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East-West Questions | Yi Hua: “West wind spreads to the east”, how can human beings get out of the “Bronze Road” in the communication between the East and the West? – Chinanews.com

China News Agency, Beijing, January 5th, title: “West wind spreads to the east”, how can human beings communicate between the East and the West to get out of the “Bronze Road”?

——Interview with Yi Hua, a researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

China News Agency reporter Sun Zifa

More than 2,000 years ago, Zhang Qian went on a mission to the Western Regions and opened up the far-reaching Silk Road. Before the opening of the Silk Road, was there a channel for exchanges between the East and the West? What kind of channel will it be?

Yi Hua, a researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, believes that before the opening of the Silk Road, there was a Bronze Road with extensive exchanges between the East and the West, and it was the Bronze Road that triggered the Silk Road. How did the Bronze Road induce the Silk Road and promote cultural exchanges between the East and the West? Researcher Yi Hua recently accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency “East and West” in Beijing to analyze and interpret this.

  The interview transcript is summarized as follows:

  China News Agency reporter: How did the Bronze Road come into being? Comparing the Bronze Road and the Silk Road, what are the characteristics of each? What is the relationship between them?

  Yi Hua:Archaeological research shows that the Eurasian continent began to enter the Bronze Age in the third millennium BC. Bronze technology originated in the area around the Black Sea and spread to the surrounding area with the migration of people, and it was the same technology as sheep and wool, cattle and cattle farming, horses and carriages, etc. Communication is closely related, and eventually forms a path linking the exchanges between the East and the West, which we call the “Bronze Road”.

The Bronze Road brought Europe and East Asia into the ancient world system, and the Silk Road strengthened the connection between East Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia, and Europe. Generally speaking, the Silk Road is mainly a road of technology and culture transmission from east to west, which is the “east wind to the west”; the Bronze Road is mainly a “west wind to the east”, a road of technology and culture from west to east. The way of transmission. Bronze smelting and casting technology is “introduction, absorption and re-innovation” for the East, and it developed into the peak of bronze ritual vessel production during the Shang and Zhou dynasties.

Empress Wu Ding of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties on display at the National Museum of China. The Muwu Ding Ding after the Shang Dynasty is the heaviest known bronze ware in ancient China, and it is a representative work of the Shang and Zhou bronze culture.Photo by Hou Yu

The two followed one another in opposite directions. It was the Bronze Road that induced the Silk Road, and then the Silk Road replaced the Bronze Road. The Bronze Road proves that China has absorbed many advanced elements, and the Silk Road shows that China has made unique contributions to mankind. Only by combining the Silk Road and the Bronze Road can we fully and systematically understand the process of cultural exchanges and interactions in Eurasia and the formation of civilizations.

  China News Agency reporter: You just mentioned that the Bronze Road brought Europe and East Asia into the ancient world system. What kind of world system is this? What position did ancient China occupy in this system?

  Yi Hua:Archaeological and historical studies have shown that human society has experienced three or three types of similar but different world systems, which are called the modern world system (about 1500 AD to the present), the medieval world system (about the beginning of AD-1500 AD) ) and the ancient world system (about 3000 BC-early AD).

British archaeological anthropologist Andrew Sherratt (Andrew Sherratt) put forward the concept of the world system in the Bronze Age, and believed that prehistoric China was a relatively independent cultural system and a semi-separated part of the Eurasian world system. The latest research shows that Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties China has entered the Bronze Age world system: Xia Dynasty East Asia was at the edge of the world system at that time, but by the Shang and Zhou dynasties, China had developed into the cultural center of East Asia. Yin Ruins in Anyang was a cosmopolitan city in the Bronze Age, comparable to Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite Kingdom in West Asia and Thebes, the capital of the New Kingdom of Egypt in North Africa. The four ancient civilizations of ancient Babylon, ancient Egypt, ancient India, and ancient China are essentially the four centers of the Bronze Age world system.

