|Literal meaning||all under heaven|
Tianxia (Chinese : 天下 ), literally meaning "(all) under Heaven", is a Chinese term for a historical Chinese cultural concept that denoted either the entire geographical world or the metaphysical realm of mortals, and later became associated with political sovereignty. In ancient China and imperial China, tianxia denoted the lands, space, and area divinely appointed to the Chinese sovereign by universal and well-defined principles of order. The center of this land was directly apportioned to the Chinese court, forming the center of a world view that centered on the Chinese court and went concentrically outward to major and minor officials and then the common subjects, tributary states, and finally ending with fringe "barbarians".
The center of this world view was not exclusionary in nature, and outer groups, such as ethnic minorities and foreign people, who accepted the mandate of the Chinese Emperor were themselves received and included into the Chinese tianxia. In classical Chinese political thought, the "Son of Heaven", having received the Mandate of Heaven, would nominally be the ruler of the entire world. Although in practice there would be areas of the known world which were not under the control of the Chinese monarch, in Chinese political theory the rulers of those areas derived their power from the Chinese monarch.
The larger concept of tianxia is closely associated with civilization and order in classical Chinese philosophy, and has formed the basis for the world view of the Chinese people and nations influenced by them since at least the first millennium BC. Tianxia has been independently applied by other realms in the Chinese cultural sphere, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
Modelled after the Chinese concept, the Singaporean historian Wang Gungwu coined the term "American Tianxia" in 2013 to refer to the contemporary world order led by the United States.
The tianxia world view was not fully developed during the Shang dynasty. Only during the Zhou dynasty when Heaven took on human deity traits (or at least when references to Heaven as such enter recorded history) did the concept of tianxia become common. Terms like "Four Quarters" and "Ten Thousand States" appear in texts of the time; the term "Four Quarters" (四方; sìfāng) means territory established by the royal court and governed by the Zhou kings from the capital, but with peripheral non-Han tribes on the outer borders and Han Chinese in the center. The term "Ten Thousand States" (万邦; 萬邦; wànbāng) refers to both territory and the subjects who reside therein, both Han and "barbarian". The Zhou kings received and empowered these "Ten Thousand States" by virtue of the Mandate of Heaven. This is some of the earliest evidence of the Hua-Yi distinction.
During the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods in the latter half of the Zhou dynasty, the power of the feudal lords developed rapidly, and several non-Han regions became powerful states themselves.As many of these feudal states had shared cultural and economic interests, the concept of a great nation centered on the Yellow River Plain gradually expanded. The term tianxia began to appear in classical texts such as the Zuo Zhuan and Guoyu .
The territory and governments of the Zhou dynasty and the Qin dynasty were unified after the conquests of Qin Shi Huang, and the concept of tianxia was adapted to act as an actual geographic entity. Qin Shi Huang's goal to "unify all under Heaven" was, in fact, representative of his desire to control and expand Chinese territory. At the founding of the Han dynasty, the equivalence of tianxia with the Chinese nation evolved due to the feudal practice of conferring land and autonomy upon the aristocracy to avoid having to expend military expense in their subjugation. Although many areas enjoyed great autonomy, the practice established and spread Chinese language and culture throughout an even wider territory.
Unification theme applied to tianxia can be seen in Sun Tzu's The Art of War where the supreme goal of offensive strategy was to conquer without destroying that which you sought to conquer:
Your aim must be to take All-under-Heaven intact. Thus your troops are not worn out and your gains will be complete. This is the art of offensive strategy.
Unified China fractured into many different dynasties during the Southern and Northern dynasties period, and with it went the practical use of the term tianxia. In the 7th century during the Tang dynasty, some northern tribes of Turkic origin, after being made vassal, referred to the Emperor Taizong as the "Khan of Heaven".
By the time of the Song dynasty, northern China was ruled by the Khitan-led Liao dynasty, the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty, and the Tangut-led Western Xia dynasty. After being threatened by these northern states and realizing the possible effects of a war to the country and people, the Song rulers invented a false concept of kinship with the Jurchens in an attempt to improve relations.[ citation needed ] The Mongol-led Yuan dynasty divided Chinese subjects into two types: those of the south, and those of the north. When the Ming dynasty overthrew the Yuan dynasty and reunited China under Han rule, the concept of tianxia returned largely as it was during the Han dynasty.
