Ming Dynasty

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Grabbed another “15 minute of fame.” Made my second appearance on Man at Arms Reforged in their first ever historical episode where they forged a Dandao (單刀). Thanks to the boys at Baltimore Knife and Sword and Defy Media for making this happen and supporting the Year of the Dandao. The new Episode should be out within the hour…

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Politics of Men’s Hair in Chinese History (a condensed timeline)

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References:

Manchus And Han: Ethnic Relations and Political Power in Late Qing and Early Republican China, 1861-1928 (Studies on Ethnic Groups in China) By Edward J. M. Rhoads

Hair: Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures edited by Alf Hiltebeitel, Barbara D. Miller

The End of the Queue: Hair as Symbol in Chinese History by Michael R. Godley

China Made: Consumer Culture and the Creation of the Nation By Karl Gerth

Sources of Chinese Tradition: Volume 1: From Earliest Times to 1600  By William Theodore De Bary, Irene Bloom, Joseph Adler

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Social control (according to Merriam-Webster):

the rules and standards of society that circumscribe individual action through the inculcation of conventional sanctions and the imposition of formalized mechanisms

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Ming Dynasty and dynasties prior (1644 and before)

“In Chinese consciousness of hair, moral discipline is more perceivable than sexual restraint. Cutting hair is more critical than the change of hair style. In the periods under consideration, hair cutting meant social control, not only supported by the conventionalized and morally approved fashions, but also regulated and supervised by the political authorities.” (Hiltebeitel and Miller, pg. 138)

“Long before the Manchu conquest, Han males had become accustomed to the practice of binding up their long hair on the top of their heads. This custom is inferred by such idioms as ‘to bind hair when starting school’ (sufa shoushu), or ‘to bind hair while being a soldier’ (Jiefa congrong). When a student was twenty years old, he ought to have a ‘caping ceremony’ (guanli) in which he changed his child’s headdress to an adult’s, demonstrating his entrance into the mature world. This tradition can be traced back to the Zhou dynasty (1100-256 B.C.) (SSJZS 1:945).” (Hiltebeitel and Miller, 124)

“Under the Ming regime, the ceremony was adopted by more social categories than the scholar-offical class (Zhang 3:1377-87). Ming men, once capped, let their hair grow long, and wore it in elaborate fashion under horsehair caps (Ricci 1953:78).” (Hiltebeitel and Miller, 124)

“One of the greatest obstacles confronting early Chinese Buddhism was the aversion of Chinese society to the shaving of the head, which was required of all members of the Buddhist clergy. The Confucians held that the body is a gift of one’s parents and that to harm it is to be disrespectful toward them.

The questioner said, ‘The Classic of Filiality says, ‘Our body, limbs, hair, and skin are all received from our fathers and mothers. We dare not injure them.’ When Zengzi was about to die, he bared his hands and feet. But now the monks shave their heads. How this violates the sayings of the sages and is out of keeping with the way of the filial!’” (Adler, pg 423)

“Although some modern writers have claimed that Chinese resisted hair-cutting because of their reluctance to part with a gift handed down from their ancestors, the heads of boys were, in fact, shaved even during the Ming Confucian revival, a practice which continued throughout the Qing.[32] It could, therefore, be that head-shaving was perceived by adults as an insult.” (Godley)

“The cutting off of hair in fact accompanied castration in ancient China, and hair was cropped as a form of punishment right up to the eve of the Mongol invasion. From cases reaching the Board of Punishments in the early Qing, we do know that members of certain heterodoxical sects attached magical potency to their long hair.[33] As Philip Kuhn concluded in his study of the role of sorcery and ‘soul-stealing’ in the 'queue-clipping’ outbreak of 1768, a century after the conquest, the tonsure was still far more important, symbolically, than the queue.” (Godley)

