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Tangut, Khitan, Juchen; Manchu
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The Silk Route/Western Regions (1-15C AD); Marco Polo Part 1 on the overland route from Europe May 8, 2009

[ Historical Maps:
1 Here is an early map - the crossing of the Yellow River is clearly seen. : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periplus_of_the_Erythraean_Sea
Locations, names and routes of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (1st century CE)
2 Han Dynasty China, the Western Regions protectorate, and neighbouring states; Xiongnu domains See more
[ Historical Maps:
1 Here is an early map - the crossing of the Yellow River is clearly seen. : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periplus_of_the_Erythraean_Sea
Locations, names and routes of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (1st century CE)
2 Han Dynasty China, the Western Regions protectorate, and neighbouring states; Xiongnu domains http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Han_Civilisation.png
3 Here is a later map, perhaps 13C Mongol/Yuan or Ming: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Silk_Route_extant.JPG
Extent of Silk Route/Silk Road: The economically important Silk Road and Spice (Eastern) trade routes, became blocked by Ottoman Empire ca. 1453 with the fall of the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople soon spurring exploration motivated initially by the finding of a sea route around Africa and triggering the Age of Discovery. ]

Here is the story of Marco Polo, from a children's history storybook. Marco Polo was a native of present-day Croatia. The link with the 'Age of Discovery' is mentioned at the end of Part 2.

Marco Polo Goes to China

In the Yuan Dynasty, China had very close contacts with all the different countries of the world. Of the many foreigners who went to China, the Italian, Marco Polo, must be considered the most influential.

Marco Polo was born into a merchant family in Venice, Italy. In the year 1260, his father, Niccolo Polo, and his father's younger brother, Maffeo Polo, went to the Jinzhang Khanate to do business. On the way back, as they were passing through Buhuala, they met an official envoy who had been appointed to the Yuan Court by the Il-Khanate. The official invited them to go to China with him. At that time Kublai Khan had not long been Great Khan. When he received them, the diligent and curious Kublai sought to learn from them about the various Western countries and the Vatican at Rome. He inquired about how the foreign states were administered and how they went to war, and about what religion they believed in, and so on. They answered each question one by one. Kublai was very satisfied and decided to send the envoy, Kejiada, to the Vatican in Rome. He appointed the two Polo brothers as assistant representatives bearing official accreditation letters. They were to ask the Pope to send one hundred missionaries, proficient in rhetoric, grammar, logic, mathematics, astronomy, geography and music - seven fields of study, to China. Kublai also asked them to go to the tomb of Jesus to obtain holy oil from the long-burning lamp and bring it back to China. He longed to have the oil because he had heard that it brought good fortune and could cure illness, and also because his mother believed in Christianity.

Not long after the delegation had set out, the ambassador, Kejiada, became seriously ill and was unable to travel any further. The Polo brothers continued to press forward. When they learned on the journey that the Pope had died, they had no choice but to go back to their hometown, Venice, and wait until the new Pope had been chosen before going to the Vatican. By this time, Niccolo's wife had long since died, leaving only their fifteen-year-old son, Marco Polo.

Niccolo and Maffeo waited two years in Venice, but the new Pope had still not been chosen. In order not to let down the expectations of Kublai, they decided to go to China again. This time they took the young Marco Polo along with them. They first obtained credentials from the Roman Vatican, and then went to Jerusalem in the Holy Land (Jerusalem in present-day Palestine) to obtain the holy oil, before formally starting on their long return journey. While they were in Armenia (present-day Armenia in the Soviet Union) Rome's new Pope was chosen, so they decided to go back to see him. However, the new Pope did not completely satisfy Kublai's requirements and only sent two missionaries to accompany them to China. When they had gone only part of the way, the missionaries heard that Armenia was at war and were very frightened. They handed over the official documents and gifts to the Polo brothers and went back to Rome.

The three of them, the two Polo brothers and Marco Polo, passed through Syria and the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, entered present-day Iran, crossed the Central Asian Great Sandy Desert, and then crossed the Pamir tablelands - the Roof of the World. All along the way, they went through many kinds of hardships and difficulties. Sometimes they would not see a single home, or a green plant, or a bird in the sky for more than ten days at a time. They entered what is today Chinese Xinjiang, passed through Kashi and Yutian (present-day Hetian County in Xinjiang) and arrived at the lake, Lop Nor. They rested at the city, Lop Cheng, for a week, then, taking with them a month's supply of food, they continued on, pressing forward through the boundless desert. Since leaving Rome, three and a half years had gone by when they finally reached Yuan Shangdu (in the north-west of present-day Duolun County in Inner Mongolia) in the twelfth year of the Yuan Dynasty (1265 AD). At that time, Kublai was staying at Shangdu on his summer retreat. They submitted the Pope's letter, and presented the lamp oil from the Holy Sepulchre and the Pope's gifts. They gave an account to Kublai of their representations to the Pope and their experiences on the journey. Kublai was very pleased and made the three of them honoured attendants.
...

[Edited at 2009-05-08 22:46 GMT]
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Marco Polo Part 2 May 8, 2009

The clever Marco Polo quickly learned Mongolian and other eastern languages, and because he was capable, careful, and conscientious in handling matters, Kublai had great confidence in him. He was often called to the imperial palace by Kublai to relate the history and customs of all the European countries and their current situation. Kublai always listened with great interest. Marco Polo liked raising horses. He wrote an article speaking highly of Shanxi's white horses which Kublai hung in the pa... See more
The clever Marco Polo quickly learned Mongolian and other eastern languages, and because he was capable, careful, and conscientious in handling matters, Kublai had great confidence in him. He was often called to the imperial palace by Kublai to relate the history and customs of all the European countries and their current situation. Kublai always listened with great interest. Marco Polo liked raising horses. He wrote an article speaking highly of Shanxi's white horses which Kublai hung in the palace, side by side with a famous drawing of eight fine steeds, to add to his enjoyment.

In addition to holding a post at Dadu, Marco Polo was often instructed by Kublai to go on a tour of inspection to the provinces or to go as envoy to foreign countries. He once went to what are today Shanxi, Shaanxi and Sichuan provinces. He penetrated far into the areas of the minority peoples of Sichuan and Tibet. He went to Yunnan and North Burma and, according to his own words, he was an official in Yangzhou. Later on, he received orders to go to South-east Asia as ambassador. He went to Annan (today's Vietnam), Java, Sumatra (today's Indonesia), and also to the various states in India and to Ceylon (today's Sri Lanka).

Marco Polo and his father and uncle lived in China for seventeen whole years and they very much wanted to go back to their hometown, Venice, for a visit. At that time the Great Khan of the Il-Khanate had sent three envoys to ask Kublai if he could marry the imperial princess, and Kublai had decided to allow the seventeen year old princess to go out and be wed far away from home. The Il-Khanate representatives and the princess set out on the land route, but because war had broken out in Central Asia, the route was closed and they went back to Dadu. As it happened, Marco Polo had just come back from India by boat, and had gone to make his report to Kublai regarding the situation of each state, and his experiences on the voyage. The three envoys then requested the three Polos to take them back by the sea route. Kublai had originally been reluctant to let the Polos leave China, but, because of the princess's marriage, he had no choice but to give his agreement. However, he asked them to return to China after they had finished seeing their relatives and friends.

Early in the twenty-ninth year of the Yuan Dynasty (1292 AD), the three Polos prepared fourteen ships and two years' food supplies. Then, carrying Kublai's credentials for the French, English and Spanish kings, they set off from Quanzhou in Fujian.

