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    http://mcel.pacificu.edu/as/resources/zhuang/zhuang2.htm#Anchor-CHAPTER-37516 SOUTHERN YUE CULTURE IN THE PRE-CONQUEST PERIOD Qin era projectile points * 2.1
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      Qin era projectile points

      * 2.1 Introduction:

      In this section we will describe the culture of the southern Yue
      proto-Zhuang peoples in two distinct periods: that before the Han
      Chinese invasion of the Lingnan in 221 B.C., and that following the
      invasion. However, it is important to understand that while an
      important point in time, the date 221 B.C. marks only a relative
      change. Before that date, the southern Yue material culture shows
      extensive contact with the peoples and cultures of the Central Plain
      and it is only relatively distinct from them at any point. For
      example, while there are local decorative elements and distinctions in
      details of construction, the southern Yue bronze and pottery inventory
      as well as military arsenals generally conform to the standard shapes
      of the Central Plain. While some types of artifacts vary more than
      others, such recognizable archtypes as the ding-tripod, dou-cup,
      ge-dagger-ax, jian-sword, etc, are utilized by the southern Yue.[1]
      Our use of such terms as "pre-conquest" should be taken to mean simply
      that following the Qin invasion, Han impact was both less voluntary
      than earlier cultural exchanges in that it was often forced upon the
      proto-Zhuang, and was much more extensive because of the sustained
      pressure from what ultimately became Han Chinese majorities. The
      period after 221 B.C. does mark the beginning of Han colonization of
      the Zhuang region. Chinese scholars, of course, deny that Han
      expansion south was ever in any sense a colonial process. We mean the
      term colonial here to refer not to specifically Marxist analogues so
      much as to the term as utilized by recent scholars of immigration

      * 2.1 Xi Ou, and Luo Yue In the Pre-Conquest period: THE WARRING

      In this period we have two sets of artifacts which
      permit us to move to a far closer understanding of the immediate
      ancestral peoples of the Zhuang: substantial numbers of both bronze
      drums, widely distributed among both Xi Ou and Luo Yue, and the cliff
      paintings of the Luo Yue of the Zuo River valley of southwest Guangxi.
      In addition, we also have more plentiful and richer archaeological
      sites. Material drawn from this wide variety of sources indicates
      that the era of the Warring States saw a particularly important
      transition in the cultures of the Bai Yue. The northern group was, in
      effect, destroyed. They lost their state, Gu Yue, and soon their
      culture as well when they were amalgamated into the Han peoples.[3]
      As for the southern groups, they too were drawn into the violence of
      the great wars of the Central Plains in a manner which was to leave an
      indelible stamp upon them. From this point forward, their major
      employment was to be as mercenaries in the military labor market, and
      their culture changed correspondingly.

      The period of the Warring States gives us an
      opportunity not only to better understand the southern Yue, but to
      link some groups of them quite directly to the later Zhuang. We will
      concentrate upon the Xi Ou and the Luo Yue, the two most important
      progenitors of the Zhuang. These are the southeastern and
      southwestern elements of the tri-partite division of the Yue as
      described above, though we shall often find it necessary to resort to
      the simple dichotomous division into northern and southern Yue
      cultures as well.

      Because the bodies of evidence, cliff paintings,
      bronze drums and tomb sites, are so very different from each other,
      before considering Luo Yue culture as a whole we need to examine the
      society as reflected in each of those artifacts. Perhaps the most
      extensive complex of early cliff paintings in the world is found along
      the Zuo River valley in southwest Guangxi. Along its lower reaches
      and up its tributaries cliff paintings of the Luo Yue have been found
      at more than 70 locations. Painted in a red-brown ferrous oxide
      (Fe2O3) the paintings depict more than 2600 human figures and a wide
      variety of animals and material objects. The paintings were produced
      over a period extending from the Warring States to late Han (475
      B.C.E.-220 A.C.E.). The largest of these groupings extends over an
      area of 50 by 170 meters. While some of the human figures are
      isolated ones from which it is difficult to generalize, many are in
      extensive groupings, some containing more than one hundred figures,
      one containing more than one thousand. The paintings depict a variety
      of shamanistic ceremonies from which much can be learned about Luo Yue
      culture. The materials have been thoroughly analyzed by a joint work
      team of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Cultural Affairs Bureau
      and the Provincial Museum.[4]

      The paintings were all clearly produced for
      religious reasons. Whether the painting depict actual shamanistic
      ceremonies which were then memorialized in the paintings, or the
      paintings are themselves the ceremony and hence a symbolic depiction
      hardly matters. They clearly reflect real people involved in actual
      social ceremonies. While the dates of different sites are certainly
      arguable as later groups were frequently added among earlier ones, it
      is possible to divide them roughly into three periods, based largely
      upon characteristic artifacts depicted. These periods, (I) Warring
      States to early Han (453-206 B.C.E.), (II) early to middle Han (202
      B.C.E.-9 A.C.E.), and (III) late Han (26 A.C.E.-220 A.C.E.), encompass
      important changes in Luo Yue society which can be clearly seen in the

      The Luo Yue lived in an area encompassing parts of
      southwest Guangxi, and northern Vietnam where they are known as the
      Lac Viet. The very broken topography of those regions influenced teh
      development of human cultures to an unusual degree. The high
      mountains and many rivers made extensive agriculture or social
      organization difficult. As indicated above, the Yue peoples farmed
      grains, including rice, very early. Some Chinese historians
      celebrating the contributions of the Yue, credit them as the first
      rice-growing Chinese local culture,[5] though this award seems
      preliminary given the yet incomplete record. While local Yue peoples
      did farm irrigated rice in Guangxi prior to the Han intrusion, they
      more characteristically engaged in swidden culture of dry rice and
      millet.[6] Most people lived in relatively small groups in the
      mountain valleys or on small plains near rivers where farming was
      possible. The larger mountain valleys, later termed dong by the Han
      Chinese, were the centers of the Zhuang political system, and the term
      evolved to refer to the political system itself.[7] Agriculture in
      such mountain valleys could be quite productive and some areas
      supported populations of several thousands. There were a number of
      means of irrigating crops, including conventional ditching and diking
      coupled with water-raising devices to tap streams and rivers. Other
      technologies not open to low-land farmers were also used, such as
      bringing water from springs, streams, or holding tanks at higher
      elevations via elaborate systems of bamboo pipes and aqueducts, as
      observed among contemporary Nung farmers in Vietnam.[8] While
      extensive labor was required, ditching or damming around the base of
      karsts produced a unique irrigation system superbly adapted to the
      area. The karsts, many of them hundreds of feet high and many meters
      in diameter, are of porous limestone riddled with caverns and function
      as gigantic sponges. The sudden torrential downpours of the region
      are absorbed by a karst, then slowly released into the ditches or
      dikes girdling them, producing a steady flow of water into bamboo
      pipes and stone-lined ditches.

