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·Zhu Dawei

Zhu Dawei, male, Han nationality, born in February, 1931, is a native of Xichong, Sichuan Province and a nonparty member. In August, 1957, he graduated from the department of history at Sichuan University as a graduate student. He is researcher with the Institute of Chinese History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He was the president of the Historical Association of Wei-Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasty’s of China twice, and is now the consultant to this association. His academic expertise is the history of the Wei-Jin and Southern and Northern Dynasty’s. Since 1992, he has enjoyed a special allowance awarded by the State Council.



History Deals with the Pursuit of and the Perfect Integration of Morality, Ability, Knowledge and Learning


        Seven years ago, I was only a college student who showed respect to the studies of history and took a train from far-away Xi’an to Beijing anxiously and fearfully to take part in the postgraduate interview. I met Li Ping, my future supervisor and Zhu Dawei who host the interview in the conference hall in History Center, a small wooden building. Perhaps, it was Mr Zhu’s accent that eased my nervousness, so I passed the interview successfully and then studied in the Postgraduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. When I was in the second Grade and my supervisor went to Korea to give lectures, Mr Zhu was especially invited to teach ‘Historical Literature of Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties’ and ‘Selected Readings of Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties History’. Later on, he gave me some advice for my thesis paper. During the special period – SARS, he also called me many times to ask about the progress of my paper and gave me specific suggestions about problems in the draft. In the meantime, he repeatedly advised me to do exercises and told me that a strong will and good health are necessary to deal with history. I also benefited from his thoughts and academia whilst studying for my Doctors Degree. After I worked in the Academy, he talked with me once and inquired about my schedule and research direction in the future. He stressed that history deals with the pursuit of and the perfect integration of morality, ability, knowledge and learning. I know these words are not his only feelings of the past 50 years but also the expectations of the younger generation.

        Dai Weihong (hereafter referred to as Dai): Mr Zhu, it has already been 50 years since you graduated from college. Could you talk about the person who has affected you the most while you studied history?

        Zhu Dawei (hereafter referred to as Zhu): Recalling the historical studies of 50 years, three respected teachers – Xu Zhongshu, Meng Wentong and Miu Yue affected me the most while I was studying in Sichuan University. Academically speaking, they are skillful at investigation and theory, or are erudite or are good at literature and history. They exploit their own particular advantages, transmit wisdom or impart knowledge and never weary of teaching others. Mr Meng knows a great deal about Confucian Classics, metaphysics, natural science, the studies of history, religion, paleo-geography, ancient nation, etc. and he could connect and master each subject in order to raise systematical and special views through sagacious historical knowledge. He has spoken glowingly of the second revolution in Chinese history till the Wei-Jin times and touched upon ‘Three Origins’ of Chen Yingke’s Sui-Tang Dynasties. Zhang Taiyan mentioned: “Scholars began to write about philosophy from the Wei Dynasty.” Tang Yongtong also held there was a great change in Chinese academia during the Han-Wei Dynasties. Liu Shipei said: “Scholars have set up a distinct branch of literature since the Song Dynasty.” Thus, the idea to study the history of Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties came into being. Mr Meng emphasized 4 key points to compose history, that is, extensive, thorough, perforated and changing, which were his experience while studying history and strict requirements for the students. Afterwards, I have mostly relied on these key points proposed by Mr Meng to study history. During the several decades afterwards, I have contacted with Miu Yue a lot because of the scope of studying history. Mr Miu stressed: “It is not necessary to aim high and take a macroscopic view but also explore the details rather than incline to one branch”. Although the three teachers during my college time have passed away, I have always kept their instructions in mind. Lots of students have benefited from their behavior, academic qualities together with their instruction.

       Dai: Mr Zhu, how did you accumulate materials while studying the history of the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties? During our studies, what materials should we search for and collect? Nowadays, our research conditions are much better than that of the older generation. For example, we could utilize the electronic version of ‘The Histories of Twenty-Five Dynasties’ and ‘Four Branches of Literature’ when we search and collect materials. What do you think of our methods for searching and collecting historical materials?

