The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Best threads of the SGYYS, for your viewing pleasure.

The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:27 am

I have some broader institutional access to research materials at the moment, so I feel like I should put them to use whenever I get the chance. If it is related to the Later Han Dynasty, Three Kingdoms, and the Western Jin period, it will have a place here. There is some leeway for reproduction by way of the terms of use, so I will make it clear from the get-go that this is a primarily scholarly endeavor. What is shown here may be used later for publication, but its main purpose is research and study, and potential future collaboration. Full citation will be provided for the materials posted here. As I get these articles from databases, such as Jstor, there may be a conflict between what the database allows me to do and what the journal requests or requires for publication, any request to remove or to further abridge the content so as to make it acceptable to copyright holders will be granted.

So, let's get on with the show:

The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Later Han Dynasty:
Adoption in Han China by Miranda Brown and Rafe de Crespigny
Who were the Yellow Turbans? A Revisionist View by Chen Chiyun
The Three Chaste Ones of Ba: Local Perspectives on the Yellow Turban Rebellion on the Chengdu Plain by J. Michael Farmer
Cai Yan and the Poems Attributed to Her by Hans H. Frankel
Cai Yong | Daoism and Neo-Daoism (Chinese Polymaths) by Howard L Goodman
The Bifurcation of the Yellow Turbans by Howard S Levy
Yellow Turban Religion and Rebellion at the End of the Han by Howard S Levy
The Yellow Turbans by Paul Michaud
The Scholar-Official and His Community: The Character of the Aristocracy in Medieval China by Helwig Schmidt·Glintzer

Cao Cao and the Wei Dynasty:
The Death of Empress Zhen: Fiction and Historiography in Early Medieval China by Robert Joe Cutter
"Well, how'd you become king, then?' Swords in Early Medieval China by Robert Joe Cutter
The Campaigns of Cao Cao by Karl Eikenberry (Novel Influence Present)
Imperial Library and Tungkuan restoration in the Wei and to a degree Wu and Jin (Chinese Polymaths) by Howard L Goodman
Difficulties of Performance: The Musical Career of Xu Wei's: "The Mad Drummer" by He Yuming

The Sun Family and the Wu Dynasty:

Liu Bei and the Shu-Han Dynasty:
What's in a Name? On the appellative "Shu" in Early Medieval Chinese historiography by J. Michael Farmer
Zhuge Liang in the Eyes of His Contemporaries by Erik Henry
Zhuge Liang's Southern Campaign and the Early Cuan Kingdom by John Herman
Zhuge Liang and the Northern Campaign of 228-234 by John Kililgrew
Historic Analogies and Evaluative Judgments: Zhuge Liang as Portrayed in Chen Shou's "Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms" and Pei Songzhi's Commentary by Hoyt Cleveland Tillman
Reassessing Du Fu's Line on Zhuge Liang by Hoyt Cleveland Tillman

The Sima Clan After Sima Yi and The Jin Dynasty:
Dynastic Legitimacy During the Eastern Jin: Xi Zaochi and the Problem of Huan Wen by Andrew Chittick
Guan Lu | Xun Xu (Chinese Polymaths) by Howard L Goodman
From Spirited Youth to Loyal Official: Life, Writing, and Didacticism in the Jin Shu Biography of Wang Dao by Matthew v. Wells

Talent of Shu: Qiao Zhou and the Intellectual World of Early Medieval Sichuan:
Book Review: The Talent of Shu by Howard L Goodman

Hsun Yueh (A.D. 148-209) the life and reflections of an early medieval Confucian:
Book review of Xun Yue: Life and Reflections by B. J. Mansvelt Beck
Book Reivew of Xun Yue: Life and Reflections by Albert E Dien
Book Reivew of Xun Yue: Life and Reflections by Chad Hansen
Book Reivew of Xun Yue: Life and Reflections by D. C. Lau
Book Review of Xun Yue: Life and Reflections by Yu Ying-shih

Xun Yue and the Mind of Late Han China: A Translation of the Shen-chien with Introduction and Annotations
Book Review of Xun Yue and the Mind of Late Han China by Michael Loewe

Sources and Citations:
Beck, B. J. Mansvelt. "Book review of Xun Yue (AD 148-209): Life and Reflections of an Early Medieval Confucian by Chen Chi-yun" T'oung Pao Vol. 63 (1977), pp. 324-330
Brown, Miranda and Crespigny, Rafe de. "Adoption in Han China" Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 52, No. 2 (2009), pp.229-266 Jstor (accessed 10-04-2016)
Chen Chiyun. "Who were the Yellow Turbans? A Revisionist View" European Conference of Chinese Studies Proceedings, No 21. 1988. pp 57-68
Chittick, Andrew. "Dynastic Legitimacy during the Eastern Chin: Hsi Tso-ch'ih and the Problem of Huan Wen" Asia Major, THIRD SERIES, Vol. 11, No. 1 (1998), pp. 21-52
Cutter, Robert Joe. "The Death of Empress Zhen: Fiction and Historiography in Early Medieval China" Journal of the American Oriental Society 112, no. 4 (October 1992): 577-583
CUTTER, ROBERT JOE. "Well, how'd you become king, then?" Swords in Early Medieval China." Journal Of The American Oriental Society 132, no. 4 (October 2012): 523-538.
Dien, Albert E. "Book review of Xun Yue (AD 148-209): Life and Reflections of an Early Medieval Confucian by Chen Chi-yun" The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1 (1977), pp. 111-112
Eikenberry, Karl W. "The campaigns of Cao Cao." Military Review 74, no. 8 (August 1994): 56.
Farmer, Michael J. "The Three Chaste Ones of Ba: Local Perspectives on the Yellow Turban Rebellion on the Chengdu Plain" Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 125, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 2005), pp.191-202
Farmer, Michael J. "What's in a Name? On the appellative "Shu" in Early Medieval Chinese historiography" Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 121, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 2001), pp.44-59
Frankel, Hans H. "Cai Yan and the Poems Attributed to Her" Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), Vol. 5, No. 1/2 (Jul., 1983),pp. 133-156
Goodman, Howard L. "Book Review: The Talent of Shu, Qiao Zhou and the Intellectual World of Early Medieval Sichuan by J. . Michael Farmer, T’oung Pao, 94 (2008), pp. 163-176
Goodman, Howard L. "Chinese Polymaths, 100—300 AD: The Tung-kuan, Taoist Dissent, and Technical Skills" Asia Major, THIRD SERIES, Vol. 18, No. 1 (2005), pp. 101-174
Hansen, Chad. "Book Reivew of Xun Yue: Life and Reflections" Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 101, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1981), pp.388-389
He, Yuming. "Difficulties of Performance: The Musical Career of Xu Wei's: "The Mad Drummer" Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 68, No. 2 (Dec., 2008), pp. 77-114.
Henry, Erik. "Zhuge Liang in the Eyes of His Contemporaries" Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 52, No. 2 (Dec., 1992), pp. 589-612. Early Medieval China, 1999:1, 55-91,
Herman, John. "The Kingdoms of Nanzhong China's Southwest Border Region Prior to the Eighth Century." T'oung Pao 95, no. 4/5 (December 2009): 241-286.
Killigrew, John "Zhuge Liang and the Northern Campaign of 228-234"
Lau, D. C. "Book Reivew of Xun Yue: Life and Reflections" Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 40, No. 3 (1977), pp. 641-642
Levy, Howard S. "Bifurcation of the Yellow Turbans in Later Han" Oriens, Vol. 13/14 (1960/61) pp. 251-255
Levy, Howard S. "Yellow Turban Religion and Rebellion at the End of the Han" Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 76, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1956), pp.214-227
Loewe, Michael. "Hsün Yüeh and the Mind of Late Han China: A Translation of the Shen-chien with Introduction and Annotations by Ch'i-yün Ch'en and Hsün Yüeh" Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol.44, No. 2 (1981), pp. 404-405
Michaud, Paul. "The Yellow Turbans" Monumenta Serica, Vol. 17 (1958), pp. 47-127
Schmidt·Glintzer, Helwig. "The Scholar-Official and His Community: The Character of the Aristocracy in Medieval China" Early Medieval China, (1994) pp. 60-83
Tillman, Hoyt Cleveland. "Historic Analogies and Evaluative Judgments: Zhuge Liang as Portrayed in Chen Shou's"Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms" and Pei Songzhi's Commentary" Oriens Extremus, Vol. 43 (2002), pp. 60-70 Jstor (06-02-2017)
Tillman, Hoyt Cleveland. "Reassessing Du Fu's Line on Zhuge Liang" Monumenta Serica, Vol. 50 (2002), 295-313
Wells, Matthew V. "From Spirited Youth to Loyal Official: Life, Writing, and Didacticism in the Jin Shu Biography of Wang Dao" Early Medieval China Journal, 21 (2015), pp. 3-20
Yu, Ying-Shih. "Hsün Yüeh (A.D. 148-209): The Life and Reflections of an Early Medieval Confucian by Chi-Yun Chen" The American Historical Review, Vol. 82, No. 3 (Jun., 1977), pp. 718-719
Last edited by waywardauthor on Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:26 am, edited 35 times in total.
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.
User avatar
Posts: 346
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am

Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:34 am

[The Following is in the Public Domain]

The Campaigns of Cao Cao

Written by Karl Eikenberry in the August 1994 issue of Military Review.

Military campaigns conducted some 2,000 years ago by Chinese warlord Cao Cao offer timeless lessons in strategy caul leadership for today's military professionals. While his achievements place Cao with Alexander the Great, Hannibal and Julius Ceasar as one of the great military strategists of all time, he has largely been ignored by Western students of the art of war. This article bridges that void, which once limited our access to the lessons of Eastern martial history.

THE CHINESE equivalent of the expression "Speaking of the devil . . ." is "Mention the name of the Cao Cao and he will appear." Since Cao is traditionally described by Chinese dynastic historians as being spirit-like in his application of the art of war, the origins of this saying are not hard to understand. Battling continuously for over 30 years in a bid to reunify China in the twilight of the Later Han Dynasty (25 to 200), Cao Cao combined the strategic acumen of Alexander the Great with Julius Caesar's leadership and emphasis on logistics to conduct war on such an epic scale as to merit study by professional soldiers of any culture in any era. After a brief description of his life, I will describe in detail four of his greatest campaigns: Guandu, Northeast, Southern and Wei River, highlighting those aspects of Cao's generalship that most conspicuously contributed to his successes and failures.[ 1]

Cao was born in 155 in what is now Anhui Province in east Central China against the backdrop of the declining Han Dynasty, beset by growing feudal separatism and peasant rebellion.[ 2] He rose from a modest background, his father being the adopted son of a court eunuch.[ 3] In 174, Cao was appointed to a minor government post, and by 184 was a commander of cavalry in his home state. His later emphasis on mobility and raiding may be traced to his experience as a mounted soldier. He quickly gained fame for his victories over the Yellow Turban peasant rebels whose widespread uprising shook the very foundation of the Han Empire. An official at the time prophetically said Cao was "a good man in time of peace and a dangerous chieftain in time of war."

When a powerful feudal lord occupied the capital at Luoyang and placed the emperor in puppet status, Cao raised an army of opposition. He consolidated a base of power in Xu Province (the area around Guandu --see map) and, through a series of shrewd maneuvers, gained control of the emperor and the imperial court, earning a measure of political legitimacy that he put to good use in eliminating his rivals. Within a decade, Cao was able to defeat his most serious contender for hegemony over Central China, Yuan Shao, in the Guandu Campaign. He then moved quickly to shore up his vulnerable border areas, culminating his efforts with the Northeast Campaign.

By 208, it appeared Cao's momentum would enable him to eliminate the allied enemy forces of Sun Quan and Liu Bei in the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) region and realize his ambition of reunifying the country. However, the resulting Southern Campaign was a disaster and China soon entered the Three Kingdoms era, during which the states of Wei (Cao Cao), Wu (Sun Quan) and Shu (Liu Bei) dominated the fragments of the empire, each calling itself the rightful successor of the Han. Nevertheless, Cao continued to strengthen his grip on Noah and Central China. Through his Wei River Campaign, he finally managed to subdue his foes on the western flank. Yet his dream of gaining the "Mandate of Heaven" for the rule of the Chinese people would ultimately escape him. When he died in 220, his son, Cao Pi, deposed the figurehead Han emperor, set himself up as ruler and posthumously gave his father the Wei Dynasty reign title Emperor Wu. China then descended into even greater anarchy until its reunification under the Sui Dynasty in 581.

Cao began to lay the foundation for his successful Guandu Campaign several years before its outset. Acting upon the advice of his subordinates in 196, he issued orders establishing military agricultural communities (the "tun tian" system), noting that only with abundant food production could the state be stabilized and the army made strong.[ 4] Nevertheless, when Yuan Shao's army took the field in 199 with some 100,000 soldiers, including 10,000 cavalry, Cao's inferior forces were forced onto the strategic defensive. Yet Cao felt time was on his side. He confidently told his generals Yuan Shao lacked wisdom and courage and that his tactical plans were often confused. During the subsequent campaign, Cao would flexibly adjust and vary his tactics while remaining committed to attacking what he deemed Yuan's fatal flaw -- his inadequate command and control.

In February 200, Yuan's army advanced south toward the Yellow River, hoping to force a crossing and attack Cao at the base he had built up at Guandu. Yuan dispatched an advance guard to steal across the river and lay siege to Cao's forward post at Baima, 90 kilometers northeast of Guandu. Cao's able adviser, Xun You, recommended he "feign an attack in the east, and then attack in the west" (the Chinese expression for using a demonstration in support of offensive operations). Cao then advanced from Guandu to Yah Ford, west of Baima, threatening Yuan's right flank with a river crossing of his own. When Yuan raced units to counter the expected thrust, Cao struck out to Baima, lifted the siege and ambushed a large enemy cavalry force before withdrawing to Guandu. Shaken, Yuan's army nonetheless continued its advance southward and established a base of operations at Yangwu, 20 kilometers north of Guandu.

In August Yuan moved against Guandu, and the opposing armies began four months of positional warfare marked by extensive trench and field fortifications preparation as well as efforts on both sides to maintain and protect their supplies. By October, Cao's supplies were perilously low and he considered retreating. Again Cao took the counsel of Xun You, who argued Yuan's forces were also near exhaustion and the strategic circumstances would create an opportunity for the side that persisted. When Cao ordered a successful raid against a major enemy supply convoy, the balance began to turn in his favor.[ 5]

As Cao had anticipated, internal divisions began to disrupt Yuan's command. A key general, Xun Yu, defected to Cao with information of 10,000 supply carts lightly defended in Yuan's rear at Wucao. Cao personally led a raiding party of 5,000 cavalry and light infantrymen moving under the cover of darkness and disguising his unit as one of Yuan's relief parties. Cao launched a violent assault at dawn, and when an aide anxiously reported the approach of Yuan's reinforcements, Cao told his commanders to stay focused on the objective and "when the enemy is behind our backs, then tell me." He urged his soldiers on to a quick victory, turning in time to repulse the counterattack. Meanwhile, Yuan expected the defenses at Guandu to be weakened by Cao's absence, and he launched an all-out attack there. Yet Cao's forces, under the able leadership of his cousin Cao Ren, hurled Yuan's army back. Yuan, with his supplies destroyed and his generals in a state of near mutiny, ordered a hasty withdrawal during which most of his army was killed or taken prisoner south of the Yellow River as a result of Cao's rapid pursuit. His army utterly mined, Yuan Shao died two years later, with Cao firmly in control of east Central China.

Several aspects of Cao's direction of the Guandu Campaign stand out. First, he remained keenly aware of the dominant role logistics played in warfare, vigorously defending his lines of communications while attacking those of the enemy. His thinking is similar to that of Julius Caesar during the Ilerda Campaign in Spain when the great Roman general aimed to defeat Pompey's forces by concentrating on the vulnerability of their supplies.[ 6] We see this emphasis on logistics in several of Cao's commentaries on The An of War by Sun Tzu. He wrote, to achieve victory, "cut off [the enemy's] supply route, guard their mute of retreat, and attack their sovereign," and "if you want to proceed with war, you must first calculate the costs, and take from the enemy his food supplies."[ 7] Second, Cao displayed an uncommon ability to modify his tactics to take advantage of the ever-changing military situation. Within the overall context of a strategic defensive, we see Cao employ a varying array of what military historian Archer Jones terms "persisting, raiding, combat, and logistic warfare."[ 8] Third, both decisive and courageous on the battlefield, Cao was a truly exceptional commander because of his willingness to encourage his subordinates to speak candidly and to often accept their recommendations.

