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Old April 17th, 2018, 03:27 AM   #1
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Periods of disunity in ancient China


I have a question about the following quote:

“Western Europe was never effectively unified after the fragmentation of the Roman Empire, in spite of several relatively short lived attempts in early and modern times. China on the other hand was successfully unified to a strong central government, a situation that continued with only one serious interruption through to the 20th century”.

This interruption, is it referring to the period between the 14th and 17th century (Qing dynasty)? Or has China been unified before this period just as radically as during the Qing?

Between the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) and Sui dynasty (581 – 618 CE), China was divided into "Three Kingdoms" (220 – 280 CE), and there was disunity in this period (in which Buddhism and Daoism took hold). But this was before/during the fragmentation of the Roman Empire, right? Not after it, so I presume they're not referring to this period. The Tang, Song and Ming dynasty also all had important unification periods of imperial China, but did all these unifications take the same amount of time and effort? Were these "little" unifications periods?
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Old April 17th, 2018, 07:17 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vark View Post
I have a question about the following quote:

“Western Europe was never effectively unified after the fragmentation of the Roman Empire, in spite of several relatively short lived attempts in early and modern times. China on the other hand was successfully unified to a strong central government, a situation that continued with only one serious interruption through to the 20th century”.

This interruption, is it referring to the period between the 14th and 17th century (Qing dynasty)? Or has China been unified before this period just as radically as during the Qing?

Between the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) and Sui dynasty (581 – 618 CE), China was divided into "Three Kingdoms" (220 – 280 CE), and there was disunity in this period (in which Buddhism and Daoism took hold). But this was before/during the fragmentation of the Roman Empire, right? Not after it, so I presume they're not referring to this period. The Tang, Song and Ming dynasty also all had important unification periods of imperial China, but did all these unifications take the same amount of time and effort? Were these "little" unifications periods?
one thing for sure, the imperial language of tang dynasty was called "northern dialect of middle chinese", this is the chinese language that korean and japanese borrowed, during and after the fall of tang dynasty, this northern dialect of middle chinese, the imperial language of tang dynasty split into 3 branch only, which is hakka, gan, and putonghua (mandarin).
Click the image to open in full size.

while vietnamese borrow chinese language with cantonese (cantonese province are next to north vietnam)
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Old April 17th, 2018, 01:37 PM   #3

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Not sure what the author is talking about. There are plenty of periods of political disunity in Chinese history. I think maybe the author is talking about China as a culture rather than as a state. That would mean the "interruption" he's talking about would be the intrusion of foreign occupiers that were not culturally Chinese and tried to fundamentally change Chinese institutions and traditions.
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Old April 17th, 2018, 03:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Hakka Nyin View Post
one thing for sure, the imperial language of tang dynasty was called "northern dialect of middle chinese", this is the chinese language that korean and japanese borrowed, during and after the fall of tang dynasty, this northern dialect of middle chinese, the imperial language of tang dynasty split into 3 branch only, which is hakka, gan, and putonghua (mandarin).
Click the image to open in full size.

while vietnamese borrow chinese language with cantonese (cantonese province are next to north vietnam)
Thanks for sharing this information! Even though it's rather off topic, extra background information is always good . The Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) became a model for ancient civilisations during China’s golden age (740-750 CE) and Japan, Korea and Vietnam all borrowed from the Tang legal system, art, architecture and language.

I didn't know that Korea and Japan borrowed a different Chinese language from China than Vietnam, but it makes sense if you think about it, because Korean and Japanese aren't tonal languages, but Vietnamese/Cantonese is a tonal language (it has 6 tones, whereas Chinese/Mandarin has 4 tones). But what about Thai then, since it has 5 tones. Do you know this perchance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevapalooza View Post
Not sure what the author is talking about. There are plenty of periods of political disunity in Chinese history. I think maybe the author is talking about China as a culture rather than as a state. That would mean the "interruption" he's talking about would be the intrusion of foreign occupiers that were not culturally Chinese and tried to fundamentally change Chinese institutions and traditions.
I was talking about China as a state, not just as a culture, since the term 'strong central government' is mentioned. Let me show you the quote I was referring to: https://imgur.com/F59Bu8M (I've underlined the word 'interruption' in red).

Last edited by Vark; April 17th, 2018 at 03:34 PM.
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Old April 17th, 2018, 07:53 PM   #5
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No idea what the author means really. Maybe he translates the revelution and the abolishment of the Imperial system as an interruption? But that would imply that after interruption there will be a return, while if not counting Yuan Shikai's infamous attempt to reform Empire, there was none.

Otherwise periods of disunity are quite abundant, possibly even counting the situation today.
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Old April 17th, 2018, 08:13 PM   #6
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What source is it? I doubt this interruption is talking about "Foreign dynasties", considering its mentioned under the context that China was united; so rather its about a period of disunity. The longest period of that would be the Northern and southern dynasties period from around 316-589. However, northern China, the actual geographical "China" in sources at least up to the Ming; was never nominally disunited for over a few decade at most.
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Old April 18th, 2018, 01:29 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Vaderfan View Post
No idea what the author means really. Maybe he translates the revelution and the abolishment of the Imperial system as an interruption?
If you'd like to know what I mean, check out the source from which I've deducted this quote: https://imgur.com/F59Bu8M

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Originally Posted by heavenlykaghan View Post
What source is it?
This source: https://imgur.com/F59Bu8M
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Old April 18th, 2018, 02:18 AM   #8
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Well, the article quite clearly talked about the period after the Han, so this interruption is probably about that. However, it ignored the brief unification achieved under the Jin dynasty in 280, which lasted until 304.
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Old April 18th, 2018, 03:11 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by heavenlykaghan View Post
Well, the article quite clearly talked about the period after the Han, so this interruption is probably about that. However, it ignored the brief unification achieved under the Jin dynasty in 280, which lasted until 304.

You are referring to a "little unification period", so the starting assumption of this topic: "The Tang, Song and Ming dynasty also all had important unification periods of imperial China, but did all these unifications take the same amount of time and effort? Were these "little" unifications periods?" is therefore right?

I continue by concluding that "This interruption, is it referring to the period between the 14th and 17th century (Qing dynasty)". Is this a right conclusion? Thanks in advance for your reply .
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Old April 18th, 2018, 03:29 AM   #10
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What was bigger period of disunity - 311...589, or 907...1279?
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