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Sinification of China to Its Neighbors Essays

Reunification and Renaissance in Chinese Civilization: The Era of the Tang and Song Dynasties Introduction -Postclassical period saw a vital unification of Chinese civilization • Less fundamental changes occurred than in other places • Established orbit of influence; though isolated, was able to contribute to other areas -Era of political division and civil strife after breakdown of Han dynasty • Most advances of the Qin-Han era (221 BCE-220 CE) lost • Era of Division (220-589)-Nomadic invasions+endless wars fought by regional kingdoms -Similar to Era of Warring States before Qin dynasty Bureaucracy collapsed; non-Chinese nomads ruled much of China • Scholar-gentry declined as aristocrats gained more power; intellectuality declined • Buddhism began overtaking Confucianism • Trade, city life, tech. declined -Revival beginning at end of 6th century w/ Sui Dynasty (589-618) and Tang Dynasty (618-907) • Preservation of Confucian philosophy by Tang vital to revival • Song Dynasty (960-1279) not as great as Tang; Mongols ended it in 1279 Rebuilding the Imperial Edifice in the Sui-Tang Era Rise of Sui dynasty signaled return to strong dynastic control • Wendi made marriage alliance w/ N Zhou ruler; seized throne and proclaimed self emperor -Secured power by winning support of nomadic commanders -Extended empire across N China; 589-defeated Chen kingdom in the S(reunification of trad’l Chinese core -Widespread support-lowered taxes+established granaries to prevent famines and keep prices down -Killed by son who then took the throne -Sui Excesses and Collapse Foundations set by Wendi initially strengthened by son Yangdi -Extended conquests and drove back nomadic invaders -Established milder legal code+devoted resources to Confucian education -Wanted to restore exam system for entry into bureaucracy -Legal+educational reforms part of policy of promoting scholar-gentry • Problems -Advancement of scholar-gentry(lowered nomadic commanders+aristocrats -Lavish building projects-Forced peasants to build palaces at Loyang, canals, etc. Unsuccessful military campaigns in Korea and C Asia(rebellions -Yangdi assassinated by ministers in 618 -The Emergence of the Tang and the Restoration of the Empire
• Disintegration prevented by Li Yuan, the Duke of Tang; -Emerged the victor in the struggle for the throne in 623 -Laid basis for golden age of Tang w/ son Tang Taizong for whom he abdicated in 626 • Conquests into C Asia as far as Afghanistan -Reversal-Turkic tribes now submitting to Tang ruler, the heavenly khan -Turkic tribes were greatest threat; manipulated against ea. ther by Tang -Completed repairs on the Great Wall+created frontier armies -Asserted control by trying to assimilate Turkic sons and daughters • Empire extended into Tibet, Red River valley of Vietnam, and Manchuria -Yangtze basin and the S united w/ N for 1st time since Han -668-Under emperor Kaozong, Korea overrun and vassal kingdom of Silla set up -In a few decades, the Tang had built up an empire way bigger than the Han empire -Rebuilding the Bureaucracy • Rebuilding+expanding bureaucracy(restoration of unity Scholar-gentry+Confucianism revived under Yangdi, even better under the Tang -More power in the scholar-gentry(power of aristocrats declined -Expanded-Imperial(subprefecture/district, executive-6 ministries, Bureau of Censors to “grade” officials -Capital at Changan -The Growing Importance of the Examination System • Like Yangdi, Tang emperors patronized academies to train bureaucrats -Exam system expanded; exams administered by the Ministry of Rites
-Highest offices (jinshi) held by those who passed all exams -Success in exams at all levels(special social status Most of the bureaucrats won positions through exams, but birth+family connections still important -Though commoners could rise, bureaucracy still dominated by established families -State and Religion in the Tang-Song Era • Ppl wanted refuge from war and turmoil(Buddhism flourished after fall of Han -Buddhist monastic orders became a major force in the Six Dynasties era -Many pre-Tang rulers, esp. nes of nomadic origin, were Buddhist -Pure land strain of Mahayana Buddhism-Peasants, Chan/Zen Buddhism-Elites • Royal patronage+widespread conversion(Strong force by the Tang Dynasty -Early Tang rulers promoted Buddhism and Confucianism -Built temples, commissioned art, collected texts+relics from India, etc. -Empress Wu matchless in supporting Buddhism; almost made it a state religion -Influence on arts, language, and thinking • Revival of Confucianism threatened Buddhism -The Anti-Buddhist Backlash Daoists and Confucians attacked Buddhism as foreign -Daoist monks tried to counter Buddhism by stressing Daoism’s magic -Confucians pointed out that untaxed Buddhist monasteries were an economic liability • By 8th century, emperors began taking measures to stop the growth of Buddhism -Emperor Wuzong turned restrictions into open persecution -Chinese Buddhism survived repression; would never be a dominant influence again -Confucianism became the central ideology again Tang Decline and the Rise of the Song Tang decline actually began in the 8th century b/c of problems in the royal family • Motives behind Tang repression of Buddhism were a sign of decline of imperial control •
