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The Chinese - PAGE # 2
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world.
How did it start and why is it so popular ?
Interestingly, while there are myths and legends which describe creation and the dawn of Chinese culture, the true origin of the Chinese remains unknown. Archaeology has shed a little light on the earliest cultures in China but has not solved this perplexing riddle. In this lecture, we will first begin our quest for the mythical origins of China.
|The Mythical Origins...
1) Pan Ku
He is said to come from an extremely large egg called "the Great Monad". When the egg broke, the upper half of the shell became the heavens and the lower half the earth. Pan Ku grew rapidly and his height increased six to ten feet daily. The sky became higher and the earth grew thicker at the same rate. After eighteen thousand years, Pan Ku died. Then, like the original egg, his body split up into a number of parts. His head became the mountains, his breath the wind and clouds, his voice the thunder, his left eye became the sun and his right eye the moon. His beard became the stars, his four limbs the four quadrants of the globe, his blood the rivers and his veins and muscles the layers of the earth. His flesh became the soil, his skin and hair became the trees and plants. His sweat turned into rain, and the parasites on his body, impregnated by the wind, began the human race.
2) The Five Perfect Earthly Emperors...
2.a) Fu Hsi
He was born in Shensi and was carried in the womb of his mother for twelve years before he was born. He taught people how to hunt, fish, domesticate animals and tend their flocks. He instituted marriage and taught people how to devise tools to split wood, kindle fire and cook food. He devised "the Eight Trigrams", which evolved from markings on tortoise shells. These trigrams served as the basis for mathematics, medicine, divination and geomancy, and as clues to the secrets of creation such as the evolution of nature and its cyclic changes.
2.b) Shen Nung
He was conceived through the influence of "the Heavenly Dragon". In Chinese, his name means "the Divine Farmer". He is mainly responsible for inventing the wooden plow and teaching people the art of agriculture. By experimenting with various plants, he discovered which plants were useful and which plants were harmful or poisonous. He also expanded the system of eight trigrams into sixty-four hexagrams.
2.c) Huang Ti
Literately, his name means "the Yellow Emperor". When he was still an infant, he already had full command of the language. He invented the wheel, discovered the art of making pottery, and improved communication by building roads, bridges and ships.
He is said to have born with eyebrows of eight different colors. Under his direction, his court astronomers determined the dates of the solstice and equinox, added days and month to adjust the lunar calendar and fixed the four seasons so that farmers might know when to plant and harvest crops. After ruling for seventy years, he relinquished his throne and selected Shun, instead of his own son, to be the next emperor.
He was unusually gifted physically and mentally. The legend described him as having two pupils in each eye. Shun was disliked intensely by his father, stepmother and stepbrother, who tried to kill him on two occasions. Both times he managed to escape unharmed. Despite their attempts to take his life, Shun always demonstrated extreme devotion and filial piety toward his father and stepmother. It was because of this virtue, as well as others, that Yao selected him as his successor.
1) Paleolithic period
"Peking Man" (100.000 years ago) was discovered in 1918 near Zhou Kou Dian in the vicinity of Peking. The archaeological evidence suggests that "Peking Man" was already able to stand erect and manage fire. His brain size was about two-thirds as large as that of a modern man.
2) Neolithic culture of north China (about 3000 BC)
2.a) Yang Shao culture
- pottery ornamented with geometric designs and sometimes with highly stylized drawings with highly stylized drawings of fish in black or red
- hunting and fishing
- domesticated animals such as dogs and pigs
- stone tools : hoes, spades, knives and wheels
2.b) Ta-wen k'ou culture
- vessels with more elaborate decorations
- selection of different clays
2.c) Lung Shan culture
- undecorated, burnished black pottery made on the wheel
- more domesticated animals : cattle, sheep and goats
- wheat and rice
- walled settlements larger than villages
- bronze tools, weapons, and ornaments
- pictographic and ideographic script
(? - ?)
The credit for founding the dynasty traditionally goes to "Yu the Great". Many stories have been told to praise his devotion to duty. Thirteen years Yu spent mastering the waters without returning home to see his wife and children. The dynasty ended with the defeat of the last king, Chieh, a cruel tyrant, by a people and nobility driven to rebellion.
(traditional dates 1766 BC - 1122 BC)
1) The dynasty moved its capitals three times :
- near modern Loyang
- near modern Chengchou (both close to the Yellow River)
- at Anyang (called Yin at the time)
2) Three characteristic cultural elements :
- horse-drawn chariots
- fully developed bronze technology (bronze ceremonial vessels of many shapes and sizes)
- fully developed ideographic writing (oracle bones discovered in Anyang used for record and divination)
3) Religion :
- ancestor worship
- sacrifices of animals and slaves (they did not think that animals and slaves had souls, and so, could be safely killed)
- oracle bone divination
- concept of ti (the high god of the Shang)
(1122 BC - 221 BC)
- king (T'ien-tzu 'son of heaven') versus emperor
- mandate of heaven
- longest dynasty in history (900 years)
- classical age
Western Chou (1122 BC - 771 BC), capital at Hao near modern Xi'an
Eastern Chou (770 BC - 256 BC), capital at Loyang :
- Spring and Autumn period (722 BC - 481 BC)
- Warring States period (403 BC - 221 BC)
|Western Chou... (1122 BC - 771 BC)
1) Important figures
- King Wen : founder of the Chou dynasty
- King Wu : King Wen's eldest son
- Duke of Chou : brother of King Wu, regent for King Wu, smooth change over from Shang to Chou
- Descendants of Shang awarded the tiny state of Sung
- Officials of Shang added to the Chou civil service
- dominance of a hereditary warrior aristocracy
- sharing of political power between the king and an array of regional lords
- well-field system
|Eastern Chou... (770 BC - 256 BC)
- the decline of authority of Chou kings and the rise of new border states
- intensification of strife and gradual absorption of small states by larger kingdoms
- the concepts of wang (king) and pa(hegemon)
- origins of the literati and rise of the shih (intellectual) class
- traditional classification of social classes : shih, nung, kung, shang
|Early Chou culture... "The Five Classics"
1) Book of Changes (I Ching) : book of divination
2) Book of Writings (Shu-ching) : history book
3) Book of Songs (Shih-ching) : anthology of folk songs
4) Spring and Autumn Annals (Ch'un-ch'iu) : history book
5) Book of Rituals (Li-ching) :
5.a) Chou Rituals (Chou-li) : government
5.b) Propriety and Rituals (I-li) : proper conduct
5.c) Ritual Records (Li-chi) : ceremony
Major developments in technology helped to transform China into a centralized, well-organized state by 221 BC. Furthermore, they ensured that China could maintain its independence, thus preserving the cultural pattern they had helped create. The improvements can be divided into five groups which are interrelated.
