Archive for the 'China' Category

Russian rivers

August 13 2015

… and river systems

I  White Sea

Northern Dvina (from confluence of Yug and Sukhona; the Western Dvina or Daugava flows into Latvia from the Valdai Hills)

II  Barents Sea

III  Kara Sea, between Novaya Zemlya and Severnaya Zemlya

Ob (from confluence of Katun and Biya near Altai Mountains in Russia)

Yenisei (from Mongolia)

IV  Laptev Sea, between Severnaya Zemlya and New Siberian Islands

Lena (from near Lake Baikal)

V  East Siberian Sea, between New Siberian Islands and Wrangel Island

Kolyma (from confluence of Kulu and Ayan Yuryakh)

VI  Chukchi Sea, between Wrangel Island and Bering Strait

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VII  Baltic Sea

Neva (from Lake Ladoga)

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VIII  Black Sea, Ukraine, west of Crimea

Dnieper (from Valdai Hills near Smolensk)

IX  Sea of Azov, Russia, east of Crimea

Don (from Novomoskovsk)

X  Caspian Sea, Russia

Volga (from Valdai Hills)

XI  Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan

Ural or Zhayyq (from southern Urals in Russia)

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XII  Bering Sea, south of Bering Strait

XIII  Sea of Othotsk, south of Kamchatka Peninsula

XIV  Strait of Tartary, between Siberia and Sakhalin Island

Amur (from northwestern Manchuria on the Russia-China border at confluence of Shilka and Argun)

XV  Sea of Japan, south of Sakhalin Island

Tumen (from Mount Paektu, but in North Korea or China?)

Other rivers are less important or are parts of these systems

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Economist map

Most of the Russia-China border is formed by the Argun and the Amur and in the south the Ussuri, a tributary of the Amur (low resolution map: Economist)

Smoke over the river Volga

Smoke over the Volga, Nizhny Novgorod

Tibetan rivers (old post)

Demotic China

June 11 2015

“I found that the history of Chinese literature consisted of two parallel movements: there was the classical literature of the scholars, the men of letters, the poets of the imperial courts, and of the élite; but there was in every age an undercurrent of literary development among the common people which produced the folk songs of love and heroism, the songs of the dancer, the epic stories of the street reciter, the drama of the village theatre and, most important of all, the novels. I found that every new form, every innovation in literature, had come never from the imitative classical writers of the upper classes, but always from the unlettered class of the country-side, the village inn and the market-place. I found that it was always these new forms and patterns of the common people that, from time to time, furnished the new blood and fresh vigour to the literature of the litterati, and rescued it from the perpetual danger of fossilisation. All the great periods of Chinese Literature were those when the master minds of the age were attracted by these new literary forms of the people and produced their best works, not only in the new patterns, but in close imitation of the fresh and simple language of the people. And such great epochs died away only when those new forms from the people had again become fixed and fossilised through long periods of slavish imitation by the uncreative litterati. …

“It was the anonymous folk songs of Antiquity that formed the bulk of the great Book of Poetry [mainly Western Zhou, 1046-771 BC] and created the first epoch of Chinese Literature. It was again the anonymous folk songs of the people that gave the form and the inspiration in the developments of the new poetry in the Three Kingdoms [immediately post-Han] and later in the T’ang Dynasty. It was the songs of the dancing and singing girls that began the new era of ts’ĭ or songs in the Sung Dynasty [between the post-T’ang Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period and the Mongols]. It was the people that first produced the plays which led to the great dramas of the Mongol period and the Mings. It was the street reciters of epic stories that gave rise to the great novels [Ming, and before and after], some of which have been ‘best sellers’ for three or four centuries.”

The op cit footnote refers to:

Hu Shih: The Chinese Renaissance: The Haskell Lectures, 1933 (Chicago 1934, University Press) […].

A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954

Port Said to Yokohama

June 10 2015

or, East of Suez

“[…] Aden, Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Rangoon, Singapore, Penang, Bangkok, Saïgon, Hue, Hanoi, Hong-Kong, Shanghai, their names roll on the tongue savourily […]”
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Somerset Maugham, The Gentleman in the Parlour, A Record of a Journey from Rangoon to Haiphong, 1930.

That shore-hugging list may not correspond exactly to anything on a real timetable. The Mediterranean to Japan would have taken perhaps four weeks with these stops.

Penang should come before Singapore. If anywhere is missing, it is Colombo. And the first stop after Aden could have been Karachi.

So the imperial journey might have touched Port Said, Aden, Karachi, Bombay, Colombo, Madras, Calcutta, Rangoon, Penang, Singapore, Bangkok, Saigon, Hue, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Yokohama. Hanoi’s port was actually Haiphong, 65 miles downstream on the Red River delta.

The cities between Siam and China in Maugham’s list correspond to the three divisions of the old Vietnam: Cochinchina’s capital was Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), Annam’s was Hue (Huế), Tonking’s was Hanoi.

AE5Y2B White Man Burden is to teach cleanliness described in a Pears Soap advertisement 1890s

Southeast Asian languages

June 6 2015

The main language systems are

Austroasiatic
Austronesian
Hmong-Mien
Sino-Tibetan
Tai-Kadai.

Austroasiatic includes Mon (Burma), Vietnamese and Khmer.

I have done a post on Austronesia. Austronesian languages include Malay, Polynesian languages and Tagalog.

Hmong-Mien languages are spoken in mountainous areas of southern China. Within the last 3-400 years, many Hmong and Mien speakers have migrated to Burma, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Sino-Tibetan includes Chinese (Mandarin and non-Mandarin), Burmese and the Tibetic languages. It has more native speakers than any other language family except the Indo-European. Tibeto-Burman refers to the Sino-Tibetan languages that are not Chinese.

Tai-Kadai includes Lao and Thai (last post).

These are linguistic, not ethnic, classifications.

African languages (old post).

From the Yangtze to the Gulf of Thailand

June 6 2015

The Thai are a subgroup of the Tai people, who include the Ahom in India, Dai in China, Shan in Burma, Lao in Laos and others in Vietnam. The Tai appeared historically in the first century CE in the Yangtze River valley. Chinese pressures forced them south.

The ancestors of the Thai entered the central part of the Southeast Asian mainland from Yunnan circa AD 1000.

The most powerful Tai kingdom in Yunnan had been Nanchao or Nanzhao, 729-902. It was followed by the Dali Kingdom, 937-1253, whose founder claimed Han descent, and which was conquered by the Mongols.

Some Tai presumably migrated because of infiltration of Yunnan by Han Chinese. More later fled from the Mongols. It was the Mongols who brought Yunnan definitively into China.

Nanzhao had been influenced by Tantric or Tibetan Buddhism. Its Indian Acharya version as present in the Dali Kingdom. After their migration (earlier?), the Thais became converts to the Theravada or Sinhalese southern Buddhism that had established itself in Burma in 1190.

There have been four main Thai polities in Thailand (capital here means main capital; other cities may have served the function for some of the time):

I  Kingdom of Sukhothai, 1238-1438
Capital Sukhothai, 265 miles north of Bangkok

Phra Ruang dynasty, but from 1368 under the suzerainty of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya

II  Kingdom of Ayutthaya, 1350-1767
Capital Ayutthaya, 50 miles north of Bangkok

First Uthong dynasty, 1350-70
First Suphannaphum dynasty, 1370-88
Second Uthong dynasty, 1388-1409
Second Suphannaphum dynasty, 1409-1569
Sukhothai dynasty, 1569-1629
Prasat Thong dynasty, 1630-88
Ban Phlu Luang dynasty, 1688-1767

Ayutthaya was brought down by Burmese invaders, who continued to harass Thailand in the coming decades.

III  Kingdom of Thonburi, 1768-82
Capital Thonburi, now part of Bangkok

Thonburi dynasty

IV  Kingdom of Rattanakosin, 1782-present
Capital Bangkok

Chakri dynasty

Rattanakosin comes from Rattanakosin Island in Bangkok, the original site of the capital.

All the Chakri kings have the official name of Rama. Bhumibol is Rama IX. His predecessor Ananda (last post) was Rama VIII.

Thais called the country Mueang Thai. The exonym Siam came from the Portuguese. It has been identified with the Sanskrit śyāma (श्याम), meaning dark or brown. Some Thais are very dark.

Siam was officially adopted under Mongkut or Rama IV (reigned 1851-68). On June 23 1939 the name was changed to Thailand. From 1945 to May 11 1949 it was Siam again. Then it reverted to Thailand.

The distance from the Yangtze basin to the Gulf of Thailand is about 2,500 miles.

Tibetan rivers (old post).

Thailand

The romance of simple maps

June 3 2015

The less a map contains, the more it involves you. This is also true of PowerPoint presentations. (Above all, historical maps should not contain arrows.)

Looking at the Sea of Japan map (separate window), you think of the straits which Dutch, Russian and French sailors navigated; of the Jesuits whom the Japanese had confined to the mainland; of Peter the Great’s prospectors, Russian settlers, alarmed shoguns; wonder who, if anyone, ever travelled overland from the Strait of Tartary to Vladivostok; realise why North Korea is an unruly client of China, not Russia; ask yourself why such a small part of the Japanese population faces that sea; see what Japanese generals stared at in 1900: Korea, the colonial temptation; Manchuria, the sphere of influence (was that phrase already used?), separated from the sea only by a thin strip of Korea and Russia; Russia, the alien superpower whom they were about to defeat as they had already defeated their giant, enfeebled and estranged cultural parent China.

Rush-hour in Hong Kong

May 26 2015

The third of Abram Chasins’s Three Chinese Pieces (1926). The other two are A Shanghai Tragedy and (for white keys) Flirtation in a Chinese Garden.

Gullivior has run together four performances:

Abram Chasins (piano roll) (00:00)
Benno Moiseiwitsch (01:32)
Shura Cherkassky (02:56)
Constance Keene (04:33)

Chasins isn’t the best, perhaps because of the piano roll. What subtle thing gives a piano roll away? Keene was his wife.

I heard this on Cathay Pacific circa 1987 (during Cathay’s better days). The classical audio channel’s presenter was Edward Greenfield, who was still, in his companionable radio voice, quaintly referring to his selections of “gramophone records”.

Film about Greenfield. He was a kind of opposite number, at the Guardian, to Michael Kennedy at the Telegraph.

Flying doctors

May 15 2015

Cook, Nullarbor Plain, South Australia, 1961:

Toynbee passed through Cook by train en route from Adelaide to Perth in July 1956.

Through the whole of the morning and half the afternoon, the tufted red expanse went on opening out in front of us and fading away behind our rolling wheels. Nothing changed except when, once in every hour or two, we passed a row of half-a-dozen houses and a water tank. “Cook”, “Hughes”, “Reid”, “Haig”: such monosyllabic place-names are just the right ones for these pin-points of human life on the map of the wilderness. The rhythm of the journey is so regular that it begins to have a hypnotic effect. But something must be going to break the trance, for this evening we are to reach Kalgoorlie, and to-morrow we shall be in Perth.

Cook was created in 1917 with the completion of the Trans-Australian Railway and is named after the sixth Prime Minister of Australia, Joseph Cook.

It died in 1997 when the railways were privatised. The new owners did not need a support town there, but diesel refuelling and overnight accommodation for train drivers remain.

The bush hospital (supported from Ceduna and which advertised itself at the station with “If you’re crook come to Cook”) and airstrip were closed, but medical supplies are stored at Cook against a possible train disaster. The Tea and Sugar Train which had supplied the town ceased operation. The former airstrip is known as a place to spot inland dotterel. When Cook was active, water was pumped from an aquifer. Now it is carried in by train.

The Anglican-affiliated Bush Church Aid Society of Australia, 1919- , mentioned in the clip, were not the more famous flying doctors, but the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, 1928- (it began with a different name) also had evangelical origins, in their case Presbyterian. How much of their respective work was directed at indigenous Australians?

The largest religious group in Australia are Catholics.

The Flying Doctor, Australian-British film by Miles Mander, 1936

Flying Doctor Calling, history by Ernestine Hill, 1947

The Flying Doctor, Australian-British television drama series about RFDSA, 39 episodes, 1959; in UK shown on ITV; opening credits; based on radio drama series broadcast, in the UK, on the BBC; how were both of these aired in Australia?

Six novels by Michael Noonan, 1961-69

The Flying Doctors, Australian (Nine Network) television drama series, 1986-93; opening credits (do they ever stop smiling?)

RFDSA promotional film, 2006

Australian eBay

Flying Doctors of Malaysia

The Flying Doctors of East Africa, film by Werner Herzog, 1969

Amref Health Africa

Flying Doctors of America

Los Médicos Voladores

Sai Wan, Hong Kong island, 1961 again; it is hard to believe that this is not some comparatively remote spot in the New Territories:

History of air medical services

The French pioneer of medical aviation was Marie Marvingt; in 1934, she established the first civil air ambulance service in Africa, in Morocco; Marvingt and her proposed air ambulance, by Émile Friant, 1914:

Marie Marvingt, 1914

Flying Doctor Calling

Le toubib volant

East to West, A Journey Round the World, OUP, 1958

Alan Macfarlane online

April 30 2015

Anthropologist and historian who writes about England, Nepal, China, Japan. Professor Emeritus at King’s College, Cambridge.

Abebooks

Amazon

Digital Himalaya

His extraordinary YouTube account

His home page

On this blog (from YouTube): differences between Oxford and Cambridge; interviewing Christopher Bayly

Wikipedia

World Oral Literature Project.

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Interviewing a Cambridge street sweeper and authority on the town, Allan Brigham, in 2013.