      The societies of the various dong are, not
      surprisingly, highly varied as to material culture such as clothing
      and hair styles, over the entire period of Luo Yue and subsequent
      Zhuang history. It is possible that even language varied from region
      to region. Such variations naturally led the Han Chinese (and many
      subsequent Western scholars) to emphasize these differences, often
      dividing the people into different ethnic groups. Han Chinese, for
      example, often spoke of them as bu luo or "tribes". However, the
      cliff paintings demonstrate that despite local variations the
      populations of the dong were united by a common religion. Moreover,
      this religion was also the central political institution of the dong
      in the early period.

      The religion is best described as shamanism. The
      shaman, or shamaness (some few females are shown), is depicted in the
      early paintings as a gigantic figure often wearing a feathered
      headress who clearly exercised life or death powers over his or her
      congregation. The shaman combined religious power and military power
      as well: Shamans are often depicted carrying sheathed swords or
      wielding them, while other figures are usually unarmed, unless clearly
      subordinate to the shaman and carrying out his or her orders.
      Sometimes shamans alone are shown astride horses. Social divisions
      are suggested by size and placement of secondary figures, perhaps
      based on clan structures and/or social distance from the shaman.

      Gender relations seem to be male-dominated. Almost
      all shamans are men, though shamanesses are depicted. Men are usually
      more powerful and more central than women in the groupings, though
      there are conspicuous exceptions. Ritualistic sexual couplings are
      indicated. Both male and female procreative powers were apparently
      worshipped. At least one armed shamaness is shown, indicating that
      the conflation of civic and religious authority held across genders.[9]

      The central rituals depicted in the paintings were
      clearly religious gatherings, usually dances, in which the climactic
      moment would seem to have been mass invocations with raised arms of
      the various gods being worshipped. Animals and not seldom people,
      including children, were sacrificed, apparently sometimes in numbers.
      Gods included those of natural elements such as the sun, rivers,
      mountains, storms, animals---particularly birds and frogs---and gods
      of land and place as well as malevolent spirits and demons. Artifacts
      such as bronze drums and hearths are not only part of the ceremonies
      but may have been objects of worship as well.[10] The gods were
      invoked both to propiate them as well as to bring bountiful crops and
      victory in war.

      Because we know that the future of the Zhuang was
      largely to be marked by war, we are particularly interested in the
      development of military institutions among the Yue. We are also aware
      that weapons provide a very useful means of detecting the onset of Han
      Chinese influence upon the Luo Yue as indigenous weapons are
      relatively distinct from those of the central plain in the period
      before the Warring States. The cliff paintings give a number of
      indications of the progressive militarization of Luo Yue society. A
      commonly depicted ritual is a shamanistic invocation of divine support
      to obtain victory in battle. The central drama of these rituals
      would seem to be the presentation of captives by or before the shaman
      on the battlefield. All of those listed by Wang Kerong at Al. belong
      to the earliest period of the cliff paintings.[11] We therefore
      believe that these ceremonies are most characteristic of Lo Yue
      society prior to the major Han impact and indicate indigenous
      institutions. A representative grouping of these figures is that
      found at Ningming Hua Shan in the fourth site, ninth grouping.[12]
      The elements of the painting include a number of shaman-figures,
      though one is clearly superor as indicated by relative size.
      Prisoners are shown as child-sized figures, literally in the hands of
      their captors. Several bronze drums are depicted and one horse.
      Weapons are not readily apparent, so the ceremony is presumably a
      post-battle civic ceremony before the victorious population. We
      assume captives to have been enslaved for labor and military service
      as described below.

      The cliff paintings are entirely dedicated to
      shamastic rituals, so we do not see actual battlefields or armies as
      such. But there is a widespread occurance of clearly recognizable
      weapon-types from which much can be learned. The weapons themselves,
      and some of the implications of their types and distributions, are
      described in greater detail below. Here we are interested only in
      what the weapons of the cliff paintings imply about the cultures which
      created them. Some of the weapons depicted are clearly northern in
      origin and their widespread representation in the early murals are an
      indication of early outside influences. These types include the
      ring-handled dao (cutlass) and the chang jian (long straight-sword).
      While some of these weapons are being brandished or perhaps shown in
      use in sacrifice, most are simply carried at the waist of the
      shaman-figures. It is striking, however, that typically southern
      weapons such as pediform axes, duan Jian (short swords or daggers),
      and light cross-bows are not associated with the shaman-figures. We
      believe that the weapons which are most closely associated with them,
      the dao and chang jian, are primarily symbols of authority precisely
      because they were from the central plains. This suggests that contact
      or familiarity with those northern cultures is also an attribute or
      indicator of power.

      The later paintings are paradoxically much simpler
      than the earlier ones, which are the most detailed and the most
      extensive. It is also believed that the early ones show a greater
      mass participation in the ceremonies, though the shaman seems of far
      higher status relative to the other participants.[13] In the later
      ones, the shaman is reduced to just another figure, discernible only
      because of chracteristic regalia. The shaman has become a specialist
      figure, and it may be that the later paintings are themselves the
      ceremony, which has now acquired a reified symbolic significance,
      rather than a depiction of actual ceremonies. The reason for this
      shift is a change in political structure: militarization has produced
      a new type of leader, the war chieftain, who has displaced the shaman
      as the political leader. Political and religious leadership, in
      short, are no longer conflated. When the Qin invade in 221 B.C., they
      are met by a highly organized and quite competent military structure
      which drives them into defensive perimeters and ultimately expells
      them. That structure has developed between the period of the earliest
      cliff paintings and the date of the Qin invasion.

      Such a shift is not a surprising one. Others have
      argued that it occurred somewhat earlier in the northern societies of
      the Warring States era.[14] There would be many reasons why both
      shamanism and war would become specialist activities. One is
      certainly that some of the dong are expanding to forcibly incorporate
      neighboring peoples. A shaman, however "big" a man or woman, would
      find it difficult to control distant dong. A warrior, however, could,
      and without need to resort to abstract religious sanctions.

      Another stimulus to political change is that ties to
      the outside are producing increased demand for local handicrafts and
      raw materials. We believe, for example, that the chieftains of the
      dong are beginning to use slave labor to mine alluvial gold with which
      to buy foreign products and local power. By the time the Han begin
      writing about local chieftainships, they remark on their great wealth,
      as discussed below. The gravel bars of the region are still dotted
      with crude gold dredges today, and we think that slave gangs have
      probably mined the same gravels in much the same way for millenia.
      This is an activity, however, which either left no trace because the
      equipment required did not differ noticably from that of simple
      irrigation devices for moving water, or whose traces have yet to be

      Other industries which develop at some point in this
      era, though we cannot date them precisely, certainly include the
      large-scale production of local brocade textiles. This required
      systematic cotton planting and spinning and weaving, probably done at
      least in part with slave labor. It may be that this was more a form
      of serfdom than chattel slavery as the labor of the wives of prisoners
      of war taken from neighboring dong simply permitted household
      production to move to a larger scale. In addition to cotton planting,
      slave labor was probably also used for sugar production. Sugar cane
      is a notorious consumer of slaves because the work is so difficult
      and, we believe, the two developed in tandem among the Yue just as did
      world-wide increases in sugar production and slavery.