After consolidating his newly acquired territories, Cao began to plan his Northeast Campaign. Yuan's sons, Yuan Shang and Yuan Xi, had earlier fled to what is now Liaoning Province (Manchuria) and allied themselves with the Wuhuan barbarian tribes led by the chieftain Tadtin. Cao determined he would have to eliminate this threat to his rear before dealing with his more powerful rivals to the south and west, In 206, he directed the construction of two canals for the transportation of supplies to support his impending offensive.[ 9]

In the summer of 207, Cao moved north to an intermediate base, where he found his route eastward into Manchuria made impassable by torrential rains. Cao sent out false reports that he intended to withdraw and resume his advance in the fall. Then, acting on the intelligence provided by a local official, he used a mountainous road farther noah to conduct a strategic envelopment of the enemy army. When Tadun and the Yuan brothers learned of Cao's rapid advance, they hurried to intercept him near White Wolf Mountain. Although his army was badly outnumbered and its collective courage wavering, Cao sized up his opponents' battle array from a vantage point in the mountains and was confident his disciplined forces could prevail. He committed his forward detachment under the command of his trusted general Zhang Liao and ended the day with the slaughter and capture of reportedly over 200,000 Chinese and Wuhuan soldiers.

There are two interesting footnotes to this operation. First, Cao's staff advisers recommended the army pursue the Yuan brothers, who had escaped to the east. Cao, however, predicted that Yuan's erstwhile ally Gongsun Kang, whose territory they sought refuge in, would kill them and that there was "no need to bother the soldiers." He then pulled his forces back to the west. In fact, Gongsun did slay the Yuan brothers and sent their heads to Cao. Cao explained to his somewhat awed generals that when Gongsun was threatened by his (Cao's) advance, he had common cause with the Yuans; but without a shared threat, contradictions were bound to surface and the outcome (Gongsun's slaying of the Yuans) was very predictable.
A second anecdote that helps illuminate Cao's leadership was his action upon returning to his capital in Xu Province. He asked that a list be compiled identifying everyone who had argued against his launching the Northeast Campaign. Given the campaign's overwhelming success, this order caused considerable consternation as reprimands were expected to follow. Yet Cao gathered all of those opposed to the campaign, issued rewards and said, "When I went before. [on the Northeast Campaign], I was taking risks and hoped for good results. Although I got them, I was aided by Heaven, and I realize this should not be repeated too often. The advice I got from you was the plan of complete safety. This is why I give you rewards. Do not hesitate to speak up next time."

Once again, Cao's conduct of the Northeast Campaign paid deference to the laws of logistics. The great Chinese historian Sima Guang recorded, "Cao could make campaigns in every direction and have no trouble with his supplies, and so he could conquer all of his rivals." His notes in The An of War reveal a sophisticated approach to solving supply problems. He calculated that for every one unit of grain delivered to the front at the end of an extended overland supply line, 20 more would be consumed by the transport and security forces (hence the digging of the canals the year prior to the expedition since water transportation in ancient times was more efficient).[ 10]

Additionally, Cao was clear as to his objectives: he had to rout the Wuhuan tribes to reduce their numbers (leaders could be expected to rapidly reemerge within shifting nomadic societies, and what really counted was their potential combat power); and he needed to eliminate the Yuan brothers, whose family legacy posed a long-term threat to Cao as long as they lived. Yet while staying focused on the needed results, he smoothly varied his operations to conform with the circumstances. Cao had the vision and confidence to frequently employ troops using what the Chinese call the "qi" (extraordinary) manner. Cao wrote, "Go into emptiness, strike voids, bypass what he defends, hit him where he does not expect you." [ 11] Last, it is evident Cao possessed what was called in the days of Frederick the Great coup d'oeil, or the ability to see the advantages that can be drawn from the terrain as well as having the good "judgment that is exercised about the capacity of the enemy at the commencement of a battle."[ 12] He had a keen sense of the an of the possible on the battlefield and used this talent with considerable effect.

In 208, Cao raised a large army and embarked on the Southern Campaign. He achieved quick success by eliminating the warlord Liu Biao and gaining control of the fertile lands around Jing Province (west Central China).[ 13] Cao's chief adviser, Jia Xu, urged him to remain in Jing Province long enough to replenish the army, but the advice went unheeded. Cao turned east and marched along the north side of the Chang Jiang, intending to crash the allied armies of Sun Quan and Liu Bei, the last serious obstacles to his ambition to reunify the country, But opposing Cao were two of ancient China's most revered strategists, Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang (respectively, Sun's and Liu's chiefs of staff).

Zhuge Liang saw several weaknesses in Cao's army that could be exploited. First, Cao's soldiers were from the North and unskilled at riverine warfare, which would be a critical factor in the anticipated battles along the wide Chang Jiang. Second, Cao had not yet gained the loyalty of the people in occupied Jing Province, so his forward base of operations was not secure. Third, although Cao's army was large (Zhou Yu estimated around 220,000 but this figure included 70,000 of Liu Biao's recently defeated and less than enthusiastic troops), they were operating far from home. In the words of Zhuge Liang, "even a powerful arrow at the end of its flight cannot penetrate a silk cloth."[ 14] Additionally, Cao's army was suffering from an epidemic, was unable to effectively employ its cavalry in the terrain along the Chang Jiang and ultimately found itself running low on supplies as winter approached. Cao attempted to force a crossing of the Chang Jiang but was repulsed. The allies then sent a small flotilla across the river, deceiving Cao's army into believing it was a group of defectors. As the allied vessels neared Cao's armada, they were set afire. The Northern force's fleet was quickly consumed in the resulting inferno. The flames spread to their encampment on shore and chaos ensued. The allies attacked with a vengeance, and Cao's army was routed in what is called the Battle of Red Cliffs. Only a stubborn rear guard action by Cao Ren and the failure of the allies to orchestrate an aggressive pursuit prevented the complete destruction of Cao's forces.

Historical records make no mention of any logistic preparations by Cao prior to his launching the Southern Campaign. Obviously he did prepare, but the absence of any references may indicate they were not as comprehensive as in other campaigns. Moreover, it is not readily apparent what Cao's strategic objective was. He did not target the enemy alliance (its collapse shortly after Red Cliffs speaks to its vulnerability), and he seemed uncharacteristically unimaginative in his sledgehammer approach against the enemy's army. It may be that the scope of the operation was simply too large and that the uncertainties of war would inevitably tip the balance against such an undertaking.

The defeats of the Athenian Syracusian Expedition during the Peloponnesian War and Napoleon's Russian Campaign are sometimes attributed to their overly ambitious goals. Jomini, referring to the Russian Campaign, wrote, "But it also proves that the greatest enterprises may fail simply on account of the magnitude of their preparations for their success." [ 15] Still, there seems to be a dulling of the military genius that accompanies growing accomplishment. When Cao was in a position of inferiority, he was inspired to look for an "extraordinary" approach. Innovation suffered when he gained superiority. It was recorded in History of the Three Kingdoms that "for a short time Cao Cao made show of his pride [that is, during the Southern Campaign]. [Cao] worked hard for several decades [to reunite China], and yet [he] lost it in a nod." However, it remains a mark of Cao's greatness that he immediately recovered from the disaster at Red Cliffs and set out to rebuild his domain in the State of Wei.

Cao moved to stabilize his southern front, and by 211, he was ready to march against Ma Chao and Han Sui, whose highly mobile forces posed a threat to the western flank of the Wei State. His generals felt that his advance guard should receive special training to cope with the long lances carried by the enemy's cavalry, but Cao responded, "I shall be planning this war, not the enemy." Cao dispatched Cao Ren ahead of the main body to build up a base of operations near present -- day Tongguan (about 80 kilometers east of Xian, near the Wei River battle site). [ 16]

In July, Cao arrived with the remainder of the army. The next month, he reigned an attack, causing Ma and Han to mass their forces. Cao then secretly sent a cavalry detachment to occupy the unguarded Yellow River fords to the north and west. In rapid succession, he pushed his forces across the fords (because of a bend in the Yellow River, the Army of Wei actually had to execute two crossings) and then wheeled south to cross the Wei River. Cao had successfully enveloped Ma and Han, who, already facing Cao Ren's encampment to their front, now had to contend with Cao Cao in their rear. Cao immediately fortitled his position, tightening the grip on his opponents. When his enemies offered to cede territory to Cao and send hostages, he sent word that he would agree, with no real intention of acquiescing. His purpose was, in the words of Cao's adviser "only to divide them [Ma and Han]." Cao further strained his opponents' alliance by displaying warmth toward Han when they met to parley and in subsequent correspondence. As mutual suspicion continued to erode the basis of cooperation between Ma and Han, Cao finally offered battle. He fixed the enemy with a light infantry frontal assault, then enveloped both of its wings with his cavalry. Their forces defeated, Ma and Han fled the battlefield and Cao secured his control over North China.

During the Wei River Campaign, Cao returned to his emphasis on logistics never moving without first establishing supply bases. As during the Guandu Campaign, he targeted differences among the enemy's leaders as an objective, only committing to decisive battle when he felt the enemy had grown lax and its morale was crumbling. The Wei River Campaign also saw Cao at his finest in outmaneuvering his opponents. He summed up the campaign by saying, "The plans of war never follow a single road." [ 17] It is not so much that Cao avoided direct combat, but that he adopted a strategy that Vegetius would write about in the 4th century: "It is much better to overcome the enemy by famine, surprise or terror than by general actions, for in the latter instance fortune often has a greater share than valor." [ 18]

I will complete this survey of the major campaigns of Cao Cao by summarizing the threads of continuity that tie them together. Ancient Chinese historians attributed Cao's success in large measure to his emphasis on logistics. Yet he went far beyond guaranteeing supplies in support of his immediate operations. Both his policies and commentaries on The An of War by Sun Tzu show an appreciation of the contribution a strong materiel base makes to a state's capability and flexibility to apply military force.[ 19] What distinguishes Cao's application of logistic planning was his ability to attend to both his strategic and tactical requirements and to recognize their interrelationship. Moreover, his own awareness of the demands of supplying war may have sharpened his sensitivity to finding and attacking weaknesses in his rivals' logistic systems. Cao was also adroit in accurately estimating the enemy's characteristics and vulnerabilities.

Clausewitz wrote, "Out of these [key enemy] characteristics a certain center of gravity develops, the hub of all power and movement, on which everything depends. That is the point against which all of our energies should be directed." He said, depending on the circumstances, that the center of gravity could be the enemy's army, its capital, an alliance structure or (pertaining to a popular uprising) the personalities of leaders and public opinions.[ 20]

Cao was relentless in exploiting flaws in an opposing commander's character and in disrupting alliances. Contemporary strategies about attacking the enemy's leadership are perhaps not so novel as some might argue. Cao's military genius found expression not only in his clarity of strategic purpose, but also in his variety of tactical means. He displayed remarkable agility in maintaining the initiative during all of his successful campaigns. The disaster at Red Cliffs appears to be the price he paid for ossification. Last, Cao's accomplishments must also be attributed to his leadership qualities. He was strict and exacting ("an army cannot be mn according to rules of etiquette").[ 21] Yet, he was gifted at selecting and effectively using talented subordinates. While remaining firmly in control of his forces during the Guandu Campaign, he nevertheless actively solicited advice from his generals and did not hesitate to act upon it.[ 22] He liberally made note of and rewarded good performance, once issuing a proclamation that read, "I am fortunate to be able to rely on those talented people who have given me honest recommendations on strategy; the soldiers have fought without regard for themselves and we can therefore turn crisis into victory."[ 23] Jomini's conviction that a man who is "capable of esteeming merit in others instead of being jealous of it, and skillful in making his merit add to his own glory, will always be a good general" seems vindicated by Cao.[24]

Two subjective observations are offered in closing. First, the evolution of the term "indirect approach" warrants further research. Its meaning to Cao, for instance, was embedded in his time and culture. To use this expression imprecisely, as it almost always is, does not contribute to the advancement of military doctrine. Second, the idea that China had a unique Chinese Confucian-influenced strategic culture that eschews the use of force in deference to moral persuasion rarely withstands the test of historical case study.[ 25] The ways of war of Cao and China, while distinctive, seem to demonstrate the universality of military theory and art.

1. The author has assigned these names to the referenced campaigns. Chinese military historians usually refer to the campaigns of ancient times by the names of the key battles, a practice which sometimes causes confusion today.
2. Wan Haifeng and Ren Zhaokun, "Cao Cao," Zhongguo Lidai Junshishi Fence (Beijing: People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences Press, 1985), 306-8.
3. Sima Guang, The Last of the Han, trans. Rafe de Crespigny (Canberra: Australian National University, 1969), 13. Sima Guang oversaw the preparation of a series of Chinese histories while serving as an official at the Song Dynasty court in the 11th century. The Last of the Han covers events in China from 181 to 220. The factual account of Cao's life and military campaigns are drawn from this source unless otherwise noted.
4. Wu Rusong and Huo Yinzhang, Gudai Bingfa Yaoji Xuanyi (Beijing: People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences Publishing House, 1985), 71.
5. People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences Research Department on the Theory of War, Zhongguo Gudai Zhanzheng Zhanlie Xuanbian (Beijing: China Books, 1983), 18.
6. Julius Caesar, the Civil War, trans. Jane F. Gardner (New York: Penguin Books, 1967), 65-79.
7. Zhongguo Lidai Baijialun Houqin, Volume I, Wang Yaxuan, ed. (Shenyang: People's Liberation Army Publishing House, 1986), 296-97.
8. Archer Jones, The Art of War in the Western World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 85.
9. An Tian, "Cao Cao's Offensive Against the Wuhuan," Zhongguo Lidai Junshishi Fence, 52.
10. Zhongguo Lidai Baijialun Houqin, 298. Cao's calculations would seem to be validated by the studies of Donald Engels in Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army (Berkley: University of California Press, 1978).
11. Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Samuel B. Griffith (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963), 96.
12. Frederick the Great, "The Instructions of Frederick the Great for His Generals," trans. Brigadier General Thomas R. Phillips, Roots of Strategy (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1985), 342.
13. People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences Research Department on the Theories of War, 29-30.
14. Wuhan Forces Headquarters Editing Division for the Research of Military Materials, Zhongguo, Gudai Zhanzheng Yibailie (Wuhan: Hubei Province People's Publishing House, 1979), 193.
15. Henri Jomini, Jomini and His Summary of the Art of War, Brigadier General J.D. Hittle, ed. (Harrisburg, PA: Telegraph Press, 1947), 96-97.
16. Ren Zhaokun, "The Battle South of the Wei River," Zhongguo Lidai Junshishi Fence, 55.
17. Niu Junfa, et al., Zhongguo Lidai Mingjiang: Zhijun, Muolue, Zhihui (Beijing: People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences Publishing House, 1985), 15.
18. Flavius Vegetius Renatus, The Military Institutions of the Romans, trans. Lieutenant John Clarke, Roots of Strategy, 172.
19. Sun Tzu, Sun Zi Bingfa Gailun, ed. Tao Hanzhang (Beijing: People's Liberation Army Publishing House, 1985), 80-83. Sun Tzu discusses the relationship between economy and warfighting potential in some detail in the chapter "Waging War." The importance of material wealth to a belligerent is a recurring theme in most of the ancient Chinese classics on strategy.
20. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. Michael Howard and Peter Parent (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), 595-96.
21. Sun Tzu, 81.
22. Zhang Wenda and Wei Min, Zhongguo Lidai Junshi Renwu Zhuanlue (Haerbin: Heilongjiang People's Press, 1982), 122.
23. Zhongguo Lidai Baijialun Houqin, 299.
24. Jomini, 61-62.
25. Alastair I. Johnston, in his unpublished dissertation An Inquiry Into Strategic Culture: Traditional Chinese Strategic Thought, the Parabellum Paradigm, and Grand Strategic Choice in Ming China, examines and questions the notion that China has historically avoided a classical realist response to security threats (University of Michigan, 1993).
MAP: The Han Empire
MAP: The Three Kingdoms (Wei, Wu, Shunan) showing the battles of Cao Cao
PHOTO: Chinese warriors.
PHOTO: A caricature of Cao Cao.
PHOTO: Sun Tzu.
PHOTO: Lui Bei's able aviser, Zhuge Liang (left), is challenged by General Sima Yi of Cao's army.
By Colonel Karl W. Eikenberry, US Army
Colonel Karl W. Eikenberry is a division chief in the Strategy, Plans and Policy Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations ,the Pentagon. He received a B.S. from the US Military Academy and an M.S. from Harvard, and he is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College. He has served in a variety of command and staff positions with airborne, Ranger and mechanized infantry units in the Continental United States, Europe and Korea and commanded a light infantry battalion in the 10th Mountain Division. His article "Sun Bin and His Art of War" appeared in the March 1991 issues of Military Review.
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.
User avatar
Posts: 346
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am

Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:23 am

[The following sections are from a piece by Robert Joe Cutter published in the Journal of the American Oriental Society]

"Well, how'd you become king, then?' Swords in Early Medieval China

Written by Robert Joe Cutter from Arizona State University


"My topic today is the context of four short, inconspicuous texts about swords from the very end of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.). The four pieces are by Cao Cao (155-220), who was the most powerful man in China at the time; his son Cao Pi (187-226), who was Cao Cao's heir apparent and who ultimately accepted the abdication of the last Han emperor and founded the Wei dynasty (220-265); Cao Zhi(192-241), Cao Pi's younger brother and one of the most famous poets in Chinese history; and Wang Can (177-217), another famous poet associated with the Cao family. Not long after the last of these pieces was written, the Han came to an end, and the empire divided into the three states, or kingdoms, of Wei, Shu (221-263), and Wu (222-280). Wei was the state founded by Cao Pi, and thus began nearly four hundred years of disunion and strife.

