Dong Zhou wrote:Indeed. I think they would have kept Cao Mao awhile longer if he hadn't forced his hand (the offical Jin proclamation on that is hilarious if you haven't read it). I imagine they would have forced Empress Dowager Guo out if she wasn't so important for legitimacy as she seems to have been wily
I'll have to take a look at that Jin proclamation! Does KMA have a translation of the text somewhere about?
Dong Zhou wrote:I was more thinking a brash woman, someone fiery. Not that fussed about Cao Hong as an add but I suppose one should have him first...
Thanks for finding the reference!
Anyway, yes - I think Xun-Cao ji
would definitely need to have a bit of fire to her. We'd have to have some irked father-in-law and rebellious daughter-in-law dynamics with Xun Yu, of course. There could be some interesting things one might do with her character when Xun Yu gets suicided / illnessed to death. Not sure at this point what her weapon would be, though.
But if ever Xun Xu were made into a playable character in DW
, he would have
to have a cowbell as his weapon. Are you reading this, Koei? It's mandatory
! You gotta WANT
. That COWBELL.
My thoughts on Chapter 4.
This one is all about Xun Xu's forays into metrology in 273 and 274. Long story short, it explores his correction of the Cao Wei chi
尺 of 24.2 centimetres back down to the classical Zhou-era chi
of 23.1 centimetres; tries to reconstruct all of the methodologies he used to conduct his research; explores the economic, political and musical ramifications of his correction; tries to understand why and how the lengthening happened in the first place; and looks at why his success in correcting the Jin measurement standards were largely limited to the Jin court, and had little impact beyond it. (Indeed, the Dong Jin era saw a further
lengthening of the chi
, among artisans and merchants, to over 24.5 cm!)
Goodman begins with a discussion of how Xun Xu's post in the Palace Writers 中書 of Xi Jin overlapped with the historically-separate office of the Imperial Library 祕書; the decision to do this had occurred under Cao Pi in 220, to counteract Cao Cao's Imperial Library appointees Liu Fang 劉放 and Sun Zi 孫資, who exerted an undue influence on Cao succession matters. But in Xi Jin Xun Xu took full advantage of the rearranged offices to undertake his own antiquarian projects - among which was calculating and then reintroducing the Zhou chi
Goodman returns several times to the differences between the metrologies of China and the West. Metrology was important for the mediaeval and renaissance West because one had a great patchwork of competing, warring nations with different cultures, languages and metrics; it became necessary for kings to fix standards for use within their own realms simply because trade would become dangerous and prohibitively costly without them. China, on the other hand, suffered from no such dire need, but metrology still had a highly political and even sacred dimension to it. It was primarily the basis for all court music, and therefore proper measurements occupied a central place in setting out all of the court rites. Goodman sets out a clear case why the Jin emperors and Xun Xu would not have been as interested in regulating the flow of trade, either within or outside China, as they were in establishing a consistent standard for court rites that would be seen within the literati
circles as more legitimate
than Cao Wei's. But this also explains to some extent why Xun Xu's re-articulated Zhou cun
never really caught on outside the Jin court: artisans, surveyors, peasants and traders would have had no reason to switch over to the new measurements! And so they kept on as they always had done, using the Dong Han chi
of 24.2 cm or later, the Dong Jin chi
of 24.5 cm.
The closest parallel Goodman draws to a practice in the West is the musicology of German Reformation-era composer Michael Praetorius, who used archaeological finds in the Holy Land to inform his studies of the pipe organ; but he warns against drawing any too-close parallels to the West. Goodman says China's experience and motivations in creating consistent metrics are essentially sui generis
: 'Unlike China's ritual arts and techne
, the early Church was not interested in a search for Christ's (or Paul's, or even Gregory I's) exact pitch for psalmody, whether through some vaguely reconstructable pipe, trumpet, or string-length, or, more abstractly, a radical reading of scripture that might point to specifications of magnitudes. There was no part of the liturgy that required ritually accurate pitch devices. China's quest was unique in this way.'
But Xun Xu's research did
involve a careful study of such found-objects, including various historical chi
measures, a set of pitch-pipe regulators 律 fashioned under the direction of Cao Cao's music director Du Kui 杜夔, sets of cast bells, foot-rules, historical surveying devices, coins and weights dating from Zhou, Xi Han, Xin, Dong Han, Cao Wei and Xi Jin. His use and analysis of these ancient objects to determine that the reigning chi
measure was over four percent
too long touched off a 'flurry' (Goodman's word) of archaeological and antiquarian studies, including a 'dig' judged by Tang-era historian Li Chunfeng 李淳風 to have been attempted by a clique around Xun Xu's critic Ruan Xian 阮咸 solely to discredit Xun's findings and conclusions.
I think my point of interest in this chapter lay in Goodman's assertion that because of the lack of external motivations, Xun Xu (and therefore also his Jin patron Sima Yan) must have been motivated by a sincerely-held, stoutly Confucian concern for 'correctness' in the court music and rites. Xun Xu idolised the Zhou, and his zeal carried over into a lust for following the Zhou exactly in all matters of court conduct, from lyrics and poetry to the proper measurements for constructing flutes and bells. Though Xun's Tang-era Jinshu
biographers threw more than a bit of shade on these pursuits, implying that he had done them for personal gain and career advancement, this isn't the picture that emerges from Goodman's book. Even Xun Xu's public mourning for Cao Shuang is made to look more like the propriety a good Confucian courtier pays to his lord regardless of his faults, than any kind of purely-political attachment to the fortunes of the Caos.