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Леонид Васильев.   Древний Китай. Том 2. Период Чуньцю (VIII-V вв. до н.э.)

Abstract. L.S. Vasiliev. Ancient China

This book is the second volume (Ch'un-Ch'iu China) of a three-volume publication about the history and culture of Ancient China. The first volume (Prehistory, Shang history and Western Chou history) was published in Moscow in 1995. The third one is being prepared and will be published in several years. This abstract contains a brief review of the contents and the range of problems of the first two volumes. The main purpose of this work is to give a more or less comprehensive characteristic of the ancient Chinese society and its history, the process of sociogenesis and politogenesis, formation of the basis of ideology and culture and establishing traditions. Special attention is given to the genetic links and outside influence that took place during this complex process. The presentation starts with the prehistory of China and finishes with the composition of the empire. The first two volumes are dedicated to the period before the 5th century ВС.

The first volume starts with the presentation of prehistory problems. Chinese archaeology has achieved considerable successes. Since they are well-known it spares us the need to represent them in detail. Interpretation of data obtained by archaeologists and anthropologists is another thing. Personal positions of various specialists may sometimes be completely the opposite. The contents of the first volume are not fully identical to the notions which the majority of specialists tend to adhere to, especially in the CPR. In particular, there are serious grounds to think that a sinantrop was a dead-end branch of the gominid line, although its descendants could have played an important role in the process of miscegenation with migrants from the West. The latter moved along the steppe line and reached America via Bering Isthmus, which is a well-known fact. The finds of the first sapient people on the territory of northern China (the three skulls from the grotto Shangt'ingt'ung) testify the lack of racial distinction or any resemblance to Mongoloid characteristics in each of them. As far as Neolith is concerned, there are no traces of Neolithic revolution on the territory of China. Despite its considerable specifics, the earliest of Neolithic cultures, Yangshao, which ascends to approximately the 6th-5th millennia ВС, belongs to a series of Eurasian cultures of painted ceramics that are well-known to archaeologists according to a number of important enthnogenetic characteristics (paintings on ceramics and their main motifs). The second Neolithic culture, Lungshan, which superceded the first one at the end of the 3rd millennium ВС, was already familiar with the potter's wheel, cattle and cereals (wheat, barley), which were domesticated in the Middle East. This serves as a rather convincing proof of its origin.

The question is not that proto-Chinese did not contribute anything to the development of Neolithic cultures on their territory. On the contrary, they did a lot and ultimately created their own neolithic foundations for further development. But it is out of the question to consider the basis as a fully indigenous one. Bronze Age culture started to develop in Ancient China from the beginning of the 2nd millennium ВС on the basis of Yangshao-Lungshan Neolithic Age, first as an early stage (Erlitou-Erligang) and later as a late one (Anyang). It is possible to pose the question of north-western influence already with reference to the period of the early Bronze Age (18th-14th centuries ВС) which is represented by bronze arms and vessels. For decades experts wrote a lot about it. Approximately at the same time the first centers of still very primitive urban culture emerged, which were developed on the Ancient Chinese Neolithic basis. On the other hand, findings dating to the late Bronze Age from the excavations in Anyang amazed archaeologists. In late 20-s and early 30-s over a dozen of so-called royal tombs with plenty of bronze and other magnificently elaborated items, chariots with domesticated horses harnessed to them and a huge number of co-buried people were found on that territory. Also an archive was found, which consisted of hundreds of thousands of inscriptions written on scapula bones of ox and on turtle plastrons (about 1000 various drawing signs similar to pictograms altogether). Horses domesticated by Indo-Europeans, chariots with a lot of spokes invented by them and many other things leave no doubt that the origin of the Shang civilization was connected with at least some external influence. At the same time there is a doubtless Chinese component in this process, suffice it to say about silk, which had been already known in the Shang China.

From the inscriptions on the bones experts learned a lot about the Shang society and proto-state, which was located in the middle part of the Huang-Ho basin, a short distance to the north of the river. It was headed by a ruler-wang, who governed his subjects with the help of a large number of officials. Relatives of the ruler, who governed the regional subdivisions at the borders of the Shang proto-state, as well as the officials formed the top of society. They drove on chariots and headed troops in frequent battles with the more backward neighbours, who developed fast and selected their own leaders. Peasants worked in the fields, including big commonly cultivated ones, possibly, in the course of corve, and the crops from the fields went for ritual needs or to support the upper strata and their servants. Hunting, which alongside with other things was considered a good training for warriors, played an important role.