On the sea, the weather was unpredictable and there were huge roaring waves. They took two and a half years to reach the Il-Khanate. Originally there were almost one thousand people in the party. Some had died on the voyage, others had drowned when the ships were damaged. There were only eighteen people left. Under their watchful care the princess was safe and sound. They took the princess to where the Great Khan was, and, after resting for nine months, they started on their journey to Italy. When they learned on the road that Kublai had died they were very grieved and, because of this, they gave up the idea of going back to China again. At the end of the first year of Yuan Zhen's reign (1295 AD), the three returned to their hometown, Venice. At that time, Venice and Genoa went to war. Marco Polo entered the Venetian navy and fought against Genoa. In 1298 AD (the second year of Yuan Chengzong Dade), the soldiers were defeated and Marco Polo was captured. He was locked up for a year. In the same prison there was a writer called Rustichello. Marco Polo told Rustichello all the varied and interesting things he had seen and heard in Asia, and Rustichello wrote them down. This is the world-famous "The Travels of Marco Polo".

"The Travels of Marco Polo" came to be called "The Book of Marvels of the World". The whole book was divided into four sections. The first section describes the countries and places Marco Polo travelled though when he came to China. The second section talks about the political situation of the early Yuan dynasty and records China's abundance of products and the thriving and prosperous condition of many cities. The third section introduces the situation of some of China's neighbouring countries and regions. The fourth section talks about the wars between the Mongol kings after Genghis Khan and the situation of Russia. The accounts in the book of the cities of Beijing (called Cambulac in the book), Xi'an, Ji'nan, Kaifeng, Xiangyang, Zhenjiang, Changzhou, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Fuzhou, and Quanzhou are extremely authentic. The local conditions and customs and the plentiful products, as well as the city buildings, are all written about in great detail.

For example, when writing about Dadu City's magnificence and flourishing activity, Marco Polo said,

"Cambulac's area is designed like a chequerboard. It is an equal-sided square-shaped city, and the four sides have a city wall. Inside and outside Cambulac City walls, there is a multitude of inhabitants. Amongst them are many foreigners, some come to pay tribute, others to do business. Inside and outside the walls there are magnificent buildings and a wonderful array of precious foreign goods. The goods and materials brought in from inside and outside the country are an endless stream; every day more than one thousand carts enter the city."

As another example, the description of Hangzhou's rich, populous and beautiful period is as follows:

"Hangzhou is the world's most splendid city. The Frankish language translates Hangzhou as "Heaven City" - that means paradise. The scale of the city is very large, the perimeter is one hundred English miles. In the city there are twelve thousand stone bridges, and the whole city seems as if it is built on water. The residents of the city have twelve types of trade, and each trade has twelve thousand households. Because this is a place which produces silk, most of the residents wear silk clothes. Great businessmen and factory owners have a great deal of property. In the city there is a large lake (that is the West Lake), with a perimeter of thirty miles. The scenery is particularly beautiful. There are many sightseers at the lake, and in the lake there are small boats so that the sightseers can sit down in them and enjoy themselves. Around the lake there are extremely beautiful palaces and mansions, all of them the residences of respected people."

Marco Polo was the first foreigner to introduce China to the West. Through "The Travels" he introduced all the countries of the world to Chinese silkworm rearing, silk fabric, paper-making, paper money, printing, coal-burning, as well as city architecture, municipal administration, the arts and so on. It is said that Europe's violin was invented because Marco Polo took a Chinese huqin back with him. However, when "The Travels" was first published, people did not really believe it because they had never heard of those things before. In 1324 AD (the first year of the Yuan Tai Ding Emperor's reign), seventy year old Marco Polo contracted a serious illness. When he was near death, friends asked him, for the peace of his soul, to remove those parts of "The Travels" which were untrue. Marco Polo replied, "But I have not spoken the half of what I saw and heard!"

As the truthfulness of "The Travels" became more and more reinforced by the facts, Westerners' longing for China became more and more intense. In 1492 AD (the fifth year of the Ming Emperor, Hong Zhi), the Genoese youth, Christopher Columbus, who had read "The Travels" in his early years, undertook his famous voyage bearing a letter to the Chinese Emperor from the King of Spain. Later, when he reached the islands of the West Indies, he thought he had reached India in the East. One could say that this chance "Great Geographical Discovery" was accomplished through the influence of "Marco Polo's Travels".

Translated from Qiu Shusen, Chinese History Stories - Yuan, China Children's and Young People's Press, Beijing, 1983
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Yumenguan and Yangguan passes; Khotan's jade; Xiao'erjing script; the Hui minority; Tang Chang'an May 8, 2009

lai an wrote:

Silk Route Flowers and Rain (ballet in six acts):... and so Yingniang sets foot on the route back to China. In order to vent his personal spite, Shi Cao instigates the bandit, Dou Hu, to hold them up and rob them below the beacon tower outside Yang Guan. ... (Wang Qin Yan et al ed., Music Appreciation Handbook, Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House, Shanghai, 1983


Here is an excerpt from the Gansu Tourist Guide about the two Han Dynasty passes:
' Ancient Yumenguan is located seventy-five kilometres northwest of Dunhuang county town, and ancient Yangguan is located seventy kilometres southwest of Dunhuang town. ... From the Han and Wei on, [Yumenguan] was the border defences' westernmost major pass linking to the various states of the Western Regions, and it was also known by Chinese and foreign historians as the "Silk Road" Northern Route's required strategic pass. ...
...
Yang Guan got its name because it is south of Yumen Guan, ... It is the "Silk Road" Southern Route's required strategic pass. ...

(Translated from Duan, Qi and Li eds., Gansu Tourist Guide (1982), China Tourism Publishing House, Beijing)

'Yumenguan is also called "Little Square Slab Town ". It is said that Khotan’s jade passed through here when it was imported into the Central Plains, and that it got its name from this.'(ibid)

[ Khotan [Hetian] is an oasis town in present-day Xinjiang. The Kingdom of Khotan 56 – 1006 was a Buddhist Kingdom which spoke a Persian language, Khotanese. Later, Marco Polo passed through Khotan [Yutian] on his way to China. ]

Xiao'erjing script:
Islam arrived in China during the Tang Dynasty, and adherents such as the Hui, Dongxiang and Salar nationalities started to write the Chinese language in Arabic and Persian script, for religious texts and for everyday life. This script, Xiao'erjing, is now almost extinct.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiao'erjing

Who are the Hui?:
‘Since the arrival of Islam during the Tang Dynasty (beginning in the mid-7th century), many Arabic or Persian speaking people migrated into China. Centuries later, these peoples assimilated with the native Han Chinese, forming the Hui ethnicity of today. ’

Tang Dynasty Chang'an (today's Xi'an), foreign relations:
Excerpts from a cultural reader for young people:

Not only was Tang Chang'an a residential centre for all the nationalities from inside China, it also attracted quite a lot of foreigners who used to live there. The East Market (Dong Shi) and the West Market (Xi Shi) in the city were two large commercial areas. The East Market dealt in products from within China from more than two hundred and twenty specialist trades. The West Market was the trading centre for the minority nationalities and for merchants from foreign states. Forty-four countries regularly came to engage in trade there. Most of the foreign traders dealt in clothing, silks, precious stones, and perfumes and spices, and they also purchased all sorts of famous Chinese products.
...
The Tang Dynasty had reciprocal relations with more than three hundred states and regions. Each year a large contingent of foreign visitors would come to Chang'an, where the Hong Lu Si and the Li Bin Yuan (Protocol Office) had special responsibility for receiving them. A large group of foreign students came to study at Chang'an, students from Japan and Silla being the most numerous. In the more than two hundred years from the fourth Zhen Guan year (630AD) to the first Qian Ning year (894AD), Japan sent thirteen groups of "envoys assigned to the Tang". In one of them, there were as many as five or six hundred people. They studied the politics, economics, arts, science and customs of the Flourishing Tang diligently. Some of the foreign students grew up in Chang'an, and others took up positions in the Tang Dynasty. ...

