of the rulers of Sixteen States towards their own death and their treatment of burials is still missing. Therefore, I will compare specific death-related historiographical narratives about several rulers of the Sixteen States in order to show how later historians presented them as mortal beings and as emperors on the death bed. Narratives about their own burials and the dealing with others’ burials will be deconstructed in order to understand the historiographers’ judgments about the rulers of the Sixteen States.

Jakub Hrubý, “Early Medieval Testamentary Edicts

Chinese archives preserve a number of testamentary edicts (yizhao 遺詔), representing the last wills of the emperors of the late imperial China. Together with the accession edicts these came to be seen as the most important documents determining and strengthening the legitimacy of the imperial succession. While in late imperial history the issue of such an edict became the regular and expected conclusion of any given reign, the official dynastic histories provide us with merely a dozen or so testamentary edicts for the early medieval period. Given the number of medieval dynasties it seems that this practice was not nearly as widespread or regular as in later times. The transmitted testamentary edicts vary greatly both in length and content. Some were issued from a deathbed of an emperor, some promulgated only after his death by his successor. Despite their unquestionably legitimizing importance the issue of succession is not the only topic as they often provide the posterity with instructions regarding the burial and sometimes even a kind of reflection on the life and reign of the given emperor. This paper will analyse the content of the edicts preserved in the official histories such as Sanguozhi 三國志, Songshu 宋書, Nan Qishu 南齊書, Weishu 魏書, and Jinshu 晉書, as well as the circumstances of their issuance, focusing on gradual development of this important imperial institution and evolving nature of the medieval emperorship.

Papers on Premodern History II

11 am – 12:45 pm

  • Chaired by Harriet Zurndorfer
  • Jiyan Qiao, “From Literati Self-Governance to Statism—The Political Theory of Wang Anshi as Antidote to Mid-Eleventh Century Republicanism”
  • Jinghuo Zhang, “Representing Drama Scene within Inches: New Explanation on Bronze Mirrors with Pattern ‘Half-Open Door’ in Song Dynasties (960–1279)”
  • Yiying Pan, “Bandits, Porters, and Waged Laborers: Weaving Spaces for the Itinerant Population in 18th- and 19th-Century Sichuan and Beyond”
  • Chiara Rutigliano, “Guangxu Era Telegrams in the Historical Archives of the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale:’ The Specific Roles of the Zongli Yamen and the Grand Council”

Jiyan Qiao, “From Literati Self-Governance to Statism—The Political Theory of Wang Anshi as Antidote to Mid-Eleventh Century Republicanism”

As the theorist of a watershed political event in China’s middle period (c. 750–1550), Wang Anshi 王安石 (1021–1086) has been studied by generations of prominent scholars around the world, giving rise to what Ari Levine calls “an industry of sinology.” Surprisingly, however, not only do major controversies remain unresolved to this day, but a number of central issues have not been addressed or are still left half-answered. For instance, we all know the reform officially launched in 1069/2 aimed for unifying morality 一道德 (yi daode). But what were the specific values this morality was made up of? Beyond what Peter Bol has told us, can we know more? And how did Wang plan to make it uniformly upheld by everyone across the vast realm? Since James Liu’s monograph published in 1959, we have been calling the reform the “New Policies”—does this capture the gist of what was being fundamentally changed? During their first meeting in 1068/4, Emperor Shenzong 神宗 (r. 1067–85) asked Wang Anshi what should be done first in governance, to which Wang responded: “Beginning with choosing the method” (yi ze shu wei shi 以擇術為始). Paul Smith has shown us what Wang’s method looked like in state economy, but was this the main sphere Wang was referring to? Most of the ten thousand words in his well-known letter to Emperor Renzong 仁宗 (r. 1023–63) were, after all, on creating the kind of personnel Wang deemed desirable. And, what was the method of governance that Wang wanted his to replace, to begin with? As the first step in a full-scale study that is likely to revise our understanding of Northern Song intellectual and political history, this paper takes up the formidable task of answering this set of closely interconnected questions. It does so first and foremost by locating the context of Wang Anshi’s theoretical writings at the theory and practice of literati self-governance that had become the mainstream by the mid-eleventh century. After having made this case, I then proceed to reconstruct Wang’s political theory, showing that he worked out a systematic way to put an end to the growing moral individualism and value pluralism—symptoms of chaos to him—that the republican form of government gave rise to and to reestablish the state personified by the emperor as the absolute center of all individuals’ lives, so as to realise the perfect order he envisioned, and focus the government’s job on changing human nature, so that this order can last forever. I conclude this paper by summarising my answers to the questions raised in the beginning and drawing out some implications they may have for comparative studies, for instance with early twentieth century Germany.

