IntroductionScholars conceived the pre-modern notion of Chinese as belonging to a universalizing civilization and sharing common Confucian culture. Chinese followed a particular way of life, characterized as “li” ie., the norms for social behavior, which has been seen since the early dynasties of Xia and Shang. On the other hand, the very term ‘barbarian’ originates from the Greek word “????????” (barbaros) which is understood as an uncivilized human. For the Chinese, all the non-Chinese were considered to be barbarians.
The Chinese or culturally defined “China” usually tagged themselves as Hua (?), whereas the barbarians or ethnic outsiders were known as Yi (?). The distinction between Chinese and barbarians were cultural in nature. This term paper would highlight specifically about the dual existence of the Chinese and the barbarians in China, the influence of Chinese customs on the barbarians rule and joint Sino-foreign administration of the government of China under the barbarians rule (synarchy).Barbarians in Ancient ChinaI) Western Chou periodFrom the Chinese viewpoint, the barbarians in the Western Chou period have been frequently mentioned as the significant antagonist in war.
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They were also subject to the Chou Kings and paid tribute to the Chou treasury. From the Records on Ceremonial, four significant barbarian groups during this period were Jung (the non-Chinese people on the East), Ti (on the North), Man (on the South) and I (on the East). Collectively they were known as the “Four I”.Jung and Ti resided generally to the west and the north of Central Asia.
From the archeological evidences, these people were nomadic in nature and pursued in farming, hunting and fishing. They marveled in cavalry horse and such technique of riding on horseback as the mounted warrior was unknown to China until 4th Century BC. Man and I, located to the south and east of the Central Asia practiced nomadism as well. People living in these regions pursued suitable farming and hunting. From the findings of bronze inscription, sheep and cattle were the common haul in an expedition against the Huai I.
Cultural differences for instance, in clothing, the barbarians buttoned to the left rather than to the right like Chinese; and dialectical differences as in speaking varieties of the same language were the major barriers between the two. Although the barbarians were militarily potent but they lacked discipline and organization, which the Chinese were better off with. Some barbarians groups raided and spread ravage because at times, non-Chinese groups were cut off and assimilated as Chinese. At the positive side, intermarriage too occurred among the Chinese states and the barbarian rulers.
The Chinese considered the alliances with powerful barbarian groups as a major asset of the states. Indeed, the barbarians of the Western Chou period were noted as the future Chinese or the ancestors of future Chinese.II) Eastern Chou PeriodIn the Spring and Autumn period as well, four major barbarian groups were noted in the history of China, namely – Rong (?) or Xirong (??) in the west; Yi (?) or Dongyi (??) to the east; Man (?) or Nanman (??) in the southern part; and Di (?) or Beidi (??) in the north. They came to be known as Siyi or “Four Barbarians” in the popular context which the Chinese Classics has also mentioned its reference many a times. It became a general designation to refer the barbarian groups as a whole and eventually came to be identified with the four cardinal directions or four quarters of the world : the west, the east, the south and the north.
The relation between the Chinese and the barbarians in this period was defined by the everlasting hostility despite of frequent intermarriage among both for political alliances. The barbarians also supported and fought for the Chinese states when needed and entered into treaties with them. The barbarian armies also played a vital role in determining the successor to the Chou throne. Throughout the Spring and Autumn period, Ch’u was the only barbarian power to remain independent as a state until it assimilated in 223 BC with the rise of Qin dynasty.Alien Rule in Imperial ChinaAfter the surrender of the last Song king, China was then conquered by the Inner Asian tribal people.
It followed the simple tribal form of social organization, families were patrilineal and clan system prevailed from which a tribe was formed and tribal chiefs were selected. Learned in shooting and horse-riding, the barbarians were potential warriors. Predatory activities were common which hardly promoted friendly relations with the Chinese. Therefore they considered the barbarians as bullies who got what they wanted with their military skills. Four such significant dynasties were – the Liao dynasty ruled by the Khitans, the Jin dynasty ruled by the Jurchens, the Yuan dynasty ruled by the Mongols and the Qing dynasty ruled by the Manchus.Liao dynasty (907-1125)The Khitans were the proto-Mongol people from the steppe in Manchuria and conquered the northern edge of China where the Chinese lived in majority. They participated in the Tang tributary system. After the disintegration of Tang dynasty, Abaoji of the Yelu clan proclaimed its authority.
He unfollowed the traditional Khitan practice of electing chiefs for limited terms and instead took up hereditary succession based on the Chinese model. It was a dual state, with distinct Khitan and Chinese areas, and a native script was also documented. The ruling elite adapted both the Khitan and Chinese ways yet still preserved their ancient customs.
They ruled over 2-3 million Chinese and their southern capital was at modern Beijing.Jin dynasty (1125-1234)The Jurchens originated in the eastern Manchuria and occupied the whole of north China after defeating the Khitans. Right after Liao dynasty’s defeat, Aguda of the Wanyan clan proclaimed authority of the Jin dynasty. The Jurchens willingly incorporated Chinese experts in siege craft into their army and employed former Liao officials, both Chinese and Khitan as well continuing the Khitan’s dual governance. Hereditary monarchy and adoption of more Chinese political institutions and officials continued as well. Promotion of use of Jurchen as a written language, order to study at specially established Jurchen schools, setting up of civil service examination for Jurchen candidates were some common sight then. The Jurchens rapidly adopted the Chinese customs as well such as their rituals, language and dress. The capital of Jin dynasty moved from Manchuria to Beijing in 1153 and to Kaifeng in 1161.
