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  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaartenSFS View Post
    I haven't posted on here for years, but I followed a link here. This thread needs more love. Did you ever get any closer to "uncovering the truth"? After years of studying Sanda in China I have recently begun studying Chen-style Taijiquan. The longer I live in China and the more I get to know the language and culture, the more I find. In my small southern city I have found the big three internals and many others.

    Years ago I had read about Zhang Sanfeng, but I have heard nothing but Chen Wangting from Chinese. Also, the Shaolin temple and Wudangshan aren't exactly highly regarded by almost everyone that I've met.

    That said, I have a Chinese friend, a very talented martial artist that majored in Shuaijiao, that found a Wudangquan teacher and has been studying forms and applications from him and is preparing to make a trip to Wudangshan to scope the place out. When he learned seemed legitimate, though I am unsure of any authentic connections to the three "internal arts". As far as I know there was no intent to study those.

    If anyone is interested I can follow up on this later. Tomorrow I'm leaving for my wife's village so I will not have internet access for a time.
    Any info or love you can provide is greatly appreciated, comrade.
    Recently I haven't had the time to scour the books and pen the notes. However, in a few months that's going to change, so I may continue with a few more sections as time allows.

    I have very extensive notes on the eight trigram sect and it's influence on late anti-Qing movement, as well as some very direct correlation between their propaganda, and what is considered a more or less primary source for much of the Zhang San Feng mythos.

    More to come, I hope...
    =================
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  2. #62
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    Casting Doubt on Zhang Sanfeng: The Origins, The Myth, and the Known Facts

    Part 3: Enter the Ming, Usurping the Throne, Rise of a Mystical Holy Man



    Fruitful Beginnings


    The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 C.E.) is commonly looked upon in Chinese history as a period of growth and stability. During this time we saw a significant increase the Chinese military and navy as China expanded it’s territories to Vietnam and attempted multiple incursions into Mongolia. The Government at this time opted to relocate the Capital from Nanjing north to Beijing, a move which proved to be a tactical disaster. The Muslim eunuch captain Zheng He was sent as an envoy to various surrounding countries and continents going as far as East Africa. Under the Ming, Daoism grew in size, power, and influence.

    At the death of Emperor Hongwu (洪武) in 1398 at the ripe age of 71 (having outlived his eldest son,) he made his firstborn son’s eldest son heir to the Ming throne at the age of 21. The young Jianwen (建文) Emperor barely took the throne when Yongle staged his 3 year coup resulting in a small scale civil war, and the apparent death of the young prince. (Palais, 223.) Being an exceptional military tactician and a seasoned general, Yongle had the backing of the military (and most surprisingly the Uriyangkhai Mongols.) (Chase, 47) He held the Ming throne from 1403 C.E., until his death in 1425 C.E.

    The inception and rise of the Ming brought with it a grand revival of Daoism. The newly named Yongle (永樂, “perpetual happiness”) Emperor, born Zhu-Di, also known as Chen-Tzu (明成祖,) put forward projects that saw the expansion of the Navy and the military. Mt. Wudang was aggressively renovated, its aging and decaying temple structures rebuilt. The culmination of this endeavor saw Wudang established as the official center of Daoism. Of equal significance, Yongle decreed the organization and printing of a new edition of the Daoist Canon (道藏, Daozhang.)



    Some of Yongle’s greatest accomplishments as a ruler had him engage approximately 2000 scholars to work in making a 50-million word compendium of information and records drawn from some 7000 texts. This would come to be known as the Yongle Encyclopedia (永乐大典, Yongle Dadian.) In 1406, he brought Zhang Yuchu (1361-1410,) a 43rd generation Celestial Master who had earlier been dismissed by Jiangwen, back into court. (It should be noted that Zhang was one of the people later sent to Wudang, to look for Zhang San Feng.)

    Upon his return to court, Zhang Yuchu (Yuqing) along with Ren Ziyuan were assigned the task of collecting and classifying the multitudes of Daoist texts. This time-consuming endeavor led to the compilation of the Da Ming daozhang jing, Scriptures of the Taoist Canon of the Ming Dynasty, a text of utmost historical and religious significance. (Pregadio, 1240) Yongle was also responsible for putting together texts from Cheng-Tzu and the Analects of Confucius to assist those studying for civil examination records. (Palais, 224.)


