Qiang (historical people)

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For the modern ethnic group in northwestern Sichuan, see Qiang people.

Qiang (Chinese: ; pinyin: Qiāng; Wade–Giles: Ch'iang) was a name given to various groups of people at different periods in ancient China. The Qiang people are generally thought to have been of Tibetan-Burmese[1] origin, though there are other theories. The Tangut people of Tang, Sung and Yuan dynasties may be of a people of Qiang descent.[1]

History[edit]

The term "Qiang" appears in the Classic of Poetry in reference to Tang of Shang (trad. 1675–1646 BC).[2] They seem to have lived in a diagonal band from northern Shaanxi to northern Henan, somewhat to the south of the later Beidi. They were enemy of the Shang dynasty, who mounted expeditions against them, capturing slaves and victims for human sacrifice. The Qiang prisoners were skilled in making oracle bones.[3]

According to the Shuowen Jiezi, they were shepherds, part of the Xirong people.[4] They had a close relation to the Zhou dynasty, who may themselves have come from the Rong,[1] and were mentioned in the Book of Documents and Records of the Grand Historian as one of the allies of King Wu of Zhou who defeated the Shang.[5] Christopher I. Beckwith proposes the word "Qiang" possibly has an Indo-European etymology: "The word klānk- in Tocharian means 'to ride, go by wagon', as in 'to ride off to hunt from a chariot', so Ch'iang could actually mean 'charioteer';" and that the Qiang were possibly of Indo-European origin.[6] According to Beckwith, it is possible that the clan (Jiang) of Jiang Yuan, mother of Houji, founder of the Zhou dynasty, was related or identical to the Qiang.[7] Some of these groups were called the "Horse-Qiang" or "Many-Horse-Qiang" (Ma Qiang or Duo Ma Qiang), suggesting they may have been horse breeders.[3] Not until the rise of the state of Qin under Duke Mu was the Qiang expansion effectively halted.

During the Han dynasty, a group of nomads to the southwest of Dunhuang were known as the Chuo Qiang (Chinese: 婼羌). They were described in the Book of Han as a people who moved with their livestock in search of water and pasture, made military weapons themselves using iron from the mountains, and possessed bows, lances, short knives, swords and armour.[8] In the Weilüe, other Qiang tribes named were the "Brown Onion", "White Horse", and "Yellow Ox" Qiang.[9] The various tribes of the Qiangs formed a confederation against the Han but were defeated.[10]

Later in the Han Dynasty, groups of people in the western part of Sichuan were mentioned in the Book of the Later Han as separate branches of the Qiang. A song from one of these groups, the "White Wolf" people, was transcribed in Chinese characters together with Chinese translation, and the language has since been identified as a Tibeto-Burman language.[1]

A Qiang leader, Yao Chang, founded the Later Qin kingdom (384–417 CE) during the Sixteen Kingdoms period of Chinese history.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Edwin G. Pulleyblank (1983). "Chapter 14 - The Chinese and Their Neighbors in Prehistoric and Early Historic Times". In David Keightley. The Origins of Chinese Civilization. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-04229-8. 
  2. ^ Shi Jing, Sacrificial Odes of Shang, Yin Wu. 《詩經·商頌·殷武》: "昔有成湯,自彼氐羌,莫敢不來享,莫敢不來王"。
  3. ^ a b Nicola Di Cosmo. "The Northern Frontier in Pre-Imperial China". In Michael Loewe, Edward L. Shaughness. The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C.. Cambridge University Press. p. 908. ISBN 0-521-47030-7. 
  4. ^ Shouwen Original text: 羌:西戎牧羊人也。从人从羊,羊亦聲。
  5. ^ Shiji 武王曰:「嗟!我有國冢君,司徒、司馬、司空,亞旅、師氏,千夫長、百夫長,及庸、蜀、羌、髳、微、纑、彭、濮人,稱爾戈,比爾干,立爾矛,予其誓。」
  6. ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. (16 March 2009). Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 375–376. ISBN 14008-29941. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. (16 March 2009). Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Princeton University Press. p. 44. ISBN 14008-29941. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Hulsewé, A. F. P. (1979). China in Central Asia: The Early Stage 125 BC – AD 23: an annotated translation of chapters 61 and 96 of the History of the Former Han Dynasty. E. Brill, Leiden. pp. 80–81. ISBN 90-04-05884-2. 
  9. ^ Annotated translation of the Weilüe by John E. Hill
  10. ^ Joseph P. Yap (2009). "Chapter 9 - War with Qiang". Wars With the Xiongnu: A Translation from Zizhi Tongjian. AuthorHouse. pp. 324–340. ISBN 978-1-4490-0605-1.