Is Cathay the proper name of China?

Aug 2012
479
Khitay or Cathay is one of the common names for China. But it's a name rooted in the Khitan people, the founders of the Liao dynasty of China that is often viewed as a foreign, non-Chinese dynasty.

But recent knowledge I've gained about early China seems to point to Hebei being the core area of China. This is an area that is ethnically and geographically tied to the northeast.

This has changed my understanding of China such that that Manchuria and the northernmost provinces are possibly more intrinsically Chinese than any place in China.

Perhaps this is why China used to be referred to as Khitay or Cathay by many nations.

Is our idea of foreign and native dynasties completely flipped? Could this be why Mongols labelled the Jurchen and Khitan as Hanren, while calling the Song Nanren? Is Cathay the real identity of China, being that it represents a dynasty of Manchurian origin?

I think that moving the ethnic core of the Chinese from below the Yellow river to the northeast may better explain the dynamics of Chinese history. Does anyone think the same and can add to this?
 
Last edited:

Wenge

Ad Honoris
Apr 2011
10,429
Virginia
Khitay or Cathay is a name rooted in the Khitan people, the founders of the Liao dynasty of China. They are often called a foreign, non-Chinese dynasty.

But recent knowledge I've gained about early China seems to point to the Hebei being the core area of China. This is an area that are ethnically and geographically tied to the northeast.

This has changed my understanding of China such that that Manchuria and the northernmost provinces are possibly more intrinsically Chinese than any place in China.

Perhaps this is why China used to be referred to as Khitay or Cathay by many nations.

Is our idea of foreign and native dynasties completely flipped? Could this be why Mongols labelled the Jurchen and Khitan as Hanren, while calling the Song Nanren? Is Cathay the real identity of China, being that it represents a dynasty of Manchurian origin?

I think that moving the ethnic core of the Chinese from below the Yellow river to the northeast may better explain the dynamics of Chinese history. Does anyone think the same and can add to this?
If the Northeastern parts of, present day, China were more influential why was The Great Wall built in such a way as to shut these people out of China proper?

 
Aug 2012
479
Maybe your information is outdated.
BEIJING (AP) — The Great Wall of China turns out to be even greater than had been thought.

A two-year government mapping study has uncovered new sections of the wall that total about 180 miles, according to a report posted on the Web site of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping.

Using infrared range finders, GPS devices and other mapping technology, experts discovered parts of the wall that had been concealed by hills, trenches and rivers, stretching from Hu Mountain in northern Liaoning Province to Jiayu Pass in western Gansu Province, China Daily, an official newspaper, reported Monday.

The newly mapped parts of the wall were built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), to protect against invaders from the north; some were submerged over time by sandstorms in the arid region, the study said.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/world/asia/21wall.html?_r=0
The great wall extended into the northeastern parts. Only, the area was very mountainous so wasn't as geographically vulnerable so some places didn't need the great walls.

Regardless, there were interior fortifications too and we can't say they were necessarily designed to restrict a certain ethnicity's movements.
 
Last edited:

Wenge

Ad Honoris
Apr 2011
10,429
Virginia
Maybe your information is outdated.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/world/asia/21wall.html?_r=0
The great wall extended into the northeastern parts. Only, the area was very mountainous so wasn't as geographically vulnerable so some places didn't need the great walls.

Regardless, there were inner fortifications too for various reasons and we can't use them to argue that they were designed to restrict a certain ethnicity's movements.
I can believe that The Wall extends further into Liaoning, however, Liaoning is not Manchuria proper Jilin and Heilongjiang are. Also, The Wall was built by many different peoples over a great period of time. The history of its construction has not been uncovered and possibly never will be. How do we know whether or not some of the northern most sections of what we call The Wall were not built to keep the inhabitants of the south out of the north? Many questions must be asked and answered before we can attain a definite conclusion.

China proper began with the establishment of the Qin Dynasty. I believe that Cathay was simply a name for the region since the area we now know as China was greatly divided until 221 B.C.

Until that time the area consisted of many diverse kingdoms all vying for the right to rule over the entire region.
 
Apr 2012
67
In Russia, they still call China "Kitai."
Southern China had been the traditional center of power for China until the Mongol invasion forced it to move north. Kubalai's capital Shangdu, was located in what is now Inner Mongolia, previously part of the Jurchen Kingdom, but he moved south to Dadu, modern Beijing, for a variety of reasons. I believe the Russian word for China was influenced by the Mongols since that was the first time direct information from eastern Asia became available to them.
 
Last edited:

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,627
China
If the Northeastern parts of, present day, China were more influential why was The Great Wall built in such a way as to shut these people out of China proper?

that's related to the great wall's history. it's not built in one day, so not every parts of it is a 'new project'. it's all about repair and improvement, even when the territory may had already changed.
the wall itself is not a final defense mechanism, if you look into history, every commander wished to use the wall as a final method all failed. the intention of its original builders is to provide a in-depth defense, including the wall and a large area surrounding the wall.

and China proper is only a misunderstood concept imposed by you western, look back into history, Chinese do not have that kind of concept. that's just a wall at some proper location with defense advantage. outside the wall, that may still be China.
Khitay or Cathay is one of the common names for China. But it's a name rooted in the Khitan people, the founders of the Liao dynasty of China that is often viewed as a foreign, non-Chinese dynasty.

