Week 2

I used Exploration Pack 2- Conquest. This week’s readings emphasized the cultural changes and continuities from the Ming to the Qing dynasties. In some ways, the Manchus forced their culture on their Han Chinese subjects. They mandated their queue hairstyle for the Ming as a sign of support for the new empire and executed people who didn’t comply. We talked in class about how this would’ve been difficult for Han Chinese people because they believed in Confucianism. Under Confucianism, respecting the family was very important, and harming one’s body (for example, by shaving their heads) disrespected their parents. In his edict mandating the queue hairstyle, Manchu prince Dorgon seemed to be appealing to the Confucian belief of respecting parents when he said, “The Emperor is like the father and the people are like his sons. The father and sons are of the same body; how can they be different from one another? If they are not as one then it will be as if they had two hearts and would they then not be like the people of different countries?” (Dorgon quoted in “Two Edicts Concerning Hair,” p. 26). The Qing also ethnically segregated some parts of the empire. The Manchus could live wherever they wanted, but they banned Han Chinese people from moving North of the Great Wall in 1668 (Lovell, p. 258). In the chapter “The Great Fall of China,” Lovell explains this ban as an attempt “to emphasize certain racial distinctions” between the Han Chinese and the Manchus. 


On the other hand, the Manchus preserved some things from the Ming Dynasty. In class, we talked about how they kept the Ming bureaucracy intact, and they appointed Han and Manchu officials as partners for high offices. Besides enforcing a new hairstyle, the Manchus generally allowed the Chinese to keep following their traditions such as foot binding. This shows that the Manchus adapted somewhat to their subjects. They were outnumbered and needed Han Chinese support to maintain their rule, so they could not change everything. Although Spence said that China has never been a modern country in his book The Search For Modern China, I think that the Qing Dynasty could actually be defined as modern based on his own definition: “I understand a “modern” nation to be one that is both integrated and receptive, fairly sure of its own identity yet able to join others on equal terms in the quest for new markets, new technologies, new ideas” (Spence, preface). The Qing had a strong sense of self, but they also adapted to unfamiliar ideas and cultural differences when they conquered the Ming.

Black and white photo of a Chinese man with the queue hairstyle
This picture shows a Chinese man wearing the queue hairstyle, which the Qing enforced on their subjects.
https://thechinaproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Qing-Manchu-queue.jpg

Sources:

Lovell, Julia. The Great Wall: China against the World, 1000 BC-AD 2000. 1st paperback ed. New York: Grove Press, 2007. 

Spence, Jonathan D. The Search for Modern China. First ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999.

“Two edicts concerning hair”. In The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection. Third edition. Edited by Janet Chen, Pei-Kai Cheng and Michael Lestz, with Jonathan Spence, 19-21. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2014.


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One response to “Week 2”

  1. Dylan A Blanco Avatar
    Dylan A Blanco

    You did a great job explaining the content of the second exploration pack. The mass changes seen in the Manchu takeover both physical and cultural was very well emphisized.

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