Mahakhitan: A Chinese Buddhist Civilization in India

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Green Painting, Nov 27, 2017.

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  1. Crusader0926 The Crusader Waifu

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  2. Crusader0926 The Crusader Waifu

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    Or did the Qara Khitai not carry that aspect of the dynasty?
     
  3. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

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    I'm afraid it hasn't been covered.
     
  4. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

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    Just making a notice here, that Chapter 28 is done and we are closer than ever to catching up with the original Chinese series (still 2 chapters, 2 bonuses and 1 Mahkhitan chronicle section that I will not translate away)!

    I will post the update as soon as Kara helps me sort out one or two tricky points.
     
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  5. Threadmarks: Chapter 28 Mahakhitan Kaleidoscope (2): Mahakhitan Vexillology, and Brief Introduction to the Country’s Army and Navy

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

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    Chapter 28 Mahakhitan Kaleidoscope (2): Mahakhitan Vexillology, and Brief Introduction to the Country’s Army and Navy
    028 – 摩訶契丹旗幟學,兼該國陸海軍簡介

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    (This is the second piece in the Mahakhitan Kaleidoscope series. I wanted to make some time and carefully draw some more to show my gratitude as the column recently hit more than one thousand followers. Didn’t expect it was done in two weeks with little work each day…)

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    During its frequent interaction with European countries in 17th Century, Mahakhitan gradually formed a system of nationality identification. On the sea, a set of flags are sufficient to clearly show one’s identity, while the army reform following the model of the French Royal Army brought the Liao Army its army flag system. Till around 1700, the flags inherited for several centuries were gradually standardised, and became what we are to talk about today.

    The conditions of the army and navy will be mentioned as we proceed.

    National Flag?

    The flag systems of this era do not necessarily contain the clear concept of national flags we have today. Mahakhitan, for example, divided the concept into two parts – the imperial banner (帝幟) and the public banner (公幟), in accordance with the Royal Standard and State/Government Flag in the west.

    Imperial Banner: Flag of Gyrfalcon in Clouds (雲間海青旗)

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    The flag that represented the Yelu imperial house, hanged in occasions where imperial family members are present, or in certain scenarios related to some clans that intermarried with the imperial house. The colour black represents the Virtue of Water (水德) of the Yelu house. The pattern is on the other hand the traditional swan-hunting gyrfalcon, which has been around since ancient times, frequently used since mid 16th Century, became the symbol of Khitan aristocrats and eventually narrowed down as the symbol of the imperial house. Quite a number of other Khitan aristocrats’ flags adopted some variant of it, such as the Flag of Moon and Gyrfalcon (月海青旗) of the Xiao (蕭) clan of Hejian and so on.

    Public Banner: Flag of Dharmachakra (Dharma Wheel) on the Sea (海上寶輪旗)

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    The flag represents the authority of the imperial Zhongshu Department and the “government body of the sagely dynasty of turning wheel” under it. It has a very long history and carries the same as always meanings: the sea represents the wisdom of the sagely king, the dark blue close to black represents the Virtue of Water of the empire, the Dharmachakra is the symbol of the unstoppable power of the wheel-turning sagely king, and the golden margins carry the connotation of “forever firm and stable the golden cup” (金甌永固, a metaphor where 金甌/golden cup is used to refer to land of sovereignty). This flag is to be used more and more as the national flag in the future.

    The two flags above are both specially square, representing the rule of all four directions (君臨四方), grace for all beings, unbiased and equal.

    As for the relationship between them, it can be put this way. The Dharmachakra flag is equivalent to the Union Jack of the United Kingdom, while the gyrfalcon flag is the equivalence of the British Royal Standard that represents the royal house with golden lions, red lion and harp respectively in the four quadrants.

    The fabric of the flags – hmm, the shading is legally required on the flags, but usually the commoners still use plain cloth. Flags from the authorities use quality “cloud brocade” (雲錦) and “sea wave brocade” (海波錦) fabrics from the Ghatpot and Brocade Courts (綾錦院, state-owned textile workshop with the name coming from Song China IOTL) of Nanjing and Gaozhou, thus complementing the full authority the two flags are supposed to carry.

    Shanyang, Hanshan and Puti as traditional major feudal territories used to have their own flags, which are now almost completely out of use. The General-Governor’s Office of Videha usually uses a variant flag showing Dharmachakra on red earth with “mountain” patterns (山紋, which more or less look like geometrical diamond patterns than abstracted “mountain shapes”).

    Now about the army:

    The army is a proud organisation with long traditions. They always claim their history dates back to Tang Dynasty of Mahachina (摩訶至那), although the oldest existing army unit was formed only in the 15th Century. They customarily use triangular flags commonly seen in South and Southeast Asia, and despite invited French officers brought the French Army’s flag system where troops are identified with colours, the Khitan military academies on the other hand made the decision to only adopt the colour insignia system, and disregarded the square, embroidered, tasseled banners with cross patterns.

    So the fused army flags present a mixed, Khitan-foreign outlook – but overall still very traditional, just like the other modernisation effort of this military force. It learned to use bayonets and line infantry tactics, but did not equip fusils or form grenadier units due to the overly expensive cost of imported weaponry. The army also fails to closely follow the military revolution since the 18th Century. The generals however are still fully proud of their history – this is after all an army that swept from East Sea to West Sea.

