The Academic Corner of Sanguo

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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby Sun Fin » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:09 am

waywardauthor wrote:I'm working on one myself, but its only got a handful of volumes. Chen Shou, Cao Pi, Xun Yue, and Fire over Luoyang. It will grow, once I have enough money to by Imperial Warlord, but other than that time will tell until I come across another work, or if I decide to print all these articles out and put them in a binder.

I've got nothing as impressive as Fires Over Luoyang - when I was lucky enough to be in SOAS' Library for a day I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first few chapters of that title!

I do have:
-Empresses and Consorts
-Mark Lewis' book on the period of division as part of the Harvard Chinese history series
-Luban and Michaud's thesises (both in paperback)
-Graff and Peer's military history books as well as a few Saywer titles
-Three Michael Loewe books which are about social history in the Han dynasty

I've gone wider than just the political history but I'd love to add basically any paper copy of a book by Rafe De Crispigny to my collection! I've also got a want list on amazon ranging from books that are £20-25 that I ask for as birthday/Christmas presents to titles like Yang Hong's Weapons in Ancient China which sell for near £200 that I don't know if I'll ever be able to afford!
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:58 pm

Sun Fin wrote:
waywardauthor wrote:I'm working on one myself, but its only got a handful of volumes. Chen Shou, Cao Pi, Xun Yue, and Fire over Luoyang. It will grow, once I have enough money to by Imperial Warlord, but other than that time will tell until I come across another work, or if I decide to print all these articles out and put them in a binder.

I've got nothing as impressive as Fires Over Luoyang - when I was lucky enough to be in SOAS' Library for a day I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first few chapters of that title!

I do have:
-Empresses and Consorts
-Mark Lewis' book on the period of division as part of the Harvard Chinese history series
-Luban and Michaud's thesises (both in paperback)
-Graff and Peer's military history books as well as a few Saywer titles
-Three Michael Loewe books which are about social history in the Han dynasty

I've gone wider than just the political history but I'd love to add basically any paper copy of a book by Rafe De Crispigny to my collection! I've also got a want list on amazon ranging from books that are £20-25 that I ask for as birthday/Christmas presents to titles like Yang Hong's Weapons in Ancient China which sell for near £200 that I don't know if I'll ever be able to afford!

Nice, I haven't heard about the theses or the military books, but I'll hope to take a look at them soon.

Fire over Luoyang was a gift from a friend. She had needed some help on her admissions essays, and then after she got into her programs she surprised me with the book. I wasn't sure how to deal with that at first, but now I can't help but smile when I see it.

I'd recommend adding these to the wish-list if you haven't yet:

Hsün Yüeh (A.D. 148-209): The Life and Reflections of an Early Medieval Confucian
Hsun Yueh and the Mind of Late Han China: A Translation of the SHEN-CHIEN [This is mostly just a translation]
Ts'ao P'i Transcendent: Political Culture and Dynasty-Founding in China at the End of the Han

I'm pretty sure you've got Qiao Zhou already on there, and if you want you might opt for Xun Xu for early Jin politics and history - but that's Brill, so same price as Rafe's books.
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby Sun Fin » Sun Nov 05, 2017 4:38 pm

waywardauthor wrote:
Nice, I haven't heard about the theses or the military books, but I'll hope to take a look at them soon.

Carl Leban's one on Cao Cao is pretty well known and a lot more affordable than Rafe's book on him! Michaud's is much smaller and is about the YT rebellion specifically. If I was going to recommend buying one it would be Lebans!

Graff's book is actually about tactics from 300 AD-900 AD but still has a lot of information in that is helpful to us. Peer's is an introduction/picture book aimed more towards children but whilst his writing is simple it is well researched and ties in with what my more academic research says.

waywardauthor wrote:Fire over Luoyang was a gift from a friend. She had needed some help on her admissions essays, and then after she got into her programs she surprised me with the book. I wasn't sure how to deal with that at first, but now I can't help but smile when I see it.

That's a very generous friend!

waywardauthor wrote:
I'd recommend adding these to the wish-list if you haven't yet:

Hsün Yüeh (A.D. 148-209): The Life and Reflections of an Early Medieval Confucian
Hsun Yueh and the Mind of Late Han China: A Translation of the SHEN-CHIEN [This is mostly just a translation]
Ts'ao P'i Transcendent: Political Culture and Dynasty-Founding in China at the End of the Han

I'm pretty sure you've got Qiao Zhou already on there, and if you want you might opt for Xun Xu for early Jin politics and history - but that's Brill, so same price as Rafe's books.

Thanks, I'll add them to my list!
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
Check out my library here for a list of Chinese history resources I have on hand and my tumblr to see if I have reviewed it!
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:52 am

[The following is a series of excerpts whereby Xi Zaochi's works touch upon the Later Han to Western Jin period. It was published in the 1998 edition of Asia Major, third series]

Dynastic Legitimacy During the Eastern Jin: Xi Zaochi and the Problem of Huan Wen

Written by Andrew Chittick

Xi Zaochi lived between two periods dominated in general by historical orthodoxy and by historians far more famous than himself: the Western Jin represented by figures such as Chen Shou and Sima Biao on the one hand, and the Yuan-jia era of the Liu Song dynasty, when the imperial court sponsored the work of Fan Ye and Pei Songzhi on the other. In the intervening chaotic years of the Eastern Jin, Xi stood out from other, mostly private, historians as an especially meticulous and provocative thinker. His long-term legacy largely rested on his striking declaration that the Three Kingdoms state of Wei should not be considered a legitimate dynasty, nor the forbear of Jin rule. Xi instead privileged the claims of the otherwise much less impressive southwestern state of Shu-Han.

In Xi Zaochi's day, the prevailing theory of dynastic legitimacy held that the transfer of the "Mandate of Heaven" was proven by the appearance of omens and portents that signaled both the weakness of the existing dynasty and the identity of the new one through its identification with, among other things, the proper color and element of the "five phases" cycle. This interpretation of such portents, accompanied by the proper performance of a sequence of abdication and succession rituals, was supposed to lead to general acquiescence to a takeover by the new dynastic line. This theory, rooted in Wang Mang's successful seizure of power from the Western Han, had powerful and recent precedents in the enthronement of both the Cao clan, the rulers of Wei, and the Sima clan, the rulers of Jin.

Xi rejected this quasi-religious method of legitimation, arguing that ritual abdication was an insufficient, even unnecessary, part of any legitimation strategy. Instead, he offered the first comprehensive formulation of an alternative theory, in which the principal criterion was the acquiescence, by military means or otherwise, of the entire sphere of civilization as it was then understood. This theory was rooted in the precedents of the greatest dynastic founders - kigs Wen and Wu of the Zhou and Liu Bang of the Han; it eventually found an authoritative voice in Ouyang Xiu and the great historiographical tradition of the Song period. It was not regarded as orthodox in between those eras, however, since the standard of ritual abdication was more attainable and therefore allowed at least the appearance of continuity among various ruling houses.

By comparison, the standard of unification, by giving priority to military achievements over civil and cultural ones, would imply a criticism of the Eastern Jin, who had lost control over the northern heartland of Han civilization and seemed unable or even unwilling to retake it. Moreover, it would create gaping unanswered questions about the legitimacy and propriety of the Wei and the Jin, thus throwing into doubt the course of over a century of imperial politics since the fall of the Han. It was Xi's singular contribution to demonstrate how the standard of unification could be applied in a manner that actually glorified the heritage of the Jin throne and strengthened their position vis-a-vis insubordinate ministers and external challengers, while at the same time demanding they uphold a more ambitious and assertive defense of their mandate.

Scholars of the political legitimation of dynasties have presumed that the theory of ritual abdication was universally accepted during the early-medieval period, supported not only in the official historical compendia of the Wei, Jin, and Southern Dynasties, but also in the writings of private historians such as Xi Zaochi. In fact, Xi's defense of the legitimacy of the Three Kingdoms state of Shu=Han has been regarded as the most distinctive hallmark of the theory's preoccupation with the proper "lineage" of succession, or zhengtong. Here I demonstrate that Xi was largely unconcerned with lineage: his writings say nothing whatsoever about the Five Phases, disdain ritual abdication, and instead stress unification and moral leadership as the central criteria for legitimacy. It was the rejection of Wei, the representatives of the ritual abdication theory, that was central to his argument; the elevation of Shu-Han was, by comparison, a secondary point about which he was somewhat ambivalent.

The original context, uniqueness, and subtle nuances of Xi's formulation have been misinterpreted, however, due to the course of later historiography. After seven hundred years of relative obscurity, the question of the legitimacy of Wei versus Shu-Han became one of the most incendiary issues in Chinese historiography, for it symbolized the difference between the historical formulation of the great Sima Guang and Zhu Xi. Zhu Xi used the legitimation of Shu-Han as a way to defend the legitimacy of the contemporary southern Song regime and its supposed lineage of traditional culture against northern invaders, for him the Jurchens, but for his successors, the Mongols and Manchus as well. In this way the historical status of Shu-Han became a rallying cry for the defense of traditional Chinese values against rule by non-Chinese peoples. The editors of the Siku Quanshu Zongmu Tiyao, balancing their appreciation for Zhu Xi and the Chinese intellectual tradition on the one hand with the reality of Manchu rule on the other, finessed the issue by claiming that Zhi Xi and Xi Zaochi both were products of their times, concerned with legitimating their weak southern regimes by paralleling them with Shu-Han.


Legitimacy and Insubordination During the Eastern Jin Era


The accession of Cao Pi to the Imperial Throne therefore became the first truly challenging application of the theory of mandate-transfer by ritual abdication. It was closely modeled on Wang Mang's precedent: increasingly exalted offices and adulation by Cao Pi's subordinates gave way to reportings of signs and portents of the decline of the Han and the rise of a new dynasty. Surviving documentation illustrates the step-by-step process by which Cao Pi's subordinates urged him to "yield to the will of Heaven" and receive the ritual abdication of the last Han emperor; for his part, Cao Pi played the role of the reluctant minister, declining three times before finally being persuaded to accept the mandate. Although there was substantial debate at the time and throughout the Wei about various ritual details of the process, there was widespread consensus on the basic righteousness of a wholly ritualized transfer of power.

The Cao court's ritualized foundation of the Wei Dynasty, however, was accompanied by their failure to reunify all of the territory that the Han had controlled. As a result, they could not make the critical assertion that they had unified "all under heaven" and appeased all challengers. For the Wei, and for other regional states in the succeeding four centuries, the standard of unification remained unobtained, and proper ritual form gained official sanction as a less-demanding criterion for justifying their rule. This strategy left the ruling house vulnerable, however, since the proper form of a mandate transfer could be accomplished by manipulations at court, regardless of the condition of the military or administrative control in the provinces. Once the Cao had legitimated a strong minister's usurping the throne from a weak emperor under the guide of transferring the mandate, there was little ideological defense against the same fate befalling themselves. The old code of ethics that forced the sanctity of the bond between minister and sovereign, even if the latter was weak and incompetent, had been seriously undermined, for if a minister considered himself better suited to rule, and could garner enough support, then he could engineer a transfer of the mandate and usurp the throne with the full weight of precedent behind him.

In fact, it only took a few decades for this to happen to Cao rule; the powerful Sima clan ultimately deposed them in precisely the same way that the Cao rulers had deposed the royal Liu family of the Han. Sima Yan (Jin Emperor Wu) was more aware than his predecessors of the problems this new code of legitimacy had spawned; he tried to counteract this by building up the wealth and resources of his clan, and by appointing his own relatives to key strategic positions in the provinces. This served merely to transfer the tension from the official court to within the SIma clan itself, however, and the War of the Eight Princes so weakened the clan that it was wide open to irruption from the nomad cavalry forces its members had employed in their intrafamilial struggles. Sima Rui, one of those princes, managed to perpetuate the dynasty only by retreating south of the Yangzi to found the Eastern Jin in 317.

The Eastern Jin rulers, however, were just as beset by insubordinate ministers as those of the Wei and Western Jin had been before them. The frequency and persistence of ministerial insubordination can be attributed at least in part to the weakened basis for dynastic legitimacy that prevailed since the succession of the Cao. It is notable that, when we look past the judgment of history applied to rebellious ministers well after the fact, we find evidence that their contemporaries routinely expressed tacit approval for their efforts at usurpation. One striking example of this is the rebellion of Wang Dun, which came within a half-dozen years of the founding of the Eastern Jin. Along with his cousin Dao, Wang Dun was a key leader of the langye Wang clan, close allies and potential rivals of Sima Rui in his bid to reestablish Jin rule. Wang Dun's large and independent base of power in Jingzhou provided the perfect launch pad for an assault on the throne, and with the prominence at court of Liu Wei, who was opposed to the hegemony of the Wang clan, Wang had immediate cause to strike. According to an anecdote in the Shishuo Xinyu, however, his first move was to dispatch an aide to inform the court and announce his intention to the worthies of the time. Although several key figures were opposed to Wang Dun's plot, the reaction to most people at the capital was that it was of no significance. One of the leading literati of the time, Wen Jiao, is recorded to as having said, "This action by Wang Dun is within the bounds of right, and does not transgress them." That such anecdotes could circulate with credibility suggests that widespread tolerance of the pretensions of an insubordinate minister was a well-understood and expected phenomenon in the southern courts, and was part of what allowed Wang Dun's rebellion to proceed as far and last as long as it did. Furthermore, although he ultimately did tarnish his reputation by his excesses, he was nonetheless considered an acceptable person for several decades after his death.


The danger of insubordination was greatly compounded by the fact that the first Eastern Jin emperors proved unable to mount any serious campaign to retake the north, or to eliminate the upstart state of Cheng Han. Thus calls for a northern invasion were also assertions that the Sima Dynasty, having lost the north, was in danger of forfeiting the mandate. Dissenters could avail themselves of this political weapon so long as the court remained militarily inactive. In fact, according to near-contemporary anecdotes, every single commander of Jingzhou early in the Eastern Jin, from Wang Dun straight through to Huan Wen, asserted it. Tao Kan's final memorial mentioned his ambition to retake the north and Sichuan, and thereby "fulfill the plan of Sima Yi" (posthumously honored as the founder of the Jin dynasty); and, further, he requested that the court appoint a like-minded man as his successor. Yu Liang, who followed Kan in the post, was widely rumored to be contemplating a move against the capital just prior to his death in 340. Yu Liang's younger brother and successor, Yu Yi, is said to have coupled his nonstop calls for northern invasion with musings about becoming another Han Gao (that is, Liu Bang) or Wei Wu (that is, Cao Cao), two vigorous dynastic founders. Huan Wen, who followed Yu Yi into office, was the most brazenly successful of these men, certainly, but his twin ambitions to retake the north and found his own dynasty were not in themselves considered unusual or necessarily reprehensible in his day. Before exploring Xi Zaochi's approach to the question of dynastic legitimacy, we must take a closer look at the volatile career of the man who, more than any other, shaped his political world.


Xi Zaochi and the Question of Dynastic Legitimacy


Around this time Xi Zaochi set his prodigious literary talents to work on a general history of the empire from the foundation of the Eastern Han through the fall of the unified rule of Jin, that is from 25 to 317 AD). As commentators in the Southern Dynasties and Early Tang dynasty observed, he wrote his work as a way to address the fundamental problem of Huan Wen and men of his ilk. Yet those commentators merely validated the anti-Huan and pro-Sima bias of the prevailing interpretation of the Eastern Jin history by limiting their interpretation of Xi's work to the Huan Wen issue. In fact, Xi Zaochi had gone a lot further than mere criticism of his patron; he deeply believed the prevailing theory of dynastic succession by ritual abdication created a political environment that lured Huan Wen and others into insubordination and disgrace and exposed the throne to repeated challenges. Such temptations would continue unless and until the prevailing theory was exchanged for a more ambitious formulation of the regime's legitimacy via the standard of unification.

Xi Zaochi's memorable gambit for making this point was to assert that the Three Kingdoms state of Wei should not be considered a legitimate dynasty, despite its acceptance of ritual abdication from the Han, because it failed to unify the entire sphere of Han civilization. He therefore used the calendar of Shu-Han, instead of Wei's, for the period 221-264, and named his work the Annals of Han and Jin in order to emphasis the deligitimation of Wei. A substantial debt to the classic Spring and Autumn Annals is also evidence, both in Xi's use of the chronicle structure and the "praise-and-blame" fashion in which historical precedents are discussed as veiled commentary on contemporary politics. For example, an entry records Sima Shi's bold and gracious acceptance of blame for the military failures of several different subordinate generals. To this Xi appended a lengthy discussion of the merits of such an approach, concluding:

If sovereigns are cognizant of this principle and rule their states by it, then there will not be bad government from their courts and their persons will not suffer disaster; their deeds may be defective, but there will be renown for them; though the army may be crushed, the victory is theirs. In such cases, even a hundred defeats are immaterial; how much more so with only two defeats!

The obvious target of this discourse is Huan Wen, who, by refusing to take personal responsibility for the Fangtou debacle of 369, provoked Yuan Chen's rebellion and thereby lost time, resources, and a good deal of precious support. Huan had already exhibited similar behavior in his demotion of Xie Wan in 359 and Fan Wang in 361. In short, once the background events are fully understood, Xi Zaochi's text can and should be read as running commentary on the political events of his day, providing an important insight into some deeper wellsprings of his political thought.

Xi Zaochi provided a more direct explication, however, in his final memorial to the throne. Although written perhaps two decades after the Han-Jin Annals, it encapsulates in a single essay the fundamental arguments by which he rejected the long-standing theory of succession by ritual abdication. It is a typical example of his intricate parallel-prose style, full of shameless adulation for his protagonists and scathing denunciation for his villains, and punctuated with numerous historical references to drive home his points. The purpose of this essay, as laid out in the introduction, is to explain why the Jin should not offer the ritual of Three Reverences to the Wei, as one was expected to do for the preceding dynasty; in other words, why the Wei should not be considered a legitimate dynasty, but a mere usurper no better than Wang Mang.

In the opening rhetorical question and answer, Xi Zaochi suggests what the primary objections to his thesis would be: first, that Wei had conquered "all of central Xia" (that is, northern China), the traditional heartland of Chinese culture; second that they received the ritual abdication of the Han; third, that Jin's manner of usurping the throne was no better than Wei's, and so should be regarded equally. The heart of his argument lies in a dismissal of the first objection, that the Wei had achieved unification of the sphere of Chinese civilization by ruling over northern China alone. Xi's response is to assert unequivocally that Wei's failure also to pacify and gain the assent of the population of the Yangzi valley was a decisive proof of their inadequacy.


In his memorial on dynastic legitimacy, Xi Zaochi also implicitly assumes that the sphere of traditional Chinese culture includes the Yangzi region. By defining the target area for reunification as including the south, he can then use Wei's failure to gain supremacy over the south as the basis for rejecting their legitimacy. He first lays out at length the history of the fall of the Han and the rise of Jin, noting that although each state in the Three Kingdoms had "partial peace, in reality there was chaos." He concludes that "those who did away with the calamities of the three states and tranquilized the strife at the end of the Han ... were all of the house of Sima." He goes on to make his criteria for legitimacy explicit in the following key passage:

Now if we grant that Wei had the virtue of succeeding a sovereignty, then its leadership must have been inadequate; if it had the achievement of tranquilizing chaos then the Sun and the Liu also established ordered regimes. If its leadership was inadequate, then it cannot be said that it ordered the era, and if the era was not ordered under Wei, then Wei cannot be considered the mater of all under Heaven. If kingly leadership was inadequate under the Cao, then the Cao cannot begin to be considered kings for even one day.

The argument Xi makes here is straightforward: Wei's control of north China was not sufficient claim to legitimacy, since the rival states of Wu and Shu also achieved partial pacification of the Chinese cultural sphere (as Xi defines it), and therefore had equal claim to legitimacy. If the Cao dynasty offered truly virtuous leadership, then they would have gained the assent of all under heaven, including the south, and brought true peace. Since they failed to do so, they cannot be accepted as a legitimate dynasty.

Xi Zaochi immediately qualifies this criterion with a second one, that mere military conquest is not sufficient if one does not bring peace to the empire. On this basis he rejects the precedents of Gong Gong (a mythic monster who, after being defeated in an attempt to control the empire, burst the pole that held up the sky in the northwest, causing the axial tilt) and the Qin dynasty, under both of which the empire was briefly united. As he argues, under their rule the people "still did not see order under the emperor; the destruction was more ruinous than during the Warring States. Still less can we consider as a dynasty a man who briefly rules a few provinces, merely impressing those within their borders." In other words, he considered the Cao clan to be nothing but regional warlords; not a wholly shameful thing to be, as he ultimately acknowledges, but hardly the equal of the Han or the Jin.

This is in effect a two-point test for legitimacy: military subjugation of the Chinese cultural sphere, including the Yangzi valley, and righteous leadership that results in the universal acquiescence of the subject populace. Xi seems to presume that such leadership would not be unduly coercive and would be respectful of traditional culture and ritual. By such reckoning, Wei clearly could not be regarded a legitimate dynasty on the first point, since they failed to subdue all under Heaven including those in the Yangzi valley. Wei was not legitimate on the second point either, since they had violated the bounds of propriety by usurping the throne from legitimate Han rulers. Moreover, Xi interprets their failure to unify the Han cultural sphere as implicit evidence of unrighteousness as seen at least in the eyes of their various contemporaries.


The most contentious of the three kinds of objection that Xi sought to answer concerned the potential illegitimacy of the Jin. The Jin Dynasty certainly qualified as legitimate by the criterion of military unification, but their origins in treachery against the Cao clan might seem, by parallel with Cao Cao's treachery against the Han, to be grounds for disqualification on the criterion of righteous leadership. Having already established Wei as illegimate, Xi is well prepared for this part of the argument. He boldly asserts that the illegitimacy of Wei obviated the need for a minister to be subordinate to his lord, for, "if justice is incomplete, then one is just borrowing a passage on the way to a higher strategy; if leadership is unrighteous, then the tie between lord and minister is not the same." As long as the representatives of the Sima clan ultimately intended to "rely on justice and dispatch Wei," they could serve under them temporarily without staining their reputation. Thus, while Cao Cao was a villain for usurping the throne from the weakened, yet still legitimate Han dynasty, Sima Yan did not transgress by displacing the illegitimate state of Wei. Having therefore rescued the reputation of the Sima from the potential shame of their traitorous origins, Xi Zaochi returns to the question at hand, rhetorically asking why, "for empty reverence of unrighteous Wei, should we degrade our leadership to all?"

What is notable about this lengthy essay is that Xi Zaochi has nothing to say about the legitimation of Wei's rival, Shu-Han. In fact, given that Shu-Han did not meet at least the first of his criteria for legitimacy, military subjugation of the Chinese cultural sphere, the essay might suggest that it was not a legitimate state either. In a separate essay responding to the assumption of the imperial title by Liu Bei, however, Xi makes an exception for the case of Shu-Han:

Now a lord who lays a foundation must first carry out a great pacification (unification) and only then establish himself (as emperor), while a sovereign who continues a lineage should establish himself quickly so as to hold the hearts of the people.

Here he argues that Liu Bei's blood relation was to the Han imperial line was reason enough to claim the imperial title even before unification was complete; he goes on to make an explicit comparison to the emperor Guangwu, founder of the Eastern Han and the most recent example of such a restoration. In the surviving passages from his works he lauds Liu Bei and his entourage for being faithful to the mandate of the preceding legitimate empire and seeking to refound it, whereas Cao Cao and his heirs did not. The parallel to Sima Rui, founder of the Eastern Jin under similar circumstances, would have been as obvious to Xi's contemporaries as it is to us today.

Nonetheless, unification with the empire remained the most important criterion, leading Xi to take a rather qualified view of the history of the Shu-Han state as a whole, given its inability to achieve the dynastic revival that was central to its tenuous claims of legitimacy. A principal target of his criticism is Liu Shan, Liu Bei's ineffectual successor, under whose rule the once vigorous Shu-Han state deteriorated to the point that it was essentially conquered by Sima Yan in 264. It is this aspect of Shu-Han that Xi is most interested in paralleling to the SIma clan's rather moribund rule in his own day. The parallel is clear in a comment on Liu Shan's accession to the Shu-Han throne in 223 that is recorded in the "Treatise on the Five Phases" in Songshu. The text notes that after Liu Bei died, his son Shan did not wait until the month was out before changing the reign title; this was regarded as improper. Xi then is recorded to having written:

According to the Rites: When the lord of a state takes the throne, he must await the end of the year and thereafter change to a new title, for the sentiments of his ministers are such that they cannot bear to have two lords in a single year. This could be called the utmost failure to know ritual; by this the gentlemen knows that Shu would be unable to come east (that is, unify the empire.)

The significance of this passage is apparent when we realize that, upon the deposition of the lord of Haixi and the enthronement of Sima Yu in the midwinter of 371, the reign title was changed, without waiting, from the sixth year of Taihe to the first year of Xianan. It is quite apparent from Xi Zaochi's condemnation of Liu Shan's similar action in 223 that he regarded this as a serious transgression of propriety, one that signaled the weakness of the Eastern Jin throne.

In other words, Xi Zaochi sees the historical parallel of the contemporary Sima rulers not in the righteousness and vigor of Liu Bei, but in his son Liu Shan, the worthless successor who forfeited the achievements of his virtuous predecessor by transgressions of ritual and general impotence. Thus, he offers not a word of criticism for the Sima clan's eventual conquest of Shu-Han and the displacement of Liu Shan, whose claim to the Han mandate had clearly run out. This criticism was a challenge to such contemporaries as Sun Chou, who argued that the Jin court should stay sheltered behind the Yangzi and forego retaking the north. By comparison, Xi argues that this lack of ambition would effectively delegitimate the regime, and leave it vulnerable to challengers from within and without.


The article continues for some time, and is free to read here.
Alone I lean under the wispy shade of an aged tree,
Scornfully I raise to parted lips a cup of warm wine,
Longingly I cast an empty vessel aside those exposed roots,
And leave behind forgotten memories and forsaken dreams.
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:57 pm

[The following is the entirety of an article published in 1956 for the Journal of the American Oriental Society. It falls under the purview of our study.]

