A History of Sugar

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Author: Ji Xianlin;
Language: Chinese, English
Format: 23.4 x 20 x 2.8 cm
Page: 444
Publication Date: 11/2013
ISBN: 9787513309462
Publisher: New Star Press
Table of Contents
Translator's Preface
Chapter 1 Four Characters for Sugar
Chapter 2 The Four Sugars, Cane and Cane Syrup from the Zhou to the Northern and Southern Dynasties Period
Chapter 3 Rock Honey
Chapter 4 When did Cane Sugar Production Arise in China
Chapter 5 Cane Cultivation and Sugar Production Technology in the Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Chapter 6 Sugar Cane Cultivation and Sugar Frost Production in the Song Dynasty (960-1279)
Chapter 7 Cane Cultivation and Sugar Production in the Yuan Dynasty(1206-1368)
Chapter 8 Cane Cultivation and Sugar Production in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
Chapter 9 TheWhite Sugar Question
Chapter 10 Cane Cultivation and Sugar Production in the Qing Dynasty(1616-1911)
Sample Pages Preview
Chapter 1-Four Words for Sugar

  In writing A History of Sugar, I cannot, as one would for the histories of certain other things, trace its history back to the distant past. That is because sugar and its variants disappear easily, and thus do not last very long underground. Archaeological work cannot provide any assistance to this research project of ours, and so I can only rely on ancient text documentation.
  According to chronological order, this chapter should actually be the second chapter, because it touches on the pre-Qin era, and delves deeply into the Han dynasty, but I think that if the four words I have chosen, namely Yi, Xing, Xing and Tang, are not clearly defined, it will be very difficult to research the pre-Qin era and the Han dynasty. Thus, I have decided to first tackle the issue of these four words before continuing in a chronological fashion.
  Among these four Chinese characters, the only one found in pre-Qin history is Yi, which is found in such sources as the Book of Poetry, Records of Rites and the Book of Mountains and Seas. A word with the sound "Tang," the sound used in modern Chinese, had already emerged at that time, in such places as the Verses of Chu, pronounced this as a combination of the two characters Zhanghuang (餦餭), meaning malt sugar, though we cannot clearly determine which character was used to write this combination. We will discuss this problem further below.
  Approaching the Han dynasty, we saw the gradual emergence of Xing (??), Xing(餳) and Tang (餹). These characters certainly did not arise in isolation, and conceal aspects of the history of sugar production, and thus can provide us with much insight. Now I will engage in an analysis of these characters.
  No research of ancient writing can be done without Xu Shen's Explanation and Analysis of Chinese Characters, and research of this tome furthermore depends on the works of the great Qing dynasty masters of the Han School of textual study. The most influential of these works was Annotations on the Explanation and Analysis of Chinese Characters by Duan Yucai (1735-1815). Qing dynasty scholar Wang Niansun emphatically recommended this book, calling it an unprecedented achievement. My analysis mainly relies on this book, while also drawing from the works of Gui Fu (1736-1805), Zhu Junsheng (1788-1858) and a few others.
  His entry on Yi(飴) describes it as a sweet substance that is derived from rice malt, created by cooking it, and is often also made from wheat malt. His entry on Xing (餳) lists it as an edible sweet substance that is stronger than Yi, consisting of a mix of Yi and San (饊), a glutinous sweet substance made from rice malt. It notes that the pronunciation in many ancient sources seems to be either Yang or Tang, based on the character component Yang(昜). It furtherstates that many sources have confused it with the other written form of Xing (??), often treating the two as the same, or that the use of the second written form may be due to a mistaken reading of the character component as Yi (易) rather than Yang (昜).
  Duan Yucai raised many important issues in these entries, particularly in changing from the second form of Xing (??) into the first form (餳). Neither Gui Fu or Zhu Junsheng made this change. The Explanation and the Local Speeches collected in the Four Branch Literature Collection are both dated to the Song dynasty, and use the second form, rather than the first. This issue will be further discussed below. The Explanation makes clear distinctions between the meanings of Yi, Xing and another related term, San (饊), and Duan's entry takes the distinction even further.
  San is described as dried or stickymalt sugar created from the boiling of malt. Though many sources treat it the same as Zhanghuang, or malt sugar, the important distinction is that it is dried. In liquid form, it is called Yi, and when mixed with Yi, it is called Xing.
  That is how Duan Yucai lays out the connection between Yi, Xing and San.
  Gui Fu draws many of the same conclusions as Duan, though he writes Xing in the second form we encountered (??), rather than the other form, which Duan used. Gui Fu's entries differ in other ways from those of Duan, notably in his use of a more extensive range of ancient texts, some alluding to the process of creating a sweet substance from malted rice, or even wheat and barley. Notably, he draws from the Compendium of Materia Medica, which says that Yi is soft sugar, and that it is known as Xing in the north. As for Xing, he draws from a long list of ancient sources.
  In his notes, Gui Fu notes that sugar, namely 'granular Xing,' is made from cane, and is a foreign product now known as "granular sugar" (Sha Tang沙糖), noting that various ancient sources attributed granular sugar, also written as "rock honey" (Shi Mi石蜜), to the countries west of China. He states that Tang is a sweet substance that is neither Yi nor Xing.
  Gui Fu's suggestion is correct. The various forms of sugar he mentions are derived from sugar cane, while Yi and San are derived from grains. The production of sugar from sugar cane was unknown in those eras.
  Next, he discusses pronunciation, noting that the first form of Xing (餳) was likely actually pronounced Tang, following the Yang sound of the character component Yang (昜), but that the many occurrences of the other written form (??) led to the more common pronunciation of Xing that we see today. He attributes this to confusion between the two character components, which are only separated by a single brushstroke. I think that it may be more complicated than that, but it is not crucial to my argument, so I will not pursue it in depth.
  By looking at the various descriptions above, we can see that the issue of terminology is rather complex, and even somewhat confused. After careful consideration, I will now present my own view on the matter. It is not necessarily a very mature theory, but I think that it can stand on its own. I believe that in the pre-Qin and Han period, people liked to eat sweet things, and aside from natural honey, they produced two substances, one called Yi and one called Tang. In the early days, people only had sounds, no written words. Both substances were first made with rice, particularly glutinous rice, but later they began (sometimes for geographic reasons) to use wheat and barley as well. The resulting substance, when soft, moist and thin, was called Yi. There is a bit of disagreement as to whether the proper character for this pronunciation was飴 or ??. The thicker, harder, dryer version was called Tang. There is also disagreement about how this character was written, with some writing it as餳, some writing it as餹, and others simply spelling out the sounds with the charactersZhang and Huang (餦 and 餭), representing the initial and final sounds of the word. As for the relationship between the two forms of Xing (??and餳), Gui Fu's theory that they are two different writings of the same word, confused by that single brushstroke, and leading to disparate pronunciations, does not quite explain the issue. These words represent two different meanings.
  That sums up my basic views on the four different terms for sugar.
A History of Sugar