2256Re: Dating Chinese writing
- Aug 16, 2006
> From: "E Bruce Brooks" <brooks@...>This has been an absorbing discussion, and, as one whose main field of study
> Reply-To: ANEemail@example.com
> Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2006 17:31:43 -0400
> To: <ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing
> PETER DANIELS: The origins of Chinese civilization are vastly off-topic for
> ANE-2 List, . . .
> [on Chinese writing] I would refer you to the article by Michael
> Puett in the same Mair volume, on the scholarly pendulum regarding "outside
> influence" on China in the 2nd millennium. He argues for a middle ground, .
> . .
has been cultural interaction between East and West, I am not at all
concerned about observing "topical" limits when there is a case to be
considered in this area.
I hope Bruce is still listening, as there is some ("dodgy") evidence I want
to bring in to the debate.
One of my early publications was:
Dr B.E. Colless, Han and Ta-ch'in: China's ancient relations with the
West (1. Han relations with western countries; 2. Han designations for
western countries), Waikato University China Papers, 1, D. Bing, Editor,
Hamilton, New Zealanad, 1972, 56-66.
I suggested that Li-chien, Li-kan, and Ta-ch'in were all transcriptions of
Alexandria (taking note of Karlgren's reconstructions). And there was the
question whether An-hsi (An-syiek) represented Arsak or Antioch (Parthia or
Syria), and whether T'iao-chih was Tigris or Antiokhia.
However, I began by citing some data gleaned from Henry Yule, *Cathay and
the way thither* (4 vols), revised by Henri Cordier (London 1914) 1, 7-8.
The excitement of reading all those Hakluyt Society books in the Melbourne
University library has just returned to me, and it gave me lots of ideas for
Journal of Southeast Asian History
Giovanni de' Marignolli. An Italian Prelate at the Court of the South-East
Asian Queen of Sheba. 9, 2 (1968) 325-341
The Ancient History of Singapore. 10, 1 (1969) 1-11
Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
Persian Merchants and Missionaries in Medieval Malaya. 42, 2 (1969) 10-47
Majapahit Revisited. External Evidence on the Geography and Ethnology of
East Java in the Majapahit Period. 48, 2 (1975) 124-161
Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia
Walaing and the Sailendras of Java. 7 (1970) 15-22
The Ancient Bnam Empire. Fu-nan and Po-nan. 9 (1972-1973) 21-31
This last one mentions Bnam (Fu-nan, Po-nan), Indochina, which comes into
the stories I want to recount here.
A legendary Chinese account of an ancient embassy in the time of Yao (one of
the Five Sages, I think): envoys of a race called *Yüeh shang shih* arrived
from the south and presented tribute to the emperor (Yao, I presume).
This same *Yüeh shang* nation is said to have sent another mission during
the reign of Ch'eng Wang, in 1110 BCE (let's call it 01111, with a hand of
Later commentators state that this country could be reached within a year
(by sea), after passing Biu-nam (Fu-nan, Khmer region, Cambodia) and Lin-yi
(Champa,southern Vietnam peopled by speakers of a Malayo-Polynesian
Yule and Cordier mention the hypothesis of Pauthier that these people (whose
name signifies "a people with long training robes", like those depicted on
Assyrian monuments) came from Mesopotamia.
However, Cordier (p8, n4) dismisses the sweeping generalization of Terrien
de Lacouperie (1894) "that the Chinese civilization had its origin in
western Asia and more particularly from Babylonia and Elam".
But the interesting detail is in the tribute brought to Yao (before the time
of the Shang Dynasty): a tortoise, which was allegedly one thousand years
old, and which had an inscription on its shell, in strange characters
Or, we might say, looking like wedges, and thus cuneiform writing.
Does this story receive a mention in the discussions going on in Sinic
academia about the origins of the Chinese writing system?
Massey University, New Zealand
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