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China, a History

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Author Topic: China, a History  (Read 3117 times)
Bee Cha
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« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2007, 12:07:18 am »



A bronze pou vessel with four ram heads
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Bee Cha
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« Reply #31 on: September 02, 2007, 12:08:36 am »




A bronze gong ritual vessel
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« Reply #32 on: September 02, 2007, 12:09:32 am »



A bronze gefuding gui vessel
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« Reply #33 on: September 02, 2007, 12:10:31 am »



A bronze yuefu you vessel
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« Reply #34 on: September 02, 2007, 12:11:26 am »



A bronze zun ritual vessel
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« Reply #35 on: September 02, 2007, 12:12:54 am »



A jade ring in the shape of a dragon
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Bee Cha
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« Reply #36 on: September 02, 2007, 12:13:51 am »



A jade carved fish
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« Reply #37 on: September 02, 2007, 12:16:04 am »



Simuwu Ding (司母戊) of Late Shang Dynasty. Height 133 cm, length 110 cm, width 79 cm, weight 832.84 kg. It is the largest discovered bronze piece in the world. It was made by Zu Jia of Shang for his mother Wu (戊), Wu Ding (武丁)'s wife. Unearthed at Anyang in 1939.
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« Reply #38 on: September 02, 2007, 12:17:40 am »

Zhou Dynasty

The Zhou Dynasty (Chinese: 周朝; Pinyin: Zhōu Cháo; Wade-Giles: Chou Ch`ao; 1122 BC to 256 BC preceded by the Shang Dynasty and followed by the Qin Dynasty in China. The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other in Chinese history--though the actual political and military control of China by the dynasty only lasted during the Western Zhou. During the Zhou, the use of iron was introduced to China, while this period of Chinese history produced what many consider the zenith of Chinese bronze-ware making. The dynasty also spans the period in which the written script evolved from the ancient stage as seen in early Western Zhou bronze inscriptions, to the beginnings of the modern stage, in the form of the archaic clerical script of the late Warring States period.

During the Zhou Dynasty, the origins of matured Chinese philosophy developed, its initial stages beginning in the 6th century BC. The greatest Chinese philosophers, those who made the greatest impact on later generations of Chinese, were Kong Fuzi (Latin: Confucius), founder of Confucianism, and Laozi, founder of Daoism. Other philosophers, theorists, and schools of thought in this era were Mozi (Latin: Micius), founder of Mohism, Mengzi (Latin: Mencius), a famous Confucian who expanded upon Kong Fuzi's legacy, and Shang Yang and Han Feizi, responsible for the development of ancient Chinese Legalism (the core philosophy of the Qin Dynasty). In an age of intellectual sophistication, Chinese philosophy of this period has been often compared to its contemporary in ancient Greece.

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Bee Cha
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« Reply #39 on: September 02, 2007, 12:18:41 am »



Boundaries of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1050 - 771 BC) in China
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« Reply #40 on: September 02, 2007, 12:20:08 am »

Mandate of Heaven

In the Chinese historical tradition, the Zhou defeated the Shang and oriented the Shang system of ancestor worship toward a universalized worship away from the worship of Di and to that of Tian or "heaven". They legitimized their rule by invoking the Mandate of Heaven, the notion that the ruler (the "Son of Heaven") governed by divine right but that his dethronement would prove that he had lost the mandate. The doctrine explained and justified the demise of the Xia and Shang Dynasties and at the same time supported the legitimacy of present and future rulers. The Zhou dynasty was founded by the Ji family and had its capital at Hào (鎬, near the present-day city of Xi'an in the Wei River valley). Sharing the language and culture of the Shang, the early Zhou rulers, through conquest and colonization, established a large imperial territory wherein states as far as Shandong acknowledged Zhou rulership and took part in elite culture. The spread of Zhou bronzes, though, was concurrent with the continued use of Shang style pottery in the distant regions and these states were the first to recede during the late Western Zhou.

Zhou military

The early Western Zhou supported a strong military split into two major units: “The Six Armies of the West” and “The Eight Armies of Chengzhou”. The armies campaigned in the northern Loess Plateau, modern Ningxia and the Huanghe floodplain. The military prowess of Zhou peaked during the 19th year of King Zhao's reign, when the Six Armies were wiped out along with King Zhao on a campaign around the Han River, Zhou power declined ever since. The Zhou period saw the introduction of the use of massed chariots in battle, a technology imported from Central Asia.


