Early Medieval China

Dates :
Vendredi 15 novembre 2019 - 10:00 - Samedi 16 novembre 2019 - 13:30
Lieu :
Inalco, PLC (65, rue des Grands Moulins), salle 3.15
À l’occasion de ce workshop, l’histoire politique, spatiale, institutionnelle, religieuse, intellectuelle et littéraire de la Chine du haut Moyen Age (IIe-VIIe s.) fédérera pour la sixième fois depuis 2014, et pour la première fois en France, un groupe informel de chercheurs européens (European Society for the Study of Early Medieval China) venus présenter leurs matériaux de recherche les plus récents (culture matérielle, sources littéraires, historiographiques et épigraphiques).

Une discussion générale conclura chacune des deux journées, et chacun des six panels sera discuté par un(e) intervenant(e) interne ou invité(e) : « Centre(s) et périphérie(s) : circulations et représentations » (I & II) ; « Érudition et historiographie : passeurs et idéologies » ; « Le pouvoir impérial et ses concepts » ; « Les objets par les textes » ; « Tensions et dialogues des religions ».
Peinture murale médievale
Peinture murale des Wei du Nord (386-534), Pingcheng


Panel 1
Alexis Lycas, École pratique des hautes études (Ephe, IVe)
 '“Patterned itineraries” and the making of geographical information in Medieval China''
My paper examines “patterned itineraries” (tujing), a little-studied genre of geographical writings that flourished before the Song dynasty. Studying these documents raises several problems related to terminology, content, authorship and readership, to name a few.
By focusing on how historical actors thought about these documents, I will tackle some of the following questions: Who was responsible for commissioning, producing, revising, and circulating these documents? Which type of practice and usage did they entail? To what extent did they foreshadow the genre of Late Imperial “local gazetteers” (difang zhi)?
Julia Escher, University of Zurich, Switzerland
'Decentering our Perspective on Marital Politics and Diplomacy in Early Medieval China (and Beyond)'
For decades, scholarship on diplomacy and marriage alliances between China and other parties has been approached with a very strong focus on China. In the light of a recent trend toward a more multi-faceted view, this research aims to move away from a sino-centric understanding of marital politics and diplomacy in Early Medieval China (and beyond) and hopes to create a more nuanced picture of the complex political landscape of the time. It furthermore aims to explore in what way we can approach diplomacy of this time from a “decentered” perspective. This endeavour will be based on examples of diplomatic interactions conducted by rulers of the Turks with various Chinese dynasties, but also with other rulers from Sogdiana, Sasania, and Byzantium.
This approach can be understood as a first tentative step toward an acknowledgement of and analytical engagement with a “multi-polar system of diplomacy and trade” (Drompp 2005) for this time period. It also raises the need to elaborate on the concept of multipolarity, rooted in the field of modern-day International Relations, and to explore how, if at all, it can be applied to a historical context. It furthermore addresses possible advantages which this concept might bring to a decentering study of the politics of marriage alliances and diplomacy in Early Medieval China.

