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Tao Kan (陶侃) - Hero from Age of Fragmentation


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#1 snowybeagle

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Posted 20 March 2005 - 11:19 PM

The Age of Fragmentation was an era known in the early stages for extravagance, civil wars, and great turmoils when the non-Han ethnicities overran the north of the country.

Tao Kan (陶侃) was among the few people who established a good name for themselves in the court of Eastern Jin (东晋).

What was less well-known was the fact that he was not an ethnic Han (at least not a full-blooded one) but said to be of the aboriginal Xī (谿) ethnicity, also known as the Panhu savages 槃瓠蛮. Tao Kan himself had been mocked at for this aspect of his background.

Aliases : ShiXing (士行)
Born : AD 259, Died (Western Jin dynasty): AD 334 (Eastern Jin dynasty)
Hometown : originally from PoYang prefecture (present-day NE of BoYang county) / 鄱阳郡 (今江西波阳县东北), later moved to XnYng in LJiāng (present-day JiuJiang in JiangXi province) / 庐江浔阳(今江西九江)

Tao Kan was introduced in many primary school textbooks as a hardworking man who physically carried 100 bricks out of his house before going to work in the morning, and carrying them back in the evening.

When he was asked about it, Tao Kan replied he was toughening himself physically in order prepare for great undertakings.

A humble background (家属寒门)
In his younger days, Tao Kan was a minor clerk in YLiang (鱼梁吏). Like other families in the region after the reunification by Jin, they were poor and humble (寒门).

Tao Kan's father was Tao Dan (陶丹), a border commander of Wu (吴) during the Three Kingdoms. Tao Dan held the title of YangWu (扬武) general, which was not a senior rank.

Tao Dan died when Tao Kan was young, and brought up by his mother Madam Zhn (湛). Madam Zhn was a strong-willed woman who was determined for her son to succeed in life. Apart from ensuring he was educated, she used the money from weaving to enable him to establish a network of friends. Her effort finally first paid off when Tao Kan was recommended to be a county secretary (主簿) by Zhou Fang (县功曹周访) who also worked in the county office.

A mother's sacrifice
Tao Kan's next opportunity came when Fan Kui (范逵) who was an official in the prefect's office of Fan Yang (鄱阳郡孝廉) was passing by and came visiting during a snow-bound winter. To provide decent meal and drink for the guest, Madam Zhn cut off some of her hair to be sold. Tao Kan had to chop parts of his own dwelling as firewood (斫诸屋柱).

They finally managed to host Fan Kui "properly", though it was clear the family was impoverished. At the end of the visit, Tao Kan escorted Fan Kui on his way for more than one hundred li (里) or 50km [personal note: it was either exaggerated or they were staying in a remote rural area].

Touched, Fan Kui asked Tao Kan if he wished to work in the prefect's office. Tao Kan replied affirmative but lacked an introduction. Fan Kui recommended him to Zhang Kui (张夔), prefect of LuJiang. Tao Kan began to rise in the civil service.

An inspector demanded a bribe
Shortly afterwards, an inspector from the provincial office was making his rounds, demanding bribes on the pretext of inspecting the work of the civil servants.

Tao Kan told his subordinates to continue working dilligently and rejected all unwarranted demands from the inspector. He told the inspector he would answer for any valid faults the inspector could find, and would resist any strong-arm tactics." The inspector had to withdraw and leave.

Repaying Zhang Kui
When Zhang Kui's wife fell ill, Tao Kan arranged for a doctor to travel over several hundred li (里), impressing his subordinates.

Tao Kan gave Wan Shi (万嗣), prefect of ChangSha (长沙太守) who was passing by LuJiang respectul and proper treatment, prompting the latter to remark Tao Kan would go far. Wan Shi told his own son to befriend Tao Kan.

Zhang Kui eventually promoted Tao Kan to Xiao Lian (孝廉), which enabled Tao Kan to travel to the capital LuoYang (洛阳) and mingle with the lite.


Futilely trying to establish a position in LuoYang
In AD 291 (元康元年), the wife of Emperor Hui of Jin (惠帝), Empress Jia NanFeng (贾南风) tried to usurp power, sparking off the misnamed Rebellion of the Eight Princes (八王之乱). Largely thanks to Jia Mo (贾模) and Zhang Hua (张华), a certain measure of control prevailled in the Imperial Court.

Tao Kan arrived in LuoYang in AD296 (元康六年). By then LuoYang had recovered from the destruction wrought by DongZhuo and other devastations, and became a bustling metropolis. There, Tao Kan found his progress impeded by the established Nine-Tiered System (九品中正制) which exclusively favoured the aristocrats and relegated those from humble background to the lower rungs, a la an old boys club.

Tao Kan tried to find a patron in Zhang Hua who was the Supreme Censor (司空), but the latter initially refused to see "distant" people. Tao Kan persisted, with humility, and finally convinced Zhang Hua after conversations that he was an exceptional talent. Zhang Hua arranged for Tao Kan to hold the rank of Lang Zhong (郎中). In theory, this qualified him for numerous senior secretarial appointments, but in practice, due to Tao Kan's background, denied him the important ones.

