History Podcasts

Chinese Warring States, 3rd century BCE

Chinese Warring States, 3rd century BCE


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.


Library of Chinese Classics: Records on the Warring States Period

Records on the Warring States Period in a three volume hardback set from Library of Chinese Classics. This set is in English and simplified Chinese and is a wonderful addition to any library. This set of Records on the Warring States Period was published by Guangxi Shifan Daxue Publishing House in 2008 and there are 1523 pages. Records on the Warring States Period was translated into English by Zhai Jiangyue.

Records on the Warring States Period Synopsis

Records on the Warring States Period (also known as Strategies of the Warring States and Intrigues of the Warring States) is a renowned ancient Chinese historical work and compilation of materials on the Warring States Period compiled between 3rd century to 1st century BCE. It is an important work in the research of The Warring States Period as it discusses the strategies and political views and reveals the historical and social characteristics of the period. The edition we have today was compiled by Liu Xiang. The six versions of written works from the School of Negotiation were discovered by Liu Xiang during his editing and proofreading of the imperial literary collection. The works of political views and diplomatic strategies from the School of Negotiation were in poor condition, with confusing contents and missing words. Liu Xiang proofread and edited them into the new book under the title Records on the Warring States Period.

Records on the Warring States Period is accomplished in narration and uses many metaphors. The characterization in this book is very accomplished. Significant contents of Records of the Warring States were lost in subsequent centuries. Zeng Gong of the Northern Song Dynasty reclaimed some lost chapters from private collectors, proofread and edited the modern version. It is compiled according to 12 states as The East Zhou, West Zhou, Qin, Chu, Qi, Zhao, Wei I, Han, Yan, Song, Wei II and Zhongshan in 33 books.

Records on the Warring States Period is one of Library of Chinese Classics and there are over 60 books in the series so far. Library of Chinese Classics is a ‘mirror’ format which means that there is a page of Chinese followed by a page of English. As the books are bilingual they are suitable for readers interested in Chinese culture, learners of Chinese as well as native Chinese readers who want to read an accessible version of the classics. Since their publication, they have been immensely popular and Library of Chinese Classics has also been translated into more than 6 languages.


The Spring and Autumn Period of Eastern Zhou

The first part of the Eastern Zhou period is known as the Spring and Autumn period, named after the Spring and Autumn Annals, a text that narrated events on a year-by-year basis, and marked the beginning of China’s deliberately recorded history. This period lasted from about 771-476 BCE. During this time, power became increasingly decentralized as regional feudal lords began to absorb smaller powers and vie for hegemony. The monarchy continued to lose power, and the people were nearly always at war.

The period from 685-591 BCE was called The Five Hegemons, and featured, in order, the Hegemony of Qi, Song, Jin, Qin, and Chu. By the end of 5th century BCE, the feudal system was consolidated into seven prominent and powerful states—Han, Wei, Zhao, Yue, Chu, Qi, and Qin—and China entered the Warring States period, when each state vied for complete control.


Chinese Warring States, 3rd century BCE - History

Taoism (sometimes written as Daoism) is the English name for:

  • a philosophical school based on the texts the Dao De Jing (ascribed to Laozi) and the Zhuangzi.
  • a family of organized Chinese religious movements such as the Zhengyi ("Orthodoxy") or Quanzhen ("complete reality") sects, which collectively trace back to Zhang Daoling in the late Han dynasty
  • a Chinese folk religion.

The English word "Taoism" is used to translate the Chinese terms Daojiao (道教) and Daojia (道家). The character Tao 道 (or Dao, depending on the transliteration scheme one prefers) literally means "path" or "way", but in Chinese religion and philosophy has taken on more abstract meanings. The compound Daojiao refers to Daoism as a religion (i.e., people worshipping at altars) Daojia refers to the activity of scholars in their studies. (It must be noted that this distinction is itself controversial and fraught with hermeneutic difficulty.)
Much uncertainty exists over the meaning of "Taoism". In some countries and contexts (for example, the national "Taoism" organizations of China and Taiwan), the label has come to be applied to the Chinese folk religion, which would otherwise not have a readily recognizable English name. However many, if not most, of its practitioners would not recognize "Taoism" (in any language) as the name of their religion. Moreover, the several forms of what we might call "elite" or "organized" Taoism often distinguish their ritual activities from those of the folk religion, which professional "Taoists" (Daoshi) tend to view as debased.
Chinese alchemy, astrology, cuisine, several Chinese martial arts, Chinese traditional medicine, fengshui, and many styles of qigong breath training disciplines have some relationship with Taoism.

Depending on how it is defined, Taoism's origins may be traced to the prehistoric Chinese religion to the composition of the Dao De Jing (third or fourth century BCE) or to the activity of Zhang Daoling (second century CE). Alternatively, one could argue that "Taoism" as a religious identity only arose later, by way of contrast with the newly-arrived religion of Buddhism, or with the fourth-century codification of the Shangching and Lingbao texts.

The texts of the Dao De Jing and the Zhuangzi date back to this period. Scholars disagree as to which is earlier (if the question has any meaning given the likelihood of each being composed by multiple authors over a gradual period). Some parts of the Zhuangzi quote some parts of the Dao De Jing. The name "Laozi" may have been assigned to the latter because of Sima Qian's assertion that a certain "Laozi" was the teacher of Confucius (thus giving Taoism seniority over its ideological rival).
Both texts are claimed by later Taoist religious movements, who variously interpret them in line with their own beliefs. To what extent such readings accurately reflect their original meaning, is a point of controversy.

By the early Han, Laozi came to be worshipped as a god—either in association with or conflated with the Yellow Emperor. A major text from this "Huang-Lao" movement would be the Huainanzi, which interprets earlier Taoist teachings in light of the quest for immortality (including drugs, sexual practices, and breathing techniques).
Zhang Daoling claimed to have begun receiving new revelations from Laozi in 142 CE, and founded the Tianshi ("Celestial Masters") sect around them. He performed spiritual healing, and collected dues of "five pecks of rice" from his followers (thus providing an alternative name for his movement). Zhang Daoling's major message was that the world-order as his followers knew it would soon come to an end, and be succeeded by an era of "Great Peace" (Taiping). In fact their activities did hasten the downfall of the Han dynasty. The same could be said of their contemporaries and fellow Taoists, the Yellow Turban sect. Zhang's grandson set up a theocratic state in what is now Sichuan province. Today's Zhengyi sect claims continuity with Zhang Daoling.
Laozi received imperial recognition as a divinity in 166 CE. The Yin and Yang and "five elements" theories date from this time, but were not yet integrated into Taoism.
The name Daojia comes from the Han Dynasty. In Sima Qian's history (chapter 63) it refers to immortals in Liu Xiang it refers to Laozi and Zhuangzi. Daojiao came to be applied to the religious movements mentioned above. The two terms were used interchangeably until modern times. (We owe the distinction to Confucian writers.) The earliest commentary on the Dao De Jing is actually that of Heshang Gong (the "Riverside Master"), a religious Taoist.

The Xuanxue ("Dark Learning") school, including Wang Bi, focuses on the texts of Laozi and Zhuangzi (not the organized religion).

Taoist alchemist Ge Hong, also known as Baopuzi (The "Master Embracing Simplicity") was active in the third and fourth centuries CE and had great influence on later Taoism. Major scriptures were produced during this time period, including The Shangqing ("Highest Purity") (365–370) and Lingbao ("Sacred Treasure") scriptures (397–402) received at Maoshan. The Shangqing revelations were received by Yang Xi, a relative of Ge Hong's the revelations emphasized meditative visualization (neiguan). They spoke of the Shangqing heaven, which stood above what had been previously considered the highest heaven by Celestial Master Taoists. Yang Xi's revelations consisted of visitations from the residents of this heaven (the "Zhen Ren") many of whom were ancestors of a circle of aristocrats from southern China. These Zhen Ren spoke of an apocalypse which was to arrive in 384, and claimed that only certain people from this aristocratic circle had been chosen to be saved. For the first century of its existence, Shangqing Taoism was isolated to this aristocratic circle. However, Tao Hongjing (456–536) codified and wrote commentaries on Yang Xi's writings and allowed for the creation of Shangching Taoism as a popular religion. The Lingbao scriptures added some Buddhist elements such as chanted rituals, and an emphasis on universal salvation.
The Huahujing ("Scripture of Conversion of Barbarians") claimed that Laozi went to India, where he taught less advanced doctrines under the name of Buddha. Buddhists found this claim objectionable, and emperors regularly condemned it. A similar claim is made in the Xishengjing (the "Scripture of Western Ascension").

Taoism gained official status in China during the Tang dynasty, whose emperors claimed Laozi as their relative. However, it was forced to compete with Confucianism and Buddhism, its major rivals, for patronage and rank. Emperor Xuanzong (685–762), who ruled at the height of the Tang, wrote commentaries on texts from all three of these traditions, which exemplifies the fact that in many people's lives they were not mutually exclusive. This marks the beginning of a long-lived tendency within imperial China, in which the government supported (and simultaneously regulated) all three movements.
Emperor Tang Gaozong added the Dao De Jing to the list of "classics" (jing, 經) to be studied for the imperial examinations hence the appearance of -jing in its title.

Several Song emperors, most notably Huizong, were active in promoting Taoism, collecting Taoist texts and publishing editions of the Daozang.
The Quanzhen school of Taoism was founded during this period, and together with the Zhengyi Celestial Masters is one of the two schools of Taoism that have survived to the present.
The Song Dynasty saw an increasingly complex interaction between the elite traditions of organized Taoism as practiced by ordained Taoist ministers (daoshi) and the local traditions of folk religion as practiced by spirit mediums (wu) and a new class of non-ordained ritual experts known as fashi. This interaction manifested itself in the integration of 'converted' local deities into the bureaucratically organized Taoist pantheon and the emergence of new exorcistic rituals, including the Celestial Heart Rites and the Thunder Rites.
Aspects of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism were consciously synthesized in the Neo-Confucian school, which eventually became Imperial orthodoxy for state bureaucratic purposes.

