Atlantis Online
September 19, 2017, 05:37:35 pm
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Underwater caves off Yucatan yield three old skeletons—remains date to 11,000 B.C.
http://www.edgarcayce.org/am/11,000b.c.yucata.html
 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

China, a History

Pages: 1 ... 7 8 9 10 11 12 [13] 14   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: China, a History  (Read 3005 times)
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #180 on: December 08, 2007, 08:14:13 pm »

Much more than earlier periods, the Tang era was an era renowned for its time reserved for leisure activity, especially for those in the upper classes. Many outdoor sports and activities were enjoyed during the Tang, including archery, hunting, horse polo, cuju football, cockfighting, and even tug of war. Government officials were granted vacations during their tenure in office. Officials were granted 30 days off every three years to visit their parents if they lived 1000 miles/1609 km away, or 15 days off if the parents lived more than 167 miles/268 km away (travel time not included). Officials were granted nine days of vacation time for weddings of a son or daughter, and either five, three, or one days/day off for the nuptials of close relatives (travel time not included). Officials also received a total of three days off for their son's capping initiation rite into manhood, and one day off for the ceremony of initiation rite of a close relative's son. Traditional Chinese holidays such as Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Cold Food Festival, and others were universal holidays. In the capital city of Chang'an there was always lively celebration, especially for the Lantern Festival since the city's nighttime curfew was lifted by the government for three days straight. Between the years 628 and 758, the imperial throne bestowed a total of sixty-nine grand carnivals nationwide, granted by the emperor in the case of special circumstances like important military victories, abundant harvests after a long drought or famine, the granting of amnesties, the installment of a new crown prince, etc. For special celebration in the Tang era, lavish and gargantuan-sized feasts were sometimes prepared, as the imperial court had staffed agencies to prepare the meals. This included a prepared feast for 1,100 elders of Chang'an in 664, a feast for 3,500 officers of the Divine Strategy Army in 768, and a feast for 1,200 women of the palace and members of the imperial family in the year 826. Drinking wine and alcoholic beverages was heavily ingrained into Chinese culture, as people drank for nearly every social event. A court official in the 8th century even had a serpentine-shaped structure called the 'Ale Grotto' built with 50,000 bricks on the groundfloor that each featured a drinking bowl for his friends to drink from.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #181 on: December 08, 2007, 08:15:59 pm »



A Tang-era painting of a Bodhisattva holding an incense burner, from Dunhuang.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #182 on: December 08, 2007, 08:18:35 pm »

Although Chang'an was the site for the capital of the earlier Han and Jin dynasties, after subsequent destruction in warfare, it was the Sui Dynasty model that comprised the Tang era capital. The roughly-square dimensions of the city had six miles of outer walls running east to west, and more than five miles of outer walls running north to south. From the large Mingde Gates located mid-center of the main southern wall, a wide city avenue stretched from there all the way north to the central administrative city, behind which was the Chentian Gate of the royal palace, or Imperial City. Intersecting this were fourteen main streets running east to west, while eleven main streets ran north to south. These main intersecting roads formed 108 rectangular wards with walls and four gates each, and each ward filled with multiple city blocks. The city was made famous for this checkerboard pattern of main roads with walled and gated districts, its layout even mentioned in one of Du Fu's poems. During the Heian period, the city of Kyoto in Japan (like many cities) was arranged in the checkerboard street grid pattern of the Tang capital and in accordance with traditional geomancy following the model of Chang'an. Of these 108 wards in Chang'an, two of them (each the size of two regular city wards) were designated as government-supervised markets, and other space reserved for temples, gardens, ponds, etc. Throughout the entire city, there were 111 Buddhist monasteries, 41 Daoist abbeys, 38 family shrines, 2 official temples, 7 churches of foreign religions, 10 city wards with provincial transmission offices, 12 major inns, and 6 graveyards. Some city wards were literally filled with open public playing fields or the backyards of lavish mansions for playing horse polo and cuju football.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #183 on: December 08, 2007, 08:19:39 pm »

The Tang capital was the largest city in the world at its time, the population of the city wards and its outlying suburbs reaching 2 million inhabitants. The Tang capital was very cosmopolitan, with ethnicities of Persia, Central Asia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, India, and many other places living within. Naturally, with this plethora of different ethnicities living in Chang'an, there were also many different practiced religions, such as Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Islam being practiced within. With widely open access to China that the Silk Road to the west facilitated, many foreign settlers were able to move east to China, while the city of Chang'an itself had about 25,000 foreigners living within.

