• The Chinese Journal for the History of Science and technology 2011-Special Issue for Artisanal Practice and Popular Culture in Imperial China

The Chinese Journal for the History of Science and technology  2011-Special Issue for Artisanal Practice and Popular Culture in Imperial China

The Organization of the Iron and Steel Industry in the Ming and Qing Dynasties: Cases from Zezhou in Shanxi and Foshan in Guangdong

QIAN Wei, LIU Peifeng, LIU Renzi
(Institute of Historical Metallurgy and Materials,University of Science and Technology Beijing,Beijing 100083,China)

Abstract  Industry is a bridge connecting technology and society, thus the effect of technology on society can be analyzed from the perspective of industrial organization. In this paper, field surveys, studies of inscriptions on metal and stone cultural relics and historical documents have been used to elucidate the organization of China’s iron and steel industry in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The cases of Zezhou in Shanxi and Foshan in Guangdong illustrate the details of the formation and development of businesses and guilds during that period. Studies have shown that the production organization of the steel industry in the Ming and Qing developed from the single craftsman family to organizations based on cooperating families with different surnames, while firms with brand names did not prevail until in the middle and late Qing. Differentiation of iron and steel technology continued to change the formation of businesses and guilds (hang and hui), which had their own management policies. There are indications that hang underwent a gradual shift from official to non-governmental organizations, while hui developed from religious organizations into industry managers’ or workers’ organizations, with the temples of Laotzu or guild halls (huiguan) as the centers of activity. These similar industrial organizations did not exist independently, they worshiped the gods and co-founders and strengthened the links between them to form an organic whole to promote the development of artisanal society.

Technology as Source and Stream: Trade Gods, Ancestors, and the Transmission of Knowledge among Papermakers in Jiajiang, Sichuan

Jacob Eyferth
(University of Chicago)

Abstract  Paper makers in Jiajiang (Sichuan) conceived of their craft as a gift that had been handed down to them by a patron saint (Cai Lun) and by ancestors who had “opened the source” of their livelihood when they first settled in the area. This view allowed Jiajiang papermakers to construe craft skill as a communal property: something that properly belonged to all the disciples and descendents of the patron saint and the founding ancestors, rather than to specific families or workshops. Using interviews and stele inscriptions from the 1860s to the 1990s, this article examines how notions of spiritual obligation affected the reproduction and circulation of skill.

The Nexus of Kinship, Locality, and Industry – A model of the Social Structure of the Late Qing and Early Republican Jingdezhen Porcelain Industry
FANG Lili
(Center for Anthropological Studies,The Chinese Fine Arts Institute ,Beijing 100029,China)

Abstract  Throughout history, Jingdezhen potters have not only produced a great number of exquisite ceramics, they have created customs transmitted over generations for the development of a craft culture of local pottery production. This craft culture is closely related to traditional Chinese society, rooted in local communities in which kinship and geography are the foundation.  However, Jingdezhen, as a city important to one particular handicraft industry, was not just a purely local rural community. It had a flourishing commercial aspect to it. In this preindustrial society, there was a mutual interaction between kinship, geography and industry based on the foundations of ancestor worship and religious mythology and philosophy. This mutual interaction formed the model of social organization of the traditional Jingdezhen porcelain production industry. This model of social organization encompassed both knowledge about porcelain technology, and a special set of trade organizations and guild worship. These together constituted a unique handicraft material and spiritual culture.


Divine Medical Prescriptions, Morality Books and the Master Lü Cult in South China Since the Late Qing
YAU Chi-on
(Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)


Abstract  Late-Qing Guangdong and Hong Kong saw not only rampant outbreaks of plagues, but also rapid development of Daoist temples and large-scale publication and circulation of morality books and xianfang. Literally “divine medical prescription”, the xianfang is an important key to understanding the worship of Master Lü in South China since the late Qing. This paper analyzes the relationship between morality books and xianfang. It investigates the historical context within which the morality book Shan yu ren tong lu was compiled. It points out that Lü zu, being regarded as the master of xianfang, became one of the main foci of South Chinese Daoism.  It further examines the route from northeastern Guangdong to Southeast Asia through which the xianfang were transmitted. It then introduces a Hong Kong Master Lü temple famous for curing diseases. It finally demonstrates the viability of the xianfang against the onslaught of modern science in the Republican era.