    After the military reform of the 1680s following the French model, the Mahakhitan Army has the following chain of command:

    Qi (旗/“Flag”) – approximately 3,000-men strong, close to the equivalence of brigades in western armies of the era, containing 3-4 ying (營/“battalions”), and is the largest tactical unit consisting of troops belonging to the same arms. The name “Qi” originated from the units’ military flags, as in each qi has a flag conferred by the emperor, which is to be guarded at all cost by the men under the qi. We shall come back to these flags after we are done with the formations. The wei (衛/“garrison”) as an important army formation of fortification is usually of similar size to the qi, but lacks the honour brought by the conferred imperial military flag.

    Further, the Liao army forms every 4-6 qi as one zhen (鎮), equivalent to an army in the west at that time. As many as two zhen can be stationed within a circuit when needed by the empire. The full name of a zhen is the Commanding Agency of ** Zhen (**鎮臺指揮使司), so the chief officer of a zhen is called the commander (指揮使), whereas conventionally people would refer to him as “junzhu” (軍主/“army lord”) or “xiangwen” (詳穩/modern Pinyin transliteration of the Khitan word “general”). He is in charge of managing the regular affairs of military farming and training, where over half of the supplies of each zhen comes from military farming during peace times.

    Every few years the officers are rotated to new posts in case of possible warlord-ification, and the various zhen are also often swapped. These complicated deployments (as such movements are often wheel-shaped on maps, they are constantly rumoured to be related to the wheel-turning of the sagely king) are pretty much a fairly large part of the usual work of the Ministry of War/Privy Council.

    When wars break out the emperor would order the Office of Generalissimo to dispatch generals and set up the Office of Field Marshal Against ** (征**處元帥府, where ** is name of the place targeted), and this would be the military commanding institution of the corresponding front during the war. An Office of Field Marshal also generally forms several “jun” (軍/“armies”) to facilitate wartime commanding, with one to three zhen under each jun depending on different circumstances.

    Military Banners of the Army: Flags of Vajra-Holding Lion (金剛獅子旗)

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    Click to expand for details. The grey parts are backgrounds –

    *Captions are “Imperial Conferred First Yunmen/Cloud Gate Zhen Front Qi” and “Imperial Conferred Sixth Shanyang Zhen Right Qi”, respectively.

    The Vajra is solidified thunderbolt in Hindu legends and the hardest matter in the world; the lion is on the other hand linked to majestic roars and subjugation of all beings. Due to such auspicious allusions, the flag successfully survived among numerous ancient flag designs. The flag itself is still of the traditional, embroidered triangular shape, with the unit designation written on the side attached to the flagstaff. The colour of the flag varies among different qi in each zhen, as the means of distinction within the same zhen.

    It is noteworthy that in Hanshan, Jinzhou and Videha the local forces have been kept and nominally also called zhen. The lions on their flags have special, different weapons in in their paws.

    For example: the Tenth Hanshan Zhen (Persian shamshir), the Fourteenth Jinzhou Zhen (Malay kris), the Fourth Videha Zhen (barbed spear).

    The Liao Imperial Guards on the other hand can use the triangular gyrfalcon flag as their military flag and are envied by the other various zhen.

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    Then we come to the sea:

    For any modern country, the navy is always more progressive and modern than the army, and our Great Liao is no exception.

    The Liao Navy, for identification concerns, no longer uses the traditional triangular flags and instead adopted 3:2 rectangular flags similar to those in the west. The flag patterns are in turn quite traditional. It should be noted that out on the sea, official and civilian flags of Liao are very clearly distinguished.

    The Liao Naval Banner: Flag of Makara (摩羯旗)

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    The Makara is a legendary fierce sea-monster the size of a mountain, and always guards at doors and gates. This flag is believed to be able to bring the monster’s courage to warships defending the empire’s ports and straits. When the Liao fleet visited London, Sameul Pepys saw the flag and used to call it “the Leviathan Flag”. He didn’t get it quite right, but the comparison did point out the similar levels of powerfulness.

    The Liao Official Ship Banner: Flag of Dharmachakra (Dharma Wheel) (寶輪旗)

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    Just like the case on land, Liao’s official ships on the sea, except for the warships, also hang the Dharmachakra flag. This flag has a more blue (bluer) tone, and is of the same scale as the naval flag.

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    The three Liao vessels “Hupo”, “Anji” and “Īśāna” accompanied by a Royal Navy’s third-rate warship on the Thames in the Small Theatre series. Note that on the tail of “Anji” the Dharmachakra flag was hanged to indicate the status of the imperial envoy, whereas the other frigates hanged the Makara flag(s).

    The Liao Merchant Ship Banners: Flags of the Fortune-Gaining Mansion and of Pushya (Nourishing Mansion) (增財/熾盛旗)

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    Flag of Pushya

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    Flag of the Fortune-Gaining Mansion

    As ships have been required to be subjected to inspections from the patrol battalions (巡護營) under the Bureaus of Foreign Shipping, the modern Liao has been keenly mindful of flags and banners of ships on the sea. Liao merchant ships originally hanged Dharmachakra flags, and after being prohibited to do so by the patrol battalions changed to pure blue flags.