What calls to notice is the historical amnesia of the Shang people and the lack of mythology or any ideas about gods. In hundreds of thousands of brief inscriptions deciphered by specialists one can find addresses to the "upper ancestors" of the wang (ti or shang-ti) with requests of a current everyday character: about the crops, rain, victory over the enemy, successful delivery for the wang's wife, etc. But there is no mention of past glorious deeds, the events of a former period of time or clashes with enemies in the past. The people of Shang had no gods or temples devoted to them or priests serving them.

Chou, the ruler of one of the fast developing neighbouring tribes, married his son Ch'ang to the daughter of one of Shang aristocrats. Having become a ruler and adopting many elements of the Shang culture, including literacy, from his mother, Ch'ang did a lot to weaken the Shang people and conquer them. At the end of his long period of reign he even took the title of wang which was an open challenge to the Shang wang. But Wen -wang (Wen was his posthumous name which is familiar to every Chinese person) did not live to the desired victory. His son Wu-wang routed the Shang but died shortly after the conquest. Chou-kung, the brother of Wu -wang, became the regent of Wu's young son, Cheng-wang. It fell to his lot to organize the rule over the Chou people on the vast territory of the Huang-Ho basin where the defeated Shang (the Chou called them the Yin) were resettled, as well as tribes allied to the Chou lived.

Chou-kung together with his assistants, among whom must have been some literate Shang people that passed on to his service, skilfully used the historical amnesia and filled the existing vacuum with the concept of the Mandate of Heaven advantageous to the Chou. The essence of it was that the Shang ancestors, who lived in Heaven (the Chou did not have their own gods or deified ancestors), were not so much Shang ancestors as inhabitants of everyone's Heaven. That was only one step from deifying Heaven itself equal to Shangti, which began to be considered in singular person and as everyone's initial divine ancestor. It was upon Heaven (Shangti) that a decision to grant the mandate for the reign over T'ien-hsia ("Under the Heaven") to a worthy ruler and to revoke it from an unworthy ruler depended. Formerly, as it was stated in an ideologeme from the early Chou "Book of Documents" (Shu-king), there was a Hsia dynasty (the sign Hsia did not exist in the Shang inscriptions). But later the mandate of Heaven was revoken from the last and unworthy ruler of that dynasty and granted to the worthy forefather of the Shang dynasty. Later the mandate was revoken from the last unworthy ruler of the Shang and given into the hands of the most decent Wen -wang from the Chou. Thus the Chou got the power over T'ien-hsia not due to force or favourable circumstances but only due to the possession of a high sacred virtue-te (this sign did not exist in the Shang inscriptions).

Due to the ideologeme of the mandate of Heaven Chou-kung strengthened the power of Chou putting it beyond any doubt and forcing everyone to acknowledge the Chou wang as the Son of Heaven. It should be noted that since that time the Chou people began to pay deliberately extreme attention to history and secured for themselves and only for themselves the right for creating and interpreting it. Nevertheless, this did not help them much in organization of political administration on the huge territory they possessed at that time. Since there was no more or less developed infrastructure in the Huang-Ho basin and the semi-primitive Chou people were not numerous, they could not reign over the huge military and political union created under their power, even with the assistance of the educated Shang serving them. Thus they had to create feudal-type appanages. These appanages were 7-8 dozens, the majority of them were distributed to the relatives of the ruling House of Chou. We learn about granting appanages as well as symbolic items from the inscriptions on bronze vessels, which represented important documents of a type of ritual communication between a suzerain and a vassal.