At one time, the general Sun Xiu (孙秀) who was the autocrat of the moment, had Tao Kan treated as a guest advisor due to his background. (亡国支庶,府望不显,中华人士耻为掾属,以侃寒宦,召为舍人).

When Yang Zhuo (杨晫), a widely respected secretary of YZhang (预章), travelled in the same carriage as Tao Kan, other officials of contemporary ranks were puzzled, if not aghasted. But Yang Zhuo was certain Tao Kan would make his mark.

When Minister Yue Guang (尚书乐广) wanted to find candidates for various posts from the Jing (荆) and Yang (扬) regions, commander of the arsenal Huang Qing (武库令黄庆) recommended Tao Kan, only to be turned down. Huang Qing remained convinced of Tao Kan's future.


Return to the south

In AD 301, Sima Lun (司马伦) deposed the emperor and usurped the throne after getting rid of Empress Jia the previous year. The turmoils in the capital convinced Tao Kan there was no future for him there. Many of the southerners had already moved back to JiangDong (江东), and Tao Kan was similarly influenced.

By then, Huang Qing was promoted to a senior post in the Ministry of Personnel (吏部令吏), and recommended Tao Kan to be the magistrate (县令) in Wu Gang (武冈) county. Past 40 of age, Tao Kan became on bad terms with the prefect L Yue (吕岳). He resigned and became a minor clerk in prefectoral office.

He might be doomed to ignominy like many others had it not been for the turbulence that spread to the south.

[to be continued ...]

Edited by Yun, 21 August 2006 - 03:58 AM.


#2 snowybeagle

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 02:09 AM

[continued ...]

Unrest in the empire

Natural disasters and wars had caused vast migrations of refugees from regions of Qin (秦) and Yong (雍) into regions of Liang (梁) and Yi (益) seeking food. These refugees were badly treated by the local officials who kept trying to force them back to their devastated home. In AD 301, the refugees broke out in rebellion. When the Imperial Court despatched the forces from JingZhou (荆州), the soldiers refused to the distant assignment and also revolted.

Suppressing Zhang Chang
In AD 303, the soldiers sent to suppressed Li Liu's (李流) rebels in SiChuan also rebelled. The Man (蛮) tribal leader Zhang Chang (张昌) from YiYang (义阳), present day NW of XingYang in HeNan province (今河南信阳西北), seized the chance to stage an uprising in AnLu (安陆), present day YunMeng in HuBei (今湖北云梦). The rebellion spread to JiangXia (江夏) after defeating various government troops, and Zhang Chang proclaimed a separate regime there.

Tao Kan was appointed to lead a force to secure XiangYang (襄阳) by Liu Hong (刘弘). The latter was the military tribune (刺史) of JingZhou who was ordered to suppress Zhang Chang.

While the other government troops were defeated and in retreat, Tao Kan, along with Li Yang (李杨) [a subordinate of Liu Qiao (刘乔), tribune of YuZhou (豫州刺史)] counter attacked Zhang Chang. Tao Kan defeated Zhang Chang's troops repeatedly.

In AD 304, Zhang Chang was finally killed and his rebellion suppressed. Liu Hong was impressed by Tao Kan, comparing him to Yang Gu (羊祜) who laid the groundwork for Jin to conquer Wu during the Three Kingdoms. Liu Hong thought himself too old to have similar accomplements and hope Tao Kan to takeover. In time to come, Tao Kan did become prefect of JingZhou. For his part in suppressing Zhang Chang's rebellion, Tao Kan was conferred as Marquis of DongXiang (东乡侯), with a fief of 1,000 households.

Though the south was now calmer, the north continued to sink into greater turmoils.

Suppressing Chen Min

At the end of AD 305, another general, Chen Min (陈敏), who was promoted for suppressing the rebellion of Shi Bing (石冰), was proud of his military abilities, and rebelled against the Jin dynasty, creating his own separatist regime in JiangDong.

Chen Min despatched his younger brother Chen Hui (陈恢) and subordinate general Qian Duan (钱端) to seize JiangZhou (江州), present-day NanChang (治今南昌), and another younger brother Chen Bin (陈斌) to invade the eastern prefectures.

Liu Ji (刘机), the tribune of YangZhou (扬州刺史), Wang Kuang (王旷), the tribe of DanYang (丹杨太守) and Ying Miao (应邈), tribune of JiangZhou (江州) abandoned their posts and fled.

Chen Min used the pretect of restoring the desposed Emperor Hui of Jin (晋惠帝). Occupying large tracts of JiangDong region, Chen Min proclaimed himself Great Minister of Military Affairs (大司马), commander-in-chief (都督) of JiangDong's military affairs. He appointed more than 40 landed gentries as officials, including Gu Rong (顾荣) who had previously questioned Yang Zhuo on sharing a carriage with Tao Kan, and Zhou Yi (周圯).

