Sufi orders

Sufi orders are socially important religious orders from the Muslim lands of Central Asia. Sufi orders provide Islamic teaching, religious guidance, and even armed protection to travellers. Students who have remained long enough with an order are given the opportunity to become fully-fledged initiates, after which step they are taught the esoteric teachings of the order. These esoteric teaching will also encompass the use of Islamic Magic (see pages 86-87 of the rule book).

Each Sufi order is named after its founder. The most active Sufi order in the areas close to Imperial China, and hence the one expected to play a major role in any Muslim-themed Celestial Empire campaign, is the Naqshbandiya, named after its founder Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari (1318–1389).

Sufism is frowned upon by conservative Muslims because of its perceived influences of Buddhist and Hindu mysticism, and of Nestorian and Manichæan monasticism.

Sufis also have some rather unorthodox practices like meditation, and pilgrimages to the tombs of saints.


Chinese Muslims

The history of Islam in China is briefly described in the rule book, pages 39-40. The following is an expansion to what is already written in The Celestial Empire.

The first Muslims arrived to China during the 7th century AD, travelling along the Silk Road. They were warmly received by the Chinese government, and they did gain a few converts in the north-western provinces. However, the main impact of early Islam in China was in the coastal cities that were major trade centres, such as Canton [Guǎngzhōu], Zayton [Quánzhōu], and Yángzhōu, which probably already had their first mosques built during the Tang Dynasty. The Huáishèng Mosque in Guǎngzhōu, for instance, is one of the oldest in the world. In these ports, Muslims were not Chinese converts but Arab and Persian traders. The Judge Dee novel Murder in Canton is precisely set against such a cosmopolitan background.

As mentioned in the rule book, ethnic Chinese Muslims (Huí 回) — as distinct from the Turkic-speaking ethnic groups of the Northwest — are descended primarily from Muslims who migrated to China during the Yuán dynasty, and who intermarried into the surrounding population while converting them to Islam, while they in turn assimilated in all aspects of Chinese culture, keeping only their distinctive religion.

Other Huí are descended from Nestorian Christians who converted to Islam after the 14th century, when Nestorianism was on the wane in China; other Huí yet are descended from Chinese Jews who converted to Islam, mainly in the 17th century.

As mentioned in the rule book, the main areas inhabited by the Huí are Gānsù and Yúnnán, thus splitting the Huí into Northern Huí and South-eastern Huí. The former are more restless, having been at the heart of many rebellions, most notably under the Qīng. The Northern Huí have also maintained strong links with Central Asian Islam, in particular with Central Asian Sufi schools and orders. Despite these links, the Northern Huí have also developed their own traditions, like synthesising Daoist teachings and martial arts practices with Sufi philosophy. The South-eastern Huí, on their side, have a much longer tradition of synthesising Confucian teachings with the Sharia and Koranic teachings, and of co-operating with the authorities. The South-eastern Huí have a history of contributing to the army and to the Confucian officialdom. The famous Chinese admiral Zhèng Hé, for instance, was a Huí from Yúnnán.

The Míng dynasty sees the rapid decline in the Muslim population in the sea ports because of the closing of all seaport trade with the outside world. However it also sees the rise of Muslim military generals, and the establishment of centres of Muslim learning in China. The Míng dynasty also gives rise to the already-mentioned admiral Zhèng Hé.

Muslims in China proper are given relative freedom by the authorities, with no restrictions placed on their religious practices or freedom of worship, and being normal subjects of the Emperor. Immigration slows down drastically, however, and the Muslims in China become increasingly isolated from the rest of the Muslim world, gradually becoming more Sinicised, adopting the Chinese language and Chinese dress. During this period, Muslims also begin to adopt Chinese surnames, e.g., Mǎ (馬) for Muhammad, as mentioned on p8 of the rule book.

As mentioned on p40 of the rule book, the Qīng dynasty is both a period of expansion (most notably of the Naqshabandi Sufi order) and of hardships (the 19th century rebellions and massacres) for the Huí. It is also a period of re-established links with Central Asia; many Huí migrate or flee to Sogdiana and Turkestan under the Qīng.

An interesting characteristic of the Huí is the ménhuàn (門宦), which is a Chinese-style Sufi order. Ménhuàn are thought of having originated from a synthesis of Confucianism and the clan system of China (see p101 of the rule book) with the Sufi orders. Ménhuàn are ruled by hereditary sheikhs.