“This case shows how hair became a means of social control and a focus of cultural and political conflict. In traditional China men’s long and bound-up hair epitomized the Confucian norm of filial piety, Han culturalism, and magical power.” (Hiltebeitel and Miller, 138)

Qing Dynasty (1644-1912)

“During the Qing dynasty, the shaved forehead and queue symbolized Manchu autocratic authority and its cultural dominance, though Han Chinese still held a moral and respectful attitude toward their hair.” (Hiltebeitel and Miller, pg. 138)

“The queue was the male hairstyle of the original Manchus, a variant of the way men of the northern tribes, including the Jurchen, had traditionally worn their hair; it involved shaving the front and sides of the head, letting the rest of the hair grow long, and braiding it into a plait.” (Rhoads, pg. 60)

“The regent Dorgon, uncle of the young emperor Fulin […] upon occupying Nanjing […] issued a decree formally requiring all Chinese to shave their foreheads and plait their hair in a queue like the Manchus. Chinese men had to conform to the new rulers’ hair style. Disobedience would be ‘equivalent to a rebel’s defying the Mandate (of Heaven)’ (ni-ming) (SZSL 17:7b-8).” (Hiltebeitel and Miller, 125)

“…a Han male’s queue reflected the Manchus drive to submit Hans to the minority’s political and cultural hegemonies and its symbolic standardization of the people’s political ideology.” (Hiltebeitel and Miller, pg. 124)

“Having accepted the Confucian notion that the ruler was like a father and the subjects like his sons, Dorgon emphasized the physical resemblance between the Manchus and the conquered Chinese. The affirmed purpose was to make Manchus and Hans a unified body. Being afraid of inspiring any anti-Manchu imaginations and actions, the Qing rulers enforced the hair cutting policy and persecuted hair growers without mercy.”  (Hiltebeitel and Miller, 125)

“A slogan of the tonsure operators was ‘Keep your head, lose your hair; keep your hair, lose your head’ (Wakeman 1975a:58), which epitomized the ruthlessness of the Manchu’s hair cutting.) (Hiltebeitel and Miller, 125)

“The only ones exempt [from the Queue Order of 1645] were men in mourning, young boys, Buddhist monks (who shaved off all their hair), and Taoist priests (who let their hair grow). All other Han males in Qing China were coerced into abiding by the requirement.” (Rhoads, pg. 60)

After Revolution of 1911-1912

“After the fall of the Qing court, short hair replaced the queue style, embodying nationalism and Westernization.” (Hiltebeitel and Miller, pg. 138)

“The men’s hairstyle, which the Qing originally required as a badge of subservience to Manchu rule, was, not surprisingly, the revolutionaries’ first target. Despite several years of open agitation by political and social reformers for its removal, the queue requirement had remained in effect until two months into the revolution. Even then the Qing had only permitted, but did not compel, its male subjects to cut their queue and wear their hair short in the Western (and Japanese) style of the day.” (Rhoads, pg. 252)

“The Republicans were not satisfied with this eleventh-hour, half-hearted measure; they insisted on universal, mandatory queue-cutting. Thus, in the four months between the Wuchang uprising and the Qing abdication, wherever the revolutionaries took power, one of the first decrees they issued was for the removal of the queue as a sign of loyalty to their regime.” (Rhoads, pg. 252)

“To the Republicans’ distress, their policy of universal mandatory queue-cutting did not always meet with general approval, not necessarily because the people were opposed to the revolution but because after more than two centuries, they regarded the Manchufied hairstyle as an integral part of their cultural tradition. As a result, the queue-cutting orders were often ignored; their unrealistically short deadlines, unmet.” (Rhoads, pg. 252)

“For most Chinese, the forcible removal of the queue was, as one observer put it, a ‘humiliating disfigurement.’ In their eyes, the queue was less a ‘badge of conquest’ and more a badge of nationality and identity (Crow 1944: 22). These Chinese had forgotten the original terms under which the hairstyle had been imposed and had no idea that it could signify allegiance to the Qing.” (Gerth, pg. 91)

