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Chinese Archery

Stephen Selby

Publication Year: 2000

The book is written around parallel text translations of classical chinese sources some famous and some little known in which Chinese writers give vivid and detailed explanations of the techniques of bow-building, archery and crossbow technique over the centuries.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-viii

Chinese Pronunciation Guide

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pp. ix

Traditional Chinese Dynastic Time Chart

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pp. x


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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii

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1 Introduction: From Sticks and Stones to an Idea

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pp. 1-8

The archaeological records of almost any civilization will show how early man was able to control the latent power of a bent stick. This latent power itself is no mystery: a short walk through any woodland, dodging to avoid a slap in the face from a pushed-back branch gives a good pointer to the...

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2 The Legendary Archer Heroes

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pp. 9-26

Archers are romantics. That has been no less the case in China than in the West. From China's earliest folklore, there are tales of the feats of the great archers. Like the Greek Legends, the tales from the Bible and the oral traditions of Africa and America, it is likely that Chinese folklore recalls some of the beliefs and folk culture of prehistoric times.1..

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3 The Archer's Magic

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pp. 27-46

At the time the legends reviewed in the second chapter were first written down, people already believed they were describing events over a thousand years before their own time. From the period of creative literary activity starting towards the end of the Zhou Dynasty (771 BC), and carrying on through the Spring and Autumn period (770-475 BC, the time of...

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4 The Archers' Rituals

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pp. 47-68

The first two chapters have looked at dynasties of Chinese history which have left no written historical records of their own. I have not made any particular attempt to establish an objective truth about historical events in those times. Instead, I have drawn on folklore, later historical...

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5 The Confucian Ideal

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pp. 69-86

The archer in China has always been aware of the proud tradition to which he belonged, including the folklore and romances from the earliest times — albeit sometimes in a confused form. The Confucian interpretation of the archer's ideals, however, was an explicit part of the ideology of China that every archer after Confucius' time was...

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6 Bows, Arrows and Targets

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pp. 87-116

Different ancient cultures may leave more or less complete records of things in daily use, depending on what importance those things held for the people of the culture. But to hope for a detailed brief on how bows, arrows and targets were constructed to be handed down for two to three thousand years is a tall order. Yet amazingly, Chinese culture has left us such records...

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7 Fact, Fiction and Stranger Yet

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pp. 117-152

Over the period between the fall of the Western Zhou Dynasty (771 BC) to the end of the Han Dynasty (220 AD), a rich literature is recorded. For the Confucian tradition which dominated Chinese political life until the end of the Qing Dynasty (1910), the literature of this period was regarded as the flowering of Chinese literary achievement: following generations...

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8 The Crossbow and Other Forms

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pp. 153-190

The first crossbows probably appeared in China even before the Spring and Autumn period (770—476 BC). Judging from evidence in literature and drawing an inference from simple crossbows used by China's national minorities, the concept of mounting a bow on a stock so that it could be held at full draw without calling on the strength of the archer should have...

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9 China's Middle Ages

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pp. 191-228

Chinese culture is a homogeneous tradition built up over thousands of years; but its main contributors were not a single tribe or race. There are many who have (or seek to promote) the impression that 'Han Chinese' racial influence spread over the millennia sweeping aside or absorbing all that it encountered. There is no doubt that there were local...

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10 China Shared

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pp. 229-256

The outlook of China following the rebellion of An Lushan was very different from that at the height of the Tang Dynasty. The merchant class lost faith in the ability of the Tang ruling class to provide centralized rule over China, and at the same time, the rulers lost both the will and the ability to impose central rule. The Emperor, Tai Zong, was forced to flee the capital, Chang An, in 755, and it was only recaptured eight years later with the help...

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11 Action and Overreaction: The Ming Dynasty

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pp. 257-314

The character of the Ming Dynasty was strongly imprinted with the character of its founder, Zhu Yuanzhang (ATCffE) . Zhu grew up in a poor peasant family and became an anti-Mongol activist in a Buddhist-founded group. He gradually managed to attract a following of Confucian scholars...

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12 The Transition from Ming to Qing

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pp. 315-358

The concept of the 'accomplished archer' ( H l t # ) comprised the achievement of a number of goals. In the view of writers writing at the end of the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, these could be summarized as:...

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13 The Final Years

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pp. 359-388

Confucius was the role model for generations of scholar-officials throughout Chinese history. In order to attain this idolized position in Chinese society (thus bringing glory to the family and the whole local community), it was necessary to take part in the Imperial Examinations. Although the maximum prestige attached to the literary examinations...

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14 Epilogue

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pp. 389-398

I apologize. I have dragged you through three thousand years of Chinese history, across battlefields, through philosophers' backyards, over thickets of Chinese characters. Here you are, bruised and scratched, dragged backwards through half-a-dozen different styles and fashions of archery...

15 Bibliography

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pp. 399-410


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pp. 411-418

E-ISBN-13: 9789882200661
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622095014

Page Count: 444
Publication Year: 2000


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Subject Headings

  • Archery -- China.
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