    As time went by, the merchants began to add some auspicious signs to their flags for luck, and these signs and patterns in the end gradually converged to the southern constellations familiar to all the ship captains.

    Pushya, due to its lucky meanings, became the most popular choice. Some Han shipowners on the other hand voiced their dissent: Pushya had been known in the East Asian system as the “Ghost mansion” (鬼宿) and was thus unlucky. So instead they chose to fly the Well mansion (井宿) flag – the Well mansion was translated as the fortune-gaining mansion (增財宿) in some Buddhist sutras and seemed to carry a better meaning.

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    There is more to this…

    Stories about flags have no bound. For example, there is a special flag in Mahakhitan, called the tangerine/orange flag. Its story is more correlated to stories in the future, so let me leave this as a cliffhanger here, and save it for the later chapter about the Imperial Mahakhitan Navy.

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    Finally, желаю вам здоровья (zhelayu vam zdorov'ya – wish you good health), and until next time!

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  6. EmperorBuaya Well-Known Member

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    I must say these flag designs are beautiful~.
     
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  7. Threadmarks: Bonus 006: Dimensions of the South Asian Subcontinent, Among Other Things

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

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    Bonus 006: Dimensions of the South Asian Subcontinent, Among Other Things
    增刊006:南亞次大陸的尺度,以及其它

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    (The first half will basically introductory, nothing related to the parallel timeline.)

    Having grown up in a country with huge landmass, we tend to numerically compare dimensions of modern China to those of other countries, and come up with conclusions such as “these countries are all so small”. But as modern China has insanely expansive yet difficult-to-develop areas that also lack a strong sense of presence, comparisons like this often do not appear so realistically sound.

    The most typical example of this is to compare the land area between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of India.

    Anyone recalls the Zhihu question “how does India manage to feed 1.2 billion people with only 3 million square kilometres of land”? I wondered the same when I was little, and naturally my doubt was answered later in life.

    But it was only since I started working on the project of creating the history of Mahakhitan, when I needed to “invent” a segment of realistic history using South Asia as my stage, did I realise what the subcontinent and its dimensions actually meant.

    I’ve long wanted to write such a solid info piece (or filler with non-story facts) since a while back, so I’m here to make the update as I’m relatively free these few days.

    First of all let’s all read “India is not the entirety of South Asia” in our minds for three times. This update will compare the entire South Asian Subcontinent, or rather, the landmass historically known as “India” to outside civilisations, to the region of East Asia with which we are more familiar in a slightly or somewhat quantitative fashion. And we shall see that, huh, we’ve actually “underestimated” this piece of land.

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    The first step is to contour the region on Google Earth:

    Case 1: the dimensions of the landmasses.

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    The region of ancient China (excluding the Western Regions) where most historical events took place: about 3.2 million square kilometres.

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    In comparison, the region of South Asia (“ancient India”) where most historical events took place: approximately 2.85 million square kilometres. If we also throw in the often overlooked Assam and Sri Lanka which is separated by sea, maybe close to 3.2 million square kilometres. Of course, all these places have almost never been completely unified.

    Case 2: historically significant plains of major river basins.

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    Grand plains along the two major East Asian rivers: approximately 0.65 million square kilometres.

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    Grand plains along the two major South Asian rivers: about 0.76 million square kilometres, and easily reaching 0.83 million if we include the Sindh region which has been more under the influence from its west.

    For China, we can also include our great Sichuan Basin and the Central Shaanxi (Guanzhong/關中) Plain and thus bringing the number to nearly 0.8 million square kilometres. This indicates… as far as the land suitable for mass grain production is concerned, ancient China and South Asia are on the same level… until the Dongbei (northeastern) region began to be developed.

    Case 3:

    So some might say, why not also count the many hill and river valley regions? And the small pieces of coastal plains? Well there are those in South Asia as well…

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    The hilly southern China region, 1.61 million square kilometres.

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    Southern plateau and hilly regions of India, 1.55 million square kilometres.

    One advantage of India is its two coasts to both its east and west, and the coastal plains there are significantly bigger than those in southern China. Especially on the eastern coast, it has been historically common for any particular estuary to see an individual state established.

    These are all very rough conclusions and lacking the consideration for a lot of other factors. But to go deep will probably require a separate column (on Zhihu). It is simply my intention to say South Asia is really big, and modern India is by no means small.

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    Let’s proceed to the part about the parallel world…

    Next, we have the two-point equidistant projection of a map of Asia. This projection method ensures Asia is minimally distorted in this case. Although minor deviations still exist, they can be basically ignored as we are only roughly making comparisons here.

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    The first thing I did was to drag the contour of the modern Republic of India (without any disputed territory it has between any of its neighbours) to East Asia, and it was able to easily cover the area occupied by most “inland” Chinese provinces (內地/“inland” carries similar connotations to the term “China Proper” in English). From the previous comparisons we also know these provinces (approximately equal to Great Ming in its late years~) are some 3 million square kilometres in total, roughly the same as the modern Republic of India.