But recent knowledge I've gained about early China seems to point to Hebei being the core area of China. This is an area that is ethnically and geographically tied to the northeast.

This has changed my understanding of China such that that Manchuria and the northernmost provinces are possibly more intrinsically Chinese than any place in China.

Perhaps this is why China used to be referred to as Khitay or Cathay by many nations.

Is our idea of foreign and native dynasties completely flipped? Could this be why Mongols labelled the Jurchen and Khitan as Hanren, while calling the Song Nanren? Is Cathay the real identity of China, being that it represents a dynasty of Manchurian origin?

I think that moving the ethnic core of the Chinese from below the Yellow river to the northeast may better explain the dynamics of Chinese history. Does anyone think the same and can add to this?
the middle and late Liao history is considered as part history that formed current Chinese. with so called procedure of Chinesization(or better 'Han-ization')
of cause in ancient time, people call China as Cathay or consider early Liao as Chinese is not accurate.

And China was called as Cathay is because:
due to the geographical insulation of Song, people from cental Asia can only contact Liao first. and due to Liao ruler promoted the policy of Han-ization, the Liao cultrue seemed just like Han as time went, so people misunderstand Liao is China, without the knowledge of Song.
however, some Arab authors noted the divided status of China, I remember one of them wrote that China had three parts(not sure about the Arab version, seems lost with time...not sure): 上秦 中秦 下秦(Chinese translation) (sorry, not lost, it's the Turkric Dictionary by Mexmut Qeshqeri)
上中下 are three characters for order, like 1st 2nd 3rd
秦 is one Chinese translation of Cathay or it may also refer to an ancient Chinese dynasty
here 上秦 is Song, 中秦 is Liao, 下秦 is Karakhanid Empire
the Arab sholars were very important people on connecting east and west
so maybe this is the origin
 
Last edited:
Aug 2012
479
I can believe that The Wall extends further into Liaoning, however, Liaoning is not Manchuria proper Jilin and Heilongjiang are. Also, The Wall was built by many different peoples over a great period of time. The history of its construction has not been uncovered and possibly never will be. How do we know whether or not some of the northern most sections of what we call The Wall were not built to keep the inhabitants of the south out of the north? Many questions must be asked and answered before we can attain a definite conclusion.

China proper began with the establishment of the Qin Dynasty. I believe that Cathay was simply a name for the region since the area we now know as China was greatly divided until 221 B.C.

Until that time the area consisted of many diverse kingdoms all vying for the right to rule over the entire region.
Liaoning is part of Manchuria. I don't know where you got the idea that it isn't. ([ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchuria"]Manchuria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame])

We know the Ming (or part of it) allowed the Manchu armies to pass through the Great Wall. Perhaps the Manchus were not as distant from the Ming as we think. Perhaps the Ming were "Cathayan" too, more in the northeastern sense.

Shanghaiguan was a fortress pass on the Great Wall between Manchuria and the Central Plains designed to defend attacks from any side, so maybe its purpose was as much to stop invasions into the northeast from possible southern rebellions. The pass was a square enclosure of walls attached to the Great Wall with four gates facing north, east, west, and south. [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanhai_Pass"]Shanhai Pass - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
 
Last edited:

Wenge

Ad Honoris
Apr 2011
10,429
Virginia
and China proper is only a misunderstood concept imposed by you western, look back into history, Chinese do not have that kind of concept. that's just a wall at some proper location with defense advantage. outside the wall, that may still be China.
Until Qin Shihuang united the warring countries together into one there was no such thing as China or China proper. The construction of what came to be known as Changchung, The Great Wall, was started long before The Qin.

All the Qin did was to connect the wall's pieces into a defensive object. It really had no defensive capabilities until Qi Jiguang rebuilt the wall during The Ming Dynasty.

We still have no definitive knowledge of the pieces purposes or who constructed them against whom.

I still suspect that Cathay was a name invented to give knowledge of a region not any country.
 

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,627
China
Until Qin Shihuang united the warring countries together into one there was no such thing as China or China proper. The construction of what came to be known as Changchung, The Great Wall, was started long before The Qin.

All the Qin did was to connect the wall's pieces into a defensive object. It really had no defensive capabilities until Qi Jiguang rebuilt the wall during The Ming Dynasty.

We still have no definitive knowledge of the pieces purposes or who constructed them against whom.

I still suspect that Cathay was a name invented to give knowledge of a region not any country.
there was no country called China does not mean ancient people before Qin do not consider them as one nation

we do know very clearly what is the usage of the great wall before Qin, you need to read more books about pre-Qin history

and maybe you do not know previously, but I need to remind you, 'China proper' is very insulting to Chinese, it sounds like that, outside the area, it is not so 'proper'. look at the Han history, northern China area found many historical relic created by Han, in Liaoning, Neimenggu and northern area of north Korea, while few and few by others. it's only because the wrong policy and continuous invasion, many Chinese moved southern.
look at the map you will find very obvious reason why the wall built there, it would have much less effect if it was built even north
 
Last edited: