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Marketing and social structure in rural China

G. William Skinner
p. 215-261

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  • 1 A preliminary version was prepared for the Seminar on “Processes of Change in Chinese Society,” Tor (...)

1I set forth in this paper1 a partial description and preliminary analysis of rural marketing in China. This neglected topic has significance that ranges far beyond the disciplinary concerns of economics. It interests anthropologists in particular because marketing structures of the kind described here for China appear to be characteristic of the whole class of civilizations known as “peasant” or “traditional agrarian” societies. In complex societies of this important type, marketing structures inevitably shape local social organization and provide one of the crucial modes for integrating myriad peasant communities into the single social system that is the total society. The Chinese case would appear to be strategic for the comparative study of peasant marketing in traditional agrarian societies because the integrative task accomplished there was uniquely large; because the exceptional longevity and stability of Chinese society have allowed the marketing system in many regions to reach full maturity prior to the beginnings of modernization; and because available documentation of Chinese marketing over several centuries provides rich resources for the study of systemic development – of change within tradition.

2Change that constitutes departure from the traditional system – which signals the onset of the transformation of a traditional agrarian society into a modern industrial society – can also be profitably approached through the study of rural marketing. Basic alterations in the distribution of markets and the patterning of marketing behavior provide a sensitive index of progress in modernization. Rural marketing thus deserves serious attention during each of the periods into which modern Chinese history can be divided-not excepting the contemporary Communist era. The subject takes on added significance during the most recent decade because of the correspondences that can be demonstrated between the units of collectivization and marketing systems. It is part of my purpose in this paper to suggest that an adequate interpretation of developments since 1949 in the Chinese countryside must rest on a prior analysis of premodern peasant marketing.

  • 2 On the side of documentary research, pioneering work was done by Katô Shigeshi. He and three other (...)
  • 3 Fieldwork was made possible by grants from the Social Science Research Council and the Viking Fund (...)
  • 4 Research assistance was ably provided by Stephen M. Olsen and William L. Parish, Jr., both of Corne (...)

3Although the scholarly literature on local marketing in China is relatively meager,2 the raw materials for analysis are in abundant supply. Thousands of fang-chih, the gazetteers prepared locally for hsien and other administrative units, provide information, in remarkable detail about local markets and often about the marketing process itself. These and other traditional documentary sources were supplemented during the pre-Communist era of transition by the descriptions of foreign observers, information reported in local newspapers, raw data compiled through fact-finding surveys, and even bits of scholarly field work. The richest resource for the study of rural marketing in mainland China, both before and after 1949, is the large body of potential informants from the mainland now resident in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and overseas – individuals who participated over a period of years in the marketing systems to which their native places belonged. Data for the present study are drawn from my own field work in Szechwan, 1949-1950;3 intensive interviews with a handful of émigré informants in the United States, Hong Kong, and Singapore, a large number of fang-chih; and a variety of other published works.4 I have, nevertheless, barely tapped the potential sources, and this essay falls correspondingly short of comprehensive treatment.

4In this first part of the book, attention is focused on the structure of marketing systems, and the analysis is essentially synchronic. The various aspects of change are reserved for treatment in the Part Two.

5Part One begins with a consideration of two preliminary matters: the various types of markets and the principles of market-day scheduling. In subsequent sections, marketing structures are treated first as spatial and economic systems and then as social and cultural systems.

Markets and central places

  • 5 The two classical studies are: Walter Christaller, Die zentralen Orte in Süddeutschland (Jena, 1933 (...)
  • 6 It is convenience of exposition alone that dictates the introduction into this chapter of a central (...)
  • 7 This hypothesis is merely an extension of the theory put forward by Berry to account for the fact t (...)

6Central places – the generic term for cities, towns, and other nucleated settlements with central service functions – may be classified in a variety of ways. The approach taken here follows the lead of Christaller and Lösch.5 In the analytical tradition that stems from these scholars, a given central place may be typed according to its position in interlocking spatial systems, within which economic function is associated with hierarchical level.6 It may be suggested that regularity in central-place hierarchies and consistency in the alignment of function with systemic position are enhanced by, if they do not actually result from, a condition of perduring “entropy” – many forces acting on the system of central places in many ways over a period of many centuries.7 Be that as it may, in the case of China at the end of her long and relatively stable imperial era, central places are readily analyzed on the assumption that the economic function of a settlement is consistently associated with its position in marketing systems which are themselves arranged in a regular hierarchy.

7The Chinese countryside supports settlements of bewildering variety. In this attempt to sort them into meaningful categories, I begin with the standard market town – a type of central place that appears to have been common to all regions of premodern agrarian China.

8By late traditional times, markets had so proliferated on the Chinese landscape and were so distributed that at least one was accessible to virtually every rural household. They were considered essential, both as a source of necessary goods and services unavailable in the village community and as an outlet for local production. I term “standard” that type of rural market that met all the normal trade needs of the peasant household: what the household produced but did not consume was normally sold there, and what it consumed but did not produce was normally bought there. The standard market provided for the exchange of goods produced within the market’s dependent area, but more importantly it was the starting point for the upward flow of agricultural products and craft items into higher reaches of the marketing system, and also the termination of the downward flow of imported items destined for peasant consumption. A settlement that boasts a standard market (but not also a higher-level market) is here called a “standard market town.”

9Settlement patterns below the level of the standard market town vary from one region to another. Nucleated villages are common throughout most of rural China, and in many areas these constitute the only settlement type below the standard market town. In some areas, however, certain “villages” support a type of market that I will here term “minor.” The minor market, popularly known as a “green-vegetable market,” specializes in the horizontal exchange of peasant-produced goods. Many necessities are not regularly available, and virtually no services or imports are offered. It is of negligible importance as an entry point for locally produced goods into the larger marketing system. The sporadic occurrence of the minor market in rural China, its limited functions, and its peripheral position with regard to larger marketing systems lead me to consider it apart from the regular hierarchy of central places – as a transitional type which in most cases can be interpreted as an incipient standard market. Since it leads to no confusion, I use the term “minor market” to refer both to the market and to the settlement in which it is located.

10In still other parts of China, of which the Szechwan Basin is the outstanding example, neither nucleated villages nor minor markets obtain. Peasants live in dispersed farmhouses or farmhouse clusters, and the only nodes on the economic landscape below the level of the standard market town are the small clusters of shops known as yao-tien (literally “small shops”). The exceptional character of human ecology in the Szechwan Basin should not, however, be overemphasized. The dispersed residential units of the Szechwanese countryside form themselves into natural groupings, each focused on a single t’u-ti miao (earth-god shrine), which may be termed “dispersed villages.” When viewed as social systems, both the dispersed village of Szechwan and the nucleated village more commonly found elsewhere in China may be considered “village communities.” The yao-tien, which appears sporadically on the Szechwanese landscape, is in some instances simply the “general store” of the dispersed village, and thus an equivalent of the group of shops commonly found in the largest of nucleated villages elsewhere in China. Other yao-tien – especially those consisting of several shops and situated at crossroads equidistant from two or three market towns – are the functional equivalent of minor markets elsewhere in China. They may be seen as incipient standard markets, and indeed several examples of standard markets established de novo within the memory of my Szechwan informants grew out of yao-tien.

  • 8 The use of the word “village” to refer to towns that are the site of standard markets is, however, (...)

11It will be noted that the terminology suggested here reserves the term “village” for nucleated settlements that do not support markets.8 “Village community” is a more inclusive term for residential social systems, nucleated or dispersed, which do not involve a market of any type. No generic term is proposed for minor markets or yao-tien, which are intermediate and transitional between village communities and standard market towns. “Market town,” in the terminology used here, is limited to three types of central places positioned at adjacent levels of the hierarchical system of economic centers; each of the three corresponds to a type of market. The standard market, at the lowest of these three levels, has already been characterized. In ascending order, the other two types are here termed the “intermediate market” and the “central market.” To begin with the latter, the central market is normally situated at a strategic site in the transportation network and has important wholesaling functions. Its facilities are designed, on the one hand, to receive imported items and distribute them within its dependent area and, on the other, to collect local products and export them to other central markets or higher-level urban centers. It will suffice at this point to say of the intermediate market simply that it has an intermediate position in the vertical flow of goods and services both ways. In the terminology being introduced here, a settlement that is the site of an intermediate market (but not also of a higher-level market) is termed an “intermediate market town.” The “central market town” is similarly defined.

  • 9 It is very nearly valid to say of traditional China that every settlement supporting a yamen was wa (...)
  • 10 Hsien-level units also included the chou (department) and t’ing (subprefecture). Details for the Ch (...)

12A typology of central places in the upper reaches of the hierarchy in traditional China is complicated by the distinction that may be drawn between “natural” economic centers and “artificial” administrative centers. The concept of urbanness has, in China, always been intimately associated with the yamen and the wall.9 In the traditional Chinese view, a true city (ch’eng) is the walled seat of a hsien (county), fu (prefecture), or sheng (province).10 Given the hierarchical structure of the imperial administrative system, a tripartite typology of administrative central places is virtually automatic. But what is the relation between this hierarchy of administrative centers and the upper reaches of the central-place hierarchy as determined by economic function?

  • 11 “Some Aspects, of the Urban Geography of the Chinese Hsien Capital,” Annals of the Association of’ (...)
  • 12 C.K. Yang’s typology of Chinese markets is entirely acceptable so far as it goes. His terminology, (...)
  • 13 Chang illustrates his hypothesis with a very atypical case – that of T’ung-kuan hsien, Shensi. Its (...)
  • 14 Brian J.L. Berry and Allen Pred, Central Place Studies: A Bibliography of Theory and Applications ( (...)

13Two extreme and easy answers are possible. One asserts that the two series of central places may be conjoined, the other that they are wholly distinct. Both positions are taken in the scholarly literature, and both, I believe, are wrong. Chang Sen-dou in effect gives the first answer.11 His typology of lower-level central places is derived from the pioneering field study of C.K. Yang. After analyzing the markets found in Tsou-p’ing hsien, Shantung, Yang had posited three types of central places, equivalent to those which I have termed minor markets, standard market towns, and intermediate market towns.12 The hsien in question happened to include no higher-level markets, and the hsien seat was classed, quite properly, as an intermediate market town. Chang then accepted C.K. Yang’s example as typical and proceeded to equate the district capital in the administrative hierarchy with the intermediate market town in the economic hierarchy.13 Berry and Pred, in their influential critical review of central-place studies,14 then jump to the conclusion that Chang’s article bas identified the “classic hierarchy” of central places in traditional China and cite a madcap typology that grafts higher-level administrative capitals onto a series of lower-level central places in the economic hierarchy.

  • 15 China’s Gentry: Essays in Rural-Urban Relations (Chicago, 1953). Ch. V.
  • 16 “In the Lake Tai area in my own native district, Wukiang, the garrison town is much smaller and les (...)

14The second of the two possible extreme answers is advanced by Fei Hsiao-t’ung.15 There are, in Fei’s analysis, two types of urban centers – the “garrison town” and the “market town” – which must be kept analytically distinct. They differ in type of site, “aspect,” and function. The former are walled towns, imposed artificially on the landscape from the top and located in accordance with considerations of defense; they serve administrative functions. Market towns, by contrast, are unwalled (or at best protected by a less substantial bulwark not built as a public work), a natural growth on the landscape, and located in close congruence with the transport network; they serve commercial functions. To support his view, Fei notes that the size ranges of the two types quite overlap, with many market towns surpassing nearby garrison towns in both population and enterprise.16

15While Fei’s garrison and market towns are useful heuristic constructs, he clearly errs in suggesting that hsien seats and other administrative centers do not normally have commercial functions. Every hsien city I have investigated in this regard supports at least one market and can be classed as a given central-place type in accordance with its position in a marketing system. At the same time, one must agree with Fei that both administrative centers and non-administrative market towns are found at the same hierarchical level of economic central places, and in this respect Chang is involved in a simplistic error.

  • 17 Chou-ts’un’s exalted status in the hierarchy of central places cannot be considered an anomaly resu (...)

16The error is well illustrated by reference to the area studied by C.K. Yang, Chang’s authority on market towns. It can readily be shown that Tsoup’ing, a hsien seat and an intermediate market town, is economically dependent on Chou-ts’un, a central market town with no status in the administrative hierarchy. Chou-ts’un is administratively inferior to the seat of the hsien in which it is located (Ch’ang-shan), whereas in economic terms, Ch’ang-shan, like Tsou-p’ing, supports only an intermediate market that is dependent on the central market in Chou-ts’un.17 A comparable illustration is provided by Chu-chou, a river port in Hsiang-t’an hsien, Hunan, which is also a central market town without status in the administrative hierarchy. Hua-yang hsien, Szechwan, to cite another relevant case, included in 1949 no less than eight intermediate market towns and one central market town, none of which served as the hsien seat.

17The extent to, which the two hierarchical series of administrative and economic centers overlap or coincide can be determined, it seems to me, only through an analysis of marketing structures in a given region; the resultant classification of the region’s central places according to their economic functions and position in marketing systems may then be compared with the administrative status of each center. I have not done this with any thoroughness, but an analysis of marketing structures in several widely dispersed regions of China leads me to posit central places at two levels above that of the central market town and to offer a few sweeping generalizations. The typology and terminology proposed here may be summarized as follows :

  • 18 Central places at these higher levels usually support several markets. The complex structure of mar (...)

18

18

18My preliminary analyses suggest that only a minority of intermediate market towns serve as the capitals of hsien or higher-level administrative units, whereas a clear majority of the central places at the three highest levels have such administrative status. Urban places that served in late Ch’ing as administrative seats of hsien (but not also of fu or sheng) tended to be intermediate or central market towns, more often the latter. Prefectural capitals tended to be either central market towns or local cities, while most provincial capitals would need to be classed in the above hierarchy of central places as either local or regional cities.

  • 19 It would appear that within the same systems there is seldom any overlap in the size of central pla (...)
  • 20 A number of other distinctions among the three hierarchical types of market towns will be introduce (...)

19In general, as one moves in this hierarchical typology from each type of central place to the next higher, the number of households increases19 while the proportion of the labor force engaged in agriculture falls. In addition, as one progresses from village to central market town, each type is more likely than the last to be walled and to support the worship of ch’eng-huang, the urban deity par excellence. The typical intermediate market town is at least partially walled and supports a shrine to ch’eng-huang. Central market towns and cities in traditional times were usually completely walled and had a full fledged ch’eng-huang temple; this was true even of those centers, like Chouts’un, that had no formal administrative status. Thus, it can be seen that position in the hierarchical typology of central places generally correlates with urbanism, whether defined in terms of variables familiar to the urban sociologist or in the common-sense terms of the Chinese layman.20

Periodicity and market schedules

20In Ch’ing China, as in most traditional agrarian societies, rural markets were normally periodic rather than continuous: they convened only every few days. This feature of traditional rural markets may be understood from several points of view.

  • 21 For a sophisticated treatment of this aspect of periodic marketing see James H. Stine, “Temporal As (...)

21On the side of the producer or trader, the periodicity of markets is related to the mobility of individual “firms.” The itinerant peddler, toting his wares from one market to the next with the aid of a carrying pole, is the archetype of the mobile firm in China. But equally characteristic of the traditional rural market are the wandering artisans and repairmen who carry their “workshop” about with them, and other itinerants purveying services of all kinds from letter-writing to fortune-telling. Why are these facilities mobile? In essence, because the total amount of demand encompassed by the marketing area of any single rural market is insufficient to provide a profit level that enables the entrepreneur to survive. By repositioning himself at periodic intervals, the entrepreneur can tap the demand of several marketing areas and thereby attain the survival threshold.21 From the point of view of the itinerant entrepreneur, periodicity in marketing has the virtue of concentrating the demand for his product at restricted localities on certain specific days. When a group of related markets operates on coordinated periodic (as opposed to daily) schedules, he can arrange to be in each town in the circuit on its market day.

22The diffuseness of economic roles in traditional China is also relevant in this regard, for a firm that is at once producer and trader finds periodicity advantageous even when only one market is exploited. Again, by concentrating demand on certain specific days, marketing periodicity enables such entrepreneurs to combine sales with production in an optimally efficient manner. This advantage accrues not only to the artisan in market-town shops, but also to the peasant engaged in cottage industry, and for that matter to the housewife who occasionally has eggs to sell. Each of these producers is his own salesman.

  • 22 Stine (p. 70) puts the matter succinctly: “The consumer, by submitting to the discipline of time is (...)

23From the point of view of the consumer, the periodicity of markets amounts to a device for reducing the distance he must travel to obtain the required goods and services. We begin here with the restricted nature of those requirements on the part of the average peasant household. General poverty, value emphases on frugality, and traditional consumption norms all contributed to a minimal definition of subsistence needs in the peasant household. Furthermore, these needs were in considerable part supplied without recourse to marketing, for the peasant household produced (or received through wages in kind) much of what it consumed; self-sufficiency was a virtue. Under these circumstances: (1) no household needed to market every day; and (2) the number of households required to support a daily market was very large. In most parts of agricultural China, especially prior to the eighteenth century when the rural population was distributed relatively sparsely on the land, the number of households required to support a daily market would have meant marketing areas so large that villagers at the rim could not manage the trip to and from market in a single day. A market meeting only once in three or once in five days, however, could achieve a viable level of demand if only one-third or one-fifth as many villages fell within its dependent area. Thus, when markets are periodic rather than daily, market towns may be distributed far more densely on the landscape so that the most disadvantaged villagers can manage the trip to market in a reasonable period of time.22 Even when the number of households within a marketing area increases to the point where sufficient demand is present for the market to convert to a daily schedule, from the point of view of the peasant consumer such a change offers little advantage if the household’s needs are such that marketing only once every five or six days is the most, efficient way to meet them.

24It will be noted that the level of transport is a crucial variable no matter how one accounts for the periodicity of traditional markets. It is the “friction of distance” that limits both the demand area of the firm and the dependent area of a market. Thus the periodicity of markets in traditional agrarian societies is, in the last analysis, a function of the relatively primitive state of transport.

  • 23 I except here the most basic of all the natural units – the diurnal cycle.

25The pulsations of economic activity that occur as both mobile firms and mobile consumers converge on rural markets define one of the basic life rhythms in all traditional agrarian societies. The marketing “week,” along with the many other temporal cycles that regulate human activity in any society, may usefully be dichotomized as either natural or artificial. Cycles of the former type23 are tied to the motions of the heavenly bodies, obvious examples being the lunar month and the various seasons of the solar year. Cycles of the latter type are units of so many days, which recur in complete disregard of calendars tied to the motions of the sun or moon; when not artificial in origin, they have, like the Western month, been freed from the natural cycle that gave them birth. Most traditional agrarian societies have but one system of market schedules attuned to cycles of one or the other type. The five-day marketing week of traditional Java and the seven-day marketing week of feudal England are typical artificial cycles, while the ten-day marketing week of Tokugawa Japan is an example of marketing rhythms tied to a natural cycle, in this case the lunar month. In China both types of marketing weeks obtain, each in a variety of versions.

  • 24 Longer-term cycles are relevant only to the scheduling of fairs, as opposed to markets. It is unfor (...)
  • 25 Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China, III (Cambridge, 1958), 396. “In the Shang period (...)

26It will facilitate exposition to review the whole Chinese inventory of short-term temporal cycles.24 There were, to begin with, two cycles of the type that recurs in complete independence of the sun or moon. One, the hsün (“decade”), is ten days in duration, each day in the cycle being named after one of the ten kan (“stems”), which have a fixed sequence. The other is twelve days in duration, the cycle being similarly defined by the fixed sequence of the twelve chih (“branches”). The stems and the branches have been used ever since the Shang period as a day count,25 and the almanacs prepared for Chinese peasants today still record the “stem” and the “branch” of each day in the lunar calendar. Another available cycle of great antiquity is provided by the twenty-four solar fortnights (chieh-ch’i) into which the tropical year is divided. The onset of each fortnight, all of which bear traditional names relating to the round of seasons in the north, is likewise recorded in the almanacs everywhere available in rural China. These fortnightly dates provide the fixed points in the solar year that the peasant needs to regulate the seasonal round of agricultural activities.

27The remaining short-term cycles in the traditional Chinese inventory are tied to the lunar month. Since lunation or the synodic month bears no functional relation to the rotation of the earth – on the average it is 29.53 days in length – the lunar month cannot recur indefinitely with precisely the same number of days. In China the convention is to alternate 29- and 30-day months, though in the long run 30-day months occur slightly more often. Under these circumstances it is clear that any subdivision of the lunar month cannot continually recur with precisely the same number of days; marketing rhythms tied to the lunar month are by definition irregular.

  • 26 Cornelius Osgood, on p. 88 of Village Life in Old China (New York, 1963) cites the case of a specia (...)

28The two conventional subdivisions of the Chinese month that have relevance here are the lunar decade, to which the term hsün is also applied, and the lunar fortnight. The three lunar hsün begin respectively on the 1st, 11th, and 21st of the lunar month; in the case of 29-day months, the third hsün lacks one day. The first lunar fortnight, which runs from the Ist through the 14th of the lunar month, is always shorter than the second, which is either 15 or 16 days in duration.26

  • 27 All figures taken from Needham, III, 390-406.
  • 28 A singular irony may be involved here, for it is quite possible that the artificial hsün originated (...)

29To summarize, the traditional cycles to which marketing schedules could be tied are: the lunar hsün or decade (averaging 9.84 days), the independent hsün (10 days), the independent duodenary cycle (12 days), the lunar fortnight (averaging 14.765 days), and the solar fortnight (averaging 15.218 days).27 Of these, only the independent hsün appears not to be used in modern China as a basis for marketing schedules.28

30The two most important families of Chinese scheduling systems are those based on the lunar hsün and the duodenary cycle. I shall begin with the latter, because of its regularity and relative simplicity. It provides three regular systems, yielding a 12-day, a 6-day, and a 3-day marketing week. The schedule of a market with a regular 12-day week is, of course, designated by one of the twelve chih (branches), that of a 6-day week by two of the chih, and that of a 3-day week by four. Six different schedules make up the scheduling system yielding the 6-day week. These are:

31Regular 3-day schedules are, in effect, combinations of two 6-day schedules: either tzu-wu and mao-yu, ch’ou-wei and ch’en-hsü, or yin-shen and ssu-hai. Thus in areas where 3-day marketing weeks are standard, only three different schedules are available for distribution among the various markets.

  • 29 A definitive delimitation of the distribution of duodenary schedules would require reference to all (...)
  • 30 Lo-p’ing hsien. Amano, p. 81.
  • 31 Shang-lin, Kwangsi, is an example of a hsien all of whose markets follow regular 3-day schedules of (...)
  • 32 One example is provided by the capital of Ning-hai chou on the promontory of Shantung: five markets (...)

32The three scheduling systems based on the duodenary cycle are general throughout a band that runs across southern China, broad in the west and narrowing toward the east. The line separating markets with duodenary schedules from others to the north (with schedules based on the lunar hsün) runs across the northeastern hook of Yunnan, roughly bisects Kweichow, crosses northeasternmost Kwangsi, and ends in Kwangtung (just where I have not been able to ascertain). With minor exceptions, the area of duodenary schedules appears to be limited to the upper drainage basins of the Hsi (West) and the Hung (Red) river systems.29 (Markets in the downstream plains and deltas of both river systems, in Kwangtung and in Tongking, follow schedules based on the lunar hsün.) In the area of duodenary schedules as a whole, the periodicity of markets becomes steadily more frequent as one moves from west to east. Twelve-day market schedules appear to be quite rare, and the only cases known to me occur in Yunnan.30 Six-day schedules are by far the most common of the three in Yunnan and Kweichow as a whole. Three-day schedules are found only occasionally in the west, especially in and around cities, and more generally toward the east.31 Market schedules based on the duodenary cycle occur only very sporadically outside the provinces mentioned.32

  • 33 The various schedules in a scheduling system are set out in the form introduced here (note the inte (...)

33The lunar hsün family of scheduling systems is general throughout the rest of China. Three closely related scheduling systems in this family – providing for one, two, or four market days per decade – parallel the set already described, which provides for one, two, or four market days per duodenum. All schedules based on the lunar hsün are designated by citing the dates of markets in only the first of the three hsün in the lunar month. A “3 market” thus meets on the 3rd, 13th, and 23rd of the lunar month, a “3-8 market” on the 3rd, 8th, 13th, 18th, 23rd, and 28th of the lunar month. The two-per-hsün scheduling system which provides even spacing of market days is designated as follows: 1-6, 2-7, 3-8, 4-9, and 5-10. All but the last schedule yields six market days per lunar month. These may be combined to form various four-per-hsün schedules, as follows:33 These schedules provide eleven or twelve market days per lunar month.

  • 34 John K. Fairbank, Alexander Eckstein, and L. S. Yang, in their useful survey of China’s traditional (...)
  • 35 For examples, see Amano, p. 72, Katô, p. 21, Yamane, pp. 499-500.

34One-per-hsün schedules occur only rarely in China.34 Rural markets with such schedules are for the most part limited to remote mountain valleys or to such peripheral areas as the tip of the Shantung peninsula.35 Two-per-hsün schedules, by contrast, are the most widespread in all of China; with the possible exception of Kwangsi, none of the eighteen provinces is without examples, and throughout most of northem China such schedules are general. Four-per-hsün schedules are often used by intermediate or central markets in areas where two-per-hsün schedules are followed by standard markets.

35The other major member of the lunar-hsün family of scheduling systems provides three market days per decade. It consists of the following schedules:

36It can be shown that the first three schedules plus either 4-7-10 or 3-6-10 provide not only the maximum regularity in the spacing of market days but also the most efficient distribution of market schedules on the landscape. This system is general in the heart of the Szechwan basin, in the larger plains and basins of southeastern China, in the areas around major urban centers in central China, and in pockets elsewhere. Areas of three-per-hsün schedules appear consistently as “islands” or “continents” in a sea of two-per-hsün markets.

  • 36 Feng-shan hsien ts’ai-fang ts’e, Kuang-hsü 20 (1894).
  • 37 C.P. Fitzgerald, The Tower of Five Glories (London, 1941), p. 56; Ta kung pao (18 February 1961). T (...)

37It has already been noted that scheduling systems yielding only one market day in ten or twelve are rare in China. The still longer “fortnightly” marketing weeks are correspondingly rarer. I have come across only one hsien – Feng-shan, Taiwan, just prior to the Japanese occupation – for which schedules of one market per solar fortnight are reported.36 As for the lunar fortnight, I am able to cite only two cases: the “great markets” held in the 1930’s on the 2nd and 16th of the lunar month just inside the north and south gates of Ta li, a hsien seat in Yunnan, and the market that in 1961 was being convened on the 1st and 15th of the lunar month in T’ing-ssu-ch’iao, a town in Hsien-ning hsien, Hupeh.37

38It remains to describe one more set of scheduling systems, namely those providing markets every other day, once a day, and twice a day. These three systems constitute a closely related group comparable to the two groups of schedules described above which provide one, two, or four markets per decade or duodenum. In each of these three families of scheduling systems, the second is a doubling of the first, and the third a doubling of the second. While it is unconventional to regard daily markets of any kind as being periodic, my Chinese sources leave no alternative. The pulsation of marketing activity does not necessarily disappear simply because the pitch of the market’s periodicity becomes shorter than the diurnal cycle. It should be noted in this regard that Chinese rural markets are seldom day-long affairs, generally they last but a few hours. Certain markets are afternoon or evening markets – and these are almost always so specified in the gazetteers – but the great majority of rural markets are morning markets, no specification being normally understood in this sense. Thus, to say that a market has a six-day schedule does not mean that it is “in session” one-sixth of the time, but rather that in every six-day period a few hours of one morning are devoted to marketing. Similarly, a market with a daily schedule is not “in session” continuously, but only for two or three hours of each morning (or afternoon or evening, in certain cases). A twice-daily market is one with two pulsations of marketing activity each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. The pitch of its periodic cycle is simply at the opposite extreme from that of the fortnightly markets of Ta-li. When markets become “continuous,” in the sense used here, then a qualitative change has occurred which takes the economic center in question outside the scope not only of periodic marketing but of the traditional economy as well. Of this, more in Part Two.

39Every-other-day markets are designated as tan (“odd”) or shuang (“even”), which means that they meet on the odd or even days of the lunar month. Thus, at the end of a 29-day month, odd markets meet two days in a row and even markets have a two-day interval. Every-other-day market schedules have become general only in small areas that are densely populated and either highly urbanized or commercialized. Examples are the plain between Ningpo and Tz’u-ch’i hsien city in Chekiang, a portion of the Chengtu Plain to the west and south of the city, and a region in northern Honan between An-yang and the Yellow river. Daily and twice-daily markets are for the most part limited to central market towns and cities.