One or two centuries after Chou-kung, West-Chou China with the capital in the west, in the native Chou territories, turned into an array of influential feudal appanages, virtually autonomous realms and princedoms. Although several Chou rulers-wawgy made attempts to preserve their suzerainty relying on their 14 armies (six in the western capital and eight in the new eastern capital created by the efforts of the Yin people resettled to the area of Lo-yi), they obviously did not have enough strength. Eventually the last western Chou ruler Yu-wang was killed by jung barbarians attacking his capital after a conflict with his father-in-law (a powerful vassal) over the replacement of the latter's grandson and successor by the son of a favourite concubine. Afterwards the heir, who had almost been replaced, got the name of Ping -wang and was transferred to the new capital Loi in 771 ВС. This was the start of the era of the Eastern Chou, which lasted until the 3rd century ВС.

The main part of the Eastern Chou is subdivided into two periods, Ch'un-Ch'iu and Chan-guo. The name of the Ch'un-Ch'iu period (722-479 ВС) was derived from the chronicle "Spring and Autumn Annals" (Ch'un-Ch'iu), which was compiled in the kingdom of Lu, a former appanage of Chou-kung, where all historical documents were carefully preserved. According to the tradition, the text of the chronicle was revised by the great Confucius, a native of Lu, at the end of his life and because of that the work was included into Confucian Classics. In the course of time the chronicle was complemented by precious detailed commentaries that explained its sketchy accounts of events, the most important commentaries among them are Tso-chuan and K'uo-уu. The whole second volume of our three-volume publication was built mainly on the data of these texts.

It is appropriate to say here a few words about the character of the texts. Many of them scrupulously reflect data about their time and can be accepted with complete trust. Historiographers, who compiled chronicles, treated their work very thoroughly, as a rule, and did not let themselves make any digression from the truth, if they described current events that were well-known to them. Nevertheless and despite all that, there are numerous later interpolations, i.e. fragments and even full narratives including the so-called chapters of the second layer (the 7th-6th centuries ВС) of Shu-king, which should be treated as moralizing legends of a later period. They usually contained a clearly expressed didactic idea and were included into the context later. Most obvious in this respect are the prophecies that came true, the number of which in the texts is innumerable. There are also non-authentic texts of systematic content which reflect a tendency of a later period to see the early Chou and moreover the Ch'un-Ch'iu period as something complete and perfect, with strictly regulated interrelations, which had never been such in reality. As it is shown in the second volume, during the period of Ch'un-Ch'iu the feudal structure that emerged after the granting of appanages was in the process of its formation. Forms of interrelation and ritual practices were gradually developing as well as the code of honour of aristocracy. But it is important to take into consideration that all this, before it had fully developed or achieved perfection, was exposed to an energetic process of erosion and de-feudalization.

The second volume contains the description of both processes: the slowly developing norms and the ceremonial procedure of feudal relations and a fast de-feudalization of these norms starting at the end of the Ch'un-Ch'iu period, to which Confucius made a major contribution. The first three chapters of the second volume are very specific. They describe step by step the events of the two-and-a-half-century long Ch'un-Ch'iu period. These events are presented with sufficient details. Firstly, because there is available material abundantly year by year reflected in the commentaries on the chronicle. Secondly, because the outline of these events is very interesting and instructive. Though the text is hard to read and keep in memory (it is overloaded with names and events), it makes clear and visible those elements that are usually characteristic for feudal structure. Fathers kill their sons in struggle for the throne and vise versa, brother goes against brother and all this is happening to the accompaniment of glorification of respect for the elders and ancestors, adhering to rituals and other ceremonials. Intrigues, plots, coups, flight of losers if they managed to escape and triumph of victors, permanent feudal wars of aristocrats, whose main activity was exactly war and hunting-that is the outline of the main events. This can be expanded by love stories, adulteries and harem passions, including incest, clashes of powerful aristocratic clans, faithfulness of some and betrayal of others. In other words, the picture is surprising and almost unique in the world history (if we take into account not novels but chronicles with detailed commentaries on them).

The following chapters of the second volume aim at analysing all this rich material from various sides, be it political history, norms of feudal structure, the character of feudal aristocratic wars, the problem of religious ideas and prejudices, forms of the Heaven cult, territorial gods or dead noble ancestors, faithfulness of some and betrayal of others. It also says about rituals among the nobility and the way of life of the common people, which could be learnt, in particular, from the folk songs and poems in the "Book of Songs" (Shih-king). Considerable attention is devoted to the social structure and the scale of rank in the texts, as well as to what extent these ranks corresponded to the realia of the time. Having no aim to characterise each chapter separately, it is important to pay attention to what they all have in common. It is the question of the development of the feudal structure, peculiarities of formation of the new vassal-seigniorial system, in the framework of which the domain of the Chou suzerain-wang, i.e. the Son of Heaven who possessed sacred holiness, was only one of existing political structures far from being a big one.

