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Early China

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A look at early Chinese civilization with an emphasis on the family/social unit.

A look at early Chinese civilization with an emphasis on the family/social unit.

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Early China Early China Presentation Transcript

  • EARLY SOCIETY IN EAST ASIA
  • Political organization in early China
    • Early agricultural society and the Xia dynasty
    • The Yellow River
      • Water source at high plateau of Tibet
      • Loess soil carried by the river's water, hence "yellow"
      • "China's Sorrow"--extensive flooding
      • Loess provided rich soil, soft and easy to work
  • Political organization in early China
    • Neolithic societies after 5000 B.C.E.
      • Yangshao society, 5000-3000 B.C.E.
      • Excavations at Banpo village: fine pottery, bone tools
    • The Xia dynasty
      • Archeological discovery of the Xia is still in its early stages
      • Established about 2200 B.C.E.
      • Legendary King Yu, the dynasty founder, a hero of flood control
      • Erlitou: possibly the capital city of the Xia
  •  
  • The Shang dynasty: 1766-1122 B.C.E.
    • Arose in the southern and eastern areas of the Xia realm
    • Many written records and material remains discovered
    • Bronze metallurgy, monopolized by ruling elite
    • Horses and chariots traveled with Indo-European migrants to China
    • Agricultural surpluses supported large troops
    • A vast network of walled towns
    • The Shang capital moved six times
    • Lavish tombs of Shang kings with thousands of objects
    • Other states besides Shang, for example, Sanxingdui
  • The Zhou dynasty: 1122-256 B.C.E.
    • Zhou gradually eclipsed Shang
    • Mandate of heaven, the right to rule
      • The Zhou needed to justify the overthrow
      • Ruler as "the son of heaven"
      • Mandate of heaven only given to virtuous rulers
    • Political organization: decentralized administration
      • Used princes and relatives to rule regions
      • Consequence: weak central government and rise of regional powers
    • Iron metallurgy spread through China in first millennium B.C.E.
  •  
  • The fall of the Zhou
    • Nomadic invasion sacked Zhou capital in 711 B.C.E.
    • Territorial princes became more independent
    • The Warring States (403-221 B.C.E.)
    • The last king of the Zhou abdicated his position in 256 B.C.E.
  •  
  • Society and family in ancient China
    • The social order
    • The ruling elites with their lavish consumption of bronze
      • Hereditary aristocrats with extensive landholding
      • Administrative and military offices
      • Manuals of etiquette
    • Free artisans and craftsmen mostly worked for elites
    • Merchants and trade were important
      • Trade networks linked China with west and south
      • Oar-propelled boats traded with Korea and offshore islands
    • Peasants, the majority of population
      • Landless peasants provided labor
      • Lived in small subterranean houses
      • Women's work: wine making, weaving, silkworm raising
      • Wood, bone, stone tools before iron was spread in the sixth century B.C.E.
    • Slaves, mostly war prisoners
    • Family and patriarchy
    • Early dynasties ruled through family and kinship groups
    • Veneration of ancestors
      • Belief in ancestors' presence and their continuing influence
      • Burial of material goods with the dead
      • Offering sacrifices at the graves
      • Family heads presided over rites of honoring ancestors' spirits
    • Patriarchal society evolved out of matrilineal one
      • The rise of large states brought focus on men's contribution
      • After the Shang, females devalued
  • Society and family in ancient China
    • Family and patriarchy
    • Early dynasties ruled through family and kinship groups
    • Veneration of ancestors
      • Belief in ancestors' presence and their continuing influence
      • Burial of material goods with the dead
      • Offering sacrifices at the graves
      • Family heads presided over rites of honoring ancestors' spirits
    • Patriarchal society evolved out of matrilineal one
      • The rise of large states brought focus on men's contribution
      • After the Shang, females devalued
  • Early Chinese writing and cultural development
    • The secular cultural tradition
      • Absence of organized religion and priestly class
      • Believed in the impersonal heavenly power-- tian
      • Oracle bones used by fortune-tellers
        • Inscribed question, subjected to heat, read cracks
        • Discovery of the "dragon bones" in 1890s
    • Early Chinese writing, from pictograph to ideograph
      • More than two thousand characters identified on oracle bones
      • Modern Chinese writing is direct descendant of Shang writing
  • Thought and literature
    • Zhou literature--many kinds of books
      • The Book of Change , a manual of diviners
      • The Book of History , the history of the Zhou
      • The Book of Rites , the rules of etiquette and rituals for aristocrats
      • The Book of Songs, a collection of verses--most notable work
    • Most Zhou writings have perished
  • Ancient China and the larger world
    • Chinese cultivators and nomadic peoples of central Asia
    • Nomadic peoples of the steppe lands--herders
      • Exchange of products between nomads and Chinese farmers
      • Nomads frequently invaded rich agricultural society
      • Nomads did not imitate Chinese ways
      • Nomads relied on grains and manufactured goods of the Chinese
  • Ancient China and the larger world
    • The southern expansion of Chinese society
    • The Yangzi valley; dependable river; two crops of rice per year
    • The indigenous peoples of southern China
      • Many were assimilated into Chinese agricultural society
      • Some were pushed to hills and mountains
      • Some migrated to Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand
  • Ancient China and the larger world
    • The state of Chu in the central region of Yanzi
    • Challenged the Zhou for supremacy
    • Adopted Chinese political and social traditions and writing