#eastern han dynasty
hanfugallery · a month ago
Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media
chinese hanfu by 飞竹柴
164 notes · View notes
chinesehanfu · a month ago
Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media
Hairstyle Based On Eastern Han Dynasty tomb murals unearthed in Xingyang City, Henan Province:
Tumblr media
[Hanfu · 漢服]China Eastern Han Dynasty Chinese Traditional Clothing Hanfu & Hairstyle Based On Eastern Han Dynasty Mural
Recreation Work:@晓琳-装束
🧚🏻‍♀️Model :@何首呜qaq
123 notes · View notes
historical-nonfiction · a year ago
Tumblr media
A stone vessel unearthed in central China’s Henan Province has helped archaeologists identify the tomb of an emperor from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 CE – 220 CE). The vessel was found in an Eastern Han Dynasty-era tomb, and is rather large at ten inches tall and 30 inches across. But what makes it important is its inscription: the date of the third year of Guanghe, or 180 CE, during the reign of Emperor Liu Hong of the Eastern Han Dynasty.
Emperor Liu Hong is known to have made a mausoleum for his predecessor, Emperor Liu Zhi. Based on written records, archaeologists used to speculate that the mausoleum where the vessel was found belonged to Emperor Liu Zhi, but had no evidence to prove it. The stone vessel's inscription gives physical corroboration to written records. Making it all but certain that its tomb is that of Emperor Liu Zhi. So far excavations have found a yard, corridor, well, path, and drainage channel as well as the stone vessel.
165 notes · View notes
blueiskewl · 6 months ago
Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media
Ancient Buddha Statues Unearthed From Tombs in China
What are thought to be China's oldest known bronze Buddha images have been discovered in Shaanxi province.
The two sculptures were unearthed this year in a tomb from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) in the city of Xianyang, Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology announced in Xi'an, the provincial capital, on Thursday.
Li Ming, the leading archaeologist on the site, said one of the relics, a standing statuette of the Gautama Buddha on a lotus-shaped foundation, is about 10-centimeters-high. The other piece, which is flat, is about 15-cm-high and depicts five sitting Buddhist deities.
"The discovery of the two relics is significant for studies of how Buddhism was introduced to China and got localized in our country," Li said.
Historical documents show Buddhism was first introduced to China in the first century AD. The oldest known Buddhist temple was built in AD 68 in Luoyang, Henan province, which was then the capital of the Eastern Han Dynasty.
Li said that previous archaeological findings in China indicated that standalone Buddha images with a religious purpose only appeared during the period of the Sixteen Kingdoms (304-439).
Consequently, the new findings may increase the history of Chinese Buddha images by two more centuries, he added.
The tomb where the two Buddha images were recently found is one of six in a family plot. Though the specific time when the two relics were made remains to be clarified, a pottery jar from a nearby and contemporaneous tomb in the complex has a clear marking of the year it was made, AD 158.
"This could be a benchmark for dating this graveyard," Li said. "Its owner should be a family of local officials or landlords with strong economic power."
In South China, Buddhist elements also appeared on relics during the Eastern Han Dynasty, but they were found to be used as decorations on architecture and other artifacts.
The newly found Buddha images feature typical styles of Gandhara Culture of South Asia, but material analysis indicated that these were locally manufactured.
"They showed that Buddhism came to China from South Asia via the ancient Silk Road during the boom time of the cultural exchange route," said Liu Qingzhu, a senior archaeology researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Other than the Buddha images, other burial objects were also unearthed from the graveyard, including bronze mirrors, pottery vases and sculptures of animals. They are also typical artifacts indicating the late period of the Eastern Han Dynasty.
Known as Chang'an, Xi'an was the capital of the Western Han (206 BC-AD24) and Tang (619-907) dynasties, two peaks of culture and national strength in ancient China, and it remained a key metropolis in ancient China.
Consequently, numerous nobles' and high officials' tombs were excavated in Xianyang, which was on the outskirts of ancient Chang'an.