Brilliant China-themed French comic books (cont'd)

OK; this comic book series is Belgian but still written in French. Apparently it's been translated to German but never to English. The author, Vink, was born in Vietnam but has lived in Belgium for the past 50 years or so. Still his comic books are almost always set in East Asia or in Southeast Asia and drawn with an obvious passion for that region.

The comic book series is actually made up of two consecutive series: Le Moine fou, in 10 volumes, and Les voyages de He Pao, in 5 volumes.

The stories are set in the Sòng dynasty, a troubled time for China — but then a perfect time for an action-packed comic book. The main character of both series is the orphan girl He Pao [Hé Bǎo 河寶], a martial artist raised by Buddhist nuns and intent on discovering the origins of the incredibly efficient wǔshù that she has been taught, and who her true parents were.


The Triad Society (Sānhéhuì 三合會)

Period of Time

excerpt from The Chinese by Sir John Francis Davies, 1836
The fraternities which are most dreaded by the government of China are those secret associations, under various mysterious names, which combine for for purposes either religious or political, or perhaps both together. The present weak state of the government renders it particularly jealous of all secret societies whatever, as well as cruel and unrelenting in punishing their leaders. But the chief object of its dread and persecution is the Sānhéhuì, or Triad Society, of which some description was given in 1823 by Dr. Milne. The name seems to imply that when Heaven, earth, and man combine to favour them, they shall succeed in subverting the present Tartar dynasty, and that, in the mean while, exertion is to be used to mature that event.

Dr. Milne's account of the Triad Society, whose nature and objects he took some pains to investigate, is so curious as to deserve particular notice. In the reign of Jiāqìng [reign years 1796–1820], the Triad Society, under another name, spread itself rapidly through the provinces, and had nearly succeeded in overturning the government. In 1803 its machinations were frustrated, and the principal leaders seized and put to death, the official reports stating to the emperor that "not a single members of that rebellious fraternity was left alive." But the fact was otherwise, for they still existed, and, with a view to secrecy, adopted the name which they at present bear.

The objects of the association appear at first to have been allied to something like freemasonry, and to have aimed simply at mutual aid and assistance; but as the numbers increased, their views degenerated from the laudable ends of reciprocal benefit to violence and robbery, the overthrow of government, and the acquisition of political power by the expulsion of the Tartar dynasty. In foreign colonies, as at Batavia, Singapore, and Malacca, the real or pretended branches of the association exist, and their objects are mutual defence, as well as plunder and other dishonesty. They engage to defend each other from the attacks of police officers, and to assist members of their society in escaping from justice. If any one feels himself injured, the others take part in his quarrel and help him to revenge himself.

The management of the combination is vested in three persons who are denominated , elder brethren. Of their internal discipline, Dr. Milne could obtain little information. The society's regulations are said to be written for greater secrecy on cloth, which on any emergency may be thrown into a well, or otherwise concealed for a time.

The ceremony of initiation is said to take place at night. The oath of secrecy is taken before an idol, and a sum of money given to support the general expense. There is likewise a ceremony called guò qiáo, "passing the bridge," which bridge is formed of swords, either laid between two tables, or else set up on the hilts and meeting at the points, in form of an arch. The persons who receive the oath take it under this bridge, and the chief brother reads the articles of the oath, to each of which an affirmative response is given by the new member, after which he cuts off the head of a cock, which is the usual form of a Chinese oath, intimating, "Thus perish all who divulge the secret." Some of the marks by which they make themselves known to each other consist of mystical numbers, of which the chief is the number three. Certain motions of the fingers constitute a class of signs. To discover if one of the fraternity is in company, a brother will take up his teacup, or its cover, in a particular way with three fingers, and this will be answered by a corresponding sign.
The Triad Society originally attracted anti-Manchu patriots; it later evolved into a Mafia-style criminal brotherhood.

- Must be sponsored by someone who is already a member of the secret society.
- The new member must be useful to the secret society, either through his wealth, or through his skills, or his influence...
- Knowledge (Streetwise) must be at least 60%

- Financial benefits from the Triad Society's illegal activities
- Help from fellow members, incl. being smuggled abroad to lie low for a while
- New skill: Knowledge (Group: Triad Society) at a starting value of 10+3D6% - Can be used to find shelter, recognise fellow Triad members, etc. (see Description above)

- Must help fellow members
- Must blindly obey orders from 'elder brethren' ()
- Risk of death penalty if caught by government agents


History of the Chinese language(s) - Yuán Period Chinese

Under the Yuán, the Chinese language undergoes yet again several major transformations, the most notable of which is its transformation into a family of languages from a single fragmented language.

