Such non-chinese people as the rong, di, and hu are often portrayed in the traditional historiography of ancient China as greedy, aggressive, and acquisitive (Sinor 1978; Honey 1990). Chinese writings of the Zhou dynasty (c. 1050–256 b.c.) contain many instances of unflattering statements aimed at foreign peoples: the Zuo zhuan compares the Rong and Di to wolves (ZZ, 1:209); the Zhan guo ce says the state of Qin shares the same attributes as the Rong and Di—the heart of a tiger or wolf, greed, and cruelty (ZGC, 11:869; cf. Crump 1970:436). Foreign peoples were often considered “have-nots” with an insatiable lust for Chinese goods, mainly silk, grains, and, later, tea. This stereotype, which developed in the historical sources along with the process of crystallization of the Chinese ethnocultural identity and codification of the written and oral traditions, was regarded as sufficient to account for otherwise complex social and political phenomena. In the course of time, with the historical development of powerful nomadic states confronting China militarily and politically, the attributes of “greedy” and “ravenous” stuck essentially to those people who “moved in search of grass and water”: the pastoral nomads.

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