Reading a May 2000 lecture given at Downing College, Cambridge on FW Maitland, the great legal and constitutional historian and thinker, author of Domesday Book and Beyond and The Constitutional History of England, in 2013.

Another Maitland lecture, Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge, November 2001.

(Trivia: it was the Maitlands with whom Tchaikovsky, between whose Julian and Gregorian 175th birthdays we now are, stayed at Downing in the early summer of 1893, a few months before his death, to receive an honorary doctorate from Cambridge. He found them “the most charmingly sympathetic of people – and moreover, Russophiles, which is a great rarity in England”.)

Reading a 2005 lecture given at University of California, Berkeley on the political thinkers Yukichi Fukuzawa and Masao Maruyama in 2013. One can see here his interest in Bayly’s work.

Reading a 1996 talk given at the Institute of Historical Research on Fernand Braudel (bibliography) in 2013; it’s a pity he is not a slightly more engaging speaker:

The archaeologists

April 18 2015

Some archaeologists from Winckelmann onwards: those who entered the popular imagination, or were known to non-specialists, in the UK.

No earlier antiquarians, no current names: these are from the great age of the profession, when the big discoveries were made, with some perhaps marginal inclusions. Equally or more important discoveries were made by less famous people. We remember the excavator of Knossos, but not the excavators of Hattusa or Anyang.

Thomas Ashby

Gertrude Bell

Frank Calvert

Howard Carter

Vere Gordon Childe (last post)

Jacques Cousteau

Glyn Daniel (last post)

Wilhelm Dörpfeld

Arthur Evans

Jacquetta Hawkes

TE Lawrence

Austen Henry Layard

Louis and Mary Leakey

John Lubbock

Max Mallowan

Prosper Mérimée

Theodor Mommsen

Stewart Perowne

William Matthew Flinders Petrie

Stuart Piggott

Augustus Pitt Rivers

Michael Rostovtzeff

Heinrich Schliemann

Lady Hester Stanhope

Marc Aurel Stein

Mortimer Wheeler (last post)

Johann Joachim Winckelmann

Leonard Woolley

Yigael Yadin

Archaeology, it is often pointed out, reflected colonialism and its attitudes, not least because it sometimes operated as organised looting (Wikipedia on repatriation demands: it doesn’t refer to Schliemann’s exports), but it was not automatically true that the white archaeologist organised “native” diggers: it was only under Sir John Hubert Marshall, Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India from 1902 to ’28, that Indians were first allowed to participate in excavations. The Survey had been launched in 1861; the first Indian Director-General was Daya Ram Sahni, from 1931 to ’35. The last white Director-General was Mortimer Wheeler, from 1944 to ’48.

It was, nevertheless, usually Europeans who started the work outside Europe, or professionalised the methods. China had Johan Gunnar Andersson.

The French invasion of Egypt in 1798 led to the birth of modern Egyptology.

Ruins can serve modern regimes: Yigael Yadin made archaeology support Zionism, Shah Reza glorified his rule at the ruins of Persepolis, Saddam Hussein his at the ruins of Babylon, ISIS tried to bolster its legitimacy by destroying Nimrud and Hatra.

In a way, the rise of the modern archaeologist paralleled the rise of the orchestral conductor. Both were conjurers and became stars in consequence. Their gestures from the podium and in the field were not so dissimilar.

Romancing Schliemann (old post).

Penang and Singapore in 1929

April 7 2015

As we sighted the north-western tip of Sumatra, steaming eastwards from Colombo towards Penang, we ran into a flotilla of drift-wood moving, to all appearance, as steadily and as purposefully as our ship, but towards some western goal. As I leaned over the rail, looking at the fleecy clouds banked up against the Sumatran mountains and watching these logs sail by, I thought of the famous drift-wood which assured Columbus that he was approaching a new world. That evening we berthed at Penang in the dark, and I found my new world when I went on shore in the daylight next morning [October 4 1929]. My new world was China – a world on the move in every sense of the words.

The traveller heading for China runs into China coming out to meet him long before he finds himself on what is officially Chinese soil. If he is travelling from North America, I suppose he encounters the vanguard of the Chinese hosts at San Francisco or Vancouver. If he is travelling from Russia, I suppose he encounters them as soon as he has rounded the southern end of Lake Baikal. Travelling from Europe or from India in a P. and O. boat, he runs into China at Penang.

This is on the outbound section of a journey to Japan and back (taking in China, whence the title of the book) between July 23 1929 and January 29 1930. Toynbee had never before been east of Anatolia.

As you land at Penang, your eye is caught by the Chinese characters on the notice-boards. The British Colonial Government, scrupulously endeavouring to hold the scales even, posts up its notices in four scripts and languages, corresponding to the four peoples of Malaya: the Chinese script for the Chinese, an Indian script for the Tamils, the Latin alphabet for the British, and the Arabic for the Malays. To the traveller coming from the West, the Latin and Arabic letters give a touch of familiarity to these polyglot inscriptions (though there is already something strange about those Arabic letters with their mysterious modifications – presumably invented by Malays in order to convey sounds unknown in Arabic, Persian or Turkish). But even on these four-fold notices the flamboyant Chinese characters – sure in touch and confident in gesture – put all the rest into the shade. Later, on the trams, you come across bilingual notices in Chinese and English only (the Malay language seems to be the first to drop out in its native land). Finally, you come to streets of little shops in which nothing but Chinese inscriptions are to be seen. So it is, not only in the British Settlements at Penang and Singapore, but in the capital of the Malay State of Johore. I wonder if it is the same all through Malaya.

Certainly, in the two small corners of Malaya which I visited, I received the impression that the Chinese – by their industry and their energy – are legitimately making the country their own. The shops, the factories, the timber businesses, the rubber plantations, the trading establishments – almost all appear to be in Chinese hands. And it is a country worth acquiring; for, apart from the United States, Malaya is the most prosperous and well-appointed part of the world that I have come across on any journey that I have made since the War. This prosperity, I imagine, is the product of three factors: Chinese industry, British administration, and the bounty of Nature. The Chinese workers have to thank the British empire-builders for giving them this opportunity of which they have taken advantage with such signal success; and, as far as I can learn, the Straits Chinese are duly grateful. They are reported to make loyal and law-abiding and public-spirited citizens of this new Malayan community that is rapidly growing in wealth and numbers under the British flag. And well they may; for they have only to continue steadily on this course in order to become the leading partners in the Malayan firm.

Of the four peoples which are at present co-operating in the development of Malaya, there are only two which can conceivably play the leading part: the Chinese and the British. And while the present and the past belong to the British, I fancy that the Chinese hold the future of Malaya in their hands. It is noteworthy that both these peoples are strangers in Malaya. The native Malays seem to be allowing themselves to be effaced; and the immigrant Tamils, though they share with the Malays the advantage of being at home in a tropical climate, seem destined in Malaya to remain hewers of wood and drawers of water. The race for primacy in Malaya will be run between the British and the Chinese; and the prize will fall to whichever of these two peoples succeeds the better in adapting itself to the tropical environment. I have little doubt that in this peaceful contest the Chinese will be the victors.

As our ship cautiously sidled up to the quay at Singapore [October 5], I studied the faces of the British who had come down to the docks to meet their friends and relations on board. They were melancholy countenances; and, if I read them right, their owners were feeling very little elation at seeing their friends again. They were feeling, I fancy, that it was sad for anybody to be coming back to the Tropics from England. They were feeling that it would be much better if, instead of being there to receive their friends on land, they were going on board themselves in order to sail away home – husbands and wives and children – and never come near the Tropics again in their lives. When at last the gangway was ready, they filed on board; but how slow their movements were, how lifeless their greetings! You would have thought that you were looking on at a parting and not at a reunion. It was all in a minor key.

Then I went ashore myself and prowled for half a day about the city and saw the Chinese; and their cheerful, lively countenances seemed to tell me that for them life in Singapore was full of zest and enjoyment. Cynics will observe that even an Englishman might think Singapore quite a nice place to live in if the only alternative known to him were life in Canton or Amoy in times of revolution. And probably it is true that, whereas the Englishman thinks of home as a paradise compared with Malaya, the Chinese thinks of Malaya as a paradise compared with home. It should also be observed that these better conditions which the Chinese enjoys in Malaya are a gift from the British Empire, which there provides him with a security for his person and his property such as he could never hope to receive at home from the present rulers of his native province. In Kwangtung or Fukien or Chekiang, the laborious Chinese gathers honey in order to be squeezed [squeeze meant extortion] by some tupan or tuchün. In Malaya, under the British ægis, he reaps where he has sown. Is there not a “Protector of Chinese” among the high officials of the British administration? When the gangway went down at Singapore, a uniformed Chinese member of the Protector’s staff was one of the first persons to come on board.

All the same, I do not think that the difference which I saw in the countenances of the British and the Chinese at Singapore is to be explained wholly, or even principally, by the difference between the social environments out of which they have respectively come. For the Chinese in Singapore do not look simply glad to be out of China. They look positively happy to be living in Malaya. The children look happy in the streets, the shopkeepers look happy in their shops. The rich Chinese looks happy as he bowls along in his big new car; and the poor Chinese look happy as they rattle along, crowded together, in their second-hand “tin Lizzie.” And the Chinese houses, whether they are millionaires’ palaces or workmen’s dwellings, look like permanent homes in which the owners look forward to living out their lives and bringing up their children. I believe the Chinese will make themselves at home in Malaya, while the British will never be more than pilgrims and sojourners in the land. In fact, the chief monument of the British Empire there may be the creation of a nineteenth Chinese province – and a very creditable monument it would be.

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On the fourth morning [October 10] after we sailed from Singapore I woke up with a most unexpected feeling of exhilaration. For a fortnight I had been enduring the sunless, clammy heat of the Tropics; and though I had managed to resist it by taking the offensive (in the form of repeated singles of deck tennis), I knew very well that if I were condemned to live and work in that climate perpetually, I should gradually come to look and feel like my poor compatriots on the quay at Singapore. In this rainy season in the Tropics, there is all the gloom of a wet grey day in England, with the damp heat added. In fact, one feels very much as though one were sweating in a hothouse under an English sky, only with the hothouse fantastically enlarged until its glass canopy has receded to the firmament. But on this blessed morning I felt as if I had been miraculously translated into the place where I always long to be; and, sure enough, when I ran up on deck, I found myself in – the Mediterranean.

The sun was shining above my head (I had not fairly seen his face since he had set in his glory on the evening when I took the train from Ahmedabad to Bombay). From the sun to the horizon, on every side, there was a cloudless blue sky. A fresh, dry, north-easterly breeze was blowing in my face; and on either hand were jagged islands rising from the sea with the lineaments of the Isles of Greece. We were approaching the south coast of China; and for the third time on my journey from London (the first time had been on the southern descent from the Shipka Pass [link to here], and the second time in the vale of the Orontes) I felt that I was in the Classical World. That feeling has remained with me since: when I was watching the sun set over the same islands, on the evening of the same day, from the peak of Hong-Kong; when I wandered, next morning, among the pines and macchia on the hills behind Kowloon; and when I watched the sun set again to-night over the tangled approaches to Bias Bay. Yes, this southern coast of China is fashioned in the Classical style, yet with a certain fantastic touch which is all its own. On that first bright morning, as we steamed through the islets towards Hong-Kong, ribbons of terra-cotta-coloured fish-spawn trailed across the dark blue sea, transfiguring its Mediterranean surface into the likeness of the interior of a Turkish mosque when it is faced with Kiutahiya tiles. White waterfalls spouted from the grey-green flanks of the islands. And the outlines of the stunted pine-trees against the sky reminded one of Chinese drawings on silk still more than of the figures on Attic lecythi.

So this was the world from which the Straits Chinese had come – a world every bit as different from Singapore as England itself. And yet they are making themselves at home in the Tropics; and other millions of Chinese are making themselves at home in Manchuria, which has the climate of Canada. As I pick up a Shanghai newspaper, already several days old, I read that, in Manchuria, a severe frost has set in. A wonderful nation. They have been expanding – North and South and East and West – for three thousand years. How far will they go?

The archive of a Czech zoologist Jiří Baum and his wife has photographs of Penang and Singapore in 1929. Copyright: used here with permission.

Singapore, the third picture showing Japan Street:

23056-Singapur,_pristav,_1929-1

23084-Singapur,_pristav,_15.III.1929

23094-Singapur,_Japan_Street,_25.VII.1929

23059-Singapur,_Boarding_House,_obyvany_Dr._Baumem,_1.II...

23068-Singapur,_doprava_prasat_na_Singapore_River,_13.II...

23074-Singapur,_partie_s_palmou_a_mraky,_25.II.1929

A Journey to China, or Things Which Are Seen, Constable, 1931

Before that, probably, The Nation and Athenaeum

The rise of Mandarin

March 25 2015

The campaign to encourage Mandarin in Singapore was, of course, directed at the Chinese: it was not intended that it should replace English as a lingua franca. I have corrected a phrase in a recent post that suggested otherwise. Even so, has it placed the Chinese above other ethnic groups in a way that the humbler Hokkien and other vernaculars did not?

According to Singapore census figures quoted at Wikipedia, the battle is being won. During the 1990s the language most frequently spoken at home among the Chinese resident population ceased to be a vernacular and became Mandarin.

Lee and English

March 24 2015

Lee Kuan Yew’s first language was English. He spoke it with a Singaporean accent. His vowels sounded roundly imperial.

He came from a family of merchants and businessmen, a Hakka family which had emigrated from Guangdong province in the 1860s. In Singapore they adopted English. They were comfortably off, but not rich. Lee was educated at Raffles Institution in English.

Was Hokkien, the dominant language of the local overseas Chinese, regarded as a coolie language?

