First: The big picture!

Throughout our research journey, we’ve been consistently struck by the myriad inaccuracies surrounding Chinese concepts and facts as they’ve been presented to the Western world. Poor translations, the imposition of Western religious concepts, and the insertion of personal ideals into historical narratives have all contributed to a distorted understanding of China’s rich cultural heritage. The ramifications of these inaccuracies are far-reaching and detrimental in every aspect.

To rectify this situation, achieving a more precise understanding of the past is imperative for successful historical investigation and research. Our approach begins by examining “big picture facts,” such as population size, life expectancy, and societal hardships during a given period. By asking these fundamental questions, a clearer narrative emerges, allowing us to uncover logical, albeit concealed explanations to our inquiries.

For instance, consider the stark contrast in population size between the Han 漢 Empire, boasting 57.6 million inhabitants in 2 CE, and Japan, estimated to have a mere 200 thousand people dispersed across its islands. This disparity sheds light on the directional flow of culture and technology from China to Japan during that era.

Similarly, understanding life expectancy during the Han 漢 Empire, ranging from 22 to 34 years old, offers insights into the deep cultural reverence for the elderly in ancient China, a tradition that endures to this day. (In essence if you lived to an old age, you clearly had knowledge and skill others did not)

Furthermore, delving into the intricacies of the penal system reveals that the majority of the so-called “criminal” population were impoverished individuals subjected to severe punishment for minor transgressions. This challenges our modern perception of thieves and criminals, emphasising the need for a non-judgmental approach to historical analysis.

Despite the apparent simplicity of this framework, many Western researchers persist in relying on historical “facts” documented by Jesuit missionaries over 400 years ago. It’s imperative that we discard these outdated notions and embrace a more nuanced understanding of Chinese culture and language through modern, multicultural, multi-lingual, and multi-disciplinary research methods. By starting with the “big pic” facts and gradually expanding our scope, we can embark on a journey towards a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of history.