Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - The Erhai Regional History of the Pre-Nanzhao Kingdom as the Middle Ground ofChinese-Indian Civilization

Friday, July 6
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Amaltas, Lower Ground Floor

The Erhai region of Western Yunnan is the meeting ground of China, India, Tibet, Burma and other cultures in Southeast Asia. Although the history of Nanzhao and Dali in the Erhai region from the 8th to 13th centuries is well known, the early history of the Southwest frontier is poorly covered in Chinese traditional history. Thus, we face many difficulties in achieving an integral understanding of Erhai regional history. This paper addresses the Erhai regional history of the pre-Nanzhao Kingdom in the global perspective of multi-civilization relations. The paper compares three historical texts, relating to the period that the Erhai region was outside the Han Chinese empire, from the Qin dynasty until the Wei and Jin Dynasties (1 st century BCE to 6th century CE). The textual sources are drawn from Chinese imperial history, Buddhist Asian history, and Dali local history. During this period, the crosscutting of pilgrim routes linked the Erhai region and India in the narratives of Asian historical texts; while Ashoka, the greatest king in Indian history, was prominent in the Dali local historical records through the narratives of an original common ancestor of all peoples who lived in the Erhai region. Attempting to fit these texts together like the pieces of a jigsaw, we find that Ashoka was preserved in the collective memory of Erhai peoples in the 14th and 15th  centuries. The mysterious potency emanating from the Erhai region, indistinctly present in the imperial Chinese literature, was more clearly drawn in the Dali local history, and also some important local historical events were explained in the Chinese works of literature. The different historical narratives met the different demands for the “pasts” of the different peoples.

Shen Haimei

Yunnan Minzu University

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1 - The Erhai Regional History of the Pre-Nanzhao Kingdom as the Middle Ground ofChinese-Indian Civilization



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