As Li revealed on Thursday, from June 2020 to November, including the Eastern Han graveyard, over 3,600 tombs ranging from the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were found in Weicheng district of the city.
"In the history of Chinese archaeology, we've never found another place where we could excavate so many graveyards spanning such a long period," Li said. "It's a perfect chance to study ancient burial customs."
As the archaeological findings indicated, in the Warring States Period and the Western Han Dynasty, public graveyards were dominant.
However, family graveyards gradually became popular after the Eastern Han Dynasty.
"The change was a result of hereditary aristocracy, and it also demonstrated people's devotion to ancestry, the homeland and rules,"Li said.
15 notes · View notes
theancientwayoflife · 2 years ago
Tumblr media
~ Dog.
Date: A.D. 25-220
Place of origin: China
Period: Eastern Han dynasty
Medium: Earthenware with lead glaze
457 notes · View notes
ourgraciousqueen · 2 years ago
Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media
cao jie, last empress of the han dynasty, otherwise known as empress xianmu, or empress cao. daughter of cao cao, the first wei emperor.
99 notes · View notes
Tumblr media Tumblr media
Model of a central watchtower (with detail of figure)
Chinese, Eastern Han Dynasty, 1st to early 3rd century A.D.
earthenware with lead glaze
Metropolitan Museum of Art
4 notes · View notes
southpacifictravel · 3 years ago
Tumblr media
A terracotta drummer from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) is on display at the Chengdu Museum in Chengdu, Sichuan, China.
3 notes · View notes
panicinthestudio · 4 years ago
Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media
Money tree, Eastern Han dynasty, ca. 100-200
Bronze with glazed earthenware base
Provenance: Sichuan, China
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
“Money trees are rare; most appear to have come from Sichuan province and other parts of West China. They offer a fascinating glimpse into regional and metropolitan Han beliefs. The replicas of coins that hang from the limbs of this tree symbolize wishes for good fortune in the afterlife. The tree would have been placed in a tomb in the hope that the soul of the occupant would have wealth while residing in the paradise of the Queen Mother of the West (Xiwang Mu). The main figure near the top is the Queen Mother. She sits on a throne supported by a dragon and a tiger. Further down the tree is a seated Buddha.
Early Buddha images are found in some objects associated with Xiwang Mu, perhaps because Buddhism was a religion of the West, the direction in which the Queen Mother resided. A number of winged immortals (Xian), the residents of the Queen Mother's paradise, can also be seen on this tree.
The casting of the many individual pieces that make up this ensemble is remarkable. Each piece is very thin and has the same decoration on both sides; X-ray analysis shows that the patterns line up exactly. This was made possible by precise control of the lost-wax casting process. Take a close look at the glazed pottery base, and you will see lively scenes of a type rarely found in Chinese art.”
20 notes · View notes
keeshond17 · 2 years ago
Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media
Tumblr 1
Twitter 2
0 notes
ancientstuff · a year ago
I haven't posted about ancient China before, even though there have been some wonderful discoveries there recently. I haven't because I know absolutely nothing about it, but I've decided that the best way to learn about it is to read about it, so here we are. This site looks huge, already with 165 tombs, under what looks like some kind of tumulus (in the overhead photo).
Tumblr media
52 notes · View notes
goldcrystals13 · a year ago
3 notes · View notes
blueiskewl · 7 months ago
Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media Tumblr media
Four Ancient Tombs Unearthed In China
Chinese archaeologists have discovered a number of objects from four tombs dating back 1,900 years in central China's Hunan Province, the provincial cultural relics and archaeology institute said on Saturday.
The tombs are located in Guiyang County. Unearthed objects include 81 pieces of pottery, ironware, glassware, silverware and bronzeware.
Based on the inscription on one of the tombs and the characteristics of the unearthed objects, the archaeologists believe the tombs are from a time from the mid-Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) to the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), about 1,700 to 1,900 years ago.
Accessories including pendants, glassware and silver earrings that were found in two tombs indicate that the tomb owners were likely women, the archaeologists said.