The Telegraph obituary says that he spoke Malay and Cantonese as a child. Some Chinese, in that case, had stayed in the family.

Lee arrived in Cambridge (he married his wife secretly in England: his tutors would not have approved) before we had surrendered even India and ten years before we had to give away anything else.

He started learning Mandarin at the age of thirty-two and Hokkien at thirty-eight. Did he learn to read and write them or only speak? Did he learn Tamil?

He encouraged Chinese Singaporeans to learn Mandarin and launched a Speak Mandarin Campaign in 1979.

He believed in keeping ancestral languages, but also in having English as a lingua franca. Has the use of Mandarin placed the Chinese above other ethnic groups in a way that the humbler Hokkien did not?

Wikipedia:

Singapore English

British and Malaysian English differences.

Lee Kuan Yew and the nation-builders

March 19 2015

Lee Kuan Yew is the last great living twentieth-century nation builder, if he is alive.

Who were the others? What defines them? They have to have created a nation where none before existed – and yet one can’t leave out Mandela.

They must have done it through a personal struggle. They must have a certain stature. Their achievement must be solid. One can’t leave out Herzl, although he died forty-four years before the birth of Israel.

At one level, Lee was a reluctant builder. He did not, at least as it appears, wish to leave the Malaysian Federation in 1965.

Norway, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Baltic states, Poland, Belarus, Moldova, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the central Asian “stans”, Mongolia were, before the twentieth century, merged or submerged nations, but when they became independent did not have famous fathers, unless you count Piłsudski. Or de Valera? They already, in a sense, existed, especially Poland.

But, then, so did the Czech nation, and I am counting Masaryk, even though the nation he founded was later divided into two. (One can’t exactly call Haakon VII a nation-builder, even if he was a father-figure.)

Ukraine is a half-formed nation. Why am I implying less formed than the other Ruthenia, Belarus? At any rate, no builder.

Hungary achieved nationhood in the nineteenth century.

The Philippines’ founders did their work before, not after, American colonisation. Aung San died before Burmese independence, and his legacy is unclear. So are Ho Chi Minh’s and Sihanouk’s. Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia had once contained powerful states. Burma is the most ethnically fragmented. Thailand was never colonised, so the question of nation-building does not arise.

The Republic of China was declared in 1912, but Taiwan became its last stronghold long after Sun’s death. Sun was the father of a nation that, as a geographical entity, doesn’t even recognise itself, and as a wider entity is China – not a new nation.

So I am including him uneasily – or do we believe in the permanence of Taiwan? I can’t leave out Sukarno even if I want to.

Not everyone who led a colony into independence qualifies. In fact, not a single leader from the main years of decolonisation is in my list. I can’t bring myself to include Bourguiba, for example. Or, in a short list, Nkrumah or Kenyatta or Nyerere or Kaunda. Is that because black African countries are, or were, not nations, but tribal or ethnic hegemonies and coalitions? But so are others. So is Burma. So was nineteenth-century Hungary.

Mahathir is a smaller figure than Lee. He did not become prime minister until 1981.

In theory Singapore is a coalition of three ethnic groups, like its one-time role-model Switzerland.

Here is my list, in chronological order of the nation’s birth or the builder’s accession to power if later:

Sun Yat-sen 1912

Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk 1918

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk 1923

Ibn Saud 1932

Sukarno 1945

Mahatma Gandhi 1947

Muhammad Ali Jinnah 1947

Theodor Herzl 1948

Lee Kuan Yew 1965

Nelson Mandela 1994

Lee’s funeral or public memorial will be as big as Mandela’s and deservedly. [Postscript: I was wrong on that.] You don’t need to have loved someone to feel grief.

The Blairs will be there, collecting cards.

IMG_9663

1946, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

Picture source: Lee Kuan Yew, Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going via mustsharenews.com

Chinese and Western poetry

January 29 2015

Children of the demonic West might find Chinese art too quiet. Arthur Waley, born in the same year as Toynbee, was the scholar and translator and member of the Bloomsbury set who brought classical Chinese and Japanese poetry to the English public.

Jonathan Spence, quoted in Wikipedia: “[He] selected the jewels of Chinese and Japanese literature and pinned them quietly to his chest. No one ever did anything like it before, and no one will ever do it again. There are many westerners whose knowledge of Chinese or Japanese is greater than his, and there are perhaps a few who can handle both languages as well. But they are not poets, and those who are better poets than Waley do not know Chinese or Japanese. Also the shock will never be repeated, for most of the works that Waley chose to translate were largely unknown in the West, and their impact was thus all the more extraordinary.”

The Chinese poems are in A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, Constable, 1918 and More Translations from the Chinese, George Allen & Unwin, 1919. The Introduction in the first has a section called The Limitations of Chinese Literature.

“Those who wish to assure themselves that they will lose nothing by ignoring Chinese literature, often ask the question: ‘Have the Chinese a Homer, an Aeschylus, a Shakespeare or Tolstoy?’ The answer must be that China has no epic and no dramatic literature of importance. The novel exists and has merits, but never became the instrument of great writers.

“Her philosophic literature knows no mean between the traditionalism of Confucius and the nihilism of Chuang-tzŭ. In mind, as in body, the Chinese were for the most part torpid mainlanders. Their thoughts set out on no strange quest and adventures, just as their ships discovered no new continents. To most Europeans the momentary flash of Athenian questioning will seem worth more than all the centuries of Chinese assent.

“Yet we must recognize that for thousands of years the Chinese maintained a level of rationality and tolerance that the West might well envy. They had no Index, no Inquisition, no Holy Wars. Superstition has indeed played its part among them; but it has never, as in Europe, been perpetually dominant. It follows from the limitations of Chinese thought that the literature of the country should excel in reflection rather than in speculation. That this is particularly true of its poetry will be gauged from the present volume. In the poems of Po Chü-i [Bai Juyi] no close reasoning or philosophic subtlety will be discovered; but a power of candid reflection and self-analysis which has not been rivalled in the West.

“Turning from thought to emotion, the most conspicuous feature of European poetry is its pre-occupation with love. This is apparent not only in actual ‘love-poems,’ but in all poetry where the personality of the writer is in any way obtruded. The poet tends to exhibit himself in a romantic light; in fact, to recommend himself as a lover.

“The Chinese poet has a tendency different but analogous. He recommends himself not as a lover, but as a friend. He poses as a person of infinite leisure (which is what we should most like our friends to possess) and free from worldly ambitions (which constitute the greatest bars to friendship). He would have us think of him as a boon companion, a great drinker of wine, who will not disgrace a social gathering by quitting it sober.

“To the European poet the relation between man and woman is a thing of supreme importance and mystery. To the Chinese, it is something commonplace, obvious – a need of the body, not a satisfaction of the emotions. These he reserves entirely for friendship.

“Accordingly we find that while our poets tend to lay stress on physical courage and other qualities which normal women admire, Po Chü-i is not ashamed to write such a poem as ‘Alarm at entering the Gorges.’ Our poets imagine themselves very much as Art has portrayed them – bare-headed and wild-eyed, with shirts unbuttoned at the neck as though they feared that a seizure of emotion might at any minute suffocate them. The Chinese poet introduces himself as a timid recluse, ‘Reading the Book of Changes at the Northern Window,’ playing chess with a Taoist priest, or practising calligraphy with an occasional visitor. If ‘With a Portrait of the Author’ had been the rule in the Chinese book-market, it is in such occupations as these that he would be shown; a neat and tranquil figure compared with our lurid frontispieces.

“It has been the habit of Europe to idealize love at the expense of friendship and so to place too heavy a burden on the relation of man and woman. The Chinese erred in the opposite direction, regarding their wives and concubines simply as instruments of procreation. For sympathy and intellectual companionship they looked only to their friends. But these friends were bound by no such tie as held women to their masters; sooner or later they drifted away to frontier campaigns, remote governorships, or country retirement. It would not be an exaggeration to say that half the poems in the Chinese language are poems of parting or separation.

“Readers of these translations may imagine that the culture represented by Po Chü-i extended over the whole vast confines of China. This would, I think, be an error. Culture is essentially a metropolitan product. Chü-i was as much dépaysé at a provincial town as Charles Lamb would have been at Botany Bay. But the system of Chinese bureaucracy tended constantly to break up the literary coteries which formed at the capitals, and to drive the members out of the little corner of Shensi [or] Honan which to them was ‘home.’

“It was chiefly economic necessity which forced the poets of China into the meshes of bureaucracy – backed by the Confucian insistence on public service. To such as were landowners there remained the alternative of agricultural life, arduous and isolated.

“The poet, then, usually passed through three stages of existence. In the first we find him with his friends at the capital, drinking, writing, and discussing: burdened by his office probably about as much as Pepys was burdened by his duties at the Admiralty. Next, having failed to curry favour with the Court, he is exiled to some provincial post, perhaps a thousand miles from anyone he cares to talk to. Finally, having scraped together enough money to buy husbands for his daughters, he retires to a small estate, collecting round him the remnants of those with whom he had shared the ‘feasts and frolics of old days.’

“I have spoken hitherto only of poets. But the poetess occupies a place of considerable importance in the first four centuries of our era, though the classical period (T’ang and Sung) produced no great woman writer. Her theme varies little; she is almost always a ‘rejected wife,’ cast adrift by her lord or sent back to her home. Probably her father would be unable to buy her another husband and there was no place for unmarried women in the Chinese social system. The moment, then, which produced such poems was one of supreme tragedy in a woman’s life.

“Love-poetry addressed by a man to a woman ceases after the Han dynasty; but a conventional type of love-poem, in which the poet (of either sex) speaks in the person of a deserted wife or concubine, continues to be popular. The theme appears to be almost an obsession with the T’ang and Sung poets. In a vague way, such poems were felt to be allegorical. Just as in the Confucian interpretation of the love-poems in the Odes (see below) the woman typifies the Minister, and the lover the Prince, so in those classical poems the poet in a veiled way laments the thwarting of his own public ambitions. Such tortuous expression of emotion did not lead to good poetry.

“The ‘figures of speech,’ devices such as metaphor, simile, and play on words, are used by the Chinese with much more restraint than by us. ‘Metaphorical epithets’ are occasionally to be met with; waves, for example, might perhaps be called ‘angry.’ But in general the adjective does not bear the heavy burden which our poets have laid upon it. The Chinese would call the sky ‘blue,’ ‘gray,’ or ‘cloudy,’ according to circumstances; but never ‘triumphant’ or ‘terror-scourged.’

“The long Homeric simile, introduced for its own sake or to vary the monotony of narrative, is unknown to Chinese poetry. Shorter similes are sometimes found, as when the half-Chinese poet Altun [a sixth-century Tartar employed by the Chinese to train their troops] compares the sky over the Mongolian steppe with the ‘walls of a tent’; but nothing could be found analogous to Mr. T. S. Eliot’s comparison of the sky to a ‘patient etherized on [sic] a table.’ Except in popular poetry, puns are rare; but there are several characters which, owing to the wideness of their import, are used in a way almost equivalent to play on words.

“Classical allusion, always the vice of Chinese poetry, finally destroyed it altogether. In the later periods (from the fourteenth century onwards) the use of elegant synonyms also prevailed. I have before me a ‘gradus’ of the kind which the later poet used as an aid to composition. The moon should be called the ‘Silver Dish,’ ‘Frozen Wheel,’ or ‘Golden Ring.’ Allusions may in this connection be made to Yü Liang [link?], who rode to heaven on the crescent moon; to the hermit T’ang [link?], who controlled the genius of the New Moon, and kept him in his house as a candle – or to any other of some thirty stories which are given. The sun may be called ‘The Lantern-Dragon,’ the ‘Crow in Flight,’ the ‘White Colt,’ etc.

“Such were the artificialities of later Chinese poetry.”

___

Old post:

The translation of China.

Confucius and the Nationalists

January 27 2015

The posthumous ascendancy of Confucius survived the interregnum (circa A.D. 175-475) which followed the break-up of the Empire of the Han; it survived the influx of the barbarians, and the far more revolutionary influx of the Mahayana, into the new Far Eastern World; and it survived the latter-day barbarian invasions of Khitan [medieval Liao dynasty] and Kin [medieval Jin] and Mongol and Manchu [descendants of Jin]. The one power that has ever seriously disputed the hold of Confucius over Chinese minds since the sage’s ethereal reign began is the Civilization of the West, which is making its forcible impact upon the traditional life of China in the present generation. For the moment, maybe, the Western impact has driven Confucius from his millennial throne; yet, even if he has been officially deposed, the unconquerable sage is still contriving to govern where he no longer reigns by ruling incognito. For the essence of the Confucian social system, as it was instituted two thousand years ago, is government by students under the auspices of a sage whose personality and precepts are regarded with all the more veneration since the man of flesh and blood has departed this life and has received his apotheosis; and the lineaments of this system can still be detected in the life of a revolutionary China beneath all the scum and froth that have gathered on its agitated surface. In this twenty-eighth year after the abolition of the Confucian examinations [in 1905], China is still being governed by students in a dead philosopher’s name. The veneration long paid to Confucius has been transferred provisionally to Sun Yat-sen; and the borrowed prestige of the founder of the Kuomintang has secured the long-suffering acquiescence of the Chinese People in the conduct of public affairs by Dr. Sun’s political legatees, who (to China’s undoing) have received their education abroad in the social and physical sciences of the West, instead of being educated in the Confucian Classics like their predecessors for sixty generations. The moral and political bankruptcy of these Western-educated student-politicians of the Kuomintang may conceivably bring King Confucius back into his own again; and thus, even now, we cannot foresee the end of the mighty kingdom which this Sinic sage unwittingly acquired when he lost his official post in the petty principality of Lu.

