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Cultural identities as reflected in the literature of the Northern and Southern dynasties period (4th-6th centuries A.D.)

By Mei-Hsiu Wang

Abstract

During the period of the Northern and Southern dynasties of China identity questions became serious in a society thrown into disorder by political, religious and ethnic problems. This thesis uses three books written in the sixth century to\ud discuss how educated Chinese faced identity problems and how they dealt with them.\ud \ud The Buddhist monk Huijiao, dealt with the problems of sinifying a foreign religion. He constructed many different identities in addition to the Buddhist one for the monks in his book Gaoseng zhuan, (Lives of Eminent Monks), a collection of biographies of Buddhist monks, to bring Buddhism closer to Chinese tradition and more acceptable by Confucian standards. Through the identity construction he\ud also made responses to anti-Buddhist ideas.\ud \ud Yang Xuanzhi's Luoyang qielan ji, (Record of the Monasteries of Luoyang), deals with the identity problems of Chinese officials serving a Xianbei regime in\ud the north and of the short-lived capital of the Northern Wei in Luoyang. Yang reconstructed a Chinese identity for the lost capital as a true heir of Chinese tradition, as were the emperors, princes and officials who lived there. He created an identity defined not by ethnicity but by culture.\ud \ud Yan Zhitui's Tanshi jiaxun, (Family Instruction of the Yan Clan), is a book which tells his descendants how to construct and maintain the future identity of his\ud own family. He drew on his own experience of recovering from repeated political catastrophes to set out an identity that would help the family to survive disordered times and maintain their status in society

Publisher: School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:364

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