The power behind the throne of the Jin dynasty, prince Sima Yng of HeJian (河间王司马颙), appointed Zhang Guang (张光) as prefect of ShunYang (顺阳) and ordered him to lead 5,000 cavalry and infantry to JingZhou as reinforcements.

Liu Hong ordered prefect Tao Kan of JiangXia (江夏太守)and prefect MiaoGuang of WuLing (武陵太守苗光) to station troops at XiaKou (夏口), present-day WuHan (今武汉), and prefect YingZhan of NanPing (南平太守应詹) to lead a naval force as reinforcements.

Tao Kan, who was also given the title of YingYang General (应扬将军), fought against Chen Hui. As Tao Kan and Chen Min came from the same prefecture, many people were suspicious of his alignment. An official by the name of Hu Huan (扈环) spoke to Liu Hong and tried to cast doubts on Tao Kan, but Liu Hong was firm in his belief in Tao Kan.

Tao Kan sent his own son Tao Hong (陶洪) and nephew Tao Zhen (陶臻) to explain matters to Liu Hong, but Liu Hong did not need such assurances. Liu Hong appointed the two men as military advisors and sent them back to Tao Kan.

When Chen Hui's forces approached Wu Chang (武昌), in present day ErZhou in HuBei province (湖北鄂州), Tao Kan was appointed to command the van against him.

Tao Kan successfully converted cargo vessels into warships, and defeated Chen Hui. Together with Pi Chu (皮初), Zhang Guang (张光) and Miao Guang, they inflicted defeats on Qian Duan. Tao Kan's troops became known for its discipline and fair dispensation of rewards for performing troops.


Groundwork for the Eastern Jin Dynasty

In AD 306, Liu Hong died of illness. Shortly after, Tao Kan's mother also passed away and he resigned his post in order to mourn for her.

In AD 307, the monopolist of power in the Jin court, prince Sima Yue of Dong Hai (东海王司马越) despatched his confidante prince Sima Rui of LangYa (琅邪王司马睿) to secure JianYe in the south. Sima Rui was accompanied by the great gentry-scholar Wang Dao (大士族王导).

Sima Rui saw the weaknesses and threats to the imperial court, and wanted to establish his own regime in JiangDong. However, the upper reaches of the Long River was still divided under refugees' regimes and various tribunes appointed by the court. Hence, JianYe, which was downstream, could not be considered as secure.

Sima Rui appointed Wang Dun (王敦), Wang Dao's cousin, as commander-in-chief to bring the regions upstream under his control. At JiangZhou (江州), they encroached upon the territory under Hua Y (华轶), another confidante of Sima Yue. After bring appointed as tribune of JiangZhou (江州刺史), Hua Y had gathered to himself many talents, including those among the refugees.

At the end of his mourning period, Tao Kan was appointed as military advisor (参军) by Sima Yue, and commander of military affairs of JiangZhou. Hua Y gave him the title of YangWu General (扬武将军), garrisonning XiaKou (夏口) with 3,000 troops.

Tao Kan's nephew, Tao Zhen, was personal military advisor to Hua Y. As the conflict with Sima Rui intensified, Tao Zhen felt torn inside. On the pretext of being ill, he went to Tao Kan and said Hua YanXia (华彦夏), that is Hua Yi, had the right concern for the people but lacked the capability to stand up against prince of LangYa. Tao Kan refused to betray Hua Yi as he felt it was dishonourable, and angrily ordered Tao Zhen to return to Hua Yi.

Instead, Tao Zhen escaped and went to join Sima Rui in JianKang (建康). Overjoyed, Sima Rui appointed him as military advisor, and also conferred titles upon Tao Kan, leading Tao Kan to break up with Hua Yi. Without Tao Kan, Hua Yi was quickly doomed. Tao Kan was subsequently conferred as prefect of WuChang (武昌太守) and LongXiang General (龙骧将军).

The fact that Tao Kan broke his trust with Hua Yi at the critical moment was never criticised by his contemporaries, as well as subsequent historians. This underlined the prevalence of the times when allegiance shifts were common.

[to be continued ...]

#3 Yun

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 09:27 AM

The story of Hua Yi actually reflects an often overlooked reality in the transition between the Western Jin and the Eastern Jin - namely, that local governors in the south did not just readily accept Sima Rui as their new emperor after Chang'an fell in 316. Before that, Sima Rui had spent ten years winning over the southern aristocracy, and also eliminating all possible rivals or actual rebels. Hua Yi was one of them, and his tragedy was to be more noble and loyal than the people who sought to control him from Jianye (Nanjing, renamed Jiankang in 313). It is quite unusual that the Jin Shu, which ought to support the legitimacy of the Eastern Jin, still records Hua Yi as a noble tragic hero.

