Presentation on theme: "Ancient China 1. The origins of the society: fact and myth 2. Compare China’s population with the rest of the world 3. Social hierarchy 4. The Timeline."— Presentation transcript:
Ancient China 1. The origins of the society: fact and myth 2. Compare China’s population with the rest of the world 3. Social hierarchy 4. The Timeline of Ancient China 5. Geography of the societal homeland 6. Rivers and Canals 7. Ancient Chinese landmarks 8. The Dynasties 9. Government 10. Crime and Punishment 11. Yin and Yang 12. Religions and Philosophies 13. Foreign Policy and Contact 14. Work Urban and Rural 15. Artisans 16. The Daily Life of Women 17. Marriage 18. Warfare and the life of a soldier 19. An Event of Unification 20. The Legacy – The Great Wall of China
China Compare the population of China with some other countries. Source Wikipedia World= 6,973,738,433 (Trillions) China = 1,347,350,000 (Trillions) India= 1,210,193,422 USA= 315,028,000 (Millions) Indonesia= 237,641,326 Hong Kong= 7,136,300 Australia= 22,855,213 Malaysia = 22,591,154 Singapore= Dubai= 2,003,170 Fiji= 868,406 (Thousands) Tonga= 104,509
The origins of the society: fact and myth Social structure was very important in ancient China. The Chinese believed in strict social groups and people were expected to behave according to their social position. This belief was further reinforced by the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who taught that strict social order and discipline was the key to a successful society. Men and women in ancient China were not equal and men were afforded far more privileges than women. The Chinese strongly believed in the wisdom of the elders and, as such, grandparents were greatly respected.
Social hierarchy Beneath the emperor, there were four main social classes in ancient China. These four classes were nobles and officials, peasants, artisans and merchants. Imperial family The emperor and his family were at the top of the social scale in ancient China. The emperor ruled from a palace in the capital city. Emperors believed that they were appointed by heaven and therefore did not need to obey humans. An emperor expected his subjects to be loyal and obedient. It was common for an emperor to have many wives to increase his chance of having a son. Once the emperor chose the son that he wanted to succeed him, the mother of the son would become the empress. She was then able to grant favours to her family - often in the form of posts in the royal household and plots of land.
Social hierarchy Nobles The noble class in ancient China was very privileged. Nobles were typically the extended family of the emperor and empress and those people that excelled in their fields, particularly in the military. The status of nobles, however, changed frequently depending on who gained or fell out of favour with the emperor. When a new emperor came to power, it was common for him to favour a new set of nobles. Nobles often became landowners and collected taxes from those that lived on their land, meaning that they would become wealthier. They were required to give some of their income to the emperor and in return received privileges and were afforded some protection. Most nobles lived in extravagant homes and wore expensive clothing and jewellery. For sport, they hunted wild animals. If nobles committed a crime for which they were sentenced to death, the emperor could grant them a special favour that would allow them to commit suicide, which was considered a much more honourable death.
Ancient China Officials Officials were another group that held high social status in ancient China. Boys whose families could afford to send them to school began their education at an early age so as to become officials and were required to pass a difficult exam. If they did not pass, however, they were usually still able find jobs as they were considered well educated. Officials were arranged in ranks. The two most senior officials acted as advisers to the emperor. Most officials lived very comfortably and were well-respected due to their position and education.
Social hierarchy Peasants Although peasant farmers in ancient China were one of the lowest social classes, they were still considered important as they produced the food that sustained the society. Most peasants were very poor and led simple lives. They worked very hard and rarely had a day off. Peasant men worked in the fields and had to endure harsh conditions. They worked through the burning heat of summer and the bitter cold of winter. The harsh conditions could also ruin their crops and land. If the crops were ruined, poor families had very little to survive on during the winter. Some peasant women also worked in the fields but women's main tasks were confined to the household. It became common for women to sew and weave at home. By weaving and sewing cloth, women could provide clothes for the family and sell any surplus to earn more money. Even the poorest peasants were required to pay taxes, even if their crops had not been successful. This often left many families with very little to eat during the winter months.
Social hierarchy Artisans Artisans were part of the commoner class and included painters, carpenters, potters and jewellery makers. Artisans earned more than farmers but less than merchants. They did not have a high social status but were respected for their skills. Metalworkers became very important during the Han period. They learned how to work with metal moulds rather than shaping the metal while it was still very hot. Metalworkers produced weapons and many useful everyday objects, such as cooking pots. Weavers worked with silk, which was a very valuable product. Merchants Merchants were considered the lowest social class in ancient China. People believed that they did not contribute to the good of the whole society but only worked for their own gain. Despite their low social status, some merchants became very wealthy and lived in luxury. During the Han dynasty, some merchants became so wealthy that they were considered a threat to the emperor and the nobles. In order to limit their wealth, merchants had certain restrictions placed on them. Such restrictions included heavy taxes and being sent away to join the army. The richest merchants attained their wealth by investing their money in land. Many merchants, however, were not as wealthy. Merchants such as shopkeepers made smaller profits and led quiet, simple lives.
Social hierarchy Slaves Slaves did exist in ancient China but they made up a very small percentage of the population. Some slaves were the relatives of criminals while other people sold themselves or their children as slaves if they were very poor. Older generations The Chinese believed that as people grew older, they gained wisdom and knowledge. Older generations, therefore, were highly respected as they were thought to be wiser than the younger generations. People often looked to the older people in their families for advice or to settle an
The Timeline of Ancient China Xia Dynasty (approx 2000 BC BC) For many years experts believed that the Xia Dynasty was a legend. Excavations in 1959, however, found what is thought to have been the site of Yanshi, the capital of the Xia dynasty. Carbon dating shows that people occupied the site from around 2100 BC and were the ancestors of the Shang people. The people of the Xia were agricultural people who used bronze tools and weapons and were governed by spiritual ruling families. Shang dynasty (approx 1600 BC BC) The Shang dynasty is widely accepted as beginning the first known line of rulers. Cities started to grow during this time. The Shang is considered to have been the first real dynasty of China. Writing in China developed during the Shang dynasty.
