Week 6: Oct. 2 and Oct. 4

Please complete your assignments (check this document) for the end of week 5, by 6pm Tue. Oct. 1

Wednesday, Oct. 2: The rise of Buddhism in a “divided China”

Remember for PDFs we use a new system now: you need to log into the depository of the website, but there is no two-factor authentication. Login details are available for course students on the course’s Canvas homepage.

  • Textbook: Hansen, Valerie. The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800Chapter 4- part 1: ”China’s Religious Landscape” (pp. 104-157)
  • Primary Sources:
        • Selection of the Sogdian Letters, translated by Nicholas Simms-Williams (PDF). Further background information by Daniel C. Waugh at the original website.
              • What do the letters tell you about the life of the Sogdian (Central Asian) merchants? What do they tell you about life in China in the fourth century?
        • Excerpt from Mouzi. In Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1: From Earliest Times to 1600, 2nd edition, edited by Wm. Th. de Bary and Irene Bloom, 421-426. (PDF)
              • Note: Mouzi is a Buddhist apologist, not to be confused with the pre-Qin thinker Mozi of “Universal Love” or “Equal Care” (jian’ai) fame.
              • How does Mouzi explain the “strange” customs of the Buddhists? How does he try to convince people? Who do you think is his audience or intended reader?
        • Stories 2,3 and 4. In Robert Ford Campany, Signs from the Unseen Realm: Buddhist Miracle Tales from Early Medieval China, 71-77. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press/Kuroda Institute, 2012. (PDF)
              • These tales demonstrate the power of Buddhism. Why do you think these tales were so popular? How did they help spread Buddhism? What other factors may have played a role in the spread of Buddhism in China at this time?
  • Slides (Gdrive link)
  • Questions and answers from class (worksheets PDF)
  • Google form for timeline and map entries from this class.

Friday, Oct. 4.: Northern and Southern China

  • Textbook: Hansen, Valerie. The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800Chapter 4- part 2: ”China’s Religious Landscape” (pp.157-171).
  • Primary sources:
          • Yang Xuanzhi. Excerpt from Chapter 1. In Jenner, W. J. F. Memories of Loyang : Yang Hsüan-Chih and the Lost Capital (493-534), 79-83. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981. (PDF)
                • Yang captured in his Record of the Monasteries of Luoyang (Luoyang qielanji)  his memories of Luoyang, the city used by the Northern Wei between 493 and 534. What does the city look like? What makes this into a capital?
          • Instructions for the Yan family (Yanshi jiaxun). Various translations and editions, see footnotes in document.(PDF)
                • These were instructions left behind by the Chinese official who served under northern and southern states in the sixth century. His instructions provide some interesting insights how the two parts of the country have begun to grow apart culturally, after centuries of political division. What are those differences? How do such differences affect our use of the word “Chinese”/”China”?
          • “Ballad of Mulan”. In An Anthology of Chinese Literature : Beginnings to 1911, translated and edited by Stephen Owen, 241-43. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.(PDF)
                • This is the oldest known version of the “Ballad of Mulan”, set in the Northern Wei. (The Disney movie was only the last in a long series of different interpretations of how the story was molded and retold over the centuries to suit the particular needs of a time period.) What can you learn about life during the Northern Wei from this ballad? What appears to you to be representative of the northern nomadic traditions (of the Xianbei), and are there indications that this culture has absorbed elements of its Chinese surroundings?
  • Slides (Gdrive link)
  • Google form for timeline and map entry points for this class