After being made Governor of Jiangzhou, Hua Yi had promoted Confucian ethics in the province despite facing pressure to be harsh and legalistic because of the rebellions all over the empire, and his authority and charisma drew to his side many heroes and scholars both from the province and outside (i.e. refugees from the wars in the north). The people loved and respected him.

Sima Yue, who was then controlling the Jin court, tasked Hua Yi with supressing the rebellions in his region, and he aspired to do his part in restoring peace to the empire. He regularly demonstrated his loyalty by sending supplies and money to the beleaguered capital of Luoyang, which was then facing frequent attacks by the Xiongnu. He told his envoys, "If the route to Luoyang is cut off by the Xiongnu, you may bring these supplies to the Prince of Langya (Sima Rui in Jianye), to show that I am standing by the Sima house."

Hua Yi regarded himself as having been appointed by the court in Luoyang, and also under the military authority of Yangzhou Commander-in-Chief Zhou Fu at Shouchun (now Shou county, Anhui), and therefore refused to take orders only from Sima Rui. His local prefects and magistrates tried to persuade him to compromise, but he insisted, "I must see an imperial edict [before I will submit to Sima Rui alone]." Sima Rui then sent the Yanglie General Zhou Fang to garrison Pengze and keep an eye on Hua Yi. But Zhou Fang respected Hua Yi, and told his subordinate Gan Bao, "I've been ordered to guard Pengze, but Pengze is the western door to Jiangzhou. Hua Yanxia (Hua Yi's personal name) is sincerely concerned with the welfare of the empire, and does not wish to be blindly controlled by someone else. This has led to disagreements, which caused something of a rift [between him and Sima Rui]. Now if we station our army on his doorstep without apparent reason, it will only push him to rebel. I will instead garrison the former county seat of Xunyang (Xunyang was the capital of Jiangzhou), which is on the northern bank of the Yangzi River, and thus defend against attacks from the north (i.e. Xiongnu) while also not giving the impression of threatening Hua Yi."

Hua Yi soon saw that Sima Yue and Sima Rui were more interested in their own power than protecting the empire. When Yangzhou Commander-in-Chief Zhou Fu suggested in 310 that the court should evacuate Luoyang and relocate to his base in Shouchun, Sima Yue was enraged that Zhou would raise this without first consulting him. He suspected Zhou of trying to compete with him for influence, and recalled him to the capital. Zhou Fu knew that his life was in danger, and sent only the Prefect of Huainan (based in Shouchun), Pei Shuo, whom Sima Yue had also recalled. Pei Shuo suspected that Zhou was trying to rebel, and instead led his army to attack Zhou, claiming to have received orders from Sima Yue to arrest Zhou. Pei was defeated and fled. In early 311, Pei appealed to Sima Rui for help, and Sima Rui then sent the Yangwei General Gan Zhuo to attack Shouchun. Zhou Fu's army was destroyed by Gan, and he fled north to the area of Yuzhou (in Henan). The Commander-in-Chief of Yuzhou, the Prince of Xincai Sima Que, arrested Zhou, and he died a broken and bitter man in prison.

Towards the end of 311, Luoyang fell to the Xiongnu, and the emperor Sima Chi was captured (Sima Yue had already died earlier while on campaign). The Supreme Censor Xun Fan, who had escaped, sent out an appeal for an alliance of the provincial governors to recapture Luoyang and rescue the emperor, and Sima Rui was appointed as the leader of this alliance. The problem was that Xun Fan was competing against another loyalist movement that was taking shape at this time. Yan Ding, the governor of Yuzhou, had escorted the Prince of Qin Sima Ye westwards in the hope of retaking Chang'an (then occupied by the Xiongnu general Liu Yao) and using it as a base to strike back at the Xiongnu. In early 312, they succeeded and in 313 Sima Ye assumed the throne upon hearing of the murder of Sima Chi by the Xiongnu, appointing Sima Rui as one of his Prime Ministers.

But in late 311, Sima Rui was not much aware of Sima Ye's actions - Xun Fan and some other ministers had actually fled back to the east on the way to Chang'an, because they feared losing their power base to Yan Ding, and Xun would surely have covered this up in his message to Sima Rui. Sima Rui thus began to entertain thoughts of making himself emperor. He tried to have Hua Yi's personnel changed to people more loyal to himself, and Hua Yi refused to comply. He then despatched General Wang Dun with other generals like Gan Zhuo and Zhou Fang to attack Hua Yi. Hua stationed his staff officer Chen Xiong at Pengze to hold off Wang Dun, and himself commanded a fleet on the river as the rearguard.

Things went badly for Hua Yi from the start. His subordinate Feng Yi, the prefect of Wuchang, was defeated by Zhou Fang at Penkou. Then the former governor of Jiangzhou (i.e. Hua's predecessor) Wei Zhan, who had always felt resentful at a perceived lack of respect from Hua, conspired with the prefect of Yuzhang Zhou Guang to launch a surprise attack on Hua Yi's troops. Hua's army was shattered, and he fled to Ancheng but was pursued and killed by Wei and Zhou. Five of his sons were also captured and beheaded, and their heads were sent along with Hua Yi's to Sima Rui at Jianye.