    Machiavellian Brutality

    To get a better understanding of Yongle’s measured strategic approach to policies and methodology, we should begin at the very start of his reign, when a number of loyalist court officials publicly opposed his coup. Among them was, a lead Confucian scholar by the name of Fang Xiaoru (方孝孺, 1357—1402.) Fang refused to draft an official proclamation of Yongle’s ascension. Yongle, upon hearing of this, threatened the scholar with a family extermination. Upon being denied and mocked, Yongle executed every man, woman, and child of Fang’s family, every distant relative, every friend and associate, even going as far as to execute all those students who had passed the Imperial examination while Fang presided as the examiner. (Palais, 224)

    Fang was thus forced to witness the execution of everyone and everything he ever held dear including his family. Before his own execution, he was made to watch the death of his brother. This scenario, in addition to the staged coup, clearly shows Yongle’s lack of aversion to brutal force, terror, and violent tactics to ensure full compliance with his will.

    When it came to religion, the Ming emperors were all in a constant state of worry that a political opponent would use a Buddhist or Taoist religious body to assume control of the masses and organize a rebellion. This worry was not unfounded, as we had seen with the Red Turban Rebellion (which the earlier Hongwu Emperor was himself part of) in the Yuan Dynasty. In fact, we see this occur when Tang Sai’er (唐赛儿,) a Shangdong native and supposed co-founder of the White Lotus Sect, declared herself the Mother of Buddha in 1420 in opposition to the ruler. Yongle thought nothing of having every Buddhist nun brought to his capital in Beijing to apprehend her. (Kohn, Handbook, 616)

    Having already established that Yongle was not prone to religious devotion unless it suited his purposes (for example, when he used various Buddhist rituals and ceremonies to unite the Chinese frontier tribes,) we are given a clearer glimpse of his possible motives when undertaking the reconstruction of Wudang.

    Yongle’s Use of Eunuchs

    During the initial civil war of 1402 when Yongle staged his 3 year coup, many eunuchs were put to use in the field of battle, making significant contributions to his victory. By 1403, Yongle appointed tactically savvy eunuchs to significant military positions in order to deal with his enemies on the bordering provinces and areas of greatest military need. (Tsai, Eunuchs, 59) In time, Yongle would come to rely on his eunuchs more and more, to the point of forming an Imperial spy network, the East Chamber (東廠, Dōng Chǎng) comprised entirely of eunuchs.

    “The eunuchs were very much creatures of the emperor, and could usually be relied upon to do his bidding unquestioningly much more than the strongly-principled Confucian officials, who argued bravely against what they felt to be wrong imperial decisions.” (Haw, 133) As Yongle’s personal agents, eunuchs held prominent positions in all manner of fields and agencies. It is then of no surprise that Yongle established a eunuch agency at Wudang to manage production of various goods. (Tsai, Eunuchs, 58) However, as was in the Emperor’s calculating nature, the agency may have had another clandestine purpose.




    The Violent Politics of Ming

    As demonstrated early on by Fang Xiaoru’s example, the Ming dynasty instigated a bloody and violent, political culture overlaid by a sense of fear. This was in part the result of the previous Yuan Dynasty’s implementation of Confucian laws barring corporal punishment of public officials. In an effort to purge all elements of the Yuan (Mongol Influence) from China, all such laws were reversed. Throughout the Dynasty, especially where the eunuchs held power, untold numbers of the Imperial court received a taste of corporal punishment as a result. A large number did not survive the bloody ordeal. (Lu, 43)

    A constant looming presence, the East Chamber placed itself within earshot of all court activity and beyond. They were able to function independently of the main official law administration, reporting directly to the Emperor, whose power and personal control they were initially established to uphold. This body of essentially rogue agents had the power to meddle in court affairs, monitor court officials as well as civilians, and exercised the power to arrest and torture in the Emperor’s name. (Luo, 71) In practice, they became what Weijing Lu describes as “machines of terror,” able to crush the Emperor’s political opponents without repercussions. In these violent times, Ming officials were literally putting their lives on the line while fulfilling their social functions. (Lu, 43)


    Editing Historical Records

    Another interesting and relevant point, is the formation of the “Hanlin Bachelors (翰林院,)” or shu ji shih (翰林學士). By spring of 1404, some 473 graduates of Hanlin Academy (翰林院) were recruited into the Emperor’s service. They were to remain at the academy in pursuit of their studies, while providing various literary services to the court. Of particular note, was the Hanlin Bachelors’ task of editing of the previous Hongwu Emperor’s Veritable Records, which was undertaken as soon as Yongle gained control. (Tsai, Perpetual Happiness, 88)



    A Note on Ren Ziyuan

    When the previous Emperor Hongwu ascended the throne, Ren lost favor, and was dismissed. When Yongle came to power, he brought Ren back and ensured his loyalty by granting him a post and showing him favor. In 1411, Ren Ziyuan was sent along with Hu Ying with the task of tracking down a Zhang San Feng. In 1413 he was granted the post as head of Wudang. During this time, he compiled a local monograph, the Tayue Taihe Shanzi, The Monograph of the High Peak of Great Harmony (another title for Mt. Wudang.) (Kohn, Handbook, 598) Historically this monograph was the first mention of a Zhang San Feng, giving his biography, as well as his physical description.