"The discoveries are of great importance to the study of the funeral customs, economy, culture and social development from the Eastern Han Dynasty to the Three Kingdoms Period in southern Hunan," said institute staffer Chen Bin.
21 notes · View notes
theancientwayoflife · 4 years ago
Tumblr media
~ Funerary Sculpture of a Horse. Place of origin: China, Sichuan Province Culture: Eastern Han dynasty Date: A.D. 25-220 Medium: Molded earthenware with modeled and carved decoration.
180 notes · View notes
amongdragons · 3 months ago
Cao Cao Smoking
My favorite Chinese meme.)
Tumblr media
0 notes
zegalba · 5 months ago
Tumblr media
Comb made from carved jade and gold decorated with granulation. China, Eastern Han dynasty. 25–220 AD. [3784x3122]
304 notes · View notes
panicinthestudio · a year ago
The Legacy of Jade: Beauty, Endurance, Virtue, and Protection, July 23, 2020
The Legacy of Jade by Fan J. Zhang, Barbara and Gerson Bakar Curator of Chinese Art, is a part of the ArtiFacts at the Asian Art Museum series.  
Asian Art Museum
3 notes · View notes
chinaaesthetic · a year ago
Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!
*please note that the information below isn’t celebrated by everyone in the same way. Some customs are more common in northern China rather than southern China and vice-versa.
How to wish someone a Happy Chinese New Year:
1. 新年快乐!Xīnnián kuàilè! - Happy New Year! (This can be used one the first day of the lunar calendar as well as the Gregorian calendar).
2. 新春快乐!Xīnchūn kuàilè! - Happy Spring Festival!
3. 新年好!Xīnnián hǎo! - Hello! (This is how you greet people during Chinese New Year).
When greeting or wishing someone a Happy Chinese New Year, many Chinese people wish their family and friends things like: “I hope you have a happy and healthy family,” “I hope you get a job promotion,” “I hope you have good fortune and pockets overflowing with gold.” Here are some examples:
4. 恭喜发财!Gōngxǐ fācái! - Wish you a successful and prosperous year! (This saying is known well because of this Chinese New Year song you can watch here).
5. 阖家幸福! Hé jiā xìngfú - Wish you a happy family!
6. 事业有成! Sh��yè yǒu chéng - Hope you have a successful career!
You can watch this YouTube video or read this article to learn more about how to wish someone a Happy Chinese New Year!
What is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year, also known as lunar new year or the spring festival, celebrates the first day of the new year on the lunar calendar. In 2021, this holiday falls on Friday, February 12!  This holiday is the most important holiday to those who celebrate this - its importance can be comparable to how Americans celebrate Christmas.
People have been celebrating Chinese New Year for about 3,500 - 3,900 years. It’s exact origins are unknown, but this tradition is believed to have started in the Shang Dynasty (1600-1049 BC) when people would make sacrifices to the gods and their ancestors towards the end of a year. However, the tradition was recorded and official during the Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD) when Emperor Wu began using the lunar calendar. He chose to follow this calendar because it would let him know when second new moon after the winter solstice was.
Now, many Southeast Asian countries and people besides the Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year such as: Koreans, Vietnamese, Tibetans, etc. However, it is common to not see Japan celebrate Chinese New Year.
Why do I keep hearing about the Year of the Ox/Cow?
Just like in western culture, there are zodiacs in eastern culture that the Chinese follow. There are 12 zodiacs, and these zodiacs follow a cycle of 12 years. Each new year represents one of the zodiacs. 
In order, they are: Rat/mouse, Ox/cow, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
2021 is year of the Ox/Cow - 2020 was year of the Rat/Mouse - 2019 was Year of the Pig... and so on. 
Because each zodiac has its own characteristics, they define a year. Chinese zodiac scholars have said in 2021, Year of the Ox, will be a flip-around positive change. They believe this year will be lucky and that it will be a good time to focus on love and relationships. People who are born in years of the Ox are known to have a lot of endurance, be calm and confident, but are also stubborn.