Yellow Turban Religion and Rebellion at the End of the Han

Written by Howard S. Levy of the University of Colorado, Denver

A. Introduction

The waning years of the Later Han dynasty were characterized by agrarian distress and internecine political conflict. Emperor Ling, who reigned from 168 to 189, placed great confidence in his numerous palace eunuchs. They came to constitute an influential court faction, but were frequently opposed by a group of scholar-officials at the court. This internal struggle became more intense and bitter with each passing year. The preoccupation of the court with factional strife aided the emergence into prominence of provincial generals who were sufficiently distant from the weakened throne to defy its authority. These generals, in command of loyal provincial troops, maneuvered among themselves to gain control of the government. The divisive forces mentioned above, consisting both of those within the court and those independent of it, accelerated a gradual worsening of economic conditions throughout the empire. The deterioration of the economy was especially notable in the eastern provinces, for there the peasants suffered repeated agrarian disasters. Amidst these disturbances, a popular religious movement known as Neo-Daoism arose and rapidly spread. This late Han Daoism was comparable to nineteenth century Taiping Christianity in its scope and enthusiasm, and it indirectly led to rebellion against the throne.

In a later effort to rationalize for the outbreak of this rebellion, the traditional Chinese historian tended to emphasize a portent sequence approach to the problem. A series of omens was introduced and presented as concrete evidence that Heaven had withdrawn its mandate to rule from Emperor Ling. For example, it was claimed that hens developed male characteristics, a symbolic warning to the monarch that he was permitting eunuchs to meddle in state affairs. The imperial audience chamber beset by dragon-like apparitions, black vapor in the form of a flying magpie obscuring the sun for months on end, horses giving birth to humans and humans giving birth to freaks, were but a few of the portents of ill-omen cited by the historian as visible signs of Heaven's displeasure.

The waves of rebellion which finally engulfed the Han empire were directed primarily by a group of Daoists skilled in alchemy, herbalism and faith healing techniques. They assured their followers that the azure heaven of Han would soon perish and be replaced by their yellow heaven. The Daoists further declared that 184, the first year of a new cycle, would usher in a new revolutionary religious era. The characters (chia-tzu) which designated the first year of the coming cycle were written everywhere with white clay in anticipation of the overthrow of the dynasty. They were inscribed on official residences in the provinces and on temple walls in the capital of Luoyang.

B. Leadership

The movement which advocated that a religious state accompanies the cyclical change first arose in eastern China among the Neo-Daoists. These would-be revolutionaries were directed by three Zhang brothers named Jue, Liang, and Bao. The Zhang brothers and their disciples became known in history as the Yellow Turbans because during subsequent battles they wore yellow kerchiefs in the form of turbans as a means of identification.

The Zhang brothers were bearers of a surname revered in Daoist religious history. Four hundred years before, an official named Zhang Liang had served as an adviser to Liu Bang, founder of the Han dynasty. Zhang Liang participated in an abortive plot to assassinate Qin Shi Huangdi and barely escaped with his life. He later helped Liu Bang seize supreme power. Zhang Liang spurned offers of high political office, and preferred to devote his remaining years to the study of Daoism. He sought in vain to attain immortal life.

Another forefather of the Daoist religion was Zhang Ling, a reputed descendant of Zhang Liang, several generations removed. He fared better than Zhang Liang in the quest of immortality. We have biographical information of questionable authenticity concerning his life. Zhang Ling, or Zhang Daoling, was born in the region of Pei, located near present Peixian at the northern border of Jiangsu. As a youth, he renounced the study of the Confucian classics because they were useless to one desiring to achieve longevity. He then concentrated on herbalism and alchemy, but was financially hard-pressed because of the poverty of his peasant family.

Economic hardships may have influenced Zhang Ling's decision to emigrate to the region now known as Sichuan Province, possibly during the reign of Emperor Shun. He entered his new surroundings with several disciples, and resided about sixty-five miles from Chengdu. There he composed a treatise on Daoism, and began to cure illness. He did this by having his patients write down a confession of the sins which they believed caused their sickness. They then threw the written confessions into the water and made a solemn compact with the Divine Intelligence never to transgress again. Those who were treated and cured expressed their gratitude by bestowing upon Zhang Ling gifts of rice, silk, utensils, paper, writing brushes, firewood, and other objects. His disciplines came to a number several tens of thousands.

Zhang Ling later prepared and swallowed an elixir which, it is claimed, enabled him to multiply his shape at will. An image of Zhang Ling was once seen chatting and eating with his Daoist guests, while the real Zhang Ling was boating on the pond in front of his home. There are two explanations as to his death. The first is that after many attempts he ascended to heaven in broad daylight with several disciples and disappeared among the clouds the second asserts that he was swallowed by a great snake.

Zhang Ling originated medical techniques which were later copied by Daoist leaders sharing his surname. The Daoist church at the end of Han was well organized and rigorously disciplined. It was divided into two groups. The eastern communities, situated along the great plain formed by the Yellow and Huai rivers, followed the directives of the three Zhang brothers. The western communities, located in the vicinity of modern Sichuan, first obeyed the Daoist innovator Zhang Ling. Following his death, the western Daoist submitted to the leadership offered by Zhang Ling's son Zhang Hong and his grandson Zhang Lu. A leader called Zhang Xiu was also influential in Daoist military, political, and religious activities in Sichuan, but the name Zhang Xiu may have been written as an error for Zhang Hong. The dominant figure in the west proved to be Zhang Lu, who copied and improved upon the innovations of his grandfather. The eastern and western communities, though geographically remote, were strikingly similar in organization.

C. Organization

Zhang Jue was the chief of the Yellow Turbans of the east. Fan Ye, the compiler of the History of the Later Han, states he controlled the allegiance of the masses of eight provinces, which constituted two-thirds of the imperial dominion. Zhang Jue divided these eight provinces into thirty-six districts, and placed an adept in charge of each district. The Grand Adepts controlled over ten thousand adherents, while the Lesser Adepts commanded from six to eight thousand men. The Great Leaders served under the Adepts, above whom were only the Zhang Jue assumed the title of General and Lord of Heaven, his younger brother Zhang Liang was called General and Lord of Earth, while Zhang Bao, the youngest of the three brothers, was entitled General and Lord of Man. In this way, the Zhang brothers presented themselves to the people as symbolic embodiments of Heaven, Earth, and Man, the all-embracing triad.

Zhang Hong and Zhang Lu, who succeeded one another as leaders of the Yellow Turbans of the West, developed a similar organization. It adopted many of the hierarchical categories first created by Zhang Ling. Converts who first came to study under Zhang Lu were called Demon Soldiers, possibly because they were still fighting inner demons and did not yet have implicit faith in the Dao. One anti-Daoist writer remarks that the terms was used to show that Zhang Lu wished to slight the Southwestern barbarians whom he was instructing. Demon Soldiers who successfully completed their religious training later received appointments as Libationers. The Libationers were extremely important Daoist officials, since they commanded the disciples of an entire district. In addition to their political duties, they were in charge of religious instruction. Libationers were expected to attain an expert knowledge of the Dao De Jing. They enjoyed a reputation for sincerity, and were trusted and consulted by the aboriginal people of the Sichuan area. The commanders of the Licentious was the name given to those leaders who directed prayers for the recovery of the sick. Illness was considered the outer manifestation of inner depravity. A Japanese scholar suggested that the Commanders of the Licentious may have been Libationers entrusted with specific responsibilities regarding treatment of Daoist patients.

Daoist officials said prayers and conducted ceremonies for curing disease. Since sickness was regarded as an external indication of hidden wrong-doing, sick people were considered to be perverse and wicked. The adepts adopted the following faith-healing methods. The patient in the east who submitted to the Way of Great Peace method was ordered to kowtow to them, bow his head and reflect on his sins. The adepts recited magic formulae over water and gave it to the patient to drink. The water was expected to bring about an immediate cure. If a cure was effected, it was because the patient believed in the Dao. An inability to be cured was attributed to a lack of faith in the Dao. Zhang Ling and his successors developed a different method in the southwest. It was known as the Way of the Five Pecks of Rice because the families of persons treated by the Daoists gave the adepts five pecks of rice to cover the cost of confinement. The patients surname and given names were written down, together with a statement that he wished to confess and be absolved of his crimes. A pact was made with the proper deities, and three hand-written copies of the confession were distributed. One copy was placed on a mountain, directed towards heaven; another was buried in the earth, and a third copy was immersed in water.

Zhang Ling's grandson Zhang Lu levied graver penalties on the sick than he did on common criminals. Drunkeness, debauchery and theft were considered in the same category, to be atoned for by confession, repentance and good deeds. Offenses were punished only after they had been committed three times. Even then, in theory punishment was not necessary, for it was believed that each criminal suffered a natural retribution through the illness which sooner or later afflicted him.

Zhang Lu also utilized re-education through labor in dealing with evil-doers. They were sometimes allowed to atone for their lesser transgressions by repairing one hundred paces of road by hand. While prisons were abolished for ordinary crimes, their places were taken by quiescence chambers. These may have been an institutional offshoot of the quiescence practices originally engaged in by Zhang Ling. The sick were sent to their quiescent chambers to reflect and repent their sins. The five pecks of rice paid in by the patient's relatives became in the eyes of non-converts a characteristic of Daoism. Until the Tang dynasty, the southwestern Daoists were called Respecters of the Five Pecks of Rice Doctrine and the Disciples of the Yellow Emperor and Laozi.

In spite of this popular identification, it was later asserted that Zhang Lu's teachings had nothing in common with those of Laozi. It was further charged that the Daoists ignored the nonaggressive wu-wei doctrine of Laozi, and substituted it for the military and political techniques originated by Zhang Ling. The Daoists were also accused of having rejected the type of court clothing prescribed by Laozi in favor of the yellow garments of rebellion worn by Zhang Lu. The beginning fragments of this puzzling commentary on the Dao De Jing which is attributed to Zhang Ling may shed some light on this question of doctrinal variance. The statement credited to Laozi that "The Way which can be spoken of is not the constant way" was analyzed as follows: "the way which can be spoken of" means "to eat finely in the morning." "Is not the constant way" means "to move one's bowels in the evening." A continuance of the passage was analyzed thusly: "Both are produced similarly but with different names" means "that man basically produces urine, and urine produces semen." "Mysterious and more mysterious" means "the nose and mouth." The recorder of these passages states that after Zhang Ling had refined the commentary cited above, it was followed by three generations represented by him, his son, and his grandson Zhang Lu. It is, of course, entirely possible that this commentary was fabricated by the Buddhists in order to discredit the late Han Daoist revival through a calculated smear of its debased ethical content.

D. Rebellion

Rebellion first arose in the east. The leader of the Yellow Turban Daoists there was Zhang Jue. Over a ten-year period, he enjoyed a phenomenal success in enlisting the services of an estimated 360,000 followers from eight provinces. One reason for the rapid growth of this movement may have been the series of economic misfortunes suffered by the peasantry. A Chinese historian implies that the uprisings were caused by the collaboration of the eunuch clique at court, but economic factors might also explain why people blocked the roads in their rush to support Zhang Jue. The floods of 175 were followed by drought in 176, 177, 182, and 183, while epidemics caused further in 173, 179, and 182, the critical years before the Daoist uprisings. The alternation of flood, famine, and epidemic led to a dispossessed peasantry, ready to flock to the standards of anyone who offered to alleviate its misery. The Zhang brothers, while versed in faith-healing, may have known of efficacious herbalistic and medical remedies which would either cure or lesson the sufferings of their innumerable patients.

A minister named Yang Tzu warned the emperor in a memorial that more and more people were giving their allegiance to Zhang Jue. Because of the mass support which Zhang Jue enjoyed, Yang Tzu feared that an outright attack on the eastern Daoists might have proved disastrous to the empire. He advised instead that Emperor Ling prevent the incipient rebellion by forcing all vagrants to return to their original homes. The vagrancy alluded to by Yang Tzu may have resulted from the occurrence of devastating floods and famine. These economic misfortunes created a vast reservoir of displaced persons, from whom Zhang Jue might amply replenish his ranks.

Another official warned Emperor Ling that Zhang Jue was plotting to usurp the throne, but the emperor remained unconcerned and undertook no overt action. Rumors of a coming uprising spread throughout the provinces. The eastern Yellow Turbans agreed to stage a coordinated revolt and to strike both from within and without the imperial palace on the fifth day of the third month. Grand Adept Ma Yuanyi was employed by the Yellow Turbans as an espionage agent in the capital of Luoyang. He compiled confidential reports and entered into secret compliance with eunuch officials. However, the court rebels were betrayed in the winter of 184 by a former disciple of Zhang Jue called Tang Zhou. Ma Yuanyi was captured and condemned to a terrible death. He was dismembered by being tied to two carts which were then started in opposite directions. More than one thousand Yellow Turban sympathizers were seized and executed. The emperor ordered that Zhang Jue be apprehended, but Zhang discovered this imperial directive emanating from Luoyang in time to escape. Riding day and night, Zhang Jue and his confederates called on all disciples to rise in revolt, and to burn and plunder official residences. The ministerial hierarchy at Luoyang was dismayed by the enthusiastic mass response to the Yellow Turban rebellion. At first there was imperial indecision as how to effectively extirpate the rebels, owing to the wrangling which ensued between the rival Confucian and eunuch cliques. The emperor allegedly was partial to the eunuchs, once stating that Zhang Rang was his father and eunuch Zhao was his mother. Although several eunuchs were implicated in the Yellow Turban plot, Emperor Ling included them in a general amnesty from which Zhang Jue alone was excluded.

Imperial forces led by Huangfu Song, Zhu Jun, and Lu Zhi set forth to quell the rebels. Zhu Jun was defeated at Yingchuan Commandery by the Yellow Turban leader Bo Cai; Huangfu Song defended Changsha district, also in Yingchuan Commandery. Bo Cai surrounded him there, but he turned defeat into victory by setting fire to the grass encircling the rebel encampment and then routing the panicked enemy. Cao Cao, who later ruled Wei Kingdom, joined forces with Huangfu Song. Cao Cao first gained prominence as an antagonist of the Yellow Turbans, battling them victoriously in the summer of 184. The imperial commanders pressed their victories, and pursued and defeated various Yellow Turban leaders. However, while Lu Zhi and Dong Zhuo engaged troops of Zhang Jue in combat, they were forced to retreat before them.

Zhang Jue's younger brother Zhang Liang fought Huangfu Song to a standstill at Guangzong District. Huangfu noted that his adversaries had relaxed their defenses, and ordered an attack at daybreak. In ensuing battle, Zhang Liang was decapitated along with an estimated 30,000 rebels, a figure which is obviously unreliable. When Huangfu Song discovered that Zhang Jue had died previously of illness, he broke open his coffin, severed the head of the corpses and transmitted it to the capital. Zhang Bao, the youngest and last survivor of the brothers, also was decapitated. It is asserted that many of the 100,000 corpses of his Yellow Turban cohorts were stacked and covered with dirt, forming a mound so high that the capital could be seen from it. This grisly mound was called the Capital Observatory. Huangfu Song thus quelled the three Zhang brothers and brought temporary peace to the bloodied land. The relieved peasants celebrated his achievements by composing the following ballad:

Great chaos in the empire,
The markets were desolate,
Mothers could not protect children,
Wives lost their husbands,
Depending on Huangfu,
Again we live in peace.

The emperor ordered that his reign style be changed from Brilliant Harmony to Central Pacification, believing that the period of rebellion had ended with the death of the Zhang brothers. However, sporadic uprisings of small groups of Yellow Turbans and others continued to harass the central government. By the end of 188, there were those who believed that Luoyang might soon become the scene of unremitting conflict. While this fear proved to be unfounded, Daoist-inspired Yellow Turban revolts did hasten the downfall of the Han and encouraged the fortunes of warlords who seized power as a consequence of military exploits against the rebels.

E. The Daoist State in the Southwest

With the death of Zhang Jue, the main scene of Daoist activities shifted towards the southwest. The mantle of Daoist leadership was assumed by Zhang Lu. Two later writers allege that Zhang Jue's plans for rebellion had been coordinated with those of his distant Daoist confederate and ally Zhang Lu. Both were accused of advocating the wearing of yellow turbans and Daoist clothing, of deceiving their followers, and of plotting jointly the overthrow of the state. It was further asserted that Zhang Jue's rebellion in the winter of 184 had been carried out in collaboration with the distant Zhang Lu. However, as the Japanese scholar Fukui Kojun had noted, this statement is probably in error, since one would expect the father Zhang Hong rather than his son to have been active in 184, the year of Zhang Jue's short-lived rebellion.

The connecting link between the Neo-Daoists of east and west may have been supplied several years after the death of Zhang Jue by a Yellow Turban rebel named Ma Xiang. Ma Xiang was from Liang province. About the summer of 189, he staged an uprising at Mianzhu district. Ma Xiang called himself a Yellow Turban, and in a few days succeeded in recruiting several thousand emaciated followers. He killed the local magistrate and, backed over by ten thousand civilians and officials, crushed three commanderies in Sichuan within a ten day period. Ma Xiang proclaimed himself emperor, but he was routed and his following dispersed soon afterwards at the eastern border of Jianwei Commandery. Thus, all of Ma Xiang's movements during the height of his rebellion too place in Sichuan, stronghold of the southwestern Daoism popularized by Zhang Ling and his successors.

After the official Liu Yan was appointed magistrate of Yi province, he moved his administrative center to Mianzhu district in order to regain the allegiance of the local inhabitants who still cherished thoughts of rebellion. While within this district, he and his subordinates undoubtedly came into contacts with remnants of Yellow Turban teachings propounded there by the former disciples of Ma Xiang.

Liu Yan probably became a Daoist adept. He favored the Daoist Zhang Lu, assigned an important military post to him, and directed him to join forces with another military commander named Zhang Xiu. Zhang Lu and Zhang Xiu were to launch a concentrated attack on Su Gu, the Great Defender of Hanzhong Commandery. However, Zhang Lu attacked and killed Zhang Xiu, secured his troops and conquered the Hanzhong area. He transformed it into a Daoist community, instructing the inhabitants through the "ways of the demons." His teachings are described as being in general accordance of those of the eastern Yellow Turbans. Zhang Lu called himself Lord of the Teachers, escaped annihilation, and administered a state within the Chinese state for about thirty years.

Zhang Lu maintained the popularity of his doctrine by having his Libationers erect public houses along the roads, stocked with provisions of rice and meat. Passers-by could freely enter and take enough food to satisfy their hunger, but it was proclaimed that anyone who took more food than he actually needed would be afflicted with demoniacal possession. This food distribution policy undoubtedly increased the number of converts, rice-Daoists though they might have been. The Yellow Turbans of the west abolished Han imperial institutions, killed official envoys, and refused to tolerate the assignment of imperial magistrates to the Hanzhong area. Their places were taken by the Libationers appointed by Zhang Lu. The barbarians were said to have been delighted with the Daoist administration.

The objectives of Zhang Lu and his associates were twofold. On a political plane, they wished to replace all imperial authorities with their own disciples. Their religious aim was to initiate the Daoist novice into increasingly complex religious practices. Titles and grades were instituted on the basis of relative advancement. Beginners might be called Sons of the Dao or Daughters of the Dao. Superior grades were those of the Male and Female Bonnet, while further progress enabled a disciple to be entitled a Father or Mother of the Dao. The attitudes towards women was in advance of the rest of second century Chinese society, for these titles were accessible to both men and women. Zhang Ling, while being accused of being a wife deserter, was also credited with speaking favorably of the intellectual potentialities of unmarried women fourteen years of age and above. No distinction in the conferring of titles seems to have been made on the basis of sex. However, there was no feminine counterpart for the supreme title of Teacher of Heaven.

The Han dynasty, at this late stage of its decline, could not effectively oppose these revolutionary innovations in the southwest. Since the court could not subjugate Zhang Lu, it resorted to the expedient of entitling him as a loyal official. Zhang Lu agreed to send yearly tribute to the court as a token of nominal submission. His position was of such eminence that he once considered proclaiming himself the independent King of Hanzhong, but decided against it. The Warlord Cao Cao invaded the Hanzhong area in 215. Zhang Lu's younger brother Zhang Wei stubbornly resisted the invasion, but was routed with his troops. Zhang Lu did not oppose Cao Cao. Pending his arrival, he refused to allow his subordinates to destroy, pillage, or plunder. Cao Cao treated Zhang Lu more as an honored compatriot than as an enemy, and enfeoffed him and his five sons. He also arranged a marriage between one of his daughters and one of Zhang Lu's sons. Zhang Lu must have enjoyed considerable prestige among his people to have received such preferential treatment from the warlord Cao Cao.

F. Concluding Remarks

The Daoist revolt in the east and west thus encountered varying fortunes. The revolt in the east was eliminated; its western counterpart enjoyed a relative independence. The western revolutionaries therefore were able to institute religious and political innovations, some of which survived at least until the fifth century. The Daoist religion in this early stage was undoubtedly influenced by Buddhism, although the insinuation that Zhang Ling became a Buddhist sounds more like clerical propaganda than established fact. However, after the close of the Han dynasty the Daoist religion assumed its place alongside Buddhism and Confucianism as an independent doctrine of major importance and mass attraction. The later Buddhists criticized the Daoist religion for having fostered false concepts, while the historians and upholders of imperial orthodoxy reviled it as a vehicle of subversion. From the time of Zhang Ling onwards, the Confucians felt that the worst crime of the Daoist pontiff was his claim to be Teacher of Heaven. Since in Confucian eyes no one was greater than the Son of Heaven or emperor, this Daoist assertion must have seemed an insolent affront. Despite the accusations hurled against it by many antagonists, the Daoist religion during and after the Yellow Turban uprisings was accepted by the common people as a consoling religious faith. The question of Buddhist-Daoist cross-fertilization remains a fruitful potential field of inquiry.
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby qqdonut » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:56 pm

Thanks for these! I sometimes have access to ebsco/jstor, etc. as well and have read quite a few of these but am glad to see them more widely available and more easily searchable than a PDF. There's a surprising amount of at-least-tangentially related English publications especially if you count theses/dissertations, and if you venture into the literature/poetry of the era (Cao Zhi, for example). I will try to contribute some stuff from the PDFs I've saved in the future.

I also have my own library. I hadn't heard of Fire over Luoyang, but given it's another Brill/de Crespigny collaboration I think I will have to read it in person at the library for now. (I already shelled out for the Later Han dictionary and Imperial Warlord!)
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:27 am

qqdonut wrote:Thanks for these! I sometimes have access to ebsco/jstor, etc. as well and have read quite a few of these but am glad to see them more widely available and more easily searchable than a PDF. There's a surprising amount of at-least-tangentially related English publications especially if you count theses/dissertations, and if you venture into the literature/poetry of the era (Cao Zhi, for example). I will try to contribute some stuff from the PDFs I've saved in the future.

I also have my own library. I hadn't heard of Fire over Luoyang, but given it's another Brill/de Crespigny collaboration I think I will have to read it in person at the library for now. (I already shelled out for the Later Han dictionary and Imperial Warlord!)
Please feel free to post whatever you have, I definitely don't have access to everything - and would happy to see whatever you've got!

Fire over Luoyang is a history of the Later Han dynasty. I'd recommend grabbing it, when you've got a week's paycheck to burn on something. :lol:
Alone I lean under the wispy shade of an aged tree,
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:22 am

[The following is the vast majority of an article published in the July 1983 edition of Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, and Reviews by Hans H. Frankel. While a slightly different approach, it nonetheless falls under our purview]

Cai Yan and the Poems Attributed to Her

Written by Hans H Frankel

Cai Yan, courtesy name Wenji, was the daughter of the most prominent Eastern Han man of letters, Cai Yong 1, courtesy name Pojie. (133-192). The family resided in Yu prefecture, Chenliu Commandery, in what is now eastern Henan province. She was born in 174, or shortly before then, and was married at the age of sixteen sui.2 (Marriage at such an early age was normal for ladies in Han, Wei, and Jin times.)3 Her husband belonged to the powerful, learned Wei family. His personal name is not known, his courtesy name was Zhongdao.4 He died to her parents' home. It is not clear whether this means the family residence in Chenlin Commandery, or whether she went to the place where her father was holding office, which was perhaps Chang'an.5

Then followed a series of events which made Cai Yan famous. She was abducted by troops in the civil war that was raging in North China in the last decade of the second century. It is not known when, where, and by whom she was captured; what we do know is that she ended up in the possession of the Southern Xiongnu. She lived among these barbarians for about twelve years, was married to one of their leaders, and bore him two sons.6 Then, in or about the year 206, she was ransomed and brought back to Han territory on orders of Cao Cao (155-220), the most powerful man in North China. He also arranged for her to be married-for the third time-to one of his provincial administrators, Dong Si, who held the office of Chief Commandant of Commanderies with Agricultural Garrisons.7

How long she lived thereafter, and what happened to her in her later life, is not known for certain. But she is supposed to have written three poems about her remarkable experiences. They tell of her capture, her sufferings as a prisoner, her marriage and life among the barbarians, her separation from her children, and her return to Han China. The first two poems are titled "Beifen shi" Mt, (Poems of Lament and Resentment); one is in five-syllable meter, the other in the meter of Jiu ge. The third poem, also in Jiu ge meter, bears the title "Hujia shiba pai" (Song of the Barbarian Reed-Whistle in Eighteen Stanzas). For simplicity's sake, I will refer to them as Poem One, Poem Two, and Poem Three. Let me first offer English translations of the three poems, together with the Chinese text.8 [Chinese text not provided, does not render properly]

Poem One
When the Han at the end was losing its power
2 Dong Zhuo upset the Heavenly order.
With his mind on the throne and the sovereign's murder
4 He first killed able and virtuous men.
He forced the court to move to the old capital
6 And seized the ruler to strengthen himself.
Everywhere within the Four Seas loyalist armies rose,
8 Wishing together to subdue the wicked man.
Dong Zhuo's hosts moved east,
10 Their metal armor glittered in the sun.
The people of the plains were weak,
12 The onrushing troops were all Hu and Qiang barbarians;
They invaded the countryside, besieged cities and towns;
14 Wherever they went, everything was destroyed.
None survived the slaughter,
16 Corpses and skeletons propped each other.
On their horses' flanks they hung the heads of men,
18 On their horses' rears they carried off women.
Far west they galloped through the Pass,
20 The distant road was full of perils and hazards.
As we looked back into the dim distance
22 Our innards rotted.
The captives, numbering a myriad,
24 Were not allowed to camp together.
Some had blood relations in the group,
26 They wished to converse but dared not speak.
If one was the least bit careless
28 They said at once: "Kill those worthless captives,
They should be put to the sword,
30 We will not keep you alive."
We did not care about our lives
32 With such unbearable vituperation.
They beat us with sticks as they pleased,
34 Outrage and pain fell on us together.
By day we traveled wailing and weeping,
36 By night we sat lamenting and moaning.
We wished for death but could not get it,
38 We wished for life but had no chance.
What have we done against blue Heaven
40 To encounter this calamity?
The border wasteland differs from China,
42 Its people's mores lack righteous principles.
They dwell in a land of much frost and snow,
44 Winds of the steppe rise in spring and summer,
Flapping as they blow on my clothes,
46 Whistling as they enter my ears.
Stirred by the times, I longed for my parents,
48 Moaning and sighing without end.
When travelers arrived from abroad,
50 Hearing about it always made me happy.
I would meet them and ask for information,
52 But none of them were from my home.
Unexpected luck fulfilled my wish:
54 My flesh and blood sent for me.
I myself was released
56 But had in turn to abandon my children.
Though our hearts were tied together with Heaven's strings
58 I realized we would be separated without hope of reunion;
In life and death we would forever be parted,
60 I could not bear to take leave of them.
The children came forward and embraced my neck,
62 They asked: "Where are you going, Mother?
They say Mother is to go away,
64 How can you ever come back?
Mother has always been loving and kind,
66 Why do you now become unkind?
We are not yet grown up,
68 What shall we do if you don't care for us?"
The sight of this collapsed my innards,
70 My confusion grew to madness.
I wailed and wept, caressed them with my hands;
72 We were about to depart but I hesitated.
Companions, captured together with me,
74 Saw me off and bade me farewell.
They envied me, the only one to go home,
76 Their wailing shouts were heartbreaking.
For my sake the horses stood still in hesitation,
78 For my sake the carriage wheels did not turn.
The onlookers all sighed and sobbed,
80 The travelers also wept and choked down their tears.
Away, away, cut off from those I love,
82 A hurried journey, daily more remote,
Far, far, three thousand miles,
84 When will we ever meet again?
As I thought of the children issued from my womb
86 My breast for their sake was torn apart.
When I got home my family was all gone,
88 Not even cousins were there.
The city walls had become wooded hills,
90 In the courtyard brambles and mugwort were growing.
White bones-I knew not whose-
92 Lay everywhere, and none were covered.
I went out the gate, there was no human sound,
94 Jackals and wolves howled and barked.
Forlorn I faced my lone shadow,
96 In dismay my innards were ruined.
I climbed and looked into the distance,
98 My soul and spirit suddenly flew away.
But when it seemed to me my life was ending
100 The people near me were magnanimous toward me.
For their sake I force myself to go on seeing and breathing,
102 Yet though I live, what is there to live for?
I have entrusted my life to a new man,
104 I give my all to carry on.
In my wanderings I became cheap and low,
106 I live in constant fear of being rejected again.
A human life, how long does it last?
108 I shall harbor grief to the end of my years.