Zhu: After we confirm the research objectives, the most important step is to collect all the related materials, which is the basic step in research. More sufficient the materials we collect, the more reliable the result is. Yan Zhitui, of the Northern Qi Dynasty once mentioned in ‘Yan Family Instructions - Diligence’: “If you haven’t read all the books, you are not qualified to state your views”. Yan Gengwang drew 4 circles, A, B, C and D, in which one layer enclosed another in his book – ‘Experiences of Studying History’. The 4 circles represent all the objective histories, histories recorded, inherited histories and histories seen by individuals respectively. It shows that no matter how detailed the historical materials are they only reflect a part of history. Therefore, we should enlarge the materials as much as possible so that we can approach the real history during our studies.

        I have read lots of historical materials about the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties word by word and sentence by sentence more than twice because they are very important, including the 13 dynastical histories from the ‘History of Eastern Han Dynasty’ to the ‘History of Sui Dynasty’.

        Then, I have some books, like parts of ‘Three Generations and Six Dynasties of the Ancient Kingdoms – Qin and Han Dynasties’, ‘Poems of Pre-Qin & Han Dynasties and Wei & Jin Southern & Northern Dynasties’, ‘Anthology’ and ‘The Cream of Literary World’; other works at that time, such as, ‘Records of Huayang Kingdom’, ‘A New Account of the World Tales’, ‘Yan Family Instructions’, ‘A Record of Buddhist Monasteries in Luo-Yang’, ‘Shui Jing Zhu’, ‘Chi Min Yao Shu’, ‘Pao-Pu-Tzu’, ‘Legend of the Demigods’, ‘Biographies of Eminent Monks’, etc. as well as some anthologies. Although these materials don’t focus on the real histories, they contain some historical materials excluded in the real history. Hence, these books have quoted plenty of works of some writers at that time, which possess many valuable materials. Take ‘A New Account of the World Tales’ for example. It has quoted from more than 400 books, so it supplemented history. For instance, ‘Literary of Jin Dynasty – Tao-Kan’, which has more words than ‘Wang-Dao’, and sets down more details. However, if we look over ‘Language’, ‘Politics’ and ‘Elegance’ of ‘A New Account of the World Tales’, we can learn about Tao Kan’s family background, farming situations, opposition to the corruption of powerful families, his last words, etc. from the quotes in ‘Jin Yang Qiu’, ‘Jin Ji’ (Xu Guang), ‘History of Jin Dynasty’ (Wang Yin), ‘Book of Zhong-Xing’, ‘An Account of Farewell’, ‘Records of Tao Family’, etc., which could justify and supplement ‘History of Jin Dynasty’.

        In addition, I also paid lots of attention on Epigraphy. For instance, ‘History of Northern Qi Dynasty’ has mentioned Prince Lan Ling in Northern Qi – Gao Su, but his record was too short at around 500 words, including date of death. However, ‘Inscriptions of Prince Lan Ling – Gao Su’ has more than 800 words, stating that he was a Tong Zhi San Qi Shi Lang in the 8th year of Tian-Bao and he was promoted in the 9th and 10th years, the 1st year of Qian-ming and the 1st and 2nd year of Huang-jian. Hence, we know that the real history might omit lots of historical facts. If we read, examine, interpret, supplement and correct books like ‘Jin Shi Cui Bian’, ‘Supplements of Jin Shi Cui Bian’, ‘Continuation of Jin Shi’, ‘Supplements of Ba Qiong Shi Jin Shi’, ‘Interpretations of Inscriptions in Han & Wei and Southern & Northern Dynasty’, etc., we will find a lot of useful materials to supplement the real history.

        Finally, although the cultural relics recovered in archeological digs are not as abundant and important as those of the Qin, Han and Tang Dynasties, we should not ignore them. When I saw the drawings of cattle ploughing, tomb frescos of faming and models of farm lands, I got a basic and vivid understanding of farming and women’s seeding as well as farming tools such as the plough, harrow, etc. at that time. ‘Wu Jian’ in the Three Kingdoms recently recovered in archeological digs is very detailed and sorted out and has been adopted by many scholars. The above-mentioned are first-hand materials which are more reliable than second hand ones, so they are more valuable. The scholars who attempt to study history and read books should not ignore first-hand materials besides the real history.