      Additional spurs to slavery or at least to the
      domination of wider populations surely included the hunting of luxury
      feathers and pelts and of medicinal herbs. The market for all of
      these products would have been both regional, into Vietnam, and
      increasingly, down river to the Canton delta. It is probable that the
      Yue populations of the delta had always been a market for local products.

      The militarization of Chinese society in general
      also greatly changed the scale of war among the Yue. Veterans have
      certainly returned from the northern wars and brought their greater
      military sophistication with them. It may be that the northern
      weapons which the shamans wear on the cliffs were their own, acquired
      in mercenary service. Earlier raids over blood-feuds and rights to
      mineral-rich gravel beds or shell-fish mounds have given way to
      campaigns to control territory, to tax shipping and commerce, and to
      enslave laborers. The new lords of the dong have also learned that a
      novel source of income was widely available: they could lease their
      young men as mercenary units to the warlords of the outside world, as
      shown below. This required in turn more manpower, easily acquired
      through military slavery, constant training, and frequent campaigning.
      Once began, the militarization of Luo Yue, Xi Ou, and later Zhuang
      society acquired a momentum which was to perpetuate it for more than
      two thousand years.

      The militarization of the southern Yue was
      inevitable. Their territory was ringed on all sides by other states
      engaged in fatal contests for supremacy. In the early Spring and
      Autumn period (c. 772 B.C.E.) the Luo Yue and the Xi Ou were adjacent
      to Chu on their northern perimeter, Dian in Yunnan on the west, Nan
      Yue on their east, Wu and Yue on their north-east. There were no
      great geographic obstacles to contact with any of those powers, and
      all were recruiting mass armies. It is probable that Yue mercenary
      infantry served for and against each of them. Certainly by the later
      Spring and Autumn (c. 480 B.C.E.] each of those states had left some
      indication in local miitary artifacts of their contact with the
      Yue.[16] The question of how far south northern military influence
      may have penetrated is an open one, but certainly late bronze age
      weaons in Vietnamese sites show the same Central Plain influences as
      do the armories of Yue peoples in China proper.

      The changes in Luo Yue society are further
      demonstrated by evidence drawn from the bronze drums. Much of the
      inconography of the cliff paintings is echoed in that of the bronze
      drums of the Luo Yue. The same birds and animals are frequently
      present, and the drums indicate that the shamanistic ceremonies were
      widely shared and quite conventionalized. However, the drums are more
      ornate than the cliff paintings because the bronze of the drum, like
      that of the short jian, could be worked in greater detail. The cliff
      paintings give a sense that the artists were primitive indeed; working
      in an often gigantic scale with ferrous oxide paint on a rough rock
      surface while clinging to a trapeze-like seat many meters above rock
      scree is evidently not conducive to artistic finesse. Because of
      their primitive air, Chinese analysts frequently make comparisons
      between the cliff paintings and foreign examples drawn from far
      earlier periods of human history. The drums, however, illustrate a
      much more artistic and, in the conventional view at least, a more
      highly developed culture.[17] Perhaps because of the plasticity of
      the medium, the bronzes also portray a much wider variety of events
      than the simple rituals of the cliffs, though the motivation behind
      the creation of the drums was also a religious one.

      The drums are from a slightly later period than the
      earliest of the cliff paintings and reflect the changes in Luo Yue
      society. One immediate distinction between the human figures
      presented on the drums of the Luo Yue and those in their rock
      paintings is the apparently lower status of the shaman: either
      everyone pictured on many of the drums is a shaman as they all wear
      the characteristic feather head-dress of the shaman in the cliff
      paintings and all are shown in the same egalitarian human scale, or
      there is some distinction, not readily apparent, in the rituals
      presented.[18] It is possible that while religious and political
      leadership have diverged, certain elements of the symbolism of
      shamanism have continued to serve political purposes. [19] The main
      purpose of the feathered head-dress surely was to inspire awe and
      terror, emotions at least as valuable to a warrior as to a shaman, and
      the shaman's head-dress became the warrior's feathered helm.

      Some elements of Luo Yue society are only hinted at
      in the cliff paintings but fulsomely treated on the drums. One of
      these is the great importance of boats. Said to be one of the
      cultural markers of the Yue, the boats are presented in sometimes
      gorgeous detail on the drums. Some scholars have argued that one
      craft commonly depicted was a twin-hulled catamaran capable of
      deep-water ocean voyages, like the Polynesian craft it so closely
      resembles.[20] Many of these boats are war craft carrying tens of
      soldiers; the Yue, like the later Zhuang, excelled in riverine
      warfare.[21] The boats are probably so often presented on the drums
      becuause the drums themselves were important to the boats; many boats
      are shown with drums aboard. They were used, we presume, to mark time
      for the oarsmen and to communicate over distances with other boats, as
      well as for those many propitiatory ceremonies doubtless frequently
      called for on the water.


      In turning from the Luo Yue to the Xi Ou we have an
      opportunity to gain perspectives not permitted by the nature of the
      evidence of the cliff paintings or the bronze drums. One of these is
      the precise source of foreign influence in the Warring States era, and
      the nature of Xi Ou society. Prior to 221 B.C., the primary source of
      Central Plains cultural influence upon the southern Yue peoples was
      the Yangtze valley state of Chu. Following Chu's defeat of Yue in 334
      B.C., Chu intruded rapidly into the former Yue regions. Changsha was
      the southern-most city of the Chu imperium, though there were minor
      Chu outposts along river communication routes in Guangxi, as Chu moved
      into the southern coastal region via the West river.[22] However, the
      influence of Chu was to be relatively minor as Chu entered into its
      fatal struggle with Qin. To 1982, known sites of Chu tombs were
      restricted largely to the provinces of Hubei where there are thirty
      such sites, and Hunan, where 23 are known. Honan and Anhui provinces
      each have eight sites. There is one site in Guangxi, five in Jiangsu,
      one in Zhejiang, and none in Guangdong.[23] Wolfram Eberhard has
      argued that it was precisely the intrusion of elites from Chu which
      began to provide southern peoples with a degree of social organization
      which had hitherto been lacking, a conclusion which seems not to fit
      present evidence.[24] Some historians of Chu have emphasized the high
      degree of sensitivity which Chu displayed toward the cultures and
      peoples of its multi-ethnic empire.[25]

      An important Yue site which reveals the influence of
      Chu is the substantial Warring States era cemetery at Yinshan in
      Pingle county in Guangxi. The occupants of the tombs were Xi Ou or
      "Western Ou" peoples of the Yue.[26] This site contains 165 tombs,
      constructed predominantly in the late Warring States era (403-221
      B.C.), but also some perhaps dating from the early Western Han (220-23
      B.C.)[27] This very rich site was in an important communications
      corridor between Hunan and Guangxi which greatly facilitated the
      transmission of northern influences, particularly those of Chu, into
      Guangxi. The construction of the tomb and their contents have been
      closely analyzed. In the tombs both malesand females were interred
      and the site permits fruitful comparisons with the earlier Guiqi cliff
      burials. Although it is not possible to be precise, the Yinshan sites
      are somewhat later than the cliff burials. There are some important
      distinctions between the two cultures revealed at these sites,
      distinctions which are most easily explained by changes in the
      historical context.