In what will become the lands where Mandarin is spoken today, late Middle Chinese evolves into Proto-Mandarin Chinese. In the southern provinces, each regional dialect becomes a language in its own right, Mǐn much more so than the other ones.

These changes are probably made more dramatic by the harsh rule of the Mongols, who divide the Chinese into two peoples, Northerners and Southerners, with different rights. Chinese culture appeals less to the (foreign) élite, and thus more popular literary forms appear, such as Chinese drama (known as "Chinese opera" in the West), which is performed in vernacular Chinese. Story-telling also becomes extremely important under the Yuán, as do novels written in báihuà 白話 ('written vernacular').

From the Yuán on, there are two concurrent ways of writing Chinese: Literary Chinese (wényán), and Written vernacular Chinese (báihuà).


The Door-Tablet (門牌)

The following is an excerpt from A view of China for philological purposes, containing a sketch of Chinese chronology, geography, government, religion & customs (1817) written by the Scottish missionary Robert Morrison.

In the Chinese Government, there appears great regularity and system. Every district has its appropriate officer; every street its constable, and every ten houses a tything-man. They have all the requisite means of ascertaining the population with considerable accuracy.

Every family is required to have a board, always hanging up in the house, and ready for the inspection of authorised officers, on which the name of all persons, men, women, and children, in the house is inscribed. This board is called a 門牌 ménpái, 'door-tablet', because, where there are women and children within, the officers are expected to take the account from the board, at the door. Were all the inmates of a family faithfully inserted, the amount of the population would of course be ascertained with great accuracy. But it is said, this is not the case. Names are often omitted, and the officers pass it over, either from neglect, or from some consideration given them by the head of the family, who, according to his situation in the community, has various reasons to represent his family fewer than what it is. One reason said to operate sometimes is, that in urgent cases a conscription of every third male, able to bear arms, has been made by the government. That, however, was an ancient regulation, and is not applicable to the present Dynasty, which keeps up a constant standing army. Every Tartar is a soldier. Other say, that amongst the poor, who constitute the mass of the population in every country, the ménpái, or account of persons given in, is generally correct. To be the reverse, exposes them to information and to much trouble.



The following is the full text of 'Guilds', a chapter from the book Chinese Sketches (1875) by noted British sinologist Herbert A Giles. It complements the excerpt already available under the Chambers of Commerce section on pages 100-101 of the rule book.

In every large Chinese city are to be found several spacious buildings which are generally reckoned among the sights of the place, and are known by foreigners under the name of guilds. Globe-trotters visit them, and admire the maximum of gold-leaf crowded into the minimum of space, their huge idols, and curious carving; of course passing over those relics which the natives themselves prize most highly, namely, sketches and scrolls painted or written by the hand of some departed celebrity. Foreign merchants regard them with a certain amount of awe, for they are often made to feel keenly enough the influence which these institutions exert over every branch of trade. They come into being in the following manner. If traders from any given province muster in sufficient numbers at any of the great centres of commerce, they club together and form a guild. A general subscription is first levied, land is bought, and the necessary building is erected. Regulations are then drawn up, and the tariff on goods is fixed, from which the institution is to derive its future revenue. For all the staples of trade there are usually separate guilds, mixed establishments being comparatively rare. It is the business of the members as a body to see that each individual contributes according to the amount of merchandise which passes through his hands, and the books of suspected defaulters are often examined at a moment's notice and without previous warning. The guild protects its constituents from commercial frauds by threatening the accused with legal proceedings which an individual plaintiff would never have dared to suggest; and the threat is no vain one when a mandarin, however tyrannical and rapacious, finds himself opposed by a body of united and resolute men. On the other hand, these guilds deal fairly enough with their own members, and not only refuse to support a bad case, but insist on just and equitable dealings with the outside world. To them are frequently referred questions involving nice points of law or custom, and one of the chief functions of a guild is that of a court of arbitration. In addition to this they fix the market rates of all kinds of produce, and woe be to any one who dares to undersell or otherwise disobey the injunctions of the guild. If recalcitrant, he is expelled at once from the fraternity, and should his hour of need arrive he will find no helping hand stretched out to save him from the clutches of the law. But if he acknowledges, as he almost always does, his breach of faith, he is punished according to the printed rules of the corporation. On a large strip of red paper his name and address are written, the offence of which he has been convicted, and the fine which the guild has determined to impose. This latter generally takes the form of a dinner to all members, to be held on some appointed day and accompanied by a theatrical entertainment, after which the erring brother is admitted as before to the enjoyment of those rights and privileges he would otherwise infallibly have lost.

