Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Turk Inscriptions Essay

The Turk Inscriptions Essay

Basically, the development of the Second Turk Empire was accompanied by its growing interaction with other countries which affected considerably the progress of this country. At the same time, important sources of the information about the development of the Second Turk Empire and its relationships with other countries are Turkish inscriptions, including that of Kul Tegin, Bilge Khan, and Tonuquq. It should be pointed out that a considerable part of these inscriptions occupies the relationship of the Second Turk Empire with its neighbors, especially China, which was one of the most powerful states of the region at that epoch. On analyzing the old inscriptions, it is possible to find basic strengths and weaknesses of both the Second Turk Empire and China.
In this respect, it is important to underline that in the old Turk inscriptions, the rules of the Second Turk Empire responded to Chinese rule not just by honoring old Turk institutions, but also imitating and learning from the view of the Turks expressed in the Sima Qian’s account of the Xiongnu.

The strengths and weaknesses of Turks 
On analyzing the old Turks inscriptions, it is possible to estimate that at the epoch of the Second Turk Empire the level of the development of Noman civilization was consistently lower compared to its neighbors, namely China. At the same time, it is necessary to underline that it does not mean that Second Turk Empire was in an absolutely disadvantageous position compared to China. In fact, Second Turk Empire had certain strengths that created ample opportunities for the rapid development of the empire and its further progress.

In this respect, it should be said that one of the major strengths of Second Turk Empire was its geographical position. Due to its geographical position of Second Turk Empire, Turks could develop rapidly. To put it more precisely, the empire could benefit from the progressing international trade since it was close to China and its economic centers and, at the same time, the territory of the empire included important trade routes. In actuality, the country was a kind of bridge between China and Western civilization. In other words, Second Turk Empire could benefit from its transitional position between East and West.

At the same time, it is worthy of mention that the neighboring Chinese economic centers were of a paramount importance for the development of Second Turk Empire and it was another strength of Turks since it contributed to the development of the Turkish economy. To put it more precisely, the growing economic cooperation with China contributed to the urbanization and the general progress of the economy. In this respect, it should be said that according to Dyson-Hudson, “professional empire builders rooted in urban civilizations” (21) that was the case of Second Turk Empire which urbanization was enhanced by its neighborhood to large Chinese economic centers. However, Turks were conscious of potential threats hidden in such neighborhood. For instance, in the KulTegin inscription, the Turk Bilge Qagan warns of the lure of China’s “gold, silver, and silk” (Waldron, 211). Obviously, being more powerful economically, China represented a real threat to the perspective of growth of Second Turk Empire.

Also, it is necessary to take into consideration the existence of the local traditions which were quite strong in Second Turk Empire and contributed consistently to the stable development of the country. What is probably even more important is the fact that the tradition and stable functioning of its major state institutions contributed to the unity of the empire and permitted Second Turk Empire gain a significant position in its international relations.

On the other hand, it should be said that Second Turk Empire was not rigid. Instead, according to the old inscriptions it amply borrowed Chinese experience and paid a lot of attention to criticism of their way of development which could be found in works of Chinese historians, such as Sima Qian.

Nevertheless, Second Turk Empire could hardly overcome its backwardness compared to China. Moreover, one of the major weaknesses of the empire was the fact that it was highly dependent on China. In fact, some specialists estimate that the development of Second Turk Empire was directly dependent on China. For instance, Barfield states that “powerful nomadic empires rose and fell in tandem with native dynasties of China… the steppe and China tended to be mirror images of one another” (9). This means that the development of Second Turk Empire was determined by the progress of China. Consequently, any crisis in China affected Second Turk Empire dramatically.

The strengths and weaknesses of China
Naturally, China, which produced a profound impact on the development of Second Turk Empire, had its own strengths and weaknesses. To put it more precisely, it should be said that China was apparently more advanced economically and technologically compared to Second Turk Empire. For instance, according to Chinese sources (Qian), neighbors of China were consistently less developed not only in the field of economy but also in the field of warfare since their strategy and tactics were considered to be not so advanced as Chinese ones.

However, it is necessary to underline that the tactics of Turks in the warfare was more flexible since they did not paid so much attention to the necessity to maintain face and could, for instance, retreat without any hesitations as long as it was beneficial for them that may be viewed as a weakness of Chinese tactics. In this respect, it is possible to refer to Sima Qian who compares Turks tactics to that of Chinese, the former, “when it is to their advantage they advance; when not they retreat as they see no shame in retreat” (Qian, 142).

At the same time, the economic advancement of China engendered growing problems since external threats grew more and more significant. At any rate, as China progressed do did its neighbors and, therefore, potential competitors or opponents. Also, it should be said that Chinese traditions based on ideas of Confucianism were quite rigid while compared to Turks it was hardly possible to speak about the total ideological unity of the country.

Conclusion: recommendations to Turks to reach the level of power of China 
Taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that China was more advanced compared to Second Turk Empire and the old Turk inscriptions prove this fact. At the same time, it is also possible to find some potential ways of overcoming such backwardness of Second Turk Empire. In this respect, the old Turk inscriptions are similar to works of Chinese historians, such as Sima Qian. Basically, they recommend minimizig the gap between Second Turk Empire by means of remaining devoted to the national traditions. What is meant here is the fact that the old inscriptions recommend to honor old Turkish traditions and existing institutions. In this respect, the similarity to Qian’s ideas of being devoted to the norms of Chinese traditions and ideology, including ideas of Confucianism, which were the ideological basis of Chinese culture and lifestyle. The same role played traditions and religious views of Turks in Second Turk Empire. As a result, the focus on the maintenance of the traditional lifestyle contributes to the social stability and, therefore, opens perspectives of the steady development of the empire.

On the other hand, it is necessary to underline that one of the most perspective way to overcome the backwardness of Second Turk Empire was to borrow the experience of China. In such a way, Second Turk Empire could simply follow the example of more advanced China that could provide ample opportunities for the economic progress, while maintenance its old traditions could contribute to the social stability. In such a way, these two factors could be determinant in the further progress of Second Turk Empire making it a powerful country which could become equal to China.

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