Millet was supplement by supplemented by kaoliang and buck wheat.
Wall building particularly important since it was the foundation of both house construction and city defenses. A wall could be built of layers eight to ten centimeters thick. Each layer would be added with the use of a wooden frame into which earth was rammed until solid. The prototype of "the Great Wall" was built in this dynasty.
Road construction technique were quite different from those of used by the Romans. While the latter favored enormous foundations and heavy surfacing, the Chinese relied on the use of thin, convex, watertight shells over ordinary subsoil as the base.
Bridge building : wooden-beam bridge, trestle bridge resting on partly submerged piers (600 meters long with 68 spans and a deck 17 meters wide).
Deepening the river rather than making higher banks, building canals to diverge flood.
5) metal working
Iron used for tools and weapons.
(221 BC - 207 BC)
During what is referred to as "The Warring States Period" (403 BC - 221 BC), China was divided into over a dozen separate kingdoms which were constantly at war. Borders moved, smaller feudal states were absorbed by larger ones, until eventually one state (Qin) became the most powerful. In 221 BC the Qin state defeated the last of its rivals. The leader of the Qin state declared himself "Qin Shihuandi" (hwang-ti = emperor), the First Emperor of China. Qin had successfully unified China and began the longest period of rule by a single political system the world has known. Among his accomplishments are "The Great Wall of China", "The Terracotta Army" and over 4000 miles of highways which connected the capital with distant provinces. Qin also introduced standardized weights and measures. Even the width of the axles on carts and carriages was standardized so they would ride in the same ruts in the roads. The written characters of the many different regions were simplified, and the first national written language was established. Chinas first bureaucratic administration was also created. From this administration came many harsh new laws including the mandatory burning of all books from the conquered states. Because of the massive demands placed upon the population to create his public works, and his many unpleasant new laws, the dynasty was short lived. Within 15 years the government had collapsed and a period of feudalism and civil war followed. China was once again reunited by the Han.
The doctrine has no recognized founder. Basically, it is a doctrine that sought the interest of the ruling class rather than the interest of the common people. Legalism advocated strong centralized government which should exercise absolute power by the threat of harsh punishments. In history, many people have been labeled "Legalists". Three of them are very famous.
1) Shang Yang (d. 338 BC)
He first served as an official under the prime minister of the state of Wei. However, his talent was not recognized by the ruler. Later, he went to Ch'in and soon found favor with the duke and was given office. He is mostly known for the sweeping reforms he proposed :
- organize people into groups of families, which were mutually responsible for each other's good behavior and share each other's punishment
- anyone who did not denounce a culprit would be cut in two at the waist ; any one who denounce a culprit would receive the same reward as if he had cut off the head of an enemy soldier
- a family including two adult males would have to be divided, or pay double taxes
- abolish well-field system
- all, great or small, would be compelled to work at the fundamental occupations of farming and weaving ; those who produced a large quantity of grain or silk would be exempted from forced labor. Those who sought gain through the secondary occupations (trade and crafts), and the lazy and indigent, would be made slaves.
2) Han Fei Tzu (d. 233 BC)
He was a member of the ruling family of the state of Han, which lay to the east of Ch'in. An impediment in his speech caused him to turn to writing as a means of expression. He became an avid student especially concerned with the study of law and government. As a student of Hsün Tzu, he showed great talent and ultimately developed his teacher's ideas of ruling by law. However, the ruler of Han was not impressed by his ideas. Frustrated and incensed, he poured out his thoughts in several long essays. Two of these came into the hands of the ruler of Ch'in, who exclaimed : "Ah, if I could only see this man and get to know him, I would not regret dying". This opportunity came in 233 BC, when he was sent to Ch'in as an envoy of Han. The ruler of Ch'in liked the man as well as his writings and considered offering Han Fei Tzu a place in his government. His fellow student Li Ssu had already been serving in Ch'in for fourteen years. Probably disturbed by the prospect of having the brilliant Han Fei Tzu as a rival, he manage to have him thrown into prison and finally caused him to commit suicide.
Han Fei Tzu wrote a book called by his own name, Han Fei Tzu. It gives us our most complete and mature picture of the Legalist philosophy.
- reinterpretation of history in terms of evil human nature
- criticized Confucian scholars for praising antiquity and wasting time in useless discussion ; he argued that the larger the number of citizens that study, the less there will be to raise food, to make the state strong and the ruler rich
- scholars ought to be punished and made to give up their harmful vocation and put to useful work
- humans are inherently evil, education cannot make them better, only punishment and reward will
- the following three things are important for the ruler to employ in order to govern the world properly :
* shih (power and position) : even the sage emperors were unable to make the people to obey them until they occupied the throne. On the other hand, even the most unworthy of rulers had secured obedience. Thus, virtue and wisdom are of no account as compared with power and position.
* shu (methods) : the conduct of government requires administrative techniques. Virtue is not enough.
* fa (law) : it is necessary to use codes of law to run the government. (Confucian scholars insisted on putting the administration of justice into the hands of good and wise men rather than on limiting administration by codes of law.)
