THE SPREAD OF CHINESE CIVILIZATION
to Korea, Japan, Vietnam
Medieval pattern: Civilizations spread beyond their major centers (as
in the case of Islam spreading to South and East Asia).
I. Pattern of Korea’s relationship with China
A. Partially conquered by Han (108 BCE-313 CE)
B. Post-Han: Independent kingdoms pay tribute to
C. Mahayana Buddhism spreads to Korea, then Japan,
D. Korea adopts Chinese writing system.
II. SILLA, 668-935 C.E.
A. Tributary to Tang China
B. Imitated Tang; sent scholars to China
to study and to bring back
Silla dynasty tomb mounds,
C. Chinese-style bureaucracy filled via exams
pavilion on grounds of Changdeokgung Palace (1405, Seoul)
where exams were held
D. Aristocracy too strong to allow scholar-bureaucrat class
E. Buddhism too strong for Confucianism to take root
(1) Monks are influential at Silla court.
(2) Silla kings patronize monasteries and temples.
Pulguk-Sa temple (751 C.E.), Kyongju
Sokka-t’ap and Tabo-t’ap pagodas at Pulguk-Sa temple,
Hall where wood blocks for printing Buddhist scriptures
c.) are kept,
“Three Buddhist Treasures”
swastika (s-vasti-ka =
“conducive to well-
on shrine in Chinju
tile from Ottoman
F. Korea’s economy is subordinated to that of Tang and Song China:
Korea imports luxury goods (silk clothing, scrolls, etc.), exports
raw materials (copper, wood).
G. Korea exports some luxury goods for Chinese (and Japanese)
“Emille” Bell, Kyongju National Museum Koryo
III. Rule by aristocracy
A. Aristocracy is too powerful for warlords, bureaucrats, or other
social elements to dislodge (in contrast to China).
change of dynasty = change of aristocratic family
Silla, 668-935→Koryo, 918-1392→Yi/Lee (Choson), 1392-1910
B. Choson dynasty patronizes Confucianism, persecutes Buddhists.
throne at Changdeokgung palace, Seoul
C. Choson King Sejong (1418-50) develops Hangul alphabet.
I. Island that absorbs Chinese
cultural influences while re-
taining political autonomy
II. Emperor = minor Shinto god,
descendant of sun goddess
III. Adopts Chinese writing system,
Mahayana Buddhism arrives via
IV. Adopts Chinese political structure,
A. Sinified emperor: “Son of
B. Bureaucracy staffed by exams
in Confucian classics
C. Japan’s bureaucracy is filled by
urban aristocrats influential at
V. Aristocratic court culture, 8th
centuries: tea ceremony,
novel: Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki (c. 973-1025)
VI. Buddhism remains a much greater socio-cultural force
than in Tang and Song China.
VII. Aristocrats and provincial warlords are too powerful
emperor to rein in→feudal system dominated by
warlords by 12th
I. Southeast Asian cultural sphere: Chinese/Indian
II. Theravada Buddhism spreads directly from India, strikes
III. Partially conquered by Han (111 B.C.E.), who introduce
Chinese writing and bureaucracy.
IV. Aristocracy rebels against Chinese, 10th century.
Vietnam remains independent until 19th c.
V. Vietnamese expand into other parts of SE Asia, become
dominant political/cultural force in region.