    A Note on Hu Ying

    It seems that the ultimate fate of the Jiangwen emperor is only guessed at. We do not know for a fact if he in fact died in the fire of 1402, or, if he escaped in disguise as a Buddhist monk or a Taoist priest. (Asian Studies, 643, Kohn, Handbook, 615) It has always been highly suspected that Hu Ying (1375-1463,) along with Zhang Yuchu, were sent out to search for a Zheng San Feng as a cover. Yongle could not openly search for a man who was by all accounts the rightful heir to the Imperial throne, with the intent of murder. Hu’s true purpose may well have been ascertaining whether or not Jiangwen had escaped the burning palace, and was still alive. (Kohn, Handbook, 615)

    To carry out his mission, Hu traveled over 14 years, returning to court in 1416 at the news of his mother’s death. Interestingly, the emperor did not allow Hu the proper period of mourning, and sent him back out to search. Hu was not seen again until 1423, when he returned having completed his mission. Considering the fact that Zhang san Feng was never found, and the fact that Hu’s final report was not delivered to anyone but the Emperor himself, we can clearly see why it arouses much suspicion. (Asian Studies, 643)

    Brutality, Politics, Revisionism, What Does It Mean

    Upon a cumulative analysis of this politically oppressive atmosphere, public displays of punishment, the eunuch presence at Wudang, Yongle’s editing historical records and establishing the East Chamber to enforce his will independently of the legal branch, we can now better understand how Yongle may have gotten away with usurping the throne, create an atmosphere where he was allowed to go unchallenged, and ensured the loyalty of the masses without question, for fear of deadly and violent consequence.

    In short, Yongle stages a coup against the rightful heir to the throne, then publicly and brutally exterminates a political opponent (Fang Xiaoru,)as an example to all those who might think of opposing his rule. This, and public displays of corporal punishment essentially ensured that others did not openly follow suit in opposition. He set up the East Chamber consisting of allegiant eunuchs who were able to act outside of the law in his name. He set about rewriting his father’s historical records, and sends out Hu Ying on his mysterious mission (to track down a Zhang San Feng, or more likely the rightful heir to the throne) in 1407. In 1411 he sent out Ren Ziyuan for the same purpose. After not hearing back, he set his sights on rebuilding Wudang in 1412 and formed a eunuch agency there.

    What does this tell us? If we are to believe the fact that the earlier Jiangwen Emperor survived the fire and did indeed escape, that would leave Yongle searching for the deposed Jiangwen, lest he gather enough forces to retaliate against the usurpation. Yongle, however, being the sly politician and brilliant tactician that he was, would not likely do this in the open and risk a revolt. To search for his deposed nephew he would need a cover. This is where Hu Ying and the search for Zhang San Feng come in.

    As stated earlier, Yongle with the help of the Hanlin bachelors edited his father’s historical records. The exact level of changes made is unknown (mostly pertaining to writing the Jiangwen Emperor out of history.) It was Ren Ziyuan who wrote the first existing record from which we obtain the first biography of Zhang San Feng, his physical description, as well as the story of Hongwu sending for the Immortal in 1391 (Pregadio, 1234.) It is a very strong possibility that this was fabricated in order to add a layer of plausibility to Yongle’s cover story in his search for Jiangwen. Promoting Ren and Zhang and bringing them into court favor could have ensured their cooperation (if not fear of consequences for defying the Emperor.) However, since there are absolutely no mentions of a Zhang San Feng in Hongwu’s records, it is doubtful if Yongle was particularly interested in inserting him into history prior to the 1400’s, and may have mostly kept to writing Jiangwen out of history.

    With all this information now come to light, we can conclude that Ren Ziyuan’s account was heavily influenced by Yongle’s politics and revisionism with the intent to provide a cover and justification for his ongoing search for Jiangwen. His rebuilding of Wudang may have been an attempt to kill two birds with one stone (being the sly tactician that he was.) That is to say, win over the Taoist religious body by offering support, win over the masses who followed Taoist beliefs, and search for Jiangwu (in the event he was hiding as a Taoist adept) while creating a Zhang San Feng persona to justify his agents scouring the country and various holy sites. The eunuch agency established on Wudang could also in part have been tasked with tracking and sorting rumors of Jiangwen, in order to capture him.