3) Li Ssu (d. 208 BC)
He advised the first emperor on how to conquer the neighboring states and made large contribution toward unifying China. He became the first prime minister after the Ch'in ruler unified China. The first emperor died eleven years after he had consolidated the Chinese world. Li Ssu plotted with a eunuch to do away with the First Emperor's eldest son (who is said to have favored Confucianism) and made a weakling emperor in his place. Two years later, the eunuch caused Li Ssu to be executed.
- made laws and regulations uniform
- tandardized weights, measures, and gauge of all vehicles
- made forms of written characters uniform
|Qin / Ch'in Dynasty...
In the long course of Chinese history there have been only two revolutions which have radically altered the political and social structure of the state. The first was the great revolution of 221 BC, by which the feudal system of ancient China was utterly destroyed and a centralized monarchy formed in its stead. The second revolution occurred more than two millenniums later. That is the revolution of 1911, by which the ancient monarchy formed since 221 BC was overthrown.
As a whole, the dynasty was anti-intellectualism, anti-Confucianism, and short lived. The regime lasted only 15 years. However, its achievements were marvelous. In the long run, it has exerted tremendous influence on the subsequent development of Chinese history.
The dynasty had two major figures : Ch'in Shih Huang Ti (First Emperor of Ch'in) and Li Ssu.
1) Centralization and Standardization
- defeudalization : the First Emperor even refused to grant fiefs, feudal holdings of land, to his sons or relatives, since he felt they might revive the local divisions which had caused rivalry in the previous Warring States Period
- abolition of the well-field system : land became the private property that can be bought and sold freely
- law enforcement : a uniform law code was applied to everyone regardless of original status
- standardization of weights, measures, currency, the axle widths of vehicles, and the language
- persecution of anyone who were sympathetic with Confucianism : even the prince was banished
- anti-Confucianism : all Confucian books were burned, 460 Confucian scholars were executed and buried
2) Construction and Expansion
- southern expansion
- the Great Wall : a measure introduced to guard against the Hsiung Nu from the north. The completed line of the wall ran from the western frontier of Ch'in to the sea in the east, a distance of 2250 kilometers (1398 miles). Hundreds of thousands toiled on the immense task of construction, prisoners of war and conscripted labors, working and dying in the cold mountains of the north. The terrible lot of these people has remained a constant subject for Chinese folksong ever since.
3) The fall of the dynasty
- No rebellion occurred during the eleven stern years that Shih Huang Ti ruled, the emperor died in 210 BC
- Li Ssu concealed the fact of the emperor's death and forged imperial command to force the Crown Prince to commit suicide. Earlier, the Prince had objected to the treatment of the scholars and was banished to the northern frontier. Fearing for his own safety now that his old master was dead, Li put the emperor's second son to the throne. But he proved to be too young and incompetent.
- first Peasant Uprising
- rebellions broke out all over the country
- Liu Pang gained overall control in 207 BC
(206 BC - 220 AD)
After a brief return to the feudal system following the fall of the Qin Dynasty, Emperor Gaodi reunited China under Imperial Rule. Much was to be done to restore the strength of the empire, and gain the support of the people. Many of the harse laws imposed by the Qin were repealed. Rather than huge public projects like "The Great Wall", the government focused on stabilizing the economy. They worked to fill the warehouses with grain to help the people through periods of famine and flood. The first Civil Service examination program was instituted. This enabled the common people to achieve public positions based on knowledge and ability, not bloodline. Expeditions were sent west to explore the lands beyond the kingdom, and to develop trade. This was the beginning of the Silk Road. China's cities were soon flooded with western traders and the goods they brought. As time went on, the dynasty ran short on suitable heirs to the throne. Control fell to the dowager-empress Wang. The Emperors placed on the throne during this period included six year old Pingdi, and two year old Ruzi. This gave rise to much protest and eventually to civil war. The Western Han dynasty was defeated and the capital was moved east to Luoyang. Thus the change in name to the Eastern Han Dynasty.
|The Han Dynasty...
The Han Dynasty lasted four hundred years. The term "The Han people" comes from the name of this dynasty, while the English term for "China" comes from the name of the previous dynasty Ch'in. The Han dynasty is the East Asian counterpart of and contemporary with Rome in its golden age. During this dynasty, China officially became a Confucian state, prospered domestically, and extended its political and cultural influence over Vietnam, Central Asia, Mongolia, and Korea before finally collapsing under a mixture of domestic and external pressures.
The Han ruling line was briefly interrupted by the usurpation of a famous reformer, Wang Mang, whose interlude on the throne from AD 9 to 23 in known as the Hsin dynasty. Historians therefore subdivide the Han period into two parts, Former (or Western) Han (capital at Ch'ang-an, present day Xi'an) and Later (Eastern) Han (capital at Loyang).
|Former Han or Western Han... (206 BC - 23 AD)
1) Han Kao-tsu (Liu Pang)
- founder of the dynasty and first commoner to rule China (206 BC - 195 BC)
- spent most of the short reign suppressing military challenges of ambitious subordinates and fighting defensively against a Turkic-speaking northern people known as the Hsiung-nu
- policy proposals initiated by officials rather than the emperor and policy decisions made by the emperor only after widespread consultation and deliberation among his ministerial advisers
- laissez-faire policies : blend of pre-Ch'in feudalism and Ch'in's autocratic centralism: eastern part of the empire for feudal fiefdom (princedoms and marquisates) ; western half for central government control (commanderies and subordinate districts). The policy lead to population growth, expansion of economy and flourishing of culture
2) Emperor Wudi (Han Wu-ti, reigned from 141 to 87 BC)
- centralization of power and defeudalization : stripped the nobility of their status and wealth, and transformed their nominal fiefs into commanderies and districts
- campaigned against the Hsiung-nu in the north ; dispatched the courtier Chang Ch'ien westward to find anti-Hsiung-nu allies
- expansion of Han territory : westward, from Chinese Turkestan (Sinkiang) into Russian Turkestan, eastward to Korea, southward to Vietnam. Chinese began to learn about Japan through Korea. At the time, Japan was still at the Neolithic stage of development.
