Cultural Accommodation in South China through the 1st Millennium CE
Hugh R. Clark, Ph.D.
Professor of History & East Asian Studies
“Cultural Accommodation in South China through the 1st Millennium CE”
The diverse lands south of the Yangtze River lay outside the empire’s cultural heartland long after the assertion of political authority by the Qin empire in the late 3rd century BCE. In the eyes of northern elites who authored the written record, the cultures of the South were considered inferior, “barbaric,” and unworthy of either imitation or engagement. Nevertheless over the course of the 1st millennium CE North and South were increasingly engaged with and familiar with each other.
For centuries if not millennia the standard narrative has presumed that northern culture, the so-called “Confucian” culture overwhelmed and transformed the South, displacing indigenous culture and converting the South into something more nearly akin to the North.
In the present paper the author argues for a different outcome. Through examination of the roots of three cults indigenous to southern Fujian province: the Maternal Ancestress (Mazu), the Great Life-Protecting Lord (Baosheng dadi), and the Lord of Manifest Kindness (Xianhui hou), the author argues that pre-sinitic southern culture had a profound impact on sinitic culture, one that continues to resonate throughout Chinese culture even to the present.
The goal is to challenge to Lord of Manifest Kindness (Xianhui hou) (always the better choice.