Jinghuo Zhang, “Representing Drama Scene within Inches: New Explanation on Bronze Mirrors with Pattern ‘Half-Open Door’ in Song Dynasties (960–1279)”

This paper focuses on a specific type of Song (960–1279) Bronze Mirror, which is decorated with a pattern of drama characters and landscape scene such as bridge, palace, river, etc. Found in various regions, not only in China, but this sort of mirror can also be found in Korea and Japan. However, the meaning of this pattern is still to be figured out. For its depicting a specific visual element of “Half-open door,” which frequently appeared in the tomb, many scholars may deem it as a reflection on religious beliefs. Some suggest that it shall be “Tang Ming Huang visits the Moon palace”, some believe it depicts the story of “Xiwangmu (Queen Mother of the West) and Zhoumuwang (King Mu) meet in the Mountain Kunlun,” while the discussion remains inconclusive.
Through analysing previous viewpoints of scholars on this pattern carved on a mirror, this paper will propose a new explanation, that this pattern actually depicts the story of “Pei Hang” written by Pei Xing first published in Tang Dynasty (608–907) and become prevalent during Song Dynasties, which also echo the development of drama at that time.

Yiying Pan, “Bandits, Porters, and Waged Laborers: Weaving Spaces for the Itinerant Population in 18th- and 19th-Century Sichuan and Beyond”

This paper examines how scholar-officials in Sichuan adjusted their strategies for managing the itinerant population from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. The paper concentrates on administrative responses to a particular type of local bandits called guolu, who continued to perplex administrators since their initial emergence in the 1730s. Bringing together rich materials (i.e. local archives, inscriptions on local fort-constructions, central-level memorials and military cartographies), this paper argues that the scholar-officials shifted from a “legal approach” to an “environmental approach” for tackling the guolu since the late-eighteenth century. Before the 1770s, scholar-officials cared more about how to align the guolu with a discriminated legal category (such as “bare sticks”) and designate legal punishments accordingly. From the 1770s to the 1820s, triggered by the successive regional chaos stemming from the Second Jinchuan Campaign (1771–1776) and the “White Lotus” War (1796–1804), the administrators’ accumulated knowledge about the spatial practices of the itinerant people in general and relied heavily on the spatial knowledge of these itinerants. Specifically, administrators discerned the umbrella networks (i.e. networks of river transportation or salt circulation) that connected the guolu to transporters and labourers in proto-industries; they also realized the necessity to nourish these multilayered non-agrarian networks and leave spaces for the itinerant population, because of the state-level demand for resolving the tension between a streamlined bureaucracy and shrinking fiscal capacity. This paper further claims that this local lesson of Sichuan pushed the Qing state to re-conceptualize the demography-space relationship on the imperial scale since the nineteenth century.

Chiara Rutigliano, “Guangxu Era Telegrams in the Historical Archives of the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale:’ The Specific Roles of the Zongli Yamen and the Grand Council”

My Ph.D. project aims to analyse an impressive corpus of official Chinese telegrams from the late Imperial Era found in the historical archives of the University of Naples “L’Orientale.” To date, the telegrams are still insufficiently studied and researched. The unexpected documents, which came to light in the 1990s, consist of a considerable number of telegrams from 1884 to 1899, during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1875–1908), on the eve of the collapse of the Manchu Empire and the imperial system in its entirety. We are uncertain about the reasons of their transfer but suspect they were probably transferred to Naples from Beijing’s Grand Council by the Italian sinologist Guido Amedeo Vitale (1872–1918). My research not only aims at recovering the fundamental data which are inherent to the internal and external affairs exchanged during the Celestial Empire, but also it identifies and takes into account the historical context in which the events of the telegrams developed in a particularly complex political and cultural era. After a historical introduction on the development of the imperial telegraphic communications system, my contribution to the 23rd EACS Biennal Conference intends to present an analysis of the structure and dynamics that regulated imperial communications via telegraph. Two important Qing institutions played a decisive role: the Zongli Yamen 總理衙門 and the Grand Council 軍機處 . I intend to clarify the role they played and define the duties of the officials working within their premises, in order to clarify the ways they contributed to the conservation of this important material.