- development of a tributary system for neighboring countries, ruler's sons sent to Ch'ang-an to be educated (as hostage), Chinese princesses or noblewomen given in marriages to alien rulers
- state economic management: stricter measures against the merchant class :
* cannot own land
* taxes imposed on merchant inventories
* state control and regulation of food prices and supplies
* state monopoly in salt, iron, liquor, and coinage
- the beginnings of bureaucracy : rudimentary national university to train future officials ; students entered the university through recommendation by the local officials
- culture :
* bibliomania : emphasis on education; restore old lost books
* literature :
Ch'ü Yüan's Elegies of Ch'u
fu: long, irregular, verbose, elaborately ornate descriptive prose-poems about events or people or such things as gardens and parks.
yüeh-fu: songs of the common people which became a new poetic style.
* historiography :
Ssu-ma Ch'ien's Historical Records (Shih-chi). This is a masterpiece both in organization and style. It records important events from the legendary Yellow Emperor down into Emperor Wu's reign. Ssu-ma Ch'ien established a pattern for organizing historical data that was used subsequently in a series of so-called dynastic histories, which preserve the history of imperial China in unsurpassed detail and uniquely systematic order. His lively style made his work a literary monument that has been read with delight by educated classes throughout East Asia.
* thought : Triumphant revival of Confucianism by the Confucian scholar, Tung Chung-shu, who synthesized the thoughts of Mencius and Hsün-tzu by reconciling their differences: every man is potentially good (Mencius), but that goodness must be developed by disciplined training and practice (Hsün-tzu). Confucianism was made the curriculum of the national university.
3) Hsin dynasty : usurpation of Wang Mang (9 - 23 AD)
- drastic reform package (harsh measures against the merchant class, forbade the sale and purchase of slaves, promoted equitable distribution of land, institute new currency and confiscated all gold) proved to be unworkable and abortive
- flooding of the Yellow River and other natural disasters led to rebellions and the overthrow of his reign
|Later Han or Eastern Han... (25 - 220 AD)
- restoration of Former Han's laissez-faire domestic policies
- great-Family dominance of both society and government. The great family was something like a large, diversified business company owned by one powerful man and passed on to his heir. It controlled a vast tract of land incorporating many peasant villages, craft workshops, and mercantile establishments.
- social malaise : cynicism, fatalism, and finally escapism
* fatalistic philosophy of Wang Ch'ung : he as very skeptical about man's ability to influence events in any way and about Heaven's inclination to give out good and evil appropriately
* escapism of "pure chit-chat" of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, the revival of Taoist naturalism
* pessimism contributing to growth of Buddhism
* development of Taoism as a popular religion finally led to popular rebellions by the Yellow Turbans (eastern China) and the Five Pecks of Rice Band (Szechwan)
- court disarray : court intrigues of palace eunuchs and rulers' maternal relatives
- Rise of autonomous regional war lords :
* generals assigned to put down the rebellions made themselves into autonomous regional war lards
* Ts'ao Ts'ao became the protector of the Han dynasty
* Last emperor abdicated
- science and technology : paper, tea, wheelbarrow
(220 - 280)
The collapse of the Han dynasty was followed by nearly four centuries of rule by warlords. The age of civil wars and disunity began with the era of the Three Kingdoms (Wei, Shu, and Wu, which had overlapping reigns during the period 220-280 AD). In later times, fiction and drama greatly romanticized the reputed chivalry of this period. Unity was restored briefly in the early years of the Jin dynasty (265-420 AD), but the Jin could not long contain the invasions of the nomadic peoples. In 317 AD the Jin court was forced to flee from Luoyang and reestablished itself at Nanjing to the south. The transfer of the capital coincided with China's political fragmentation into a succession of dynasties that was to last from 304 to 589 AD.
|PERIOD OF DISUNION
(281 - 617)
After three centuries of conflict, China was reunified in 589 AD by the short-lived Sui dynasty (581-617 AD), which has often been compared to the earlier Qin dynasty in tenure and the ruthlessness of its accomplishments. The Sui dynasty's early demise was attributed to the government's tyrannical demands on the people, who bore the crushing burden of taxes and compulsory labor. These resources were overstrained in the completion of the Grand Canal, a monumental engineering feat, and in the undertaking of other construction projects, including the reconstruction of the Great Wall. Weakened by costly and disastrous military campaigns against Korea in the early seventh century, the dynasty disintegrated through a combination of popular revolts, disloyalty, and assassination.
(618 - 907)
The Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), with its capital at Chang'an, is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization, equal or even superior to the Han period. Its territory, acquired through the military exploits of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han. Stimulated by contact with India and the Middle East, the empire saw a flowering of creativity in many fields. Buddhism, originating in India around the time of Confucius, flourished during the Tan period, becoming a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture. Block printing was invented, making the written word available to vastly greater audiences. The Tang period was the golden age of literature and art. A government system supported by a large class of Confucian literati selected through civil service examinations was perfected under Tang rule. This competitive procedure was designed to draw the best talents into government. But perhaps an even greater consideration for the Tang rulers, aware that imperial dependence on powerful aristocratic families and warlords would have destabilizing consequences, was to create a body of career officials having no autonomous territorial or functional power base. As it turned out, these scholar-officials acquired status in their local communities, family ties, and shared values that connected them to the imperial court. By the middle of the eighth century AD, Tang power had ebbed.
- territory covering larger areas (from Korea to Iran and from Ili valley to central Vietnam). However, control at bordering region precarious because of communication problem
- many contacts with other peoples and cultures
- flourishing of Buddhism (two famous pilgrims : Hsüan-tsang and I-ching)
- appearance of some of the greatest Chinese poetry
- development of art
- development of printing
|Famous Tang rulers...
