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Cheng Shaoxuan

By examining the Zhoujiatai Qin Tomb 30 Bamboo Slip End Profile Chart, one can see that the various sections of the rishu (Daybook) formed an ovular rolled bundle that was, for the most part, closed. These slips appear to have belonged to a common manuscript. However, the slips of the calendrical manuscript saliu nian ri (Days of the 36th Year) did not belong to this rolled bundle and instead were wrapped around a separate axis. On this basis, we can determine that Days of the 36th Year and the daybook were separate manuscripts when they were placed in the tomb.

Liu Xinfang

Many scholars have already studied the daybook (rishu 日書) text titled “Stars” (Xing 星), which was included among the excavated Qin manuscripts at Shuihudi 睡虎地. The Corpus of Qin Documents Written On Bamboo and Wood (Qin jiandu heji 秦簡牘合集) can be seen as a consequential culmination of these studies. Based on a collative approach, this article offers a comparative reading by citing ancient theories on astrological divination in order to clarify the provenance of passages found within the “Stars” text. Through such a comparative study, it is possible to provide an enhanced explanation of certain passages, somewhat different from the understandings of other scholars.

Qiu Xigui

This paper proposes that the character in the sentence 生乃呼曰 “was born and called out: ‘Jin!’” in the Shanghai Museum manuscript Zi Gao 子羔 should be transcribed as 銫, pronounced jin, and was a special way of writing the word jin 金 “metal.” The myth of Xie in Zi Gao may be related to the virtue of Metal of the Shang dynasty, which can still be seen in a story in the Shiyi ji 拾遺記 in which the divine mother asks Jian Di 簡狄 to give birth to Xie to “succeed the Virtue of Metal.” This paper also traces the myths of Shaohao 少皞 and Xie in order to show that Shaohao and Xie derive from the same mythical source. This paper argues that the association of Shang with the virtue of Metal already existed prior to the time that Zou Yan 鄒衍 systematized the Five Virtues.

Song Huaqiang

On the Chu 楚 bamboo slips from Geling 葛陵 there appears a character written in the form of 米. Most scholars agree that it is identical to the graph 柰 on the Baoshan 包山 bamboo slips and should also be read as sui 祟. This essay assumes that the reading of 柰 as sui on the Baoshan slips is correct, but that the graph written as 米 on the Geling slips is most likely a simplified version of , which in the texts is to be read as sheng 眚, a synonym for sui.

Yan Changgui

This article examines the names of five gods and spirits that appear in Chu divination records. It proposes that “Dashui” 大水 refers to the god of the sea, the Sea Approver in Zhuangzi; “Weishan” 危山 is the mountain Sanwei in Chuci, a land of immortality; “Gongmei” 宮禖 is likely the high goddess of childbirth, who was once a Chu ancestress; and “Sijin” 司祲 and “Sizhe” 司折 are two heavenly gods, the former in charge of people’s fortune, and the latter in charge of people’s lifespans. The latter is similar to the Overseer of Youth’s Fate in Chuci.

Liu Guosheng

The “Five Conquerors” passage of the Han daybook from Kongjiapo is written on slips 105–7. Slip 107 should be rejoined with fragment 24. The “Five Conquerors” passage uses the conquest theory of the five agents to realize “untimely urgent travel.” The method requires one who would undertake urgent travel to carry an item representing the particular agent that will “conquer” the agent associated with the direction of travel.

Chen Kanli

Among the Liye Qin strips published to date (March 2017), there are in total 138 records that tell the time. These records utilize both descriptive names for phases of the day (shicheng 時稱) and clepsydra (water clock, lou 漏) gradations as methods for timekeeping. Both methods appear, for the most part, evenly distributed across the entire range of years found in the Liye strips. Local climatic conditions may account for this simultaneous use of descriptive names and clepsydra gradations. Furthermore, both of these methods for timekeeping, as they appear on the Liye Qin strips, are relatively imprecise. This suggests that government work in Qianling County during the Qin period proceeded in a less-regulated fashion, particularly when it comes to the precision of deadlines imposed on administrative activities.

Edward L. Shaughnessy

Volume 6 of Qinghua daxue cang Zhanguo zhujian, published in 2016, includes two copies of a text entitled by the editors *Zheng Wen Gong wen Tai Bo 鄭文公問太伯 (Duke Wen of Zheng Asks Tai Bo). The two copies of this single text are extremely similar, both in terms of content and in terms of calligraphy, but also display certain occasional differences and one systematic difference in the positioning of the “city” (yi 邑) signific (bushou 部首) within characters. This leads the editors to argue that they “were copied by a single scribe on the basis of two separate source texts.” This is the first time we have seen such evidence of scribal practice, and it is crucial for the question of manuscript production in early China. In the present study, I first present a codicological description of these two manuscript versions of *Zheng Wen Gong wen Tai Bo, followed by a full translation of their text. Then I consider their implications for the question of manuscript production in ancient China.

Malissa Taylor


Focusing on the province of Damascus, this study shows that individuals of the ʿaskarī class were obligated to pay village taxes in proportion to the amount of property they owned, and that it was the village cultivators who had the primary authority for individuating and collecting these taxes. Providing a detailed picture of the relations between the ʿaskarī class and peasant communities before the rise of the a’yān in the eighteenth century, the study explores how peasants sought to enforce their decisions on these powerful individuals and to what extent they were successful in doing so.

Mahmood Kooria


Ponnāni was a port in southwestern India that resisted the Portuguese incursions in the sixteenth century through the active involvement of religious, mercantile and military elites. In the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Ponnāni was the only place where the Dutch East India Company had commercial access into the kingdom of the Zamorins of Calicut. When the Dutch gained prominence in the coastal belt, this port town became the main centre for their commercial, diplomatic, and political transactions. But as a religious centre it began to recede into oblivion in the larger Indian Ocean and Islamic scholarly networks. The present article examines this dual process and suggests important reasons for the transformations. It argues that the port town became crucial for diplomatic and economic interests of the Dutch East India Company and the Zamorins, whereas its Muslim population became more parochial as they engaged with themselves than with the larger socio-political and scholarly networks.

Paolo Sartori and Bakhtiyar Babajanov


How far, if at all, did the intellectual legacy of early 20th-century Muslim reformism inform the transformative process which Islam underwent in Soviet Central Asia, especially after WWII? Little has been done so far to analyze the output of Muslim scholars (ʿulamāʾ) operating under Soviet rule from the perspective of earlier Islamic intellectual traditions. The present essay addresses this problem and sheds light on manifestations of continuity among Islamic intellectual practices—mostly puritanical—from the period immediately before the October Revolution to the 1950s. Such a continuity, we argue, profoundly informed the activity of the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Central Asia and Kazakhstan (SADUM) established in Tashkent in 1943 and, more specifically, the latter’s attack against manifestations of religiosity deemed “popular,” which were connected to the cult of saints. Thus, this essay posits that the juristic output of Soviet ʻulamā’ in Central Asia originates from and further develops an Islamic reformist thinking, which manifested itself in the region in the late 19th- and early 20th-century. By establishing such an intellectual genealogy, we seek in this article to revise a historiographical narrative which has hitherto tended to decouple scripturalist sensibilities from Islamic reformism and modernism.

Michael Morony


The present article shows that, according to archaeological and literary evidence, an expansion in mining occurred in the early Islamic world as a result of changes in mining technology at the end of Late Antiquity. The production of gold, silver, copper, iron, and other minerals is shown to have peaked in the eighth and ninth centuries and then to have declined during the tenth and eleventh centuries due to insecurity and/or exhaustion of the mines. Mining development was financed privately, and mines were usually private property.

Educated with Distinction

Educational Decisions and Girls’ Schooling in Late Ottoman Syria

Christian Sassmannshausen


Beginning in the 1850s, the Ottoman Empire’s educational landscape expanded and diversified. During this era of imperial reforms, discourses around education increasingly focused on the importance of female education. This article uses census material from Tripoli in today’s Lebanon to explore the experiences of students in the wake of these shifts. It examines literacy rates across different social and religious groups and the extent to which educational decisions parents made were biased by gender and class. The analysis reveals that the rate of Muslim boys’ literacy was high even before new schools opened starting in the 1850s. As for the post-reform developments, it shows that although around a quarter of propertied families decided to send their sons and daughters to school, a considerable proportion of Muslim and Christian families privileged sons alone. Still, reforms allowed a number of groups in the generations between 1860 and 1910 to achieve higher rates of literacy, including Muslim and Christian girls as well as the children of artisans.

Chris Wickham


Egyptian land tenure in the Fāṭimid period (969-1171) is often assumed to have been based on state ownership of agricultural land and tax-farming, as was in general the case in the Mamlūk period which followed it, and as many Islamic legal theorists rather schematically thought. This article aims to show that this was not the case; Arabic paper and parchment documents show that private landowning was normal in Egypt into the late eleventh century and later. Egypt emerges as more similar to other Mediterranean regions than is sometimes thought. The article discusses the evidence for this, and the evidence for what changed after 1100 or so, and, more tentatively, why it changed.

Hongbo Jia (賈洪波)

Translator Carl Gene Fordham


This paper proposes an alternative chronology for the Xia dynasty [ca. 2100-1600 BCE] based on the respective year counts and generation numbers of the Xia, Shang [ca. 1600-1046 BCE], and Zhou [1046-256 BCE] dynasties. It argues that Qi 啟 founded the Xia dynasty midway through the twentieth century BCE and further discusses questions relating to the capital cities and culture of the Xia. By integrating archeological material, it further contends that the ancient city of Wangchenggang 王城崗 located in Dengfeng 登封 was Yangcheng 陽城, the capital established by Yu 禹. It also argues that the Wadian 瓦店 site in Yuzhou 禹州 may have been inhabited by Yu and Qi, that the ancient city of Xinzhai 新砦 was an early capital of the Xia dynasty from the reigns of Qi to Shao Kang 少康, and that the Erlitou 二里頭 site was the capital of the Xia dynasty during its middle and late periods after the reign of Di Huai 帝槐. Xia culture should be approached as a concept that blends the disciplines of archeology and history and defined as the Xia people and the Xia dynasty within its region of governance or a culture whose creators mostly consisted of the Xia people. Furthermore, the ruins of the Xinzhai period represent Xia culture during its formative period, while Erlitou culture represents Xia culture during its maturity.

Hong Xu (許宏)

Translator Yin Zhang


The abundance of classical literature and the conventions of historical studies have shaped the archaeological exploration of the origin of the state in China, starting with and centering on the identification of specific dynasties. The linear evolutionary account of the Chinese civilization, based on royal genealogies, has become mainstream. The emergence of the state has been continuously dated earlier. I argue that theoretical flaws, nationalism, and disciplinary limits have obscured the complexities of this research project. Drawing on archaeological findings, I propose a two-stage model regarding the origin of the state in East Asia.

Edward L. Shaughnessy


David Shepherd Nivison (1923-2014) devoted the last three and a half decades of his life to an attempt to reconstruct the original text of the Bamboo Annals and to use that text to reconstruct the absolute chronology of ancient China. Nivison’s attempt to reconstruct that chronology involved astronomy; textual criticism, especially—though not exclusively—of the Bamboo Annals; and a considerable amount of historiographical conjecture concerning both the period of the Xia dynasty and of the Warring States period, during which, Nivison argues, the Bamboo Annals was undergoing multiple revisions. This attempt was also based on three major theses: (1) the Xia kings were named for the tiangan 天干 of the first day of the first year of their reign; (2) irregular gaps of zero, one, two, three, four, and even forty years recorded in the Bamboo Annals between the reigns of Xia kings should invariably have been two years; and (3) the final Xia king, Jie 桀, is completely mythical.

