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STELES AND STATUS: EVIDENCE FOR THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW ELITE IN YUAN NORTH CHINA*

  • Tomoyasu Iiyama (a1)

Abstract

Drawing on stele inscriptions in a Yuan-period ancestral graveyard, this article aims to shed light on the emergence and evolution of a Chinese office-holding family in North China under Mongol rule (thirteenth- to fourteenth century). Tracing the family's connections with Mongols, it argues that adaptation to the Mongolian patronage system was essential to obtaining and maintaining political status during the Yuan, and that the kin group was stratified with the patronized descent line monopolizing political privilege. In doing so, the article highlights the value of stone inscriptions in clarifying official status, patronage, and inheritance rights in North China during the Yuan period.

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Footnotes

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The field trip to write this article was made possible by the research project “Shilin guangji and Study on Society of the Song, Jin, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties” (funded by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities).

Footnotes

References

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1 Hymes, Robert P., Statesmen and Gentlemen: The Elites of Fu-chou, Chiang-hsi, in Northern and Southern Sung (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

2 Sukhee Lee has empirically demonstrated the complexity and mutually beneficial relation between local elites and the state in local governance in Mingzhou, modern Zhejiang, during the Song and Yuan. See Lee, Sukhee, Negotiated Power: The State, Elites, and Local Governance in Twelfth- to Fourteenth-Century China (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2014).

3 Esherick, Joseph W. and Rankin, Mary Backus, “Introduction,” in Esherick, and Rankin, , eds., Chinese Local Elites and Patterns of Dominance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990). As the rather succinct reference to northern local elites in the introduction implies, the social history of North China still remains obscure even for the Ming and Qing. While the introduction simply pointed out the relative absence of degree-holding elites in northern society over the long term, some recent important works on Qing North China have argued that northern local elites significantly differed from their southern counterparts. For example, they held office irrespective of the examinations, for example by being enrolled in the Eight Banners, which also helped consolidate their local authority. In addition, with the increase of labor-intensive practices, peasants with little land in North China in general were unwilling to hire themselves out as laborers. This contrasted considerably with the situation in South China, where large farms cultivated by tenants and expansion of kinship organization had increasingly spread. In northern China, village organizations such as she 社 remained at the core of village governance and were never replaced by lineages. See Nanquin, Susan, “Two Descent Groups in North China: The Wangs of Yung-p'ing Prefecture, 1500–1800,” in Kinship Organization in Late Imperial China: 1000–1940, edited by Ebrey, Patricia Buckley and Watson, James L. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986); Heijdra, Martin, “The Socio-Economic Development of Rural China during the Ming,” chap. 9 in The Cambridge History of China: Volume 8, The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 2, edited by Twitchett, Denis C. and Mote, Frederick W. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978); Zhengzhen, Du 杜正贞, Cunshe chuantong yu mingqing shishen: Shanxi Zezhou xiangtu shehui de zhidu bianqian 村社传统与明清士绅:山西泽洲乡土社会的制度变迁 (Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe, 2007). All these findings strongly suggest we must be cautious in applying the southern (especially Jiangnan) model of local elites to the north even after the Ming.

4 Iiyama, Tomoyasu, Kingen jidai no kahoku shakai to kakyo seido: mou hitotsu no shijinsō 金元時代の華北社会と科挙制度—もう一つの「士人層」— (Tokyo: Waseda daigaku shuppanbu 早稲田大学出版部, 2011).

5 Davis, Richard L., Court and Family in Sung China, 960–1279: Bureaucratic Success and Kinship Fortunes for the Shih of Ming-chou (Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press, 1986).

6 Of course, considerable regional diversity derived from social, economic, and political disparities existed in the south. For one of the recent prominent works shedding light on this issue by focusing on local literati families in Sichuan, see Song Chen, “Managing the Territories from Afar: The Imperial State and Elites in Sichuan, 755–1279” (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2011). It should also be noted that the formation of multi-branched and stratified lineage organization was not most frequently observed in Jiangnan. In fact lineages emerged most intensively in southeastern coastal regions, such as Fujian and Guangdong, after the sixteenth century, as a way to participate in the empire-wide literati elite stratum and to acquire subsidiary privileges associated with the status. See Faure, David, Emperor and Ancestor: State and Lineage in South China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 136–48.

