Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Sun Fin » Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:49 am

While reading Michaud's thesis on the Yellow Turbans he notes that this saying was in circulation: “Blue Heaven was dead and the yellow heaven was ascending.” He quotes this directly from the Han Hou Shu. I had the saying written down as saying that the "Green Heaven was dead." I don't have the source for that though. However my understanding is that the Later Han's reign cycle was red? Previously I had presumed that the Yellow Turbans had got the reign element wrong when they began circulating their propaganda, but not I'm wondering if its not just ambiguous in the text? Anyone able to clear that up for me?
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Tarrot » Wed Mar 25, 2020 1:44 pm

Blue/Green: This could be because of certain words in Chinese. Guan Yu's blade, for example, has always had ambiguity about it's color because the color could mean Blue or Green, so someone might've translated it wrong. Rafe has the quote as Blue as well, and it makes sense when you consider the Wuxing (see the bottom of my post).

Wuxing: This is the Chinese 5 elemental system. In order, it should be Fire (Red) -> Earth (Yellow) -> Metal (White/Purple) -> Water (Blue) -> Wood (Green) -> Fire and so on. So, Red should be supplanted by Yellow, and the later-Han dynasty ought to have been red.

Looking up, here's what I found on Quora, which might explain the confusion:

"The idea that dynasties have an element associated is not from Qin, but rather the School of Naturalists. That being said, the Han Dynasty took no less than three elements because of its attitude towards the Qin Dynasty and succession.

In the beginning, Liu Bang believed that the Han Dynasty’s element should be water, and he worshiped the Black Emperor, the ancient mythological ruler of the North, which is aligned with the element of Water. Later, Emperor Wu changed the Dynasty’s element to Earth, because he accepted that the Qin Dynasty was a legitimate dynasty, and thus his dynasty must be that of Earth, to overcome water.

When Wang Mang took over later, he took the view advocated by Liu Xiang, and not only changed the succession from the overcoming pattern to the begetting pattern, but also the elements of the previous dynasties. Thus, the Yellow Emperor, who was always cardinally Earth (Yellow = center = earth), remained, but Xia became Metal, Shang Water, Zhou Wood, and thus the Han Dynasty became Fire (again negating the legitimacy of the Qin Dynasty). After he was toppled, Eastern Han’s Liu Xiu affirmed the Han Dynasty as Fire, and continued the begetting cycle until the Jurchen Jin Dynasty.

Han Fire -> Cao Wei Earth -> Jin Metal -> Northern Wei Water -> Northern Zhou Wood -> Sui Fire -> Tang Earth -> Later Liang Metal -> Later Han Water -> Later Zhou Wood -> Song Fire.

At first, the Jin Dynasty believed itself to be Earth, following that of Song’s, but then it decided that to coincide with its name, which is Metal, they will acknowledge their puppet state of Qi, ruled by Liu Yu, as Earth, so that then they can sack him and succeed as Metal."

So they were initially Water under Liu Bang, but then Emperor Wu/Liu Che changed it to Metal recognizing the legitimacy of the Qin dynasty, but Wang Man in his brief tenure as Emperor redid the organization to make sure the Yellow Emperor was Yellow (Earth), and in this instance the Han was Fire, which Liu Xiu reaffirmed when he took power back.

So, to answer your question, the Han was Red. Everyone was Yellow to gain legitimacy to overthrow Red.

Now, what this may be referring to, is beyond dynastic cycles, the 5 Wuxing elements all interact with each other. Using Earth for example, it's created by Fire, creates Metal, destroys Water, and insults (and is destroyed by) Wood. The Blue Heaven may, in this instance, be related to an event or eclipse or some sort of omen that would fortell Yellow destroying it and rising up to be the next chapter in the cycle. Rafe also confirms that it was the Blue Sky of the Han, so it may not have been about the Dynasty, but rather due to Yellow being strong against Blue.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Sun Fin » Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:36 pm

Thank you Tarrot, that was a fabulous explanation!
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
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