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Ancient China
Early China (3000 BC – 221 BC)
Built around another River Valley
Isolation from the rest of the World
Called kingdom Zhong Guo (“middle kingdom”)
Oldest Continuous Civilization (isolation)
Ancient China
• Geography of China
• Mountains make up 1/3 of area
Himalayas, Kunlun Shan, Tian Shan
• Gobi Desert
• Hinder cultural diffusion
Ancient China
• Fertile Area between Rivers
• 3 Major Rivers dominate China
– Huang He (Yellow River)
– Yangtze River
– Xi Jiang (West River)
“the Great Sorrow”
China’s Sorrow (The Huang Ho)
• River cultures depend on
regular flooding for water and
renewal of the soil
• Huang Ho was not predictable
nor regular
• Massive floods and sever
draughts are common
• Death and depravation is
Ancient China
• Hsia Dynasty built around first cities
• Yang-shao culture explains painted pots, goblets
• Chinese Myths explain development
– Pan Gu
– Yao
– Shun
– Yu
A cosmic egg floated within the timeless void, containing the opposing forces of yin and yang.
After eons of incubation, the first being, Pan-gu emerged. The heavy parts (yin) of the egg
drifted downwards, forming the earth. The lighter parts (yang) rose to form the sky. Pan-gu,
fearing the parts might re-form, stood upon the earth and held up the sky. He grew 10 feet per
day for 18,000 years, until the sky was 30,000 miles high. His work completed, he died. His
parts transformed into elements of the universe, whether animals, weather phenomena, or
celestial bodies. Some say the fleas on him became humans, but there is another explanation.
The goddess Nuwa was lonely, so she fashioned men out of mud from the Yellow River. These
first humans delighted her, but took long to make, so she flung muddy droplets over the earth,
each one becoming a new person. These hastily-made people became the commoners, with
the earlier ones being the nobles the first example of mass-production!
Shang Dynasty (1766-1027 BC)
• Civilization Begins around Shang Dynasty
• (1766-1027 BC)
• Developed Society
• Indicates wheeled chariots
• Work with Bronze tools, weapons
• Maize, Wheat, Millet, Rice
• Domesticated Fowls, Pigs, Dogs, Elephants
• Basis for Chinese Language
Appliqué in the Form of
T’ao T’ieh Mask
- Bronze inlaid with
Fang I (Ritual Wine Vessel)
This bronze ritual wine vessel,
dating from the Shang
Dynasty in the 13th century
late 13th-12th century
Ko (Dagger-Axe) Bronze
Oracle Bones
• Validated the history
that was previously
only oral.
• Script on the bones
are the direct
ancestors of modern
Chinese writing.
Chou Dynasty
(1000-221 BC)
• Capital of Anyang falls to Rebels led by Wu
• 4-5 times larger than Shang
• New form of Leaders (strong, more militaristic)
Chou Dynasty
(1000-221 BC)
• Capital of Anyang falls to Rebels led by Wu
• 4-5 times larger than Shang
• New form of Leaders (strong, more militaristic)
• Origins of Mandate of Heaven (mandates)
• Determine effectiveness of Rule
• Money used (coins of metal)
• Iron tools and weapons
Bell (ceramic)
Stoneware with
appliquéd and incised
décor under a yellowgreen glaze
Ya Chang Scepter
1122-722 B.C.
Mottled brown jade with light and dark clouds
Tripod (Ritual Food
Vessel) Bronze
Among the more unique ceramics recovered from the Warring
States (480-221 b.c.)B.C.) tombs of Kiangsu and Chekiang
provinces are ash-glazed stonewares made in imitation of
ritual bronze vessels. Several excavations have yielded a
variety of carefully crafted replicas of specific vessel and bell
types that were used in prestigious burials as substitutes for
far more expensive ceremonial bronzes. Yung-cheng bells
were typically made in graduated sets. Suspended from a
wooden beam, they were struck on the exterior to create
sound, and entire sets have been excavated from late Chou
burials. This vessel is applied overall with a thin, yellowishgreen glaze that can be seen as a predecessor to the famous
Yueh celadon made later in this same region of southeast
China. The hand-built object is accurately modeled with
sculpted bosses, incised decorative zones, and correct
Chou Dynasty
(1000-221 BC)
• 2nd Capital @ Loyang
• Switch to a Feudal System
• New Farming Methods (ox drawn plow)
• New irrigation, canals
• End of dynasty suffers from instability from feudal warfare
• Looked to Philosophers for advice (3)
– Taoism
– Confucianism
– Legalism
• Lao-Tze (~604 BC)
• “The Old Philosopher”
• Taught the Way of Virtue
• People were corrupted by civilization
• Follow the way, could not be explained
• Shun the world, retire as hermits
The natural is the
of all that must be
and the place
where all must return
Always without desire we must be
If its deep mystery we would
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall
• Confucius (551-479 BC)
• Known as Kung Tzu or Master Kung
• People were good by nature
• Concerned with ways to organize a stable and just society
• Value of Jen (sorry Ben)
• 5 ethical codes of conduct
Ruler & Subject, Parent & Child, Husband & Wife,
Brother & Brother, Friend & Friend
• Duties and Responsibilities
• Teachings collected in Analects
Confucius These heavenly patterns were also inscribed in the patterns of music and dance, yüeh , so
that order in this life could be attained by understanding and practicing the order of
traditional and solemn music and dance.
Because traditional music and dance perfectly embody the humaneness and wisdom of their
composers, who understood perfectly the order of the world and heaven; one can create
within oneself this wisdom by properly performing this music and dance.
• Han Fei Tzu (d. 233 BC)
• Rejected Confucian Thought
• People were Dishonest and Lazy by nature
• Favored authoritarian view of society
• Strict Laws / Harsh
ensured Order in Society
Qin Dynasty
221 BC - 207 BC
Legalist Rule
Warring states
Aggressive & Army
Qin Shi Huang – Emperor
Killed and Palace burned
The figures were discovered in
1974 near Xi'an, Shaanxi
province, China
A modern statue of Qin Shi Huang,
located near the site of the Terracotta
206 BC - 220 AD
• China officially became a
Confucian state and prospered
domestically: agriculture,
handicrafts and commerce
flourished, and the population
reached 50 million.
• Intellectual, Artistic, Literary
• Paper
• Beginning of Silk Road
• Enlightened One or Awakened One
• Siddhattha Gautama
• Buddha was born around 565 B.C. in Lumbini
in modern day Nepal
• Buddha taught the four noble truths:
• that there is suffering, that suffering has a
cause, that suffering has an end and that
there is a path that leads to the end of
• Karma
Chinese Dragons
• The symbol of the dragon
represents spiraling DNA,
the path into greater
• Chinese around the world,
proudly proclaim themselves
"Lung Tik Chuan Ren"
(Descendents of the Dragon).
Dragons are referred to as the
divine mythical creature that
brings with it ultimate
abundance, prosperity and good
• The Great Wall of China was built mainly to
protect the Chinese Empire from the Mongolians
and other invaders.
• 6th century B.C. - 16th C.
• the Great Wall of China extends 4,000 miles
westward: from the China Sea town of
Shanhaiguan to Gansu province.