The pieces I will mention are significant because there are still questions surrounding the rise of Wei and because the period encompassed by the lives of these figures has ever since been one of the most famous in all of Chinese history, affecting and influencing not only Chinese of all walks of life but people wherever Chinese culture reached. Through anecdotal literature, poetry, fiction, and opera—and more recently through film, television, comics, and video games—individuals and stories of the period have been embedded in Chinese culture to a degree that exceeds even the Arthurian material in the Anglo-Saxon world.[p525]

Some indication of the relevance of the period in the modern world is provided by the extent of the coverage in China a few years ago of the discovery of what is said to be Cao Cao's tomb, the open and well-publicized arguments among scholars over whether it really is his tomb, and the excitement generated in Henan province over the tourist dollars that were sure to come. It must also be said that the Han-Wei juncture was a crucial period for Chinese literature—one that powerfully influenced subsequent centuries of writers and poets. Before turning to the texts in question, some background will be helpful. The appearance and existence of numinous signs and objects have for millennia played a legitimating role
in Chinese kingship, and the possession of such objects as symbols of power has been as important to Chinese rulers as to their counterparts elsewhere in the world. Early texts tell of nine bronze tripod cauldrons that were cast by the legendary Yu, founder of the Xia dynasty (ca. 2070-ca. 1600 B.C.E.), or by his son, and which passed in turn to the subsequent
Shang (ca. 1600-1045 B.C.E.) and Zhou (1045-256 B.C.E.) dynasties.[p526]"


"Now it is time to turn to the four texts mentioned at the outset of this talk. The first is a brief order attributed to Cao Cao concerning the manufacture of some sabers. It is preserved in the early seventh century Tang dynasty commonplace book Yiwen leiju. In editions of Cao Cao's works, it bears the title "Baibi dao ling" [Order Concerning the
Hundredfold Refined Sabers]:

The manufacture of the five "Hundredfold Refined Sabers"" that I initiated in a past year has been completed. First give one to the General of the Gentlemen of the Household for All Purposes [Cao Pi]. As for the other four, give them in order to those of my sons who are fond of literature but not fond of the martial arts.[p532]

Among the numerous extant works attributed to Cao Zhi is a "Bao dao fu" [Fu on Precious Sabers]. This piece has been preserved in commonplace books and editions of Cao's works for centuries, and I know of no claims that it is not authentic. It has a short preface, which is followed by the rhymed:

During the Jian'an period [196-220], our father the king of Wei ordered those in charge of such things to manufacture five precious sabers. After three years, they were finished. They used a dragon, tiger, bear, horse, and bird as emblems. The heir apparent [Cao Pi] got one, and my younger brother the marquis of Raoyang [Cao Lin, fl. 211-32] and I each got one of them. As for the remaining two, our father the king kept those himself[p533]


"This piece begins with praise of Cao Zhi's father Cao Cao—who had become more powerful than the emperor, who was under his control—and seems to end with advice and a wish for Cao Cao's continued exalted status. In between comes a description of the manufacture, appearance, and effectiveness of the sabers, with references to appropriate sword lore. This imagery and account of divine intervention in the manufacture of the sabers are conventions associated with the topic and may have their roots in literati mystification at the arts of the smith.

In the first month of Jian'an 22 (25 January-23 February 217), the famous Cao family adherent and literatus Wang Can passed away in an epidemic that carried off large numbers of people. Among the works he left is a "Dao ming" [Inscription for Sabers], a work in praise of two sabers belonging to Cao Cao. Originally ming, or inscriptions, would typically have two functions: praise and admonishment. But in Jian'an times, although these earlier functions continued, new uses—new subgenres—of inscriptions appeared. Among them were inscriptions not easily distinguishable from on objects (yongwufu). So just as Cao Zhi's on the sabers is on objects, Wang Can's piece is alike ming describing objects. Here is a translation:

Palace Attendant and Marquis within the Passes Can says: I received a command to compose an inscription about sabers. When shown the two that I was to give an account of, they truly were Bichao sabers, with Zhang Chang as the swordsmith.*' I hastily thought it over and composed this inscription. I respectfully submit it, but it is shallow and not worth reading.(p534)


What are we to make of these three pieces? No one seeking to re-unify the empire in Cao Cao's day could hope to succeed by force of arms alone. One of Cao Cao's most consequential acts occurred in the fall of 196, when he welcomed Emperor Xian under his protection and installed the court at Xu (modern Xuchang, Henan), re-establishing the imperial ancestral temple and the altars of the gods of soils and grains. There followed a succession of titles, and by mid-October Cao Cao had been named General-in-chief {da jiangjun} by the young emperor and enfeoffed as Marquis of Wuping. He became Chancellor
{chengxiang ) in Jian'an 13 (208), Duke of Wei in Jian'an 18 (213), and King of Wei in Jian'an 21 (216). In 213 Cao Cao began establishing a formal court and bureaucracy for Wei in the city of Ye, which he had captured and made his seat of power
in 204. The city was a monument to Cao Cao's successes, and he embarked on an ambitious building program there. Cao Cao also increasingly adopted attributes of royal, even imperial, status. In 213 he betrothed three daughters to the emperor as "honorable ladies" {guiren ), further cementing his relationship with the imperial throne. As David R. Knechtges notes:

Cao Cao also assumed duties that would normally have been performed by the emperor. For example, he took the place of the emperor in performing the ritual of plowing the imperial field. He also bestowed fiefs on most of his sons. In 217, he received permission to use the banners of the Son of Heaven and other imperial insignia in his entourage

Zhang Keli, author of the most reliable chronological biography of Cao Cao, Cao Pi, and Cao Zhi, does not believe these three pieces refer to separate events. He places all three in the year 216. There are two problems that Zhang does not address. The first is the different titles Cao Cao and Cao Zhi use to refer to Cao Pi, which potentially affect the dating. The issue in this case is Cao Zhi's reference to his brother as heir apparent, an office he was not appointed to until the tenth month of Jian'an 22 (17 November-15 December) am prepared to believe that Cao Zhi's reference to Cao Pi as heir apparent means the preface to the was either composed after the fact or revised later Either is possible, and this sort of anachronistic application of a more exalted title is not unusual. The other problem is the different distribution of the sabers in these same two pieces, but one can readily construct scenarios to account for this. Although these questions remain, making it possible that different occasions of sword manufacture are behind them, it is more likely that all three works refer to one event that was related to Cao Cao's increasing power and his appointment as king of Wei in 216, and, in fact, that the making of the sabers and the gifting of some of them were rhetorical acts symbolizing Cao Cao's right to rule.

A few years later. Cao Pi also had some weapons made. The evidence suggests that the event was originally recorded in his Dian lun [Model Essays], which is largely lost. The remnants of the part of Dian lun in question have been pieced together—one can hardly[p536] say it has been "reconstructed"—under the title "Jian ming" [Inscription on Swords] from quotations in commentaries and commonplace books. I will just quote from two fragments here:

Although a princely man has his cultural preoccupations, he must keep his arms at the ready. I am fond of swordfighting and am good at using a short [weapon] to defeat a long one. I selected fine metal and commanded state artisans to refine them [i.e., these weapons] meticulously, up to a hundredfold refinings. When they were first being made, multiple hues filled the furnace; a gigantic bellows pumped on its own; the numinous objects were obscured; flying bird [sparks] soared and danced. Thereby were made nine precious weapons: three swords, the first called Feijing [Flying Flash], the second called Liucai [Flowing Colors], the third called Huafeng [Ornate Point]; three sabers, the first called Lingbao [Numinous Treasure], the second called Hanzhang [Enfolding Splendor], the third called Suzhi [Pale Essence]; and two daggers, the first called Qinggang [Pure Hardness], the second called Yangwen [Brandished Patterns]; and one Lumo [Dewy Path] saber called Longlin [Dragon Scale]. I determined their names based on their appearances and accordingly engraved their handles. Although the artisan was not Master Ouye and the metal was not from Kunwu, they are still the best of an age.

On jiawu day of the second month of the twenty-fourth year of the Jian'an reign period [15 March 219], the heir apparent of Wei, [Cao] Pi, made three hundredfold refined precious swords. The first of them is four chi two cun in length [98.7 cm] and weighs one jin fifteen Hang [426.25 g]. It was quench-hardened by means of [water from] the clear Zhang River, whetted using corundum, decorated with patterned jade, inlaid with two-horned rhinoceros horn. It is as bright as a shooting star, so I called it Flying Flash. The second of them is named Flowing Colors, and its hues are like a colorful rainbow. It is four chi two cun [98.7 cm] in length and weighs one jin fourteen Hang.

The date specified here is almost one year to the day before Cao Cao died—16 March 220. On 11 December 220, having forced the abdication of the last Han emperor, Cao Pi would become emperor of Wei. At the outset I mentioned that the significance of the pieces considered here has to do with the still ongoing debate over the replacement of the fourhundred-year-old Han dynasty by the Wei. Assertions and speculation often focus on what the ultimate intentions of Cao Cao for himself and for his son Cao Pi were. Was it his goal to usurp Han rule himself? Was he a loyal, if self-aggrandizing, Han subject? Was he preparing the way for his son to become emperor? These questions are in the end perhaps unanswerable. But it is difficult not to think that the making of named weapons by Cao Pi and Cao Cao's creation of the five sabers extolled by Cao Zhi and Wang Can are bound up with notions of kingship and legitimacy. After all, Liu Bang's sword, or what passed for it,[p537] was at that very time still in imperial possession after more than four hundred years, and the association between special swords and kings reached back much further. Even granted the hyperbole of the descriptions in the pieces we have considered, these were not just swords.

They must have been products of the swordsmith's highest art and, like the words used to describe them, were meant to impress. At the time they made their respective swords, Cao Cao and Cao Pi were in the ascendancy, rising in rank and power. Regardless of whether they literally considered the weapons they made regalia, both of them—as poets, warriors, and nobles—understood symbols, and the creation and possession of fine swords and sabers had long been powerful symbols. Perhaps it is not an unreasonable inference then to suggest that in having these swords made, the Caos were not simply making weapons or gifts but were replicating the acts of earlier rulers and asserting thereby their right to power. And in inscribing these acts, or in causing them to be inscribed, another cultural artifact of vital importance—writing—was engaged for legitimating purposes.[538]

CUTTER, ROBERT JOE. "Well, how'd you become king, then?" Swords in Early Medieval China." Journal Of The American Oriental Society 132, no. 4 (October 2012): 523-538. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 19, 2017).
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.
User avatar
Posts: 346
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am

Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:03 am

[The following in an excerpt from The Kingdoms of Nanzhong China's Southwest Border Region Prior to the Eighth Century by John Herman published in the December 2009 edition of T'oung Pao, pages 260-268]

The Kingdoms of Nanzhong China's Southwest Border Region Prior to the Eighth Century

Written by John Herman of the Virginia Commonwealth University

[First twenty pages omitted]

Zhuge Liang’s Southern Campaign

Within months of learning of Liu Bei’s death, two of the most powerful indigenous leaders in eastern Yunnan, Yong Kai 晵敻 and Meng Huo ⬇䌚, launched an assault against one persistent symbol of Chinese authority in the southwest, the Yizhou Commandery 䙲ⶆ悉, headquartered in the present-day city of Qujing.37 The recently appointed governor of Yizhou, Zhang Yi ⻝塼, rightly appreciated the futility of confronting the formidable army amassed against him and decided to surrender, but only after Yong Kai and Meng Huo had agreed to offer him and his family safe passage to the state of Wu.

While Yong Kai and Meng Huo joined forces to attack Yizhou, a powerful tribal leader in the Zangge Commandery, Zhu Bao 㛙墺, imprisoned the commandery governor and then murdered the Shu Han envoy sent to investigate the situation. Another powerful local figure, Gao Dingyuan 檀⭂⃫, allegedly murdered the governor of the Yuesui Commandery 崲⵪悉, headquartered in the present-day city of Xichang (Sichuan), and then claimed the commandery as his personal satrapy. This indigenous assault against three Han commanderies elicited an immediate response from the Shu Han court.38 In the third month of 225, the celebrated general Zhuge Liang 媠吃Ṗ (181-234) was ordered to lead an army south from the Shu Han capital
of Chengdu toward the former Yizhou, Yuesui, and Zangge commanderies in Nanzhong. His orders were simple: “pacify” the indigenous resistance in Nanzhong and assert Shu Han control over the three commanderies.

As the Shu Han army approached its target, Zhuge Liang divided his forces into three columns. Zhuge and his trusted lieutenant, Li Hui 㛶《, led two columns south from Bo ₘ, toward Yuesui and Yizhou, along the Southern Barbarian Route. The third column, commanded by Ma Zhong 楔⾈, marched south from Luzhou toward the Yelang frontier district, along the former Qin highway. When Yong Kai and Meng Huo received word of Zhuge Liang’s impending attack, they imprudently brokered an alliance with Gao Dingyuan and granted Gao considerable leeway in arranging forward defenses. The three leaders planned to confront Zhuge Liang’s two main columns near the Jinsha River, and then turn east to assist Zhu Bao’s army as it engaged Ma Zhong’s column.39

Yong Kai and Meng Huo positioned their forces along the northern edge of the former Yizhou Commandery, or roughly along the modern Sichuan-Yunnan border, while Gao Dingyuan concentrated the bulk of his forces in a line stretching across present-day southern Sichuan (from Meigu 伶⥹ in the east to Yanyuan 渥㸸 in the west). The intent was to draw Zhuge Liang deep into Yong Kai’s and Meng Huo’s lines before Gao Dingyuan’s force attacked from the west, thereby encircling the Shu Han army. The well-conceived plan might have worked had Gao Dingyuan’s subordinates not murdered Yong Kai and his staff
following a heated debate over tactics.40 Word of Yong’s murder destroyed the fragile alliance. His army quickly abandoned its forward positions and returned home, leaving Zhuge Liang’s march toward Yizhou virtually unobstructed. Within months Shu Han forces defeated Gao Dingyuan’s army in southern Sichuan and pushed the stubbornly resistant Meng Huo back into the mountains of eastern Yunnan, where he eventually surrendered to Zhuge Liang.41

With his campaign into the southwest a success, Zhuge Liang was left with the political challenge of securing Shu Han’s control over the area.42 Aware that all available resources were needed to fight the armies of Wei to the north and of Wu to the east, he decided on a policy strikingly similar to Tang Meng’s plan for Nanzhong outlined 350 years earlier. He withdrew most of the Shu Han army from the region, except for a few military garrisons stationed along strategic transportation
routes and river crossings, and created seven new Shu Han commanderies out of the original four Han commanderies. The governorships of these seven commanderies were to be staffed by Shu Han officials, but we know of only four of them being entrusted to subordinates of Zhuge, and the latter remained in Nanzhong for only a brief period of time.43

More importantly, Zhuge Liang selected members of the indigenous elite to fill critical subcommandery posts, and he made these appointments hereditary. Many of the individuals and families thus selected to become the new political elite in the region had fought against Zhuge Liang, and he alludes to this fact in his writings on the post-campaign plans for Nanzhong. For example, Meng Huo’s tactical skills so impressed Zhuge that following his surrender he appointed him to his personal staff and within a year Meng was commanding Shu Han troops battling along the Shu Han-Wei front in what is now northern Sichuan.44

In defense of his post-conquest policies Zhuge Liang reasoned that given Nanzhong’s poor economic infrastructure, if his troops were stationed throughout the region as an occupying force the Shu Han state would be required to finance the occupation, a fiscal burden that the financially-strapped kingdom could not endure. Moreover, Zhuge Liang argued, after such a prolonged conflict, during which the Shu Han army had killed so many locals, to station Shu Han troops in what he saw as an openly hostile environment would only make them easy targets for revenge-minded individuals. According to the Shu Han general,

If we leave outsiders [Chinese settlers] here, we must station soldiers [to protect them], and if we station soldiers here, we will need to supply them with provisions. To leave outsiders here without soldiers, after [our soldiers] wounded and
defeated these barbarians and forced them to bury their fathers and brothers, would only invite disaster. At this time I do not want to station soldiers or have to transport provisions to this region. However, I do want to establish clearly defined rules and regulations, so that peace between the few Chinese settlers and the barbarians may be firmly in place.