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    What if we apply the same to the mainland of our Great Liao (not including overseas territories in West Asia and Southeastern Asia)…

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    It looks like this version of India is “one Xinjiang bigger”. This is probably the expanse a South Asian civilisation “filled with martial ethics” (武德充沛, an adaptation of the saying 武德豐沛 used by a Chinese internet political cult founder to describe “superior Inner Asian natural warriors” in contrast to the “involuted” East Asians/Han peasants, now widely used in internet jokes and memes) would be able to reach. The Mughal Empire did it, although to a lesser extent.

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    Distances between cities are also shocking.

    From Liao’s Zhongdu (Central Capital, to the west of today’s Islamabad, Pakistan) to Liao’s Nanjing (Southern Capital, eastern suburb of today’s Karachi, Pakistan), the distance as the crow flies is approximately the same as that from Beijing to Lanzhou.

    From Liao’s Zhongdu to Dongjing (Eastern Capital, near today’s Delhi, India) is roughly the same length from Beijing to Xuzhou.

    The direct-line distance from Liao’s Dongjing to Gaozhou Prefecture (today’s Malda, West Bengal, India) of Shanyang Circuit is almost equal to that between Xuzhou and Guangzhou.

    This is pretty close to the physical limit for pre-modern conquests.

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    I briefly added up the area based on Mahkhitan’s reaches in 1700.

    The mainland part (from the Persian Gulf to Bangladesh) is 4.12 million square kilometres, with the direct-line distance between the most easterly and westerly points to be 3,850 kilometres.

    Including overseas territories such as Jinzhou, the total area reaches 5.2 million square kilometres, with a population of about 160 million (for reference the Mughal Empire IOTL by 1700 had from 130 to 150 million people, and Great Qing had an estimated 110 million).

    If we also add the territories under the General-Governor’s Office of Videha (which is the western half of Australia), the area of the whole of Mahahitan would finally exceed 9 million square kilometres, with the most easterly point (near Darwin by the Australian northern coast) to the most westerly one (by the Mandab Strait of the Red Sea) set apart by a whopping 10,000 kilometres (which in the future would be across six different timezones).

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    Question for review

    What exactly does the author want to say by writing all this:

    A. Brag about the immensity of her imaginary empire and thus indirectly show off her imagination.

    B. Exclaim over how hard it is for a country to cover 960 million square metres of land.

    C. Exclaim over the great potential of South Asia.

    D. Write something, anything, to make sure the series does not turn into a creative pothole already.

    I personally don’t really like to write about big general things like the bureaucratic system, the military system, the landmass… So I intend to still go along the direction of the history of arts and craft in the following several pieces.

    In the next chapter we will talk about the brief history of Liao’s porcelain industry of the 12th to 18th Centuries using the example of the Khitan official kiln(s), which is also a topic I’ve long planned to cover. It is very time-consuming to gather material and draw, plus I’ve really enjoyed going out more and have fun these days – emm, I will eventually get it done. Have some faith now!
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
  8. BootOnFace Buoyant Armiger

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    I wonder if Liao will go through a population boom in the 18th-19th centuries that the Qing did? In 1700, India and China had approximately the same population. In 1800 it was 200 million Indians to 330 million Chinese. In 1850, India's population had grown negligibly and China was now at 430 million people.

    I'd argue that a united, prosperous India not under foreign pillage would have a similar population increase as the Qing did historically.
     
  9. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

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    There will be a bonus piece showing the population of major countries in the world in the 1830s. Kara specifically mentioned that "for balance in the game", the populations of Liao and Ming were not faithfully toggled when she converted the game save to Victoria II.

    Their populations:

    Liao: 188.60M
    Ming: 115.57M
     
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  10. Threadmarks: Chapter 29 Stories of Mahakhitan Porcelain Art (Part One)

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

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    Chapter 29 Stories of Mahakhitan Porcelain Art (Part One)
    029 – 摩訶契丹瓷器藝術的故事(上)

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    [Bows] Sorry for keeping you waiting~! I’ve been preparing for this series for very long, but didn’t feel like to draw a lot, and couldn’t find the time to settle down and write it, to the point that I’ve started to forget the relevant books I’ve read… okay I will start it off today, and finish the series later.

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    Porcelain has been something foreign in the ancient history of the South Asian Subcontinent IOTL. Although the local pottery handicraft has been quite developed and there is an abundant and widespread reserve of porcelain clay, there was never any marginally decent porcelain industry. It was only until modern times did the industry begin to see development here --

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    But in the Mahkhitan timeline, everything has been so different.

    A matured civilisation from the east of the continent came to the land of Central and South Asia with its strong love for porcelain, incorporated the existing porcelain art of Central Asia during migration, formed its very own unique, novel and distinguished style of craft and design ITTL. The entire Mahakhitan history of pottery and porcelain production is almost the epitome of the process of this foreign group settling down in a new land, fusing the artistic styles of East and South Asia and eventually developing its own style.

    Therefore, I shall again bring you all back to the early era of Liao’s westward migration. The story can only be complete if we start from this very beginning point.

