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|Country||People's Republic of China|
|Time zone||UTC+8 (China Standard)|
Tancheng is the southernmost county-level division of Shandong Province and borders Jiangsu. It is about 90 kilometres (by road) south of Linyi City and 400 kilometres southeast of Jinan, the capital city of Shandong Province. Tancheng is the “Hometown of Chinese Ginkgo” and “Hometown of Chinese Tamarix”.
Visit by Confucius
A visit by Confucius to Tancheng had been kept alive in local memory. A temple and shrines marked the locations where Confucius was said to have been. The episode is described in the ancient Tso-chuan commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals, a classic text of China. It apparently tells of the journey by Confucius circa 524 B.C. from his home in Lu to the then state of T'an, to consult and study with the Viscount of T'an, also called T'an-tzu.
17th century life
Tancheng in the 17th century is the setting for Jonathan Spence's microhistory, The Death of Woman Wang (1978).
Spence draws on two Tancheng sources: the Local History of T'an-ch'eng (1673), edited by Feng K'o-st'an; and, "a personal memoir and handbook on the office of magistrate compiled in the 1690s by the scholar-official Huang Liu-hung". Spence also employed the 'strange stories', the sad tales and essays of author P'u Sung-ling (1640-1715), "who lived a little to the north in Tzu-ch'uan county, separated from T'an-ch'eng by a range of bandit-infested hills".
Feng K'o-st'an arrived in Tancheng from Fukien in 1668 as the new magistrate. A few months later an earthquake hit. Although he was a "chin-shih", an 'advanced scholar', his experiences in Tancheng were not fortunate, being dismissed from office in 1670. His Local History recorded Tancheng "suffering for fifty years" from the 1622 White Lotus uprisings, and from drought, locusts, famine, sickness, and assorted banditry. People hurt, and despaired. In 1643 "Manchu troops under General Abatai" invaded Tancheng and "killed tens of thousands". The Ming dynasty collapsed in 1644.
Huang Liu-hung arrived from Honan in 1670 as the next magistrate; also a scholar, it was his first posting. The people of Tancheng told him that the region had for many years been "destitute and ravaged". He found the people struggling for bare survival. They were also "unusually superstitious". It was very difficult to raise moral. The social fabric had begun to fray. To counter the "decades of catastrophes", Huang attempted to grant generous "tax concessions" and "corvée labor rebates", but adequate approval by the Peking government was not forthcoming.
- Forestry Economics, Volumes 1-3, China National Forestry Economics and Development Research Center, 1996
- Jonathan D. Spence, The Death of Woman Wang (New York: Viking Press, 1978), pp. 17-18 (his visit to T'an-tzu), also re Confucius and Tancheng at pp. 15-16. Reprints by Penguin, 1980, 2005.
- Cf., Liu Wu-Chi, Confucius, his Life and Time (New York: Philosophical Library 1955), pp. 42-43: K'ung Ch'iu (Confucius) meets with the viscount of T'an in the autumn of 525 B.C.
- Spence (1978), pp. xii & 2 (Feng), xiii & 9 (Huang), xiv & 19 (P'u), quotes at xiii and xiv. Cf. p.141 (the three sources).
- Cf., C. K. Yang, "Religion and Political Rebellion" , in Schurmann and Schell, editors, Imperial China (New York: Random House 1967; reprint Vintage), pp. 166-177. In Shandong province, famines due to "frequent rain failure" gave rise to 'White Lotus' rebellions (p.174, quote). In Chinese history 'White Lotus' was a common name (from Buddhism) for politico-religious uprisings, e.g., against Mongol rule (p.166). In the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries there were conflicts involving 'White Lotus' groups (pp. 168, 170, 172, 174).
- Spence (1978). Feng's career: pp. 2-3; Feng's Local History pp. 3-9, quotes at 4 & 6-7, grim folk sayings at pp. 4-5.
- Spence (1978). Huang: pp. 9-19, quotes at 9 & 15, scholar of Honan [Henan] at 13, "raising moral" at 14, social fabric at 18-19, Huang's attempted generosity at 13-14 (quotes). Cf. p.145,n13 (Huang).