Zhuge Liang understood that violence against Chinese settlers and Shu Han forces in Nanzhong would oblige the Shu Han state to respond militarily, which would create an unacceptable financial strain on the Shu Han state and undermine the strategic preparedness of its armies deployed elsewhere. The only alternative was to redraw the administrative boundaries of Nanzhong in a way that protected Shu Han interests, nurture the creation of a loyal indigenous elite, and minimize the number of Shu Han officials and Chinese immigrants in Nanzhong so as not to antagonize the indigenes.46 The most Zhuge Liang and the Shu Han state could hope for from Nanzhong was periodic tribute in the form of gold, silver and horses.

Zhuge Liang’s decision to withdraw from Nanzhong and rely on the local elite to govern the region came at a critical juncture. Following the collapse of the Shu Han regime in 263, China witnessed a dizzying succession of dynastic rulers over the next three centuries, that is, until the Sui 昳 dynasty (581-618) reunified the empire. Chinese interest in the southwest declined sharply with the fall of Shu Han, and not surprisingly during this period of disunion in China many of the families enfeoffed by Zhuge Liang to rule Nanzhong parlayed their ties to various Chinese dynasties into great wealth and power. And this was especially true of the Cuan 䇐 patriclan of Jianning.47

The Cuan Kingdom

The origins of the Cuan patriclan are obscured by contradictory evidence and suspicious assertions. According to the genealogical account contained in the Cuan Youyan bei 䇐⯌柷䠹 (The stone tablet of Cuan Youyan), these origins can be traced to an individual who lived in the state of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BCE). At this time the family was surnamed Ban 䎕, but during the Later Han an imperial decree bestowed upon the patriarch of the Ban the
surname Cuan as a reward for meritorious service. The Cuan genealogy also claims that during the Later Han its ancestors relocated to Nanzhong as agents of the Han state, and that the Cuan, in apparent recognition of shared cultural affinity, assisted Zhuge Liang in his southern campaign.48 Fabricated ties to China were a common feature of many of the genealogical records drafted by the indigenous elite in the southwest, and unfortunately for the Cuan there is no evidence in
Chinese sources that might corroborate their claim. Today Chinese and Yi scholars are convinced that the Cuan patriclan was indigenous to the southwest, and that the Cuan are ancestors of the present-day Yi.

The first mention of the Cuan patriclan in Chinese historical texts relates to an individual named Cuan Xi 䇐佺, a resident of Jianning and an uncle of the influential Yizhou commander Yong Kai.49 Reportedly, prior to Zhuge Liang’s campaign Yong Kai selected Cuan Xi to administer the commercially important town of Jianling, at the northern tip of Lake Dian. This placed Cuan Xi far from the anticipated battles lines farther to the north. It was probably Gao Dingyuan’s betrayal and murder of Yong Kai that convinced Cuan Xi to offer his services to Zhuge Liang. Like Meng Huo, he proved himself invaluable to Zhuge Liang and soon found himself in Chengdu commanding Shu Han armies—but not before Zhuge bestowed upon him Shu Han political titles.50

Zhuge Liang intended these titles to be permanent, because he hoped that Shu Han recognition of the indigenous elite as hereditary rulers would guarantee their loyalty and preserve political stability. Subsequent southern dynastic houses like the Wei 櫷 (220-265) and Western Jin 大㗱 (265-316) did continue the practice of granting prestigious titles to the Cuan to secure their loyalty. In this respect the Cuan clearly enjoyed preferential treatment. They received such impressive-sounding titles as governor (taishou ⣒⬰) of Jianning and commandant (ling Ẍ) of Jianling, whereas several other prominent families in Nanzhong, such as the Meng, Mao, Dong and Li, were granted less prestigious titles. Their relationship with various Chinese regimes allowed the Cuan to build themselves into a regional power, much to the disappointment of other formidable patriclans in Nanzhong.

For example, immediately after usurping the Wei throne as emperor Wu of the Western Jin in 265, Sima Yan 楔䀶 (d. 289, r. 265-289) requested military assistance from Cuan Gu 䇐察, then governor and regional inspector of Jianning, in a campaign against the kingdom of Jiaozhi Ṍ嵦 in the Red River valley (present-day northern Vietnam). This campaign intended to disrupt the lucrative commercial ties between Jiaozhi and Wei’s principal enemy, the state of Wu. The imperial authority granted to Cuan Gu allowed him to force neighboring indigenes in Nanzhong to remit taxes and men to his charge, which he then used in his military forays into Guangxi and Jiaozhi.51 In time, Cuan Gu and his immediate descendants applied their status as allies of the Western Jin to enhance their power and prestige vis-à-vis the other Nanzhong patriclans. They annexed fertile agricultural lands controlled by the Meng and Li patriclans located to the north and east of Jianning, and they seized valuable mineral resources for their own use. Eventually, the Cuan bullied and intimidated the Meng, Mao, Dong and Li patriclans into sending yearly tribute delegations to their residence in Jianning.

In 324 the representative of the Eastern Jin 㜙㗱 (317-420) to Nanzhong, Wang Xun 䌳怄, assailed several indigenous leaders in the Lake Dian region for refusing to renounce their ties to the Western Jin. One staunch Western Jin ally was Cuan Liang 䇐慷, the Governor of Liangshui 㠩㯜 Frontier District and head of the western branch of the Cuan family in Jianling. At a banquet hosted by Wang Xun Cuan Liang began coughing up blood and before long he lay dead on the floor. The suspicious circumstances surrounding that death did not prevent Wang Xun from acting quickly to confiscate land controlled by the western branch of the Cuan in order to create a new administrative unit, the Ningling Frontier District. Fearing annexation by the Eastern Jin, Cuan Chen 䇐䏃, the Governor of Jianning and head of the eastern branch of the Cuan patriclan, organized a large alliance against them. He also took advantage of the confusion near Lake Dian and Jianling to strike south into the rich agricultural region of Xinggu Commandery 冰⎌悉.52

Cuan Chen’s annexation of Xinggu Commandery not only placed much of southeastern Yunnan under the control of the Cuan patriclan, but because this territory was far away from the fighting that raged in the Lake Dian region Cuan Chen could continue to generate revenue for his military while the indigenous alliance exhausted their resource base fighting Eastern Jin forces. By 336, the Eastern Jin military, severely depleted after years of uninterrupted fighting, could no longer assert its presence in Nanzhong. The coalition of indigenous leaders, too, was exhausted. Gone was the impressive native cavalry that had been the envy of Zhuge Liang and his Shu Han commanders; gone also were many of the best trained and ablest native leaders; and gone was the economic vitality of the Lake Dian region, devastated by eight years of constant warfare. When Cuan Chen ordered his force of 10,000 cavalry and 50,000 soldiers to seize the Lake Dian region in the spring of 338, opposition to his offensive evaporated after only a few engagements. The Eastern Jin leadership attempted to salvage its reputation in Nanzhong by accepting Cuan Chen’s suggestion that it appoint him to the new post of Regional Inspector (cishi) of Ningzhou —the new name given to Jianning. From this point forward the office of Ningzhou Regional Inspector became the most important political position in Nanzhong.53

Cuan dominance of Nanzhong went virtually uncontested for three hundred years, until the Sui unification of China in 581. During this period Cuan control of the southwest was absolute. Even though they were supposed to receive their title of regional inspector from various Chinese polities, the leaders of the Cuan kingdom related to them as equals, not as vassals. The Cuan no longer required Chinese recognition of their authority over Nanzhong, nor did they need impressive sounding Chinese titles such as Governor of Jianning or Regional Inspector of Ningzhou to guarantee the integrity of their rule. A weak and fragmented China could not threaten the Cuan kingdom, and it seems that in fact the Cuan leadership paid very little attention to China during that period.

[This section is continued in the main article for some pages, but falls outside of our purview]

Herman, John. "The Kingdoms of Nanzhong China's Southwest Border Region Prior to the Eighth Century." T'oung Pao 95, no. 4/5 (December 2009): 241-286. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 19, 2017).
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.
User avatar
Posts: 346
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am

Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:52 pm

[The following are two excerpts from Difficulties of Performance: The Musical Career of Xu Wei's: "The Mad Drummer" by Yuming He published in the December 2008 edition of the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies]

Difficulties of Performance: The Musical Career of Xu Wei's: "The Mad Drummer"

Written by Yuming He of the University of Chicago

The Play Within a Play: The Staging of Theatrical Desire

The subject alluded to by the title of The Mad Drummer is the renowned performance by Mi Heng (173-198), a brash young literatus of the waning days of the Eastern Han, in the court of Cao Cao. The story of Mi Heng drumming itself exemplifies the difficulty of staging a spectacle: Cao Cao, who has been insulted by Mi Heng's manner, tried to humiliate him by commanding that he play on the drums, yet Mi Heng drummed with such unflappable composure and expressive power, that the plan backfired, with the actual spectacle humiliating Cao Cao instead. The Mad Drummer is thus a performance of a performance - a fact that Xu Wei deliberately highlights in his handling of the source material. For rather than simply have actors portraying Mi Heng and Cao Cao appear on stage, allowing the audience to infer that the play's dramatic setting is in the late Eastern Han, Xu Wei constructs The Mad Drummer as a play within a play: what is represented on stage is, strictly speaking, not the scene of Mi Heng's drum performance, but the reperformance of that scene by the two principals, at some unspecified time after the original event, in the court of a functionary in the bureaucracy of the afterworld.

Some modern critics have found this in the eccentric narrative device the emblem of Xu Wei's genius(6). Their readings tend to take a biographical and somewhat psychologizing approach, viewing the play as an exteriorization of hidden and conflicting emotional and intellectual forces in the author's personality.(7) Granted, Xu Wei's biography lends itself to such dramatization: he seems to have been obsessed with suicide, resorting to strange methods as smashing his own testicles and driving a spike into his own ear, moreover, in a fit of raging madness, he killed his wife. Inevitably, as we read The Mad Drummer, we detect several submerged parallels between the staged "madness" of Mi Heng's drumming and the transgressive persona of the play's author. In this article, however, rather than explaining The Mad Drummer as the product of a man who lived and wrote on the edge, I shall investigate to the late Ming Culture of performance and connoisseurship.

The Mad Drummer begins with the netherwold judge reciting an "entering poem" to introduce himself: "My calculations here are so clear and accurate, Neither Good nor Evil in the end can get away with tricks. It's just like someone who owes a debt-He can't hide very long, and even if he's good at it - for no debt is ever left unpaid." He continues his self-portrayal, "I am called Cha You [Scrutinizing the hidden], and my style name is Nengping [Capable of setting things right], and I'm also known as Huozhu Daoren [Man of the way of the fire-brewed gem]/ Throughout my life I have excelled in judgment and maintained fair play, and so now I am a good judge, perspective and untrammeled, in the administration of Prince Yama of the Fifth Palace."

This infernal bureaucrats in the middle of a day at the office as he continues to relate a bit of official business that came his way the day before:

Back on that day when Mr. Mi Zhengping and Old Man Cao Cao testified against each other, it was I who handled the whole case. Because Mr. Mi surpasses the crowd in his bearing and rises above the masses in talent, my prince has asked him to draft all his documents and treated him as an honored guest. During the evening court-session yesterday, the Prince told me, "All of the Ministers for the Cultivation of Literature that the God on High has been employing of old are being transferred to other postings. Now he plans to summon everyone who has completed the cycle of retribution and is due for reassignment. Master Mi is among this number. Get some traveling money ready so you won't hold things up if he is summoned."

The bureaucratic routine is broken up, however, when the judge starts to "think," or "recall."

As I recall it, back then when Cao Man gathered his guests, he ordered master Mi to play drum for their pleasure. Yet, instead Mi glared at him, stripped himself naked, shook the clappers, wielded the drumsticks, and reworked an ancient tune into the "Yuyang san nong" (Thrice-played Yuyang). He assumed madness in order to vent his anger; miming dumbness and feigning deafness, he castigated Cao Man so thoroughly that there was no place on earth for Cao Man to hide. Wasn't that a rare spectacle, a show of huge puppets that toyed with heaven and earth? And now he is soon to ascend to heaven. I would like to invite Master Mi here, and at the same time release Cao Man, so that both can act out the things that happened at that feast where there was cursing. in this way they will leave behind here in the netherworld an event that will become a favorite topic for conversation for all eternity, and, moreover, make it apparent to all that, in the end, good and evil are just like owing and loaning money - what could be wrong with that?

The idea of organizing a performance transports Cha You away from his public role as a judge to one in which he seeks private pleasure and prestige. No sooner does he conceive of the plan than he puts it into action. He sends his servants to invite Mi Heng, and sets Cao Cao free to appear in his court. When Mi Heng and Cao Cao arrive, the court is quickly transformed into a stage:

(they act out seeing each other. Mi takes head position)
Judge (accompanies him below, and speaks): Sir, on that day, you took the opportunity of a drug performance to curse Cao Cao- that was one of the most extraordinary events in the subcelestial realm. Though I learned the basic facts from the evidence produced through interrogation, in my end it is regrettable that I never witnessed it with my own eyes.
Judge (stands, speaks): One more thing - and here I must congratulate you on becoming known to the God on High - there is news that you will be summoned to be minister for the cultivation of literature, and that you will soon be leaving. Yet if this one thing [my desire to see the confrontation in person] should remain lacking when you leave, this in the end will be something that would trouble me for my whole life. This [my desire to see it] is a trivial matter. Yet as a thing to pass along as an exhortation for all the officials in the Court of Darkness, and for all the ghost-masses as well, it seems essential that this item not be left out. For this reason this lowly official now makes bold to request that you indulge us so far as to do what you did on that day in the past. I will also make Cao Cao dress in the manner of the old days, so as to act out that scene of cursing at the banquet. This would at last satisfy my long cherished wish. What do you think, Sir?

The judge's monologue reveals his desire to witness the "acting out" of the imagined scene. As he continues speaking, his desire seems to grow ever more urgent and irresistible. At first only a fragmentary recollection of a past administrative matter, the imagined scene of Mi Heng's performance grows into something that he "regrets" not having seen in person. Then, his regret becomes something that has been lacking throughout his "whole life". Finally it turns into a "long cherished wish" or a "desire" demanding satisfaction. As his emotions progress, the judge tries to justify his wish by falling back on a high-sounding moral didacticism that will, he hopes, "make it apparent to all that, in the end, good and evil are just like owing and loaning money." His reasoning sounds defensive, however, and immediately asks rhetorically: what could be wrong with that? The moral pursuit is obscured and buried by his confession of a growing urge for performance: "In the end it is regrettable that I never witnessed it with my own eyes."

The beginning of the play traces an emotional trajectory as the ghost-judge shifts from imagining a historical past to cherishing a strong wish to view a spectacle. "Serious" motivations in keeping with Cao You's official status (such as the wish to create an example of the principles of retributive justice that he prides himself in carrying out in his work as a judge) are intertwined with more personal and ambiguous motives stemming from his desire for spectacle for its own sake, and for the chance that theatrical performance offers him to witness a renowned scene from history "with his own eyes."

Mi Heng immediately agrees to reenact the confusion. (Ironically, Cao Cao, as a prisoner with no say in the matter, portrays himself under compulsion.) After a short preparation for staging the confrontation, Mi Heng, Cao Cao, and the judge - who now acts the part of one of Cao Cao's guests in the play within the play - perform the cursing at the feast between Cao and Mi Heng in a series of thirteen songs. In the first two songs, Mi Heng introduces the back story to the central confrontation: how he became Cao Cao's associate, and how Cao Cao has ordered him to perform on the drum for Cao's guests. The remaining eleven songs, each preceded by a drumming sequence, represent the drum performance itself, and in the sung sections Mi Heng enumerates the evil deeds committed by Cao Cao. These thirteen songs form the core of the play - that is, the play within the play.

The performance is brought to a sudden halt with the appearance of a messenger sent by King Yama. The judge, upon seeing the messenger, urges, "Underlings! Quickly put Cao Cao and the others back in their cells." His hurry to do this suggests that Cha You feels there was something irregular about about the performance that has just been staged, and it appears that Cha You's desire to view such a performance is incommensurable with his role as a dutiful bureaucrat. After receiving the edict from the Jade Emperor, Mi Heng bids farewell to the judge and proceeds on to heaven. The judge concludes the entire proceedings with an exit poem that delivers a verdict on the moral of the play:

The Judge (Speaks):

Watching this "Thrice-played Yuyang" of Mi Zhengping
I, the Scrutinizing Judge, laughed so hard my eyes narrowed to slits.
If not for fierece Yama's thousand penal statutes,
We'd all think Prime Minister Cao dwelt in the immortal grottoes.

On the one hand, this poem may be read as a defensive assertion that nothing about the staging of the performance conflicts with his role as an officer of heavenly justice. By claiming that the function of the play has been to illustrate the inevitability of retribution for evil deeds, and by thus echoing the lofty-sounding motives he put forth in the opening scene, the judge distances himself from any notion of theatrical pleasure. On the other hand, the poem leaves open the possibility of a diamentrically opposed reading, in which the performance is an experience of sheer escape, from official role, from the constraint of the time, and from moral consequence. For it seems equally possible to take the phrase "fierce Yama's thousand penal statutes" as referring not to the changeless moral laws that the play ostensibly illustrates, but rather than the quotidian routine of the underworld bureaucracy that, in the person of the messenger, interrupts the play and ends the dramatic illusion. Before the spell was broken, Cao Cao's perpetual reperfomrance seemed to be akin to immortality - and the clear-eyed judge, whose name means "scrutinizing the hidden," reports that his eyes were nearly closed with mirth at sheer delight in the spectacle.

