The common concept of karma and retribution in the general religious life of Chinese society was not only expressed in the popular literature that has flourished since the Song dynasty, but also reacted to society through the processing, refining, and deepening of popular fiction. Popular novels from the 16th to 18th centuries synchronized with the fresh ideas of New Chan Buddhism, New Daoism, and New Confucianism, which gradually developed an ethos and karma model. It used real life as a metaphor for explaining cause and effect in the construction of new business and social ethics that were urgently needed at the time. The business ethics it reflected and constructed not only included the affirmation of business and the advocacy of hard work to obtain wealth and promote fair competition, but also criticized blindly pursuing profits, especially emphasizing that wealth was determined by destiny and could not be forced. The core of the new social ethics was to establish rules connecting traditional morality and becoming rich, which not only stressed that scholars, farmers, craftsmen, and businessmen should do their parts, but also always put scholarly study as the highest pursuit; while criticizing social injustice, people still strongly desired to pass the imperial examination. This paper examines the great social changes that were occurring in the Ming dynasty, especially in the areas of business ethics and the perception of wealth, through popular literature from Ming China.
The money culture of a given time and place can have a profound influence on literature, a medium that allows for the artistic expression of aesthetic taste. This article takes money culture as its analytical lens to explore the cultural transformation of literary concepts that were prevalent in Chinese novels. It will delve into the transition from agricultural production and lifestyles, which were focused on productive and consumptive survival, to industrialized production and lifestyles, which were centered on monetary survival. Additionally, it will trace the evolution from farming literature, which is rooted in Confucian morality, to commercial literature, which is characterized by themes of wealth, lust, and the search for novelty.
The pre-modern Chinese novel Xingshi yinyuan zhuan provides a wealth of information on the use of silver and copper cash in the economy of the late Ming dynasty. An analysis of the text reveals that there was no mechanism for remote remittance in the modern financial sense during this period. Therefore, it is necessary to reexamine several research works which have claimed the existence of remote remittance in financial history studies. Upon scrutinizing the various types of standard cash minted from the Jiajing to Chongzhen eras, it is evident that the popular “yellow-fringed coin” referred to in the Xingshi yinyuan zhuan was actually an umbrella term that encompassed both yellow coins and lathed-rim coins. Furthermore, the decimal conversion coins mentioned in the text that were withdrawn from the market due to unusability were most likely the decuple coins in the Tianqi era universal currency. The political incompetence of the late Ming period also caused the common people to reject the universal currency of the period, which was more valuable than the universal currency of previous periods.
Along the Grand Canal and in adjacent areas, where the pursuit of livelihoods among literati was most concentrated and visible, were important centers for the creation and dissemination of Ming and Qing dynasty novels and operas. To a large extent, the pursuit of livelihoods among literati brought about the birth of a large number of literary works, particularly Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty novels and operas. On the one hand, literati earned a wage through their livelihoods, improved their living environments, and laid a certain economic backdrop for later Ming and Qing novels and operas; on the other hand, through reader acceptance and market feedback, the literati put forward requirements for literary creation that closely aligned with readers and the market, and to a certain degree brought about changes in the subject matter and artistry of novels and operas. It can be said that the fertile Jiangnan region and the Grand Canal gave birth to literary and artistic giants and works that have been passed down through the centuries. The present article is an analysis of the relationship between literati livelihoods and the development of Ming and Qing novels and operas in the Grand Canal region.
The arrival of postcolonial theory in China and the country’s global rise came with the realization that its self-image is often distorted by Western ideological discourse, conveyed through Western Sinology. Drawing from Edward Said’s Orientalism, some Chinese scholars have classified the ideological dimensions of Western Sinology as Sinologism, and have pointed out its implications for China’s capacity to think of itself on its own terms. The concept has sparked debate mainly inside Chinese academia about the objective quality of Western Sinology. This article will attempt a critical overview of two major formulations of Sinologism, underlining its major presuppositions and placing the notion in the broader context of China’s anxieties of “academic colonization” by Western intellectual practices. It will conclude by arguing that attempts to discredit Western Sinology rely on some problematic assumptions and suggests East-West comparative studies as an alternative way of dialectically constructing Chinese identity.
With an emphasis on the Jianghuai region, this article aims to study the activities of aristocratic families during the Tang-Song Interregnum. Some aristocratic families managed to survive but were no longer in a position to carry out the cultural functions they had performed during the Tang dynasty. Based on the discussions undertaken by the article, aristocratic families played no evident role in political and cultural domains during the reign of Yang Wu and the Southern Tang. As such, total disappearance of the political and cultural capabilities of this privileged class in the Jianghuai region may have already taken place prior to the founding of the Southern Tang.
This article is an investigation into the founding of the Khitan empire based on a diverse collection of historical documents from both the Northern and Central Plains regions. These sources include the official history of the Liao dynasty, Liaoshi, written during the year of dynasty’s foundation in 907, the Qidan guo zhi from 916, as well as a variety of documents ranging from as early as the late 8th century to the mid 10th century. Some historians go as far as to say that Yelü Abaoji, who ruled the Liao dynasty from 907–926, never assumed the title of emperor. Although today’s scholarship on the Liao dynasty tends to fundamentally agree that Yelü Abaoji, who is known in history books as Taizu, the first emperor of the Liao dynasty, officially proclaimed the founding of the dynasty with himself as emperor in the first year of Shence in 916, no one has yet undertaken a proper investigation as to the details of the historical source material which has led to this assumption. This article is based on primary source research and investigates these critical pieces of historical evidence surrounding the founding of the Liao dynasty to better clarify events surrounding this major historical moment.