“In Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan, as in many Chinese cities and towns, retention of the queue was viewed as an explicit sign of traitorous allegiance to the Manchus”. (Gerth, pg. 92)

“Although the queue was on the way out, there was, in fact, some opposition to 'foreign hair.’ One Hunan official, who listed all the advantages of a queueless head, nevertheless resisted Japanese and Western styles. Some tried to pile their hair on top, while others adopted a half-cut which resembled a mop. A few had bets each way and, having experienced the moment of liberation, tied their braids back on.” (Godley)

“When the directives for voluntary compliance failed of their purpose, the revolutionary governments generally resorted to coercion. In Zhejiang, local officials in Jiaxing and  Hangzhou sent out soldiers armed with large shears to cut any remaining braids on sight; they posted such ‘queue-cutting brigades’ at the city gates to catch unwary villagers entering from the countryside.” (Rhoads, pg. 252)

“Queue-removal was something of an official crusade in the early years of the Republic. It was deemed a prerequisite for voting in one province, while as late as 1914 Beijing authorities renewed their pressure on the recalcitrant inhabitants of that city. Now it was the police that cut the queues off anyone arrested.” (Godley)

“By the late 1930s… [though the queue]… could be glimpsed occasionally in such remote places as a market town in Anhui, it had become a noteworthy rarity. Otherwise, the hairstyle of Chinese men had been completely ‘de-Manchufied.’” (Rhoads, pg. 253)

“Adjusted Rank” means what percentage of the world’s population were killed by a particular conflict or upheaval. In other words, the An Lushan Rebellion killed somewhere around 15% of the people alive in the world. World War II, for comparison, killed around 3% of the people alive in the world in 1940.

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Thought it would be fun to create a series showcasing nth century fashions of the Sinosphere (aka the East Asian cultural sphere/Confucian world, countries culturally influenced by China). I decided to depict middle to upper class women and avoided royalty, concubines, dancers, and so on.

If I am able to find adequate references, I’d like to do a series for the Indosphere (India-influences on Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, etc), Pacific Islands, Middle East, etc.

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A Terrible Sting —The Nest of Bees

One of the first gunpowder weapons in history, the “nest of bees” was popular during the Ming Dynasty of China (1368–1644).  Unlike larger cannon and rockets, the nest of bees were man portable and easy to use by the common infantryman. The weapon consisted of a tapered rocket pack made from bamboo or wood which held 32 rocket propelled arrows which were fired simultaneously.  To use the infantryman only had to light the fuze and aim the battery at the enemy.  Because the arrows were rocket propelled they generally had greater range and power compared to traditional archery.  The nest of bees also had an economical advantage since it could take a great deal of time to train proficient archers, whereas the nest of bees could be used with anyone who had enough skill to light a fuze.  The nest of bees lacked the accuracy of traditional archers, but accuracy was not the point.  Typically the weapons were deployed by the hundreds, showering the enemy with volleys of arrows like a deadly swarms of bees. 

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Traditional Chinese hanfu in song dynasty and ming dynasty style.

Garments: 1.柳色•菱纹吴罗•立领斜襟琵琶袖长衫水色•刺绣仙鹤寿桃纹领•万字纹提花缎•比甲石榴红•缠枝莲提花绸•马面裙

2.蜜合色•云锦•圆领棉袄

3.仙鹤云纹桑波缎立领斜襟长袄•西番莲宋锦圆领棉袄•缠枝莲缎马面裙. Photo&Clothes by 撷秀

Gold-Filled Tomb of Chinese 'Survivor' Mom Discovered

A Ming Dynasty tomb containing gold treasures has been discovered at a construction site in Nanjing, China. However, the real treasures may be two stone epitaphs that tell the story of the person buried there — Lady Mei, a woman who went from being a concubine to becoming a political and military strategist.