Poem Two
Alas, my unlucky fate, I met the disaster of the age,
2 The family line was cut off, my house died out.
My body was seized and taken through the Western Pass,
4 Through obstacles and hazards, to the Qiang and Man.
Mountains and valleys were remote, the road long, so long,
6 With yearning I looked back toward the East, I could but lament and sigh.
When it was dark I should have slept but could not calm down;
8 When I was hungry I should have taken food but could not eat.
Constantly my tears streamed, my eyes were never dry;
10 Weak in will and moral fiber, I considered suicide but found it hard to do;
Though I lived on ignobly I had lost all face.
12 That land, unlike others, is far from the essence of yang,
The yin air congeals, snow falls in summer.
14 A sand desert blocks it, dust is dark, so dark,
There are grasses and trees, but spring does not bloom.
16 The people are like animals, they eat fetid meat,
Their speech is gibberish, their appearance inscrutable.
18 The year is coming to an end, time is moving on,
The night is long, the Forbidden Gate is barred.
20 I cannot sleep, I rise and pace to and fro,
I go up to the barbarian hall and look down into the broad courtyard.
22 Dark clouds gather, concealing moon and stars,
The north wind is harsh, stern and raw, so raw.
24 A barbarian reed-whistle starts up, frontier horses neigh,
A lone wild goose is winging home and calling, honk honk.
26 Musicians rise and play the seven- and twelve-stringed zithers,
Their sounds harmonize, plaintive and clear.
28 My heart spills its longing, my breast is full of resentment.
I wish to unfold my emotion but fear they would be shocked;
30 I hold back my mournful sobbing, tears wet my collar.
Since my family has sent for me, I must go home;
32 I look down the long road, I abandon the ones I have born.
The children call Mother, they cry till they lose their voices;
34 I cover my ears, cannot bear to listen.
They come running after me and hold me, orphaned and desolate;
36 They trip and rise again, their faces injured.
I look back at them, I feel crushed,
38 Utterly distressed in my heart, dead and yet alive.

Poem Three
First Stanza
When I was born there was no trouble yet,
2 After I was born the house of Han tottered.
Heaven was not kind, it sent down turmoil;
4 Earth was not kind, it made me come upon this era.
Shields and lances were a daily commonplace, roads were unsafe,
6 Common people were drifting, sharing grief and laments.
Smoke and dust covered the fields, barbarian foes abounded;
8 It went against my natural bent, my integrity was damaged.
The alien customs I had to face suited me not at all,
10 Of my encounter with evil and shame, whom shall I tell?
One phrase of the reed-whistle, one stanza of the zither,
12 My heart's resentment no one knows.
Second Stanza
A northwest barbarian forced me to become his wife,
14 Carried me on a journey toward Heaven's edge.
Across a myriad layers of clouded mountains the road back would be long,
16 For a thousand miles swift winds raised dust and sand.
The people are mostly fierce and savage like reptiles and snakes,
18 They draw their bows and wear armor, arrogant and unrestrained.
The second stanza stretches the strings until they almost snap;
20 My will is shattered, my heart broken, I sigh and lament my fate.
Third Stanza
I traversed the country of Han and entered barbarian walls:
22 Loss of home and violation of body is worse than never to have been born.
The felt and fur garments I wear irritate my skin and bones,
24 The taste of rank mutton does violence to my feelings.
War drums drone from nightfall to morning,
26 Winds are mighty and darken the border camps.
I regret the present, am stirred by the past, the third stanza is done;
28 The grief I hold, the sorrow I have stored, when will they be assuaged?
Fourth Stanza
No day, no night without longing for my home;
30 Of those who breathe and live, none has a more bitter fate than I.
Heaven sends calamities, the country is in disorder, the people have no one in charge,
32 I have the poorest fate of all, fallen among barbarous foes.
Alien customs, minds unlike-difficult for me to deal with,
34 Likes and desires different-with whom can I talk?
I ponder my experiences, so troublesome,
36 The fourth stanza is done, more suffering and affliction than ever
Fifth Stanza
Wild geese migrate south, I wish they could convey how I feel at the frontier;
38 Wild geese return north, I had hoped to get news from Han.
Wild geese fly high, distant, out of reach,
40 In vain, my guts are torn, I reflect in silence.
I knit my brows, facing the moon, and pluck the noble zither;
42 The fifth stanza pours forth a torrent of emotion deeper yet.
Sixth Stanza
Ice and frost are cold, so cold, my body bitterly chilled,
44 Hungry I face meat and curd, I cannot eat.
At night I hear the Stream Long, its sound is murmuring sobs,
46 In the morning I see the Great Wall, the road stretches on forever.
I recall the past days, the hardships of travel;
48 The sixth stanza is so sad I wish to stop playing.
Seventh Stanza
At sunset the wind is sad, frontier sounds arise all around.
50 I do not know whom I had best tell of my grieving heart.
The steppe is desolate, beacons and watchtowers for a myriad miles;
52 They commonly despise the old and weak, prefer the young and able-bodied.
They go wherever there is water and grass, put up their homes, repair ramparts.
54 Cattle and sheep fill the land, clustering like bees and ants.
When grass and water are used up, sheep and horses all move;
56 In the seventh stanza resentment flows, why do I dwell here?
Eighth Stanza
If Heaven has eyes, why does it not see me drifting alone?
58 If the gods have sentience, why do they put me south of the sky, north of the sea?
I have not offended Heaven, why did it match me with an unequal mate?
60 I have not offended the gods, why did they punish me and send me across the
I have composed this eighth stanza, intended to dispel my misery,
62 How could I know when the piece was done I would be even sadder?
Ninth Stanza
Heaven has no limit, Earth has no border,
64 My heart's sadness is also like that.
Human life is fleeting, like a passing white colt seen through a crack,
66 But I have no chance to enjoy myself during my prime years.
I resent it and want to ask blue Heaven,
68 Heaven is blue, so blue-no way to reach it.
I lift my head and look up: empty clouds and mist;
70 The anguish I feel in the ninth stanza, who will send it up?
Tenth Stanza
Beacon fires on the wall are never extinguished,
72 Fighting on the frontier fields-when will it stop?
The killer impulse day after day clashes against the frontier gates,
74 Barbarian winds night after night blow under the border moon.
Severed from home, news cut off,
76 My weeping makes no sound, my breath is about to choke.
My whole life's pain and trouble have been caused by separation;
78 The tenth stanza's grief is so deep, tears become blood.
Eleventh Stanza
I am not one who cravenly clings to life and fears death,
80 But I cannot do harm to myself, in my mind there are reasons:
If I live I still hope to return to the mulberry trees and catalpas of home;
82 If I die my bones should be buried here, it will be over forever.
O sun, o moon! Inside alien ramparts
84 The barbarian favored me with his love, I bore him two children.
I reared them, I fostered them-nothing to be ashamed of;
86 I pitied them, I felt for them, born and raised in a remote borderland.
The eleventh stanza-it all started from this;
88 Its sad notes are intertwined, penetrating heart and marrow.
Twelfth Stanza
The east wind is in tune, gentle air is plentiful,
90 The Han Son of Heaven spreads genial harmony.
The Qiang and Hu barbarians dance and sing together with the Han people,
92 The two nations become amicable, lay down weapons and spears.
Suddenly I meet a Han envoy with recent imperial orders,
94 He brings a thousand pieces of gold to ransom my humble person.
I am gladdened by the chance to return alive and to meet the sage ruler,
96 But lament the separation from my fledgling children without hope of reunion.
In the twelfth stanza sadness and joy are even,
98 My feelings about going or staying are hard to define.
Thirteenth Stanza
I never thought for the remainder of my life I'd turn back and go home;
100 I caress and hug my barbarian children, tears wet my clothes.
The Han envoy escorts me, four stallions run nonstop.
102 My barbarian children wail; who could have known
That you and I would encounter this deathlike separation while alive?
104 I grieve for my children, the sun has no brightness;
If only I had wings, to take you back with me!
106 Farther apart with each step, my feet can hardly move,
Soul dissolves, shadows are cut off; love continues.
108 In the thirteenth stanza the strings' tempo quickens, the melody is sad,
My innards are churned and stabbed, nobody knows my pain.
Fourteenth Stanza
110 My body returns to my country, neither child can come along,
My heart is suspended, as if starved forever.
112 In the four seasons, the myriad things rise and fall,
Only my grief and suffering never change for a moment.
114 Mountains are high, the earth is broad, no tryst is there to see you.
At a late hour, when the night wanes, I dream of you coming here,
116 In my dreams I hold your hands-what joy, what pain!
After I wake my heart aches without respite.
118 In the fourteenth stanza tears run in streaks,
As the River keeps flowing east I keep thinking of them.
Fifteenth Stanza
120 In the fifteenth stanza rhythm and tune speed up,
Passion fills my breast-who understands the song?
122 I lived in a yurt with a mate of alien customs,
I wanted to go home, Heaven granted my wish.
124 The return to the Han nation gladdens my heart,
But when my heart remembers, my sorrow grows but deeper.
126 Sun and moon have no favorites, why do they not shine and help us?
The thought of mother and children severed is hard to bear.
128 Under the same sky we are far apart, like Orion and Lucifer,
Neither knowing whether the other is alive or dead, or where we can find each other.
Sixteenth Stanza
130 In the sixteenth stanza longing is vast, so vast,
I and my children are at opposite ends.
132 Sun in the east, moon in the west, looking for each other in vain,
No chance to come together, vainly gut-rending.
134 Even as I face the Lethean day-lily my sadness is not forgotten,9
I strum the singing zither, my feeling-how painful!
136 As I now leave my children and go back home,
The old grief has been assuaged but the new grief grows.
138 Weeping blood I raise my head and complain to blue Heaven:
"Did you produce me to be the only one to meet with such disaster?"
Seventeenth Stanza
140 In the seventeenth stanza heart and nose are sore,
Passes and mountains are hazardous and long, the road is hard to travel.
142 Taken away, I longed for home, my heart strings in disorder;
Coming back, I am severed from my children, yearn for them long, so long.
144 On the border, yellow mugwort branches dried up, leaves shriveled;
On the sand fields, white bones, sword marks, arrow scars
146 Wind and frost chilly, so chilly, cold in spring and summer,
People and horses hungry and tired, bones and flesh exhausted.
148 How could I know I was again to enter Chang'an?
I sigh to the breaking point, tears crisscross my face.
Eighteenth Stanza
150 The barbarian reed-whistle came from the barbarians;
Arranged for the zither, the musical pattern is the same.
152 Though the eighteen stanzas of the song are over
The sound lingers, the longing is unending.
154 Thus we know that strings and reeds are wondrously subtle-they equal the work of
In every sorrow and joy they follow the human heart through all its changes of mood.
156 Barbarians and men of Han live in different lands with unlike customs,
Heaven and Earth are separate, children in the West, mother in the East.
158 Bitter is my resentful spirit, greater than the vast sky,
The Six Directions of the universe, though broad, would have no room to hold it.

Ever since the eleventh century, doubts have been voiced about the authenticity of these poems.10 In modern times, too, scholars have discussed and debated the problem, without reaching agreement. Today scholarly opinion is still sharply divided on the authorship of each poem. I will give a few examples.

Okamura Sadao, in an article published in 1971, considered all three poems to begenuine works of Cai Yan.11 The distinguished Han specialist Lao Kan, writing in 1963, expressed the view that none of the three poems are authentic.12 Most other scholars have taken a less radical position, and believe one or two of the three poems to be genuine, but they do not agree on which to accept and which to reject. In his wellknown Zhongguo wenxue fazhan shi, first published in 1941 and revised several times, Liu Dajie stated that among the three poems, Poem Two is most likely to be genuine.13 But in two articles written in 1959, he changed his position and asserted that Poem One is by Cai Yan, Poem Two is perhaps genuine, perhaps spurious, and Poem Three was created as late as the eighth century.14 At that time Liu Dajie was engaged in a
great controversy about Poem Three with Guo Moruo, who believed both Poems One and Three to be genuine. Guo had just completed a five-act historical play about Cai Yan, entitled Cai Wenji; he intended his play to be faithful to the historical facts,15 and made special use, throughout the play, of Poem Three. Thus he wrote a series of scholarly articles to prove the authenticity of Poem Three. Liu Dajie and others joined the debate and published their own views, mostly in the "Wenxue yichan" section of the newspaper Guangming ribao. All these articles were collected in a volume titled Hujia shiba pai taolun ji (n. 1 above). It consists of twenty-nine articles by Guo Moruo and twenty other scholars, some arguing for, others against the authenticity of the three poems, primarily Poem Three. Among the most recent pronouncements on the Cai Yan problem are those by Lin Junrong. He calls her "the only woman poet of the Jian'an era.16 Of Poem Two he says that "some doubt its authenticity." In regard to Poem Three, he reminds us that "its authenticity is still being debated." But he is positive about Poem One. He classifies it as an autobiographical poem and asserts: "In the history of our literature, this is the first long narrative poem in five-syllable meter written by one of the literati.17

Thus there is no agreement among scholars on the problems of the authorship and dates of the three poems. There are two reasons why these problems are important. First, it makes a difference whether the poems are autobiographical documents or products of an outsider's imagination. Suzuki Shtiji calls Poems One a dokyumentari, a moving description of her experiences.18 Rewi Alley writes in the Foreword to his translation of Poem Three: "Few cries so charged with human passion have rung down the corridors of history as Tsai Wen-chi's Eighteen Laments. As the Chinese historian Kuo Mo-jo says, in answer to critics who have doubted whether Tsai Wen-chi actually wrote this epic poem or not, only a person who had actually suffered as she did could possibly have written it so powerfully."'19 The second reason why dating and authorship are important is that it makes a difference in the history of Chinese literature whether such long narrative poems were written in the first decade of the third century, or nearly six hundred years later, or at some point in between.

To determine the dates of these poems, one must first know how they have come down to us, and when and where they are first mentioned. The earliest source of the complete text of Poems One and Two is the biography of Cai Yan in the fifth-century Hou Han shu.20 There they are cited in full, as her own work. This citation in her biography is also the earliest mention of any of the three poems, with one possible exception: segments of Poem Two are quoted in Cai Yan biezhuan, a work of unknown date and unknown authorship, which may have been one of the sources of the Hou Han shu biography.21 Such unofficial biographies with titles ending with biezhuan were in vogue from the end of Han to the end of Jin in the early fifth century; thereafter they were rare.22 Poem Three makes its first appearance in Yuefu shi ji (late eleventh century, see n. 8 above). Zhu Xi (1130-1200) included Poems Two and Three in his Chuci houyu (n. 8) as genuine works of Cai Yan. Due to Zhu Xi's enormous prestige, this inclusion caused them to be widely accepted as authentic.

Besides the writing of these three poems, Cai Yan is also credited with other outstanding abilities and achievements. (This is of course not unusual in Chinese historiography.) She is said to have been a persuasive talker, highly accomplished in literature, calligraphy, and music, and endowed with a prodigious memory. Cai Yan biezhuan and other early biographical works tell how she once listened to her father playing the zither (qin ) at night, when she could not see him. One string broke, then another, and she knew each time which string it was. She was six years old at the time, or nine years, according to a different version.23

Another story is included in her biography in Hou Han shu:

Cao Cao asked her: "I have heard, Madam, that in your home there used to be a great many books; do you still remember them?" Wenji replied: "The books bequeathed by my late father totaled some four thousand juan, but they have been scattered and ruined, none are left. Those that I can recite from memory number only a little more than four hundred." Cao Cao then said: "I will now order ten clerks to go to your residence, Madam, to write them down." Wenji said: "I have heard that propriety requires men and women to be separate, without handing things to each other. I beg to be given paper and brushes so that I can write them down, either in standard script or in cursive script, as you may command." Subsequently she wrote out the texts and presented them, and no words were missing or incorrect.24

According to another anecdote, also included in her Hou Han shu biography, she saved the life of her third husband, Dong Si. He had committed a crime, for which Cao Cao was about to have him executed. But she spoke up for him in front of Cao Cao so eloquently and persuasively that Cao Cao pardoned him.25

Thus we see that the attribution of extraordinary poems to Cai Yan fits her image in early biographical works as an extraordinary woman. How true is the image? And how can we find out for sure whether she wrote those poems? It would be nice if there were some concrete evidence to prove or disprove her authorship, such as a text of the poems in her own handwriting. As a matter of fact, we do have a calligraphic copy of the opening couplet of Poem Three, marked with the words, "calligraphy by Cai Yan." It is included in Chunhua ge tie, the imperial calligraphy collection compiled from 992 on. What is more, Huang Tingjian (1045-1105) an outstanding expert in poetry and calligraphy believed it to be Cai Yan's poem and handwriting. What does this prove? It proves that the compilers of the imperial palace collection at the Northern Song court, as well as Huang Tingjian, believed Poem Three to be by Cai Yan. It also proves that Poem Three was already in existence at the end of the tenth century.

As for the authenticity of Poems One and Two, one would normally accept as genuine a text quoted in a person's biography in a dynastic history when the historian tells us that it was written by that person. However, Hou Han shu is not always reliable, especially in the portions dealing with the end of Eastern Han, when fewer records were kept, and many of those that were kept were lost.28 But if We are skeptical about the poems and the other marvelous feats attributed to her in the Hou Han shu biography, how much can we believe of the adventures told about her in the same biography her abduction, her captivity, her life among the Xiongnu, and her return to Han territory?

Fortunately, there are two contemporary documents to confirm these facts, fragments of two fu, both titled "Cai Bojie nii fu" (Cai Yong's Daughter). One is by Cao Cao's son and heir, Cao Pi (born winter 187-188, died 226), the other is by Ding Yi, who was executed by Cao Pi in 220. Of Cao Pi's fu, only the preface survives:

Since my father (Cao Cao) was as fond of Cai Yong as Guan Zhong was of Bao Shuya, he ordered an envoy Zhou Jin to take dark jade to the Xiongnu to ransom Cai's daughter and bring her back. He gave her in marriage to Dong Si, Chief Commandant of Commanderies with Agricultural Garrisons.

Of Ding Yi's fu we have a large portion of text, without a preface. From this fragment we learn that Cai Yan was married for the first time at the age of sixteen sui, that her first husband died, that she was abducted and forced to marry a barbarian, and that she lived in the alien environment for twelve years."3 We can therefore be certain that she lived among the Xiongnu for about a dozen years.

To understand the circumstances of her captivity, a few facts concerning the Southern Xiongnu are relevant. (One must keep in mind, of course, that nearly all our information about the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources and reflects the views and concerns of Chinese historians.) In the year A.D. 49, the Xiongnu split into two hostile groups, Northern and Southern. The Southern Xiongnu lived under Chinese protection. In foreign affairs and in war, they were allies of Han China most of time. In the latter part of the Eastern Han, the Southern Xiongnu cavalry served as auxiliary units within the Chinese army in wars against the Northern Xiongnu, the Xianbei, and the Qiang. The military and political organization of the Xiongnu, like that of other steppe peoples, was related to their cavalry order of battle. The ruler, whose title was shanyu, was also the supreme commander. The second in command, who was also heir apparent, had a title rendered in Chinese as zuo xianwang. The fourth in command was called you xianwang. These two men, zuo xianwang and you xianwang, were members of the Shanyu's family.31

According to some accounts, Cai Yan was married to the zuo xianwang of the Southern Xiongnu;32 according to another version, to the you xianwang.33 Since both versions come from Cai Yan biezhuan, one of them may simply be in error; but possibly both versions are correct: the husband may have had first one title, then the other; he may have been promoted from you xianwang to zuo xianwang. (The Xiongnu, like the Chinese, ranked left above right.)34 But no matter which of the two titles he held, he certainly belonged to the ruling family.

A crucial problem is the location of the Southern Xiongnu among whom Cai Yan lived. In A.D. 50, the Southern Xiongnu settled in Yunzhong , in what is now Inner Mongolia. In the same year, they were attacked by the Northern Xiongnu and moved to Meiji, which was either in Inner Mongolia or in Northern Shanxi. In A.D. 188 (close to the time when Cai Yan was abducted) there was strife among the Southern Xiongnu, and in the following year (189), one of the two factions was expelled and settled in Pingyang in the Fen River valley (southern Shanxi). In 195 and 196, this southern branch of the Southern Xiongnu took part in the Chinese civil war, while the northern branch did not.35 Cai Yan's captors must have belonged to the southern branch. Since her husband was a member of the ruling family, they almost certainly lived in southern Shanxi.36

If we now look at Poem One, lines 43-44, we can see that this description does not fit the climate of southern Shanxi. The same is true of Poem Two, lines 12-15. Just as far removed from the reality of Cai Yan's experiences are several passages in Poem Three, including (among others) lines 25-26 and 45-46. (Cai Yan was actually quite far from the Stream Long, which is in modern Gansu, and from the Great Wall, which in her time ran from Gansu west to modern Xinjiang.)37

Another conflict with the reality of Cai Yan's life among the Southern Xiongnu is to be found in Poem Three, lines 52-55. This passage is taken, in part verbatim, from Sima Qian's account of the Xiongnu "The Xiongnu... move with their live-stock; they raise mostly horses, cattle, and sheep... Going after water and grass, they move their abodes; they have neither walled cities nor permanent residences, and do not cultivate fields .... They esteem strong, healthy men and despise the old and the weak ...."38 What Sima Qian is describing here is the way of life of the Xiongnu at the beginning of the Western Han-almost four hundred years before Cai Yan's time!

This is not the only passage in Poem Three that derives from earlier literature; there are other instances: 1. Lines 1-2 are adapted from Shi Jing, 2/ The first four characters of line 6 are taken verbatim from Shi Jing. 3. Line 65 derives from a passage in Zhuangzi. 4. The first four characters of line 83 are taken ver batim from Shi Jing. Borrowing from earlier literature is a feature that sets Poem Three apart from Poems One and Two, there are other differences as we shall see.

It is a remarkable fact that not a word is said about Cai Yan as an author in any extant pre-Tang work-with the exception of Hou Han shu and its probable source, Cai Yan biezhuan. Hou Han shu was widely read in the fifth and sixth centuries, yet Poems One and Two, whose full texts are included in Cai Yan's Hou Han shu biography, are never mentioned in works such as Zhong Rong's Shi Pin Liu Xie's(ca. 465-ca. 520) Wenxin diaolong, Xiao Tong's (501-531) Wen xuan, and Xu Ling's (507-583) Yutai xin yong . Although this is only negative evidence, it strongly suggests that these literary critics and anthologists did not believe Cai Yan to have written Poems One and Two.

As we have seen, Poem One has generally been considered the most likely among the three poems to be a genuine work of Cai Yan. As for the date of Poem One, its opening line is worded in such a way that it can only have been written after the abdication of the last Han emperor, that is, after A.D. 220.40 Therefore, if one believes Cai Yan to be the author of Poem One, one must assume that she waited about fourteen years (or longer) after her return from the Xiongnu before writing the first line. (The same goes for Poem Three, line 2.) Furthermore, since Poem One cannot have been written before 220, it is later than the above-mentioned fu by Ding Yi, who was executed in 220. Poem One thus retells events that had already been treated by at least one other poet; it is therefore unlikely to be autobiographical.

Yu Guanying asserts that Poems One and Two do not agree with each other and can therefore not both be genuine.41 Indeed, a careful reading of the two poems suggests that they were written by two different authors. They do not tell quite the same story. According to the opening of Poem One, Cai Yan was seized by non-Chinese cavalry in Dong Zhuo's army during his usurpation of power. But the opening of Poem Two implies (in line 2) that she was captured when her father Cai Yong was already dead. Cai Yong died in 192, after his master Dong Zhuo had been killed.