At the end of the Ming dynasty, criticisms of Neo-Confucianism and its mantras of "cultivation of moral character, establishment of family, ordering the state, and harmonizing tianxia" (a quote from the Great Learning) became widespread, producing large shifts in Confucianism. Contemporary philosopher Wang Fuzhi believed that tianxia was of a fixed, unchangeable dimension, notwithstanding the fact that the Great Learning's mentioning of "harmonizing tianxia" was actually in reference to government. Using these arguments, Wang was highly critical of Neo-Confucianism. On the other hand, the collapse of the Ming dynasty and the establishment of the Qing dynasty by the Manchus, people previously considered "fringe barbarians", heavily influenced people's views of tianxia. Gu Yanwu, a contemporary of Wang Fuzhi, wrote that the destruction of the State was not equivalent to the destruction of tianxia. He argued that the Manchus simply filled the role of Emperor, and that the tianxia of traditional Chinese culture was thus carried on.
The idea of the absolute authority of the Chinese emperor and the extension of tianxia by the assimilation of vassal states began to fade for good with Earl Macartney's embassy to China in 1793. Earl Macartney hoped to deal with China as Great Britain would with other European nations of the time, and to persuade the Emperor to reduce restrictions on trade. The Qianlong Emperor rejected his request, and stated that China was the foremost and most divine nation on Earth and had no interest in foreign goods. In the early 19th century, Britain's victory over Qing China in the First Opium War forced China to sign an unequal treaty. This marked the beginning of the end for the tianxia concept.
Following their defeat in the Second Opium War, China was forced to sign the Treaty of Tianjin, in which China was made to refer to Great Britain as a "sovereign nation", equal to itself. This made it impossible for China to continue dealing with other nations under the traditional tianxia system, and forced it to establish a foreign affairs bureau.
Because Western nations' system of international affairs was based on Westphalian sovereignty, the idea that sovereign nations deal with each other as equals, China's traditional tianxia world view slowly collapsed. After China's defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese terminated Korea's traditional status as a protectorate of China, and the system of feudal enfeoffment and vassalage that had been practiced since the Han dynasty came to an end, a move that greatly changed attitudes toward the tianxia concept. At the end of the 19th century, Chinese Ambassador to Great Britain Xue Fucheng took the traditional Hua-Yi distinction in the tianxia world view and replaced it with a Chinese-foreigner distinction.
References to tianxia first appear in Japanese history during the Kofun period, approximately 250 to 538 AD. At the time, Japanese rulers were respectful and submissive to the Chinese court, and Chinese immigrants (then called toraijin渡來人) were received happily and sought after for their knowledge of the Chinese language and culture. The excavated Eda Funayama grave mound in Kumamoto contained an iron sword with engraved characters that dates to the late 5th century. The characters on the sword refer to the king of the time as the "Grand King who rules all under heaven" (治天下大王). This discovery demonstrates that the Kofun-era Japanese (at least of that area) had begun viewing their realm to be a complete and divinely-appointed tianxia in its own right, separate from the tianxia of the older and larger Chinese empire.
According to the Book of Sui , the Yamato king in 607 sent a hand-written epistle to Emperor Yang of the Sui dynasty in which he called himself the "Son of Heaven in the Land of the Rising Sun" (日出處天子), showing that the Japanese notion of their independent tianxia had continued to that time.
With the development of Ritsuryō in 7th-century Japan, a Sino-centric concept of tianxia was introduced and replaced older concepts. The hallmark of Ritsuryō – the concept of citizenship – necessarily accompanied its introduction into Japan, since Neo-Confucianism said that all were "Equal Citizens Under Heaven" (天下公民).
In the journals of Fujiwara no Kanezane (藤原兼実、九條兼実), an official of the Kamakura shogunate whose journals became the Gyokuyō (玉葉), he describes the founding of the Shogunate by Minamoto no Yoritomo as "beginning tianxia". His usage of tianxia is entirely Ritsuryō in nature, and his phrase "beginning tianxia" refers to the establishment of a new nation, jurisprudence, and system of order. However, even if Yoritomo had the intention to become a monarch-level ruler, Japan's tianxia concept had not achieved the Chinese level of an Emperor who governed feudal kingdoms and was entrusted with the ordering of the world by Heaven. In the journals of Gidō Shūshin (義堂周信), Gidō records a discussion he had with Ashikaga Yoshimitsu where the Shōgun repeatedly referred to his dominion as "tianxia". In the Muromachi period, people gradually began regarding the Shōgun as the representative of Heaven.
