World Cultures Notes: Ancient China Essay

Eva Tahernia P 1 3/15/10 Power Notes: Ancient China pgs - World Cultures Notes: Ancient China Essay introduction. 475-480 Dateline: Who- 14 year old empress Si Ling-chi What- Empress discovered caterpillars that produce thread that she can weave to make “silk” When- 2700 B. C Where- The Imperial Palace, China Why- This happened because the Empress discovered it and decided to experiment How- Empress noticed caterpillars while walking in the palace gardens Summary- In the Imperial Palace, China, 2700 B. C.

, the 14 year old empress Si Ling-chi discovered caterpillars that produce thread that she can weave to make “silk” 1) Foundations of Chinese Civilization • Silk is just one of the many inventions for which the ancient Chinese are known • Over the course of thousands of years, the Chinese have built the longest- lasting culture in the world • As early as 5000 B. C. , Chinese people lived in the fertile river valley of the Huang He • Sometime in the 1700s, B.

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C. , their lives changed drastically when invaders, called the Shang, entered their valley • These invaders established China’s first permanent, organized, organized civilization • For most of China’s history since the Shang takeover, the country was ruled by dynasties, or families of rulers • Dynasties rose and fell in succession- some lasting only 15 years, others continuing for hundreds of years 1) Mongol Rule • In the A. D.

1200s, China’s greatest fear came to pass- foreign invaders conquered China • In 1211, the Mongols invaded China • They were led by Genghis Khan and later by his grandson Kublai Khan • In 1279, Kublai Khan conquered China’s Song Dynasty • In its place, he founded the Yuan Dynasty • He also established a capital at Ta-tu 1) The Ming Dynasty • Warfare eventually broke out among the Mongol leaders, weakening the Yuan Dynasty significantly • The dynasty that took over was called the Ming

• Because of his great military success, Ming founder Zhu Yuanzhang was called the Hongwu emperor-meaning “vast military power” • In his battles, he won from the Mongols the Yunnan province • With this piece of land in his charge, he unified the region that is China today • When the Hongwu emperor died, one of his grandsons took power, naming himself the Yongle emperor-meaning “eternal contentment” • He is famous for rebuilding the Yuan capital, which he renamed Beijing • He ordered a huge palace complex to be constricted in the capital • This was called the Forbidden City because only the emperor, his family, and some of his officials could enter it • The Ming Dynasty came to an end in 1644 at the hands of invaders form northeastern China, called the Manchu • These attackers established China’s last dynasty, the Qing, which ruled China until 1911 1) Religion and Philosophy

• China’s dynasties are known for particular achievements-some military, some artistic, some technological, and some spiritual • Several of the world’s most influential philosophies and religions arose during the thousands of years of Chinese history 1) Confucianism • Toward the end of the Zhou Dynasty, a man named Kongfuzi-later called Confucius by Europeans-developed a new philosophy • Confucius taught the importance of moral character and of individuals taking responsibility for the state of the society • He also taught that a ruler, like a good father, should take care of his people and be kind to them • The teachings of Confucius were not widely known during his lifetime • Only after his death did his students succeed in spreading his philpsophy

1) The Impact of Confucianism • In 121 B. C. , the Han emperor Wudi established Confucianism as the official philosophy guiding the Chinese bureaucracy • Bureaucracy is the administration of a government through departments, called bureaus • The appointed officials that staff the bureaus are called bureaucrats • The Han called their bureaucracy the civil service and staffed it with scholars of Confucianism • The civil service gave the government capable officials and contributed to the stability of the culture 1) Taoism • The Zhou period also gave rise to Taoism • This philosophy was developed in the 500s B. C.

by Lao Tzu, who wrote the main Taoist book-the Taote Ching • Lao Tzu described a fore that guides the universe, though it cannot be seen or named • He called this force the Tao, which means “way of nature” • The greatest achievement for any person, in Taoist belief, is to find harmony with the Tao and, therefore, with nature 1) Buddhism in China • During the A. D. 200s, while the Han Dynasty was beginning to collapse, Buddhism made its way to China through traders from India and other areas in Asia • During the Tang dynasty, Buddhist teachings of how to escape suffering appealed to many Chinese • However, Buddhism did not replace Confucianism or Taoism in China • The Chinese belief system today include elements of all three philosophies 1) Achievements of the Dynasties • China has also given the world some important inventions • Around 2700 B. C.

, the Chinese invented silk cloth and a new system of writing • In the first two centuries A. D. , the Chinese invented paper and a type of pottery called porcelain • In the A. D. 1200s, Chinese navigators began using the compass • These inventions helped shape the civilizations of Asia and, through trade, Europe • As long as no one else understood the process, however, China earned all the profits of the silk trade • Caravans carried the precious fabric for thousands of miles to cities in Europe and Southwest Asia, along a trade route named for the fabric-the Silk Road 1) The Silk Road • The first records of travel and trade along the Silk Road date to the Han Dynasty, around 114 B. C.

• On the map below, you can see the route of the 4000-mile long Silk Road • Along it, the Chinese carried not only silk but also much desired items such as porcelain, tea, incense, and spices • Travelers on the Silk Road faced many natural hazards-extreme heat, lack of water, sandstorms in the desert, and blizzards and altitude sickness in the mountains • Also, robbers lurked on the reade routes • Nevertheless, the Silk Road stayed in use until sea routes to Asia proved safer and until the Ming Dynasty decided to limit foreign trade 1) Porcelain • People often refer to fine pottery as china • The term actually refers to porcelain, a delicate but strong type of ceramic that the Chinese made from a kind of clay called kaolin • When fired in a kiln, the clay changes into a hard, glassy substance • As with silk, the Chinese kept the method for producing porcelain secret for many years after its invention during the Tang Dynasty 1) Writing

• During the Shang Dynasty, the Chinese developed a written language • As in cuneiform, the Chinese system at first used pictograms to represent objects or ideas • Later, they simplified the pictograms into symbols, called characters, that do not look exactly like what they represent • About 50000 characters exist in the Chinese written language • Most words are made up of compound graphs-two or more characters used together • Both the Japenese and Koreans use Chinese characters in their writing systems 1) The Great Builders • The ancient Chinese built large construction projects like the Great Wall • Many emperors ordered the building of canals • The most important of these was the Grand Canal, which allowed grain from fertile river valleys to be carried more easily to the cities • Construction began on the first segment of the canal in the 600s B. C. • Today, it extends for more than 1000 miles to connect the northern city of Beijing with the southern city of Hangzhou

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