China’s Grand Canal more than 2,500 years later and still in use

March 24, 2015

Encyclopedia Britannica says, “This ancient waterway was first constructed as early as the 4th century BC, was rebuilt in 607 AD, and has been used ever since.”

The Great Wall of China and the Grand Canal are examples of Confucianism and the Chinese work ethic. To understand the significance, it helps to compare it to the Suez and Panama Canals.

In the 19th century, the French built a canal 100 miles across the Isthmus of Suez. When it opened, the Suez Canal was only 25 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom and 200 to 300 feet wide at the surface. About 20,000 ships use the canal each year. – History.com

The Panama Canal was started in 1881 by the French but ended a failure. The Americans finished the canal between 1904 – 1914, and it was 51 miles long. Today, it handles over 12,000 ships a year. – The Panama Canal

When I was in grade school, we learned about the Panama Canal in glowing terms. I’m sure the French and British brag about the Suez Canal in their textbooks too.

Until my first trip to China in 1999, I had never heard of the Grand Canal, which is the oldest and longest man-made canal in the world at more than a thousand miles from Beijing to Hangzhou south of Shanghai.

The construction started about five hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ and was completed centuries later. The canal is still in use today. To finish it, the Pound lock was invented in the 10th century during the Song Dynasty. There are 24 locks and about 60 bridges. – Wikipedia

The canal is one example that China’s authoritarian, Confucian, collective culture is more than capable of innovation. For instance, there is the Pound lock pioneered by Qiao Weiyo,  a government official and engineer in 984 AD, which replaced earlier double slipways that had caused trouble and are mentioned by the Chinese polymath Shen Kuo (1031–1095 AD) in his book Dream Pool Essays (published in 1088 AD), and fully described in the Chinese historical text Song Shi (compiled in 1345 AD).

In the 18th century the West built the Suez and Panama Canals—that combined were 151 miles long. China started building the Grand Canal centuries before Christ, and when finished, it was more than a thousand miles long.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

Advertisements

China Preserving its History

January 6, 2015

A few years ago, David Frum wrote on his blog (I think he deleted that post or closed his Blog since then) about China’s Early Empires referring to Belknap’s six-volume history of Imperial China. Frum said, “There is no Chinese equivalent of the Parthenon or the Roman Forum, no Pantheon or Coliseum. For all its overpowering continuity, China does not preserve physical remains of the past… He offhandedly mentioned at one point that there remained not a single surviving house or palace from Han China. There are not even ruins.”

David Frum—who was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush—was wrong.

I wrote a three-part series about the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.) tombs discovered in Xuzhou, which was the location of the capital of the Han Dynasty. The tombs, which have not been destroyed or looted, are now tourist attractions. A museum was built to house artifacts that were discovered. One tomb has a living room and a bedroom before the coffin chamber.  Since the tomb was built inside a hollowed-out rock mountain, it survived more than two millennia with evidence of how the Han Dynasty lived more than 2,000 years ago.

And I’ve toured the Ming tombs, and seen the graves of heroes from the Song Dynasty near the West Lake in Hangzhou, south of Shanghai.  Also, let’s not forget that the Grand Canal, which was started five centuries before the birth of Christ, is still in use today.

Then, if you visit Tibet, there’s the Potala Palace, which was first built in 637 AD and is still lived in. Although much of ancient China has vanished, there are still vestiges that equal or surpass what the Roman and Greek civilizations left behind.

Last but not least, there’s the Great Wall and China’s Terra-Cotta Warriors from the first emperor (260-210 BC). I wrote about Qin Shi Huangdi in this post: http://ilookchina.net/tag/the-first-emperor-of-china/

Though the beginning of the Great Wall of China can be traced to the third century B.C., many of the fortifications included in the wall date from hundreds of years earlier, when China was divided into a number of individual kingdoms during the so-called Warring States Period (Beginning between 481 – 403 BC) .

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Grand Canal (4th century BC to 2011 AD and still in use)

November 26, 2011

Encyclopedia Britannica says, “This ancient waterway was first constructed as early as the 4th century BC, was rebuilt in 607 AD, and has been used ever since.”

The Great Wall of China and the Grand Canal are examples of Confucianism and the Chinese work ethic. To understand the significance, we will compare it to the Suez and Panama Canals.

