The continuity of Chinese cultural heritage in the T'ang-Sung era: The sociopolitical significance and cultural impact of the civil administration of the Southern T'ang (937-975)
AuthorNg, Pak Sheung, 1958-
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe migration towards the center uprooted the great clans from their local areas and encouraged the rise of local ruffians to power during the late T'ang. This historical background shaped the social and political climate of the Wu regime in South China, which had been characterized by its military flavor. By enhancing the civil administration and adopting various ways of recruiting the literati and encouraging the cultural growth, Hsu Chih-kao and his successors were able to achieve complete bureaucratization of the regime, which in turn diminished the military influence and revitalized the neglected cultural tradition of their domain. South China thus became a haven of culture, and its role was particularly important as the cultural development in North China was subsequently devastated by civil wars and foreign invasions during the Five Dynasties. After the collapse of the Southern T'ang, the preservation of culture in South China allowed it to become a major source in shaping the cultural features of the Sung. Compared with other states, the Southern T'ang enjoyed considerable peace and stability, and scholar-officials had a peaceful and comfortable environment in which to develop a special style of living. Some tastes and habits had a great impact on the daily life of the Sung scholar-officials. However, cultural polices adopted by the Southern T'ang caused the decline of national strength, for many military clans who underwent the process of civil transformation were eventually deprived of the military vitality necessary to defend the country. Also, because of the cultural inferiority, some of the Sung rulers and scholar-officials were eager to seek revenge by humiliating and oppressing the "subsidiary" officials from the south. Although the Sung adopted repressive and discriminatory measures when appointing "subsidiary" officials, some were in fact employed by the new dynasty due to the heavy demand for qualified officials. Eventually, the "subsidiary" officials could improve their prospects for promotion and favorable treatment by taking the civil service examinations. Their literary ability and knowledge of rituals also enabled them to gain imperial favor, which was vital to strengthening their position in the Sung bureaucracy.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
East Asian Studies