Neidan ("Interior Alchemy") became a major emphasis of the Quanzhen sect, whose practitioners followed a monastic model inspired by Buddhism. One of its leaders, Qiu Chuji became a teacher of Genghis Khan (and uses his influence to save millions of lives). Originally from Shanxi and Shandong, the sect established its main center in Beijing's Baiyunguan ("White Cloud Monastery"). Before the end of the dynasty, the Celestial Masters sect (and Buddhism) again gained preeminence.

Guomindang (China Nationalist Party) leaders embrace science, modernity, and Western culture, including (to some extent) Christianity. Viewing the popular religion as reactionary and parasitic, they confiscated some temples for public buildings, and otherwise attempted to control traditional religious activity.

The Communist Party of China, officially atheistic, initially suppressed Taoism along with other religions. Much of the Taoist infrastructure was destroyed. Monks and priests were sent to labor camps. This practice intensified during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, nearly eradicating most Taoist sites.
Deng Xiaoping eventually restored some religious tolerance beginning in 1982. Subsequently, communist leaders have recognized Taoism as an important traditional religion of China and also as a potential lucrative focus for tourism, so many of the more scenic temples and monasteries have been repaired and reopened.
Taoism is one of five religions recognized by the PRC, which insists on controlling its activities through a state bureaucracy (the China Taoist Association). Sensitive areas include the relationship of the Zhengyi Taoists with their sect's lineage-holder (he lives in Taiwan) and the status of various traditional temple activities (astrology, shamanism) which have been criticized as "superstitious" or "feudal".

The number of "Taoists" is difficult to estimate, partly for definitional reasons (who counts as a Taoist?), and partly for practical ones (it is illegal for private parties to conduct surveys in China). The number of people practicing some aspect of the Chinese folk religion might number in the hundreds of millions. (the website adherents.com estimates "Traditional Chinese religion" at nearly four hundred million). The number of people patronizing Daoshi (Taoist "priests" or masters) would be smaller by several orders of magnitude, while the number of literary Daojia would be smaller yet. At the same time, most Chinese people and many others have been influenced in some way by Taoist tradition.
Geographically, Taoism flourishes best in regions populated by Chinese people: inland China, Taiwan, Singapore, and various Chinese diaspora communities. Taoist literature and art has influenced the cultures of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, and these countries' folk religions have many common elements. "Organized" Taoism seems not to have attracted a non-Chinese following until modern times.

A Taoist Temple in Taiwan. The religious practice of incense burning as well as images of the Fu Dog and Dragon guardian spirits can be seen.
Fig 1

Taoism is not a belief-centered religion, and there are no known Taoist creeds. At the same time, certain characteristic beliefs or assumptions can be identified.
One of these is the existence of several classes of supernatural beings, who may enter into relations with human beings. These include gods, ghosts, and ancestral spirits. Gods are--if not invariably benevolent, generally on the side of righteousness. Ghosts are dangerous spirits of the departed who must be appeased through offerings, especially during the Chinese Ghost Festival. Ancestors are also spirits of the departed, but are distinguished from ghosts in that they boast (male-line) descendents who commemorate them through home rituals.
Another fundamental assumption is the efficacy of ritual in maintaining a positive relationship with these beings. Folk Taoism focuses on rituals of sacrifice elite Taoism emphasizes control over spirits through talismans or "spirit-registers" (fu), on the principle that possession of a spirit's name confers power over that spirit.
Beyond the Chinese folk religion, various rituals, exercises, or substances are said to positively affect one's physical health (even to the point of immortality) align oneself spiritually with cosmic forces or enable ecstatic spiritual journeys. These concepts seem basic to Taoism in its elite forms.

Philosophical Taoism does not refer to an actual Taoist school or group of philosophers. Rather, it is a way of reading Taoist texts and interpreting them in philosophical terms. While many find this approach to Taoism very meaningful, it is necessary to remember that the assumptions that it rests on (e.g., the difference between philosophy and religion) are foreign to classical Chinese thought, and are unlikely to have been held by individual Taoist thinkers.
Philosophical Taoism emphasizes various themes found in the Dao De Jing and Zhuangzi such as "nonaction" (wu wei), emptiness, detachment, receptiveness, spontaneity, the strength of softness (or flexibility), the relativism of human values, and the search for a long life. The spirit in which such things are discussed tends to be more playful than doctrinaire, in keeping with the tone of the texts themselves. Taoist commentators have been very impressed by the opening lines of the Dao De Jing, which can be translated:

The way which can be uttered, is not the eternal Way.
The name which can be named, is not the eternal Name.

The original characters are

In Chinese, "道" or "Dao", when used as a noun, it means "way" or "path", but when it is used as a verb, it means "to utter" or "to speak it out".

It should also be noted that while the above has become a standard translation, scholars have noted it is grammatically and conceptually problematic. Grammatically, it should be read "a dao can be dao-ed, (but) this is not the constant dao-ing. A name can be named, (but) this is not the constant naming". Conceptually, the character for "constant"(常) is not referring to the "eternality of the Dao". Rather, it is referring to the constant shifting between opposites that dao undertakes, i.e.: high and low, hard and soft, etc. The Mawangdui version of the text confirms both of these points solidly, vide: ch.1, 3, 40).
Thus, whatever one may say about the Dao, cannot but fall short of reality. Other beliefs which have become integral to philosophical Taoism include the yin and yang (closely related to Dialectical monism) and five elements (五行, wuxing) theories, and the concept of qi. Originally belonging to rival philosophical schools, these motifs entered Taoism by way of Neo-Confucianism. Various cosmic cycles are recognized and studied, with which Taoists have aspired to harmonize themselves.

Traditional Chinese religion is determinedly polytheistic. Its deities arranged into a heavenly civil service that mirrors the bureaucracy of imperial China. Deities may be promoted or demoted. Many are said to have once been virtuous humans. The particular deities worshipped vary somewhat according to geography, and much more according to historical period (though the general pattern of worship is more constant).
There is also something of a disconnect between the set of gods which currently receive popular worship, and those which are the focus of elite Taoist texts and rituals. For example, the Jade Emperor is at the head of the popular pantheon, while the Celestial Masters' altar recognizes the divinized Laozi (Laojun, "Lord Lao") and the Three Pure Ones in that position. Some texts explain that Laozi has sponsored the apotheosis of various other gods.

While a number of immortals or other mysterious figures appear in the Zhuangzi, and to a lesser extent in the Dao De Jing (e.g., the "mysterious female" in chapter 6), these have generally not become the objects of cultic worship. Academic commentators on Taoism are rather more likely to focus on the divinity of the Dao itself, which might be fruitfully compared to (and contrasted with) Western conceptions of God. Early texts describe Tao not as equal to "the One," but as a principle underlying both the One and the Many. One revealing phrase used to describe it is huntun (roughly, "chaotic mixture"). In the wake of Wang Bi, philosophical Taoists have tended to describe it as "nothingness," which is the origin of "being." (Cf. the apophatic tendencies of theism, including negative theology.)

Taoist charm from Tien Hau Temple in San Francisco.
Fig 2

All forms of Chinese traditional religion involve baibai--bowing towards an altar, with a stick of incense in one's hand. This may be done at home, or in a temple, or outdoors by an ordinary person, or a professional (such as a Daoshi) and the altar may feature any number of deities or ancestral tablets. Baibai is usually done in accordance with certain dates of the lunar/solar calendar (SEE Also: Chinese Lunar Calendar).
At certain dates, food may be set out as a sacrifice to the gods and/or spirits of the departed. This may include slaughtered pigs and ducks, fruit, packages of snack foods, and/or pyramids of beer cans (unopened). Another form of sacrifice involves the burning of Hell Bank Notes, on the assumption that images thus consumed by the fire will reappear--not as a mere image, but as the actual item--in the spirit world, and be available for the departed spirit to use.
Also at certain dates, street parades take place. These are lively affairs which invariably involve firecrackers and flower-covered floats broadcasting traditional music. Street parades may also include lion dances and dragon dances human-occupied puppets (often of the "Seventh Lord" and "Eighth Lord") jitong (male "Mediums") who mutilate their skin with knives Bajiajiang, which are gongfu-practicing honor guards in demonic makeup and palanquins carrying god-images. The various participants are not considered performers, but rather possessed by the god in question.
Fortune-telling--including astrology, palmistry, phrenology, and divination--has long been considered a traditional Taoist pursuit. Mediumship is also widely encountered. We may distinguish between "martial" forms of mediumship (like the aforementioned jitong) and more literary forms in which the possessed medium communicates messages from the spirit world by writing them with a special utensil.
Isabelle Robinet's book Taoist Meditation describes various practices given in the Maoshan texts. These include controlling bodily fluids such as semen, saliva, and the breath visualization practices in which various internal organs are imaginally linked with corresponding gods and/or celestial bodies (e.g. the stars of the bei tou, the "Big Dipper") and heavenly journeys via the Great Pole, which is reached by a limping shamanic dance called the "Step of Wu".

The fundamental form of activity among philosophical Taoists seems to be the reading and writing of books. Taoists of this type tend to be civil servants, elderly retirees, or in modern times, university faculty. While there is considerable overlap with religious Taoism, there are often important divergences in interpretation. Wang Bi, one of the most influential philosophical commentators on the Laozi (and Yijing) was in fact a Confucian.
For many educated Chinese people (the Literati), life was divided into a social aspect, where Confucian doctrine prevailed, and a private aspect, with Taoist aspirations. Nighttime, exile, or retirement provided the opportunity to cultivate Taoism and reread Laozi and Zhuangzi. The Literati often dedicated this period of life to arts such as calligraphy, painting, and poetry, or personal researches into antiquities, medicine, folklore, and so on.
The Vinegar Tasters (sometimes called Three Vinegar Tasters) is a popular painting (usually in scroll format) that explained Taoist ideals in relation to the Neo-Confucian school which began in the 10th century and gained prominence in the 12th century. The image depicts Laozi together with The Buddha, and Confucius. In these paintings the three are gathered around a vat of vinegar and the motto associated with the grouping is "the three teachings are one."