        Although the books compiled in the Tang & Song Dynasties (like ‘Actual Records of Jiankang Emperor’, ‘Annals of Yuanhe County’, ‘General Allusions’, ‘General Yearbooks’, ‘Journals’, ‘General Inspections’, ‘Descriptions of Taiping’, ‘The Records of Scenic Spots Across the County’, ‘Miscellanea’, ‘Beginning’, ‘Bei Tang Shu Chao’, ‘Prime Tortoise of the Record Bureau’, ‘Imperial Readings of Taiping’, ‘Records of Taiping Period’, etc.) have been adapted and are secondary materials, we should not underestimate their historical value because most of the writers have utilized first-hand materials to compile them. There were more first-hand materials in the Tang & Song Dynasties compared to those at present. For instance, the ‘History of Jin Dynasty’ was also present in the Tang Dynasty, but it has gone now. I have read most of the above-mentioned books carefully and adopted them in combination with first-hand materials.

        We should insist on one principle while reading books to search and collect materials, namely, the more books we read, the more abundant and better the materials collected are. The method to adopt and compose these materials differs from person to person. We should be adept in referencing others’ experience and base them on the practices. Generally speaking, we should read books according to our major. When I began to read books, I had studied more than 20 subjects, including, economic development of each district, stock raising, political system, struggle and integration of nations, city construction, besides class system, peasant uprisings, culture consciousness, etc. I adopted three methods to supplement each other, which are to copy on to cards, to write reading reflections and to record indexes of materials. Set down some important and typical materials as a whole on the card, make some brief notes and then classify the card according to the topic. Write down thoughts about some topics while reading together with the correlation and differences among historical materials in loose-leaf notebooks and then also classify the card according to the topic. It is not necessary to copy a large quantity of some ordinary materials on specific topics, but write down the pages under the topic and mark the book in red for the convenience of searching and copying. After reading all the necessary books, we could find the topic that possesses abundant materials and then propose new views. Then, we can write the passage according to the indexes in the combination of cards and learning thoughts. Certainly, it is impossible to dig out all the necessary materials regardless of how detailed we are; in addition, some materials are only fragments or do not reflect nature. So, it is quite common to read the books or some parts again which are closely related to the topic. In the meantime, along with the enlargement of my research, it is much more necessary to go on reading and collecting materials. However, whenever I read the books again, I can find the differences and profoundness from the first reading.

        The learning conditions of young scholars in modern times are much better compared with those of ours in the past. For instance, it is very convenient to find specific sentences or events from the electronic version of ‘The Histories of Twenty-Five Dynasties’ and ‘Four Branches of Literature’. But we must pay attention to some questions. For example, we might ignore some related materials which are not directly related to the indexes. Generally speaking, if we don’t read the passage, we are inclined to quote out of context and can’t interpret the materials entirely and correctly, which is taboo in studying. It is another question we want to mention. In case of studying histories, both collecting and interpreting materials correctly are very important. Chen Yinke warned: “A scholar should not discuss or write the passage after looing at basic materials because his conclusion is not very reliable.” In particular, young scholars shall watch out for it. In my opinion, there is no doubt that the materials collected together with the ability to identify, analyze and utilize materials determine the level of historical academic works from the perspective of materials.

        Dai: Could you introduce some of your creative views? For example, the old nations in China began to merge during the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties, including the so-called ‘Five Hu’ (Xiongnu, Di, Qiang, Jie, etc.) as well as other minorities, such as Wuhuan, Rourank, etc. Meanwhile, the merging of nations lasted for nearly 400 years. So, historians all believe the merging of nations during Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties affects the ancient history of China. As a scholar of the younger generation, I have paid attention to your works in recent years and have noticed that lots of your papers focused on this question. So, could you talk about the problems of nations during the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties?