The Timeline of Ancient China Zhou dynasty (approx 1027 BC BC) The Zhou were a warlike people from Wei river valley. Zhou rulers expanded the land of the Shang dynasty. The Zhou dynasty covered a long period of time and is split into Eastern and Western periods: Eastern Zhou BC. The Eastern Zhou is further divided into: Spring and Autumn period BC Warring States period BC Shi Huangdi became ruler of the Qin state in 246 BC. The Qin became the most powerful of the warring states and in 221 BC Shi Huangdi united the states. Shi Huangdi became the first emperor of a unified China. The Qin was a short-lived dynasty but it implemented many important reforms. The Han defeated Shi Huangdi's successor and continued the centralisation put in place by the Qin. One of the Han dynasty's main concerns was defending China from the Huns of Central Asia. The Silk Road was established during Han times.
The Timeline of Ancient China Three Kingdoms (220 AD AD) Following the fall of the Han dynasty, China fell into chaos again. Three kingdoms emerged from the disunity and each controlled their own land. The kingdoms were the Wei in northern China, the Shu in western China and the Wu in the east. Jin dynasty (280 AD AD) Western Jin ( ) Eastern Jin ( ) Southern and northern dynasties (420 AD AD) Northern Southern During this time, China was split into north and south and was ruled by separate dynasties. Sui (589 AD AD) Tang Dynasty ( ) Five dynasties and ten states ( ) Song Dynasty ( )
Geography of the societal homeland Modern-day China has an area similar to that of Australia, though China has a much larger population. China's climate and landscape varies dramatically across its regions. The land of ancient China was a series of independent states that were united in 221 BC. These states did not cover the land that modern-day China does but over the centuries, the dynasties gradually expanded China's territory. The people of early China depended on the rivers to sustain them. The Chinese civilisation grew alongside its agriculture, forming in areas where land was fertile and agriculture was productive. Landscape (Huashan Mountain below) Mountains, plateaus and rivers make up China's diverse landscape. In China's early history, these features acted as natural barriers that caused early communities to develop their own cultures and traditions with very few outside influences. China's landscape is often described as having three 'steps'. The mountains in the west, including the Himalaya mountain range, are the top step. The middle step can be found in central China with smaller mountains and vast deserts. This landscape gives way to the bottom step of eastern China, with long rivers and the surrounding flat plains.
China experiences climatic extremes. The far north is exposed to bitterly cold winters China experiences climatic extremes. The far north is exposed to bitterly cold winters and hot summers. Central China experiences cold winters and hot summers, though not to the extremes of northern China. The south of the country has a subtropical climate with hot summers and rainy seasons and tropical storms. hina
Rivers As with other early civilisations, the rivers were essential in the growth of the Chinese civilisation. Around the fertile banks of these rivers, early communities were established. Three of the major rivers were the Yangtze, the Xi and the Huanghe (also known as the Yellow River). The Yellow River The Yellow River takes its name from the yellow dust that blows across China from the dry flatlands of Central Asia. This dust is known as loess and leaves the land around the rivers very fertile. Early farmers used the fertile loess soil around the river banks to grow crops. The Yellow River is China's second-longest river at around 5400 km long. The river carries a large amount of sediment from the loess which causes the riverbed to become built up and prone to flooding. The Yellow River is both a help and a hindrance to the Chinese people and has become known as China's Sorrow, due to its severe floods which cause widespread devastation. The Yellow River has many tributaries, one of which is the Wei River, another centre of Chinese civilisation.
Rivers The Yangtze River The Yangtze River is China's longest river and is over 6380 km long. The climate of the Yangtze Valley meant that rice was one of the main crops in the south of ancient China. The Yangtze was important in providing irrigation to the paddy fields. Once the rice had been harvested and the fields dried out, they were used to grow wheat and barley. Excavations have unearthed the remains of a number of towns and cities along the Yangtze valley, dated to around 3000 BC.
The Grand Canal China's Grand Canal is the world's oldest and longest canal. It is over 1800 km long and construction of the Canal began in 486 BC. During the Spring and Autumn period of the Eastern Zhou, the ruler of the Wu state aimed to conquer the Qi state. He ordered a canal to be built so that soldiers could reach their target more efficiently. Over the following centuries, work continued on straightening and maintaining the canal. The Sui dynasty was responsible for building the greater section of the canal. During Sui times, China's main agricultural region shifted further south as rice became plentiful. The Canal was extended to create a more efficient link to transport goods between north and south. Later dynasties extended and modified the Canal to suit their requirements. Today the Canal is divided into sections, although not all sections are navigable.
Ancient Chinese Landmarks China is known for its many ancient landmarks that continue to serve as tourist and heritage attractions. These landmarks range from natural to built landmarks. The table below highlights some of the major well-known ancient landmarks. The Great Wall of China It is a great miracle in the world's ancient architecture. The wall can be divided into two parts: southern part and northern part. · Southern part is very steep and dangerous with the area being not so well constructed, so there are not many visitors. · The Northern part is safer; so many visitors prefer to climb the Great Wall via this section. During peak tourism periods, it is extremely crowded as many people climb the Great Wall to add to their sense of achievement. Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced; the majority of the existing wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty.
The Forbidden City The Forbidden City is the best preserved of all of China's ancient palaces. It now functions as China's Palace Museum. It is located in the center of Beijing city, and was built in 1406 based on the concept of Feng Shui (Chinese geomancy) and completed in It was used as the imperial residence for 24 emperors from Ming and Qing dynasties. It is the palace most representative of Chinese civilization, and considered as a holy place by the Chinese people.
The Terra Cotta Warriors This is considered a great archaeological discovery in human history and considered one of the eight wonders in the world. The astonishing discovery was at Xi'an in 1974 by a local peasant. Chinese archaeologists excavated the 7,000 earth-made soldier and horse figures, which are taller and larger than the real live ones at that time.
Anji Bridge Anji Bridge located in the Hebei Province and was built in the Sui Dynasty ( ). It is a single span stone arch bridge in China, and it is also the oldest extant bridge of China. The Anji Bridge has a segmental deck and the parapets are engraved with dragons and other animals. In 1991, it was named among the world cultural relics of civil engineering.
