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China in World History, 1st Edition by S. A. M. Adshead (auth.)

By S. A. M. Adshead (auth.)

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Extra resources for China in World History, 1st Edition

Example text

When Chinese Buddhist pilgrims give us our first travelogues of the silk road, what is described is a world of monasteries, relic shrines and pagodas maintained by a pyramid of local royal patrons culminating in the supreme patron, the cakravartin, the Kushan king. Thus Fahsien, who was in Central Asia at the turn of the fourth and 26 China in World History fifth centuries, mentions 4000 monks at Karashahr, fourteen large monasteries at Khotan, 1000 monks at Kargalik, a pagoda for one of Buddha's teeth at Kashgar, a 400-foot pagoda at Peshawar built by Kanishka - the most famous of the Kushan kings - and also at Peshawar a monastery for 700 monks which preserved Buddha's alms bowl.

Needham supposes Babylon: the idea then moving east and west to be developed in different ways by Ling Lun and Pythagoras. Since in our schema Babylon is the West, Chavannes would in essence be justified against Amiot though in a more limited way than he supposed. What moved was not a musical tradition, but a principle, a heuristic structure, by which a number of different eurekas might be generated. Furthermore, as both Aristoxenus of Tarentum and Ssu-ma Ch'ien were quick to see, it was only a subsidiary principle: mathematization was the autopsy of music rather than its genesis.

Yet the earliest known working of iron was not in China but in Asia Minor where a cuneiform text of 1275 BC of Hattusili III king of the Hittites refers to iron being made. The first reference to iron in China is in 513 BC and the maritime kingdom of Wu seems to have been the main centre for its production in association with salt boiling, so it is hard not to think that the original stimulus came from the West. Similarly, one of the glories of pre-modern Western technology was alphabetical script, and the consequent capacity f~r an open literacy extraverted to new words, foreign terms and fresh universes of discourse.

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