  • 38 Two-per-hsün schedules are standard for rural Korea in modern times. It is possible that the Korean (...)

40The spatial distribution of marketing schedules in modern times strongly suggests that the oldest set of schedules in China – that originally adopted by the ancients in the valley of the Huang – was the one-per-hsün system, and that in the southwest the one-per-duodenum system was prior. As marketing structures developed, it may be hypothesized that at first higher-level markets and later standard markets “doubled” their schedules by adding one new market day; eventually these two-per-hsün and two-per-duodenum schedules became the most common systems in rural China.38

41At a still later stage, the highest-level markets in developing areas appear to have doubled their schedules again.

42Doubling is the most advantageous means of increasing market-day frequency, for it requires no disruption of the old schedule: new market days are simply added to the old. This feature accounts for the fact that in the southwest three-per-duodenum schedules (i.e., four-day marketing weeks) never occur, even though the duodenary cycle obviously allows them. The 12-day marketing week may be halved to the 6-day week, and then halved again to the 3-day week through a simple process of adding new days to the old schedule. However, to change from a 6-day to a 4-day marketing week (i.e., from a 2- to a 3-per-duodenum schedule) necessarily involves a disruptive loss of continuity. It should now be apparent why the 4-day week, alone of all possible marketing cycles in the one-to-six-day range, is completely absent in China: the convenience of doubling plus the perfect regularity of the result inhibited the innovation of the 4-day week within the duodenary cycle. And given the module of the hsün, no schedule hat yields a majority of 4-day weeks is even possible.

  • 39 The 3-per-hsün schedules listed earlier provide market cycles slightly more than two-thirds of whic (...)

43But what accounts for the common occurrence of 3-per-hsün schedules? Should not the factors inhibiting 3-per-duodenum schedules also inhibit their counterpart in the lunar-hsün family? The difference stems, I believe, from the inherent irregularity of the 4-per-hsün schedules. The second doubling of schedules within the duodenary cycle yields perfectly regular 3-day marketing weeks, but the second doubling within the lunar hsün cycle yields very irregular spacing, namely, alternating 2-day and 3-day marketing weeks. As we shall see below, when an intermediate market doubles its schedule to 4-per-hsün, in effect it has merely provided a second 2-per-hsün schedule so as to accommodate its two functionally (though not spatially) differentiated markets: one serving its standard marketing system and one its intermediate marketing system. Thus, because of functional specialization as between market days, the irregularity of its “4-per-hsün” schedule presents no problem. But the situation is quite different in the case of a 2-per-hsün standard market, which desires to increase market-day frequency, for in the absence of any functional differentiation, gross unevenness in the spacing of market days presents serious difficulties. While the spacing afforded by 3-per-hsün schedules leaves something to be desired, it is markedly superior in this regard to the 4-per-hsün system.39 This advantage is coupled with another that gives the edge to the 3-per- hsün system: the pressures that lead to the need for more frequent market days build up gradually, and it may be assumed that authorities of a 2-per-hsün market would, in reacting to these pressures, favor the 50 percent increase afforded by a 3-per-hsün schedule over the 100 percent increase of the 4-per-hsün schedule. Once 3-per-hsün schedules are established in a given area, the disadvantages of switching from 2- to 3-per-hsün schedules become irrelevant, for new standard markets can adopt 3-per-hsün schedules from the outset.

Marketing structures as spatial and economic systems

44Any attempt to comprehend the social or economic dimensions of marketing structures inevitably makes certain assumptions about their spatial characteristics. One reason for analyzing these structures as spatial systems, then, is to make explicit the assumptions that underlie such remarks as I will be able to make about the economics and the sociology of marketing. Another reason is to facilitate the study of change, for as it happens the nature of systemic change – whether traditional or modern – becomes fully apparent only when the relevant data are spatially ordered.

  • 40 Proof of the proposition that the regular hexagon is the most advantageous shape for marketing area (...)
  • 41 The point is worth noting, however, because the only study of rural marketing in China that refers (...)

45In order to set forth meaningful propositions about marketing structures as spatial systems it will be necessary to have recourse to simple models. The most radical of the assumptions made in constructing them is that the landscape in question is an isotropic plain on which resources of all kinds are uniformly distributed. Theoretical considerations based on impeccable geometry and tolerably sound economics tell us that when such an assumption is made, market towns should be distributed on the landscape according to an isometric grid, as if at the apexes of space-filling equilateral triangles. In theory, too, the service area of each market should approach a regular hexagon.40 These expectations apply anywhere in the world – neither the geometry nor the economics is peculiarly Chinese – and it is therefore of no particular moment to report that in six areas of China where I have been able to test the proposition, a majority of market towns have precisely six immediately neighboring market towns and hence a marketing area of hexagonal shape, albeit distorted by topographical features.41

  • 42 Martin Yang, 1945, p. 190.
  • 43 C.K. Yang, p. 39, refers to the marketing areas of Tsou-p’ing hsien as “economic cells, each… havin (...)
  • 44 Field workers have occasionally been misled in this regard by a failure to distinguish between stan (...)

46But are the hexagonal standard marketing areas discrete? That is, do the areas typically overlap? Or, if they fit together in the manner of hexagonal ceramic tiles, do certain of the villages lie on the boundary between two hexagons, oriented toward more than one standard market? Martin Yang, the first social scientist to map and describe a Chinese standard marketing system, has this to say: “On the whole, although there is no clear-cut line of demarcation, each market town has a definite and recognizable area, and looks upon the people of certain villages as its primary customers; in turn, it is regarded by the villagers as their town.”42 My research in Szechwan leads me to concur wholeheartedly: I had little trouble in ascertaining the limits of the standard marketing area that I was studying; the peasants within this area did the great bulk of their marketing in Kao-tien-tzu, the standard market town in question; and they considered it their market.43 There are theoretical reasons, as I shall note in Part Two, for expecting a standard marketing area in which new villages are being established to pass through a phase in which a small number of newly established villages are situated equidistant from two or three markets, but in a stable situation there is no theoretical reason for objecting to the assumption of essential discreteness that is supported by empirical evidence.44

47If one assumes that standard marketing areas are in the ideal case discrete, hexagonal in shape, and dotted at regular intervals with villages, then geometric principles require an integral number of complete rings of villages around the town: either one ring (of 6 villages) or two rings (one of 6 and one of 12) or three rings (one of 6, one of 12, and one of 18), or still more. Which of these models best fits the Chinese case?

  • 45 Hsiang-shan hsien chih, T’ung-chih 12 (1873), ch. 5; Ch’ü-chiang hsien chih, Kuang-hsü 6 (1800); da (...)
  • 46 Data for this computation are given on pp. 5-6.
  • 47 Yü-ti chih, ts’e 3 for villages, ts’e 7 for markets.
  • 48 Chang Jen-chün, comp. Kuang-tung yü-ti ch’üan-t’u [Comprehensive Atlas of Kwangtung] Canton, Kuang- (...)

48Empirical evidence clearly points to the two-ring model with its total of 18 villages. It is not that every known case of a standard marketing area has a close approximation of 18 villages. My assertion is based rather on: (1) the finding that the ratio between villages and standard or higher-level markets of any sizable segment of the Chinese landscape averages very close to 18; and (2) the fact that variation in the ratios can be accounted for satisfactorily by a developmental model that moves from one 18-village-per-market equilibrium to another – but not by models that posit a stable equilibrium of 6 or 36 villages per market. Data relevant to the second point are included in Part Two; here I can appropriately do no more than cite selected averages. In the 1870’s, the average number of villages per rural market was 17.9 in Hsiang-shan hsien and 19.2 in Ch’ü-chiang hsien, both in Kwangtung.45 The classic field study of Chinese rural marketing – that of C.K. Yang in the 1930’s in Tsou-p’ing hsien, Shantung-shows 21.4 villages per standard and higher-level market.46 The yin hsien t’ung-chih47, compiled in 1937, one of the truly outstanding examples of Chinese gazetteer scholarship, presents detailed data that yield an average of 20.1 villages for each of its 82 periodic markets. I have been able to find records of contemporary date for the number of markets and villages over a really large area only in the case of Kwangtung in the 1890’s;48 the ratio of villages to rural markets for the province as a whole at that time was 19.6.

  • 49 Martin Yang, 1945, p. 191.
  • 50 Fei Hsiao-t’ung and Chang Chih-i, Earthbound China (Chicago, 1945), p. 172. Households marketed muc (...)

49Our model, then, which is diagrammed as the basic pattern of Figure 1, shows a hexagonal marketing area with the market town at the center, surrounded by an inner ring of six and an outer ring of twelve villages. As is empirically typical, the model calls for six major paths radiating out from the town. These paths are at once the arteries and the veins of an economic system whose heart is the market in the town at its center. Along these paths, in the early morning hours of every market day, typically pass at least one out of every five adults living in the whole array of dependent villages. In T’ai-t’ou, the Shantung village described by Martin Yang, “some member from almost every household in the village is in the town on market day,”49 while in Luts’un, the Yunnan village studied by Fei and Chang, “at least one went from each household each market day.”50

Figure 1. A model of the Chinese standard marketing area as a stable spatial system, together with three possible models of intermediate marketing areas

Figure 1. A model of the Chinese standard marketing area as a stable spatial system, together with three possible models of intermediate marketing areas

50During the few hours of market before the inward flow of villagers is reversed, the meager facilities of the typical standard market town are sorely taxed. Most such towns have only one real street and lack a defined single marketplace altogether. Instead there is a multitude of petty marketplaces, one for each product. The grain market may be held in the temple courtyard, the pig market at the edge of the town, while each of the various items of perishable products and minor crafts produced locally has its customary marketing section along the main street. Even though most sellers at any standard market are likely to be itinerants, the standard market town normally has a certain minimum of permanent facilities. These typically include – in addition to the socially important tea houses, wineshops, and eating places – one or more oil shops (selling fuel for wick lamps), incense and candle shops (selling the essentials of religious worship), and at least a few others offering such items as looms, needles and thread, brooms, soap, tobacco, and matches. Standard market towns normally support a number of craftsmen as well, including most typically blacksmiths, coffinmakers, carpenters, and makers of paper effigies for religious burning. A few crude workshops to process local products may also be located in a standard market town.

51The standard market functions in the first instance to exchange what the peasant produces for what lie needs. The peasant needs not only goods of the kind already suggested, but also the services of tool sharpeners and livestock castrators, medical practitioners and “tooth artists,” religious specialists and fortune tellers, barbers, myriad entertainers, and even, on occasion, scribes. While many of these services are not available every market day, itinerants purveying all of them occasionally visit every standard market.

  • 51 Ch’iao Ch’i-ming, 1934, p. 15. In this study of a marketing community near Nanking, the intervillag (...)
  • 52 “The landlord has an office in the market-town and keeps in touch with his tenants on market-days.” (...)

52The standard marketing system also has a modest financial dimension. Shops in the town extend credit to regular customers. Certain shopkeepers and landowners lend money to peasants in transactions that may take place in the town on market day. The rotating credit societies of the peasant are also usually organized in the teahouses on market day and are thereby restricted to villagers from within the system.51 In addition, certain landlords maintain an office in the town that collects rent from tenants.52

53With regard to transport, village communities normally include a few landless peasants, as they are usually termed, who are regularly for hire as transport coolies. (Not only the local elite but also the stratum of the peasantry that is fully “respectable” eschew such public manual labor as carrying or carting bulky produce.) These men normally cart goods along the village paths serving a single marketing area and thus constitute another element in the standard marketing structure as a spatial-economic system.

54While the activity that gives definition to the standard marketing system pulsates in accordance with the marketing week, it should not be imagined that its structure has no manifestation between market days. It is during what are in Szechwan colloquially called the “cold days” that many obligations incurred during the “hot” market day are met, and these, too, reinforce and express the total system. Grain sold to a buyer at market may be transported the next day. Hsiao-fan-tzu (“petty commission agents”) learn on market day which peasants have peanuts to sell and on the “cold days” visit their farms to make bids. Barbers travel along the village roads to give haircuts in those households that commissioned them at market. Carpenters, blacksmiths, and other artisans may also be hired at market to work in village households. These transactions all occur within the system defined in the first instance as the trading area of the standard market.

55It is apparent from what has been described already that the standard marketing system, when viewed in spatial and economic terms, is but a subsystem of a larger structure. In particular, there is a regular movement both of goods and of mobile firms between the standard market town and the intermediate or still higher-level market towns to which it is immediately tied. I use the plural because in the usual case the standard market is dependent on two or three higher-level market towns rather than just one. The possibilities in this regard are presented in diagrammatic form in Figure 1. The most inclusive of the three hexagonal intermediate marketing areas shown – the only model in which the standard market town is dependent on only one higher-level market town – appears to be relevant to the Chinese scene only where marketing systems are situated in something of a topographic cul-de-sac. Standard markets at the upper end of mountain valleys, for instance, are dependent solely on the downstream intermediate market. Even in these cases, however, the standard market towns downriver from the intermediate market are likely also to be oriented to a second intermediate market located still further downstream.

56In China the great majority of empirical cases fit one or the other of the two less inclusive models labeled A and B in Figure 1, or else fall in between them. Each standard market town is dependent on two higher-level market towns in the case of Model A, and on three in the case of Model B. An actual example of a Chinese landscape whose markets are distributed essentially in accordance with Model A is depicted in Figure 2, and a comparable example fitting Model B is shown in Figure 3. Both figures are designed to show the relation between spatial “reality” as conventionally mapped and model diagrams of the kind used in this book.

57Figure 2. A portion of the economic landscape in Szechwan approximating Model A in the distribution of market towns

.