Panel 2
Annette Kieser, University of Münster, Germany
'Six Dynasties’ Secondary Centers: The Archaeological Evidence'
The past decades have seen a change of paradigm in Chinese archaeological research from focusing on cultural centers towards investigating individual regions. The results broaden our knowledge based on handed down historiography. For the time of the Six Dynasties (220 to 589), when the former unified empire was fragmented into several states, some under non-Chinese rule, a different approach, not focusing on the center appears to be a very fruitful one. Especially the southern capital Jiankang (modern Nanjing) dominates as political and cultural heartland in the dynastic histories and is therefore in the focus of research until today.
It is getting more and more evident, however, that especially the Yangzi middle region was of crucial importance to the history of the Six Dynasties. This was a populous zone of migration and interaction, where social groups different from the ones in the capital region were active. These were embattled regions close to the border, of high economic, political and military importance due to their strategic location at trade routes and traffic networks. In this region secondary centers evolved that often rivaled the capital Jiankang.
By use of a systematic analysis of the archaeologically excavated Six Dynasties’ tombs my aim is to reevaluate the picture of the Yangzi middle region. Core questions in this regard are: In what ways can the archaeological evidence broaden the picture reconstructed from the written sources? Are the importance of the region, social tensions as well as political developments mirrored in the archaeological material? What can be deducted from an analysis of the burial culture of the elite in a region shaped by such diverse tensions as outlined? Focusing on tombs found the modern province of Hubei, my paper will both discuss problems encountered with this approach and give first answers to the above outlined questions.
Maddalena Barenghi, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich
'Some Aspects of the Relations between the Chile 敕勒 and the Northern Dynasties (Fifth to Seventh Century)'
The terms “Gaoju” 高車 and “Chile” 敕勒/“Tiele” 鐵勒 identify a confederacy of Turkic-speaking tribes that dwelled in the Mongolian steppe belt from the late fifth to the early eighth century. This group of tribes established patron-client relations with both the steppe regimes of the Rouran 柔然 khanate (402–552) and the Turks of the first Turk Empire (552–630), as well as the rulers of the Central Plains, the Tuoba 拓跋 Northern dynasties (386–581), the Sui 隋 (581–617), and the early Tang 唐 court. Over the course of the centuries, tribal units affiliated to this nomadic confederacy moved southwards within the various parts of the northern and northwestern frontier of the empire, voluntarily or not, and became part of its defensive system. This paper surveys the early relations between the confederacy and the rulers of the Central Plains as narrated in the early medieval sources, with a focus on the Weishu 魏書 and the Beishi 北史. From a broader perspective, this paper is a preliminary inquiry into the modes of narrating migration patterns of the Turkic groupings that settled in the Tang border zone.

