An introduction to the history and the origins of the term barbarian

The feudal states were not contiguous but rather were scattered at strategic locations surrounded by potentially dangerous and hostile lands. The fortified city of the feudal lord was often the only area that he controlled directly; the state and the city were therefore… Origins of the idea The terms feudalism and feudal system were generally applied to the early and central Middle Ages—the period from the 5th century, when central political authority in the Western empire disappeared, to the 12th century, when kingdoms began to emerge as effective centralized units of government. Before and afterward, however, political units were fragmented and political authority diffused. The mightier of the later Carolingians attempted to regulate local magnates and enlist them in their service, but the power of local elites was never effaced.

An introduction to the history and the origins of the term barbarian

It has been suggested that this section be split out into another article. Discuss November The term "Barbarian" in traditional Chinese culture had several aspects. For one thing, Chinese has more than one historical "barbarian" exonym.

Historically, the Chinese used various words for foreign ethnic groups. Some of the examples include "foreigners," [39] "ordinary others," [40] "wild tribes," [41] "uncivilized tribes," [42] and so forth.

History and terminology[ edit ] Chinese historical records mention what may now perhaps be termed "barbarian" peoples for over four millennia, although this considerably predates the Greek language origin of the term "barbarian", at least as is known from the thirty-four centuries of written records in the Greek language.

The sinologist Herrlee Glessner Creel said, "Throughout Chinese history "the barbarians" have been a constant motif, sometimes minor, sometimes very major indeed.

They figure prominently in the Shang oracle inscriptions, and the dynasty that came to an end only in was, from the Chinese point of view, barbarian. King Wu Ding r. Evidently, the barbarian tribes at first had individual names, but during about the middle of the first millennium B.

This would, in the final analysis, mean that once again territory had become the primary criterion of the we-group, whereas the consciousness of common origin remained secondary. What continued to be important were the factors of language, the acceptance of certain forms of material culture, the adherence to certain rituals, and, above all, the economy and the way of life.

Agriculture was the only appropriate way of life for the Hua-Hsia. On the one hand, many of them harassed and pillaged the Chinese, which gave them a genuine grievance.

On the other, it is quite clear that the Chinese were increasingly encroaching upon the territory of these peoples, getting the better of them by trickery, and putting many of them under subjection.

By vilifying them and depicting them as somewhat less than human, the Chinese could justify their conduct and still any qualms of conscience. Pulleyblank says the name Yi "furnished the primary Chinese term for 'barbarian'," but "Paradoxically the Yi were considered the most civilized of the non-Chinese peoples.

For instance, the Confucian Analects records: They are not in such a state of decay as we in China. The Master said, The Way makes no progress. I shall get upon a raft and float out to sea.

Someone said, I am afraid you would find it hard to put up with their lack of refinement. The Master said, Were a true gentleman to settle among them there would soon be no trouble about lack of refinement. It must be noted that, while the Chinese have disparaged barbarians, they have been singularly hospitable both to individuals and to groups that have adopted Chinese culture.

And at times they seem to have had a certain admiration, perhaps unwilling, for the rude force of these peoples or simpler customs. Their native places were over a thousand li apart, and there were a thousand years between them.

An introduction to the history and the origins of the term barbarian

Yet when they had their way in the Central Kingdoms, their actions matched like the two halves of a tally. The standards of the two sages, one earlier and one later, were identical. Yi countries are therefore virtuous places where people live long lives.

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This is why Confucius wanted to go to yi countries when the dao could not be realized in the central states. Graphic pejoratives in written Chinese Some Chinese characters used to transcribe non-Chinese peoples were graphically pejorative ethnic slurswhere the insult derived not from the Chinese word but from the character used to write it.

Take for instance, the Written Chinese transcription of Yao "the Yao people ", who primarily live in the mountains of southwest China and Vietnam.

According to the archeologist William Meacham, it was only by the time of the late Shang dynasty that one can speak of " Chinese ," " Chinese culture ," or "Chinese civilization. The fundamental criterion of "Chinese-ness," anciently and throughout history, has been cultural.

The Chinese have had a particular way of life, a particular complex of usages, sometimes characterized as li. Groups that conformed to this way of life were, generally speaking, considered Chinese. Those that turned away from it were considered to cease to be Chinese.

It was the process of acculturation, transforming barbarians into Chinese, that created the great bulk of the Chinese people. The barbarians of Western Chou times were, for the most part, future Chinese, or the ancestors of future Chinese.

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An introduction to the history and the origins of the term barbarian