The framing of The Mad Drummer's "play within a play," and the sense of disillusion and return to quotidian reality in the closing scenes, is further articulated through the contrasive use of different musical traditions, in a veiled in-joke for musically sophisticated readers or audiences. The first thirteen arias of the play, which depict the central business of "cursing Cao Cao", are organized in the northern Xianlu and sun by only one role, Mi Heng. These features signal the theatrical conventions of northern Zaju, which limit singing to one role type. When the performance is interrupted by the messenger, however, the play shifts to the convention of southern opera, and divides the singing among multiple roles: in the grand finale, not only Mi Heng, but also the boy envoy and the female envoy of the Jade Emperor, as well as the judge, all take on singing rules.10 Such singing by multiple roles mirrors the practice of southern drama.


If Xu Wei uses the traditional suite structure in the first half of the Mad Drummer, he composes the second half - from "Liu yao xu" to "Zhuan sha" - in a more fluid and innovative style. To translate its tune sequences into actual music requires far more effort than does the first half. The shift from convention to invention in musical structure occurs just as the judge interrupts Mi Heng's performance to request that Cao Cao command "his" female entertainers:

Judge, in a whisper, commands the little ghosts to dress as a band of female musicians)
Judge: Drummer, stop your drumming. I have heard that Prime Minister Cao has fine female entertainers - please invite them out so that we may trouble them for a demonstration of their skills.
Cao: That is all in the past, where am I going to find them now?
Judge: Don't you worry; they will be there if you order them up. You just use them according to your whim.
Cao: I obey your command. Tell the underlings to bring out those female entertainers of mine.
(Two Female Entertainers enter, holding musical instruments for Wubei Lyrics)
Cao: Today the two of you will have to make up a small song by yourself, play and sing it as well as you can, to urge us on to three cups of wine.

Here Cao Cao specifically order the female entertainers: "Make up a small song by yourself," putting to test, and possibly showing off to his guests, the singsong girls' skill in impromptu composition. Such a demand has rich literary associations suggestive of linkages between music, coercive force, and individual character. It recalls a number of stories in which someone with power demands a poetic or musical performance, often threatening death. The best-known such story concerns Cao Zhi's composition of his "Qibu Shi" (Seven-step poem): Zhi's brother Cao Pi, the story goes, fearful, and jealous of his younger brother's talent, orders Cao Zhi to compose a poem within the time of pacing seven steps or to face immediate execution. Cao Zhi quickly extemporizes. By telling of beanstalks that were burned as fuel to boil a pot of beans, his poem delivers a thinly veiled allegorical comment on the sadness of hatred between brothers - and thus saves his life. Another story tells of the Tang-Dynasty singer He Manzi, who, according to one version of the story, composed a song just before her execution. Although her song did not save her life, its lyric pattern was named after her, so that she survived, not in flesh, but in the repertoire.(29) In these stories the poems or songs performed under duress appear both as feats of virtuosity and as distillations of the performer's character, and deepest concerns.

In The Mad Drummer, the story of compulsory performance that lies most immediately in the background of Cao Cao's demand for sing-song girls is Cao Cao's original attempt to humiliate Mi Heng by commanding him to perform on the drum. The play certainly intends that readers savor the irony that, in the reperformance of the scene in the judge's court, it is Cao Cao who, even as he commands his singers to perform, is himself a prisoner performing under duress, while Mi Heng, as a newly promoted official in the heavenly bureaucracy, voluntarily replays a role that had brought him immortal glory.

At just this point in the plot's development, Xu Wei's own compositional practice veers from the highly conventional to the improvisatory. The extempore songs performed by Cao Cao's female singers are a focal point of The Mad Drummer, and became intimately associated with Xu Wei's legacy and authorial identity for early readers. Upon Cao Cao's request, one female entertainer sings:

A big pelican over there,
A a didu, a a didu.
Changed into a spotted pig, didadu, dadidu,
To sing a "partridge song,
Ah! a didu, ah! a didu.
If (she) sings well it is all right, ah! a didu, ah! a didu;
If (she) does not, didadu, dadidu, call Butcher Wang,
Ah! a didu, ah! a didu.

With its many padding syllables, refrains, and onomatopoeias, the song may at first seem nonsensical. It barely outlines a simple story in which a pelican changes into a pig and is forced to sing - and must sing well - to avoid being killed. In its context in the play, this story appears to be an allegory of the singer's own predicament, analogous to Cao Zhi's allegory of the beans and stalks in his "seven-step poem."(30) All the while, the insistently repeated and reordered nonsense syllables serve to convey the effect of the singer frantically making up the song in real time as she sings it.

This aria, with its rhythmic nonsense syllables and animal imagery, hovers at the boundary between human language and animal cry. Though the exact musical prosaic form adopted here by Xu Wei is difficult to pin down, the song echoes the old Tang- and Song-dynasty ci tune type called "Zhegu tian" (Patridge weather) - a tune type that was said to have been derived from the imitation of the patridge's call. In this connection, one should note that the historical Mi Heng's most renowned and influential literary composition was his own Yingwu Fu (Rhapsody on the parrot) in which the description of the parrot becomes a pretext for a thinly veiled lament by Mi Heng on his own fate. Supposedly, for the entertainment of banquet guests, this rhapsody was extemporaneously composed on the command of Huang She, son of Huang Zu who was eventually kill Mi Heng.(31)

The first singer is followed by another, who sings a different stanza of lyrics to the same tune pattern:

Another girl (sings):
The prime minister acts too heartlessly, Ah! suspicion, ah! suspicion.
He riles up the others, qiaodaqi, daqiaoqi.
To squabble and gossip,
Ah! a supsicion, ah! a suspicion.
Snow hides the egret, you only see it when it flies, Ah! a suspicion, ah! a suspicion;
The willow hides the parrot, qiaodaqi, daqiaoqi, you know it's there when it speaks,
Ah! a suspicion, ah! a suspicion

The second song follows the tune pattern (semantic, phonetic, and rhythmic patterns) established in the first, but has somewhat more polished language. As in the first song, a phrase from the opening line, "heartless, which may also be translated as "betraying one's conscience," undergoes metamorphosis. It is interlocked both acoustically (in its phonetic similarity with qiaoqi, meaning suspicious or suspicion) and narratively: although the song starts with the prime minister being "heartless" it also induces "suspicion" presumably about the prime minster's intentions. It continues the bird images from the first song with the egret and the parrot at the moment of moving from hiding into view or hearing. With the parrot in particular, the language of the song itself becomes less veiled, veering closer and closer to commenting openly on Mi Heng and, by extension, on Cao Cao's injustice. Through such aural play, with its reorderings and repetitions of seemingly nonsense syllables, a coherence gradually emerges.

Following the second song is a short dialogue interlude:

Cao: These lines are all old news.
Girl: They might be old news, but they're pertinent to the theme.
Cao: This girl is playing to outsiders!
Girl: Well, you've got me there. I willingly confess, and beg your pardon. (Presents wine to Cao)

The first two songs seem to be evolving in the direction of Cao Zhi's "seven-step poem." or of Mi Heng's original drumming performance (or his "Rhapsody on the Parrot"), as the songs' display of technique and improvisation turns into a critique and lament against injustice. After Cao Cao protests, and the second singer apologizes, however the third song takes a direction different from that taken by the first two songs:

one girl (sings again): Smearing on powder, applying rouge - a pink bloom that lasts only a short while.
Ah! an uptight upright man (yige donghong), ah! an uptight upright man.
ANOTHER GIRL (sings): Repaying favors, engendering grievances, hongdadong dadonghong
A wind that fells the flowers,
Ah! an uptight upright man, ah! an uptight upright man.
two girls (sing together):
All the things in this world are not for human calculation, ah! an uptight upright man, ah! an uptight upright man.
In the end all it is, hongdadong, dadonghong, an empty stage, Ah! an uptight upright man, ah! an uptight upright man.
(two girls present wine)
judge: Now, this song is marvelous. It accords with our heavenly secrets.
Cao: Singsong girls, withdraw. I am tired.
(judge acts out laughing)
mi {stands up and says): You may be tired of this, but my dreaming and cursing is in no way finished.

The final song exhibits the same techniques used by the previous songs, whereby the metamorphoses of sound gradually yield a meaning that has some bearing on the plot. Where the first two songs tend toward a morally charged critique of Cao Cao, the last song achieves a perspective that is noncommittal about the rights and wrongs of Cao Cao, Mi Heng, or anyone else. It is to this final version of the song that the infernal judge, Cha You, gives his highest praise. Where the first two songs intimate that the theatrical spectacle conveys moral messages to be applied to the real world of history and politics, the final song implies that the real world is just as illusory as the spectacle. Like the judge's poem that concludes "The Mad Drummer" as a whole, the "Wubei" songs that form the play's dramatic centerpiece (in fact constituting something like a "play within a play within a play") leaves us suspended between seeing theater as a place of moral instruction and theater as a place of amusement and escape.


"Hulu cao hun"
As for the lives you destroyed,35 there were a million or so, with seventy or eighty thousand on top of that.
As for killing court officials, where can one begin to find out?
Take the big bushel-measures of Ao Granary to measure sesame seeds.36
Your evil heart was born on the edges of knives and spears,
The manner of your cruelty paintings;
And as for your crafty deceptions, I cannot pick them all out to curse in such a short time.
Cao Cao, why do you no longer visit the East Gate leading your dog,37 or idly listen to the crane's cries at Huating?38
Instead, you now make a shameful spectacle of yourself, in your chains and cangue.


5 Cao, constrained by Mi Heng's reputation, did not kill him, but got rid of him by sending him into the service of Liu Biao. Offended by Mi Heng, Liu in turn sent Mi Heng to Huang Zu with the anticipation - which proved to be correct - that the intemperate Huang Zu would soon kill Mi Heng. Various versions of the story of Mi Heng appear in Shi shuo xin yu \&MM\ §§ (par- ticularly in sources cited in Liu Xiaobiao's H'J^tK commentary to that text), Hou Han shu 'ikWk Wl, and Sanguoyanyi -ES9SHI. The addition of spoken (sung) cursing of Cao Cao along with the drumming performance is Xu Wei's own innovation.
6 See for example Luo Di JSttfe, "Guanyu Xu Wenchang xiansheng shi siwen" Mfft&'StMJt &MJBWI, Zhonghua xiqu ^SScffi 18 (1993): 313-31, and Ye Changhai, Qu xueyu xiju xue ffiP ffegSLgftQ (Shanghai: Xuelin chubanshe, 1999), pp. 334-55.
7 Both Ye Changhai and Luo Di emphasize Xu Wei's eccentric personality and its association with his artistic creativity.
8 Quotations of The Mad Drummer are from Si shengyuan (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1984), annotated by Zhou Zhongming M 41 W. All translations are mine.
9 Cao Cao had been nicknamed A Man HSS as a child; the derogatory use of this insultingly familiar name for him became a standard convention in popular narratives once his status as a villain had become established.
10 This musical structure has been commented on by Jeannette of a Gibbon: A Tsa-chu Cycle by the Ming Dramatist Hsu versity of California, Berkeley, 1972). Faurot's reading of this structural to southern drama differs from mine.
30 This song seems also to be inspired by the passage Master stopped for a night at the house of an old friend. kill a goose and prepare it. 'One of the geese can cackle I ask, please, which I should kill?' 'Kill the one that can't trans., The Complete Works o/Chuang Tzu (New York: Columbia This
31 For the text of the rhapsody, see Wen xuan (1977; rpt., Beijing: Zhonghua shuju 1990), 13.200a-
35 Parts in smaller typeface are non-metrical words, commonly known as "padding words" (chenzi)
36 This granary was built at Aoshan (modern north Xingyang, Henan) during the period. "Sesame seeds" exemplify tininess. The whole line here refers to the countlessness of Cao Cao's victims.
37 When Li Si, the former Qin prime minister, was about to be executed, he said to his son, "I want to lead the yellow dog once again with you to go out of the East Gate of Shangcai to hunt the cunning rabbit - is that possible?" See Sima Qian, "Li Si zhuan," in Shiji (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959), 87.2564.
38 According to the Jin shu US, when the famous literatus Luji llHiS was about to be executed, he sighed, "The crane's crying at Huating - when can I hear it again?" This story, like the Li Si reference that immediately precedes it, became proverbial for regrets that come too late to be of any practical
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.
User avatar
Posts: 346
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am

Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:53 am

Adoption in Han China

Written by Miranda Brown of the University of Michigan and Rafe de Crespigny of the Australian National University

Whom to Adopt

The inheritance of property and titles has so far occupied center stage in our discussion, but we now turn our attention to a different kind of heir: those responsible for maintaining ancestral sacrifices. A proclamation issued in 202 CE by the warlord Cao Cao (155-220 CE) attests to the importance of finding heirs to maintain the patriline:

Since we first gathered loyal troops [against Dong Zhuo (d. 192)], [many of my] officers and men have died, leaving no descendants [to maintain their sacrifices]. I am seeking members of their kinfolk who may carry on their lineage and take over their lands. My government will supply them with plough-oxen, arrange schools and teachers for them, and build temples in order that they may maintain sacrifices to their ancestors. If the spirits [of the fallen dead] have awareness, then [they should be satisfied with these arrangements], and I and my descendants for a hundred years will be safe from their angry resentment.39

Though the proclamation is straightforward enough, one turn of phrase catches the eye. Cao Cao used the phrase qinqi (kinfolk), rather than zongzu (patrilineal clan members).40 Whereas the former denoted a wide-spread group, including members of the maternal and distaff clans, as Ochi Shigeaki points out, the latter was used in the more restrictive sense of paternal relatives.41 This raises the question: why did Cao Cao not just say zongzu, if the point of such adoptions was to ensure that sacrifices were maintained for those who had died in war, and if their spirits did not accept offerings from those of different surnames? We know Ying Shao would not have approved, for we have already seen him condemn the practice of adopting individuals of a different surname. Yet Ying's opinion appears to have been a minority one, and it was certainly at odds with the published policies of the most powerful man of his day.42 To put it another way, is it not possible that in the late second and early third centuries different-surname adoptions were in fact regarded as legitimate by the majority of the members of the cultural and political elite? We tackle this question, and seek to show that it was Cao Cao s approach, rather than the views of Ying Shao, which resonated with elite practices of adoption: not only the patrilineal clan, but also members of the extended kinship group could be chosen to continue the line of ancestral sacrifices. Such a practice, moreover, received a surprising degree of legal and social sanction.


Bearing in mind, then, the limitations of our sources, we turn to the main question: what evidence is there that different-surname adoptions were officially discouraged during the Han? In contrast to Cao Caos proclamation, which affected people far lower down in the social and political hierarchy, there are no specific policies of Western Han which say anything about ancestral sacrifices for commoners or even regular officials.47 However, in the Juyan strips of the first century BCE and the first century CE we find some potential evidence for state-sanctioned inheritance between people of different surnames. One strip says that: "All the children of siblings may serve as the heir [of the deceased]" ([...] tongchanzi jie de yiwei si [...] 48 and the phrase tongchan can refer to sisters as well as brothers.49 So nephews of a different surname could be heirs. It is true that the remarks are fragmentary, and the larger context of the strips is missing, but it does appear that they were intended to provide guidelines to officials in deciding matters of inheritance.

