1. â€œOften viewed as one of the most cosmopolitan regimes in China’s past, the Tang had roots in Inner Asia, and its rulers continued to have complex relationships with a population that included Turks, Tibetans, Japanese, Koreans, Southeast Asians, Persians, and Arabs.”
How was the Tang â€œ cosmopolitanâ€? What were its â€œroots in Inner Asiaâ€? Give two examples of its â€œcomplex relationshipsâ€ with these different groups.
2. â€œ[Non-Chinese] leaders knew that they must have access to the resources of China without losing the culture and/or identity that was a critical component of their steppe culture.”
Discuss the idea of the elastic boundaries of sinicization and barbarianization, and provide examples during the Tang and Yuan dynasties.
3. â€œNow the Buddha was of barbarian origin…. He did not recognize the relationship between prince and subject, nor the sentiments of father and son. Let us suppose him to be living today, and that he come to court at the capital as an emissary of his country…. he would be escorted under guard to the border that he might not mislead the masses. How much the less, now that he has long been dead, is it fitting that his decayed and rotten bone, his ill-omened and filthy remains, should be allowed to enter in the forbidden precincts of the Palace? Confucius said, `Respect ghosts and spirits, bur keep away from them.â€™â€
What sort of person would have written this during the Tang period, and why? Why are the specified relationships significant? What is the â€œrotten bone, and why is it â€œill-omenedâ€? What did Confucius mean in the final quote?
4. â€œThe Mongol empire inextricably linked Europe and Asia and ushered in an era of frequent and extended contacts between East and West. And once the Mongols had achieved relative stability and order in their newly acquired domains, they neither discouraged nor impeded relations with foreigners. Though they never abandoned their claims of universal rule, they were hospitable to foreign travelers, even those whose monarchs had not submitted to them.â€
Are there examples of monarchs and cultures who did not submit to the Mongols? Examples of the â€œ linking of Europe and Asiaâ€ and of the free passage of foreigners across Mongol territories? Why would the Mongols, so brutal in other respects, have â€œneither discouraged nor impeded relations with foreignersâ€?
5. â€œWith these pieces of paper…he causes all payments on his own account to be made; and he makes them to pass current universally over all his kingdoms and provinces and territories, and whithersoever his power and sovereignty extends. And nobody, however important he may think himself, dares to refuse them on pain of death. And indeed everybody takes them readily, for wheresoever a person may go throughout the Great Kaan’s dominions he shall find these pieces of paper current, and shall be able to transact all sales and purchases of goods by means of them just as well as if they were coins of pure gold. And all the while they are so light that ten bezants’ worth does not weigh one golden bezant.â€
Discuss the significance of this passage, and of its author.
Choose 4 out of 5 questions above and write 1 page each.
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