Papers on Premodern History I

Early China
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room A

  • Chaired by Yegor Grebnev
  • Jakub Maršálek, “On the Frontier of Two Worlds: Imports in the Cemetery of Liuwan”
  • Yegor Grebnev, Alice Yu Cheng “Reconsidering the Early History of the ‘Eastern Capital’ of Zhou at Luoyi through Reassessment of Textual Sources and Archaeological Evidence”
  • Tsang Wing Ma, “The Evidence of “Accordion Fold” in Qin China: An Analysis of the Materiality of Tablet nos. 9-2283, [16-5] and [16-6] from Liye, Hunan”
  • Anthony Terekhov, “Two Types of Omen Classification in the ‘Wuxingzhi’ Chapter from Hanshu

Jakub Maršálek, “On the Frontier of Two Worlds: Imports in the Cemetery of Liuwan”

It is widely acknowledged that during the Late Neolithic and particularly in the following Early Bronze Age Periods, the region of the Chinese Northwest gradually became part of the still widening network of contacts. However, while scholars traditionally paid considerable attention to interactions of the local cultures with areas both to the East and West, their southward contacts became focus of research only in recent years, mainly due to the excavations of an important Zongri site. Those attracted attention to issue of relations of agricultural populations from the lower areas of the Northwest with foraging groups on the northern fringes of the Tibetan Plateau. In my paper, I will consider this issue in a case study of the well-known Liuwan cemetery, spanning over time approximately from the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE to the middle of the following millennium. Over this long period, the cemetery most likely represents continuous development of one local community, probably originating in local foragers which went through acculturation in contact with agricultural immigrants from the lowlands. In order to map the interaction network of this community, I will focus on the imported materials— jade, turquoise, and cowrie shells—and I will point out that their occurrence offers rather surprising pattern which is best to be explained by the different areas of their origin, the turquoise and cowrie shells probably being obtained via traditional contacts with foragers on the Tibetan Plateau.

Yegor Grebnev, Alice Yu Cheng “Reconsidering the Early History of the ‘Eastern Capital’ of Zhou at Luoyi through Reassessment of Textual Sources and Archaeological Evidence”

In this paper, we re-examine textual and archaeological evidence related to the foundation of an “eastern capital” at Luoyi 洛邑 after the conquest of Shang by Zhou in the mid-eleventh century BC. According to traditional accounts, the new city was conceived by King Wu 周武王 and completed by the Duke of Zhou 周公. As pointed out by Khayutina (2008), the Eastern capital is repeatedly highlighted in the shu 書 (scriptures) but largely absent from the shi 詩 (odes), which prioritise the earlier ritual centres in the west. We elaborate this line of inquiry by proposing translations and analysis of two previously unexplored chapters of the Yi Zhou shu 逸周書 (Leftover Zhou Scriptures): “Duo Yi” 度邑 (Making Measurements of the Capital) and “Zuo Luo” 作雒 (Establishment of the Capital at Luo). We propose that these texts—as well as other texts in the shu corpus—reflect Eastern Zhou attempts to reshape the foundational past by linking the Zhou conquest of Shang directly to the establishment of Luoyi, thereby reflecting a possible Eastern Zhou filter in the history of the formation of the shu corpus. By surveying recently discovered archaeological evidence, we further challenge the traditional account pointing out the discrepancies between textually and archaeologically attested periods of active construction and occupation of the “capital” site(s) at the area of Luoyi.

Tsang Wing Ma, “The Evidence of ‘Accordion Fold’ in Qin China: An Analysis of the Materiality of Tablet nos. 9-2283, [16-5] and [16-6] from Liye, Hunan”

The late sinologist Tsuen-hsuin Tsien insightfully pointed out that the early Chinese bamboo and wooden slips are stored in two ways: one was the “roll form” in which the slips were rolled up as a scroll after being bound with a cord. Another was the “accordion form” in which the slips was placed face to face, from which the modern volume is derived. Despite having no physical evidence to prove his assumption of the second type of storage at his time, his categorisation is later proved correct by the newly-excavated texts. Some scholars have already suggested that some of the bamboo slips in the Tsinghua manuscript collection were stored in accordion form. Yet, such examples are those considered literary/intellectual texts, which were written on thin and long bamboo slips. The Qin administrative archive excavated from Liye in Hunan offers the first attested Qin example of this accordion form. The three flat tablets examined in this paper are nos. 9-2283, [16-5] and [16-6], which are of approximately same width and length. Analyzing the mirror-inverted imprints and the track of binding cords on these three tablets, I argue that they had been folded up as an “accordion” for storage after being bound with two sets of cord. This case study allows for a reconsideration of many issues regarding to the written administration under the Qin, including the way in which the administrative documents were filed.