      The most important of these changes is the much
      accelerated militarization of Yue society. While weapons are present
      in the Guiqi sites, they are largely symbolic wood representations
      rather than bronze or iron originals. Whether this indicates that
      metals were too valuable or simply that weapons as such had a lower
      place in life (and in the after-life) is unimportant; either
      conclusion suggests that the society was much less warlike than the
      later Yinshan society. In the Yinshan graves, weapons were plentiful.
      Those graves were divided into two types by their grave goods; one
      type contained weapons and tools, predominantly agricultural ones, and
      daily use items such as pottery containers. The other type contained
      not weapons but spindle-whorls used in weaving, plus tools and daily
      use items. This later society was not only far more militarized as
      the male occupants of the tombs were clearly soldier-agriculturists,
      but weaving had now become women's work, presumably because war had
      become men's. Both had become specialist activities. Women's
      products, like men's military labor, was exported. An important
      element of the later Zhuang handicraft economy was the weaving of
      cloth. By the Tang era, Zhuang brocades were a status indicator at
      the Chinese imperial court.[28] These changes are, of course, fully
      consonant with the simultaneous militiarization of Luo Yue society and
      occur for many of the same reasons, though the closer proximity of the
      Xi Ou to the military labor markets of Chu make the process far more
      obvious among them.

      The weapons of the tombs indicate a wide variety of
      provenances, though most were probably of local manufacture after
      northern models, indicating a highly developed metallurgy; mineral
      ores are plentiful in the immediate region. The weapons had been much
      used, frequently sharpened and polished. The names of some major
      Warring States' battles were carved onto several. The weapons were
      also quite sharply delineated by type. Spears, swords, and various
      archery implements predominate, all indicative of southern styles of
      warfare. The accouterments of cavalry or chariotry warfare, such as
      ge-dagger axes, chariot fittings or cavalry harness, are infrequently
      found. Because of the hilly and often-bamboo or brush-choked or
      forested terrain, southern soldiers were almost entirely infantry.
      The weapons and the accompanying agricultural implements all suggest a
      local society of soldier-farmers who served as mercenary infantry in
      the armies of Chu during the Warring States era. We can only
      speculate as to the process whereby the Xi Ou were drawn into Chu's
      service. It is easily possible that the same people had earlier
      served Gu Yue and were simply incorporated into the victorious armies
      of Chu. More likely, Chu systematically recruited among the peoples
      to the south.

      Chu influences are plentiful, both in the styles of
      the weapons, in accompanying bronze and pottery vessels, and in the
      construction of the tombs themselves. At the same time, there have
      been sufficient local adaptations to the Chu originals to show a
      society with distinctive local characteristics which had absorbed
      limited external influences.[29] The axes found in the tombs, for
      example, are metal versions of the shouldered stone axes of the
      southeastern late Neolithic. The similarities to other Yue cultures
      in the West river valley of Guangdong are pronounced, indications that
      a regional Yue culture has consolidated by this time, and that it
      developed from the southeast to the southwest and northwest, where it
      met the expanding Chu. But Chu, like the other Warring States, was
      fated to fall to the Qin barbarians of the northwest. By 221 B.C. Qin
      had defeated all its many adversaries and united China. Unification
      was to expose the southern branches of the Bai Yue to a sustained
      outside influence for the first time.

      2.4 Southern Yue Culture: An Interpretive Summary

      The Zuo River cliff paintings, the bronze drums, and
      such archaelogical sites as the Yinshan tombs have given us relatively
      hard evidence of certain elements of the cultures of the Xi Ou and the
      Luo Yue. It is a daunting task to attempt to describe pre-impact
      southern Yue culture in any greater detail, but there is sufficient
      evidence to permit a highly qualified reconstruction. However, such a
      reconstruction requires a very careful approach. For example, it is
      both possible and necessary to extrapolate judiciously from early Han
      Chinese records. Later indications of customs or institutions which
      are quite different from Han ones and are widely shared by the several
      groups which descended from the Luo Yue or Xi Ou, and which seem
      related to older, less-well documented Yue cultural patterns gives us
      license to assume that the custom or institution is indeed an old one
      reflecting Yue society in the period before the Qin conquest.[30] We
      do well, however, to keep constantly in mind that Edward Schafer, a
      foremost student of the early southern peoples, cautions against just
      this process, observing that it easily introduces anachronisms, unless
      done with "sufficent prudence and caution."

      A reconstruction based in part on later records
      introduces another difficulty of which it is best to be aware.
      References to later Zhuang customs and to earlier Yue or proto-Zhuang
      peoples easily introduces terminological confusion. Ethnic identities
      are inherently confusing because so many perspectives are possible.
      In approaching the proto-Zhuang in the early period, for example, we
      soon learn that the Chinese terms used to name them constantly changed
      as the Han became more familiar with them and learned to make finer
      and finer distinctions. The undifferentiated "Hundred Yueh" slowly
      acquired concrete identities. But, because the Han were above all
      impressed by the differences between the cultures of the minorities
      and their own relatively monolithic culture, they sometimes ignored
      unifying similarities among those peoples. Rather than treating some
      as unified ethnic groups on the basis of language and shared culture,
      Han Chinese often utilized minor distinctions such as geographic
      location or clothing color to label them as so many isolated "tribes."
      The present analysis faces a related problem. As we have argued
      above, the essence of the Zhuang is their status as a Chinese minority
      group, a status which was inevitable from the mid-Song dynasty
      forward, as we argue below. What to call our subjects after they can
      no longer be usefully described as clearly identifiable ancestral or
      progenitor peoples such as Luo Yue and Xi Ou, but have not yet become
      "Zhuang" is an awkward issue. We will use the term Zhuang often
      below, but in the restricted sense that it applies to a variety of
      peoples, many of them of vague indentity, who will soon become Zhuang.
      These clumsy cautions aside, our purpose here is merely to describe
      pre-impact southern Yue culture in the most general terms, leaving a
      full development of specific elements of the culture of the Zhuang for
      treatment below as the documentary evidence permits.

