Stabilizing the Western Desolation,translated

HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,557
I wanted to share a comic that I've been translating from Chinese into English. It is called "Stabilizing the Western Desolation", which is given free of charge in hotoon's weibo website:

https://m.weibo.cn/u/2365723822?uid=2365723822

The art is really good. What's more, you can tell he did an extensive background check for the story's setting. Not just the Chinese setting, but the setting of all cultures involved. He hasn't finished it yet, and I haven't finished translating everything he put on his website. If enough people like it I will put it in my blog, update it regularly, with descriptions of all the little things (technology, background, evidence of the types of dress/armor shown) that the author littered all over the comic.











^A whistling arrow used for military signaling. These types of arrows are excavated all over the place in what was previously the Han northern border regions. A Xiongnu prince was said to have trained his men to shoot in whichever direction that he shot his whistling arrow. He then shot at his father, and turned good ole dad into a porcupine. And that's how he became king.







Han dynasty stone mural:




^The Han have relay stations across their empire, so that messengers could switch horses at each station so they'll always have a fresh horse. "Xiyu" is what the Han called the "Western Regions", located in what is now Xinjiang.







Banchao actually did in fact say that great men should be like Zhang Qian and Fu, making a name for themselves in distance lands. This became a very famous Chinese saying. And he threw away his brush when he said it.

Ban Chao's courtsey name is "Zhong Sheng", which is why his coworkers are calling him that below:



^Banchao also did in fact say "Small men only knows peace, but warriors know ambition". This also became a Chinese saying.
Notice the rotary winnowing fan in the background. This machine was already invented by the Han dynasty during the time period of the story.

 
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HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,557


Han stone mural of a chariot:





^Banchao's brother and sister were both historians who wrote the "Book of Han". Their family ancestor was BanYi, which is why they called themselves the "Yi family". Again, Banchao's courtsey name is Zhong Sheng.






Pretty good depiction of the Parthians and Kushans. The Kushans have heavy cataphract cavalry, and hoplite-looking infantry, as depicted in their coinage. After all, they did take over the Greek Greco-Bactrian kingdom, and would have incorporated their infantry.



Parthian Cataphract:


Plaque showing ancient Central Asians fighting. It's a common misconception that the couched lance was developed in the Medieval period, but as you can see here it's developed before that:








^The Kushans took a chunk out of Parthian territory around this time.







I'm using "Lieutenant" as the translation for the leader of a Dui. The "dui" means a squad of five men, and is the basic unit of how the Han organizes its military:

Here is the basic Han army organization (The leader of the Dui being translated as a corporal rather than lieutenant this time):
[FONT=&quot]An army on campaign had a supreme general, usually addressed by some lofty title, commanding a number of sub-generals with their own divisions of 5000 men each(c). A division is commanded by a Lieutenant-General and consists of five regiments of 1000 men, each led by a Colonel. Each regiment is divided into two battalions of 500 men each, commanded by Majors. Each battalion is split into companies of 50 or 100 men under the command of a Captain. Each company is divided into platoons of 10 men under Sergeants, and squads of 5 men under Corporals. Each commanding officer of a unit is entitled to have an additional staff equivalent to 10% the size of his unit, functioning as bodyguards, messengers, or other supporting roles(d). The ideal is to have neighbors and relatives positioned in the same unit in order to strengthen group cohesion(e).[/FONT]


That's as far as my translation got.

[FONT=&quot]c. See the Shiji on the Dayuan Chapter, in which multiple 'generals' of a single army was said to have deserted[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]d. Jing’ge Tiema: Bingzhi yu Junshi by Guo Jian, published 2003[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]e. Sun Bin’s Art of War (the earliest copy found in a Han-era tomb): “organize the troops on the basis of their county and village affiliation, and appoint unit commanders on the basis of the local affiliation”[/FONT]
 
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macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
4,181
Slovenia, EU
A solid comic with good compositions and story flow. All elements are at least correct and their result is above average. Thanks for sharing.

Ps: I should know, I'm reading and making comics for 40 years.

PPS: Were Xiongnu really so Mongol alike as comic shows?
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,412
Albuquerque, NM
Personally I'm interested, and could easily become a fan. That doesn't happen often.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,144
Portugal
Personally I'm interested, and could easily become a fan. That doesn't happen often.
Same here. I really like this kind of art. We don’t see it often in graphic novels. It reminds me the quality of V. Segrelles in “the Mercenary”. The storyline also seems quite good.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,728
I have to agree- more attention to detail than most graphic comics not only historical but the landscape backgrounds are well done.
 

HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,557
PPS: Were Xiongnu really so Mongol alike as comic shows?
The attention to historical detail is a breath of fresh air.

There is a discrepancy in what Xiongnu cavalry looks like. Han mural art almost always show them to be light horse archers. But contemporary literature mention them to be equipped with leather armor, wooden shields, and close combat weapons as well.

The troops with crossbows ride forward and shoot off all their bolts in one direction; this is something which the leather armour and wooden shields of the Xiongnu cannot resist. -Shiji


Also the ShiJi:

[FONT=&quot]儿能骑羊,引弓射鸟鼠;少长则射狐兔;用为食。士力能弯弓,[/FONT]尽为甲骑。其俗,宽则随畜因射猎禽兽为生业,急则人习战攻以侵伐,其天性也。其长兵则弓矢,短兵则刀鋋。利则进,不利则退,不羞遁走。苟利所在,不知礼义。自君王以下,咸食畜肉,衣其皮革,被旃裘。壮者食肥美,老者食其余。贵壮健,贱老弱。父死,妻其后母;兄弟死,皆取其妻妻之。其俗,有名不讳,而无姓字
Children can ride sheep and use bows to shoot birds and mice. When they are a little older they shoot foxes and rabbits for food. They have the martial prowess to draw bows and all are armored cavalry. As for their custom, they follow their livestock and shoot wild birds and beasts for their livelihood. During times of urgency their people practice warfare and invasion, as according to their nature. Their long range weapons are the bow and arrow. Their short range weapons are the sabre and spear. If it is to their advantage they will advance, if it is not to their advantage they will retreat, fleeing without shame. They do not care how they attain their advantage, and do not understand ritual proprieties. Everyone from the king on down eat meat from their flocks and have clothing of leather hide and wear felt fur. Their strong eats the best and what’s left over are food for the old. They value the strong and healthy, and do not put value on the old and the weak. When their father dies, they marry their stepmother. When their brother dies, they marry the widow. They don’t have taboo names, and don’t have surnames.

There is also a debate in the Shiji on whose culture is superior, that of the Han or that of the Xiongnu. The Xiongnu actually managed to get the last word, and seemed to have gotten the better of the Han debater. Which is surprising, because it was a Han historian who wrote down the debate!:

One of the Han envoys said: “According to Xiongnu customs, they dishonor the elderly”.


Zhonghang Yue interrogated the Han envoy: “But according to Han customs, when those joining the military are sent out to be stationed in garrisons, do they not have their elderly kin set aside their own warmest layers and richest and finest [food] in order to send food and drink to those working in the garrisons?”

The Han envoy said: “It is so.”

Zhonghang Yue said: “The Xiongnu make it clear that they take warfare and attack as their business. Their elderly and weak are unable to fight, and therefore they give their richest and finest food and drink to the strong and vigorous. And because [the strong] make themselves the protectors and defenders so fathers and sons both protect each other in the long term. How can you say the Xiongnu dishonor the elderly?”

The Han envoy said: “Amongst the Xiongnu, fathers and sons bed together in the same tent.When fathers die, [the sons] marry their step-mothers. When brothers die they take all the [brothers’] wives and marry them.”

Zhonghang Yue said: “When fathers, sons, and brothers die, [the Xiongnu] take [the widowed] wives and marry them, as they hate having the surname group die out. Therefore even when the Xiongnu face political turmoil, the ancestral group is [firmly] established. Now in the Central States (China) although a man clearly would not marry his father’s or brother’s wife, family members have become so estranged that they kill each other until the dynastic line is changed, and everyone follows this pattern.


I will get the rest of the available comic translated, but it will take some time. It will take even more time to finish translating the entire comic, because hotoon haven't finished it yet. But I suppose if you want quality, then you need patience (especially when it's free).
 
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HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,557
I finished the rest of Chapter 1:





^Those who wear black are civil officials, those who wear red/orange are military officials. The civil officials want peace, the military officials want war. There's a couple idioms here that I tried my best to translate.



^The guards in the background:




^Notice the duck he is holding. Gifts with duck motifs symbolize a happy couple. The thing is, he's not supposed to gift an actual duck. Maybe he thought it was funny. The groom is Gan Ying, courtesy name Chong Lan. That is why he is called both below:



Notice that two people on the top left picture have shaven heads. In Han culture it is considered unfilial to cut one's hair, so everybody just lets their hair grow indefinitely. But since the setting is in a border region, it's not surprising to find non-Han people with their own cultural preference of what to do with their hair. The woman's hairstyle seems to be based on the Dahuting tomb:





^The Han did use mainly crossbows as the ranged weaponry of choice for their cavalry:

 
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HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,557


^Lantai is a department in charge of government documents. The two aren't actual brothers. They're just calling each other that to be nice.











^I can't be certain of the translation's accuracy for the first quote, but it's not important for the story. Chinese doctors feel the pulse of his/her patient's wrist to gauge the patient's health, this is a practice that continues to this day.





White is the color of mourning, worn during funerals. So Ban Chao's wife is dead.
 
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