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Laura Hostetler
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Xuemei Wu
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1 Officials of the Country of Korea

Korea is beyond the borders of old Yingzhou. The Zhou enfeoffed Jizi in this place. At the end of the Han, Gao Xing of Fuyu occupied this land. He changed the country’s name to Gaogouli. It was also called Gaoli. During the Tang, Li Ji reduced the Gao clan to submission and it was subsequently wiped out. At the time of the Five Dynasties there was a certain Wang Jian who called himself King of Gaoli. From the Tang to the Yuan there was a series of revolts and submissions. During the reign of the Hongwu emperor of the Ming, Li Chenggui established himself as king. He sent an envoy requesting that the name of the country be changed to Chaoxian. During the first year of the Chongde reign of the present dynasty (1636), the Taizong emperor made an imperial expedition to subdue Korea. The king of the country, Li Zong, surrendered. He was enfeoffed as the king of Chaoxian (Korea), and a golden seal with a tortoise-shaped handle was bestowed on him. From this time Korea has complied. Its celebrations and ceremonies are all devoted to following the rites.4

The country is divided into eight circuits (dao), forty-one commanderies (jun), thirty-three prefectures (fu), thirty-eight departments (zhou), and seventy counties (xian).5 The king and those belonging to officialdom all still wear caps and clothing like those worn in the Tang. They recognize Chinese characters and are good at book learning. For eating and drinking they use a biandou, a platter-like vessel often used for performing sacrifices. Government officials are proficient in ritual. Women add embroidered trim to their skirts and jackets. When they assemble for public meetings they wear brocade clothes embroidered with gold and silver.

2 People of the Country of Korea

The common people of Korea are generally called Gaoli Bangzi. Men wear black-and-white felt caps. Their upper garments and trousers are both made of white cloth. Women braid their hair and coil it up. They wear greenish blue upper garments over which they wrap a long skirt, and they wear cloth socks and patterned shoes on their feet. They venerate the Buddha and believe in ghosts. They are willing to do hard work.

3 Officials of the Country of Ryukyu

Ryukyu is situated in the southeastern sea.6 At the beginning of the Ming the country had three kings, known as King Zhongshan, King Shannan, and King Shanbei.7 Each bore the surname Shang. Zhongshan was the strongest. During the reign of the Hongwu emperor, all three kings entered tributary status. At the time of the Xuande emperor, Shannan and Shanbei were amalgamated under Zhongshan. Under the stability of the Qing dynasty, Ryukyu’s kings sailed the seas and remained submissive. Envoys were sent to invest them with rank. The emperor gave them a wooden placard inscribed in his own handwriting. Officials often bring their children to China to study.

This country has thirty-six islands. The climate is generally mild, the prevailing customs are refined, and robbers and thieves are few. The king divides property among his statesmen to reward them. The products of the land include the five grains as well as fruits and vegetables. The rank of officials is differentiated by means of gold and silver hairpins. Officials’ caps are of yellow silk gauze, which they pleat into a circular shape. Ample upper garments with big sleeves are bound with a large belt. Wives of officials insert golden hairpins into their dressed hair. They do not go so far as to use cosmetic powder or blacken their eyebrows. Their upper garments are elegantly ornamented and extend to cover their feet.

4 People of the Country of Ryukyu

Most people of the country of Ryukyu have deep-set eyes and long noses. Men cultivate the soil and also profit from the sea. Natives tie their hair up on the right-hand side. Descendants of the Han tie their hair up in the center. They wear cotton upper garments and sandals made of grass. Coming and going they usually carry an umbrella. Women wear their hair up in a topknot and tattoo their hands in black ink with images of flowers, grasses, birds, and small animals.8 They wear short upper garments and long skirts and use shawls to cover the tops of their shoulders and back. When they meet other people, they raise the shawl to conceal their face. They often carry bear heavy loads to trade at market. They also spin thread.

5 Officials of the Country of Annam (Vietnam)9

Formerly Annam was part of Cochin China (Jiaozhi). Before the Tang it was ruled by China. During the Five Dynasties it was first taken possession of by local people. During the Song, the Ding clan and the Li clan each wielded power for three generations, then a different Li clan held power for eight generations. Then, when there were no male descendants, rule transferred through a son-in-law to the Chen clan. During the reign of the Yongle emperor of the Ming, Li Jimao was denounced for seizing the Chen clan’s position. Commanderies and counties were established at that time. Afterward, Li Li stirred up disorder. Because of this, the area was pacified. During the reign of the Jiajing emperor, Mo Dengyong seized power from the Li clan. After not too long a time, Li Weitan restored his reign. During the Qing dynasty, in the fifth year of the reign of the Kangxi emperor (1666), Li Weixi sincerely submitted to our authority and was therefore conferred the title of king. Since this time, they have submitted tribute once every five years.

Their land has two capitals, one in the east and one in the west, and thirteen circuits. The land is fertile and the climate very hot; there are two harvests per year. Their headmen’s caps, belts, and court dress are for the most part still those of the Tang. They use black leather to make boots.10 Usually only military officials wear caps of silk gauze. Their boots are pointy, which also distinguishes them from ordinary people. Women from noble families wear their hair down and do not use hairpins. Rank is distinguished by the size of their golden earrings. Their inner garments are embroidered and covered by an outer cloak. They wear straw sandals.