The official ideology of the Kuomintang, whatever the educational background of its leaders, favoured Confucianism. Was it ambiguous in 1933? Did this aspect of it only become clear with the establishment of the New Life Movement in February 1934?

There had been waves of anti-Confucianism: the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64), New Culture Movement (c 1915-21) and May the Fourth Movement (from 1919). During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the Communists opposed Confucius.

A Study of History, Vol III, OUP, 1934

Rain

January 26 2015

“Since I lived a stranger in the City of Hsün-yang
Hour by hour bitter rain has poured.
On few days has the dark sky cleared;
In listless sleep I have spent much time.
The lake has widened till it almost joins the sky;
The clouds sink till they touch the water’s face.
Beyond my hedge I hear the boatmen’s talk;
At the street-end I hear the fisher’s song.
Misty birds are lost in yellow air;
Windy sails kick the white waves.
In front of my gate the horse and carriage-way
In a single night has turned into a river-bed.”

___

Bai JuyiRain, AD 815, in Arthur Waley, translator, More Translations from the Chinese, George Allen & Unwin, 1919, a sequel to A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, Constable, 1918.

This post has information on the Tang poet.

After Collecting the Autumn Taxes

January 26 2015

“From my high castle I look at the town below
Where the natives of Pa cluster like a swarm of flies.
How can I govern these people and lead them aright ?
I cannot even understand what they say.
But at least I am glad, now that the taxes are in,
To learn that in my province there is no discontent.
I fear its prosperity is not due to me
And was only caused by the year’s abundant crops.
The papers that lie on my desk are simple and few;
My house by the moat is leisurely and still.
In the autumn rain the berries fall from the eaves;
At the evening bell the birds return to the wood.
A broken sunlight quavers over the southern porch
Where I lie on my couch abandoned to idleness.”

___

Bai JuyiAfter Collecting the Autumn Taxes, in Arthur Waley, translator, More Translations from the Chinese, George Allen & Unwin, 1919, a sequel to A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, Constable, 1918.

This post has information on the Tang poet.

Chinese themes

January 26 2015

Looking at Arthur Waley’s two collections of translations of classical Chinese poems (links in last post), several themes recur. Separation. Officials and soldiers in a large empire spend time, perhaps most of their lives, away from home. Did they not take their families with them when they were posted to remote places or to a capital? Nature. Solitude. Friendship.

In Bai Juyi (Po Chü-i) especially, laziness, lassitude, drinking, depression, world-weariness, ageing, illness. Nothing overstated.

Perhaps Waley’s translations are regarded as dated and have been superseded or his selections are not representative. But they are enjoyable as poems in English.

Another poem about laziness

January 26 2015

“White hair covers my temples,
I am wrinkled and seared beyond repair,
And though I have got five sons,
They all hate paper and brush.
A-shu is eighteen:
For laziness there is none like him.
A-hsüan does his best,
But really loathes the Fine Arts.
Yung-tuan is thirteen,
But does not know ‘six’ from ‘seven.’
T’ung-tzŭ in his ninth year
Is only concerned with things to eat.
If Heaven treats me like this
What can I do but fill my cup?”

___

T’ao Ch’ien, Blaming Sons (An Apology for His Own Drunkenness), in Arthur Waley, translator, A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, Constable, 1918.

Waley tells us that “six” and “seven” (which Yung-tuan certainly would not have known add up to his age) are written with characters very easy to distinguish.

Tao Yuanming or Tao Qian or (as Waley calls him) T’ao Ch’ien (365-427) lived in the middle of the Six Dynasties period (c 220-589), between the Han and the Sui.

Lazy Man’s Song (old post).

Chinese Gordon and the Chinese

January 26 2015

BBC.

Chinese Gordon (old post).

Manchus, Chinese and Mongols

January 26 2015

Chinese and Mongol battalions were brigaded with Manchu battalions in varying numbers and ratios in the Manchu Power’s army corps known as “banners”. Even when the Manchu Government’s domain was still confined to territories lying outside the Great Wall, the Chinese members of the community outnumbered the Manchus and Mongols; [footnote: See Michael, F.: The Origin of Manchu Rule in China (Baltimore 1942, Johns Hopkins University Press), p. 71.] and, after their passage of the Wall in A.D. 1644, it was the South Manchurian Chinese contingent in the banners that gave the invaders the man-power requisite for completing the conquest of Intramural China. While the Manchus thus succeeded in enlisting Chinese to help them win and hold [Ming] China for a Manchu régime, they were no less successful in dealing with the equally delicate problem presented by the Mongols, martial barbarians with memories of a great imperial past of their own and with a tincture of alien culture that made them no less difficult to assimilate than the intensely cultivated Chinese.

The Manchus attacked their Mongol problem from two directions. On the one hand, in the organization of the Mongol battalions of the banners they anticipated the policy of the British military authorities towards the Gurkhas and Pathans by recruiting their Mongol soldiers individually, and not in tribal blocs, and by placing them under the command of Manchu officers. On the other hand, they handled the Mongol tribes on the Steppe as the ʿOsmanlis had handled the Kurdish tribes in the Zagros Mountains. Without attempting to destroy their tribal organization, they contented themselves with dividing the tribes up into tribal atoms of a minimum size, and with imposing a strict delimitation of the boundaries between their respective pastoral ranges. The Mongol tribes, thus reduced in size and penned within fixed limits, were allowed to remain autonomous under the rule of their own tribal chiefs, while, to save appearances, these Mongol tribal chieftainships were nominally given the status of “banners”, as the Kurdish tribal chieftainships had been officially classified as Ottoman fiefs in the books of the Pādishāh. [Footnote: See Michael, op. cit., pp. 96-97. It will be seen that, in post-Diocletianic Roman terminology, these Mongol and Kurdish tribes were foederati of the Manchu and the Ottoman Empire respectively.] The political success of this Manchu military organization is attested by the fact that, when the Manchu régime in China was liquidated in A.D. 1911, the revolution was not the work of the Manchus’ comrades-in-arms in the Chinese and Mongol battalions of the banners.

The Manchus are descended from the Jurchen people who had earlier established the Jin dynasty (1115-1234) in northern China. Related Tungusic ethnicities: Sushen, Mogher.

A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954

To Wang Lun

January 25 2015

Adam Tendler playing and reciting To Wang Lun, in Autumn Lines, his five settings of poems by the Tang poet Li Bai, aka Li Po, translated by David Young.

“I was just
shoving off
in my boat

when I heard someone stomping
and singing on the shore!

Peach Blossom Lake
is a thousand feet deep

but it can’t compare
with Wang Lun’s love
or the way he said
goodbye”

HOT! Festival, Dixon Place, New York, July 7 2010.

Rest also on YouTube. Whole set, in different performances, at iTunes.

___

Translation of Li Bai by Vikram Seth: White gibbons (post here).

Other poems by him were the source of four of Mahler’s settings in Das Lied von der Erde. Post.

Toynbee at UCLA

January 24 2015

Example of the dozens of speeches and scores of articles about the necessity of World Unity in the Atomic Age given or written after his retirement from Chatham House in 1955.

The Balance Sheet of History, with young audience at UCLA. April 1 1963, while visiting professor at Grinnell College, Iowa for the second time. Unidentified first introducer hands over to Vice Chancellor, Foster H Sherwood, who introduces Toynbee.

The range of allusion one gets in his books is absent. There is nothing that he doesn’t say in other places. The tendency to repeat himself disappointed some of the US institutions which paid to have him as their guest. So did his habit (as, apparently, here) of making side trips in order to give further identical talks to other institutions.

Still, there’s a shape and theme to this. These productions came from a lifelong reaction against the nationalism which had produced the First World War, and were at the same time a response to the Cold War.

What he has to say seems quaint to a generation that has forgotten that it lives in the shadow of the Bomb, and is in the power of new currents which are bringing societies together anyway – and tearing them apart.

He blurs homo sapiens and hominids (a confusion not evident in Mankind and Mother Earth). He says that more than half of the world’s population in 2000 will be citizens of China. His Malthusianism is simplistic. The opening-up of the grasslands of the US, Canada, Argentina, Australia had postponed the food crisis (for the West, so how were others coping?), but the reckoning was now imminent. He shows no awareness of the Green Revolution.

World government would be needed to regulate the supply and distribution of food.

Population growth can be curtailed only by a revolution in human behaviour, not by administrative action. Yet it was controlled by administrative action in China in the one-child policy initiated in 1979.

Religion belongs to a deeper level of human life than politics. There’s a confused passage about different religions appealing to the different psychological types which can be found in every population. In future, he hopes that people will choose their religions, rather than being born into them.

But the identities, iconographies, traditions of religions were developed in geographically-defined communities. So how did they appeal to distinct psychological types? And what is their soil in a cosmopolitan world?

Local loyalties and larger ones. Federal systems. Paul’s loyalty to Tarsus and to the Empire. He makes some comparatively kind remarks about the Pax Romana, but returns to his basic idea about Rome.

The real life of the Roman Empire was in the growth of, and competition between, new religions.

The eastern end of the Old World has tended to be more unified than the western end.

There have been periodic breakdowns of the unity of [China]. The latest of them began in 1911 when the Manchu regime crumbled in China, and lasted till about 1929, when the Kuomintang reunited China. Since 1929, first under the Kuomintang regime and later under the Communist regime, China has been united, which is its normal condition through the ages, a very great contrast to the western end of the Old World, which has never succeeded in uniting itself since the Roman Empire went to pieces there in the 5th century of the Christian Era.

World government will be needed for the regulation of nuclear weapons. Even if nuclear energy is exploited only for peaceful purposes, a world authority will have to deal with atomic waste.

In a unified world, he wants ethical unity, but cultural variety.

Human beings’ relations with their fellow human beings are

the slum area of human life.

He believes in human interaction as the basis for world peace. He sees the value of students travelling, of tourism, of professional conferences, of the Peace Corps (established by Kennedy in 1961), of networks of personal friendships. But he never visited a Communist country unless you count a crossing of Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1930. He could presumably have visited the USSR under Krushchev. Old post.

He mentions Ashoka.

The reference at 17:21 to Professor Pegram may be to GB Pegram, a physicist involved in the Manhattan Project.

The first introducer thanks, summarises the Toynbees’ schedule in LA, and wraps up.

The points in this summary don’t necessarily follow the order in the talk.

Via UCLA Department of Communication Studies archive.

Links to other posts containing film or audio of Toynbee are here.

The crucible of the Mahayana

December 28 2014

I  Alexander

Gautama Buddha and the founder of Jainism, Mahavira, both lived in a period of wars between local states in northern India in the 6th century BC. Gautama was born in what is now Nepal, Mahavira in Bihar.

What was the extent of Buddhism’s early influence in the Afghan or other domains of Achaemenid Persia?

In 326 BC Alexander the Great crossed the Indus (which the Persians had never done) and then the Jhelum or Hydaspes, the most western of the five rivers of the Punjab. At the Hydaspes Alexander defeated King Porus of Pauravas, an ancient country that soon afterwards fell to the Mauryans.

Another ruler, King Ambhi of Taxila, surrendered his city, already a Buddhist centre.

Alexander’s troops refused to advance further than the Beas, a tributary of the Sutlej, the easternmost of the five rivers.

II  Chandragupta

A Buddhist great power, the Mauryan Empire, emerged in India as the Achaemenid Empire fell.

After Alexander’s death in 323, Chandragupta Maurya (ruled 322-298) conquered Alexander’s briefly-held east-of-Indus satrapies with the help of a largely Persian army. Bactria, between the Hindu Kush and the Oxus, and Transoxiana, remained Greek. Both had belonged to the Achaemenids.

Chandragupta’s capital: Pataliputra (Patna).

III  Seleucus

Seleucus I Nicator, a Macedonian satrap of Alexander, established his authority as far as Bactria and the Indus and in 305 BC he fought Chandragupta. Seleucus appears to have fared poorly, ceding large territories west of the Indus to Chandragupta: Arachosia (Kandahar), Gedrosia (Baluchistan), the Paropamisadae (Hindu Kush), but not Bactria or Transoxiana. Post here on the Paropamisadae.

Chandragupta then sold Seleucus 500 war-elephants (who used them to fight Antigonus I) and married Seleucus’s daughter to formalise an alliance. Seleucus sent an ambassador, Megasthenes, to Chandragupta’s court. Relations continued between their successors.

Chandragupta was Jain. His successor Bindusara belonged to the Ajivika sect.

IV  Ashoka

Bindusara’s successor, Ashoka (reigned 269-32), embraced Buddhism and became a proselytiser of the traditional Theravada Pali canon.

His edicts, carved on pillars and rocks in various places in his empire, in the Kharoshti, Greek, Aramaic (Achaemenid) and Brahmi scripts, record the missions which he sent to Greeks and others.

V  Greek Bactrians

Meanwhile, the Seleucids were losing control of Bactria. It became the centre of an independent Greco-Bactrian kingdom c 256 BC, which extended into Transoxiana.

Capitals: Bactra (Balkh), Alexandria-on-the-Oxus (possibly Ai-Khanoum).

After the Brahmanical Sunga dynasty overthrew the Mauryans in 185 BC, the Greco-Bactrians invaded and conquered northwestern India with an army led by Demetrius.

VI  Indo-Greeks

The resulting Indo-Greek Kingdom lasted until AD 10 and was opposed in the east for its first century by the Sunga. Buddhism prospered, and it has been suggested that the Greek invasion of India was intended to protect the Buddhist faith from the persecutions of the Sunga.