Bronze Ge, the most common cold weapon of the Shang Dynasty, was unearthed from the Yin Ruins in Anyang, Henan.Photo by Wang Zhongju

Bronze is one of the universally recognized symbols of civilization. Bronze smelting and manufacturing techniques are similar, but bronze crafts or bronze wares flourish in a variety of ways depending on the time and place. In Chinese history, bronze is also the third wave of art after painted pottery and jade. Among them, bronze tools, weapons, carriages and decorations are in the same line as Central Asia and West Asia, reflecting the commonality of the world system of the Bronze Age; while bronze ritual vessels mostly imitate pottery, such as tripods, 鬲, 甗, beans, Zun, 盉, pots There are innovations in the pan and pan, inheriting the unique ritual and music tradition of East Asia. In the pre-Qin period, bronze ritual musical instruments flourished unprecedentedly, including bronze bells, tuo, cymbals, bells, gongs, gongs, drums, and cymbals. Zenghouyi Chime Bell is an unprecedented representative. If the area around the Black Sea is the first wave of bronze art, its spread to West Asia and North Africa is the second wave, and its popularity in Central Asia and East Asia is the third wave. The bronze art in the Shang and Zhou dynasties was magnificent, indicating that East Asia was already the center of the world system in the Bronze Age.

  China News Agency reporter: In the world system of the Bronze Age, how did Eastern and Western civilizations communicate and learn from each other through the Bronze Road? What is the interaction between the jade worship in the East and the gold worship in the West?

  Yi Hua:The Neolithic Age in East Asia can be called the Jade Age. Chinese jade has a history of nearly 10,000 years. The Hongshan, Lingjiatan, and Liangzhu cultures can be called the peak of Chinese jade culture. Jade culture is the unique background of Chinese culture. In the West, gold worship also has a long history in West Asia and nearby areas, and the bronze nomadic culture marked by gold in the Bronze Age was widely spread; gold is not only a symbol of Western culture, but also a common feature of Eurasian civilization. Through the Bronze Road, the fusion of local origin jade culture and foreign metal culture forms the double helix characteristic of Chinese culture “Jade Soul and Gold Soul”, composing a brilliant “Symphony of Gold and Jade”.

A jade cong from the Liangzhu culture on display at the National Museum of China.Photo by Tian Yuhao

With the advent of the Bronze Age, gold began to appear in China. Later, when it was developed and passed down to the prosperous Han and Tang Dynasties, gold and jade had formed an indissoluble bond. There are many words containing gold and jade in Chinese, such as Jinshengyuzhen, Jinyayuyi, Jinyu Mantang, Jinkouyuya, Jinfengyulu, Jinzhiyuye, Jinkeyuru, Jinyuliangyuan… This influence has continued to this day and will continue. In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the Olympic medals “gold inlaid jade” “Design is a continuation of the fusion of typical Eastern and Western cultures.

The “Gold Inlaid Jade” medal of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games exhibited in an exhibition.Photo by Tian Yuhao

  Reporter from China News Agency: You have done in-depth research on Qijia culture. What is the significance of Qijia culture on the bronze road of cultural exchanges between the East and the West? What are the impacts?

  Yi Hua:A systematic comparison between the Qijia culture and the Erlitou culture in terms of metallurgical archaeology, plant archaeology, animal archaeology, oracle decision-making, pottery, jade, and tombs shows that the two are close in time and space and similar in nature. Therefore, it can be inferred that if Erlitou culture is late Xia culture, Qijia culture is early Xia culture; if Erlitou culture is Shang culture, Qijia culture is Xia culture.

From a geographical point of view, the Qijia culture is located at the hub of east-west communication, which is the junction or transition zone of the three plateaus, where there are mountains, waters, and grasslands suitable for farming and animal husbandry; ecological diversity provides conditions for the breeding or acceptance of cultural diversity. At the same time, the Qijia culture is also located in the tail of the East Asian monsoon. The overlapping of summer rainfall and snowmelt can easily cause floods. Located in the distribution area of ​​Qijia culture.

    The jade wall of the Qijia culture from the Neolithic to the Xia period on display at the National Museum of China.Photo courtesy of Visual China

The Qijia culture jade bicong combination originated from the Neolithic Age, and the knife and Ge combination and the Guizhang combination began in the Bronze Age. Jade knives and jade Zhang were mainly popular in the Xia Dynasty, and they were the cultural symbols of the Xia Dynasty and also the cultural characteristics of the Qi family. From the Three Dynasties to the Qin and Han Dynasties, the main ritual vessel shapes were based on the Qijia culture jade shapes. Three generations of bronze spears, spears, axes and arrowheads came from the Northwest, and the Qijia culture took on the important task of connecting things on the Bronze Road. In addition, cave tombs, co-burials of men and women, and cremation became popular in the Qijia culture era, and the burial forms were obviously diversified: they not only inherited the burial traditions of the Neolithic Age in East Asia, but also introduced burial forms from Central Asia and even West Asia and Eastern Europe. The culmination of burial culture.