      The center of the Yue social structure before Han
      impact, as well as that of the Zhuang long after, was the clan.[31]
      The presence of an elaborate clan structure is suggested not only by
      the Guiqi cliff burial styles discussed above, but also by Yue and
      Zhuang totemism, discussed below, and by the fact that the clan
      structure endured well into the recent past. Han family structure at
      impact was quite different than later Confucian structures,[32] but
      the Zhuang system seems not to be a result of earlier contacts with
      Central Plains peoples, but related to Thai and Southeast Asian forms.
      A clan structure was, of course, ideally suited to the problems
      presented by social organization within the context of isolated
      communities living in such forbidding terrain. Again, we would cite
      the clan structure of pre-modern Scotland as a similar adaptation to a
      similar problem.

      To further define the Yue clan in the pre-impact
      period is not easy. There are indications of local differences by the
      post-impact period, and we cannot know whether these represent a
      differential rate of response to Han models, or the continuation of
      pre-impact variations among the Luo Yue and the Xi Ou, or even among
      sub-groups of those peoples. Further, we largely see the Zhuang
      through Han eyes, which greatly affects our ability to reconstruct
      their culture. The problem of clan and family names is one such area
      where Han impact and perceptions so distorts the original as to
      prevent more than a speculative reconstruction of southern Yue

      The many problems of reconstruction are well
      illustrated in the relatively simple problem of clan names. The
      evidence indicates that Han Chinese suggested to the Zhuang suitable
      characters for clan names, based on a Han hearing of spoken Zhuang
      language. These characters are often homophones with meanings linked
      more to Han culture than to Zhuang culture. The assigning of the name
      Huang to a Zhuang clan, one of the consistently important clans during
      the entire period of post-impact history, is a good example of the
      ambiguities inherent in Zhuang identity. In modern Zhuang, Huang,
      when meaning the color yellow, is written henj. But as a xing, a
      family name, it is written vangz or vuengz. Each of these two latter
      terms has a corresponding political meaning. Vangz, in addition to
      being a family name, also means "king," the equivalent of the Chinese
      term wang. Vuengz can also mean "king," but in addition is the
      equivalent of the Chinese term Huang, as in Huang-di, "emperor."[33]
      We believe that an early Han Chinese, upon having interaction with
      the leader of a dong of a proto-Zhuang people, asked his name. His
      translator, probably a Zhuang or Han veteran who had served in the
      local wars of the period, responded with a title---"He's the
      Vangz--king." The Han, either aware that the choice was politically
      inappropriate or simply unaware of its true meaning, simply assigned a
      close auditory equivalent: Huang, the Han xing meaning yellow. The
      Zhuang clan xing "Huang" then, is not, as in the Chinese case, the
      synonym for "yellow," [henj would have been closer in both
      pronunciation and in meaning] but probably the title king or emperor.
      We believe that so many early dong chieftains of the southwest are
      named "Huang" because it was a title rather than a patronymic. The
      Chinese, seeking the closest homonym for the Zhuang words they heard
      and operating from their own cultural assumptions assigned an
      inappropriate term. The term, of course, acquired its own power
      within the Han context and soon many Huang Dong accepted a common
      family identity. But the "big men" depicted on the Zuo River cliff
      paintings of the Luo Yue probably had a title very like the vangz or
      vuengz of the Zhuang.

      A second leading Zhuang clan, the Nong, for their
      part, may also not have been a clan in the pre-impact period, but
      perhaps were a looser group of peoples who followed a dragon
      totem.[34] Nong (patronymic) in the modern Zhuang language is also
      cognate for terms such as "brother," and "we." Specific dong of the
      Luo Yue, then, may well have had a dong totem, perhaps some of those
      shown on the Zuo River cliffs.

      The possibilities for confusion as the Han Chinese
      assigned names to the occupants of the region as they began colonizing
      are evident. The Yue and the later Zhuang doubtless had a system of
      specifying lineages (the group descended from a known common
      ancestor), as well as clans (the larger group usually descended from a
      more distant, sometimes unknown, putatively common ancestor). Later
      Zhuang names are sometimes compounded of two patronymics, suggesting
      that the Zhuang early used the equivalent of hyphenating the clan
      names of fathers and mothers, producing a name such as Huang-Nong to
      indicate both maternal and paternal lines.[35] But we cannot often
      penetrate beyond the veil of Confucian family usages to detect the
      original Yue or Zhuang forms. And whatever the original forms may
      have been, as the Hanicization of the region proceeded, Zhuang groups
      such as the Nong and the Huang acquired an on-going corporate identity
      just as did Chinese lineages and clans.

      An additional difficulty in describing certain
      elements of Yue society is presented by the tendency of even very
      sophisticated Mainland scholars to assign characteristics rather
      casually on the basis of Marxist assumptions. It is, for example, a
      rare article which makes no mention of "matriarchal clan society" in
      analyzing early peoples.[36]

      Chinese scholars frequently argue that the proto-Yue
      were a matriarchal clan society until the late Neolithic, and that
      with the increases in agricultural productivity and the resultant rise
      in the value of male labor, a transition to patriarchal clan society
      was effected.[37] Many elements of later Zhuang culture are then
      described as "remnants" of the past proto-Yue matriarchal order.
      Certainly a major distinction between Han Chinese and Zhuang societies
      which must strike any observer is the much higher status of women as
      will be elaborated upon throughout this study. But unequivocally
      matriarchal elements are much harder to demonstrate in the immediate
      pre-impact Yue society and we regard this point as moot.

      We believe that proto-Zhuang clans, and therefore
      Yue ones, were largely ambilineal with an emphasis upon the father's
      side in the pre-impact period.[38] That is, they traced descent
      through both male and female lines. The mountain valley dongs were
      each dominated by one clan or a sub-clan consisting of kin and
      affines, with clan endogamous tendencies.[39] Early Zhuang family
      structure had obvious strong uxorilocal elements.[40] Reductionist
      thinkers, of course tend to see uxorilocality as reflecting an earlier
      matriarchal clan society. But the evidence cannot demonstrate that
      pre-impact proto-Zhuang society was in transition from such a stage of

      These elements of uxorilocality among the Yue very
      much contradicted Han Chinese practices and was one of the first
      indigenous cultural traits which the Han tried to suppress. When the
      conquering Qin emperor, Shi Huang Di, went on procession in his 37th
      year to Guaiji, former capital of the Yue state, he had carved into
      the rock the statement "Killing a husband who lives with his wife's
      family is no crime."[41] Later, among the three groups mentioned as
      being sent to garrison the Lingnan were those who had violated this
      law.[42] Uxorilocality was apparently a cultural trait widely shared
      among both northern and southern Yue peoples. We also have early
      testimony from the Hou Han Shu that "The Yue peoples had not laws
      governing marriage."[43] This statement is often interpreted as a
      comment upon the lack of strict monogamous relationships among the
      Hundred Yue, due to remnants of group marriage systems reminiscent of
      earlier clan society.[44] But because these elements were so bound
      into later Zhuang gender roles and were such a key part of Zhuang
      society, the attempt at suppression, while persistent, was not highly
      successful; in some regards it still continues to the present day.

