Baiyue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Baiyue
Yue statue.jpg
Statue of a man, from the state of Yue
Chinese name
Chinese 百越
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Bách Việt
Zhuang name
Zhuang Bakyez

The Baiyue, Hundred Yue or Yue were an ancient conglomeration of indigenous non-Chinese hill tribes who inhabited what is now Southern China and Northern Vietnam between the first millennium BC and the first millennium AD.[1][2][3][4][5] In the Warring States period, the word "Yue" referred to the State of Yue in Zhejiang. The later kingdoms of Minyue in Fujian and Nanyue in Guangdong were both considered Yue states. Although the Yue had an inchoate knowledge of agriculture and shipbuilding, Han dynasty Chinese writers depicted the Yue as tribal backward barbarians who had tattoos, lived in primitive conditions, and lacked basic technology as swords, bows, arrows, horses and chariots.[6][7][8][9]

The Yue were gradually displaced and assimilated into Chinese culture as the Han empire expanded into what is now Southern China and Northern Vietnam during the first half of the first millennium AD.[10][11][12] Many modern southern Chinese dialects bear traces of substrate languages originally spoken by the ancient Yue. Variations of the name are still used for the name of modern Vietnam, in Zhejiang-related names including Yue Opera, and in the abbreviation for Guangdong.

Names

The modern term "Yue" (Chinese: or ; pinyin: Yuè; Cantonese Yale: Yuht; Wade–Giles: Yüeh4; Vietnamese: Việt; Zhuang: Vot; Early Middle Chinese: Wuat) comes from Old Chinese *wjat.[13] It was first written using the pictograph "戉" for an axe (a homophone), in oracle bone and bronze inscriptions of the late Shang dynasty (c. 1200 BC), and later as "越".[14] At that time it referred to a people or chieftain to the northwest of the Shang.[4] In the early 8th century BC, a tribe on the middle Yangtze were called the Yángyuè, a term later used for peoples further south.[4] Between the 7th and 4th centuries BC "Yue" referred to the State of Yue in the lower Yangtze basin and its people.[4][14]

The term "Hundred Yue" first appears in the book Lüshi Chunqiu compiled around 239 BC.[15] It was used as a collective term for the non-Chinese populations of south and southwest China and northern Vietnam.[4]

Ancient texts mention a number of Yue states or groups. Most of these names survived into early imperial times:

Ancient Yue states or groups
Chinese Mandarin Cantonese (Jyutping) Zhuang Vietnamese Literal English trans.:
於越/于越 Yūyuè jyu1 jyut6 Ư Việt Yue
揚越 Yángyuè joeng4 jyut6 Dương Việt Yang Yue
閩越 Mǐnyuè man5 jyut6 Mân Việt Min Yue
夜郎 Yèláng je6 long4 Dạ Lang Yelang
南越 Nányuè naam4 jyut6 Namzyied Nam Việt Southern Yue
山越 Shānyuè saan1 jyut6 Sơn Việt Mountain Yue
雒越 Luòyuè lok6 jyut6 Lạc Việt Sea Bird Yue
甌越 Ōuyuè au1 jyut6 Âu Việt Ou Yue

Peoples of the lower Yangtze

Sword of Goujian, labelled as belonging to a king of Yue

In the 5th millennium BC, the lower Yangtze area was already a major population centre, occupied by the Hemudu and Majiabang cultures, who were among the earliest cultivators of rice.

By the 3rd millennium BC, the successor Liangzhu culture shows some influence from the Longshan-era cultures due to trade and commerce.[16] However, a high frequency of O1 was found in Liangzhu culture sites, linking it to modern Austronesian and Daic populations.[17]

From the 9th century BC, two northern Yue peoples, the Gou-Wu and Yu-Yue, were increasingly influenced by their Chinese neighbours to their north. These two states were based in the areas of what is now southern Jiangsu and northern Zhejiang, respectively. Their aristocratic elite learned the written Chinese language and adopted Chinese political institutions and military technology. Traditional accounts attribute the cultural change to Taibo, a Zhou prince who had self-exiled to the south. The marshy lands of the south gave Gou-Wu and Yu-Yue unique characteristics. They did not engage in extensive agrarian agriculture, relying instead more heavily on aquaculture. Water transport was paramount in the south, so the two states became advanced in shipbuilding and developed riverine warfare technology. They were also known for their fine swords.