7 See Wei Feng 魏峰, “Xianyingbeiji yu Song Yuan dai jiazu” 先塋碑記与宋元代家族,” in press; originally a paper presented to the conference “Chuancheng yu biange: 10–14 shiji zhongguo de duobian zhengzhi yu duoyuan wenhua guoji xueshu huiyi” 传承与変革—10–14世纪中国的多边政治与多元文化”国际学术会议, Shanghai: Fudan University, August 28, 2011; Iiyama, Tomoyasu, “Mongoru jidai kahoku ni okeru keihu denshō to hikoku shiryōモンゴル時代華北における系譜伝承と碑刻史料, Shiteki 30 (2008), 164180 ; Iiyama, Tomoyasu, “Son Kōryō bo hikokugun no kenkyū: 12 kara 14 seiki kahoku niokeru sen'eihi no shutsugen to keihu denshō no hensen” 孫公亮墓”碑刻群の研究―12–14世紀華北における“先塋碑”の出現と系譜伝承の変遷―,” Ajia afurika gengo bunka kenkyū 85 (2013), 61170 ; Iiyama, Tomoyasu, “Jin Yuan shiqi beifang shehui yanbian yu xianyingbei de chuxian” 金元时期北方社会演变与“先茔碑”的出现, Zhongguoshi yanjiu 2015.4, 117–38; Iiyama, Tomoyasu, “Genealogical Steles in North China during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties,” International Journal of Asian Studies (2016).

8 Ebrey, Patricia Buckley, “The Early Stages in the Development of Descent Group Organization,” in Kinship Organization in Late Imperial China, 1000–1940, edited by Ebrey, and Watson, James L. (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986).

9 Kenji, Morita 森田憲司, “Sō Gen jidai ni okeru shūfu” 宋元時代における修譜, Tōyōshi kenkyū 37.4 (1979), 520 .

10 Erkang, Feng 冯尔康, Jianhua, Chang 常建华, Fenghan, Zhu 朱凤瀚, Aimin, Yan 阎爱民, Min, Liu 刘敏, Zhongguo zongzushi 中国宗族史 (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe, 2009), 220 .

11 Iiyama, “Genealogical Steles in North China during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties,” 179–195.

12 Ebrey, “The Early Stages in the Development of Descent Group Organization,” 51–55.

13 As for the social and cultural transition in North China under Jurchen and Mongol rules, see Jinping Wang, “Between Family and State: Networks of Literati, Clergy, and Villagers in Shanxi, North China, 1200–1400” (PhD diss.,Yale University, 2011); Iiyama, Kingen jidai no kahoku shakai to kakyo seido. Also, based on his extensive fieldwork in Shanxi for more than two decades, David Johnson has persuasively demonstrated that the society actually developed a unique social order centering on ceremonial dramas that were considerably different from southern community rituals. See Johnson, David, Spectacle and Sacrifice: The Ritual Foundations of Village Life in North China (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2009). Of course, as Vincent Goossaert remarked in his review of Johnson's work, North China is not a cohesive social and cultural unit, but rather has dazzling diversities within it, so we should be cautious in simply juxtaposing “north” with “south.” See Goossaert, Vincent, “Is There a North China Religion? QA Review Essay,” Journal of Chinese Religions 39 (2011). In this paper, I define North China as the region formerly ruled by the Jurchen Jin dynasty, where installation of genealogical steles became widespread under Mongol rule, not as a geographically or culturally independent regional unit.

14 See Iiyama, “Genealogical Steles in North China during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties,” 163–166.

15 See Iiyama, “Genealogical Steles in North China during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties,” 153–154.

16 The Middle Mongolian word for genjiao 根腳 has not been attested in contemporary sources, though it might have been “huja'ur,” which literally meant “root” and “origin.” See Hung, William, “The Transmission of the Book Known as The Secret History of the Mongols ,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 14 (1951), 467 ; de Rachewiltz, Igor, The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century, 2 vols. (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2006), 223ff.

17 Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 72.

18 When attached to an official title or name of an institution, yeke, meaning “great” (which seems to have frequently been translated as buzurg in Persian sources and da 大 in Chinese) could indicate that the office was under the direct command of the imperial bloodline, that is to say, Činggis Qan and his direct descendants. See Toshikazu, Shimo 志茂碩敏, Mongoru teikokushi kenkyūモンゴル帝国史研究 (Tokyo: Tokyo University Press, 1995), 451–76. If this can be applied to the case of Sun Wei's title, yeke uran, it may have meant something like an “artisan owned by the imperial clan.” As seen below, when Sun Wei's grandson, Sun Gong, was granted an imperial audience with Temür Qaγan (Chin. Chengzong 成宗, r. 1294–1307), he was introduced as the grandson of yeke uran (i.e., Sun Wei) and immediately obtained permission to inherit his father's position. This appears to strongly suggest that yeke uran was not a mere nickname, but an official position to be inherited over generations.