Potala Palace It is the symbol of Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet. The Potala Palace was originally built as the house for the marriage of Emperor Songtsen Gampoand Princess Wenchang in the Tang Dynasty. It is a sacred place for Tibetan Buddhism, the hall and corridors inside are decorated with master paintings, reflecting Buddhist teachings and stories. The Potala Palace is made up of 2 main parts: Red Palace and White Palace. In 1994, the Potala Palace has been listed by UNESCO as the World Cultural Heritage.
Mogao Grottoes (Caves) - also known as “Thousand Buddha Caves They are located at the cliffs of the Soughing Sand Hill. Being the largest, the most well- known grottoes of Buddhism art in China they are caved out on the third and fourth floors, extending a length of 1.6 kilometers along the cliff. There are 492 caves with a total of square meters of murals and 2400 colored sculptures housed in them. The sizes of the caves vary and the sculptures are tall and short. The Mogao Grottoes are the largest “World Treasure-house of Art” so far in existence in the world and so the UNESCO listed it as one of the world cultural legacies in December 1987.
Leshan Giant Buddha It is the tallest stone Buddha statue in the world, and a popular tourist destination in southwest China. It was carved out of a cliff face by an 8th-century monk in southern Szechuan province, near the city of Leshan. Construction on the Giant Buddha began in 713 AD. It was the idea of a Chinese monk named Haitong, who hoped that the Buddha would calm the turbulent waters that plagued the shipping vessels travelling down the river. When funding for the project was threatened, he is said to have gouged out his own eyes to show his piety and sincerity. The massive construction project was finally completed by his disciples 90 years later. The "Mount Emei Scenic Area with Leshan Giant Buddha" was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Expansion through the dynasties Each new dynasty aimed to expand China's territory further than the last dynasty, and often emperors of the same dynasty would seek to outdo their predecessors. Once China was united, the capital city often moved depending on the preferences of individual emperors. Shang China centred on the Yellow River valley. The Shang capital moved a number of times due to the flooding of the rivers. The Shang nobility were warriors and they expanded China's territory further south. The Zhou period of China was divided into the Eastern Zhou and Western Zhou and each division had its own capital. The Zhou extended China's territory into the Yangtze valley. During the Qin dynasty, the Qin state gained control over west and northwest states. It began to grow and eventually took control of the other warring states. This was the beginning of a unified China. The Han dynasty followed the Qin dynasty. The Han extended their power over the Viet tribes that bordered the South China Sea. After the fall of the Han dynasty, parts of China rebelled against the imperial centralisation. China was not reunited until the Sui and Tang dynasties centuries later. The dynasties continued to seek territorial expansion.
Government During the Zhou dynasty, people began to believe that the rulers of the Chinese states were 'sons of heaven', meaning that they were chosen by the gods. This idea continued to gain credibility. Once China was unified, the emperors used this belief to their advantage to help them retain power. Any aspiring usurper had to prove that the existing ruler had offended the gods before he could rightfully claim the title of emperor. A centralised government began with the rule of Shi Huangdi.
The emperor Shi Huangdi united the warring Chinese states, named himself the first emperor and established an empire. From this time, the emperor would be treated with increasing reverence and would come to be worshipped as a god. The emperor ruled with the Mandate of Heaven, the belief that he was only emperor because the gods chose him to be. This belief developed into an obligation for the emperor to rule as well as he could. If there were any signs that the emperor was not ruling well, such as failing to protect people from invasion, it was believed to indicate that Heaven had taken away the mandate. Natural disasters were also seen as a sign that the gods were unhappy with the emperor. It is thought that the Zhou came up with the Mandate of Heaven to convince people of their right to rule but eventually the rulers came to believe it themselves. The Zhou believed that the last Shang king was a corrupt and ineffective leader who could no longer fulfil his role. The Zhou believed that they had permission from heaven to seize power from the Shang.
The first centralised government Once the first emperor had unified China, the country came under a centralised government. This government was based on the distinction of social classes and emphasised individual responsibilities. Shi Huangdi made many reforms and was considered a brutal ruler. Under him, the principle of legalism became dominant. The legalists were opposed to Confucianism. Both Confucians and legalists believed in a united China but believed in different ways of attaining this goal. The legalists believed that most people were inherently evil and would only work for their own gain, not the gain of the community. The legalists believed that strict laws should be imposed with severe punishments for anyone that broke the law. They also believed in absolute obedience to the emperor. Legalism became the ruling principle under Shi Huangdi but this philosophy only lasted for 15 years until the legalists were overthrown. The beliefs of legalism had a lasting effect on China and the imperial system was to continue in China for many centuries.
Government officials The government had a central administration in the capital city with smaller divisions located in each province. The smaller divisions were staffed by officials appointed by the emperor. The central government had various departments that looked after things such as religion and ceremonies, law and order, taxes and agriculture. The officials of the central government were responsible for discussing issues such as taxation, justice and defence with the emperor and obtaining his permission to implement policies. The emperor had two very close governors to advise him. These close advisers communicated with the provincial officials. The governors were permitted to tell the emperor if he was failing to carry out his duties effectively. From the beginning of the Han dynasty, every effort was made to distinguish the emperor from the rest of society. The emperor was removed from the people and lived deep inside a large palace, hidden from commoners. He was provided with a huge household to attend to his every need.
Crime and punishment When a central government was established with the start of imperial China, officials were placed in the provinces to implement law and justice on behalf of the emperor. It was the responsibility of the officials to ensure that the population was aware of the laws. In rural areas, however, disputes were more often settled by the involved parties making compromises, rather than taking it to the criminal courts. Disputes were often taken to the village elders to resolve. This illustrated the respect for elders that was deeply embedded in Chinese culture. Many laws in ancient China were based on a moral code and central to this was the belief in filial piety, in which children were expected to respect and obey their parents. If a girl insulted her parents, for example, she would be strangled. The father of the family was responsible for the behaviour of his servants and children. If they committed a crime which the father could have prevented, then he was also punished. Other moral crimes were punishable by being beaten and then sent away for a time. Some crimes, such as armed robbery, were punishable by death.