Chang'an was the center of the central government, the home of the imperial family, and was filled with splendor and wealth. However, incidentally it was not the economic hub during the Tang Dynasty. The city of Yangzhou along the Grand Canal and close to the Yangtze River was the greatest economic center during the Tang era. Yangzhou was the headquarters for the Tang's government monopoly on salt, and the greatest industrial center of China; it acted as a midpoint in shipping of foreign goods that would be organized and distributed to the major cities of the north. This was aided by Guangzhou in the south, the most important international seaport for the empire. There was also the secondary capital city of Luoyang, which was the favored capital of the two by Empress Wu. In the year 691 she had more than 100,000 families (more than 500,000 people) from around the region of Chang'an move to populate Luoyang instead. With a population of about a million, Luoyang became the second largest capital in the empire, and with its close proximity to the Luo River it benefited from southern agricultural fertility and trade traffic of the Grand Canal. However, the Tang court eventually demoted its capital status and did not visit Luoyang after the year 743, when Chang'an's problem of acquiring adequate supplies and stores for the year was solved.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #184 on: December 08, 2007, 08:21:34 pm »



Spring Outing of the Tang Court, by Zhang Xuan (713–755)
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #185 on: December 08, 2007, 08:22:40 pm »



Chinese ladies playing cuju football, which was played in fields of city wards and in immediate areas outside of Chang'an.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #186 on: December 08, 2007, 08:24:04 pm »

The Tang period was a golden age of Chinese literature and art. There are over 48,900 poems penned by some 2,200 Tang authors that have survived until modern times. Perfecting one's skills in the composition of poetry became a required study for those wishing to pass imperial examinations, while poetry was also heavily competitive; poetry contests amongst esteemed guests at banquets and courtiers of elite social gatherings was common in the Tang period. Poetry styles that were popular in the Tang included gushi and jintishi, with the renowned Tang poet Li Bai famous for the former style, and Tang poets like Wang Wei (701–761) and Cui Hao (704–754) famous for their use of the latter. Jintishi poetry, or regulated verse, is in the form of eight-line stanzas or seven characters per line with a fixed pattern of tones that required the second and third couplets to be antithetical (although the antithesis is often lost in translation to other languages). Tang poems in particular remain the most popular out of every historical era of China. This great emulation of Tang era poetry began in the Song Dynasty period, as it was Yan Yu (active 1194–1245) who asserted that he was the first to designate the poetry of the High Tang (c. 713–766) era as the orthodox material with "canonical status within the classical poetic tradition." At the pinnacle of all the Tang poets, Yan Yu had reserved the position of highest esteem for that of Du Fu (712–770), a man who would not be viewed as such in his own era of poetic competitors, and branded by his peers as an anti-traditional rebel. Below is an example of Du Fu's poetry, To My Retired Friend Wei(Chinese: 贈衛八處士). Like many other poems in the Tang it featured the theme of a long parting between friends, which was often due to officials being frequently transferred to the provinces:
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #187 on: December 08, 2007, 08:25:35 pm »



Written calligraphy of Emperor Taizong on a Tang stele.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #188 on: December 08, 2007, 08:26:20 pm »

人生不相見, It is almost as hard for friends to meet
動如參與商。 As for the morning and evening stars.
今夕復何夕, Tonight then is a rare event,
共此燈燭光。 Joining, in the candlelight,
少壯能幾時, Two men who were young not long ago
鬢髮各已蒼。 But now are turning grey at the temples.
訪舊半為鬼, To find that half our friends are dead
驚呼熱中腸。 Shocks us, burns our hearts with grief.
焉知二十載, We little guessed it would be twenty years
重上君子堂。 Before I could visit you again.
昔別君未婚, When I went away, you were still unmarried;
兒女忽成行。 But now these boys and girls in a row
怡然敬父執, Are very kind to their father's old friend.
問我來何方。 They ask me where I have been on my journey;
問答乃未已, And then, when we have talked awhile,
兒女羅酒漿。 They bring and show me wines and dishes,
夜雨翦春韭, Spring chives cut in the night-rain
新炊間黃粱。 And brown rice cooked freshly a special way.
主稱會面難, My host proclaims it a festival,
一舉累十觴。 He urges me to drink ten cups --
十觴亦不醉, But what ten cups could make me as drunk
感子故意長。 As I always am with your love in my heart?
明日隔山嶽, Tomorrow the mountains will separate us;
世事兩茫茫。 After tomorrow - who can say?