Empress Wei killed husband (son of Empress Wu) and placed own son on throne -Xuanzong (713-756) led revolt vs. Empress Wei, became emperor; high point of Tang • Xuanzong initially had strong interest in reforms, gradually became more hedonistic -Xuanzong became infatuated w/ Yang Guifei, a concubine; became royal concubine -Yang filled gov’t w/ elatives(angered members of the court -Neglect of state affairs(economic distress+military weaknesses • 755-An Lushan led revolt to start new dynasty; crushed at high cost -Early on, Xuanzong’s troops mutinied killing Yang’s family+having her executed -Xuanzong became incapable of continuing as emperor; later rulers just as stinky -Tang had to seek alliances w/ nomads+gave resources and power to regional commanders -Nomads used political division to take over areas in N China; many regional governors became indie rulers -Worsening economic conditions(revolts in 9th century The Founding of the Song Dynasty • 907-Last emperor of Tang dynasty forced to resign -China entering another period of nomadic dominance, political division, and social strife? • 960-Zhao Kuangyin emerged to reunite China under a single dynasty -Very able and honest general of the last of the Five Dynasties fighting after the fall of the Tang -Subordinates and troops insisted that he proclaim himself as emperor; became Emperor Taizu -Defeated all rivals except one; founded Song dynasty Couldn’t defeat northern Liao dynasty founded in 907 by the nomadic Khitan ppls from Manchuria -Failure set precedent for weakness of Song rulers in dealing w/ nomads of the N -1004-Forced by defeats by Khitans to sign treaties; had to pay tribute to Liao dynasty -Khitans were Sinified (influenced by Chinese culture)(saw Song Empire as culturally superior -Song Politics: Settling for Partial Restoration Song never matched Tang in political or military strength -Partly due to policies designed to prevent conditions that destroyed Tang -Military subordinate to scholar-gentry(commanders not tempted to seize power -Commanders rotated(prevent buildup of power base in areas stationed • Early Song rulers promoted interests of scholar-gentry -Officials’ salaries increased(gov’t posts more lucrative -Civil service exams fully routinized; Song examiners passed higher % than Tang did -Bureaucracy bloated w/ well-paid officials who had little to do -The
Revival of Confucian Thought • Influence of scholar-gentry mirrored in revival of Confucianism (Neo-Confucianism) -Most prominent Confucian scholars (ex: Zhu Xi) stressed cultivating personal morality • Neo-Confucianism had great impact on Chinese life -Hostility to foreign philosophy (ex: Buddhism)(less receptive to outside ideas+influences -Emphasis on tradition stifled innovation; reinforced class, age, and gender distinctions -Roots of Decline: Attempts at Reform Weakness of Song vs. Khitans encouraged nomads to carve out kingdoms in N -By 11th century, Tangut tribes from Tibet established Xi Xia kingdom SW of Liao -Tribute to nomads drained resources and increased burden of peasants -Large cost to maintain huge army (much larger than armies in other civilizations) • Emphasis on civil administration and scholar-gentry+disdain of elite for military -Song armies were big, but commanders usually stank Funds needed to maintain army diverted to scholarly pursuits/entertainment • In 1070s and 1080s, Wang Anshi started reforms to try to prevent collapse -Operated according to Legalist philosophy -Introduced cheap loans+irrigation projects to encourage agricultural expansion -Taxed landlords+scholar-gentry who had exempted themselves from military service -Used increased revenue to hire well-trained mercenary armies -Tried to reorganize university education and the exam system -Reaction and Disaster: The Flight to the South Wang depended on support from emperor to enact reforms -1085-Emperor died; successor favored conservative groups that opposed Wang -Neo-Confucians reversed reforms(economic conditions continued to worsen(peasant unrest grew -Unprepared military facing rebellion+banditry couldn’t face nomadic threat from N • 1115-Nomadic Jurchens overthrew the Liao, est. Qin kingdom -Invaded+annexed most of the Yellow River basin; center of Song moved to Yangtze w/ capital at Hangzhou -Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) was much smaller; culturally great, though
