Pearls and Power: Chola’s Tribute Mission to the Northern Song Court within the Maritime Silk Road Trade Network

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
James A. Anderson, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: This paper begins with a close reading of an anecdote written in the 1070s by the Chinese scholar, Peng Cheng, a minor official of the Northern Song dynasty (960–1126). Peng’s account describes the arrival of a tribute mission from the distant South Indian kingdom of Chola (zhunianguo), which flourished from ca. 850–1279, at the Chinese court. According to Peng, an emissary from this foreign mission requested that the Chinese court allow him to perform a native custom, ‘casting into the court (sadian)’. Following this Chola practice, the emissary knelt before the chamber in which the emperor was seated. Using a golden plate and a lotus-shaped ladle, he cast several tens of liang of pearls across the court’s floor toward the emperor’s throne. Reflecting in private on this event, Peng Cheng found the initial request, and the fact that the Chinese court permitted a foreign custom to be included in Song court ceremony, curious enough to recount. Peng’s tale is a chapter in his one known work, Scattered Illuminations from the Literatus (Moke huixi), along with other anecdotes the Chinese scholar likely circulated among his friends.

Additional Information

Jeffrey D. Lerner, Yaohua Shi (eds.) Silk Roads: From Local Realities to Global Narratives. Philadelphia: Oxbow Books
Language: English
Date: 2020
Peng Cheng, Chola, Song Dynasty, China

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