- Li Yüan (Kao-tsu) : founder of the dynasty
- Li Shih-min (T'ai-tsung) : Li Yüan's son, traditionally regarded as the ideal emperor of the Chinese heritage ; conquered the Turks of Mongolia
- Empress Wu : first and only woman in Chinese history to become an emperor ; she was a former concubine of T'ai-tsung and Kao-tsung ; after the death of Kao-tsung, she took the power and actually reigned for 15 years
- Hsüan-tsung : ruled the dynasty at its peak
- central government administration :
* Council of State (Emperor and his chief ministers)
* Imperial Grand Secretariat (responsible for producing official texts)
* Imperial Chancellery (responsible for transmission and checking of imperial decrees)
* Department of State Affairs (six ministries: public administration, finance, rites, army, justice, and public works)
- court of Censors :
* admonishing the emperor
* surveillance of bureaucracy : to note abuse of every sort (corruption, extortion, fraud, and so on) and to hear complaints from the general public
- local government :
* provinces (circuits)
- two methods of recruiting officials :
* by annual recruitment examinations
* by imperial summons
- Grand Canal : built between (587 AD) and (608 AD) in the previous Sui Dynasty and expanded in (608 AD) connecting Loyang area with Peking area, this was the first big canal system in the history of China
- the two capitals, Ch'ang-an and Loyang, were rebuilt on a grandiose scale with a chessboard layout
- "equal distribution of land" : farmlands were allotted to families according to the number of their adult males. The land was to be returned to the empire upon the owner's death. Taxes and state levies were imposed on the basis of head count.
|Early Tang Culture...
- growth and spread of Buddhism: development of different sects of Buddhism, including Ch'an Buddhism
- landscape painting (very few survived)
- ceramics and porcelain ware
- great age of poetry :
* Li Po : His poems were not labored, but were largely spontaneous. A lot of his poems described mountains and streams. People still enjoy his poems for their lyric beauty and style.
Have you not seen.
How the Yellow River, which flows from heaven and hurries toward the sea, never turns back ?
Have you not seen.
How at the bright mirrors of high halls men mourn their white hairs.
At dawn black silk, by evening changed to snow ?
While there is pleasure in life, enjoy it.
And never let your gold cup face the moon empty !
Heaven gave me my talents, they shall be used.
A thousand in gold scattered and gone will all come back again.
Boil the sheep, butcher the ox, make merry while there is time.
We have never drunk at all till we drink three hundred cups.
* Tu Fu : More realistic than Li Po. He was more concerned with exposing social malaise at the time. His poems depicted suffering in a moving fashion.
|An Lu-shan Rebellion...
Historically attributed to Lady Yang, Emperor Hüan-tsung's favorite.
- the tide of expansion ebbs: lost control on the western part of the country, the kingdom of Silla declared independence, the expansion of Nan-chao in the Southwestern region
- Confucian attack and suppression of Buddhism
- age of development of prose: Han Yü
- continuation of poetic tradition: Po Chü-i
- development of fiction
- material culture : tables, chairs, coals, windmills, waterwheels, tea as national drink, widespread use of paper, wood-block printing
(908 - 960)
Misrule, court intrigues, economic exploitation, and popular rebellions weakened the Tang Empire, making it possible for northern invaders to terminate the dynasty in 907. The next half-century saw the fragmentation of China into five northern dynasties and ten southern kingdoms. But in 960 a new power, Song (960-1279), reunified most of China Proper.
(960 - 1279)
The Song period divides into two phases : Northern Song (960-1127) and Southern Song (1127-1279). The division was caused by the forced abandonment of north China in 1127 by the Song court, which could not push back the nomadic invaders. The founders of the Song dynasty built an effective centralized bureaucracy staffed with civilian scholar-officials. Regional military governors and their supporters were replaced by centrally appointed officials. This system of civilian rule led to a greater concentration of power in the emperor and his palace bureaucracy than had been achieved in the previous dynasties. The Song dynasty is notable for the development of cities not only for administrative purposes but also as centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce. The landed scholar-officials, sometimes collectively referred to as the gentry, lived in the provincial centers alongside the shopkeepers, artisans, and merchants. A new group of wealthy commoners, the mercantile class, arose as printing and education spread, private trade grew, and a market economy began to link the coastal provinces and the interior. Landholding and government employment were no longer the only means of gaining wealth and prestige.
- militarily and politically weak : as the builders of an empire, the Sung were far behind the Ch'in, the Han, the Sui, and the T'ang. The Sung never ruled quite all of China proper. Nor was there authority recognized in the borderlands as had been their predecessors.
- civil officials replaced old aristocracy
- culturally the Sung period is one of the most brilliant in achievements in civilization in the history of China
- two periods :
* Northern Sung Dynasty (960 - 1127) : capital in north China (Kaifeng)
* Southern Sung Dynasty (1127 - 1279) : capital in south China (Hangchow)
|Northern Sung Dynasty... (960 - 1127)
Chao K'uang-yin post-humously called Sung T'ai-tsu (Grand Progenitor). Put on the throne by a military mutiny. The clever emperor managed to get rid of his military supporter thus forestalling other possible coup against himself.
2) Centralization of Government
- civil service examination system further expanded for recruiting scholar-officials
- they never served in their native places and their postings shifted to another place every three years
- no single person had absolute authority in one regional. The emperor appointed many officials whose functions overlapped each other. For example, tax collectors and the imperial censors had overlapping jurisdiction and could check on each other
3) Population and economic growth
- by 11th Century, a populous and wealthy state ; population swelled over the T'ang peak ; level of economic development not achieved in Europe until 18th Century at the earliest
- world's first paper money appeared because of shortage of copper for coinage
4) Confucian Reformism
- ideological background : revival of Confucian Classics ; proposals for land and social reforms
- Fan Chung-yen : initiated "clan" structure and supported various activities to foster clan interest. The general assumption was that the more successfully several generations could be kept together in one household, the stabler society would be.
