Friday, January 24, 2014

Lattices (and other parallels between Qing-era China and Mughal-era India)

Inspired by latticework designs from China and Mughal India:
Profile of young Qing Dynasty official

For beardless versions of these gentlemen, see Portrait of an Official and Portrait of a courtier. :-)

Some random (or not so random) parallels between the Qing period (1644-1912) in China and the Mughal period in India (1526-1857):
  • Both dynasties were established by non-indigenous rulers:
    • The Mughal Dynasty was established on the Indian subcontinent by Turko-Mongols from Uzbekistan.1
    • The Qing Dynasty was established in China by Jurchens from Manchuria (present-day Northeastern China).2
  • The capitals of both the Qing and the Mughals experienced repeated slaughter of their populations, looting of cultural treasures and destruction of exquisite architecture:
  • Mughal capital of Delhi:
    • 1737 - Maratha forces sacked the city after the First Battle of Delhi.3
    • 1739 - Persian ruler Nadir Shah invaded and looted the city, carrying away the Peacock Throne and other treasures.4
    • 1757 - Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah sacked Delhi.5
    • 1788 - Afghan marauder Ghulam Qadir looted Delhi, blinded the emperor, and sold off the emperor's library.6
    • 1857 - During the Indian rebellion, the rebels committed looting in Delhi.7 After the British took the city, they too sacked the city, in addition to indiscriminately killing non-combatant inhabitants on a massive scale.8
    • 1863 - The British plundered the palace at Red Fort, leveled the gardens, and destroyed many buildings.9

  • Qing Capital of Beijing

    • 1860 - British and French troops pillaged and burned the Old Summer Palace, aka Yuanmingyuan, during the Second Opium War. Only 13 buildings survived.10
    • 1900 - The Eight-Nation-Expeditionary Force plundered Yuanmingyuan and burned the surviving or restored buildings.11 Beijing and other Chinese cities were occupied by foreign forces for more than a year; their populations subjected to unrestrained rape, murder and looting by the occupying troops.12
    • Both the Indian Rebellion (1857-1858) and China's Boxer Rebellion (1899-1900) shared some similar circumstances:
      • Preceding decades of territorial seizures by foreign powers:
        • For the century prior to the Indian Rebellion, the British East India Company had been expanding militarily on the Indian subcontinent, seizing whole states and provinces including Bengal, Ganges-Jumna Doab, Cuttack Odisha, Balasore, Bombay, the North-Western Provinces, Delhi, Sindh, Punjab, Berar and Oudh.13
        • Following a series of lost wars in the 19th century, China's Qing Dynasty ceded a number of its territories to other nations - Hong Kong to Britain,14 parts of Outer Manchuria to Russia,15 Macau to Portugal16 and Taiwan to Japan.17
      • Economic hardship:
        • In India, the exploitative practices of the East India Company, with its heavy taxation of locals and negative impacts on indigenous industries, fostered local resentment.18
        • In northern China, a food crisis caused by drought and flood resulted in social upheaval.19
      • Institutional/legal double standards favoring Europeans:
        • East India Company officers convicted of crimes against Indians were allowed an extended series of appeals.20 Unlike Europeans, Indian soldiers serving in the Company's army could not become commissioned officers.13
        • In China, citizens of treaty nations such as the UK,14 the US21 and France22 were legally accountable only to their own consuls and not subjected to local laws, but Chinese were not granted the same extraterritorial legal exemptions if they were abroad in said countries.23 Roman Catholic clergy were given the authority to bypass local government in legal matters relating to members of their congregations.19
      • Foreigners' disregard for established local religions:
        • In India, the East India Company commander's dismissal of Indian troops' religious concerns in the Enfield rifle controversy triggered the Sepoy Mutiny.24
        • In China, the conversion of a Taoist Temple to a Catholic church precipitated a Boxer attack in 1898.19
      • Indiscriminate punitive actions undertaken by Europeans in response to local atrocities against European individuals:
        • In 1959, a mob murdered the European population in the town of Fatehpur (in present day Uttar Pradesh, India). British Lt. Col. Neill ordered all villages beside the Grand Trunk Road to be burned and their inhabitants to be killed by hanging.25
        • During the Second Opium War in China, two envoys from the Anglo-French expeditionary forces, together with their British and Indian escorts, were imprisoned and tortured by the Board of Punishments in Beijing. 20 Indian, British and French captives died. After the return of the 16 survivors, the British High Commissioner to China retaliated by ordering the destruction of the Yuanmingyuan palace. 3500 British troops worked for 3 days to burn the palace. Charles George Gordon, then a 27-year-old captain in the Royal Engineers, was part of the 1860 force and wrote: "We went out, and, after pillaging it, burned the whole place, destroying in a vandal-like manner most valuable property which [could] not be replaced for four millions. We got upward of £48 apiece prize money...I have done well... You can scarcely imagine the beauty and magnificence of the places we burnt... these places were so large, and we were so pressed for time, that we could not plunder them carefully. Quantities of gold ornaments were burnt, considered as brass..."26
      The actual factors contributing to both conflicts are, of course, more numerous and complex. Interested readers will probably find other similarities and differences between the two rebellions upon further reading.
    1. Mughal Empire (wikipedia)
    2. Qing Dynasty (wikipedia)
    3. History of Delhi - 16th century_to 19th century (wikipedia)
    4. Nadir Shah - Invasion of the Mughal Empire (wikipedia)
    5. Delhi - History (wikipedia)
    6. Dalrymple, William and Sharma, Yuthika, Princes and Painters in Mughal Delhi, 1707-1857, p8
    7. Bahadur Shah II- Events of 1857 (wikipedia)
    8. Indian Rebellion of 1857 - Aftermath (wikipedia)
    9. Red Fort - History (wikipedia)
    10. Yuanmingyuan - Destruction (beijingbuzz)
    11. Yuanmingyuan - Aftermath (wikipedia)
    12. Boxer Rebellion - Occupation, Looting and Atrocities (wikipedia)
    13. British East India Company - Military Expansion (wikipedia)
    14. Treaty of Nanking (wikipedia)
    15. Treaty of Beijing (wikipedia)
    16. Macau - History (wikipedia)
    17. Taiwan - Japanese rule (wikipedia)
    18. Causes of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 - Economics (wikipedia)
    19. Boxer Rebellion - Causes of conflict and unrest (wikipedia)
    20. Causes of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 - Frictions (wikipedia)
    21. Treaty of Wanghia (wikipedia)
    22. Treaty of Whampoa (wikipedia)
    23. Opium Wars (wikipedia)
    24. Causes of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 - The Enfield Rifle (wikipedia)
    25. Indian Rebellion of 1857 - Cawnpore (wikipedia)
    26. Old Summer Palace - Destruction (wikipedia)

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