Tumblr media
Just like in western culture, these zodiacs are believed to affect personality, fortune, etc, and instead of getting your zodiac by your birth month, you get your zodiac by your birth year. If you are interested in your Chinese zodiac, you can type in your birthday on this calculator and read about it.
What happens during Chinese New Year and how long do you celebrate it for? Lantern Festival?
On average, Chinese New Year is celebrated for about 15-16 days (from about New Year’s eve to the first full moon). Preparations start seven days before New Years because stores and restaurants close and people travel to be with their families. Most students are also on their big break during this time - they get off from school around the beginning of january and go back after Chinese New Year. It should also be noted that Northern China and Southern China celebrate the new year differently.
During the preparation period, people go shopping for food and decorations. They also clean the house very well. If living in a different city than one’s family, many people will travel back to their hometown to celebrate with family.
During the New Year’s Eve period, the house is decorated with New Year’s decorations, and there is a reunion dinner with family at the host’s house. Out of all the dinners you have during the year, it is incredibly important you don’t miss this dinner, which is why there are so many issues with travelling during this time. At this dinner, you eat many lucky foods such as dumplings and fish. Also during this time, the older generations will give younger generations something called 红包, which translates to “red envelope.” These envelopes are filled with money and are only given on very special occasions such as new years and weddings. Friends give these to each other, but it is not common at all for a younger generation to give one to an older generation person. There is a custom where families stay up late to “watch over the new year,” which is called 守岁. Late at night, people also like to go to temples to hear the first bells of the new year ring because they believe it will drive away bad luck.
On Chinese New Year’s Day, fireworks go off, families cook and eat large meals together, sacrifices are made to ancestors, etc. (Fireworks are especially important because they believe it will make your business more successful.) One popular tradition you might know of is the dancing lion/dragon parades where people wear a dragon costume and parade through the city. Dragons are very representative of Chinese culture and are thought to bring luck to a community. Lions are a symbol of protection.
Tumblr media Tumblr media
For about a week after the first day, most people go visit family and friends. A lot of times people will visit the other side of their family. For example, someone will spend most of the time with their mother’s side of the family during the new year, then during this week, they will go visit relatives of the father’s side.
After that week, most people go back to work. This is around day 8-10. Businesses, restaurants, and stores reopen, and many people leave their hometown to go back to jobs in the city.
Day 15, the final day of Chinese New Year, is the Lantern Festival. On this day, the first full moon of the new year happens. To celebrate, people will light more fireworks, revisit family, eat sweet dumplings (called tangyuan), and participate in the Lantern Festival. People release lit lanterns into the sky to honor dead ancestors. This is called 元宵节.
You can read more here.
Tumblr media
What foods are eaten during Chinese New Year, and what do they represent?
During Chinese New Year, many special foods are eaten, and these are foods that are considered to be lucky and to bring fortune into the new year.
1. Dumplings - represent wealth. Dumplings take hours to make and involve family help. They’ve been eaten for at least 1,800 years and are especially popular in northern China. It is said that the more dumplings you eat during the new year, the more money you will make.
2. Fish - represents prosperity and success. The word “fish” in Chinese sounds like the word “surplus” in Chinese.
3. Glutinous Rice Cake/Nian gao - represents success in your work (more money, better position). 
4. Spring rolls - represent wealth. They get their name because they are most often eaten during the Spring Festival which is CNY. This dish is more popular in eastern and southern China.
5. Oranges, tangerines - represents luck and fortune. This is originally a Cantonese custom, but many people grace their tables with citrus fruits. The word for “tangerine” sounds similar to the word for “good fortune” in Chinese.
6. Longevity noodles - represents longevity. These noodles are longer than usual to represent a person’s long and happy life. This is more commonly eaten in northern China. *It should be noted that these are mostly eaten on birthdays but can be eaten during the NY as well.
7. Sweet rice balls/tang yuan - togetherness in family. This food is eaten during the Lantern Festival, the last day of Chinese New Year. The shape and pronunciation is associated with closeness of the family.
8. Snacks - represent a sweet and pleasant life. Any sweet snack like dried fruit, candy, tanghulu is eaten during this time.