- "Community compacts" were established to foster broader cooperation and mutual help
- Wang An-shih reform : tried to impose government control over economy and strengthen military power. His reform intended to benefit the poor and strengthen the empire
* offered government loans to poor peasants
* set up state trading organization to break the monopoly of the big merchants
* buy horses for distribution north of the Yangtze River for possible future use
* urge imperial examination to focus more on practical problems of administration and tests of aptitude rather than rote memorization of the classics
- Confucian conservatives opposed Wang and his reforms, contributing to the end of his reform program
5) Literature and art
- Ku-wen Literature : old-style prose (Confucian scholars: Ou-yang Hsiu, Fan Chung-yen, Wang An-shih, Su Shih (or Su Tung-p'o), Ssu-ma Kuang who is known for his historical writings - Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Governance)
- Tz'u Poetry : a song-form which combine melody and poetic lyrics ; originated in lyrics for popular songs sung in the city teahouses and brothels. Su Shih was the master.
- beginning of popular dramatic tradition
- full development of hard-glazed porcelain wares, most of which were monochromes with elegantly simple shapes, such as cups, bowls, vases, etc.
Painting: reached full maturity ; developed in two directions :
* Northern School : realistic watercolors (at painting academy at the court) patronized by the emperor himself
* Southern School : monochrome landscape paintings in impressionistic style by scholar-officials
6) Transition to the south
- Three foreign dynasties in the north :
* Liao Dynasty (916 - 1125) : Mongolic Ch'itan
* Hsi Hsia Dynasty (1038 - 1227) : Tibetan Tangut
* Chin Dynasty (1115 - 1234) : Tungusic (proto-Manchu) Jurchen
- Sung and Chin collaborated to crush the Liao in between
- Chin besieged Kaifeng (Sung's capital) and starved it into surrender and sacked the city after the Chinese failed to pay an extravagant indemnity. The emperor and his son were taken captive
- Sung retreated to the south of the Yangtze and put another son of the emperor on the throne
|Southern Sung... (1127 - 1279)
1) Division in the court
- Ch'in Kuei (Sung chief councilor) for peace
- Yüeh Fei (Sung General) for war against the Jurchens, who established in Chin Dynasty in northern China (capital at Peking)
In popular Chinese culture, Ch'in Kuei was considered a traitor and Yüeh Fei a tragic hero and patriot.
2) Population and economic growth
- large-scale movement of population to south China
- Southern China as economic center
- rich and varied life in the city of Hangchow and the seaport of Ch'üan-chou, recorded by Marco Polo later
- urbanization and formation of gentry, land-owning class
- decline of status of women and the practice of foot-binding among upper-class women
- combined ideas from Buddhism and Taoism
- Confucianism could offer everything desirable that Buddhism could and more. Specifically, it undertook to :
* match the Buddhist cosmology
* explain the world and the Confucian ethics metaphysically
* justify social and political activity
- based on Mencius view that man is inherently good and thus need self-development only ; self- cultivation through investigation of things to reach sage hood
- the major figure Chu Hsi (1130 - 1200) whose doctrine were fundamental to all subsequent intellectual development in China and also in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan :
* dualistic universe consisting of abstract principles (li) in dynamic combination with matter, stuff or ether (ch'i)
* Principles (li) are without birth and indestructible, they never change in any way, they are really part of the one great li, t'ai-chi the Supreme Ultimate (Tao in Taoism)
* ch'i was alone responsible for the production of existent things and for change
* all individual things, including humans, are the result of the combination of the two. Thus, the li for all men is the same. But, their ch'i is not. If one's ch'i is impure, one is foolish and degenerate. This is like a pearl (one's li) lay concealed in muddy water (the impure ch'i).
* the goal of every man should be to become a sage, that is, to fulfill the potentiality of his li through self cultivation and investigation of things
* li establishes the ideal type of political conduct. When the actual government corresponds to this ideal government, it is good ; when it differs from it, it is bad.
* "things" in "investigation of things" for Chu Hsi refers to ethical virtues : filial piety, loyalty, human kindness, and the like
* different from Buddhism : neo-Confucianism is optimistic. It does not preach withdrawal from life and from the business of the world, but confident participation in them.
* different from Taoism : it does not seek immortality or fear death. Death is a normal occurrence ; when it comes, at the end of a long and full life, one recognizes that it is time to rest.
4) Literature and Art
- "pen-jottings" (sui-pi or pi-chi) : a kind of scholar's notebook containing hundreds and thousands of short pieces ranging from serious historical and classical research note to trivia of every sort
- Li Ch'ing-chao : the greatest poetess of traditional China
- Lu Yu : the most renowned Southern Sung poet
- celadons : porcelain wares with an off-white body thickly covered with a translucent greenish glaze
- Impressionistic landscape painting reached its peak
- rise in prominence of local history or gazetteer (e.g., history of counties and prefectures)
5) Inventions in Sung
- movable-type printing
(1279 - 1368)
Capital at Peking (or Beijing 'North Capital') for the first time in Chinese history.
From the north came a great force. Since 1234, most of Northern China was controlled by the Mongols. It was but a small portion of the vast empire created by the conquests of Genghis Khan. The Mongol Empire stretched as far west as the Black Sea. But to the south, the Song dynasty had continued to hold the Mongols at bay in a very long stalemate. In 1253 Kublilai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, completed the southern expansion with the defeat of the Southern Song Kingdom. For nearly 100 years China would be ruled by the outsiders. During their reign the Mongolian Emperors maintained strong ties to the homeland and continued many of their cultural customs. In fact, they were all buried in Mongolia. The most notable contribution to the Chinese society by the Mongol rule was the development of the Postal Service. Something that was in practice in Mongolia for many years. The dynasty was certainly doomed from the beginning. The Mongols made no attempt to adopt the ways of the people they governed in any of their lands. Thus it was only a matter of time before the people would join together and drive them from their home. 1368 was the time, and Zhu Yuanzhang (Emperor Hongwu) was the man. A peasant turned rebel, he quickly gained popularity throughout the oppressed population and with this power. He successfully drove the Mongols from the soils of China, and founded the Ming Dynasty.