      The key uxorilocal elements in proto-Zhuang culture
      would be known later as Buluo Jia, ("Not-remain-at-home") or some
      variant. In this custom, Zhuang women went through a marriage
      ceremony and then returned to their parents' home.[45] In other
      regards the new bride carried on as though she were not married, until
      she became pregnant.[46] This practice is not full uxorilocality, but
      a limited form of it. It is possibly an evolution of the apparently
      complete uxorilocality of the late Warring States period among at
      least northern Yue peoples as indicated by the Guaiji announcement.
      More probably, because of its widespread occurrence among southern Yue
      peoples, it is a regional modification which developed much earlier
      and endured into the recent past. The institution is discussed in
      greater detail below.

      Later Zhuang courtship practices were also
      strikingly different than Han Chinese norms and seem of great
      antiquity. In the spring cadres of young men and women assembled and
      tossed a brocaded ball between their two groups. Catching the ball
      thrown by a member of the opposite sex, usually after it had cleared
      some high barrier or passed through a small hoop, was a de facto
      engagement. The custom was found both among the Vietnamese Tay-Nung
      groups, and among the Zhuang, and doubtless represents a widespread
      Yue practice.[47]

      Another important element of Zhuang courtship and of
      Zhuang culture in general was antiphonal singing. This, too, is a
      widespread practice among Thai-related peoples throughout south China
      and Vietnam.[48] There were frequent contests between individual men
      and women, as well as between groups of men and women, sometimes
      singing classical songs, sometimes each vying to top the other in
      witty responses to previous verses. The songs were often, by Han
      Chinese standards, extremely salacious, and frequently the contests
      were followed by orgies, much commented upon by Han Chinese observers.

      The songs also served to convey Zhuang culture.
      Among the traditional songs, for example, is the Jian Fang Ge, the
      "House Construction Song," which gives detailed instructions for
      building a Zhuang-style house, including information on how to
      calculate size of house and court, details of balustrade and ladder
      construction, etc. These houses were, of course, the ganlan
      construction of the Yue, another indication of the deep roots of
      Zhuang culture in earlier Yue culture. There is an equally detailed
      agricultural song which delineates the twenty-four seasons of the
      Zhuang year, each with its characteristic climate and labor tasks.[49]
      Perhaps there were also in the early period "house songs" which were
      the equivalent of Han Chinese genealogies, recounting the names of
      ancestors and the events which bound the family, lineage, or clan
      together. But if, as we suspect, blood ties were less important than
      corporate membership in a specific "dong," such songs were also local

      Many surviving songs are ballads detailing key
      Zhuang historical events and personages, and convey much information
      not found elsewhere. Some songs became "classics" and were taken down
      in a unique writing system described below. Other songs were
      spontaneous outcomes of love trysts or contests. While the surviving
      songs must be used with great care because of later emendations, they
      constitute one of the central resources in any study of Zhuang history
      and culture and will frequently be referred to here. The custom of
      Zhuang singing is a key to understanding both the Zhuang gender
      system, the Zhuang identity, and the astonishing persistence of Zhuang
      culture in the face of Han Chinese pressures. Given its widespread
      occurance among post-Yue ethnic groups, its roots must ultimately go
      back to the ancient Yue, at least those of the southern groups.

      Many later elements of Zhuang society, including
      courting practices, martial training, and the singing fests, suggest
      that in the earlier period, like other ancient Chinese cultures, the
      Yue and the proto-Zhuang created cohesive age-groups among both male
      and female youth. These groups trained together in martial and
      festive pursuits, may have lived, or perhaps only slept, in
      same-gender communal groups, and probably went through many important
      transitions such as the coming of age to engage in military training
      and later, marriage, simultaneously. This may have been in part a
      functional response to the problem of how to facilitate marriage
      outside the gene-pool of isolated dong---cadres of same-age group men
      and women came from different villages and met under formal
      circumstances at joint singing-festivals.

      The shamanism of the Luo Yue and Xi Ou, is continued
      among the proto-Zhuang. Zhuang religious belief vested power in local
      forces of nature and is described as animistic.[50] Chinese
      archaeologists argue for a late Neolithic period of phallic cults, but
      there seems to be no evidence of them by the period of Han impact.[51]
      The cliff paintings exhibit apparent reverence for both male and
      female genitalia as elements of generation. Depictions of male
      genitalia are certainly more common, but men in general are far more
      common in the paintings, so it is not necessarily a reflection of some
      earlier phallic cult. Among the spirits which were prominently
      worshipped by the early Zhuang were Lei Gong (The Thunder Duke) and
      Feng Shen (The Wind Spirit). The large number of feminine spirits in
      the Yue and Zhuang pantheon is striking.[52] One of the most enduring
      of Zhuang cults is that of Hua Po (Old Flower Woman)[53] which may be
      related also to Wu Hou Mu (The Martial Old Woman) or Sheng Mu (The
      Spirit Mother), and/or Liu Niao Niang (The Six Bird Women).[54] We
      cannot trave specific Zhuang cults to Yue precursors, the cliff
      paintings and the bronze drums give merely symbolic representations of
      gods and godesses, and they lack the specificity of later Zhuang
      examples. But certainly shamanism began early and long endured among
      the Zhuang, despite continual Han Chinese attempts to suppress it.

      The shamanism of the Yue and related totemism is
      evident both in early tattooing practices and in cultic rituals.
      Chinese scholars relate this totemism both to clan identity and to
      primitive attempts to propitiate angry spirits which were particularly
      fearsome to people who lived in an environment populated with
      creatures such as tigers, wolves, snakes and alligators. What began
      as propiatory attempts became symbols of clans, as in the case of the
      Nung discussed above, and dominant clans disseminated their guardian
      symbols to the point where they become generally accepted cults.[55]

      Totem-cults, like many other Yue practices, proved
      to be remarkably long lived. The frog or toad is a frequently
      encountered symbol in early Zhuang iconography, occurring
      conspicuously on the decoration of bronze drums, for example.[56]
      Tian Shulan refers in his 1934 trip through Guangxi to a major holiday
      among the Zhuang at Dong Lian county involving elaborate cultic
      practices revolving around frogs.[57]

      Early Yue and later Zhuang cult practices were
      easily transmogrified to fit later Han Chinese practices and it is
      consequently difficult to assess their original meaning. Yue and
      Zhuang spirits easily passed into Han Chinese temple pantheons. For
      example, as indicated in pre-impact totemism, snake spirits were very
      important to the Zhuang. The Chu intrusion apparently introduced the
      characteristic sinuous Yangtze valley dragon symbol into the
      culture,[58] and Long Wang (Dragon King) or Long Shen (Dragon Spirit)
      temples later were widespread.[59] Bird cults, including divination
      by chicken bones (Ji Bu), also were conspicuous early and endured
      late. Yue worship of lightning and thunder reflected in the Zuo River
      cliff paintings blended smoothly into Zhuang frog and toad cults,
      which easily survived simply as local folk religion. [60]