Panel 3
Béatrice L’Haridon
, Maître de conférences, U.F.R. Langues et Civilisations de l'Asie Orientale (LCAO)
'An upright Minister during the collapse of Han dynasty: Chen Fan’s陳蕃representations in Medieval literature'
During the reigns of Emperors Huan 桓 and Ling 靈 (146-167 and 167-189), political life at court as well as in the regions was characterized by an exacerbation of conflicts between on the one hand eunuchs, whose legitimacy was often proportionate to their personal allegiance to the emperor and on the other hand officials, whose legitimacy relied, at least theoretically, on their fulfillment of Confucian virtues and their mastery of classical knowledge. In what may be considered as desperate attempts to promote reforms, many direct, even harsh, memorials of remonstrance were submitted to both emperors by the minister Chen Fan 陳蕃 (zi Zhongju 仲舉, d. 168). Chen Fan became Grand Tutor when Dou Wu 竇武 (d. 168) was regent, thus receiving broad power, which nonetheless proved to be insufficient to reduce the eunuchs’ influence at court. His biography in Fan Ye’s 范曄 (398-446) Hou Han shu後漢書 is centered on the remonstrance genre, and on the effect, ultimately tragic, produced by this piece of political literature. Besides being a high minister in Han government, Chen Fan was also an important figure for the reformist officials who strongly opposed to imperial policy, with the support of many students of the imperial academy. After Chen Fan’s was killed in the disorders following the failed attempt to overthrow the eunuchs in 168, the students’ leader and great judge of character Guo Tai 郭太 (zi Linzong 林宗, 127-169) is said to have mourned him with deep sorrow. Liu Yiqing’s 劉義慶 (403-444) Shishuo xinyu 世說新語 may be considered as inheriting from this crucial activity of judgment and characterology, and it contains indeed a few significant anecdotes on Chen Fan.  Here, I would like to compare the specific focus and style of both Fan Ye’s and Liu Yiqing’s contemporary representations of Chen Fan, and on this occasion to share reflections on the different links between historiographical literature and literature of anecdotes.
Sebastian Eicher, Ludwig-Maximillian University, Munich
'Defending Conformity, Yuan Hong’s 袁宏 Essays on the Teaching of Names'
Writings from the Wei-Jin period (220–420) expose an ongoing debate on the nature of the relationship between spontaneity (ziran 自然) and the Teaching of Names (mingjiao 名教), sometimes also referred to as morality teaching. The historian Yuan Hong 袁宏 (330–378) tried to reconcile the two ideologies. In a series of essays (lun 論) that he included in his Hou Han ji 後漢紀, he laid out his insights on the Teaching and on its origins and instead of distinguishing it from spontaneity, he tried to merge mingjiao with ziran. He considered the Teaching of Names the spontaneous way of government of high antiquity, superior to the teachings of the Ru, the Daoists and all other schools. As his voice is often not heard in discussions of mingjiao and ziran, this paper aims to present Yuan Hong’s understanding of mingjiao in the context of Wei-Jin thought and shows how and why he merged the two ideologies.
Daniel Patrick Morgan, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Laboratoire SPHERE
'Forgery, Banditry, and Advanced Mathematics: the Curious Academic Lineage of Kong Yingda 孔穎達 (574–648) in the Sui and Northern Dynasties'
Lead editor of the Orthodox Meaning of the Five Classics (Wujing zhengyi 五經正義) and Chancellor of the Tang Directorate of Education, it is hard to think of a Confucian scholar more influential or “orthodox” than Kong Yingda 孔穎達 (574–648). The same cannot be said of his schoolmasters, Liu Zhuo 劉焯 (544–610) and Liu Xuan 劉炫 (c.546–c.613). In this talk, I will tell their story. Liu Zhuo and Liu Xuan were no less influential in Kong Yingda’s day than Kong Yingda is in ours. Known as “the Two Lius,” theirs is a touching story of two best friends from childhood who returned home from the capital in their forties to establish their own place of learning in the provinces—a private school that would attract such elite pupils as Kong Yingda and Zhang Shiheng 張士衡 (d. 645), teacher of Jia Gongyan 賈公彥 (fl. 637), and from which they would write the classical subcommentaries that Kong and Jia would synthesize and, ultimately, supplant. Their school was also something of a madhouse. Liu Zhuo was a visionary in li 曆 mathematical astronomy, who, constantly outmaneuvered at court, took out his frustration by writing classical commentary that, in Kong’s words, “invariably falls back on numbers, invoking the Classics as all but complementary reading, … which leaves the teacher vexed and full of doubts, and the student toiling with little reward.” And the two did not so much decide to return home as they were reduced to commoners and ejected from the capital after Liu Xuan was caught forging “lost works” to collect money from the court’s library-restoration campaign. Equally worth mentioning is that, shortly after Kong Yingda’s departure and Liu Zhuo’s death, the school’s student body joined a gang of local bandits, whom they convinced to extract Liu Xuan from behind the walls of the commandery seat to make him their bandit leader. This may sound like a world apart from that of Kong Yingda and Jia Gongyan, in the early Tang (618–907), but it is that of their youth, and, as I hope to show, it is one that deeply informed their later careers.

Panel 4
Monique Nagel-Angermann, University of Münster, Germany
'The Value of “Loyalty“ (zhong 忠) during the Period of the Sixteen States (300-430)'
Rulers of the Xiongnu, Jie, Xianbei, Qiang and Di groups dominated most of the northern part of China during the 4th and the first of the 5th century. The so-called period of the Sixteen States was a time of constant warfare and changing alliances. Personal trust and loyalty were important to survive during such a time of turmoil, nevertheless conflicts of loyalty were very common. According to David Honey the Tang historiographers relied on a topos of nomad disloyalty depicting the period of the Sixteen States in the Jin shu 晉書. The aim of this paper is to question critically this topos by an investigation of the value of “loyalty” during the period of the Sixteen States.
Although “loyalty“ did not belong to the five Confucian virtues, it was closely connected to two of them: “righteousness“ (yi 義) and “integrity“ (xin 信). Based on the different connotations of “loyalty“, this paper will examine early medieval texts like the Shishuo xinyu 世說新語and ask about the general significance of “loyalty“. A short study of 27 men portrayed as “loyal and righteous“ (zhong yi 忠義) in the chapter 89 of the Jin shu may serve as one reference for the Tang historiographers attitude towards these values. In the main part the paper will focus on the narratives about the Sixteen States analyzing discourses referring to “loyalty“ and “disloyalty” from the Shiliuguo chunqiu十六國春秋 of Cui Hong 崔鴻 (Northern Wei) and the Jin shu in order to assess the importance of “loyalty” for the rulers of the Sixteen States. Finally, statements and narratives from the Sixteen States about “loyalty” can be compared with judgments of the Tang historiographers about them.
Pablo A. Blitstein, School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, Paris
'Domestic government and the foundations of monarchic rule in Early Medieval China'
The northern and southern dynasties were largely dependent on a small number of literati families to rule their territories and their administrations; especially in the south, but to a certain extent also in the north, they had to follow the standards that these families imposed on them and on the imperial institutions. How did these families rule themselves? How did they understand their forms of ruling their own domestic space and how did they extend them to the imperial society and institutions? As a partial answer to these questions, I will analyze some chapters of the Family Instructions of the Yan Clan. I will explore how Yan Zhitui, who was acquainted with literati families from the both the North and the South, understood the foundations of “domestic government,” and how he conceived monarchic rule through the prism of the aristocratic experience of “ruling the house”. My hypothesis is that this text, which was in principle conceived as a model to rule literati families, actually was an intervention to promote a particular form of both domestic and monarchic government. More precisely, it attempted to place literati and classicist traditions—especially the art of writing—at the center of the “domestic government” and to turn monarchic power into an extension of the literati ways of ruling the house.  