On certain occasions, such as the birthday of a patron saint, the guild spends large sums from the public purse in providing a banquet for its members and hiring a theatrical troupe, with their everlasting tom-toms, to perform on the permanent stage to be found in every one of these establishments. The Ānhuī men celebrate the birthday of Zhū Xī​, the great commentator, whose scholarship has won eternal honours for his native province; Swatow [Shàntóu] men hold high festival in memory of Hán Wén Gōng, whose name is among the brightest on the page of Chinese history. All day long the fun goes on, and as soon as it begins to grow dusk innumerable paper lanterns are hung in festoons over the whole building. The crowd increases, farce succeeds farce without a moment's interval, and many a kettle of steaming wine warms up the spectators to the proper pitch of enthusiasm and delight. Before midnight the last song has been sung, a considerable number of people have quietly dispersed without accident of any kind, and the courtyard of the guild is once more deserted and still.

It is open to any trader to join the particular institution which represents his own province or trade without being either proposed, seconded, or balloted for. He is expected to make some present to the resources of the guild, in the shape of a new set of glass lanterns, a pair of valuable scrolls, some new tables, chairs, or in fact anything that may be needed for either use or ornament. Should he be in want of money, a loan will generally be issued to him even on doubtful security. Should he die in an impoverished condition, a coffin is always provided, the expenses of burial undertaken, and his wife and children sent to their distant home, with money voted for that purpose at a general meeting of the members. Were it not for the action of these guilds in regard to fire, life and property in Chinese cities would be more in danger than is now the case. Each one has its own fire-engine, which is brought out at the first alarm, no matter where or whose the building attacked. If belonging to one of themselves, men are posted round the scene of the conflagration to prevent looting on the part of the crowd, and the efforts of the brigade are stimulated by the reflection that their position and that of the present sufferers may at any moment be reversed. Picked men are appointed to perform the most important task of all, that of rescuing from the flames relics more precious to a respectable Chinaman than all the jade that Kūngāng has produced. For it often happens that an obstructive geomancer will reject site after site for the interment of some deceased relative, or perhaps that the day fixed upon as a lucky one for the ceremony of burial may be several months after death. Meanwhile a fire breaks out in the house where the body lies in its massive, air-tight coffin, and all is confusion and uproar. The first thought is for the corpse; but who is to lift such a heavy weight and carry it to a place of safety without the dreaded jolting, almost as painful to the survivors as would be cremation itself? Such harrowing thoughts are usually cut short by the entrance of six or eight sturdy men from the nearest guild, who, armed with the necessary ropes and poles, bear away the coffin through flame and smoke with the utmost gentleness and care.


Brilliant China-themed French comic books

France has a long tradition of comic books with an historical background. In the late decade, there's been a surge in high quality China-themed bandes dessinées (as comic books are called in France).

For those of you who read French, I heartily recommend the following:

Le Sabre et l'Epée by Chauvel, Boivin, Araldi. High fantasy against a background of wǔshù rivalry.

Le Juge Bao by Marty, Nie. Classic Chinese drawing-style for classic Chinese detective stories. I love this series.

La Belle du temple hanté by Nie Chongrui. This graphic novel is based on the tale titled The Magic Sword from Pú Sōnglíng's Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio. The same tale has also been filmed as A Chinese Ghost Story.


The Hǎiruò (海若)

This post is for those of you who are keen on a Celestial Empire-Call of Cthulhu crossover.

The Hǎiruò, or sea genie, is a little-known yāoguài from Daoist mythology. I suggest that it should be used as the Chinese equivalent to Lovecraft's Deep Ones.

The Hǎiruò live in the sea between China and the Ryūkyū Islands. The Míng policy of clearing coastal areas of all population (see my 28 June post) has enabled the Hǎiruò to settle in small, hidden hamlets on the south-eastern coast of China. Imagine the potential for not one, but a string of Innsmouth-like ports, complete with their hybrid inhabitants.

