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Medieval China Sui, Tang, & Song Dynasties. Looking Back & Looking Forward Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han (Ancient-Classical China) With the fall of the Han Dynasty.

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Presentation on theme: "Medieval China Sui, Tang, & Song Dynasties. Looking Back & Looking Forward Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han (Ancient-Classical China) With the fall of the Han Dynasty."— Presentation transcript:

1 Medieval China Sui, Tang, & Song Dynasties

2 Looking Back & Looking Forward Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han (Ancient-Classical China) With the fall of the Han Dynasty in 220 CE, China alternates between periods of political unity and fragmentation. Between 589 and 906 CE, China enjoyed a political revival under the Sui and Tang Dynasties. China will also be rocked by the advances of the Mongol armies in the 1200s.


4 The Sui Dynasty Period btwn. Fall of the Han & rise of Sui is 6 Dynasties period or 3 Kingdoms period. The first strong dynasty to emerge after the fall of the Han was the Sui Dynasty (589- 618 CE). Reunified China Expanded China’s borders as a result of military conquest

5 Sui- Wendi Wendi seized the throne and proclaimed himself emperor. Although he was Chinese, he secured his power base by winning support of nomadic military commanders. Lowered taxes and est. granaries. Wendi’s son Yangdi murdered him & seized the throne.

6 Sui- Yangdi Upgraded Confucian edu. Restored the civil service exam. BUT Forced peasants into military service to build sumptuous palaces. Led a series of unsuccessful military campaigns to gain Korea. Was assassinated by his own ministers in 618. Looked like China would spiral into chaos again, but wait….

7 Tang Dynasty Li Yuan, the Duke of Tang comes to the rescue and restores order. Thus begins the next dynasty: Tang Dynasty. Under the Tang (618-906 CE), China became larger than ever before. – Rulers extend China’s influence to parts of Central Asia, Mongolia, Manchuria, Tibet, and to the south, the Pacific Coast. Like the Han Dynasty, the Tang forced many of its neighbors into a Tributary System, whereas Korea, Vietnam, Japan and others had to make regular payments to avoid punishment.

8 I am Li Yuan. I love the citrusy taste of Tang so much, I named my dynasty after it! Yummmmmmmm.

9 Tang Dynasty

10 Tang (& Song) Dynasty Tang economy was very strong due to advanced infrastructure (roads, waterways, canals) and trade. – Grand Canal: Begun in the Sui Dynasty to link the Yellow and Yangzi Rivers. Increased trade stimulated the Tang economy – Silk industry made China exceptionally wealthy – Horses, Persians rugs, and tapestries came to China along Silk Road. Silk, textiles, porcelain, & paper were exported from China to the Islamic world via the 5,000 mile Silk Road.

11 Trade & Commercial Expansion In addition to overland trade, maritime trade expanded during Tang & Song era. Indian Ocean Trade Network: China’s control of the southern coast allowed participation in the Indian Ocean Trade Network. Along with Arab dhows, Chinese junks were the best ships in the world at this time. Were equipped with gunpowder propelled rockets.

12 Dhow + Junk = Caravel


14 Trade, Commerce, & Urbanization Guild system Deposit shops = early form of bank. 1 st use of paper money occurred during the Tang Dynasty. Merchants deposited their profits in their hometown deposit shops. They were then given credit vouchers called “flying money,” which they could redeem in their city of destination. Urban centers grew steadily. The number of people living in large cities in China (10%) was greater than that found in any civilization until the Industrial Revolution.

15 Tang Examination System Tang emperors patronized academies to train state officials and educate them in Confucian classics. – Examination system was greatly expanded under Tang & Song. Administered by Ministry of Rites. – Highest offices could only be gained by those who were able to pass exams on the philosophical or legal classics, and Chinese lit. While many govt. officials won their position through success in the Civil Service Examination system, birth and family connections still played a major role in securing office.


17 Tang Decline Political intrigue would plague the late Tang dynasty. Empress Wei poisoned her hubby (the son of Empress Wu), and placed her son on the throne, but her attempt to seize power was thwarted by another prince, who led a palace revolt & seized the throne. Xuanzong became the last great Tang emperor, but his doomed love affair with Yang Guifei would lead to the empire’s collapse. See the movie- trailer for Lady Yang

18 Tang Decline During the 800’s, a series of peasant rebellions and military disasters weakened the Tang, & the heart- broken Yang Guifei was incapable of maintaining order.