As the Muromachi shogunate weakened, regional warlords began fighting with each other for control of the nation. More powerful nobles, such as Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, controlled large areas and viewed their domains as tianxia. The term was used with increasing frequency as generals sought to reunify Japan, and came to be equivalent with the land of Japan itself.
From the Sengoku to early Edo period, the shōgun or those holding the de facto power was referred to as the "Tenkanin/Tenkabito(Man under Heaven)", and the Edo Shogunate as "Court of Tianxia". The widespread adoption of the tianxia concept helped influence Japan's long period of isolation before the Meiji Restoration.
Based on epitaphs dating to the 4th and 5th centuries, Goguryeo had concepts of Son of Heaven (天帝之子) and independent tianxia. The rulers of Goryeo used the titles of emperor and Son of Heaven and positioned Goryeo at the center of the Haedong "East of the Sea" tianxia, which encompassed the historical domain of the "Samhan", another name for the Three Kingdoms of Korea.
In the 17th century, with the fall of the Ming dynasty in China, a concept of Korea as the cultural center of Confucianism, or the "Little China" (Korean : 소중화; Hanja : 小中華), emerged among the Confucian literati of the Joseon dynasty.
The "all under the heaven" expression became the origin for the literary expressions denoting China in a number of Western languages, such as the Russian Podnebesnaya (Поднебесная, i.e. "Under the heaven"). The English term "Celestial Empire" is said to have been based on the title of Chinese emperors, tian zi (Son of Heaven).
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Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing, or simply a way of life, Confucianism developed from what was later called the Hundred Schools of Thought from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius.
Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period (春秋) and Warring States period (戰國時期), during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begun in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years. Some can be found in the I Ching, an ancient compendium of divination, which dates back to at least 672 BCE. It was during the Warring States era that what Sima Tan termed the major philosophical schools of China—Confucianism, Legalism, and Taoism—arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Mohism, Chinese Naturalism, and the Logicians. Even in modern society, Confucianism is still the creed of etiquette for Chinese society.
The Chinese sovereign was the ruler of a particular period and dynasty in ancient China and imperial China. Sovereigns ruling the same regime and descended from the same paternal line constituted a dynasty. Several titles and naming schemes have been used throughout Chinese history.
Emperor of China, or Huángdì, was the monarch of China during the imperial period of Chinese history. In traditional Chinese political theory, the emperor was considered the Son of Heaven and the autocrat of All under Heaven. Under the Han dynasty, Confucianism replaced Legalism as the official political theory and succession theoretically followed agnatic primogeniture. The succession of emperors in a paternal family line constituted a dynasty.
Shangdi, also written simply, "Emperor", is the Chinese term for "Supreme Deity" or "Highest Deity" in the theology of the classical texts, especially deriving from Shang theology and finding an equivalent in the later Tian of Zhou theology.
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Sinocentrism refers to the ideology that China is the cultural, political or economic center of the world.
The Mandate of Heaven is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient and imperial China to justify the rule of the King or Emperor of China. According to this doctrine, heaven – which embodies the natural order and will of the universe – bestows the mandate on a just ruler of China, the "Son of Heaven". If a ruler was overthrown, this was interpreted as an indication that the ruler was unworthy, and had lost the mandate. It was also a common belief that natural disasters such as famine and flood were divine retributions bearing signs of Heaven's displeasure with the ruler, so there would often be revolts following major disasters as the people saw these calamities as signs that the Mandate of Heaven had been withdrawn.
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Neo-Confucianism is a moral, ethical, and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (772–841) in the Tang Dynasty, and became prominent during the Song and Ming dynasties under the formulations of Zhu Xi.