The Hǎiruò serve the Dragon King of the East Sea (Dōnghǎi Lóngwáng 東海龍王), a major Heterodox immortal being. They fear the Sea goddess Māzǔ (媽祖).

STR 4D6 (14)
CON 3D6 (10-11)
SIZ 4D6 (14)
INT 3D6 (10-11)
POW 3D6 (10-11)
DEX 3D6 (10-11)
APP 2D6 (7)

Move : 8 (10 swimming)
Hit Points: 12
Qì: 10
Damage Bonus: +1D4
Armour: Skin 1 point + possibly some bespoke made armour adding up to 3 points
Allegiance: Heterodoxy 5D4+15
Morale: Leader

Dodge 25%, Knowledge (Region: East China Sea) 75%, Knowledge (Region: South China Sea) 50%, Language (southern Chinese language or dialect) 80%, Language (other [possibly Formosan and/or Ryukyuan]) INT×5%, Sense 40%, Swim 90%.


Demoralise 80% [but use of this spell doesn't increase the Heterodoxy Allegiance score of the Hǎiruò].

Claw 25%, damage:1D6+db (bleeding)
Pole arm 25%, damage: per weapon+db (per weapon)

Hit Location Table: Use Humanoid.


History of the Chinese language(s) - Middle Chinese

Middle Chinese (jìndài Hànyǔ 近代漢語, also called zhōnggǔ Hànyǔ 中古漢語), refers to the form of Chinese spoken from the 3rd to the 13th century AD. It is further divided into Early Middle Chinese (for your Táng games), and Late Middle Chinese (for your Sòng games).

As written on p20 of the rule book, Middle Chinese can still be considered as a unique language throughout the Empire. But one's accent will always give their origin away as a Northerner or a Southerner.

Middle Chinese is probably when the Chinese languages got their tones, as the result of a reduction in the number of consonants and vowels. It is probably also when many compound words have appeared, to reduce homophony issues.


The Armament of the Míng Dynasty Soldier

The following are, in BRP terms, the typical weapons and armour of Míng dynasty soldiers. Throughout its history, the Míng dynasty has been obsessed with the Mongol threat. As a result, and despite their southern origin, the Míng have extensively trained their troops to fight against cavalry.

Lance 1D12+db (impaling)
Bow 1D6+2+½db (impaling)
Knife 1D3+db (impaling)
Lamellar armour 6 AP
Light helmet 2 AP

Halberd 3D6+db (bleeding), or Sabre 1D8+1+db (bleeding)
Heavy clothing 1 AP
Light helmet 2 AP

Spear 1D8+1+db (impaling)
Heavy clothing 1 AP
Light helmet 2 AP
Long shield

Crossbow 2D6 (impaling)
Spear 1D8+1+db (impaling)
Papier-mâché hauberk 2 AP (4 AP vs missiles)

Míng cavalrymen, and infantrymen from the 'anti-cavalry squads' are intensively drilled; as a result, their weapon skills should be in the 50~60% range.


Mountains and Seas (cont'd)

I am currently reading The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion by Mircea Eliade. This is an absolute must-read for anyone seriously interested in the history of religion. Although the book draws most of its examples from archaic, Indo-European, and Mediterranean religions, it does contain a few interesting thoughts about Chinese religions.

One such thought that has stricken me is about the art of Chinese miniature landscapes. Such miniature landscapes often portray a miniature mountain over a miniature lake — very similar to the concept of mountains and seas. And their being miniature and confined to a garden or a flowerpot renders them "controllable" and less threatening.

Just a thought I wanted to share...


The China Assassination Corps

The China Assassination Corps (Zhīnà Ànshātuán 支那暗殺團) was a radical republican secret organisation active in South China in the 1910-12 period, i.e., at the turning point between Empire and Republic. The Corps was based in Hong Kong, and drew inspiration from similar violent organisations active at the time in Europe and Russia. Hong Kong was obviously at the forefront in terms of penetration of Western views into Chinese society. The Corps also advocated the use of Esperanto to replace Literary Chinese.

The Corps was successful in the assassination of a Manchu general, but failed in its attempts on two other high Qīng officials with the loss of two members. When Guǎngdōng (the southernmost province in South China, just to the north of Hong Kong) declared its independence from the Qīng Court on 9 November 1911, the Corps voluntarily disbanded.

