Shen Zhou

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Shen Zhou

Unread postby KingofWei&Wu » Mon Aug 09, 2004 12:58 am

How is it that Shen Zhou means China? I've always known it as Zhongguo, so I'm wondering what exactly Shen Zhou means and why it was picked for this forum? I'm just interested.
So much the stronger proved
He with his thunder: and till then who knew
The force of those dire arms? yet not for those,
Nor what the potent victor in his rage
Can else inflict, do I repent or change
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Mon Aug 09, 2004 1:36 am

shen2 zhou1: 神州
神: spiritual, magical, fantastic
州: province, district, land

zhong1 guo2: 中國
中: central
國: kingdom

Although Zhongguo is the official name of China now, it hasn't always been the case. The term was originally used only to distinguish the realm of Han-Chinese cultural influence, as opposed to that of the barbarians. Usually, people referred to the country by the dynasty name.

The term "Shenzhou" is used as an equivalent to Zhongguo since way way back. I believe it stems from some legend about how the subcelestial realm was divided into 9 parts, etc. Anyway, it is the more "literary" way of saying "China".

During the Southern Song dynasty, the land north of the Great River (Yangtze) was taken by the Jurchens. The term "Shenzhou" became the patriotic scholars' most beloved way to refer to the fallen north. Off the top of my head, I can think of one of Xi Qiji's poems (the one I keep quoting, since it praises Sun Quan at the end, heh), which starts:

何處望神州
"From where can I see Shenzhou?"

From then on, "Shenzhou" took on a patriotic flavour, and is especially popular with overseas Chinese people.
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