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Transcript of Ancient China
The Land and its ChallengeThe Geography of China Historical China was smaller than present day China. Northern China is colder, flatter, and more arid than the south. The Yangzi River is the central feature of southern China. Mountains and deserts separated China from other early civilizations.
Chinas Earliest Civilizations, to 1050 B.C.E.Chinese Myths and Legends According to Chinese mythology, a series of brilliant individuals made contributions to the advancement of Chinese society. These legends reveal much about what educated Chinese thought defined China and its history. The early Chinese conception of history and cosmology was more human-centered than that of other major civilizations. Technology played a major role in defining Chinese civilization. A number of different cultures played a role in the development of Chinese civilization.
Peking Man (750,000 500,000 BCE)Sinanthropus pekinesis
Yellow River Civilization
The Neolithic Age
Agriculture was practiced in China from about 10,000 B.C.E. Between the fifth and the third millennia B.C.E., distinct regional Neolithic cultures emerged. In time, Chinas Neolithic cultures came to share many practices and beliefs.
Neolithic Pottery3000 BCE to 2000 BCE
The 4 Old-World River Valley Cultures
Pan-Gu: Mythical Creator of the Universe
Chung Kuo (The Middle Kingdom)
Yu, the Great Founder of the Hsia
Huangdi Emperor The Yellow Emperor. Legend has it that he ruled for over 100 years. Associated with the invention of wheeled vehicles, ships, armor, pottery, and silk-making.
Emperor Fuxi Mythical Hsia ruler. Taught the Chinese how to read and write, according to legend.
Hsia Plaque, 1700 BCE
The Shang Dynasty (ca 1500ca 1050 B.C)Sometime after 2000 B.C.E. the Shang Dynasty emerged in the north China plain. The Shang was a central power, allied with some local powers and at war with others. Shang kingship was based on military power and the kings priestly role. Shang palaces were magnificent, but nothing of them remains today. The Shang kings had sufficient authority and resources to mobilize large numbers of people for their military campaigns and construction projects. Shang society was highly stratified. The royal family and aristocracy lived in large houses. Shang farmers were essentially serfs.
Bronze Age Empires
Shang: 1523-1028 BCE
Oracle Bones Calendar
The Chinese writing system was perfected during this period. Writing facilitated the development of a bureaucratic state. Chinese script was logographic. This restricted literacy to a tiny elite. Chinas logographic writing system had important advantages. Many of Chinas neighbors adopted the Chinese script.
The Evolution of Chinese Writing during the ShangPictographsSemantic-Phonetics
Axe Scepter 1100 BCE - jadeCeremonial Dagger 1028 BCE
During the Shang period, bronze had an important place in ritual. Modern scholars disagree about the significance of the decoration on Shang bronzes. Bronze making spread beyond the territory controlled by the Shang kings.
Ritual Wine Vessel bronze, 13c BCE
The Zhou Dynasty (ca 1050256 B.C.E.)Zhou Politics The Zhou of the Wei basin conquered the Shang Dynasty in the eleventh century B.C.E. They assimilated well with the Shang. The Zhou originated the political concept of the Mandate of Heaven.
Early Zhou rulers established a decentralized system of government. By 800 B.C.E. Zhou territory was divided into approximately 200 domains. In such a system, the control of the king was always tenuous. As new border states emerged, they eventually defeated the Zhou king in 771 B.C.E. Over time, China descended into a period of constant fighting known as the Warring States Period (403221 B.C.E.).
Western Zhou: 1027-771 BCE
Eastern Zhou: 771-256 BCE
Ritual Food Vessel, bronze 11c BCE (Western Zhou)
Pendant of a Dancer - jade 3c BCE (Eastern Zhou)
Ritual Wine Vessel 4c bronze, silver, gold, copper
Zhou Coins - bronze
Tien MingThe Mandate of HeavenThe leader must lead by ability and virtue. The dynasty's leadership must be justified by succeeding generations. The mandate could be revoked by negligence and abuse; the will of the people was important.