        Zhu: Academic thoughts or views are related to many materials and data, so they are very complicated. Hence, I will only talk about some major conclusions here briefly. During the 300 years of 16 countries & Northern Dynasty, 6 major nations (Han and ‘Five Hu’) in the northern part of China had set up 21 regimes. The nations in the Northern Dynasty were merged with the Han, including another 13 minorities (like Wuhuan, Rouran, Gaoche, Man, Liao, Xike, Shu, Jihu, etc.) besides the 5 major minorities. According to my preliminary estimation, the total population of these 13 minorities that merged with the Han nationality was more than 11,000,000, about 35% of that in the Northern Dynasty. Regarding ethnic people and the total population, the great mixture of 16 countries & Northern Dynasty was unique and of great historical significance.

        As for the theory of national integration, people are quite familiar with the famous inference of Marx and Engels: “The Arab, Turk, Tartar and Mughal people who conquered India one after another were soon assimilated. The uncivilized conquerors are usually assimilated by the civilization of the conquered nations, which is a permanent historical rule.” Upon the national views of Confucianism, lots of historians have laid stress on ‘Chinese protection against foreign invaders’ and ‘Honoring the king and resisting the barbarians’ which were proposed on the barbarians’ invasion of China while the contradictions became sharp. However, we shall emphasize the positive views of Confucianism. The central system or nature of Confucianism theories is to eliminate the differences between cultures, which is realized by way of national equality, kind-heartedness, benevolent policies and self-learning as well as the cultivation of ‘etiquette and morality’. Hence, the relatively advanced culture of China could assimilate the relatively backward culture of the barbarians. In other words, ‘China changes barbarians’ as held by Mencius is carried out by the ‘universal peace’ of Confucianism so as to achieve the integration of culture and the world. If we contrast Mencius’s views of ‘national integration’ with the theory of Marx and Engels – national struggle and integration, we will find Mencius’s ‘China changes barbarians’ in national relationship (namely, the advanced culture will eliminate the differences) covers the connotation of ‘permanent historical rule’ of Marx and Engels. The positive and advanced national views of Confucianism originate from the accurate interpretation and profound inference of the objective historical progress. Most of the governors of 16 countries in Northern Dynasty practiced the national views of Confucianism voluntarily, which showed the assimilation under the complicated national integration at that time. If you are familiar with the history, you might find that the general tendency of the historical progress from the Qin Dynasty to the Middle Ages conforms to the views of Confucianism on national integration. While digging into the progress of the national integration of 16 countries in Northern Dynasty, it will be found that they were always restrained by the historical rule in which the relatively advanced culture (Han culture) assimilates the backward culture. In other words, advanced national culture impacts and attracts the backward culture strongly from every aspect. Consequently, all the minority leaders of advanced cultures insisted on Chinese localization consciously or unconsciously. Meanwhile, the integration of 16 countries’ minorities in the Northern Dynasty into the Han nationality had inputed plenty of new elements in the reproduction of the population or the development of Han culture so that they make the basic necessities of life, language, characters, entertainment, etc. of the Han people more colorful. In the meantime, according to the principle of eugenics, the blood mixture of Han nationality and more than 10 minorities has poured a great number of fresh bloods into the ancient Han nationality since the Qin Dynasty. The simple, valiant and bold nature of each nomad was immersed into the bodies of the Han people, which combined boldness of each nomad and gentleness of the Han nationality. Hence, it improved the health of the new Han people and activated people’s innovation. The integration of the northern nations developed greatly so that the population, labor force and wealth surpassed the South greatly. Finally, the North was more powerful than the South. The great development was not only the foundation for Emperor Sui to integrate the South but also developed feudal politics, economy and culture of the Tang Dynasty greatly. The great integration of northern nations of 16 countries injected new factors in to Han Nationality and its culture.