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    The Orda (斡魯朵) official kiln (1140-1246)

    Life on the Chu River valley plains was tormenting for the Liao people that were used to be in close contact with the eastern agricultural civilization. Daily supplies that had been commonplace became luxuries that were hard to acquire. Porcelain items were furthermore clumsy to carry and easy to break, and by the Kangguo era when Dashi settled down in Balasagun, urns and cups from Ding Kiln (定窯) carefully guarded by these Khitan and Han aristocrats could only been seen when the Gurkhan rewarded his subjects. Even the products from the various kilns in Liao’s five old capitals were now irreplaceable.

    Mahkhitan records from the times when Balasagun was Shangjing (the Upper Capital) were commonly lost and destroyed in the catastrophes brought by the Mongol campaign to conquer the Zhetysu region. Continuous net losses for hundreds of years also left no surviving item from this era. Art historians later once asserted the legendary official kiln of Upper Capital never existed and was in fact just a collection of small kilns in which the western region Han people made copies of Song porcelain. It was not until May 1902 when the third joint archaeological investigation team of Mahkhitan and the Hezhong (Transoxiana) Khanate explored the site of the Suyab River workshop to the southeast of the old Upper Capital was the empire’s glorious history of porcelain art complete, with the discovery of large quantities of glazed pottery fragments with “Orda” marks and the massive kiln site. The unearthed items showed close ties to the previous Liao state, indicating the empire’s porcelain industry can be directly traced back to the East Asian traditions and was never cut off.

    What quite embarrassed the art historians and made them scratch their heads while writing the empire’s history of porcelain was, however, that nothing from this era that was unearthed can be counted as real porcelain. Maybe no craftsman followed Dashi westward, maybe the high temperature required for porcelain production could not be reached, or maybe no adequate china clay reserve was found in the Chu River basin. The craftsmen of the Orda official kiln took countless ways to infinitely approximate the fineness of eastern porcelain and to satisfy the Liao people’s desire for porcelain, thus in turn inventing many new and novel approaches.

    Back when the Liao state was firmly rooted in East Asia, porcelain items from Song’s Ding Kiln were extremely popular. Now that they were far away by the western edge of the Hot Sea (熱海, Issyk-Kul), cut off from the Central Plains by the Jurchens, the Liao people were forced to turn to the solution of the Persians when they could not acquire Chinese porcelain items: Fritware.

    Large quantities of glass shreds were added to clay, processed in relatively high temperature and assisted by white glaze to barely resemble the glittering and translucent look of white porcelain – although they still appeared to be dull and rough compared to items from the Ding Kiln, they were nevertheless quite precious in the world to the west of Yang Pass (陽關).

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    Tang-era white porcelain, and the Persian fritware imitation from a few hundred years later.

    In comparison, the effort to restore another Khitan favourite, three-colour glazed pottery, was much smoother. The corresponding lower requirements for temperature and body texture (胎質) helped almost seamlessly sustain the style of three-colour items. Unearthed Khitan three-colour glazed pottery items from the Orda official kiln were, in various aspects, almost identical to earlier Liao three-colour items from the east, while the shape pattern was also kept consistently carrying the Khitan features.

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    Khitan three-colour glazed pottery horse jar/馬盂 (cock's comb-shaped jug/雞冠壺), ~1160, unearthed from some grave, ruins of old Balasagun.

    But the Liao’s ardent love for Song bluish/greenish white porcelain (青白瓷, henceforth referred to as greenish white porcelain) from Jingde town was hard to satisfy. Eventually, the Liao people managed to replicate the shape pattern of typical greenish white porcelain items via the prosperous glass industry in Central Asia, and ended up pioneering an all-new style.

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    Cloudy coloured glaze (霧琉璃) texture greenish white porcelain replicate cup, ~1225, unearthed from the ruins of old Balasagun

    Various kilns in the Shannan (山南, “mountain-south”) region (1180-1400)

    With the accumulation of glazed pottery/porcelain replicate know-how in Shangjing, when the Khitan court first appeared south to the Khyber Pass, accompanying craftsmen working for the workshops under the Liao Interior Service Department found the real treasure within a very short time – porcelain clay from Swat River Valley. Abundant reserves of kaoline had been sleeping deep underground for more than one hundred million years here, and began to be mined at about this time. This became the foundation of the kilns in the Shannan region that once flourished in the future, which in turn led to the birth of the Zhongdu (Central Capital) official kiln.

    By 1202, Khitan craftsmen finally managed to produce real white porcelain, and immediately became phenomenal in the Islamic world to the west of Hindu Kush. The history of the empire’s porcelain export started this year. Early Khitan porcelain was expensive, but the Khitan three-colour and coloured glaze green porcelain replicate, among other craft categories, were continued and further developed in the Gandhara region and filled the market gap. The part of history where the South Asian people could only use painted pottery jars was over.

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    Lotus petal-shaped white porcelain cup, handed-down, Mayū kiln* (摩愉窯), ~1310, now resides at Longchi (龍池, “Dragon Lustre”) Temple, Central Capital Area.

    *According to Kara, Mayū is probably abbreviated from Mayūkha, Oḍḍiyāna, in the Swat River Valley region, mentioned in the Great Tang Records on the Western Regions

    The traditional glazed pottery also gained new development thanks to the conquest of the Ghaznavid Dynasty – azure coloured glaze has since been a part of the Khitan civilisation and led to the symbolic azure tiled roof in Khitan architecture as well as the distinctive azure items in the early era of Mahakhitan. However, even in early 20th Century when nationalism reached its peak, no Khitan art historian could ever deny the connection between these items and earlier Persian craft.

