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Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by Skatinginbc, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    In current academic circles, the description 黑色 "Black" found in 《居延汉简》has been commonly taken as the color of one's skin tone. For instance,
    《居延汉简》: “长安有利里,宋买,廿四,长七尺二寸,黑色”
    《居延汉简》:"槖佗延壽長孫時符[FONT=&amp], [/FONT]妻大女昭武萬歲裏孫弟卿年廿一[FONT=&amp], [/FONT]子小女玉女[FONT=&amp], [/FONT]年三歲[FONT=&amp], [/FONT]弟小女耳[FONT=&amp], [/FONT]年九歲[FONT=&amp], [/FONT]皆黑色[FONT=&amp]."[/FONT]
    《居延汉简》: "都里不更司馬奉德[FONT=&amp], [/FONT]年廿[FONT=&amp], [/FONT]長七尺二寸[FONT=&amp], [/FONT]黑色[FONT=&amp].[/FONT]"
    I, however, am not convinced for the following reasons:
    1) If 黑色 indeed represents one's complexion, why didn't 《居延汉简》 also record other exotic skin colors (e.g., "white")? Why did Chinese single out the Blacks? Were Chinese "blind" to "white"--I mean the so-called "white" complexion was not a concept in Chinese minds then or the Whites were not considered "exotic" then so that it was not worth mentioning in their 户籍?
    2) 佗延壽's ancestors were probably Tocharian (人) based on the surname [FONT=&amp]‘camel’ although he could be a [/FONT][FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp]匈[/FONT][/FONT][FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp]奴 [/FONT][/FONT]subject ([/FONT][/FONT][FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp]Note: Xiongnu [/FONT][/FONT][FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp] *[FONT=&amp]thaktha[/FONT] and later Uighur toga ‘camel’ were borrowed from Tocharian[/FONT][/FONT][/FONT][FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp] -t[FONT=&amp]ā[/FONT][FONT=&amp]kto[/FONT]) . [/FONT][/FONT]It is unlikely that [FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp][FONT=&amp]匈[/FONT][/FONT][/FONT]人[/FONT]with a ancestry would have a "black" skin tone.
    3) 黑色 strikes me as an unusual expression. The more idiomatic ways for me would be "黑人", "皆黑人", "肤黑", "黑","黑肤", "黑种", "皆种" and so on.

    Then again, if 黑色 did not mean the skin color, what could it mean?
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  2. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    Perhaps 黑色 did refer to the colour of the skin, and those people looked relatively black compared to the average Asian. Li Kui, for example, is described as 'black' and Zhang Shun as 'white'.
  3. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    Although Li Kui (黑旋風李逵) and Zhang Shun (浪里白條張順) are merely fictional characters, it is an indisputable fact that there were dark-skinned people and fair-skinned people in ancient China. But my question is NOT about whether they existed or not. Instead, it is about whether "黑色" written in people's 户籍 actually referred to their complexions. Tocharians (人) are by all accounts fair-skinned. Why was 佗延壽, who had a Tocharian surname, labeled "黑色"? Why wasn't "白" also written in some people's 户籍 at the time (i.e., Han Dynasty) when fair-skinned people were surely present in China?
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  4. Ghabi

    Ghabi Moderator

    Cantonese (Hong Kong)
    Hi! You may take two things into consideration:

    -槖佗延壽 isn't a name. It's the military rank of the person named 孫時 (=橐他[候官] 延壽隧長 孫時).

    -Other complexion colors are also mentioned in Han-dynasty documents:
    --並葆敦煌筹王里田儀年廿八歲長六尺五寸青白色右頰有黑子簪杈各二珥一具(《敦煌漢簡》681 )
  5. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    Great, great, great answer!!! Mystery solved. Thank you both for the help.
  6. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    Actually, Li Kui and Zhang Shun are actual people from Song Jiang's uprising. Their stories were made up by Mr Shi, though. :)

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