The Daozang (道藏, Treasury of Tao) is sometimes referred to as the "Taoist canon." It was compiled during the Jin, Tang, Song, and Ming dynasties, and includes almost 1500 texts. Following the example of the Buddhist Tripitaka, it is divided into three dong 洞 ("caves," often translated "grottoes"), arranged here from highest to lowest:

  • The Zhen ("real") grotto. Includes the Shangching texts.
  • The Yuan ("primordial") grotto. Includes the Lingbao scriptures.
  • The Shen ("divine") grotto. Includes texts predating the Maoshan revelations.

The Dao De Jing constitutes an appendix (fu) to the first grotto. Other appendices include the Taipingjing ("Scripture of Great Peace") as well as various alchemical texts, and scriptures from the Celestial Masters tradition.
Taoism, however, is not a "Protestant" religion which regards the scripture as primary. Professional Taoists generally do not consult published versions of the Daozang, but use texts which have been passed down from teacher to student (who are often relatives). The receipt of permission to do the ritual is considered more important than knowledge of the texts' contents.
The Quanzhen school does have a tradition of approaching Taoism through scriptural study. In these circles, the Confucian text Yijing features more prominently than any other scripture, owing to its relevance for cosmology.
Some Chinese movements emphasize newly-revealed scriptures. In Taiwan, one often finds Buddhist texts being chanted in Taoist temples apparently mainland China has a policy of discouraging such syncretism.

Philosophical Taoism has focused on the Dao De Jing and the Zhuangzi, and to a lesser extent the Liezi. This form of Taoism, more than any other, has influenced Western commentators.

There are many Symbols and Images that are associated with Taoism. Like in Christianity "Jesus" and the "cross", and in Buddhism the "wheel", Taoism has Laozi, actual Chinese characters, and many other symbols that are often represent or are associated with it.
Many people associate the Taijitu symbol 太極圖 as well as the Bagua 八卦 ("Eight Trigrams") with Taoist symbolism. While almost all Taoist organizations make use of it, one could also call it Confucian, Neo-Confucian or pan-Chinese. The yin and yang border should make a backwards "S" shape, with yang (white or red) on top. One is likely to see this symbol as decorations on Taoist organization flags and logos, temple floors, or stitched into clerical robes.
Taoist temples may fly square or triangular flags. These are not merely decorative but function as talismans, and typically feature mystical writing or diagrams. Often a tree branch is used as a flagpole.
One sometimes sees a zigzag with seven stars, representing the Big Dipper (or the "Bushel", the Chinese equivalent). Taoists see the North Pole (and the South too, for that matter) as divine.
Taoist temples in southern China and Taiwan may often be identified by their roofs, which feature Chinese dragons and phoenixes made from multi-colored ceramic tiles. They also stand for the harmony of yin and yang (with the phoenix being yin). A related symbol is the flaming pearl which may be seen on such roofs between two dragons, as well as on the hairpin of a Celestial Master.

The origins of Taoism and Confucianism are intimately related. The authorship of the Dao De Jing is traditionally assigned to Laozi, a teacher of Confucius, yet appears to be reacting against Confucian doctrine (suggesting a younger date). The term Dao is by no means exclusively Taoist, but was used in several schools of ancient Chinese philosophy--including Confucianism--to indicate their views on the proper conduct of individuals, the nature of human society, and the relationship of humans with the universe as a whole.
These early Taoist texts reject numerous basic assumptions of Confucianism, embracing instead values based on nature, individualism, and spontaneity. They express great skepticism toward morality, benevolence, and other Confucian virtues and are similarly mistrustful of hierarchical social structures and indeed, governments. (Zhuangzi argues that the proponents of benevolence and morality are usually found at the gates of feudal lords who have stolen their kingdoms.)
Buddhism similarly found itself transformed from a competitor of Taoism, to a fellow inhabitant of the Chinese cultural ecosystem. Originally seen as a kind of foreign Taoism, its scriptures were translated into Chinese with Taoist vocabulary. Chan Buddhism in particular holds many beliefs in common with philosophical Taoism. In the Tang period Taoism incorporated such Buddhist elements as monasteries, vegetarianism, prohibition of alcohol, the celibacy of the clergy, the doctrine of emptiness, and the amassing of a vast collection of scripture into tripartite organization.
Ideological and political rivals in ancient times, Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism have nevertheless deeply influenced one another, and eventually achieved a kind of modus vivendi in which each has its own particular ecological niche within Chinese society. With time, most Chinese people likewise came to identify to some extent with all three traditions simultaneously. This became institutionalized by the time of the Song dynasty, when aspects of the three schools were consciously synthesized in the Neo-Confucian school, which eventually became Imperial orthodoxy for state bureaucratic purposes.
Taoist thought partly inspired Legalist philosophers, whose theories where used by Qin Shi Huang, founder of the Chinese Empire. The junction point can be found in the work of Hanfeizi, a prominent Legalist thinker who commented on the Tao Te Ching. Hanfeizi used some chapters of the book to justify a structured society based on law and punishment and on the undiscussed power of the Emperor.
Taoism may have inherited some shamanic practices from ancient Chinese traditions. At the same time, Taoist leaders have sometimes viewed Central Asian shamans as rivals.
In spreading Catholic Christianity to China, Jesuit Matteo Ricci sought to ally the Church with Confucianism. In so doing the Jesuits encouraged the view that China lacked a high religion of its own (since Confucianism was not regarded as such). Until well into the twentieth century, Christians have tended to view religious Taoism as a hodgepodge of primitive superstitions, or even as a form of demonolatry.
In the last century or so, Taoism (along with Confucianism and Buddhism) has become incorporated into the theology of the Way of Former Heaven sects, notably Yiguandao. The same could be said with respect to Vietnam's religion of Caodaism.
Western New Agers have embraced some aspects of Taoism: the name and concept of "Tao", the names and concepts of yin and yang an appreciation for Laozi and Zhuangzi, and a respect for other aspects of Chinese tradition such as qigong. At the same time, Western appropriations differ in subtle (or not so subtle) ways from their Asian sources. For example, the word "Tao" is used in numerous book titles which are connected to Chinese culture only tangentially. Examples would include Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics, or Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh.

"Western" is here interpreted very broadly so as to include books marketed to, as well as written by, Westerners.

Works which would be normal to cite as authorities in referred journal articles and books from university presses.

  • Graham, A.C., Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China (Open Court 1993). ISBN 0812690877
  • Ames, Roger, Dao De Jing: A Philosophical Translation (Ballantine Book: New York, 2003) ISBN 0345444159
  • Jordan, David K., Gods, Ghosts, and Ancestors: The Folk Religion of a Taiwanese Village (Berkeley:University of California Press, 1972).
  • Kaltenmark, Max, Lao Tzu and Taoism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969 [original French 1965]).
  • Kohn, Livia, The Taoist Experience: An Anthology (Albany: SUNY Press, 1993).
  • Maspero, Henri, Taoism and Chinese Religion (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981). ISBN 0870233084
  • Schipper, Kristopher, The Taoist Body (Berkeley:University of California Press, 1993 [original French version 1982]).
  • Schipper's fieldwork in Tainan, Taiwan led to his ordination as a Taoshi, a "Taoist priest" of the Celestial Masters tradition. He views the popular religion and elite traditions which service them as integrated. Both are aspects of Taoism, which he describes as the "everyday religion" of the "real country", the "religion of the people" and the "national religion of China". Laozi and Zhuangzi, he maintains, cannot be understood without this religious context.
  • Sivin, Nathan, Chinese Alchemy: Preliminary Studies (Cambridge:Harvard UP, 1968).
  • Robinet, Isabelle, Taoism: Growth of a Religion (Stanford:Stanford University Press, 1997 [original French 1992]).
  • Robinet defines "Taosm" as whatever is in the Daozang, the Taoist canon. Thus it is for her primarily a literary tradition, which she characterizes as "rational" and "structured". Her work particularly focuses on the Shangching and Lingbao traditions of Maoshan (fourth and fifth century), which emphasize ecstatic journeys to the pole star, and visonary experiences of the gods within one body. She distinguishes between Taoism and the popular religion "because that is what the Taoists themselves do" (p. 5), and excludes from her purview non-"Taoist" commentators on Laozi like Wang Bi, and is dubious about the relevence of modern popular movements like qigong.
  • Robinet. Isabelle, Taoist Meditation: The Mao-shan Tradition of Great Purity (Albany: SUNY Press, 1993 [original French 1989]).
  • Sommer, Deborah, Chinese Religion: An Anthology of Sources (Oxford University Press 1995). ISBN 0195088956

Works which are read by the mainstream of the western populace, outside of academia.


When Did the Warring States Period Start?

The Warring States Period is commonly said to have begun in 475 BC. This date is based on the Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian and was the year during which King Yuan of Zhou came to the throne. Others, however, have suggested either 481 BC or 403 BC as the starting point of the Warring States Period.

The former is chosen due to the fact that the Spring and Autumn Chronicles terminates in that year, whilst the latter is the year during which the Jin state was partitioned. The Partition of Jin (known also as ‘Three Families Partitioning Jin’) was an important point in the history of the Warring States Period, as it resulted in the fall of the powerful state of Jin, and the rise of the states of Han, Wei, and Zhao.