19 See Lessing, Ferdinand D., Mongolian-English Dictionary (Bloomington, Ind.: The Mongolia Society, 1995), 718 , 845.

20 Hereafter, as most of the steles in the graveyard of the Sun family have not been published, I will refer to my transcription in Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” which is available on http://independent.academia.edu/TomoyasuIiyama. As for this sentence, see Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 71.

21 Recent excavation at Avraγa, Hendi ayimaγ, Mongolia, has proved that the site was a permanent settlement, allegedly during the reign of Činggis Qan, functioning as one of his seasonal encampments. Archaeologists speculate that eventually this site came to be populated by approximately 10,000 people, with multiple ironworks. As it is the sole excavated settlement with obvious evidence of active and large-scale iron smithy from the reign of Činggis Qan so far, it seems to be likely Sun Gongliang was born, or at least lived seasonally in this emergent steppe city. See Noriyuki, Shiraishi 白石典之, Mongoru teikoku no kōkogakuteki kenkyūモンゴル帝国の考古学的研究 (Tokyo: Dōseisha, 2002), 179–94.

22 Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 41.

23 Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 116.

24 Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 116.

25 Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 83, 85.

26 Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 102.

27 Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 102.

28 Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 116.

29 Hsiao Ch'i-ch'ing described this phenomenon as “literatization” (shirenhua 士人化), which does not represent the unilateral assimilation of non-Chinese people to Chinese culture. See Ch'i-ch'ing, Hsiao 蕭啓慶, Jiuzhousihai fengya tong: Yuandai duozu shirenquan de xingcheng yu fazhan 九州四海風雅同-元代多族士人圈的形成與發展 (Taipei: Lianjing chuban gongsi, 2012).

30 Brose, Michael C., Subjects and Masters: Uyghurs in the Mongol Empire (Bellingham: Center for East Asian Studies, Western Washington University, 2007).

31 For example, see the case of a northerner scholar-official who fully adapted himself to the new recruiting and promotion systems under the Yuan, while maintaining his social and cultural status as a Chinese literatus. See Iiyama, Tomoyasu, “A Career between Two Cultures: Guo Yu, A Chinese Literatus in the Yuan Bureaucracy,” The Journal of Song-Yuan Studies 44 (2014), 471501 .

32 See wenwuju, Guojia 国家文物局, ed., Zhongguo wenwu dituji: Shanxi fence 中国文物地图集-山西分册, 3 vols. (Beijing: Zhongguo ditu chubanshe), 2006 , vol. 2, p. 125. The graveyard is called Sun family graves “Sunjia fen” 孫家墳 in the village. With the assistance of Prof. Zhang Junfeng 张俊峰 at Shanxi University, I investigated “Sun Gongliang jiazu mu” three times, on March 11, 2008, August 13, 2011, and May 18–19, 2012. Here I express my deepest gratitude to Prof. Zhang and his two students, Yuan Zhaohui 袁兆辉 and Zhang Shiqing 张世卿, who enthusiastically supported me, totally unable to understand the local dialect, in my survey in and around the village.

33 See Junxi, Liu 刘俊喜, “Hunyuan Sunshi jiazu mubei kao” 浑源孙氏家族墓碑考, in Shanxisheng kaogu xuehui wenji, vol. 2 山西省考古学会文集(二), edited by Shanxisheng kaiguhui 山西省考古学会 and Shanxisheng kaogu yanjiusuo 山西省考古研究所 (Taiyuan: Shanxi renmin chubanshe, 1994), 255 .

These blank squares and those that follow indicate single unreadable characters.

34 Liu, “Hunyuan Sunshi jiazu mubei kao,” 255–57. This report does not mention the reason why only nine steles were recorded whereas it testifies that the archaeologists confirmed eleven in 1987.

35 Niu Guihu 牛贵琥 and Li Runmin 李润民, “Quanyuanwen buyi erpian”《全元文》补遗二篇, Shanxidaxue xuebao: Zhexue shehui kexueban 2008.1, 55–59; Runmin, Li and Guihu, Niu, “ Quanyuanwen buyi sanpian”《全元文》补遗三篇, Shanxi datongdaxue xuebao: shehuikexueban 24.2 (2010), 6567 ; Iiyama, “Sonkōryō hikokugun no kenkyū.” How the steles could have escaped the attention of the gazetteer compilers remains unexplained. It seems likely that the compilers were rather sluggish in including pre-Ming inscriptions and plausibly they simply found it pointless to even mention the Yuan steles installed in a remote village.

