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 Post subject: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-16 02:39pm
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Padawan Learner

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Everyonce in a while I'll do some minor research into China and I'll be impressed with the Han. I don't know much about later Eras, and while I know about Ch'in. . . I hate Ch'in Shi Haungdi and his cruel ways. The Han invented steel weaponry in China, and I think paper too, in addition to other things, such as improvements on the automatic crossbow. The Han was equal in power in my estimation with Rome, despite being smaller and confined to Asia.

But I here positive remarks about the Tang as well, with it's artistic slant. What about other posters? If interested in China at all, what are their favorites?

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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-17 05:24am
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The Doctor
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Who spells Ch'in instead of Qin? Is this an older Wade Giles romanisation? For a moment I was confused until you mentioned Shi Haungdi.

Now with favourite dynasties, thats always a tough one as there are different reasons why some dynasties for more interesting than others. Generally I think the Tang is considered the better heights of Chinese civilisations, IIRC at its height its bigger than even the Qing (which is also larger than the modern day PRC during parts of its period). The Song was interesting to set martial arts novels in, but most probably not the best time for China, being boxed in by the Khitans, Tibetans, Xi Xia etc, and then eventually boxed in by the Jin dynasty.

The Tang was most probably a better period, since before the An Lu Shan rebellion it was generally stable and prosperous. At least stable within its major areas although there was conflict around the frontiers, notably them running into the Caliphate and the defeat of the Korean kingdom of Gorygyeo ?sp. Also the capital Chang'an (now modern day Xian, home of the terracotta warriors) was supposed to be a thriving metropolis. I have heard it said it was quite multicultural with various Turkic people living in its borders.

The other periods most probably don't come close. For example the Song never regained territory lost to the Khitans, while they were having to deal with Xi Xia (western Xia) and the Khitans, before the rise of the Jurchen threat which forced the Chinese to relocate their capital from the North to the South. So not a great time. And that was before the Kublai Khan came a calling.

The Ming was most probably somewhat better, and managed to maintain themselves despite some military disasters against the Mongols. However pressure from an internal rebellion led to their fall, before the Manchus finished off the corpse.



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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-17 02:47pm
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mr friendly guy wrote:
Who spells Ch'in instead of Qin? Is this an older Wade Giles romanisation? For a moment I was confused until you mentioned Shi Haungdi.


Yes, that's the Wade-Giles version. It's not uncommon for people to jump between the two, like how "Chiang Kai-Shek" is routinely used, but you rarely see "Mao Tse-tung" anymore.

At the very least, Wade-Giles shows the possible etymological origin of "China" more clearly than the pinyin.

Edit - if it counts, my favorite dynasty is the Taiping. It's hard to find a weirder blend of ideologies and mysticism that would be ridiculous if it weren't for the fact that it sparked the bloodiest war of the 19th Century.



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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-17 09:32pm
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I am aware some Wade Giles romanisation is still used, IIRC in Taiwan for example. Of course in Singapore we have our own weird custom, where the family name is romanised by how its pronounced in say the Fujian dialect, but the given name is romanised in how it would be pronounced in Mandarin.

As far as I am aware though, Wade Giles is still used certainly for historically significant people, eg the aforementioned Chiang Kai-Shek, and Sun Yatsen. Mao these days uses the pin yin romanisation Mao Zedong. Also Guomindang also uses the Wade Giles romanisation Kuomintang (KMT). Which can be confusing for the unitiated when they use Guomindang, but use KMT as the same abbreviation. :D But back to the main point, I thought Wade Giles romanisation was being used less and only for some of the examples mentioned.



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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-18 12:53am
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I find the Song to be the most interesting. The most technologically sophisiticated civilization on the planet at the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-18 03:00am
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mr friendly guy wrote:
I am aware some Wade Giles romanisation is still used, IIRC in Taiwan for example. Of course in Singapore we have our own weird custom, where the family name is romanised by how its pronounced in say the Fujian dialect, but the given name is romanised in how it would be pronounced in Mandarin.

As far as I am aware though, Wade Giles is still used certainly for historically significant people, eg the aforementioned Chiang Kai-Shek, and Sun Yatsen. Mao these days uses the pin yin romanisation Mao Zedong. Also Guomindang also uses the Wade Giles romanisation Kuomintang (KMT). Which can be confusing for the unitiated when they use Guomindang, but use KMT as the same abbreviation. :D But back to the main point, I thought Wade Giles romanisation was being used less and only for some of the examples mentioned.



Oh. For some reason I prefer Ch'in to Qin. I don't know why. Just an asthetic reason I suppose.

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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-18 05:53am
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"Chiang Kai-Shek" isn't Wade-Giles, it's a weird romanization that became popular with journalists at the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-18 07:05am
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Tang. Prosperous,non xenophohic,most supportive of women rights and had a strong mercentile culture. relatively ok military even if it wasnt notable for its era,but it won the battles it needed to.