      Another example of cultural syncretism is to be seen
      the the fact that the south, and particularly the Zhuang, eagerly
      accepted Daoist beliefs. It is not possible to specify the beginnings
      of Daoism in the south, but it was certainly very early.[61] Daoism
      has frequently been linked to the state of Chu, and it is probable
      that its presence in the south pre-dates the Qin invasion. Certainly
      the marked shamanism of the Chu peoples must have blended easily with
      indigenous southern shamanism, each far closer to some elements of
      Daoism than to other Central Plains philosophical or religious
      systems.[62] It is clear that from the Tang period forward Daoism was
      syncretic with local cults. The evidence of the bronze drums,
      however, demonstrates clear links between Central Plains Daoism and
      local cults only in the period following the Song and Yuan dynasties,
      that is, quite late.[63]

      As suggested both by the presence of shamanesses on
      the Zuo River cliff paintings, by the widespread female cults and by
      marriage practices, Yue culture certainly had, by Han standards, a
      relatively egalitarian gender system. Later, Zhuang women often
      exercised legitimate authority, fought in battle, and maintained
      considerable economic power. Although it is difficult to identify
      evidence of this gender equality in the pre-impact period beyond the
      traces noted above, it was so different from Han Chinese gender
      systems at the Qin conquest that the differences clearly had much
      earlier antecedents.

      The relatively open gender system of first the
      southern interior Yue and then the Zhuang was reinforced by, and
      probably developed out of, important aspects of their daily lives.
      The lives of women in the remote mountain dong were necessarily quite
      different from those of Han lowland farmers' wives. The fact that men
      might be gone for prolonged periods on hunting or military expeditions
      undoubtedly led to the development of at least a defensive military
      capability among women. In settled Chinese areas the state or county
      militias presumably provided for security with standing military
      forces; in the dong each family provided its own security. The mixed
      economy also demanded much labor of Zhuang women, both in agriculture,
      and in ancillary handicrafts.

      Although the evidence is not entirely clear, and the
      subject a controversial one, it seems highly probable that Yue culture
      included slavery among its key practices.[64] Certainly by the time
      of the Han dynasty [206 B.C.-220 A.D.], slavery was widespread in the
      south, although it was perhaps exacerbated by the Han conquest.[65]
      It is probable that in the pre-impact period slavery was highly
      qualified, perhaps amounting to distinctions between levels of blood
      ties within the clan system.

      The captives represented in the post-war ceremonies
      of the Zuo River cliff paintings surely were enslaved but perhaps
      remained slaves only until they had demonstrated their loyalty to
      their new dong through military service on the part of males. Entire
      armies have been organized around the institution of military slavery
      or bondage in such disparate societies as Zulu Africa and Mameluke
      Egypt, and, as Keegan shows, in the pre-modern world military service
      itself was often regarded as a form of bondage. [66] Moreover,
      military service is a well-known method for establishing loyalty and
      common ties. Kolff has suggested that even in ethnic and
      caste-conscious India, military service frequently dissolved
      pre-existing distinctions, creating a warrior band of
      brothers-in-arms.[67] In addition, by the period of Han impact, even
      non-slave members of a dong were so dependent upon the good will of
      the dong lord as to much blur the distinction between slave and "free"

      It is probable that Zhuang slavery encompassed three
      distinctive periods of development: first, that of the pre-Warring
      States Yue societies when slavery served no real function in primitive
      society and was doubtless minimally present; second, that of the
      period from the martialization of Yue society in the Warring States
      era to the period of full Han Chinese colonial impact in the Han
      dynasty, when slavery was probably conditional and largely temporary,
      resolved by military service; third, the period following full Han
      Chinese impact when slavery acquired a wider meaning and individuals
      were bartered and sold as agricultural and mining laborers, and as
      household slaves and concubines,[68] in addition to a continuation of
      the earlier practice of limited slavery for military service.

      An enduring element of Yue and later Zhuang culture
      was its martial nature. This military ability was evident in the
      struggles of the Warring States when Bai Yue mercenaries served
      widely, including with Chu in its wars against Yue itself. The
      military excellence of the Yue and the later Zhuang was in part
      explained by their individual physical assets. Their homelands are
      mountainous and indigenous peoples have a large thoracic capacity,
      strong musculature, and great endurance.[69] They also were highly
      resistant to local diseases and knew how to prevent and medicate them
      far better than did the peoples of the Central Plain who intruded into
      the region. Garrisons or expeditions of soldiers from outside the
      region suffered horrifying casualties from tropical diseases and
      parasites, often amounting to thirty to fifty per cent per annum.

      The southern Yue and Zhuang were also highly
      motivated to take up military service, and to excell in it, as a means
      of subsistence. Their territories were relatively poor and throughout
      history, while a survival level existence was easy due to the game and
      natural foods of the area, poverty was endemic. Historically, local
      peoples found mercenary service an attractive alternative to laborious
      and uncertain subsistence farming.

      It is probable that life in the dongs had always
      been quite competitive and war must have grown quite naturally from
      hunting pursuits. The Yue were thought by other peoples to be
      naturally aggressive and were notorious for their readiness to attack
      each other. But the Warring States era marks an important transition
      for the Yue peoples and their descendents, the Zhuang. Following the
      development of the military labor market by the Warring States era,
      war continually shaped Yue, and later Zhuang, life and culture.
      Locally, war against other minorities and other clans served useful
      purposes to the dong lords, permitting them to expand at the expense
      of other, weaker, dong, to acquire slaves who could work new lands and
      mine ore, and perhaps in the case of female slaves, to produce
      textiles for sale in Han Chinese markets. Nationally, the military
      labor market provided an outlet for surplus male population,
      guaranteed favorable treatment from the Han colonizers, and brought
      wages and weapons into the dong.

      The indigenous weapons of the Yue were those of the
      late neolithic and bronze ages found in archaelogical sites in the
      region, and they are sufficently distinct from types of the central
      plains to constitute an important indicator of cultural influence, and
      of change over time. The most recognizable of the commonly
      encountered indigenous weapons is the flat-bladed long bronze
      dagger.[70] These weapons are often called in Chinese sources duan
      Jjan. or "short straight double-edged swords." This name reflects
      the fact that they are double-edged and straight, the quality which
      distinguishes the piercing or stabbing straight sword of China from
      the heavier, slightly curved, broad-bladed and single-edged "dao," a
      cutlass-like sword used as a chopping or slashing weapon. But the
      unique broad-bladed construction of the duan jian and the fact that
      they are usually of bronze suggest rather that they should be thought
      of as a distinct weapon characteristic of the bronze age. Because of
      the inherent weakness of bronze weapons they were cast, by southern
      smiths, with an inordinately broad blade, so much so that some are
      nearly triangular in construction, to increase their strength. This
      distinguishes them from the Central Plains type which rather has a
      thick almost oval blade when seen in cross-section.[71] The problem
      with either of these attempts to remedy the inherent short-coming of
      bronze, its relative softness, is weight. A weapon of any length
      would have to be so thick or broad as to be unwieldy.

      While some early iron examples have survived,
      ironsmiths soon abandoned the duan jian type entirely and rather
      produced the longer and slimmer jian which had both greater reach and
      greater strength and sharpness. Shorter weapons of iron are
      double-edged or poniard-edged blades of a narrow construction, taking
      advantage of the greater strength of iron, and perhaps could properly
      be thought of as merely "short jian." Surviving examples of the
      broad-bladed short jian are usually ornate; bronze, of course, being
      softer is far easier to work in fine detail or to enlay than is iron.
      Perhaps the short jian were valued for their beauty rather than their
      utility after better long weapons became available. While the type is
      not entirely distinct from those of the Bronze-age Central Plain they
      are relatively easy to distinguish from Chinese ones by the nature of
      their decorations and from their relatively common distribution in Yue
      sites. The fact that they lingered on among the southern Yue after
      being almost entirely displaced by the jian in the central plain
      might, however, be thought of as a cultural marker.

      Other indigenous weapons gave the Yue and the later
      Zhuang an arsenal appropriate to their military professions. These
      include the light cross-bow (a self-bow---that is, made of a one piece
      bowstaff as opposed to the heavy compound cross-bow of the central
      plain). The indigenous crossbow was often used with poisoned arrows
      which more than compensated for its relatively low velocity. The Yue,
      however, were quick to adopt superior weapons and a willingness to
      adopt new weapon systems would remain a characteristic of the
      descendants of the Yue while the Han Chinese often remained mired in
      the past because of the weight of their own military traditions. The
      cross-bow of the central plain is an example of such a superior
      weapon. That weapon, in examples to be seen at the Qin Mausoleum in
      Xian, incorporated pieces into the bow which acted to increase the
      torque of the bow, as well as a compound bow-stave to increase its
      stiffness. Such a bow could throw a variety of heavy arrows with a
      very flat trajectory well suited to aimed fire and the Yue quickly
      took it up, as revealed by the arrow-head distributions discussed below.

      As stated above, the association of Yue warriors
      with the ax is so close that some have argued that their very name is
      cognate to the weapon. Some argue that the Yue-battle ax is
      characteristic of the Yue arsenals of the pre-Qin era.[72] A Yue-ax
      of a uniquely southern style was the pediform ax said to be limited
      solely to the Yue. The distribution of weapons charted below
      indicates, however, that the Yue warriors preferred the symmetrical
      battle-ax to the unique pediform ax, presumably because its shape made
      it both more efficient, stronger, and cheaper to produce than the
      elaborate slipper-shaped axe with its long trailing, fragile blade.

      The arsenals of the Yue can now be understood over a
      long time period which illustrates the social changes of the area and
      the increased contact with outside peoples. The earliest period for
      which we have bronze examples (unfortunately very few of them) is the
      Shang-Eastern Zhou era ( ends c. 453 B.C.E.) for which we have a Ge
      dagger-ax found in Guangdong but one of clearly foreign origins.[73]
      Both the increased violence of the following period encompassing the
      wars through the era of the early Warring States (c. 322 B.C.E.) and
      the richer number of sites have produced far more examples of weapons.
      This chart of types and numbers of weapons found in Yue sites follows
      Yang Shiting[74]:


      Ge (dagger-ax)

      Mao (lance)

      Yue (battle-ax)

      Zu (arrow-head)

      duan-jian (short)

      Long Jian

      Yue Ax (pediform a

      Shang-Eastern Zhou


      Spring-Autumn to early Warring States








      mid-Warring States to Early Han








      Several conclusions are suggested by the table
      above. The ratio of southern weapons to northern ones (duan jian to
      long jian) changes abruptly during the period of the Warring States:
      southern soldiers are utilizing northern weapons. These may have been
      their own earned in mercenary service, or in many cases were crafted
      by southern smiths after northern examples. Certainly the far greater
      frequency of weapons found also indicates the higher level of military
      service. The Mao-lance, for example, is often said to be a southern
      weapon but it is relatively scarce in early periods, plentiful in
      later ones. This heightened violence is congruent, of course, with
      the shift from the leadership of shamans to that of warriors in the
      Luo Yue cliff paintings discussed above.

      The arrows indicated by the find of caches of
      arrow-heads indicated above were primarily heavy cross-bow arrows with
      a triangular barbed head of about 13 centimeters in length. These
      were a very heavy man-killer called in the Han era, with soldiers'
      graveyard humor, the Fei Meng--- "Flying Gadfly."[75]

      The arrowheads found, as well as the ratio of some
      of the other weapons to each other, indicates some problems with the
      sample. It is highly unlikely that so many more arrows were in use in
      the early Warring States than in the later ones, as suggested by the
      table above. It also seems probable that far more Mao-lances were in
      service than long jian swords, though the grave finds suggest the
      opposite. The Mao was little more than a heavy cast bronze head on a
      long shaft (250-290 cm in examples found in Guangxi) and was doubtless
      the weapon of choice for both infantry soldiers who appreciated its
      long reach, and for their quartermasters, who found it cheap to
      produce. The jian, on the other hand, requires long practice to use
      skillfully, is expensive to produce, and ill-suited to combat against
      an armored soldier, or against one with a long weapon, for that
      matter. It was regarded as a secondary weapon, primarily defensive,
      and usually carried by officers. The distribution of the weapons in
      the graves in which they are found is doubtless influenced by class
      and status issues in ways which are not yet fully understood.
      Probably the graves which both survive and are discovered are far more
      likely to be the large and elaborate ones of the officer class---those
      who carried the jian-- than those of the common soldiers who wielded
      the long Mao-lance in the actual shock of front-line combat. The most
      usual fate of the battle casulties of the rank-and-file of the Yue
      mercenary units was probably a hasty interment sans weapons in a
      common grave.

      Lan Jiyong's carefull study of distinctions between
      northern and southern weapons types found in Guangxi adds some
      additional important elements to our understanding. Lan argues that a
      critical date is that at which southern adaptations of northern weapon
      types begin to be clearly distinctive, in terms of local variations in
      shape and ornamentation, from northern originals. This indicates, Lan
      cogently argues, the period at which southern armies became formal
      organizations. This point occurred at the late Western Zhou era, c.
      453 B.C.E.[76]

      War is, of course, more than superior or adequate
      weapons and the spirit to wield them. Mercenary service demands
      organization, drill, and discipline. .Yue martial practices were quite
      flexible. The Yue and the proto-Zhuang adapted quickly to the needs
      of campaigns fought under particular tactical conditions, and to
      advances in military technology, so that their soldiers frequently
      were noted for their excellence from the Warring States period into
      the recent past---for more than two thousand years. For example, the
      fact that the rivers and streams of the area are challenging obstacles
      to <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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