The Warring States Period was a time when the Han, Wei, and Zhao were three of the seven major states, the others being Qin, Qi, Chu, and Yan. Additionally, there were also many other minor states, including the royal domain of the Zhou rulers, the state of Yue, the state of Shu, and the state of Song. These minor states, however, would gradually be annexed by the more powerful ones. As an example, the Zhou Dynasty came to an end in 256 BC, when its capital was taken by the Qin, and its last ruler killed.


Bronze Age - Shang Dynasty (Yin Dynasty)

Vassil/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Shang Dynasty ran from c. 1800–c.1100 BCE. Tang took control of the Xia kingdom.

  • Bronze vessels, weapons, and tools
  • Carved jade and turtle shells for divination
  • Glazed pottery
  • Lacquerware
  • Tombs
  • Calendar
  • Diviniation (Oracle Bones)
  • War chariots drawn by horses probably brought to China by Steppe residents

Warring States Period

Compared with the Spring and Autumn Period, the Warring States Period was an even more turbulent age. Old traditions and systems were cast off, and new ones established. After numerous wars, the more powerful states annexed the smaller ones. In the end, seven powerful states coexisted with each other. They were Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei and Qin. In Chinese history, they are known as 'the Seven Overlords in the Warring States Period'.

The Warring States Period, also known as the Era of Warring States, covers the period from 476 BC to the unification of China by the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, following the Spring and Autumn Period, although the Zhou dynasty itself ended in 256 BC, 35 years earlier than the end of the period. As with the Spring and Autumn Period, the king of Zhou acted merely as a figurehead. The name Warring States Period was derived from the Record of the Warring States, a work historically compiled early in the Han Dynasty.

The Warring States Period saw the proliferation of iron working in China, replacing bronze as the dominant metal used in warfare. Areas such as Shu (currently Sichuan) and Yue (currently Zhejiang) were also brought into the Chinese cultural sphere during this time. Different philosophies developed into the Hundred Schools of Thought, including Confucianism (elaborated by Mencius), Taoism (elaborated by Lao Zi and to a lesser extent Zhuang Zi, in that it is possible to see the philosophy espoused in the text of the Zhuang Zi as separate from what could be considered 'classical Daoism'), Legalism (formulated by Han Feizi) and Mohism (formulated by Mozi). Trade also became important, and some merchants had considerable power in politics.

Military tactics also changed. Unlike the Spring and Autumn Period, most armies in the Warring States Period

A Statue of Sun Bin
made combined use of infantry and cavalry, and the use of chariots gradually fell into disfavor. Thus from this period on, the nobles in China remained a literate rather than warrior class, as the kingdoms competed by throwing masses of soldiers against each other. Arms of soldiers gradually changed from bronze to unified iron arms. Dagger-axes were an extremely popular weapon in various kingdoms, especially for the Qin who produced eighteen-foot long pikes.

This was also around the time the legendary military strategist Sun Tzu (Sun Zi) wrote The Art of War which is recognized today as the most influential, and oldest known military strategy guide. Along with this are other military writings that make up the Seven Military Classics of ancient China: T'ai Kung's Six Secret Teachings, The Methods of the Sima, Sun Bin's Art of War, Wu Qi, Wei Liaozi, Three strategies of Huang Shigong, and The Questions and Replies of Tang Taizong and Li Weigong. Once China was unified, these seven military classics were locked away and access was restricted due to their tendency to promote revolution.


Intellectual Change in Early China: Warring States and Han

This sequence of four courses will propose a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of Chinese cultural history conceived of as a succession of modes of rationality (philosophical, bureaucratic, and economic). The focus will be on the moments of paradigm shift from one mode of rationality to another. For each of these moments, cultural facts and artifacts—thought, literature, ritual—will be examined in relationship to changing social, political, and economic systems.

The first two courses will cover the periods of the Warring States (481-256 BCE) and the Period of Division (220-589 CE), with a brief excursion into the Han (206 BCE-220 CE). The Warring States laid the social and cultural foundations for the emergence of the imperial mode of rationality the Period of Division saw the Buddhist “conquest” of China and the emergence of a rationality defined by the opposition of the Three Teachings to shamanism, that is, of a clear contrast between elite and popular culture. The third and fourth courses will focus on the emergence of modern China in the Song-Yuan (960-1368) and of today’s China 1850 to the present. We will see how the modern attack on religion, redefined as "superstition", led not only to religious reform movements but also to a society in which science and the nation became the primary value systems promoted by the state. The courses are listed below: A Critical Cultural History of China - Early China I: Intellectual Change in the Warring States and Han (481 BCE-220 CE) A Critical Cultural History of China - Early China II: Religious Transformation in the Period of Division (220-589 CE) A Critical Cultural History of China - Modern China I: Religion and Thought in the Song, Jin, and Yuan (960-1368) A Critical Cultural History of China - Modern China II: Structuring Values (1850-2015)


Chinese Warring States, 3rd century BCE - History

The particular landscape that is the focus of this digital ethnography surrounds the course of the Longxi river, from its headwaters in the north at White Horse Spring down to its junction with the Qingyi River to the south, in the city of Ya’an. The Longxi River valley is bound by Mengding Mountain to the east, which separates the valley from the hills descending eastward to the Chengdu Basin, and by Luochun Mountains to the west, beyond which are ever-higher mountain ridges ascending to the Tibetan plateau. To understand the early history of this landscape, we must place it within the broader Ya’an region, and against the sometimes-dim backdrop of a long period of human habitation in that region.

Recent archaeological discoveries in the Ya’an region have pushed back the horizon of settlement to the Late Paleolithic period. Stone artifacts and village sites unearthed in Fulin township along the Dadu River in Hanyuan County, termed “Fulin (富林) culture,” are believed to date from 20,000 years ago, a discovery that supports the theory of multiple points of cultural origin in China. 1
Note 1: cite Cao Hong here, Ya’an wenwu, Qian Muwu
Over the region encompassing the Dadu and Qingyi River drainages, 37 sites from the Neolithic period have been discovered. Even in mountainous areas, Neolithic sites have been found to contain house foundations strikingly similar to the architectural style used by ethnic Tibetans in the same region today. 2
Note 2: personal communication: Dai Qiang, [date]
Together these findings suggest a relatively stable pattern of settlement over a long period of time, and thus that habitation of the Ya’an region substantially predates ethnic Han expansion into the area the people who used to live here were the Qiang people.

In the historical record, the first references to Ya’an refer to the region as the “Qiang state” ( Qiang guo 羌国). The Qiang are an ethnic group that still exists in Sichuan, in a small area around Wenchuan, squeezed into rocky, mountainous, marginal land between the Han dominated Chengdu basin and the high plateau occupied by Tibetans. The reference to Qiang in the early history of Ya’an most likely refers to a proto-Tibetan people who eventually retreated under Han pressure to the high plateaus of Eastern Tibet / Western Sichuan, now the Aba and Ganzi Tibetan autonomous areas contiguous with modern Ya’an to the west (and historically part of the administrative unit of Yazhou, especially under the Qing dynasty). Chinese secondary sources tend to link the cultural development of the Qiang in Ya’an with the Late Neolithic and early Bronze Age civilization of Sanxingdui (三星堆) discovered in the Chengdu basin county of Guanghan. The consensus of these accounts is that tribes of the Qiang occupied Ya’an, first as part of the Shu kingdom of the early Sanxingdui culture, and then later became influenced by the dominant Han culture of the North China plain. Qian Muwu, for example, cites the conventional view that,

[I]n the first stage of the Sanxingdui culture (4800-4000 BCE) the first King of the ancient Shu (蜀) state governed the Sichuan basin. At that time the Ya’an area was also governed and influenced by him. According to the “History of Huayang State”(an ancient state situated on the south side of Hua Mountain), written by Chang Zhu of the Jin Dynasty: “the first king of ancient Shu, named Can Cong (蚕丛 meaning “silkworm jungle”), lived in a stone room in Mengding Mountain, and when he died, he buried himself in a stone coffin. His countrymen followed him.” The remains of Can Cong culture still can be found in the Ya’an area. There existed [sic.] a stone room at the top of Mengding Mountain (蒙顶山). There were unearthed three stone coffins in various places of Ya’an. Besides the world-shaking Wang Hui stone coffin [from the Later Han], there were unearthed in Yingjing (永经) county and in Hanyuan (汉源) county, two stone coffins of the pre-Qin period (先秦时期 i.e. before 221 BCE). In the period of the Warring States (475-221 BCE) or the second stage of the Sanxingdui culture, the advanced Du Yu clan of the Qiang people, influenced by the agricultural culture of the Central China Plains, came from Shaanxi to Chengdu, the capitol of the ancient Shu state, to teach the people here how to engage in agriculture. Hence King Du Yu (杜宇 “cukoo bird” in Chinese), whose surname was Jiang, was supported by the native people as the fourth emperor of the ancient Shu State. One spring, [the] Jiang [clan] came to the Qingyi River valley to teach people there how to be farmers and enjoy the support of a state. Because the Du Yu wore the green clothing of the Zhou emperor [i.e. Duyu received the ritual green clothing as a token of vassalage to the Zhou], the state was named the “Qingyi (green clothing) Qiang State” (青衣羌). Now we can still see the site of the ruins of [the] Jiang capitol in Lushan (芦山) county, Ya’an. 3
Note 3: cite Qian and the same story in Cao, 3. Note that Cao adds that the Jiang clan under Du Yu was referred to in the Huayang text as “rear households” of Spirit Pass in Lushan, from which he infers that those families practicing early agriculture in Lushan were in fact placed there to guard the “back door” mountain pass to the heartland of the Qiang Kingdom in the Chengdu basin.