Translated from 'Tang Dynasty Chang'an' in Wang Yong Kuan et al., Native land, China Youth Press, Beijing, 1983

[Edited at 2009-05-08 09:10 GMT]


 

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Khotan 56-1006; China and Parthia; the Western Regions beyond Yumenguan; Rome and silk May 10, 2009

lai an wrote:
'It is said that Khotan’s jade passed through [Yumenguan] when it was imported into the Central Plains, and that it got its name from this.'(ibid) Khotan [Hetian] is an oasis town in present-day Xinjiang. The Kingdom of Khotan 56 – 1006 was a Buddhist Kingdom which spoke a Persian language, Khotanese. Later, Marco Polo passed through Khotan [Yutian] on his way to China.


1 Khotan 56-1006:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Khotan
'From the Han Dynasty until at least the Tang Dynasty it was known in Chinese as Yutian 于窴.' 'Many foreign languages, including Chinese, Sanskrit, Prakrit and Tibetan, were used in cultural exchange.' 'It came under Muslim Turk control (the Kara-Khanids) in the first decade of the 11th century. Marco Polo visited Khotan between 1271 and 1275 ...'

2 Contact between Han Dynasty China and Anxi/Parthia (Ancient Persia), the story of Gan Ying's mission to the Roman Empire from the Western Regions Protectorate in the 1st Century AD:

'Cao Da Gu's other older brother was Ban Chao, far away in the Western Regions. He had had no dealings with Dou Xian and of course he had not been implicated, but had even won promotion and become Duhu (Commissioner) of the Western Regions.

When Ban Chao in the Western Regions heard that there was a great state in the West called Da Qin [this was the Roman Empire] he sent his aide, Gan Ying, as envoy, taking with him a retinue and gifts, to make contact with Da Qin. When Gan Ying reached Tiao Zhi, [the name of an ancient state, in the vicinity of Syria], he was welcomed by the local people. The state of Tiao Zhi was a peninsula. The capital city was built on a hill and had a circumference of more than forty li. To the west was the sea [this was the Mediterranean Sea]. That place was hot and humid, and had long been the haunt of beasts of prey like lions and rhinoceroses. Taking the land route was not very easy, so Gan Ying decided to go by boat. There was an Anxi (ancient Persia State) boatman who advised him, "I think you'd better not go. The sea is very big and going by boat will be a great risk. If you're lucky and the winds and seas are favourable, it will still take three months. If the winds are unfavourable, you won't get there in two years. When we go to Da Qin, we always take three years' food supplies with us on the boat. The sea is so vast that you can't see the coasts, and the people on the boat can't help longing for home. If they fall sick or if you meet with heavy seas, many of them will die. You Orientals couldn't stand all that now, could you?"

After Gan Ying had thanked the Anxi man, he went back and reported the course of events to Ban Chao. Coincidentally, an envoy from Anxi arrived bringing lions from Anxi and great birds from Tiao Zhi as gifts to take on to the Han Dynasty emperor. By this time, Ban Chao had been in the Western Regions for thirty years, so he sent his son, Ban Yong, to escort the Anxi State's envoy to Luoyang, and at the same time he took the opportunity to send a memorial up to Hanhedi. He said, "If I die in the Western Regions it doesn't matter. I'm just afraid that because I have not been allowed to return to China, others will not dare to come out here again. Even if I cannot return to Jiuquan Prefecture, if I live to go in through the Yumen Pass I will be perfectly satisfied. My son has lived in the Western Regions from a young age. I consider myself already fortunate enough, that I have lived to see my son go back and have a look at the country of his mother and father." But Hanhedi did not reply.

Ban Chao's sister, Cao Da Gu, also sent up a memorial to Hanhedi, entreating him earnestly to let her brother return. Only then did Hanhedi issue an imperial edict, appointing the zhonglangjiang (military official), Ren Shang, Commissioner to the Western Regions to take over from Ban Chao, and recalling Ban Chao to the court. In the eighth month of 102 AD, Ban Chao returned to Luo Yang. He died in the ninth month, aged seventy-one.'

Translated from Lin Han Da ed., Stories from the Eastern Han, China Children and Young People's Press, Beijing, 1983

3 Yumenguan:

If one says that Dunhuang is China's ancient strategic passage to the Indian and Persian regions, then these two impregnable passes are the strategic gateways. More than one thousand years ago, these two walled passes sometimes raised the beacon fires high to resist invading enemies, and sometimes stretched out both arms to welcome long-journeying envoys and traders from strange lands.
...
In ancient times, stepping out through Yumenguan was the same as going beyond the frontier. In Tang poetry, there are many sad, desolate Leaving the Frontier Songs. Wang Zhi Huan's "Leaving the Frontier" is one of the famous ones: "Yellow River distantly rises to white clouds' midst, one stretch of lonely city-wall 10,000 ren mountains; Qiang flute why must you resent the willows, the spring wind never crosses Yumen Guan". In the eyes of the ancients, the Western Regions beyond Yumenguan were most likely dreary and desolate. After spending the greater part of his life beyond the Great Wall, the Han frontier garrisons' famous general, Ban Chao, in his later years, asked the Emperor to allow him to move back inside Yumenguan before he should leave the world of men. In his memorial to the Emperor he said: "Your subject does not dare hope to reach Jiuquan jun, but he longs while still alive to re-enter Yumenguan." However today, this Yumenguan is no longer the lonely city-wall far from the native land. The spring winds which waft abroad the warmth of our great country have already blown through Yumenguan, blowing green this place of fragrant grasses at the ends of the earth. It has become the Interior of China.

Translated from Duan, Qi and Li eds., Gansu Tourist Guide (1982), China Tourism Publishing House, Beijing

4 Rome and silk:

With regard to silk textile work: Hanwudi dispatched Zhang Qian to go out as envoy to the Western Regions, and opened up the "Silk Route". By means of this route, China's silk textile work travelled from the East to the West, all the way to the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The ancient Romans on the shores of the Mediterranean were extremely fond of the silk textile products of the "Selisi (Silk) State". They did not hesitate to use costly gold, and what is more to pass it through the hands of many Persian traders, to exchange it with the East's Selisi (China) for silk fabrics and embroidery. Why did the Han Dynasty silk products have such power of attraction? On the basis of the material sources unearthed at the ancient Silk Route - the Xinjiang area, and in particular the silk fabric embroidered works unearthed at the Mawangdui Han tomb at Changsha in Hu'nan, it is not difficult to see why: the Han Dynasty silk was not only of a soft, lustrous, fine quality, convenient for dress, but strove for artistic effect. The patterns and designs of many of the works are artistically spaced, the colours are gorgeous, and although they have been buried under the earth for two thousand years, when you look at them today, they can still be regarded as beautiful and moving items of clothing and adornment.

Translated from 'Craft-art exquisite beyond compare' in Wang Yong Kuan et al., Native land, China Youth Press, Beijing, 1983

"Border town dusk rain wild-geese fly low,
reed shoots first growth imbued with a desire to be equal.
Innumerable bell sounds distantly cross the desert,
they should be carrying white silk to Anxi."

These are a few lines from the poem "Liangzhou Ci" by the Tang poet, Zhang Ji. He is describing the countless camel caravans, laden with silk fabric, rocking and swaying, with the clear, melodious sound of camel bells tinkling, as they advance into the Great Sandy Desert. It depicts a scene peculiar to the "Silk Road".

Silk was a great invention of the ancient working people of China. The writers of ancient Rome wrote in praise of silk, "Colours as fair as wildflowers, materials as fine as spiders' webs", and called China the "Silk State". After the Han Dynasty right up until the thirteenth century, large quantities of soft and lustrous silks passed through the Hexi Corridor and, following the Kunlun and Tianshan Ranges, moved West towards the Western Regions and the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This transverse crossing of continental Asia, the longest ancient overland trade-route and the link between China and all the countries of the West, would be referred to figuratively by later generations as the "Silk Road". This is a testimony to the huge contribution made to world civilisation by the ancient working people of China, particularly by women, through their raising of silkworms and their weaving of silk fabrics.