       Basically speaking, most of the minorities in the Southern Dynasty (mainly Man, Liao and Li) merged with the Han Nationality during this period. There were many minorities in the Southern Dynasty, including, Man, Liao, Li, Ba, Shu, Yue, etc., among which Man, Liao and Li had the largest area and population. In addition, lots of refugees in the north moved to the south at that time, which made the exploration of the south and development of the social economy into a new stage since the Sui-Tang Dynasties. Hence, the great integration of nations in the south left millions of labors in the system of the feudal economy and developed large population of minorities, so these minorities were governed by the Han government. There were three elements for the development of ancient Chinese history, that is, great the integration of the Han & Hu nationalities, cultural exchange between China & the world and the exchange among Confucianism, Buddhism & Taoism, northern migration & economic centers moving south after the middle Tang Dynasty. The first was the central element because it caused the other two elements. Therefore, the great integration of 6 dynasties was of great significance.

       Dai: The Southern Dynasty changed continuously and the national relationship in the north was very complicated due to the long-term break between the south and the north during the Jin Dynasty and Southern & Northern Dynasties. Another major feature in this period was upheavals and wars as a result of long-term problems of domestic affairs. Mr Zhu, you have written a lot about the examinations and discussions of military histories. ‘Military History of Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties’ won the 4th Chinese Books Nomination, so could you talk about military problems at that time?

       Zhu: There were lots of military activities during the Jin Dynasty and Southern & Northern Dynasties. According to the rough statistics, there were more than 400 large-scale wars of tens of thousands of people in AD 324. We could divide the wars into 3 types according to their nature, namely, integration wars among the regimes, civil wars among the dominating parties of each regime together with wars between peasants or the feudal government. Factors like politics, economy, military, diplomacy, talents, etc. determined the victory or defeat in wars. When we wrote ‘Military History of Jin Dynasty and Southern & Northern Dynasties’, we tried to stand at the height of times rather than talk about the military only. In other words, we tried to imply the profound connotation and features in military histories from the perspective of objective history conditions from the Jin to the Sui Dynasty and then held the overall status and regulations of military history during this period in order to reflect the special trace of military development during this period in China in detail. The book centered on more than 50 large-scale wars, discussing each regime, economy, national defense, military system, weapons and supplies, especially military problems like the command of strategies and tactics, etc. The military wars at that time developed the marine and cavalry forces greatly and this book stated the special military system, equipment and strategies & tactics of the marines and cavalry forces. The Eastern Jin & Southern Dynasty focused on the marines and cavalry, in which the marines had been equipped with more than 10 types of small flexible and light strike ships together with many warships, which formed a complete naval system. Aggressive weapons like ‘beating vehicle’, ‘throwing vehicle’, etc. on the large-scale warship were commonly used, which was an important symbol for the development of the marines. Hence, the marine and ground forces were practicing in the South. If the marines went ashore, they became the ground forces and vice verse so that they could be deployed flexibly according to actual wars. Generally speaking, the marines would hurl large rocks from the ‘beating vehicle’ or ‘throwing vehicle’ to hit the army’s big ships first. Then, they would harass them by striking the small ships. Finally, they would annihilate the army with many types of large-scale warships. There were 4 floors on the large-scale warships of 5 meters long with many types of big and small ships. The 4 doors of some big ships were made of wood and people could ride horses on to it. However, the Minority Regimes of the Northern Dynasty could utilize hundreds of thousands of cavalrymen in the war; even 400,000 at the most, especially ‘iron horses’. In other words, there were plenty of human beings and horses with armor, even holding 1/2 of the cavalrymen at the most, which was an important symbol for the development of cavalrymen. There were 2 battle features, namely, rapid action and strong impaction. The army of the Eastern Jin and Southern Dynasty which relied on marine and land forces showed the ir dominant advantages. Strategically and technically speaking, light cavalry was mostly used. First of all, land forces were used to surround the enemy and then the cavalrymen would strike at the front to disorganize the enemy. As a whole, the final goal of war was to take cities & seize territories. It was easy for marine & land forces to seize cities and watch the territories whereas the cavalry usually commenced a war on the plains. There were lots of rivers and lakes in the South, so it was convenient for marines and there were plains in the North which was beneficial to the cavalry. So, armies in the South and North possessed their own advantages and disadvantages which would change due to the good or bad commands of both parties’ generals. This book has stated all these fighting features through strategic thinking in pratice. Furthermore, equipment and strategies of the marines and calvary affected the military activities of the Tang & Song Dynasties.