2.1.. The 19 market towns depicted lie between 35 and 90 km. northeast of Chengtu. Five markets (Yung-feng-ch’ang, Chung-hsing-ch’ang, Ch’ing-ho-ch’ang, T’ai-ping-ch’ang, and Shih-sun-ch’ang) are in Chung-chiang hsien, the other 14 in Chin-t’ang hsien. The mountains shown are part of the Lung-ch’üan range. The only roads mapped are those that connect standard to higher-level market towns

2.1..  The 19 market towns depicted lie between 35 and 90 km. northeast of Chengtu. Five markets (Yung-feng-ch’ang, Chung-hsing-ch’ang, Ch’ing-ho-ch’ang, T’ai-ping-ch’ang, and Shih-sun-ch’ang) are in Chung-chiang hsien, the other 14 in Chin-t’ang hsien. The mountains shown are part of the Lung-ch’üan range. The only roads mapped are those that connect standard to higher-level market towns

2.2. First abstraction of the same landscape showing theoretic standard and intermediate marketing areas

58[Image non convertie]

2.3. The same reduced to diagrammatic form. Compare with Model A as diagrammed in Figure 1

59[Image non convertie]

60Figure 3. A portion of the economic landscape in Szechwan approximating Model B in the distribution of market towns

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3.1.. The 15 market towns depicted lie to the southeast of Chengtu within a radius of 25 km. Three markets (P’ing-an-ch’ang, Lung-ch’üan-i, and Pai-ho-ssu) are in Chienyang hsien, the other 12 in Hua-yang hsien. The terrain varies from flat to hilly; Lung-ch’üan-i is situated at the western foothills of the Lung-ch’üan mountain range. Marketing-area boundaries are only approximate

61[Image non convertie]

3.2. First abstraction of the same landscape showing theoretic standard and intermediate marketing areas

62[Image non convertie]

3.3. The same reduced to diagrammatic form. Compare with Model B as diagrammed in Figure 1

63[Image non convertie]

64In the usual case, then, a standard market is involved in two or three intermediate marketing systems rather than a single one. This fact points up a crucial distinction between the standard marketing system, on the one hand, and intermediate and higher-level marketing systems, on the other. Whereas the former is essentially discrete with regard to the inclusion or exclusion of component settlements, the latter are not. Whereas the stable equilibrium model of the standard marketing area shows no villages at the boundaries (and transitional models show only a small proportion of all villages at the boundary), the regular model of the intermediate marketing area shows all dependent standard market towns at the boundaries, equidistant from two or three higher-level market towns. In practice, while the territorial overlap of intermediate marketing systems is not great, it is crucial in the sense that, apart from the nucleus itself, all the primary nodes within the system are normally not exclusive to it.

  • 53 Pp. 49 (Figure 1 caption) and 51-52.

65A notable feature of the intermediate marketing system concerns the distribution of market schedules within it. In the literature on periodic marketing in China, it is usually imagined that schedules are simply distributed among markets in such a way that each shares the same schedule with as few of its neighbors as possible. The purpose of such dovetailing, as noted for instance by Spencer,53 would be to make it possible for villagers to have an open market within reach almost every day and to reduce competition among neighboring markets. However, not only have peasants little need or occasion to market more often than provided for by the schedule of their nearest standard market, but, in addition, it can be shown that schedules are not distributed in the simple manner affirmed or suggested in the literature. Rather, their distribution is designed to minimize conflict between the schedule of a given standard market and the schedules of the higher-level markets toward which it is oriented; the schedules of neighboring standard markets are essentially irrelevant. Stated another way, as new standard markets are established, a schedule will be selected that minimizes conflict with neighboring intermediate markets regardless of the schedules of neighboring standard markets.

  • 54 Chin-t’ang hsien chih, Min-kuo 10 (1921), ch. 1. One of the market towns involved lies in Hua-yang (...)

66The point may be illustrated by reference to the case of Chuan-p’eng-ssu, a market established in the Kuang-hsü reign in Chin-t’ang hsien, Szechwan.54 At the time when it was established, there were four immediately neighboring markets with these schedules: 1-4-7 to the west, 2-5-8 to the northwest, 3-6-9 to the east, and 1-5-8 to the south. According to the principle of minimal conflict with all neighbors, the new market would have adopted a 3-6-10 or 4-7-10 schedule; at the very least it would have avoided any schedule including 5-8. In fact, the new market chose 2-5-8, for the simple reason that the towns to the west (1-4-7) and east (3-6-9) supported intermediate markets to which the new market would be oriented, whereas the towns with 2-5-8 and 1-5-8 schedules were standard market towns with which the newcomer would have minimal commercial ties.

  • 55 An equivalent example in a hsien where the 4-per-duodenum scheduling system is standard is provided (...)

67As a consequence of this governing principle, neighboring standard markets often have the same schedule (note in Figure 3.2 Lai-chin-tien, Kaotien-tzu, and Hsin-tien-tzu, all with 3-6-9 schedules), whereas intermediate markets usually have no scheduling conflict with any of their dependent standard markets. This means that in areas of 3-per-hsün schedules, for instance, when the intermediate market has a 1-4-7 or 4-7-10 schedule, then all six of the dependent standard markets must share the only two harmonizing schedules that remain: 2-5-8 and 3-6-9. This situation is illustrated by the intermediate marketing system of which Chung-ho chen is the center (Figure 3.2).55

  • 56 Everything that a peasant can do in his standard market can also be accomplished in his intermediat (...)
  • 57 The place of the intermediate market in the distribution system gives it certain economic avantages (...)

68It will be noted from Figure 1 that, in addition to portions of the standard marketing areas of all dependent standard market towns, intermediate marketing areas include one complete standard marketing area at the center. This points up the important fact that an intermediate market town functions as the nucleus not only of the larger intermediate marketing system but also of a smaller standard marketing system.56 As C.K. Yang puts it (p. 14), the intermediate market town “usually has two service areas, a primary area including nearby villages attending the market regularly or at frequently, and a secondary area encompassing villages farther away where people come to the market only occasionally for items hard to obtain in their own … [standard] markets.”57

  • 58 I have come across only one comparable case in 3-per-hsün areas of a doubled “large” and “small” ma (...)

69This dual status of the intermediate market town is not infrequently reflected in the schedule of the town’s market days. Throughout the areas of China where two-per-hsün schedules are general, many of the intermediate market towns follow a doubled schedule, with one set of two days (say 1-6) known as hsiao-chi (“small market”) and the other (say 3-8) as ta-chi (“large market”).58

  • 59 Luan chou chih, Chia-ch’ing 15 (1810), ch. 2.

70In such cases, the market functions as a standard market on the hsiao-chi days and as an intermediate market on the ta-chi days. Thus, while the schedules of standard markets dependent on such an intermediate market must not conflict with its ta-chi schedule, it is of no consequence if they coincide with its hsiao-chi market days. An example is provided by K’aip’ing chen in Luan chou early in the nineteenth century. This town held its “large” market on a 5-10 schedule, with which none of the surrounding markets conflicted, but its “small” market was on a 2-7 schedule, which was also followed by standard markets in two of the surrounding towns.59 Whereas the irregularity of 4-per-hsün schedules would be disadvantageous for a standard market, in the case of an intermediate market like K’ai-p’ing chen, the irregularity of the doubled schedule is less apparent, for each of the regular 2-per-hsün schedules serves a functionally distinct market.

  • 60 In the case of Li-ling hsien, Hunan, for instance, markets on a daily schedule in 1948 included all (...)
  • 61 The one exception is provided by Ta-pu hsien, Kwangtung, in which the two intermediate markets foll (...)

71In general, as the above examples indicate, when the scheduling systern of a higher-level market differs from that of its dependent standard markets, the schedule of the higher-level market is the more frequent.60 All but one of the few cases known to me where the reverse is true are urban and can be accounted for in terms of complete differentiation of hierarchical function whereby intermediate markets are not also standard markets.61

72I have made much of the fact that within intermediate marketing systems schedules are so distributed that one of the possibilities is normally monopolized by the intermediate market. Such a distribution may, in fact, be taken as circumstantial evidence of the systemic genuineness of a given cluster of markets. But just why is conflict between standard market days and intermediate market days so consistently eschewed? Clearly it is not primarily to serve the convenience of the peasantry. As the quotation from C.K. Yang’s study has already noted, peasants attend their intermediate market only occasionally – to make purchases that are out of the ordinary, to obtain some service that peasants do not normally demand, to secure credit on an extraordinary scale, or to attend an annual religious festival. During three months when I lived with a typical peasant family in Szechwan, whose farmstead was three li from one market town, Kao-tien-tzu, and five li from another, Niu-shih-k’ou, the household head and his wife between them marketed forty-six times at the former, their standard market, and only three times at the latter, their intermediate market. In any case, the peasant’s intermediate marketing needs would have been given ample scope by any scheduling distribution that provided out of every hsün or duodenum one intermediate market day that did not conflict with the schedule of his standard market.

  • 62 Chang Sen-dou, p. 42, asserts that the bookstores of a hsien were found only in the capital. It may (...)

73The situation was rather different in the case of the local elite. Everything that set them apart from the peasantry encouraged their attendance at the intermediate market. They were literate, and in the intermediate as opposed to the standard market they could buy books and stationery supplies.62 Their style of life was if not exalted at least gentlemanly, and from time to time they needed to purchase foodstuffs, decorative items, or cloth of a quality that for a peasant would be sheer indulgence and hence unavailable in standard markets. They were men of comparative wealth, and the intermediate market town offered a range of opportunities for money lending and investment unmatched in their standard market towns. They were also men of leisure, and it was only in intermediate or higher-level markets that tea and wine-houses especially equipped to fill the idle hours of leisured gentlemen were available. In short, while the regular needs of the peasants were met by the standard market, those of the local elite were met only by the intermediate market.

74If the carefully attuned schedules as between an intermediate market and its dependent standard markets were for local elite a very real convenience, for many of the local traders they were an absolute necessity. A sizable proportion of the “mobile firms” in rural China followed a circuit limited to a single intermediate marketing system; their home base was in the intermediate market town, and they needed to return there periodically to dispose of what they were buying, to restock what they were selling, and simply to rest with their families.

75A reference to Figure 3.3 can illustrate how the intermediate market’s exclusive schedule served the purposes of itinerant entrepreneurs. Take the case of the system centering on Chung-ho chen. A typical circuit would have the itinerant in the intermediate market for its market day on the 1st of the lunar month, in Huang-lung-ch’ang on the 2nd, Shih-yang-ch’ang on the 3rd, and back to Chung-ho chen for its market day on the 4th; on to Liu-li ch’ang on the 5th, Kao-tien-tzu on the 6th, and back to the central town for its market day on the 7th; then to Tao-shih-ch’iao on the the 8th, Hsin-tien-tzu on the 9th, and back to Chung-ho chen on the 10th for a day of rest prior to entering the town’s market on the 11th. Thus in each lunar hsün the itinerant completes a full circuit during which he has three market days at the intermediate market and one market day each at the six dependent standard markets. Those making circuits of this kind include purveyors of services with limited demand among the peasantry (the tooth artist, say, or the letter writer), artisans in crafts not usually represented among shops in the standard market town, hawkers of products imported from central markets or produced in the intermediate market town, and purchasing agents, of which more below.

  • 63 Data from Ch’ang-shan hsien chih, Chia-ch’ing 6 (1801). The central marketing system centered on Ti (...)

76Central marketing systems, too, are circuited by itinerants, particularly those whose product or service is in little demand or of such a nature that too frequent exposure in the same market town is undesirable (e.g., patent medicine salesmen and storytellers). A variety of spatial models for central marketing systems are possible; those that appear to be most commonly approached by empirical Chinese cases are four, two involving Model A intermediate marketing systems and two involving Model B subsystems. These are diagrammed in Figure 4. Circuits may be illustrated using Model AB and 3-per-hsün schedules, as in the upper right of Figure 4. By following triangular routes that bring him back to the central market for every other market day on its schedule, the itinerant can achieve complete coverage in four hsün (39-40 days). During this period he will have spent six evenlyspaced market days in the central market, two market days each in the six intermediate markets, two market days each in the six standard markets that belong to no other central marketing system, and one market day each in the six standard markets which also belong to another central marketing system. Central marketing systems inwhich schedules are perfectly attuned to one another, as in this hypothetical example, are rare. But it appears to be generally true that the ta-chi schedule of a central market is normally eschewed by other markets within the central marketing system. An example is provided by Chou-ts’un, the important market town in Shantung that has been cited before in other contexts. As of the early nineteenth century, its ta-chi schedule, 4-9, was followed by only one other market in the entire hsien – and that one was in the far north, quite probably outside Chou-ts’un’s maximal marketing system.63

Figure 4. Four spatial models of central marketing systems. At the center of each model is, of course, a central market town. Open dots represent standard market towns, while the heavier dots around the rim of each system represent intermediate market towns. Villages are not shown. When markets at all levels are distributed consistently according to Model A or Model B, the result is systems as shown in AA or BB, respectively. Systems like AB and BA involve a mixture of the two model distributions

Figure 4. Four spatial models of central marketing systems. At the center of each model is, of course, a central market town. Open dots represent standard market towns, while the heavier dots around the rim of each system represent intermediate market towns. Villages are not shown. When markets at all levels are distributed consistently according to Model A or Model B, the result is systems as shown in AA or BB, respectively. Systems like AB and BA involve a mixture of the two model distributions

Markets of an AB system are shown upper right with the addition of regular 3-per-hsün market-day schedules.

77Certain itinerants, highly specialized and relatively few in number, circuit markets within the entire trading system of a local or regional city, and mobile traders can also be found who deliberately “work” a number of adjacent marketing systems in order to profit from the price differentials that obtain between them. In general, however, the mobile firm is far more important to the intermediate marketing system than to the larger systems at higher levels. And the proportion of itinerants to permanent firms on market day decreases steadily as one moves from the standard market town to central places at each higher level in the economic hierarchy.

  • 64 Cf. C.K. Yang, pp. 32-33: “Only four stores in Sunchiachen and seven stores in the County Seat [bot (...)

78Let us now look over the total complex of nested marketing systems and survey, first of all, the downward flow of merchandise. Exotic goods shipped to the central market town, and other goods produced in it, are distributed in part through the central market itself, in part by itinerants who circuit both intermediate and standard markets throughout the central marketing system, and in part to firms in the six intermediate market towns. Merchandise received by firms in each intermediate market town, together with other goods produced there, are similarly distributed: in part through the intermediate market itself, in part by itinerants who circuit standard markets within the intermediate marketing system, and in part to firms in the six standard market towns. The firms receiving goods in this downward flow consist, in the case of standard market towns, chiefly of small shops; in the case of intermediate market towns they include distributors who supply itinerants as well as dual wholesale- retail establishments;64 and in the case of central market towns they include most prominently wholesalers equipped with warehouses. Merchandise that is consumed by the peasantry or required by petty craftsmen flows down through the system to every market; consumer goods for the local elite and supplies for artisans move no further down than the intermediate market; while consumer goods of interest chiefly to the bureaucratic elite, together with industrial supplies, normally go no further than the central market town itself.

