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Early Dynasties, Beliefs
Dynastic China
• Chinese history can be divided into
– Dynasty: Series of rulers from the same family
– Dynastic rule: 1650-1911
• This lesson will cover early Chinese
dynasties, prior to 1300’s.
Dynastic China
• Shang Dynasty
– Shang was China’s earliest known dynasty,
1650 BC
– King was seen as link between heaven and
– Writing system developed
– Calendar created.
Dynastic China
• Zhou Dynasty: ruled for 900 yrs beginning
in 1027.
– Key development: Mandate of Heaven
• Heaven granted a ruler the right or “mandate” to
• People owed their loyalty to ruler.
• Ruler had power and responsibility
• “Dynastic Cycle”
– Period of Warring States: About 700 BC,
powerful lords set up their own independent
Dynastic China
• Qin Dynasty: 221 BC
– 1st Emperor: Shi Huangdi
Single law code
Standard weights and measures
Road building
Built Great Wall: used forced labor. (actually joined
and extended already existing walls)
– “Every stone cost a human life”
Dynastic China
• Han Dynasty: 202 BC-AD 220
– Liu Bang, peasant leader overthrew the Qin.
– Trade expanded
– Buddhism introduced into China.
– Restored Confucian learning:
• Civil Service System: The best and brightest work
for government.
– Paper, foot stirrup, wheel barrow,
acupuncture, medical colleges
Dynastic China
• Tang Dynasty (618-906) and the Song
Dynasty (960-1279)
– Trade increased
– Strong Navy
• Ships: sternpost rudder and magnetic compass
Dynastic China
• Under Mongol rule
– By 1279 Mongols ruled all of China
– Adopted some Chinese culture.
– Famous Mongols: Genghis Khan and Kubilai
• Chinese people resented foreign rule
– 1368 Zhu Yuanzhang, peasant leader, drove
Mongols out of China.
• He started the Ming Dynasty
• Philosophies
– Confucianism:
Founder: Confucius, born 551 during period of chaos
Developed ideas on how to restore peace and harmony
Teaching were collected in a book: The Analects
Major Teaching: 5 Key Relationships
Older brother-younger brother
**Filial Piety: duty and respect owed
Living roles properly
would insure peace and
stability and restore order
to parents by kids.
• Taoism (Daoism)
– Founder: Lao Zi: how to regain order?
– People and nature linked.
– Do nothing contrary to nature
– Confucian rules disturb natural order
– Simplicity: best government has fewest rules
• Live simply, close to nature
• Legalism:
– Shaped early China’s history
– Han Fei Zi: 281-233 BC
– famous legalist writer. Part of ruling family.
– People respond to rewards and punishments
– “Only harsh laws from a strong ruler ensure
order in society”
– In 221 BC the Qin used Legalist ideas to unite
Began in India
Founder: Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BC)
Spread to China in 1st century AD.
Appealed to Chinese:
– It offered an escape from sufferings of life.
– Promised salvation for the good and punishment for
the wicked.
– In time Buddhism blended with Chinese values such
as Confucian ideas of proper behavior and respect for
• Main teaching: People suffer as a result of
their own desires.
• How to end suffering
– 4 Noble Truths
Life is suffering
Cause of suffering is desire
Suffering ends when desire ends
Enlightenment is reached by following the 8 Fold
• 8 Fold Path: Middle Path
– Right view
– Right intention
– Right speech
– Right action
– Right livelihood
– Right effort
– Right mindfulness
– Right concentration