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Medieval Chinese Perception of India
Two Medieval Chinese Accounts of Foreign People and Places, and their Representation of India

Namrata Hasija


The book elucidates the Chinese perception of India through two texts from the Song and Ming periods. It aims to understand how the change in Sino-Indian relations is reflected in Chinese perceptions and representations of India in the medieval period. The two texts are the Zhufanzhi or ‘Description of Barbarous Peoples' compiled by the Song official Zhau Rugua in 1225 C.E, and the Yingyai shenglan jiao or ‘The Overall Survey of the Ocean’s Shores’ compiled from 1425-32 C.E. by Ma Huan who participated in the great naval expeditions led by Zheng He in the Ming period. The book highlights that the image of India carried in Chinese literature from the 13th to 15th centuries began to change from that of the land of Buddhism to a place of commercial significance for the Chinese. In a spatial sense, it is the coastal regions of India with their small principalities that are of greater interest to the Chinese than the northern or central regions with their powerful states that were better known in earlier times, reflecting the increased importance of Chinese sea power and the maritime trade routes.


1. Introduction 9
2. Representations of foreign countries and people in Chinese literary accounts 19

Foreign trade and the foreign relations of the Chinese empire from the Song to the Ming

The relationship between trade and diplomacy in imperial China
The development of commerce and Navy in the Song, Yuan and Ming period
Relations with the countries of SE Asia and the Indian Ocean region
Changing relations with India

4. Description of India in the Zhufanzhi of Zhau Rugua
Zhau Rugua on geographical and flaura and fauna of IndiaOn Indian Polity and AdministrationOn Indian Religion
On Indian Society
On the Indian Economy
Omissions in Zhau Rugua’s work
5. Description of India in the Yingyai shenglan of Ma Huan
Ma Huan on Indian Geography
On Flaura and Fauna
On Indian Society
On Indian Religion
On Indian Economy
On the Indian Polity
Mistakes and omissions in the work
6. Conclusion 82

LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing

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