In this article, I first present Nivison’s arguments and then present a critique of those arguments, based on my own study of the Bamboo Annals. My own study of the Bamboo Annals in turn has shown three points that are important for understanding its annals of Xia: that at least some of the manuscript was damaged or lost when it was taken from the tomb, that the Western Jin editors made some mistakes in their editing of the text, and that they added commentary to the text. Based on this discussion, I conclude that Nivison’s hypothesis concerning the chronology of the Xia dynasty remains just that: a hypothesis.

Qi Sun (孫齊)

Minzhen Chen (陳民鎮)

Translator Carl Gene Fordham


Three debates on the historicity of the Xia dynasty [ca. 2100-1600 BCE] have occurred, spanning the 1920s and 1930s, the late 1900s and early 2000s, and recent years. In the first debate, Gu Jiegang 顧頡剛 [1893-1980], Wang Guowei 王國維 [1877-1927], and Xu Xusheng 徐旭生 [1888-1976] pioneered three avenues for exploring the history of the Xia period. The second debate unfolded in the context of the Doubting Antiquity School [Yigupai 疑古派] and the Believing Antiquity School [Zouchu yigu 走出疑古] and can be considered a continuation of the first debate. The third debate, which is steadily increasing in influence, features the introduction of new materials, methods, and perspectives and is informed by research into the origins of Chinese civilization, a field that is now in a phase of integration.

Qingwei Sun (孫慶偉)

Translator Ady Van den Stock


In a broad sense, the term “Xia culture” means the culture of the Xia dynasty [ca. 2100-1600 BCE] period. In a narrower sense, however, it refers to the culture of the Xiahou 夏后 clan of the mythical founder Yu 禹. In much of the contemporary research, the question of the primary ethnic affiliation of Xia culture is often overlooked and obscured, thus blurring the distinction between Xia culture in the broad and narrow senses. This has resulted in considerable conceptual and epistemological imprecision. Research on Xia culture can be conducted in two main ways: on the one hand, what has been called “metropolitan conjecture” and, on the other, cultural comparison. Departing from the method of cultural comparison and bringing together temporal, spatial, and cultural elements in our analysis allows us to distinguish a primary central area within the “region of Yu” that coincides with Xia culture in the narrow sense, as reflected in later phases of the Wangwan 王灣 and Meishan 煤山 regional subtypes of Longshan culture [Longshan wenhua 龍山文化], from the later phases of the various archaeological remains found within a secondary and tertiary central area, which can be included in the category of Xia culture in a broad sense. Erlitou 二里頭 culture should be regarded principally as part of Xia culture. As such, the Meishan and Wangwan subtypes of Henan Longshan culture, along with the first to the fourth phases of Erlitou culture, can be seen as making up a consistent Xia culture.

Tonio Weicker

It is well known that labor migrants from different countries all over the Eurasian Union are the backbone of crucial economy sectors in the Russian Federation as, inter alia, construction, agriculture or trade. This article deals with another less mentioned but similarly significant labor market, which substantially changed its assemblage during the last couple of years, namely commercial urban transport services. In the last two decades, the marshrutka sector underwent major reforms and formalization processes that, on the one hand, brought operators back into the tax net and ensured a certain extension of control to the local transportation departments but, on the other hand, worsened the labor conditions of the transportation workers. Drawing from the empirical evidence of my fieldwork in southern Russia, I describe currently problematized mobility assemblages and embed the actor’s articulations in broader conflicts within the marshrutka business and transportation regulation policy. I further analyze how labor migrants have been forced to accept unfavorable working conditions in the enterprises as a direct result of politically triggered reforms in the marshrutka business. The paper provides insights into the social arena of the marshrutka, which serves as a societal encounter of urban conflicts and transformation mirroring (un-)intended effects of the local transportation reformation attempts.

Cara Kerven

In Turkmenistan, Islamic charitable alms (sadaka) are a central part of daily life in the desert villages surrounding Gökdepe town, about five hours drive from the capital, Aşgabat. Adults give sadaka for reasons of religious merit, in order to pay respects to deceased family members and prior to major life-cycle events such as weddings. This article links Turkmen sadaka to other life-cycle ceremonies noted in the surrounding Central Asian countries. Life-cycle ceremonies have been theorised in two broadly different ways, as either concerned with prestige and status or as ethical projects. I bring these two approaches into conversation through the notion of social reproduction. Using long-term ethnographic research, I argue that Turkmen sadaka reveals how the economics of daily life and social reproduction are directly dependent on divine gifts. It is an ethical project for those participating that, at the same time, has recognised social consequences in terms of status and prestige.

Giulia Cabras

In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (People’s Republic of China), history is taught according to Chinese nationalistic guidelines and the history of ethnic groups is built around their relationships with the Han majority. In this context of historical hegemony, the paper examines a series of books for Uyghur children on famous historical characters in order to understand how young generations’ ethnic consciousness can be shaped. The analysis identifies some trends of the Uyghur ethnic discourse transmitted to children (connections with the history of Central Asia and the Middle East, the focus on elements of identification such as Islam and muqams), as well as the presence of a Chinese paradigm that supports progress, secular education, and the standardization of folklore. Furthermore, the article aims to identify how much leeway is given to the development of a counter-discourse, particularly in the transmission of historical and cultural heritage to the younger generations.

Garnik Asatrian

The article is an attempt to interpret the toponym Bardeskan/Bardaskan, which is the name of a city and a šahrestān (“county”) located in the south of the Khorasan-e Razavi province in Iran, on the northern edge of the Great Salt desert (Kavīr-e namak). Parallelly, the author discusses also the origin of a number of other place-names from the same area.

David Leupold

More than a century years ago Talât Pasha declared famously that in the Eastern Provinces “The Armenian question does not exist anymore”. Today, far from being resolved, the former binary coding (Armenian/Turkish) is even further complicated by a third element— the ongoing Kurdish question (doza Kurdistanê). While most research and journalistic works frame the Armenian issue and the Kurdish issue as two separate events that merely coincide(d) in the same geographical space, this work explores their interdependence and the historical trajectories of two peoples fatally “tied together” across a spatio-temporal scale.