Crime and Punishment (2) Crimes that were considered more trivial incurred punishments such as being beaten with a stick or being branded. Brandings were often on the cheek, where the mark was more visible. Some criminals were sent into exile for a number of years, while others could be banished for life. Manual labour was also used as punishment. Someone who committed murder in ancient China would be given a shameful and humiliating punishment - he or she would be beheaded. The ancient Chinese believed that the head was the noblest part of the body and it was a mark of great shame to be executed by being beheaded. The executioners were usually soldiers who used a sword wrapped in yellow cloth. Yellow was recognised as the royal colour and showed that the soldier was carrying out the orders of the emperor. Many laws in ancient China concerned the emperor and his protection. Laws and punishments were in place, for example, for those that entered the palace without authority and used the main road that was reserved for the emperor. Anyone that aimed to hurt the emperor would be allowed no support and would be tortured and executed immediately.
Religion and beliefs The ancient Chinese believed in numerous gods and goddesses. A common belief was that people's ancestors became gods when they died and ancestor worship was an essential part of daily life for many people. They would pray and make sacrifices to their ancestors and ask them for help and advice in different areas of their lives. People also believed in spirits and demons and in the power of nature. Many ancient Chinese beliefs remain prominent today, such as Chinese astrology and the Chinese New Year celebrations. Oracle bones The use of bones as a way of telling the future developed during the Shang period. The ancient Chinese believed they could ask their ancestors for advice by communicating with the bones of animals. Diviners (professional fortune tellers) inscribed questions onto the bones of oxen and the shells of turtles which were then heated over flames until they cracked. The diviners then interpreted the cracks and revealed the answers to the questions.
Yin and yang The Symbol (Yin-Yang) represents the ancient Chinese understanding of how things work. The outer circle represents "everything", while the black and white shapes within the circle represent the interaction of two energies, called "yin" (black) and "yang" (white), which cause everything to happen. They are not completely black or white, just as things in life are not completely black or white, and they cannot exist without each other. Ancient Chinese philosophers spent centuries studying the natural world. By around 500 BC they had determined that all living things in the universe were a result of the relationship between the forces of yin and yang. Yin and yang were central to many ancient Chinese beliefs and were represented by a black and white symbol. Yin and yang are opposite but complementary forces. Together they represent the opposites found in the natural world and their harmonious existence together. Yin is associated with all that is female, dark and cold and yang is associated with masculinity, light and heat.
Religions and philosophies The ancient Chinese were influenced by a number of philosophies and religions. Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism were three of the most influential beliefs. Buddhism and Daoism were considered to be religions, whereas Confucianism was a philosophy. The ancient Chinese were not restricted to following just one of these beliefs. In fact, many people adopted the principles of all three and applied them to different aspects of their lives. Confucianism, for example, became highly influential in terms of family relationships, respect and ancestor worship, whereas Daoism was influential in spirituality and personal health and Buddhism when someone died.
Daoism The foundations of Daoism lie with the teachings of Lao Tzu, who was born in around 604 BC. Lao Tzu was a contemporary of Confucius and believed in the harmony of nature. He believed in yin and yang and that the natural world was balanced between their two opposing forces. He thought that everything that was alive shared a life force and that it was wrong for people to take away the life force of others by killing them. He therefore did not agree with war and violence. He also believed that it was wrong for governments to impose too many rules on people and that people should be free to make their own decisions. He believed that wealth and ambition were evil and that people should lead simple lives.
Confucianism Confucianism is based on the teachings of Confucius, a famous Chinese philosopher. Confucius stressed the importance of social order and respect for ancestors. He believed that a society could function effectively if people knew their social status and behaved accordingly. He taught that people should respect and obey their parents and honour their memories when they died. Confucius's teachings influenced many of the Chinese emperors.
Buddhism Buddhism arrived in China through missionaries that travelled the Silk Road. The earliest Buddhist city was Loyang. Buddhism caused some conflict in its early days in China as many of its beliefs opposed those of Confucianism. Confucianism was concerned with social structure and life on Earth whereas Buddhism emphasised life after death, meditation, enlightenment and nirvana. Buddhism survived in China because the Chinese adapted it and it became entwined with many other Chinese beliefs and customs. Buddhism thrived during the Sui and Tang dynasties.
Ancestor worship It is thought that ancestor worship began at the very start of Chinese civilisation. The ancient Chinese believed that when their parents and grandparents died they became god- like. Each family had an altar in their home to worship their ancestors. The family believed that in return for their prayers and offerings to their ancestors, the ancestors would protect them and their home.
Afterlife The ancient Chinese believed in an afterlife but imagined that it would be very similar to their life on Earth. They believed that people would have the same needs in the afterlife as they did when they were alive, which is why many people were buried with useful household items. In early times, the servants and families of wealthy people were expected to sacrifice themselves to accompany their master into the afterlife. Later, however, carpenters and sculptors were commissioned to make statues of servants that could be buried with the dead.
Symbolism For thousands of years dragons have been, and still are today, an icon of Chinese culture. Dragons are traditionally considered to be auspicious and wise. Statues and paintings of dragons traditionally adorn houses as they are believed to ward off evil spirits and bring prosperity and good fortune. Dragons are symbolic of the natural world, particularly of water, and are greatly respected. The ancient Chinese believed that dragons controlled water and were therefore able to create rain and prevent floods. Temples and shrines were built as places to worship and make offerings to dragons. Winged dragons were thought to transport humans to the afterlife. After the First Emperor, dragons came to be associated with emperors and only the emperor was permitted to wear images of dragons on his robes. Emperors came to believe that they had dragon ancestors. In Chinese astrology, the year of the dragon is thought to be very lucky and anyone born in that year is thought to be blessed with good luck, long life and wealth.
Chinese Astrology and Festivals and celebrations The ancient Chinese divided time into 12-year cycles. Each year within the cycle was represented by a different animal. People are thought to share the characteristics of the animal that represents the year in which they were born. Chinese New Year is an ancient festival that is still celebrated by Chinese communities around the world. In ancient times, the festival took place at the first new moon between 21 January and 19 February. Traditionally it was a time where all accounts were closed and all debts were paid. At New Year, parents allowed their children to stay up late as they believed that the longer the children stayed awake at New Year, the longer the parents would live.