These conclusions concerning the early ethno-history of the Ya’an region are based on fleeting references in ancient texts, and require certain inferences drawn from the origins of place names. Supporting archaeological evidence from the period at least suggests that Han culture had a strong influence on the Qiang in this period, particularly in their adoption of sedentary agriculture. It is also clear that Lushan was the most significant political and commercial center in Ya’an during the period from the Warring States (475-221 BCE) through the first empire under the Qin and Han Dynasties. Under the Qin state and the Early Han Dynasty, Lushan (then known as Qingyi Dao 青衣道) was the military and administrative center of the Western Shu commandery. As the empire expanded under Emperor Wudi, Lushan was the launching point for general Sima Xiang’s expeditions against “barbarians of the Southwest.” In 97 BCE Lushan was put under military control and divided into two administrative districts under the Shu commandery, one (the “Qingyi district”) for Han Chinese, and one (the “yak district”) for non-Han ethnic groups. 4
Note 4: Cao, p.4 Wang, 36
This move was probably prompted by the social friction arising from Han expansion into what had previously been a Qiang or proto-Tibetan region. Ya’an’s early history thus underscores its importance as a border region with Tibet, with the military forces suggesting Han expansion, but also the theme of cultural transmission through mutual cooptation 5
Note 5: Evidence of mutual cooptation: Qingyi Qiang siding with Han during an uprising of tribes bordering the West who made their own imperial claim (Cao, 4) this suggests that, despite tensions between Qiang and Han mentioned above, they could cooperate when it was in their mutual self-interest.
and ethnic commingling. This theme—one that can only be surmised in the Warring States and Early Han—becomes more pronounced in the Later Han, evidence from which infers the earlier beginnings of trends then in full effect.

Ya’an during the Later (Eastern) Han dynasty was both a frontier garrison and an important part of the trade route now termed the “Southwest silk road.” Throughout the region, the historical record inscribed in the landscape comes to the surface and becomes more dense and legible in this period. Two important historical sites that remain from the Later Han are Lushan’s Fanming bei , a stone tablet inscribed to honor an important local official, and Gaoyi que , a “watchtower” monument to imperial authority located just outside the town of Ya’an itself. Both sites contain skillfully wrought stone inscriptions and carvings, including stone lions and tortoises as well as que watchtowers, that together convey a sense of awe and respect before the symbols of imperial power. 6
Note 6: Both Fanming bei and Gaoyi que are the work of the same team of artisans led by the master mason Liu. The presence of such skilled workmen reinforces the point below that these monuments suggest a well-defined, stable, and enduring Han presence in the region.
Both sites also are situated in strategic positions along the Qingyi River, defending key passes separating the Ya’an region from the Chengdu basin. The inscription on Fanming bei shows that Lushan continued as the center of imperial authority in Ya’an during the Later Han by being the headquarters of the Western Shu Commandery. The official commemorated in the inscription, Fan Ming, was a native son of Lushan, but he served as the high official ( taishou ) in charge of the Ba Commandery in Eastern Sichuan. There, as in the Shu region, managing “barbarians” on the frontier was the taishou’s main responsibility, a task Fan was said to have performed “in an upright, outstanding, and meticulous fashion.” 7
Note 7: The inscription text here reads: 有夷,史之直,卓,密之风
The fact that such an illustrious official family lived in Lushan points to full Han control, and to a firmly established presence in the Ya’an region as a whole.

Han imperial power—and ethnic Han cultural influence—radiated out from these military garrisons, extending deep into the mountains on the edge of the Tibetan plateau (in today’s Baoxing county). 8
Note 8: The frontier boundaries between Han and non-Han ethnicities has been fairly stable from the early Imperial Period of Qin-Han to the present, following the topographical boundary between mountains and plateau. Thus archaeological excavations on the Eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau and Western heights of the mountains show a striking continuity of Tibetan housing patterns between the early historical period and the present day (personal communication, Dai Qiang, date).
Excavations in Longdong township during the 1980s unearthed stone coffins contemporaneous with the well-known Wang Hui stone coffin (dated to 183CE) in Lushan. On the mountainside above this archaeological site, in the village of Xianrenping, are the remains of three tombs constructed of bricks, also dating to the Later Han Dynasty. These bricks, embossed with distinctive geometrical patterns, are similar to those found throughout the Sichuan region, but they incorporate a unique wheel-like symbol associated with the Qiang. 9
Note 9: The patterns on the Xianrenping bricks are quite similar to others found in Baoxing (Ya’an Diqu Wenwu Zhi, 152-53) and to those found in Lushan to the south. (cite Han Brick book, page).
It is unclear whether the tombs were built by Han Chinese using local Qiang iconography, or by Qiang people influenced by Han construction and burial practices. In either case, the tombs suggest the cultural exchange that accompanied military expansion in this frontier region. Just above the tombs is the foundation of a Tibetan-style stone stupa, dating from a later era and still used as a place of worship by the local Han Chinese inhabitants of Xianrenping in modern times—further evidence of the commingling of different ethnicities and cultures in particular places of the frontier landscape.

Many of the Later Han era tombs, inscribed tablets, and stone carvings in Ya’an speak to its importance as a military frontier, but it was also traversed by an important trade route that served to knit the region together, and to bind it to the imperial and cultural center. The Southwest Silk Road carried Chinese goods from Chengdu through Qionglai to Lushan, Feixian pass, Yingjing, and Hanyuan in the Ya’an region, and thence on to Xichang in Southern Sichuan, Yunnan Province, Burma, eventually reaching India. A stone inscription rediscovered in 2004 in Yingjing county (known in Han times as Yan Dao 严道) gives evidence that this ancient trade route was maintained by imperial officials during the Later Han (and confirms that the Southwest Silk Road in Ya’an is now retraced by National Highway 108). 10
Note 10: The inscription itself was well-known since the Song Dynasty as an excellent example of Han Dynasty inscribed calligraphy, and facsimiles made from rubbings taken in the Song were reproduced in many calligraphy collections and stone inscribed reproductions, even as the exact location of the original inscription was lost over time. Accounts of the 2004 rediscovery of the immaculately preserved original inscription in the local press (citation) were picked up by international news services (citation).
The inscription records the efforts of the Shu Commandery taishou , surnamed He, who in 57 CE constructed a zhandao plank road suspended on a cliff face by beams mortised into the rock. The extent of the expenditures and high level of official administration in the road’s construction, as well as the settlement pattern of county seats and market towns along the longer route, all indicate that trade along the Southwest Silk Road was a major influence shaping the early development of the region. 11
Note 11: Other stone tablets dating from the Later Han demonstrate the imperial state’s concern for maintaining roads and bridges. Two inscriptions (now lost, but the text of which was preserved during the Song) mention the building of a road and a bridge respectively, most likely located near the Feixian pass. (Ya’an Diqu Wenwu zhi, 96-101).

The town of Ya’an itself was out of the mainstream traced by the archaeological and historical records of the Later Han. Routes of the Southwest Silk Road bypassed what later became Ya’an County, following instead the Luochun Mountain path through Lushan, or the Flying Dragon Pass on to Yingjing. Present-day Ya’an’s earliest settlement was a Han military camp at Duoying (literally, “many tents”) that guarded a key juncture on the Qingyi River. As the Han dynasty fell and China entered a four-century period of disunity, the Liao people (migrating from Guizhou) settled in the area and gradually mixed with the ethnic Han population. Toward the end of this period another town, Shiyang, grew up at the foot of Ya’an Mountain, but the area as a whole was only loosely connected to any central authority until the imperial presence returned under the Sui (581-618CE) and Tang (618-907) dynasties. In 604 the Sui Dynasty reasserted ethnic Han political control by establishing Yazhou (雅州) as the new regional political center in the second empire. 12
Note 12: The origin of the name “Ya’an” is disputed. One widely held version traces its origin to the Tibetan words for “five yaks,” underscoring the non-Han Chinese roots of this place. Cao () disputes the story on climatological grounds.
Local gazetteers recount the building of city walls and re-establishment of the Commandery (changed, in the late Tang, to county) system of administration, but now formerly central places, such as Lushan and Yingjing, were placed under the political control of Yazhou, with officials presiding in Duoying.

While Ya’an became the new administrative center, older patterns and places continued to develop. Trade on the Southwest Silk Road intensified under the Tang, and the new religion of Buddhism flourished along its routes, particularly in key mountain passes and river crossings where travelers funneled through on their journeys. This interconnection of trade and pilgrimage shaped Yazhou in physical and conceptual ways. Buddhist temples, monasteries, and rock carvings along the Southwest Silk Road served to layer a web of sacred meaning onto the landscape, and to define places by giving them name and narrative. It is through the placement of these religious sites that we can follow the development of the Southwest Silk Road from its origins in the Han to its height in the Tang Dynasty. Thus Buddhist rock carvings trace an arc from Mingshan, through Lushan, and on south to Yingjing—all places that have significant extant relics from the Later Han Dynasty, as well. 13
Note 13: The specific sites are, Kandeng shan (865) in Mingshan, Fotu shan in Lushan, and Shifo si (797) in Yingjing.

Just as imperial political authority in the Han Dynasty was communicated by the placement of military garrisons guarding key passes and tablet inscriptions commemorating official achievements, during the Tang Dynasty Buddhist rock carvings on riverside cliffs and mountain precipices communicated religious teachings to illiterate travelers. On the road that entered Yazhou from the Chengdu basin to the East through present-day Pujiang County, for example, the rock carvings of Feixian ge and Kandeng shan (865CE) presented hundreds of larger-than-life Buddha figures, as well as images of disciples, bodhisattvas, and fierce guardian spirits. 14
Note 14: A survey of the Kandeng shan cliff carvings can be found in Ya’an Diqu Wenwu zhi, (113-116).
The carvings constitute a diorama of religious teachings, each set of figures representing a story from the Buddha’s life, or a particular sermon or event, with hand gestures and iconography that served as mnemonic signs conveying religious meaning.

The Tang cliff carvings naturalized and localized the Buddhist religion at the same time, they sacralized the local landscape. There are many examples of natural features imbued with religious significance in Yazhou of the Tang era. In the Longxi river valley that is the focus of this project, the headwaters of the river to the North at White Horse Spring was made a holy site in the Tang, as were the peaks of the Mengding and Jinfeng mountains (marking the valley’s borders to the East and South, respectively), where temples were first built in this period. Thus contemporary senses of place have their roots in the Buddhist religious topography first established during the Tang.