36 The most thorough information on Yuan ancestral graveyards can be found in the ongoing series of provincial lists of archaeological sites, cultural relics, and historical buildings, The Atlas of Chinese Cultural Relics (Zhongguo wenwu dituji 中国文物地图集), published by Wenwu chubanshe. Having read the series, one will most certainly know how extraordinary the Sun Family Graveyard is, given the fact that the rest of the extant Yuan family graveyards have only a few (fewer than five or six at most) steles, including tiny fragments with only a few illegible characters. In most cases, those Yuan graveyards have been considerably disturbed, with steles obviously moved, and all the supposed Yuan graveyard turned into a cultivated field (thus leaving no clue as to whether it was actually a graveyard, or the stele has been moved from the original site).

37 Elderly Suns testified that in the New Year ritual, people used to form a procession to perform dramas by themselves. Over the course of the ritual, those of Sun surname paid an honorary visit to the graveyard. And at the end of the ritual, villagers gathered at the entrance of the village to burn incense. This shows clear resemblance to the New Year ritual in Sand Hill (Shagetuo 沙圪坨) village, located only some 20 kilometers northeast from the Sun Gongliang jiazu fenmu, in which villagers also formed a procession and burned incense to “send off” ancestors at the graveyard. See Johnson, Spectacle and Sacrifice, 84–91. In both cases, the ancestral graveyard functioned as a focal point in the ritual, in the absence of any other form of ancestral institution. Of course, these cases cannot be generalized even in northern Shanxi. Recent scholarship has revealed that not a few kinship organizations in this region own a genealogical text in the form of a silk sheet, to which kinsfolk burn incense and recite prayers. See Chaojian, Han 韩朝建, “Huabei de yun yu zongzu: yi shanxi daixian wei zhongxin” 华北的容与宗族-以山西代县为中心, Minsu yanjiu 2012.5, 130–38.

38 As for the function of the Yuan genealogical steles, see Iiyama, “Genealogical Steles in North China during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties,” 167–169.

39 Sicheng, 呂世誠, “Guanshi shixi jie 關氏世系碣,” Hu Pinzhi 胡聘之, eds., Shanyou shike congbian山右石刻叢編 (Taiyuan: Shanxi renmin chubanshe, 1988), 33.11a-11b.

40 Iiyama, “Genealogical Steles in North China during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties,” 169.

41 Iiyama, “Genealogical Steles in North China during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties,” 162–166.

42 Huizhi, Huang, “Jining lishi zuying bei,” Quan liao jin wen 全辽金文 (Taiyuan: Shanxi guji chubanshe, 2002) 2.1994.

43 Junde, Zhang 張俊德, “Miaoshi zongpai zhi tu,” Quan Yuan wen 全元文 (abbreviated as QYW below) (Nanjing: Fenghuang chubanshe, 2004) 56.202ff.

44 See Ebrey, “Early Stages of Descent Group Organization,” 44–50; Szonyi, Michael, Practicing Kinship: Lineage and Descent in Late Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002). In his discussion of ancestral halls, Xu Heng, one of the most influential northern scholars in the Yuan period, justified the form of ancestral worship that included an apical ancestor. Although his justification would become accepted broadly in the Ming-Qing period, genealogical steles from the Yuan show that he did not necessarily exert the same kind of influence over ancestral worship practices in the ancestral graveyards during the Yuan. See Chow, Kai-wing, The Rise of Confucian Ritualism in Late Imperial China: Ethics, Classics, and Lineage Discourse (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), 82ff.

45 Ouyang Xuan 歐陽玄, “Pucheng yimen Wangshi xianying beiming” 浦城義門王氏先塋碑銘, QYW 34.740.

46 See Ebrey, “Conceptions of the Family in the Sung Dynasty,” 224–32.

47 Ebrey, “The Early Stages in the Development of Descent Group Organization,” 20–22.

48 Atwood, Christopher, “Mongols, Arabs, Kurds, and Franks: Rashīd al-Dīn's Comparative Ethnography of Tribal Society,” in Rashīd al-Dīn: Agent and Mediator of Cultural Exchanges in Ilkhanid Iran, edited by Akasoy, Anna, Burnett, Charles and Yoeli-Tlalim, Ronit (London and Turin: The Warburg Institute, 2013), 223–50; Atwood, Christopher, “Historiography and Transformation of Ethnic Identity in the Mongol Empire: The Öng’üt Case,” Asian Ethnicity 15.4 (2014), 514–34.