Foreign policy and contact China's territory changed as various rulers came into power. China's territory expanded and many neighbouring states and tribes were absorbed. Whilst China was establishing her civilisation, many of her neighbours were nomadic tribes that moved from place to place. China developed a sense of its own superiority and advancement compared to many of these tribes. For a long time, China was isolated from the rest of the world due to natural barriers. This gave people the idea that they were at the centre of the universe.
Tribute system Once China's warring states were united, its territory gradually increased as each new emperor sought to outdo his predecessors and gain more land. A system was developed whereby China's neighbouring regions that were outside of her control were required to present gifts to the emperor if they wished to trade with China. These gifts were known as 'tributes' and the system became known as the tribute system. Over time, these tributes began to signify more than just trade relationships. Tribute states were afforded a certain amount of protection and the tributes came to represent a greater allegiance between the states and China. The act of giving tribute, however, showed that the states and China were not equals but that China was superior and the states were required to submit to her. China had a certain amount of control over the tribute states and consequently did not expect to be invaded or attacked by these states. Those regions that were not part of the tribute system were not permitted to trade with, and had no ties to, China. China was at greater risk of being attacked by non- tribute regions. The tribute system was used early in imperial China but became particularly prominent during Han times. Allegiances with the tribute states meant that, over time, China was able to incorporate them more easily into her expanding territory.
Trade Before the development of coins, traders in ancient China bartered (exchanged) goods. They then began to use tokens and shells in exchange for goods. Prior to imperial China, selling land became very common and landowners could become very wealthy. By around 750 BC, a type of coin had been developed but it was not until Shi Huangdi became emperor and unified the states of China that a standard system of round metal coins was introduced. These circular coins had a hole in the centre which allowed them to be threaded onto a string and kept together. The very first paper money started to be used in China from around 900 AD.
Silk Road In around 139 BC, the Han emperor sent one of his generals on a mission to Central Asia to rally support against one of China's northern tribal enemies. The general, however, was unsuccessful in his mission and was kidnapped and imprisoned by the tribe. He eventually returned to China after ten years, having travelled through Burma and India. He had learned a great deal about different cultures and peoples along the way. In around 114 BC, Chinese merchants set off to Central Asia to sell their wares to the peoples that the general had spoken about. The route they took became an established trading route which expanded and became known as the Silk Road, named after the fine silks and fabrics that the Chinese traded for other items. The Silk Road continued to grow and it became the main overland link between the countries of Asia and Europe. The Silk Road eventually grew into a series of interconnecting roads which were joined by trading posts. During the Han dynasty, Chinese camel caravans transported silk, tea and spices to a trading post at Kashgar in Central Asia. From Kashgar, these goods made their way to various other places, including Rome. The Chinese traders obtained wool, gold and silver which they transported back to China. The Silk Road not only served to facilitate trade between east and west but also allowed the exchange of cultures, traditions and beliefs. It is thought that Buddhism came to China via the Silk Road. It was also a valuable route used many centuries later by the European explorer Marco Polo.
Work: urban and rural There were a variety of occupations in ancient China, some more respected than others. The majority of the population worked as peasant farmers in rural areas, producing the food that sustained the population. Although often very poor, farmers were considered important in ancient China. This was in stark contrast to merchants, many of whom became very wealthy by buying and selling goods but were not respected as contributors to the society. The ancient Chinese valued jade and bronze and craftsmen were kept busy producing decorative luxury items for the imperial household and wealthy families.
Rural work Many early civilisations began when people made the transition from hunting and gathering to settling in one place and cultivating crops. This was also the case in ancient China. The fertile lands around the rivers were ideal places to establish settlements and begin growing crops. Some of the earliest evidence suggests that the ancient Chinese settled in the Yellow River basin in around 3500 BC. As China's landscape and climate were so diverse, different crops flourished in different regions of the country. Conditions in the south were warmer and wetter than in the north so were good for growing rice. Fruit and vegetables were also grown in the south. The cooler conditions in the north were more suited to growing grains, such as wheat, millet and barley. Chinese farmers also learned to use irrigation systems to transport water between the rivers and fields. Rural life for peasant farmers was difficult. They worked in harsh conditions throughout the year and many lived with the threat of the rivers flooding, which could potentially ruin their crops and land. Farmers had to work once a month for the emperor.
Rural Work (2) A few fortunate farmers could afford to buy iron ploughs to be pulled by oxen which relieved them of some manual labour. Most farmers, however, had very basic tools and relied on manual labour. Before the Spring and Autumn Period, farm tools were mostly made of stone or wood. However, improvements in iron smelting technology during the Warring States Period enabled farmers to use more iron tools which boosted the economy. It was common for families in farming communities to live together and work the fields together. By working together they were able to produce greater quantities of food more efficiently. Men between the ages of 23 and 56 were required to serve in the army for a period of two years. Men were also called on to fight in the case of a large-scale attack.
Urban work The cities of ancient China were well organised. They had main streets and were protected by city walls. There were many urban occupations in ancient China, even though the minority of the population lived in the cities. The majority of people lived in rural areas.
Artisans Sculptors worked with jade and bronze and potters worked with clay to produce a variety of items. Many everyday objects, such as drinking vessels, pots and utensils, were made from clay. Richer families were able to obtain the same items but made from more expensive materials. Jade was often used to make ceremonial items. Dragons were an important Chinese symbol and featured heavily in different crafts. Early metal workers used bronze to produce weapons and armour for the armies. Many commemorative statues were also made from bronze. Craftsmen often worked in teams and did not take individual credit for their work. Later in ancient China, craftsmen often worked to create statues of servants and attendants for rich families. These statues would then be buried with the families when they died and were thought to assist them in the afterlife. Gold and silver became more desirable than bronze and jade during the Tang dynasty. The ancient Chinese learned how to work with finer metals from the Persians and used this knowledge to craft more delicate jewellery and luxury items. The early Chinese discovered that the sap from the lacquer tree could be used to reinforce and preserve a range of items. Initially, items were coated with lacquer to make them last longer. Eventually, using lacquer developed into an art. Bronze or wood formed the basic shape which would then be given numerous layers of lacquer. Often the lacquer would be coloured. Artists would then carve intricate designs into the lacquer to create desirable decorative items. Different coloured lacquers were also used to glaze pottery and ceramics.
