2022年5月7日 星期六

【亞洲研究】F. S. Drake: The Study of Asia: A Heritage and A Task

 THE STUDY OF ASIA: A HERITAGE AND A TASK

Inaugural Address delivered on April 7,1960

F. S. Drake, O.B.E., B.A., B.D. Professor of ChineseHong Kong University.

Source : Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society Vol. 1 1960-61

This article has been published for over 50 years | 文章發表在五十年前

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The study of Asia by the West is the result of the total impact of East and West through the ages, in which traders, soldiers, administrators, travellers, preachers, and scholars all have a part, and in which a study of the language and literature of the peoples of Asia is an essential element.

So far as Europe is concerned the study of Asia commences with the Greeks.

The Greeks were in contact with Asia in three directions : along the coast of the Black Sea they were in contact with the Scyths; in Asia Minor they lived under the shadow of the Persian Empire; through Egypt they were in contact with the sea routes to India and beyond.

These three directions indicate three great geographical divisions of the subject around which we can, I think, arrange the historical, cultural and linguistic studies.

First, the grasslands of Central Asia, from the steppes of Russia to the plateau of Mongolia, home of the nomadic races from the Scyths to the Mongols;

second, the Oriental Empires connected with the great river valleys and deltas from Iran to India and China;

third, the islands and peninsulas from South-east Asia to Korea and Japan, including the China coast.

I. The Scyths are graphically described in the pages of Herodotus, and his description is verified by the finds of archaeologists in the tombs of their chieftains in South Russia and the Caucasus region. The virile ‘nomad animal style’ of the ornaments in bronze and gold found from the Caucasus to the Siberian side of the Altai, and from the Altai through Mongolia to the borders of China, indicates the extent and the character of the nomadic tribes. But the chief source of our knowledge of the nomads is to be found in the series of Chinese dynastic histories. The Chinese were in continual contact with the nomadic people along their northern frontier from Manchuria to Turkestan - the line of the Great Wall. The struggle between the nomads and the Empire, based on agriculture, is the great theme of Chinese history.

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One by one successive tribes arose—Huns, Avars, Turks, Mongols, Manchus dashed themselves against the frontiers of the Empire, and sometimes recoiling proceeded through Central Asia to Europe, sometimes breaking through the Wall, submerging for a time the whole Empire.

Apart from some stone monuments found in Central Asia, few but of great importance, the record of these tribes is to be found in the Chinese Histories, with references in the Greek authors of the Byzantine Empire, whenever the tribes impinged upon the West.

Interest in collecting the Scythian bronzes commenced with Peter the Great. It is natural that the Russians and the scholars of Eastern Europe should be the first to be interested in the history of the Central Asian tribes. To them is largely due the excavations in Southern Europe and Siberia, and also in Mongolia. But in English we have the massive work ‘Scythians and Greeks' by E. H. Minns. The Turks also are particularly interested in these studies, which have thrown much light upon the origin of the Turkish peoples.

One outcome of the struggle of the Chinese Empire with the Huns was the first extension of Chinese power in Central Asia, through the Tarim Basin, the present Sinkiang, to the Pamirs. This chapter in world history includes the fascinating account of the journey of Chang Ch'ien to the West in the second century B.C., the exploits of Pan Ch'ao in the Tarim Basin in the first century A.D., and the despatch of a Chinese envoy, Kan Ying, to the shores of the Persian Gulf.

During the first and second centuries the famous silk trade arose between China and Rome, recorded by Ptolemy and the Chinese histories. For a short time the land route between China and the West was open. The road passed through the Tarim Basin, between the northern grasslands and Tibet. It also became the great highway between India and China.

The Tarim Basin is one of the most remarkable geographical regions in the world, lying as it does between glaciated mountains on three sides, with a waterless desert in the centre. Around the desert, watered by streams from the mountains, are the oasis towns and villages, which form stepping stones as it were for travellers passing from east to west, or from west to east. By this thoroughfare have passed from time immemorial the travellers of Central Asia—merchants, soldiers, monks. And by this thoroughfare the great cultural influence—indian, Persian, Greek -- have passed with Buddhism from Western and Southern Asia to China. By this thoroughfare Chinese colonization spread to the Pamirs. By this route Marco Polo journeyed to China in the thirteenth century.

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During the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, this region became one of the most important regions for archaeological study by Russian, French, German, Japanese, Swedish and British archaeologists. The great names for the English reader are those of Dr. Sven Hedin of Sweden, and Sir Aurel Stein. The geographical exploration of the one, and the archaeological exploration of the other provide reading material of the utmost fascination and charm, and offer a key to open the closed door of Central Asian studies.

