Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tang Dynasty & Central Asian Kingdoms (618-907 AD)


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“The Tang dynasty (618–907 AD) ….was one of China's most prosperous and culturally rich periods. Under the rule of the second Tang emperor, Taizong, the economy flourished and empire experienced an era of stability. Moreover, he was considered an enlightened ruler for his open style of governing…..The Tang dynasty was the largest power in Asia, extending towards Central Asia with its cultural reach playing a key role in the development of Korea and Japan. Numerous envoys and students from foreign countries frequently visited Tang dynasty China. Different ethnic groups that inhabited the periphery of the dynasty allowed for frequent cultural exchanges, making the Tang dynasty the most cosmopolitan and open of all China's dynasties……”

“The 7th century and first half of the 8th century is generally considered the zenith era of the Tang Dynasty. Emperor Tang Xuanzong brought the Middle Kingdom to its golden age while the Silk Road thrived, with sway over Indochina in the south, and to the west Tang China was master of the Pamirs (modern-day Tajikistan) and protector of Kashmir bordering Persia….Some of the kingdoms paying tribute to the Tang Dynasty included Kashmir, Nepal, Khotan, Kucha, Kashgar, Japan, Korea, Champa, and Kingdoms located in Amu Darya and Syr Darya valley.….Emperor Gaozong established several protectorates governed by a Protectorate General or Grand Protectorate General, which extended the Chinese sphere of influence as far as Herat in Western Afghanistan.”

“During the Islamic conquest of Persia (633–656), the son of the last ruler of the Sassanid Empire, Prince Pirooz, fled to Tang China…. According to the Book of Tang, Pirooz was made the head of a Governorate of Persia in what is now Zaranj, Afghanistan. During this conquest of Persia, the Islamic Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (r. 644–656) sent an embassy to the Tang court at Chang'an….. By the 740s, the Arabs of Khurasan had established a presence in the Ferghana basin and in Sogdiana. At the Battle of Talas in 751, Qarluq mercenaries under the Chinese defected, helping the Arab armies of the Islamic Caliphate to defeat the Tang force under commander Gao Xianzhi. Although the battle itself was not of the greatest significance militarily, this was a pivotal moment in history; it marks the spread of Chinese papermaking into regions west of China as captured Chinese soldiers revealed secrets of Chinese papermaking to the Arabs. These techniques ultimately reached Europe by the 12th century through Arab-controlled Spain. Although they had fought at Talas, on June 11, 758, an Abbasid embassy arrived at Chang'an simultaneously with the Uyghur Turks bearing gifts for the Tang Emperor. From even further west, a tribute embassy came to the court of Taizong in 643 from the Patriarch of Antioch. In 788–9 the Chinese concluded a military alliance with the Uighur Turks who twice defeated the Tibetans, in 789 near the town of Kuch'eng in Jungharia, and in 791 near Ning-hsia on the Yellow River.”

“The construction of the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang is generally taken to have begun sometime in the fourth century CE….Members of the ruling family of Northern Wei and Northern Zhou constructed many caves here, and it flourished in the short-lived Sui Dynasty. By the Tang Dynasty, the number of caves had reached over a thousand.”

“In the Chinese cultural sphere, Persian artistic influence was at its peak under the Tang dynasty (618-906 c.e.), contemporary with the end of the Sasanian period and the first centuries after the Islamic conquest. The reciprocal influence of Chinese art in Persia was apparent in contemporary ceramics and other small arts but cannot be observed in painting before the Il­-khanid period. These mutual influ­ences were transmitted through a variety of media, and, as always when artists of one culture are exposed to works from another, only those aspects that were particularly compatible with local tastes were emulated and adapted….Even the Tang painter Wu Dao-xuan was said to have been influenced by Central Asian cave paintings..”….

“Information on those Sasanians who avoided the submission to the Arabs and lived in Central Asia or at the Tang court can be found in the works of Muslim authors and in Chinese sources. According to Masʿudi, Yazdegerd III (r. 632-51) had two sons, Wahrām and Peroz, and three daughters, Adrag, Šahrbānu, and Mardāwand (Maçoudi, II, p. 241; see also Christensen, p. 508; Amir-Moezzi, pp. 255-56). As Balāḏori recorded, Peroz settled among the Turks of Ṭoḵārestān and even married a noble Turkish woman (Hitti, p. 493).”…

“….750 AD…..Kuo Tzu-i's army helped Tokharestan (Balkh) against Tibetans……Guo Ziyi (Kuo Tzu-i)… (697 – 781),)is reputed to be one of the greatest generals in Chinese history and was revered as the best general in East Asia during his lifetime. During his life, Guo Ziyi was a Nestorian Christian. After his death, he was immortalized in Chinese mythology as the God of Wealth and Happiness.”…..Book of Tang, vol. 120.

“Monument of Alliance Between Tang Dynasty and Tibetan Regime….. ….Chinese and Tibetan forces had many battles during this period….There is some confusion as to whether Central Tibet conquered Zhang Zhung during the reign of Songtsän Gampo or in the reign of Trisong Detsän, (r. 755 until 797 or 804 CE)……During 763 AD, Tibetans lead under the new King Trisong Detsen, who was now more Chinese than Tibetans, was ambitious wanted to become the Chinese Emperor. He send out a force of 200,000 men and succeeded in defeating the Tang capital Chang’an, but only to withdraw about 15 days later. ….In 783 AD Tibetans signed a peace treaty with Tang Dynasty, in which it was agreed it was one country but had two emperors. It was later reaffirmed in 823 AD engraved on a monument in Jokhang. The monument says " The Tang Dynasty and Tibet have two emperors but consult issues as one country…“

“Based on the account of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang, who visited in AD 644, it seems that in later times Kapisa was part of a kingdom ruled by a Buddhist Kshatriya King holding sway over ten neighboring states, including Lampaka, Nagarahara, Gandhara, and Banu. Hiuen Tsang notes the Shen breed of horses from the area, and also notes the production of many types of cereals and fruits, as well as a scented root called Yu-kin…In 629, Xuanzang reportedly had a dream that convinced him to journey to India. The Tang Dynasty and Eastern Türk Göktürks were waging war at the time; therefore Emperor Taizong of Tang prohibited foreign travel. Xuanzang persuaded some Buddhist guards at the gates of Yumen and slipped out of the empire via Liangzhou (Gansu), and Qinghai province in 629.[4] He subsequently travelled across the Gobi Desert to Kumul (Hami), thence following the Tian Shan westward, arriving in Turpan in 630. Here he met the king of Turpan, a Buddhist who equipped him further for his travels with letters of introduction and valuables to serve as funds..”


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