In the Spring and Autumn period, the two states, now called Wu and Yue, were becoming increasingly involved in Chinese politics. According to the Han dynasty historian Sima Qian, King Goujian of Yue was descended from the legendary Yu the Great.[18]

In 512 BC, Wu launched a large expedition against the large state of Chu, based in the Middle Yangtze River. A similar campaign in 506 succeeded in sacking the Chu capital Ying. Also in that year, war broke out between Wu and Yue and continued with breaks for the next three decades. In 473 BC, Goujian finally conquered Wu and was acknowledged by the northern states of Qi and Jin. In 333 BC, Yue was in turn conquered by Chu.[19]

After the fall of Yue, the ruling family moved south to what is now Fujian and established the Minyue kingdom.

Sinification and displacement

Qin empire and Yue peoples, 210 BC
Nanyue, an ancient kingdom consisting parts of the modern southern Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan and northern Vietnam, 200 BC
Han empire and Yue peoples, 2 CE

After the unification of China by Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the former Wu and Yue states were absorbed into the nascent Qin empire. The Qin armies also advanced south along the Xiang River to modern Guangdong and set up commanderies along the main communication routes. The Han dynasty historian Sima Qian in his book Records of the Grand Historian wrote: "In the south he seized the land of the hundred tribes of the Yue and made of it Guilin and Xiang provinces, and the lords of the hundred Yue bowed their heads, hung halters from their necks, and pleaded for their lives with the lowest officials of the Qin."[20]

The "Treatise of Geography" in the Book of Han (completed AD 111) describes the Yue lands as stretching from Shaoxing on the southern shore of Hangzhou Bay to Jiaozhi in modern north Vietnam.[19] Throughout the Han dynasty era, two groups of Yue were identified, that of the Nanyue in the far south, who lived mainly in the area of what is now the modern Chinese provinces Guangdong, Guangxi, and northern parts of modern Vietnam; and that of the Minyue to the southeast, centered on the Min River in the modern Fujian province.

In 208 BC, the Qin Chinese renegade general Zhao Tuo defeated An Dương Vương, the king of Âu Lạc in north Vietnam and conquered the Âu Lạc Kingdom, an ancient Vietnamese state situated in the northern mountains of modern Vietnam populated by the ancient Lạc Việt and Âu Việt.[21][22] He annexed Âu Lạc into the Qin Empire the following and declared himself the emperor of Nanyue.[23] Zhao opened up Guangxi and the south to the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Chinese. The kingdom of Nanyue was established after the collapse of the Qin dynasty in 204 BC by the local Qin commander Zhao Tuo. At its height, Nanyue was the strongest of the Yue states, with Zhao Tuo declaring himself emperor and receiving allegiance from the neighboring kings.[24] The dominant ethnicities of this kingdom were the Han Chinese and Yue, who held all the most important positions in the kingdom.[25]

In 111 BC, the powerful Han dynasty annexed Nanyue into the Han Empire and it was ruled as a Chinese province for the next several hundred years until 939 AD.[26][27][28][29][30][31] Nanyue was seen as attractive to the Han ruler's as they desired to secure the area's maritime trade routes and gain access to luxury goods from the south such as pearls, incense, elephant tusks, rhinoceros horns, tortoise shells, coral, parrots, kingfishers, peacocks, and other rare items to satisfy the demands of the Han aristocracy.[32][33][34] Sinification of Nanyue was brought about by a combination of Han imperial military power, regular settlement and an influx of Han Chinese refugees, officers and garrisons, merchants, scholars, bureaucrats, fugitives, and prisoners of war.[35][36] With dynastic changes, wars, and foreign invasions, Han Chinese living in Central China were forced to expand into the unfamiliar and southern barbarian regions.[37] As the number of Han Chinese immigrants into the Yue coastal regions increased, many Chinese families moved south to flee unrest, persecution, or sought new opportunities while bringing with them Chinese culture and ethics as part of the sinicization process.[38] According to one Han Chinese immigrant of the second century BC: "The Yue cut their hair short, tattooed their body, live in bamboo groves with neither towns nor villages, possessing neither bows or arrows, nor horses or chariots."[6][39] The difficulty of logistics and the malarial climate in the south made the displacement and eventual sinification of the Yue a slow process.[40] Over the same period, the Han Empire incorporated many other border peoples such as the Dian and assimilated them.[41] Under the direct rule and greater efforts at sinification by the victorious Han, the territories of the Lac states were annexed and ruled directly, along with other former Yue territories to the North as provinces of the Han empire.[42]