During the Western Chou the 14 armies used to be the basis of the Chou wangs' force and allowed them during the first two or three centuries of domination to feel at the very least powerful rulers, whose vassals de facto depended on them. These armies had disappeared a long time before. The wang's domain was now found in a miserable situation. It could hardly support one army. And although at the beginning of the Ch'un-Ch'iu period wangs still tried traditionally to interfere from time to time in the internal wars of their vassals, it soon became clear that it was beyond their powers. Moreover, with every new decade the real power of wangs diminished and wangs in case of necessity, such, for instance, as a conspiracy of relatives competing for the throne, had to turn to those of chu-hou princes, who had real power.

The question was that, as it has been mentioned earlier, in the framework of the structure formed in the Ch'un-Ch'iu period some vassal realms became bigger and stronger than the domain and many were equal to it. And none of the big and medium realms had the intention to obey to the wang although no one refused to treat with sacral respect the Son of Heaven. At the beginning this led to a chaotic confusion in Chung-guo, which was the name of an array of central and most civilized Chou kingdoms and princedoms (big semi-barbarian states-Ch'in in the west near the ancient places of inhabitance of the Chou-and Ch'u-in the south-were outside Chung-guo, as well as innumerable amount of small tribal states most of which were usurped by the stronger ones after a while.) Some time later first eastern Ch'i and then western Chin rose to prominence among the big kingdoms inside Chung-guo. It was from the rulers of these states that the so-called p'a, strong illegitimate rulers, appeared and took with weak wangs' approval the latters' authorities to arrange and maintain order in T'ien-hsia.

The first p'a was Huan-kung of Ch'i with his assistant Kuan Chung, a renowned reformer. They both successfully ruled in T'ien-hsia in 80-40-s of the 7th century ВС, called conventions of chu-hou and dictated their will, supporting it by considerable force. After that the functions of p'a were fulfilled by the rulers of Chin kingdom, the first of whom was a famous Wen-kung. Like wangs, p'a rulers acted as suzerains towards chu-hou rulers, who had to pay them certain contributions for maintaining order in T'ien-hsia. A wang did not receive any regular contributions from the vassals, who in the best case restricted themselves to sporadic presents or deferential gifts. Still the status of a p 'a was not equal to the status of a wang. And when some p'a wanted to equal himself to the Son of Heaven or replace him, he met the unwillingness of the wang and, moreover, of the chu-hou to change the habitual and universally convenient state of affairs, not to mention the fact that the mechanism of replacing the Mandate of Heaven was in reality non-existent.

As far as kingdoms and princedoms were concerned, each of them had its internal hierarchy, generally of a similar type. Places of distinguished high officials and ministers in it were usually occupied by ch 'ings, heads of hereditary patrimonial estates. They were, as a rule, not so numerous, usually about 3-6 unless it was a big Chin. They were of different origin. Some came from the ruling house, others were aristocrats not related to the rulers. But that had no noticeable effect on the stability of the political structure since in both cases ch'ings were powerful and their increased influence sometimes undermined the absolute power of the ruler. That is why the chu-hou after the allotment of the first sub-appanages-ancestral lands, usually refrained from further land division even when it concerned their favourite sons. Since sons were mentioned: each of chu-hou and ch 'ings (this refers to wangs as well) had the right to pass the throne to one of his sons, whom he himself selected. That often led to a lot of murderous intrigues. Women from the harem fought defiantly to have their sons selected. Let us remember that the last West-Chou ruler lost his throne and life exactly because he conceded to his favourite concubine and replaced his elder son from inheriting the throne. Such episodes repeated themselves in different kingdoms and princedoms more than once. The game was worth it: it was only one who could get all. The rest of the sons, who were quite a few in harems, could only expect a knight status {ta-fu\ i.e. a warrior-aristocrat on a chariot. In the best case some ta-fu received a town as conditional benefice-alimentation. But many remained even without this and worked for their master only for pay. Ta-fu numbered several thousands in a big kingdom and several hundreds in a medium one. At the end of the Ch'un-Ch'iu period huge numbers of aristocrats of the lowest rank, shih, appeared. These were descendants of ta-fu or common people promoted during their service, especially from successful warriors and servants.