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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-19 03:09pm
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I like the Xia dynasty.

Because it was probably fictional.



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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-20 05:45am
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Nobody likes the Three Kingdoms era at all? It was pretty bloody and not my personal favorite (I have a soft spot for the Ming), but I figured the Romance of Three Kingdoms would make it more popular.

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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-20 06:45am
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Zinegata wrote:
Nobody likes the Three Kingdoms era at all? It was pretty bloody and not my personal favorite (I have a soft spot for the Ming), but I figured the Romance of Three Kingdoms would make it more popular.


Maybe it is because it is mainly a period of chaos, hence not necessary the best era/kingdom for China?

I do enjoy reading up on the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period, mainly because most of the influential literature works were composed in those periods. Without that period, we would not have Sun Tzi's art of war, as well as Confucianism.



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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-20 09:08am
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While some periods like Song are interesting to read about (just look at some of the martial arts novels set in that era - Demi gods and semi devils, Legend of the Condor heroes, Return of the Condor heroes etc) it most probably isn't that great a time to be in, with China facing pressures from hostile powers. The Tang was most probably a nicer place to live in at its height.



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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-20 09:55pm
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Zinegata wrote:
Nobody likes the Three Kingdoms era at all? It was pretty bloody and not my personal favorite (I have a soft spot for the Ming), but I figured the Romance of Three Kingdoms would make it more popular.

I've played Dynasty Warriors several times over the years and I certainly accept it as a rendition with plenty of liberties taken (women could bare that much skin, let alone fight on the battlefield?). I can't find a good copy of the Romance of Three Kingdoms to read. Plus, I hear the reading's . . . dry, to be mild.

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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-03-28 03:01am
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Well... You could always read the novel here.
http://threekingdoms.com/

Its a good enough translation, although some of the comments are idiots. Hi, cry has more meaning than just crying. There's also cry out.

There used to be some very good analysis of ROTK, but suffice to say, its hardly the "best" Chinese era. An era where almost a third of the population died, suffered various famine/plagues and constant raiding by "barbarians", on top of the routine warfare and conscription levies/taxes doesn't really entice me.


Seriously. Tang dynasty.
Large territory, rivalled only by the Yuan and Qing dynasty.
A competent military, sure, no major laurels when compared to the Song or Han dynasty but who gives a shit? It could defend China territories and even has foreign expeditionary powers vis a vis Silk Road.
A mercentile economy which for the people, meant relative easy access to foreign goods and spices.
It was relatively cosmopolitian and didn't treat women like shit. Sure, the Song dynasty had better property rights and etc for women, allowing them an improved economic position but that had to be weighed relatively to the shit poor security position of the Song, especially in later years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_Dynasty



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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-04-20 04:36am
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...vote for the Yuan Dynasty wherein a variety of essential developments in arts emerge. Being the first in history that foreigners ruled the China, this dynasty initiated the first direct contact among China and the West.

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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-04-21 11:07am
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Well.......
Sure, he did welcome contacts with the Christian community but that's isn't a great improvement on religious freedom, just greater exposure.What do you mean by direct contact though?



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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-04-24 03:13pm
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Ming Dynasty and Emperor Hongwu. Attempts to create self-sufficient farm villages and made a economic boom out of pure accident. Pretty cool.

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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-04-29 09:23am
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Vashon wrote:
Ming Dynasty and Emperor Hongwu. Attempts to create self-sufficient farm villages and made a economic boom out of pure accident. Pretty cool.


Read "1587, A Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline" by Ray Huang, which among other things analyzes the economic system as set in place by Emperor Hongwu. He argues that the system was in part the cause of declining court revenues and the subsequent collapse because the system of self-sufficiency at a small scale envisaged by the Emperor could not cope with the issue of population growth or migration.

Also the system of finances within the Ming Dynasty (again as analyzed within that book) was a system of local surpluses cancelling out local deficits, but which robbed the central government of control over finances.

If I had to vote, I'd pick Tang or Western Han. The former for its cosmpolitan reach and territorial extent. The latter for its centralized government. If one examines later dynasties, power was often still to some extent mediated through intermediary power holders at the local level such as the gentry, which diluted and hampered the ability of the central government to govern (and the local gentry and power holders would often siphon off taxes or other resources).

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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-04-29 12:39pm
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Werent the local surpluses the cause for a lot of population growth?

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 Post subject: Re: Favorite/Best Chinese Empire/Kingdom or Era? PostPosted: 2012-04-29 05:36pm
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Youngling

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Vashon wrote:
Werent the local surpluses the cause for a lot of population growth?


I think it would be more accurate to say they might have been the result of population growth and the pro-agricultural policies pursued by the state, as well as the advancement of technology. At the time, Ming dynasty agricultural techniques were the most advanced in the world. However the result of this, as in most pre-modern societies, was the population grew to match the additional production.

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