The following examples give a general impression of the parameters of different-surname adoptions in Han times. We begin with Liu Feng (d. 220), who was originally a son of the Kou family. The Kou had held a county fief in Changsha and were related by marriage to the Liu clan of that commandery. In 201 the condottiere Liu Bei (161-223), future founder of the Three Kingdom State of Shu-Han, who was originally from Zhuo commandery in the far north, took refuge in Jing province. He had at that time no son of his own, so he adopted a boy of the Kou family, who was then ten years old and was known thereafter as Liu Feng. The adoption was maintained even after Liu Bei had fathered a son of his own, Liu Shan in 207.50

A second case confirms that members of the literate elite could adopt maternal kinsmen as their heirs. In 193 the military officer Zhu Zhi of Danyang commandery, who had held local rank at the county and provincial level and had been recommended as a commissioned official, adopted his sisters son Ran as his heir; the boy was at that time aged thirteen. Rans mother had married into the Shi family, and he had been brought up in that lineage. Though Zhu Zhi was childless at the time of the adoption, he later had four sons of his own, and when he died in 234 his eldest natural son inherited his fief. Zhu Ran himself had a distin guished career and became a senior officer of the Three Kingdoms state of Wu, but when he asked to return to his own surname after his adoptive fathers death, the ruler Sun Quan (182-252) refused permission. The surname passed down to Zhu Ran s son Zhu Ji, but in the time of Sun Quans successor Sun Liang (reg. 252-258), a second petition was approved and Zhu Ji was able to revert to the Shi surname.51

It appears to have been the eunuchs of the imperial palace, however, who were the most energetic followers of the practice, and they may indeed have instigated it. According to the Hou Han shu compiled by Fan Ye in the early fifth century, from the middle of the second century CE the eunuchs passed on their titles and estates to men of different surnames: they "adopted distant relatives, some even naming those of different surnames as their successors, or purchased slaves to be their sons, and all were allowed to inherit their fiefs."52 Such adopted sons were referred to as "nourished sons" (yangzi). In contrast to late imperial times, when the term referred to foster children, in Han times, such a nourished son could become an heir (hou; sizi), for he changed his surname, inherited the rank of his adopted father, and performed ancestral sacrifices.53

The Cao family itself provides an example of a different-surname adoption by a eunuch, for it appears that the powerful eunuch Cao Teng (d. 150 CE) adopted relatives linked by marriage. Certainly, there is some dispute on the matter: Chen Shou of the third century, author of the San guo zhi HS/S, claims that nothing was known about the origins of Cao Caos father, Cao Song H* pig (d. 193), aside from the fact that he had been adopted by Cao Teng. Other sources, however, suggest that his background was not so obscure. Pei Songzhi. (372-451), compiler of the great commentary to Chen Shou's work, quotes the anonymous "Biography of Cao Man" (Cao Man zhuan) of the third century and "Tales of the Generations of Wei and Jin" (Wei-Jin shiyu) by Guo Ban of the early fourth century, both of which claim that Cao Song was originally a member of the Xiahou clan.54 Pei further notes that Cao Song was a younger brother of the father of Xiahou Dun (d. 220), and indeed our suspicions of a close connection between the clans are confirmed by the fact that Chen Shou himself intermingles the biographies of members of the Cao and Xiahou families. The discovery of a set of Cao-family tombs in the mid-1970s and attending stelae lends further credence to old tales of a long-established marriage connection.55


Of course, one might wonder whether different-surname adoptions were as permanent as those of the same surname, for we have seen how some men adopted by other clans later reverted to their original surnames and cancelled the relationship. We must note, however, that different-surname adoptions appear to have been legally binding and could be difficult to reverse. Zhu Ran, for example, mentioned above, was not permitted to return to his original surname, and it was only a second attempt by his son that proved successful. Though it was eventually ended, the adoption had been maintained for more than sixty years, from 193 to 255.

Another case was that of Sun He (d. 204 CE), who was adopted by his maternal Yu clan. He became the commander of the bodyguard of his kinsman the general Sun Jian (d. 191), and later joined Sun Jians son Sun Ce MM (175-200), who succeeded his father as head of the family and founded the warlord state which became the empire of Wu under his brother Sun Quan. In recognition of his service, Sun Ce allowed him to resume the family surname; but we note again that this required special permission.59

Same-surname adoptions, moreover, were not necessarily more permanent than those of different surnames: both could be subject to challenges and reversals. One case relates to the transfer (chu Hi) of Yuan Shao (d. 202 CE) to become the heir of his uncle Yuan Cheng. The Yuan clan was among the most celebrated and respected of the empire, with no less than four members rising to the position of Excellency, highest in the imperial civil service. In many ways, the adoption of Yuan Shao would seem unassailable, given that Yuan Shao was a close kinsman in the male line and of the right generation, but Yuan Shao's cousin and rival, Yuan Shu (d. 199), attacked Yuan Shaos legitimacy. Yuan Shu was a son of Yuan Feng by his formal wife, and it is likely that Yuan Shao was his half brother, probably the son of a concubine. It appears that Yuan Shu resented Yuan Shao s transfer to a senior lineage, and when the two men became political rivals he referred to him on various occasions as "our family slave" (wujia nu ) and insisted that he "was not a true member of the Yuan clan" (fei Yuanshi zi) .60


In many ways, the situation during the Han is a contrast to that of middle period and late imperial China. From the third century of our era, different surname adoptions became illegal. As Ch'ii points out, a number of prohibitions were issued in the Three Kingdoms period: Shu-Han made it illegal for a person to be adopted from an outside lineage, and the Jin dynasty (265-420) also outlawed the practice. Though they appear to have had limited effect, these prohibitions set the pattern for subsequent history.62 No such legal restraints however appear to have existed during Han. On the contrary, such arrangements were found among the leaders of the age?high-ranking officials and even imperial contenders. Equally important, such arrangements were regarded as quite consistent with good ritual order. Far from representing deviations or subversions of time-honored principles, they had an air of respectability.

Why Adopt?


Though they may not be identified by the terminology, alliances made through adoption can often be inferred from their context. Consider the case of Gongsun Du {(d. 204), who was taken into the care of the Administrator of Xuantu, a certain Gongsun Yu Gongsun Du's biography in Sanguo zhi tells us that he was the son of Gongsun Yan, but the shared surname does not necessarily indicate a close relationship. Gongsun Yan was a migrant from Liaodong who worked as a junior officer in Gongsun Yu s commandery office in Xuantu; and it is most unlikely that Gongsun Du would have been appointed as head of a commandery in his native province: he probably came from somewhere in central China. Gongsun Yus son Bao had just died, however, and Gongsun Yans son had been given the same childhood name [Bao: "wild-cat"] and was the same age as the dead boy. The Administrator therefore treated the young man "as a kinsman and with affection," arranging for his education and marriage as if he were a son. We may doubt, however, that this was a true adoption, for Gongsun Yu later nominated Gongsun Du for commissioned office:70 fathers were not entitled to nominate their sons. In effect, though he showed every sign of paternal love and affection, Gongsun Yu was the political patron of Gongsun Du rather than his adoptive father.

In similar fashion, there could be quasi-adoptions with varying degrees of formality, and with no requirement for such a permanent transformation of identity as a change of surname. The case of Hu Teng provides an example. When the powerful Dou family was destroyed by a coup of palace eunuchs in 168, the leader of the clan, Dou Wu, was killed, with many of his kinfolk. Dou Wu s client Hu Teng, however, managed to rescue his grandson Dou Fu (167-211). Escaping to the south, he raised Dou Fu, "treating him as his own son." Upon reaching maturity, however, Dou Fu retained his original surname and married Hu Tengs daughter; it is most unlikely that he or his benefactors saw the adoption as real or permanent.71

In other cases, however, the adoption was formal, as the adoptee took on the surname of the elder party. Sanguo zhi says that Cao Zhen was a son of Qin Shao of Pei . Like the Xiahou clan mentioned above, the Qin were connected to the Cao through the female line, and in 190 Qin Shao raised troops in support of Cao Cao. He died in battle soon afterwards, and Cao Cao adopted his son Zhen into his own lineage. The adoption appears formal, since the boy adopted the Cao surname, but there was no intention of seeking someone to maintain the ancestral sacrifices: Cao Cao already had sons of his own and did not need an heir. Instead, the decision to "take in and raise" Qin Shaos son was a means to reward a faithful ally and to strengthen the existing bonds bet ween the two clans.72

As with marriage alliances, therefore, adoptions were not necessarily permanent. The fate of the tyrant Dong Zhuo provides a prime example of a political alliance that aspired to be more than a fleeting affair but none the less collapsed. After seizing power at the capital in 189, Dong Zhuo entered into a close relationship with the much younger Lii Bu (d. 198), and the pair swore an oath as father and son (shi weifuzi) Later, however, after Lii Bu began a furtive affair with a slave girl owned by Dong Zhuo, he became afraid of discovery and of the consequences of falling out with his patron. Soon afterwards the senior minister Wang Yun (137-192) sought his assistance in an assassination plot. Lii Bu was reluctant to kill his foster father, explaining the oath, but Wang Yun remin ded him that he did not have the same surname as Dong Zhuo, and was not his "flesh and bone (gurou)." In other words, the oath could be undone. Thus persuaded, Lii Bu joined the conspiracy and killed Dong Zhuo in a most grisly fashion.73

The story has several points of interest. Here, the arrangement did not involve a permanent change on the part of Lii Bu, for he retained his surname. Indeed this is not surprising, for we know that Dong Zhuo had a son. Nor is there any likelihood of a family connection: the two men came from different commanderies, so it is doubtful they were related on the maternal side; and Wang Yun observed that Dong and Lii were not "flesh and bone." Finally, the relationship, like most political alliances, appears to have been fragile; it did not require much to undo the oath. As Chen Shou's account reveals, the charms of a slave girl and a little persuasion were sufficient to turn a trusted son into a fierce enemy!

So far our discussion has focused on the adoption of men, but women were also involved, for they played an important role in the Han political arena. Like everyone else, eunuchs apparently sought to make alliances by adopting women, who could be given away in marriage to allies. The dynastic history tells of the powerful court eunuch, Cao Jie (d. 181). In addition to a son, Cao Jie adopted a girl, and some time in the 170s she was given in marriage to Feng Fang - Feng Fang became a member of the Secretariat and was later a minister, so he gained considerably from the association.74 About the same time the adopted daughter of the eunuch Cheng Huang(A- 180) was a secondary wife (xiaoqi) of the censorial official Yang Qiu (d. 179). Yang Qiu had been an ally of Cheng Huang and his faction, but when he turned against the eunuchs his wife betrayed his plans to her father and Yang Qiu was executed. The Lady Cheng later became a close associate of Emperor Ling.75 Both women served as a link between their adopted fathers and their fathers' allies.76



39) Chen Shou PJfCii, Sanguo zhi HKS [hereafter SGZ\ (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959): Wei: 1.22-23.
40) For an example of the use of zongzu, see the stele inscription dedicated to Yan Ju JUIP in LixufpjtfjH, compiled by Hong Kuo (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1983): 11.4b-8a.
41) Ochi Shigeaki K^gjlffi, "Gi-shin ni okeru Tshi no ka ni tsuite Sfi # (C^3ttS rm^^fifj CO^T." Tohogaku^^ 22 (1961): 1-9; 2
47) Moriya Mitsuo ^MH!Kft Chugoku kodai no kazoku to kokka ^M~SiX<DMW: t. SW. (Kyoto: Kyoto daigaku bungakubunai Toyoshi kenkyukai, 1968): 336-39.
48) Gansusheng wenwukaogu yanjiusuo ^M^^ffi^l^'$$$tffii et A.^Juyan xinjian: Jiaqu houguanyu disisui^MMW' ^MU^^B'^ (Beijing: Wenwu, 1990): 45 [EPT5.32].
49) For female siblings (nil tongchan ^C|r)M) and male siblings (nan tongchan J^folii), see Zhangjiashan: 183; for punishments involving sex between siblings (tongchan): 157.
50) SGZ: Shu: 10.991; the adoption is described asyangFeng weizi jti^S-p.
51) SGZ: Wu: 11.1305 and 1309; the adoption is described as yi wei si l^XMiM
52) Fan Ye Hou Hanshu [hereafter HHS] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1984): 78/68.2521. For similar observations, see Huang Jinshan, "Handai jiating": 41; Ochi, "Gi-shin ni okeru Tshi no ka ni tsuite": 3.
53) For distinctions registered through vocabulary, see Waltner, Adopting an Heir. 52-53; 91; cf. Wolf, Marriage and Adoption: 108-117.
54) SGZ: 1.2 n. 3 says that Cao Man zhuan was compiled by a subject of Wu, rival to the state of Wei founded by Cao Cao, presumably during third century. SGZ: 1.1 n. 1 quotes the work as saying that Cao Cao had a childhood name of A'man fqfSffi; the title sought to denigrate him by a show of familiarity. Guo Ban f|5^, though not so specifically inspired, appears also to have been generally hostile to the Cao. Chapter 9 of Sanguo zhi contains biographies of both Cao and Xiahou family members.
55) The tombs are described in Anhuisheng Haoxian bowuguan ^W^MM^^}Wi-> "Haoxian Cao Cao zongzu muzang Itf^WS^BclEiP" Wenwu 1978/8: 32-45 andTian Changwu ESSE, "Du Cao Cao zongzu muzang zhuanke keci MlfM^lMMWWMWt" Wenwu ~$C$fy 1978/8: 46-50; the latter cites the inscriptions describing the connection to the Xiahou clan at 48 and 49. The previous debate is well summarized by Carl Leban, though his conclusion that the Cao had no connection with the Xiahou is disproven by the tomb inscriptions, excavated after he wrote. See Carl Leban, "Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei: the Early Years." PhD. Dissertation, Columbia University, New York 1971: 48-52.
59) SGZ: Wu 6.1214: the adoption is described as chu hou gu Yushi fctt^ftfrffi.
60) HHS: 75/65.2439.
62) For the Three Kingdoms and Jin period, see Ch'ii, Han Social Structure: 19-20. For later periods, see Waltner, Getting an Heir: 79, 94-99. For evidence of the limited success of these early prohibitions, see Tongdian: 69.1907-16.
69) Waltner, Adopting an Heir. 52-53; 91; cf. Wolf, Marriage and Adoption: 108-117.
70) SGZ: 8.252.
71) i/J/S: 69/59.2244-45.
72) SGZ: Wei: 9.280.
73) SGZ: Wei: 7.220.
74) HHS: 37/27.1261; 67/57.2209.
75) HHS: 56/46.1834; 81/71.2695; 52/42.1731-32.
76) It is also said that during the 160s a daughter of the eunuch Tang Heng was rejected by the gentleman Fu Gongming fl|?-0?j, but was then married to the infant Xun Yu IfjtH, as Xun Yu's father Kun US was overawed by the power of the eunuchs: HHS: 70/60.2281, SGZ: 10.309. The Xun, however, were a notable and well-respected Confucian family, so there are some doubts about this story.
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.
User avatar
Posts: 346
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am

Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon Oct 23, 2017 1:16 pm

I'm loving this thread! Not found much time to read more than the titles so far but looking forward to doing so in the next few weeks!
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!
User avatar
Sun Fin
Librarian of Shen Zhou
Posts: 7910
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:20 pm
Location: Vicar Factory

Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:20 am

Been reading an article every 2 days, thank you as covering area's rarely touched upon. Was surprised at
For example, Meng Huo’s tactical skills so impressed Zhuge that following his surrender he appointed him to his personal staff and within a year Meng was commanding Shu Han troops battling along the Shu Han-Wei front in what is now northern Sichuan.44
this though
User avatar
Dong Zhou
Posts: 17473
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2005 12:32 pm
Location: "Now we must die. May Your Majesty maintain yourself"

Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:15 pm

Sun Fin wrote:I'm loving this thread! Not found much time to read more than the titles so far but looking forward to doing so in the next few weeks!

Dong Zhou wrote:Been reading an article every 2 days, thank you as covering area's rarely touched upon.


Dong Zhou wrote:Was surprised at
For example, Meng Huo’s tactical skills so impressed Zhuge that following his surrender he appointed him to his personal staff and within a year Meng was commanding Shu Han troops battling along the Shu Han-Wei front in what is now northern Sichuan.44
this though
Every now and again one of the articles ends up making a mistake, even if its properly sourced. I would be very surprised if Meng Huo was employed at the front, but there does seem to be a number of corroborating sources.

44) Sanguo zhi, 35/920-21; Huayang guozhi, 4/356; Fang Guoyu (1990), 238-244; Fang Guoyu (1984), 91-108; Hou, Shi and Weng (1991), 94-98.

So maybe there was greater integration of the southern frontier than we first thought?
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.
User avatar
Posts: 346
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am

Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:51 am

[This is an entire article was published in the 2002 volume of Oriens Extremus, all of its contents fall under our research purview. This has been largely transcribed after the first few paragraphs, so there are some differences in content]

Historic Analogies and Evaluative Judgments:
Zhuge Liang as Portrayed in Chen Shou's"Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms" and Pei Songzhi's Commentary

Written by Hoyt Cleveland Tillman of Arizona State University

One dimension of historical criticism in China pivots on the use of historic analogies and metaphors to express evaluative judgments. In one's choice of earlier historic and mythic figures to be employed to frame a personage's narrative, one sets the tone of one's historical criticism; however, the use of historic figures as analogies could be complex and nuanced. One particularly revealing case is how historic analogies were used to portray and evaluate Zhuge Liang 諸葛^:(181-234). Zhuge Liang was the leading advisor for Liu Bei's 劉備(161-223, r. 220-223) strategy for countering the Cao 曹 family's usurpation of the Han 漢 throne. After Liu Bei died, his son Liu Shan 劉开丨早(207— 271, r. 223~2o3) succeeded him as head of the Shu-Han 勤漢 kingdom centered in Yizhou 益小H (the area of Sichuan province), and Zhuge took charge not only of administration but also of military affairs. As prime minister, he oversaw the civil government and promoted alliance with Sun Quan's 孫權(182-252) State of Wu 吳 that controlled most of central and southern China. As the Shu kingdom's top military officer, Zhuge directed five major campaigns against the Wei魂 kingdom, which had usurped the Han throne and ruled North China. None of his five campaigns made much headway into Wei territory before retreating back into the mountains; moreover, only thirty years after Zhuge's death, Liu Shan surrendered the Shu kingdom to the Wei. Thus, Zhuge failed to achieve his goals of liberating North China from the Cao family regime, uniting all of China, and restoring the Han dynasty. In spite of Zhuge Liang's failures, his dedicated loyalty to what he regarded as a noble cause and his just administration of the Kingdom attracted positive appraisals. In the official dynastic history, the Sanguo Zhi ニ國志{Chronicle of the Three Kingdom s) ^ Chen Shou 陳_ (233—297) presented a highly favorable portrait of Zhuge; moreover, he collected and edited Zhuge's writings for publication in 274.1 Pei Songzhi's 裴松之(372-451) supplement to the Sanguo 外i amassed various narratives and accounts that Chen Shou had not included, and these appended sources, serving as a commentary, have traveled with the official history since 429. These are the primary sources for this present inquiry.

Recently, Professor Eric Henry, in an article in the Harvard journal of Asiatic Studies, has analyzed the various stories included by Chen Shou and Pei Songzhi in terms of their precedent narrative motifs. Professor Henry observes: “It is relationships such as these to earlier narrative that are primarily responsible for the commanding position occupied by Zhuge Liang in the pantheon of Chinese heroes. ... One would be hard put to name any early culture hero whose attributes arc not somehow reflected in the Zhuge Liang portrait."2 In short, Professor Henry a "man in the grip of a legend.”3 Professor Henry further characterizes Pei structuring of various additional stories to prove the view that Zhuge was indeed a sage:

The idea behind these stories is that one manifestation of the extraordinary insight possessed by sages is their appreciation of ugly women. A sage will often marry such a woman and then profit from her advice, which, since she is ugly, is invariably honest, prescient, and discriminating. A sage is never dazzled or bewitched by false and alluring appearances; he cannot be seduced by luxury, flattery or beauty; instead he goes straight for the substance hidden beneath. As Chen Shou in his summation, "He sought out that which was fundamental in every affair; he sought out reality beneath each appearance and had nothing but contempt for empty show." Thus the ugly wife story, properly understood, is normative rather than biographical it illustrates Zhuge Liang's imperviousness to delusion and rounds out his character as a sage.4

As evident in his quotation from Chen Shou's summary evaluation, Professor Henry is suggesting that Pei Songzhi's structured commentary echoed and reinforced what was already Chen's assumption — Zhuge was indeed a sage.

Nonetheless, was Chen Shou really as hopelessly caught "in the grip of a legend"? Were there really no significant differences between Chen Shou's and Pei Songzhis evaluations and narrative framing of Zhuge Liang? Was the historical verdict on Zhuge already so settled? I am not at all denying that Chen Shou and Pei Songzhi highly revered Zhuge Liang. Obviously, both historians regarded him as an exceptionally able official and a good person, worthy to serve as a model person or hero to later readers. Indeed, the tone of their narratives do occasionally have an almost worshipful quality. Nevertheless, I would still caution that it is easy~in the light of later developments in the apotheosis of Zhuge~to enhance that tone disproportionately. Succinctly stated, my inquiry will explore Chen Shou's and Pei Songzhi's narrative metaphors to see if there were tensions and progressive changes within and between their portrayals of Zhuge Liang.

1.Sages Among Other Analogies

Chen Shou actually never called Zhuge Liang a "sage" (sheng 聖)• The term is indeed used in the Zhuge biography in the Sanguo 咖 however, it refers not to Zhuge, but to the ruler he served. In his "(Former) Campaign Memorial" ("[Qian] chushi biao [前]出師表’5),Zhuge used the term, Sheng, to address Liu Shan.5 Liu Shan was also addressed as sheng by the advisors who urged him to authorize a memorial shrine near Zhuge's tomb in Mianxian 河縣.6 In the preface to Zhuge's collected works Chen Shou twice used the term sheng and included this preface near the end of his biography of Zhuge. Besides referring to the Duke of Zhou (Zhougong 周公;mid-llth Century BC) as a sage, Chen directly addressed his own ruler and likened his ruler to the ancient sages.7 Needless to say neither Liu Shan nor the Jin 晉 emperor was really a sage. But this honorific and respectful form for one's ruler was not unusual in imperial China. Parenthetically, as Professor Huang shows, calling the reigning emperor a sage had potential for undermining the grounds for Confucians to remonstrate against their ruler, but this negative potential was only fully realized when an emperor, specifically Kangxi 康熙(r.1662-1722), was widely regarded by the literati as a sage indeed.8 In any event, the tendency during the Han through the Tang to restrict the term's usage, at least in referring to one's contemporaries and near contemporaries, to the ruler apparently problematized it as a model image to be applied to scholars and/or officials like Zhuge Liang.

Rather than the metaphor of "sage," Chen Shou's narrative structure reveals different analogies for Zhuge Liang. These analogies were famous ministers: Guan Zhong, Yue Yi 樂毅(late 3rd Century B.C.; another spelling is Le Yi), and Xiao He. Serving the first hegemon of the Spring and Autumn Period, Guan Zhong assembled the feudal lords, protected the states in the Central Plain from being militarily and culturally overran by the powerful kingdom of Chu 楚 and its southern, "barbarian" culture. During the Warring States Period Yue Yi served King Zhao 昭王 of" Yan 燕(r. 311-279 BC) and led an alliance of give states against the powerful state of Qi齊.In one devastating battle in 284 BC, Yue Yi crushed the Qi army and seized over seventy or its cities; thereupon, he restrained his forces to give the remaining two Qi cities an opportunity to respond to his benevolence and thereby to surrender. Yet, when King Zhao died, the successor king of Yan distrusted Yue and removed him from the campaign against Qi. Xiao He contributed advice crucial to Liu Bang's triumph in the civil wars following the defeat of the Qin 秦 and his establishment of the Han Dynasty.

Chen Shou presents Zhuge as similar to these grand ministers at the beginning and the end of the Zhuge biography. In the first paragraph, Chen Shou claimed that the young Zhuge "often compared himself to Guan Zhong and Yue Yi"9 According to Chen Shou and the stories he heard, almost everyone, except Zhuge's two close friends, disagreed with these comparisons because the youth's latent talents were not yet manifest. Quoting from his own preface to Zhuge's collected writings, Chen Shou returned to these analogies.

In earlier times, Xiao He's recommendation of Han Xin and Guan Zhong's promotion of Wangzi Chengfu had the purpose of complementing their own strengths, for they themselves could never combine [civil administration and military command]. Liang's ability at political administration was on a level with Guan and Xiao, but among the famous [Shu] generals of the era, there was no Han Xin or Chengfu. Is it not for this reason that Zhuge's meritorious goal was never achieved and his intended contribution never completed?10

Citing these particular analogies highlighted Chen Shou's major thesis that Zhuge was a great administrator, but rather lacking as a military commander. Using these analogies also underscored the tragic element of Zhuge's ultimate failure. In his concluding evaluation of Zhuge Liang, Chen Shou returned to these analogies. Here again, though "comparable to Guan and Xiao in talent for understanding and administering affairs of state," Zhuge's repeated military campaigns "were unable to succeed" because military strategy was not his strong point.11

A voice in the expanded Sanguo Zhi that challenged Chen Shou's view on these points belonged to Guo Chong, the Jin subject whose backhanded compliments repeatedly provoked Pei Songzhi's rebuttals. Guo proclaimed that zhuge's brilliant situational strategies far surpassed those of Guan Zhong.12 Guo Chong's narrative representation of Zhuge's strengths would, however, best be read as ironic, even if later hero-lauding works incorporated elements from his stories without taking note of the ironies.

A distinctly different voice already quoted by Chen Shou had begun to project Zhuge Liang to a higher metaphorical level of analogies. Bestowing a posthumous title and honors on Zhuge, Liu Shan's eulogy for the first time elevated Zhuge through comparison to Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou, for Zhuge's merit was like that of these two cultural heroes.13 Yi Yin had assisted King Tang overthrow the Xia Dynasty and establish the Shang house. After setting up the administration of the Shang government, Yi Yin helped King Tang's successor, the young ruler Taijia. Similarly the Duke of Zhou had assisted King Wu overthrow the Shang dynasty and establish the Zhou house. Besides being the chief civil administrator, he served as regent for King Wu's young successor. Both chief ministers were traditionally regarded as effective administrators who reunified the country and secured new dynasties. More importantly, sharing in the merits accredited to the founding kings of these two of the Three Dynasties, the golden age of antiquity, Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou were widely esteemed as sagely ministers in the service of sage-kings Tang and Wu.

Besides analogies to sages, Liu Shan's eulogy also attempted other changes in retelling the Zhuge Liang story. Commenting on Zhuge Liang's campaigns to liberate North China, Liu Shan announced that Zhuge "alone embodied and held responsibility for both civil administration and military command. ... Falling ill and dying just as victory was near, how could such a calamity occur!"14 In focusing on Zhuge's virtues and bestowing posthumous titles, Liu Shan's expressed purpose was to "teach future generations clearly and ensure that historical records would not be distorted."15 The specific posthumous titles were Wuxiang Hou (Lord Wuxiang) and Zhong wu hou (Loyal and Martial Lord). In my gloss here, the first title is presented as a traditional palace name, while the second is taken as a descriptive characterization of Zhuge's loyal and martial qualities. The word wu in both titles is the same, and strictly speaking, the second title may be be better read as Loyal Wu [xiang] Lord. yet, since the word wu primarily denotes martial or military, the title could easily be read and used as a celebration of what later generations regarded as his two most enduring qualities - his loyalty and his military skills. This reading of the title would be contextually encouraged by Liu Shan's opening theme of Zhuge's uniqueness in combining both civil (wen) and martial (wu) leadership. Looking at this eulogy in the light of later developments in retelling the Zhuge narrative, we can observe an instructive example of the importance of eulogy or valedictory in setting the official word or line on a personage.

The analogies and images projected in Liu Shan's eulogy clearly differed from Chen Shou's own projections of Zhuge Liang. Although Liu Shan's eulogy and Zhuge's posthumous titles emphasized excellence in both civil administration and military affairs, Chen Shou's evaluations highlighted Zhuge's strength in the former, but weakness in the later. Liu Shan expressed confidence that if Zhuge's life had not ended so untimely and abruptly, his military plan would have triumphed. Based on the analysis of Zhuge's performance and the generals available to Shu, Zhuge's failure to achieve success was, to Chen, a certainty and easy to explain. Even though Liu Shan's eulogy had likened Zhuge to sages Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou, Chen Shou chose rather to adopt analogies to a lower level of notable ministers in more recent eras. Indeed, the opening paragraph of Chen's narrative attributed such analogies to Zhuge himself; moreover, Chen's concluding evaluations explicitly returned to, and validated this level of, historical analogies.

While references in Liu Shan's eulogy to sage-ministers and the certainty of victory portrayed a rather romantic image of Zhuge Liang, Chen Shou's historical analogies preserved and highlighted the tragic note to Zhuge's failure to achieve his ultimate goals. Liu Shan's eulogy was addressed to Zhuge's spirit directly and reverently, while the immediate person for Chen Shou to address was the Jin emperor who commissioned the official history. In Liu Shan's inflated metaphors to ancient sages expressed in an edict decreeing official posthumous titles, he engaged language that might be termed "eulogistic" and even "monumental." Even though Liu Shan's eulogy conflicted with Chen Shou's own evaluative judgment of Zhuge, Chen still preserved and included Liu Shan's eulogy within the Zhuge biography. Chen Shou certainly did not perceive how Liu Shan's imagery would prefigure voices that would eventually eclipse Chen's own explicit evaluation.

The potential power of the imagery in Liu Shan's eulogy began to become more apparent in Pei Songzhi's commentary to Chen Shou's history. In Pei's use of supplementary materials to reconstruct the Zhuge narrative, he ended the biography with an extended quotation that echoed Liu Shan's metaphor of Sage-ministers Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou. Significantly, this voice was literally in "monumental language", for it was written in 304 or 305 on orders of the Jin Emperor Huidi to be inscribed on a stone stele to commemorate Zhuge Liang's home in Nanyang. (Nanyang was where Liu Bei had come seeking advice and where Zhuge set forth his famous Longzhong strategy for using Jingzhou and Yizhou as a base, in alliance with Wu, to liberate North China from Cao Cao's grasp and restore power to the Han dynastic house.) The Official commissioned to erect a memorial stele at the site of Zhuge's home in Nanyang chose Li Xing to write the eulogy. Like Chen Shou, Li's family was from Shu and served under Liu Shan. As in the case of Liu Shan's eulogy, the one by Li Xing addressed Zhuge's spirit directly and lauded his deeds and contributions.

The most relevant content similarity between the two eulogies is the historical analogies used as a contextual backdrop for Zhuge Liang. On one level, Li Xing compared Zhuge's inventions and contributions favorably with various historical figures, such as his eightfold array with Master Sun Wu's strategies and his wooden ox cart with the ancient inventor Lu Ban from the state of Lu. Touching Chen Shou's Zhuge analogies with Yue Yi and Guan Zhong, Li Xing argued that Zhuge surpassed both officials because Guan had violated propriety with a ritual act beyond his status and Yue Yi had not served his state to the end. On the level of analogies to sagely ministers, Zhuge's serving Liu Shan was comparable to the Duke of Zhou's service as regent. Both men, according to Li, did not usurp authority or provoke complaints. Like Confucius's state of Lu, the people of Shu acquired a sense of shame, so Zhuge's teachings had a moral effect on the people, too.

Li Xing's eulogy used powerful language to elevate Zhuge Liang: "In comparing you, if not [sage-king Yao's advisor] Gaoyao, then it would be Yi Yin, certainly not Guan Zhong or [the Qi prime minister] Yan Ying. How can sage Xuan alone be worthy of praise!"16 Here, Xuan denoted Wen Xuan, Confucius. Although Confucius was not as highly revered during the Wei and Western jin period as he was during most other historical periods, he was still regarded as a sage, and the praise of Zhuge here reached a heretofore unprecedented level. Earlier in the eulogy, Li had already drawn a parallel to Yi Yin, for King Tang had humbly paid courtesy calls three times before winning Yi Yin's service to the government. Li's language about Zhuge even soared to a spiritual plane: "Our heroic master alone received [such talent] from heaven's spirit. Aren't you [recipient of] the spirit's intelligence and man's purest essence?"18 In short, the eulogies presented by Liu Shan and Li Xing thus took a notable step toward the eventual apotheosis of Zhuge Liang.

Besides working for the Jin Emperor, Li Xing had something else in common with Chen Shou, for both men's fathers had served as officials under Liu Shan.19 Thus, the Jin was using former elite literati from Shu to write the official version of Zhuge's historical biographical and set the interpretative tone for dealing with the principal Shu hero. The laudatory, even reverential, tone of the official accounts is striking, especially given the fact that these Jin emperors were direct descendants of Zhuge's nemesis Sima Yi.

In short, in the hands of Chen Shou and especially Pei Songzhi, Zhuge Liang was beginning to undergo a transformation in Chinese historical consciousness. A major vehicle for this elevation was the symbolic language employed. Chen Shou used analogies to more recent historical ministers, Guan Zhong, Yue Yi, and Xiao He. Despite the laudatory quality of these comparisons, Chen Shou still used them to highlight what he observed as Zhuge's strength at civil administration and weakness at military planning and execution. Pei Songzhi seemingly took his clue from Liu Shan's eulogy to project a Zhuge as more talented at military strategy and more successful than Chen Shou had presented. Liu Shan's more potent level of analogies to like Zhuge to sage-ministers Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou were also reinforced to Li Xing's eulogy. Pei Songzhi's subtle restructuring of the biography to conclude with Li's eulogistic language commissioned by the Jin emperor to be preserved on a stone stele designated a pilgrimage site at Zhuge's home in Nanyang implicitly laid one foundational stone for the building of Zhuge Liang into a more monumental figure.

2. From Framing Analogies to Historical Criticism

Noting that laudatory analogies did not pass uncontested even in the first century of Zhuge lore, Professor Henry apparently considers Chen Shou's disregard for such evidence as proof that Chen was caught in the grip of a legend and thus incapable of critically evaluating Zhuge Liang. Professor Henry's main article of evidence for jealousies and doubts about Zhuge among his contemporaries is in the famous "Latter Campaign Memoria" (Hou chushi biao). The Zhuge Liang of this later memorial contrasts sharply with the wise and authoritative elder statesman of the "Former Campaign Memorial." During the intervening year, Zhuge's advanced column under the command of Ma Su had been defeated at Jieting. Zhuge's critics at court seized the opportunity to oppose his reckless military adventurism and expensive campaigns against the Wei, and Zhuge was forced to make a rather self-serving and defensive apology for his policies. Taking this "Later Campaign Memorial" at face value, Professor Henry presents it as reproducing an "identifiable court document." The authoritative tone of the alleged genre apparently silenced Professor Henry's otherwise impressively skeptical voice. He is cognizant of Pei Songzhi's statement that Chen Shou did not include this memorial in Zhuge's collected works and that Pei identified it as coming ultimately from a memoir, the Mo Ji by a certain Zhang Yan (fl. 266).