The second half of the Ch'un-Ch'iu period passed, as it was mentioned earlier, under the badge of de-feudalization of the Chou feudalism that had not enough time for final development. What played the main role in it? There were plenty of reasons. Firstly, feudal wars which ended either in annexation of weak princedoms and semi-barbarian tribal proto-states or just in sorting out relationships (those killed in wars were considered as a sacrifice to the ancestors or the territorial deity-she). But the wars contributed to the mutual destruction of aristocracy although the tempo of its reproduction in harems was fairly fast. Secondly, what is more important, the piety with regard to the early Chou, when the first rulers from that house, especially Chou-kung, had a stiff grip over the supreme power, remained. It was the time when the first rulers of appanages felt not so much as powerful vassals but as commanders of Chou garrisons in different, often rather remote areas. Thirdly, the wang himself and his advisors, including influential historiographers considered tfye situation of disunity in T'ien-hsia as abnormal and searched for every possible way to correct this situation. And, finally, in the fourth place, what should be considered nearly the most important thing-in the second half of the Ch'un-Ch'iu period in T'ien-hsia serious changes of social-political and administrative character took place. It was the beginning of the Iron Age with new tools, development of commodity and monetary relations, flourishing of towns of new type that worked for the market and were full of artisans and merchants that were growing rich. In these circumstances feudal appanages were replaced by administrative and territorial districts headed by removable clerks-sAe, who were obviously displacing the former aristocracy. It should be mentioned that the formal acknowledgement of branches of aristocratic kin was limited to the first five generations.

Everything started from the appearance of new ideas. The matter concerns an ideologeme about the wise ancient rulers. As it was mentioned before, the Shang people knew or reported nothing in their numerous inscriptions on bones and turtle plastrons (they are called "fortune-telling inscriptions") about their past, even the recent one. Specialists know from authentic sources only the names of predecessors of the ruling wang, to whom sacrifices were made, including human sacrifices (from the captives of barbarian tribes that surrounded Shang). These are the only names to be found in fortune-telling inscriptions. But it is worth repeating that as far as events or legends are concerned, especially the epos glorified by the descendants or the mythology preserved in their memory, no names of gods, etc., or any information of that sort can be found in Shang inscriptions. At the same time in the reign of Chou-kung, who should be considered the founder of historical thinking and the corresponding tradition in China, an ideologeme about the Three Dynasties was created. These dynasties interchanged cyclically according to the principle of an ethic determinant, i.e. presence or absence of the sacral grace te. But at that time this was only a bare scheme. It was high time to fill it with live historic material borrowed from legends of different tribes that once had joined the Chou T'ien-hsia. That was done exactly in the chapters of the second layer of Shou-king, which was most probably created by historiographers who lived at wang's court in the 7th-6th centuries ВС. They were more than others concerned-together with their master-about glorifying the Son of Heaven and his role as the real ruler over T'ien-hsia.

The essence of the content of the newly written chapters was that once there lived the great and wise Emperor Yao, who possessed the sacred te and brought harmony first to his close relatives, then his countrymen, and later on the whole world which resulted in an epoch of prosperity. Yao did not give the power to his son, whom he did not consider suitable for that but chose the worthiest among the worthy, Shun, who became famous for the ability to observe the norms of family way of life in unfavourable conditions (a weak father, a quarrelsome stepmother, a nasty stepbrother). Yao gave two of his daughters as wives to Shun in order to check him once again. Shun stood this test honorably: his family was according to the norms. Then Yao, while he was still alive, gave Shun reins of government in T'ien-hsia. Shun managed to become a worthy successor of Yao. He divided T'ien-hsia into 12 parts and appointed governors to rule them, ordering that wise and capable should be promoted. Shun improved his relationships with vassals by formulating the Code of punishment and personally controlled the activity of administrators by rewarding or punishing them according to the results of their work. After Shun, who also did not dare to pass over the power to his son, whom he did not consider worthy and wise enough for that, the power was granted to one of his best assistants, Yu. It was from him, who passed the throne over to his son at the request of the people, that a faceless dynasty Hsia obviously invented by Chou-kung long before that, began.

The ideologeme about the three great leaders, thus absorbed not only the names borrowed from other tribes but also some vague ideas of the past that not always had the throne been passed over from the father to the son. The main thing put forward was the idea of a wise centralized governing, obviously opposed to the destructive feudal disunity of the Ch'un-Ch'iu period. The whole prehistory of T'ien-hsia was described in a few pages of the chapters in question that now start the canonic text of Shou-king. The prehistory was presented in the way Chou historiographers understood it and, what is most important, the way it should have looked like taking into consideration the spirit of the general cyclic scheme of dynasties and the didactic purposes of the composition. The scheme of Chou-kung although ingenious but still bare, nameless and eventless, was finally replaced by an elaborate and detailed history, full of names and events. The way a history should be. This history had an enormous influence on next generations.

Confucius (551-479 ВС), a real genius among the Chinese, admired the deeds of the great wise men Yao, Shun, and Yti and had no doubt about their greatness or reality. The rest of his contemporaries and especially people from further generations treated the ancient wise rulers in approximately the same way. There is no wonder about that. An idea that seized masses possesses extreme strength. This aphorism of Marx helps understand why the idea of creating a centralized empire has already become since Confucian times (the last third of the Ch'un-Ch'iu period) a sort of a focused impulse. That was the challenge of the epoch, and everyone, who could and managed to formulate the answer, tried to respond. One of the best responses belongs to Confucius. Like all his predecessors and contemporaries, Confucius was not religious for the simple reason that there was no developed religion in ancient Chinese society by that time and superstitions were mainly typical for common people. But Confucius was a great thinker who took a sober and pragmatic view of things surrounding him.

His ideas succeeded to develop the best from the ancient traditions-the ancestor cult, filial piety, feelings of humanity (benevolence), righteousness and responsibility for those whom you lead, the principle of mutuality, constant acquisition of new knowledge and self-perfection, competitive spirit and strife for the best. These ideas were later written down by his disciples and compiled in the famous treatise Lun-yu. Confucius educated his disciples to work for the rulers with the purpose of reforming the system of administration and facilitating its—in contemporary terms-defeodalization. Confucius deliberately desacralized many ancient concepts, in particular, the sacred virtue te, turning it into a normal quality of a decent person. The Confucian social ideals of a noble man tsun-tzu and its antipode hsiao-jen determinated those who were ready to dedicate themselves to the good of the people and those who only thought about the mean personal benefit. Confucius most probably included in the last rank those nouveaux riches, who began to rise and distinguish themselves by their wealth at the end of his life, when the social and economic changes in the ancient Chinese society became already visible.

The second volume ends with a chapter devoted to the transition from the old norms of social life to the new ones, which started shortly before Confucius' death. Actually, that was the de-feudalization that accompanied the iron age and the process of privatization in the feudal structure of the Ch'un-Ch'iu period. It led T'ien-hsia to new forms of life before this structure had developed completely or was transformed. In other words, a non-finalized feudalism (here we do not mean formation in Marxist terms!) was replaced by an epoch, in which there was no room any more for a feudal-knight structure with its internal wars, intrigues and permanent clashes in the struggle for the throne. One cannot say that all this happened because chapters about the wise Yao, Shun and Yti included in Shou-king were incompatible with the feudal structure (although formally its existence was accepted in them; remember how Shun improved relations with his vassals). But this great ideologeme with its profound meaning appeared in historically necessary time. It coincided with objective economic, administrative and political processes that began taking place shortly after its appearance. And what is most important-it found its ardent supporter in Confucius, whose activity in the sphere of transformation of old traditions multiplied its force and efficiency many times.

Formally the chronicle Ch'un-Ch'iu ends in the year of the death of Confucius. This could also be considered as the end of the Ch'un-Ch'iu period. There is a deep internal sense in that because China became different after Confucius. However, the border between the Ch'un-Ch'iu and Chan-guo periods is usually dated taking into account the gradual disintegration of Chin kingdom.
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