        Dai: In 2001, Fudan University selected your ‘Kneel Sitting to Upright Sitting of Ancient Chinese’ in ‘Excellent Records of Chinese Literature and History in the 20th Century’. I read your passage carefully 3 times and held that it was so attractive. The change of little habits created the merger of religions, culture and nations at that time, about which you could write such an excellent passage which reflected the colorful social life of the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties.

Zhu: Li Ji, a famous scholar in Taiwan, proposed a ‘need-to-be-prove’ hypothesis about the change of sitting position from kneeling to upright sitting and came to the conclusion at the end of the passage: “Probably, the use of the Hu bed and the coming of Eastern monks affects the abandoning of kneel sitting in our daily lives.” I was thinking that kneel sitting to upright sitting in ancient times was a great change in etiquette, so it was necessary to probe it. Meanwhile, do the hypothesis and conclusion proposed by Li Ji conform to history? How did the ancient Chinese change from kneeling to upright sitting? So, holding these questions in mind, I collected a lot of literature and cultural relics & archeology and demonstrated the change from kneel sitting to upright sitting of the ancient Han nationality. During the analysis and demonstration, we would understand this change was of epoch-making significance on the changes of things like life etiquette, bed in the room, furniture custom, etc. in old China. The change from kneeling to upright sitting of ancient Chinese, a great change in national etiquette, was very slow and underwent a long period of around 600 years from the Eastern Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties. Due to the extensive prevalence of the Hu bed, the sitting style of Buddhists and the bed with legs, great merger of nations, attack of metaphysics on ethnics, opening and merger of cultural thoughts, communication of materials or spiritual culture at home and aboard aroused people’s attention, so kneeling by the Han people in the Shang & Zhou Dynasties was developed into upright sitting at the end the Tang Dynasty. The complete change of kneeling by the Han people formed a colorful room culture, which proved that the ancestors absorbed foreign culture and boosted creative traditional culture.

Dai: You have written lots of papers about the scientific technologies of the middle ages, so could you talk about problems with them?

       Zhu: Inventions of scientific technologies in the middle ages were quite prosperous. ‘Biography of Hua Tuo’ (Volume 82) in ‘History of the Latter-Han Dynasty’ stated the exquisite medical skills of Hua Tuo, like internal medicine, external medicine, gynaecology, paediatrics and acupuncture & moxibustion. Also, there were more than 370 medical works in ‘Classics in Sui Dynasty’. From the medical books that are left and some other books, we could see that powder for anesthesia was a very important invention, the theories of traditional Chinese medical science or medicine has developed gradually and anatomy came into being, so people recognized more about the physiological knowledge of human bodies, which set up a base for surgery in traditional Chinese medicine. What’s more, I sorted out 12 examples of traditional surgery and then analyzed or demonstrated them. Surprisingly, I found that there have already been large-scale viscera surgery, which was stated in the ‘Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties’. I collected a lot of literature and materials and archaeological relics concerning the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties at that time. Then, I found that there were 37 sets of cities which were inspected gradually. As a result, there were 34 newly built or expanded cities taking over 92% of the total with 90% the north of Yangtze River. It can be seen from the 2 figures that set cities, as an important military project, had developed greatly at that time. Which were equipped with 4 defenses (internal city, external city, and moat and horse roads) which were developed according to the chaos of war at that time. The appearance of set cities at that time means politics and the military were dominant in the city whereas the economy and culture were relatively weak. It was one feature of city development during the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties. I have stated these views in ‘Set Cities during Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties’. Construction technology was greatly improved at that time and I specially discussed the advanced construction technologies at that time in ‘The Great Wall of Successive Dynasties in Northern Dynasty and Its military and strategic status’ in ‘Continuation of History of Six Dynasties’.