1) Chingis (Ghengis) Khan (1155 - 1227)
- united the previously Mongol tribes and began one the most explosive series of conquest in world history
- loved the violence and the pride of conquest, he is said to have remarked "the greatest pleasure is to vanquish one's enemies, to rob them of their wealth, and to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters."
- his sons and grandsons ruled the four khanates respectively in Persia, South Russia, Central Asia, and China
2) Khubilai Khan
- Chingis Khan's ablest grandson, founder of the Yüan dynasty, first northern alien to rule all China
- overseas expansion
* tried to conquer Japan twice (1274 and 1281) with massive naval assaults, but failed
* made Tibet, Burma, Siam, Annam (in northern Vietnam), and Champa (in Southern Vietnam) tributary vassal states
* divided people in China into four groups, in a caste-like system, from top to bottom : Mongols, other non-Chinese, North Chinese and South Chinese (former subjects of Southern Sung, 75%-80% of the total Yüan population)
* Chinese humiliation : forbidden to bear arms, to learn the Mongolian language, and to assemble in groups, required to scrape and bow to Mongols and all other non- Chinese
- Mongols were wreckers and looters, but not builders and managers
- used foreigners and educated Chinese to do administrative work in the government, while the Mongols controlled the army
- civil service examination system : ceased after 1237 in North China and after 1274 in South China. It was not resumed until 1315. South Chinese were given stiffer exams and allotted only a quarter of the available posts. Confucian scholars seldom rose to top.
- general administration based on the six Tang-style ministries in the central government coordinated by the Secretariat. On each level of the government, there was a government agency supervising the operation of the administrative work. By law, only Mongols could serve in the government agency.
- encouragement of commerce and trade, but over-printing of currency led to runaway inflation
- effort to stimulate agriculture was unsuccessful, leading to widespread starvation by the early 1300's
- two important crops introduced into China : sorghum in the north and cotton in the south
- first direct contact between China and Europe. Hospitable to peaceful strangers, tolerant of different religions, and interested in trading profits, the Mongol encouraged the foreigners to come to China, established a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
- Marco Polo left China in 1292 after 17 years of residence and travel, carried with him Khubilai Khan's request for 100 more Catholic priests, first European to write a systematic account of China.
- native intellectuals carried on the scholarly and literary traditions of the Sung period (e.g. Neo-Confucianism)
- landscape painting : shifted from the Sung's emotional impressionism to a harsh, cool, intellectual expressionism
- development of blue-and-white porcelain wares
- beginning of popular drama (Chinese opera) : well plotted, melodramatic four- or five-act plays combining acting, soliloquies, dialogues and singing, written in a mixture of classical and vernacular forms of language.
- beginning of popular novels in the vernacular language
- series of natural disasters
- impotence of government in 1340's
- peasant rebellions
(1368 - 1644)
Capital first at Nanking "South Capital" on the Yangtze River, and later at Peking (Beijing) from 1421 onwards.
Rivalry among the Mongol imperial heirs, natural disasters, and numerous peasant uprisings led to the collapse of the Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was founded by a Han Chinese peasant and former Buddhist monk turned rebel army leader. Having its capital first at Nanjing and later at Beijing, the Ming reached the zenith of power during the first quarter of the fifteenth century. The Chinese fleet sailed the China seas and the Indian Ocean, cruising as far as the east coast of Africa. The maritime Asian nations sent envoys with tribute for the Chinese emperor. Internally, the Grand Canal was expanded to its farthest limits and proved to be a stimulus to domestic trade. The Ming maritime expeditions stopped rather suddenly after 1433, the date of the last voyage. Historians have given as one of the reasons the great expense of large-scale expeditions at a time of preoccupation with northern defenses against the Mongols. Opposition at court also may have been a contributing factor, as conservative officials found the concept of expansion and commercial ventures alien to Chinese ideas of government. The stability of the Ming dynasty, which was without major disruptions of the population, economy, arts, society, or politics, promoted a belief among the Chinese that they had achieved the most satisfactory civilization on earth and that nothing foreign was needed or welcome.
|Chu Yüan-chang... (reign name, Hung-wu, r. 1368 - 1398)
- first commoner to rule all over China since the beginning of the Han Dynasty
- founder of the dynasty, posthumously called T'ai-tsu
- rebel leader with peasant background, early life as a mendicant monk
- highly autocratic style of governing, purge associates who helped him with the throne and the scholar officials who he brought into his service
- social leveling : deliberately catered to the poor and humbled the rich, abolished slavery, confiscated large estates, imposed heavy tax on the wealthy, renting of state-claimed lands to landless, fostering of elementary schooling throughout the empire
|Reign of Yung-Lo... (Ch'eng-tsu)
- son of Chu Yüan-chang, moved capital to Peking (1421)
- led five military campaigns into Mongolia
- bullied the Japanese into accepting tributary vassalage for the first time in history
- sent a Moslem eunuch named Cheng Ho to embark on maritime expeditions, made 7 voyages (1405-1433) to southeast Asia, India, Arabia, east coast of Africa
- the only time in history, China was the unchallenged naval power in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean
|Isolationism and Conservatism...
- xenophobic isolationism, Chinese forbidden to have contacts with foreigners except for state business or under close state supervision
- enjoyed stable peace for nearly two centuries
- population explosion : already 200 million by 1600
- porcelain : famous blue-and-white porcelain wares from Ching-te-chen
- painting : academic (flowers and birds) and literati (bamboo and expressionistic monochrome landscapes) traditions
- literature : fictions in colloquial language
* Romance of the Three Kingdoms : fictionalized history of the late Han and the immediate post-Han years
* Water Margin : Robin Hood-like novel of violence and adventure
* The record of a Journey to the West : supernatural fable about the travels of a T'ang Buddhist pilgrim to India
* Golden Lotus : pornographic satire
|Wang Yang-ming's Neo-Confucianist thought...