To these must be added the scholarly work on Central Asian languages — Sogdian, Karosthi, Persian, Turkish, Uighur, and Mongolian — that illumined the work of the archaeologists, in cluding the names of the two great French sinologues, Edouard Chavannes and Paul Pelliot, and of the Russian Central Asian historian, W. Barthold.

The greatest episode in the history of Central Asia was the outbreak of the Mongols of Genghis Khan in the 13th century. The most extensive land empire that the world has seen stretched from Russia to Mongolia, and embraced also China, Annam, and Persia, and in its later developments the Moghul dominion in India.

The trade routes between East and West were once more opened, mediaeval travellers from Europe made their way to Mongolia and China, which they knew by the name of Cathay, and for the first time the West had detailed accounts of farther Asia. The book of Marco Polo is known to all, but not so widely known are the slightly earlier journeys and narratives of the Franciscan Friars, John of Pian Carpine, one to the court of Kuyuk Khan (1245-1247), and the other to the court of Mangu in Mongolia (1253-55). Yet these both present to the reader first-hand information of the Mongols, and of the Chinese, on matters overlooked by Marco Polo.

II. The Persians were the first of the great Oriental Empires with which Europe was confronted. The main theme of the History of Herodotus was the invasion of the independent city states of Greece by the King of Kings.

It was to understand how this situation came about, how and why the invasion failed, that Herodotus set out on his seventeen years' travels, collecting material—geographical, historical, sociological and religious—from all the peoples and tribes within his reach, to work into his great history.

A hundred years later Alexander reversed the process and the Greeks invaded the East. In three great battles Syria, Egypt, and Persia fell, and the Macedonian army penetrated to the tributaries of the Indus.

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The retreat of the Macedonian army was followed by the complicated history of North-west India, the present Pakistan, in which invasion followed invasion, Bactrian Greek, Indo-Scyth, Ephthalite and Turk, and dynasty followed dynasty, of which that of the Guptas was one of the most illustrious.

But the impact of the Greeks, though it was eventually absorbed, lasted for a long time, and its effect is still to be seen in the abundance of Graeco-Buddhist sculpture unearthed in the ruins in the Buddhist monasteries in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, reaching even to the confines of North-west China.

To the Greeks of Alexander and of his successors, we owe a large part of our early knowledge of Persia and of Northern India.

When the power of Islam had spread through Western Asia, the Moslem Arabs and Turks became the intermediaries between East and West.

The Crusades were one, but not the only, answer of the West to the Moslems.

The way of St. Francis was another. But yet another was that of Raymond Lull, who, born as it were before his time, advocated the study of Moslem philosophy and the Moslem tongue as a preliminary for the preaching of the Gospel.

Meantime Moslem learning in Latin translations, and even the Greek authors, translated into Arabic, and from Arabic into Latin, reached the Western World.

The Mongol dominion became divided. The Mongol rulers of Persia, and the partly Turkish partly Mongol rulers west of the Pamirs became converted to Islam. The dominion of Timur arose, and the Moghuls of India followed.

First-hand accounts in Persian and Arabic now became added to the study of the Mongol regime. I refer in particular to Juvaini's History of the World Conqueror (between 1252 and 1260), by one who had served as a high official under the Mongol conquerors.

From henceforth Islam contributed to the philosophy, poetry and art of the Persians, and the study of Islamics formed part of the study of Persia.

Before leaving the subject of Persia one passing to the mystic philosophy and poetry of Persian miniatures, Persian rugs, and of Persian architecture.

III. Finally we come to the sea-route to the islands and peninsulas from South-east Japan.

In the course of his travels Herodotus had visited Egypt, where he had learned about the navigation of the Red Sea, and recorded that Phoenician sailors in the service of the king of

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Egypt had sailed through the Red Sea, and keeping the land on their right had rounded Africa and returned through the Straits of Gibraltar; on the way they had found that the sun appeared for a time on the north side. 

A hundred years later, after Egypt had fallen into his hands, Alexander had founded the city of Alexandria on the western side of the delta of the Nile. The city was destined to become the second city of the Roman Empire. Connected by canal with the Red Sea, and making use of the newly understood monsoon winds (A.D. 47) for crossing the Arabian Sea, it became the chief port of the maritime trade with Persia, India, and the regions beyond. 

References to this maritime trade exist in the Chinese histories as well as in the writings of the Greeks. In A.D. 97 a Chinese envoy, Kan Ying, travelling from Central Asia reached the shores of the Persian Gulf, and was informed by the seamen whom he met that the sea-route from the Gulf proceeded first south-west and then north-west to the port of Wu-ch'ih-san (Alexandria), the return journey taking three months with favourable winds, and two years with unfavourable winds. 

The Chinese records speak of the Persians and the Indians trading by sea with Ta-ts'in (the Chinese name for the Eastern Provinces of the Roman Empire : Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor) and of the fact that the profits were ten-fold. 