Silk Once the ancient Chinese discovered how to make silk, it became one of their most valuable exports. Legend tells that the wife of the Yellow Emperor was sitting under a mulberry tree drinking tea when a silkworm cocoon fell into her cup. The cocoon began to unravel in the hot tea, leaving behind filaments of silk. The Chinese then began to cultivate silkworms but kept their industry secret. The filaments were spun to create threads which were woven into fine cloth. Silk became very valuable as demand for it both inside and outside of China increased. Silk making became a job for groups of women. Silk was used to make clothing and expensive quilts. Artists painted and wrote on it and it was also embroidered to make fine garments for the imperial family. This fabric gave its name to the Silk Road. Silk making is also known as sericulture.
Painting and Writing Before the development of paper, the Chinese wrote on bamboo, carving the characters from top to bottom. Paper was not invented until the second century AD. Later in the same century, printing was developed. The Chinese characters were cut into clay, brushed with ink and then covered with paper. The ink on the characters left an impression on the paper. Artists also used a similar technique to write on silk. Chinese writing and painting developed alongside each other. Painting was a highly respected art and the Chinese believed that it was a mark of their civilisation. Natural landscapes and the concept of harmony were central to many ancient Chinese paintings. Artists painted on paper, walls, screens, fans and silk.
Other urban occupations Other urban occupations included government officials, doctors, healers, scholars and fortune tellers. Most Chinese cities had a marketplace where people could buy and sell goods. Most merchants were considered to be of low social standing, although some merchants did become very wealthy.
Daily life of women The majority of women in ancient China lived oppressed lives. Even women of the nobility and the imperial family did not escape the oppression, though life was possibly slightly easier for them than for the large population of poor women. Women were considered inferior to men and from the moment of birth most women were treated as inferiors. Family life As women in ancient China were considered inferior to men, this meant that their whole lives were spent being subservient to the men in their families. Generations of one family often lived in the same house together and older people were greatly respected. A grandmother became important if she outlived her husband as she would then be the oldest member of the household and would be afforded the most respect. Confucius taught that women's roles were to look after the men in their families. He believed that it was not acceptable for a woman to have her own ambitions and that she should have barely any life outside her own home. He did, however, teach that a woman's role as mother and mother-in-law should be respected. He taught that a 'woman's greatest duty is to have a son'.
Marriage Marriages were arranged in ancient China but they were also carefully considered. The parents of the children to be married consulted an astrologer who referred to the birth charts of each child. The astrologer would determine if, by the time and date of their births, the children were compatible. As a woman's thoughts and opinions were not considered important, the father's word was final on who his daughter would marry. The morning after the marriage, the girl would bow and offer tea to her in-laws as a sign that she now belonged to her husband's family. Once married, a girl would live with her husband's family. She would be required to obey all the members of his family, particularly his mother. A girl often became the servant of her mother-in-law and was forbidden to disobey her. A girl gained more respect in her husband's family if she gave birth to a boy. The birth of a boy was always celebrated more than the birth of a girl. If families were very poor, they would sell their daughters as servants to rich families. If a wife did not give birth to a son, her husband often took other wives.
Education and ancestor worship The ancient Chinese did not think it was important to educate women. Women also did not practise ancestor worship as once they married their loyalties would lie with the families of their husbands. Ancestor worship was important to men as they remained loyal to one family. Women were not allowed to take exams and therefore could not enter into government service. Most girls did not go to school. Some girls who had scholars as fathers could learn from them, but female scholars were very rare.
Foot binding It is thought that foot binding began in around 900 AD during the Tang dynasty and continued until 1911 when it was finally banned. There are various legends regarding the origins of foot binding. Some suggest that the practice became fashionable in the emperor's court as small feel were considered to be a mark of exceptional beauty. It is thought that the practice was initially taken up by wealthy families and it became a symbol that a family was wealthy, as girls with bound feet were barely able to walk, let alone work. Girls with bound feet were considered very attractive and it became a common practice. It also became common for girls without bound feet to be rejected by suitors. The custom of foot binding gradually spread to all social classes as many poor people saw it as a way of improving their social status. This put great pressure on poor families who needed all members of their family to work. Some peasant families were so poor that the women continued to work in the fields with their bound feet. As they were unable to stand, they had to work on their hands and knees.
Foot Binding (2) It then became necessary for families to bind the feet of their daughters in order for them to find a husband. It had long been a belief in China that women were inferior to men. The practice of foot binding further reinforced this belief, as women with bound feet were debilitated and weakened and less likely to be disobedient or rebellious. Foot binding began for most girls when they were around six or seven years of age, while the bones of the foot were still young and the arch had not yet fully developed. The process was excruciatingly painful. The toes were broken and bandages were tightly bound around the foot to pull the toes back and restrict their growth. The bandages were changed every few days and the process usually continued for another ten years until the feet had stopped growing and had become small and pointed. In addition to the pain endured by the girls, their feet often became infected, which in some cases proved fatal. In later years, women with bound feet were more likely to fall and fracture their hips.
Women's work Women's work was centred on the home. Tasks such as preparing food, cleaning and looking after children were the norm for the majority of women in ancient China. They were expected to have many children and most women felt the pressure to bear a son. It was common for women to take up manual labour in the home. Spinning, weaving and sewing were common occupations. Some peasant women worked in the fields with their husbands.
Clothing Clothing was important in ancient China as it became symbolic of status. People from the higher classes wore fine fabrics, whereas poorer people wore cheaper fabrics that were rough to the touch. Most people wore tunics, women wore long tunics with belts and men wore shorter ones, usually with jackets. Most people, including men, wore their hair long. Many people believed that their hair was a gift from their parents and considered it disrespectful to cut it. Men were rarely seen in public without headwear. Colour was also an indicator of class. Some emperors insisted that a certain colour became the royal colour and could not be worn by anyone other than the emperor. From the Sui dynasty, the royal colour was yellow.