Capitals: Alexandria-in-the-Caucasus (Kapisa or Bagram, Hindu Kush, north of Kabul), Sirkap (Taxila, Punjab), Sagala (Sialkot, Punjab), Pushkalavati (Charsadda, NWFP).

King Menander (reigned c 160-130 BC) became a student and patron of Buddhism. Were any Greco-Bactrian or Indo-Greek kings before him personally sympathetic to Buddhism?

VII  Greeks and Buddhism

The philosophers Pyrrho, Anaxarchus and Onesicritus are said to have accompanied Alexander. During the eighteen months they were in India, they were able to interact with Indian ascetics, described as Gymnosophists, naked philosophers.

At Sirkap, Buddhist stupas stand side-by-side with Hindu and Greek temples, suggesting religious tolerance and syncretism.

Early Mahayana theories of reality and knowledge may be related to Greek philosophical schools of thought.

The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist discourse in the platonic style, held between Menander and the Buddhist sage Nagasena.

The Mahavamsa records that during Menander’s reign, a Greek Buddhist abbot named Mahadharmaraksita led 30,000 monks from Alexandria (possibly in-the-Caucasus) to Sri Lanka for the dedication of a stupa.

There are Buddhist inscriptions by Greeks in India, such as that of the provincial governor Theodorus, describing in the Kharoshti script (and Pali language?) how he enshrined relics of the Buddha.

Coins of Menander and some of his successors show Buddhist symbols.

Buddhist tradition recognises Menander as one of the benefactors of the faith, together with Ashoka and Kanishka (below).

The first anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha are often considered a result of Greco-Buddhist interaction. The earliest Buddhist art was aniconic: the Buddha was only represented through his symbols (an empty throne, the Bodhi tree, his footprints, the Dharma wheel, the triratna).

It was natural for the Greeks also to create a single common divinity by combining the image of a Greek God-King (Apollo, or possibly the deified founder of the Indo-Greek Kingdom, Demetrius) with the attributes of the Buddha.

Stylistic elements in these representations point to Greek influence: the Greco-Roman toga-like wavy robe covering both shoulders (more exactly, its lighter version, the Greek himation), the contrapposto stance of the upright figures, the stylised curly hair and topknot (ushnisha) apparently derived from the Apollo of the Belvedere (c 335 BC), the measured quality of the faces.

During the following centuries, this anthropomorphic representation of the Buddha evolved to incorporate more Indian and Asian elements.

Several Buddhist deities may have been influenced by Greek gods. There are links between Greco-Persian and Buddhist cosmology.

The Buddha was known to the Church fathers. Buddhist gravestones from the Ptolemaic period have been found in Alexandria in Egypt, decorated with depictions of the Dharma wheel. The presence of Buddhists in Alexandria at this time is important, since it was to be an intellectual centre of Christianity.

VIII  Successors of the Indo-Greeks

Greek rule in Bactria was extinguished c 125 BC by southward-migrating Sakas or Scythians and Yuezhi, both Indo-European speaking. The Yuezhi are later called Kushan.

At the beginning of the first century, the Yuezhi invaded the northern parts of Pakistan and India and founded the Kushan Empire, a contemporary of the Roman Empire.

The Kushan rulers (30-375) displaced the Indo-Greek kings, but their culture was Greek-influenced. They used the Greek script to write their Indo-European language. Their absorption of Greek historical and mythological culture is suggested by Kushan sculptures representing Dionysiac scenes and even the story of the Trojan horse and it is likely that Greek communities remained in India under Kushan rule. Capitals: Purushpura (Peshawar, main capital), Bagram, Taxila, Mathura.

The Greek-influenced Indo-European-speaking successors of the Indo-Greeks:

Indo-Scythian/Saka kingdoms, 110 BC-400 (final extinction)

Indo-Parthian Kingdom, 12 BC-before 100

Yuezhi/Kushan Empire, 30-375

Indo-Sasanians, 3rd century-410

Ephthalite or White Hun Empire, 5th-7th century; they belonged to the Central Asian Xionite hordes and were enemies of the Gupta and of the Sasanians

The Ephthalites controlled present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and territories to the north and are probably the ancestors of modern Pashtuns. Their power was broken by the Sasanians (Khosrau I) in and after 557 and by the Turkic steppe-dwellers.

The full religious mix before Islam has to take account of Buddhism, Greek paganism, Hinduism, Jainism, Manichaeism, Shamanism, Zoroastrianism. Even Judaism and Nestorianism.

IX  The Mahayana

The Kushan king Kanishka was famous for his religious syncretism and honoured Zoroastrian, Greek and Brahmanic deities as well as the Buddha. He convened the Fourth Buddhist Council c AD 100 in Kashmir. His reign sees the earliest representations of the Buddha on a coin (c AD 120), and in a Hellenistic style. Kanishka also had the earliest Gandhari vernacular, or Prakrit, Mahayana Buddhist texts translated into the literary language of Sanskrit.

The sacred texts of Theravada Buddhism are written in Pali, a Prakrit or vernacular which is closely related to Sanskrit and to the language the Buddha spoke. The sacred texts of the Mahayana were translated from Sanskrit into local languages.

Buddhism expanded into East Asia soon after this. The Kushan monk Lokaksema visited the Han Chinese court at Luoyang in AD 178, and worked there for ten years to make the first known translations of Mahayana texts into Chinese. This was also the great age of Gandharan art (area around Taxila, northern Pakistan): subjects Buddhist, motifs Hellenistic. (Gandhara was originally the name of an ancient Vedic kingdom.)

Buddhism probably reached China from the Kushan Empire in the first century CE: from north India via the Punjab, Gandhara, the Hindu Kush, Bactria, Transoxiana/Sogdiana, and the Fergana valley (Kokand, Anijan). Then across the Tien Shan and into the Tarim basin (Kashgar, Khotan, Turfan). In other words, by linking to the Silk Road. A minority view is that it came to China by sea, entering by the Yellow and Huai rivers.

It entered by land via a region which had been partly hellenised. The interaction of Greek culture with Buddhism may have helped to determine the forms which Buddhism took in China. The Mahayana was eventually adopted in China, Siberia, Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The Mahayana goes beyond (or does it retreat from?) the ideal of the release from suffering, and the Nirvaṇa of the arhats, to elevate the Buddha to a God-like status and to create a pantheon of quasi-divine bodhisattvas devoting themselves to the salvation of their fellow human beings.

X  Decline of Buddhism

The interaction of Greek and Buddhist cultures operated over several centuries until it ended in the 5th century with the invasions of the anti-Buddhist Ephthalite or White Huns and later the expansion of Islam. In the Ephthalite empire Buddhism and Hinduism were still widespread, over a layer of Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism.

In India proper, the decline of Buddhism is usually attributed to a steady Brahmanical reaction, which gathered pace late in the Gupta era. Invasions by Ephthalites and later by Muslims must have hastened it.

Has the Greek influence been exaggerated by western historians? Have they shown undue interest in it because it is easier for them to understand than complicated autochthonous Buddhist movements and schools?

XI  Arrival of Islam

The Arabs completed their conquest of Persia in 651. In Persia and up to the Indus, the Caliphs’ power was gradually lost to local rulers, mainly Sunni, who distantly acknowledged the Caliphate until the fall of Baghdad.

In 661-71 the Arab armies conquered Bactria (by now called Tokharistan), which had passed from the Greeks to the Scythians, Yuezhi (Kushans), Sasanians, Ephthalite Huns and Sasanians again (or had the post-Ephthalite settlement there been Turkish rather than Persian?). 

Transoxiana, where the post-Ephthalite settlement had been Turkish, followed in 706-15; here they suffered a setback, but in 739-41 they conquered Transoxiana definitively.

This put the Islamic state astride the overland route between India and China via the Oxus-Jaxartes basin.

The Arabs conquered, further

Baluchistan after Persia

Sindh and the Indus valley in 711 (Muhammad bin Qasim); capital: Mansura; Sindh later came under local dynasties (Habbari, then Soomro)

Southern Punjab from a base in Sindh, occupying Multan in 712.

They failed to occupy the Kandahar-Ghazni-Kabul route to the Khyber Pass. Two small Hindu states in southern Afghanistan, mentioned below, stubbornly defended the approach to the Hindu Kush.

Their foothold even in the Punjab was precarious. A number of Hindu powers resisted them there. The area was eventually controlled by the Turkic Mamluk Ghaznavids and Persian Ghorids.

They tried to invade India, but were defeated by a coalition of post-Gupta Rajput dynasties in 738.

At the Talas River in 751 the newly-installed Abbasids came head to head with the Tang Chinese. If the Chinese had won the battle, they might have captured the Oxus-Jaxartes basin and reclaimed it from Islam or Zoroastrianism for Buddhism. But they lost, and their influence this far west subsided. They did not return to the Tarim basin until the Qing or Manchu; not even the Yuan governed it.

Before the Islamic conquest, Afghanistan was a religious mixture of Zoroastrianism, paganism, Buddhism, Hinduism (near Kabul) and others. There is no reliable information on when Hinduism began in Afghanistan, but the territory south of the Hindu Kush was probably culturally connected with the Indus Valley civilisation in ancient times.

Herat province, near Persia, was Islamised early on, but the Arabs dealt with a number of post-Sasanian, post-Ephthalite rulers who resisted them. South of the Hindu Kush were the Hindu Zunbil and Buddhist (later Hindu) Kabul Shahi dynasties.

We don’t know how much of the Afghan population accepted Islam immediately, but the Shahi rulers remained non-Muslim until they lost Kabul in 870 to the Persianate (old post) Saffarid Muslims of Sistan, capital: Zaranj. Later, the Persian Samanids (old post) from Bukhara in Transoxiana extended their Islamic influence into Afghanistan. Muslims and non-Muslims still lived side by side in Kabul before the arrival of Ghaznavids from Ghazni in the late 10th century.

The Persian Samanids (819-999) presided over a revival of Persian civilisation in Samarkand and later Bukhara. They sponsored the first complete translation of the Quran into Persian.

The Persian Saffarids ruled in Persia and Afghanistan from 891 to 1003. Capital: Zaranj in Sistan, Persia/Afghanistan. They were eventually reduced to vassals of the Samanids.

By the 11th century, the entire population of Afghanistan was Muslim, except in Kafiristan, or Nuristan, in the east, whose inhabitants continued to practise an ancient form of Hinduism until Nuristan was conquered by the Emirate of Afghanistan in 1895.

The Turkic Ghaznavids controlled large parts of Persia, much of Transoxania, and the northern parts of India from 977 to 1186. Capitals: Ghazni in Afghanistan, Lahore in Pakistan. Their most famous ruler, Mahmud of Ghazni (reigned 998-1002), invaded and plundered India east of the Indus seventeen times. Capitals: Ghazni in Afghanistan, then Lahore.

They and the Muslim rulers in India mentioned in the rest of this note were mostly Sunni.

The Tajik Ghorids (before 879-1215), originally central Afghanistan pagan, Sunni from 1011, were later the first Muslim power in Delhi and further east as far as Bengal: Muhammad of Ghor invaded the Indo-Gangetic plain in 1194, conquering in succession Ghazni, Multan, Sindh, Lahore, Delhi. Ghorid capitals: Firozkoh, Herat, Ghazni, those three now in Afghanistan, Lahore as winter capital.

In 1206 a former slave of Muhammad established the Sultanate of Delhi. His Mamluk (slave) dynasty was the first there. The Sultanate ended with the accession of the Timurid Babur, the first Mughal, in 1526. When the Mughals first arrived in India, they spoke a Turkic language. In adopting Persian, they inherited the language of the Perso-Turkic Delhi Sultanate.

Genghis Khan invaded Transoxiana and Bactria in 1219-20. Before his death in 1227, he assigned the lands of western central Asia to his second son Chagatai, and this region became known as the Chagatai Khanate. In 1369 Timur, of the Barlas tribe, became the effective ruler while continuing the ceremonial authority of Chagatai Khan’s dynasty, and made Samarkand the capital of his empire (1370-1507).

The first independent Islamic Kingdom in South India was the Bahmanid Sultanate (1347-1527). It broke up into five states known as the Deccan Sultanates.

The Arab conquests brought the demise of Buddhism in eastern Persia and greater Afghanistan, but in some places in Afghanistan, such as Bamiyan (Bamiyan province) and Hadda (site near Jalalabad), it survived until the 8th or 9th century. The Taliban dynamited two monumental Buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamiyan valley (6th and 7th centuries) in March 2001.

XII  Old posts:

Persian capitals before Islam

Transoxiana and Bactria

Indic and Hindu

Buddhism and Persia

Persia, 651-present

Toynbee and Ikeda 3

The Old World’s eastern roundabout

The Silk Road

NWFP, 1901-2010

Category:

Maps of Central Asia

Near Jalalabad

Picture credit: AfghaniDan; near Jalalabad

Silk Road

Picture credit: Luciana Di Floriano; Silk Road, probably Tien Shan mountains

The four khanates

December 13 2014

Four Mongol khanates

The four khanates into which the Mongol Empire split after the death of Genghis Khan. Karakorum is the original Mongol capital. Shangdu is Xanadu. Dadu or Khanbaliq is Beijing. The Khanate of Persia is the Ilkhanate.

Buddhism in Persia

December 13 2014

Buddhism may have reached Balkh, now in Afghanistan, then under the Achaemenids, during or soon after the lifetime of the Buddha.

From the 2nd century Parthians such as An Shigao, were active in spreading Buddhism in China. Some of the earliest translators of Buddhist literature into Chinese were from Parthia.

The Sasanids persecuted the Buddhists when they came to power in AD 224 and promoted Zoroastrianism.