I have found an impressively detailed and lively description of the organisation, complete with a list of its best-known members and a narrative of their actions in the 1910-12 period. The post also provides information on other assassination plots after 1912. The latter are outside of the time frame of a game like The Celestial Empire, but could provide inspiration to a game master willing to spend some time to alter names, locales, and dates.


Mongolian Death Worm

Note: This is the second post in the series of 'blog swapping' posts with Scott.

The Mongolian death worm is a vicious predator that lives in the deserts between Mongolia and China proper. The Steppe nomads, whose economy is extremely dependent on animal husbandry, rightly fear this creature because of its fondness for the meat of oxen, goats, and horses.

Despite its name, the Mongolian death worm looks more like a dark red snake, 50- to 150-cm long. Its head and its tail are difficult to tell from each other because the Mongolian death worm has no visible eyes, nostrils or mouth.
The Mongolian death worm moves undetected under the sand of the desert and springs out to attack its victim, by either spraying a deadly poison or acid at the victim or by emitting electrical charges. The range and the effect of these attacks is as per below.

STR 2D6+6 (13)
CON 2D6+6 (13)
SIZ 1D6+1 (4-5)
POW 3D6 (10-11)
DEX 2D6+3 (10)
Damage bonus: N/A (only ranged attacks)
Hit Points 9
Move 8

Stealth 75%

Poison spit - 75%
Acid spray - 75%
Electrical charge - 60%

Range: 4m
The POT of the poison is equal to the CON of the Mongolian death worm.
Range: 6m
This is a very strong acid (see p211 of BRP) that corrodes anything it touches.
Range: 6m
This causes 3D6 of damage if the target is at less than 2m; 2D6 less
than 4m; 1D6 less than 6m.

Armour: Skin 2 points

Hit Location table
1D20 | Hit Location | Hit Point Value
1-8 | Tail | 1/3 total HP
9-16 | Body | 2/5 total HP
17-20 | Head | 1/3 total HP

Please go and check out Scott's T&T version of the Mongolian Death Worm now.


History of the Chinese language(s) - Hàn Period Chinese

Under the Hàn, the Chinese language undergoes several transformations. This is why Hàn period Chinese is considered as a transitional language between Old Chinese (see previous posts) and Middle Chinese.

Under the Western Hàn (221-207 BC), Literary Chinese (wényán 文言) is consolidated, both in how it is written (characters), and in what is written (syntax, vocabulary). The great texts of the Warring States period are edited and annotated.
The work that epitomises this period of the Chinese language is the Records of the Grand Historian (Shǐjì 史記) by famous historian Sīmǎ Qiān (司馬遷).

Under the Eastern Hàn (9-23 AD), Literary Chinese is used to translate Buddhist scripture into Chinese. It is the first time that written Chinese is confronted to foreign written languages, and this process enriches the literary Chinese language.
It is also under the Eastern Hàn that spoken Chinese (vernacular Chinese) and written Chinese (wényán) start to diverge significantly. Texts written in Late Old Chinese are not readily understood any longer. They are annotated and partially translated into Hàn period Chinese. Wényán remains the written language used by the administration and by writers of "serious" texts. Its role is comparable to the one played by Latin in Europe. Although it is constantly influenced by vernacular Chinese and enriched by neologisms and loanwords, wényán becomes a dead language by the 3rd century AD.


The Boxer Uprising

The term Yìhéquán (義和拳, literally Fists of Righteousness and Harmony), already in use at the beginning of the 19th century, designated a secret society from within the ranks of the White Lotus Society (see p94 of the rule book). Its members practised wǔshù for both physical and moral improvement purposes, hence the moniker "Boxers" given to them by the Westerners.

About 1898, the Yìhéquán starts agitation in North China, and manifests itself through attacks against Western missionaries who are trying to convert Chinese peasants to Christianity and to impose Western values to the extremely traditionalist Chinese rural society.

In 1900, a few thousand Boxers lay siege to the foreign legations' compounds in Běijīng for 55 days, thus triggering a foreign military intervention. The combined military forces of Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (the Eight-Nation Alliance, bāgúo liánjūn 八國聯軍) quickly suppress the Boxers, for whom the use of firearms is taboo.

During the intervention of the Eight-Nation Alliance, the Anglo-French Seymour column, which enters Běijīng on 14 August 1900, ransacks the Summer Palace. Also, the Imperial Court has to flee to Xī'ān 西安. Both events foreshadow the demise of the Qīng Dynasty.