We have only glimpses of what the area might have looked like one thousand years ago. A Tang era official wrote a poem commemorating his passing the imperial examinations, a feat he attributed to the “voices in the waters” of the Penjiang, one of four rivers running through the town of Ya’an. The scene he evokes is one of communion with pristine nature, but we also know that the region was considered a strategic storehouse of exploitable natural resources. An imperial edict issued by the Tang Emperor Taizong in 648 mandated that ships be constructed in Yazhou, and appointed the general Zhang Shigui leader of a force to pacify the Western barbarians. This order suggests the importance of the Western Frontier as a source of good timber (especially Chinese fir), a rapidly dwindling resource in the more heavily populated East during the economic revolution of the ensuing Song era. 15
Note 15: cite Elvin here on Song economic revolution and the scarcity of wood resources.

Yazhou of the second (Tang-Song) empire was still very much a frontier region. From 779 to 964 CE, as the Tang dynasty declined, the area was frequently overrun by invading armies of the expansive Tubo (Tibetan) Empire to the west and the Nanzhao kingdom to the south. Chinese administrative control was reasserted in the Song dynasty, and the seat of Yazhou was transferred from Duoying to the present-day location of the town of Ya’an (formerly Shiyang)—a move characteristic of the urban development during the Song period. 16
Note 16: Cao () explains the move from Duoying to Shiyang (the foot of Ya’an mountain) as motivated by the presence of “miasmic vapors” in Duoying, which might have been malaria (Elvin notes similar references to “miasmic vapors”)
Beginning in 1070, Ya’an became an important outpost on the new “tea-horse” trade route (茶马古道), in which Chinese tea was exchanged for Tibetan horses. 17
Note 17: Paul J. Smith details the Song-era trade in tea and horses and the role of Yazhou in particular as both center of tea production and outpost of trade with Tibetans (1991, 175).
While the mainstream of the Song economic revolution—particularly irrigation techniques and improved rice strains—seem to be largely absent in Yazhou of that era, the cultivation of the native tea plant did have a major economic impact that began to transform the landscape through intensive garden-style farming, and through the establishment of towns as marketing centers and service waypoints on the tea-horse trade route. Here we see the early development of a cash economy in which farmers supplement their subsistence agriculture with both tea as a cash crop and wage labor as bearers in the tea trade. The trade itself was managed by the Song state through a warehouse distribution system and letters of credit. These innovations of the 11th century mark the beginnings of the late-imperial economic system that endured well into the 20th century. 18
Note 18: cite evidence of the chamagudao in the contemporary era.

The tea-horse trade was more than a state-run economic system it was also a strategy for pacification of the Tibetan threat, and for strengthening the empire with resources (in this case, horses) exploited from the Western Frontier. This pacification strategy was typical of Song-era bureaucratic approaches to affairs of state, a method that was also applied to the regulation of the landscape through the construction of state-cult temples—a reinforcement of the imperial bureaucracy through placement of sacred counterparts. 19
Note 19: what xx refers to as the Song-era “regularization of the gods,”
Officials in the county seats of Yazhou during the Song built wenmiao (文庙 temples to honor Confucius), as well as other temples commemorating historical figures who were great military heroes or upright officials of antiquity. 20
Note 20: The Ganlu temple on Mengding mountain is an interesting example of the euhemerization of secular figures during the Song. Built in xx to commemorate Wu Lizhen, a local person said to have been the first to domesticate tea, the temple was absorbed into Buddhism in xx, becoming known as XX si. In distinctively Chinese syncretic fashion, the Song era temple to a sacralized secular figure (Wu Lizhen) was incorporated into the Buddhist pilgrimage tradition of “holy mountains.”
Again taking Lushan as an example, the county official xxx built the wenmiao during the reign of the Zhaoxing emperor of the Southern Song (i.e. sometime between 1131-1162). The wenmiao provided “literary” ( wen , 文) balance to the martial ( wu ,武) valor commemorated in the Pingxiang lou (平襄楼, built in the Northern Song), a temple to the general Jiang Wei (姜维) of the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280) who was thought to have established a settlement in Lushan. 21
Note 21: (old) Lushan Xianzhi, 85,106. The building is extant, and most local historical accounts, bolstered by archaeological evidence, claim that Jiang Wei retreated to Lushan—hence one of its names as “Jiang Cheng”—and made alliances with the local Qiang people. Cao (yr,p) dismisses these accounts as based on legend, and makes the counter-claim that the name “Jiang Cheng” derives from the surname of the dominant clan of the Qingyi Qiang, from a much earlier period than the Three Kingdoms.
Over all of Yazhou, the gazetteers record the building of “bureaucratic” temples (miao) and ancestral temples (ci) during the Song, but no Buddhist temples (si) were built during this period, and there is evidence that Buddhism was in decline, with monastic property confiscated by the state. 22
Note 22: cite as evidence of the decline of Buddhism the Guangfu si in Lushan (lishi, 94 xianzhi,?) and Baima chuan.
In contrast to the sacralization of nature in the Buddhist temples of the Tang—indeed, in conscious opposition to Buddhism—Song bureaucrats sought to imprint the settled landscape of towns and villages with a standardized, rational, and nativist sacred hierarchy of officialdom.

Ethnic Han political control of the frontier increased under the reign of the first Ming emperor, Hongwu. The city walls of Ya’an were reconstructed in 1368 and, more importantly, the South Sichuan Road connecting Ya’an with the provincial capital of Chengdu was officially opened in 1376 (Ya’an shizhi 1996, 2-9). The Ming period saw an intensification of earlier trends in the Tang-Song, including the building of irrigation canals and temples (both Buddhist and “official”), which in turn suggests a more dense settlement of the landscape. Buddhism returned to favor under the Ming. 23
Note 23: Some of the trends discussed here in terms of the Ming Dynasty began during the preceding Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty, e.g. in Lushan, Qinglong si was built in [Yuan 7], and the earliest known irrigation canal in that county also dates from the Yuan.
Many temples that had fallen into disrepair were rebuilt, and new temples and cliff carvings began to penetrate areas hitherto outside the main established trade routes. The Lushan county gazetteer records the rebuilding or new construction of seven Buddhist temples during the Ming, a pattern repeated across the Yazhou region. 24
Note 24: Lushan Xianzhi x-x
In Ya’an, Jinfeng si on the mountain overlooking the town was revived, and in the city itself Yuexing si , built in the Ming, occupied a prominent position next to the wenmiao and city god ( chenghuang ) state-cult temples. 25
Note 25: Extant buildings from the Ming can be found at both these sites: the Baoguang dian in Jinfeng temple, and Guanyin ge , the only remaining building of the Yuexing temple.
Both temples in Ya’an bear witness to the continuation of the tea trade with Tibet during the Ming Dynasty Yuexing si was the first stop in Ya’an for Tibetan travelers into Sichuan, and the religious figures in Jinfeng si are rendered in a mixture of Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist styles. 26
Note 26: The influence of Tibetan Buddhism in Jinfeng si can still be seen today. In addition to the co-placement of bodhisattvas in Chinese and Tibetan styles, there is also an altar to the main figures of the Tibetan Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect, including the Dalai Lama. Although the latter were added in the Qing Dynasty, the temple’s syncretic style dates from its re-establishment under the Ming.

In the Longxi River valley, Ming-era Buddhist temple (re)construction and cliff carvings give evidence that the area was home to a significant population, linked to the town of Ya’an by a stone paved road following the course of the river. In addition to the revival of Jinfeng temple on the southern boundary of the valley, and the rebuilding of the temple at White Horse Spring on the north (in xxx), by the end of the Ming a new Buddhist temple, Bifeng si built in xxx, marked the valley’s Western rim, at a key mountain-top juncture above the point where the river flowed down out of the broad uplands into a narrow mountainous gorge. In the valley’s middle reaches, carvings at Thousand Buddhas Cliff (Qianfo yan ) were completed between 1542 and 1560. A smaller Guanyin shrine, cut in a rock outcrop in xxx, was placed to protect the road as it passed through a narrow gorge high above the river. These Ming carvings in the Longxi River valley are different in scale and appearance from those of the Southwest Silk Road carved during the Tang: the figures are cruder, more “sinified” (e.g. the prominence of Guanyin and the “laughing Buddha” Mile fo ) and share space with non-Buddhist icons—in sum reflecting the full domestication of Buddhism by the late Ming and its absorption into folk culture. More importantly, perhaps, the inscriptions at each of these new temple and carving sites indicate that they were built through contributions of local families, rather than by official decree. Thus we have evidence that, in the Ming, popular participation in the shaping of the landscape was as important as official action, at least in the core areas of Yazhou closest to Ya’an such as the Longxi River valley.

Imperial power did not wane or retreat during the Ming on the contrary, officials in Yazhou remained committed to defending the frontier, regulating trade, developing infrastructure, and building temples honoring the sacred bureaucracy—and thereby buttressing their own authority. The most significant new “official” temples emerging in Yazhou under the Ming were dedicated to the cult of Li Bing, the Qin Dynasty official who, in 347 BCE, built the Dujiangyan irrigation system that transformed the Chengdu basin into an extraordinarily fertile agricultural region. 27
Note 27: Steven Sage () argues that the Dujiangyan project engineered by Li Bing created the condition for the possibility of China’s unification under the Qin Dynasty. The grain reserves created in the former Shu state provided the competitive advantage for Qin armies to destroy their rival states and create the first empire.
The cult’s central temple on the Min River in Dujiangyan, called Er Lang miao (in honor of Li Bing and his son Er Lang, who finished his father’s hydraulic engineering project) was first established in the fifth century on the old site of the temple to Du Yu, King of the Qiang state. This central Er Lang miao was substantially expanded and given imperial sanction in xx under the Northern Song, in keeping with that dynasty’s predilection for establishing and regulating temples commemorating upright officials. 28
Note 28: Dujiangyan fengjing mingsheng quzhi, 34-35.

Although the central temple in Dujiangyan is outside the Yazhou region, in the early Ming branch temples of the Li Bing cult were built under official patronage throughout Yazhou, on key points in the landscape where the god-official could exercise his “dragon taming” (flood control) powers. The specific names of these local cult temples varied—Er Lang miao, Chuanzhu miao, Chuanzhu gong, Chuanwang gong, Huimin gong—but the names identified Li Bing (and Er Lang) as “master” (zhu) or “king” (wang) of Sichuan, which could also infer “master of rivers” (Chuan), bringing “benefit to the people” (huimin). All of these temples were placed—like acupuncture points on the geo-body—at either the confluence of river flows, or where a river flowed out of a gorge. The Yazhou fuzhi (1739) records eight temples of the Li Bing cult in Ya’an county, and the Lushan county gazetteer lists four extant in 1943, including the most important one in the region, the Er Lang miao at Feixian Pass.

Feixian guan or “Flying Immortal Pass” was so named because only a flying immortal could safely traverse the river-bound narrow defile, known as “Great Achievement Gorge” (duogong xia), leading out of the pass. It was precisely because of this dangerous approach to the pass from downriver to the east that the Han era Southwestern Silk Road bypassed what is today the city of Ya’an in favor of the route through Feixian pass from Lushan to the north. During the early Tang dynasty, for military and administrative purposes 29
Note 29: The principal reason for constructing the plank road connecting Feixian pass to points directly east was to allow communication between the settlements of Duoying, in today’s Ya’an county, and Shiyang, in today’s Tianquan. In turn, this administrative imperative stemmed from the military goal of reclaiming the area from the Liao people who had moved into the area after the political disunity and turmoil following the fall of the Han Dynasty. (Cao, 103).
, a plank road suspended along the cliff face was built in 620, allowing direct eastern access to the pass following the course of the Qingyi River, and thereby creating the conditions for building the new administrative centers of Ya’an and Mingshan. These new settlements became especially important as the tea-horse trade route began going through Feixian pass during the Song Dynasty, adding an east-west trade axis to the much older north-south Southern Silk Road. Historically, then, Feixian pass was a critical meeting point at the crossing of two trade routes, the juncture of three rivers—the Yunjing, Tianquan, and Qingyi—and the boundary of four counties: Ya’an, Lushan, Yunjing, and Tianquan.

Feixian pass was also a place that gathered myth and memory. The “Great Achievement” of Duogong Gorge was said to be the work of the ancient sage emperor Yu, founder of the Xia Dynasty, who dredged the gorge out of the surrounding mountains to channel away floodwaters. To this hydraulic achievement was added another, legend has it, in the form of Er Lang’s construction of a weir (fifth of the six weirs ( lidui ) that composed the Warring States re-engineering of Sichuan) on the same site. According to the Lushan gazetteer, “ [Er Lang’s] dredging and chiseling of the weir stopped the perils of rushing foam and swept away evil things, an achievement no less than that of Yu. The temple was built to commemorate this. Praying for rain in the early morning brings results. ” 30
Note 30: Lushan gazetteer (1942), 119. [Explain “weir” here and the conjectured existence of six in Sichuan, including two on either end of Ya’an county.]
The god-official’s merit continued to exercise power over this liminal and historically saturated place in the landscape. 31
Note 31: [There are other Yu and Er Lang fables about Feixian guan: question: should there be an artifact page on the Li Bing cult which could include Dujiangyan, Feixian guan Er Lang miao, Guidu fu, with mention of Xiakou Chuanzhu miao? This could be very effective as a separate essay, maybe in the Belief section? or should it be a separate artifact linked to from this history essay and also the Chuanzhu essay??]. End with something about the interior of the Xinan Chuanwang gong in Lushan, or also put in the Li Bing cult essay?]

From at least the Song Dynasty onward, there seems to be an insistent line of narrative in local historical consciousness that works to draw the landscape into Han imperial / national storylines. Part of the settlement process is that Nature is explained, and transformed into place, through reference to established historical figures and events. Thus the course of the Qingyi River through Ya’an county is bounded on the west by the stories of Yu and Er Lang dredging Great Achievement Gorge, and on the east by Guidufu, an island in the river explained as the fourth weir of Li Bing’s irrigation project. Narrativization of the landscape is the essence of place: as historical inventions become collective memories they inform self-understanding (identity) even as they transform nature.

Stories of place served to settle the frontier by connecting the landscape to the imperial center. This process of narrativization accompanied the displacement of the Qiang people as ethnic Han moved in and began to recreate the environment through the building of towns, temples, roads, fields, and irrigation systems. Remnant foundations of the ancient Qiang capitol at Lushan, for example, were reinterpreted as the remains of a city built by the great general Jiang Wei of the Kingdom of Shu (dates), an identification of local place with the broader history of Sichuan that was officially sanctioned by the building of the Jiang Wei lou in the Song Dynasty (date). 32
Note 32: Lushan xianzhi (77). Cao (2004,?) debunks the Jiang Wei legend and traces the site’s origins back to the Qiang tribe surnamed Jiang.
Memory of the Qiang people was not erased entirely, however. One local folk belief maintains that touching certain stones, called tanshen (altar spirits), left by the earlier inhabitants of the area, can cause madness and paralysis. Here the Qiang people persist as sources of danger, dark gods deeply rooted in the land itself. 33
Note 33: Tell the story here about Zhu Geliang and the arrow in Er Lang shan?

Despite the increasing density of settlement and the transformation of the landscape during the Ming, Yazhou remained an often unstable frontier. In 1520 six local Tibetan chieftains in Tianquan county rose up in revolt against the Ming. The “barbarians” attacked eastward and occupied territory in the north of Lushan county, killing the county magistrate’s father (whose heroism later was duly recognized in xxxx by the construction of a temple in his honor). The fall of the Ming in 1644 brought widespread destruction to Yazhou, as the peasant rebellion led by Zhang Xianzhong took control of Sichuan and declared the “Daxi Dynasty.” After Zhang’s defeat in 1646, warring armies of Ming loyalists, of the turncoat Ming general Wu Sangui, of local Tibetan chieftains, and of the conquering Manchus continued to fight for control of this borderland region, with full control of the ensuing Qing dynasty established only in 1658. The result of this continuous warfare was the virtual depopulation of Yazhou.

The history of Yazhou in the Qing Dynasty begins with its repopulation by migrants from Hubei and Guangxi, and efforts to reconstruct the war torn infrastructure of the region. In local memory, the devastation wrought by Zhang Xianzhong and the migration form the opening chapter of historical self-understanding. As that story is recounted in the genealogy of one family from the village of Xiakou: [Zhu Congde’s story from the Suishen bao]

cite Cao Hong here, Ya’an wenwu, Qian Muwu

personal communication: Dai Qiang, [date]

cite Qian and the same story in Cao, 3. Note that Cao adds that the Jiang clan under Du Yu was referred to in the Huayang text as “rear households” of Spirit Pass in Lushan, from which he infers that those families practicing early agriculture in Lushan were in fact placed there to guard the “back door” mountain pass to the heartland of the Qiang Kingdom in the Chengdu basin.

Evidence of mutual cooptation: Qingyi Qiang siding with Han during an uprising of tribes bordering the West who made their own imperial claim (Cao, 4) this suggests that, despite tensions between Qiang and Han mentioned above, they could cooperate when it was in their mutual self-interest.

Both Fanming bei and Gaoyi que are the work of the same team of artisans led by the master mason Liu. The presence of such skilled workmen reinforces the point below that these monuments suggest a well-defined, stable, and enduring Han presence in the region.

The inscription text here reads: 有夷,史之直,卓,密之风

The frontier boundaries between Han and non-Han ethnicities has been fairly stable from the early Imperial Period of Qin-Han to the present, following the topographical boundary between mountains and plateau. Thus archaeological excavations on the Eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau and Western heights of the mountains show a striking continuity of Tibetan housing patterns between the early historical period and the present day (personal communication, Dai Qiang, date).

The patterns on the Xianrenping bricks are quite similar to others found in Baoxing (Ya’an Diqu Wenwu Zhi, 152-53) and to those found in Lushan to the south. (cite Han Brick book, page).

The inscription itself was well-known since the Song Dynasty as an excellent example of Han Dynasty inscribed calligraphy, and facsimiles made from rubbings taken in the Song were reproduced in many calligraphy collections and stone inscribed reproductions, even as the exact location of the original inscription was lost over time. Accounts of the 2004 rediscovery of the immaculately preserved original inscription in the local press (citation) were picked up by international news services (citation).

Other stone tablets dating from the Later Han demonstrate the imperial state’s concern for maintaining roads and bridges. Two inscriptions (now lost, but the text of which was preserved during the Song) mention the building of a road and a bridge respectively, most likely located near the Feixian pass. (Ya’an Diqu Wenwu zhi, 96-101).

The origin of the name “Ya’an” is disputed. One widely held version traces its origin to the Tibetan words for “five yaks,” underscoring the non-Han Chinese roots of this place. Cao () disputes the story on climatological grounds.

The specific sites are, Kandeng shan (865) in Mingshan, Fotu shan in Lushan, and Shifo si (797) in Yingjing.

A survey of the Kandeng shan cliff carvings can be found in Ya’an Diqu Wenwu zhi, (113-116).

cite Elvin here on Song economic revolution and the scarcity of wood resources.

Cao () explains the move from Duoying to Shiyang (the foot of Ya’an mountain) as motivated by the presence of “miasmic vapors” in Duoying, which might have been malaria (Elvin notes similar references to “miasmic vapors”)

Paul J. Smith details the Song-era trade in tea and horses and the role of Yazhou in particular as both center of tea production and outpost of trade with Tibetans (1991, 175).

cite evidence of the chamagudao in the contemporary era.

what xx refers to as the Song-era “regularization of the gods,”

The Ganlu temple on Mengding mountain is an interesting example of the euhemerization of secular figures during the Song. Built in xx to commemorate Wu Lizhen, a local person said to have been the first to domesticate tea, the temple was absorbed into Buddhism in xx, becoming known as XX si. In distinctively Chinese syncretic fashion, the Song era temple to a sacralized secular figure (Wu Lizhen) was incorporated into the Buddhist pilgrimage tradition of “holy mountains.”

(old) Lushan Xianzhi, 85,106. The building is extant, and most local historical accounts, bolstered by archaeological evidence, claim that Jiang Wei retreated to Lushan—hence one of its names as “Jiang Cheng”—and made alliances with the local Qiang people. Cao (yr,p) dismisses these accounts as based on legend, and makes the counter-claim that the name “Jiang Cheng” derives from the surname of the dominant clan of the Qingyi Qiang, from a much earlier period than the Three Kingdoms.

cite as evidence of the decline of Buddhism the Guangfu si in Lushan (lishi, 94 xianzhi,?) and Baima chuan.

Some of the trends discussed here in terms of the Ming Dynasty began during the preceding Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty, e.g. in Lushan, Qinglong si was built in [Yuan 7], and the earliest known irrigation canal in that county also dates from the Yuan.

Extant buildings from the Ming can be found at both these sites: the Baoguang dian in Jinfeng temple, and Guanyin ge , the only remaining building of the Yuexing temple.

The influence of Tibetan Buddhism in Jinfeng si can still be seen today. In addition to the co-placement of bodhisattvas in Chinese and Tibetan styles, there is also an altar to the main figures of the Tibetan Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect, including the Dalai Lama. Although the latter were added in the Qing Dynasty, the temple’s syncretic style dates from its re-establishment under the Ming.

Steven Sage () argues that the Dujiangyan project engineered by Li Bing created the condition for the possibility of China’s unification under the Qin Dynasty. The grain reserves created in the former Shu state provided the competitive advantage for Qin armies to destroy their rival states and create the first empire.

Dujiangyan fengjing mingsheng quzhi, 34-35.

The principal reason for constructing the plank road connecting Feixian pass to points directly east was to allow communication between the settlements of Duoying, in today’s Ya’an county, and Shiyang, in today’s Tianquan. In turn, this administrative imperative stemmed from the military goal of reclaiming the area from the Liao people who had moved into the area after the political disunity and turmoil following the fall of the Han Dynasty. (Cao, 103).

Lushan gazetteer (1942), 119. [Explain “weir” here and the conjectured existence of six in Sichuan, including two on either end of Ya’an county.]

[There are other Yu and Er Lang fables about Feixian guan: question: should there be an artifact page on the Li Bing cult which could include Dujiangyan, Feixian guan Er Lang miao, Guidu fu, with mention of Xiakou Chuanzhu miao? This could be very effective as a separate essay, maybe in the Belief section? or should it be a separate artifact linked to from this history essay and also the Chuanzhu essay??]. End with something about the interior of the Xinan Chuanwang gong in Lushan, or also put in the Li Bing cult essay?]

Lushan xianzhi (77). Cao (2004,?) debunks the Jiang Wei legend and traces the site’s origins back to the Qiang tribe surnamed Jiang.

Tell the story here about Zhu Geliang and the arrow in Er Lang shan?

About This Essay

The Early History of Ya'an

Warring States (475-221 BCE) to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

This essay demonstrates how an understanding of the landscape of Ya'an is integral to understanding its early history. It argues that the geographic particularities of this place motivated the efforts of successive Chinese states to control this frontier area, and that those efforts to control the frontier in turn shaped the landscape upon which succeeding generations have built. The sources for the narrative presented here are the historical gazetteers of Ya'an, secondary works in Chinese on local history, and stone inscriptions in the local landscape. John Flower wrote this summary of Ya'an's early history in 2004, during a year-long research leave in Ya'an. Special thanks to Mr. Dai Qiang, Mr. Qian Muwu, Mr. Cao Hong, and Ms. Chen Hua for their help on this essay.


Warring States Period

Warring States Period also known as the Era of Warring States, covers the period from 475 BC to the unification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, following the Spring and Autumn Period, although the Zhou Dynasty ended in 256 BC, 35 years earlier than the end of the Warring States period. During these periods, the Chinese sovereign (king of the Zhou Dynasty) was merely a figurehead.

The name Warring States Period was derived from the Record of the Warring States, a work historically compiled early in the Han Dynasty. The date for the beginning of the Warring States Period is disputed. While it is frequently cited as 475 BC (following the Spring and Autumn Period), 403 BC, the date of the tripartite Partition of Jin, is also considered as the beginning of the period.

The Warring States Period was an era when regional warlords annexed smaller states around them and consolidated their power. The process began in the Spring and Autumn Period and by the 3rd century BC, seven major states had emerged as the dominant powers in China. The states were: Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei and Qin. Another indicator for the shift in power was the change in the title used by the rulers of the states. Those rulers were initially addressed as "Dukes" (公), a sign that they were vassals of the Chinese sovereign (King of the Zhou Dynasty), but they titled themselves "Kings" (王) later, putting them on par with the Chinese sovereign.

Early strife in the Three Jins, Qi, and Qin

In 371 BC, Marquess Wu of Wei died without specifying a successor, causing Wei to fall into an internal war of succession. After three years of civil war, Zhao and Han, sensing an opportunity, invaded Wei. On the verge of conquering Wei, the leaders of Zhao and Han fell into disagreement on what to do with Wei and both armies mysteriously retreated. As a result, King Hui of Wei (still a Marquess at the time) was able to ascend the throne of Wei. In 354 BC, King Hui of Wei initiated a large scale attack at Zhao, which some historians believe was to avenge the earlier near destruction of Wei.

By 353 BC, Zhao was losing the war badly, and one of their major cities—Handan , a city that would eventually become Zhao's capital—was being besieged. As a result, the neighbouring Qi state decided to help Zhao. The strategy Qi used, suggested by the famous tactician Sun Bin , a descendant of Sun Tzu, who at the time was the Qi military advisor, was to attack Wei's territory while the main Wei army is busy sieging Zhao, forcing Wei to retreat. The strategy was a success the Wei army hastily retreated, and encountered the Qi midway, culminating into the Battle of Guiling where Wei was decisively defeated. The event spawned the idiom , meaning "Surrounding Wei to save Zhao", which is still used in modern Chinese to refer to attacking an enemy's vulnerable spots in order to relieve pressure being applied by that enemy upon an ally.

Shang Yang's reforms in Qin

Around 359 BC, Shang Yang, a minister of the Qin state, initiated a series of reforms based on the political doctrine of legalism that transformed Qin from a backward state into one that surpasses the other six states. It is generally regarded that this is the point where Qin started to become the most dominant state in China.

Ascension of the states

In 334 BC, the rulers of Wei and Qi agreed to recognize each other as Kings (王), formalizing the independence of the states and the powerlessness of the Zhou throne since the beginning of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. The King of Wei and the King of Qi joined the ranks of the King of Chu, whose predecessors had been Kings since the Spring and Autumn Period. From this point on, all the other states eventually declare their Kingship, signifying the beginning of the end of the Zhou Dynasty. In 325 BC, the ruler of Qin declared himself as King. In 323 BC, the rulers of Han and Yan declared themselves as King. In 318 BC, the ruler of Song, a relatively minor state, declared himself as King. The ruler of Zhao held out until around 299 BC, and was the last to declare himself as King.

Chu expansion and defeats

Early in the Warring States Period, Chu was one of the strongest states in China. The state rose to a new level of power around 389 BC when the King of Chu named the famous reformer Wu Qi to be his chancellor. Chu rose to its peak in 334 BC, when it gained vast amounts of territory. The series of events leading up to this began when Yue state prepared to attack Qi. The King of Qi sent an emissary who persuaded the King of Yue to attack Chu instead. Yue initiated a large scale attack at Chu, but was defeated by Chu's counter-attack. Chu then proceeded to conquer Yue. This campaign expanded the Chu's borders to the coasts of the Pacific Ocean.

Military developments

The Warring States Period saw the introduction of many innovations to the art of warfare in China, such as the use of iron and cavalry. The various states fielded massive armies of infantry, cavalry and chariots. Complex logistical systems maintained by efficient government bureaucracy, was needed to supply, train, and control such large forces. The size of the armies ranged from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand men.

Iron became more widespread and began to replace bronze. Most armour and weapons of this period were made from iron. The first official native Chinese cavalry unit was formed in 307 BC by King Wuling of Zhao.

But the war chariot still retained its prestige and importance, despite the tactical superiority of cavalry. Crossbow was the preferred long range weapon of this period due to many reasons. The crossbow could be mass-produced easily, and mass training of crossbowmen was possible. These qualities made it a powerful weapon against the enemy. Infantrymen deployed a varieties of weapons, but the most popular was the dagger-axe.

The dagger-axe came in various length from 9–18 ft, the weapon comprising a thrusting spear with a slashing blade appended to it. Dagger-axes were an extremely popular weapon in various kingdoms, especially for the Qin who produced eighteen-foot long pikes.


Watch the video: Η ΔΕΘ-Helexpo γιορτάζει την κινέζικη Πρωτοχρονιά 11022017 (July 2022).


Comments:

  1. Preruet

    All not so is simple

  2. Jay

    Great, it's a valuable piece

  3. Ferg

    Actual blog, fresh info, read :)

  4. Danathon

    I am finite, I apologize, but this variant does not come close to me.

  5. Constantine Dwyne

    I am sorry, that I interrupt you, but you could not paint little bit more in detail.



Write a message