79The flow of goods upward through the marketing system begins when the peasant sells his product in the standard market, either to local consumers, to dealers based in the standard market who process and/or bulk the product, or directly to buyers who are visiting the standard market from higher-level market towns. Purchasing agents and buyers visit standard markets from central as well as intermediate market towns; they visit intermediate markets from local cities as well as central market towns. Whether the collecting firms are commercial houses or industries that process or consume the local products, these products are drawn up through the marketing system to ever higher-level centers.

  • 65 Particular cases are described in detail, pp. 129 ff.

80Amano,65 who studied marketing in several towns in Hopei and Shantung, makes it clear that a hierarchy of credit arrangements parallels the hierarchical distribution and collection system, and that “mobile firms” not only operated on credit but participated in the vertical flow of goods both ways. For instance, an itinerant fan-tzu who in the first instance operated as a buyer for a local-products dealer in the intermediate market town, might at the same time handle goods purchased with a loan extended by that dealer; as he circuited the standard markets he both sold sundry goods and bought local products.

  • 66 Yamane, p. 502. Prior to 1726, licenses were issued by each hsien or chou.

81Yamane’s research on Shantung market towns suggests that the distinction between minor and standard markets on the one hand and intermediate and central markets on the other was, during the Ch’ing period at least, fundamental with respect to the role of government. The lower-level markets (hsiao-chi in the usual terminology) supported only petty unlicensed brokers, and were self-regulated and self-taxed. By contrast, intermediate and higher-level markets (ta-chi) were officially registered, their brokerage firms were licensed by the provincial treasury, and market taxes were tapped as a source of official revenue.66 Whether the formal distinction between kuan (“regulated”) and i (“free”) markets is peculiar to Shantung, and just how closely it corresponds to the dichotomy between minor/standard and higher-level markets are moot questions. But it is a reasonable hypothesis that in traditional times a given market’s transactions were more likely to be regulated and taxed by bureaucratic officials the higher its position in the functional hierarchy of central places.

82The association between degree of external regulation and type of market points up certain similarities between marketing and administration in traditional China. Both were hierarchical systems in which the relevant territorial unit was larger at each ascending level. And in both, limited bureaucratic resources were concentrated at the higher levels: marketing systems below that of the central market, like administrative systems below the hsien, were subject to bureaucratic controls in only very attenuated form.

83When, however, we consider the manner in which each of the two structures was articulated, a fundamental difference is apparent. Administrative units are, virtually by definition, discrete at all levels; every lower-level unit belongs to only one unit at each ascending level of the structure. Marketing systems, by contrast, are discrete only at the basic level, and each lower-level system is typically oriented to two or three systems at each ascending level. As a result, marketing structures, unlike administrative structures, take the form of interlocking networks. It is the joint participation of standard markets in two or three intermediate marketing systems, of intermediate markets in two or three central marketing systems, and so on, that articulates and unites the little local economies centered on each market town into, first, regional economic structures and eventually into a single society-wide economy. Thus, marketing had a significance for societal integration in traditional China, which at once paralleled and surpassed – which both reinforced and complemented – that of administration.

84The complexity of the whole, however, should not be taken to imply that the marketing system was either monolithic or tightly structured. Not only was there no one economic apex paralleling the administrative capital, but the flow of goods, which defined the structure, was seldom very heavy by modern standards. Moreover, as we shall see in the next section, each of the comportent standard marketing subsystems persisted in an economic subculture all its own.

Marketing structures as social systems

  • 67 Robert Redfield, Peasant Society and Culture (Chicago, 1956), p. 70 ff. It may, in the case of Chin (...)

85Chinese marketing systems have important social as well as economic dimensions. The standard marketing system in particular is a unit whose social significance for the peasantry and for peasant relations with other groups deserves major attention. In order to suggest an emphasis suited to my purpose in this section, I shall call it henceforward the standard marketing community. There is good reason, I believe, for attempting to analyze this type of community not only as an intermediate social structure but also as a culture-bearing unit – the locus in the Chinese case of Redfield’s “little tradition.”67

86Anthropological work on Chinese society, by focusing attention almost exclusively on the village, has with few exceptions distorted the reality of rural social structure. Insofar as the Chinese peasant can be said to live in a self-contained world, that world is not the village but the standard marketing community. The effective social field of the peasant, I will argue, is delimited not by the narrow horizons of his village but rather by the boundaries of his standard marketing area.

  • 68 As used in this book, “agricultural China” refers to a specifically defined contiguous area inclusi (...)

87We may begin by asking how big this area normally is and how many people the community typically includes. So as to avoid the protraction of citing numerous examples, I present a set of estimates that incorporate and reconcile data from all relevant empirical cases available to me. Table 1, based on a simple graphic model, points up the obvious but nonetheless extremely important fact that the size of standard marketing areas varies inversely with density of population. In regions where the population is sparsely distributed on the land, marketing areas must be large in order to encompass enough demand to support the market; in densely settled regions they are small. The table also reveals a relationship that common sense does not necessarily foretell – namely, that the average population of marketing communities increases along with population density only up to a point. As densities rise above 325 persons per square kilometer – and as standard marketing areas fall below 27 square kilometers in size – the average population of marketing systems begins to decline. A full understanding of why marketing areas come to be as small as they are in very densely settled areas must await the analysis of change in Part Two, but there is nothing mysterious about the kind of relationship that Table 1 shows between the population and the area of marketing systems. Given a steady decline in the size of marketing areas as one moves from densely to very densely populated regions, it is apparent that the point must eventually be reached where ever smaller areas cannot sustain ever larger agrarian populations. In agricultural China68 at the end of the republican period, that point fell in the 300-350 density range.

88Very large marketing areas of 150 or more square kilometers (at the top of the Table) occur only in mountainous regions and on the arid peripheries of agricultural China, where population is very sparsely distributed over a generally forbidding landscape. Only in such regions does one normally find marketing communities with as few as 3,000 people. At the other extreme, the very small marketing areas of 15 square kilometers or less (at the bottom of the Table) occur only on plains of exceptional fertility, situated in the typical case near major urban centers. The distribution by size of standard marketing areas in agricultural China may be summarized as follows:

  • 69 I see no merit in the notion that “walking distance” is in any sense a determinant of the size of m (...)

89The majority of standard marketing areas, then, are of a size that puts the most disadvantaged villager within easy walking distance of the town – 3.4 to 6.1 kilometers.69 In the modal case (see bottom of Table 1) marketing areas are just over 50 square kilometers in size, market towns are less than eight kilometers apart, and maximum walking distance to the town is approximately 4.5 km. The average (mean) population of the standard marketing community is somewhat over 7,000.

Table 1. Average area and population of standard marketing communities, as a function of population density, 1948 Estimates for Agricultural China*

90[Image non convertie]

  • 70 Standard marketing systems in northwestern Szechwan were atypically large in the late republican pe (...)

91It is clear, then, that even in the case of the typical community – 1,500 households in eighteen or so villages distributed over fifty square kilometers – we are not dealing with a cozy primary group structured through bonds of great intimacy or intensity. On the other hand, unused as most students of China are to thinking of marketing systems as communities and given the burden of the relevant literature, we are likely to be led far astray in this regard. Let me illustrate with the community centered on Kao-tien-tzu, the standard market town I studied in Szechwan. With some 2,500 households in 1949-1950, it was an atypically large system.70 Did the average peasant even recognize much less know the members of so many households?

  • 71 Exceptions were for the most part limited to the households of “outsiders” living on or near the hi (...)

92If Mr. Lin, the 45-year-old peasant with whom I lived, may be considered at all typical, then the answer is yes. For Mr. Lin had a nodding acquaintance with almost every adult in all parts of the marketing system.71 He could, moreover, identify and describe the community’s leading elite families, in no matter which of the dispersed villages they lived. He knew details about peasant families on the other side of the market town that most Americans would not know – and would not care to know – about their next-door neighbors. Mr. Lin’s social knowledge of Kao-tien-tzu’s marketing community was more impressive, perhaps, than that of the agricultural laborer who shared his compound or the transport coolie who carted his tangerines to market, but it paled by comparison with the informed social wisdom of any leisured gentleman among the community’s local elite. The long-robed landlord might nod to only a favored few, but he recognized everyone he passed on the way to market and appeared to carry in his head a full dossier on each.

  • 72 This assertion takes into account the comparative stability in the membership of Kao-tien-tzu’s mar (...)

93But is it after all so remarkable? The peasant in Kao-tien-tzu’s marketing community had, by the age of fifty, attended his standard market more than three thousand times. He had, at least one thousand times on the average, been jammed into a small area along one street with the same male representative of every other household in that community.72 He made purchases from peasant vendors whose homes lay in all directions from the town, and more to the point, he socialized in the teahouses with fellow peasants from village communities far removed from his own. Nor was the peasant alone in this, for in Kao-tien-tzu there was a teahouse for everyone, and few persons who went to market failed to spend at least an hour in one or two. Codes of hospitality and sociability operated to bring any community member who entered the door quickly to a table as somebody’s guest. Inevitably an hour in the teahouse enlarged a man’s circle of acquaintances and deepened his social knowledge of other parts of the community.

94Let us pause at this point to note certain structural consequences of the fact that a peasant develops a fairly good social map of his standard marketing area whereas the social terrain beyond it is largely unexplored. It means that the services he requires – whether of a midwife, a tailor, or a hired hand – will be sought for the most part from households within the system, thereby building up a modest network of patron-client relationships all contained within the standard marketing community. It means, as noted in the preceding section, that a man in need of funds is able to look far beyond the bounds of his own village in forming a rotating-credit society.

  • 73 Personal communication of 8 February 1964. Also see Jean A. Pratt, “Immigration and Unilineal Desce (...)

95It means, too, that daughters-in-law tend to be taken from within the marketing community. Marriage brokers – who in Szechwan operated in certain teahouses of the market town – and mothers of marriageable sons are able with considerable assurance to scan the entire standard marketing community for potential daughters-in-law, seldom, however, do they know enough to find candidates from households outside the system. There is, in short, a distinct tendency for the standard marketing community to be endogamous for the peasantry. An interesting confirmation of this point comes from Jean Pratt Watts’ study of a Hakka village community in the New Territories of Hong Kong: the most active and successful marriage broker in the village was a widow of means who I indeed went with exceptional frequency to her market town, Tai Po, which has a daily schedule-where she kept tabs on marriageable girls in the larger community.73 In consequence, the arrangements whereby one lineage traditionally gives its young girls as brides to another tend to be concentrated within standard marketing communities, as are also the more nearly ad hoc alliances that may have no immediate precedent. The affinal bonds of the peasant thus constitute another network that spreads through the standard marketing community and gives structure to the whole.

  • 74 Several examples from Chin-chiang hsien, Fukien, are cited by Father Amyot in his description of th (...)
  • 75 Mizuno Kaoru, Hokushi no nôson [North China’s Villages] (Peking, 1941), p. 171.

96On the agnatic side of kinship, I suspect that the standard marketing community plays a role in lineage organization that may resolve a vexing analytical problem. New villages have traditionally been founded in China either by a single family or by a small group of patrilineally related families. The households in such a new settlement constitute in effect an offshoot of the lineage localized in their village of origin, often not far away. Through segmentation of this kind over a period of centuries, certain portions of the Chinese rural landscape have come to support a number of localized lineages of the same surname, all historically related by virtue of descent from a common ancestor, but each situated in a different village or market town.74 Why is it that in some cases neighboring localized lineages perpetuate or achieve organizational unity, whereas others, agnatically related through equally recent bonds, function as independent systems? My suggestion here is that, since peasant families have much social intercourse within their standard marketing community but little outside it, interlineage ties contained within a single marketing system are likely to be perpetuated whereas bonds between localized lineages sited in different standard marketing areas tend to erode with time. In the region of Szechwan where I did my research, Hakka families surnamed Lin were heavily concentrated in the three standard marketing areas centered on Kao-tien-tzu, Lai-chia-tien, and Ta-mien-p’u. The Lin households within each, however, seemed to be separately organized, with headquarters in teahouses of their respective market towns. Mizuno notes that in north China it is market towns rather than villages that normally support ancestral halls.75 It may well be, therefore, that we should look to the standard marketing community as the usual locus of the “composite lineage.”

  • 76 Cf. Maurice Freedman, Lineage Organization in Southeastern China (London, 1958), chs. 8-9.
  • 77 Fang-chih themselves occasionally provide a glimpse of the controlling power that a dominant lineag (...)

97I have another suggestive case to mention in this regard. In the standard marketing community of Kang-wei, Hai-ch’eng hsien, Fukien, an easy majority of the entire population belongs to a single composite lineage. The market itself was in 1948 controlled by the ta-fang (literally “great branch”), one of the component lineages localized in a village to the north of the market town. In the Kang-wei market the three grain measurers, the livestock agent and pig weigher, the chief of the palanquin bearers, and even the head of the beggars were all drawn from the ta-fang, and buyers from the ta-fang had special privileges at market. In this case, the ascendant social position of the ta-fang within the composite lineage is clearly expressed within the economic system of the marketing community. It would appear that just as the dominant branch in a localized lineage is, in appropriate circumstances, able to assert supreme power in the village community,76 so the dominant localized lineage within a composite lineage may arrogate preponderant control in the marketing community.77

98The case of Kang-wei also points up the tact that the power structure of a standard marketing community is, under the circumstances, unlikely to be divorced from control of the market itself. In Szechwan during the republican period, the secret societies collectively known as the Ko-lao hui wielded supreme power at all levels of rural society – and the standard marketing community was no exception. It was, in fact, a most crucial unit, for lodges of the society were organized by, and limited in almost every case to, a single standard marketing community. There were two lodges organized within the standard marketing community centered on Kao-tien-tzu, one “clear” and one “muddy;” both had their headquarters and held their meetings in teahouses in the town. A majority of male adults belonged to one or the other, and on almost every market day members were able to conduct business with the officers of the lodge, who could be found in a particular teahouse. In Kao-tien-tzu, as in many other market towns of the Szechwan Basin, the market itself was controlled by one of the secret-society lodges. The positions of grain measurers, pig weighers, livestock middlemen, and certain other commission agents were reserved for society members, and a portion of each agent’s fees was claimed for the coffers of the lodge.

  • 78 C.K. Yang, pp. 18-20.