When it comes to food during Chinese New Year, there are superstitions about how foods should be prepared and what makes them lucky. You can read more about them here as well as here.
Tumblr media
What kinds of decorations are put up in houses during the new year? What do the colors represent?
1. Spring/door couplets - These couplets originated in the Shu era. As seen in the picture below, you post these on doors in couples - in Chinese culture, even numbers are seen as good luck. On many of these couplets are written wishes or poems for the new year. Each couplet should have the same rhythm and the same number of words.
Tumblr media
2. Paper cutting - Translated as “window flower,” these intricate, red paper cutting pieces are placed on windows and often represent the zodiac of the new year or other symbolic animals such as fish, dragons, and phoenixes.
Tumblr media
3. Upside down characters/Fortune - Many Chinese people during the new year hang up positive characters such as Fu, which means happiness and good fortune. It is written in calligraphy on a red piece of paper and then put upside down on doors and windows. It is hung upside down because the people want the good fortune to fall down onto them.
Tumblr media
4. Red lanterns - These lanterns push away bad luck and are seen during both the Spring and Autumn Festival. They can be hung on trees, outside houses, etc. There are also many styles - they can come in many shapes and have symbols written on them.
Tumblr media
5. Kumquat trees - As said before, citruses represent good luck and fortune. People place kumquats and citrus fruits on their tables or decorate their homes with small kumquat trees.
Tumblr media
You can read more about decorations here as well as here.
Common colors seen during Chinese New Year are red and gold, but green can also be found.
The color red is not only dominate during Chinese New Year, but it is also very representative of Chinese culture as well. Red signifies fire, good fortune, and happiness. It is representative of good luck, keeps the holiday very joyous, and scares away bad spirits.
Gold or yellow is considered to be a very beautiful color. Gold symbolizes wealth, riches, and prosperity.
Green represents money, harmony, and growth. 
Though these are the most common colors, it should be noted that a color combination of green and red is considered to be tacky in Chinese culture. 
What do people wear during Chinese New Year?
On the first day, it is traditional to wear new clothes and new accessories as it symbolizes new beginnings. However, there are people who like to wear sentimental accessories to respect and remember their ancestors.
Some people like to wear traditional Qipao/Cheongsam, Tang Suits, and Hanfu, but many people stick to western clothes like skirts, dresses, and pants. There is also a tradition of wearing lucky, red underwear for New Years.
Tang suits are the most popular to wear during the New Year, Qipao is also popular, but it is often too cold to wear during the winter months. Many people are starting to wear Hanfu again to celebrate the new year, but it isn’t widely accepted yet to wear during the new year.
During the new year, people wear a lot of red and gold. It is important to NOT wear mostly white and/or black. These symbolize death, and white is worn at funerals. Anything that is bright, bold, and upbeat should be fine to wear, but you should go for something that is red.
*If you want to wear something that is traditional Chinese for New Years, please make sure you know about cultural appropriation and know how to wear these properly.
Tumblr media
As there is so much information about Chinese New Year, I cannot possibly tell you all about it in one post. It is truly something that you must experience in your lifetime. It is very beautiful, fun, and there are so many things to do and celebrate. I ask you that you please research this more and look at all the beautiful pictures of food, lanterns, fireworks, etc. 
Please stay safe and 新年快乐!
4K notes · View notes
meichenxi · 3 months ago
Classical Chinese: a quick sketch
I'm taking the Outlier Linguistics course in Classical Chinese, which uses Michael Fuller's Introduction to Classical Chinese as a textbook. Obligatory note: I am STILL LEARNING. I may get things wrong. These are based on my notes from those lectures, and a little bit of my own research. I should post one or two of these a week until June.
Before starting the course proper, let's talk a little bit about Classical Chinese as a concept, and where it fits into the history of the Chinese language! When talking about the history of Chinese, it's important to distinguish between the spoken and the written language, because the two don't line up particularly well.
For our purposes, only Old and Middle Chinese are relevant when talking about the spoken language.
