Having learned any number of things about Tibet recently I thought I would learn some more, and thankfully the new Modern China (34.2) arrived with an interesting article by Daphon David Ho "The Men Who Would Not Be Amban and the One who Would: Four Frontline Officials and Qing Tibet Policy, 1905-1911" The article looks at the New Policies period attempts of the Qing court to establish control over Tibet, at the same time that the British were trying to do the same thing. In 1905 most Tibetans did not see themselves as citizens of a modern Chinese nation, or of a modern Tibetan nation, or as subjects of the British Empire and various people wanted to resolve this problem Ho agrees with much of existing scholarship that one of the main events that split off Tibetan identity from Chinese identity was the brutality of the Chinese occupation of Lhasa in 1910, where Chinese behavior was, according to one Tibetan "worse than dogs and wild beasts." Ho is mostly interested in showing how this mess was created by rivalries among Qing officials, but he also shows that there was at least the possibility that Tibet might have become China. The best hope for this came in the person of Zhang Yingtang, who served briefly as the Qing high commissioner for Tibet 1906-1907. Zhang promoted a peaceful version of Chinese-Tibetan reconciliation, and if you go to Lhasa today ((I've never been)) you will be shown Zhang Daren flowers, a symbol of the Tibetan people's love for China. As Ho points out, Zhang is a lot more interesting than modern Chinese propaganda makes him. He had been minister to the U.S., Mexico and Peru, and was very much a part of attempts to construct a new Chinese nation, and while in Tibet he tried to create a Tibet that was part of this new China.
In April 1907, [Zhang] published a treatise, "Improving Tibetan Customs" (Banfa Zang su gailiang), in both Tibetan and Chinese. Zhang's plan can best be described as a peculiar blend of Confucian moral virtues, modern hygiene, and military spirit. He began by admonishing Tibetans about polyandry and sexual promiscuity, fretting about everything from extramarital affairs to siblings, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, and even in- laws sleeping in the same bed (QDZY: 1355-56). Zhang continued with a list of recommendations that included bathing regularly, trimming down the length of clothes (so as not to impede work), and studying Chinese, and a list of injunctions that criticized Tibetan customs such as sky burial.All of this is fairly typical Confucian nagging that could have just as well been directed at the Miao in 1740. Zhang goes on to urge a new level of militarism in Tibetan society.
1. When a boy turns eighteen, he should learn martial arts and the use of the Mauser gun (Maose qiang) so that he can defend his hometown. 2. The Mauser is an essential piece of equipment for protecting yourselves and your homes. Without it, you will surely be bullied. A Mauser costs 37 rupees, and 1,000 bullets costs 7 rupees. They are sold everywhere in India and Sichuan. Everyone, man or woman, should spend 44 rupees to buy a gun and bullets. When you are free, go hunting. Proceeds from the sale of several white foxes, lynxes, or tigers will repay the cost of the gun and bullets. After that, gains from hunting will be extra income. When foreign enemies or robbers come, you can fight them with your guns, for the sake of the Buddha.later he said that
Today, the world is one of guns and cannons. There is no right or wrong, only weak and strong. If we cannot achieve self-strengthening, we will become prey. If people have the courage and uprightness to fight to the death for the country, then foreign enemies will not dare to insult us. ... Military preparedness is something we cannot go a single day without deliberating. Train troops every day; everyone discuss military affairs (riri lianbing, renrenjiangwu). This is a vital eight-word formula.This emphasis on arming the people would have seemed a bit radical in China proper, although the militarism itself was pretty standard New Policies stuff. Unfortunately for Zhang, if he had managed to militarize Tibetan society to the extent he wanted my guess is this would have led to more conflict with the Han rather than a single Han-Tibetan culture.
After my mother took me to live in
Jiang Villagewith her parents, our life was very difficult. My grandfather had lost his sight because he was old and had overworked. He had the white eye disease [cataracts]. My mother was deaf. She had been ill when she was young and couldn't hear after that. We had about six mu of poor land, enough to feed us for only about half a year. We had no meat and rarely ate vegetables. Every year we ate sorghum porridge twice a day until it ran out, then we ate tree leaves, grasses, roots, and wild vegetables. I did not eat a mantou (steamed wheat bun) until I was seventeen or eighteen years old. I was always hungry. I never went to school. Having nothing to eat, how could I study? To this day I cannot read or write. Later, when I was Communist Party secretary of Houhua Villagefor thirty years, I did everything by memory. I kept everything in my head.
Jiang Villagemy mother helped support us by weaving cotton cloth. Someone would take it to market and buy more raw cotton for her to weave. Our clothes were made from the cloth she wove, as were our cotton shoes, which were dyed with red soil. We never had much to wear. We couldn't even afford a long overcoat for winter, so I wore a short cotton-filled jacket with a belt around the waist. Even when I was twenty years old my mother and I had to share a single quilt when we slept.
I collected firewood to sell. I remember being beaten when collecting wood near the property of a rich family. They thought I was stealing. Sometimes I did steal. Once I stole about 100 jin [1 jin = 1.1 Ibs.] of leaves from pear trees. We boiled them and ate them for quite a long time. When I was sixteen or seventeen I collected manure for fertilizer. One day when two of us were collecting manure, we were accused of stealing and told to eat it. The other person did, but I didn't because my grandfather came in time.
I sometimes worked as a short-term laborer for the more prosperous households in the village. I was used only for a few days at harvest time to cut corn and sorghum. I received no pay but was given my food for the day. I remember well that when I was about eighteen I was working for a rich peasant and was given five steamed wheat buns at
noonand four more in the evening. They were the best thing I had ever eaten, and that was the first time I had ever had enough to eat. The next day there was no work, and I was hungry again.
from Seybolt, Peter J. Throwing the Emperor from His Horse: Portrait of a Village Leader in China, 1923-1995. Westview Press, 1996.
(( Note that when selling things on Ebay you can call them all opium pipes )) Brook explains that the reason for the long pipes is that smoking was considered a particularly yang thing, and you wanted to let the heat of the smoke cool (or de-yang) itself as much as possible. This is why smoking was not advised for women or old men, why women's pipes were so much longer than men's and, I presume, why cigarette smoking among women was considered so risque in the the 20th century.
Several generations later, in Zhao Mengfu’s “Twin Pines, Level Distance,” something new appears. No more realism; no more romanticism; in a sense, no more painting. Now the landscape image is an extension of writing, a form of embodied thought, an essence of landscapeness, a text to be read. In the contemporary West we have a term for this: conceptual art.With Asia Week in New York the NYT has a review of a show called “Anatomy of a Masterpiece: How to Read Chinese Paintings” There is a slide-show too! It looks like a nice show and a good book. Given some of the interest in connecting Chinese art to western traditions in the last post and the comments I thought I would post this. Via HNN