In my paper I identify two opposing lines of continuity through which both peoples are tied together: friendly and fatal ties. With regard to the first (friendly ties), I turn to the SSR Armenia and her role in fostering Kurdish culture and advancing Kurdish nationalism. Hereby, I argue that a marginalized community of Kurmanji-speakers—the Yezidis, previously othered as “devil-worshippers” (şeytanperest)— emerged as the vanguard in forging a novel, secularized Kurdish national identity. With regard to the latter (fatal ties), I link the irrevocable erasure of Ottoman Armenians to the emergence of an imagined “Northern Kurdistan” stretching over large parts of historic Armenia. This, finally, raises the question of Kurdish complicity in the Armenian Genocide—as state-mobilized regiments, tribal members and ordinary residents—in a geography where, as Recep Maraşlı put it, the descendants “are the children of both perpetrators and victims alike”.

Thomas Jügel

This article discusses the publications of two documentation projects of the Gorani varieties of Gawraǰū and Zarda. It offers a number of alternative interpretations, corrections and additions to the grammatical description of two understudied and highly endangered West Iranic varieties, which are under strong influence of neighbouring Kurdish dialects.

Ling Li and Wenzhang Zhou

By focusing on the underlit corners of authoritarian governance in China, this article challenges the thesis that constitutions matter to authoritarian regimes because they provide solutions for problems of governance. We argue to the contrary: the constitution appeals to the Chinese Communist Party (the Party or the ccp) because it does not provide solutions to fundamental issues of governance. Instead, such issues are kept out of the constitution so that they can be addressed by the Party through other regulatory mechanisms outside of the constitutional realm. In support of our thesis, we provide a unique review of the most up-to-date authoritative research on three key constitutional issues: central-local relations, party-state relations and power relations in the Politburo. These three issues correspond to three distinctive fields in China studies that were treated only in isolation but here we consider them together under the single framework of authoritarian constitutional governance.

David B. Buyaner

The paper deals with the etymology of NP pōlād “steel” suggested by Ernst Herzfeld more than seventy years ago, but overlooked both by his contemporaries and by the following generations of scholars. Some slight emendations are proposed to Herzfeld’s reconstruction of the stages of borrowing from Middle Indian into Old Persian, without, however, diminishing his role as trailblazer.

Evgeny I. Zelenev and Milana Iliushina

This paper focuses on the theory and practice of jihād in the Mamlūk Sultanate, especially during the Circassian period (1382-1517). Some ideas of Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), Ibn Khaldūn (d. 1406), Ibn Kathīr (d. 1373), Ibn al-Naḥḥās (d. 1411), as well as scholars of the pre-Mamlūk epoch are taken in consideration. The authors explore the issue of understanding jihād as the responsibility of the community (farḍ al-kifāya) and/or personal duty (farḍ al-ʿayn) and the role of jihād ideology in the inner- and international Mamlūk politics.

Timirlan Aytberov and Shakhban Khapizov

The paper presents the publication of several inscriptions in the Arabic Kufic script carved on stone in the period of the 10th-13th centuries and discovered in the Avar ethnic area of Dagestan. All of them, except the first one, are published for the first time. This epigraphic material indicates that the process of the gradual spread of Islam started in Dagestan already at the end of the 10th century.

Victoria Arakelova

The paper is an attempt to analyse the emergence of virtual “alliances” based on imagined kinship between some ethnic groups and peoples of the Irano-Caucaso-Anatolian region. It focuses on several illustrative examples, particularly the case of the Talysh-Zaza rapprochement, which has been developed recently as a result of popular interpretation of the postulated theory of the Caspian-Aturpatakan language union, implying a close symbiosis, in the historical past, of the ancestors of the present-day speakers of several New Iranian dialects.

Ali Bahadori

This article, focused on the Persian Gobryas, the head of Patischorian tribe and a member of the mysterious circle bringing Darius I (the Great) to the throne called the “Seven” by Herodotus, aims to argue that the concept of seven families was originally derived from the tribal structure of the Achaemenid society rather than from traditions found in classical writers. Mainly based on the administrative Elamite texts from Persepolis, the paper attempts to add contextual and practical detail to the classical narrative about the status of the “Seven” in the Achaemenid imperial system. This data leads us to the Fahliyān region in southwestern Persia as the house of the Patischorians and shows how Gobryas and his house were involved in the political, economic and administrative structures of the Persian Achaemenid Empire especially during the reign of Darius. The case also provides a valuable context for the study of various aspects of social organization particularly the land tenure.

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Ewan Smith

This article reviews the development of three important themes in the Chinese Communist Party’s (ccp’s) description of the rule of law since China’s opening up and reform began in December 1978. It expands upon key Party documents that frame the meaning of the rule of law in ccp doctrine. It sets out the doctrine, identifies significant changes, and considers what they might mean for the Party’s present stance toward law and legal construction. It builds upon a broad literature that explores those documents and that doctrine, focusing on three connected points of tension in the Party’s articulation: the relationship between rule of law and rule by law, the relationship between the rule of law and Party leadership, and the relationship between the rule of law and Party discipline.

Ronen A. Cohen and Dina Lisnyansky

The main effort of the Azerbaijani government regarding the historical conflict between the Shiites and the Sunnis in the state, is to keep the status quo between these factions. However, the Arab Spring’s regional impact and the emergence of ISIS (ISIL and IS) led to waves of religious radicalisation, especially in the Sunnite part of Azerbaijan, which is more Turkic aligned, yet far territorially from the immediate influence of the Islamic radicalism. The article’s main conclusion is that the Islamic radicalisation in Azerbaijan could emerge only as a result of the structurally unbalanced status quo, which the Sunnis view as favouring more the Shiites.