Anthony Terekhov, “Two Types of Omen Classification in the Wuxingzhi Chapter from Hanshu”

The tradition of omen interpretation played a considerable part in Early Chinese political culture. Among the indications of its importance is the abundance of Chinese words designating omens: in early Chinese texts there are more than twenty different characters bearing semantics of this kind. Yet, in the majority of cases these terms are used indiscriminately, and only in the special works do the authors distinguish them to form some kind of omen typology. The oldest classification systems of this kind has been preserved in the earliest omenological work that has survived in its entirety—”The Treatise on the Five Processes” (Wuxingzhi) from Hanshu by Ban Gu (32–92 AD). It is a compendium of the earlier works of this kind, and thus it has preserved remnants of a few different systems of omen classification, two of them being most complete and coherent. Both originate from now lost omenological works: the first one goes back to the main source for the treatise—Hongfan wuxing zhuan lun by Liu Xiang (77–6 BC), itself based on earlier Hongfan wuxing zhuan (first part of the 2nd c. AD), and the second one to Yizhuan by Jing Fang (78–37 BC). The paper will introduce these two types of omen classifications, the principles of their organisation, and terms for the designation of omens used within, as well as meditate on the reasons for their differences and on the Early Chinese typologies in general.

Great Men and State Formation in Early China

4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room B

  • William Nienhauser, “Wei Ran, Fan Ju, and Qin Politics of the Third Century BCE as seen in the Shiji
  • Cai Yixuan, “The Rise and Fall of Zhou Bo and Zhou Yafu: A Study in the Texts on Early Han Court Politics”
  • Hongyu Huang, “A Study of Sima Qian’s Portrayal of the First Han Chancellor, Xiao He”
  • Hans van Ess, Discussant

The panel focuses on four of the major figures in Qin-Han history: Wei Ran, Fan Ju, Xiao He and Chen Ping. William H. Nienhauser, Jr., the panel organizer, in his study deals with the manner in which Sima Qian juxtaposes accounts of Wei Ran and Fan Ju leading to the victory of Qin over the Six States. Weiguo Cao takes up the duplicity of Chen Ping—and of Sima Qian’s ambivalence in his account of Chen—in his paper. Hongyu Huang examines how Sima Qian narrated the role of Xiao He as the highest official at the start of the Han and how he maintained this status. Each of these men were to shape the destiny of their states, Wei Ran and Fan Ju by enabling Qin to overcome the Six States and unify the empire and Xiao He and Chen Ping to balance their relationships to Liu Bang and Empress Lü with their own access to power. The papers all address Sima Qian’s claim that he was attempting to record men who “supporting righteousness and harboring extraordinary schemes did not allowing themselves to miss the right moment and were able to establish a meritorious name throughout the empire” and reveal that in empowering their states they more often relied on “extraordinary schemes” than “righteousness.” Professor Hans van Ess will discuss the papers.

William Nienhauser, “Wei Ran, Fan Ju, and Qin Politics of the Third Century BCE as seen in the Shiji

Although the lengthy reign of King Chao of Qin (307–251 BCE) saw several chancellors, there are two whom later scholars credited with Qin’s success or blamed for its trials on the way to its unification of the empire: Wei Ran (335–266 BCE), The Marquis of Rang, and Fan Ju (d. 255), the Marquis of Ying. Sima Guang calls Fan Ju “a gentleman who could put a state in danger of collapse” and Su Che argued that he did little to benefit Qin. However, although Wei Ran served as chancellor of Qin on five occasions, Sima Qian’s biography of Wei, after depicting the way Wei helped Queen Dowager Xuan win control of the state, consists of just two long persuasions and a coda explaining how Fan Ju was able to replace Wei as chancellor. The excesses of Wei Ran’s power and wealth are further highlighted in the memoir for Fan Ju. Sima Qian may have had personal reasons to identify with Fan Ju, since Fan had been beaten and disgraced early in his career. This paper, however, will focus on the possibility that emphasis on Wei Ran’s relationship with Queen Dowager Xuan and other maternal relatives in both biographies, as well as Fan Ju’s support for a general who surrendered to Zhao, may be intended to invite reflection on the role of maternal relatives and generals who surrendered in the Sima Qian’s own time.