6 People of the Country of Annam (Vietnam)

People of the country of Annam are crafty and deceitful by nature, and they are fond of bathing. They believe in ghosts and spirits, and consider mourning ceremonies important. They plow and sow grain on the mountainsides and grow mulberry trees; from the seashore they catch fish, which they boil and salt. Men wear large white straw hats that are shaped like an upside-down wok; their collars are long and they wear large upper garments. They hold palm leaf fans in their hands and drag the heels of their shoes as they walk. The poor wear short upper garments and go barefoot. They are diligent at tilling. Married women use a kerchief to cover their heads. They wear long upper garments, long skirts, and shoes that do not cover their heels. When they meet one another it is good manners to offer betel nut. They are adept at spinning and preparing food.

7 Laji of the Country of Annam (Vietnam)

The Laji are descendants of the Miao from Jiaozhou. They are located within the boundaries of Annam. First they were under the authority of the chief of Jiaozhou whose territory borders on Yunnan Province. At the beginning of the dynasty, Kaihua Prefecture was established. Most of them live in Kaihua at the extreme border of Fengchunli. By nature they are mischievous and fierce and they like to drink alcohol. They are good at using firearms. They defend Jiaozhou’s borders and temporary barracks as soldiers. Those who live in remote forested mountainous areas have black faces and round eyes. They wear short upper garments and short trousers. Sometimes they catch snakes and rats to eat raw. Married women wear short outer garments and long skirts. They are good at archery and, moreover, they use a bow and arrow to hunt. In the eighth year of the Yongzheng emperor’s reign (1730), the 40 li of adjoining territory was taken under the jurisdiction and management of Annam because of its proximity.

8 Officials of the Country of Siam (Xianluo)11

The country of Siam is to the southwest of Champa. In Sui and Tang times it was the country of Chitu. Later it was divided into two countries, Luohu and Xian. Xian was then defeated by Luohu. In the Ming, during the reign of the Hongwu emperor, Xianluo was enfeoffed as a kingdom. During the present dynasty, it has been particularly respectful and submissive, its presentation of tribute especially circumspect.

Its territory is relatively small, consisting of nine dakusi, fourteen prefectures, and seventy-two counties.12 There are nine official ranks. The four top ranks wear sharply pointed golden caps embossed with jewels and pearls. The lower five ranks wear hats made of fabric. Their outer garments are brocade and made with golden thread. Some wear short outer garments made of patterned cloth tied with a brocade belt. Married women wear hairpins, bracelets, and rings made of gold and silver. For upper garments they wear silk cloth patterned in five colors. For lower garments they wear five-colored cloth woven with gold. The patterned silk reaches to within two or three inches from the ground. Red leather slippers cover their feet.

Those who have been selected are led in front of the king who asks them questions about the people’s business, and they respond. The king then bestows robes on them for official use. Their language is written horizontally. Important events are recorded and formally read aloud to the king.

9 People of the Country of Siam (Xianluo)

Siam’s lands are of poor quality and very wet; the people must live in buildings with an upper story. They sit and sleep on felt mats placed on the floorboards. By custom they are powerful and fierce and they are good at naval warfare. They like to worship the Buddha and do not eat meat. They raise elephants and remove the tusks, which they present to their leaders. The men wrap their heads with white cloth and wear short upper garments and leather slippers. They often wear a dagger or a knife at their side. Married women wear their hair up in a mallet-shaped bun. Their upper garments are made of blue-green cloth. Their lower garments consist of short skirts made of five-colored cloth. They like to indulge in the pursuit of pleasure. They also work at spinning and weaving. It is their custom to value women more highly than men. Family matters are all decided by the women.

10 People of the Country of Sulu (the Sulu Archipelago)

The Sulu Archipelago is located in the southeastern sea. During the reign of the Yongle emperor of the Ming dynasty, the country had two kings, a king of the east and a king of the west. There was also a king of the Dong. The kings came to the court to bear tribute, but this did not continue. During the fourth year of the reign of the Yongzheng emperor of the Qing dynasty (1726), they entered into tributary status. It was decided to fix the tribute interval at five years.