Classical Chinese refers to a period in history where the language was written, linguists think, roughly as it was spoken. Literary Chinese, on the other hand, refers to a written literary tradition a bit like Latin that was used as a lingua franca throughout much of the Sinosphere up until the 20th century and became highly stylised. You can think of its use a bit like Medieval Latin: it was a language that nobody spoke, but the educated and elite would be expected to write in it, thus producing a system of diglossia (a society with two languages used in different social purposes).
Classical Chinese is referred to as 古文 in Chinese, and Literary Chinese 文言文. HOWEVER. Much like the uses of the terms in English (and I've got this wrong before too!!), non-specialists use them pretty much interchangeably. Most people use 古文 to refer to just the really old stuff, but 文言文 appears to be used for both.
Old Chinese:
This period lasts from around the 13th century BCE to about the 3rd century CE, though individual linguists differ on exact dates. This lasts through Shang dynasty, Western Zhou, Eastern Zhou (Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods), the Qin dynasty and into the early part of the Han dynasty. This course doesn't go much later than the Han dynasty.
The earliest inscriptions in Chinese were found during the Shang dynasty around 1250BC; the Old Chinese period is generally understood as persisting into the late Zhou dynasty. The earliest inscriptions were on oracle bones, and don't tell us very much - the texts are highly ritualised and formulaic, and exhibit a very limited range of structures. The writing system - as we are Very Aware - is not particularly phonetic. There's also a huge lack of information about these very early inscriptions: only about 50% of all characters have even been identified.
After oracle bone inscriptions, from around 1000 BC texts survive as bronze inscriptions. There are also copies that preserve earlier texts that survive from later periods - these are written on ink on bamboo and wooden slips, and later on silk and paper.
The bronze inscriptions that survive are much more helpful than the oracle bone inscriptions: they exhibit sufficient variety to be informative about the language, and the amount of characters identified is much higher!
Old Chinese is very different from Chinese as we know it: it didn't have tone (that developed later, towards the Middle Chinese period), it had much more complex syllable structures with consonant clusters at both the beginning and end of the syllable, and it generally lacked a lot of the phonological characteristics we know and love about modern Chinese. It was a mainly monosyllabic language, and highly dense. Many of the very early disyllabic words like Zhuangzi's famous butterfly (蝴蝶)actually appear to be early loanwords.
Its grammar was also very different: it actually had morphology! Shock! Gasp! This morphology appears to be pretty exclusively derivational (so making new words out of other words like 'helpful' versus 'unhelpful', not 'go' versus 'goes'), but still, for modern learners - very exciting! It had a load of causative prefixes and suffixes, as well as stuff that changed the transitivity of verbs, made nouns into verbs, verbs into nouns and so on. This is VERY interesting, especially because Middle Chinese appears to have gotten rid of it pretty much entirely. It also seemed to be much less reliant on particles than Middle Chinese, and had some interesting word order stuff (sometimes, for example, the object could come before the verb!).
Middle Chinese
Middle Chinese lasts from around the 4th century to around the 12th. A LOT of changes took place during this time: most importantly, suffixes and prefixes were dropped, and tones developed. Why did this happen? I'll do a post on this in more detail, but basically: the Old Chinese syllable was pretty complex, and when these final consonants were lost, the syllable preserved complexity by turning the loss of specific consonants into tones. So the loss of an -s became 去声, for example. What this means in practice is that there are loads of words that in Classical (and Literary) Chinese have at least two different readings. Some of these are preserved down to the modern day! So think of 好: when third tone, it's a stative verb (good), and when fourth tone, it means to like. This is because of a suffix that was originally at the end of the verb that has since disappeared, changing the tone! 王 is similar: when it means 'king', it's pronounced with the second tone. When it means 'to rule over', it's pronounced with the fourth. These mysterious old suffixes are the reason why!
On that note: the tones in Middle Chinese are not the same as the tones in Mandarin: there's a lot of complex development that happened there. But because of things like qieyun rhyming dictionaries and early poems from the Shijing, we know that Middle Chinese had four tones - 平,上,去 and 入 . How these developed into modern Mandarin tones (and Cantonese, and other groups) is a topic for another post! When reading Classical Chinese, it's fine to use the modern tones.
