salt in chinese history

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salt in chinese history

Postby everything on Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:39 pm

reading about where that "salt shop manual" came from led me to this article on wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_in_Chinese_history

so basically a shit ton of economic activity revolved around the salt industry. no idea why a taijiquan handwritten book would be in a salt shop

Lake salt from Jilantai (Inner Mongolia, China)
Salt, salt production, and salt taxes played key roles in Chinese history, economic development, and relations between state and society. The lure of salt profits led to technological innovation and new ways to organize capital. Debate over government salt policies brought forth conflicting attitudes toward the nature of government, private wealth, the relation between the rich and the poor, while the administration of these salt policies was a practical test of a government's competence.

Because salt is a necessity of life, the tax on it (often called the salt gabelle) had a broad base and could be set at a low rate and still be one of the most important sources of government revenue. In early times, governments gathered salt revenues by managing production and sales directly. After innovations in the mid-8th century, imperial bureaucracies reaped these revenues safely and indirectly by selling salt rights to merchants who then sold the salt in retail markets. Private salt trafficking persisted because monopoly salt was more expensive and of lower quality, while local bandits and rebel leaders thrived on salt smuggling.


Complication and frustration in the Ming dynasty
Beginning almost immediately after the founding of the dynasty in 1368, the Ming government found it hard to supply its armies in Central Asia. Officials granted merchants who delivered grain to the frontier garrisons the right to buy salt certificates (鹽引 yányǐn) which entitled them to buy government salt at monopoly prices which they could then sell in protected markets. One scholar has called this salt-grain exchange a “unique combination of state monopoly and market initiative, bridging state and market.” The merchants, however, soon circumvented the system by selling the certificates to others rather than undertaking risky expeditions to deliver the salt, leading to hoarding and speculation.[27]


Lu (Rock Salt; Salt on Land)[28]
The system of government production and merchant distribution required a strong and adaptive bureaucracy. To begin with, the Ming government inherited from the Mongols not a unified national system but a dozen or more regional monopolies, each of which had a different production center, none of which was allowed to distribute salt to the others. Officials tried to control production by continuing the Yuan system of registering hereditary salt producing households (竈户 zàohù). These families were not allowed to change their occupation or where they lived and were required to produce a yearly quota of salt (in the beginning, a little more than 3,000 catties).
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Re: salt in chinese history

Postby GrahamB on Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:07 pm

The nationalisation of the salt industry in the Han Dynasty (and Iron industry) resulted in the birth of modern economics - just another of the innovations of the Chinese.

We go over this in part 1 of our Han Dynasty episode in the Heretics podcast.

https://www.spreaker.com/user/9404101/han-dynasty-1

"The Han Dynasty was the making of China, and was contemporary with the Roman Empire, which it equalled in size and power. In this episode we look at the life of its founder, Liu Bang and his vicious wife Empress Lu, as well as the dynasty's most influential emperor, the famous Wu Di."
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Re: salt in chinese history

Postby HotSoup on Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:31 am

everything wrote:no idea why a taijiquan handwritten book would be in a salt shop

It's unconvincing that it ever had been there, in the first place.
Last edited by HotSoup on Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: salt in chinese history

Postby everything on Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:27 am

GrahamB wrote:The nationalisation of the salt industry in the Han Dynasty (and Iron industry) resulted in the birth of modern economics - just another of the innovations of the Chinese.

We go over this in part 1 of our Han Dynasty episode in the Heretics podcast.

https://www.spreaker.com/user/9404101/han-dynasty-1

"The Han Dynasty was the making of China, and was contemporary with the Roman Empire, which it equalled in size and power. In this episode we look at the life of its founder, Liu Bang and his vicious wife Empress Lu, as well as the dynasty's most influential emperor, the famous Wu Di."


Wow, I'll check it out! Thanks!
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Re: salt in chinese history

Postby everything on Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:39 am

HotSoup wrote:
everything wrote:no idea why a taijiquan handwritten book would be in a salt shop

It's unconvincing that it ever had been there, in the first place.


Not that I doubt the veracity of the story, necessarily, but it's weird. A well connected businessperson and book hand written in scholarly language kind of helps point to "art" popular with "elites", which to me is perfectly fine, regardless of the true origin of the manual. It's all a little strange, but fascinating. I mean, we go for pages and pages on just one tiny quote out of context even now.
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Re: salt in chinese history

Postby Steve James on Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:08 am

The Dead Sea scrolls were found in a cave by a goat-herder, iirc. There's nothing at all strange about where the works were found. Someone who thought the documents were worth saving simply collected them. Shakespeare never collected his plays. Chaucer never put his tales together. That was done by people after the writers were gone. Only history reveals the value of texts to future generations, if they're found.
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Re: salt in chinese history

Postby everything on Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:22 am

Someone well off and literate would have access to a "highly-literate book", yeah. What's interesting (weird is the wrong word) is that the material was likely of interest to wealthy/educated people rather than "ordinary" or military people for a long, long time. This is not a new observation. I just never read about salt and iron history before. It also seems to explain a lot about the "issues" we often rant about here, having to do with something preferred by "effete intellectuals". It doesn't really bother me, though. Not everything has to come from spear techniques. Soldiers and leo and "street fighters" also don't want to/shouldn't do unarmed, single leg takedown to guard and finish with an unarmed armbar. That doesn't make bjj not interesting or not compelling.
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Re: salt in chinese history

Postby Steve James on Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:49 am

Imo, theoreticians didn't write martial arts texts. Rather, martial artists tried to find ways to codify and pass on their experience and understanding. Well, take Musashi, for ex., he developed a theory about fighting/conflict from surviving fights. People who read him can recognize mystical or spiritual aspects in his work, but one doesn't follow from the other.

Oh, re salt, wouldn't it also have something to do with medicine and health in addition to economics. I'm thinking of how martial artists and tcm have been linked.
Last edited by Steve James on Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: salt in chinese history

Postby everything on Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:15 am

maybe if you're rich in the salt industry, you can afford to attract and sponsor tcm doctors, an ma teacher, and someone educated who uses the yin/yang and 5 element theories in tcm and tries to apply it to an art? I picture someone scholarly learning some fixed step ph, with the drawbacks we rant about these days, not really doing "fighting" but still being enthralled with the fighting-ish awesome and amazing parts that can be in ph at times, then waxing poetic about it using the most popular philosophical constructs. maybe that was wang, but maybe it was wu. it's an amazing work if only because of its sheer staying power. we are still talking about it nonstop. maybe we (maybe I) have overblown it quite a lot, but maybe not. it will probably be discussed for 1000s more years, which seems incredible. maybe these words and servers and website will still be floating out there. probably not, but this manual and story will be out there.
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Re: salt in chinese history

Postby salcanzonieri on Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:35 pm

When I was doing the research for my Hidden History of the Chinese Internal Martial Arts book, I inadvertently came across a reference that a martial artist worked at the salt store.
So the book was planted there. It's in my book, so many years ago, I forgot the details, but there was an actual reason how it got there.
The owner or some such person was a martial art fan and collected books and left it there, something like that. I came across this reference by chance from researching a different style that also had a connection to that same salt store, through the same people.
Last edited by salcanzonieri on Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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