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    Bluish glazed dish with lotus patterns, handed-down, Puruṣapura kiln (弗樓沙窯, Puruṣapura was later known as Peshawar IOTL), ~1265, now resides at Museum of Treasures, Royal Residence of Hanshan King.

    The actual explosion of the Mahakhitan porcelain industry was around 1370. The timeframe coincided with the war-related discord in the late years of the Mongol Yuan Empire in the east. The strong influences of southern Chinese style found on Mahakhitan porcelain items in the subsequent century also support the hypothesis many scholars hold regarding the influx of fleeing craftsmen from the south of Yuan to Tianzhu and Wuchuan Circuits. The legend in the history of porcelain – the Central Capital Imperial Kiln also suddenly began to emit splendid brilliance at this point.


    (Drawing porcelain items hurts my brain…)

    Wrapping it up for now. Please stay tuned and let’s continue next time~
     
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  11. Threadmarks: Bonus 008: Preview of the Mahakhitan State mod For Victoria II.

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Location:
    That lil' fishing village
    Bonus 008: Preview of the Mahakhitan State mod For Victoria II.
    增刊008:摩訶契丹國《維多利亞II》mod預覽

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    Recently I worked a bit on the gamesave conversion from EU4 to Vic2. The timeline has progressed to early 19th Century, but I have just reached 18th Century in my articles… So what I reveal here may become spoilers, but that’s fine because the intriguing parts are always only in my articles, isn’t it (shamless

    The preparation process involved a ton of fine-tuning and balance tests. In order to stop the already seemingly magical-istic Europe, Middle East and North America from becoming even more magical, I was even tweaking the pop(ulations?) one by one.

    Why have I not been updating the column you ask? One reason is I’ve been really into drawing recently. The second reason is I’ve been obsessed with Touhou Project settings. The busy work recently is the third reason, and I needed to move again (the fourth reason). This headachy game save modification is the fifth. My proposed quit from Zhihu is in comparison not a significant reason.

    I felt since it has been so time-consuming, I’ve got to pack the save as a mod in the future.

    So here we go, let’s take a look at the parallel world of Mahakhitan National Geographics* in 1836.

    *Mahakhitan National Geographics is the name of the original column on Zhihu.

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    Liao and East Asia, 1836. I can foretell that Ming’s northward expedition was successful.

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    List of major powers in the world. Most eastern empires are not on the list as they had mostly not reformed.

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    List of major countries in the world by size of population. In order to balance it out, the populations of Liao and Ming were not adjusted to historical levels.

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    Civilization progress.

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    Just love this timeline upon seeing the newspapers. East Rome, the Hanseatic League and the Later Jin Bogd Khan are all frequent guests for headlines.

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    I used Siberian – the seldom used culture – to represent the Khitans in the game system. They were the descendants of the Yuwen clan of Xianbei (鮮卑宇文部) after all. Makes total sense.

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    “His Majesty the Great Emperor of Mahakhitan respectively sends his regards to His Majesty the Great Basileus of Great Fulin.”

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    Europe in the parallel world.

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    Some magical-istic continent in the parallel world… I’m actually kind of into it this way.

    As far as the game has proceeded to this point, Russia and the USA in the timeline have yet to become sufficiently powerful, so the future developments should be quite different… I’m considering whether I should apply some modifications in advance or just let it be however magical it turns out to be. What do you guys think…

    Time to wrap up this lazy update… oh and a regular update is on its way. I’ve long figured out how I shall write future pieces about the 18th Century too.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  12. Remitonov Yousoro~! :3

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Location:
    Crown Dependency of Singapore
    *Scotland in exile.*

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    SCOTLAND IS NOT YET LOST!
     
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  13. Roger II Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Location:
    Asōrestān
    Dumbass q: what kind of clays are available in Makhitan and is there a hard stone industry til?
     
  14. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    Some day I hope we get Vic 3, but that may rarely if ever come. Very fascinating stuff here
     
  15. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2017
    We'll get Vic3, it'll just be DLC for EU4.
     
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  16. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Location:
    That lil' fishing village
    Not sure... sorry.
     
  17. Threadmarks: Original Historical Material: The Mahakhitan Chronicle (1632-1760)

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    That lil' fishing village
    Original Historical Material: The Mahakhitan Chronicle (1632-1760)
    原始史料:摩訶契丹年表(1632-1760)

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    The title picture is a gold Khitan crown -- let's just assume a gold crown of similar design could still be seen in the Mahakhitan court of 18th Century, along with round-neck gowns and tassels and stuff~

    I haven't found time to finish drawing all the porcelain recently, so the next update is still as of now in the form of a draft and this seg of chronicle is instead posted for your reference. We will since officially enter the 18th Century~

    Important events during this period include:
    • Mission to France sent by the Liezong Emperor (1661-1665, the Small Theatre series);
    • Relationship breakdown between Liao and Iraq (the Caliphate) (the 1660s);
    • Warming up and Cooling down of Franco-Liao relationship;
    • Monasteries as a power dominated the court, enjoying the peak of their influence;
    • And a parallel version of the Seven Year's War IOTL, a "Nine Year's War" that pretty much qualifies as [World War Zero] - the French suffered a major defeat as they did IOTL. Liao happened to be on the winning side. Then the chronicle ends at the last moment before the storm of internal clashes swept the country.
    *The rest of the chronicle is too long and like previous Mahakhitan Chronicle sections will not be translated.