The epitaphs, found inside the brick tomb, reveal that Lady Mei was a 21-year-old “unwashed and unkempt” woman who “called herself the survivor.” Later she became the mother of a duke who ruled a province in southwest China. Lady Mei came to wield much power, providing her son with “strategies for bringing peace to the barbarian tribes and pacifying faraway lands,” according to the epitaphs, which were translated from Chinese.

The treasures in her more than 500-year-old tomb include gold bracelets, a gold fragrance box and gold hairpins, all inlaid with a mix of gemstones, including sapphires, rubies and turquoise. Read more.

Qin Liang Yu (秦良玉), the only Imperial-appointed female general in entire Chinese history -

The Bai Gan Bing (白桿兵, lit. ‘White shaft troop’) was an elite infantry unit under the leadership of Qin Liang Yu (秦良玉), the only Imperial-appointed female general in entire Chinese history. Majority of Bai Gan Bing consisted of Tujia (土家族) people that came from Sichuan province. Like Lang Bing (狼兵), they were organized under the Tu Si (土司, government-sanctioned native chieftain) system.

Bai Gan Bing was actually raised by Ma Qian Cheng (馬千乘), a Ming general, Tu Si of Shizhu county, and husband of Qin Liang Yu. After his death, Qin Liang Yu took up his mantle and assumed command of the army. Together with troops from Zhejiang province, they formed the best infantry of the Ming Dynasty.
Equipment Bai Gan Bing famously wielded pikes with undecorated, white coloured shafts known as Bai Gan Zi (白桿子, white shaft), from which they derived their name. They were very proficient in the use of Lang Xian (狼筅), and used some glaives and swords as well. Bai Gan Bing also employed crossbow sporadically.  
For defensive equipment, they wore cotton armour (or blanket) on top of iron armour.

Other sources recorded that they used rattan shield, and wore rattan helmet and barkcloth armour.

Orgainsation and Tactics Unlike troops from Zhejiang, which preferred multirole, mixed-unit formation (i.e. Mandarin Duck Formation) and firearms, troops from Sichuan seem to preferred single-unit formation. Bai Gang Bing were almost entirely made up of pikemen, and had little in the way of ranged weapon.
Five to eight hundred warrior monks known as Luo Han Bing (羅漢兵, lit. ’Arhat troop’) formed the elite core of Bai Gan Bing.
Mountaineer extraordinaire
Bai Gan Bing were renowned for their hardiness as well as their ability to navigate dangerous terrain (Tujia people were mountain dwellers). Their Bai Gan Zi, which have a hook on one end and an iron ring on another, can be locked together to make a climbing aid.

Bai Gan Bing first made themselves known during the war of Bozhou, in which Qin Liang Yu and her husband rapidly defeated seven strongholds of rebellious Miao people with three thousand and five hundred troops.

Their second battle, which pit them against Manchus at the battle of Hun River, was ironically both their finest hour and one of their worst defeat. The battle of Hun River played out similarly to Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs, as a four thousand strong Sichuan force (along with three thousand Zhejiang artillerymen, which deployed separately and were unable to come to their aid) was able to inflict heavy casualties on a mounted Manchu force several times their size, only to be blasted to smithereens by turncoat Ming artillery.

Despite the defeat, Bai Gan Bing did not perish. In fact, they outlasted Ming Dynasty itself, and remained active in Shizhu even after the rest of Sichuan fall to the rebel army of Zhang Xian Zhong (張獻忠).


Quoted from: http://greatmingmilitary.blogspot.com/2015/12/famous-military-unit-of-ming-dynasty.html

Whenever I can find the time, I read history books and the classics so as to avoid idle living. I constantly remind myself that the world is so vast and state affairs so important that I cannot succumb to laziness and complacency for even a moment. Once one has succumbed to laziness and complacency, everything will become stagnant.
—  the Emperor Yongle, Zhu Di (1360 - 1424)