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"Recreating Hua-Xia" : The Early Ming Reconstruction of Tradition and Ethnic Identity

Hongtao DU (Peking University)
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As part of its policies for social reintegration, the Ming state traced a pedigree of rulers of orthodox dynasties and reconstructed the ritual system of antiquity. This was intended to promote a particular sense of the past, strengthen consciousness of identity and promote the symbols associated with Hua-Xia identity. The Ming court used specific policies to strengthen the identification of the peoples of north China with Ming. Efforts to reconstruct Hua-Xia were intended neither to definitively exclude minority groups from the imperial system nor to assimilate them completely. Rather the attempt to revive Hua-Xia tradition, reintegrate Hua-Xia ethnicity, and reform social customs was launched by the court to strengthen its claims to orthodoxy, stabilize its rule, and ensure the long term continuity of its political authority. The movement sought to counter the trend of northern peoples identifying with alien groups, and to eliminate lingering differences between north and south China that had been produced by long term political division. This had created distinct ethnicities among "Han People" and "People of South". The unification of these strengthened the cohesiveness of Ming subjects.

Journal of History and Anthropology