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"Ta Chin" (Great Golden): The Origin and Changing Interpretations of the Jurchen State Name

Hok-Lam Chan 陳學霖
T'oung Pao
Second Series, Vol. 77, Livr. 4/5 (1991), pp. 253-299
Published by: Brill
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4528536
Page Count: 47
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"Ta Chin" (Great Golden): The Origin and Changing Interpretations of the Jurchen State Name
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Abstract

This paper examines the origin and changing interpretations of the name "Ta Chin" of the Tungusic Jurchen state which ruled over North China from 1115 to 1234. "Ta Chin" originally means "Great Golden." It was derived from the An-ch'u-hu River in eastern Manchuria where the imperial clan of the Jurchen tribes founded their settlement. The name means "gold" because it was believed that the river produced gold or metal. The Jurchen state name, however, was subjected to a mystical new interpretation since the early 13th century according to the cyclical pulsation formula of the cosmological theory of dynastic successions. It occurred when the Jurchen rulers inaugurated court discussions to designate a cosmic patron of the state to legitimize its succession to a past Chinese dynasty as a result increased sinicization. Those who favored Chin succeeding T'ang averred that the name "Chin" evokes Metal Power, but those who preferred succeeding Sung proposed Earth Power. The latter was adopted, and the significance of the state name as a symbol of Jurchen native heritage gradually waned. This study thus provides a vivid illustration of the pervasive impact of the Chinese political tradition on a non-Han seminomadic state after it reached a mature stage of development on Chinese soil. It is striking that for similar reasons the Manchu rulers of the Ch'ing, descendants of the Jurchens, also adopted different state names and subjected them to various interpretations in the course of dynastic founding and consolidation.

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