Translated from 'Zhang Qian and "The Silk Road"' in Wang Yong Kuan et al., Native land, China Youth Press, Beijing, 1983

[Edited at 2009-05-11 10:37 GMT]


 

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China-Japan relations in the Tang; Chinese cultural sphere May 15, 2009

lai an wrote:

Tang Dynasty Chang'an (today's Xi'an), foreign relations:
Excerpts from a cultural reader for young people:

The Tang Dynasty had reciprocal relations with more than three hundred states and regions. A large group of foreign students came to study at Chang'an, students from Japan and Silla being the most numerous. ... Some of the foreign students grew up in Chang'an, and others took up positions in the Tang Dynasty. ...

Translated from 'Tang Dynasty Chang'an' in Wang Yong Kuan et al., Native land, China Youth Press, Beijing, 1983

[Edited at 2009-05-08 09:10 GMT]


The text goes on to say:
' For example, Abeno Nakamaro (Chao Heng) from Japan lived in China for fifty-four years, taking up an official's position in the Dynasty and becoming good friends with Li Bai and Wang Wei.'

Even today, Chinese and Japanese heads of state refer to Abe no Nakamaro as a touchstone of past relations:

[ http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:ZrPo1j19Wk0J:www1.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/wjdt/zyjh/t311544.htm%20abe%20no%20nakamaro%20+president&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk Speech by Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council of the People's Republic of China at the Japanese Diet For Friendship and Cooperation 2007/04/13
http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:HIMtXwLM1hkJ:www.mofa.go.jp/policy/economy/apec/2002/china.html%20abe%20no%20nakamaro%20japanese%20prime%20minister&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk Meeting Between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China on the Occasion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico (Overview) 1992
http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:S7z_7XiXfzcJ:www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/China/dialogue.html%20abe%20no%20nakamaro%20japanese%20prime%20minister&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk Prime Minister Hashimoto's Speech in Beijing
"Japan-China Relations in the New Age: New Developments in Dialogue and Cooperation" September 5, 1997 ]

In the introduction of Tang culture to Japan, blind eminent-monk Jian Zhen is an important figure:

"When Jian Zhen with blind eyes crossed the East Sea,
a shaft of sincerity shone upon Heaven.
Giving up self for others to spread word and art,
Tang wind washing over Nara Town"
(Guo Moruo)

At that time, the Tang Dynasty was one of the centres of world Buddhism. In 742AD, the Japanese learned-monks who had come to the Tang Dynasty to study, Rong Rui and Pu Zhao, received a command from the emperor of Japan, asking them to look for an eminent monk to go to Japan, to expand the Buddhist enterprise, and spread culture. ...
...
From today's point of view, religion is superstition, and it was historically a tool for the ruling class to uphold their rule. However, at that time, achievements in thought and art and so on were very often given expression to around religion, and for this reason, they were also often propagated, along with the propagation of religion.

In Japan, Jian Zhen propagated Flourishing Tang culture. In Nara he took part in the planning work for the construction of the Toshodaiji temple. The architectural structure of the halls is ingenious, the force is imposing, and it reflects the newest accomplishments of Tang Dynasty architecture. Jian Zhen also passed on the dry lacquer method of making Buddha figures, which had a great influence on Japanese sculptural art. Jian Zhen was proficient in the art of healing, he relied on his sense of smell to identify medicines and, to treat the Japanese people's difficult and complicated cases, he introduced China's medical knowledge. Jian Zhen and his followers, as well as the embroiderers, painters, and jadeworkers they took with them, spread the Tang Dynasty's advanced culture, and accelerated the development of Japan's Buddhism, medical science and architecture, as well as calligraphy and literature. Jian Zhen was looked upon as the pioneer of the Japan's Ritsu school.
...
Although Jian Zhen is dead, his outstanding achievements towards the interchange of Chinese and Japanese culture, and the development of Sino-Japanese friendship are always passed down in the annals, and are continuously held in esteem by the peoples of both countries. ...

(Translated from 'Jian Zhen voyages East' in Wang Yong Kuan et al., Native land, China Youth Press, Beijing, 1983)

[ Ancient 'Sinic civilisation' and the modern-day 'Sinosphere': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinosphere This corresponds to the countries which adopted Chinese characters: China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
China's 1000-year rule over Vietnam is discussed here: http://www.proz.com/forum/teaching_and_learning_languages/92644-vietnamese_and_chinese_how_close_are_they_really.html#1118333 ]

[Edited at 2009-05-15 04:54 GMT]


 

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XiXia, Silla; printing; documents of religion and statecraft; pagodas and temples; hanja May 16, 2009

Sinification: the Tangut XiXia Kingdom studied the scriptures and statecraft of the Chinese, and so did the Korean state of Silla. Block printing was used extensively in East Asia.

[ http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav/group.html_2124837990.html
19 The Rise of Tibetan Cultural Influence on the Tanguts:
'Despite their incessant military bat
... See more
Sinification: the Tangut XiXia Kingdom studied the scriptures and statecraft of the Chinese, and so did the Korean state of Silla. Block printing was used extensively in East Asia.

[ http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav/group.html_2124837990.html
19 The Rise of Tibetan Cultural Influence on the Tanguts:
'Despite their incessant military battles with Northern Song China, the Tanguts also continued adopting certain features from Han Chinese society as well -- for example, in 1146, a Confucian-style educational system for training bureaucrats.'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodblock_printing#Early_Books
'In China, Korea, and Japan, the state involved itself in printing at a relatively early stage; initially only the government had the resources to finance the carving of the blocks for long works.' ]

Where/what was Silla?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silla 57 BC–935 AD
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silla#Later_Silla
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silla#Silla_Society_and_Politics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silla#Culture
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silla#Buddhism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Silla#Woodblock_printing

In the 7th century Silla allied itself with the Chinese Tang dynasty. In 660, ... Silla subjugated Baekje. In 668...Silla conquered Goguryeo to its north. Silla then fought for nearly a decade to expel Chinese forces on the peninsula intent on creating Tang colonies there ... Following unification Silla began to rely more upon Chinese models of bureaucracy to administer its greatly expanded territory. This was a marked change from pre-unification days when the Silla monarchy stressed Buddhism ... Muslim traders brought the name "Silla" to the world outside the traditional East Asian sphere through the Silk Road. Geographers of the Arab and Persian world ... left records about Silla. ... Silla attached great importance to the pagoda, building them of stone as well as wood. ...Hundreds of Silla monks traveled to Tang China in search of education and for the procurement of much needed Buddhism sutras. ... Woodblock printing was used to disseminate Buddhist sutras and Confucian works. ...

[ The Tanguts:

Four-part series on the Tangut/Dangxiang/XiXia (10 mins ea) in Chinese:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOBdsUPGTa0&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H48Hu2ghzXY&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ5ZbDIG5MY&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd_BxTQODWQ&feature=related

It seems (from the video) that in Ningxia, in addition to building Yinchuan's Tangut tombs, they may have built the Baisikou Twin Pagodas and Qingtongxia 108 dagobas. They also built Zhangye's Great Reclining Buddha temple in Gansu. They may have used moveable wooden type in their printing.

