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Cultural Insider: Chinese chieftain system

Updated: 2015-07-03 07:05:00

( chinadaily.com.cn )

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These ruins in the Tangya chieftain city are in Central China's Hubei province. [Photo/Xinhua]

What is the Native Chieftain System of ancient China?

The Native Chieftain System was a special political system adopted by the ancient Chinese emperors to govern ethnic minority regions. It allowed local tribal leaders to inherit the official positions of the empire.

The system was practiced by the governments of the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties, but dates as far back as the Five Dynasties period (907-960).

The chieftain, also known as Tusi, was a tribal leader appointed as an imperial official by the central government in ancient China.

Tusi ruled their tribes on the basis of the empire's law and proprieties as well as local customs, contributing to the distinctive Tusi political and cultural tradition.

The Tusi system embodied political wisdom in handling relationships among ethnic groups in ancient China.

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