    **WW0 was between England-Rome-Liao-Persia and France-Iraqi Caliphate, but I'm not sure if SE Asian countries also participated officially in the war although they were constantly fighting among themselves and even at times at war with Liao.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
  18. Threadmarks: Chapter 30 Stories of Mahakhitan Porcelain Art (Part Two)

    Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Location:
    That lil' fishing village
    Chapter 30 Stories of Mahakhitan Porcelain Art (Part Two)
    030 – 摩訶契丹瓷器藝術的故事(下)

    30-0.jpg

    A long belated major chapter at last~ This time we will wrap up the history of porcelain segment we started previously, and I shall not only talk about jars and pots. Popular beverages in Mahakhitan will also be covered along the way --

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    Last time we mentioned an explosive stage of development took place for Mahakhitan’s porcelain manufacturing business by the end of the 14th Century and it was due to the arrival of the Zhejiang, Fujian craftsmen who fled from East to Southeastern Asia during the chaotic wartime by the end of Yuan and in turn made their way to Mahakhitan. The most important official kiln(s) of Liao also took this opportunity to make the leap and started to provide long-anticipated greenish porcelain for the imperial house. These early greenish porcelain items and their contemporary white porcelain counterparts were too similar to the original ones from Mahachina and could be hardly told apart. During the visit of Zheng He, the origins of the various porcelain plates and bowls noticed and recorded by Fei Xin during the imperial-bestowed banquet evoked large-scale debates in the academic field of East Asian and South Asian art history. However, judging by results from the recent work of reorganizing the remaining court records during the eras of Chunhe and Jingyun, porcelain items from local official kilns and Ming were evidently used in a mixed way by the Central Capital court.

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    Central Capital official kiln(s), greenish porcelain grape wine goblet, survived original (傳世品), currently resides at Libration Hall of Yu Ling (裕陵, Mausoleum of Yu); 1410.

    But soon porcelain in Mahakhitan managed to develop its own unique categories. The design of the item above, for example, would be impossible to be found anywhere in Ming, but is almost identical to contemporary East Roman gold-made goblets. Its use is also eyebrow-raising: Apparently by this period, the Khitan emperor had become quite fond of the excellent wine made from grapes grown in the Wuchuan region, which was in turn introduced from Persia. In the Heluo (Haro) River Imperial Orchard, the plantation of grapes probably could date back to 13th Century. Soon grape wine became part of the traditional Khitan ritual system – this very greenish porcelain goblet was put inside the Mausoleum of Yu of the Zhezong Emperor for His Late Majesty’s use. Such drinking vessels have been extremely commonplace in those mausoleums built by the mountains in the northern suburb of Central Capital with auxiliary Buddhist temples. Officials of rites later obviously believed the deceased emperors’ winebowl must be satisfied at any given time in exchange for their blessing and protection.

    By the era of the Yizong Empress, the aesthetic taste for porcelain had also diverted from the traditions of East Asia, and embraced the fully decorated luxuriant style of Central Asia. Her Late Majesty’s preferences, in particular, strongly influenced the style of the official kilns in late 15th Century.

    30-2.jpg

    Central Capital official kiln(s), gold-framed shadow-revealing* white porcelain gaofu** ear cup, survived original, display segment of imperial room in Western Inner (西內, short for Western Forbidden Palaces) of Nanjing/Southern Capital , 1494.

    *“Shadow-revealing” or 透影 in the original Chinese refers to ultra-thin porcelain items – they are so thin that the (liquid) content they hold can be observed through the items’ surfaces.


    **Gaofu/高馥 has been mentioned before and is evidently what we call coffee IOTL.


    During the Duanning era under the empress (1468-1509), a kind of black beans originally from East Africa (or as the Khitans call it, 牛賀/Niuhe/Godānīya) began to be circulated to coastal regions of South Area via the sea. They were initially used to make a refreshing drink for on-duty sailors in the Indian Ocean, and subsequently became popular among Liao soldiers who constantly had to guard duties at passes and garrisons. It is still unknown how the empress came to know these bitter little black beans – they were probably sent as tribute by envoys from overseas, but her curiosity soon made the hot drink an imperial fashion, momentarily sweeping over all classes in the Liao Southern Capital.

    The fragrant, thick gaofu required special containers to match its colour and texture. The shadow-revealing white porcelain, pride of the Central Capital official kiln at that time, was the most appropriate, but the overly thin porcelain body would make the entire cup overwhelmingly hot. This became the opportunity for the ear cup design found on gold items to be incorporated and fused with the eggshell-thin porcelain. Such designs where gold and silver are used to decorate porcelain items has since repeatedly been seen in the world west to Mahakhitan, while also having been dismissed as irritatingly of poor taste by the Confucian scholar class in the Han region of Ming. However in this timeline of ours, hmm, the design first appeared on this coffee cup once held in the hands of the empress.