However, Professor Henry appears simply to take these facts as proof that Chen Shou omitted this memorial because it was inconsistent with his image and legend of Zhuge Liang.21 The inconsistency is indeed quite evident, but is it fair to reduce Chen's intention to this factor? Pei Songzhi was implicitly endorsing Chen Shou's rejection of the authenticity of this "document" because the Mo Ji was a Wu source, not a Shu one. In other words, how could an obscure writer in Wu be quoting an internal Shu memorial, especially one of such a sensitive nature? Since Chen Shou had earlier worked in Liu Shan's library, which held state records, and was given access to the archives of all three former kingdoms while writing his official history,22 he was in a special position to judge whether or not the memorial was a fake. As Chen Shou elsewhere remarked in passing, there were already in the mid-third century numerous stories circulating about Zhuge Liang;23 hence, he suggested that he selected ones he considered to be more trustworthy. Such modern Chinese historians as Professors Tian Yuqing and Deng Guangming have told me that they also reject the authenticity of the so-called "Latter Campaign Memorial." At the very least, shouldn't we be cautious about quoting it as the authoritative source and indicting Chen Shou as unable to engage in historical criticism for not including it?

While Professor Henry regards Zhuge Liang's ultimate failure to achieve his goals as enhancing his status as a romantic hero to the Chinese, Chen Shou's remarks about Zhuge's failures convey a more tragic note.24 For instance, Chen Shou regarded Zhuge's failures ot be unavoidable because "the mandate of Heaven already had an ordained recipient; it could not be striven for with intellect or strength."25 Influenced perhaps by a Japanese tradition celebrating the "nobility of failure,"26 Professor Henry, however, proclaims that Chen's statement "gives us the first foretaste fo Zhuge Liang as a sort of Promethean figure who, though unable to change fate, can, through sheer intellect and determination, make heaven falter in its preordained course."27

Zhuge Liang's failures were surely what compelled Chen Shou to focus soberly, realistically, and critically on Zhuge's military record. Chen's famous conclusive evaluation about Zhuge stated: "In successive years, he mobilized troops without being able to succeed apparently because responding to circumstances in making strategy was not his strong point."28 The preface to Zhuge's collected works provided more details: "Liang's abilities were greatest in the area of army training and administration and were relatively slight in the area of inventive surprise tactics. His ability to govern people surpassed his ability to create battle plans."29 Elaborating, Chen Shou stated that Zhuge's opponents included outstanding men of ability; moreover, even though Zhuge reportedly always had fewer troops, he was forced to assume the more difficult role of attacker. Furthermore, because he did not have great generals, he had no choice except to go beyond his administrative expertise to venture into the arena of actually leading troops to war. In short, it was not surprising that he failed to overcome his opponents. Chen's judgments about Zhuge were expressed in the genre of addressing Jin Emperor Wudi who was, of course, a descendant of Zhuge's ultimate military opponent Sima Yi.

As recent scholarship has underscored, the politics surrounding Chen Shou's work were quite complex. Recounting Chen Shou's entanglement in the politics of Wudi's court, Dr. Martin Hanke draws attention to how a court faction centered around Xun Xu opposed Chen Shou's historiography and promoted the historical accounts in the Wei Shu and Wei Lve instead; moreover, that faction managed to attain Chen Shou's dismissal from court. Furthermore, both Dr. Hanke and Professor Fan Jiawei highlight passages in Chen Shou's history that reveal his appreciation for Wu's and Shu's claims to legitimacy.30 Such recent scholarship provides additional grounds for rejecting a traditional claim that since Chen Shou served the Jin emperor, his negative evaluation of Zhuge's military weaknesses simply reflected the bias of his political context.31

An additional claim of Chen Shou's alleged negative bias is also found in Pei Songzhi's supplement to the San Guozhi. In accounts of Zhuge's son, Zhuge Zhan, one reported statement made to the elders of Shu in 347 claimed that Chen Shou bore a grudge for having been insulted by his administrative superior Zhuge Zhan.32 Since Pei Songzhi made no commend, he could be read as endorsing this charge. Thus, there is a hint of tension or difference here between Pei's and Chen's images of Zhuge.

Instead of engaging these specific debates about dynastic legitimacy and political bias, I would rather develop my point that Chen's quite reasonable judgments about Zhuge's shortcomings suggest that it is unfair to reduce Chen merely to a man in the grip of a legend. For instance, Yuan Zhun's Yuanzi reached a judgment - balanced similarly to Chen Shou's - about Zhuge's weaknesses.33 Perhaps the similarity of Chen's judgment to that of this early Jin source - written by someone who had lived in the Zhuge's enemy state of Wei - might give us pause before asserting that Chen was so biased in Zhuge's favor that he was merely in the grip of a legend. Even if Chen was not on a quest (like Peter Novick ascribed to some American historians) for "that noble dream" of objectivity,34 Chen Shou apparently attempted to be fair and responsible with his data.

What Chen Shou regarded as Zhuge Liang's greater strengths centered on his administration of the Shu kingdom. In his conclusive evaluation, Chen began:

In Zhuge's performance as prime minister, he nurtured and protected the common people, promulgated good relations, used principle to regulate officials, handled government business in accord with actual circumstances, and demonstrated sincerity and fairness in handling state affairs.35

After this general accolade, Chen Shou turned to the potentially more problematic topic of Zhuge's administration of punishments. (After all, Chen's father had been an officer under Ma Su, the commander whom Zhuge had reluctantly executed after Ma Su's disregard for explicit instructions had led to his defeat and to the failure of Zhuge's first campaign against Wei.) Still, Chen's conclusive evaluation asserted that Zhuge was fair:

Anyone, even his antagonists, contributing to society and completely loyal to the throne would be rewarded; anyone, even his intimate friends, violating laws or neglecting duties would be punished. He would pardon those who repented even if the offense was serious, but he would punish those whose eloquence sought to conceal an infraction even if minor. ... Although penal administration was strict there was no bitterness because he was fair in his judgments and clear about his admonitions.36

Quoting from his preface to Zhuge Liang's collected writings, Chen Shou reiterated and elaborated on this theme of how Zhuge's strict regulations and severe punishments cultivated civic virtues among the people. As part of his defense of Zhuge, Chen quoted Mencius: "Let the people be put to death in the way which is intended to preserve their lives, and though they die, they will not murmur at him who puts them to death."37 Citing Mencius's approval of a benevolently minded use of laws and punishments implicitly deflected the reader's attention from possible parallels between Zhuge and the Realpolitik or Legalist Tradition.

Chen Shou included a story about Zhuge's administration that contradicted his own projected image of Zhuge. In his biography of Fa Zheng, Chen claimed that Fa Zheng "would repay any kindness as small as a one meal and any provocation as small as a disapproving glance, so he killed a number of people that had insulted him." Thus some people appealed to Zhuge Liang to advise Liu Bei to stop Fa Zheng from taking the law into his own hands.38 responding to such pleas, zhuge reiterated the extreme insecurities Liu Bei had suffered because of Cao Cao and Sun Quan; moreover such insecurity ended only after Fa Zheng helped him gain possession of a secure base in Shu. Thereupon Chen quoted Zhuge: "How could Fa Zheng be stopped from obtaining what he wants and doing as he pelases!" Elaborating on Zhuge's point, Chen concluded: "Liang knew that the first sovereign was exceptionally fond of, and trusted, Zheng, and so answered as he did."39

Chen Shou's narrative at this point conflicts with his own projection of Zhuge as an impartial and fair upholder of the law irrespective of the persons involved. Here, Zhuge not only refused to intercede with Liu Bei to curb Fa Zheng's excesses, but also justified ignoring Fa Zheng's violation of law on the grounds of the confidence that Fa Zheng had won from Liu Bei. At worst, this account tarnishes Zhuge's image for upholding a strict and fair standard that was to be applied to everyone. At best, it runs counter to Chen's pciture of a Zhuge who failed to understand how to adjust principles to meet with the practical demands of different situations and circumstances. In short, Chen Shou was not so caught in a legend that he could not critically evaluate Zhuge or include materials in conflict with his image of Zhuge.

Pei Songzhi appended to this account a comment by Sun Sheng. Citing historical analogies to bad precedents, Sun cautioned that setting aside punishments in dealing with the ruler's favorites always created havoc in the government and disrupted ethical principles, so how could anyone be allowed to indulge in personal whims in taking advantage of others? In short, Mr. Zhuge's words come close to violating the administration of punishments."40 Letting Sun's criticism stand without comment, Pei Songzhi could be read as disagreeing with Chen Shou and taking a much more critical stance towards Zhuge. While there is a logical consistency between Chen Shou's critical evaluations of Zhuge's weaknesses and his framing of Zhuge's story in terms of historical administrators, there was more unresolved tension, or at least a gulf, between the criticisms that Pei Songzhi let stand against Zhuge and the elevation of Zhuge to sagely status implicit in his - Pei's - citation of Li Xing's monumental eulogy.


Chen Shou's narrative structure and language placed Zhuge Liang in an honored position as a significant prime minister comparable to Guan Zhong, but avoided comparing Zhuge to such sage-ministers as yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou. Despite an otherwise consistent set of analogies, Chen did include what is certainly the earliest document asserting a claim that Zhuge merited this higher, sagely level of historical analogies. That document was Liu Shan's edict eulogizing, and bestowing posthumous titles on, Zhuge. Since among the self-proclaimed purposes in Liu Shan's text were to teach future generations and to ensure that the historical record would not be distorted, Liu Shan hoped, however vainly, that history would proceed in such a way that Zhuge's service to the founder and successor rulers of Shu-Han would prove to be a parallel to that of Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou. Both Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou had served the founders of a new dynasty and helped successors secure the fortunes of the dynasty. In the romantic imagery of the eulogy, Liu Shan could project a Zhuge on the verge of success, unattained only because of his untimely death. Chen Shou could have no such illusions, for he was too painfully aware of the historical fate of Liu Shan and the Shu-Han kingdom. Having served as an official in Liu Shan's state library before his ruler's surrender to the Wei and now employed by the new dynasty that unified China, Chen Shou had to confront the history of the divided period and set forth historical judgments on those active in the Three Kingdoms. Despite his obvious respect for Zhuge Liang, Chen faced the fact of Zhuge's tragic failure and explained it in terms of Zhuge's own weakness in strategic command and the dearth of talented generals in Shu. Rather than sagely ministers of the golden era of the Three Dynasties in antiquity, the only appropriate analogies were to historically significant, but much less successful and even somewhat tragic, figures of the troubled times in the relatively recent past.

Paradoxically, the second document eulogizing Zhuge Liang as analogous to sage-ministers Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou was composed around 305 on orders from the Jin Dynasty. Enough time had apparently passed since the demise of the Shu-Han kingdom that the Jin state could sponsor a stele proclaiming that Zhuge should be compared to sagely ministers like Yi Yin, for Zhuge far excelled the talent and character of notable ministers like Guan Zhong. Li Xing, author of the stele eulogy, further extolled Zhuge's various talents ranging from practical inventor and military strategist to moral exemplar. Whether the site of Zhuge's tomb in Mianyang or his home in Nanyang, these eulogies on stele became part of the larger monument to be appreciated by those making pilgrimage. As eulogies, both addressed Zhuge's spririt; thus, they were not designed to be the genre of official historical writing, like Chen Shou's, submitted to emperors and promulgated as the authoritative interpretation of the past. Yet, Pei Songzhi's commentary to the Zhuge biography had culminated with Li Xing's eulogy. As evident in the sources he collected, and particularly in his comments on some of that materials, Pei Songzhi had an even higher regard for Zhuge than Chen Shou had demonstrated; thus, Pei implicitly positioned Li Xing's eulogy to stand in lieu of his own conclusive evaluation of Zhuge Liang. Painfully aware of Zhuge's failures, Chen Shou took a sober and realistic view of Zhuge's military abilities, so he could not embrace that inflated analogies of sagehood that Liu Shan's eulogy proclaimed that Pei Songzhi would endorse. Evolving through Chen's text and Pei's commentary, Zhuge's image as hero progressively elevated historically and allegorically from effective administrator to sage. Later escalations of analogies used to plot Zhuge's story should not, however, blur our recognition of the incremental stages toward Zhuge Liang's apotheosis.


This article is a small part of a Iarger research project on the making of Zhuge Liang into a hero over the centuries. The project has been supported by Academy of Sciences' Committee for Scholarly Communication with China, the Fulbright-Hays Program, the American Council of Leamed Societies, the Center for Chinese Studies at the National Central Library, and the Hinang Ching-kuo Foundation. An award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enabled me to spend the 2001-02 académie year at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat in München and thus to partieipate in the XXVIIIth Deutscher Orientalistentag in Bamberg. Among the numerous German colleagues whose commente and encouragement have contributed to my research on Zhuge Liang, a special acknowledgment is due to Achim Mittag and Hans van Ess.
1. Chen Shou: Sanguo ^hi. Pei Songzhi's commentary, of course, accompanies Chen's text.
Henry, Eric: "Zhuge Liang in the Eyes of His Contempomries", in: HarvardJournal ofAsiatic Studks here p. 611. In the text, I have changed Henris Wade-Giles spelling to pinyin 拼音 for consistency.
3 Henry, "Zhuge Liang"
4 Henry, "Zhuge liang"
5 San^io ^hi 35/919.
6 Sanguo ^hi 35/929.
7 Sanguo 如 35/931.
8 Huang, Chin-shing: Li¥u andthe hu-Wang Schoolin the Ch'ing.
9 Sanguo ^hi 35/911.
10 Sanguo てhi 35/930-931.
11 Sanguo てhi 35/934.
12 Sanguo て
13 Sanguo î^hi 35/927.
14 Sanguo ^hi 35/927.
15 Sanguo !(hi 35/927.
16 Sanguo 如 35/937.
17 Althou^i its examples of usage are from the Tang period, 羅竹風,et al Shanghai: Hanyu dacidian
18 Sanguo が/'35/936.
19 Ii Mi 李密(224—287) had eamed some renown for refusing to serve after Liu Shan surrendered. Having been raised by his patemal grandmother who had the Han surname liu, he cited his deference to her as his reason for not serving; however, after she died, he served as an officiai underjin Wudi.
20 Henry, "Zhuge Liang", p. 607.
21 Henry, "Zhuge Liang", p. 606. See Sanguo
22 Chang Qu 常據(c. 292-361): Hua^angguo^Shu shushe, 1984, 11/849-50; see also Crespigny, Rafe: The Records of the Three Studies, 1970, p. 6.
23 Sanguo 35/931.
24 Although obviously influenced by Hayden sense rather than in his cultural contextualization Metahistory: The Historical Ima^nation in Press, 1983, for instance, pp. 8-9.
25 Sanguo ^hi 35/930-31;tr. Henry, "Zhuge
26 See especially Morris, Ivan: The Nobility 1976.
27 Henry, "Zhuge Liang", p. 593.
28 Sanguo î^hi 35/934.
29 Sanguo てhi 35/930; tt. Henry, "Zhuge Iiang", p. 592.
30 Hanke, Martin: Geschichtsschreibung im Spannungsfeld ^wischen Zentrale und Resort am Beispiel der]in-Dynastie Hambuiger Sinologische Gesellschaft, 2002, pp. 86-146; and Fanjiawei: "Sanguo zhengton^un yu wen xingzhan cailiao de chuli jianlun Shou shu wu <zhi>三國正統論與陳壽對天文星占〈志〉’’,in: ]iegang bian 結綱編 ’ edited by Huang Qin^ian 黃?青連,Taipei; Dongda tushu gongsi, am indebted to Achim Mittag for bringing these two sources to my knowledge.
31 These traditional complaints against Chen Shou are weak; see, for instance, the summaiies of this "Zhuge T .lang", p. 592, note 3, and de Crespigny, Records, pp. 3,11-14.
32 Sanguo ^ 35/933. Sanguo ^hi 35/934-935.
33 Novick, Peter: That Noble Dream: The (<0切ectivity Ouestion" and the American Historical Profession. Cambridge University Press, 1988.
35 Sanguo ^hi 35/934.
36 Sanguo t(bi 35/934.
37 Meng^ VIIA.12; tt. Legge, James: The Four Books. New York: Shou in Sanguo ^hi 35/931.
38 Sanguo ^hi 37/960.
39 Sanguo ^hi
40 Sanguo ^hi 37/961.
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.
User avatar
Posts: 346
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:27 am


Return to Sanguo Yanyi Symposium Archives

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

Copyright © 2002–2008 Kongming’s Archives. All Rights Reserved