During this period, multi-syllable words also become more common! This makes sense, right: if your syllables get drastically less complicated, there are way more words that sound similar. Solution? A) develop tones, and B) start sticking words together to help disambiguation.
Literary language:
Pre-Classical Chinese refers to the literary language, from around 13th to the 5th century BCE. This period covers the Five Classics: 尚书,诗经,易经,春秋,and 礼记. It's worth noting that these classics are substantially different from Classical Chinese proper: they are extremely dense and don't use a lot of the later particles preferred by Classical Chinese. In fact, they are so dense that even people during Confucius' time used commentaries to understand what they were saying. Go figure.
Classical Chinese roughly refers to the period between the 4th and 1st century BCE. You'll see again that this really doesn't line up particularly nicely with the dates we had for Old and Middle Chinese - the Spring and Autumn period at the end of the Eastern Zhou dynasty is when Classical Chinese proper starts kicking off. That's roughly the time Confucius and Mencius were alive. It ends during the Han dynasty, and transitions to Literary Chinese. During this period, writing and speaking are thought to align fairly closely.
Post-Classical Chinese refers to a transitional period between the 1st and 3rd century CE. During the Han dynasty and a bit earlier (so during the Warring States period) there was an explosion of writing and new literary styles: what this did was provide a load of 'model texts' which later authors would emulate, thus ensuring some kind of standard that was increasingly different from the spoken language. It also established certain authors as authors to...well, to memorise. In the civil exams, it was expected that candidates would be able to quote from passages at random and know works of earlier authors by heart: this served to cement the importance of certain literary styles, which were kept long after the language had changed.
Literary Chinese was used as a lingua franca after the 3rd century CE up until the 20th century. There are still certain writers that write textbooks for example in a very literary style, as well as poetry, so it hasn't totally vanished. It's also taught widely in schools: of the textbook I have, apparently most Chinese students would be familiar or have memorised most of the texts by the end of high school. Formal language is still heavily based on Literary Chinese, and a knowledge of Literary Chinese is thus hugely helpful in reading any news or...yeah, literature. Later (so Qing dynasty etc) Literary Chinese is easier for native speakers, but tends to be apparently more difficult for non-natives, because of the sheer amount of cultural knowledge and capital readers are assumed to be familiar with. This is why this course starts at the Classical period proper: for students who are interested in earlier texts, it's a good place to start, and you can work forwards from there if your interest is in Tang texts, Qing literature etc.
Very importantly: many later related imitated pre-Qin Classical Chinese, and not Han Classical Chinese. This means that features that were actually already becoming more common during the Han period (so disyllabic words and noun classifiers for instance) are not used in Literary Chinese, even though they were already common at the time of writing. Sigh.
Notes on literary readings and variants:
Some characters have different literary pronunciations to what we're used to in modern Chinese. These are not the 'Old Chinese' pronunciations, but rather how a character would be pronounced in the modern age following regular rules of sound change, if things hadn't gone weird. Many Chinese languages have a tradition of 'literary' readings of certain characters: Cantonese and Min for example maintain a strict difference between colloquial and literary readings. Mandarin...doesn't, as much, and even the few characters that have a different literary reading (so for example 他 is read as 'tuō', not 'tā) are only used really in more conservative circles. But you may still see them.
Strictly speaking, when reading Classical Chinese you shouldn't employ tone sandhi for characters like 不 and 一. Again, different people will do this differently!
Some characters have literary written variants. This is not necessarily the traditional character, but a different version of the character that for whatever reason is more common in literary texts. For example 为: the normal traditional character is 為, but the one that often appears in Classical texts is 爲. They're just different versions.
Alright, that's enough for today! As ever, if you spot any typos or mistakes, do let me know. I'll write up the first lesson in the next few days, and expect a post on Old Chinese phonology and the development of tone coming soon!! Stay tuned!
- 加油!
- 梅晨曦
180 notes · View notes