Cultural changes among the Ding Family of the Hui Nationality in Quanzhou during the Ming and Qing Dynasties
CHEN Jinguo
(Institute of World Religions, CASS, Beijing 100732, China)

Abstract  The Ding family was part of the Hui nationality living in Chendai, Quanzhou during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The family’s ethnic consciousness was affected by the Chinese traditional Confucian patriarchal system and its cultural values. They absorbed the concepts and knowledge of traditional fengshui, becoming active practitioners of the art. Through this cultural interaction, they reinforced the Ding family’s sense of community and cohesion. In the process of the development of civilization, fengshui is one symbol of sinicization, promoting cultural integration through "harmony but not sameness” and the formation of cross-ethnic common sensibilities between the Han and Hui nationalities. 
Key word  Huizu-Ding,Fengshui,Civilization,Clan


Imitation, Body and Senses: Knowledge Transmission and
Embodiment in Folk Handicrafts

PENG Mu
(School of Chinese Language and Literature, Beijing Normal University, 100875, Beijing,China)

Abstract  Based upon fieldwork in rural Hunan, this paper explores traditional knowledge production and reproduction through apprenticeship in folk handicrafts. Highlighting nishi  meaning imitating (ni) masters, as well as relevant qingshi  meaning inviting (qing) masters, I illustrate that the core of apprenticeship lies in imitation and practice. Through imitating masters and repetitive practices that pivot on bodily knowing and embodiment, disciples specialize and sensitize their bodily techniques and sensations to internalize knowledge and skills. What deeply connect masters and disciples are inseparable bodily ties, manifested as incorporated and shared knowledge. Local knowledge, especially that transmitted through apprenticeship, I argue, is undetachable from bodies that embody them. Living bodies, whose sensations are disciplined and sharpened through long-term apprenticeship and practices, can represent this kind of incorporated knowledge much more fully than forms such as writing or speaking.

A Discussion of the Sacrificial Rites of the Kiln God and Improvements in Dehua Porcelain Technology

Chen Jianzhong
(Quanzhou Museum, Quanzhou Fujian 362000,China)

Abstract  Dehua has a long history of ceramic production. The production there of the first celadon in the Western Zhou Dynasty opened a new epoch of ceramic civilization. Through the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, a unique system of porcelain technology was developed. The beliefs and rituals surrounding the local Kiln God also exercised an influence on improvements in Dehua porcelain production technology. This article mainly discusses the extent of this influence and other related questions.

The Urbanization of Silkworm Temples and Dissemination of Sericulture Technology through Popular Religious Songs in 18th Century Jiangnan

Philip S. Cho
(National University of Singapore China, Singapore)