One of Hua Yi's staff officers, named Gao Kui, secretly harboured Hua Yi's wife and two other sons for several years, until Sima Rui became emperor in 317 and announced an amnesty for criminals. He then turned himself in with Hua Yi's surviving family, and Sima Rui rewarded him for his loyalty since Hua Yi was no longer a threat. There is no record of how Hua Yi's widow and orphans were treated after their return to society - it's unlikely they were ever compensated, since Hua Yi's reputation was never 'rehabilitated' from that of a rebel.
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#4 hansioux

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 03:02 PM

What was less well-known was the fact that he was not an ethnic Han (at least not a full-blooded one) but said to be of Gu (谿), one of the five Xi tribes (溪族) [the 5 : 槃瓠蛮即谿)]  Tao Kan himself had been mocked at for this aspect of his background.

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Just want to point out 谿 and 溪 actually sounds the same. They are both "Xi".

谿 is not pronounced as "Gu" in Madarin or any other Han languages that I can find...
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#5 Yun

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 09:10 PM

Yes, Hansioux is correct - the Xi 谿 were also known as the Panhu savages 槃瓠蛮 because they worshipped a dog called Panhu as their ancestor (this is still practiced by many southern ethnicities today). Hence the sentence 槃瓠蛮即谿 does not mean five different kinds of tribes, but simply "The Panhu savages are also known as the Xi". The 谿 were also known as the Savages of the Five Rivers 五溪蛮 because of the area where they lived, which was just south of the old Three Gorges of the Yangzi. The five rivers were the Xi 西溪, Man 滿溪, Wu 武溪, Chen 辰溪 and Xiong 雄溪 (or Wu 无溪), and they all flowed into one river which then flowed notheast into Lake Dongting.

Because he was Xi, Tao Kan also bore the nickname of Xi Dog 溪狗 even among his friends. The fact that he came from Boyang, which is further east than the Five Rivers region, suggests that the Panhu savages lived over a wider area than just the Five Rivers.
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#6 snowybeagle

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 09:12 PM

Just want to point out 谿 and 溪 actually sounds the same. They are both "Xi".
谿 is not pronounced as "Gu" in Madarin or any other Han languages that I can find...


Thanks, I will make the correction. I was unable to find the character in my dictionary, and resort to ... you know ... the convenient tradition.

Also just discovered that they both have alternative pronounciation Qī, and that the traditional 谿 character is listed as 溪 in simplified form.

Thanks, Yun, for making the correction my post. I think I was making a simultaneous update with you :P.

Edited by snowybeagle, 21 March 2005 - 09:19 PM.


#7 hansioux

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 09:32 PM

Thanks, I will make the correction. I was unable to find the character in my dictionary, and resort to ... you know ... the convenient tradition.

Also just discovered that they both have alternative pronounciation Qī, and that the traditional 谿 character is listed as 溪 in simplified form.

Thanks, Yun, for making the correction my post. I think I was making a simultaneous update with you :P.

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They have alternative pronounciation of Qī because traditional Han languages, they are pronounced as Keī (this is spell in PinYin).

In Holo it is Khe1. (pronounces in Pin Yin as Keī)

In Hakka it is hai1 or kai1 or ke1 or Kie1.

In Cantonese it is Kai1

As you can see, sounds with K is the older Han languages. sounds with H, which then becomes X in PinYin are the later Han languages.
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#8 snowybeagle

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Posted 21 March 2005 - 10:59 PM

Hence the sentence 槃瓠蛮即谿 does not mean five different kinds of tribes, but simply "The Panhu savages are also known as the Xi". The 谿 were also known as the Savages of the Five Rivers 五溪蛮 because of the area where they lived, which was just south of the old Three Gorges of the Yangzi. The five rivers were the Xi 西溪, Man 滿溪, Wu 武溪, Chen 辰溪 and Xiong 雄溪 (or Wu 无溪), and they all flowed into one river which then flowed notheast into Lake Dongting.


Thanks for pointing out the error.

Because he was Xi, Tao Kan also bore the nickname of Xi Dog 溪狗 even among his friends. The fact that he came from Boyang, which is further east than the Five Rivers region, suggests that the Panhu savages lived over a wider area than just the Five Rivers.


Which I thought was rather unjustified.

The fact that Tao Dan, Tao Kan's father, served in the Wu army showed at least they were not that isolated primitive people.

The fact that Tao Kan's mother took pains to cultivate her son's education, admonished him when he was a minor clerk/runner and sent home food from the common kitchen at his work place - they were probably better bred than many ethnic Hans.

But of course, discrimination was rife even then. Even the ethnic Han gentries who had been subjects of the defunct Wu kingdom were sidelined by gentries who migrated from the north, what more those whose bloodline were not of pure ethnic-Han.

