Cover

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Contents

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

Within the span of the nearly three centuries of China’s illustrious Tang Dynasty (618–907), the year 684 is conspicuous mainly for two infamously related events. In the second month of that year the notorious Wu Zhao, or Empress Wu (Wu Hou) (ca. 625–705), initiated her successful bid to become the Middle Kingdom’s only female aspirant to emperorship in its four-millennia-plus ...

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ONE: From History’s Mists

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pp. 13-42

Even the mere suggestion of the existence of blacks in the China of premodern times no doubt strikes many readers as a novel, if not wholly outlandish, concept. It is an idea that the mind seems to resist reflexively, and even as so much of today’s revisionist scholarship continues its contestation of the myth of ancient-world isolation, many factors also conspire to elicit this unyieldingly ...

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TWO: The Slaves of Guangzhou

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pp. 43-79

From what has preceded, the southeastern coastal city of Guangzhou has already emerged as a pivotal locale, for it serves as a conspicuous nexus for helping to further not only our knowledge of the circumstances of China’s premodern “blacks” but also our understanding of their situation in relation to the Chinese institution of slavery. What follows is an exposition and analysis ...

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THREE: To the End of the Western Sea

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pp. 80-126

We need not doubt that the customary notion of the major ancient cultures of the globe as hermetically isolated—as having been entirely landlocked and having languished for centuries in shadowy separation and occlusion from one another—is fast eroding. Moreover, the complementary assumption that peoples innately foreign to one another were able only in relatively recent ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 127-136

T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) once asserted, “Knowledge is invariably a matter of degree: you cannot put your finger upon even the simplest datum and say ‘this we know.’” 1 Yet, whereas this observation would seem to be irrefutably true, whenever we seek to elucidate a subject as recondite as the nature of earliest contact and interaction between the people of China and the plethora of peoples ...

NOTES

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pp. 137-168

GLOSSARY

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pp. 169-176

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 177-186

INDEX

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pp. 187-194

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. 195-198

The present book has truly modest and unanticipated beginnings, so much so that I am compelled to tender the unusual confession straight-away that it is a work I originally had no intention of ever writing. This initial dearth of intentionality on my part should in no way be attributed to any absence of interest. On the contrary, since first becoming privy to ...