The Rural Market in Late Imperial China

Fang Ren


The rural market was an important constituent of marketing system, and formed an un-vertical congruent relationship with urban market in late imperial China. There were different types of rural fair in the imperial China. Xu, Chang, Ji, Dian, Shi, Hui, all of them were the regular fairs. Their number was huge. They distributed widely, played a distinct role, and became the base of rural market development. During Tang and Song dynasties, county seat, town or village had some regular fairs. They were more and more developed during Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. In the late imperial China, the establishment or abolishment of rural regular fair must been approved by local magistrate, such as magistrate of a county. Equally important, the clan and Gentleman played the crucial role in rural market. On the whole, the network of rural fairs began to take shape in the most regions from Qianlong to Daoguang reigning years of the Qing Dynasty. The professional markets in rural society included two kinds: professional town and professional fair. The emergence of professional markets in rural society was the inevitable result of enlargement of cash crops planting and development of social division of labor, and helped in the shaping of specialized region which centered on cash farming.

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