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Manners in the Later Han

Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:18 am
by Sun Fin
Like many people interested in Chinese history I've read James Clavell's Asia Saga and found it mind blowing. One of the things that stood out for me in Tai Pan was the extent his Chinese characters went to maintain the perception of politeness even when they were being rude. This is a very distinctive trait, that I believe is based upon Confucius' texts? What I'm wondering is how well developed this attitude towards manners would have been during the Later Han?

Re: Manners in the Later Han

Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:27 pm
by Lady Wu
Sun Fin wrote: the extent his Chinese characters went to maintain the perception of politeness even when they were being rude.

Ok, you're a Brit, you know all about the stereotype of stiff upper lips and insulting people to their face while still sounding exceedingly polite. I think it really has to do with the cultural obsession of appearing... cultured and refined, instead of wearing your emotion on your sleeve like a peasant. And you certainly expect the other person to be equally cultured and understand that when you say "oh that's very interesting" they should change the topic as you just told them you're being bored to tears. :lol:

I can't comment on Han dynasty manners as we understand manners (like how to shake someone's hand, what to do with your fork and knife when you're done eating, how to greet someone when you run into them in the street), but I suppose to a large extent official interactions in the Han were governed by the Confucian idea that there were specific ways to interact with people depending on your social relationship (hierarchy) or to behave when in an official capacity, which were crucial for maintaining social harmony and the happiness of all.

However, the fact that there was a social code didn't mean everyone abided by it--Mi Heng was famous for being exceedingly rude and defying social norms, for example.

Re: Manners in the Later Han

Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:58 pm
by Sun Fin
:lol:

I'm not sure I live up to that stereotype. So it's as I thought, the upper echelons of society will abide by social graces and the rest will be respectful to their social superiors but the rest of the time do what they need to do to survive!