99Elsewhere in China, control of the market may be more widely dispersed among the several founding villages. A common arrangement in Shantung rotates responsibility for market management among the participating villages; during each hsün of the lunar month, a given village or several villages jointly undertake to provide and subsidize public measurers to render service as honest brokers free of charge. The examples cited by C.K. Yang, however, indicate that dispersed control of this kind is limited to minor markets and less important standard markets; in the case of intermediate markets (and apparently some of the larger standard markets), authority tends to be concentrated, both because communal control by the large number of villages involved is infeasible and because the commission fees at a large and prosperous market constitute too lucrative a prize to be ignored by groups with the power to claim it.78

100The market itself, then, constitutes one focus of social structure within the marketing community. Another, of scarcely less importance, is often provided by the major temple of the town. To begin with, the committee that runs the temple is normally composed not only of devout townspeople but also of leading citizens with religious leanings who live in village communities throughout the marketing area. The annual fair, normally held in connection with the feast day of the temple’s principal deity, is, however, too important an event to be left to the pious. In Kao-tien-tzu it was organized by a committee on which leading shopkeepers and the most powerful members of the landed elite both served. The local police unit, which was formed every year at festival time to control the crowds and direct the procession, consisted in 1950 of some sixty volunteers including, again, individuals from all parts of the marketing community. Moreover, the earthly domain of the temple deity himself was seen as corresponding to the standard marketing area. Each year the graven image of Tung-yüeh, a bureaucratic official of the underworld, was carried in procession through the area of his jurisdiction. The traditional route, which followed each of the main roads radiating from town, carried him in turn to Hung-men-p’u, Shaho-p’u, O-o-tien, and Ta-shih-tzu – each a yao-tien situated at one of the corners of the marketing area. In this manner, the religious festival provided an annual reaffirmation of the community’s territorial extent and a symbolic reinforcement of its town-centered structure.

  • 79 Cf Hsiao Kung-chuan, Rural China: Imperial Control in the Nineteenth Century (Seattle, 1960), pp. 3 (...)

101The discreteness of the standard marketing community is given religious expression in yet another way. Service groups of the devout participate in religious festivals by organizing joint offerings to the deity being celebrated and by participating as a group in the procession. Over thirty such groups took part in Kao-tien-tzu’s annual fair in 1950, and with the exception of three from Chengtu, each group was limited in membership to a single standard marketing community, those from outside communities being identified by the name of the market town in question. It is likely that the hsiang-hui (“incense societies”) and shan-hui (“mountain societies”) that conducted pilgrimages to sacred shrines in traditional times were normally organized within the standard marketing community, if only because the bureaucracy discouraged organized religious activity on a larger scale.79

  • 80 An account of 1836 describes the establishment of an organization on Ho-nan island, near Canton, wh (...)
  • 81 Hsiao, pp. 288-289, 306-308.

102These examples indicate that a variety of voluntary associations and other formal organizations – the composite lineage, the secret- society lodge, the committee on arrangements for the annual fair, the religious service society – take the standard marketing community as the unit of organization.80 Occupational groups, too, may be organized within the standard marketing community. One teahouse in Kao-tien-tzu was the meeting place of an association of animal breeders, another the headquarters of associations of carpenters and housebuilders. Still other voluntary associations, especially those related to agricultural production (cropwatching or irrigation societies, for instance), although not coterminous with the marketing community, tended to be wholly contained within it.81

103It remains to mention that the standard marketing community is the relevant context of organized recreation for the peasantry. Standard and higher-level markets constitute the arena of professional storytellers, theatrical troupes, blind singers, purveyors of games of chance, boxers, jugglers, performing medicine sellers, and magicians. Such professionals are notably absent not only from villages but in the usual case from minor markets as well. Just as market day brings relief from the tedium of rural life through the provision of recreational opportunities, so the temple fair affords the high point in the villagers’ recreational year.

104Insofar as this survey has demonstrated the structural reality of the standard marketing community, it will at the same time have provided a basis for assessing the extent to which such a community serves as a culture-bearing unit. There is in the literature a good deal concerning the cultural idiosyncrasy of Chinese villages. Each village, we are often told, has its own dialect, its own culinary specialities, its own version of the peasant hat, and so on. I strongly suspect, however, that when appreciable differences characterize the culture of adjacent villages, the villages in question will prove to belong to different standard marketing communities. It may well be true that in traditional times the typical peasant saw more of his fellow villagers than of all outsiders put together. But at the same time so much of his social interaction was with those from villages other than his own within the marketing community that it is difficult to imagine how cultural peculiarities of any magnitude could persist as between villages using the saine standard market. By the saine token, so little of the peasant’s social intercourse brought him into contact with persons from outside his standard marketing community that the development of cultural distinctiveness as between marketing communities would appear inevitable. To the extent that the standard marketing community contained the peasant’s life, it shaped the way he lived it. And if that community had long endured, it perforce carried on a little tradition of its own.

  • 82 Documents specifying the weights and measures to be used in individual markets are cited by Kuramoc (...)
  • 83 C.K. Yang, pp. 20-21. The situation in this regard was, as late as 1950, very similar in the Szechw (...)
  • 84 Cited in Amano, p. 156.

105The most obvious case in point concerns the weights and measures associated with the marketing process itself. While they are standardized and in fact closely regulated within any one market,82 considerable variation occurs from one standard market to another. In eleven markets investigated in 1932, C.K. Yang found ten different standards for the tou, the dry measure used to portion out grain. The ta-ch’ih (“big rule”) used to measure homespun, and the ta-ch’eng (“big scale”) for weighing bulky products likewise varied within a wide range from one market to the next.83 In his study of crop marketing along the Peking-Hankow railroad, Ôhashi Ikuei found that purchasing agents working out of central market towns were forced to carry with them tables of equivalence for the weights and measures used in the various local markets of the system.84 Data of this kind point up the relative independence and isolation of the standard marketing community qua economic system – and thereby point to the very circumstances that underlie the cultural idiosyncrasy of each. In the last analysis, it is traditional marketing patterns of long standing that account for the fact – to cite a typical example – that the cross-stitch designs with which every Szechwan girl painstakingly adorns the hangings for lier bridal bed bear the characteristic stamp of her standard marketing community.

  • 85 Willem A. Grootaers, “Temples and History of Wan-ch’üan (Chahar), the Geographical Method Applied t (...)

106An equally obvious case in point concerns religious folklore, and in this regard many illustrations can be gleaned from Grootaers’ geographical analysis of temples and folklore in northern China.85 One of the maps shows, for instance, that the cult of Hei Lung, the Black Dragon, is concentrated in a single circumscribed section of Wan-ch’üan hsien, Chahar. Reference to large-scale maps of this region strongly suggests that this particular area, in which six temples to the deity in question are extant, is in fact the standard marketing area centered on the town of Chiu-p’u. In the marketing community of Kao-tien-tzu, the lore of Tung-yüeh and his hellish bureaucracy inevitably looms large in the peasant’s conception of the other world, but in the religious culture of surrounding marketing communities, this deity and his court are of relative insignificance.

107In the case of language, too, one expects minimal variation within a standard marketing community – in view of the massive amount of verbal interaction that takes place at market – but a degree of distinctiveness as between marketing communities. It occurred to me, when my informants in Szechwan used to discourse on the peculiarities of speech characteristic of the different markets, that the minimal unit of significance to the dialect geographer of China is precisely the standard marketing area.

108I have little evidence concerning the social dimensions of higher-level marketing systems in China, but there are two points I should like to make in this connection. It seems clear that in many respects Chinese social structure at the lower-intermediate levels parallels the marketing structure described in the preceding section and, like it, takes the form of a hierarchical network. Let me illustrate once again with the case of Kao-tien-tzu. This standard market town is, in accordance with Model B, oriented toward three higherlevel market towns, and hence a part of three different intermediate marketing systems (see Figure 3.1). Each of these structural bonds is paralleled by hierarchical arrangements involving a number of different social organizations. I restrict myself to one example apiece: (1) Liao households in the Kao-tien-tzu marketing community are, like those surnamed Lin, organized into a composite lineage with headquarters in the market town, but the Liaos consider their organization to be merely a branch of the far more inclusive composite lineage that maintains an ancestral hall in Ta-mien-p’u, the intermediate market town to the southeast. (2) The Chihchung ju-yüan (“Confucian hall” – a benevolent society) of Kao-tien-tzu maintains close relations with a superior hall known as Chung-ho ju-yüan and situated in Chung-ho chen, the intermediate market town to the southwest. Finally (3), let me refer once again to the secret-society lodges that, while essentially independent, are nonetheless united into rather extensive federations. Kao-tien-tzu’s lodge in one of these federations is tied in the first instance to its counterpart in Niu-shih-k’ou, the intermediate market town to the northwest.

109It should be explicitly noted that these organizations are officered or controlled not by peasants but by leisured gentlemen, and that in general the links between organizations at the two levels are effected, if not by members of the local elite, then by the merchants who have business interests in both standard and intermediate market towns. In Kao-tien-tzu, to note a datum of similar import, peasant members of the secret society belong only to one or the other of the two lodges in their standard market town, whereas merchants and members of the local elite not infrequently find it advantageous to belong to a lodge in their intermediate market town as well.

  • 86 Li Mei-yun, p. 212.

110This observation leads to my second point: marketing systems at each level in the hierarchy have a distinctive significance for interclass relations. From this point of view, the standard marketing community can be seen as the locus of such intercourse as petty traders have with the peasantry on the one hand and with the local elite (primarily through the mechanism of market control) on the other. But its primary significance pertains to the relations between peasantry and “gentry.” Whereas many individual villages could boast of no families that were at once landed, leisured, and literate, every standard marketing community included in traditional times a number of so-called “gentry” families. And it was in the market town that these elitist families exerted “social control,” to use the usual imprecise term. Every gentleman who aspired to even informal leadership normally held court in a particular teahouse at his standard market, and disputes among peasants in different village communities were usually mediated by such leaders in the teahouses on market days.86 It was in the market town, too, that landlords or their agents dealt with tenants, and upper-class officials of the secret-society lodge made the policy decisions that affected peasant welfare throughout the community.

  • 87 Erik Wolf refers to the Janus-faced qualities of the individuals who serve as “brokers” between com (...)
  • 88 Hsiao Kung-chuan’s monograph is rich in detail concerning the interrelations between peasant villag (...)

111The concept of the local elite as an intermediary and a buffer between the peasantry and the bureaucratic elite is – though the terminology may seem peculiar – a familiar one. And so is the view of the petty trader as a middleman between the peasantry and the merchants in higher-level central places. Both functioned as “brokers”87 who at once shielded the peasant from an outside world that lie distrusted and selectively filtered and transmitted to him its products – a few necessities of exotic origin, imperial edicts as “adjusted” to local conditions, bits of the great tradition as distorted by storytellers or of elite ideology as adapted by hsiang-yüeh lecturers.88 My point here is simply that these Janus-faced “brokers” – whether cultural, political or economic – operated at the level of the standard market town, not the village. It was the standard marketing community that they linked to or – depending on one’s perspective – isolated from the institutions of the larger society.

  • 89 As noted in the preceding section the intermediate market town served as the center not only of an (...)

112The social sphere of the intermediate market town89 is essentially a world the intermediaries of rural society have to themselves. Insofar as the intermediate marketing system is a social community, it is one that normally excludes both the peasantry and the bureaucratic elite. In the teahouses, winehouses, and restaurants of the intermediate market town, representatives of the local elite from the whole ring of surrounding standard marketing communities direct the affairs of the wider area served by the intermediate marketing system. The situation is comparable in the case of merchants, traders, and artisans whose business world is primarily confined within a given intermediate marketing system, for their intraclass affairs are also conducted in the intermediate market town. But perhaps the most interesting of the social relations peculiar to the intermediate marketing system are the interclass dealings between the gentlemanly elite and the merchants of the market town itself. For the crucial negotiations whereby, on the one hand, “gentry” capital is invested in the pawnbroking, moneylending, artisan manufacture, and commercial enterprise of the intermediate marketing system and, on the other, the capital of the artisan and tradesman is invested in agricultural land and translated into the coin of social respectability – these dealings, too, are carried on in the teahouses and townhouses of market towns at this level.

113The interclass significance of the central market town is distinguished by the addition to the field of the bureaucratic elite. It may be assumed that towns at this level are the locus not only of the various intergroup relations already noted for lower-level markets, but also of the critical consultations that bureaucratic officials hold both with “gentry” leaders within their administrative jurisdiction and with leading merchants of the town. Morton Fried, describing the situation in Ch’u hsien, Anhwei, a small county seat and a central market town, notes that:

  • 90 Morton H. Fried, Fabric of Chinese Society (New York, 1953), pp. 17-18.

[…] successful landlords, merchants, artisans, and officials tend to associate socially on a basis of approximate equality. Wealthy landlords associate with wealthy merchants rather than with poor landlords; successful artisans prefer the company of wealthy merchants to that of indigent co-specialists […]. The leadership of the various guilds is often vested in a gentleman of the town, the leadership of the combined guilds is always so vested.90

  • 91 Ho Ping-ti, The Ladder of Success in Imperial China (New York, 1962), ch. 2.

114Ho Ping-ti’s discussion of the relations between merchants and bureaucratic officials in the Ch’ing period91 suggests that the picture painted by Fried as of 1948 can hardly be dismissed as a modern deviation produced by the new forces that came into play during the republican period.

115Any view of traditional Chinese social structure that emphasizes parallels with the articulated marketing system must, increasingly at each higher level, take cognizance of the administrative system. My purpose in elaborating a somewhat unorthodox view is not to controvert earlier analyses that, following the bias of Chinese scholar-officials, assume the primacy of the administrative system. It is rather to urge balance – a recognition in future research that social structure in the middle range of traditional Chinese society is at once derivative of and enmeshed in two quite distinctive hierarchical systems – that of administration to be sure, but that of marketing as well.

116* Nous remercions l’Association for Asian Studies, Inc. de nous avoir autorisés à reproduire cet article.

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Notes

1 A preliminary version was prepared for the Seminar on “Processes of Change in Chinese Society,” Toronto, November 1-2, 1963, organized by the Subcommittee for Research on Chinese Society of the Joint Committee on Contemporary China. A reworked and abridged version of the sections on marketing communities was given as a Public Lecture at the London School of Economics and Political Science, February 10, 1964. I am grateful for both opportunities.