The Dynastic CycleA new dynasty comes to power.Lives of common people improved; taxes reduced; farming encouraged.Problems begin (extensive wars, invasions, etc.)Taxes increase; men forced to work for army. Farming neglected.Govt. increases spending; corruption.Droughts, floods, famines occur.Poor lose respect for govt. They join rebels & attack landlords.Rebel bands find strong leader who unites them. Attack the emperor.Emperor is defeated !!The emperor reforms the govt. & makes it more efficient.Start here
Zhou Society Early Zhou society was based on aristocracy. By the middle of this period, cities had been founded all over China. During the Warring States period the old aristocratic society was undermined by competition between the states and advances in military technology. Social mobility within the elite also increased during this period. Peripheral territories began to participate in the culture of the Central States.
The Golden Age of Chinese PhilosophyConfucius and his Followers Confucius (traditional dates, 551479 B.C.E.) spent most of his life teaching the sons of the aristocracy. Confucius believed that the family was the basic unit of society. A Confucian gentleman was a man of integrity, education, and culture.
The Confucian gentleman used these qualities to serve his ruler. The ultimate Confucian virtue was ren. Confucius emphasized the importance of study. Mencius (ca 370ca 300 B.C.E.) and Xunzi (ca 310ca 215 B.C.E.) were the most important of Confucius followers. Mencius spent much of his life trying to convince rulers to adopt his ideas. Mencius believed that human nature was fundamentally good.
Xunzi believed that people are born selfish and only acquire morals through study and ritual. Xunzi applied his experience working in the court of his home state to his philosophy. The Confucian vision of the family is still central to Chinese thinking today.
Mozi Mozi (ca 450 B.C.E.) challenged Confucius ideas, arguing that rulers should choose their advisors on the basis of merit. Mozi believed that all ideas should be evaluated on the basis of utility. Mozis vision of the merit principle and his critique of extravagance were eventually absorbed into Confucianism.
Daoism In contrast to Confucians who focused on human action, Daoists focused on the natural order as a whole. The two major sources of information about early Daoism are the Laozi and Zhuangzi. According to Daoism, almost all purposeful actions are counterproductive. Although Daoism can be seen as a response to Confucianism, many Chinese were attracted to aspects of both systems of thought.
Legalism Legalists argued that strong government depended on clear and effective laws, not on the moral status of rulers. Under the leadership of its chief minister Lord Shang (d. 338 B.C.E.), the state of Qin adopted many legalist principles. Han Feizi (d. 233 B.C.E.) promoted legalism in the decades following Lord Shangs death. Legalists sought to constrain officials and regulate the common people. Legalists discouraged public debate and private opinion.
Yin and Yang
The previously discussed philosophies had important long-term consequences for Chinese history. They were not, however, the only schools of thought in the late Zhou period. Theorists about the concepts of yin and yang deserve special mention. Recent study has also uncovered records that shed light on the importance of popular religion to the development of Chinese early thought.
551 479 B.C.E. Born in the feudal state of Liu. Became a teacher and editor of books.
Li --> Rite, rules, ritual decorum (Binding force of an enduring stable society) Ren --> humaneness, benevolence, humanity Shu --> Reciprocity, empathy Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you. Yi --> Righteousness Xiao --> Filial Piety (Respect your elders!)
1. Ruler Subject 2. Father Son 3. Husband Wife 4. Older Brother Younger Brother 5. Older Friend Younger Friend
Status Age Gender
The single most important Confucian work. In Chinese, it means conversation. Focus on practicalities of interpersonal relationships and the relationship of the role of rulers and ministers to the conduct of government.
Knowing what he knows and knowing what he doesnt know, is characteristics of the person who knows. Making a mistake and not correcting it, is making another mistake. The superior man blames himself; the inferior man blames others. To go too far is as wrong as to fall short.
372 - 289 B.C.E. Disciple of Confucius. Starts off with the assumption that people are basically good. If someone does something bad, education, not punishment, is the answer. Good people will mend their ways in accordance to their inherent goodness.
The emperor is the example of proper behavior --> big daddy Social relati