    The prosperous sea trade also stimulated the development of many civilian (non-official) porcelain kilns, which were mostly owned by Han people from the south (“Song people”), but distinctively, the most representative kiln among them was an exception. This porcelain kiln known as the Shi kiln (史窯), in turn, was established by a Yan-Yun Han person.

    Remember our energetic guide, his excellency lord Shi Cunjing from the Grand Theatre series? Just as we have previously mentioned in one chapter about the Southern Capital, he had a smooth and successful career and was enfeoffed a small crappy county city called Zhandi (瞻諦 - again, Jati, Sindh, Pakistan IOTL) upon retirement by the Jingyun Emperor in addition to a bunch of other honourary titles for his performance and service of forty years.

    The county city by the salt marsh at the mouth of Indus River was pretty much in shambles with few residents. It had nothing to boast of whatsoever except for its proximity to the capital city. But in the hands of the generation of Shi Cunjing’s grandson(s), during diligent explorations (read: hunting events), descendants of the Shi clan unexpectedly found a kaoline reserve here. This was the first time the precious porcelain clay had been found in the area of Tianzhu Circuit and Xihai Circuit. Soon more and more ore mines were discovered, and the Shi clan, thanks to the rich mine reserves and desirable local transportation conditions, became a tycoon of porcelain sea trade. They recruited Song craftsmen, produced all kinds of porcelain items that suited the tastes of both the west and the east, and consequently made a fortune.

    30-3.jpg

    Shi Kiln, Temmoku tea cup, survived original, Kyoto National Museum, ~1530.

    The Japanese would call this distinct category of items that only arrived during the Muromachi period “Tenjiku Dai Temmoku” (天竺大天目, “Sindhu Great Temmoku”), as they somewhat both resembled and were unlike items from Jian Kiln (建窯) of Song. As a matter of fact, these oil-spot glazed tea cups were also regarded as “top” wares even when aristocrats in Mahakhitan had tea. (I am very curious about how much the Shi family business earned from this cup as it was a precious item bought by the shogun back then…)

    30-4.jpg

    Shi Kiln, three-rabbit pattern greenish and golden lotus pedal plate, survived original, Nanjing Museum of Shi Industries, ~1600.

    This was probably the most commonplace high-end Liao porcelain item in the coastal regions by the Indian Ocean during the 16th Century: bright, turquoise-like colour paired with golden glazing, Buddhist style decorations – this kind of large plates were ideal for eating pilaf and along with exported blue and white porcelain items from Ming, could be found in the palace of the Khalifa in Baghdad, in the treasury of Palace of Blachernae in Constantinople, in some grand mansion in Venice, in the personal collection of the Tsar, in the china cabinet in Fontainebleau… and of course, in the exhibition hall designed to boast the glorious history of the Shi Industries.

    This unique Mahakhitan style of porcelain items continued to gradually mature in the coming century, was influenced by blue and white porcelain from the east, and eventually formed a sophisticated style in the 18th Century known as “Cloud Treasure Style” (寳雲樣, the “Cloud Treasure”/寳雲 part was likely inspired by“ratna megha” in Sanskrit), which was widely seen in Mahakhitan’s architecture, paintings and various handicraft arts from the era and sometimes referred to as “Khitan Baroque”. The so-called “Cloud Treasure Style”, actually, refers to the aesthetic fashion led by the largest imperial Buddhist temple – the Dongjing/Eastern Capital Grand Baoyun (Treasure Cloud) Temple - among other temples and monasteries when the influence of temples and monasteries reached its peak during the 18th Century. The later city-dweller class tended to consider the style to be too focused on decorations and unbearably complicated, so it was long downplayed and overlooked in the country. Conversely, many of the Treasure Cloud Style items were sporadically sold to Europe during the 18-19th Centuries due to the eventual collapse of the dominance of temples and monasteries, became regulars in personal collections as well as museums, and hence was regarded by Europeans as representative of Mahakhitan art – alas, the irony of history.

    But the style and the turbulent yet splendid period of time (~1720-1810) it enjoyed are definitely worth talking about. Please stay tuned for the next chapter, the stories of modern Mahakhitan temples, monasteries and political history, and of the Treasure Cloud Style~

    30-5.jpg

    Narayan Kiln of Shanyang, golden and blue glazing with colouring, 27th Year of Chuhe (1770) Ministry of War standard style ale ear cup; pretty typical later period Treasure Cloud Style porcelain item. Gifted to Admiralty of England upon delivery of three-gundecker battship “Mucalinda” to the Liao Navy, now resides at Imperial War Museum, London.

    Still remember how beer is popular among the Khitan navy~


    I tried to finish all the drawings this time with Apple Pencil. Cheers.
     
  19. Shoulder Monkays Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Location:
    That lil' fishing village
    We are now officially all caught-up!!!

    From now on I will do irregular "patrols" and correct typos and other undesirably translated spots in the updates I've made so far.

    @Green Painting Do you think it's possible for you to add updates not posted by you to the index threadmark section?
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  20. Green Painting Ship of Theseus

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2013
    Location:
    Dulimbai Gurun, 中國, or Khitan State
    Ok,done
     
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