They speak also of traffic between India and China by sea, and record that in A.D.120 two jugglers who claimed to have come from the Roman Orient (Ta-ts'in) reached Burma, and were sent by the king of Burma as a present to the Emperor of China, via the Burma Road. 

About the same time a book was written by an unknown Greek sailor called The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea giving a port-to-port description of the voyage down the Red Sea and around the Indian Ocean to the Malay Peninsula ('The Land of Gold') 'under the very rising of the sun', with a notice of China beyond. 

Shortly after this in the 2nd century A.D. the Geography of Ptolemy was written at Alexandria, where Ptolemy gathered together and systematized all that was known to the Western world about Asia and Africa. In particular he plotted the longitude and latitude of the places known, which when transferred to a modern map give surprisingly accurate results, reaching to China itself.

From this time notices of the sea-route increase, both on the Greek and on the Chinese side. The Chinese histories in particular show a rapidly increasing knowledge in the early 

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Christian centuries of the new states of South-east Asia, formed under Indian influence in Indo-China, Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula. 

During the Middle Ages the navigation of the Southern Seas was in the hands of the Arabs. But after the rounding of the Cape, direct contact between Europe and the East by sea was restored. It was mainly by the sea-route that India, China, and South-east Asia became known to modern Europe. In this the Portuguese navigators played an all-important part. Passing over the rivalries of the Western nations we come to the days of the East India Company. 

In India the Moghul empire had reached its height, fine examples of its art remaining in the Moghul architecture of Pakistan and North-west India, and Moghul miniature painting. But with the Moghul Moslem law had come to India, and it was soon recognized by the East India Company that the study of Moslem languages was necessary for the government of India. So Islamics now became part of the study of India as of Persia. 

In 1783 Sir William Jones, a brilliant linguist who had mastered Persian and Arabic during his student days in England, was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature in Bengal. In 1784 he proposed the forming of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and became its first President. Becoming aware of the importance of Sanskrit, he became the founder of Sanskrit studies in the West. In accordance with Warren Hastings' decision in 1776 that Indians should be ruled by their own laws, he undertook the immense task of compiling a complete digest of Moslem and Hindu law, a task which he left unfinished at his death eleven years later. 

It was from India that the Western study of Tibet commenced, initiated by Catholic missionaries, of whom the most eminent was Desideri who lived for many years in the great Sera monastery at Lhasa, and wrote the first comprehensive account of Tibet. 

Meantime the Jesuit missionaries had proceeded eastwards in the wake of the Portuguese to Malacca, Macau and Japan. It was from Macau that Matthew Ricci entered China in 1580 and in course of time reached Peking, where a beginning was made in the study of the Chinese Classics and Histories, which led to the first real knowledge of Chinese civilization in the West. It was now realized that the ‘China’ at the end of the sea-route was the same as Marco Polo's ‘Cathay’. 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century modern Sinology commenced with Robert Morrison at Canton, and continued with a number of able scholars, too numerous to mention here, of whom James Legge with his translation of the Chinese Classics into 

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English was the most eminent. A new era in Sinology opened with Edouard Chavannes and Paul Pelliot at the turn of the century, by whom the pattern for present day studies was set. 

At this time too (1898) the Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient was established in Indo-China, and the thorough and many-sided work of the French scholars in South-east Asia commenced, which included the superb achievement, still in progress, of the conservation of Angkor. 

Space does not permit to treat of the studies in Indonesia and Malaya, in Japan and Korea. 

But in closing mention must be made of two special subjects, which affect all countries : Buddhism and Oriental Art. 

It is hard to realize that there was a time when Buddhism was unknown to the West. The study of Buddhism commenced at the beginning of the nineteenth century with a young Hungarian scholar who set out for the East to find the origin of the Magyar race, which he rightly divined was connected with that of the Turks. His travels brought him to the Tibetan-Himalayan border land, where he settled in the little village of Kanum in the Upper Sutlej valley to study Tibetan Buddhism. It is interesting to note that it was with the Tibetan branch of Buddhism that the study of Buddhism commenced. Later the great studies of the Sanskrit and Pali Canons began, and later still of the Chinese Canon, in which Japanese scholars have played a very great part. At the present time the Tibetan Canon and the mystic forms of Tibetan Buddhism are receiving great attention. 

The study of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Persian, Tibetan and Cambodian art is now receiving great attention. The last century saw a beginning in all these directions. Through the fundamental books of the pioneers, the magnificent collections in museums, the improvements in modern photography, and the facilities in travel, the finest examples of oriental art are now open to all. Persian miniatures, Moghul architecture, Indian sculpture, Chinese porcelain, Japanese temples, Angkor Wat and Borobudur are now well known. 

But a final word must be said : he who would understand the East must be deeply religious. This does not refer to any particular church or sect of religion, but to the religious spirit diffused through all.