Surviving Buddhist sites were raided by the Ephthalites or White Huns, the nomadic confederation which at the height of its power (first half of 6th century) controlled territories in Transoxiana, Bactria, India, China.

Nevertheless, at the time of the Arab conquests, much of the eastern Iranian world was mainly Buddhist.

The Arab conquests brought the demise of Buddhism in eastern Persia and Afghanistan, but in some places, such as Bamiyan and Hadda (both Afghanistan), it survived until the 8th or 9th century.

In 1295 the Mongol ruler in Persia, Ghazan, was converted from Buddhism to Islam and made it the state religion of the Ilkhanate. He prohibited the practice of Buddhism, but allowed monks to go into exile in neighbouring Buddhist regions.

Persia, 651-present

December 13 2014

The Arabs complete their conquest of Persia in 651. Umayyad, Abbasid.

Abbasid power there is lost, except in name, to local kingdoms, some of Persian, some of non-Persian origin. Persianisation a reaction to Arabisation. “Persianate” rulers may or may not have been ethnically Persian.

Samarkand and later Bukhara played a role in a revival of Persian civilisation under the native Persian Samanid dynasty (Sunni, ruled Persia 819-999). The Samanids sponsored the first complete translation of the Quran into Persian.

Mongol invasion. The Mongol House of Hulagu sets up the Ilkhanate. Tabriz is one of its capitals.

Ilkhans are followed by the Turco-Mongol Timurids from Transoxiana (Tamerlane). Capital Samarkand, now in Uzbekistan. (It is a Timurid prince, Babur, who, pursued by a west-Siberian section of the Golden Horde, the Uzbeks, founds the Mughal dynasty in India.)

Then a Persian renaissance (though Shah Ismail I spoke a Turkish language). The Ilkhans and Timurids had been Sunni. The Safavis are Twelver Shiite.

For four years (1511-14) the founder of the Safavi Empire, Shah Ismaʿil, threatened the Ottoman Empire with a repetition of the disaster that had been inflicted on it by Timur in 1402.

In 1598, the fifth Safavi, Shah Abbas I, moves his capital from Qazvin to Isfahan.

Afsharid, Zand, Qajar, Pahlavi dynasties follow. Allegiance to the Shia continues, but the Afshar make compromises with Sunni Islam.

The Afshar capital is Mashhad, Zand capitals Shiraz and Tehran. Tehran becomes sole capital in 1796 under Mohammad Khan Qajar. Persia is bled dry by Britain and Russia, but not officially colonised.

Then the revolution, violently Islamic: but Islam has never owned the whole of the Persian soul. Persia is a continuum under successive waves of Greek, Buddhist, Arab, Islamic (Arab and Islamic are not always the same thing), Turkic, Mongol and western culture.

Persia was also connected with China via the Silk Road. The Parthian and Sasanian empires had been in touch with the Han and Tang dynasties.

Iran

Credit: worldofmaps.net

Mankind and Mother Earth, A Narrative History of the World, OUP, 1976, posthumous

Summer capitals, summer palaces

December 10 2014

The Sarawat mountains run down the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia. Sarat al-Hejaz, Sarat Asir, Sarat al-Yemen.

Taʿif is in the Hejaz section, 100 km southeast of Mecca. The ruling family and much of the government are said to go there during the summer to escape the heat of Riyad. Taʿif is cool. Coastal Jeddah, on nearly the same latitude, hot and humid. Inland Riyad is hot and dry.

Taʿif is known for grapes, pomegranates, figs, roses, honey. The family of Hani Hanjour, the 9/11 hijacker-pilot who crashed into the Pentagon, ran a lemon and date farm there.

There are more grapes at Hofuf in the Eastern Province.

Taʿif, like Mecca and like Al-Qullays, was a religious centre which attracted pilgrims before the Prophet: it housed the idol of Allat, the lady of Taʿif, who was also one of the trinity of goddesses worshipped in Mecca.

It was near the site of Muhammad’s victory at the battle of Hunayn in 630. The Sharif of Mecca capitulated to Selim I at Taʿif in 1517, a surrender undone by the British four hundred years later.

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Ecbatana. The Achaemenids had the old Median capital as their summer capital. Their real capital was Susa, their ceremonial capital Persepolis. (Seleucia-on-Tigris was the first capital of the Seleucid Empire, though it was officially superseded by Antioch. Ctesiphon-on-Tigris, opposite Seleucia, and Susa were the joint capitals of Parthia. Susa was briefly taken by Trajan and was the easternmost point reached by the Romans. Ctesiphon was also the Sasanian capital, and fell to the Arabs.)

Xanadu. The summer capital (1271-94) of Kublai Khan, the Mongol founder of the Yuan dynasty in China, after he moved his permanent capital from Xanadu (Shangdu) to Khanbaliq (Dadu), present Beijing. Destroyed by the Hongwu Emperor, the founder of the Ming, in 1369. Old posts: Xanadu and Jehol and Foreigners in Cathay.

Simla. The summer capital (1864-1939), in the Himalayan foothills, of the British in India. Over a thousand miles away from Calcutta. (Much nearer to Delhi.) Old post. Wikipedia says that before 1864 the summer capital was even further away, at Murree, a pleasant, often snowy, spot in the Margalla Hills, near Rawalpindi, and now in Pakistan. But wasn’t it the regional government of the Punjab province that moved there in the summer? A cool retreat much closer to Calcutta would have been Darjeeling. Was that too inaccessible?

In the middle of the 19th century, San Sebastián, near Biarritz, became a summer capital for the Spanish monarchy. Franco spent his summers there.

The hill station of Baguio in the northern mountains of Luzon was the summer capital of the Philippines during the American occupation (1898-1946).

Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley is still the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The winter capital is Jammu.

Sochi, on the Black Sea, is described as the summer capital of Russia. Before 1991, resorts in the Crimea could play that role. Now they can presumably play it again.

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Murree beer was made in Murree when the Murree Brewery was founded in 1860. In (I believe) 1910, the plant was moved to Rawalpindi. There is also one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP), which I thought was too strict nowadays to allow this kind of thing. It was Bhutto, in 1977, not Zia, who made Pakistan dry. The Christian, Hindu, and Parsi communities were not large enough to support the Murree enterprise, and production had to be cut back.

But the laws are not very strictly enforced. The last few times I was in Pakistan (2004-06), I had to sign a declaration in hotels that I required the beer (or the local whisky, also made by Murree Brewery) for medicinal purposes. It was then handed over in a black bag. I don’t recall the form requiring me to state that I was a non-Muslim. The medical ruse, I suppose, allowed it to be sold to anyone, irrespective of religion.

Of course, part of the moneyed middle class, especially in Karachi, and of the military class and the “feudal” class, drinks quite a lot and gets its hands on foreign liquor. Musharraf’s two loves, it has been said, are dogs and whisky.

I am convinced that Murree is how beer used to taste. At least the Murree that I remember (there has been some product diversification). It’s the subaltern’s beer, still being made. But one bottle could (it must be said) taste and look disconcertingly different from another.

It isn’t exported, which doesn’t stop them from producing an Export Pils, but in 2013, Murree Brewery opened a franchise, run by a Bangalore-based entrepreneur, which allows its brewing, bottling and marketing in India.

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A family and a few courtiers might go to a summer palace. A large part of a civil service might migrate to a summer capital. This is what I understand happened with Simla and Baguio and happens with Srinagar. What about Sochi? Does it really still happen with Taʿif? Why migrate when there is air conditioning?

Roman and Byzantine emperors had summer palaces. The pope has Castel Gandolfo.

Peter the Great built one in St Petersburg, and Elizabeth of Russia another – and the Winter Palace.

There were two summer palaces at Tsarskoye Selo. Catherine I built the Catherine Palace, Catherine the Great the Alexander Palace.

Frederick the Great built Sanssouci in Potsdam. Maria Theresa was given Schönbrunn.

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Construction of the complex of gardens and palaces in Beijing known as the Old Summer Palace began in 1707 under the Kangxi Emperor (Qing). He intended it as a gift for his fourth son, the future Yongzheng Emperor, who would expand it in 1725. The Qianlong Emperor (same generation as Elizabeth and Frederick) did further work.

The Old Summer Palace, with its many ancient books and works of art, was destroyed by the British and French in the Second Opium War, causing the Imperial Court to relocate to the Forbidden City.

The vast nearby Summer Palace, also in Beijing, had its origin in a palace built by the Jurchen (Jin dynasty) emperor Wanyan Liang in the 12th century. It remained in use under the Yuan. (What did the Ming do with it?) The Qianlong Emperor built much of what we see now. The Old Summer Palace had been built by his grandfather the Kangxi Emperor (hence, I suppose, “Old”). The Summer Palace was badly damaged by the British and French, but not completely destroyed.

Both of these were outside the walls of the Inner City. Did Summer Palace connote “without the walls”? The Forbidden City was within the walls.

On the history of Peking, its walls, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, see posts here and here.

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Essences from damask roses grown in Taʿif can cost thousands of pounds a bottle. I was with a friend in a perfumery in Jeddah in summer 2009. I couldn’t understand the Arabic courtesies and chatter exchanged between him and the owner, his friend, and not since childhood have I felt so trapped in a conversation that I could neither follow, nor contribute to, nor end. The light turned rosy as the evening approached, and a few miles away my friend’s plane waited for us on the tarmac at the airport like a patient camel.

A perfect Taʿif rose (image).

Redemptions

November 12 2014

Augustus and his successors had made good civil servants out of predatory Roman business men of the “equestrian” class; Han Liu Pang [the first Han emperor] and his successors had made them out of predatory feudal gentry bred by the contending Sinic parochial states; Cornwallis and his successors had made them out of predatory commercial agents of the British East India Company.

A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954

Confrontations in Hong Kong

October 5 2014

1925-26 Canton-Hong Kong strike

1941:

1949:

1956 riots

1966 riots

1967 riots

1981 riots

1997- July 1 marches

2003 protests against Basic Law article 23

2005 protest for democracy

2009-10 Hong Kong Express Rail Link controversy

2011 Free Ai Weiwei street art campaign

2011-12 Occupy Central

Early 2012 protests

2013 dock strike

2014 class boycott

2014 Occupy Central

Occupy Central with Love and Peace (anti-Beijing)

Silent Majority for Hong Kong (pro-Beijing)

Alliance for Peace and Democracy (pro-Beijing)

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Tiananmen Square memorials

Goddess of Democracy replicas

Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary protests:

1999

2009

2010

2013

2014

I was in Hong Kong straight after Tiananmen Square. The city was in a state of shock and almost empty. The most unsettling moment for Hong Kong after that was probably the SARS crisis of early 2003.

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Old posts:

Hong Kong 1949

Confrontations in Singapore.

Indian churches

August 10 2014

There is no direct contemporary evidence for St Thomas the Apostle coming to Kerala, but such a trip would have been possible for a Roman Jew in the first century. Jews lived in India then. The earliest text connecting him to India is the Acts of Thomas, one of the New Testament Apocrypha, written in Edessa early in the third century.

The word Malankara in the name of several south Indian churches derives from the name of the island of Maliankara near Muziris, where Thomas first landed.

According to tradition, he established Seven Churches, the Ezharapallikal: Cranganore (Malayalam: കൊടുങ്ങല്ലൂര്‍), Paravur (Kottakavu) (കോട്ടക്കാവ്), Palayoor (പാലയൂര്‍), Kokkamangalam (കൊക്കമംഗലം), Niranam (നിരണം), Chayal (Nilackal) (നിലക്കല്‍), Kollam (Quilon) (കൊല്ലം).

Thomas of Cana, a Syrian, arrived in Kerala in the fourth century or later. The subgroup of Thomas Christians known as the Southists trace their lineage to him and his followers. The Northists claim descent from Thomas the Apostle’s converts.

Settlers and missionaries from Persia, members of the Church of the East (East Syrian rite), or Nestorian Church (last post), which was centred in the Sasanian capital of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, started to establish themselves in Kerala.

Nestorianism, which insists on the dual nature of Christ, had been condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431. Many of Nestorius’s supporters moved to Sasanid Persia, from where they spread into Central Asia and China.

Circa 650 Patriarch Ishoyahb III solidified the Church of the East’s jurisdiction over the Thomas Christians. In the late eighth century Patriarch Timothy I organised the community as the Ecclesiastical Province of India, one of the Nestorian church’s illustrious Provinces of the Exterior.

After this point the Province of India was headed by a metropolitan bishop provided by Persia, the Metropolitan-Bishop of the Seat of St Thomas and the Whole Christian Church of India. His metropolitan see was probably in Cranganore, or (perhaps nominally) in Mylapore, the original burial site of St Thomas, before his body was moved to Edessa. Under him were bishops, and a native Archdeacon, who had authority over the clergy and who wielded a great amount of secular power.

For a time the archidiaconate was hereditary in the Pakalomattam family, who claimed a connection with Thomas the Apostle. In the broader Church of the East, each bishop was attended by an archdeacon, but in India, there was only ever one archdeacon, even when the province had several bishops serving it.

The blame for the destruction of the Nestorian communities east of Iraq has often been thrown upon the Turco-Mongol leader Timur, whose campaigns during the 1390s spread havoc in Persia and Central Asia. But in many parts of Central Asia Christianity had died out decades before Timur’s campaigns. The evidence from Central Asia, including a large number of dated graves, indicates that the crisis for the Church of the East occurred in the 1340s rather than the 1390s.

In China, the last references to Nestorian and Latin Christians date from the 1350s. It is likely that all foreign Christians were expelled from China soon after the revolution of 1368, which replaced the Mongol Yuan dynasty with the xenophobic Ming.

