- The art of the Con
T'ang Code 653 AD
The T'ang Code 653 AD was a series of 501 articles which redefined
and codified existing Chinese laws while homogenizing the procedures in legal
proceedings. Historically, the country of China was occupied by numerous feuding kingdoms during its early history. In 221
BC, it was the king of Châ€™in that was able to defeat these warring tribes and
begin the process of pulling the country together under one banner. However,
there were no general rules for governance until the Tâ€™ang Code came into being
with its 501 different articles. The code attempted to codified almost all facets
of daily life and set methodology for discovery, courts and punishment, which
were to this time, mostly a local option.
The Tangâ€™s had come into power in 618 and their
dynasty flourished for nearly three more decades. Many historians have concluded
this was the most vibrant period of Chinese life. During this period, the Chinese
conquered what is now Afghanistan
and Turkistan, Korea and Tibet.
Never in history had the geographical
boundaries of this country been this extensive. The empire reached its height
under Kao-tsung (649-83AD).
the Tâ€™ang grew stronger, they sought to extend their borders and push back the
groups who made incursions into their territories. The Tâ€™ang eventually expanded
their empire to include a large area of central
all the way into Iran,
and almost the whole Korean peninsula, and into the Ili
valley. The Tâ€™ang became the greatest power in Asia.”
The backbone of the Tâ€™ang Code was the very tolerant Confucian
thought process, which allowed for a live and let live atmosphere. In this liberal
environment, trade expanded, the arts flourished, technology proliferated and
new religions sprung up like flowers.
“Under the influence of emperor Tâ€™ai Tsung, freedom
of belief and thought was respected through much of the Tâ€™ang dynasty, Newtonian
Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeanism, and Islam were introduced into
china from the West as a result of increased contacts with peoples of Central
Asia. These various religions—together with Buddhism, which had already come
from India, and the indigenous philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism
- freely spread to every corner of the country. “
However, the more laissez-faire changed the people from sideline
observers to active participants. Puffed up with newfound friend, a form of
anarchy soon permeated the country and much of the previous discipline collapsed
in a heap on the dinning room floor. Military commanders in the field made their
own determinations as to what was best for the country and how particular battle
should be fought. This cause an enormous contraction in Chinaâ€™s geographical
reach and the Tâ€™ang dynasty came to an inauspicious conclusion. The country
literally returned from whence it had come by the 9th century AD.
As we have done before we are listing below various elements
of the Code that we believe are representative. Listing all of them would not
serve the purpose of this discourse. The following are prohibitions.
Shooting arrows in the direction of the Imperial
or an Imperial Imperial Audience Hall.
Recommending unworthy persons to the Examination for the Doctorate.
Divulging important matters
Forgetting or misunderstanding in connection with Imperial decrees.
Violating name taboos in documents or memorials on affairs submitted to the
Taking the wrong route while riding post horses
Officials who exact goods and articles from persons within their area of jurisdiction.
As we can see, the regulations had no punishments in effect
represented a philosophy rather than a law. Anarchies cannot long exist in a
global vacuum because there are too many other nations that are willing to fill
the void at a moments notice. What happened to China
during that period had a bounce back effect. In the first instance, everyone
became so excited with their newfound freedom that they were willing to go the
last mile for the leaders that had created the free environment. However, as
regulations became increasing lax, all forms of authority started breaking down
and soon the police, the military and courts had lost control. China
had been left without either a strong religious conviction or a demanding central
government. While for a time, this had become Nirvana on earth, without discipline
all societies have a tendency to collapse upon themselves. The laws that were
created by the Tâ€™ang Code seem more fitting for flower children then in ruling
what was then the largest country on earth.