Further indications that the three poems are by different hands are to be found in their formal features. Poems Two and Three are, as mentioned, both in Jiu ge meter, but the meter is handled differently. In Poem Two, every line is seven syllables long, every line has xi as its fourth syllable, and every line rhymes. In Poem Three, the line length varies from five to fourteen syllables; xi appears in most lines, but not in all lines, and not always in the same position; and not all lines rhyme. Of the ten lines which do not rhyme, nine always constitute the third line in a quatrain, with end rhyme in the other three lines.42 This pattern is common in Tang poetry but was not used before the fifth century.43 The most striking instance of this pattern in Poem Three is the quatrain of lines 71-74. This sounds like a frontier poem (biansai shi ) of the Tang; and it conflicts with the reality of relations between the Southern Xiongnu and Han China at the beginning of the third century.44

The use of rhyme words is sometimes a fairly objective indicator of a poem's time and place of origin. In Poem Three, a Chinese linguist has found words rhyming together which did not rhyme in Eastern Han times.45 What is more, Poem Three obeys the Tang rules for official rhymes (guan yun a ): in each of the eighteen stanzas of Poem Three, the rhymes are limited to one of the 206 guan yun categories. This cannot be a coincidence. In Poem One, on the other hand, words from different guan yun categories rhyme with each other.46

Local dialects are known to play some role in rhyming practices. One would expect Cai Yan's speech and its effects (if any) on her rhyming habits to be similar to those of her father Cai Yong. But Cai Yong's rhyming practices are in fact different from those of Poem Three.47

The late Xu Shiying made an analytical comparison of Poems One and Two in regard to syntactic structure and rhyming patterns. In both respects he found Poem One richer, more varied, and more effective than Poem Two. He noted that Poem One uses three types of rhymes: yang a rhymes (that is, rhyme words ending in a nasal consonant), yin a rhymes (ending in a vowel), and rusheng A rhymes (ending in -p, -t, or -k). Poem Two, on the other hand, uses only yang rhymes.48

Much of the evidence relating to the Cai Yan problem, and many of the stories that were told about Cai Yan, have to do with music. As I mentioned earlier, Cai Yan had the reputation of having been a great musician, and her instrument is said to have been the zither (qin ). In Tang times, several famous qin players performed the story of Cai Yan on their instrument. (Instrumental music was usually program music.) One of them was Dong Tinglan in the first half of the eighth century. His qin performance of the Cai Yan story is described in a poem by one of his contemporaries, Li Qi.49 But it is not clear from this and other Tang records whether these performances were just instrumental music or whether a song went along with it; and if there were songs, we do not know what the words were.

We do have Tang poems that tell the Cai Yan story. The earliest such poem whose approximate date is known is by Liu Shang, who passed the jinshi examination during the Dali era (766-780). Liu Shang's poem is preserved in Yuefu shi ji and in two Dunhuang manuscripts, under two titles: "Hujia qu" and "Hujia shiba pai".50 There are also different versions of what purports to be Liu Shang's preface to his poem.51 The poem shows a clear affinity to Poem Three, not only in its division into eighteen stanzas (of which more will be said later) but also its content and wording. If one could determine which of the two poems was written first, the problem of the date and origin of Poem Three would be much closer to solution; but I see no sure way of making such a determination.

As for the alleged origin of Poem Three, it is interesting that Liu Shang's preface (as cited in Yuefu shi ji) differs from other accounts which trace the origin of the "Song of the Barbarian Reed-Whistle" to Cai Yan herself: according to the preface, Dong Tinglan's qin composition was an adaptation of an earlier reed-whistle piece composed by the barbarians to express their grief over Cai Yan's departure.

As is well known, writing poetry in the style of an earlier poem or an earlier poet is a common phenomenon throughout Chinese literary history. In such cases the earlier poet is often named, and contemporaries-not to mention later readers-cannot always tell whether they are reading a work written by the earlier poet or an imitation. The confusion was even greater in the realm of music. The origin of musical pieces-instrumental music as well as songs-was often unknown. Musicians of the post-Han period and through the Tang learned most of their repertoire not from written scores but by ear, from their teachers. They knew that their teachers had not composed these pieces themselves but had learned them in turn from their teachers, and so on, back in time. Besides, many musicians liked to believe that they were playing or singing very old music, and tended to claim ancient origins for the pieces they performed. When a composition was finally committed to writing and a name had to be attached to it, it was often the name of a famous musician who was known to have performed it in the past, or it could be the name of the person with whom the music dealt.52 Thus in the eleventh-century Yuefu shi ji, in the section of songs accompanied by the qin, there are texts of songs said to have been composed and sung by Yao, Shun and Yu by Ji Zi of the Shang dynasty; by Kings Wen, Wu, and Cheng of the Zhou dynasty; and by Confucius. These illustrious attributions are buttressed by quotations from standard Tang books on music.53

Since Cai Yan was supposed to have been a highly literate lady and a skilled musician, it was perfectly natural to consider her the author of musical compositions and poems that told her story. In addition, there was a literary development in the Han and post-Han period which was not completely understood in its own time-and even in modern times. It was a kind of impersonation or dramatic monologue. Poems and prose pieces were written in the first-person form, comparable to the first-person fiction of the Western and the Japanese traditions, but distinct insofar as the Chinese authors neither told their own story nor created a fictitious personality. Rather, they took a person from history (or sometimes from among their contemporaries), identified with that person, and spoke from his or her point of view. A fully developed example of this first-person form is the above-mentioned poem "Hujia qu," also called "Hujia shiba pai," by Liu Shang of the eighth century. Cai Yan here tells her own story, but the poem is signed by Liu Shang with his name. Early examples of partial impersonation are the two fu "Changmen fu"(Tall Gate Palace), attributed to Sima Xiangru (179-117 B.C.),54 and "Cai Yong's Daughter" (n. 30 above) by Ding Yi (died 220). In both fu, the lady is first presented objectively, in the third person; a few lines later, there is a shift to the first person.

An instance of complete impersonation is the poem "Wang Mingjun ci" by Shi Chong (249-300).55 Wang Mingjun, much celebrated in Chinese literature, is Wang Qiang iM, courtesy name Zhaojun , also known as Mingfei. She was a lady in the harem of the Han emperor Yuan. In 33 B.C. she was given to the Shanyu of the Xiongnu as his bride. The poem she wrote is entirely in the first person: the only voice we hear is Wang Qiang's. But there is no suggestion that this poem was written by Wang Qiang.

I submit that our Poems One, Two, and Three were conceived in the same spirit. I also suspect that the poems and letters supposedly written by Li Ling and Su Wu, and many other works of pre-Tang literature where famous personalities are made to express their thoughts and feelings in their own voices-I suspect that they too belong to the literature of impersonation.56 I am inclined to think that two short poems which have much in common with our three Cai Yan poems belong to the same literature of impersonation. One of them is "Yuan shi" (Complaint);57 its persona is the same Wang Qiang who speaks in Shi Chong's "Wang Mingjun ci." The other is "Geshi" (Song); its speaker and putative author is the Han princess Liu Xijun, who was married to the King of the Wusun during the Yuanfeng era It is perhaps no accident that the persons who speak in these letters and poems- Li Ling, Su Wu, Liu Xijun, and Wang Qiang-shared a common fate with Cai Yan, namely, an involuntary stay among barbarians. Contact with an alien culture is a powerful literary theme. It offers numerous possibilities, since it involves a mixture of adventurous curiosity, uneasy hostility, depressive homesickness, and a keen awareness of one's cultural and personal identity. There are comparable stories, poems, plays, and films about Christians and Moors in medieval Spain, white people and Indians in the Americas, refugees from war, revolution, and persecution in our own time, and many other analogous situations. One can easily understand the fascination which the Cai Yan story has held (and still holds) for the Chinese public. Here was a high-born lady, a talented young widow, abducted from her home, forced to marry a foreigner, cut off from her native environment for a dozen years, then uprooted again and separated from her children, and finally brought back against her will to face a new life of desolation. The story was elaborated not only in poetry and music but also in painting and drama.59 But it would go beyond the confines of this article to sketch the development of the Cai Yan legend.

Before attempting to draw final conclusions about the three poems, three more matters should be briefly considered: the moral contempt in which Cai Yan was held by many, the internal divisions of the three poems, and their place in the development of Chinese literature. Cai Yan was criticized by numerous writers through the ages for marrying a barbarian after her first husband's death, and for bearing and rearing half-barbarian children. Her contemporary Ding Yi, in the fu mentioned earlier (n. 30), makes her speak of her "shame" for having "failed in her duty" toward her deceased husband. The well-known Tang historian Liu Zhiji (661-721) pronounces the following harsh judgment: "Dong's wife, Cai, gave birth to barbarian children and was shamed in an alien court. Of literary merit she had more than enough, but her moral behavior was defective. This is an instance of words and actions contradicting each other."60

Poem Three is clearly divided into eighteen stanzas. This division was not imposed by some editor but is inherent in the wording of the poem: "... one stanza ... the second stanza . . . the third stanza . . . ," etc. A strikingly similar structural device was used by Du Fu (712-770) in 759, in a cycle of seven poems titled "Qianyuan zhong yu ju Tongguxian zuo ge qi shou".61 The similarity has been noted, and it has been asserted that Du Fu used Poem Three as his model for this device.62 But it is equally possible to assume that Poem Three is modeled on Du Fu's cycle, or that both have a common antecedent. Be that as it may, the division into eighteen stanzas is a remarkable feature of Poem Three, a feature shared with Liu Shang's poem, as noted above.

Even more remarkable is the fact that Poems One and Two can also easily be divided into eighteen parts. Wang Yi-t'ung, who believes Poem Three to be "a definitely later work,"63 divides Poem One "into eighteen stanzas on the basis of grammatical structure and rhetorical sequence."64 As for Poem Two, several scholars consider it the original "Hujia shiba pai"65 and schemes have been proposed for dividing its thirty-eight lines into eighteen parts.66 In fact there is more than one way of dividing it. Its stucture may be analyzed as follows.

There are two clear breaks in the poem: in line 12 the rhyme changes, and line 31 brings a new development in the narration of events. The second section (lines 12-30) divides into couplets on the basis of meaning, down to line 27, followed by a three-line unit (lines 28-30). The final section (lines 31-38) naturally divides into four couplets. In the first section (lines 1-11) the divisions are less clear. Most of this section, too, seems to consist of couplets. But the odd total-eleven-calls for something like a three-line unit, perhaps (as in the middle section) at the end of the section. This would give us five units in the first section, nine units in the second section, and four units in the third section, a total of eighteen units.

Since not only Poem Three but also Poems One and Two were perhaps planned to consist of eighteen parts, all three poems may have been separate responses to an early tradition that Cai Yan composed a song in eighteen parts.

The proper place for the three poems in the history and development of Chinese literature is difficult to determine. All three belong to the literature of impersonation, and more particularly, impersonation of Chinese ladies forced to live among barbarians All three may be classified as yuefu W W, but they have little in common with extant narrative yuefu of Han, Wei, Jin, and the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Poem One is the most successful of the three as a work of art, and the most original.

In conclusion, we have found that the three poems attributed to Cai Yan are by three different authors, and none of the three poems can be by her. The argument put forward by Guo Moruo, Rewi Alley, and others that "only a person who had actually suffered as she did could possibly have written it so powerfully" ignores the creative imagination of a good poet. Many critics seem to feel that if Cai Yan's authorship is denied, the literary value of the poems is thereby diminished; and conversely, if they are first-rate poems, they must be genuine self-representation. But beginning just about in Cai Yan's time, lyric poetry no longer dealt exclusively with the self, and the evaluation of a work of art should be independent of the question of authorship.

Of the historical Cai Yan we know very little. Whether she had any literary talent is not known. Not a single line written by her, either in prose or in verse, has been transmitted. That she lived among the Xiongnu for years is an established fact. But whether she was happy or unhappy there, how she felt about her Xiongnu husband and her environment there-of all this we know nothing at all. Also the separation from her children is told only in the poems, there is no historical evidence for it. The dates of the three poems cannot be determined exactly. Poem One must have been written between 220 (the end of the Han dynasty) and 446 (the death date of Fan Ye, the compiler of Hou Han shu). Poem Two must have been created between Cai Yan's return to Han territory in the first decade of the third century and Fan Ye's death in 446. On the basis of style, Poems One and Two appear to be fairly close in time to Cai Yan's life. Poem Three is much later; it probably dates from the seventh or eighth century, more likely the eighth.

Though the three Cai Yan poems are unusual, they do not stand alone either as poetry of impersonation or in their subject matter: the facts, legends, and traditions connected with Cai Yan have given rise to many interesting creations in Chinese literature, music, and art, from the third to the twentieth century.


unsorted and uncorrected references
In writing this article, I have received constructive criticism and suggestions from Kang-i Sun Chang, Eugene
Eoyang, Donald Holzman, David Knechtges, William H. Nienhauser, Jr., Stephen Owen, Monika Ubelhar,
Ying-shih Yii, and (last but not least) my wife Chang Ch'ung-ho. I am especially grateful for a detailed
critique by a scholar whose identity was not revealed to me, who read a draft of the article for the editors
of CLEAR, without knowing who had written it.
'Li Cunren 4A, "Guanyu Cai Wenji guli de ziliao" r Th t~, in Hujia shiba
hpuaai , t1a9o5l9u),n p jpi. M25 9?-+2 6A1. S~i~, compiled by the editors of Wenxue yichan 2; (Beijing: Zhong-
2Guo Moruo RM (1892-1978), in "Zai tan Cai Wenji de 'Hujia shiba pai'" rMRM < KMH
,-? A ?, in Hujia shiba pai taolun ji, pp. 11-13, argues that Cai Yan must have been born in 177, married
to Wei Zhongdao in 192, and returned to Han territory in 208. He convincingly shows that her marriage
must have taken place before her father's death in the summer of 192, because after his death she must
have been in mourning for 27 months, and a later wedding date would not fit the circumstances of her
capture and return. I believe her first marriage must have taken place either in 192 or slightly earlier. It is
known from Ding Yi's fu (to be discussed later) that she was married in the spring of her sixteenth year.
This corresponds to an age of either fifteen or fourteen in Western reckoning. Hence I conclude that she was
born in 178 or shortly before. It cannot have been many years earlier, because it is unlikely that at the time
of her third marriage (in or about 206) she was much older than thirty.
3T'ung-tsu Ch'ii, Han Social Structure, ed. Jack L. Dull (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1972), pp.
S3h3a-n3g4w;u ,Q 1u9 3X7)u, apn. 5y9i0n. g @, Zhongguo shehui shiliao congchao ct1ri M R$f (Changsha:
*He was probably a younger brother of Wei Ji M , courtesy name Boru f~ I, whose biography is in
Sanguo zhi __ (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1975), 21.610-612. See Tan Qixiang - , "Cai Wenji de shengping ji qi zuopin" 4IJ F R h1 kFA, in Hujia shiba pal taolun ji, p. 250.
y u5eZkhana nZ gA SJh Ua o(Qkianngdga o9),9 M{JarTch, "1C95a8i, pYpa.n 6 3'-B65e;i fLaeon K sanh ib' Ab,e n"Csahi iY aznh Bieyifi"en I sh<i ,crhiu ,y uW weenit usohi zhe
kao" - ' 2(i~~ , Dalu zazhi kA M , 26(1963), 140.
6Most ancient and modern accounts speak simply of two "children" (zi F ); Guo Moruo in his play Cai
Wenji (see below and n. 15) makes one of them a boy and the other a girl. But according to Cai Yan biejuan
~ yJ5ij, they were both boys, see Taiping yulan 4P0 (ed. in Sibu congkan, 3rd Series), 488.7a.
7My translations of Han bureaucratic terms are based on Hans Bielenstein, The Bureaucracy of Han Times
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1980).
8For Poems One and Two, I use the text of Hou Han shu ~ ~ (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1973), 84 ("Liezhuan"
f;)%, 74), 2801-2803. In Poem Two, line 33, I have substituted for the Hou Han shu reading hao M the
variant ti W from Cai Yan biezhuan, cited in Taiping yulan, 488.7a. Though quotations in encyclopedias are
often faulty, this one is likely to be correct because it occurs under the subject heading ti W.
For Poem Three, my basic text is Yuefu shi ji Wf4 -4-, compiled by Guo Maoqian Rf in the late
eleventh century (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1979), 59.860-865, with the variant readings preferred by the editors
of this edition in their text and/or critical notes for lines 12, 26, 78, 81, 83, 85, 88, 98, 113, 134, 142-145,
151, and 159. For the fourth character of line 19, I have adopted the Chuci houyu (in Chuci
jizhu A [Shanghai: Guji A-, 1979], p. 255) variant in place of the Yuefu shi ji reading xuan
M. In line 51, the 1979 edition of Yuefu shi ji has the misprint rong A; earlier editions have the correct
reading shu ..
Commentaries: Han Wei liuchao wenxue zuopin xuandu 7] f6 (Hong Kong: Jinxiu
chuban she .152,it I, 1961), pp. 110-123 (all three poems); Wei Jin nanbei chao wenxue shi cankao ziliao M Mt ~ ' , compiled by the History of Literature Faculty of Beijing University
(Beijing: Zhonghua, 1962), pp. 161-173 (Poem One); Zhu Dongrun Mi', Zhongguo lidai wenxue
zuopin xuan WRHf Af',k, ? (Shanghai: Guji A-, 1981), vol. 2, pp. 252-256 (Poem One); Lin
Junrong & %, Wei Jin nanbei chao wenxue zuopin xuan M W AS fF rA (Changchun: Jilin
renmin chuban she iA ,, , 1980), pp. 40-45 (Poem One). Translations: Hsu Sung-nien, Anthologie de la littirature chinoise (Paris: Delagrave, 1933), pp. 111-114 (Poem
One); Sie Kang, L'Amour maternel dans la littirature feminine en Chine (Paris: Pedone, 1937), pp. 52-54 (Poem
One, lines 53-56; Poem Two, lines 31-38); Georges Margoulibs, Anthologie raisonnie de la littirature chinoise
(Paris: Payot, 1948), pp. 267-274 (Poem Three); Wang Yi-t'ung, "The Lamentation of Ts'ai Yen," Delta
(Canada), 10(Jan.-Mar., 1960), pp. 11-18, revised version in Sunflower Splendor, co-edited by Wu-chi Liu and
Irving Yucheng Lo (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1975), pp. 36-39 (Poem One); Rewi Alley, The Eighteen
Laments by Tsai Wen-chi, Later Han Dynasty (Beijing: New World Press, 1963) (free rendition of Poem Three);
John D. Frodsham and Ch'eng Hsi, An Anthology of Chinese Verse (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), pp. 9-
13 (Poem One); Eric Sackheim, ... the Silent Zero, in Search of Sound ... (New York: Grossman, 1968), pp.
33-35 (Poem Two); Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung, The Orchid Boat: Women Poets of China (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1972), pp. 4-7 (Poem Three, stanzas 1, 2, 7, 11, 13, 17).
1oThe first to question Cai Yan's authorship of Poems One and Two was the famous Su Shi (1037-
1101); see two of his prose writings: "Ti Cai Yan zhuan" ,f4, in Dongpo tiba M lR (ed. in
Jindai mishu $RE, [Bobu congshu jicheng 83RI R , No. 22]), 2.6b; and "Da Liu Mian ducao
sh Suz"1 JS lS, J19E7i5S),~ " H, oiunji " SWu AD, o1n4.g62p2o. Tqhue aeanrjliie s-t (wTraitiepre tio: dHoueb-tL Cuaoi Ytauns'sh auut hcohrsuhbipa nof sPhoeem i JThMreie
was Zhu Changwen (1039-1098) in his Qin shi - (ed. in Lianting shier zhong #t-_T
f ), 3.12a-b. See also Wang Zhulou IEt~l , "'Hujia shiba pai' shi Cai Wenji zuo de ma?" <K t Am~ >
3 0 ( ,, in Hujia shiba pai taolun ji, p. 62.
g "aOkkkaami uhrda S~a~dSa1o ,1 52@3 (,1, 9"7S1ai) ,E n20 n-o3 5s.akuhin no shingi" a, 0 0 f#, Nihon Chagoku
12Lao Kan (n. 5 above), pp. 139-140.
'3Liu Dajie WUkt, Zhongguo wenxue fazhan shi M A (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue S, 1957), vol. 1, p. 217.
"Liu Dajie, "Guanyu Cai Yan de 'Hujia shiba pai"' MM M + A4 1, in Hujia shiba pai jeis,p pecpi.a l1ly41 p-p15.136,9 -e1s7p0e.cially p. 152; and "Zai tan 'Hujia shiba pai' " - ?i1]?+ Ai i>, ibid., pp. 154-15Guo Moruo -t 2, Cai Wenji & (Beijing: Wenwu R , 1959), Preface, p. 1. '6Lin Junrong (n. 8), p. 39.
7Lin Junrong, p. 40.
'1[~Siu, z1u9k67i ),S hpi. j6i 14. tK{5A, Kan-Gi shi no kenkya - 0) (Tokyo: Daishukan Shoten ;
'9Rewi Alley, The Eighteen Laments (n. 8), beginning of Foreword (pages not numbered).
20See n. 8 above. The basic annals and biographies of Hou Han shu were written by Fan Ye - H (398-
446). On the historiography of Hou Han shu, see Hans Bielenstein, "The Restoration of the Han Dynasty,"
BMFEA, 26(1954), 9-81.
21The view that Cai Yan biezhuan is the principal source of her Hou Han shu biography is set forth by Tan
Qixiang (n. 4 above), p. 249. Cai Yan biezhuan survives only in fragmentary quotations. The first three
characters of line 21 and the complete lines 24-25 of Poems Two are contained in the Cai Yan biezhuan
fragment excerpted in Yiwen leiju B IN (Hong Kong: Zhonghua, 1973), 44.795. Lines 31, 33, and 34
are contained in the Cai Yan biezhuan fragment excerpted in Taiping yulan (n. 6 above), 488.7a.
22Bian Xiaoxuan -t, "Tan Cai Yan zuopin de zhenwei wenti" - Yf A f44, in Hujia shiba pai taolun ji, pp. 234-235.
23Yiwen leiju, 44.782, citing Cai Yan biezhuan (her age is given as six); Liu Zhao @J (5th-6th centuries),
Youtong zhuan ti f, cited in Hou Han shu (n. 8), 84.2800, n. 2 (no mention of her age); Diaoyu ji Fl
HI, (anonymous fragment dated 747, ed. in Guyi congshu f-( , No. 16), 12.2a (age nine).
24Hou Han shu, 84.2801.
25Hou Han shu, 84.2800-2801.
1 92726),S vo. n5.g ta Chunhua ge tie 4-r4"d (Taipei: Da Zhongguo tushu gongsi E ,
27Shangu tiba lUj L R (ed. in Jindai mishu [n. 10 above]), 4.4a ("Ba fatie" r ); Wang Zhulou (n.
10 above), pp. 58-60.
28Bielenstein, "The Restoration" (n. 20), pp 9-14.
29Taiping yulan (n. 6), 806.9b.
30Yiwen leiju (n. 21), 30.542. According to Cai Yan biezhuan (cited in Taiping yulan [n. 6], 488.7a), she lived
there for thirteen years.
31Han shu ( (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1975), 94A.3751; Hou Han shu (n. 8), 89.2944; Fan Wenlan W
(1891-1969), Zhongguo tongshi jianbian ~ ~ Sf~, revised ed., Part Two (Beijing: Jenmin AR,
1965), pp.182-184; John F. Haskins, "The Pazyryk Felt Screen and the Barbarian Captivity of Ts'ai Win
Chi," BMFEA, 35(1963), 142; Hans Bielenstein, "The Restoration of the Han Dynasty, Volume III: The
People," BMFEA, 39(1967), 116-120.
32Yiwen leiju (n. 21), 44.795, citing Cai Yan biezhuan; Hou Han shu, 84.2800.
33Yuefu shi ji (n. 8), citing Cai Yan biezhuan.
3'Han shu, 94A.3751; Wang Xianjin _EBI, "Genju Cai Yan lishi lun Cai Yan zuopin zhenwei wenti"
(9 . ~ i f l,~FAi? , in Hujia shiba pai taolun ji, p. 208; Haskins, p. 142.
35Jin shu (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1974), 97.2548; Fan Wenlan, p. 182; Bian Xiaoxuan (n. 22), pp. 229-
232; Bielenstein (n. 31), pp. 120-122, 127-131.
36For evidence regarding the location of the Xiongnu among whom Cai Yan lived, see Wang Dajin I
. "Hujia shiba pai fei Cai Yan zuo buzheng" M +AAM, R, in Hujia shiba pai taolun ji, pp. 184-186.
37Wang Xianjin (n. 34), p. 215.
38Shi ji (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1972), 110.2879.
39Some of these borrowings and allusions are noted by Li Dingwen WF1 , "'Hujia shiba pai' shi Cai
WWaenngj iD azjuino (dne. 3m6),a ?p". 1<8t5W. ETA >>: W ,,, in Hujia shiba pai taolun ji, pp.180-181, and by
'OGuo Moruo, among others, made this point in "San tan Cai Wenji de 'Hujia shiba pai' " _ ~~3B M
<ia~-j+ ?A , in Hujia shiba pai taolun ji, p. 15.
"Yu Guanying , , , "Lun Cai Yan 'Beifen shi' " M ? AtwO' >, in his Han Wei liuchao shi luncong
Ai 7 (Shanghai: Zhonghua, 1962), p. 79.
42The non-rhyming lines are lines 7, 11, 19, 59, 65, 73, 77, 81, 93, and 142. Nine of them (that is, all except
line 93) are always the third line of a quatrain with the rhyme pattern aaba.
"4T3hZhesue Btewno ,p "oGinutasn yarue 'Hmuajdiae sbhyi bHa up aGiu' o" r?u,i <J<U~ ,t -" GAu a>n?,y uin C Haiu jYiaa ns h'Hibuaj ipa asih tiaboal upnal 'j id, ep .z h2e2n4w. ei
w e~ni tRi" ,t ,H -acn sMh i& y Aan ?ji>u> -BE P( TPa i,p ,e ii:n Z Hheunjiga zshhoinbga p1aEi4 t, a1o9lu6n9) ,j i,p .p 2. 9189.9; and by Fang Zushen
5Y a n,g 1D9a5oj9in, gp ,. "6'H08uj.ia shiba pai' de yong yun" <(?'~-At- j>) 1iJ, Zhongguo yuwen
"6Liu Pansui PU, "Tan 'Hujia shiba pai' fei Cai Wenji suo zuo" ~<K& i A'>IZ RK
f', in Hujia shiba pai taolun ji, pp. 191-192; Wang Dajin (n. 36), p. 186.
'rYang Daojing, p. 608.
48Xu Shiying SF itUi, "Cai Yan Beifen shi jufa yanjiu jian lun qi yong yun" t
f ~ if , Gungugong tushu jikan i' E U, 3.1(July 1972), 1-10 and 3.2(October 1972), 13- 23.
49For the text and an English translation of this poem, see Stephen Owen, The Great Age of Chinese Poetry:
The High T'ang (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1981), pp.105-106.
50Yuefu shi ji (n. 8), 59.866-869. The two Dunhuang manuscripts (Paris, Bibliothbque Nationale, Pelliot Nos.
2h5a5k5 uan" d@ 2A84I5 )) airJe fc~it e,d7 ~a1n,d Cdihscaugsosekdu i nb Oujnimgaa kSuuk ehmYa 'EJ i ,,, , 1"3T(oOnckt6 . sh1u9t6s0ug),e n6 9n-o7 g5o.k aO jjiiTmhaachi
believes the manuscripts to date from late Tang, and notes that they contain many errors and omissions,
and that they differ from the Yuefu shi ji text. There is a complete translation of Liu Shang's poem, with
commentary and notes, in Robert A. Rorex and Wen Fong, Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute: The Story of Lady
Wen-chi (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974).
51One version is cited in Yuefu shi ji, 59.860, and two other versions (slightly varying from each other) in
the two Dunhuang manuscripts. Hu Zhenheng i ~9i (1569-1644/45) also refers to the preface in a brief
note in his Tangyin guiqian E (Shanghai: Gudian wenxue, 1957), 14.121. There is no agreement
among modern scholars on the authenticity, wording, and import of Liu Shang's preface, see Xiao Difei
MM # , " 'Hujia shiba pai' shi Dong Tinglan zuo de ma?" C s +li A > ?fF MW . in Hujia
shiba pai taolun ji, pp. 65-66; Wang Yunxi TI , "Cai Yan yu 'Hujia shiba pai' " P{7 CMr-+ 1?>, ibid., p. 190; Liu Dajie, "Guanyu Cai Yan" (n. 14), p. 144.
S5,2 WZheannxgu eD epjuinng lWun W C, i",D 1u9i6 '0Z.a1i( Fteabn. "1H96u0ji)a, sph. i4b9a. pai"' de shangdui" <4 - F tE--A i J ?
53Yuefu shi ji (n. 8), 57.824-825, 828, 829-833; 58.839
54Liu chen zhu Wen xuan j 1 (photolithographic reproduction of Song wood-block ed. in Sibu
congkan), 16.10a-15a. The attribution of this fu to Sima Xiangru, often questioned, is cogently defended by
David R. Knechtges, "Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju's 'Tall Gate Palace Rhapsody'," HJAS, 41(1981), 47-64. But even
those who doubt Sima Xiangru's authorship have never claimed that the fu was written by the Empress nie
Chen herself.
55Liu chen zhu Wen xuan, 27.31a-32b.
56Scholarly discussion of these poems and letters has generally turned on the question whether they are
"genuine" or "spurious." See, for example, K. P. K. Whitaker, "Notes on the Authorship of the Lii Ling/
Su Wuu Letters," BSOAS, 15(1953), 113-137, 566-587; Fang Zushen (n. 44), pp. 48-67.
57Yiwen leiju (n. 21), 30.538, citing Qin cao 1 by Kong Yan fl# (268-320).
58Jianzhu Yutai xin yong ^ , i (Taipei: Guangwen , 1967), 9.3a-b. Translations: Arthur
Waley, Chinese Poems (London: Allen & Unwin, 1956), p. 43 ("Lament of Hsi-chin"); Anne Birrell, New
Songs from a Jade Terrace (London: Allen & Unwin, 1982), p. 232 ("Lost horizon").
59Paintings of the Cai Yan story, which begin in Northern Song, are discussed by Haskins (n. 31), pp.145-
150; and by Rorex and Fong (n. 50). A play titled Wenji ru sai iM k was written by Chen Yujiao
4i~% (1544-1611), see Sheng Ming zaju E -]J (Beijing: Zhongguo xiju chuban she t1 ~ J
It {j?, 1958), vol. 1. For other versions of the Cai Yan legend in Ming and Qing drama, see Cheng Hong
1 9E6:,0 "(GWuednaxi uxei qyui czhhaonn g2 di,e NCoa.i 2W94e)n. ji" if R itlfb i, Guangming ribao f ~ E , 3 Jan.
?Shi tong _ (photolithographic reproduction of Ming Wanli era wood-block ed. in Sibu congkan), 8.13b
(Section 30, "Renwu" XAA ); Ye Qingbing - WM, "Cai Yan Beifen shi liang shou xilun" '
S4, Zhongwai wenxue 4 tkU, (Taipei), 1.2(July 1972),14.
1 66913D ue dsihtiio nx,i aSnhgaznhguh atii: &Sa o, yeed .s hQainuf Zanhga oMaoi Li b1n, t1,9 (1156),3 88-.4167a1-75)1 a(l.ithographic reproduction of original
62Qiu Zhaoao, Du shi xiangzhu, 8.46b; Xiao Difei (n. 51), p. 70.
63Wang Yi-t'ung, "The Lamentation" (n. 8), p. 12.
64Wang Yi-t'ung, p. 15, n. 12.
65Xu Shipu ~tk (fl. 1644), Yuqi shihua ,M (in Yuzhang congshu fit, [Bobu congshu
jicheng El RA~- R, No. 96, Taipei: Yiwen M 2,1970]), fol. 5b; Liu Kaiyang UJF]4, "Guanyu
Cai Wenji ji qi zuopin" ~ I F {nR , in Hujia shiba pai taolun ji, p. 177.
66Liu Kaiyang, p. 177; Wang Yunxi (n. 51), p. 188.
Alone I lean under the wispy shade of an aged tree,
Scornfully I raise to parted lips a cup of warm wine,
Longingly I cast an empty vessel aside those exposed roots,
And leave behind forgotten memories and forsaken dreams.
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Thu Nov 09, 2017 8:55 am

[The following is the entirety of an article that appeared inside of the Medieval Chinese History Journal. I don't have complete access to this journal, but it is the first one I have ever come across where I'm considering a 20 USD yearly charge to gain access to outside of school. It is a gold-mine, and I hope I will have better access in the future.]

Zhuge Liang and the Northern Campaign of 228-234

Written by John Killigrew of SUNY at Brockport

Among the many individuals who appear in the legends, myths, and reality of Chinese military history, one of the most enigmatic is Zhuge Liang (A.D. 180-234). In his introductory essay to Chinese Ways of Warfare, the late John K. Fairbank contrasts the West, which he claims stresses the glory of warfare and the admiration and emulation of figures such as Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon, to an anti-militarist China, where the most one can find is a "Robin Hood figure" like Zhuge Liang. The main thrust of the essay is to emphasize the alleged disesteem of violence in traditional Chinese strategic culture: the classic concept of wen (non-military strategies) being more efficacious than wu (military strategies).l Ignoring the question as to whether this thesis corresponds to the reality of Chinese history, such a terse dismissal of Zhuge Liang is misleading because the hagiographical folk cult that developed soon after his death, which has continued throughout the centuries, is related precisely to his purported military accomplishments as well as his exemplification of the virtues of loyalty and steadfastness. While recent English language scholarship meets much of the lacunae of ignorance that surrounds his career, his military exploits await an analytical assessment. 2 At the same time among many Chinese his folk cult has been enhanced by the immense popularity of the famous novel by Luo Guanzhong (1330-1400), Sanguo yanyi (The Three Kingdoms).3 Here he is portrayed as the personification of military deception; a stalwart hero who overcame his adversaries through strategic and psychological ruses. Obviously his military career, particularly the ill-fated Northern Campaign, which this article will narrate and critique, needs to be brought into sharper focus in order to provide the student of Chinese military history with a more comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the reality of his achievements and failures.

The reconstruction of his early life and youthful years as outlined below is taken from several sources.4 Born in Shandong Province in A.D. 180to a literati family, he was orphaned at the age of four when his parents perished in the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Subsequently, he was raised by an uncle and in the year 194 accompanied the latter to Nanchang, in present-day Jiangxi Province, where the uncle received an appointment as a district magistrate under Yuan Shu, the local regional warlord. Soon thereafter the uncle was dismissed and along with his young ward traveled to Jingzhou in search of an appointment from Liu Biao the commissioner of Jingzhou. The zhou (prefecture) was an administrative subdivision of the Eastern Han dynasty, which in turn was subdivided into a number of commanderies (jun).

Jingzhou was a relatively calm area amidst the turmoil that plagued the last years of the Later Han dynasty and was famous as a refuge for scholars and Confucian literati from North China. Situated astride the middle Yangzi River it embraced parts of the present-day provinces of Hunan and Hubei. Because of its geopolitical importance it became the focus of attention during the Three Kingdoms period: Whoever controlled Jingzhou controlled the middle Yangzi and had easy access to the lower reaches of the river. Upon the death of his uncle in 197, the seventeen-year-old Zhuge Liang struck out on his own to take up a career as a farmerscholar in the area of Longzhong southwest of the prefectural seat of Xiangyang, an important commercial, political, and intellectual center on the Han River some 200 kilometers north of its juncture with the Yangzi.

Here tilling the soil amid fields and dikes as a means of livelihood, he simultaneously pursued a life of study pertaining to the classics of ancient literature, history, and military affairs. Having an active and inquisitive mind he made the acquaintance of many of the refugee-scholars from North China, familiarizing himself with their views and opinions on events of the day and benefiting from their guidance as to the meaning and spirit of the classics. Many of these scholars were affiliated with the Jingzhou school, which stressed literary and scholastic culture, and, reflecting an obvious Daoist trend, disdained politics and public life.5

However, if such was the intellectual trend in Jingzhou at that time, it did not attract the youthful and ambitious Zhuge Liang, who in contrast to arid scholasticism found stimulation and nourishment in the Legalist tradition of analyzing the situation and integrating knowledge with the practical struggle for power. In particular he came to admire the career and achievements of Guan Zhong (-645 B.C.), and the military exploits of Yue Yi. The former, famed in Chinese history as an advisor to the ruler of the state of Qi, was responsible for various political, economic, and military policies that transformed Qi from a weak and vulnerable position during the late Spring and Autumn period (770-476 B.C.) to dominance within the decentralized structure of the Zhou dynasty. Yue Yi was a renowned military commander of the state of Yan ~ who defeated the army of Qi in 284 B.C.

The most direct influence on Zhuge Liang's intellectual development during his youthful years in Longzhong came from a certain Pang Degong. An eremitic scholar with a reputation for scholarship and learning, he was respected for his knowledge of and insight into contemporary politics. His refusal to participate in public affairs was due less to his distaste of active politics than to his contempt for the policies and personality of the Jingzhou commissioner, Liu Biao. Impressed with the youthful Zhuge Liang's understanding of the political and strategic issues shaping events in the last phase of the Later Han dynasty, Pang gave his protege the nickname "sleeping dragon" (wolong) According to ancient Chinese mythology a hibernating dragon waits for a propitious opportunity and then enters the clouds to control the cosmic forces of the universe and grasp political hegemony.6

There was another important strain in Zhuge Liang's intellectual and political background, one that, at the core of his controversial Northern Campaign of 228-34, shaped his politicomilitary strategy. While it was quite common at this time to holdthat the "mandate of heaven" was moving away from the Han court, others such as Zhuge Liang upheld the Han not only as politically legitimate but reflective of the cosmic order of the universe. The manipulation and domination of the court in Luoyang by Cao Cao (155-220) was viewed by Zhuge Liang as immoral and illegal. Cao Cao, after obtaining control of North China by the last decade of the 2nd century, secured effective control over the court without deposing the emperor and proclaiming a new mandate. It was Zhuge Liang's ideological commitment to the Han court and his animosity to the manipulative Cao Cao that shaped his strategic-political goal: He sought not a balance of power between regional hegemons but the restoration of a more pristine Han court purged of the noxious influence of Cao Cao. His willingness and eagerness to end his seclusion and join the entourage of Liu Bei (161-223) was based on this political and ideological commitment. In Liu Bei, a distant relative of the ruling Liu family of the Han court, Zhuge Liang saw not only a legitimate patron to support and serve but a competent military commander who could accomplish his ideological and political goals.7

In 201, the fourth year of Zhuge Liang's recluse life as a farmer-scholar, Liu Bei, after involvement in a "dynastic restoration" against the wily Cao Cao, escaped from the latter's clutches and with his rag-tag army fled south from Luoyang to the sanctuary of Jingzhou where he received patronage from Liu Biao, who like Liu Bei, claimed to be a distant relative of the ruling family. Arriving in Jingzhou with some 10,000 dispirited troops, Liu Bei was assigned to garrison and guard the northern approaches to Jingzhou against the expected southward advance of Cao Cao. The area included Xinye, near Xiangyang and Zhuge Liang's residence in Longzhong. While undertaking his new military duties, Liu Bei became increasingly drawn into discussions pertaining to strategic and political issues of the day with local elites and consequently became aware of the reputation of the "sleeping dragon." Liu Bei's military career up to this time had been one of an undistinguished minor warlord in the ebb and flow of military machinations that erupted to shake the Later Han dynasty following the Yellow Turban Rebellion of 184. For some twenty years he had shifted alliances back and forth. When the recent affiliation with Cao Cao had ended in disaster, he found himself in Jingzhou isolated and vulnerable.8

It was at this juncture that Liu Bei sought out the highly respected and ambitious Zhuge Liang for advice and recruited him to serve as a moushi, an advisor on geopolitical and strategic matters. According to tradition, in the year 207, Liu Bei made three calls on the "sleeping dragon" before he agreed to join the former's entourage. It was at this time that Zhuge outlined to Liu Bei the famous "Longzhong dui" (Longzhong Plan; LZD).9It not only envisaged Liu Bei succeeding in establishing a regional base of power, but most significantly detailed a grand strategy for Liu Bei to achieve hegemony (baye kecheng ) and resuscitate the morbid Han court. Because the LZD is closely related to the strategy and conduct of the Northern Campaign a brief description of its contents is appropriate.10

Before Liu Bei could even contemplate unifying China and liberating the Han court from the "national bandit" Cao Cao, it was imperative for him to establish a viable geographic base from which he could derive manpower and other resources necessary for the grand enterprise of unification. The LZD proposed that Liu Bei focus on the middle Yangzi area of Jingzhou and Yizhou (present-day Sichuan). The LZD noted that Cao Cao controlled the North China plain (zhongyuan), famous in Chinese military history as the key to mastery over all the country, as well as the Yellow River basin from Shandong to Chang'an; at the same time Sun Quan (181-252) effectively controlled the lower Yangzi region, known as Jiangnan. In view of this, the LZD recommended that Liu Bei seize Jingzhou and Yizhou-both areas ruled by incompetents who could easily be toppled-thereby establishing a triangular geographic political structure in which Liu Bei could compete for hegemony with the other two protagonists.

Another crucial aspect of the LZD was the proposal for forming an alliance with Sun Quan in order to deter and resist the more powerful and intimidating Cao Cao. Other aspects of the LZD involved instituting economic, legal, and administrative reforms in Jingzhou and Yizhou as well as developing good relations with the non-Han people located in the west and south, the present-day provinces of Gansu, Yunnan, and Guizhou. Such a policy would reduce animosity of the local people toward Han officials and might provide a source of needed manpower and valuable economic resources.

The LZD had a final culminating clause: a two-pronged northern campaign which would be consummated by the seizure of the Central Plain and the liberation of the Han court by Liu Bei. The LZD was silent as to when and under what circumstances the Northern Campaign would take place, presumably when the political and military situation was favorable and an extraordinary opportunity presented itself, such as the destabilization of Cao Cao's power. The two-pronged campaign specified that one advance would be from Yizhou in the west, north through the Qinling, debouching into the Wei River valley and achieving a strategic position in the west from which to dominate the great bend of the Yellow River and Guanzhong the second prong from the east would drive north from Jingzhou toward the political center of Luoyang and the surrounding Central Plain and the Yellow River basin. The LZD disregarded the role that Sun Quan as an ally would play in the culminating Northern Campaign. Presumably at the least he was expected to tie down some of Cao Cao' s forces. 11

Liu Bei acceded to the LZD. The alliance between the two weaker protagonists, himself and Sun Quan, was arranged and shortly thereafter was instrumental in bringing about the dramatic and crucial victory for the allied forces over Cao Cao' s army at the battle of Chibi in 208. Hoping to advance into the middle Yangzi valley and seize Jingzhou prior to sweeping down the river east toward Jiangnan, Cao Cao' splans were smashed by the allied army at Chibi, some 40 kilometers upstream from present-day Wuhan. This battle is important in the history of the Three Kingdoms period for it provided the basis upon which the tripolar military balance of power was built. For his part Liu Bei moved swiftly to seize the adjacent prefectures of Jingzhou south of the Yangzi by dispatching Zhuge Liang to consolidate control over these areas, consisting of parts of present-day Hunan and Guizhou, while with the remainder of the army he sat astride the middle Yangzi area near present-day Wuhan. The subsequent military campaigns which established the tripartite division of China prior to the Northern Campaign are instructive for the interplay of strategy and personalities.

Less sanguine about future campaigning south toward the Yangzi delta, Cao Cao in 211 launched a military campaign west toward Chang' an and the northwest. Concerned that this was prelude to an encroachment south through the Qinling into his domain, Liu Zhang, commissioner of Yizhou, was persuaded by his staff to invite Liu Bei to enter the area and provide military assistance against the threat of Cao Cao. During the late summer of 211, precisely at the time when Cao Cao was consolidating control over the Guanzhong area and the Wei River valley, Liu Bei with an army of 30,000 entered Yizhou. Two of his most famous commanders, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, along with Zhuge Liang, remained behind in Jingzhou. As administrator of the three southern prefectures of Jingzhou, Zhuge Liang was given the opportunity to use his talents to develop a sound political, economic, and military base. Through treachery and duplicity, Liu Bei finally gained control in Yizhou, although not before summoning Zhuge Liang in 214 to lead a force of some 40,000 up the Yangzi to the present-day Chongqing area and then north to assist in the capture of Chengdu, the capital of Yizhou.13

Following the capture of Chengdu in 214, Liu Bei moved north to confront Cao Cao for control of Hanzhong. Situated on the upper reaches of the Han River south of the dominating Qinling, Hanzhong was strategically important for access to the east and west, and was considered crucial for the safety of the Chengdu plain. It had been seized by Cao Cao in 215, but in 217, while he was campaigning in the east against Sun Quan in the Huai River area, Liu Bei sought to wrest this strategic center from his hands. The subsequent campaign was a protracted affair and Zhuge Liang, based in Chengdu, was responsible for the mobilization and transfer of reinforcements. In the spring of 219, faced with the difficulty of ration transport through the Qinling, Cao Cao withdrew his forces from Hanzhong and returned to Chang'an. Thus, either by design in consciously following the LZD of Zhuge Liang, or by seizing unique opportunities, Liu Bei had achieved the necessary territorial base needed for unifying China proper: Liu Bei was master of Yizhou and his subordinate Guan Yu stood preeminent in Jingzhou. This situation, as it unfolded in the spring of 219, proved to be the zenith of Zhuge Liang's strategic design. 1

From 219 until the death of Liu Bei in 223 there were successive defeats, the consequences of which seriously compromised the LZD. First, Guan Yu advancing north against Cao Cao' s forces in the Xiangyang region on the Han River was attacked from the rear by the treacherous Sun Quan. Guan Yu perished and his entire army was destroyed. Jingzhou came under Sun Quan's control, thereby inflicting a fatal blow to the LZD's design of a two-pronged northern campaign. This military disaster was followed by significant political moves among the several protagonists of the Three Kingdoms period: the abdication of the last Han emperor in 220 and the enthronement of Cao Pi, the son ofCao Cao, as the first emperor of the Wei dynasty; Liu Bei assuming the title of emperor of Shu-Han with his capital at Chengdu; and Sun Quan proclaiming himself king of Wu.15

The second military disaster that would challenge the viability of the LZD was the tragic defeat of Liu Bei' s waterborne campaign down the Yangzi to recapture Jingzhou and avenge the death of Guan Yu. Zhuge Liang was not involved in planning this expedition, which began in 221 and culminated in 222 with the defeat of Liu Bei' s army and his fleeing to Baidicheng, west of the Sanmen gorges. In 223, Liu became seriously ill. On his deathbed, he summoned Zhuge Liang and gave him the responsibility for the political guidance of his seventeen-year-old son and heir to the Shu-Han throne, Liu Chan. At the same time, he named Zhuge Liang prime-minister (chengxiang) in charge of all aspects of the Shu-Han government, including military affairs.16

Facing daunting problems that were the direct consequence of Liu Bei' s military disaster and untimely death, Zhuge Liang initially moved to restore the alliance with the Wu under Sun Quan. Then, following the pacification of a rebellion in the southern areas of Yizhou in present-day Yunnan Province, he began to rebuild and revive the economic base and military structure of the state that had been shattered by Liu Bei's debacle through "closing the pass (Ling Pass) and resting the people" (biguan ximin). The rebuilding of the Shu-Han military in preparation for the Northern Campaign in 228 requires a brief comment on the military administration of Shu-Han under the new prime minister.

In 211, when Liu Bei first entered Yizhou his army consisted of two types of professional long-term soldiers: those who enlisted while he was still a "guest" of Liu Biao in Jingzhou, and those remnants of Liu Biao's forces which were incorporated into his army after the battle of Chibi in 208. In 214, when he arrived in Yizhou, Zhuge Liang introduced a policy similar to the Han dynasty's population registration and military conscription, called geng (literally, to change or replace).18

Attention was also focused on training and drill in tactical formations: In ancient Chinese military history there is considerable discussion given to battlefield tactical formations including the bazhen, the eight-row formation.19 During the wars of the Three Kingdoms period the bazhen referred to a specific tactical formation introduced by Zhuge Liang as a defense against the striking power of the Cao-Wei cavalry. Accounts of the nature of this battlefield formation during Zhuge Liang's Northern Campaign are scarce, but in view of the deadly nature of the crossbow barrage we can surmise that he sought to develop a formation which would give full play to the firepower of the crossbows in an ambush situation and neutralize the cavalry superiority of his enemy.20

During the years 223-25, while Zhuge Liang was "closing the pass and resting the people," Cao Pi the emperor of Wei, launched three unsuccessful military campaigns against Sun Quan in the east seeking to break into the Yangzi valley by way of the Hefei region. In 226 he died, and his successor Cao Rui decided to forego his predecessor's offensive strategy in favor of a defensive posture, at least for the time being, both in the east and west. It was at this juncture that Zhuge Liang decided that the political and military situation was propitious for launching his Northern Campaign. There was the ongoing rebellion of the non-Han peoples in the northwest-Hu and Qiang n-against the Cao-Wei regime, which had the potential of benefiting Zhuge Liang should he strike north toward this region. And the succession of Cao Rui was not without some dissension among the Cao-Wei elite. Although the regime was not seriously weakened internally as a result of these developments, Zhuge Liang, in the year 227, determined that his adversary's political situation was indeed tenuous. With this development and confident that his own preparations were complete, he issued his famous memorial to Liu Chan proclaiming his commitment to the restoration of the Han court, the destruction of the "national bandits," and the liberation of the old capital at Luoyang. After making suitable arrangements to consolidate affairs in Chengdu during his absence at the front commanding the army, he mobilized his expeditionary force of about 100,000 at Hanzhong and outlined plans for the Northern Campaign to his subordinate officers.21

In one of the most famous war councils in Chinese military history, he proposed a wide left hook to seize the upper Wei River valley including the high terrain on both sides of the river called Longyou, thereby outflanking Chang' an and the Guanzhong area from the west. One of Zhuge Liang's subordinate officers, Wei Yan objected to this plan and urged instead a swift strike directly north from Hanzhong through a convenient pass in the Qinling with the goal of seizing Chang'an. He argued that the Cao-Wei commander at Chang'an, being timid and irresolute, would flee at the appearance ofthe enemy. Wei Yan requested that he be given command of a force of 10,000 which he would drive through the pass and within ten days capture the historical city. He was confident that after dispersing the Cao-Wei garrison he could hold Chang' an until Zhuge Liang and the main force arrived after advancing through the mountain passes.

This bold plan, which was turned down by Zhuge Liang, was in stark contrast to his own more cautious proposal of a wide sweeping left-hook advance to seize the Longyou area before any advance on Chang' an. The contrast between the two proposals has remained the focus of controversy and criticism among historians in judging Zhuge Liang's Northern Campaign and his overall strategic competency. He did order two small forces to march through the Ye Valley to serve as a decoy by threatening Mei on the Wei River. Although diluted from the original two-pronged advance as outlined in the LZD, the Northern Campaign began in the early spring of 228 with the wide left hook aiming to seize the Longyou area, Tianshui in the Wei River valley some 300 kilometers west of Chang' an, and Qishan, a defensive bastion that screened the southern approaches to Tianshui. 22

The advance guard under Ma Su was given the mission of securing the strategic post of Jieting, approximately 75 kilometers northeast of Tianshui on a mountain pass road between the Liupan Mountains on the north and the Long Mountains on the south, and well over 250 kilometers northwest of Chang' an. Here Ma Su arranged his defensive position on the higher elevation of a nearby mountain, forfeiting access to a water source that was available on the lower slopes in violation of tactical regulations. Although initially surprised by Zhuge Liang's offensive, Cao Zhen the Cao-Wei commander in Chang'an, dispatched a combined infantry-cavalry force of 50,000 under Zhang He to block Zhuge Liang's advance at Jieting. By the time he arrived Ma Su already was ensconced in his vulnerable position. Cut off from needed water, he was easily defeated. Remnants of his ill-fated force were rallied and extricated by a subordinate officer and escaped annihilation because Zhang He, fearing an ambush, did not pursue. Besides the defeat at Jieting the decoy force that had pushed through the Ye Valley was roughly handled by other Cao- Wei forces, and fearing that the enemy was in a position to threaten his flank and rear, Zhuge retreated with the main force back to Hanzhong.23

The debacle of Zhuge Liang's first campaign in the spring of 228 has received much criticism and comment by Chinese historians throughout the centuries. Nevertheless from a study of various accounts of the Jieting episode it is surprising that comment fails to analyze the fact that Ma Su's advance guard was not reinforced in a timely fashion by the main force. Much is made of the incompetency which Ma Su demonstrated in his defensive deployment. But the advance guard was separated from the main force by some 75 kilometers, the distance between Tianshui and Jieting, which precluded alacritous reinforcement. This fact receives little analysis.24 Following the retreat back to Hanzhong, Zhuge Liang published his controversial memorial to his sovereign in which he struck a pessimistic note and chastised himself for the defeat and retreat. Nevertheless, Ma Su was executed for his failure to comply with regulations. The failure of the first campaign was also a political disaster because many of the people adjacent to the line of advance in the Tianshui region, who had earlier defected from the Cao-Wei, now joined the retreat to Hanzhong. This displacement of several thousand residents was involuntary and presumably was related to the need to enhance agricultural productivity in the Hanzhong plain.25

Zhuge Liang's second campaign came about as a result of his reaction to events in eastern China. Not long after the disappointing retreat back to Hanzhong in the summer of 228, a Wu army under Lu Xun defeated a Cao-Wei force at Shiting 35 kilometers northeast of Hefei in present-day Anhui Province. To meet this possible threat of a breakthrough into the Huai River valley, the Cao-Wei court reinforced the eastern front by shifting troops from the west. Believing that the enemy he faced in western China was severely weakened by this transfer, late in the same year Zhuge struck through the Qinling with the objective of seizing the walled city of Chencang near present-day Baoji on the north bank of the Wei River. At the time of the first campaign, Cao Zhen, the Cao-Wei commander in Chang' an, fortuitously had garrisoned Chencang, approximately 175kilometers west of his headquarters, with a small force of 5000 under Hao Zhao, Chencang, a transportation hub on the old Silk Road, and Tianshui were the keys to controlling communication in the Wei valley to the west. Although outnumbered by Zhuge Liang, who brought some 20,000 to 30,000 troops into the fray, Hao Zhao was prepared to endure a siege, confident he could hold out until reinforcements arrived from headquarters. After several appeals to surrender were dismissed by Hao, Zhuge Liang brought into action such classic siege equipment as scaling ladders and mobile battering rams which proved ineffective when countered by various incendiary devices. Heavy stones attached to thick ropes were swung from the walls by the defenders to smash the mobile battering rams. A tower built to overlook the walls in order to provide a downward angle for bowmen was met by counter tower building.