What’s more, when I read all kinds of historical materials, I collected 91 kinds of materials of mechanical and wooden people. Hence, I proved that ancient mechanical people were created toward the end of the Han Dynasty and the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties. The principles of mechanical people relied on labor power, water power and animal power as well as elasticity, inertia, gravity, friction, etc. Then, with the help of chains, hooks, horizontal gear, cams, bearings, cranks, connecting rods, etc., the generating power was transmitted to mechanical people by which it could imitate all the movements of human beings. Referring to the reports on modern robots and the studies of ancient robots, I wrote ‘Initiation Times of Ancient Chinese Robots and Its Principles’. In a word, surgery technology, city construction, scientific technology, etc. of six dynasties had been developed greatly. Moreover, scientists at that time had made epoch-making contributions to geography, medical chemistry, math, agricultural science, metal chemistry, biography, astronomy & calendar, etc.

Dai: The Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties were regarded as the second period of contention of a hundred schools of thought, which has been discussed in your paper. Could you talk about that?

Zhu: Due to war chaos and splits of nearly 400 years (Integration of Western Jin Dynasty was only 11 years, after which there was Eight Years of Chaos.), great merging of nations, frequent cultural communications between China and the western and long-term war chaos, the old government of two Han Dynasties was totally broken. People were liberated from Confucian School, so people became more independent and felt free. People of talents were coming forth in large numbers due to the turmoil so that the Confucian school, metaphysics, Mohist school, law, military, Buddha, Taoism, etc. appeared. Ji Kang once said: “He disguises Emperor Tang or Emperor Zhouwu.” and Bao Jingyan wrote ‘Without Emperor’. Lots of scholars were against supernatural religion, the way Taoism cheated people as well as immortals’ thoughts and supernatural theory maintaining feudal rules, such as, ‘‘No Immortals’ of Yu Fan from the Three Kingdoms, ‘No Ghost’ of Ruan Zhan and Ruan Xiu, ‘Our Soul will Perish after Death’ and ‘No Buddha or Ghost’ of Fan Ye, ‘Soul Perishes’ of Fan Zhen together with ‘Smile’ by Zhen Luan from Northern Zhou. The above-mentioned thoughts broke core theories of feudalism, denied the divine rights of the King and developed ancient materialism greatly. There is no doubt that these thoughts liberated people’s thinking before the Middle Ages so that they impelled people’s cultural orientation. They imitated the merger of culture and three regional cultural centers (Chang’an, Luoyang and Jiankang). It was an extremely prosperous center in the traditional culture of China. In fact, the culture of the ‘Six Dynasties’ carried on the past heritage and opened up the future and it was of profound influence to cultural and academic thoughts after the Tang & Song Dynasties.

Dai: Mr Zhu, what else can you mention besides the statements written in ‘Collected Thesis’ that was published or will be published?

Zhu: I can only talk about several key points briefly in one interview. I’ve proposed some new suggestions about several issue, such as, the secret of registered permanent residence of the six dynasties and Southern & Northern Dynasties, features of hierarchical structure of the six dynasties, age structure of all talents of the six dynasties, decline of the army-man system in Northern Wei, stock raising economy of Northern Wei, salary and retirement of officials of six dynasties, the rising of local bullies of the Southern & Northern Dynasties turned the history into a new period, political or military thinking and achievements of Zhu Geliang, Xie’an, etc., construction of the Great Wall of the Northern Dynasty and its strategic significance, reform by Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei, some feature of traditional Chinese culture reflected in a combination of human being and God (Guan Yu), etc. I have discussed some uncertainties in the papers carefully and proposed three thoughts to consult with other scholars on.

Dai: Scholars at home and aboard have thought highly of the ‘History of Six Dynasties’. Professor Mu Fasong from East China Normal University pointed out: “The writer of ‘History of Six Dynasties’ was an excellent representative of the first generation studying the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties. We can take this book as one of the representative achievements of researchers of his generation.” Professor Nakamura from Osaka Prefecture University commented: “This book is a real collection of academic papers of rich content with distinctive features of extent, depth and innovation. It is equipped with special characteristics and important achievements, so we can regard it as a new milestone of the new China’s research of the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties. Miu Yue and Zhou Yiliang also thought highly of this work in the ‘Preface’ and special comment respectively. At the end of the comment, Mr Zhou even said: “I admire you! I admire you!” What do you think of it?