Tang and Song Prosperity: The Basis of a Golden Age -Yangdi had the Grand Canal built to link the N and S • Population increase in S made it necessary to improve communication -S now surpassed N in crop production and population; accelerated shift of population to S • Used to facilitate control of S and increase economic exchange -A New Phase of Commercial Expansion • Tang conquests in C Asia+building of canal system promoted commercial expansion -Ext. f Tang control into C Asia(overland trade routes w/ Persia reopened+protected -China imported luxury items and exported manufactured goods -Trading ships improved+increased in #; junks were among the best ships in the world -Heightened role of commerce(larger market quarters; organized by merchant guilds but subject to imperial control • Growing sophistication in commercial organization+forms of credit -Exchanges involving money increased; deposit shops (like banks) in many places -Merchants deposited money for credit vouchers (flying money) -1st use of paper money during Tang era; gov’t began issuing in early 11th century -The World’s Most Splendid Cities Surge in urban growth during Tang and Song eras -Tang capital Changan had population of 2 million, way bigger than any other city att -Spread of trade+increasing population(urban growth -As many as 10% were living in cities; largest % until the Industrial Revolution • No urban center could surpass late Song capital of Hangzhou -Expanding Agrarian Production and Life in the Country
• Movement of population S part of agrarian expansion -Expansion of settlement+agriculture supported by Tang and Song rulers -Military garrisons to protect new settlements and subdue non-Chinese -Irrigation systems+canals advanced expansion -New crops+better farming techniques(increased yields Policies to break up estates of the aristocracy and distribute land to peasantry -Reduced power of aristocracy+bettered the position of peasantry -Aristocracy gradually replaced by scholar-gentry of the bureaucracy • Extended family households for the gentry typical of Han now common in Tang-Song era -Family and Society in the Tang-Song Era • Chinese family organization at various class levels remained about the same -Women’s position improved under Tang and early Song; declined in late Song -Extended-family households preferred, but usually only upper-class could afford -Patriarchal society w/ respect for elders • Elaborate marriage process w/ careful negotiation; spouses ~same age (vs. India) • Women were lower, but had rights vs. divorce and abandonment; pretty high degree of independence -The Neo-Confucian Assertion of Male Dominance Condition of women worsened in general during Tang-Song era -Small minority of women had independence and legal rights -Neo-Confucians stressed subordination; women confined to household+had many sexual restrictions -Men had much greater sexual freedom, favored in inheritance, divorce, and familial interaction -Neo-Confucians attacked Buddhism for promoting career alternatives for women
-Women excluded from education that would allow civil service and political power • Footbinding exemplified the degree of subordination of Chinese women -Developed from upper-class preference for women w/ small feet that later spread to the lower-class -Girls’ feet bound early so that their feet would be the preferred shapes by maturity -Constant source of pain+limited mobility; limited mobility (easier to confine women to house -Lower class slow to adopt b/c it depended on labor of women, but eventually all classes adopted it -A Glorious Age: Invention and Artistic Creativity • Tang-Song eras known for accomplishments in science, tech. , lit. and fine arts -New tools, production techniques, and weapons spread to other civilizations -Arts and literature not well known beyond borders, but were some of the best -New farming tools+innovations like banks and paper money(economic growth+prosperity -Engineering feats-Grand Canal, dams, irrigation, and bridges • Invention of explosive powder during Tang era one of the most important -Initially used mainly for fireworks; by the late Song, used by imperial armies • Domestic scene-chairs introduced, tea became popular, coal 1st used as fuel, 1st kite • # of Song inventions less than Tang; some were very important -Compasses applied to sea navigation -Abacus introduced-predecessor to calculator -Bi Sheng invented movable type in mid-11th century; moveable print+paper=high level of literacy -Scholarly Refinement and Artistic Accomplishment Revival of scholar-gentry(literary+artistic accomplishment of Tang-Song era -Confucian thinkers valued the fine arts; educated expected to participate in them -Education geared to turning out generalists (vs. specialists of today)(participation in many fields • Buddhist art+architecture supported during Tang, but scholar-gentry took over arts+literature -Buddhists focus on religious subjects(scholar-gentry focus on everyday life+nature -Li Bo was the most famous poet of the Tang era -Landscape paintings reached peak during Song era; symbolic, to teach morals/explore philosophy -Abstract quality-didn’t care to present nature accurately, wanted to create personal vision of beauty -Paintings often accompanied w/ a poem to complement the subject matter

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