In someways, Confucious was partly to be blamed - he did not make clear the difference between conduct and bloodlines when he talked about barbarians. Had he lived, he might have made corrections, but others who made use of his works to justify their own prejudices/selfish gains.

#9 hansioux

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 12:13 AM

Thanks for pointing out the error.
Which I thought was rather unjustified.

The fact that Tao Dan, Tao Kan's father, served in the Wu army showed at least they were not that isolated primitive people.

The fact that Tao Kan's mother took pains to cultivate her son's education, admonished him when he was a minor clerk/runner and sent home food from the common kitchen at his work place - they were probably better bred than many ethnic Hans.

But of course, discrimination was rife even then. Even the ethnic Han gentries who had been subjects of the defunct Wu kingdom were sidelined by gentries who migrated from the north, what more those whose bloodline were not of pure ethnic-Han.

In someways, Confucious was partly to be blamed - he did not make clear the difference between conduct and bloodlines when he talked about barbarians. Had he lived, he might have made corrections, but others who made use of his works to justify their own prejudices/selfish gains.

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Actually... I don't think he would have minded that people called him Xi Gou...

Since he is from Xi, and they do worship the dog. Calling him that is like calling him the "American God" to that effect. However, dog does have negative meanings among the Han Chinese.
Begging plea of the weak can only receive disrespect, violence and oppression as bestowments. Blood and sweat of the weak can only receive insult, blame and abuse as rewards.

Lai Ho, Formosan Poet

#10 snowybeagle

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 12:26 AM

Actually... I don't think he would have minded that people called him Xi Gou...


He might not have minded the term itself, but the discrimination behind the remarks against him continued even when he was promoted higher and higher. I will continue the translation when I have some time later.

Your statement reminded me of an old movie about a teacher in a small American town who helped a Jewish boy in her class after he was being taunted as "Rabs" by his ignorant classmates. Without being heavy-handed, she taught the classmates to respect the Jewish boy.

#11 snowybeagle

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 11:13 AM

[continued ...]

The last years of the Western Jin

Tao Kan remained dedicated to his duties to the common people. At that time, banditry was rampant, including piracies along the Long River and other waterways. Tao Kan had his men impersonate merchants travelling on boats to lure these robbers and managed to captured scores of them. Upon interrogation, he discovered they were subordinates of Prince Sima Yng of XiYang (西阳王司马漾). He forced Sima Yng to surrender the other culprits and had them executed. This restored law and order to the region under his administration. When refugees flocked to him, Tao Kan distributed his personal possessions among them. He himself profitted greatly by establishing a market in the east of the prefecture.

D Tāo's (杜弢) rebellion
D Tāo (杜弢) was a scholar from Shu (蜀) region and was a county magistrate of LiLing (醴陵, now Liling city in Hunan province). In AD 311, refugees from Ba (巴) and Shu regions migrated to the Jing (荆) and Xiang (湘) regions and were oppressed by the local officials. When tribune Xun Tiao of XiangZhou (湘州刺史荀眺) attempted to exterminate the refugees, 40,000 to 50,000 refugee families rose in revolt. Du Tao, disgusted with the behaviour of his superiors, agreed to be their leader. They invaded numerous prefectures in the region, including ChangSha (长沙), LingLing (零陵), GuiYang (桂阳) and WuChang (武昌).

The following year, Governor of JingZhou (荆州刺史) Wang Cheng (王澄), and his successor, Zhou Yi (周顗), were consecutively defeated by Du Tao's forces. The Jin court finally deployed Tao Kan and Wang Dun (王敦) against Du Tao, the former leading Zhou Fang (周访) and Gan Zhuo (甘卓) in the van, the later leading the rear reinforcements.

In AD 313, Tao Kan forced Du Tao to retreat to ChangSha. Wang Dun conferred upon Tao Kan several titles, among them, tribune of JingZhou. Tao Kan repeatedly defeated Du Tao, but trouble was brewing in his own camp.

Betrayal of Wang Gong (王贡)

Wang Gong (王贡) was a military advisor (参军) of Tao Kan. After successfully ambushing Du Tao at WuChang, Tao Kan sent him to report the victory to Wang Dun.

In AD 314, while Tao Kan was away, Wang Gong falsified an order from Tao Kan and despatched Tao Kan's subordinate general Du Zeng (杜曾) to attack another subordinate general Wang Chong (王冲). These subordinate generals had been left in charge of respective territories. Breakdown in disciplines led to rivalry among them and Wang Gong thought he could gain some advantage from it.

Later, afraid his ploy would be exposed, Wang Gong conspired with Du Zeng to turn against Tao Kan, defeating his two generals Zheng Pan (郑攀) and Zhu Si (朱伺). Another subordinate general, Zhang Yi (张奕), wanting to betray Tao Kan, dissuaded him from making a decisive move, causing him to be defeated again. Tao Kan was almost captured, and managed to escape only by abandoning his ship to board a small boat, and flee while being covered by Zhu Si and Zhou Fang.