    The Rise of Wudang

    In 1412, the temples and monasteries on Mt Wudang (武当山, Wudang Shan,) began to be rebuilt and repopulated. As early as the Yuan Dynasty, Wudang had a range of Taoist palaces. However, before the dynasty’s collapse, most of those temples had been reduced to ruin. During Yongle’s reign, 9 Taoist Palaces, 9 large temples, 36 nunneries, and 72 smaller temples and pavilions were erected. (Yuan, 118)

    At the foot of Wudang, Yongle’s workers constructed the Jingle Palace. Above the Zixiao (Purple Sky) Palace on what is called the Tianzho (Heavenly Peak,) the Emperor had erected the “Golden Palace,” likening the peak to him self. He set Zhenwu/Xuanwu (玄武, The Perfected Warrior) as the chief patron deity of the temple. It is said that the Zhenwu/Xuanwu statue placed there, was modeled after Yongle’s likeness. Three years after its completion, a wall of rectangular stone slabs was erected around the palace, and the area renamed “Purple Golden City” mirroring the Emperor’s Forbiden City palace which was called “Purple Forbidden City.” (Yuan, 119) General public not allowed entry until 1642, after the collapse of the Ming dynasty.

    What is interesting to note, is that at the time of Yongle’s reign, Taoism was beginning to dwindle. Furthermore, the emperor himself was not a Taoist, nor did he ever visit any of the shrines or temples he had constructed. (Yuan, 118)

    Multiple inscribed tablets found at Wudang attribute these projects to Yongle wishing to repay the Gods for their help in running the country, In addition to showing filial piety to his parents (Hongwu was a follower of Zhenwu/Xuanwu,) offering prayers for the happiness of his people. (Yuan, 118)

    However, if we recall, Yongle did usurp the imperial throne in a violent manner. What better way to justify his actions than by launching a massive project to rebuild a major Daoist holy site to show that he had the same faith as the previous Emperor, and was therefore a filial son who had the protection of the same god Zhenwu/Xuanwu as his father?

    This theory would explain at least in part, Yongle’s contributions to Taoism, as well as his summoning of various religious leaders, and distinguished Taoists.


    The Search for a True Immortal:

    Yongle’s contribution to Taoism did not end with his encyclopedia, the reprinting of the Taoist Canon, or rebuilding a holy site. It was in large part due to the Emperor’s (mayhap unintentional) efforts, that the name Zhang San Feng (張三丰/ 張三豐/昌 山 峰) became infamous.

    You may all have heard this legend before:
    The Taoist Immortal Zhang San Feng (張三丰, 張三豐, 昌山峰, whichever of the 3 names you prefer,) was summoned to the Emperor’s palace. On his way there, he fell asleep, and in his dream, the Warrior God Zhenwu/Xuanwu taught him a martial art. Upon waking up he slew one thousand bandits, and invented Taiji Quan.

    Or the second variety:
    One day Zheng San Feng saw a crane and a snake fighting outside his home. By studying their movement, he created Taiji Quan.
    (This version was first told by Li Xiyue, 李西月, circa 1800s.)

    Some accounts of which animals he saw fighting vary as well.

    While we may never know the subject of Zhang San Feng’s dreams, whether or not he truly practiced martial arts or merely espoused the cultivation of the Dao, we do have a possibly edited record (Hanlin Bachelors) of a summons sent out by both the Hongwu Emperor in 1391, (Pregadio, 1234) as well as by his son, Yongle in 1411. (Kohn, 598) Neither was successful in bringing the elusive Taoist to the Imperial court.

    How can we verify with any certainty whether a Zhang San Feng truly was summoned to court, let alone that there was a Zhang San Feng? We analyze all available official records from the Ming Dynasty and slightly beyond. If we look past sectarian mythology and folk anecdotes that have been accepted as oral tradition, we will see that the aforementioned myths and folk tales stem from 3 primary documents.

    They are:

    -Dayue Taihe Shanzhi, Annals of Mt. Taihe (another name for Wudang)/Monographs of the High Peak of Great Harmony, compiled by Ren Ziyuan, dated 1431. This is the earliest record available, and as pointed out earlier was likely a product of political machination.

    -The Mingshi (明史, History of the Ming,) a project which began around 1644 and was completed in 1739. The history was compiled in the Qing dynasty by a number of court officials, all of whom were overseen by Zhang Tingyu.