Editors Iran and the Caucasus

Anastasia Fedorenko

Traditionally, functioning of major classes of lexical items is described as follows. Nouns prototypically function as arguments, but can also serve as predicates and attributes; verbs are normally used as predicates, but can also appear for arguments and attributes; and adjectives are categorically attributes, while secondary they can be used as predicates. The question arises, whether adjectives can serve as arguments (and how). The answer is, undoubtedly, “yes”, they can. When an adjective is used without a head, it begins to function as a noun. The current research aims to describe the morphological behaviour of such nominalised adjectives in the East Caucasian languages. The study of 31 grammatical descriptions of these languages, based on the analysis of nominalised adjectives, reveals 5 groups of the East Caucasian languages.

Zhange NI

This paper studies Su Xuelin’s imaginative and scholarly writing from the 1940s to the 1980s as a series of projects aimed at building a utopian world to reconcile the conflicting claims of Chinese nationalism and her Christian faith. In her short stories celebrating the Ming loyalists, Confucian and Catholic, who defended the Manchus unto death, she highlighted the image of the mountain as the center of their moralpolitical universe. She continued to work on the mountain in her scholarly articles and, under the influence of the European school of Pan-Babylonianism, traced the origin of Mount Kunlun, the Biblical Eden, and other sacred mountains to ancient Mesopotamia. On this basis, she postulated that Qu Yuan produced his rhapsodies by drawing from the repository of world mythologies brought to him by ancient migrations, the forgotten foundation of the Chinese civilization. Although Su’s work is limited to the medium of print culture, her seemingly disconnected projects coalesce to enact a fantastical world mediating diverse times and places. A representative of the Chinese Catholics, a knowledge community actively participating in what Henry Jenkins calls trans-media world-building, Su reimagined China and Christianity as both located in a global network of migrations and mutations.

Editors Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Satoru Hashimoto

This paper examines the performative significance of Lu Xun’s historical short stories collected in Gushi xinbian (Old stories retold, 1936) by focusing on the mediality of his idiosyncratic writing, which he himself called “facetious.” It revisits the young Lu Xun’s uneasy engagement with medical science as student documented in his lecture notebooks bearing corrections by his teacher as well as his early essays. This provides an analytical framework for discussing the stakes of his historical fiction as a critique of the discourse of scientific historiography which was increasingly gaining currency in May Fourth China. Lu Xun’s historical fiction is conspicuously not meant to function as a stable medium between the past and the present but betrays its opaque and even arbitrary mediality, which disrupts identity in historical representation and thus critiques ideological, “cultural” power inherent in scientific discourse that tries to establish that identity. The paper then reads Gushi xinbian as attempts at recovering history from such power and envisioning new possibilities of historical transmission in the midst of an aporetic search of a prehistory of Chinese modernity—attempts hinged on anachronistic textual moments whose meanings circulate in defiance of any identity of time with itself, thereby bespeaking an alternative power to “make” history.

Stephanie SU

This paper examines the visual representation of the famous poem The Song of Everlasting Sorrow in modern China. Painted by Li Yishi in 1929, this sequential set of paintings was based on the Tang poet Bai Juyi’s poem, written under the same title. First shown at the National Art Exhibition in Shanghai and then published as an illustrated book in 1932, Li’s work rekindled public imagination of the tragic romance. Li’s choice of subject, format, as well as style and its mixed reviews raise crucial questions regarding the notion of realism and the authenticity of historical representation. This paper argues that Li’s work revealed new transmedia aesthetics and cross-cultural fascination with China’s past that shaped the cultural identity of East Asia in the early twentieth century.

Yuqian Yan

This article examines the effect and affect of historical representations in wartime Chinese theater and cinema, as well as the interplay between the two media. With the burgeoning of late Ming stories on stage and on screen, the fall of the Ming became a “chosen trauma” that connects the nation’s past with its historical present. However the traumatic fate of the nation was never the actual subject of representation, but served to enhance the affective power of tragic‐heroic figures. Focusing on A Ying’s Sorrow for the Fall of the Ming, one of the most popular wartime historical plays, the paper studies the narrative structure, performance style and adaptation strategy of the play to demonstrate how patriotic spirit was foregrounded as the key to national survival. It was through the audience’s resonation with the characters’ passionate speech on stage and on screen that individuals’ emotional attachment to the nation was consolidated, both horizontally across space and vertically through history.

Pu Wang

“Make the past serve the present!” Thus goes Mao Zedong’s slogan on how to appropriate the ancient in revolutionary times. In my previous studies, I have argued that the Chinese writers’ engagement with the ancient gave rise to a platform of “necessary anachronism” in cultural transformation. This new project carries further this argument and draws attention to the transmediality in the leftist historical imagination. From the 1940s through the 1970s, the revolutionary representations of the ancient were simultaneously poetic, theatrical, intellectual, and cinematic, to say nothing about the calligraphic and visual adaptations they elicited. This current of reinventing the ancient manifested itself in the historical drama in wartime China and found a coda in the anti-colonial leftist cinematic adaptation of the historical play Qu Yuan in 1970s Hong Kong. Starting with a broader theoretical intervention into the issue of media, this paper emphasizes that the transmedial reinterpretation of the ancient in fact formed a mode of mediation between revolution and history, between politics and aesthetics. In the cultural regime of China’s long revolution, the transference or translation of the allegorical-anachronistic energies among different media was a key site of signification, contestation, and crisis.

Jeffrey Kotyk


This study compares the astrological doctrines of the Twelve Houses and Lot of Fortune as they are explained in Xingxue dacheng 星學大成 of Wan Minying 萬民英 (1521–1603) and Christian Astrology by William Lilly (1602–1681). These two astrologers, who were near contemporaries, lived on opposite sides of Eurasia, yet both were heir to traditions of astrology that together reached back to identical origins in the Near East. The use of largely similar doctrines between both authors testifies to the enduring integrity of astrology throughout centuries of transmission westward and eastward through multiple cultures and languages.

