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Study on the Zhai Family of Dunhuang

Author: ChenJuXia
Tutor: ShiPingZuo;ZhengBingLin
School: Lanzhou University
Course: Historical Philology
Keywords: Dunhuang Shishi Dependent persons Mogao Grottoes Dunhuang Manuscripts Journal of Economic Literature Zhonghua Dunhuang Guiyijun University Press Guiyijun period Dunhuang Studies
CLC: K870.6
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2008
Downloads: 279
Quote: 4
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Dunhuang is located on the western end of the Hexi Corridor, where lived some minorities originally. In 121 BC, Emperor Wudi launched a War at Hexi and defeated the Hun clans who lived there, which put the Hexi Corridor under the rule of Han Dynasty. From then on, the Central Government sent officials and people continuously to settle in the Hexi Region including Dunhuang, and thus changed Dunhuang from a place of single minority to that of multi-nationalities, among them the Han is the principle part.The origin of Dunhuang inhabitants was quite complex, so did the Zhai Family. There were mainly three origins for the Zhai Families at Dunhuang: 1. the offspring of the Hun or Dingling clans; 2. the Zhai Family that migrated in Longxi region during Northern Dynasties, and 3. the Zhai Family from the Sogdians in Sui and Tang dynasties. These Zhai families had a large population and were distributed in every town and country at Dunhuang. Among these families, the one from Longxi enjoyed the highest social position. They were from Dingling previously, and later joined the alliance of Qifu Xianbei, which established the Western Qin in the Sixteen Kingdoms period, and then this Zhai family became powerful in Longxi region.Because a member of this Zhai family took a official post at Dunhuang at about the 5th-6th century, they began to settle at Dunhuang ever since. In order to have a higher social status, this Zhai family claimed themselves to be from Xunyang or Shangcai, as soon as they immigrated here, and developed to be a noble family at Dunhuang. During the Return-to-Allegiance Army period, this Family was more powerful. They not only established a close relationship by marriage with Families Zhang and Cao, the ruling ones of the Return-to-Allegiance Army, but also with other powerful families at Dunhuang. Many members of the Zhai Family were absorbed into the state of Return-to-Allegiance Army, holding important posts. They paid more attention to Confucianism, and promoted filial piety. Thus they fostered many excellent persons, such as Lady Zhai, wife of Cao Yuanzhong, Fa Rong, the general commander of Buddhist activities, and Zhai Fengda, who was versed in calendar. The Zhai family also worshipped Buddhism all the times, and many of its members are monks, some held high posts. They showed their piety by building caves and stupas, making images, transcribing sutras and making donations. They built caves continuously since Northern Zhou supported by their economic power. Early Tang cave 220 and Late Tang cave 85 are representative ones built by the Zhai Family, which are a rare artistic treasure for humankind.

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CLC: > History, geography > Cultural Relics and Archaeology > China 's Cultural Relics and Archaeology > Dunhuang Studies
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