Cai Yixuan, “The Rise and Fall of Zhou Bo and Zhou Yafu: A Study in the Texts on Early Han Court Politics”

Zhou Bo, the Marquis of Jiang, was a commoner, but one of the most important figures in aiding Liu Bang to establish and stabilise the Han Dynasty. He helped conquer many of the enemies and rebels outside the House of Liu, and within overthrew the Empress Lv’s descendants after her death to preserve the rule of the Liu’s. His biography in the Grand Scribe’s Records, the Hereditary House of the Marquis of Jiang, focuses first on his military achievements that helped him earned his enfeoffment and then limns his vicissitudes in the court as a powerful high-ranking official and general, eventually leading to his imprisonment under Emperor Wen whom he had helped put on the throne. His son, Zhou Yafu, also a successful general, is depicted in the second part of the chapter. Both men were brought down by legal officials. This paper will analyse in details the reasons for Sima Qian’s portrayal of father and son Zhous’ accomplishments as well as their downfall, and compare this portrayal to the parallel accounts of the Zhous in Ban Gu’s Han shu.    

Hongyu Huang, “A Study of Sima Qian’s Portrayal of the First Han Chancellor, Xiao He”

Chapter 53 of Shiji opens a sequence of five chapters that chronicle the lives of the most eminent and loyal ministers and military commanders of early Han. Xiao He, the subject of this chapter, was the long-time top aide to Gaozu of Han (Liu Bang) in the latter’s grand enterprise to overthrow the despotic Qin and unify China under Liu’s rule. The dramatically charged narrative of Chapter 53 stimulates the reader to pursue its essential questions: among Gaozu’s large group of talented followers, how did Xiao manage to distinguish himself to become the most senior statesman (zaixiang), and retain this coveted position till his last breath? From history’s vantage point, did he justly deserve so much power and prestige? My paper will attempt to respond to these two questions, examining Xiao both as a chief advisor who was instrumental in Gaozu’s rise to power and consolidation of a new empire and as a skilled subordinate who was able to allay Gaozu’s mounting suspicion and survive the emperor’s callous purging of powerful vassals who had outlived their usefulness to him. It will also explore Sima Qian’s use of foil, ambiguity and hu xian fa (telling the same story in different ways) as a means to lend his portrayal of Xiao He more tension and complexity.

Papers on Archaeology and Heritage

9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room B

  • Chaired by Joy Lidu Yi
  • Kiraz Perinçek Karavit, “Confrontation of the Oral Culture with the Visual: Elements of Central Asian Legend in Late 6th Century Tomb Decorations in China”
  • Joy Lidu Yi, “Cross-Cultural Buddhist Monastery Ruins on the Silk Road and Beyond—Lay-out and Function of Buddhist Monasteries Reconsidered”
  • Tina Berdajs, “Sleeping Vessels: Chinese Ceramics in Slovene Museums”
  • Remy Jarry, “Dunhuang’s Rise in Contemporary China: The Story of a Rebirth”

Kiraz Perinçek Karavit, “Confrontation of the Oral Culture with the Visual: Elements of Central Asian Legend in Late 6th-Century Tomb Decorations in China”

Chinese archeologists have unearthed several different tombs of deceased Central Asian expatriates dating to early middle ages. Miho Museum (Shigaraki, Japan) also hosts among its collections, panels from a funerary couch, said to have come from a tomb in northern China. Shijun Tomb (d. 579) discovered in 2003 in Xi’an, Yuhong Tomb (d. 592) excavated in Taiyuan in 1999 provide us with stone funerary couches and house-shaped sarcophagi. As for the Shumei Tomb, where the rectangular shape coffin platform is missing now, it is also from northern China and similar period. In all three cases, we have panels decorated with painted reliefs. Mostly epic themes and stories, the subjects are very rich. Along these scenes are represented some supernatural creatures. Some of these creatures had been explained by scholars basing on Sogdian/Zoroastrian and Chinese/Buddhist sources and references. In this presentation, I will attempt to make an interpretive suggestion for the association of horses with fishes. Why do these horses have fish tails? What could be their relation to water? The reason behind this motif is most probably a Central Asian legend about the origin of horses. I will touch upon the relations existing among them by exposing the shared motifs in relief carvings, historical documents, mural paintings, archaeological artefacts as well as tales and legends, still continuing to be told today in Central Asia and Anatolia. This case exposes an interesting model about the confrontation of the Central Asian oral culture with the Chinese visual and written one.