2 On the side of documentary research, pioneering work was done by Katô Shigeshi. He and three other Japanese scholars have begun a systematic exploitation of fang-chih:
Katô Shigeshi, “Shindai ni okeru sonchin no teiki ichi” [“Rural Periodic Markets of the Ch’ing Dynasty”], Tôyô gakuhô, XXIII, n° 2 (Feb. 1936), 153-204.
Kuramochi Tokuichirô, “Shisen no jôshi” [“The Local Markets of Szechwan”], Nihon Daigaku Shigakkai kenkyù ihô, I (Dec. 1957), 2-32.
Masui Tsuneo, “Kanton no kyoshi” [“The Local Markets of Kwangtung”], Tôa ronsô, IV (May 1941), 263-283.
Yamane Yukio, “Min Shin jidai kahoku ni okeru teiki ichi” “[Periodic Markets in North China during the Ming and Ch’ing Periods”], Shiron VIII, (1960), 1-52.
Chinese scholars have produced two slighter pieces on rural marketing in earlier dynasties, for which contemporary gazetteers are unavailable:
Ho Ko-en, “T’ang-tai Ling-nan ti hsü-shih” [“Periodic Markets in South China during the Tang Dynasty”], Shih-huo, V, n° 2 (1937), 35-37.
Ch’üan Han-sheng, “Sung-tai Nan-fang ti hsü-shih” [“Periodic Markets in South China during the Sung Dynasty”], Li-shih yü-yen yen-chiu-so chi-k’an (Academia Sinica), IX (1947), 265-274.
Fieldwork on rural marketing was pioneered by Chinese sociologists. Ch’iao Ch’i-ming and Yang Mouch’un (Martin Yang), both trained in rural sociology at Cornell University, were the first to recognize the social significance of marketing systems. C.K. Yang’s field study, conducted in 1932-33, remains a classic.
Ch’iao Ch’i-ming, Hsiang-ts’un she-hui-ch’ü hua ti fang-fa [Methods for Mapping the Rural Community], Chin-ling ta-hsueh, Nung-lin ts’ung-k’an, n° 31 (Nanking, May 1926).
Ch’iao Ch’i-ming, Chiang-ning hsien Shun-hua-chen hsiang-ts’un she-hui-ch’ü chih yen-chiu [A Study of the Rural Community of Shun-hua Township, Chiang-ning hsien], Chin-ling ta-hsüeh, Nung-lin ts’ung K’an, n.s. n° 23 (Nanking, November 1934).
Yang Ch’ing-k’un (C.K. Yang), A North China Local Market Economy, mimeo (New York: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1944).
Yang Mou-ch’un (Martin Yang), A Chinese Village: T’ai-t’ou, Shantung Province (New York, 1945).
Yang Mou-ch’un, “Chung-kuo ti chi-chen-ch’ü yü hsiang-ts’un she-ch’ü” (“The Traditional Market-Town Area as a Modern Rural Community in China”), She-hui-hsüeh k’an, I (Dec. 1963), 23-39.
Japanese field work in northern China has also produced a relevant literature, of which the two most important are:
Chûgoku Nôson Kankô Chôsa Kankôkai, ed., Chûgoku nôson kankô chôsa [Investigations into the Customs of Chinese Villages] (Tokyo, 1952-1958), 6 vols.
Amano Motonosuke, “Nôson no kenshi shijô” [“Traditional Rural Markets”]; “Nôson shijô no kôeki” [“Rural Marketing”], Chûgoku nôgyô no shomondai [Problems of Chinese Agriculture] (Tokyo, 1953), II, 69-174.
It remains to mention two useful field studies of marketing in Szechwan:
Liao T’ai-ch’u, “The Rape Markets on the Chengtu Plain,” Journal of Farm Economics, XXVIII, n° 4 (Nov. 1946), 1016-24.
J.E. Spencer, “The Szechwan Village Fair,” Economic Geography, XVI, n° 1 (Jan. 1940), 48-58.

3 Fieldwork was made possible by grants from the Social Science Research Council and the Viking Fund (now Wenner-Gren Foundation).

4 Research assistance was ably provided by Stephen M. Olsen and William L. Parish, Jr., both of Cornell University. I am also indebted, for assistance of one kind or another, to Hsiao Chih and John Liu of the Union Research Institute, Hong Kong; to Joseph P.L. Jiang, University of Singapore; and to Yinmaw Kau, Ichikawa Kenjirô, John T. Ma, and William John McCoy, Jr., all of Cornell University.

5 The two classical studies are: Walter Christaller, Die zentralen Orte in Süddeutschland (Jena, 1933); August Lösch, Die räumliche Ordnung der Wirtschaft (Jena, 1944); page references are to the English translation: The Economics of Location (New Haven, 1954).

6 It is convenience of exposition alone that dictates the introduction into this chapter of a central-place typology prior to the description of systems. In fact, system analysis is prior to the construction of an appropriate typology.

7 This hypothesis is merely an extension of the theory put forward by Berry to account for the fact that in certain traditional societies, China included, the sizes of central places exhibit a rank-size distribution. (In a distribution of this kind, the number of cases in each ascending size class is a regular progression from small to large, with no deficiencies in the middle range.) The extension is hardly daring in view of the established “compatibility of Christaller-Lösch type hierarchies and rank-size distributions of city sizes.” Brian J.L. Berry, “City Size Distribution and Economic Development,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, IX (July 1961), footnote 4, p. 573 and p. 582. See also Martin J. Beckmann, “City Hierarchies and the Distribution of City Size,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, VI (April 1958), p. 246.

8 The use of the word “village” to refer to towns that are the site of standard markets is, however, common enough in the general literature. Spencer, for instance, uses “village” for “market town” throughout his Szechwan study even though it requires a definition of “village” (p. 48) that he admits does not hold for other provinces.

9 It is very nearly valid to say of traditional China that every settlement supporting a yamen was walled, but the converse – that every walled settlement supported a yamen – was never true. Especially interesting in this respect are the wei (“fortress town”) and so-ch’eng (“garrison town”), official categories of walled towns which, unlike the hsien-ch’eng, had no jurisdiction over territory outside the walls. I assume, however, that in these towns the headquarters of the military commander was also known as a ya-men.

10 Hsien-level units also included the chou (department) and t’ing (subprefecture). Details for the Ch’ing period are available in Ch’ü T’ung-tsu, Local Government in China under the Ch’ing (Cambridge, Mass., 1962), 1-7.

11 “Some Aspects, of the Urban Geography of the Chinese Hsien Capital,” Annals of the Association of’ American Geographers, LI (March 1961), 42-44,

12 C.K. Yang’s typology of Chinese markets is entirely acceptable so far as it goes. His terminology, however, raises problems. The levels I term “minor” and “standard” are called by Yang “basic” and “intermediate”-terms that become anomalous in regions with few or no minor markets.

13 Chang illustrates his hypothesis with a very atypical case – that of T’ung-kuan hsien, Shensi. Its district seat is unequivocally an intermediate market town, but the hsien is abnormally small, both its population and its area being less than one-fifth the national average. Hsien of average size are, of course, far more likely to have seats that support central markets.

14 Brian J.L. Berry and Allen Pred, Central Place Studies: A Bibliography of Theory and Applications (Philadelphia, 1961), p. 153.

15 China’s Gentry: Essays in Rural-Urban Relations (Chicago, 1953). Ch. V.

16 “In the Lake Tai area in my own native district, Wukiang, the garrison town is much smaller and less prosperous than the nearby market towns, such as Chen-tse.” p. 103.

17 Chou-ts’un’s exalted status in the hierarchy of central places cannot be considered an anomaly resulting from the rail connections that the town has had since early in the century. To the contrary, completion of the railroad had precipitated a decline in the commercial importance of Chou-ts’un and led eventually to its economic dependence on Tsingtao and Tsinan, the railroad termini. Armstrong’s comprehensive survey of central places in Shantung as of 1890 makes it clear that at that time Chouts’un, Chi-ning (a chou seat), and Wei hsien were all either local or regional cities in the economic hierarchy of central places – in positions superior to those of the provincial capital and most prefectural capitals. Moreover, at least five Shantung towns with no administrative status may be clearly identified from Armstrong’s account as central market towns. Alexander Armstrong, Shantung (Shanghai, 1891), 57-72.

18 Central places at these higher levels usually support several markets. The complex structure of marketing in such urban centers is not treated in this book.

19 It would appear that within the same systems there is seldom any overlap in the size of central places at different levels. That is, the local city normally will have more households than any of the central market towns dependent on it; each central market town has more households than any of the intermediate market towns dependent on it, etc. For instance, Chung-hsing chen, a central market town in Hua-yang hsien, Szechwan, contained approximately 2650 households in 1934. The intermediate market towns dependent on it were all markedly smaller, ranging in size from 360 to 900 households. In turn, each of the intermediate market towns had more households than did any of its dependent standard market towns. The intermediate market town of Chung-ho-ch’ang, to cite just one example at this level, had 900 households in 1934, while the size of its dependent standard markets ranged from 50 to 279. Hua-yang hsien chih, Min-kuo 23 (1934), ch. 1.

20 A number of other distinctions among the three hierarchical types of market towns will be introduce below.

21 For a sophisticated treatment of this aspect of periodic marketing see James H. Stine, “Temporal Aspects of Tertiary Production Elements in Korea,” Urban Systems and Economic Behavior, ed. Forrest R. Pitts (Eugene, Ore., 1962), pp. 68-78.

22 Stine (p. 70) puts the matter succinctly: “The consumer, by submitting to the discipline of time is able to free himself from the discipline of space.”

23 I except here the most basic of all the natural units – the diurnal cycle.

24 Longer-term cycles are relevant only to the scheduling of fairs, as opposed to markets. It is unfortunately the case that the English literature on China often uses “fair” for periodic markets as well as for the festivals scheduled according to annual or other long-term cycles. At least in the case of China, the terminology should be standardized, for fairs and markets are functionally distinct, the length of their cycles do not overlap, and the Chinese themselves make a clear-cut conceptual and terminological distinction between the two. Hui or miao-hui (“temple fair”) are reserved for what I term “fairs,” whereas “markets” are usually called by terms involving one or more of the following: shih, chi, hsü, and ch’ang. Chi and its combinations prevail in the north, hsü and its combinations in the southeast, and ch’ang and its combinations in the southwest.

25 Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China, III (Cambridge, 1958), 396. “In the Shang period they were used strictly as a day count. The practice of using them for the years as well did not come in until the end of the Former Han…”

26 Cornelius Osgood, on p. 88 of Village Life in Old China (New York, 1963) cites the case of a specialized rural market in Yunnan that suggests that market schedules could also be attuned to the 28 hsiu (“lunar mansions”) – the zodiac-like segments of the heavens against which the motion of the moon could be measured (See Needham, III, 233-241). Osgood writes that the town of Ma-chieh was “noted for… its market for horses and sheep which was held on those animal days of the calendar.” These refer to the animal designations of the 17th and 23rd of the 28 hsiu and would, therefore, coordinate with the six-day marketing week that was general in Yunnan, Analysis of this case, however, requires more details than have been supplied by the author.

27 All figures taken from Needham, III, 390-406.

28 A singular irony may be involved here, for it is quite possible that the artificial hsün originated as the marketing week of the ancient Chinese. (Cf. Needham, III, 397.)

29 A definitive delimitation of the distribution of duodenary schedules would require reference to all extant gazetteers and/or interviews with informants front hsien near the putative boundaries of the duodenary area. The tentative generalizations given here are based on much slimmer data: a small sample of available gazetteers and the material presented by Amano (pp. 81-82) concerning market-day schedules in selected hsien of Yunnan and Kweichow.

30 Lo-p’ing hsien. Amano, p. 81.

31 Shang-lin, Kwangsi, is an example of a hsien all of whose markets follow regular 3-day schedules of this type. Shang-lin hsien chih, Kuang-hsü 2 (1876), ch. 4.

32 One example is provided by the capital of Ning-hai chou on the promontory of Shantung: five markets in and immediately surrounding the city follow five of the six possible regular 6-day schedules (Yamane, p. 500). One should also note the curious case of two markets in T’ai-p’ing hsien, Shansi. Their market schedules are listed in dates of the lunar month as follows: 3-9-15-21-27 and 5-11-17-23-29 (Yamane, p. 500). Six-day schedules of this kind must either be a description in lunar dates of a regular duodenary 6-day market schedule or else the conversion of such a schedule to the lunar month.

33 The various schedules in a scheduling system are set out in the form introduced here (note the integer series in each column) to point up their inner logic and to demonstrate that all schedules in the system have been exhausted.

34 John K. Fairbank, Alexander Eckstein, and L. S. Yang, in their useful survey of China’s traditional agrarian economy during the first half of the 19th century, state that markets with ten-day schedules were typical. This assertion is insupportable. “Economic Change in Early Modern China: An Analytic Framework,” Economic Development and Cultural Change, IX (October 1960), 7.

35 For examples, see Amano, p. 72, Katô, p. 21, Yamane, pp. 499-500.

36 Feng-shan hsien ts’ai-fang ts’e, Kuang-hsü 20 (1894).

37 C.P. Fitzgerald, The Tower of Five Glories (London, 1941), p. 56; Ta kung pao (18 February 1961). Tr. in Survey of the China Mainland Press, no. 2476, p. 1.

38 Two-per-hsün schedules are standard for rural Korea in modern times. It is possible that the Koreans borrowed the Chinese system only after two-per-hsün schedules had become general in north China, but it seems more likely that Korea simply went through the same development as north China. Both one per-hsün and two-per-hsün schedules were obtained in rural Japan prior to modernization.

39 The 3-per-hsün schedules listed earlier provide market cycles slightly more than two-thirds of which are 3-day weeks, the remainder being 4-day weeks. The innovation of 3-per-hsün schedules, then, follows directly from the fact that 10 is integrally divisible only by 2 and 5, and the division by 3 yields a product closer to an integer than does division by 4.

40 Proof of the proposition that the regular hexagon is the most advantageous shape for marketing areas is given in Lösch, ch. X. In common-sense terms, it may be noted that the appropriate model has two requirements: markets should be so distributed that: (1) the most disadvantaged villager in any given marketing area is no more and no less disadvantaged than the most disadvantaged villager in any other area; and (2) the distance from the market of the most disadvantaged villager in each marketing area is minimal. The first requirement means that all marketing areas in the model must be of uniform shape and size. Since all parts of the landscape must be in some marketing area, the only possibilities are the three regular polygons that are “space-filling,” namely, equilateral triangles, squares, and regular hexagons. The second requirement specifies that the more sides a polygon has the more efficient it is in this regard. To put it another way, as you move from the least advantageous position to the most advantageous position around the rim of the marketing area, the differential is maximal for triangular areas, intermediate for square areas, and minimal for hexagonal areas.

41 The point is worth noting, however, because the only study of rural marketing in China that refers to the shape of marketing areas insists that they “approach circular or square form.” C.K. Yang, p. 39.