Michael Lackner and Charles Burnett

Joanna Komorowska


In his Allegoriae Iliadis, John Tzetzes makes frequent use of contemporary astrological teachings: he references planetary aspects, transits, and the respective positions of luminaries, and several important passages of the Iliad are treated as openly astrological in nature. In Tzetzes’s poem, both life and death are decided by changing positions of stars, Alexander (Paris) is favored by Aphrodite (the planet Venus), and Hector is protected by Zeus (the planet Jupiter). The idea of royal birth (or imperial horoscope) plays an important part in Tzetzes’s exploration of the myth of Heracles, and the tropical nature of the sign of Libra, due to the sun’s entry into it at the autumnal equinox, is reflected in the (non-)efficiency of the Greek ramparts. This article considers these references to astrological lore against the wider background of the surviving Fachliteratur and thus seeks to provide insight into Tzetzes’s attitude toward astrology, and, simultaneously, into his own knowledge of the lore.

László Sándor Chardonnens


Hemerology, the study of the auspicious and inauspicious qualities of time, plays a role in the astral magic that entered medieval European magic from Arabic sources, although in other areas of magic it seems to have been less present. Yet in three isolated and independent cases from fifteenth-century Germany and early modern England, lunaries, a type of hemerology that originated from the field of divination and prognostication, were adapted to introduce hemerological aspects to a variety of magical practices. These lunaries are here published and analyzed in light of their mantic origins and recontextualized magic uses.

H Darrel Rutkin


What is the relationship between astrology and divination? In particular, is astrology a type of divination, as is often asserted or assumed? In both astrology and divination, knowledge and prediction of the future are primary goals, but does this warrant calling astrology a form of divination? I approach these questions by exploring the response of Thomas Aquinas, which was to be extremely influential for many centuries. First I analyze in some detail Thomas’s answer in his Summa theologiae 2-2.92–95; then I discuss two significant sixteenth-century examples of its influence: the 1557, 1559, 1564, and later indexes of prohibited books; and Pope Sixtus V’s anti-divinatory bull, Coeli et Terrae Creator (1586). In this way, we can explore some of the complex historical dynamics at play in the construction of a legitimate astrology in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Anne Schmiedl


This paper analyzes how fate is understood in imperial Chinese anecdotes on character divination (cezi 測字). It demonstrates that character divination, due to its qualities as a script-based method, allows the protagonists of divination anecdotes to intervene creatively in the predictive process. The protagonists use this opportunity to seize agency and attempt to influence or change their fate through different strategies. The paper explores these strategies in detail. To transform the outcome of the predictions, protagonists make use of apotropaism, repetition, mimesis, name changing, and the interpretative techniques of diviners. This paper contributes to the study of the notion of fate in imperial China by proving the unique role of character divination. It shows that in anecdotes on character divination, unlike in many other divinatory methods, fate is presented as determined. Even though protagonists attempt to assume agency over their fate, they ultimately fail. In Chinese character divination, fate is written in stone.

Guofu Liu (刘国福) and Qian Zhu (朱倩)


The Chinese diaspora broadly includes the groups of huaren (华人, ethnic Chinese of different nationalities), huaqiao (华侨, overseas Chinese who are Chinese citizens overseas), guiqiao (归侨, returned overseas Chinese), and qiaojuan (侨眷, relatives in China of overseas Chinese). In the Chinese legal system, the determining of Chinese diasporic status is an important issue in the Chinese diaspora law, as it pertains to the protection of diaspora rights and interests by governmental authorities. The diaspora law in China identifies Chinese diasporic status and grants rights and duties according to nationality and residential qualifications but does not consider the actual contact between the Chinese diaspora and China. This has caused substantive legal procedural issues regarding the confirmation of the legal identity of Chinese diaspora and the issuing of relevant certifications both in China and abroad. These legal issues have presented significant challenges for the Chinese government in its efforts to engage with and manage the Chinese diaspora and it has created a bureaucratic barrier to the protection of their rights and interests. This paper aims to explore the current issues in determining the legal status of the Chinese diaspora, to critically review relevant laws, policies, and empirical research, and to suggest possible solutions for improving diaspora law in the legal system.

Diaspora of Chinese Intellectuals in the Cold War Era

From Hong Kong to the Asia-Pacific Region, 1949–1969

Kenneth Kai-chung Yung (容启聪)


On the eve of the Communist takeover in 1949, a considerable number of Chinese intellectuals were reluctant to live under Communist rule. They began their self-exile and the search for a new home outside China. Many travelled to places on China’s periphery such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. Others continued their journey and finally settled down in Southeast Asia and North America. Sojourning abroad, most of these self-exiled intellectuals still kept a close eye on Chinese politics and society. They were eager to promote their political ideal for a liberal-democratic China in the overseas Chinese communities. However, they were at the same time facing the challenge of assimilation into local society. This article traces the journey of the self-exiles in the 1950s and 1960s from Hong Kong to Southeast Asia and North America. It examines several representative figures and studies their activities in their new place of settlement. It argues that, although the self-exiles largely maintained a strong commitment to the future of their homeland, they varied in their degree of assimilation into their new homes. Age was not a key factor in their decision to adapt to the local community. Instead, the existence of a politically and economically influential Chinese population played a more important role in such a decision. Intellectuals who lived in Hong Kong or Southeast Asia were more willing to adjust their life to the locality, while those who went to North America were less attached to the local society.

Hong Liu and Min Zhou

Looking Beyond Ruins

From Material Heritage to a Grassroots-based Modernity in Southern China

Christopher Cheng (鄭藝超)


Many qiaoxiang in southern Fujian and Guangdong appear derelict, but documenting the material heritage and interviewing people about its social significance reveals another image. The homeland of Overseas Chinese was not only found to be significant for the diaspora but serves as an enduring reminder of a grassroots-based modernity in rural China. The qiaoxiang effectively became a transnational legacy of migration from southern China that has undergone the following stages of transformation: exodus-led emergence of a remittance landscape, sudden abandonment, and sometimes revival. Today, it has become a “repository” or “living museum” where tourists and scholars alike can visit and ponder how humans adapted to post-rural life.

