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Socio-political Organization and Group Identity of the Qiang during the Han Dynasty

Shengming ZHU (Xiamen University)
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The degree of cohesiveness and dispersal among the various Qiang groups in the Han dynasty varied. At that time no single political structure with decision-making authority over all of the Qiang had emerged. Qiang groups therefore were generally able to make their own political choices about their interactions with Han. Three levels of socio-political organization developed successively and subsequently co-existed: tribal, tribal alliance, and state political authority. The sense of group identity of the Qiang was correspondingly diverse and multi-level. In terms of political organization, social structure and ethnic identity, the situation of the Qiang in the Han period was similar to that during Shang and Zhou. Study of the modes of life of the Qiang in the Han period may help us better understand the differences with the Shang and Zhou period and the question of group identity. This will contribute to new research approaches and explanatory models for the complex ethnic ecology and political landscape in the western reaches of "Hua-Xia" in the Shang to Han period.

Journal of History and Anthropology