A tunnel built to penetrate beneath the walls was parried by the defenders digging a bisecting tunnel. After three weeks of stalemate, reinforcements arrived under Zhang He, the victor of Jieting. With food rations depleted, Zhuge Liang lifted the siege and withdrew to Hanzhong. One of Zhang He's subordinate officers, Wang Shuang, ordered to pursue the retreating foe through the Qinling, was killed and his force decimated by an ambush that Zhuge had arranged. This incident was the beginning of his reputation as a skillful tactician and master of ambuscades, a reputation that would influence his adversaries even after his death.2

In the spring of 229 the third campaign was launched with the same goal as the earlier campaigns-to gain control over the Longyou area-with the immediate objective being the prefectural seats of Wudu. and Yinping. These areas, in the western foothills of the Qinling, some 175 kilometers northwest of Hanzhong, were in the general locality through which Zhuge Liang had campaigned a year earlier. The campaign began with the vanguard moving through the valleys west of Hanzhong and gaining control over the two prefectural seats in rapid succession.

In a counter move, Zhang He, the Cao- Wei commander in Tianshui, sent a force under Guo Huai from Tianshui to march south and challenge this threat. Zhuge Liang, with timely information concerning this move by Guo Huai, moved swiftly to reinforce his vanguard and defeated Guo Huai in a "meeting engagement" (yingzhan) at Jianwei. A meeting engagement in ancient Chinese military history is when two military forces meet in open battle without any defensive structure or barrier. Located some 30 kilometers northwest of Wudu on the West Han River as it winds its way through the foothills of the Qinling, Jianwei was in close proximity to Qishan, the defensive bastion screening any advance from the south to Tianshui. Here Guo Huai, after the defeat at Jianwei, prepared a defensive position and effectively checkmated any plans Zhuge Liang had of a quick advance to Tianshui and Longyou.

Frustrated that the tactical victory at Jianwei did not reap significant strategic benefits, and fearing that a stalemate against a well-defended enemy would be a drain on manpower and rations, Zhuge Liang retreated back to Hanzhong. The withdrawal to Hanzhong also meant that political control over the two prefectures of Wudu and Yinping was once again abandoned, a development that must have taxed the credibility of Zhuge Liang and his Shu-Han state among the residents of these areas. In analyzing the third campaign it is interesting to note that Zhuge Liang was alacritous in reinforcing his advance guard and achieving a tactical success in a meeting engagement, in contrast to the disastrous first campaign, but failed to sustain the tactical victory and achieve any dramatic results. Furthermore, it gives evidence of the tactical advantage a defender could have if given time and favorable terrain.27

Beginning in the winter of 229-30, and into the spring of 230, Hanzhong was the scene of a remarkable new military development. Rather than prepare for another offensive through or around the Qinling, Zhuge Liang initiated extensive defensive preparations in anticipation of a Cao- Wei offensive. It consisted of constructing two defensive barriers on the Hanzhong plain, a total distance of some 200 kilometers: In the west a walled city was built on the north bank of the Mian River, near present-day Mianxian and the locale of Zhuge Liang's tomb. In the east a walled city of approximately 7 kilometers in diameter was built adjacent to the side of a mountain upon which were located signal towers. What ensued seems to suggest that either Zhuge Liang was the recipient of reliable information or possessed an uncanny insight into the mentality of his adversary. The Cao- Wei court had decided to abandon its cautious, defensive strategy and launch a large-scale offensive south through the Qinling. The plan adopted called for a complicated and simultaneous three-pronged attack spread out over a considerable width with the initial goal of seizing Hanzhong. The eastern column under Sima Yi would advance south from Chang'an to the vicinity of Xicheng, 200 kilometers east of Hanzhong on the Han River, from where he would move upstream toward Hanzhong. The central column under Cao Zhen was to strike south through the mountain roads and egress in the vicinity of the eastern edge of the Hanzhong plain. The western column under Zhang He, a veteran of previous engagements with Zhuge Liang, consisted of a cavalry force which would move from the Tianshui-Qishan area east toward Hanzhong.28

While these preparations for the campaign were being undertaken by both sides a political development occurred that must have been of little solace to Zhuge Liang, particularly in view of the limited political benefit that he had gained from his three military campaigns. Sun Quan, perhaps sensing that the situation was opportune and that the mandate of the Han court was irrevocably shattered, proclaimed himself emperor of Wu in 229.

This move must have provoked the Cao- Wei court which had come to believe that Sun Quan was a pliable although unreliable vassal. At the same time by presenting himself as a possible successor to the Han mandate, Sun directly challenged Zhuge Liang's goal of restoring the Han court. Among some of the Shu-Han elite in Chengdu there was anger and dismay at Sun Quan's proclamation but Zhuge Liang urged restraint. He cautioned his colleagues to ignore the proclamation and continue to maintain the alliance in order to tie down important Cao-Wei forces in eastern China. By having Wu as a nominal ally, Shu-Han would be relieved of the burden of maintaining a large force on its eastern boundary to watch and observe the unreliable Sun Quan.29

By the fall of 230, when the Cao-Wei southern offensive began, Zhuge Liang had completed defensive arrangements and awaited the enemy onslaught. Ever the cagey adversary, he ordered the dashing Wei Yan, with a mixed cavalry-infantry force, to make a deep penetration behind Cao-Wei lines toward the northwest by going around the Qishan-Tianshui area, bypass Zhang He's force, advance up the Gansu corridor with the goal of contacting various non-Han peoples, and sow dissension among them toward the Cao-Wei regime, while at the same time sell the famous Chengdu silk brocades in return for horses and weapons.30

From the start the Cao-Wei offensive in the year 230 was plagued with difficulties: Extraordinarily heavy and continuous rains inundated the Han River and precluded a swift advance upstream by Sima Yi once he had reached Xicheng, and Cao Zhen, for the identical reason, found passage through the narrow valleys impossible, while Zhang He in the west had to deal with the threat to his rear. By the fall of 230, after a month and half of little or no progress, the campaign was terminated.3l

It was Wei Yan's deep penetration of the Gansu corridor that prevented Zhang He from moving toward Hanzhong as part of his role in the ill-fated summer Cao-Wei offensive. Instead of moving on Hanzhong he prepared to block Wei Yan's return by moving his force to Shanggui in the vicinity of Tianshui. He divided his force: He remained at Shanggui while Guo Huai marched west to meet the returning Wei Yan. The latter after spending several months buying horses and establishing ties with the local people began his return late in the year 230. At Shouyang, on the upper reaches of the Wei River and some 120 kilometers west of Tianshui and Shanggui, Guo Huai succeeded in surrounding and besieging Wei Yan's encampment. Once again in timely fashion, as he did at Jianwei in the spring of 229 against the same Guo Huai, Zhuge Liang, obviously confident of the security of Hanzhong as well as Zhang He's reluctance to leave his defensive position at Shanggui, made a daring march west to meet Wei Yan and to reinforce him in case of difficulty.

Fortuitously for the latter, Zhuge arrived unexpectedly on the battlefield and surprised the besieging Guo Huai who fled for the safety of Zhang He's prepared defense at Shanggui. After this tactical victory Zhuge Liang did not pursue his defeated opponent but once again left the battlefield and returned to Hanzhong. Ever so cautious, he must have concluded that an attack against Zhang He's defense, lacking any element of surprise and located at a considerable distance from his base at Hanzhong, would at best lead to a stalemate and only deplete and exhaust manpower and rations. But, not surprisingly, it was the impetuous Wei Yan who urged Zhuge Liang to continue the momentum of victory by bypassing Zhang He and isolate the defensive bastions around Tianshui and boldly move on Chang'an. To the cautious Zhuge Liang, Wei Yan's successful expedition to the west and the resulting defeat of Guo Huai at Shouyang was due to the fact that the Shu-Han army had achieved surprise and such a situation could not be duplicated by advancing on Chang' an. Prudence dictated a return to Hanzhong.32

The fourth campaign was launched early in 231 with the goal once again of seizing Longyou, with the initial phase being the capture of Wudu and Yinping to serve as a forward base. Disregarding the possibility of retaliation by Cao-Wei officials, Zhuge Liang again sent envoys to the border regions in the west to contact the Xianbei and the Qiang, urging them to create a disturbance in the Cao- Wei rear while the Shu-Han army advanced toward Longyou. Furthermore, in order to improve the transportation of supplies and rations he appointed Li Yan, an old colleague and friend of Liu Bei, to be responsible for the ration transportation supply line: Chengdu-Hanzhong frontline. In addition he introduced a new vehicle that he hoped would increase the amount of rations that could be transported to the frontline. It consisted of a centered positioned one-wheel cart with four men on each corner for guidance.

By setting the goal of seizing Longyou in the fourth campaign, Zhuge Liang might be judged as being overly optimistic because the Cao- Wei defensive posture at this time was indeed formidable: Qishan and Shanggui were garrisoned, thus providing a defensive screen to Tianshui; the battle-tested Guo Huai and Dai Ling commanded forces guarding Tianshui from the northwest; finally, Zhang He stood ready with a cavalry force at Chang'an. The offensive began when Zhuge Liang divided his force by using part of the army to besiege the defensive bastion of Qishan, while the main force was kept nearby in reserve, perhaps hoping to ambush any Cao- Wei relief force coming south from Tianshui, or preparing to take advantage of any opportunity that the battlefield presented. 33

When news of Zhuge Liang's thrust toward Qishan and Tianshui reached Cao Zhen at Chang' an, he was immediately concerned that the advance was a ploy and that his adversary intended to strike directly at his headquarters through the Qinling passes: "Make a sound in the west but attack in the east." Shortly after making this assessment of the situation in the early summer of 231, Cao Zhen took ill and was replaced by Sima Yi as the overall Cao- Wei political-military commander in the west. One of the least known of the protagonists of the three Kingdoms period he was to succeed in having a most illustrious political and military career.34

Many Cao-Wei staff officers at headquarters were of the opinion that Zhuge Liang had moved toward the west only to seize the early wheat harvest near Shanggui and did not present any serious threat to Longyou. But, acting on orders from the Cao- Wei court, Sima led the entire force out of Chang'an with the objective of relieving Qishan. Zhuge Liang on his part, aware of the advance of Sima Yi but wishing to maintain the initiative, kept part of his 30,000 man army besieging Qishan and set out with the remainder to seize the various Cao- Wei garrisons isolated and dispersed around Tianshui. Fortunately for Zhuge Liang his opponents played into his hands. Guo Huai, who had been garrisoning Didao jj( ~, some 75 kilometers south of present-day Lanzhou and around 200 kilometers west and north of Tianshui, had been ordered to join Sima Yi at Qishan. While on the march he became aware of Zhuge Liang's advance on Shanggui. Thereupon, he took the initiative and suggested to Fei Yao, the garrison commander at Shanggui, that they attempt to strike Zhuge Liang's army while on the march. Fei agreed and left his defensive position and along with Guo Huai sought to catch the elusive enemy on the march in a front-rear pincer attack. Always eager for a "meeting engagement" Zhuge Liang defeated Fei and Guo and succeeded in uncovering the approaches to Tianshui and Longyou. However, he failed to gain any substantive benefit from this victory, and even though Tianshui was devoid of its defensive screen, he made no move to seize this important site.

When Sima Yi, accompanied by Zhang He, arrived at Qishan he was informed about the debacle to Guo and Fei and immediately marched off to Shanggui leaving the Shu-Han army besieging Qishan. Instead of seeking out Zhuge Liang in a "meeting engagement" he occupied a strong defensive position on the mountains east of Shanggui. Zhuge Liang, reluctant to attack a defensive barrier, set his army to work harvesting the early spring wheat that was available in the vicinity-perhaps access to the wheat was the purpose of the fourth campaign after all- all the while under the scrutiny of his enemy. Upon completing the harvest the Shu-Han army marched south toward Qishan hoping to entice Sima to follow and create an opportunity for a meeting engagement or an ambuscade. Sima did pursue but avoided being drawn into battle. Subsequently, at Lucheng some 30 kilometers east of Qishan, Zhuge Liang halted his march and prepared for battle.

His adversary declined the challenge, preferring to take up a defensive position on nearby high ground. Several of Sima's subordinate officers in ridiculing their commander's timidity coined one of the most famous aphorisms in Chinese military history: "To fear the Shu army as if it were a tiger." Faced with such criticism their commander relented and launched a frontal assault, while assigning the cavalry force under Zhang He the mission of striking the Shu-Han force besieging Qishan. Zhuge Liang's army prevailed at the battle of Lucheng, but Sima was able to extricate his force and retreat north to take up a defensive position at Shanggui. The retreat must have been in considerable disarray as accounts of the battle note that the Shu-Han forces captured 3000 sets of armor, 5000 swords, and 3100 crossbows.

Zhang He's attack of the besieging Shu-Han army at Qishan was unsuccessful and when he heard of the defeat of his commander at Lucheng he returned to Shanggui. Given the significant dimensions of equipment loss on the part of Sima Yi's army, Zhuge Liang's inability or unwillingness to capitalize on the victory at Lucheng is perplexing: Was it the lack of a strong cavalry army coupled with concern over an ambush that made him reluctant to seek out more decisive victory? The stalemate at Shanggui between the two armies continued for several months during the summer of 231. From time to time Zhuge Liang sought to entice Sima into attacking, but the latter, having experienced his adversary's tactical virtuosity, demurred.35

It was at this juncture that one of the most bizarre incidents in Zhuge Liang's career occurred. Li Yan, who had the responsibility for maintaining the supply of rations to the frontlines, realizing that because of heavy rains transport had broken down, sent an officer to Zhuge Liang's camp near Shanggui, informing him of the decision of the Shu-Han emperor in Chengdu to withdraw the army to Hanzhong. The emperor feared that a shortage of rations caused the transport breakdown. Unaware of Li Yan's mendacity in forging this false order, Zhuge Liang retreated once again to Hanzhong.

If he was frustrated by the limited strategic results of his campaigns so far, there must have been some consolation in the ambush of Zhang He at Mumen. In contrast to his usual cautious approach in pursuing a retreating Zhuge Liang, Sima Yi ordered Zhang He to pursue and attack, confident that the demoralized and tired Shu-Han army would be an easy prey for the cavalry. The ambush succeeded in killing Zhang He and decimating his cavalry force by using massed crossbowmen firing from cover and striking the enemy as they entered a narrow defile. In this incident Zhuge Liang proved himself a worthy disciple of Sun Bin, who ambushed and defeated Pang Juan at the famous battle of Maling in 341 B.C. by using massed crossbowmen.

But any comfort that Zhuge could take over the Mumen ambush must have been short-lived because upon return to Hanzhong he became aware of Li Yan' s treachery. The latter after forging the retreat order compounded his perfidy by informing the emperor that the retreat of the army was a ploy to entice the enemy to pursue. After an investigation, Zhuge exposed evidence of Li Yan's duplicity. This ugly affair ended with the latter's dismissal. However, he was able to maintain his family property and his son, who was not involved in the matter, continued in office. The Li Yan incident has been explained as a struggle for power at the court in Chengdu with the culprit seeking to disgrace and subvert Zhuge Liang. As an old friend of Liu Bei he was never reconciled to the restoration of the alliance with Sun Quan, nor was he favorably inclined toward and supportive of the campaign to destroy the Cao- Wei regime and restore the Han dynasty. In contrast to Zhuge Liang's ambition to destroy the Cao- Wei regime and restore the Han dynasty, he wished to maintain a cozy defensive posture in Yizhou and continue the triangular division of the tianxia (China proper).36

That Zhuge Liang intended to persist in seizing the Wei valley and the Longyou area was clear to Sima Yi. Although tactically defeated in battle several times, he had been successful in parrying any effort of Zhuge Liang to nibble away at the Longyou area.

Indeed, he was proving to be a most competent adversary: He still occupied and began to reinforce the territory that Zhuge sought to seize; and soon after his appointment in 231 as the overall political and military official in the west he began to initiate policies in preparation for a protracted war against the Shu-Han state. Among these policies was the transfer of people from eastern China to farm abandoned land in the vicinity of Tianshui and Shanggui on the south bank of the Wei River, and on the north bank opposite Chang' an. Some units of his army were assigned to tuntian duty, a famous arrangement in Chinese military history whereby a certain number of troops were engaged in farming while others were on active duty. Earlier Cao Cao had extensively developed the tuntian system on the eastern front in order to reinforce defenses against Sun Quan.

To enhance the productivity of the Wei valley, Sima began to rehabilitate and restore an irrigation canal that ran parallel to the river on the north bank from a point near Chencang east to where the ling River, joins the Wei, some 175 kilometers in length. Work on repairing the canal began in the winter of 231 and the canal was ready for use within a year. It had been originally built under the supervision of Zheng Guo, a famous hydraulic engineer in 234 B.C. After its rehabilitation in A.D. 232, it provided water for 1,000 qing (1 qing in Three Kingdoms times was approximately 8.5 acres) of land, increasing dramatically the potential of Sima Yi to withstand a protracted war in the Longyou area.37

On his part Zhuge Liang likewise encouraged agricultural production in the Hanzhong plain, but nothing on the scale of Sima Yi's canal project or population displacement. In addition he developed a new piece of equipment to expedite the transportation of rations called the liuma, literally "floating horse." It was a raft-type vessel which could be used to transport grain on water and could be pulled on suitable shoreline or overland from one body of water to another, indicating that the next campaign would be through mountain passes where there was swift flowing rivers and streams. If the advance was successful it would be useful in crossing the Wei River. In addition, workers were sent to repair the plank road which egresses from the Qinling at a point where access is convenient to Chencang, the city Zhuge Liang unsuccessfully besieged in the winter of 228. Along with planning and preparation, arrangements were made that in conjunction with Zhuge Liang's advance north from Hanzhong Sun Quan would launch an offensive in the east. This had been discussed earlier between the two allies, and when it finally occurred in the summer of 234, the results were dismal and did little to assist Zhuge Liang in forcing the enemy to withdraw forces in the west to meet a threat in the east. 38

Because both Chencang on the north bank of the Wei River, and Qishan, the screen for Tianshui, were defended by Cao-Wei forces, Zhuge Liang selected to strike through the Qinling by way of Baoye and arrive at the south bank of the Wei River at Wuzhangyuan, a broad plain generally opposite the north bank location of Meixian. The launching of the fifth campaign in the spring of 234 did not in the least take Sima by surprise. Upon learning that Zhuge' s army was moving through the Qinling, he made a pre-emptive move by crossing the river and proceeded to build a fortified position on the south bank in an area which would inhibit any descent east along south bank toward Chang'an on the part of the Shu-Han army once it had debouched from the mountain pass.

After completing this move to the south bank, Guo Huai, a trusted subordinate of Sima and a veteran of the various campaigns against Zhuge Liang, suggested to his commander that their wily adversary might have plans other than seeking a decisive battle and gaining access to Chang' an. He cautioned Sima that Zhuge's goal remained the seizure of Longyou, but instead of the previous wide left-hook offensives, the Shu-Han leader might be planning to develop the Wei valley as a forward base and then proceed to gain control of the area and outflank the Cao-Wei position in the Guanzhong area from the west.

Already, he reported, there was information that Shu-Han forces besides egressing at Wuzhangyuan had crossed the river upstream and built a line of communications leading from Gudao bypassing Chencang, and that ration supplies were being ferried across the river. Concerned over a potential threat of being cut off on the south bank, Sima reinforced the communication center of Beiyuan situated on the main east-west road on the north bank. This tactical move was none too soon because Zhuge Liang, perhaps foiled by the Sima'a defensive position on the south bank, or indeed seeking to establish a position north of the Wei river as a preliminary step to control Longyou, crossed the river above Beiyuan with a portion of his army. Faced by a strong defensive deployment by Guo Huai at Beiyuan, which precluded an easy access east and to Sima's line of communication, Zhuge Liang sought to entice Guo Huai into battle by marching his force west and north, in the vicinity of the ill-fated battlefield of Jieting.

After two months of desultory and ineffective maneuvering north of the Wei river, and perhaps concerned over the safety of his own line of communications, he recrossed the river to the base at Wuzhangyuan. When it became apparent in the summer of 234 that the stalemate' would continue until he would be forced to retreat because of the endemic problem of ration supply, Zhuge Liang ordered his army to carry out the tuntian system, perhaps indicative of his intention to establish his staying power in the Wei valley as the first step in the long-range goal of seizing Longyou. Within two months during the summer of 234, about 1,000 qing of abandoned or open land were under cultivation; furthermore, the army also began assisting local farmers with irrigation projects and other agricultural tasks, thereby increasing its popularity among the people, an important factor in anticipation of a long protracted struggle for control of the region.39

If Zhuge Liang envisaged that the fifth campaign would be assisted by Sun Quan launching a grand offensive into the Huai River valley, he was probably disappointed but not surprised by the tardiness and ineffectiveness of military events in the east. There had been sporadic campaigns and battles between Sun Quan's army and various Cao-Wei forces since 226: an overseas campaign by Sun Quan to present-day Liaoning Province to obtain horses, followed by the ambush and defeat of a water-borne campaign launched by Sun Quan toward Hefei, and further military action in this area as late as 232. Only after Zhuge Liang and Sima were stalemated along the Wei River did Sun Quan's force of 100,000 begin its ponderous advance north from the Yangzi and present-day Nanjing. The force was divided into three columns: a move on the eastern flank toward Huaiyin $~on the lower Huai River, a central column to advance toward the old battleground around Hefei, and a western column to advance toward Xiangyang on the Han River. Once the offensive began the poorly coordinated and widely dispersed columns were defeated piecemeal, void of any value to Zhuge Liang in forcing the Cao-Wei army to withdraw forces and breaking the stalemate.4o

Any optimism that the tuntian system would provide a long range solution to the endemic problem of ration supply and strengthen the resolve of Zhuge Liang concerning the viability of the Northern Campaign turned to pessimism in the late summer of 234 with the deterioration of his health brought on by both mental and physical exhaustion. The frustrating stalemate was the origin of several stories concerning his effort to entice Sima into a "meeting engagement." Finally, an envoy was sent to Sima's camp with the mission of challenging battle, but the Cao- Wei commander took the opportunity of the visit to interrogate the envoy about Zhuge's health, avoiding any mention of military affairs. The envoy informed Sima that because of the failure to take proper nourishment and adequate rest his adversary was in failing health and that this situation was compounded by his persistence to micromanage the administration of the army and oversee minor and petty disciplinary and procedural details. Sima correctly surmised that Zhuge's health was a serious matter which could affect the battlefield situation.

The court at Chengdu also was concerned over this issue and sent an envoy to the camp at Wuzhangyuan to inquire as to the prime minister's health and discuss national affairs. After several days of interviews the envoy departed for Chengdu but after a short time on the road returned to Wuzhangyuan. Zhuge realized that the quick return of the envoy had to do with the seriousness of his illness and in succeeding consultations they discussed the issue of a suitable successor and replacement. The rapid deterioration of his health and depressed mental condition is reflected in the dramatic instruction that he gave to his subordinate officers: After his death the army under the overall command of Yang Yi was to return to Hanzhong with Wei Yan covering the retreat. By instructing his subordinates to abandon the idea of a protracted stay in the Wei valley, he in effect admitted the failure of his goal to seize the Longyou area and accepted the fact that a failed Northern Campaign would be his legacy. Several days after the consultation with his officers Zhuge Liang died in the early autumn of 234 at the age of 54.41

Two developments took place after his death that had the potential to seriously endanger the safe extrication of the army from the Wei valley. News of the death of Zhuge Liang was withheld from public announcement until the army had reached the safety of the Baoye Valley.

The first development was the pursuit by Sima's army after the retreat started. When Sima was informed by local people that the Shu-Han army was withdrawing from Wuzhangyuan and heading for the pass, he did not immediately pursue. Fearing a ruse, he preferred to send an officer to make a reconnaissance of the situation. Upon learning that the Shu-Han army had indeed withdrawn the pursuit was ordered, but a vigorous counterattack by Yang Yi prompted Sima to retreat back to his defensive position. With his retreat secure and after reaching the further safety of the pass, Yang Yi made a public announcement of the death of the prime minister. The announcement caused a discussion among Sima's entourage as to its veracity: Perhaps the pronouncement was false and merely an effort to entice Sima to pursue through the mountain pass and provide the wily Zhuge Liang with another opportunity to demonstrate his talent for ambuscade. Upon a personal inspection of the abandoned Shu-Han encampment Sima determined that Zhuge was indeed deceased and that a pursuit through the Baoye Yalley was appropriate. He marched his army through the pass as far as the southernmost egress without any difficulty, but concerned over the lack of supplies to support any further advance, he returned his army to the Wei River.42

The second development that endangered the safety of Zhuge Liang's army was the personal feud between Yang Yi and Wei Yan. The latter was a bold and daring commander, while Yang Yi was more conservative and cautious. Upon the death of Zhuge, Yang Vi, consistent with the death-bed instructions, initiated the retreat with the body of the revered leader. Wei Yan vigorously protested such a move as well as his role as the commander of the rear guard. He urged that various government officials attend to escorting the body back to Hanzhong, while he would lead the army in an attack against Sima. Realizing that Yang Yi was indeed initiating the retreat, he quickly extricated his force and raced to the Baoye Valley and proceeded to a position within the pass to block Yang Yi and the rest of the Shu-Han army. Wei Yan's jealously of Yang Yi was such that he was prepared to initiate a civil war and threaten the viability not only of the army but the Shu-Han state. When news of this development reached the court in Chengdu, partisans of Yang Yi denounced Wei Yan' s treachery. Meanwhile an ominous situation in the Baoye Valley was avoided when Yang Yi bypassed Wei Yan's blocking position.