Lijie Zheng (郑丽洁), Mariëtte de Haan and Willem Koops


This paper assesses whether China’s policies for providing educational support to overseas Chinese match the educational needs of current Chinese immigrants around the world. Firstly, the paper presents the different migration backgrounds of four waves of Chinese global migration in contemporary history: labor immigrants to the Global North, international students in the Global North, businessmen in the Global South and the new rich investors in the Global North. Using the concept of intergenerational contract, we found the four waves have distinct parental investment strategies in relation to their migration background, which comes along with their different educational needs. After carefully reviewing China’s policies in overseas education in terms of the assumptions, purpose and background of their implementation, we argue that these policies are outdated and serve the needs of only a limited number of Chinese immigrants due to their ignoring the variety of certain intergenerational contracts. Lastly, some specific suggestions for policy makers are given.

Joel Blecher


Amidst the politics of the Mamluk-era spice route, why did the standard-bearers of Islamic law routinely oppose the sultanate’s imposition of an alms-tax on merchandise (zakāt al-tijāra), despite the abundance of support for such a tax within the classical tradition of Islamic law? Rather than contending – as some modern scholars have – that prominent jurists developed loopholes that circumvented the original intent of the law to protect the wealthy and the ruling class, I argue that it was precisely the jurists’ careful defense of exemptions and exclusions that allowed them to define the essence of zakāt against forms of taxation they considered unlawful. By narrowing the scope of zakāt, jurists attempted to achieve a moral aim that went beyond the ritual purification of wealth: a limit on the sultanate’s otherwise arbitrary power to tax Muslims as it wished. In doing so, they alleviated some of the tax burden for spice merchants and camel herders alike.

Wenzhou Restaurants in Paris’s Chinatowns

A Case Study of Chinese Ethnicity Within and Beyond the Linguistic Landscape

Caroline Lipovsky and Wei Wang (王玮)


In light of the large number of Chinese immigrants in Paris originally from the Wenzhou region in China’s Zhejiang Province, this research focuses on two case studies of Wenzhou restaurants situated in different Paris Chinatowns. It seeks to identify the ways in which the Wenzhou owners mark their presence in the Parisian linguistic landscape through the signage of their shopfronts and premises. By infusing existing multimodal analysis with ethnographic linguistic landscape analysis (ELLA), this study examines the ways in which two Wenzhou restaurateurs display their specific cultural and ethnic identity in the linguistic landscape. The analysis of the signage of their premises, combined with ethnographic interviews, unveils the restaurateurs’ strategies to enact their cultural and ethnic Wenzhou identity through their shopfront signs, menus and premise decorations, and how they distinguish themselves from their Chinese competitors.

Between Uniatism and Arabism

Missionary Policies and Diplomatic Interest of the Melkites in Jordan during the Interwar Period

Norig Neveu


In the Emirate of Transjordan, the interwar period was marked by the emergence of the Melkite Church. Following the Eastern rite and represented by Arab priests, this church appeared to be an asset from a missionary perspective as Arab nationalism was spreading in the Middle East. New parishes and schools were opened. A new Melkite archeparchy was created in the Emirate in 1932. The archbishop, Paul Salman, strengthened the foundation of the church and became a key partner of the government. This article tackles the relationship between Arabisation, nationalisation and territorialisation. It aims to highlight the way the Melkite Church embodied the adaptation strategy of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in Transjordan. The clergy of this national church was established by mobilising regional and international networks. By considering these clerics as go-between experts, this article aims to decrypt a complex process of territorialisation and transnationalisation of the Melkite Church.

Catholic Missionaries of the ‘Holy Land’ and the Nahda

The Case of the Salesian Society (1904–1920)

Paolo Pieraccini


At the beginning of the twentieth century, some Palestinian and Lebanese Salesians, influenced by the Arab Renaissance movement, began to claim the right to oppose the ‘directorships’ of the institutes of the Don Bosco Society in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. They also began to request better recognition of their native language, in schools and within the religious community. They clashed with their superiors who, in the meantime, had signed an agreement with the Salesian government in Rome, committing them to developing the Italian language in their teaching institutes. The struggle became particularly fierce after the Holy See rebuked the Palestinian religious congregations for teaching the catechism and explaining the Sunday Gospel to people in a foreign language and urged them to do so in Arabic. The clash caused a serious disturbance within the Salesian community. Finally, after the First World War, the most turbulent Arab religious were removed from the Society of Don Bosco. All converged in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, where they continued forcefully (but in vain) to put forward their national demands. This article is based on several unpublished sources.

Paolo Maggiolini


Reconsidering the relationship between the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Melkite Catholic Church, the paper aims to analyze the changes and developments of the Catholic Church’s presence in post-World War I Palestine and Transjordan. It specifically examines how the dialectic and debate on the issue of Arabization and Latin-Melkite competition during the Mandate period went beyond the traditional inter-Church rivalry, epitomizing the progression of a complex process of reconfiguring the Catholic ecclesiastical and missionary presence in the Holy Land in efforts to amalgamate and harmonize its “national-local” and “transnational” scopes and characters. The paper will specifically look at the local Catholic dimension and its religious hierarchies to understand the logic behind their positioning in regard to such issues. This perspective makes it possible to reveal how local religious Catholic leaderships (of both the Latin Patriarchate and Melkite Catholic Church) sought to interpret and promote the reconfiguration of their respective Church and religious community organizations and structures in these two lands during the Mandate. The intra-Catholic perspective will help us understand how intra-denominational as well as inter-denominational competition acted as tools for missionary, ecclesiastical and community development as well as a catalyst of change, anticipating most of the issues that still characterize the complex position and condition of the Church in this territory.

Assef Ashraf


This article uses two manuscripts, comprising collections (majmūʿa) of firmans, petitions, and letters from Qajar Iran, as a lens through which to explore Qajar governance. It begins by introducing the manuscripts, and then discusses who copied them and why, how the contents of the collections circulated in Qajar Iran prior to their compilation, what that circulation says about Qajar Iran, and finally, how collections how such manuscript compilations such as these open new avenues of research in Qajar political history.

