Key Chinese Concepts










Ancestors of the Han people who originally lived on the Central Plains referred to themselves as Huaxia, having earlier called themselves Hua (华), Zhuhua (诸华), Xia (夏) and Zhuxia (诸夏). The term Huaxia (华夏) signifies the common identity of the mainly Han people living on the Central Plains by virtue of their language, way of life, and culture. The Huaxia people evolved into a fairly stable ethnic group in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), which established China as a unified country of many ethnic groups, among which the Huaxia was the principal one. In the Han Dynasty, the term Han superseded that of Huaxia, a term that was later expanded to refer to China or the Han people.


引例 Citations:






 The Chinese character 夏 (xia) means big and great, and correlates with Huaxia ancients’ grand and elaborate rituals from which they took their name. Dressed in resplendent costumes, they were known as Hua (splendid). Both Hua and Xia, therefore, refer to the Han people. (Kong Yingda: Correct Meaning of Zuo’s Commentary on The Spring and Autumn Annals)




Feudal System / Feudalism





Under the feudal system, the lord granted noble titles, fiefs, and surfs to his relatives and officials and allowed them to establish dukedoms. A fief was smaller than the territory under the direct control of the lord. Although subject to the rule of the lord, a dukedom enjoyed a high degree of autonomy in its military and administrative affairs. They functioned as checks and balances in protecting their lord. To be hereditary, a dukedom needed the lord’s approval and also to pay tribute to him. Feudalism as a political system is believed to have started in the reign of the legendary Yellow Emperor, and to have become established in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BC). Akin to the patriarchal clan system based on blood ties, Feudalism gave rise to a hierarchical system. When Qinshihuang, the first Qin emperor, unified China in 221 BC, he abolished feudalism in favor of the system of prefectures and counties. From the Qin Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a centralized government or imperial autocracy was predominant in China. Feudalism, which existed both overtly and covertly, was thus rendered supplementary.


引例 Citations:






 The feudal system survived throughout the eras of the ancient sages Yao, Shun, Yu the Great, Tang of Shang, King Wen of Zhou, and King Wu of Zhou. (Liu Zongyuan: On the Feudal System)


Selected from Key Concepts in Chinese Thought and Culture published by Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.