Joy Lidu Yi, “Cross-Cultural Buddhist Monastery Ruins on the Silk Road and Beyond—Lay-out and Function of Buddhist Monasteries Reconsidered”

The dissemination of Buddhism is not just limited to the teachings of the Buddha. The architectural configuration of Buddhist monasteries and images are also important components of Buddhist propagation. This research project will investigate the manner by which Buddhism was disseminated from the Gandhara area of Northwest India to the Western Regions and Central Plain China, based on new archaeological finds, literary sources, previous scholarship and earlier excavations of the monastery remains. Recent archaeological excavations of Buddhist monastery ruins in Xinjiang (Tuyuk cave monasteries) and Central Plain China (monasteries discovered above the rock-cut caves in Yungang) revealed important findings. These new materials have high research value and greatly enriched our appreciation of the content of Buddhist monasteries in the regions. Combined with archaeological materials excavated and found by previous scholars in Buddhist monasteries in Gandhara and Xinjiang during the 19th and 20th centuries, all of these now allow one to examine anew such monastery remains and in a new light explore the devotional practices and rituals at Buddhist monasteries in Xinjiang and their relations with those in Gandhara. From the current extant materials, it is clear that Buddhist monastery remains and art in Gandhara and the Western Regions have had great influence on early Buddhist monasteries in the Hexi Corridor and those in Central Plain China. However, the transformation of the architectural layout from Gandhara to Central Plain China still requires more scholarly research, especially in regard to their contribution to the globalization of Buddhism—here lies the major focus of this project.

Tina Berdajs, “Sleeping Vessels: Chinese Ceramics in Slovene Museums”

Ceramic vessels of Chinese origin enjoyed great interest from people living in the area of present-day Slovenia since at least the 17th century. At first, similarly to other parts of Europe, Chinese ceramics were especially popular among people of higher social strata, were they primarily served a decorative purpose in homes of noble families, but with time became more accessible to a wider circle of people. During the 19th and 20th centuries, many of these objects found their way into collections of several Slovene museums.
Today, the largest collection of Chinese ceramics held in a Slovene public institution is the collection at the National Museum of Slovenia with over 200 individual pieces of East Asian origin. With other, smaller collections around the country, they together form a strong basis for research of collectors, collections, and collecting practices of Chinese, and more widely, East Asian ceramics in Slovenia.
This paper presents the on-going research and the first in-depth look into the field of Chinese ceramics in Slovene museums. Known collections are presented and analysed through short case studies of selected objects. These case studies simultaneously illustrate the unique natures and characteristics of individual collections, contemporaneous collectors and their collecting practices, as well as present several commonalities which connect them through historical narratives.

Remy Jarry, “Dunhuang’s Rise in Contemporary China: The Story of a Rebirth”

Dunhuang’s history dates back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 AD–220 AD) when it was first created as a garrison in order to defend the Empire against invaders. In addition to its military function, Dunhuang had been evolving over the following centuries to become a prominent hub for trade and religious activities in Central Asia. Thus, Dunhuang had played an essential role as a multifaceted satellite of the Chinese Empire from the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), thanks to its strategic location at the intersection of the North and South Silk Roads and its artistic excellence in Buddhist art (murals in particular). Yet, Dunhuang had fell into oblivion from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644 AD) until its rediscovery during the first half of the 20th century. Interestingly, this modern rediscovery has progressively come along with the integration of the historical site as a quintessential part of the Chinese civilisation. From a forgotten place at the periphery of the Chinese world, Dunhuang has been transformed into a major and well-known destination, where mass tourism coexists with advanced scholarly research at the international scale. In parallel, this rebirth has been instrumental in the defence of China’s geopolitical interests, especially the promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative conceived by Xi Jinping. Thus, China’s integrated cultural heritage strategy tends to resume Dunhuang’s original role as a garrison, but in a symbolic way to support its quest for soft power. Our research paper intends to decipher a set of factors at the origin of Dunhuang’s rebirth from a multidisciplinary perspective.