As a result of this fiasco, Tao Kan was relieved of his official posts. However, Wang Dun was of the opinion that Tao Kan was necessary to quell the refugees uprisings, and hence retained Tao Kan on an unofficial basis.


The end of D Tāo's (杜弢) rebellion

In AD 315, Wang Dun ordered Tao Kan and Gan Zhuo to move against Du Tao. After successfully leading Zhou Fang and vanguard Yang J (杨举) to defeat Du Tao in the Xiang region, Tao Kan was restored to his official posts.

Exhausted, Du Tao finally sought to surrender to Sima Rui. Sima Rui accepted the surrender and conferred upon him an official post. However, the Jin generals continued attacking him, provoking him to revolt again.

Tao Kan led several successful campaigns against Du Tao, and persuaded Du Tao's subordinate Wang Gong to surrender through admonition, with a letter of persuasion and a lock of his own hair as token of sincerity.

After these defeats, Du Tao died while fleeing, ending his 4 years of uprising.

Aftermath of the refugee uprisings

In the aftermath of the uprisings, Wang Dun gained control over the upper reaches of the Long River, including the regions of Jing, Xiang and Jiang.

Sima Rui also had his foundation for establishing his own regime in the south.

Tao Kan was instrumental in these developments. But these military successes now caused Wang Dun to be wary of Tao Kan. Wang Dun wanted to keep the control of JingZhou to his own henchmen, and feared Tao Kan's growing stature might rival him someday. He thought of killing Tao Kan but feared Tao Kan's close ties with Zhou Fang. Finally, Tao Kan was transferred to the remote GuangZhou (广州).

[to be continued ...]

Edited by snowybeagle, 22 March 2005 - 09:05 PM.


#12 Yun

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 07:48 PM

Du Tao is another tragic figure whom I admire - a scholar who had witnessed how official corruption in Shu (Sichuan) led to the rebellion of Li Te in 300, and now saw it happening again in his new post at Liling. He had helped to suppress a rebellion of Shu refugees led by Li Xiang, but when Li Xiang agreed to surrender after Wang Cheng promised to spare their lives, Wang Cheng broke the promise. Li was executed, his wife and children were taken as slaves, and the 8,000 rebels were driven into the Yangzi River to drown.

The Shu refugee Du Chou then led another rebellion, and Xun Tiao decided to massacre all Shu refugees in his province - numbering 40,000-50,000 households. Seeing such an injustice about to happen, Du Tao decided to take up the leadership of the rebels and turn against his own government.

Eventually, when Du Tao surrendered to the government, he was still attacked by Jin generals eager to gain credit for themselves. Wang Gong, who had previously defected from Tao Kan's staff, now was persuaded to defect again because Tao asked him, "Since when have bandits been able to die with white hair?" Wang Gong then betrayed and attacked Du Tao, and in the end the one who died without white hair was Du Tao himself. However, one other source records that Du Tao fled and was never heard of again - the account of his death from illness may then be conjecture. I'd like to believe that he did survive and found a place to be free from oppression and injustice at last.
The dead have passed beyond our power to honour or dishonour them, but not beyond our ability to try and understand.

#13 snowybeagle

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 09:44 PM

Wang Gong, who had previously defected from Tao Kan's staff, now was persuaded to defect again because Tao asked him, "Since when have bandits been able to die with white hair?"


Du Tao's second rebellion was certainly a sign of the times when commanders could not fully control their own generals.

Anyway, I found the paragraph describing Tao Kan's persuasion to Wang Gong to be rather ... hinting at some unusual relationship. The hair as token, and
“杜弢为益州吏,盗用库钱,父死不奔丧。卿本佳人,何为随之也?天下宁有白头贼乎”
I know the phrase 卿本佳人 could be a very normal phrase in those days, but it seemed to have taken a rather different connotation nowadays. 佳人 is usually used to refer to good-looking people - 。《汉书外戚传》“北方有佳人”, 《魏志荀粲传》注引“佳人难再得”, referring to females, 《魏志曹爽传》注引“曹子丹,佳人” referring to males. What has a person's looks got to do with whether he supported the legal authority or rebel?

#14 snowybeagle

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 02:11 AM

[continued ...]

The transition period between Western and Eastern Jin saw disruption in the administrative structure which had been dominated by powerful landed gentry families. Some opportunists from humble background tried to make use of the chance to establish their own political power base. Most failed due to the incumbent power the aristocrats. Chen Min (陈敏) who was mentioned previously was a classic example. The lessons learned from these experiences was that those of humble origins must find patronage from existing nobilities, placing themselves under the nobles' beck and call. Such was the experience of Tao Kan.