China officially espouses state atheism, but in reality many Chinese citizens, including Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members, practice some kind of Chinese folk religion. Chinese civilization has historically long been a cradle and host to a variety of the most enduring religio-philosophical traditions of the world. Confucianism and Taoism (Daoism), later joined by Buddhism, constitute the "three teachings" that have shaped Chinese culture. There are no clear boundaries between these intertwined religious systems, which do not claim to be exclusive, and elements of each enrich popular or folk religion. The emperors of China claimed the Mandate of Heaven and participated in Chinese religious practices. In the early 20th century, reform-minded officials and intellectuals attacked all religions as "superstitious", and since 1949, China has been governed by the CCP, an atheist institution that prohibits party members from practicing religion while in office. In the culmination of a series of atheistic and anti-religious campaigns already underway since the late 19th century, the Cultural Revolution against old habits, ideas, customs and culture, lasting from 1966 to 1976, destroyed or forced them underground. Under subsequent leaders, religious organisations were given more autonomy. The government formally recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam. In the early twenty-first century there has been increasing official recognition of Confucianism and Chinese folk religion as part of China's cultural inheritance.
Tiān (天) is one of the oldest Chinese terms for heaven and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion. During the Shang dynasty, the Chinese referred to their supreme god as Shàngdì or Dì (帝,"Lord"). During the following Zhou dynasty, Tiān became synonymous with this figure. Before the 20th century Heaven worship was an orthodox state religion of China.
Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From the inauguration of dynastic rule by Yu the Great in circa 2070 BC to the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor on 12 February 1912 in the wake of the Xinhai Revolution, China was ruled by a series of successive dynasties. Dynasties of China were not limited to those established by ethnic Han—the dominant Chinese ethnic group—and its predecessor, the Huaxia tribal confederation, but also included those founded by non-Han peoples.
Son of Heaven, or Tianzi, was the sacred imperial title of the Chinese emperor. It originated with the ancient Zhou dynasty and was founded on the political and spiritual doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven. The secular imperial title of the Son of Heaven was "Emperor of China".
This is the glossary of Japanese history including the major terms, titles and events the casual reader might find useful in understanding articles on the subject.
Fēngjiàn was a political ideology and governance system in ancient China, whose social structure formed a decentralized system of confederation-like government based on the ruling class consisting of the Son of Heaven (king) and nobles, and the lower class consisting of commoners categorized into four occupations. The system dated back at least to the Shang dynasty, but was formally coined during the Western Zhou dynasty when the Zhou kings enfeoffed their clan relatives and fellow warriors as vassals. Through the fengjian system, the king would allocate an area of land to a noble, establishing him as the de facto ruler of that region and allowing his title and fief to be legitimately inherited by his descendants. This created large numbers of local domains, which became autonomous states.
The distinction between Huá and Yí, also known as Sino–barbarian dichotomy, is a historical Chinese concept that differentiated a culturally defined "China" from cultural or ethnic outsiders. Although Yí is often translated as "barbarian", other translations of this term in English include "foreigners", "ordinary others" "wild tribes", and "uncivilised tribes". The Hua–Yi distinction asserted Chinese superiority, but implied that outsiders could become Hua by adopting Chinese values and customs. These concepts were not unique to the Chinese, but was also applied by the Vietnamese, Japanese and Koreans who all considered themselves at one point in history to be the actual "Middle Kingdom" (Zhongguo) instead of China.
Chinese era names were titles used by various Chinese dynasties and regimes in Imperial China for the purpose of year identification and numbering. The first monarch to adopt era names was the Emperor Wu of Han in 140 BCE, and this system remained the official method of year identification and numbering until the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912 CE. Other polities in the Sinosphere—Korea, Vietnam and Japan—also adopted the concept of era name as a result of Chinese politico-cultural influence. In the Republic of China, this system has since been superseded by the Republic of China calendar.
Chinese theology, which comes in different interpretations according to the classic texts and the common religion, and specifically Confucian, Taoist and other philosophical formulations, is fundamentally monistic, that is to say it sees the world and the gods of its phenomena as an organic whole, or cosmos, which continuously emerges from a simple principle. This is expressed by the concept that "all things have one and the same principle". This principle is commonly referred to as Tiān 天, a concept generally translated as "Heaven", referring to the northern culmen and starry vault of the skies and its natural laws which regulate earthly phenomena and generate beings as their progenitors. Ancestors are therefore regarded as the equivalent of Heaven within human society, and therefore as the means connecting back to Heaven which is the "utmost ancestral father". Chinese theology may be also called Tiānxué 天學, a term already in use in the 17th and 18th century.
[In contrast to the God of Western religions who is above the space and time] the God of Fuxi, Xuanyuan and Wang Yangming is under in our space and time. ... To Chinese thought, ancestor is creator.
Korean emperors were monarchs in the history of Korea who used the title of emperor or an equivalent.