India was cut off from the Church’s new heartland in northern Mesopotamia. Nestorian Christianity was now mainly confined to the triangle formed by Mosul and Lakes Van and Urmia. There were small Nestorian communities further west, notably in Jerusalem and Cyprus, but the Malabar Christians of India represented the only significant survival of the once-thriving exterior provinces of the Church of the East.

By the late fifteenth century India had had no metropolitan for several generations, and the authority traditionally associated with him had been vested in the Archdeacon.

In 1491 the Archdeacon sent envoys to the Patriarch of the Church of the East, as well as to the Oriental Orthodox Coptic Pope of Alexandria and the Syriac Oriental Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, requesting a new bishop for India.

The Patriarch of the Church of the East Shemʿon IV Basidi responded by consecrating two bishops and dispatching them to India. These bishops helped to reestablish fraternal ties with the patriarchate, but the years of separation had changed the structure of the Indian church. The Archdeacon was firmly established as the real power in the Malankara community.

When the Portuguese arrived in 1498, the Thomas Christians were in a difficult position. Though prosperous owing to their large stake in the spice trade and protected by a formidable militia, the small community had come under pressure from the forces of the powerful rajas of Calicut, Cochin and various smaller kingdoms. When the Vasco da Gama arrived on the Malabar coast, the leaders of the St Thomas community proffered a formal alliance to their fellow Christians. The Portuguese, keen to implant themselves in the spice trade and to expand Latin Christianity, jumped at the opportunity.

Facilitating the objective, the Padroado Real: the treaties and decrees in which the Pope conferred authority in ecclesiastical matters on the Portuguese secular authorities in territories they conquered. The Portuguese organised themselves in Goa, established a church hierarchy, and set themselves to bringing the native Christians into conformity with Latin church customs and subjecting them to the authority of the Archbishop of Goa.

After the death of Metropolitan Mar Jacob in 1552, the Portuguese became more aggressive in their efforts to subjugate the Thomas Christians. Protests on the part of the natives were frustrated by events in the Church of the East’s Mesopotamian heartland, which left them devoid of consistent leadership. In 1552, a schism there resulted in there being two rival patriarchates, one of which entered into communion with the Catholic Church (was that the Chaldean Catholic Church?) and the other of which remained independent. At different times both patriarchs sent bishops to India, but the Portuguese were able to outmanœuvre the newcomers or convert them to Latin rite Catholicism outright. In 1575 the Padroado declared that neither patriarch could appoint prelates to the community without Portuguese consent, thereby cutting the Thomas Christians off from their own hierarchy.

In 1599 the last Metropolitan, Abraham, died. The Archbishop of Goa, Aleixo de Menezes, secured the submission of the young Archdeacon George, the highest remaining representative of the native church hierarchy. Menezes convened the Synod of Diamper, which instituted a number of structural and liturgical reforms to the Indian church. The parishes were brought directly under the Archbishop’s authority, certain “superstitious” customs were anathematised, and the indigenous liturgy, the East Syrian Malabar rite, was purged of elements unacceptable by the Latin standards. Though the Thomas Christians were now formally part of the Catholic Church, the conduct of the Portuguese over the next decades fuelled resentment in parts of the community, ultimately leading to open resistance.

Matters came to a head in 1641 with the appointments of Francis Garcia as Archbishop of Kodungalloor (pro-Portuguese) and of Archdeacon Thomas, the nephew and successor of Archdeacon George. In 1652, the situation was further complicated by the arrival in India of a mysterious figure named Ahatallah.

Ahatallah arrived in Mylapore in 1652, claiming to be the rightful Patriarch of Antioch who had been sent by the pope to serve as Patriarch of the Whole of India and of China. He appears to have been a Syriac Orthodox (Oriental Orthodox) Bishop of Damascus who was converted to Catholicism and travelled to Rome in 1632. He then returned to Syria in order to bring the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Hidayat Allah into communion with Rome. He had not accomplished this by the time Hidayat Allah died in 1639, after which point Ahatallah began claiming he was Hidayat Allah’s rightful successor. In 1646 he was in Egypt at the court of the Coptic Pope Mark VI, who dispatched him to India in 1652, evidently in response to a request for aid from Archdeacon Thomas. Reckoning him an impostor, the Portuguese arrested him, but allowed him to meet members of the St Thomas Christian clergy, whom he impressed. The Portuguese put him on a ship bound for Cochin and Goa. Archdeacon Thomas led a militia to Cochin demanding to meet him. The Portuguese refused, asserting that he was a dangerous invader and that his ship had already sailed on to Goa.

Ahatallah was never heard from again in India, and rumours spread that Archbishop Garcia had had him drowned in Cochin harbour before he reached Goa, or burned at the stake. In reality, it appears that Ahatallah did reach Goa, was sent on to Europe and died in Paris before reaching Rome, where his case was to be heard. In any event, Garcia’s dismissiveness towards the Thomas Christians’ appeals only embittered the community further.

The dismissal of Ahatallah was the last straw for the Thomas Christians, and in 1653 Thomas and representatives of the community met at the Church of Our Lady in Mattancherry. In a ceremony in the churchyard, before a crucifix and lighted candles, they swore an oath that they would never obey Garcia or the Portuguese or Jesuit missionaries again, and that they accepted only the Archdeacon as their shepherd. The Malankara Church and all its successor churches regard this declaration, known as the Coonan Cross Oath (Malayalam: Koonan Kurishu Satyam), as the moment when their church regained its independence.

In the same year, in Alangad, Archdeacon Thomas was ordained, by the laying on of hands of twelve priests, as the first known indigenous Metropolitan of Kerala, under the name Mar Thoma I. Pope Alexander VII sent a Syrian bishop, Joseph Sebastiani, at the head of a Carmelite delegation, to convince a majority of the Thomas Christians that the consecration of the Archdeacon as metropolitan was illegitimate. Palliveettil Chandy Kathanar was consecrated as bishop for the East Syrian rite Catholics with the title The Metropolitan and the Gate of all India, denoting a quasi-patriarchal status with all-India jurisdiction, in communion with Rome.

This led to the first permanent split in the St Thomas Christian community. Thereafter, the faction affiliated with the Catholic Church was designated the Pazhayakuttukar or Old Party, while the branch affiliated with Mar Thoma was called the Puthankuttukar or New Party. These appellations were controversial, as both groups considered themselves the heirs to the St Thomas tradition, and saw the other as heretical.

Initially the terms Malankara Christians or Malankara Nasranis were applied to all Thomas Christians, but following the split the term was usually restricted to the faction loyal to Mar Thoma, distinguishing them from the Syrian Catholic faction.

Out of 116 churches, the Catholics claimed eighty-four and the Archdeacon Mar Thoma I thirty-two. The eighty-four churches and their congregations were the body from which the Syro-Malabar (East Syrian rite) Catholic Church descended. The thirty-two churches and their congregations were the body from which the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Church and its offshoots have descended.

An Oriental Orthodox affiliation now replaced the old Nestorian one. In 1665, Mar Gregorios Abdul Jaleel, a Bishop sent by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, arrived in India and the Thomas Christians under the leadership of the Archdeacon welcomed him. This visit resulted in the Mar Thoma party claiming the spiritual authority of the Antiochean Patriarchate and gradually introducing the West Syrian liturgy, customs and script to the Malabar Coast.

Jacobites or Syrian Jacobites is a reference to the Syriac Orthodox Church’s connections with a sixth-century bishop of Edessa, Jacob Baradaeus.

Over the next centuries this relationship strengthened, and the Malankara Church adopted a variant of the West Syrian rite known as the Malankara rite (as distinct from the previous East Syrian usage) and entered into full communion with the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. These affiliations seem to have been more matters of liturgy and hierarchy than Christology.

In 1912 a dispute over authority between supporters of the Metropolitan and supporters of the Patriarch divided the Malankara church, with the former group becoming the essentially independent Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church or Indian Orthodox Church under an autonomous Catholicos of the East, and the latter maintaining ties with the Patriarch as the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church.

Other groups that split from the main body of the Malankara Jacobite church:

The Thozhiyur Sabha, or Malabar Independent Syrian Church (1772). Independent. West Syrian rite.

The Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church (1835). Follows a variant of the West Syrian tradition.

The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (1930). Re-entered into communion with the Catholic Church as an Eastern Catholic Church following the West Syrian liturgy. It and the larger Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (East Syrian rite) are among the 22 Eastern Catholic churches mentioned in the last post.

The St Thomas Evangelical Church of India (1961). Derives from a schism in the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church.

The Nestorian connection survives in the Chaldean Syrian Church, an Indian archbishopric in the Nestorian Assyrian Church of the East (last post).

Kanjirappally Bishop Mathew Arackal and Prasant Palakkappillil

Syro-Malabar Catholic bishop Mar Mathew Arackal, Bishop of Kanjirappally Eparchy, holding the Mar Thoma Cross, which symbolises the heritage of St Thomas Christians even for Catholics, and other priests, at the tomb of the beatified Varghese Payyappilly Palakkappilly, St John Nepumsian Syrian Catholic Church, Konthuruthy, via Wikimedia Commons

A few years ago, I was taken into the San Thome Basilica in Chennai by a Hindu friend who crossed himself as he entered. India has been notoriously slow at adopting positions on anything in international diplomacy, which is perhaps a legacy of its standing in the Non-Aligned Movement. If it is seeking a global role now, it should be as the most complex partially-successful multicultural society on earth.

Anyone who has read the last two posts and followed their few links should now be able to answer the trivia questions:

What are the differences between the

Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
Assyrian Church of the East
Greek Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East and
Jacobite Syrian Christian Church?

and

What two churches are Chaldaean?

Austronesia: Madagascar to Hawaii

April 24 2014

The widest term for the languages and cultures, not racial identities, of Malaya, Madagascar, Sumatra, Java, Taiwan (before the Chinese), the Philippines, Borneo, Micronesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, Polynesia, Hawaii is Austronesian.

Austronesian languages include Acehnese, Hawaiian, Javanese, Maori, Malagasy, Malay, Polynesian languages, Sundanese, Tagalog.

They are not to be confused with the much older Papuan and Australian languages. (New Guinea is outside the Austronesian space.)

It used to be thought that they had originated in Taiwan, from where large-scale migrations began after 5000 BC. The first Austronesian-speaking settlers were said to have landed in northern Luzon, where they intermingled with an older population.

Recently (2009) their origin has been placed further south, in Sundaland, the peninsula, before the end of the last Ice Age, that had extended the Asian landmass as far as Borneo and Java. Under this scenario, refugees from the rising seas migrated north to Taiwan.

Austronesian-speakers spread eastward to the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia and westward to Madagascar. Sailing from Melanesia and Micronesia, they had discovered Polynesia by 1000 BC, Easter Island and Madagascar by AD 300, Hawaii by AD 400 and New Zealand by AD 1280. They reached South America and traded with Native Americans.

By the beginning of the first millennium CE, the Austronesian inhabitants of maritime Southeast Asia had begun trading with India and China. Hinduism and Buddhism were introduced and Indianised kingdoms established. By the tenth century Muslim traders had brought Islam, which gradually displaced the older religions. The Austronesian inhabitants of Polynesia were unaffected by these cultural migrations and diffusions and retained their indigenous culture.

Map of the Austronesian migrations, Wikimedia Commons, opens in a new window; a couple of the dates differ slightly from ones I have given:

Migraciones_austronesias

Shanghai Rainy Night

March 22 2014

“Into the rainy street I came
And heard the motors swiftly splash away.
Cascades from the eaves like ‘water from a high mountain’ – ]
With my Hangchow umbrella perhaps I’ll saunter forth. …

Water has drenched the endless pavement.
Aloft in a lane there is somebody playing the nan-hu,
A tune of abstract long-forgotten sorrow:
‘Mêng Chiang Nü, to seek her husband,
Has gone to the Great Wall.’”

___

Lin Kêng, Shanghai Rainy Night in Harold Acton with Ch’en Shih-Hsiang, translators, Modern Chinese Poetry, Duckworth, 1936.

As in some shin-hanga prints in Japan, a modern element, here cars, is added to a scene observed with an older sensibility. Chinese and Japanese poetry is more pointillist than Western; the motors create not a jarring note, but a frisson.

The quotation in the third line isn’t explained.

The nan-hu is a southern form of the erh-hu, a two-stringed violin. Is that line rather awkwardly translated?

Mêng Chiang Nü was the heroine of many popular ballads and legends connected with the building of the Great Wall. Her husband was pressed into a labour-gang and sent north to build the Wall. No word came from him, and she set forth alone in search of him.

Lin Kêng was born in Peking in 1910 of a Fukienese family of scholars. “His father, Mr. Lin Tsai-p’ing was an authority on Chinese and Indian philosophy, which he taught at Tsing Hua and Peking National Universities. Mr. Lin Kêng studied Chinese literature at Tsing Hua University and graduated in 1933.” The book prints a note by him about his ideas on modern poetry.

Anxiety

March 22 2014

“Say it’s the sadness of the lonely autumn
Say it’s a longing for the far-off sea.
If people ask the cause of my anxiety,
I dare not speak your name.

I dare not speak your name
If people ask the cause of my anxiety,
Say it’s a longing for the far-off sea,
Say it’s the sadness of the lonely autumn.”

___

T’ai Wang-shuAnxiety in Harold Acton with Ch’en Shih-Hsiang, translators, Modern Chinese Poetry, Duckworth, 1936: a palindrome.

“T’ai Wang-shu is now in his early thirties studying European literature in France. His volume of poems entitled Leaves of Wang-shu (Wang-shu T’sao) has had a great influence over the younger generation.” The book prints a note by him about his ideas on modern poetry.