This is what a Western eye-witness wrote about the Boxer Uprising in 1904:

The now famous Boxers were members of two of the secret societies which have long flourished in China. To the Chinese they are known as League of United Patriots, Great Sword Society, Righteous Harmony Fists Association and kindred names. Originally, they were hostile to the foreign Manchu dynasty. When Germany made the murder of two Roman Catholic missionaries a pretext for pushing her political ambitions, the Boxers naturally arrayed them selves against them. As the champions of the national spirit against the foreigners, the membership rapidly increased. Supernatural power was claimed. Temples were converted into meeting-places, and soon excited men were drilling in every village.

The real ruler of China at this time, as all the world knows, was the Empress Dowager, who has been characterised as "the only man in China". At any rate, she is a woman of extraordinary force of character. She was astute enough to encourage the Boxers, and thus turn one of the most troublesome foes of the Manchu throne against the common enemy, the foreigner. Under her influence, the depredations of the Boxers, which were at first confined to the Shāndōng Province, spread with the swiftness of a prairie fire, until in the spring of 1900 the most important provinces of the Empire were ablaze and the legations in Běijīng were closely besieged. In the heat of the conflict and under the agonising strain of anxiety for imperilled loved ones, many hard things were said and written about the officials who allied themselves with the Boxers. But Sir Robert Hart, who personally knew them and who suffered as much as any one from their fury, candidly wrote after the siege : "These men were eminent in their own country for their learning and services, were animated by patriotism, were enraged by foreign dictation, and had the courage of their convictions. We must do them the justice of allowing that they were actuated by high motives and love of country," though he adds, "that does not always or necessarily mean political ability or highest wisdom."


History of the Chinese language(s) - Old Chinese / 2

Old Chinese (shànggǔ Hànyǔ 上古漢語), also called Archaic Chinese, refers to the form of Chinese spoken from the beginning of written records (around 1300 BC) until the 3rd century BC.

This second post is about Late Old Chinese, from 6th to 3rd century BC, the language spoken under the Eastern Zhōu dynasty — which includes the famous Warring States Period (戰國時代, 475-221). This latter period is the cradle of classical Chinese civilisation, and in particular of its language, called Classical Chinese (gǔwén 古文) or Literary Chinese (wényán 文言).

The following political and social philosophers epitomise Classical Chinese through their writings:
- Confucius (Kǒng Zǐ 孔子)
- Mencius (Mèng Zǐ 孟子)
- Micius (Mòzǐ 墨子)
- Zhuāng Zǐ (莊子)
- Xún Zǐ (荀子)
- Hán Fēi (韓非)

Literary Chinese is considered as the one and only "serious" language under all Imperial Chinese dynasties, up to the Qīng. See also p21 and p58 of the rule book.



Bhaiṣajyaguru is is the Buddha of healing and medicine in Mahāyāna Buddhism, and as such he is one of the foremost Mahāyāna Buddhas. In China, he is often referred to as the master therapist, or as the physician Buddha.

Bhaiṣajyaguru possesses a paradise called Śudarṣana 東方淨瑠璃世界, located in the eastern part of the universe, in which he welcomes anyone to be cured of any malady. Bhaiṣajyaguru's veneration is very popular in China. His statue can often be seen in a trinity of Buddhas, the other two being the founder Śākyamuni and Amitābha. Bhaiṣajyaguru's worship was started by the Tiāntái 天臺 school of Buddhism (see p38 and p92 of the rule book). From China, Bhaiṣajyaguru's worship was brought to Korea and ultimately to Japan. In this latter country, Bhaiṣajyaguru has become extremely popular as the god of healers.

When not in a trinity with Śākyamuni and Amitabha, Bhaiṣajyaguru may be depicted at the centre of his own trinity, flanked by his two serving bodhisattvas, Candraprabha 月光菩薩 to his left, and Sūryaprabha 日光菩薩 to his right. This trinity may itself be accompanied by the Twelve Heavenly Generals 十二神將, who are twelve protective yaksha who have vowed to protect the faithful from illnesses.

Chinese name: 藥師如來 (Yàoshī rúlái)— or more rarely a Sinicised version of the Sanskrit name: 偝殺爾耶虞嚕 (Bèishā’ěryéyúlū)