Abstract: Historians have long pointed to Chinese imperial performance of religious rituals as a tool for inscribing orthodoxy onto the material lives of people. Under the Qing especially, such performance of ritual texts and textualization of performance went far beyond discourse on ceremony, cosmological culture, and filiality, to encompass the technical arts and crafts. The worship of craft gods was important not just as a source of regional identity but also as the symbolic stage on which the imperial government interacted with local society to control technical knowledge and economic production under competing visions of social harmony.
The prime example of this religious context of craft production is the Qianlong revival in the late 18th century of the rites and temple to the Empress Lei Zu, the legendary chief sericulturalist. This ceremony was the counterpart to one for the Divine Husbandman, together signifying the proper social order as encapsulated in adages such as, “Men plow and women weave.” This revival has served as evidence of the success of a powerful imperial agenda to educate the populace about virtue.
Little work, however, has clarified how sericulture rituals reflected the complex dynamic between the court and the countryside. Qing, as well as other dynasty’s, attempts to standardize the gods were often illusory, as people accepted only the name of an imperially sponsored god but continued to worship local gods their own way. Community pact rituals in which allegiance was to be sworn to the emperor, were often changed by local elites to pledge allegiance to a dominant local lineage.
The same was true for sericulture temples and rituals in the Hangzhou, Jiaxing, and Huzhou regions of Zhejiang Province in the 18th century. The most important center at the time for raising silkworms, the region saw a sudden proliferation in sericulture temples and rituals, seemingly in response to imperial edict. Closer examination shows that these were local initiatives with little connection or funding from the court. People continued to worship a variety of silkworm deities and often simply adapted rituals used in rural areas.
Moreover, historians have overlooked the significance of this ritual culture in the spread of technological innovation. Popular religious folk songs often encoded not just the experience of raising silkworms but also much of the technical knowledge. When sericulture promoters sought to transfer Zhejiang innovations, such as in feeding and caring for silkworms, they explicitly used these songs to teach villagers in other areas such as Jiangsu province. Many complained the ancient classics on sericulture only discussed northern methods which were not suitable for southern climes. Hence, as with 18th century innovations in medicine on “southern diseases” such as Warm Factor Disease, the religious folksongs expressed a regional identity linking religion to invention.

The Control and Transformation of Witch Doctors in Northern Song China

HAN Yi
(Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190,China)

Abstract  The popularity of witch doctors (wu yi) brought serious challenges to the transmission of orthodox medical knowledge and local government order, attracting considerable Imperial, central and local government attention. The measures that the Northern Song State took to control and transform the activities of witch doctors involved legal supervision and enforced transformation of their practices, bans by explicit order and the issuing of prescriptions and promotion of official medical knowledge. Local officers actively worked to expose the deluding conduct of the witch doctors, ban their illegal activities, forcing them to learn official medical knowledge and agricultural skills, while also giving out medicines, promoting Chinese medical herbal and formula books, etc. Though the above measures made some progress, witch doctor’s continued to exist for a long time. 

Gnomon Shadow Measurement and Imperial Culture
LI Geng
(National Astronomical Observatory, CAS, Beijing, 100012, China)
SUN Xiaochun
(Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, CAS, Beijing, 100190, China)

Abstract  In ancient China, gnomon shadow measurement, as a basic technique for astronomy, was important not only astronomically, but also culturally. Compared to sunrise observation for the determining the seasons of the year, gnomon shadow measurement was valid for a much larger area. Therefore it indicates the transition of civilization from “local” to “universal”. Archaeoastronomical studies show that both gnomon shadow measurement and sunrise observation were invented during the Taosi Culture period (2300 – 1900 B.C.), which means a certain form of “imperial culture” had come into existence. Gnomon shadow measurement became a technique for “empire-building”. The rulers applied this technique to the determination of orientations and setting the boundaries of the country. The “center of the land”, which symbolized the “center of power”, was also determined by the gnomon. Changes in the shadow length indicated changes in the location. The Chinese established the law of “qian li ca yi cun”, which means the shadow length would increase or decrease one cun for every thousand li the gnomon was moved to the north or to the south of the “center of the land”. Based on this principle, the Chinese developed a feudal ritual that different sizes of the jade gnomons held by those who had been enfeoffed symbolized the different sizes of their fiefdoms. Since the 1st century B.C., gnomon shadow measurement has played an important role in state-controlled calendar making activities.

The Art of Editing Ming Encyclopedias for Daily Use and Their Dissemination of Knowledge among the People
LIU Tianzhen
(College of Humanities, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua 321004, China)

Abstract  The art of editing Ming dynasty encyclopedias for daily use demonstrates considerable innovative vitality. These are manifest in such areas as two registers in page layout, compiling materials with verse, text consisting of prose combined with verse; class headings with prompts and themes with interpretations, etc. The many prefaces and postscripts to these books reflect their wide distribution and popularity. The uncontrolled number of pirated copies of these books also reflects that the knowledge disseminated by them was well received.