Yunnan in the Chinese classic”Romance of the Three Kingdoms”

Several episodes of warfare with ethnic minorities in Yunnan are part of the classical Chinese novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” [San-guo Yan-yi] that is set in the Three Kingdoms period (220-265 AD) of Chinese history (see chapters 87, 88, 89, 90). It is not clear whether the ethnic minorities that the Chinese subdued in their military campaigns were Tibeto-Burman or Tai.

In the novel the character Zhuge Liang (Kong Ming) leads these military campaigns. The phrase “Kong Ming captured the chieftain Meng Huo seven times” has become well-known in Chinese folklore supposedly.

Although these events take place well before the period of this weblog’s focus (1350 1600), they provide good background to later events in the Ming dynasty and show how far back the history of Chinese in Yunnan goes. They may have even influenced Chinese policy.

(This information is from pages 144-45, and 179 in Liew, Foon Ming (2003) “The Aboriginal Tribes and Tribal Principalities in Yunnan as Presented in the Ming and Qing Historiography: A Preliminary Survey” pp. 144-186 in Yukio, Hayashi and Sayavongkhamdy, Thongsa (editors) (2003) Cultural Diversity and Conservation in the Making of Southeast Asia and Southwest China Regional Dynamics in the Past and Present, edited by Bangkok: Amarin.)

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