Frontiers of History in China

ISSN 1673-3401

ISSN 1673-3525(Online)

CN 11-5740/K

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, Volume 16 Issue 1

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Editor’s Note
Wang Qilong
Front. Hist. China. 2021, 16 (1): 1-3.

Abstract   PDF (208KB)

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Cattle Slaughter Industry in Qing China: State Ban, Muslim Dominance, and the Western Diet
Shaodan Zhang
Front. Hist. China. 2021, 16 (1): 4-38.

Abstract   PDF (413KB)

Cattle slaughter and beef consumption are barely mentioned in the literature on Chinese economic, food, or animal history. This is possibly due to the widely held popular and scholarly assumption that beef was avoided and even considered taboo in the daily diet of Chinese people in premodern times. This article investigates the tangible regulation and practice of cattle slaughter in Qing China—the period when the beef taboo was argued to be formally subsumed into Chinese morality. I ask the following questions: To what extent did the Qing state ban cattle slaughter? How was the ban enforced in the localities? Did Chinese people slaughter cattle for consumption? Were there lawful beef markets in Qing China proper? How did increasing beef-eating Western sojourners since the mid-19th century impact this sector? Accordingly, I demonstrate that with the leeway provided by the state, the cattle slaughter industry developed in many regions of China proper, especially large cities. In this sector, Chinese Muslim merchants played a dominant role, even though the Han merchants could outnumber them. Their efforts have prepared the state and Chinese merchants to better cope with new circumstances since the mid-19th century. Broadly, this paper sheds light on how different religious, ethnic, and national groups affected the economy and the practice of law in the Qing dynasty.

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Bringing Chinese Law in Line with Western Standards? Problematizing “Chinese” and “Western” in the Late Qing Debate over the New Criminal Code of Great Qing
Yue Du
Front. Hist. China. 2021, 16 (1): 39-72.

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This article examines the intense debates over the New Criminal Code of Great Qing (Da-Qing xin xinglü) in the National Assembly (Zizheng yuan) during the Qing empire’s New Policy Reform (1901–11). The focus is on the conflict between those who drafted and supported the new code and those who expressed reservations, especially over reform of the laws on filial piety and fornication. The issue of reconfiguring the family and social order through law was closely related to the overarching agenda of twentieth century legal reform in China—making an empire that “ruled through the principle of filial piety” into a modern nation-state that had direct relationships with its citizens. More importantly, an analysis of the late Qing debate over family law enables this article to problematize such concepts as “Chinese” and “Western” during this crucial moment of China’s empire-to-nation transformation. It showcases the paradox of China’s modern-era reforms—a contradiction between imposing Western-inspired order with a largely indigenous logic and maintaining existing sociopolitical order in the name of preserving national identity.

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The Cyclical Views of Human History in Thucydides’ Archaeology and Sima Qian’s Historical Records
Bai Chunxiao
Front. Hist. China. 2021, 16 (1): 73-95.

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Many previous thinkers have imagined that there was a glorious or harmonious period in the past better than the world of their own time, but Thucydides and Sima Qian do not describe the early stages of human society as a Golden Age. I suggest that Sima Qian marks a separation between the mythical stories and the historical spirit in China, just as Thucydides did in Greece. Further, they both presented a modified cyclical view of human history. For a better understanding of the basic characteristics of Greek and Chinese historiographies, this paper discusses the cyclical views of human history underlying ancient Greek and early Chinese historiographies through a comparative study of Thucydides’ and Sima Qian’s texts. I analyze some similarities and differences between the two great historians’ conceptions of historical process, and I conclude that Thucydides believes human intelligence develops through a historical spiral, while Sima Qian focuses on dynastic cycles with a strong moral concern.

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A Textual Study of the Myth of Manchu Origin
Yong Liang
Front. Hist. China. 2021, 16 (1): 96-122.

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The myth of Manchu origin was narrated in different versions with the same theme and variant details. Based on Manchu documents, the myth of Manchu origin has two early versions that were written in Manchu with minor differences in the narration of the story. From the earliest version of 1635 to the version compiled in the nineteenth century, all the authors highlight that the origin of the Manchu people as coming from a heavenly being, with the purpose of reinforcing the Qing dynasty’s legitimacy as coming from the heaven, as was officially declared by the Qing government throughout the dynasty. This article makes a comparative study based on evidential research on the facts contained in different versions of the myth and the time periods of composition.

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Discovering the Long : Current Theories and Trends in Research on the Chinese Dragon
Marco Meccarelli
Front. Hist. China. 2021, 16 (1): 123-142.

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After the 1980s, the world started addressing the challenges posed by economic globalization, and the protection of cultural diversity became a widely discussed topic. Today, China is experiencing problems in defining the relationship between the past and present, as well as that between tradition and modernity. Since the 1990s, China’s opening-up policy, the advent of globalization, and an increase in cross-cultural communications strengthened the country’s need to preserve its cultural heritage. Many Chinese scholars reflected on the past and examined the potential of archaeological materials, inscriptions, myths, and ancient legends to explain the relationship between tradition and modernity. The birth and evolution of the long 龍, or the Chinese dragon, remains at the core of such international studies. These studies highlighted the necessity of promoting discussions on and demystifying the long. This new perspective facilitates a connection between various theories on the origin of the Chinese dragon and the contemporary identity discourse, which has attracted the attention of Chinese scholars. This paper bridges the gap by introducing reliable theories on the origin of the mythical animal and focusing on typology issues, classification, latest debates on the distinction between the long and the dragons of other cultures, and finally, main theories on the visual representation of the Chinese long.

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7 articles