A secret language Nushu was a secret language which is thought to have developed in the Jiangyong county of Hunan province in southern China. No one knows its exact age, but it is thought to have developed over hundreds of years. Some experts suggest that it began around 300 AD. Nushu was a secret written language developed by women who were not allowed to be educated. It was different to the language that men learned and used and therefore could only be understood by the small community of women who communicated with it. Knowledge of Nushu was passed down by grandmothers, mothers, aunts and great aunts and was never shared with men. For many women it was comforting to be able to secretly share their feelings with other women.
Warfare and the life of a soldier Before the warring states of China were united, each state had its own territory and own military for defence. Following the unification of the states, a much more organised army was established. Although the states were united, emperors still wanted to claim more territory and an army was needed to conquer neighbouring peoples and claim their land. For many centuries, China was under threat of attack from Mongol tribes to the north and much of its military was involved with defending Chinese lands.
The army During the Han dynasty, China was frequently at war. It was also under frequent threat from enemies to the north. China's army was made up mainly of citizens who served in the army for a period of two years at some time in their lives. During times of peace, the army was deployed to conquer peoples and bring more land under Chinese rule. If the army was on a specific military mission, an experienced officer was appointed. For minor operations, however, a junior officer was appointed to lead it. During the Han period, the army was mostly infantry. An advance party of archers and horsemen was often sent ahead of the infantry and the infantry were armed with spears and crossbows. There is no evidence to suggest that ancient Chinese soldiers fought in a particular formation.
Soldiers During Han times all able men between the ages of 23 and 56 were obliged to serve in the army for a period of two years. This meant that there was always a mobilised fighting force in ancient China. Men were also called to serve in the military in case of an emergency, even if they had previously served their two years. Men who served their time as soldiers during peace time, or when they were not needed on a campaign, were required to perform guard duty, usually at points along the wall or in the cities. Soldiers had a relatively low status in society. They were not paid for their service but they did receive food and equipment. They were required to wear a full uniform which was also provided. During conflict, the majority of the military were infantry.
Weapons and Armour China's early armies fought using chariots and bronze weapons. Later, as weaponry and metalworking developed, soldiers used iron weapons and cavalry. Weapons included bows and arrows and swords. The development of the crossbow in the fourth century BC meant that chariots became redundant. The crossbow had a range of about 200 metres and could pierce armour. It became a very valuable weapon in ancient Chinese warfare. Armour was usually made from metal or leather. Small pieces of leather and metal were overlapped and attached to cloth. This provided protection but also allowed the soldiers flexibility of movement. Leather armour was usually lacquered to give extra strength. Dating from Han times, helmets were also worn.
Defence The army was often engaged in defending China's northern frontier from enemy tribes. Some of these tribes posed a particular threat as many of the soldiers had grown up learning to fight and were competent horseback fighters. This was in contrast to China's army, many of whom had little formal training or experience in battle and who were only exposed to warfare when they were called up to serve their two years.
Gunpowder In the late 900s AD, China developed a substance that would later become a very powerful weapon. Gunpowder was first thought to have been used in alchemy and medicine. It was discovered that amounts of sulphur, charcoal and saltpetre could be combined to produce a powder, which when lit caused an explosion. Possibly one of the first military uses of gunpowder was the creation of a flare that guards could use to warn each other of an approaching attack. It is thought that in around 1150 AD, the Chinese developed the idea of attaching gunpowder to the shaft of an arrow and setting fire to it. In doing so they developed a very powerful weapon. They attached a weight to the arrow and made it into a type of rocket. This arrow could then fly for about 335 metres. They further developed the technology and invented launchers that could fire up to 300 arrows at once.
The Art of War From later in the Warring States Period, it appears that the military shifted its focus to more strategic warfare. This included deceiving the enemy and obtaining information undercover. It is thought that Sun Tzu was a military general during the Spring and Autumn period. Most historians believe that he was born in around 544 BC and died in 496 BC, and was a contemporary of Confucius. Sun Tzu is credited with writing The Art of War, believed by many to be the oldest military treatise in the world. One legend tells that once he had written the treatise, Sun Tzu presented it to the king of the Wu state. The king asked if its principles could be applied to anyone and Sun Tzu replied that they could. In order to prove himself, Tzu took over 100 ladies of the king's court and turned them into trained soldiers in one session. The king made Sun Tzu a general in his army where he was able to implement the strategies of his treatise. The Art of War remains an influential text in our modern world. Many of Sun Tzu's principles are commonly applied in areas such as business strategy, sport and the achievement of personal goals.
An event: The unification of China The unification of China by the king of the Qin state is one of the most important events in China's history. The Qin dynasty was a comparatively short-lived dynasty but it implemented landmark reforms and established a model for China that would be used for centuries to come. The states of China before unification As we have discovered in previous chapters, ancient China was made up of a number of states that were independent of each other. These states were in the north of modern-day China. The Shang and the Zhou were two particularly powerful states that had some control over the other states. The Zhou began to weaken in around 500 BC and the states fell into a period of war and chaos as each state tried to assert its power over the others. During this time, the states were also invaded by nomadic tribes to the north of China that had become aware of the disharmony among the Chinese states. Seven states emerged as key players in the fight for power. They were the Han, the Chao, the Wei, the Ch'u, the Yen, the Ch'i and the Qin. The two main competitors were the Ch'i and the Qin. It was the state of the Qin that was to emerge as the most powerful of the warring states and it was the king of the Qin who would ultimately unite the states and become ruler over all of them.
The Qin state The Qin state was a comparatively small state in the west, near the Wei River. Between 328 and 308 BC, the Qin assumed control of the north and northwest states. The Qin began to rule from their territory and gradually brought the other states under their control. By 256 BC the Zhou had lost the last of their power and were no longer influential. The Qin adopted the then recent philosophy of Legalism which was in favour of a centrally governed state.
A unified China Historians date the start of the Qin dynasty to 256 BC but unification did not take place until 221 BC. The Qin had been the most powerful state in China from 256 BC, since the fall of the Zhou, but in 246 BC power was handed to a 13-year-old boy named Ying Zheng. Being only a teenager, Zheng was counselled by a number of advisers. Among them was Li Su, one of the founders of Legalism. In 232 BC, Zheng's advisers counselled him to unite the states. Many of the states were very weak and could not stand up to the Qin military. By 221 BC he had conquered the northern states. Zheng then proclaimed himself Shi Huangdi, meaning First Emperor. Once in this position of power and aided by his advisers, Shi Huangdi put in place a system of rule and government that would be emulated by all future Chinese dynasties. The system of government placed the emperor and his officials at the centre, with various other levels branching out to administer the government in the newly-created provinces.