Panel 5
Olga Lomová, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
'Yongwu 詠物Poetry between Reality and Texts. Yongwu genre – from observation of reality to textual tradition and back'
Among the poetic genres that flourished at the courts and literary salons of early medieval China (220-589) there is poetry describing “things” (yongwu fu and yongwu shi). Yongwu poems were usually improvised during social gatherings and aimed at an original and witty presentation of one single object, - either from the natural world or man-made objects. Yongwu poems have traditionally been considered as dealing merely with outer description of things, as being shallow “still lives,” devoid of deeper significance and personal feelings. The two papers proposed below will attempt to re-consider the nature and meaning of the yongwu descriptions by examining them within a wider intertextual network.
The presentation will explore the yongwu genre asking a question to what degree its descriptions were based on actual observation of a selected “object” (wu), and how much earlier literature was projected into them. This double relationship to reality and literature should contribute to better understanding of the world of thought of early medieval literature.
Zornica Kirkova, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Germany
'Yongwu 詠物Poetry between Reality and Texts. Objects and Their Many Selves in Early Medieval Poetic Dialogues'
Among the poetic genres that flourished at the courts and literary salons of early medieval China (220-589) there is poetry describing “things” (yongwu fu and yongwu shi). Yongwu poems were usually improvised during social gatherings and aimed at an original and witty presentation of one single object, - either from the natural world or man-made objects. Yongwu poems have traditionally been considered as dealing merely with outer description of things, as being shallow “still lives,” devoid of deeper significance and personal feelings. The two papers proposed below will attempt to re-consider the nature and meaning of the yongwu descriptions by examining them within a wider intertextual network.
 The paper will explore the complex relations between yongwu poems composed on the same object and on the same occasion by different authors. I will argue that in addition to “investigating reality” many of these supposedly non-figurative pieces convey allegorical meanings as well and are associated with human moral values. These symbolic connotations, conditioned to a large degree by the literary tradition, are, however, not fixed and rigid, but flexible and complex: they are the “symbolic potential” of a certain object that is variously realised in every poetic composition and may articulate very different meanings.
Valérie Lavoix, National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations, Paris
'Are Metaphors or Simile circumstantially reversible? About some Early Medieval Chinese Elaborations on Analogical Tropes and Correlations'
Much has been written in the last decades about the (non-)existence of metaphor in Chinese ancient literature and rhetoric, about the elusive “evocative motif” (xing 興), not even considering the endless debates over the problematic triad fu 賦 bi 比 xing興since it was inherited from the exegesis of the Shijing 詩經 in the Han dynasty. Far from wanting to participate in those controversies, but considering that Chinese literary criticism matured and flourished during the Early Medieval period, this paper will rather attempt to shed light on some distinctive and significant wordings and instances of comparisons that have often been regarded as inconsistent, or at least puzzling, by modern readers. When tenor and vehicle (ground and figure) seem to switch parts in illustrative taxonomies of metaphors or simile, where cases of linguistic lability or semantic ambiguity occur, some inherent but otherwise relevant factors – such as categorical correspondences (lei 類), and the crucial concept of “sensible things/things of the outer world” (wu 物) – may be unveiled which are deeply interlinked with and impacting analogical tropes and correlations.