There is a fairly complete overview of the Tanguts here: http://www.taiwandna.com/ChineseNingxiaPage.html

Here are photos:
http://scenery.cultural-china.com/en//129Scenery652.html
Western Xia Mausoleums
http://scenery.cultural-china.com/en/146S2762S8471.html
108 Pagodas in Qingtongxia
http://scenery.cultural-china.com/en/146S2762S8470.html
Cliff Carvings in Helan Mountain
http://scenery.cultural-china.com/en/146S2762S9324.html
Western Xia Museum
http://scenery.cultural-china.com/en//20S3234S9342.html
Baisikou Twin Pagodas, etc
http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/gansu/zhangye/giant-buddha-temple.htm ]

The story of a temple in Rongcheng, Shandong Province, tells of links between China and Silla in the Tang (and also of the Japanese travel-writer, Master Ennin):

'According to historical records, Chishan Fahuayuan was originally built by the Sillan (today's Korea), Zhang Bao Gao. Why would someone from Silla build a temple here? There is a beautiful legend. It is said that long ago the area around Chishan was all red-coloured, and that there was a Chishan God who could bless and protect the well-being of the ships coming and going on the sea, and so there were a lot of people who often came here to worship the Chishan God.

In the Great Tang's flourishing period, the Sillan, Zhang Bao Gao, was recruited into the Tang, and once served as a young general in the Wuning (today's Xuzhou) Army. He was extremely skillful in martial arts, brave in battle, and deeply loved and esteemed by the officers and men. Later on, he went back to Silla and served as Qinghaizhen ambassador. During this time, he put down a "Silk Road on the Sea" and became a well-known local sea trader. In order to bless and protect the prosperity of his sea transportation enterprise, he came to Chishan out of admiration and built the first large temple in the area here, and furthermore, invited Buddhist monks to come to chant the scriptures. The first group of monks invited to chant the scriptures were from the Tiantai Sect, the scriptures they read and chanted were the "Fahua Jing ", and it is for this reason that the temple was given the name "Chishan Fahuayuan". In the Tang Dynasty the Chishan Fahuayuan enjoyed a great reputation, and at its height of power and splendour, more than thirty monks came and lived here, their basic supplies of food and clothing all provided by Zhang Bao Gao. The temple had many worshippers, with often over two hundred people coming here to listen to the scriptures, and it flourished for a time.

In June of the fourth Tang Kaicheng year (839), the Japanese eminent monk, Master Ennin , and his party went to China to seek the law, and stayed at the monastery for two years and nine months. Under the solicitous support of the government officials and monks and laity of the area, he was able to understand a great deal about the political, cultural, economic and religious aspects of the Tang Dynasty at that time, and his mission of going to China to seek the law was accomplished. After he returned to Japan, Master Ennin bore in mind constantly the enormous rewards of his time in China, and compiled the book, "Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law". In the book he wrote a detailed description of the Chishan Fahuayuan (this book has been eulogised as one of the Orient's three great travel records), which meant that Chishan Fahuayuan's name was spread at home and abroad. At the same time, in order to thank the Chishan people for their profound sentiments of friendship, Ennin instructed his followers to build the "Chishan Chanyuan" in the name of Chishan, at Xiaoyeshan, in the Japanese capital. ' (Translated from: Shandong Tourism Authority, "www.sdta.gov.cn/weihai/jingqu", 1999)

[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ennin#Literary_Work
His diary of travels in China ...was translated into English under the title Ennin's Diary: The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law. ... it is a key source of information on life in Tang China and Silla Korea ... ]

Today, even though Chinese characters, hanja, have been replaced by Hangul/Chosongul, Koreans must learn hanja from high school, in order to be able to read and study their literature. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hangul


[Edited at 2009-05-16 08:32 GMT]
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Local time: 19:59
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Sanskrit and the Buddhist translation enterprise; Kumarajiva, Kucha/Qiuci, Tocharian; Tang Xuan Zang May 20, 2009

lai an wrote:
[The Tanguts/XiXia] also built Zhangye's Great Reclining Buddha temple in Gansu. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/gansu/zhangye/giant-buddha-temple.htm


'According to textual research by the relevant departments, Zhangye's Great Buddha Monastery was built in the first Yongan year of the Tangut Empire (1098 AD), ...'

What was the history of Buddhism/Buddhist translation to 1098?

1 Buddhism is said to have been first introduced in the Hanmingdi period 58 – 75 CE. The story is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Ming_of_Han
'It was during Emperor Ming's reign that Buddhism began to spread into China. One night, he is said to have dreamed of a golden man or golden men. The next day he told his ministers, and the minister Zhong Hu explained to him that he probably dreamed of Buddha in India. The emperor then sent a delegation of 18 headed by Cai Yin, Qin Jing and Wang Zun to seek Buddhism. They returned from Afghanistan with an image of Gautama Buddha, 42 sutras and two eminent monks. The next year, the emperor ordered the construction of White Horse Temple three li west of the capital Luoyang, to remember the horse that carried back the sutras. ...

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Road_transmission_of_Buddhism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Road_transmission_of_Buddhism#Central_Asian_missionaries
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Road_transmission_of_Buddhism#Chinese_pilgrims_to_India
The first missionaries and translators of Buddhist scriptures into Chinese were either Parthian, Kushan, Sogdian or Kuchean. From the 4th century onward, Chinese pilgrims also started to travel to India, ...in order to get improved access to the original scriptures. Buddhist missionaries include: Kumarajiva (c. 401), a Kuchean monk, and one of the most important translators. ... The most famous of the Chinese pilgrims is Xuan Zang (629-644) ... [The fictional Tang Monk of the Ming novel, Journey to the West, is based on Xuan Zang.]

3 Kumarajiva
[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumarajiva http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumarajiva#Legacy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tarimbecken_3._Jahrhundert.png
Tarim Basin in the 3rd century C.E ]

Kumarajiva (344 CE – 413 CE) was a Kuchean Buddhist monk, scholar and translator whose father was from an Indian noble family, and whose mother was a Kuchean princess ... His translation style was distinctive, possessing a flowing smoothness that reflects his prioritization on conveying the meaning as opposed to precise literal rendering. ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kucha#History
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kucha#Kucha_and_Buddhism
For a long time Kucha was the most populous oasis in the Tarim Basin. The language, as evidenced by ancient records, was Tocharian, an Indo-European language. It was located on a crossroad of the great cultures of India, Persia, Bactria and China. ... Kuchan music was very popular in China during the Tang Dynasty, particularly the lute which became known in Chinese as pipa. ... it was not until the 3rd century that the kingdom became a major center of Buddhism ... At this time, Kuchanese monks began to travel to China.

How Kumarajiva became a translator:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumarajiva#Childhood_and_Education
When about 40 years old, a Chinese force captured Kucha and took away Kumārajīva as part of their booty. Initially he was to be taken to the capital, but the local non-Buddhist leader instead kept him locked up for many years. During this time, it is thought that Kumārajīva learnt Chinese. Later, this local leader was bested in a war, and finally Kumārajīva was taken to the capital, Chang'an, whereupon he was immediately introduced to the King, Yao Xing, the court, and other local and non-local Buddhist leaders. He was hailed as a great master from the Western regions, and immediately took up a very high position in Chinese Buddhist circles of the time. Yao Xing looked upon him as a teacher, and many young and old Chinese Buddhists flocked to him, learning both from his direct teachings and through his translation bureau activities. The latter revolutionized Chinese Buddhism, in clarity and overcoming the previous "ge-yi" (concept-matching) system of translation through use of Daoist and Confucian terms.

[Another version of the story:
In the year 384, Lu Guang not only defeated Qiuci, but also subjugated thirty or so states in the Western Regions and captured Kumarajiva. After Lu Guang had returned as far as Liangzhou (today's Wuwei), he went in no further east, but in 386, set up his own Later Liang State, making the capital Guzang (today's Wuwei). From that time on, Kumarajiva stayed in Wuwei for seventeen whole years, and during that time he mastered the Chinese language. In 403 AD the Later Liang fell, and the Later Qin King, Yao Xing, received Kumarajiva at Chang'an, honored him as State Tutor, and asked him to direct the translation of the Buddhist scriptures. At this time, Buddhism in the Sixteen Kingdoms period reached its highest point.

Kumarajiva had a good command of Sanskrit, a good command of Chinese, and superb mastery of Buddhism. As a result, his translations are exact in expression and smooth in style. He translated more than seventy works of scripture, around three hundred volumes. The scriptures he translated were praised by later generations as "language graceful and restrained, writing style a model of beauty, sense not going against the original"; he was the originator of the Free Translation school within the translation enterprise. Tradition has it that, when he was near death, he swore that if his translations could pass as a righteous cause, after death when his body was cremated his tongue would not decay.

Translated from 'Wuwei's Luoshi Temple-Pagoda' in Duan, Qi & Li eds., Gansu Tourist Guide (1982), China Tourism Publishing House, Beijing ]

4 Tocharian. Did Kumarajiva speak Tocharian?
http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:7oj5upIYANsJ:www.chinahistoryforum.com/lofiversion/index.php/t12553.html%20tocharian%20kumarajiva&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk
"The Tarim Mummies" by Victor Mair and JP Mallory describes Kucha and other Tarim statelets as places of great linguistic complexity and diversity... In Kucha and Turfan (Gaochang), for example, one might speak Tocharian B at home, use Sogdian or Chinese when communicating with traders, and read Buddhist sutras in Sanskrit and Prakrit.

[ Tocharian is an extinct Indo-European language. Maps here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_language_family
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_language_family#Classification
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocharian_languages
Tocharian languages, extant in two dialects, attested from roughly the 6th to the 9th century AD. ... Both languages were once spoken in the Tarim Basin in Central Asia, now the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China. ]

5 Tang monk Xuan Zang's pilgrimage 629-645:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xuanzang#Early_life
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xuanzang#Pilgrimage
[ Turfan/Turpan is one of the Tarim oasis kingdoms ]

Xuanzang was fully ordained as a monk in 622, at the age of twenty. The myriad contradictions and discrepancies in the texts at that time prompted Xuanzang to decide to go to India and study in the cradle of Buddhism. He subsequently left his brother [in Sichuan, Chengdu] and returned to Chang'an to study foreign languages and to continue his study of Buddhism. He began his mastery of Sanskrit in 626, and probably also studied Tocharian ...

In 629, Xuanzang reportedly had a dream that convinced him to journey to India. The Tang Dynasty and Eastern Türk Göktürks were waging war at the time; therefore Emperor Tang Taizong prohibited foreign travel. Xuanzang persuaded some Buddhist guards at the gates of Yumen and slipped out of the empire via Liangzhou (Gansu), and Qinghai province. He subsequently travelled across the Gobi Desert to Kumul (Hami), thence following the Tian Shan westward, arriving in Turfan in 630. Here he met the king of Turfan, a Buddhist who equipped him further for his travels with letters of introduction and valuables to serve as funds.

Moving further westward, Xuanzang escaped robbers to reach Yanqi, then toured the ... monasteries of Kucha. ... [ It is a fascinating story ... ]

[Edited at 2009-05-20 11:22 GMT]


 

chica nueva
Local time: 19:59
Chinese to English
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Tang Xuan Zang Part 2; India-China cultural contact; Translation work; Medieval India/Central Asia May 20, 2009

Xuan Zang's was a truly amazing journey.
[ This account by Wriggens gives another version of the story, rather closer to the one in the 'Native Land' cultural reader below. http://www.mongolianculture.com/indomongolian.htm Xuanzang on the Silk Road, Sally Hovey Wriggins ]

Xuan Zang obtains the Scriptures

The Tang Monk who is a household byword, and who wa
... See more
Xuan Zang's was a truly amazing journey.
[ This account by Wriggens gives another version of the story, rather closer to the one in the 'Native Land' cultural reader below. http://www.mongolianculture.com/indomongolian.htm Xuanzang on the Silk Road, Sally Hovey Wriggins ]

Xuan Zang obtains the Scriptures

The Tang Monk who is a household byword, and who was depicted in “The Journey to the West” as laughably timid and cautious and completely dependent on his three escorts, the senior disciples Wukong, Bajie and the Sandy Monk when going to Paradise to find the Scriptures is, of course, the creation of a literary work. The Tang Monk of history – Xuan Zang, was quite the opposite. He had a firm and indomitable character. He was a traveller, thinker, man of letters and translator who was undaunted by repeated setbacks, and he is a figure in the history of Chinese foreign cultural relations worthy of being referred to with pride by the Chinese people.

Xuan Zang (602-662 AD), secular surname Chen, given name Yi, of Louzhougoushi (today's Yanshigoushi Town in Henan Province), became a monk at thirteen years old. Xuan Zang was his Buddhist name. In the early Tang, he went to Chang'an and Chengdu to study, and he also travelled widely in China and consulted very many learned monks and laymen. He found that China's Buddhist sects were divided, that the translations of the Scriptures were incomplete, and that it was impossible to pass on the teachings with certainty. He therefore decided to go to the place of origin of the Buddhist religion, Tianzhu (the present-day Indian Peninsula), to study Buddhism. In Xuan Zang's twenty-sixth year the Tang Dynasty decided for the first time to prohibit its subjects from travelling abroad. Xuan Zang left Chang'an secretly and travelled West.

On the road leading out from the Jiayuguan pass, an old man, hearing that Xuan Zang was going to the West to obtain the Scriptures, counselled him three times not to go. The old man said "The road to the West is extremely dangerous. In the eight hundred li great sandy desert in the state of Yiwu, no birds fly above and no animals move below. A crowd of people could lose their way, let alone a single person. Go back!" Xuan Zang said, "I am determined to go West. I definitely will not go back to the East a single pace. Even if I die on the way, I will not mind at all!" When the old man saw that his mind was made up, he gave him the red horse he was riding, and said, "This horse's legs are strong and powerful, don't just consider him old and thin. He has already crossed Yiwu more than ten times, and knows the way." Xuan Zang's determined belief in seeking the scriptures also moved the beacon-tower field officers at the border, and they not only allowed him to go through, but also rendered all manner of help.

After Xuan Zang entered the great desert, he lost his way and could not find the Wild Horse Spring. He was alarmed and spilt the entire water skin. He wanted to go back for more water; however, he remembered his vow, "Without reaching India, I definitely will not go back eastward one step". He resolved, "I would rather go to the west and die. How could I go back to the east and live?" and immediately urged his horse on to the west. After four or five days, with not one drop of water having passed his lips, he finally fell down senseless in the desert. Actually this place was not far from Lüzhou. At night cool gusts of wind arose and he regained consciousness. He mustered all his courage and continued west, and at last found grass and water. When man and horse had drunk their fill, they continued on for two days before leaving the Moheyanqi (the Great Gobi Desert). He crossed Xinjiang by the Tianshan southern route. From Congling's northern edge he crossed the year-round snow-covered Ling Mountains, passed through Suyecheng (that is, Suiye), and crossed Wuhushui (today's Amu River). Then he turned north-east, climbed the Pamir Highlands, passed the Western Turks' southernmost fortress - the Tiemenguan natural barrier (at Badake Mountain in Afghanistan), and passed Tuhuoluo (in northern Afghanistan). In the year 628, he arrived in north-west Tianzhu.

India, called "Tianzhu" in the Tang Dynasty, was at that time divided into five parts, East, West, North, South and Middle, and was called the "Five Indias". The East, North and Middle were ruled by the Wuchang Dynasty. Xuan Zang was the first Chinese traveller to journey around the Five Indias. He studied in India for fifteen years, and visited more than seventy kingdoms. When he went to the Kashmir Kingdom in North India, he received a grand welcome from the king, the massed officials, and the clergy. Xuan Zang stayed there for two years, probing into the Buddhist canon with the famous monks of that area. The king of the country assigned twenty scribes to copy the Scriptures for Xuan Zang.

