- to 907 (through Tang)
- 907-1644 (Song, Yuan, Ming)
- 1644-1911 (Qing)
On China, I'm not as familiar with the historiography, but my impression is that there is a lot more scholarship crossing the Ming-Qing boundary than there used to be, and that the Tang isn't really separable from the Warring States/Five Dynasties/Northern Wei period. I'd probably break between Tang and Song, or possibly after Song. That latter might work, because then you can take the Yuan-Ming-Qing as a unit, which actually works pretty well. (If you're thinking that the Qing is the Early Modern in China, because it's chronologically contiguous with the Early Modern in Europe, you have to give that up. this discussion is as good a starting place as any....)
Jeff noticed that I'd collapsed his system into three fields, among other issues:
For China, if I include Song in the ancient / classical field, do I stop in 1129 when the Jin push the Song across the Yangtze, or do I take the classical China field to 1215, when the Mongols take Yanjing? That leaves me with only three Chinese fields, which seems paltry. If I put Song in a field before Yuan, is there enough from China's prehistory to the Song to break that into two fields, and if so, where should I draw the temporal line?
I regrouped -- apparently I can't count -- and tried again
For a four-part China sequence, I think I'd do a really Early field (up to the fall of the Han), an "Open Empire" field (Three Kingdoms to Mongol; see Valerie Hansen's excellent textbook), an Early Modern (Ming-Qing) and a 20th century field. Alternately, since I'm pushing the third field back to the Ming, you could start the fourth field with the Opium Wars -- I have more or less the same historiographical qualms about that that I do about the 1853 break in Japan, but there are a lot of courses and texts which do just that, still. (I can't recommend highly enough Paul Cohen's Discovering History in China for a good argument against the Opium War break point, among other historiographical insights; many of the theories he engages were very active in the Japanese historiography as well.)
Jeff wisely ignored my last bit of thinking out loud but seems to think that my four-field sequence makes some sense. If you think I'm barking up the wrong tree or if you want to see how the rest of the world gets subdivided, join the discussion.
Day and night he drank strong liquor. Everyone from the aristocratic high officials to his own lowly clerks and retainers saw that Shen did not carry out his. duties. Everyone who came wanted to speak with him about it, but when they arrived Shen always offered them a cup of strong liquor. When, after a short while, they said they had something to say, he offered them more. Only once they were drunk did they leave, having spent the whole time unable to bring up the subject." 日夜飲醇酒。卿大夫已下吏及賓客見參不事事，來者皆欲有言。至者，參輒飲以醇酒，閒之，欲有所言，復飲之，醉而後去，終莫得開說為常This is a nice illustration ((from Csikszentmihalyi, Mark. Readings in Han Chinese Thought. Hackett Publishing Company, 2006. )) of Early Han ideas of government by non-action (無為). It is a nice story one because it makes it easy to tell if students have done their reading. (Class, does anyone remember the story about Cao Shen?) It is also about the ultimate example of how a bureaucratic government should work. As Cao Shen put it. "Since someone who had virtue and was well-respected made the rules and put the entire kingdom in such a good shape, if we just follow the rules and do not alter the principles, then the kingdom is easy to manage and everyone can relax and enjoy life." The only people who can goof it up are the busybodies who keep messing with things. Fortunately a bottle in the filing cabinet can deal with them.
China’s petition system dates back to the Zhou dynasty 3,000 years ago. It embodies a Confucian tradition that idealises an authoritarian yet benevolent ruler who puts the concerns of his subjects above the interests of corrupt officials.There's the obvious point, that the Zhou dynasty predates Confucianism by a half-millenium or more. Confucius never dealt with the issue of petitions (( One of the many issues Confucius never dealt with. )), nor can I recall any pre-Han thinker postulating such an active (and literate) role for commoners. All of them, though, put the welfare of the people and the state above that of individual (especially dishonest) officials. One of the principle concerns of the more institutionally-minded figures (Mozi, Xunzi, Hanfeizi) is how to pick honest officials, and root out (or work around) dishonest ones, but none of them argue for violating the chain of command, even in extraordinary circumstances. They want a monitoring system which works well in normal circumstances, not something which encourages disorder. The sidebar continues
After the 1911 republican revolution, petitioning was abolished by the Nationalist government. The Communists reinstated it soon after their 1949 revolution. Experts say petitioning remains basically unchanged from the system in place 500 years ago in the Ming dynasty, when the formal evaluation of government officials began to take into account the number of petitioners who travelled to the capital from their region.Since the Nationalist government was a democratic/republican system, presumably petitioning wouldn't be necessary. I'm a bit surprised that the article didn't take a slightly more critical approach to the idea that petitioning was a normal process over the last sixty years and only recently has started to break down. I can't imagine that petitioning for redress in the era of Mao or Deng wasn't fraught with danger for the petitioner, from the problem of unauthorized travel to the assumption that Party officials are always in the right. The responses that the article describes -- detention, harassment, false imprisonment under the guise of mental illness -- are classic Communist party tools for handling dissension, used widely in the Soviet Union as well as in China. The last point in the sidebar -- the use of petitions as a metric of administrative quality -- is central to the article: the extralegal attempts by local officials to suppress petitions and petitioners is rooted in systemic self-protection, the avoidance of the appearance of trouble. Modern transportation technology, as the article notes, makes travel easier for petitioners, and has contributed to the rise in numbers. But, of course, the nature of modern society is such that it is also much easier to identify, track, monitor petitioners now than it was even fifty years ago, much less five hundred. The problem of danson minpi ("honoring officials, despising the people" as the Japanese put it) was intense during the latter half of the 20th century in China: the scaling up of suppression efforts to match the scaling up of petitions is pretty much par for the course, but the information environment is very different now, and the question of government legitimacy more intense.
What is this? It's not a rickshaw, since it's backwards and too early. An update at BibliOdyssey pointed me to a version of this from a site in Kyoto that gives the English title of the plate as Mandocorosama’s Maid of Honor, carry’d in little two-Wheel’d Chariots. Not much help, although it does seem to connect the cart to the elite. Fortunately, I came across some evidence while doing research recently. Specifically, I was headed into the kitchen to do a bit of research on the state of the leftovers in the fridge and I saw this hanging on the wall...
What's that in the lower left?
This is from a Meiji-era Japanese book I bought on E-Bay entitled "A New Guide to Chinese Painting" and I'm guessing it was intended for Japanese who wanted to be able to paint scenes of China. ((I'm pretty sure it is actually an authentic Meiji book, since it has the silverfish holes that are hard to fake and the nice thin paper. Plus it was only 10 bucks, so if anyone put work into faking it they are sure letting it go cheap.)) So what is this vehicle? If we assume that the top character is 御 things get a little clearer. Gyo in Japanese or ya in Chinese means of or pertaining to the emperor, although it can also mean to govern (or drive) a cart according to Nelson. Neither Nelson nor 漢語大詞典 have a specific entry for 御車, although they have lots of things like 御手﹐and 御衣 which makes me think it is -not- an "imperial carriage" although I suppose it could be. It does seem to be something that the Japanese associate with China, however, so maybe it was reserved for the elite. Anyone have any ideas?