Furthermore, Yang used a psychological ploy of having a subordinate officer proceed to Wei Yan's position and make an oral appeal to his officers and men reproaching them for supporting such an egregious and insensitive act while the body of the revered leader was being returned to Hanzhong. Consequently, Wei Yan's mutinous force dispersed and its leader, accompanied by a small entourage, fled to Hanzhong, whereupon he was seized and executed along with his son and grandson.

If Yang Yi was confident that his position to succeed to political and military power was now guaranteed he was in for a disappointment, because, although the title of prime minister was discontinued, Jiang Wan was named president of the Department of State Affairs (shangshu ling), a position with considerable military and political authority. His accession to power was in accord with Zhuge Liang's death-bed instruction. Given a nominal position with no military command, Yang Yi began to foment dissension and subversion and when threatened with arrest committed suicide. After this brief period of internecine rivalry and disunity among the leadership elite, Jiang Wan consolidated power and the Shu-Han court would maintain its tenuous existence in Chengdu until 263 when Liu Chan surrendered to a Cao-Wei army.43

The death of Zhuge Liang had noticeable impact on the other two states. Sun Quan initially reinforced his army on the Yangzi at the Sanmen gorges apparently in order to assist his ally. But it was more likely to participate in carving up Shu-Han should Cao- Wei forces under Sima Yi move aggressively south through the Qinling. Suspecting Sun Quan's motives, Jiang Wan moved with alacrity to counter Sun Quan and stabilize the situation by reinforcing the Shu-Han Yangzi River garrison at Baidicheng.

At the Cao- Wei court there was relief that Zhuge' s death marked the passing of a strategic threat, and the emperor began an extensive program of public works, including a new palace at Xuchang. While construction on these projects was proceeding, the area around Luoyang suffered a devastating drought. A potential disaster was avoided when Sima Yi transported food to the capital from the Wei valley. Already recognized for his success in defeating Zhuge Liang's Northern Campaign, Sima's popularity and prestige among the people was further enhanced by this act. Before his death in 251 he succeeded in solidifying his personal and family power in the Cao-Wei state, a preliminary step leading to the usurpation of the throne by his grandson Sima Yan in 265, and the establishment of the Jin Dynasty.44

The critique of Zhuge Liang's Northern Campaign and the assessment of his overall strategic competency began soon after his death. Chen Shou (223-97) concluded his biography of Zhuge Liang with the famous comment that while he was an outstanding political and military administrator he was unable to make appropriate changes in strategy (yin~bian jianglue lei qi suochang).5 In this succinct phrase he implies that Zhuge Liang throughout the Northern Campaign persisted in a flawed strategy: The continuous unsuccessful efforts to seize Longyou reflected his strategic inflexibility. However, an accurate and complete rendition of Chen Shou's assessment must take note of the fact that while he scored Zhuge's strategic inflexibility he recognized his outstanding ability as a military administrator and competency in public and civilian affairs. Notwithstanding his political competency it is his failure to adhere to "absolute flexibility" (quanbian) that appears to dismay Chen Shou.

Wang Fuzhi(1619-92), a famous Qing scholar, is critical of the strategic goal of the LZD because the two-pronged offensive that was intrinsic to the plan did not make a distinction as to which prong was the decoy and which was the main force. He alludes to the plan as being without any subtlety: such as using the stratagem "make a sound in the east but strike in the west" (shengdong jixi). Nor did it incorporate any hint of the interplay between zheng and qi ttr-the orthodox, apparent and overt military operation, and its opposite, a surprise, covert, or unexpected military action which brings about victory for a weaker force. The term zhengqi, which dates from the Sunzi is widely used by various scholars in their critique of Zhuge Liang. Wang Fuzhi notes that the person who seeks to seize the tianxia from a comparatively weak position must be flexible in strategic planning in order to grasp the opportunity to use qi to obtain victory (zhuqi zhisheng). Concerning the Northern Campaign of 228-234, Wang makes a significant contribution to the historical debate. He notes that the initial mobilization and advance from Hanzhong in 228 created a perilous situation for the Cao- Wei court because it was unexpected and came as a surprise.

However, it was not followed through to success by the seizure of Chang' an and the Guanzhong area because Zhuge had a more limited strategic goal. Knowing that the Cao- Wei state could not be toppled in one decisive campaign, and that the weak Liu Chan was not a credible candidate to rule a restored Han court, Zhuge Liang, contrary to his announced policy, sought to use the Northern Campaign to enhance the defensive position of the Shu-Han state: "Use attack for defense" (yigong weishou)Wang argues that the Longyou area, the goal of the Northern Campaign, was not important for the seizure of Chang' an and Guanzhong, but was critical as the back door for access to the Chengdu plain and the heart of the Shu-Han state. Furthermore, the various campaigns between 228 and 234 were not related to the LZD or the pacification of the Central Plain because an offensive in the east toward the strategic centers of Luoyang and Wancheng as envisaged by the LZD, could only be coordinated with a direct advance toward Chang' an, not by a wide left hook to seize Longyou. Therefore, in the opinion of this famous Qing scholar, the Northern Campaign was a limited war for a limited strategic goal: the enhancement of the defensive posture of the Shu-Han state.47 Wang's analysis is congruent with the modem strategic concept of maximizing one's security by the preventive use of force against presumed or real threats.

Contemporary critique and analysis of Zhuge Liang and the Northern Campaign generally echo these earlier commentaries but with interesting embellishments. The two military histories, which are the basis for the above account of the campaign, make significant criticisms. One charges that the political goal of the LZD was flawed because the restoration of the Han court was unrealistic. The Cao- Wei government, considered by Zhuge to be illegal, had effectively dealt with economic and political issues and had gained the support of the people. It is admitted that Zhuge Liang's boldness in selecting an offensive strategy from a position of weakness was daring and imaginative and had several worthwhile results: The superior Cao-Wei army would be compelled to be more circumspect in dealing with Shu-Han and not slight its military strength; by holding the initiative he could decide when to attack and when to retreat. In attacking, the enemy dare not accept the challenge of a "meeting engagement," and in retreating, the enemy dare not make a vigorous pursuit. Except for the opening battle of Jieting in 228, his army always left the battlefield intact. 48

The second source acknowledges the value of the LZD in establishing the tripartite power structure that evolved into the Three Kingdoms period. Not only was the plan valuable in this regard, but by envisaging the tripartite arrangement as the prelude to the ultimate unity of the Chinese polity and the restoration of the Han court by Liu Bei, the plan is deemed practical and realistic.

While Zhuge is lauded for developing the small and weak Shu-Han state into a credible competitor for the mandate of heaven, he is censured for the Northern Campaign: His battlefield victories are judged as hollow and without any strategic substance, and his failure to accept the necessity of using stratagems throughout the campaign is cited as evidence that his military achievements left much to be desired.49

To the military historians at the Military Science Academy in Beijing, Zhuge Liang and the Shu-Han state had two alternatives in 223, the date of Liu Bei's death following his disastrous eastern campaign: Ether sit passively on the defensive and rely on its formidable geographic position in splendid isolation, or follow the plan that was adopted to build up internal economic and military strength as well as restoring diplomatic ties with Sun Quan as a prelude to a northern campaign. These scholars cite the preparation and implementation of the Northern Campaign as embodying a policy of self-strengthening through struggle. It is judged a reasonable policy for Shu-Han to pursue, particularly if it was correctly implemented, because it had the distinct possibility of seizure of the Longyou area.

Zhuge Liang, in the judgment of these scholars, was too cautious: the failure to exploit the initial surprise in 228 by either a bold move on Chang'an through the Qinling, or a more vigorous move to seize the Longyou area by having the decoy force advance through the mountains and go directly to the Wei River in the vicinity of Chencang, thereby drawing the enemy away from Longyou and providing Zhuge with the opportunity to seize this prized area. The failure of the first campaign in 228 set the stage for a protracted war which resulted in weakening the Shu-Han army, exhausting its population, and depleting its economic resources.

These scholars view Zhuge Liang's political goal of restoring the Han dynasty as inappropriate and unrealistic even as early as 208 when the LZD was formulated, and, by the time of the Northern Campaign in 228, totally irrelevant. The diplomatic success in restoring the alliance with Sun Quan prior to the Northern Campaign is dismissed as useless because it brought little strategic dividend: Each side had different political agendas which precluded close military coordination. Once the first campaign in 228 was turned back, the Cao- Wei state was capable of handling the two-front threat presented by the alliance with ease.50

The ascendancy of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s and his policy of "seek the truth from the facts" marked a vigorous revival of Chinese scholarship concerning Zhuge Liang's military career and the military history of the Three Kingdoms period. Periodic conferences have been held by the Zhuge Liang Research Society resulting in a plethora of publications. At Sichuan University a research center specializing in the Three Kingdoms period has been established. In the fall of 1994, the famous Wuhouci Museum in Chengdu opened a new exhibition hall with extensive documents, illustrations, and artifacts pertaining to the military history and general culture of Three Kingdoms period.

Furthermore, there are two other museums in China with emphasis on Zhuge Liang and the Three Kingdoms period and staffed by professional curators: Longzhong in Hubei, where he lived before affiliating with Liu Bei, and the site of his tomb outside of Mianxian in Shaanxi. Not surprisingly, Zhuge Liang's military career, including the LZD and the Northern Campaipn, has been the focus of considerable recent scholarship in China.5

A review of this material indicates that to a great degree it has developed and embellished Chen Shou and Wang Fuzhi's analyses, although some of the new assessments merit attention. One variation notes that Zhuge Liang's Northern Campaign had no fixed strategic goal: The maximum, of course, was to restore the Han court, but the minimum, which he achieved to some degree, was to keep the initiative and manipulate the enemy by using the offensive to enhance the security of Shu-Han. Such a strategy, it is claimed, was consistent with the fact that except for the first and fifth campaigns, Zhuge Liang's army never exceeded 50,000, a comparatively small force. The Northern Campaign is seen as an exploratory expedition, which, by means of harassing offensives and using flexible tactics of advance-retreat, kept the enemy off balance. Since his limited manpower was inconsistent with the goal of capturing Longyou, seizing territory was not his goal.

Therefore, he always changed direction of his offensives: once to Tianshui, then to Chencang, then to Wudu, then back toward Qishan and Tianshui; He was flexible and responded to the situation by quick attack-retreat tactics, seeking at the same time to "avoid the hard and strike the soft" (bishijixu).52

Other scholars fault the LZD on two counts: The political goal of restoring the Han court was unrealistic, and the idea of seizing Jingzhou as a base for one of the prongs for a northern campaign was a flawed concept because Sun Quan would never accept Liu Bei in control of this critical area, the "lips and teeth" for the security of his Jiangnan base. In essence, Zhuge Liang is charged with failing to make an objective analysis of the political situation at the time he drew up the LZD.53

Another contemporary analysis is critical of the plan to rely on Sun Quan as an ally to assist in the offensive against Cao- Wei, although the LZD is seen more favorably as an incisive analysis of the situation in 208: Its objective, the seizure of Jingzhou and Yizhou and the defensive alliance with Sun Quan, is seen as a reasonable proposal in the year 208. Zhuge is complimented for his battlefield innovations: the anti-cavalry tactics and artifacts he introduced, and the development of the multiple bolt firing crossbow, the famous liannuji. But it is in assessing the failure of Zhuge Liang to use any stratagems during the Northern Campaign that an interesting analysis is attempted: (a) Prior to taking command of the army Zhuge Liang had little experience in commanding armies-he was basically a muliao or a moushi, a staff officer or strategic planer without any battlefield experience and did not appreciate the need nor significance of surprise and stratagem in achieving victory. (b) At the time of the stalemate on the Wei River in the summer of 234, the situation precluded any use of stratagem. Having met his match, he dare not take any risk. (c) Zhuge Liang had trained his army in battlefield formations and combat drills based on deliberation, mechanical precision, steadiness and security, a concept that reflected his own personality and strategic style. (d) In a sense his flexible battlefield tactics and ability to control the initiative was in itself a brilliant stratagem. Concerning Zhuge Liang's unwillingness to consider a surprise attack on Chang'an to initiate the campaign in 228, as proposed by Wei Yan, this decision is supported as correct in view of the fact that the goal was not Chang'an but the seizure of Longyou and the upper Wei River Valley in order to enhance the defensive posture of the Shu-Han state. This analysis is a variation of the Wang Fuzhi thesis.54

Concerning Zhuge Liang's cautious approach in making the wide left hook to secure the Longyou instead of a bold strike through the mountains to seize Chang' an, one scholar notes that the dismissal of Wei Yan's proposal reflected concern over the rear area security of the Shu-Han state should the surprise attack be successful and Zhuge Liang gain control over this critical area. Sun Quan, reluctant to accept Shu-Han control over such a strategic area, would attack Zhuge' s rear as he did against an unsuspecting Guan Yu in 219. Although he was a nominal ally of Shu-Han, the possibility of a reprise of 219 scenario, "a tiger at the front door and a wolf at the back," prompted Zhuge Liang to favor a cautious advance to Longyou.55

The thesis of Wang Fuzhi that the purpose of the Northern Campaign was to "attack in order to defend" is dismissed by a contemporary scholar as unrealistic and improbable. Furthermore, such a strategy is deemed impractical in the case of a weak state, such as Shu-Han, with limited resources and manpower, in confronting a stronger foe. If the national policy was defense then it would have behooved Zhuge Liang to foster preparation behind the natural defensive barrier already in existence: Wait for the enemy to advance and then attack, rather than squander resources by exhaustive and continuous offensives to secure a more advantageous defensive position. Indeed, the purpose of the Northern Campaign was consistent with the LZD long-term goal of conquering the Central Plain, while the immediate goal was to seize the valuable resources of the Longyou area as well as its geopolitical location thereby securing access to Chang'an and the Guanzhong area. Success in this endeavor, followed by the capture of the latter two locations, would set the stage for an ultimate advance east to the Central Plain. Concluding a lengthy and detailed critique of the Northern Campaign, a modem scholar claims that Cao- Wei superiority could only be reversed by using some sort of a stratagem at the outset of the campaign "to change weakness into strength by using stratagem to secure victory.56 Furthermore, Wei Yan's proposal for a surprise attack on Chang'an through the Qinling was feasible because such a maneuver had been used successfully during the wars that established the Han dynasty by Han Xin in 206 B.C. Given the disparity in power and resources, a bold stratagem at the outset was the sine qua non of success. Zhuge Liang's later tactical virtuosity notwithstanding, his initial caution doomed the Northern Campaign. 57 While Zhuge Liang might be faulted by Chinese scholars for his military incompetency, he is fulsomely praised for his "subjective effort" to unite the nation, an effort, it is claimed, that is congruent with the historical trend toward the national unity of China.58

A study of the Chinese language literature pertaining to the military career of Zhuge Liang and his Northern Campaign indicates that the persistent and exhaustive critique that he has received from scholars from the late third century to the late 20th century is testimony to the continuing and compelling fascination that he inspires. His military career results in a contrasting assessment: On the battlefield he demonstrated tactical skill and flexibility, yet the ambiguity surrounding the purpose and strategic goal of the campaign is perplexing. While his bold and incisive geopolitical and grand strategic analysis in the LZD is admirable, his cautious approach in achieving the fruits of such analysis is dismaying. While he has gained the reputation as a master of military organization and administration, the conspicuous and consistent logistical bottlenecks that frustrated his battlefield successes tarnishes this estimation. While it is claimed that he was a student of the pre-Qin military classics and an author of a military treatise himself, he seems to have disregarded the admonition in the Sunzi to avoid weakening the nation by constant and fruitless campaigns. It is this dichotomous judgment of his performance, some positive some negative, that provides a realistic understanding and appreciation of his military career.

Finally, there is an interesting paradox: Although the Northern Campaign resulted in no significant political or strategic successes, its mastermind has been mythologized throughout the centuries as the ill-fated hero who struggled unsuccessfully against formidable odds for an ideological and political goal, the unity of the tianxia. Indeed, it is ironic that his single-minded tenacity and commitment to this goal was criticized by Chen Shou in the late third century as a flaw: the inability to revise strategy to correspond to the reality of the situation. Apropos to Chen Shou's assessment, a recent scholarly analysis seeking to identify the presence of a strategic culture in Chinese military history concludes that the one central, constant, and pervasive element is the concept of "absolute flexibility" quanbian.59 If that is the case then one can make the assessment that Zhuge Liang and his Northern Campaign were an aberration from the dominant and normative strategic culture of China.


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Alone I lean under the wispy shade of an aged tree,
Scornfully I raise to parted lips a cup of warm wine,
Longingly I cast an empty vessel aside those exposed roots,
And leave behind forgotten memories and forsaken dreams.
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:36 pm

[The following is the complete article transcribed by me as it appeared in the 2002 edition of Monumenta Serica. This was published roughly at the same time as Tillman's other article.]

Reassessing Du Fu's Line on Zhuge Liang

Written by Hoyt Cleveland Tillman

"Zhuge Liang's great fame resounds through the ages"; or "Zhuge Liang's great name hangs across the world." This famous line "by the insuperably Chinese genius of Du Fu (712-770), "China's Greatest Poet," has often been cited to illustrate Zhuge Liang's (181-234) status as a universally renowned and constantly cherished hero in China. Referring to this line, David McCraw speaks of Du Fu's image of Zhuge Liang posessing "eternal fame" that "seemed to transcend all time and space." Among Chinese, Du Fu's line became all the more memorable when incorporated prominantly to eulogize Zhuge Liang in the popular historical novel, Sanguo yanyi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms). This traditional novel from the early to mid-Ming period quoted and augmented the circulation of several of Du Fu's poems on Zhuge Liang, including one that is attributed to Du Fu, but not in his collected works. There are, indeed, many examples of China's rulers, statesmen, poets, and philosophers lauding Zhuge Liang's sagely wisdom, devoted loyalty, just administration, and military genius. Various modern studies and compilations provide ready access to the most famous of stele inscriptions, poems, and other short writings lauding Zhuge over the centuries. Du Fu's poems have been among the most influential on, and most often quoted by, later writers commenting on Zhuge Liang's place in history and in the hearts and minds of the people. Because Du Fu's poems have been so central to conventional conceptions of Zhuge, I would like to Query the opening line cited above in the larger context of Du Fu's own life and his other poems touching on Zhuge Liang in order to explore his overall 'line' regarding this hero.

The specific inquiry is part of my larger study of when, how, and why Zhuge Liang indeed became a universally cherished hero, IE, beloved by people throughout China. It is certainly true that Zhuge Liang in his own day became popular in Shu and became known in two other kingdoms; moreover, having been given a prominent place in one of the most interesting of the official histories, scholar-officials and rulers were generally aware of his words and deeds. Yet, it seems quite likely that positive interest in Zhuge Liang, especially as a model personality for scholar-officials and generals, was far from a constant phenomenon, but rather experienced uneven cycles of growth in relation to how relevant he seemed to any particular era's pressing issues, especially national unification and restoration of the line of legitimate successors to China's imperial throne. Although this hypothesis necessitates the larger book-length study in which I am currently engaged, the present article might serve to raise and test a crucial point. Du Fu is chosen because of his contribution to Zhuge Liang's fame and the pwoerful influence his Zhuge poems have had on later centuries. What would an analysis of Du Fu's poems reveal about his line on Zhuge Liang and even suggest about the status of Zhuge as a hero in the mid-Tang.

A Qualified Contextualization

Before turning to Du Fu, a brief survey of quantified data from the dynastic histories for his era might serve to set the stage. I hope this data will not distract readers from the present article's focus on Du Fu; moreover a fuller account of quantified data will be provided elsewhere in my larger project. If we set aside such considerations as place names and bibliographic lists of works extant in the Tang, we would be left with clusters of interest in Zhuge Liang in particular periods. These periods were generally ones of crisis for the imperial family, but ones during which scholar-officials still had sufficient grounds for optimism about the loyalist cause. In the Xin Tangshu, Zhuge Liang is mentioned in eight biographies: two were ministers of Tang Taizong; three were from Tang loyalists during Wu Zetian's rise to power in the second half of the eighth century; two were loyalists from the ninth century; and in the remaining one which deals with southwestern tribal leaders, it is noted that a stone inscription by Zhuge still stood there in the year 764. Besides the two of those eight cases that were copied from the Jiu Tangshu, three additional biographies in this earlier official history also mention Zhuge. The first mention is found in the compiling historian's comments at the end of a biography of a mid-seventh century official; the second from the late seventh century; and the third from the early ninth. In other words, 62% of the mentions came in biographies of loyalists either during Wu Zetian's rise to power in the second half of the eighth century or during restoration attempts of the early ninth century. The clustering around crucial eras for the imperial house is further reinforced in the only two mentions in the basic annals (of the Jiu Tangshu): in one, Taizong while instructing his officials quoted a statement made to Zhuge; and in the other, an official in 806 was addressing Xianzong (805-820). Judging from the computerized index provided by the Institute of History and Philology, the only mention during the rather flourishing and peaceful period of the Tang between the restoration of 705 and the outbreak of the An Lushan rebellion in 755 comes from the year 723. During the sacrifices made by the emperor that year to August Heaven (Tian), there is a mention of Zhuge being honored during the ritual sacrifices. As a counterpoint of comparison, Zhuge Liang figured prominently enough in the lives of 24 Song men to merit mention in their official biographies; moreover, whereas only one of the eleven Tang biographies mention him twice, two of the 24 Song biographies did so thrice. 75% of the citations within Song biographies came from the Southern Song. Besides, these 28 occurances in Shongshi biographies, there are eighteen additional passages where Zhuge's name appears. Thus, by this measure, Song men cited and identified with Zhuge Liang far more than Tang men had.

In terms of such quantified data, do these numbers from the official Tang histories suggest that Zhuge's fame filled Du Fu's world? The citations appear too limited in number and too clustered at particular periods to support the conventional assumption that Zhuge was already well established as a universal hero during the Tang. Moreover, in terms of citations in the official histories, the clustering of dates in the seventh century and again in the early ninth century suggests that the tide of Zhuge Liang's fame had been ebbing before and during Du Fu's lifetime.

The early ninth-century minor surge in the number of citations to Zhuge Liang in the official Tang histories was, in one instance, directly linked to Du Fu's poems. During the reform attempt during Shunzong's brief reign in 805, Zhuge Liang was specifically mentioned among those whom Wang Shuwen and his reform clique looked for inspiration. As wang Shuwen contemplated the demise of his clique, he became despondent and wept while quoting the closing couplet from Du Fu's "Chancellor of Shu": But before he could conquer, he was dead; And heroes have wept on their coats ever since." Official Historians, beginning with Han Yu (768-824), have reported that those who heard this quotation laughed up their sleeves. Although other considerations are relevant to this reported response, the laughter surely does not enhance confidence that Zhuge Liang was as widely esteemed as he became during the Song and later. However, the later story and wider survey of quantified data will be addressed in the larger study and should not divert us from focusing on the specific subject at hand.

Du Fu's Poems on Zhuge Liang

We now turn directly to Du Fu. Although his father (died 740) had been an official and his maternal grandmother was a great grandaughter of Tang Taizong, Du Fu gave to a younger half-brother the privilege of entering the bureaucracy thorugh the merit of his father's official rank. Du Fu sat for civil service examinations several times before passing a special individually administered examination in 752, but further personal appeals were needed before he secured his first appointment in 755, the year An Lushan rebelled. Although briefly given a post in 757 to "remind" the emperor, Du Fu was imprisoned for questioning the Emperor's actions; pardoned, his articulated opinions soon offended the court again, and he was sent down to a local educational post east of Chang'An. After a frustrating year at his post, he took a leave of absence and traveled during 750, west to Qinzhou in modern Gansu province and then for the first time south to Chengdu. Du Fu's poetry written before 759 sometimes voiced frustration over the problems of the times and even occassionally made references to historic heroes, but never to Zhuge Liang.

Du Fu made his first reference to Zhuge Liang in an autumn 759 poem, "To Express My Fellings." This poem was written at Tonggu near where Zhuge Liang had led his armies out of Shu to attack the northern kingdom of Wei. Although he likened himself to Zhuge Liang living in humble conditions as a reclining dragon, Du Fu's point was to provide a contrast to his own career because Zhuge Liang had found, in Liu Bei, a ruler who appreciated him. Despite this reference to Zhuge, Du Fu was still not mindful enough of Zhuge Liang either to compose poems as he passed near the battlefields where Zhuge had fought or to make a minor detour to pay his respects at the tomb and shrine near Mianxian. Although we do not know why he did not make this side trip, it was not because of any aversion to traveling and touring. Du Fu enjoyed traveling and once remarked, "As long as it is for an inspiring retreat, I have never grudged to ride far." In 759, however, he was perhaps simply too anxious to reach Chengdu where either a friend or a patron might help him with his financial problems. Nonetheless, it would have been very noteworthy if he had taken the detour to Mianxian to pay his respect to Zhuge Liang.

Arriving in Chengdu at the very end of 759, he expressed his anxiety over the rebellion that not only forced him to leave his home in North China but had more importantly driven the Tang court out of the capital. The Tang emperor had also fled into the region of Shu for safety as the rebellion begun by An Lushan devastated North China. In his "Chengdu City", Du Fu depects the North China "heartland fading away into darkest oblivion." He further revealed a sense of separation from his Central Plains homeland in terms that imply a feeling almost as if he had entered another country. He lamented: "I must not think of seeing my own home country every again... Many of the ancients had to contend themselves with exile, Why should I alone grieve?" Themes of national unification through a dynastic restoration and his own return home were interconnected in his poetry. An even more vivid example would be his well-known poem from 763, "On Hearing of the Recovery of Henan and Hebei by the Imperial Army" in which his boundless joy culminates in his mentally tracing his route homeward. Thus, in addition to his attention to recording a world that erupted and was destroyed, Du Fu's angst over being forced to wander in Sichuan far from his own home surely enhanced the profundity of his appreciation for the Tang Emperor's predicament and the intensity of his commitment to national reunification.

When Du Fu did begin turning to historic figures associated with the Shu region and with whom he could feel affinity, he gave more attention to a figure named Yang Xiong (53 BC - 18 AD) than to Zhuge Liang. Yang Xiong had been a native of the area and had written his most famous work near Chengdu; moreover, he had once served as a literary official of a declining dynasty. That someone like Yang Xiong more quickly attracted Du Fu's attention provides one minor clue that Zhuge Liang's legacy in the eighth century might not have been so pervasively present in Sichuan as later generations have assumed.