Respite in GuangZhou

Approaching GuangZhou (广州), Tao Kan encountered remnants of Du Tao's forces occupying the region under the leadership of Du Hong (杜弘) and Wen Shao (温劭). Learning of Tao Kan's impending arrival, Du Hong decided to feign submission and catch Tao Kan unprepared. Seeing through the trick, Tao Kan marshalled his forces and defeated Du Hong. Tao Kan's subordinates requested to pursue Wen Shao, but Tao Kan simply smiled and said his prestige was sufficiently established and despatching a letter would do in place of an army. Sure enough, Wen Shao lost his courage upon receipt of Tao Kan's letter and fled. He was captured by Tao Kan's forces at ShiXing (始兴). Tao Kan was conferred as Marquis of Chai Sang (柴桑) and awarded a 4,000 household fief.

GuangZhou had suffered less devastations, and hence was relatively peaceful. However, Tao Kan was unwilling to remain a mere tribune in the remote quiet border posting. Every morning, he would physically carry 100 bricks from his study to the courtyard, and carry them back in the evening.

When asked about it, Tao Kan replied he wanted to avoid becoming complacent by ease of life. He was confident he would have more chance in the future for some major undertakings in the Central Plains, and hence the training to ensure he kept himself fit.

This won him the admiration of many people. Tao Kan served in GuangZhou for ten years.

In AD 318, after Sima Rui proclaimed himself emperor, Tao Kan was given the title South Pacification General (平南将军) and military commander of JiaoZhou (都督交州军事)

In first month of AD 322, Wang Dun (王敦) openly revolted against the Jin dynasty. In the third month, Tao Kan was assigned the tribuneship of JiangZhou (江州刺史) but did not directly participate in suppressing the rebellion.

[to be continued ...]

#15 snowybeagle

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Posted 29 April 2005 - 04:12 AM

[continued ...]

In AD 325, after the suppression of the rebellion of Wang Dun (王敦), the recently enthroned Emperor Ming of Jin (明帝) appointed Tao Kan to be the commander of the military of the regions of Jing (荆), Xiang (湘), Yong (雍) and Liang (梁), Captain of the Southern Barbarians Protectorate (南蛮校尉), Western Conquering General (征西大将军) and Governor of JingZhou (荆州刺史). This was despite the fact that he played no major role in putting down Wang Dun's revolt.

It was actually due to the strategy of the new emperor to counterbalance the power of the migrant scholar-gentry clans who were originally from the north with indigenous southern families.

Since the establishment of the Eastern Jin regime, southerners, or natives of Wu (吴), had been marginalised politically by the migrants from the north. In AD 322, during Wang Dun's attack on JianKang (建康), the Eastern Jin's capital, most southerners kept themselves nonaligned, viewing the clash as a power struggle between the migrant clans.

During Wang Dun's monopolising of power, he deployed his own trusted men and lackeys into positions of authority, persecuting dissenters and killing those who refused to submit. Both the migrant clans and native clans suffered greatly. This was a factor which enabled Emperor Ming to win over the support of the migrant clans and native clans to deal with Wang Dun.

After Wang Dun was dealt with, the once influential Wang migrant clan of LangYa (琅邪王氏) lost a great deal of clout, especially along the upper reaches of the Long River. However, Wang Dao (王导) maintained his pivotal role. To prevent a recurrence, Emperor Ming decided to change the established situation where the co-sharing of power between the royal clan of Sima and noble clan of Wang. Ministers such as Y Ling (庾亮) and Chī Jin (郗鉴) were employed to check on Wang Dao's power. Tao Kan's appointment to take charge of the four zhous were part of the plan to redistribute power along the upper reaches of the Long River. His appointment was greeted with celebrations by the people of the region.

Tao Kan did not dare become complacent in his job. All affairs were handled meticulously without the slighest error. He wrote the documents personally in fast flowing strokes. He told a visiting guest that he sought to emulate the example of Da Y (大禹) who made use of time well, intending that he should not live a single day in vain, nor leave the world without any positive contribution.

The government of Eastern Jin inherited the bad customs of Western Jin, which was a lax attitude and complacency of the officials towards their duties, preferring a rather extreme form of casual bearing and attire and discussion of matters unrelated to actual work. Wang Dao wrote several passages rebuking such indolence. He punished his own subordinates severely when they were caught in such "laziness", even throwing their wine goblets and utensils into the river. This was a rare phenomena in the Eastern Jin era.

Tao Kan also set high standards for himself. Whenever he was presented with a gift, he would inquire thoroughly about the origins of the gift and whether it was acquired properly. If he liked it, he would insist on paying several times its worth for it before accepting. Any hot loot would be returned immediately with an open reprimand.

Once during a leisurely travel, he saw someone took a stalk of unripe grain. Tao Kan asked the purpose of the action. The person replied it was taken nonchalantly when he saw it from a casual glance. Enraged, Tao Kan admonished him, "You did not work the field, yet you steal the labour of the farmer!" and had the man subjected to corporal punishment.

Tao Kan only drank moderately, and even less when others tried to persuade him to down more.

[to be continued ...]




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