Generally speaking, the Qijia culture is comparable in age to the Xia Dynasty, which is not only the result of ethnic and cultural exchanges between the east and the west of China, but also the product of the combination of East Asian traditional culture and Central Asian and Western culture. Both the Bronze Road and the Silk Road pass through the distribution area of ​​Qijia culture, witnessing the exchange, integration and development of Eastern and Western cultures here. Therefore, the Qijia culture is an important part of the ancient world system, not only marking the entry of East Asia into the Bronze Age, but also laying the foundation for the complex Chinese civilization.

  Reporter from China News Agency: From the Bronze Road to the Silk Road, there have been continuous cultural exchanges between the East and the West in ancient times. What profound impacts have they had on the formation and development of Chinese civilization and the shaping of the character of the Chinese nation?

  Yi Hua:There is a Chinese idiom called “Turning hostility into treasure”, which is also related to the blending of Eastern and Western cultures on the Bronze Road. The settled agricultural ritual and music culture characterized by “jade and silk” originated in East Asia, and the bronze nomadic culture symbolized by “armor” came from Central Asia. The two represent the organic combination of “sacrifice and military” to form Chinese civilization.

    Bronze neige with jade aid unearthed from the tomb of Fu Hao at the Yin Ruins in Anyang, Henan.Photo courtesy of Visual China

Before the establishment of the Xia Dynasty, the land of East Asia was based on settled agriculture, and there were many ancient kingdoms of jade and silk, including Niuheliang in Liaoning, Lingjiatan in Anhui, Liangzhu in Zhejiang, Shijiahe in Hubei, Lushanmao in Shaanxi, Taosi ruins in Shanxi, etc. The remains of the ancient jade and silk kingdom. Among them, the Shimao site shows that with the deepening of cultural exchanges between the East and the West on the Bronze Road, the Chinese civilization absorbed the bronze nomadic economy and culture on the basis of the settled agricultural economy and culture of the Neolithic Age to form a composite civilization. The bronze nomadic culture of “Ge Tie Ma” directly participated in the construction of Chinese civilization, and promoted the Chinese nation to form a dual character of “Jade and Silk” and “War”.

“Jade and silk” is the civilization of ritual and music, which symbolizes soft power; “fighting” is the civilization of the kingdom, which symbolizes hard power; turning fighting into jade is the combination of soft and hard to demonstrate the unique and ingenious power of Chinese civilization. The Chinese civilization is a composite civilization of strength and softness, with tenacious vitality. During the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties, Northwest China was the frontier of opening up, the core area of ​​cultural exchange between the East and the West and the fusion of North and South cultures, and then developed into the heart of Eurasia and the historical and geographical hub of the ancient world.

From the Bronze Road to the Silk Road, and to today’s “Belt and Road” construction, the inheritance and development of Chinese civilization has continued to be open and inclusive, adhering to the concept of “stones from other mountains can be used to attack jade”, and constantly absorbing and integrating outstanding Foreign culture enriches and enriches the Chinese nation’s own culture, promotes “beauty and beauty, world harmony”, and promotes the construction of a community of shared future for mankind in the world system. (use up)

  Respondent profile:

  

   Yi Hua, a researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has long been engaged in the study of the history of the relationship between nomadic and farming peoples, devoted himself to the study of East-West exchanges and the formation of Chinese civilization, and tried to clarify the world system in the Bronze Age and the birth of China. : An Introduction to Ancient Western-Eastern Cultural Exchanges”, “From the Great Wall to the Summer Resort——The Transformation of the Relationship between the Central Dynasty and the Nomads”, “China in the World System of the Bronze Age”, etc. Resolving the contradiction between the theory of the origin of Chinese civilization and the theory of foreign transmission, “Qi Jia Huaxia Theory” (monograph) explores the formation process of Chinese civilization.

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