Tang Maps, 742: The Central Empire

Th central components of the Tang Dynasty ca. 742 CE, as it’s found in the Cambridge History of China, vol. 3:Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 11.53.26 AM

I found that pretty hard to read or understand, so here’s a simplified and colorized version of my own based on the original:

Tang Map 440s



3 thoughts on “Tang Maps, 742: The Central Empire

  1. Guess I haven’t got the habit of checking maps. Because it’s always been said that the modern Chinese territory is mainly a result of expansionist Yuan and Qing, the two “barbarian” dynasties, I took it to literally mean that before the Mongols, China had remained very much the same as the First Emperor made it. But this is so impressive, even includes An’nan. Wink-wink, a place you just mentioned as unfit for ruling:-) So that was not a vassal? Or maybe the nuance of a vassal and a protectorate is lost in me.

    1. I have, on reflection, perhaps somewhat overstand the “southern bulwark” that was beyond the Yunling Mountains 😉 North Vietnam (AKA Nan Yue, AKA An’nan Protectorate) was indeed politically incorporated into the Tang.

      As to why they’d have spent the energy/manpower to do so? My quasi-educated guess is: “Because the Han did it, so we have to do it too to show we’re as great as them.” That does seem to have been a “guiding principle” in terms of a lot of the post-Han dynasties’ foreign policies. What do you think of that explanation?

      And in terms of vassal/protectorate status… I’ll admit it remains rather hazy to me at this point as well where one ends and the other begins. But let me attempt explain it another way: the Tang Protectorate armies – as we saw in Anxi at the like of the Battle of Talas, and in Andong with the forces of An Luashan, the Tang soldiers on the periphery were by-the-by not Chinese. They were either locals, or foreigners pulled from wherever (i.e. North Korean Gao Xianzhi in Anxi)… so I admittedly haven’t yet looked closely at An’nan and its force composition, but I have a feeling that it was local Viet vassal kings/lords, intermixed Han-Viet *hunxue*, and a mixed/local army to “protect” the territory.

      1. I have less insight into political/diplomatic thinking of Tang, but I like the “guiding principle” for its simplicity. I’m mostly impressed by the map because even in dynasties afterward, “北夷南蛮” (“northern barbarians, southern brutes”) remained a popular concept. The map clearly cut out the North as “barbarian”, but the South was solidly “Chinese” by that time.

        This, I think, connects to your descriptions of the “Chinese” diversity south of Long River in the North-South dynasties. The “northern barbarians, southern brutes” mentality also shows how deeply racist the Han Chinese had been.

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