River Dynasties in China
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River Dynasties in China
River Dynasties in ChinaChapter 2 section 41In the beginning , the heavens and earth were still one and all was chaos. The universe was like a big black egg, carrying Pan Gu inside itself. After 18 thousand years Pan Gu woke from a long sleep.
He felt suffocated, so he took up a broadax and wielded it with all his might to crack open the egg.
The light, clear part of it floated up and formed the heavens, the cold, turbid matter stayed below to form earth. Pan Gu stood in the middle, his head touching the sky, his feet planted on the earth.
The heavens and the earth began to grow at a rate of ten feet per day, and Pan Gu grew along with them. After another 18 thousand years, the sky was higher, the earth thicker, and Pan Gu stood between them like a pillar 9 million li in height so that they would never join again.
http://www.dreamscape.com/morgana/ariel.htmWhen Pan Gu died, his breath became the wind and clouds, his voice the rolling thunder. One eye became the sun and on the moon. His body and limbs turned to five big mountains and his blood formed the roaring water. His veins became far-stretching roads and his muscles fertile land. The innumerable stars in the sky came from his hair and beard, and flowers and trees from his skin and the fine hairs on his body. His marrow turned to jade and pearls. His sweat flowed like the good rain and sweet dew that nurtured all things on earth. According to some versions of the Pan Gu legend, his tears flowed to make rivers and radiance of his eyes turned into thunder and lighting. When he was happy the sun shone, but when he was angry black clouds gathered in the sky. One version of the legend has it that the fleas and lice on his body became the ancestors of mankind. The Pan Gu story has become firmly fixed in Chinese tradition. There is even an idiom relating to it: "Since Pan Gu created earth and the heavens," meaning "for a very long time." Nevertheless, it is rather a latecomer to the catalog of Chinese legends. First mention of it is in a book on Chinese myths written by Xu Zheng in the Three Kingdoms period (CE 220-265). Some opinions hold that it originated in south China or southeast Asia.
The last of the great early civilizations arose in China and continues to this day. Chinas geography caused it to develop apart from other cultures.
7A great ocean, huge deserts, and high mountains isolate China from other areas. The mountains did not protect China totally, however. People living to the north and the west invaded the land many times during the Chinese history.
8There are two rich rivers within China the Huang He (Yellow River) and the Yangtze.Almost all the good farmland in China lies between these rivers.
9The Huang He deposited huge amounts of silt when it overflowed.This silt is fertile soil called Loess. The Chinese people also made use of the flood waters of these rivers.
10Writing developed in China sometime during the 2nd millennium BC, or possibly earlier, and that there is no evidence to suggest the transmission of writing from elsewhere.
The earliest examples of written Chinese date from the Xia Dynasty (2070 - 1600 BC) and were inscribed on ox scapulae and turtle shells - "oracle bones".
I in Chinese means change and Ching means book. The book of changes was born in the ancient China more than 3000 years ago.
The I Ching is is a book about divination. Divination is the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers.
14The I Ching was based on the idea of yin and yang. These two powers represented the harmony between opposite forces in the universe. Yin (the passive or feminine force).Yang (the active or masculine force).
15According to Chinese legend, the I Ching was originally written by a man named Fu Xi.
The story tells that Fu Xi was born along the Huang He (Yellow River). One day the land was swept by a great flood and only Fu Xi and his sister Nwa survived. They retired to Kunlun Mountain where they prayed for a sign from the Emperor of Heaven.
The divine being approved their union and the siblings set about procreating the human race.
It was said that in order to speed up the procreation of humans, Fu Xi and Nwa found an additional way by using clay to create human figures, and with the power divine being entrusted to them, they made the clay figures to come alive.
Unfortunately, there was as yet no moral or social order. Men knew their mothers only, not their fathers. When hungry, they searched for food; when satisfied, they threw away the remnants. They devoured their food hide and hair, drank the blood, and clad themselves in skins and rushes. -Ban Gu, Baihu tongyiThis greatly trouble Fu Xi. One day while he was sitting by the river a turtle crawled up to him. On its shell were trigrams.
On the back of the turtle were eight different markings of lines, each of the markings had a different arrangement.
13. Explain what the I Ching was and what it was about?3014. What is divination?31A few thousand years ago, some people began to farm along Chinas rivers.About 2000 B.C., the first dynasty of rulers brought government to China.
Civilization Emerges in Shang Times32Around 1500 B.C., a new dynasty, the Shang, began to rule.This dynasty left the first written records in China.
33Objects found in their palaces and tombs also tell us much about their society.Chinese people built their buildings of wood, not mud-dried brick as the other early cultures did.
34Huge walls made of earth surrounded these buildings to protect them. The walls were needed because it was a time of constant war.
35The king and the nobles who helped him fight these wars were at the top of Shang society.
At the bottom was the mass of peasants who lived in simple huts outside the city walls.They worked hard on the farms, using wooden tools because the Shang believed that Bronze was too good to be used for farming.
The Shang dynasty also had slaves to do work.The Origins of Chinese CultureShang society was held together by a strong belief in the importance of the group (all the people) and not any single person.
The most important part of society was the family.Children grew up learning to respect their parents.
39The family played a central role in Chinese religion, too. The Chinese thought that family members who had died could still influence the lives of family members who were alive.
40http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_4qshdnYnE&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1&safe=activeThey gave respect to dead members of the family, hoping to keep them happy.Through the spirits of their ancestors, the Shang also asked for advice from the gods.
42They used oracle bones to do this. These were animal bones and shells. Priests wrote questions on them. Then they touched them with something hot. The priests interpreted the cracks that resulted to find their answers.
43Oracle inscription carved on turtle shells (Shang dynasty, 1600-1100 BCE) About 4,500 different characters have been counted, and 1,700 of them deciphered
44The Chinese system of writing differed from those of other groups.Symbols stood for ideas, not sounds.This allowed the many different groups in China to understand the same writing even though each had a special spoken language.
45The written language had thousands of symbols, however.This made it very hard to learn.Only specially trained people learned to read and write.
46About 1207 B.C., a new group, the Zhou (JOH), took control of China. They adopted the Shang culture. They also started an idea of royalty that was new to China.
47Good rulers, they said, got authority to rule from the gods. This was known as the Mandate of Heaven.They claimed the Shang rulers were not just and had lost favor with the gods.That is why they had been replaced.
48From then on the Chinese believed in divine rule.However, it also meant that disasters such as floods or war pointed to a ruler who had lost the support of the gods and needed to be replaced.
49Until the early 1900s AD, the Chinese had one dynasty after another.This pattern of rise, fall, and replacement of dynasties is known as the dynastic cycle.
51The Zhou gave members of the royal family and other nobles the rights to large areas of land. They established feudalism. Feudalism is a political system in which the nobles owe loyalty to the king. The nobles promise to fight for the rulers and to protect the peasants who live on the land.
Eventually the Zhou rulers lost all power. The Nobles fought each other for control of China in a period called the time of the warring states.
53It lasted for hundreds of years. The Chinese suffered during these times.