Eric Lewis Beverley


In late-nineteenth-century Hyderabad, the Persian administrative idiom gave way to bilingual English/Urdu conduct of governance, along with rising prominence of other languages, networks, and political ideologies. Before and after this shift, state bureaucrat-intellectuals published exhaustive accounts of Hyderabad’s administrative and political structure and history in Persian, Urdu, and English. This article considers several documentary texts and their authors’ social trajectories in the context of multiple scales of governance. It identifies a reorientation to a shifting global context in Hyderabadi documentary culture, and a productive engagement with British rule and colonial knowledge forms amidst other social and political possibilities.

Ana Sekulić


While scholarship on the Ottoman Empire has explored its rich archives with great enthusiasm, there has been little work on the circulation of documents among the Empire’s subjects. This paper explores the archive of a Franciscan monastery in Ottoman Bosnia by following a single document in Ottoman Turkish from its issuance in the mid-sixteenth century to its interpretation within a historical monograph in the early twentieth. I address the ways in which the document circulated beyond the imperial offices and how the Franciscans transformed it through strategies including storing, marking, interpreting, cataloging, and silencing. The paper sheds light on the convergence between the deployment of the Ottoman documents and the rise of the Franciscan authority, indicating how Franciscan usage of the archive produced useful narratives beyond the confines and control of the Empire.

Elizabeth Lhost


In 1880, the British Government of India passed an act for appointing individuals to the office of qazi to perform and record Muslim marriages. The act, a product of legislative collaboration, framed marriage registration as a solution to countless problems related to marriage. As a result, qazis and their assistants (nāʾibs) in places like Meerut recorded thousands of marriages using enumerative categories mirroring those found in colonial records. Yet rather than solving the problems surrounding Muslim marriages, as the act intended, these registers turned marital events into administrative facts and invited further management of Muslim marriages in the twentieth century.

James Pickett and Paolo Sartori


This essay argues that recent theoretical literature on the archive contains critical insights for studies of Islamic documents, while also pushing to move beyond some of the core assumptions of that same literature. There is no question that the fundamental concerns of an “archival turn” are every bit as relevant to studies of Islamic societies, past and present, as they are to European-dominated ones. Yet investigating Islamic “archives” presents the challenge of coming to terms with a concept—the archive—and an attending set of assumptions and theoretical baggage derived almost exclusively from European history. To address this challenge, we propose that employing the term “cultures of documentation” offers a way of having one’s cake and eating it too. In deploying this expression, we signal that there existed multitudes of textual practices and record-keeping activities in the pre-industrial Islamic world, and that it is possible to move away from “archive” as a term without abandoning the core insights and questions of the historical literature built around it.

Guy Burak


The article examines multiple approaches to archived documents and documentary depositories in the Ottoman Empire. By exploring a range of views that reflect a sense of archival consciousness among different groups and individuals throughout the Ottoman lands, the essay seeks to better contextualize the Ottoman quite successful attempts to regulate the imperial paper trail and to promote a specific view of the archive. More generally, by tracing the emergence of a particular form of archival consciousness among members of the imperial administrative and judicial elites as well as Ottoman subjects, the article intends to offer a framework for a comparative study of the archival practices throughout the eastern Islamic lands.

Zahir Bhalloo and Omid Rezai


The mis̱āl, a type of administrative decree associated with the most important religious official in Safavid Iran (1501-1736), the ṣadr, has received little scholarly attention. This article attempts to lay the preliminary groundwork for a more comprehensive future study on the mis̱āls of the Safavid ṣadrs. In the first part, we introduce the ṣadr and his department, the dīwān al-ṣadāra. In the second part, we study how the scribal and archival practices of the mis̱āl construct the religious and administrative authority of the ṣadr and the dīwān al-ṣadāra. We focus on an unpublished mis̱āl relating to the endowment (waqf) of the shrine of a prominent Sufi shaykh of the Ṭayfūriyya tradition in Basṭām, Shaykh Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad b. ʿAlī Dāstānī (d. 417/1026). The appendix includes the text, translation, and a facsimile of the document.

Philippe Bourmaud and Karène Sanchez Summerer

Subah Dayal


This article evaluates provincial documentary culture in the Deccan (south-central India) prior to the incorporation of this region into Mughal Hindustan in 1687. It investigates the production and content of ʿarz-o-chehrah (muster rolls), one among many documentary genres that verified the Mughal soldier and his horse circulating on the front lines of uncertain conquest. From these materials, a previous generation of scholars distilled a taxonomy of self-contained “sub-national or ethnic” or “racial” groups (“Irani,” “Turani,” “Afghan,” “Rajput,” “Deccani,” “Indian Muslim,” and “Miscellaneous”) that confirmed narratives about the Mughal nobility found in chronicle histories. However, these modern construals of “ethnicity” remain difficult to map onto the actual ones found on descriptive rolls nor do they tell us how everyday interactions between provincial scribes and the soldier-subject transformed these categories. Social identifications underwent changes when imperial officials, scribes, and soldiers shared a war front with the armies of the regional, independent Deccan sultanates. Finer degrees of specificity characterized “northern” soldiers’ labels while “southern” cavalry were defined through broad, essentialized groupings, reflecting the changing profiles of cavalry recruitment. By analyzing social identifications, this article charts the making of a pan-subcontinent system of soldier recruitment wherein the state-making processes of northern and southern India began to mirror each other, widening the ways of defining and seeing the ‘Mughal’ soldier. This unique piece of paper bound two individual creatures, man and horse, whose identities were both separate and united, into a mutually-dependent relationship. These double portraits of man and horse functioned as proxies for pay slips and not simply as pre-modern identification cards. In doing so, they also provide a window into one instance of the uneven, ambiguous professionalization of mercenary-soldiers taking place across the early modern world.

Missionary Politics in Late Ottoman Palestine

The Stance of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Konstantinos Papastathis