With the political and commercial southward expansion of the Han dynasty in addition to the southward migration of the Han Chinese led to greater contact with non-Han southerners.[43][44][45] The Han dynasty was motivated to expand towards the southern parts of modern China to what Han dynasty writers and local Chinese agents considered barbarian peripheral regions in part from a desire to capture the region's exotic and rare goods, the abundance of untapped natural resources as well as securing international maritime trade routes.[46] Han conquests brought the Chinese into contact with new barbarian peoples within the empire.[47][48][49][50][51] As the Han dynasty expanded southward, Chinese civilization was spread to the southern part of modern China as the area was considered long by ancient Chinese writers a primitive and barbarian region.[52][53][54][55][56][57][58] Continuing internal Chinese migration during the Han dynasty eventually brought all the non-Chinese Yue coastal peoples under Chinese political control and cultural influence.[59] As the heartland of the Han Chinese was centralized around the Yellow River, all regions to the south beyond the Yangtze River were considered barbaric and distant.[60][61] Han officials saw the Baiyue as a foreign race and the Han Chinese for their part regarded them as being highly uncivilized.[62]

The development of the Han Empire's colonialism of the Baiyue was justified through sinocentrism, that legitimizing aggressive expansion was a mission in the face to what the Han ruler's perception of the Yue as backward, primitive, and uncivilized barbarians due to their lack of civilization.[63][64][65][66][67] The ancient Chinese as early as the Zhou dynasty were acutely aware of the difference between themselves and non-Chinese barbarians and of their own superiority of Han Chinese civilization. With the Han dynasty's interaction with non-Chinese peoples such as the Yue, key elements of this view established by Han ruler's was that the Han dynasty was a celestial empire based on a hierarchical social world in which all were assigned their status, including non-Chinese. Han ruler's affirmed the Chinese cultural view that Chinese civilization was superior and would be convinced that it would be available to less cultured peoples to recognize it along with the cosmic status of the emperor.[68] The Chinese made a clear distinction within their own Chinese world order between themselves as well as among the people they categorized as barbarians, especially groups such as the Yue would be inevitably colonized through Imperial Han expansion.[69][70] Local Yue tribal chieftrains throughout the conquered regions who adopted elements of Han Chinese civilization would further legitimize the Han dynasty's colonization.[71] Various indigenous Yue political identities were completely decimated by 110 BCE as the Han dynasty absorbed the remnants of Nanyue into the empire. Powerful Han colonialists such as General Ma Yuan enforced the adoption of Han statutes and customs in the first century CE.[72] Ma Yuan provided insight one how the Yue were seen as culturaly distinct from the Han in terms of laws and statutes, levels of technological achievement, and social systems. General Ma Yuan would later go down in Chinese history as a great official who brought Han Chinese civilization to the Southern Yue barbarians.[73] Han officials used Confucianism to re-educate and reform the Yue barbarians as they believed that they could be culturally absorbed into Han Chinese culture. Attempts by the Han dynasty to assimilate non-Han Chinese groups such as the Baiyue were recorded in the Book of Han.[74] Tribal divisions among the Yue were exploited by the Han dynasty with the Han military winning battles against the southern kingdoms and commandaries that were of geographic and strategic value to them. Han foreign policy also exploited the political turmoil among Yue leaders and enticed them with bribes and lured prospects for submitting to the Han Empire as a subordinate vassal.[75] By the end of the Han dynasty, local Chinese officials described the uncivilized and primitive nature of the Yue as they were prone to fight one another.[76]

As the number of Han Chinese migrants intensified following the Han Empire's annexation of Nanyue, the Yue were gradually displaced and driven out into poorer land on the hills and into the mountains.[77][11][78] Han Chinese military garrisons showed little patience with the aboriginal Yue tribes who resisted the influx of Han Chinese immigrants, driving them out to the coastal extremities and the highland areas where they became marginal scavengers and outcasts.[79][80][81] Unlike the nomadic peoples of Central Asia, such as the Xiongnu or the Xianbei, the Yue never posed any serious threat to the Han Empire's colonial expansion as no foreign kingdom ever posed an equivalent military threat to the Han empire than the nomadic steppe peoples of the north.[82] Displaced Yue tribes often staged sneak attacks and small-scale raids or attacks on Chinese settlements termed "rebellions" by traditional historians but were eventually driven out and suppressed by the strong action of the Han dynasty's military superiority.[83][84] Most Yue peoples were eventually absorbed and assimilated by the Han empire while the remnants of the ancient Yue continue to live in the modern provinces Zhejiang and Guangdong.[85][86][87][88][89] Speakers of the Kam–Tai languages - in modern China such as the Zhuang, Buxqyaix, Dai, Aisui, Kam, Hlai, Mulam, Anan, Ong Be, Thai, Lao, and Shan - retain their ethnic identities.