- unity of knowledge and action : only disciplined theory can lead to effective action, and theory can be tested only in application
- all principles (li) exist in every man’s mind
- true principles are expressed in the natural and spontaneous impulses of the individual mind
- later, his teachings became exaggerated, and known as the "mad Ch’an" school : every man is his own judge of right and wrong, and every impulse should be translated unthinkingly into action, therefore, "the streets are full of sages"
- by the end of the dynasty, Wang's "school of mind" individualism was over and Chu Hsi's doctrine remained dominant in Chinese philosophy
|Science and Medicine...
Li Shih-chen completed the compilation of materia medica, a 26-year project completed in 1578, describing almost 2000 animal, mineral, and herbal drugs, over 8000 prescriptions
|Decline of Ming...
- trouble at the court : purge of hundreds of officials by powerful palace eunuchs
- rebellion in the northwest, and consolidation of antagonistic Manchu regime in the northeast
- the domestic rebels led by Li Tzu-ch'eng captured Peking in 1644 and the last emperor hanged himself
(1644 - 1911)
Capital at Peking (Beijing).
After the suicide of the last Ming Emperor, there was a struggle for control of the kingdom. The Manchu armies were enlisted by the Chinese to help overthrow the rebels that had seized power in the capital. After successfully defeating the rebels, the Manchu decided to stay for a while and keep China for themselves. Once again China was to be ruled by outsiders. Unlike the Mongols of the Yuan Dynasty, the Manchus adopted the Chinese culture and customs as their own. Before long they were unrecognizable from the native Chinese. The Qing Dynasty was a time of great expansion. After years of being closed off to the rest of the world, China was finally open again for trade. The spice trade in the East Indies was flourishing. Merchant ships from Portugal, England, and the Netherlands made frequent trips to the Far East to trade western goods for cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg. Many attempts were made to trade with mainland China, and after many years the ships began to visit the ports of Southern China. It was quite a unique experience for the western traders for they were buying items the Europeans had never known. They could only guess what the value of the goods would be when they resold them. The most important of these items was tea. As the Emperor of China was taking his first snuff of tobacco brought from Europe, the Queen of England was sipping her first cup of tea. Tea quickly spread throughout Europe and in less than 100 years, England's import of tea rose from 100 pounds a year to over 5 million pounds per year. This demand for tea meant many voyages to bring shiploads of tea from China. Along with the tea, came porcelain. To stabilize these large ships they required ballast, heavy objects or weights in the lowest section of the hull of the ship to counterbalance the weight of the masts and sails. On their journey eastward, the ballast consisted of lead and salfur which was traded to the Chinese for tea. They needed something cheap and of equal weight for the journey home. Porcelain goods were the perfect solution. Unlike tea, which took time to cultivate and could only be grown in certain climates, the only requirement for porcelain was clay and craftsmen. Both of which were abundant in China. The Chinese were eager to supply porcelain goods to the west, as they could turn dirt into gold with the addition of labor. By the end of the 18th century, millions of pieces of porcelain were being produced for export. This mass production caused the quality of the craftsmanship to decline considerably. At the same time the quality of European porcelain began to rival the best of the Chinese goods. As quickly as it had begun, the mass export of porcelain had stopped.
|The Era of Transition...
- Ming commander, Wu San-kuei, and the Manchu prince regent collaborated against the rebel army led by Li Tzu-ch'eng, drove the rebel westward and the Manchus established the Ch'ing Dynasty without effort
- smooth transition between dynasties
- resistance of Ming loyalists in Southern China, famous loyalist, Cheng Ch'eng-kung, who went to Taiwan and established a Ming government there
- subjugation of south China; conquest of Taiwan in 1683
- treaty signed with Russians, checking their eastward expansion to Siberia
- subjugation of Mongols (late 17th c.)
- subjugation of Tibet and Nepal (first half of 18th c.)
- incorporation of Chinese Turkestan (1759), and renamed Sinkiang ("New Dominion")
|Manchu Monarchs as Confucian Emperors...
Having no tradition of their own, the Manchu rulers have no confidence in their power to judge art and literature. In order to win support of the Chinese literati, the Manchu ruling class became more Chinese than the Chinese themselves. They adopted and protected the most rigid Confucian traditions. The literature they patronized was modeled upon the classics of the Feudal Age, the poetry imitated the T'ang masters, the art looked back to the Sung.
Famous emperors :
1) K'ang-hsi (1661-1722)
- reigned China longer than any other emperor before him, one of the most admirable ruler of the later imperial age
- thoroughly Chinese by culture
- strenuous efforts to ensure honesty in government and to foster Chinese-Manchu harmony
- employ Chinese scholars in the production of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other scholarship
- personally planned the campaigns that suppressed Rebellion of the Three Feudatories in the south
2) Ch'ien-lung (1735-1796)
- K'ang-hsi's grandson
- retired after a 60-year reign in order not to exceed his grandfather's record
- in his time, all forms of literature and art flourished
- further expanded territory
- Literature : two novels
* The Scholars (social satire)
* Dream of the Red Chamber (panoramic tale about the degeneration of a large, wealthy family)
- Height of decorative, colorful Chinese porcelain wares
|Pressure from West...
- Opium War (1839-1842) led to the signing of the first unequal treaty between China and the West. Hong Kong was ceded to Britain, it will be returned to China in 1997
- five ports, from Canton to Shanghai open to foreign residence and trade (plus Macao since the Ming Dynasty)
- increased encroachment by European ("foreign devils")
- population explosion 400 million in 1850
- Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864) in the South : Hung Hsiu-ch'üan, who failed the civil service exam four times, and then declared himself younger son of God, and brother of Jesus; founded the Taiping kingdom, with a land reform system similar to the Communist system.
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