Ancient China Simplified
by Edward Harper Parker

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Chapter XIII - Ancient Documents Found

The reign of the Tsin marquess (628-635), second of the Five Protectors, only lasted eight years, and nothing is recorded to have happened during this period at all commensurate with his picturesque figure in history while yet a mere wanderer. But it is very interesting to note that the Bamboo Annals or Books, i.e. the History of Tsin from 784 B.C., and incidentally also of China from 1500 years before that date, are one of the corroborative authorities we now possess upon the accuracy of Confucius’ history from 722 B.C., as expanded by his three commentators; and it is satisfactory to know that the oldest of the three commentaries, that usually called the Tso Chwan, or “Commentary of Tso K’iu-ming,” a junior contemporary of Confucius, and official historiographer at the Lu Court, is the most accurate as well as the most interesting of the three. These Bamboo Books were only discovered in the year 281 A.D., after having been buried in a tomb ever since the year 299 B.C. The character in which they were written, upon slips of bamboo, had already become so obsolete that the sustained work of antiquarians was absolutely necessary in order to reduce it to the current script of the day; or, in other words, of to-day. Another interesting fact is, that whilst the Chou dynasty, and consequently Confucius of Lu (which state was intimately connected by blood with the Chou family), had introduced a new calendar, making the year begin one (Shang) or two (Hia) months sooner than before, Tsin had continued to compute (see page 27) the year according to the system of the Hia dynasty: in other words, the intercalary moons, or massed fractions of time periodically introduced in order to bring the solar and lunar years into line, had during the millennium so accumulated (at the rate apparently of, roughly, sixty days in 360,000, or, say, three half-seconds a day) that the Chou dynasty found it necessary to call the Hia eleventh moon the first and the Hia first moon the third of the year. A parallel distinction is observable in modern times when the Russian year (until a few years ago twelve days later than ours), was declared thirteen days later; and when we ourselves in 1900 (and in three-fourths of all future years making up a net hundred), omit the intercalary day of the 29th February, which otherwise occurs every fourth year of even numbers divisible by four. Thus the very discrepancies in the dates of the Bamboo Books (where the later editors, in attempting to accommodate all dates to later calendars, have accidentally left a Tsin date unchanged) and in the dates of Confucius’ expanded history, pointed out and explained as they are by the Chinese commentators themselves, are at once a guarantee of fact, and of good faith in recording that fact.

But the neighbour and brother-in-law of the Tsin marquess (himself three parts Turkish), the Earl of Ts’in, who reigned from 659 to 621 B.C., and during that reign quietly laid the foundations of a powerful state which was destined to achieve the future conquest of all China, was himself a remarkable man; and there is some reason to believe that he, even at this period, also possessed a special calendar of his own, as his successors certainly did 400 years later, when they imposed their own calendar reckoning upon China. We have already seen (page 52) what powerful influence he exercised in bringing the semi-Tartar Tsin brethren to the Tsin throne in turn. He had invited several distinguished men from the neighbouring petty, but very ancient, Chinese principalities to settle in his capital as advisers; he was too far off to attend the durbars held by the, First Protector, but he sent one of these Chinese advisers as his representative, He is usually himself counted as one of the Five Protectors; but, although he was certainly very influential, and for that reason was certainly one of the Five Tyrants, or Five Predominating Powers, it is certain that he never succeeded in obtaining the Emperor’s formal sanction to act as such over the orthodox principalities, nor did he ever preside at a durbar of Chinese federal princes. Long and bloody wars with his neighbour of Tsin were the chief feature of his reign so far as orthodox China was concerned; but his chief glory lies in his great Tartar conquests, and in his enormous extensions to the west. These extensions, however, must not be exaggerated, and there is no reason to suppose that they ever reached farther than Kwa Chou and Tun-hwang (long. 95o, lat. 40o), two very ancient places which still appear under those names on the most modern maps of China, and from which roads (recently examined by Major Bruce) branch off to Turkestan and Lob Nor respectively.

