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Books and ebooks // su:China History Taiping Rebellion, 1850 1864
The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom by
Call Number: ebook
Publication Date: 2004-10-01
Occupying much of imperial China's Yangzi River heartland and costing more than twenty million lives, the Taiping Rebellion (1851-64) was no ordinary peasant revolt. What most distinguished this dramatic upheaval from earlier rebellions were the spiritual beliefs of the rebels. The core of the Taiping faith focused on the belief that Shangdi, the high God of classical China, had chosen the Taiping leader, Hong Xiuquan, to establish his Heavenly Kingdom on Earth. How were the Taiping rebels, professing this new creed, able to mount their rebellion and recruit multitudes of followers in their sweep through the empire? Thomas Reilly argues that the Taiping faith, although kindled by Protestant sources, developed into a dynamic new Chinese religion whose conception of its sovereign deity challenged the legitimacy of the Chinese empire. The Taiping rebels denounced the divine pretensions of the imperial title and the sacred character of the imperial office as blasphemous usurpations of Shangdi's title and position. In place of the imperial institution, the rebels called for restoration of the classical system of kingship. Previous rebellions had declared their contemporary dynasties corrupt and therefore in need of revival; the Taiping, by contrast, branded the entire imperial order blasphemous and in need of replacement. In this study, Reilly emphasizes the Christian elements of the Taiping faith, showing how Protestant missionaries built on earlier Catholic efforts to translate Christianity into a Chinese idiom. Prior studies of the rebellion have failed to appreciate how Hong Xiuquan's interpretation of Christianity connected the Taiping faith to an imperial Chinese cultural and religious context. The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom shows how the Bible--in particular, a Chinese translation of the Old Testament--profoundly influenced Hong and his followers, leading them to understand the first three of the Ten Commandments as an indictment of the imperial order. The rebels thus sought to destroy imperial culture along with its institutions and Confucian underpinnings, all of which they regarded as blasphemous. Strongly iconoclastic, the Taiping followers smashed religious statues and imperially approved icons throughout the lands they conquered. By such actions the Taiping Rebellion transformed--at least for its followers but to some extent for all Chinese--how Chinese people thought about religion, the imperial title and office, and the entire traditional imperial and Confucian order. This book makes a major contribution to the study of the Taiping Rebellion and to our understanding of the ideology of both the rebels and the traditional imperial order they opposed. It will appeal to scholars in the fields of Chinese history, religion, and culture and of Christian theology and church history.
The World of a Tiny Insect by
Call Number: ebook
Publication Date: 2013-12-01
"From the cry of a tiny insect, one can hear the sound of a vast world. . . ." So begins Zhang Daye's preface to The World of a Tiny Insect, his haunting memoir of war and its aftermath. In 1861, when China's devastating Taiping rebellion began, Zhang was seven years old. The Taiping rebel army occupied Shaoxing, his hometown, and for the next two years, he hid from Taiping soldiers, local bandits, and imperial troops and witnessed gruesome scenes of violence and death. He lost friends and family and nearly died himself from starvation, illness, and encounters with soldiers on a rampage. Written thirty years later, The World of a Tiny Insect gives voice to this history. A rare premodern Chinese literary work depicting a child's perspective, Zhang's sophisticated text captures the macabre images, paranoia, and emotional excess that defined his wartime experience and echoed through his adult life. The structure, content, and imagery of The World of a Tiny Insect offer a carefully constructed, fragmented narrative that skips in time and probes the relationships between trauma and memory, revealing both history and its psychic impact. Xiaofei Tian's annotated translation includes an introduction that situates The World of a Tiny Insect in Chinese history and literature and explores the relevance of the book to the workings of traumatic memory.