Asia Blog: China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam

Asian 212 Lecture 9: Qin & Quiz

Posted in Asian 212, Asian 2212 by Elliott Back on February 24th, 2006.

Urgent news!! The grading of section papers only rewards 6/6 for a perfect, brilliantly written paper. Scores in the range of 5-5.5 are within A, but not A+ range. Here is sample quiz, like what we’ll have on Tueday:

ASIAN 212: Introduction to China
The sample Quiz 1: total 30 points, 10 per question.

1. Comment on the significance to early Chinese civilization of any TWO of the following in paragraph form:

Yellow river
King Wen
Book of Changes
Zhou feudalism
ancestor worship

The Zhou administered a large territory by sending out the brothers and sons of the king out to small feudal states. They became rulers of these states, and owed loyalty to the Zhou throne. They had to pay regular visits to the Zhou court and had to defend the Zhou interests in their area. Each local ruler had a small replica of the Zhou court, with all its rituals and sacrifices, and sharing in these Zhou rituals was supposed to keep all the states united. Over time, local rulers felt less connection to the Zhou and more connection to local concerns. States competed with each other for local resources, and even inside the states, powerful families competed with one another, so that by the 8th century BC, the Zhou feudal realm was at war with itself constantly. Despite this war, Zhou culture remained strong and even spread, even as the Zhou rulers themselves became powerless.

2. Briefly discuss the significance of one of the images below. (followed by a slideshow image)

Qin unification (221 – 207 BCE)

Around 300 BC thinkers are beginning to consider a unification of the warring factions. Remember, they had this half memory half fantasy of the Zhou being like that in the past. They imagined a time in the past where everyone lived harmoniously under an empire. So they looked both forward and backwards in time to try to find a new model for unification. The Qin state, in 3rd century BC, was a place to try and get away with new administrative ideas. Xunzi wrote in his book, there’s something about Qin that has a powerful state apparatus–watch out for them!

In 256 BC, the Qin ends the old Zhou. They had been kept alive as figureheads representing the old ways and Divine authority. The new Qin founder was portrayed a brutal tyrant, which is probably also inaccurate, him falling somewhere between both extremes. Since the Han come immediately after the Qin, we can’t trust their account of him.
The story that the Qin Emperor’s tomb was extremely well protected prevented it from plundering. We will not see the riches of the tomb until China has the archaeological resources to open and catalogue it. It is supposed to be a microcosm of the universe around us, with a great flowing ocean of mercury. Surrounded by individually crafted and painted terra cotta warriors, the Qin Emperor wanted to live on and carry over his earthly status. In the next world, an emperor would need an army.

Qin stele inscriptions

The striking relic of the Qin are a set of inscriptions made after conquering the east, when the Emperor tours the eastern lands and visits all the sacred sites. At various locations, he erected large stones with inscriptions on them, celebrating his creation of a unified empire. The text of the inscriptions was recorded by Sima Qian in his history of the period and survived to this day. By comparison with the steles and other texts, we are convinced the Sima Qian is correct. A snippet:

“Now in his 26th year, Huangdi has created a new beginning. He rectified and balanced the rules and measures as … He has made manifest the way and the inner pattern. Eastward he tours the eastern lands to inspect the soldiers and officers… he looks down on the land by the eastern sea–he has great merit. The people he enriches, everywhere under heaven he unifies their minds. [Everywhere] there is none that does not achieve his ambitions under the guidance of the first Emperor.”

Concern with order, uniformity
The ordering of space and time

There is an increasing focus culminating in the Qin and Han to paying attention to the physical organization of space. This is the extension of the uniformity and order over everything. In the Qin, all the states were connected by new roads into one unified empire–these roads partially existed, but the emperor unified the width of all carts. This allowed carts to travel between kingdoms. In all ways–the size of official script, measures and weights–the Qin create a single unified empire.

They both understand that they are imposing order on something, and also finding the natural order in things.

Magic square, numerology, and the five phases (earth, water, metal, fire, wood)

The elements were not physical things but rather physical processes–earth was pounding earth, for example, metal the process of smelting, wood the process of growing or bending. These were then mapped onto the five directions so that you can make easy associations with all kinds of other objects. The list never stops. Everything you can ever find in the universe can be mapped onto this. This becomes a proto-scientific way of categorizing the world.

The magic square:

4	9	2
3	5	7
8	1	6

Every directional sum = 15. But, for the Chinese, they believed this is divine revelation. It’s not just mathematical, it’s magical. The number three is aesthetically pleasing to human beings. Nine is one of the IChing manipulations, the nine tripods of Yu. Five maps to the number of elements. So, they decided to divide their fields to look like this, build buildings like this, and play board games that look like this.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 24th, 2006 at 12:24 am and is tagged with . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.

2 Responses to “Asian 212 Lecture 9: Qin & Quiz”

  1. Fellow student says:

    Keep up the good work! Thanks for posting.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great notes, really useful for studying for the quiz, thanks alot.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WP Hashcash