19 China after the Tang By the end of the 8 th c, little remained of the Tang Empire. By 907, the last Tang emperor was forced to resign and China appeared to be entering another phase of nomadic dominance.. But in 960 military commander Zhao Kuangyin emerged to reunite China under a single dynasty: The Song Zhao, renamed Emperor Taizu, founded the Song dynasty, which ruled China for the next 3 centuries

20 Song Politics Song never matched the Tang in terms of political or military strength. Military weakened- commanders were rotated to prevent building up a power base in the areas they were stationed. Promoted the interests of the Confucian scholars. Civil service exams given every 3 years at district, provincial, and imperial levels.

21 Song Decline Funds for defense spending were re-allocated to cover the scholarly pursuits and entertainments of the imperial court. Though Song armies were large, their commanders were rarely well trained. Neglect of military would be the source of their undoing. An unprepared military was no match for the threat from beyond the empire’s northern borders. The Song gradually lost territory and retreated to the South. The smaller Song state, the Southern Song Dynasty, will survive until the Mongol Conquests of the 1270s.

22 Song Econ & Society Culturally and economically impressive – Steady population growth – Contd urbanization – Largest cities on earth at the time (population over 1 million) – Trade contacts lessened, but still active. – Port of Canton (Guangzhou) became the world’s busiest and most cosmopolitan trading centers. – Contd Tang agrarian expansion. State-regulated irrigation. Encouraged peasant migration to uncultivated areas. – Broke up estates of the old aristocracy and distributed land more equitably among the peasantry. – Bolstered the position of peasants- balanced social order.

23 Song Technology & Innovation With the exception of the Abbasid Caliphate, Song China was of the most scientifically and technically advanced societies in the world at that time. – Excellent mathematicians and astronomers. – Compasses: Had been around since last c. BCE, but used for the first time in maritime navigation in 1090. – Su-Song’s celestial clock was built in 1088 CE 80 feet tall Time of day, day of month, positions of the sun, moon, planets, and major stars. First device in world history to use a chain-driven mechanism powered by flowing water.

24 Song Technology & Innovation Gunpowder: at 1 st had little impact on warfare. For centuries, the Chinese used it mainly for fireworks. Used in grenades by the late Song dynasty. Paper Currency, banking (flying money) Abacus: ancestor of the modern calculator. Invented to help merchants to count profits and tax collectors keep track of revenues. Bi Sheng invented movable type in the mid 11 th c. Advance over block printing that had been invented in the Han. Moveable type and paper (Han invention), advanced the production of written records. Printing made it possible for Song China to attain a level of literacy above that of any preindustrial civ.

25 Song Art & Lit A well-educated man was expected to excel in many fields. After a day of work at the Ministry of Public Works, an accomplished official was expected to spend his evenings composing songs and poems. Art became more secular and celebrated the beauty of the natural world. Poetry was the main art form of the Tang (Li Bo), and landscape painting for the Song. Song landscapes were painted on scrolls that could be read as the viewer unfolded them. And you’re going to make one!


27 Religion Great revival of Confucius’ teachings, known as Neo- Confucianism. – Its hostility toward outside influences would eventually stifle innovation. – Reinforced Chinese culture’s tendency toward hierarchy, patriarchy, and obedience. – Thought that social harmony was preserved by keeping people in their proper place. – Put a premium on education and cultured behavior.

28 Women in Chinese Society Neo-Confucianism was used to justify the greater subordination of women. Reinforced virginity for young brides, fidelity for wives, and chastity for widows. Men, however, could have pre-marital sex, and take concubines without scandal. Women excluded from education. Chinese subjugation of women was most obvious in foot- binding. Counterpart of the veil and the harem in the Islamic world. – May have started with a Tang emperor who had a developed a fetish for tiny dancer feet. – Upper-class men developed a taste for small feet, and successful marriage negotiations often hinged on male demands for small feet.

29 Women in Chinese Society Families began binding girl’s feet @ age 5. Toes turned under and bound with silk which was tightened as she grew. By the time she reached marriageable age, a girl’s foot had been transformed into the “lotus petal” form. One woman's story of foot binding One woman's story of foot binding

30 Resources Adas, M., Gilbert, M.J., Schwartz, S.B., & Stearns, P.N. (2007). World civilizations: The global experience. (5 th ed.). New York: Pearson Education. Neater, B. (2009). Id=8966942

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