Panel 6
Dr. Friederike Assandri, TU Berlin, Lehrbeauftragte; ZO University of Heidelberg.
'Transcending Boundaries: Afterlife Conceptions in Entombed Epitaphs and Votive Steles of the Six Dynasties’ period'
This presentation is based on work on a database of Nanbeichao Stone inscriptions at the 汉字研究中心 at ECNU Shanghai, analyzing afterlife conceptions in ca. 500 entombed epigraphs (墓志) and 500 votive stele inscriptions (造像记) from northern China from the 5th and 6th century CE. 
Stele inscriptions and grave inscriptions both concern the after-life of the dead, yet their purpose and outlook is very different. Read together, they portray an amazing variety of after-life conceptions, offering glimpses of the process of intermingling conceptions of different origins, which at least with regard to the conceptions of afterlife defy our scholarly categorization of concepts into Buddhist, Daoist or Confucian to build images that go beyond sectarian or doctrinal definitions.
Taking a close look at the terminology employed in the inscriptions, the presentation will focus on examples that show different facets of Buddho-Daoist interaction, in particular the combination of Daoist highest Heavens and the Pure Land of Amitabha in one location; and imageries of two souls ascending to Daoist AND Buddhist paradises.
Andreas Janousch, Centro de Estudios de Asia Oriental, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain
'Personal and Ritual Vegetarianism in Early Sixth Century China'
During the first twenty years of the sixth century, southern China, under the reign of Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty (Xiao Yan 蕭衍; 464-549, r. 502- 549), experienced a period during which all ritual traditions were submitted to a critical revision. During a process of long-sustained reform efforts, that was given a solid institutionalised framework by the new emperor, not only rituals that could be considered Buddhist, but also the entire indigenous tradition of state and ancestral sacrifices, court banquets, and a gamut of other rituals came within the purview of the critical imperial gaze and the scholarly attention of the most outstanding contemporary scholar-officials.
In this paper I will revisit only one aspect of this reform, arguably the most central one: that of vegetarianism. As “vegetarianism” I understand primarily the abstention from meat or fish, and from other products of alimentation, chiefly as practiced in a ritual setting. I will subsume under the term “vegetarianism” also the revocation of the ritual slaughter of victims in certain sacrificial contexts, and the efforts to prohibit the killing of animals, again in specific, ritual contexts.
A series of important articles about vegetarianism have been published during the last decades. All of these have primarily focussed their attention on the question of Buddhist vegetarianism, i.e., they have framed the problem of the practice of vegetarianism in relation to the doctrines, sutras and vinayas, both authentic and apocryphal, of this, at this stage, still relatively new faith. In contrast, in the present paper, I suggest looking at the phenomenon of vegetarianism in larger contexts of early medieval ritual practice, society, religion, and last but not least the specific political setting at the beginning of the 6th century. To mention only one example: Emperor Wu’s problems of legitimation at the beginning of his reign might have given the impetus to a search for alternative, Buddhist, sources of legitimacy. It is certainly notable that even in his “Rhapsody on the Purification of the Karma” (淨業賦; Jingye fu; T. 2103 [LII] 335b291–336c25), written late in his career, Emperor Wu still embedded a narrative of his conversion to vegetarianism and of an increasing Buddhist awareness within the frame of a political legitimating discourse.
In this way I hope to be able to show that vegetarianism was not a Buddhist imposition brought to China through a foreign faith but responded to concerns which prevailed in the wider religious, social, political, and cultural contexts of the time.

Equipe de recherche :

Type : 

  • Conférences, tables rondes, ateliers
Région du monde :
Asie et Pacifique