Language

Knowledge of Yue speech is limited to fragmentary references and possible loanwords in other languages, principally Chinese. The longest is the Song of the Yue Boatman, a short song transcribed phonetically in Chinese characters in 528 BC and included, with a Chinese version, in the Garden of Stories compiled by Liu Xiang five centuries later.[90]

There is some disagreement about the languages they spoke, with candidates drawn from the non-Sinitic language families still represented in areas of southern China, Tai–Kadai, Hmong–Mien and Austroasiatic. Chinese, Tai–Kadai, Hmong–Mien and the Vietic branch of Austroasiatic have similar tone systems, syllable structure, grammatical features and lack of inflection, but these features are believed have spread by diffusion across the Mainland Southeast Asia linguistic area, rather than indicating common descent.[91]

Jerry Norman and Mei Tsu-Lin presented evidence that at least some Yue spoke an Austroasiatic language:[14][92][93]

  • Zheng Xuan (127–200 AD) wrote that (middle Chinese: "jaat", modern Mandarin Chinese , modern Sino-Vietnamese: "trát") was the word used by the Yue people (越人) to mean "die". Norman and Mei reconstruct this word as OC *tsət and relate it to Austroasiatic words with the same meaning, such as Vietnamese chết and Mon chɒt.
  • According to the Shuowen Jiezi (100 AD), "In Nanyue, the word for dog is (Chinese: 撓獀; pinyin: náosōu; EMC: nuw-ʂuw)", possibly related to other Austroasiatic terms. Sōu is "hunt" in modern Chinese.
  • The early Chinese name for the Yangtze (Chinese: ; pinyin: jiāng; EMC: kœ:ŋ; OC: *kroŋ; Cantonese: "kong") was later extended to a general word for "river" in south China. Norman and Mei suggest that the word is cognate with Vietnamese sông (from *krong) and Mon kruŋ "river".

They also provide evidence of an Austroasiatic substrate in the vocabulary of Min Chinese.[14][94] Norman and Mei's hypothesis is widely quoted, but has recently been criticized by Laurent Sagart.[95]

Scholars in China often assume that the Yue spoke an early form of Tai–Kadai. The linguist Wei Qingwen gave a rendering of the "Song of the Yue boatman" in Standard Zhuang. Zhengzhang Shangfang proposed an interpretation of the song in written Thai (dating from the late 13th century) as the closest available approximation to the original language, but his interpretation remains controversial.[90][95]

Legacy

Ruins of a Minyue city in Wuyishan, Fujian

The Fall of the Han dynasty and the succeeding period of division sped up the process of sinicization. Periods of instability and war in northern China, such as the Northern and Southern dynasties and during the Song dynasty led to mass migrations of Chinese.[96] Intermarriage and cross-cultural dialogue has led to a mixture of Chinese and non-Chinese peoples in the south.[97][98] Most of the distinctive features of vocabulary, phonology and syntax of southern varieties of Chinese are attributed substrate languages spoken by the Yue.[99][100]

By the Tang dynasty (618–907), the term "Yue" had largely become a regional designation rather than a cultural one, as in the Wuyue state during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in what is now Zhejiang province.

In ancient China, the characters and (both yuè in pinyin) were used interchangeably, but they are differentiated in modern Chinese:

  • The character "越" refers to the original territory of the state of Yue, which was based in what is now northern Zhejiang, especially the areas around Shaoxing and Ningbo. The Shaoxing opera of Zhejiang, for example, is called "Yue Opera". It is also used to write Vietnam, a word adapted from Nányuè (Vietnamese: Nam Việt), (literal English translation as Southern Yue).
  • The character "粵" is associated with the southern province of Guangdong. Both the regional dialects of Yue Chinese and the standard form, popularly called "Cantonese", are spoken in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong, Macau and in many Cantonese communities around the world.

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External links

  • "The power of language over the past: Tai settlement and Tai linguistics in southern China and northern Vietnam", Jerold A. Edmondson, in Studies in Southeast Asian languages and linguistics, ed. by Jimmy G. Harris, Somsonge Burusphat and James E. Harris, 39–64. Bangkok, Thailand: Ek Phim Thai Co. Ltd.
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