Xuan Zang stayed in India's Mojietuo Kingdom [Magadha] the longest. In the famous Nalanda Temple he studied from an authoritative and virtuous Buddhist Master. The Master was old and had not taught for a long time. He made an exception for Xuan Zang and gave lectures for fifteen months. For five years, Xuan Zang specialised in the Buddhist Scriptures, yinming (logic) and shengming (grammar) and became a Buddhist scholar of the first rank. In the year 642 AD, Xuan Zang was invited to chair a debate at Weiriwangduqunu City. Those taking part in this distinguished gathering were eighteen kings, three thousand clerics, two thousand Brahmans and other Buddhist believers, as well as more than one thousand monks from the Nalanda Temple. Xuan Zang was invited to be a speaker at the conference. It is said that, for the eighteen days of the conference, no-one dared to challenge Xuan Zang's arguments. Xuan Zang became a scholar celebrated throughout India.

In 643 AD, Xuan Zang left India to return to China. In 645 (the 19th year of Zhen Guan), in the first month of the lunar year, he returned to Chang'an. He took back with him six hundred and fifty seven books from the Buddhist canon. Under his direction, a multitude of eminent monks and scholars were assembled at Chang'an and Luoyang to organise large-scale translation of the Scriptures. Xuan Zang and the others spent nineteen years translating the seventy-five books. Altogether there were one thousand three hundred and thirty-five volumes amounting to more than thirteen million characters. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was constructed under Xuan Zang's direction to store the Scriptures. He also translated into Sanskrit the "Laozi" and "The Great Vehicle Qixinlun", a Buddhist text which had been lost in India, and introduced them to India. Under Tang Taizong's orders, he wrote "Travels in the Western Regions in the Great Tang". This recorded his personal experience of one hundred and ten, and second-hand experience of twenty-eight, city-states, regions and countries. He worked continuously up until he died in his sixties.

The school of Buddhism which Xuan Zang founded was actually not popular for very long. On the other hand, the numerous Buddhist texts which he translated have become a treasury for present-day research of the classical culture of the Indian peninsula. He left behind an important chapter in the history of cultural contact between China and India. His "Travels in the Western Regions in the Great Tang" is a monumental reference work for the research of the history and geography of central, west and south Asia. It is also one of the most detailed books in the world for the research of Indian history in the Middle Ages, and has come to be highly thought of in the world scientific community over the past hundred years. It has been translated and published in French, English, Russian, Japanese and German, and it is something for us to be proud of and to cherish.

Translated from 'Xuan Zang obtains the Scriptures' in Wang Yong Kuan et al., Native land, China Youth Press, Beijing, 1983

[ Corroboration:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xuanzang#South_Asia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xuanzang#His_influence_on_Chinese_Buddhism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xuanzang#His_Autobiography_and_Biography
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xuanzang#His_Legacy
[In Kashmir] he met a talented Mahayana monk and spent his next two years (631-633) studying Mahayana alongside other schools of Buddhism. ... He was then accompanied by local monks to Nalanda, the great ancient university of India ... Xuanzang studied logic, grammar, Sanskrit, and the Yogacara school of Buddhism during his time at Nalanda. ... When he returned, he brought with him some 657 Sanskrit texts. With the emperor's support, he set up a large translation bureau in Chang'an (present-day Xi'an), drawing students and collaborators from all over East Asia. ... In 646 ... Xuanzang completed his book Great Tang Records on the Western Regions (大唐西域記), which has become one of the primary sources for the study of medieval Central Asia and India. ... While his main purpose was to obtain Buddhist books and to receive instruction on Buddhism while in India, he ended up doing much more. He has preserved the records of political and social aspects of the lands he visited. ]

[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_Wild_Goose_Pagoda Xi'an
One of the pagoda's many functions was to hold sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveller Xuanzang.]
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Local time: 19:59
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
The Western Regions; jade; Queen Mother of the West legend; Jade Disc of He story; the Khitans May 21, 2009

lai an wrote:
Genghis Khan, military overview:
The soldiers went away 10,000 li beyond the West and North Seas, to the Kunlun and Yueku regions unreachable through multiple translators, and all the horses' gaits were as if they were coming and going through the wicket gate at home!” (Translated from 'From Genghis Khan to Kublai' in Wang Yong Kuan et al., Native land, China Youth Press, Beijing, 1983)

[Edited at 2009-04-23 07:59 GMT]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunlun_Mountains
Mythology: The Kunlun mountains are believed to be Taoist paradise. The first to visit this paradise was, according to the legends, King Mu (976-922 BCE) of the Zhou Dynasty. He supposedly ... met Hsi Wang Mu (Xi Wang Mu) , the 'Spirit Mother of the West' usually called the 'Queen Mother of the West', ...

[ Note: The West Sea = Lake Qinghai; The North Sea = Lake Baikal:
http://www.proz.com/kudoz/chinese_to_english/history/2355991-西海北海万里之外.html ]

1 Story about the Queen Mother of the West and the luminous jade winecups:

[ Gansu's Jiuquan noctilucent winecups are a Chinese traditional craft item with an age-old history. This type of winecup is made of cleverly polished and finely carved Jiuquan jade from the Qilian Mountain area. Its quality is meticulous, the veins are naturally smooth and transparent, and the cup walls are as thin as eggshells. The colours and lustres are: crisp-green, ink-green, light-yellow, yellow-green, and tallow-white. ... ]

The noctilucent winecups were very early on regarded as famous and precious drinking vessels by people. Tradition has it that when the King Mu of the Western Zhou went on a far journey to the Western Regions, and drank and banqueted with the Queen Mother of the West at "Yao Chi ", the Queen Mother of the West presented a noctilucent winecup to King Zhou Mu. At night when the good wine was poured into the cup, and held up to the moon to illuminate it, the colour became snowy white, the reflected light was luminous, and King Zhou Mu could not stop holding onto it and playing with it. Because of this, the fame of the noctilucent winecups has continued through the ages, and from the Flourishing Tang to today, they have continually been eulogised by people. ...
(Translated from 'Gansu's Craft Artwork: Jiuquan's Noctilucent Winecups' in Duan, Qi and Li eds., Gansu Tourist Guide (1982), China Tourism Publishing House, Beijing)

[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Mother_of_the_West#King_Mu_of_the_Zhou_Dynasty 'Probably one of the best known stories of contact between a goddess and a mortal ruler is between King Mu of the Zhou Dynasty and the Queen Mother of the West. There are several different accounts of this story ...'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khotan#Products
Nephrite Jade: Khotan is famous for its high-quality nephrite jade, which comes in a variety of colours. Chinese historical sources indicate that Hotan was the main source of the nephrite jade used in ancient China. ... Most of the jade is now gone, with only a few kilos of good quality jade found yearly. Some is still mined in the Kunlun Mountains to the south in the summer ... ]

2 'Jade Disc of He', a story about jade:
'With regard to the craft of jade carving and sculpture: Tradition has it that more than 2700 years ago, there was a person who knew jade very well, and who had a lot of experience; his name was Bian He. One day, in a narrow valley deep in the mountains he found a rock. He concluded that this was a rare uncut jade, and that if it could be cut open, it could definitely be made into a most uncommon jade-sculpture work. Whereupon he presented it to King Li. Wouldn't you know it, King Li believed the opinion of mediocre people, saying that this was just an ordinary rock. This being the case, Bian He's contribution not only was not accepted, but in accordance with the laws and regulations of the time, his left and right feet were cut off successively for the "Crime of Cheating the Monarch". This encounter with misfortune and injustice made Bian He extremely grieved. What he was grieved about was not his own lost feet, but was actually that there was no-one who could discern the uncut jade. Later on when King Wen came to the throne, he ordered jade workers to put a great effort into cutting into the uncut jade. Goodness me, sure enough the inner layer of the rock was a lustrous treasure. King Wen used the precious jade to make a superb work of jade sculpture craft - a jade bi (a jade ceremonial disc with a hole in the centre), furthermore he named it the "He-shi Bi". And that is the Chinese craft-art history story "He-shi Bi worth several cities" . ' Translated from 'Craft-art exquisite beyond compare' in Wang Yong Kuan et al., Native land, China Youth Press, Beijing, 1983
[ Chinese source text: http://www.proz.com/forum/chinese/96553-对人生与社会的思考-page21.html#820631 Another account, in English: The Jade Disc of He: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/He_Shi_Bi#Discovery ]

3 Use of jade by the Khitans (Liao); excavations in Inner Mongolia (exhibition):
... The empire he established extended as far south as Beijing, reached up to northern Lake Baikal, and stretched from Manchuria on the east to the Altai Mountains on the west. Encompassed in this vast region were Khitans, Jurchens, Uighurs, and Han Chinese. ... The elaborate silver and jade equestrian gear ... a jade arm protector that was probably used for hunting with a falcon. ... http://www.archaeology.org/online/reviews/liao/index.html
Barbarians or a Civilized Dynasty?

