Monday, November 21, 2011

Why Chinese are called "Tang Ren" - the integration of multicultural and cosmopolitan China of four thousand years

Wonder why Chinatowns all over the world are called "tang ren jie" -- Chinese people's street but
not zhongguoren cheng (middle country people town)?

The word Tang  (ph : pinyin: táng, Cantonese: tong)   refers to the Tang Dynasty  (618 - 907)  which was the zenith of Chinese history.

The administration flourished under a well established meritocracy-based public service, enlightened Emperors ( including a female - Empress Wu Zetian) and large-scale assimilation of Chinese peoples regardless of ethnicities.

There were well documented archives, poetry and anecdotal references to mixed bloodlines which Hans carried from their ancestors intermarriage with Hu, Tibetan, Caucasian and many "Others".  Foreign physical features such as high nose, blue eyes, bushy brows, sideburns, beard, large ears, fair skin complexion were noted among senior bureaucrats and military leaders of the time. The erosion of pure Han ethnicity which began in earlier dynasties during wars and migration, was accelerated during the Tang dynasty. The Han today is an integrated culture rather than a race or ethnicity.

It was said that members of the Tang royal family, which continued to practise diplomatic marriages, had high nose bridge.

A well known general An Lushan was a Turk who later revolted against the Emperor.

Emperor Gaozong built the first mosque after meeting Prophet Mohamed's envoy.

The famous poet Li Bai who was described as having exotic physical features was possibly of Central Asian ancestry.

Read more in :

Ethnic identity in Tang China

 By Marc Samuel Abramson

Chinese history has been interrupted with variations of protectionist and seclusionist policies such warding off hostile "barbarian" invaders by building the Great Wall of China. Intrusions  and infighting among warring states were were common at times when China was devoid of a central authority.

The greatness and glory of Tang was its ability to utilise the best talents possible. Power did not come through military conquests and coercion of its people. Sincization was voluntary and sought after by the minorities.

China has come a long way. I believe and truly that Chinese leaders people will learn from history and continue to uphold the virtues and values of Tang.

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