Their climate is hot and the people are strong and fierce. They make a living by extracting pearls from oysters. The mountain fields are of poor quality and they grow a very small amount of millet and greens. People usually eat fish and shrimp. They boil seawater to obtain salt. They use sugarcane to make alcohol. They do not eat pork. Men cut their hair and wrap their heads.13 They trim their beards but let their sideburns grow. Both their upper garments and trousers are short and belted at the waist with a dark red silk sash. They wear shoes that do not cover their ankles. Women wear their hair up in a mallet-shaped bun and go barefoot. They have short upper garments and long skirts, and cover their shoulders with lengths of brocade. They can weave bamboo into cloth.14

11 Officials of the Country of Nanzhang (Laos)

In ancient times Nanzhang was part of the territory of the Yuechang clan. From the time of the Zhou dynasty it was no longer part of China. At the beginning of the Yongle reign during the Ming dynasty, their tribal leader, Dao Xiandai, entered into tributary status. From this time civil and military pacification officials were first established. They continued to offer tribute during the reign of the Wanli emperor. After that it did not continue. During the eighth year of the Yongzheng reign of the present dynasty (1730), their tribal leader, Sumalasa, dispatched his headman, Bamenghua, to offer a golden watch and said that the king of Nanzhang would send two elephants, one female and one male. In the eighth year of the Qianlong emperor’s reign (1742), the tribute period was fixed at once every ten years. Their tribal leader resides in a tall building. If a person wants to see him, the decision is made according to that person’s degree of status. The nobility let their hair down to cover their shoulders. They wear red cloth head coverings and red upper garments. Married women tie up their hair and bind it with red silk. They wear short upper garments and long skirts. Their bodies are tattooed. Their nature is most often wild and fierce.

12 Laowo of the Country of Nanzhang (Laos)

The Laowo are customarily called Wojia. They are the people of Nanzhang. Men let their hair down over their shoulders and wear hats black as lacquer. They also wear greenish black upper garments and wrap their lower body with a piece of cloth. Married women wear their hair up and cover their foreheads with a strip of white cloth. They wear white upper garments with red trim at the collar and attach patterned cloth to their barrel-shaped skirts. They go barefoot. They like to eat raw meat. They know how to till and plant and are diligent at spinning and weaving. Those who live outside of but close to the border of eastern Pu’er Prefecture often come into China for trade.

13 People of the Country of Miandian (Myanmar)

Miandian was the ancient territory of Zhubo. It is beyond the Tianma and Huju Passes (guan) of Yongchang Prefecture’s Tengyue Department. Their leader lived in Awa City. From the Yuan until the beginning of the Ming dynasty, although governed by a loose rein policy, they often rebelled. In the late Jiajing period, Mang Ruiti fiercely controlled all the tribes.15 He called himself the king of the country of Miandian and did not make contact to offer tribute. In the eighteenth year of the Shunzhi reign of the present dynasty (1661) Wu Sangui led soldiers into the eastern part of Awa City. He transmitted an imperial edict to the king of Miandian who made a complete turn around. In the fifteenth year of the Qianlong emperor’s reign (1750), the king, Mang Dala, had two gold and silver swords made and engraved to commemorate the occasion. He also presented a gold-plated pagoda, a trained elephant, some cotton, and other goods. Afterward the leader of Mushu, Weng Jiya, seized power. His sons, Meng Nao and Meng Bo, continued to occupy Miandian.

The dress and ornamentation of the officials and people are similar to those of Nanzhang. Married women bind their hair up and wear earrings and short upper garments, which they tuck into long brocade skirts. They like flowers and plants. When they write, they use gold leaf to address superiors, paper for those next in status, and banana leaf for the rest. This is called mianshu, Burmese writing.


For a comprehensive overview of Qing–Korean relations, see Wang Yuanchong, Remaking the Chinese Empire: Manchu-Korean Relations, 1616–1911 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018). On tributary relations, see Andre Schmid, “Tributary Relations and the Qing-Choson Frontier on Mount Paektu,” in The Chinese State at the Borders, ed. Diana Lary (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2007), 126–59.


The Xie Sui edition of the scroll specifies thirty-three prefectures, the Siku quanshu edition specifies thirty-two.


For more information on Ryuku’s history and foreign relations, see Hamashita Takishi. “The Lidao Baoan and the Ryukyu Maritime Tributary Trade Network with China and Southeast Asia, The Fourteenth to Seventeenth Centuries,” in Chinese Circulations: Capital, Commodities, and Networks in Southeast Asia, ed. Eric Tagliacozzo and Wen-Chin Chang (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011), 107–29; and Angela Schottenhammer, “Empire and Periphery? The Qing Empire’s Relations with Japan and the Ryukyus (1644–c. 1800), a Comparison,” Medieval History Journal 16 (2013): 139–96.


These names translate as King of the Central Mountains, King of South of the Mountains, and King of North of the Mountains, respectively.


The Chinese and the Manchu texts in the Xie Sui edition differ slightly. The word connoting “black ink” () is absent as a modifier before “tattoo” in the Chinese of the Xie Sui edition, but its equivalent is present in the Manchu. The Siku quanshu edition also includes the word for “black ink.”


The transliteration of the Chinese name is “Annan,” but we use the English rendering “Annam” in this translation.


The Xie Sui edition reads “black grass” (皀草); the Sikuquanshu edition reads “black leather” (皀革), the meaning we adopt.


Modern-day Thailand.


The text reads “1,000 li,” but this does not imply a literal interpretation. A dakusi is an administrative division comparable to that of a province or state.


The Siku quanshu edition does not include the word “men.”


The Xie Sui edition reads bo (), silk, the Siku quanshu version reads bu (), cloth.


Mang Ruiti is the Chinese name for Tabinshwehti, who was king of Burma from 1530–1550.

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