 
Du Fu 
« Last Edit: December 08, 2007, 08:28:16 pm by Bee Cha » Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #189 on: December 08, 2007, 08:29:28 pm »

There were other important literary forms besides poetry during the Tang period. There was Duan Chengshi's (d. 863) Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang, an entertaining collection of foreign legends and hearsay, reports on natural phenomena, short anecdotes, mythical and mundane tales, as well as notes on various subjects. The exact literary category or classification that Duan's large informal narrative would fit into is still debated amongst scholars and historians. Short story fiction and tales were also popular during the Tang, one of the more famous ones being Yingying's Biography by Yuan Zhen (779–831), which was widely circulated in his own time and later became the basis for plays in Chinese opera. Chinese geographers such as Jia Dan wrote accurate descriptions of places far abroad. In his work written between 785 and 805, he described the sea route going into the mouth of the Persian Gulf, and that the medieval Iranians (whom he called the people of Luo-He-Yi) had erected 'ornamental pillars' in the sea that acted as lighthouse beacons for ships that might go astray. Confirming Jia's reports about lighthouses in the Persian Gulf, Arabic writers a century after Jia wrote of the same structures, writers such as al-Mas'udi and al-Muqaddasi. The Tang Dynasty Chinese diplomat Wang Xuance traveled to Magadha (modern northeastern India) during the 7th century. Afterwards he wrote the book Zhang Tian-zhu Guo Tu (Illustrated Accounts of Central India), which included a wealth of geographical information.Many histories of previous dynasties were compiled between 636 and 659 by court officials during and shortly after the reign of Emperor Taizong of Tang. These included the Book of Liang, Book of Chen, Book of Northern Qi, Book of Zhou, Book of Sui, Book of Jin, History of Northern Dynasties and the History of Southern Dynasties. Although not included in the official Twenty-Four Histories, the Tongdian and Tang Huiyao were nonetheless valuable written historical works of the Tang period. The Shitong written by Liu Zhiji in 710 was a meta-history, as it covered the history of Chinese historiography in past centuries until his time. The Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, complied by Bianji, recounted the journey of Xuanzang, the Tang era's most renowned Buddhist monk. There were also large encyclopedias published, such as the Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era, compiled in the 8th century by Gautama Siddha, an ethnic Indian astronomer, astrologer, and scholar born in the capital Chang'an.

The Classical Prose Movement was spurred large in part by the writings of Tang authors Liu Zongyuan (773–819) and Han Yu (768–824). This new prose style broke away from the poetry tradition of the 'piantiwen' style begun in the ancient Han Dynasty. Although writers of the Classical Prose Movement imitated 'piantiwen', they criticized it for its often vague content and lack of colloquial language, focusing more on clarity and precision to make their writing more direct. This guwen (archaic prose) style can be traced back to Han Yu, and would become largely associated with orthodox Neo-Confucianism.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #190 on: December 08, 2007, 08:31:43 pm »



A Tang Dynasty sculpture of a Bodhisattva
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #191 on: December 08, 2007, 08:33:54 pm »

Stimulated by contact with India and the Middle East, the Empire saw a flowering of creativity in many fields. Buddhism, originating in India around the time of Confucius, continued to flourish during the Tang period and was adopted by the imperial family, becoming thoroughly sinicized and a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture. In an age before Neo-Confucianism and figures such as Zhu Xi, Buddhism had begun to flourish in China during the Southern and Northern Dynasties, and became the dominant ideology during the prosperous Tang. Buddhist monasteries played an integral role in Chinese society, offering lodging for travelers in remote areas, schools for children throughout the country, and a place for urban literati to stage social events and gatherings such as going-away parties. Buddhist monasteries were also engaged in the economy, since their land property and serfs gave them enough revenues to set up mills, oil presses, and other enterprises. Although the monasteries retained 'serfs', these monastery dependents could actually own property and employ others to help them in their work, including their own slaves.

The prominent status of Buddhism in Chinese culture began to decline as the dynasty and central government declined as well during the late 8th century to 9th century. Buddhist convents and temples that were exempt from state taxes beforehand were targeted by the state for taxation. In 845 Emperor Wuzong of Tang finally shut down 4,600 Buddhist monasteries along with 40,000 temples and shrines, forcing 260,000 Buddhist monks and nuns to return to secular life; this episode would later be dubbed one of the Four Buddhist Persecutions in China. Although this ban would be lifted just a few years after it was enacted, Buddhism never regained its once dominant status in Chinese culture. This situation also came about through new revival of interest in native Chinese philosophies, such as Confucianism and Daoism. The "brilliant polemicist and ardent xenophobe" Han Yu (786–824) was one of the first men of the Tang to denounce Buddhism. Although his contemporaries found him crude and obnoxious, he would foreshadow the later persecution of Buddhism in the Tang, as well as the revival of Confucian theory with the rise of Neo-Confucianism of the Song Dynasty. Nonetheless, Chán Buddhism gained popularity amongst the educated elite. There were also many famous Chan monks from the Tang era, such as Mazu Daoyi, Baizhang, and Huangbo Xiyun. The sect of Pure Land Buddhism initiated by the Chinese monk Huiyuan (334–416) was also just as popular as Chan Buddhism during the Tang.