Summer Rain

March 22 2014

“Through morning rain
Come cries of flower-vendors in the lane;
Dew on the petals,
Mushrooms by the trees,
Along the door-steps, moss.
A tiny snail is creeping up the wall.”

___

Lin Kêng, Summer Rain in Harold Acton with Ch’en Shih-Hsiang, translators, Modern Chinese Poetry, Duckworth, 1936.

According to it, Lin Kêng was born in Peking in 1910 of a Fukienese family of scholars. “His father, Mr. Lin Tsai-p’ing was an authority on Chinese and Indian philosophy, which he taught at Tsing Hua and Peking National Universities. Mr. Lin Kêng studied Chinese literature at Tsing Hua University and graduated in 1933.” The book prints a note by him about his ideas on modern poetry.

Two Confucian princes

March 16 2014

The Indic philosopher Siddhārtha Gautama exerted his influence upon the Mauryan Emperor Açoka after a Time-interval of more than two centuries, if the Buddha died in 487 B.C. and Açoka came to the throne in 273 B.C. But perhaps the most extraordinary example of this exertion of influence at long range is Confucius’s effect upon the minds and lives of the two [long-reigning] Manchu emperors K’ang Hsi [the Kangxi Emperor, regnabat 1661-1722] and [his successor but one] Ch’ien Lung [the Qianlong Emperor, regnabat 1735-96].

The first of these two Confucian princes did not begin to reign until more than two thousand years had passed since his mentor’s death; the Far Eastern Society into which K’ang Hsi was born was sundered from the Sinic Society, in whose bosom Confucius himself had lived and taught, by a social interregnum which deepened the gulf dug by Time; and K’ang Hsi himself was not even a native-born son of the Far Eastern Civilization, but was a cultural convert from a horde of recently installed barbarian conquerors. The influence of Confucius upon K’ang Hsi was a brilliant posthumous consolation prize for the disappointment, in Confucius’s own lifetime, of the hopes of a Sinic sage whose offers of service had been rejected by the Sinic princes of the day; and this posthumous reversal of fortune was as ironic as it was extreme, for, in offering himself in the role of mentor, the Sinic sage had not just been making a half-hearted compromise with an importunate conscience in the manner of his Hellenic and Indic counterparts. In Confucius’s eyes the role which Confucius never succeeded in playing effectively until long after his death was no grudgingly paid debt to the ineradicable human nature of the social animal under the sage’s cloak: it was for him the only role in which a philosopher could properly follow his spiritual calling. [Footnote: In Confucius’s view the ultimate purpose of self-cultivation, which was the Superior Person’s first duty, was the purification of his neighbour and of the entire community. Confucius thought of himself, not as a happily detached sage, but as an unfortunately unemployed man of action (see Maspero, H.: La Chine Antique (Paris 1927, Boccard), pp. 466-7 and 543).]

A Study of History, Vol VI, OUP, 1939

The shape of Chinese history

March 16 2014

The “Far Eastern Civilization”, according to Toynbee’s scheme, emerged before AD 500, during a post-Han interregnum, out of a disintegrating “Sinic” civilisation. It began to break down in the late ninth century, at the end of the Tang (618-907). Its Time of Troubles was followed by successive universal states founded by barbarians: the Mongol or Yuan (1280-1351) and Qing (1644-1912) empires, with a Chinese restoration under the Ming (1368-1644).

The “Sinic” civilisation had originated in the Yellow River basin c 1500 BC (Shang, Western Zhou, Eastern Zhou). Its Time of Troubles was the period of the Warring States, which produced Confucius and Lao-tse. The universal states which followed were the Ts’in (Qin) (221-207 BC) and Han (206 BC-AD 220) empires. Under the Han, Mahayana Buddhism arrived from India.

Sinologists scorned the two-civilisation idea and Toynbee’s forcing of Chinese history into his Hellenic model of civilisations. See Wayne Altree, Toynbee’s Treatment of Chinese History in MF Ashley Montagu, editor, Toynbee and History, Critical Essays and Reviews, Boston, Porter Sargent, 1956.

Neo-Confucianism, incidentally, was an attempt, starting under the Tang, to reinterpret Confucius in the light of the Mahayana and at the same time to rid Confucianism of superstitious and mystical elements of Taoism and Buddhism that had influenced it during and after the Han.

Pax Manchuana

March 15 2014

In the main body of the Far Eastern World the Manchu restoration of a Mongol-built universal state was more to the credit of the forerunner Nurhachi (regnabat A.D. 1618-25), who never set foot inside the Great Wall, than it was to the credit of his fainéant successor Shun Chih (imperabat A.D. 1644-61), in whose reign the seat of the Manchu power was triumphantly transferred from Mukden to Peking.

[…]

The [beginning of the] “Indian Summer” which the main body of the Far Eastern World enjoyed under the Pax Manchuana […] is to be equated with the definitive subjugation of the South by the Emperor K’ang Hsi in A.D. 1682, and its end with the death of the Emperor Ch’ien Lung in A.D. 1796.

A Study of History, Vol VI, OUP, 1939

A provincial capital in China, 1910-53

March 14 2014

“The year was 1910. The scene was a provincial capital in the heart of China. The city was over 2,000 years old and was proud of its history and its conservatism. Around it was an ancient wall mounted with obsolete cannon. It was criss-crossed with narrow streets which in the day-time were thronged, were redolent with the odours of opium, night soil, and the frying foods of street vendors, streets which resounded with the cries of the hawkers of various wares and the bearers of sedan chairs, the squeak of ungreased wheelbarrows, the squeal of pigs being carried to market, and the pleas of beggars. As one passed along the streets he could look in upon numerous handicrafts – the making of shoes, the dyeing of cloth, the manufacture of paper money for burning on behalf of the dead, and huge pestles operated by human feet for the hulling of rice. Hidden behind blank walls were the courtyards of the mansions of the rich, some of them with treasures of books and of paintings of old masters. Narrow side alleys led to the crowded tenements of the poor. Trade, handicrafts, and even beggars and thieves were organized by guilds. In the city was the yamen of the provincial governor, representative of the imperial power of distant Peking and of the Confucian state, a set of political institutions under which, with modifications, the Chinese had lived for over two millenniums [sic]. There were Confucian temples, symbolic of the moral and intellectual ideas which had been dominant for twenty centuries and the scene of ceremonial gatherings of the scholar-officials who, nurtured in Confucianism and its exponents and guardians, were the élite who by precept and example set the standards of conduct of the country. Near the heart of the city was an open space which until a few years before [1905] had been occupied by rows of small covered stalls in which were given periodically the highly competitive examinations based upon the Confucian classics through which entrance was had to the coveted ranks of the scholar class and the civil service. At nightfall the gates in the encompassing battlements were closed and the streets were empty. The city then seemed like a vast house, with 200,000 or more inhabitants enclosed within a wall which was about a mile wide and a mile and a half long, in rooms of various sizes separated by narrow halls which echoed to the gong and bamboo drum of the night-watchman as he made his rounds.

“Outside the city were countless graves, some of them dating from before the Christian era. Across the river, on the slopes and at the summit of a mountain were a Buddhist and a Taoist monastery, representative of religions which had long been present in China, the one an importation and a channel of Indian influence, and the other native to China.

“Life went on much as it had for untold generations. Here was a great civilization with a long history, the creation and the possession of a proud people who traditionally had regarded all foreigners as crude barbarians. Here was a world seemingly as apart from the rest of mankind as though it were on a distinct planet. [Several clichés.]

“Yet in that year there were evidences of an invasion from another world. On an island in the river were the houses of consuls of Western Powers, the homes of merchants, and the dwellings of British subjects who were managing the customs service, a system imposed on China from the outside half a century and more earlier. On the river bank were the offices of European and American business firms. British and Japanese steamers connected the city with down-river marts through which flowed the products of the factories of the industrialized Occident and of Japan. Lamps fed by the kerosene refined and imported by foreigners were supplanting older forms of lighting. From time to time foreign gunboats lay in the river as a protection for the invaders. Within the walls were homes, churches, schools, and an incipient hospital and medical and nursing school of Christian missionaries from Europe and America [mainly Protestant at this time], vivid evidence that this other world was already effecting an entrance. To the east and south were the beginnings of cuts and embankments which were designed to carry a railway which would form the path for the iron horse, ‘the fire-wheel wagon’, to form a road for additional penetration. The vacant plot where once had been the examination stalls was mute evidence that the old order had been dealt a mortal blow at its very heart.

“Here was an early stage of a vast revolution, a revolution as great as though men from Mars had forced themselves and their civilization upon the inhabitants of the earth.

“By the 1950’s the revolution had proceeded much further. The crenellated wall had long since disappeared. The railroad had been completed, a trunk line between the north and south, with gateways to the invaders at both ends. New streets had been driven through the city. Electric light, the telephone, and the automobile had appeared. The Confucian monarchy had been abandoned and with its going the local representatives of the central government had shifted again and again. In place of the monarchy there had come what was called a republic, but the Chinese had floundered in their attempts to adopt and adapt institutions and ideals with which they were unfamiliar. Civil war had racked the country. In a prolonged Japanese invasion the battle lines had more than once moved back and forth across the city, leaving much of it a smoking ruin. Rebuilding was rapid, but had not been accomplished when a new and even more revolutionary invasion, that of Communism of the Russian pattern, took possession. In all of these changes the schools shared and through them successive student generations were moulded. Confucianism as the standard of education was swept into the dustbin and its passing created a void which for a growing minority was filled by Christianity, but which left the majority empty and dissatisfied, potential converts to the dogmatic ideology of Communism. Social customs, including the relations between the sexes and marriage, were kaleidoscopic. The river still ran and opposite loomed the familiar hills, but had those returned who had known the city only in 1910 they would have been left breathless and bewildered […].”

___

Kenneth Scott Latourette was one of those American missionaries (Baptist) and later taught at Yale. This is the opening of his A History of Modern China, Pelican, 1954, the first volume in The Pelican History of the World, a series of national histories that was abandoned. Some volumes detached themselves from it and remained in print on their own or never got into it. As far as I can see, it contained only this and (for those who like old Pelicans)

RB Nye and JB Morpurgo, A History of the United States, 2 volumes, 1955

Alfred CobbanA History of Modern France, 3 volumes, 1957, 1961, 1965

Keith Sinclair, A History of New Zealand, 1959 and

William C Atkinson, A History of Spain and Portugal, 1960.

Tiananmen Square

March 13 2014

The Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) to the Forbidden City (last post), on the north side of Tiananmen Square, was built in 1415 under the Ming Dynasty.

Attached to it, to this day, is a large portrait of Mao Zedong, wart and all.

Tiananmen Square was laid out in 1651, under the Qing. At its original southern end (where the Mao Zedong Mausoleum now is) stood the early-fifteenth century Great Ming Gate, renamed Great Qing Gate (“Daqingmen” in the map in yesterday’s post), the old southern ceremonial gate to the Imperial City. Gate of China under the Republic.

A short way south of that and built at the same time was Qianmen Gate (or Front Gate; Ch’ien-men, Wade Giles; also called Cheng-yang-men, Wade Giles, and Zhengyangmen, pinyin) into the Outer City. See last post.

The Square in the early twentieth century viewed from Qianmen Gate; Qing Gate in middle distance; beyond it the Imperial Way leading to Tiananmen Gate in the far distance; flanking the Imperial Way on each side is the “corridor of a thousand steps”:

Peking, Blick vom Chienmen auf die Kaiserstadt

The British and French troops who invaded Beijing in 1860 during the Second Opium War considered burning down the Qing Gate and the Forbidden City. They decided ultimately to spare them and to burn instead the emperor’s Old Summer Palace a few kilometres away.

The Qing emperor was forced to let the foreign powers barrack troops and establish diplomatic missions in the area, resulting in the Legation Quarter to the east of the modern square.

The Legation Quarter was besieged and damaged during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.

In 1954, the Gate of China was demolished, allowing for the enlargement of the square. The Qianmen Gate survives.

Modern square, map at chinatouristmaps.com (please visit):

tiananmen-square-map

Mausoleum of Mao Zedong

Monument to the People’s Heroes

Great Hall of the People

National Museum of China

The square in 1900 (old post).

The walls of Peking

March 12 2014

Before the unification of China by the First Emperor in 221 BC, Beijing had been, for centuries, the capital of the ancient states of Ji and Yan.

During the first millennia of imperial rule, it was a provincial city in northern China. Its stature grew in the 10th to 13th centuries when the nomadic Khitan and forest-dwelling Jurchen peoples from beyond the Great Wall expanded southward and made the city a capital of their dynasties, the Liao and Jin.

Beijing as a capital for the whole of China grew out of the Yuan (Mongol) capital Dadu or Khanbaliq. The Ming moved their capital there from Nanjing in 1421.

The walls in the photographs below, built under the Ming, are those of the Inner City. Under the Manchu or Qing Dynasty rulers (1644-1912), it came to be called the Tartar City, in the loose sense of Tartar, because only Manchus were allowed to live there.

The Han Chinese, whose businesses depended on the imperial households, lived in the Outer City, which had its own wall.

The Imperial City was the collection of gardens and shrines in the Inner City which surrounded the Forbidden City, the imperial palace under the Ming and Qing.

Historical names of Beijing (Wikipedia).

Beijing city wall map

The Inner and Outer walls were damaged during the Boxer Rebellion, punctured in various places after 1911 and almost entirely dismantled by the Communists.

Tiananmen Square lies between Tiananmen Gate, the gate into the Imperial City, and Zhengyangmen or Qianmen Gate, the gate into the Outer City.

Walls of the Tartar City via visualisingchina.net:

Peking wall 3

Peking wall 2

Peking wall 1