4 The Liao: religion and material culture (from the exhibition notes):
Four religions were practiced among the Liao people--Confucianism, Daoism, Khitan shamanism, and Buddhism--but their rulers favored Buddhism and fostered its spread. ... They were closely connected with their neighbors, with rock crystals and pearls coming from the South or Southeast Asia, imported objects from Iran and the Near East, amber from the Baltic Sea, and glass artifacts obtained from the west. ... 'Gilded Splendor' demonstrates how archaeology can help construct a more accurate picture of a long-past culture than one based solely on written accounts ...


 

chica nueva
Local time: 19:59
Chinese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Xiongnu and Donghu 208BC; Xianbei 93-2nd C; Tuyuhun Kingdom 285–670; Tu/Monguor found Xi-Xia 11C May 25, 2009

lai an wrote:
http://scenery.cultural-china.com/en/146S2762S8470.html
Cliff Carvings in Helan Mountain


[ These are possibly not Tangut drawings, but Xiongnu ... There are 'petroglyphs' here, believed to be Xiongnu script (3rd century BC–460s).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiongnu#Rock_Art
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkic_peoples#Origins_and_early_expansion
The rock art of the Yinshan and Helanshan is dated from the 9th millennium BC to 19th century. It consists mainly of engraved signs (petroglyphs) ... ]

1 In 208BC, the Xiongnu conquered the Donghu:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donghu
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modu_Chanyu#The_rise_of_the_Xiongnu_Empire
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiongnu#Confederation_under_Modu
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiongnu#Nature_of_the_Xiongnu_state
[Xiongnu leader Modu Chanyu] marched on the Donghu ...and brought them under his rule in 208 BC ... the Donghu split into Xianbei and Wuhuan ... [Modu/Modun] crushed the power of the Donghu of eastern Mongolia and Manchuria as well as the Yuezhi in the Gansu corridor ... After Modun ... The left and right branches of the Xiongnu were divided on a regional basis.

[Maps: Before and after Modu Shanyu/Modun:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:QinEmpireWithOrdos.jpg
Qin Empire with Ordos 210 BC
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hsiung-nu-Empire.png
Domain and influence of Xiongnu under Modu Shanyu around 205 BC ]

2 It is believed that the Xianbei are descendants of the Donghu:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xianbei
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xianbei_state 93–2nd century
They were descendants of Donghu (Eastern Hu) before migrating into areas of the modern Chinese provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, and Liaoning. ... Like in the case of the Xiongnu, the state was divided into three parts: west, east and center ... In the mid-3rd century, the Xianbei state began to split into number of smaller independent domains. The Muyun and the Toba, branches of the Xianbei people, established their dynasties in modern Inner Mongolia and Northern China.
[ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:East-Hem_300ad.jpg
Location of the Xianbei and other steppe nations, including Tuhuyun in 300 AD. ]

3 The Tuyuhun Kingdom 285–670:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuyuhun_Kingdom#History
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Tibet#Reign_of_Songts.C3.A4n_Gampo
Tribes related to the Xianbei ... began moving into the rich pasture lands around Lake Koko Nur/Qinghai Lake about the middle of the the 3rd century CE. ... The Tuyuhun kingdom became established by 285 ... Soon after Songtsän Gampo took the throne of the Yarlung kingdom in Central Tibet in 634, he defeated the Tuyuhun near Koko Nur ... In 663 the Tibetans destroyed the Tuyuhun capital Fuqi (伏俟) and their lands and people were incorporated into the Tibetan Empire.

[ Maps:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Asia_565ad.jpg
Asia in 565 AD, showing Tuyuhun and its neighbors
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tibet_700ad.jpg
Tibet's Empire in 700 AD ]

4 Xianbei origins of the Sui and Tang dynasties (and the Khitans and Mongols):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_people#Origins_as_the_Murong_of_the_Xianbei_kingdom_.282nd_century_BC.29 Contrary to the conventional beliefs that the Sui and Tang were founded by the Han ethnic group, these two powerful dynasties inherited the political structure of the Northern Wei and continued to be of Xianbei. [The Khitans who founded the subsequent Liao Dynasty (916-1125) and the Mongols who founded the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) also derived their ancestry from the Xianbei.] ...

5 It is said that today's Monguor/Tu are Xianbei, and that the Tuoba or Xianbei or Northern Tu (part of the former Tuhuyun) established the XiXia Kingdom in the 11th century:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monguor
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_people#Origins_as_the_Murong_of_the_Xianbei_kingdom_.282nd_century_BC.29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_people#Founding_of_the_West_Xia_kingdom_.2811th_century.29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monguor#Recent_History
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_language
The Monguor or Tu Zu (Simplified: 土; Pinyin: Tǔ) people are ethnically Xianbei (鲜卑). ... In 235 AD, the last Khan of Xianbei...was assassinated ... and resulted in the disintegration of the Xianbei Kingdom. ... The fraction that supported Murong Wei ... aimed at ruling over China, whereas Tuyühun intended to preserve the Xianbei culture and lifestyle. The disagreement resulted in Tuyühun to proclaim to be the Khan and undertook the long westward journey ... followed by other Xianbei and Wuhuan groups. ... The Tangut-Xixia was established by the Tuoba descendants who followed Tuyühun from the Mt. Yin. ... The Tu culture today evolved as extensions of the Donghu, Xianbei, Tuyühun, Tang, and Xixia. The Monguor language (simplified Chinese: 土族语; pinyin: Tǔzúyǔ; also written Mongour and Mongor) is closely related to Mongolian. ...

[ This site repeats the information, that the Tu set up the XiXia state:
http://pablozamboni.blogspot.com/2008/09/chinese-monguor-people.html
In the eleventh century, the Tu who disseminated northward established the Xixia Kingdom, which also had a mixture of Dangxiang Qiang. ... ]

6 This site talks about the interrelationship of Qiangic Dangxiang, and the Xianbei Tuoba and Tuyuhun, at the time of the Xi-Xia state:
http://www.imperialchina.org/Tibetan.html
Out of Qiangic peoples would evolve the later Da Xia or Xixia Kingdom led by the Danxiang nomads or the Tanguts. History recorded that there evolved eight Danxiang tribes of Qiangic nature by the time of Five Dynasties (AD 907-960), with one tribal group carrying the old Toba name. The Toba Tribe of the Danxiang people had inter-marriage with the Tuyuhuns, and at one time made an alliance against the Tang army. ... I would say that Tangut people were possibly descendants of the Tobas, Xianbei people, the Di nomads, Chinese, early Tibetans and the Uygurs.]

7 This is all rather confusing however, the Tanguts' remarkable translation achievements are recognised in 'translation history' on Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translation#History
In Asia, the spread of Buddhism led to large-scale ongoing translation efforts ... The Tangut Empire was especially efficient in such efforts ...


 
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