    These two originate from historically noted scholars. Both are official government records of their time, and as such, are extremely unlikely to be historical forgeries, or whimsical writings of a sectarian revisionist. In the words of Dr. Hu, “What is recorded in these annals cannot be considered anything but the undisputed fact for the events of that period.” (Hu, 21)



    The Third Record:
    -The Qī Xiū Lèi Gǎo (七修类稿) compiled by Lang Ying (郎瑛, 1487-1566) a Ming Dynasty scholar.

    The problem with this record lies in the fact that Lang was seemingly born in 1487, and yet is quoted in the Qī Xiū Lèi Gǎo as having witnessed the arrival of Zhang San Feng in court in 1459. Either the dates cited are incorrect, or we have an instance of questionable writing being attributed to a famous author.

    Making an Immortal

    The publicity surrounding the name and fame of Zhang San Feng made him a legend more than actions ever could have. In fact, scholars suspect that no such Taoist ever existed, or at least that he was the subject of mythologizing at a very early point. (Kohn, Handbook, 614)

    As a result of Yongle’s actions, a cult of Zhang San Feng developed, in large part due to the creation of new stories about him, in part due to claims of increasingly early dates for his life. Later on, these myths and legends would be collected and published by Jiao Hong (1541-1620) at the end of the Ming dynasty. This publication would be the basis for many of the myths and supernatural stories about the life of Zhang San Feng, including speculations that he was in fact from the Yuan or Sung dynasty. (Kohn, Handbook, 615) This publication may have been part of the inspiration for the epitaph of Wang Cheng Nan, which connects Zhang San Feng with an “Internal School.”

    Over the centuries, many different teachings and techniques had been attributed to Zhang San Feng. There are instances of Spirit Writers (扶乩,fuji) such as Li Xiyue (李西月, 1806-1856) using planchettes to channel immortals such as Zhang, in order to write various cultivation and manuals much in demand at the time. Martial arts are only the more recent trend. In short, this phenomenon has been around since the Ming dynasty, and in most cases likely another facet of assigning teachings to a popular figure in order to gain wider exposure and students.


    Resources:
    1. East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, Anne Walthall, James Palais
    2. Firearms: a Global History to 1700, Kenneth Warren Chase
    3. World Heritage Sites in China, Changjian Guo, Jianzhi Song, Lingyu Feng, Guo wu Yuan
    4. Encyclopedia of Taoism, Fabrizio Pregadio
    5. Daoism Handbook, Livia Kohn
    6. Black Belt Magazine, September 1964, Dr. William C. C. Hu
    7. Dictionary of Ming Biography 1368-1644: A-L, N-Z, Association for Asian Studies
    8. Daoism and Chinese Culture, Livia Kohn
    9. True to Her Word: The Faithful Maiden Cult in Late Imperial China, Weijing Lu
    10. East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, Patricia Ebrey, Anne Walthall, James Palais
    11. Perpetual Happiness: The Ming Emperor Yongle, Shih-Shan Henry Tsai
    12. The Eunuchs in the Ming Dynasty, Shih-shan Henry Tsai
    13. A Travel History of China, Stephen G. Haw
    14. Over a Cup of Tea: An Introduction to Chinese Life and Culture, Jing Luo


    FURTHER READING:

    http://www.literati-tradition.com/zh...feng_camp.html


    Jiangwen emperor
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jianwen_Emperor
    Fang Xiaoru’s link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fang_Xiaoru
    Red Turban:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Turban_Rebellion
    Hanlin Academy:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlin_Academy
    Yongle Link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yongle_Emperor
    Hongwu Link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hongwu_Emperor
    Yongle Encyclopedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yongle_Encyclopedia
    Zhenwu/Xuanwu link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xuan_Wu_(god)
    Mingshi link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ming
    =================
    Kama Sutra blue belt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emevas View Post
    I used to **** guys like you in prison.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Ape View Post
    Dude I kill people for a fucking living.

    Dipshit

  3. #63
    Sri Hanuman's Avatar
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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I know it's been too damn long. Some slight revision, changes and restructuring to the above.
    Will be working more on the White Lotus, Eight Trigram, and various Boxer sects, as they all had some hand in further perpetrating the Zhang Sanfeng myths, or contributing to some martial aspect of modern "internal" art doctrine. Jiao Hong and Li Xiyue are definitely a contributing factor to the more recent Zhang Sanfeng nonsense, but now I have to make nice nice with my word punching because Li Xiyue was in some way affiliated with Quanzhen, and I joined the Longmen and dont want to get kicked out.
    =================
    Kama Sutra blue belt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emevas View Post
    I used to **** guys like you in prison.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Ape View Post
    Dude I kill people for a fucking living.

    Dipshit

  4. #64

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Glad to see you continuing this. Glad to have you back in general. This kind of research is what really brought me here in the first place.

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