- 東洋学報 = The Toyo Gakuho (ISSN:03869067)
- vol.102, no.3, pp.1-29, 2020-12-17
The Cao Wei 曹魏 Dynasty was a polity that faced a contradiction between its standing as a bona-fide Chinese dynasty and the reality of the Three Dynasties Period triumvirate. This article examines the idea of an international order envisioned by the Dynasty’s founder Emperor Wen 文帝 (Cao Pi 曹丕) and the background to its conceptualization. To begin with, throughout the Later Han Period the relationship between that Dynasty and the peoples on its periphery had changed. In the north, the decline of the Xiongnu 匈奴 saw the rise of the Wuwan 烏丸 and the Xianbei 鮮卑; in the east, there was the establishment of tributary relations with the “Eastern barbarians” (Dongyi 東夷); and in the west, there was a rupture in relations with the kingdoms of the West (Xiyu 西域). Under such circumstances, newly enthroned Emperor Wen decided to follow the precedents set by the diplomacy practiced by an idealized Han Dynasty, focusing on the eras when that Dynasty was most influential in each of the three peripheral regions. Accordingly, in the north, an equestrian nomadic hierarchical order was established placing the emirs of the Wuwan and Xianbei under the Chanyu 單于 of the Xiongnu, as during the reign of Later Han Emperor Shun 順帝; in the east, a system of receiving tribute was set up by giving special treatment to the Gongsun 公孫 Clan regime in Liaodong, which exerted strong influence on such “Eastern barbarian” tribes as the Fuyu 夫餘, in the tradition of Later Han Emperor Guangwu 光武帝; and in the west, Former Han Emperor Yuan’s 元帝 Wuji Xiaowei 戊己校尉 military order was reinstituted and Han Dynasty accomplishments in the region compiled, together with efforts to stabilize relations with the region through special treatment of the oasis city state of Jushi Houbuguo 車師後部國, which had caused the original break with the region during the Xin and Later Han Periods. It was in this way that Emperor Wen devoted himself to inheriting the “Han Dynasty international order,” although his policies were often at odds with reality. Consequently, it is difficult to conclude that such diplomacy functioned effectively in the midst of uncertainty on all sides of the periphery. That being said, even if not fully in sync with the realities of the situation, there is no doubt that Emperor Wen attempted to gain legitimacy and authority for his Dynasty by assuming a posture of being the successor to the powerful Han Dynasty.