Qiang (historical people)
|Regions with significant populations|
According to a legend the Qiang were partly descended from the Yan Emperor, the mythical "Flame Emperor." According to legend, some 5,000 years ago, the Yan Emperor and his tribe were defeated by the Yellow Emperor. Most of his people were integrated with that of the Yellow Emperor and formed a new nationality named Huaxia, who inhabited the Central Plain along the Yellow River. The rest moved west or south and became the progenitors of the Tibetan, Yi and Qiang ethnic groups.
According to the Han dynasty dictionary Shuowen Jiezi, the Qiang were shepherds, and the Chinese character for Qiang (羌) was thus formed from the characters for "sheep" (羊) and "man" (人), and pronounced like "sheep". Fengsu Tongyi also mentions that character of Qiang was formed from the words "sheep" and "man". Modern scholars have attempted to reconstruct the ancient pronunciation of Qiang: sinologist Edwin Pulleyblank reconstructs it to *kʰiaŋ in Middle Chinese, while William H. Baxter and Laurent Sagart reconstruct the Old Chinese name of Qiang as *C.qʰaŋ. They are generally believed to be Tibeto-Burman speakers, although Christopher Beckwith proposes that the word "Qiang" may have an Indo-European etymology and that the Qiang were of Indo-European origin; Beckwith compares a proposed reconstruction of Qiang to *klaŋ in Old Chinese to the Tocharian word klānk, meaning "to ride, go by wagon", as in "to ride off to hunt from a chariot", so that Qiang could actually mean "charioteer".
The term "Qiang" appears in the Classic of Poetry in reference to Tang of Shang (trad. 1675–1646 BC). They seem to have lived in a diagonal band from northern Shaanxi to northern Henan, somewhat to the south of the later Beidi. They were enemy of the Shang dynasty, who mounted expeditions against them, capturing slaves and victims for human sacrifice. The Qiang prisoners were skilled in making oracle bones.
This ancient tribe is said to be the progenitor of both the modern Qiang and the Tibetan people. There are still many ethnological and linguistic links between the Qiang and the Tibetans. The Qiang tribe expanded eastward and joined the Han people in the course of historical development, while the other branch that traveled southwards, crosses over the Hengduan Mountains, and entered the Yungui Plateau; some went even farther, to Burma, forming numerous ethnic groups of the Tibetan-Burmese language family. Even today, from linguistic similarities, their relative relationship can be seen. They formed the Tibetan ethnicity after the unification of the Tubo kingdom. According to Fei Xiaotong: "Even if the Qiang people might not be regarded as the main source of the Tibetan people, it is undoubtedly that the Qiang people played a certain role in the formation of Tibetan race".
Shuowen Jiezi indicated that the Qiangs were shepherds from the west and they were part of the Xirong. They had a close relation to the Zhou dynasty, who may themselves have come from the Rong, and were mentioned in the Book of Documents and Records of the Grand Historian as one of the allies of King Wu of Zhou who defeated the Shang. It has been suggested that the clan of Jiang Yuan, mother of Houji, a figure of Chinese legends and mythology and an ancestor of the Zhou dynasty, was possibly related or identical to the Qiang. Some of the ancient groups were called the "Horse-Qiang" or "Many-Horse-Qiang" (Ma Qiang or Duo Ma Qiang), suggesting they may have been horse breeders.
During the Han dynasty, a group of nomads to the southwest of Dunhuang were known as the Chuo Qiang (Chinese: 婼羌). They were described in the Book of Han as a people who moved with their livestock in search of water and pasture, made military weapons themselves using iron from the mountains, and possessed bows, lances, short knives, swords and armour. In the Weilüe, other Qiang tribes named were the "Brown Onion", "White Horse", and "Yellow Ox" Qiang. The various tribes of the Qiangs formed a confederation against the Han but were defeated.
Later in the Han Dynasty, groups of people in the western part of Sichuan were mentioned in the Book of the Later Han as separate branches of the Qiang. A song from one of these groups, the "White Wolf" people, was transcribed in Chinese characters together with Chinese translation, and the language has since been identified as a Tibeto-Burman language.
In 112 BC, the Han dynasty invaded what is now eastern Tibet with 25,000 cavalry on grounds of Qiang raiding.
In 65 BC, the Qiang revolted in what is now eastern Tibet.
In 59 AD, a Han army defeated Dianyu.
In 107 AD, Dianlian of the Qiang Xianlian attacked Liang Province. As a result the Protectorate of the Western Regions was abandoned. The Han court sent Deng Zhi and Ren Shang against the invading army, and although the Qiang forces suffered significant casualties, they were defeated at Hanyang Commandery. Having achieved victory against the Han army, Dianlian proclaimed himself emperor at Beidi Commandery. Qiang forces now threatened Han territory as far south as Hanzhong Commandery and as far east as Ji Province.
In 112 AD, Dianlian died and was succeeded by his son Lianchang. Lianchang was too young to exercise authority and another man of the tribe, Langmo, took charge of strategy. The new regime was significantly less effective under the regent and failed to make any headway against Han forces.
In 116 AD, the Han general Deng Zun led 10,000 Southern Xiongnu cavalry in a raid on Lianchang's headquarters from the north. Meanwhile Ren Shang attacked from the south and killed Lianchang's wife and children.
In 140 AD, the Qiang rebelled.
In 142 AD, the Qiang rebellion was put down.
During the Tang dynasty, the Dangxiang Qiang moved to the region of Xiazhou around modern Jingbian County, Shaanxi Province. They eventually founded the state of Western Xia (1038–1227 CE) and came to be known as the Tanguts. Another group of Qiang migrated south to the Min River in modern Sichuan Province. They came to be known as the Ran and Mang who were the ancestors of the modern Qiang people.
The Qiang were first described as nomadic shepherds living in the region of contemporary Gansu and Qinghai provinces. At some point prior to the modern era they settled and adopted an agricultural way of life. Due to constant conflict between Qiang tribes and other peoples, the Qiang built numerous stone guard towers with small windows and doors, giving them the moniker of "Stone Tower Culture". These constructs, described as Himalayan Towers, can be found today in eastern Tibet and Sichuan Province.
Qiang society followed matrilineal descent and it was men who integrated into the women's lineage at their deaths. There was no formal marriage ceremony or ritual. Instead the men traveled to their wives' residences and worked their land for a long period of time as bride service. Despite the centrality of women in Qiang families, Qiang society was neither matriarchal or egalitarian. Men held all the important political and religious positions, although there is some evidence that female shamans existed at one point. Like most agricultural societies, women were responsible for domestic and agricultural work while men engaged in construction, transport, and plowing.
The Qiang revered the tiger and featured it prominently on their totem poles. White stones were also considered to be sacred and sometimes put on altars or rooftops. Qiang religion resembles animism and shamanism. It places spiritual belief in the natural features of the landscape and the ability of shamans to contact spirits.
- Dianyu II (184)
- Midanger (60)
- Shaodang (Yan)
- Shaodang (40 BC)
- Dianliang (40)
- Western Qiang
- Fu Fan (6)
- Pang Tian (6)
- Yangyu (60)
- Youfei (60)
- Dianlian (r.107-112)
- Lianchang (d.117)
- Langmo (r.112-118)
- Li Lu
- Quhu lai Wang
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