From Samarkand to Chang’an --The Regionality of Sogdian Cultural Identity during the Tang Dynasty

WANG, YANG (2023) From Samarkand to Chang’an --The Regionality of Sogdian Cultural Identity during the Tang Dynasty. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The Sinicization of the Sogdians in China has always been a focus of attention for the Sogdians. The Sogdians traveled eastward from Central Asia along the Silk Road to China and established many settlements to meet their commercial and living needs. After entering China, the Sogdians integrated and adapted to the local culture for a better life. During the Tang Dynasty, the Sogdians were very active. Among the settlements established by the Sogdians, the life of the Sogdians in Xizhou, Dunhuang, Liangzhou, Liuhu Prefectures, and Chang’an is more representative.

Integrating into Tang Dynasty society was a significant trend among the Sogde people. However, facing the profound influence of Tang culture, the Sogdians also had the right to choose themselves and exhibit different cultural identities. This kind of self-selection and cultural identity presents different situations due to factors such as the historical environment of the living area, social policies, and distance from the Central Plains Dynasty. In medieval China, even within its territory, the administrative powers of the rulers in the hinterland and border areas of the Central Plains were different. Due to their unique characteristics, different regions react differently to court orders. These differences have had an impact on the cultural identity of the Sogdians.

When Sogdians live in a place, they will integrate into the local society according to the specific situation. When the Sogdians lived in an environment far away from the Central Plains dynasty and with a stable local government, they absorbed more of the culture promoted by local managers and gained recognition for it. When Sogdians live in turbulent environments, their acceptance of multiculturalism and groups is higher, and their identity changes with the needs of the overall society. When the Sogdians live in regions easily disturbed by political situations, their identity is often trapped in dynastic politics without having too much right to self-choose.

Xian, as the central belief of the Sogdians, arrived in China with the footsteps of the Sogdians. The Sogdians also reformed Xian in order to better survive in China. The primary way was to combine Xian with Chinese Buddhism and folk beliefs so that Chinese society and rulers could accept Xian.

Both the choices of political identification and religious transformation were made by the Sogdians to better adapt to the social life of the Tang Dynasty. From a fundamental perspective, the adaptation methods of the Sogdians were formed based on historical development, social environment, and political background at that time.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Henderson, Julian
Keywords: Sogdians, Tang dynasty, Tang culture, identity
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DS Asia
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 76002
Depositing User: WANG, YANG
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2024 14:19
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2024 14:19

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