The first time Du Fu concentrated a poetic composition on Zhuge Liang was in the spring of 760 during a visit to Wuhou Ci (Shrine to Wuxianghou, the Martial Marquis of Wuxiang, IE Zhuge Liang). This was his famous "Chancellor of Shu":

Shu Chancellor's memorial shrine, where shall I seek?
Beyond Brocade Mandarin's City, there cypresses throng.
Emerald grass gleams on the steps: for itself spring hues;
A Yellow Oriole screened by leaves: in vain his fine song.
Three times persistently importuned - an empire-wide plan;
Two reigns founded and preserved - the old servant's will.
Before his mustered army's triumph, first he lsot his life,
Summoning up heroes' tears to flood their bosoms still.

The poems closing lines are probably better rendered:

To die, his host afield, the victory heralds yet to come -
Weep, O heroes! Drench your fronts, now and evermore!

Compared to the version, "Before his mustered army's triumph, first he lost his life," the penultimate line in the second rendering strikes a far more optimistic or confident faith in victory. As Moss Roberts observed, these closing lines "proved prophetic and gave heart in future times to Chinese who had been driven south by northern ivnaders. Historically, the victory heralds never arrived, but Du Fu imagines Kongming dying confident of victory. Thus the poem immortalizes the moment when his spirit of determination to recover the heartland, restore the Han, and reunify the empire ran high." Robert's rendering also provides a glimpse of Du Fu anxiously in his own day waiting similar heralds of victory and striving for confidence in the reunification of that country.

That optimistic note about eventual reunification was set against a stark depiction of the present condition of Zhuge Liang's shrine and legacy in Chengdu. Using imagery of grass growing on the steps of the temple and orioles wasint their songs, Du Fu portrayed an empty or desolate temple, which was rarely visited even in the springtime when people tend to go on outings. Although the somber scene still evoked a sympathetic response from Du Fu, his poems could be read, in part, as a complaint about the temple's sad state of disrepair and people's failure to cherish Zhuge enough to frequent the shrine. This depiction of the disrepair and neglect of Zhuge's shrines will arise again in our discussion of some later pieces as one clue to the state of his legacy in the eighth century.

"Chancellor of Shu," even though the first of Du Fu's famous Zhuge poems, has been lauded as the only one of his poems to deal in a general way with the major Zhuge themes; thus, Pu Qulong (1679-1762) implied that it was Du Fu's best one. Compared to later poems, however, this poem seems a rather straightforward statement of Zhuge's story. Some of Du's alter poems soar with allusions to more majestic heights. Thus, I will ask the reader to remain open to the possibility of seeing some progression or development toward those later poems.

Four years passed before Du Fu even mentioned Zhuge Liang in another poem. In the spring of 764, reflecting on the turmoil of his own day, Du Fu's "Ascending the Tower" presents the poet as atop Chengdu's city wall and gazing towards the west, a scene that included the Wuhou Ci complex and the temple to Liu Bei. Two of these intervening four years, Du Fu had spent approximately one hundred miles to the east of Chengdu to avoid serving under those who had seized power in the city. At the time of this poem, Du Fu had returned to serve as a military advisor to a former patron, Yan Wu (726-765), who was again the governor-general at Chengdu. The poem possesses a detectable note of optimism about national developments, for the court of the North Polar Star, IE the imperial throne, remained in Tang hands. The An Lushan rebellion had finally been extinguished a year earlier, and both emperors who had reigned during the rebellion had died in 762; moreover, after a brief interregnum when the capital was in the hands of the Tibetans, the younger emperor Daizong (r. 762-779) had returned successfully to Chang'an. Although the Tibetans still occupied part of the mountains of western Sichuan, the young emperor might well find a loyal and competent advisor - as Liu Shan, Shu's second and last ruler, had in Zhuge Liang.

Ascending the Tower
Blossoms approaching the high tower grieve traveler's heart;
Ten-thousand places, troubles abound while here ascending.
Brocade River spring colors evoke heaven and earth;
Jade Fort [Mountain] floating clouds transforming the Past, the Present.
North Star, imperial court after all did not change;
Western Mountains, bandits-enemies do not invade us.
Pitiful Last Ruler [of Shu] returned to his lineal shrine;
As the sun sets, for a while I intone the "Liangfu Dirge."

Liangfu were dirge-like folk songs from the area of Zhuge Liang's ancestral home in Shandong, and he was famous for humming these songs about the realm for dead souls. Intoning the Liangfu Dirge, Du Fu gave voice to his identification with Zhuge.

This personal identification with Zhuge was also enhanced by making an implicit parallel: In the opening line, Du Fu refers to himself as a traveler or wanderer and the closing line brings to mind the fact that Zhuge had also been a sojourner in Shu. Both were from North China and strove for national unification under the legitimate dynastic government; so unification would also make their returning home possible. Such parallels in their experiences, as well as Du Fu's closing lines, could also be perceived as implying that he wished for an opportunity for a position of trust, like that held by Zhuge, so that he, too, might save the state and make his young ruler famous for all time. Compared with his 759 poem, "To Express my Feelings." where Du Fu first referred to Zhuge in order to contrast Zhuge's service in office to his own failure to be appreciated, his 764 poem - based on affinity instead of difference - was written while aserving as an advisor to the governor-general in Chengdu. Hence, "Ascending the Tower" represented a furhter step in Du Fu's identification with Zhuge Liang and perhaps an increase in his hopes for himself and China. It is probably not at all incidental that such enhanced identification and hopes arose upon his return to Chengdu with its shrines to Zhuge and the rulers of Shu.

Around the time of Yan Wu's death in late spring of 765, Du Fu left Chengdu for reasons unclear to us, and sailed down river. Slowing making his way down the Yangzi River, Du Fu arrived at Kuizhou (near modern Fengjie, Sichuan) where he stayed for two years, from the spring of 766 to the spring of 768. It was possibly his interest in Zhuge Liang that influenced him to linger at this point, for this place had signficiant traces of Zhuge Liang lore. Several piles of boulders in the River constituted what had been called the "Design of the Eightfold Array," which Zhuge Liang reportedly set up to confound the invading Wu army and induce it to withdraw downriver to Wu. Less than a mile north of the boulders was where Liu Bei's Palace of Everlasting Peace had once stood, but at the time of Du Fu's visit, only temples to the memory of Zhuge and Liu Bei remained. During the two years in Kuizhou, Du Fu wrote more than four hundred poems, about one-quarter of his extant collection. Here, in addition to passing references to Zhuge, he composed several poems about Zhuge.

One of these Kuizhou poems, evoked by watching the river current break upon the piles of stones that formed the Design of the Eightfold Array, reflected on Zhuge's inability to stop Liu Bei from seeking revenge agains tthe State of Wu for killing his sworn brother Guan Yu:

Deisng of the Eightfold Array
His deeds overarched a country Tripart Torn,
His fame's monument, this Design of Eightfold Array,
Is ruined stones now, the River's flow cannot overturn:
His testament of grief, beyond death and unconquered Wu.

Signfiicantly, the rock formations did not induce Du Fu to sing praises to Zhuge's strategic genius and ability to turn back the invading Wu army, but rather to focus on Zhuge's unsuccessful efforts to persuade his ruler to preserve in the long-term plan for dynastic restoration. Hence, Du Fu did not intone what was to become dominant in popular myths about the stones as evidence of Zhuge's strategic genius.

Du Fu's somber tone suggests that he perceived the scene through the eyes of frustrated loyalists, like himself, who had failed to get and keep Tang rulers focused on restoring good government. If so, the poem was yet another step in self-identification with Zhuge because Du Fu's 769 "To Express My Feelings" had contrasted his own dismal failures to be heard by the Tang emperors with Zhuge's esteemed status as a trusted advisor to the rulers of Shu. His two Zhuge poems written in Chengdu in 760 and 764 had expressed his aspirations: first, through ascribing to Zhuge confidence about "victory heralds yet to come"; and then through lauding Zhuge's service to Shu Han rulers. But now, his fading hopes made it easier for him to perceive the Eightfold Array as a monumnet in ruins testifying to Zhuge's grief about the ruler's tragic failure to heed advice. Thus, his fading hopes made it easier for him to see Zhuge Liang as much more like himself - striving unsuccessfully to be heard by the ruler.

Poems dealing with the Wuhou Ci complex at Kuizhou are especially significant. In a poem about the Martial Temple, he describes how it was, like the one in Chengdu, quite empty; moreover, this one in Kuizhou had apparently been neglected for an even longer time. The condition of the temple haunted him. He mentioned making frequent visits to the temple, and proclaimed that the temple "could not be forgotten." Lamenting that the hands of the Zhuge Statue were missing, he petitioned a local official in 767 to repair the shrine. Given his complaints about the pacuity of visitors and the disrepair of the Zhuge temples in both Chengdu and Kuizhou, Du Fu's assertion that the temple "could not be forgotten" might reflect more desperate plea than calm confidence. Du Fu used the condition of the temple to set the mood for listening to the words of the statesman's spirit:

Temple to the Martia Marquis
The paintings on the walls of the temple are worn;
Wild plants have overgrown the empty hills
But one can almost hear his words when he took his last departure from the Second Ruler,
Not to retire to Nanyang, but to die for his country.

Significantly, the pessimisic tone of death and defeat evident the "Design of the Eightfold Array" echoed here and resounded in the reference to the Later Campaign Memorial and Zhuge Liang's untimely death. The so-called "Later Campaign Memorial" portrayed Zhuge as mounting yet another military campaign - despite increasing criticisms within the Shu kingdom and growing self-doubts within Zhuge's own mind about the possibility of success. Thus, the tone of these two poems perhaps reflect Du Fu's own inner struggles and increasing difficulties maintaining the implicit optimistic hope about the nation's fate that he expressed in the closing couplet of Chancellor of Shu." In any event, although Du Fu's "Temple to the Martial Marquis" lauded Zhuge Liang's loyal dedication to the national task, this poem was still essentially descrptive and historical.

A majestic cypress in the temple's courtyard seemingly inspired Du Fu to greater heights of praise for Zhuge Liang in the spring of 766.

Ballad of the Old Cypress

Before Kongming's Temple is an ancient cypress;
Its trunk like bronze, its roots like rocks.
From its frosted branches rain drips for forty spans;
Its dark hue mingles with the sky for two thousand feet.
Clouds come, vapor-linking it to the Wu Gorge's length;
The moon comes out to join it in cold to the Snow Mountain's white.
Prince and minister once came together in timely meeting,
So that the tree is still the object of men's love.
I recall where the road winds east of the Brocade River pavilion,
The First Ruler and the Martial Marquis share a shrine:
Towering branches and trunks upon the ancient suburban moor;
Hidden are the paintings in the deserted buildings.
Though standing apart with firm hold, the cypress has its place,
Soaring solitary into the void, it faces many fierce winds.
In support, in truth, has been the spirits' power;
Its straightness was first the Creator's work.
When a great house is tottering, it needs beams and rafters,
That ten thousand oxen will not pull, a mountain's weight.
Even before its elegance is revealed, the world is startled;
It does not decline to be cut, yet how can it be carried away?
How should its bitter heart escape the attack of ants?
Its fragment leaves at any rate have sheltered the phoenix.
Men of principle, scholars in retirement, do not resentfully sigh!
From old great timber has been hard to use.

Du Fu here envisions a cosmic tree, symbol of afflicted genius and neglected greatness. Those with the most talent were too big to be utilized in a world of small men. More crucially, "when a great house is tottering" perhaps brings to mind the "great enterprise" of the dynastic house and its great enterprise of governing the empire. When the dynastic house was "tottering," it needed "great timbers"; moreover, although the Old Cypress had not declined to be of service, it remained unused and neglected. Here, the Old Cypress, like the Eightfold Array, served to highlight Zhuge Liang's failure to be properly used and heeded by the rulers of Shu. Hence, Du Fu seemingly perceived himself as having more in common with Zhuge's experience than in 759 when Zhuge Liang caught Du Fu's attention and evoked an "Expression of Feelings." As such, this poem provided solace for those, like Du Fu, who were not given adequate opportunity to employ their talents to save the country. Ironically, as Du Fu came to recognize his own predicament as shared with Zhuge Liang, his poem soared to an exalted portrayal of Zhuge Liang and attained the most cosmic and majecistic images thus far in his Zhuge poems.

Another eulogy to Zhuge Liang forms the final five poems in a series on ancient sites in the eare. This series might well be read as enhancing his personal identification with Zhuge Liang as as culminating his claim that Zhuge's fame reosunds through the ages. In the first poem of the series, Du Fu potrays a time like his own when a barbarian seized power, and the resulting chaso forced scholars to roam searching for a way out of the turmoil and leaving them with no chance to return home. (Here again, the themes of national reunification and the ability to reutrn home were intertwined.) Since the subject of the poem, Yu Xin (513-581) is not mentioned until the penultimate line, the reader readily assumes until then that Du Fu is merely describing his own day and that he alone is the wandering poem, lamenting the troubled times, having no chance to return. Yu Xin had loyally served the state of Liang; when dispatched as an emissary to the alien Western Wei dynasty occupying part of North China, he was confined there, so he wrote laments about the fall of his dynasty along the Yangzi. Song Yu, the hero of the second poem, was another poet who alemtned the fall of the state of Chu in the third century BC. The third poem was devoted to Wang Qiang, the legendary lady from Han Emperor Yuan's harem who was given to the Xiongnu chieftan when he came to the Han court in 33 BC. Her indominable spirit perserved in the alien land, and her laments about the loss of her homeland were so strong that her tomb in Inner Mongolia became a green hill in the desert. In his analysis of these poems, Hans Frankel observes that the influence of these heroes extended beyond time and space; moreover Du Fu emphasized their universality in both spacial and temporal terms:

As Yu Xun's poem stirred all China, "the river and passes," so "Zhuge's great name hangs across the world." Song Yu is remembered "across a thousand autumns," and Wang Qiang "for a thousand years," while Zhuge Liang is a unique phenomenon in "a thousand ages."

Since the neat parallelism is actually broken with the escalation to "ten-thousand ages" in the verse on Zhuge Liang, this last hero emerges even more clearly to be the culmination of the series. Setting forth similarities among the heroes in the five poems and linking some of them directly to himself, Du Fu also further underlined his personal identification with Zhuge Liang.

The fourth poem in the sieres described the majestic temple to Liu Bei; however, even more desolate than the one portrayed in Chengdu, only the village elders came to pay their respects and they did so only twice a year:

Thoughts on Ancient Sites, IV
The ruler of Shu had his eyes on Wu and reached the Three Gorges
In the year of his demise he was in the Palace of Eternal Peace.
The blue green banners can be imagined on the empty mountain,
And the jade palace in the void, deserted temple.
Cranes nest in the pines of the ancient shrine;
At summer and winter festivals the only ones to come are village elders.
The Martial Count's memorial shrine is ever nearby;
Together, sovereign and minister share the sacrifices.

This last couplet served to set the stage for the culminating poem, which focused directly on Zhuge Liang. The series then reached its climax:

Thoughts on Ancient Sites, V
Zhuge Liang's great name hangs across the world.
his portrait is majestic and pure.
Triple division and separate states twisted his plans,
A single feather in a sky of ten-thousand ages.
Not better nor worse was he than Yi [Yin] and Lv [Shang];
Had his strategy succeeded, he would have bested Xiao He and Cao Shen.
As revolving fate shifted the fortunes of Han, they could not be restored;
His purpose was cut off and his body destroyed as he toiled with the army.

Du Fu here ranked Zhuge Liang on a par with ancient satesmen like Yi Yin who helped Cheng Tang overthrow the Xia tyrant king Jie and establish the shang dynasty. Because of Yi Yin's role in advising the founder of one of the major Three Dynasties of the golden age of early antiquity, this was implicitly a much higher standard than Yue Yi, to whom Zhuge had compared himself. Du Fu was apparently influenced by a tradition anchored around 261 in Liu Shan's eulogy to Zhuge Liang and continued in Li Xing's inscription from around 305 under the Western jin. In this tradition, Zhuge Liang was projected as a sagely minister, such as Yi Yin. Zhang Fu added Lv Shang to Yi Yin and ranked Yue Yi much lower than Zhuge; thus, his appraisal might have been the primary one echoed by Du Fu. In any event, Du Fu claimed that there was only one thing that prevented Zhuge Liang from reaching the exalted status of a sagely Yi Yin: The cycle of the times (the Mandate of Heaven) had departed from the Han so there was no way that Zhuge's goals could be achieved.

Even though the line in Du Fu's fifth poem on ancient sites projected Zhuge Liang's fame as reaching the zenith and being universal, Du Fu continued, as in his other Kuizhou poems, to dwell on Zhuge Liang's ultimate failure and sacrifice of his life for the national cause. On the one hand, the personal identification with Zhuge provided solace: even though "great timbers were hard to use" and talented heroes died with unfulfilled dreams about returning home ot a unified country, their names and efforts would continue to inspire herals through the centuries. Such fame endured far better than the physical artifacts of the temples and despite the neglect and disregard shown by the populous toward sites associated with these heroes. One the other hand, statements that almost no one ever visited the shrines to Zhuge Liang and Liu Bei, as well as the repairs needed to Zhuge's image therein, evoke tension with Du Fu's announcement that Zhuge's fame resounded through the ages and covered the world. At the very least, we should appreciate the tension implicit in the contrast Du Fu implied with such descriptions of neglect and disrepair were juxtaposed against the asserted universality of Zhuge's fame. The resulting irony suggests that Du Fu's poems revreal strains of contested complexity in his own and his hero's unfulfilled struggles for the country. Yet, at the same time, his claim about Zhuge's enduring fame was a declaration of optiism - almost an existential faith - that somehow and someday the hero would be appreciated universally and his goal of national unification would be realized. Du Fu's first Zhuge Poem, "Chancellor of Shu," presented Zhuge dying, "his host afield, the victory heralds yet to come." As Du Fu lingered in Kuizhou for two years awaiting better news about the state of order in North China so he could return home, there were decreasing grounds for optimism.

Nonetheless, Du Fu could survey the neglect and disrepair of Zhuge's sites and shrines around him, but still proclaim a triumphant vision of the hero's fame and goals. Du Fu's lines have often been taken essentially to be statements of historical fact and testimonies of Zhuge Liang's universal popularity and fame. I am suggesting that his lines might be regarded as appeals regarding what should be valued and as anguished expressions of hope for his own words and for his country.

Reflections on a Problematic Couplet

before concluding this inquiry, my reading of Du Fu's line on Zhuge might further established thorugh providing context for understanding one of Du Fu's more controversial couplets, one that also touches on Zhuge Liang. While in Kuizhou, Du Fu worked as an unofficial literary secretary to the local military governor with whom he had earlier served under Yan Wu's command in Chengdu. Du Fu wrote to eulogize their former superior who had died the previous year. Here, Du Fu explicitly likened Yan Wu to Zhuge Liang and the local official Wen Weng during the Han dynasty: "In Shu our hero was as much loved as Zhuge Liang by the poeple; And like the educator, Prefect Wen Went of Han, he too exerted a great cultural influence." The seemingly excessive praise of Yan Wu - likening him to Zhuge Liang - has led literary scholars either to downplay or to criticize the couplet.

The couplet's praise of Yan Wu need not be seen as necessarily so excessive if one accepts my point that Zhuge Liang was not yet as legendary a figure as generally assumed by later generations. In trying to gauge whether or not he would have regarded his praise of Yan Wu to be as excessive as later critics have regarded it, it might be helpful to consider his appreciation for Zhuge Liang's arch enemy, Cao Cao. In 764, Du Fu composed the poem, "Danqing Yin", honoring the painter and general Cao Ba, particularly praising him for reflecting the greatness of his ancestor.In 768, acclaiming Cao and his son as among the greatest poets of all time, Du Fu reflected that he "often regretted not having grasped the peculiar wonders of the Cao family of Wei - Each of the Jin writers was like a fast horse, the Cao family, father and son, were thoroughbreds" Written in 764 and 767 during the height of his identification with Zhuge Liang, these two poems touching on Cao Cao illustrate that the archrivalry between Zhuge Liang and Cao Cao was not yet set up in radically contrasting values and virtues.

Returning to Du Fu's couplet on Yan Wu, however, there are two additional possible readings of some relevance to the present discussion. In one reading of this poetic construction, being much loved and having a transformative effect upon the people could apply to both historical persons instead of just attributing one characteristic to Zhuge Liang and the second to Wen Weng alone. If so, Du Fu was apparently following Wang Tong in attributing transformative cultural influences to Zhuge Liang. Implicitly drawing on Analects 16/2, Wang had made the famous remark: "If Zhuge Liang had not died, wouldn't there have been someone to revive ritual and music?" In a second possible reading of Du's couplet, it would be noteworthy that in assigning credit for a cultural transformation of the people, Du Fu passed over Zhuge in favor of the Han official who set up schools in a successful effort to improve culture and mores in the area. Such points need not distract us from the main point: the couplet on Yan Wu is quite consistent with my thesis that Zhuge Liang was not regarded as awesome as he would become in alter centuries.


Departing from Kuizhou in early 768 sailing down the Yangzi, Du Fu had seemingly planned to return home on the way to Chang'an; however, when he learned of another eruption of disorder in North China, he apparently gave up hope of serving again in the national government. Now, in no hurry to reach the capital, he toured around on the rivers of central China until of died of fever near Tanzhou at the end of 770. After leaving Sichuan and despairing of the quest for office, Du Fu also ceased to write of Zhuge Liang; it was as if he no longer needed a personal model for a talented scholar waiting for an opportunity to serve the loyalist cause. Soon after entering Shu in 759, Du Fu's Fu on "Chengdu City" had portrayed "the heartland fading away into darkest oblivion." Soon thereafter, "Chancellor of Shu," Du Fu's first poem on Zhuge Liang, had expressed an optimistic vision of "victory heralds yet to come." Even though Du Fu ultimately proclaimed, "Zhuge Liang's fame resounds through the ages" and "overhangs the world," the optimism inspired by Zhuge's image apparently failed to break through the renewed darkness that enveloped China after Du Fu's departure from Kuizhou.

Du Fu's references to Zhuge Liang were all made within an eight-year period when he was inside the historic borders of the hero's kingdom of Shu; moreover, almost all were during the later half of his travels there. This coincidence is not altogether surprising in the genre of poetry, which is often situation or occassion specific. Yet, if Zhuge Liangn were already a universal, nationwide hero at the time, it would seem that Du Fu should have encountered occassions and lore in central China that would have stirred some of the deep feelings expressed only in his eight-year sojourn in the Shu region. Moreover, this is particularly true in Du Fu's case because his poetry was less dependent, than most Chinese poets, on actual visits to places. According to Hans Frankel's analysis, for example, it is unnecessary to assume that during the writing of the five famous poems, "Thoughts on Anciet Sites," Du Fu "had visited any of the sites. His visits to the past are spiritual journeys rather than travel records." Even without an actual historic site to provide the appropriate setting, he could have followed the example of his friend, Li Bo (Li Bai, 701-62) who was prompted while reading Zhuge's biography to write a poem on this Shu hero. Although Li Bo grew up in Sichuan from around age five through his mid-twenties, this poem (along with a mention in another poem) is all Li Bo apparently wrote about Zhuge Liang - even though Sichuan figures were generally of special importance to Li Bo. Although similar lines, it would be relevant to reminds ourselves that few Tang literati - other than Han Yu and Yuan Zhen - appreciated Du Fu's poetic genius, creativity, and moral compassion; hence, poems by the one to be eventually acclaimed "China's greatest poet" were largely neglected until the later half of the eleventh century. We might also observe that admiration of Zhuge was apparently not shared widely or deeply enough by other Tang literati for them to look beyond their general discomfort with Du Fu's poetry and to focus on the particular Zhuge Liang aspect therein. When Chinese since the Song did discover and laud Du Fu's greatness, it wa shis moral compassion and passionate commitment to national unity that were among the aspects that were most admired. Because Zhuge Liang was a particularly compelling symbol of the commitmment to national unification and benevolent government, Du Fu's huge poems surely enhanced both men's reputations throughout China. Still, it was only after seeking refuge in Shu that Du Fu himself discovered Zhuge, and Du Fu never metnioned this hero again after departing from the old boundaries of Shu. I am not denying that Zhuge Liang had a degree of popularity in the Tang, but the present study suggests that generations since Song times have usually read too much into Du Fu's famous lines on Zhuge Liang.

Zhuge Liang's loyalty and dedication were, according to Du Fu, so exemplary that despite ultimately failing, "Zhuge Liang's great fame resounds through the age." Taken in isolation, this famous line of Du Fu's culminating poem in the series, "Thoughts on Ancient Sites," does provide strong testimony to Zhuge Liang's universality as a hero. The context of Du Fu's poems touching on Zhuge Liang, however, provides grounds for reading this line as poetic hyperbole. At least, the sentiments therein expressed need to be qualified or discussed in terms of limitations suggested in his other poems dealing with Zhuge Liang. It was only in the two that his last Zhuge poems, "Ballad of the Old Cypress" and "Thoughts on Ancient Sites," that Du Fu reached the zenith of his evaluation of, and identification with, Zhuge Liang; soon thereafter, he departed from Kuizhou and never again mentioned Zhuge Liang. Ironically, the more cognizant Du Fu became of their shared experiences in failing to be heard, the more his language soarded as he proclaimed zhuge Liang's stature and fame. Those proclamations of being universally cherished by the people also stood in sharp contrast to Du Fu's own depiction of Zhuge Liang's shrines as desolate, neglected, and in disrepair. THe actual condition of Zhuge Liang's shringes and the handless image therein suggest a bleaker picture - or at least raise questions about how extensively he was revered and how widely his fame had spread in the eighth century. That backdrop largely faded from sight as people since the Song focused on the glowing lines about Zhuge's fame and status. In short, just as Du Fu petitioned to have the Zhuge image in the Kuizhou shrine repaired, his line about Zhuge Liang's "fame resounding through the ages" or "hanging across the world" - even though stated as if historical and objected fact - might have been an expression of a hoped reality. That vision of what should be real did eventually, of course, become reality to later generations of Chinese. An awareness of this difference between assertion and fact should reduce anachronistic readings and enhance appreciation of another aspect of Du Fu's poetic creativity.
Alone I lean under the wispy shade of an aged tree,
Scornfully I raise to parted lips a cup of warm wine,
Longingly I cast an empty vessel aside those exposed roots,
And leave behind forgotten memories and forsaken dreams.
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