49 Dunnell, Ruth, “Xili Gambu and the Myth of Shatuo Descent: Genealogical Anxiety and Family History in Yuan China,” in Archivum Eurasiae MEdii Aevi 21 (2014–2015), 96 .

50 Anonymous, Da Yuan shengzheng guochao dianzhang 大元聖政國潮典章(abbreviated as DYSZ below) 8.10b, in Yuandianzhang 元典章, edited by Chen Gaohua 陳高華, Zhang Fan 張帆, Liu Xiao 劉曉, Dang Baohai 黨寶海 (abbreviated as YDZ below) (Beijing and Tianjin: Zhonghua shuju and Tianjin guji chubanshe, 2011), 254.

51 Iiyama, “Genealogical Steles in North China during the Jin and Yuan Dynasties,” 158–161.

52 See DYSZ 8.10a–17b (YDZ, 252–66).

53 For example, engraved documents proved to be officially acceptable certificates of official appointment in Southern Song. If a Southern Song official accidentally lost his certificate of posting, he could submit the rubbing of the inscription(s) of his ancestral stele's/s’ spirit road as its substitute. See Takamichi, Kobayashi 小林隆道, Sōdai Chūgoku no tōchi to bunsho 宋代中国の統治と文書 (Tokyo: Kyūko sho'in, 2013), 4349 .

54 Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 72; “Zhongshun dafu zhangdelu zongguan Hunyuan Sungong xianying beiming” 中順大夫彰德路總管渾源孫公先塋碑銘, QYW 13.428–30.

55 By the names, there are characters read as “beginning of month” (yuechu 月初) and “tenth day (or a day in the second period of ten days) in the month” (yueshi 月十).

56 See “Dixiong fenzheng jiachan shi” 弟兄分爭家產事, DYSZ 19.10b, in YDZ, 687. Also see Shūzō, Shiga, 滋賀秀三, Chūgoku kazokuhō no genri 中国家族法の原理 (Tokyo: Sōbunsha, 1967), 507ff.

57 For example, see Zhao Zhongjing 趙忠敬, “Guoshi xianying beiji” 郭氏先塋碑記, QYW 24.61; Ouyang Xuan, “Pucheng yiwen wanshi xianying beiming”; Hui, Mao 毛麾, “Jiezhou pingluxian Zhangshi yiju menlü bei” 解州平陸縣張氏義居門閭碑, in Sanjin shike daquan: Yunchengshi yanhuqu juan 三晋石刻大全-运城市盐湖区卷, edited by Peida, Zhang 张培达 (Taiyuan: Sanjin chubanshe, 2010), 37ff.

58 See lines 19 and 20 in his epitaph, recorded in Iiyama, “Sonkōryōbo hikokugun no kenkyū,” 121.

59 For instance, see Tateki, Fujishima 藤島建樹, “Genchō chika niokeru kanjin ichizoku no ayumi: Kōjō no Tōshi no ba'ai” 元朝治下における漢人一族の歩み―藁城の董氏の場合, Ōtani gakuhō 66 (1986); Kazuaki, Tsutsumi 堤一昭, “Ritan no ran go no kanjin gunbatsu: Sainan Chōshi no jirei” 李璮の乱後の漢人軍閥―済南張氏の事例, Shirin 78.3 (1995); Haichao, Fu 符海朝, Yuandai hanren shihou qunti yanjiu元代汉人世侯群体研究 (Baoding: Hebeidaxue chubanshe, 2007).

60 Koh, Khee Heong, A Northern Alternative: Xue Xuan (1389–1464) and the Hedong School (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 2011), 74 .

61 Koh, A Northern Alternative, 74.

62 Xu Youren 許有壬, “Song Zhu Anpu youdaduxu” 送朱安甫遊大都序, in Zhizhengji 至正集, juan 36; QYW 38.84ff.

63 See Iiyama, “A Career between Two Cultures.”

64 Yanwu, Gu 顧炎武 and Yuan, Chen 陳垣, eds., Rizhilu 日知錄 (Hefei: Anhui daxue chubanshe, 2007) 17.951–53.

* The field trip to write this article was made possible by the research project “Shilin guangji and Study on Society of the Song, Jin, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties” (funded by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities).

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