Zhu: First of all, I was terrified about the comments of scholars at home and aboard. As for me, nothing is perfect, including books. Hence, I don’t know the studies of history that well, so I don’t have to be so academic. In my opinion, the reviews have been praising me too much. Since the reform and opening up, scholars have become fickle and don’t study carefully. Other scholars might learn careful scholarship and innovation from me. What’s more, Mr Mu and Mr Nakamura criticized that I neither adopted the achievements of Japanese scholars nor focus a lot on nobles. There advice is very pertinent and conforms to the practice, so I should pay more attention to them.

Dai: Theories are fundamental for studying history, but historians at present are not very interested in them. So, what do you think about such phenomenon?

        Zhu: Any historians who have favorable achievements rely on historical theories a lot, so historical theories are the soul of historical works. It seems that historical theories at present are not so interesting, but the struggle of theories at home and aboard is quite vigorous. There are Marxist historical materialism, post-modern historical view, humanities view, enlightenment view, textual criticism instead of historical view, etc. Although post-modern historical views are of great influence in China, scholars in China and aboard have criticized it in recent years and most of them even denied it totally. The above-mentioned historical views except historical materialism have one feature in common, that is, to deny the regularity of historical development consciously or unconsciously. As a matter of fact, to deny the regularities of historical development is denying history because the fundamental task in the study of history is to probe into its regularities and to help people have an idea of its regularities and create history voluntarily. Marxist historical materialism has been held the leading position in the field of history about 30 years after reform and opening, which is an incontrovertible fact by judging from the published works on general Chinese history, special history, dating history, special dating history. These works contain historical regularities, such as ‘Social existence determines social consciousness’, ‘Productivity determines relations of production’, ‘Economic base determines the super-structure’, ‘Class struggle exists in the entire class society’, ‘Dialects penetrate into all types of social contradictions’, etc. At present, it is quite urgent for historians to develop historical materialism with Chinese characteristics in the combination of specific Chinese histories on the basis of historical materialism according to a series of changes at home after WWII. In other words, historians shall develop the theories of historical materialism to construct the new historical theories and system microscopically or macroscopically which conform to the historical features in China and develop into a new period.

        Dai: Mr Zhu, as a famous scholar of the older generation, what expectations do you have for the scholars of the younger generation?

        Zhu: I have three expectations of young scholars. First of all, politics, economy, society and culture in China at present are in a transitional period, so the academic thinking is very active and complicated. All the scholars shall insist on historical materialism so that they will not lose their direction. Take the historians studying the Wei & Jin and Southern & Northern Dynasties of more than 80 years for example. Most of the historians who have achieved a lot insist on historical materialism. Therefore, young scholars shall pay more attention to it rather than ignore it, undertake the localization of historical materialism and propel its development.

        Secondly, under the severe tendency of fickle study and corrupt academic morality, you should insist strictly on the style of study and academic morality and the pursuit of pure, peaceful and honest characteristics as well as persistent, rigorous, true and innovative spirit, which are important conditions and necessary tendency for the historical group and study at present.

        Finally, young scholars shall admit that Chinese historical literature and archeological relics are so abundant that only if you devote all the energy to struggles, shall you achieve your goal of scientific studies. I don’t think a lot about talents, but I think highly of diligence because the historians who have achieved a lot differ in talent, but they are all diligent. You should read the part on studying in ‘Zhu Zi Yu Lei’ carefully, in which Zhu Zi emphasized ‘diligence’ 9 times and achievements in case of thinking after reading. You should also read and think about the 3 realms of studying in ‘Words in the World’ written by Wang Guowei, a master of Chinese culture. I also prefer the sayings of Zhu Xi and Qi Gong: “Question others’ conclusions and study the new field carefully” and “Think over the word and its meaning again and again”. These sayings are here for you!


        Translated by Feng Weijiang.

Editor: Wang Daohang

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