A secret language - Qin The Qin implemented a number of reforms. They improved agriculture, built better roads, introduced a single currency and consolidated the existing systems of law and writing. Strict laws were put in place, particularly within the government, and any corrupt officials were sentenced to death. The shift was made from the feudal landholder system to a bureaucratic system, within which was a strict hierarchy. Land was confiscated from the feudal nobles and shared among the peasants. Before uniting the states, the Qin state had already adopted the beliefs of legalism. Legalists believed that humans were essentially base and selfish and that they needed to be strictly controlled and disciplined. These were the principles on which the Qin ran their kingdom and went on to rule a unified China. Shi Huangdi was considered a cruel and brutal ruler. In uniting the states, he abolished local customs and aimed to minimise the differences between languages so that a central system could be put in place which could be understood by everyone. Anything that the Qin thought would help to centralise and unite the states was implemented, such as standard weights and measures and a standard currency. In 213 BC, advised by a legalist, the First Emperor ordered the burning of all private libraries and all books that included teachings that were not in line with the Qin government, particularly Confucianist ideals.
A secret language – Qin (2) This action was an attempt to extinguish any opposition to the centralised government and to destroy anything that might allow people to form their own ideas and might lead to potential rebellion. Many scholars who tried to protect their books were executed. The burning of the books was a tragic loss for Chinese culture as the majority of early records, teachings and philosophies were destroyed. Once these reforms were in place, the Qin looked to take control of territory further south. Qin Shi Huangdi was strong but had many enemies. Nomadic tribes to the north had long been a threat to China. It is also thought that the thousands of ruling families who had been overthrown when the Qin came to power also opposed Shi Huangdi's rule. They were also angry as he had confiscated much of the land belonging to them and redistributed it among the nobles.
End of the Qin Shi Huangdi died in 210 BC and his son assumed the throne of the Qin dynasty. A large rebellion broke out after the death of Shi Huangdi. Many people were unhappy with the oppressive rule of the Qin and the legalist government. The prince of the Han defeated the Qin troops in battle and overthrew Shi Huangdi's son to establish the Han dynasty. Shi Huangdi's Qin dynasty fell only four years after his death. Although it was a short-lived dynasty, it is a hugely significant period in China's history. The Qin dynasty also left a lasting legacy with its name. Pronounced 'chin', it is from Qin that the modern-day country of China takes its name.
The Legacy – The Great Wall of China The Great Wall of China is one of the most recognised wonders of the world and has received World Heritage listing. The wall has a complex history and was built intermittently over 2000 years. The Great Wall is not one continuous wall that was built at a specific period in history but is a series of smaller walls that were built by different dynasties over many centuries. Shi Huangdi of the Qin dynasty is often credited with building the wall; however, the foundations which he built upon were already in place. History of the Wall During the Warring States Period of the Eastern Zhou dynasty, the states built walls to protect themselves from invasion by other enemy states. Following the Warring States Period, Shi Huangdi became emperor and founded the Qin dynasty. He unified the states and ordered the walls built during the Warring States Period to be joined together. This was intended to act as a defence against the nomadic Mongolian tribes to the north. It is during this time that the Wall took its name of the Wall of ten thousand Li. A li was a unit of measure and li equates to around 5000 km. The Wall during this period was relatively simple. There were no watchtowers and the Chinese had not yet started to use bricks.
Structure of the Wall During the Han dynasty, the Wall was extended further into the Gobi Desert. Parts of the Wall were renovated occasionally during the Han dynasty but it was not until the Ming dynasty that major renovations began. The Ming extended the Wall, reinforced it and added fortifications. The Great Wall of China is not one continuous wall. As the Wall was extended during the Qin, Han and Ming dynasties, builders found that at certain points the mountains were tall enough and the rivers wide enough to provide sufficient defence. At these points there would be breaks in the Wall but watchtowers were still built to ensure a continuous defence. Forts, passes and watchtowers were structures that could be found along the Wall. Passes were situated at intervals along the Wall, usually near a large town or city and provided access to the Wall and the land either side of it. The Wall acted as an important defence for the Chinese. The Wall allowed the Chinese a clear view of any invading tribes. They had a clear height advantage and were able to fire arrows down onto the enemy. The watchtowers built along the walls acted as lookout points and allowed people to stay in touch. If a guard on a watchtower saw the approach of an enemy he would light a fire as a beacon to alert the guards on other watchtowers. This method of communicating was faster than sending a messenger on foot or horseback.
The building of the Wall The style of the Wall and the materials used to build it vary according to the section of Wall, its location and the dynasty in which it was built. Workers tried to use materials that were readily available locally in order to minimise transporting goods from other areas. Workers during the Han dynasty came across the problem of how to build with sand, as it was the only abundant material in the Gobi desert. They discovered that by adding twigs and pebbles to the sand they could create a better structure. Before bricks, wood, mud and stone were used as building materials. The early wall builders used tamped (compressed) earth to build sections of the Wall. As the dynasties developed, so did weapons. During the early history of the Wall, the weapons used by China's rivals were mainly swords, spears and bows. The Wall did not need to provide much defence against such weapons so mud was an adequate material. Once gunpowder became available during the Ming Dynasty, however, it became necessary to build the Wall of stronger materials that could withstand the more advanced weaponry. The builders used stone slabs and developed a way of firing bricks in a kiln to achieve greater support. It is estimated that over one million men, women and children helped to build the Wall at various points. Many, however, died as a result of exposure, exhaustion and malnutrition. Some legends say that many of the dead were buried in the Great Wall.
The Great Wall today The Great Wall today stretches for approximately 6500 km and runs from the east coast of China to the mountains in the west. Its height varies between five and seven metres. The Great wall received World Heritage Listing from UNESCO in In July 2007, The Great Wall of China was chosen as one of the modern day seven wonders of the world by a poll of 100 million online voters.