42 Martin Yang, 1945, p. 190.

43 C.K. Yang, p. 39, refers to the marketing areas of Tsou-p’ing hsien as “economic cells, each… having its own boundary of operation…”

44 Field workers have occasionally been misled in this regard by a failure to distinguish between standard and intermediate markets. Evidence that villagers attend two different markets – one standard and one intermediate – may be misinterpreted as an indication of their membership in two standard marketing systems.

45 Hsiang-shan hsien chih, T’ung-chih 12 (1873), ch. 5; Ch’ü-chiang hsien chih, Kuang-hsü 6 (1800); data reproduced in Katô, p. 34.

46 Data for this computation are given on pp. 5-6.

47 Yü-ti chih, ts’e 3 for villages, ts’e 7 for markets.

48 Chang Jen-chün, comp. Kuang-tung yü-ti ch’üan-t’u [Comprehensive Atlas of Kwangtung] Canton, Kuang-hsü 23 (1897), 2 vols.

49 Martin Yang, 1945, p. 191.

50 Fei Hsiao-t’ung and Chang Chih-i, Earthbound China (Chicago, 1945), p. 172. Households marketed much less often in Yits’un, another of the villages studied by Fei and Chang, but this village falls in an area which is marginal to agricultural China and in which marketing areas are immense. Of this, more in the following section. For the Szechwan Basin, Spencer (p. 55) estimates that on any given market day throughout the year, on the average every other family is represented at market – a proportion that, from my own experience, seems low. It must also be noted that many households are represented by two or more members.

51 Ch’iao Ch’i-ming, 1934, p. 15. In this study of a marketing community near Nanking, the intervillage membership of rotating credit societies is singled out for special notice.

52 “The landlord has an office in the market-town and keeps in touch with his tenants on market-days.” Li Mei-yun, “An Analysis of Social, Economic and Political Conditions in Peng-shan Hsien, Szechwan, China, Looking toward Improvement of Educational Programs,” unpublished dissertation in education, Cornell University, 1945, p. 223.

53 Pp. 49 (Figure 1 caption) and 51-52.

54 Chin-t’ang hsien chih, Min-kuo 10 (1921), ch. 1. One of the market towns involved lies in Hua-yang hsien; the schedule of its market is given in Hua-yang hsien chih, Min-kuo 23 (1934), ch. 1.

55 An equivalent example in a hsien where the 4-per-duodenum scheduling system is standard is provided by the intermediate marketing system centered on Pai-hsü (Shang-lin hsien, Kweichow), which has a yin-shen-ssu-hai schedule; its five dependent standard markets necessarily eschew Pai-hsü’s schedule and share among them the two other possibilities. For market schedules see Shang-lin hsien chih, Kuang-hsü 2 (1876); data reproduced in Katô, pp. 26-27.

56 Everything that a peasant can do in his standard market can also be accomplished in his intermediate market. For those villages whose closest market is situated in an intermediate market town, the intermediate market is also the standard market.

57 The place of the intermediate market in the distribution system gives it certain economic avantages vis-à-vis neighboring standard markets in the competition for peasant (i.e. standard-market) trade. Prices paid for local produce tend to be slightly higher, and prices charged for imported items tend to be slightly lower in the intermediate markets than in standard markets. One therefore expects standard marketing areas centered on intermediate market towns to be somewhat larger than neighboring standard marketing areas centered on standard market towns.

58 I have come across only one comparable case in 3-per-hsün areas of a doubled “large” and “small” market schedule: Ts’ai-lang-ch’iao, an intermediate market in Yin hsien, Chekiang, held its “large” market on a 3-5-8 schedule and its “small” market on a 1-7-10 schedule. Yin hsien t’ung-chih, 1937 Yüfi chih, ts’e 7.

59 Luan chou chih, Chia-ch’ing 15 (1810), ch. 2.

60 In the case of Li-ling hsien, Hunan, for instance, markets on a daily schedule in 1948 included all central markets, but only three of the ten intermediate markets and none of the standard markets.

61 The one exception is provided by Ta-pu hsien, Kwangtung, in which the two intermediate markets follow 2-per-hsün schedules as opposed to the 3-per-hsün schedules of their dependent standard markets.

62 Chang Sen-dou, p. 42, asserts that the bookstores of a hsien were found only in the capital. It may have been true that in traditional times books were ordinarily not available in intermediate market towns that were not also hsien seats, but central market towns other than hsien seats – like Chung-hsing chen, Hua-yang hsien, Szechwan – did support stationery and bookstores in traditional times. As of 1949, stationery supplies and books were available in all intermediate market towns in Hua-yang hsien.

63 Data from Ch’ang-shan hsien chih, Chia-ch’ing 6 (1801). The central marketing system centered on Ting hsien, Hopei, provides another example. Sidney D. Gamble, Ting Hsien (New York, 1954). From Table 88, p. 284, it is clear that 2-per-hsün schedules that overlap the market days of the hsien city’s central market are underrepresented in the lower-level markets of the hsien.

64 Cf. C.K. Yang, pp. 32-33: “Only four stores in Sunchiachen and seven stores in the County Seat [both intermediate market towns] do a very limited wholesale business along… with retailing which holds their main attention.”

65 Particular cases are described in detail, pp. 129 ff.

66 Yamane, p. 502. Prior to 1726, licenses were issued by each hsien or chou.

67 Robert Redfield, Peasant Society and Culture (Chicago, 1956), p. 70 ff. It may, in the case of China, be only a minor distortion to conceive of the “great tradition” as unitary and homogeneous, but the variety and heterogeneity of its counterpart among the peasantry preclude any such conception. Instead of one “little tradition” there were many, and I allude here to the tendency for each to be associated with a standard marketing community.

68 As used in this book, “agricultural China” refers to a specifically defined contiguous area inclusive for the most part of what used in be called China Proper. The line separating agricultural from nonagricultural China was drawn along hsien boundaries (as of 1948) so as to include in the former practically all hsien with population densities of at least 10 per square kilometer. In lieu of a map defining this line, its course may be briefly described (in terms of 1958 provinces) as excluding approximately the northern third of Heilungkiang; including all of Kirin, Liaoning, Hopei, Shansi and Shensi; including a small portion of Inner Mongolia A. R, approximately two-fifths of Ningsia A. R., most of Kansu, and a few hsien in easternmost Tsinghai; and excluding the mountainous tracts in the west of Szechwan and Yunnan. Agricultural China (inclusive of Hainan but not Taiwan) incorporates 4,180,000 sq. km., as compared with 4,159,400 sq. km. in non-agricultural China (exclusive of Tibet and Chamdo). In 1958 there were 1,791 hsien-level units in the former, and 260 in the latter. In general, land productivity is so low and population so thinly settled in what is here defined as non-agricultural China that marketing systems cannot exist in the form described in this book.

69 I see no merit in the notion that “walking distance” is in any sense a determinant of the size of marketing areas. Cf. C.K. Yang, pp. 14-15. If the spacing of market towns were somehow set simply to enable the most disadvantaged villager to walk to his market, carry out his business and return home during the daylight hours, then the size of standard marketing areas would vary within a narrow range. In fact, most of China’s standard marketing areas are far smaller than any consideration of walking distance requires, and in areas on the periphery of agricultural China, they become so large that the one-way trip to market from, disadvantageously situated villages takes more than one day. This would appear to be the case with a number of villages in the vicinity of Yits’un, Yunnan, if one may judge from the details supplied by Fei Hsiao-t’ung and Chang Chih-i, pp. 170-172.

70 Standard marketing systems in northwestern Szechwan were atypically large in the late republican period because the area was relatively uncommercialized. See Part Two.

71 Exceptions were for the most part limited to the households of “outsiders” living on or near the highway at the northeastern rim of Kao-tien-tzu’s marketing area. That part of the marketing area that lay nearest to Chengtu and through which the highway passed included in 1947 approximately 140 “downriver” Chinese, i.e., Chinese from provinces other than Szechwan, most of whom had come to the vicinity of Chengtu during World War II; and approximately 290 Szechwanese whose native place lay outside Hua-yang hsien. Few of these outsiders were peasants; some were shopkeepers in the yao-tien on the highway, others were rickshaw pullers or transport coolies who “worked” the intermediate marketing system centered on Niu-shih-k’ou, and still others were suburban residents with jobs in the city. Mr. Lin knew few of these individuals and cared little about them. “Outsiders” in the market town itself, however, were another matter. In 1947 there were 58 such individuals, including shopkeepers and schoolteachers; all were Szechwanese, and Mr. Lin knew most of them.

72 This assertion takes into account the comparative stability in the membership of Kao-tien-tzu’s marketing community from one generation to the next. The social knowledge gained during each market day is cumulative over a lifetime in direct proportion to the continuity of resident households and in inverse proportion to the amount of family migration into and out of the marketing community. Of the families in Kao-tien-tzu’s community in the late 1940’s, the great majority were a direct continuation of families already resident there at the turn of the century; of the new households, more had been formed through segmentation of local families than had been established by in-migrants. Even in the case of the small portion of the marketing area through which the highway passed (described in Footnote 71), no less than 80 percent of the households included no one born outside the district in which they now lived. In the much larger portion of the marketing area away from the highway – including four-fifths of the community’s population – over 95 percent of all households consisted solely of locally born individuals. Cf. G.W. Skinner, “A Study in Miniature of Chinese Population,” Population Studies, V (Nov. 1951), 91-103.

73 Personal communication of 8 February 1964. Also see Jean A. Pratt, “Immigration and Unilineal Descent Groups: A Study of Marriage in a Hakka Village in the New Territories, Hong Kong,” Eastern Anthropologist, XIII (1960), 147-158.

74 Several examples from Chin-chiang hsien, Fukien, are cited by Father Amyot in his description of the home territory of the Philippine Chinese. Jacques Amyot, S.J., The Chinese Community of Manila: A Study of Adaptation of Chinese Familism to the Philippine Environment (Chicago, 1960), pp. 44-52. After noting that the villages in which lineages of the same surname are localized tend to be concentrated in a particular hsiang, Amyot notes (p. 40): “In the usage of this area, the term hsiang may designate either a complex of villages and hamlets forming some kind of unity, or again, the largest village of the complex from which the latter derives its name. It is usually a market town.”

75 Mizuno Kaoru, Hokushi no nôson [North China’s Villages] (Peking, 1941), p. 171.

76 Cf. Maurice Freedman, Lineage Organization in Southeastern China (London, 1958), chs. 8-9.

77 Fang-chih themselves occasionally provide a glimpse of the controlling power that a dominant lineage holds in a particular market. See, e.g., Kuramochi, p. 25.

78 C.K. Yang, pp. 18-20.

79 Cf Hsiao Kung-chuan, Rural China: Imperial Control in the Nineteenth Century (Seattle, 1960), pp. 313-14.

80 An account of 1836 describes the establishment of an organization on Ho-nan island, near Canton, which can only be interpreted as a formalization of structure within a standard marketing community: “Twenty-four different villages have joined together to build a large house for purposes of general consultations; this stands at the market town…” Chinese Repository, IV (l836), p. 414. Cited in Hsiao, p. 309.

81 Hsiao, pp. 288-289, 306-308.

82 Documents specifying the weights and measures to be used in individual markets are cited by Kuramochi, p. 24, and by C.K. Yang, pp. 18-19.

83 C.K. Yang, pp. 20-21. The situation in this regard was, as late as 1950, very similar in the Szechwan Basin.

84 Cited in Amano, p. 156.

85 Willem A. Grootaers, “Temples and History of Wan-ch’üan (Chahar), the Geographical Method Applied to Folklore,” Monumenta Serica XIII (1948), 209-216.

86 Li Mei-yun, p. 212.

87 Erik Wolf refers to the Janus-faced qualities of the individuals who serve as “brokers” between community- oriented and nation-oriented groups. “Aspects of Group Relations in a Complex Society: Mexico,” American Anthropologist, LVIII (1956), p. 1076.

88 Hsiao Kung-chuan’s monograph is rich in detail concerning the interrelations between peasant villagers, members of the local elite, and bureaucratic officials. Many of these data are profitably analyzed in terms of local-elite brokerage between the peasantry and bureaucratic officialdom. For the hsiang-yüeh lecture system, see pp. 184-206.

89 As noted in the preceding section the intermediate market town served as the center not only of an intermediate marketing system but also of a smaller standard marketing system, and the town had a dual function. Each intermediate market town was, for instance, the locus, on the one hand, of interclass relations between peasants and the local elite of its standard marketing area and, on the other, of interclass relations between traders and the local elite of its intermediate marketing system. It is nonetheless useful to keep the two functional levels analytically distinct. Certain teahouses and several of the winehouses of the intermediate market town were socially off-limits for the peasantry. These, together with the headquarters of many associations, must be seen as institutions relevant solely to the town’s role as hub of an intermediate marketing community.

90 Morton H. Fried, Fabric of Chinese Society (New York, 1953), pp. 17-18.

91 Ho Ping-ti, The Ladder of Success in Imperial China (New York, 1962), ch. 2.

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Titre Figure 1. A model of the Chinese standard marketing area as a stable spatial system, together with three possible models of intermediate marketing areas
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Titre 2.1.. The 19 market towns depicted lie between 35 and 90 km. northeast of Chengtu. Five markets (Yung-feng-ch’ang, Chung-hsing-ch’ang, Ch’ing-ho-ch’ang, T’ai-ping-ch’ang, and Shih-sun-ch’ang) are in Chung-chiang hsien, the other 14 in Chin-t’ang hsien. The mountains shown are part of the Lung-ch’üan range. The only roads mapped are those that connect standard to higher-level market towns
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Titre Figure 4. Four spatial models of central marketing systems. At the center of each model is, of course, a central market town. Open dots represent standard market towns, while the heavier dots around the rim of each system represent intermediate market towns. Villages are not shown. When markets at all levels are distributed consistently according to Model A or Model B, the result is systems as shown in AA or BB, respectively. Systems like AB and BA involve a mixture of the two model distributions
Légende Markets of an AB system are shown upper right with the addition of regular 3-per-hsün market-day schedules.
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G. William Skinner, « Marketing and social structure in rural China », Études rurales, 161-162 | 2002, 215-261.

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G. William Skinner, « Marketing and social structure in rural China », Études rurales [En ligne], 161-162 | 2002, mis en ligne le 01 janvier 2004, consulté le 23 avril 2017. URL : http://etudesrurales.revues.org/7952

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