Qing culture

Authored by: Richard Smith

Routledge Handbook of Imperial Chinese History

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138847286
eBook ISBN: 9781315726878
Adobe ISBN:


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Interpretations of Qing dynasty culture, like broader interpretations of the Qing dynasty’s place in Chinese and world history, tend to revolve around the issue of “sinicization” (Hanhua 漢化 or 華化)—that is, the process by which non-Chinese conquest regimes adopted and assimilated certain aspects of traditional Chinese culture. 1 By “traditional Chinese culture,” I mean the basic institutions, linguistic practices, philosophies, religions, artistic and literary traditions, and social customs of the self-styled “Han people” or Hanren 漢人, who comprised approximately 95 percent of the population in China Proper (neidi 內地; i.e. the agricultural area below the Great Wall) during most of the imperial era. The best known of these dynasties of conquest are the Northern Wei 北魏 (386–534 ce), the Liao 遼 (907–1125), the Xi Xia 西夏 (1038–1227), the Jin 金 (1115–1234), the Yuan 元 (1206–1368), and the Qing 清1636–1912. In each case, to varying degrees under varying circumstances, these regimes appropriated certain features of Chinese culture—especially the classical written script, rituals, institutions, religious practices, and artistic and literary traditions.

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