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Title: A Bridge between Myriad Lands: The Ryukyu Kingdom and Ming China (1372-1526)
Keywords: Ryukyu, Ming China, culture, ritual, tribute
Issue Date: 16-Aug-2010
Citation: CHAN YING KIT (2010-08-16). A Bridge between Myriad Lands: The Ryukyu Kingdom and Ming China (1372-1526). ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Ryukyu first established a tributary relationship with China during the Ming, characterized by ceremonial vassalage and gift exchanges. This indicates the entry of the kingdom into the ¿Chinese world order¿, whose operational part was constituted by the tributary system. Ryukyu¿s ties with Ming China in the form of distinguishable Chinese and other cultural influences continue to be a source of contemporary Okinawan identity that marks differences from mainland Japan, and it is misleading to conflate Ryukyu¿s distinct trajectory to Japanese history. My main thesis is that early Ryukyuan kings were wholly aware of how their relationship with the Ming emperor could contribute to their performance as a ruler. I study the kings¿ practices and self-representations as complex cultural and political acts of promulgating messages and words in a material and visual manner, through the media of culture, investitures, and tablets. The engagement in all things Chinese was inseparable from their exercise of kingship. Far from the received wisdom that tribute was an act of submission for trade, such arrangements reflect the Ryukyuan kings¿ determination to harness investitures and trade to the work of the Shuri-Naha enterprise¿the rule of culture and ritual. Recognizing this function of tribute for the kingdom substantially subverts the myth of ¿tribute for trade¿, and I contend for a reinterpretation of the ¿Chinese world order¿ as a ritual order.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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