Rivaling Buddhism was Daoism, a native Chinese philosophical and religious belief system that found its roots in the book of the Daodejing (attributed to Laozi in the 6th century BC) and the Zhuangzi. The ruling Li family of the Tang Dynasty actually claimed descent from the ancient Lao Zi. On numerous occasions where Tang princes would become crown prince or Tang princesses taking vows as Taoist priestesses, their lavish former mansions would be converted into Taoist abbeys and places of worship. Many Taoists were associated with alchemy in their pursuits to find an elixir of immortality and a means to create gold from concocted mixtures of many other elements. Although they never achieved their goals in either of these futile pursuits, they did contribute to the discovery of new metal alloys, porcelain products, and new dyes. The historian Joseph Needham labeled the work of the Taoist alchemists as "proto-science rather than pseudo-science."

The Tang Dynasty also officially recognized various foreign religions. The Assyrian Church of the East, otherwise known as the Nestorian Christian Church, was given recognition by the Tang court. In 781, the Nestorian Stele was created in order to honor the achievements of their community in China. A Christian monastery was established in Shaanxi province where the Daqin Pagoda still stands, and inside the pagoda there is Christian-themed artwork.


Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #192 on: December 08, 2007, 08:35:13 pm »

Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #193 on: December 08, 2007, 08:37:03 pm »

Woodblock printing made the written word available to vastly greater audiences. The text of the Diamond Sutra is an early example of Chinese woodblock printing, complete with illustrations embedded with the text. Among the earliest documents to be printed were Buddhist texts as well as calendars, the latter essential for calculating and marking which days were auspicious and which days were not. With so many books coming into circulation for the general public, literacy rates could improve, along with the lower classes being able to obtain cheaper sources of study. Therefore, there was more lower class people seen entering the Imperial Examinations and passing them by the later Song Dynasty (960–1279). Although the later Bi Sheng's movable type printing in the 11th century was innovative for his period, woodblock printing that became widespread in the Tang would remain the dominant printing type in China until the more advanced printing press from Europe became widely accepted and used in East Asia.

Technology during the Tang period was built also upon the precedents of the past. The mechanical gear systems of Zhang Heng and Ma Jun gave the Tang engineer, astronomer, and Buddhist monk Yi Xing (683–727) a great source of influence when he invented the world's first clockwork escapement mechanism in 725. This was used alongside a clepsydra clock and waterwheel to power a rotating armillary sphere in representation of astronomical observation. Yi Xing's device also had a mechanically-timed bell that was struck automatically every hour, and a drum that was struck automatically every quarter hour. His astronomical clock and water-powered armillary sphere also became well known throughout the country, since students attempting to pass the imperial examinations by 730 had to write an essay on the device as an exam requirement.

There were many other technically impressive inventions during the Tang era. This included a 3 ft. tall mechanical wine server of the early 8th century that was in the shape of an artificial mountain, carved out of iron and rested on a lacquered-wooden tortoise frame. This intricate device used a hydraulic pump that siphoned wine out of metal dragon-headed faucets, as well as tilting bowls that were timed to dip wine down, by force of gravity when filled, into an artificial lake that had intricate iron leaves popping up as trays for placing party treats. Furthermore, as the historian Charles Benn describes it:

“ Midway up the southern side of the mountain was a dragon...the beast opened its mouth and spit brew into a goblet seated on a large [iron] lotus leaf beneath. When the cup was 80 percent full, the dragon ceased spewing ale, and a guest immediately seized the goblet. If he was slow in draining the cup and returning it to the leaf, the door of a pavilion at the top of the mountain opened and a mechanical wine server, dressed in a cap and gown, emerged with a wooden bat in his hand. As soon as the guest returned the goblet, the dragon refilled it, the wine server withdrew, and the doors of the pavilion closed...A pump siphoned the ale that flowed into the ale pool through a hidden hole and returned the brew to the reservoir [holding more than 16 quarts/15 liters of wine] inside the mountain."
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3826



« Reply #194 on: December 08, 2007, 08:38:37 pm »



The Diamond Sutra, printed in 868, the world's first widely printed book (using woodblock printing).
Report Spam   Logged
Pages: 1 ... 7 8 9 10 11 12 [13] 14   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum | Buy traffic for your forum/website
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines