Dynastic China: An Elementary History

The Other Press, 15 aug. 2014 - 533 sidor

Dynastic China: An Elementary History surveys four millennia of China’s history. It traced commentaries from the mythological period of Pangu, creator of the Chinese universe, and the Goddess Nuwa, creator of the Chinese people, through to the legendary periods of the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties to subsequent succeeding dynasties from the Qin Dynasty (221 BC) to the end of the Qing Dynasty (1912 AD).

It weaved through brutal political intrigues and conspiracies of China’s imperial existence. The persistent enthronement of child emperors for the benefits of power-hungry eunuchs, dowagers, members of the imperial clans, generals and warlords formed a large part of the narrative. Encrypted within are salient elements of Chinese philosophical precepts, civilisation values, and political ideals. The core concepts that mould the idea of tian xia 天 下 (all under heaven) and tian ming 天 命 (Mandate of Heaven), and how these guided Chinese perception of their world are painstakingly explained.

The profound influence of Confucianism and the functional adoption of the Legalist framework in statecraft are imparted in the context of practicality and idealism. So too is the complementary notion of natural dualities, the Yin-Yang (阴 阳) harmony of contradictions. How these filtered through from philosophy to cultural values are deftly introduced.

Imperial obsessions with frontier threats are also incisively presented. So are the diplomatic statecraft of matrimonial kinship, tributary exchanges and military engagements adopted to conduct relations. China’s perception of people in the frontier region are insightfully described. The application of the Chinese character yi 夷 to refer to them, it seems, carries a more gracious nuance to mean “of a distinct or different nature” and not the offensive attribution of ‘barbarian’ as made out in western notion. This and many more distinctions in discernment of the Chinese mindset are perceptively elucidated in the book. 


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The Beginning to the Xia Dynasty 夏
Shang Dynasty 商朝 17001046 BC
Zhou Dynasty 周朝 1122256 BC
Qin Dynasty 秦朝 221207 BC
Han Dynasty 汉朝 206 BC220 AD
Six Dynasties 六朝 220589 AD and Three
Sui Dynasty 隋朝 589618 AD
Tang Dynasty 唐朝 618907 AD
Liao Dynasty 辽朝 9071125 AD Khitan
Jin Dynasty 金朝 11151234 AD and Western
Song Dynasty 宋朝 9601279 AD
Yuan Dynasty 元朝 12711368 AD
The Ming Dynasty 明朝 13681644 AD
The Qing Dynasty 清朝 16441911 AD
Future from the PastSalient aspects of Dynastic
Tian Xia in Chinese Cosmology

Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 五代

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Om författaren (2014)

Tan Koon San was born in August 1944 in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (2nd Class Upper Hons.) degree in History from the University of Malaya in 1967. Following a short period of teaching at the Phor Tay Girls High School, Penang, he entered the Diplomatic Service in September 1967. For the next twenty-nine years he served in Tehran, London, Hanoi, Geneva, Warsaw and Vienna, apart from intermittent home assignments. He was the Malaysian Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations in Vienna before retiring in 1996.

He is a fifth generation descendant of a Chinese immigrant by paternal lineage and a third generation by maternal lineage. His paternal ancestor, his grandfather’s grandfather, migrated from Hai Deng 海 登 County, Fujian, China, first to Medan, Sumatra and then to Penang, during the Daoguang era (1820–1850) of the Qing Dynasty, following the aftermath of the First Opium War (1840–1842). There he laboured and sought new roots. The third generation, his grandson, then settled as a petty gentry planting rubber in the hinterland across Penang Island. The succeeding two generations served in the civil service.

His maternal grandfather migrated from Shantou, Guangdong Province, China, half a century later, in the dying days of the Qing Dynasty. He emigrated as a trader seeking opportunities in the thriving British Colony of Penang.

He published his first book Excellency - Journal of a Diplomat in 2000. This is his second book undertaken to trace the legacy of his ancestry and heritage.

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