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« Reply #41 on: September 02, 2007, 12:21:20 am »



A Western Zhou bronze gui vessel, c. 1000 BC
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« Reply #42 on: September 02, 2007, 12:22:06 am »

Fengjian (Feudalism)

In the West, the Zhou period is often described as feudal because the Zhou's early rule invites comparison with medieval rule in Europe. However, historians debate whether or not this description is valid; the more appropriate term for the Zhou Dynasty's political arrangement would be from the Chinese language itself: the Fēngjiàn (封建) system. The Zhou amalgam of city-states became progressively centralized and established increasingly impersonal political and economic institutions. These developments, which probably occurred in the later Zhou period, were manifested in greater central control over local governments and a more routinized agrarian taxation. Zhou officials were not paid a salary but instead were given semi-regular gifts by the King, which often included land in the Wei River valley. Imperial stability was ensured through marriages between the Zhou court and local lords as well as the installment of Zhou lords into command over distant regions.
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« Reply #43 on: September 02, 2007, 12:23:55 am »



Western Zhou Dynasty musical bronze bell
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« Reply #44 on: September 02, 2007, 12:25:56 am »

Western and Eastern Zhou

Initially the Ji family was able to control the country firmly. In 771 BC, after King You had replaced his queen with a concubine Baosi, the capital was sacked by the joint force of the queen's father, who was the powerful Marquess of Shen, and a nomadic tribe, the Quanrong. The queen's son Ji Yijiu was proclaimed the new king by the nobles from the states of Zheng, Lü, Qin and the Marquess of Shen. The capital was moved eastward in 722 BC to Luoyang in present-day Henan Province.

Because of this shift, historians divide the Zhou era into the Western Zhou (西周, pinyin Xī Zhōu), lasting up until 771 BC, and the Eastern Zhou (Traditional Chinese: 東周, Simplified Chinese: 东周, pinyin: Dōng Zhōu) from 770 up to 256 BC. The beginning year of the Western Zhou has been disputed - 1122 BC, 1027 BC and other years within the hundred years from late 12th century BC to late 11th century BC have been proposed. Chinese historians take 841 BC as the first year of consecutive annual dating of the history of China, based on the Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian. The Eastern Zhou corresponds roughly to two subperiods. The first, from 722 to 481 BC, is called the Spring and Autumn Period, after a famous historical chronicle of the time; the second is known as the Warring States Period (480 to 221 BC), after another famous chronicle. The Warring States Period extends slightly past the 256 BC end date of the Eastern Zhou; this discrepancy is due to the fact that the last Zhou king's reign ended in 256, 35 years before the beginning of the Qin dynasty which ended the Warring States period.

Decline

With the royal line broken, the power of the Zhou court gradually diminished, and the fragmentation of the kingdom accelerated. From Ping Wang onwards, the Zhou kings ruled in name only, with true power lying in the hands of powerful nobles. Towards the end of the Zhou Dynasty, the nobles did not even bother to acknowledge the Ji family symbolically, rebelled and declared themselves to be kings. The dynasty had disappeared some years prior to Qin Shi Huang's unification of China in 223 BC.

Agriculture

Agriculture in the Zhou Dynasty was very intensive and in many cases directed by the government. All farming lands were owned by nobles, who then gave their land to their serfs, a situation similar to European feudalism. For example, a piece of land was divided into nine squares in the shape of the character for "water well," jing (井), with the grain from the middle square taken by the government and that of surrounding squares kept by individual farmers. This way, the government was able to store surplus food and distribute it in times of famine or bad harvest. Some important manufacturing sectors during this period included bronze smelting, which was integral to making weapons and farming tools. Again, these industries were dominated by the nobility who directed the production of such materials.

China's first projects of hydraulic engineering were founded during the Zhou Dynasty, ultimately for means to aid agricultrual irrigation. The Prime Minister of Wei, Sunshu Ao, who served King Zhuang of Chu (楚莊王) (died 591 BC) dammed a river to create an enormous irrigation reservoir in modern-day northern Anhui province. For this Sunshu is credited as China's first hydraulic engineer. The later Wei statesman Ximen Bao, who served Marquis Wen of Wei (文侯) (445 BC-396 BC), is the first hydraulic engineer of China to have created a large irrigation canal system. As the main focus of his grandiose project, his canal work eventually diverted the waters of the entire Zhang River to a spot further up the Huang He River.


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