As a whole, most of the Jurchens used Chinese-style surnames, wore Chinese clothes, spoke Chinese and married the local population by the end of the dynasty. This process of sinification continued progressively.Yuan Dynasty (1215-1368) Two prominent rulers of this dynasty were Chinggis/Ghengis Khan (c. 1126-1227) and Khubilai Khan (r. 1260-1294). The Mongols recruited both Khitan and Chinese into their armies and government to go against the Jurchens. Even Tibetans, Persians, Russians and Uighurs were placed in the powerful government position.
Chinese shipbuilders helped them in naval battles and Chinese catapult experts enabled the Mongols to storm walled cities. They conquered to simply enrich themselves.However the Mongols resisted assimilation unlike the Jurchens.
They did not follow many Chinese social and political practices due to which competition continued to be the only way for selection of rulers. Mongol language prevailed for business purpose and marrying Chinese women was discouraged. Complex ethnic hierarchy system prevailed :Mongols as the most privilegedSemu ie., allies of the Mongols outside ChinaHanren ie., former subjects of the JinSoutherners ie.
, former subjects of the Song at the bottom most level.Despite being hesitant, the Mongols reinstituted the civil service recruitment examinations and provided quotas to Mongols and other non-Chinese candidates. The Mongols also registered the population into hereditary statuses by occupation. Qing Dynasty (1644-1900)The Manchus resided in central Manchuria, east of Mongolia and parts of China.
During the Ming period, different Manchu groups participated in the Ming tribute system. Nurchaci created the Manchu state and the population was enrolled into 4 military units identified by a colored banner. A script for writing in Manchu based on the Mongolian alphabets was also created; Ming law code was also translated and adoption of Chinese based administrative practices was taken up by the Manchus. Another significantly bizarre development was the order to adopt the Manchu hairstyle. The Manchus had stronger military and administrative machinery as a whole. With Hong Taiji succeeding the throne, he proclaimed the establishment of the Qing dynasty.
The other three major Manchu rulers were – Kangxi (r. 1662-1722), Yongzheng (r. 1722-1736) and Qianlong (r. 1736-1795). However, the society in Qing times met with conservative reactions such as too much concern on “purity of women”, laws against behavior deemed deviant, closing down of theaters and banning of novels. Increased population surpassed the growth of resources.Synarchy : A Brief DescriptionJohn K.
Fairbank terms the intricate institution of “joint Sino-foreign administration of the government of China under a foreign dynasty” as “synarchy”. The Inner Asian tribal had always had its presence in the Chinese government since the ancient times. The tribal chieftains played the role of vassalage, maintaining a tributary relation with the Chinese emperor. Similarly, under the non-Chinese/barbarians rule, it took the form of joint administration mixed with Chinese and non-Chinese bureaucracy. Military strategy; economic interest; political theory; social considerations and cultural elements such as customs, language and dress were some of the factors which made it possible.
The relation between the barbarians and the Chinese varied from the tyrannical rule under the Mongols to egalitarian cooperation during the Jin times.However, this practice of joint administration/synarchy reached its peak during the Qing dynasty under the Manchus. Some of the most important winning elements include : maintenance of an external base, use of gentry class, efficient civil control system and culturalism as the focus of loyalty.
External base : While holding their strongest feature ie., military power, the Manchus adopted many features of the Chinese government and economic structure as well. This turned to be an external base for the Manchus which helped them in institutional development by using the administrative skills for running the government.Use of Gentry class : The scholar-gentry class was definitely the central element in an elitist government. The Manchu emperors acted as a patron, maintained the civil service examination and selected the qualified candidates as his officials.
The Civil Control System : The Manchus used an efficient mechanism of “control system” to keep law and order in the working government. Along with the banner system, the population was kept under check by the “pao-chia” system of mutual guarantee and responsibility among the village households. The “law of avoidance” was applied to keep a check on family influence. Control over literature by the institution of Censorate. Collective responsibility promoted to keep a check amongst the officials. To prevent diffusion of central power, memorials were directly transacted to the emperor by the provincial officers.Culturalism : The Confucian monarchy followed by the Chinese dynasties for ages had a cultural basis. It had the capacity to include even the nomads of Inner Asia as evident since the Liao dynasty times.
Features of SynarchySome of the shared features among all the barbarians’ rule from the ancient period to imperial times includes : the barbarians usually came into power after a period of disorder when there was the need for order and unity, and took the advice and guidance of the Chinese in an effort to organize their conquest. Chinese forces were included into the barbarian’s army even though cavalry concentrated particularly to the barbarians. By building its support from the Chinese gentry-landlords, the barbarians pursued the policy of both terror and appeasement to control the Chinese territory. As it was impossible to impose their own culture over the Chinese masses, the barbarians conducted their administration in the Chinese tradition. This preservation of the Chinese ways in the barbarian’s government allowed many Chinese to administer on the local level. Due to this Chinese way of ruling China, the barbarians attempted to preserve their own customs and avoid assimilation/absorption by maintaining an external base outside China.
Also, to ensure control through military force, a territorial army had to be built where Chinese were recruited and loyal to the new rulers. Finally, one of the most important driving force that facilitated the barbarians rule was the political theory of the Chinese state ie., Confucian Monarchy which fused together the imperial institution of both China and Inner Asia. It is evident from the alien rulers’ acceptance of the Confucian canon, its patronage towards the Chinese art and the Confucian content of their decrees. Gradually, it resulted as a Sino-barbarian institution.
ConclusionThe distinct perceptions of both the Chinese and the barbarians sort to be the important element in determining the relationship between the Chinese and the barbarians. At the end of the Imperial China period, whether true or not but the agrarian Chinese and the nomadic Inner Asian has generally been conceived as a single political entity. Hence, the synarchy notion too reflects the very aspect of the imperial Confucian order. Nevertheless, it was the Chinese civilization above all that survived, and still continues in present even after going through the rigorous barbarian’s domination. Thus, it is highly evident that protecting what was “Chinese” was more important than anything else in China.