Most Emperors and vassal princes are spoken of in history by their posthumous names, that is by the names voted to them after death, with the view of tersely expressing by that name the essential features (good or bad) of the deceased’s personal character; just as we say in Europe, officially or unofficially, Louis le Bienaime, Albert the Good, or Charles the Fat. The posthumous name of this Ts’in earl was “the Duke Muh” (no matter whether duke, marquess, earl, viscount, or baron when living, it was customary to say “duke” when the ruler was dead), and the posthumous name of the Emperor who died in 947 B.C. was “the King Muh"; for, as already stated, the Chou dynasty of Sons of Heaven were called “King,” and not “Emperor” though their supreme position was as fully imperial as that of previous dynastic monarchs, and they were, in fact, “Emperors” as we now understand that word in Europe. At the same time that the Bamboo Annals were unearthed, there were also found copies of some of the old “classics” or “Scripture,” and a hitherto unknown book called “the Story of the Son of Heaven Muh,” all, of course, written in the same ancient script. This Son of Heaven (a term applied to all the Emperors of China, no matter whether they styled themselves Emperor, King, or August Emperor) was supposed to have travelled far west, and to have had interviews with a foreign prince, who, as his land too, was transcribed as Siwangmu. The subject will be touched upon more in detail in another Chapter; but, for the present, it will be useful to say that, in the opinion of one very learned sinologist, all evidence points clearly to this expedition having been undertaken by Duke Muh of Ts’in, installed as he was in the old appanage of the emperors lost to the Tartars (as we have explained) in 771, and made over at the same time by the Emperor involved to the ancestors of Duke Muh. This view of the case is supported by the fact that in 664 B.C. Ts’in and Tsin, for some unknown reason, forced the Tartars of Kwa Chou to migrate into China, which migration was subsequently alluded to by a Tartar chief (when attending a Chinese durbar in 559 B.C.) as a well- known historical fact. It was undoubtedly the practice of semi- Chinese states, such as Ts’u, Wu, Yueh, and Shuh (the last is the modern Sz Ch’wan province, and its history was only discovered long after Confucius’ time), to call themselves “Kings," “Emperors,” and “Sons of Heaven,” in their own country (just as the tributary King of Annam always did until the French assumed a protectorate over him; and just as the tributary Japanese did before they officially announced the fact to China in the seventh century A.D.); and there are many indications that Ts’in did, or at least might have done and would like to have done, the same thing. Hence, when the story of Muh was discovered, the literary manipulators–even if they did not really believe that it positively must refer to the Emperor Muh-might well have honestly doubted whether the story referred to Ts’in or to the Emperor; or might well have decided to incorporate it with orthodox history, as a strengthening factor in support of the theory of one single and indivisible imperial dignity; just as, again, in the seventh century and eighth century A.D., the Japanese manipulators of their traditional history incorporated hundreds, not to say thousands of Chinese historical facts and speeches, and worked them into their own historical episodes and into their own emperors’ mouths, for the honour and glory of Dai Nippon (Great Japan).

After the death of the Second Protector in 628 B.C., there was a continuous struggle between Tsin and Ts’in on the one hand, and between Tsin and Ts’u on the other. Meanwhile Ts’i had all its own work cut out in order to keep the Tartars off the right bank of the Yellow River in its lower course, and in order to protect the orthodox Chinese states, Lu, Sung, Wei, etc., from their attacks; but Ts’i never again after this date put in a formal claim to be Protector, although in 610 she led a coalition of princes against an offending member, and thus practically acted as Protector.

In addition to the Chinese adviser at the disposal of Ts’in, in the year 626 the King (or a king) of the Tartars supplied Duke Muh with a very able Tartar adviser of Tsin descent; i.e. his ancestors had in past times migrated to Tartarland, though he himself still “spoke the Tsin dialect,” and must have had considerable literary capacity, as he was an author. Ts’in was now, in addition to being, if only informally, a federal Chinese state, also supreme suzerain over all the Tartar principalities within reach; well supplied, moreover, with expert advisers for both classes of work. All this is important in view of the pre- eminency of Ts’in when the time came, 400 years later, to abolish the meticulous feudal system altogether.


Preface  •  Chapter I - Opening Scenes  •  Chapter II - Shifting Scenes  •  Chapter III - The Northern Powers  •  Chapter IV - The Southern Power  •  Chapter V - Evidence of Eclipses  •  Chapter VI - The Army  •  Chapter VII - The Coast States  •  Chapter VIII - First Protector of China  •  Chapter IX - Position of Envoys  •  Chapter X - The Second Protector  •  Chapter XI - Religion  •  Chapter XII - Ancestral Worship  •  Chapter XIII - Ancient Documents Found  •  Chapter XIV - More on Protectors  •  Chapter XV - State Intercourse  •  Chapter XVI - Land and People  •  Chapter XVII - Education and Literary  •  Chapter XVIII - Treaties and Vows  •  Chapter XIX - Confucius and Literature  •  Chapter XX - Law  •  Chapter XXI - Public Works  •  Chapter XXII - Cities and Towns  •  Chapter XXIII - Break-Up of China  •  Chapter XXIV - Kings and Nobles  •  Chapter XXV - Vassals and Emperor  •  Chapter XXVI - Fighting State Period  •  Chapter XXVII - Foreign Blood  •  Chapter XXVIII - Barbarians  •  Chapter XXIX - Curious Customs  •  Chapter XXX - Literary Relations  •  Chapter XXXI - Origin of the Chinese  •  Chapter XXXII - The Calendar  •  Chapter XXXIII - Names  •  Chapter XXXIV - Eunuchs, Human Sacrifices, Food  •  Chapter XXXV - Knowledge of the West  •  Chapter XXXVI - Ancient Japan  •  Chapter XXXVII - Ethics  •  Chapter XXXVIII - Women and Morals  •  Chapter XXXIX - Geographical Knowledge  •  Chapter XL - Tombs and Remains  •  Chapter XLI - The Tartars  •  Chapter XLII - Music  •  Chapter XLIII - Wealth, Sports, Etc.  •  Chapter XLIV - Confucius  •  Chapter XLV - Confucius and Lao-Tsz  •  Chapter XLVI - Oracles and Omens  •  Chapter XLVII - Rulers and People  •  Ancient Chinese Law

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Ancient China Simplified (1908)
By Edward Harper Parker
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