The Cultural History of the South China Sea



Author: SiTu Shangji

ISBN: 978-1-84464-540-4

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-84464-541-1

Hardback-550 Pages

March 2019


£80 €100 $130





As the cradle of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, the South China Sea plays an important role in the history of Chinese civilization as well as the world’s civilization. Since the South China Sea opened to the outside world as a commercial port in 111 BC, it has experienced ups and downs for more than 2,000 years. With dynasties changing over time, the Chinese South China Sea has undergone dramatic changes and experienced rises and falls along with the economic and cultural development of the Maritime Silk Road. Up till now, the South China Sea is still one of the most active and dynamic regions across China and even the whole world. This book reviews the history and analyzes the current situation and bright future of the South China Sea. In this book the social, economic and cultural synthesis in the South China Sea is examined as well as Trade and Cultural Communications. The scope of the book centres around economic, trade and cultural development which is the starting point and main theme.  


Chapter 1: Basic Theories on Maritime Culture
Section 1 Definition of Maritime Culture
Section 2 Connotation of Maritime Culture
Section 3 Characteristics of Marine Culture
Section 4 Chinese Research in Maritime Culture: History and Current Status
Chapter 2: Geographical Environment of South China Sea Maritime Culture
Section 1 The Natural Geographical Environment of the South China Sea
Section 2 The Human Social Environment
Section 3 The Great Role of Overseas Chinese People and the Influence of Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao on South China Sea Maritime Culture
Section 4 The Relationship Between the Maritime Era and South China Sea Maritime Culture
Chapter 3: Birth of South China Sea Maritime Culture in Prehistoric Times
Section 1 Cultural Exchange in The South China Sea Region and Its Archaeological Evidence
Section 2 Origin of South China Seamaritime Culture in Totemistic and Prehistoric Times
Chapter 4: Initial Development of South China Sea Maritime Culture in The Pre-Qin Period
Section 1 Maritime Activities of Ancestors in The South China Sea Recorded in the Classic of Mountains and Seas and Other Pre-Qin Ancient Books and Records
Section 2 The Beginning of Maritime Agricultural Culture - South China Sea Regarding the Ocean as The Farming Field
Section 3 Views of The Sea on The Relation Between Heaven and Earth Under the Contention of a Hundred Schools of Thought
Chapter 5: Development of South China Sea Maritime Culture in The Qin Dynasty
(221-206 Bc), Han Dynasty (202 Bc-Ad 220) And Northern and Southern Dynasties (Ad 420-589)
Section 1 Maritime Activities and Cultural Exchange as Embodied by the Bronze Drums of Ancient Yue State
Section 2 Exploration of The Maritime Silk Road in The Western Han Period
Section 3 Maritime Activities in Exploration of the Environmental Resources of the South China Sea
Chapter 6: Prosperity of Maritime Culture in The South China Sea During
The Sui, Tang and Southern Han Dynasties (Ad 581-618, 618-907 And 917-971 Respectively)
Section 1 The Chinese Government’s Sovereignty Management and Administrative Construction in China’s South China Sea Area
Section 2 The Opening of The ‘Maritime Passage from Guangzhou to Foreign Countries’ and The Rise of Guangzhou’s Status as a World Port
Section 3 Maritime Cultural Exchange and Communication Between China and Foreign Countries
Section 4 The Rise of Nanhai God Worship and sacrifice
Section 5 The Appearance of Sea-Related Literary Works
Chapter 7: The Opening-Up Policy and Blossoming of South China Sea Maritime Culture in The Song Dynasty (Ad 960-1234) And Yuan Dynasty (Ad 1271-1368)
Section 1 China’s Exercise of Sovereignty Over the South China Sea in the Song and Yuan Dynasties
Section 2 Favorable Policies of the Song and Yuan Dynasties on maritime Commerce
Section 3 Enclosure and Cultivation of Tideland
Section 4 Technological Advancements in Ship Building and Maritime Navigation
Section 5 Maritime Culture as Embodied in Nanhai One, A Merchant Ship Sunk in The Southern Song Period
Section 6 Introduction of Foreign Crops and The First Revolution in Crop Production
Section 7 Worship and Cultural Styles of Goddess Mazu and Other Deities
Section 8 Maritime Cultural Works
Chapter 8: The Peak of Maritime Culture Development in South China Sea in the Ming Dynasty
Section 1 South China Sea Enjoying Exclusive Maritime Trade Interests Under the Ban on Maritime Trade
Section 2 Zheng He’s Voyages and The International Spread of China’s Maritime Culture
Section 3 The Introduction and Benefits of New Overseas Crop Varieties.232
Section 4 The Prosperity of Maritime Agriculture Culture with the Seas as the Fields
Section 5 The Forming of Macao as the Center of Cultural Exchanges Between China and the West
Section 6 Matteo Ricci into Guangdong
Section 7 The Revival of the Pirate Culture
Section 8 The Culture in Coastal Areas
Section 9 The Splendor of sea Literature and Art
Chapter 9: Ups and Downs of South China Sea Maritime Culture in The Early Qing Dynasty (Ad 1644-1911)
Section 1 Isolationist Policy and Declining Maritime Commerce in The Early Qing Dynasty
Section 2 The Maritime Silk Road and the New Global Structure in the Middle Qing Dynasty
Section 3 The Birth of Commercial Groups and Their Characteristics Reflected in Maritime Activities
Section 4 Determining the Traditional Territory of the South China Sea
Section 5 The Second Renaissance of Pirate Culture
Chapter 10: Transformation and Revitalisation of the Maritime Culture of the South China Sea in the Modern Times
Section 1 Vanishing of The Maritime Silk Route after the Opium War
Section 2 New Structure of Sino-Western Cultural Exchanges
Section 3 Political, Ideological, And Cultural Achievements Enabled by Sino-West Cultural Exchanges
Section 4 The Formation of Overseas Chinese Culture and Its Contribution to The Culture at Home and Abroad
Section 5 The Boom of Sea-Related Literature and Art
Chapter 11: Zigzags of The Maritime Cultures of the South China Sea in the Modern Times
Section 1 Struggle of The Chinese Government and The Chinese People for the Sovereignty over the South China Sea and the Islands in the Area
Section 2 Values of The South China Sea as Perceived in the Modern Times
Section 3 Loss and Resumption of Sovereignty Over Hong Kong and Macau
Section 4 Mariculture in The Modern Times
Section 5 Rapid Rising of Maritime Commercial Culture in the Modern Times
Section 6 Sino-West Cultural Exchanges Since China’s Reform and Opening-Up
Section 7 Blossoming of Maritime Technology, Humanities Research, and Literary and Artistic Works


About Author: 

SiTu Shangji, professor and doctoral superviser, director of Society for Research on Pearl Liver Culture, is a specialist in the field of historical geography and cultural geography who has taken charged of several national natural scientific projects.  He wrote about 35 books on the study of the above-saying subjects,such as Research on Development of land in Hainan Island, Cultural Geography of Guangdong, Cultural History of Pearl River, etc.



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