In the 19th century, the French built a canal 100 miles across the Isthmus of Suez. When it opened, the Suez Canal was only 25 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom and 200 to 300 feet wide at the surface. About 20,000 ships use the canal each year. Source: History.com


China first applied for World Heritage status for the canal in 2009

The Panama Canal was started in 1881 by the French but ended a failure [more than 2,000 years after China first built the Grand Canal]. The Americans finished the canal between 1904 – 1914. The canal was 51 miles long. Today, it handles over 12,000 ships a year. Source: The Panama Canal

When I was in grade school, we learned about the Panama Canal in glowing terms. I’m sure the French and British brag about the Suez Canal in their textbooks too.

Until my first trip to China in 1999, I had never heard of the Grand Canal, which is the oldest and longest man-made canal in the world at more than a thousand miles from Beijing to Hangzhou south of Shanghai.

The construction started several hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ and was completed centuries later. The canal is still in use today. To finish it, the Pound lock was invented in the 10th century during the Song Dynasty. There are 24 locks and about 60 bridges. Source: Wikipedia

One example that China’s authoritarian, Confucian, collective culture is more than capable of innovation was the Pound lock pioneered by Qiao Weiyo,  a government official and engineer in 984 AD, which replaced earlier double slipways that had caused trouble and are mentioned by the Chinese polymath Shen Kuo (1031–1095 AD) in his book Dream Pool Essays (published in 1088 AD), and fully described in the Chinese historical text Song Shi (compiled in 1345 AD).

In the 18th century the West built the Suez and Panama Canals  that combined were 151 miles long. China first built the Grand Canal centuries before Christ, and when finished it was more than a thousand miles long. What do we learn about China and the Chinese?

Discover China’s other innovations in Ancient Chinese Inventions that Changed the World and the Chinese Crossbow and Other Inventions

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

Subscribe to iLook China.
There is a “Subscribe” button at the right- top of the screen.

 

This revised and edited post first appeared on April 30, 2010 as China’s Grand Canal


Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty – Part 2/4

November 26, 2010

Emperor Hongwu wanted to stabilize the country and strengthen Confucian Piety in the family. To achieve this, Hongwu centralized the state’s power and used spies to watch his political rivals and supporters.

Hongwu founded the Jin Yi Wei, the secret spy agency and bodyguard of all the Ming Emperors responsible to watch public officials. Anyone caught talking about rebellion would be arrested.

The worst aspects of Chinese feudalism had Hongwu’s full support.

Before Emperor Hongwu died, he arranged for his oldest grandson to become emperor. To make sure this would happen, he had all potential enemies killed.

However, Hongwu’s grandson did not get the crown. Instead, Hongwu’s fourth son became the next emperor through drastic measures that resulted in many deaths.

Hongwu’s fourth son would become Emperor Yongle (ruled 1402 – 1424).


Mandarin with English subtitles

Emperor Yongle had been sent by his father to guard the north against the nomads and was given the title of King Yan. Due to his success at driving back the Mongols, he had the support of China’s nobility to become emperor.

As Emperor, he reversed his father’s decisions and opened China to world trade. In 1404, Yongle decided to move the capital from Nanjing to Beijing since Beijing was situated in an important strategic position between Mongolia and the plains of northern China — 20 miles from the Great Wall.

Beijing had been the capital of the Yuan and Jin (1115 – 1234) Dynasties. Though Beijing was far from the areas of China with the most population and agriculture along the Yangtze River, Emperor Yongle was still determined to move his capital north.

He wanted to move so he would have more control over China’s northern minorities such as the Mongols and the Manchu.

Before moving from Nanjing, he had Beijing rebuilt with a new palace, The Forbidden City. The materials for this construction came from all over China with most being carried on barges along the Grand Canal, which stretched more than a thousand miles from Beijing to Hangzhou in the south.

Return to Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty – Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1643 AD) – Part 1, 1/3

November 21, 2010

The Red Turban Rebellion was started in the middle of the fourteenth century by Chinese peasants against the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty.

The Red Turban ideology included elements from White Lotus, a Buddhist sect from the late Southern Song Dynasty.

Soon, the White Lotus Society, led by Han Shantong, became the center of anti-Mongol sentiment. After Han Shantong was caught and executed, his son, Han Liner, came to power claiming to be the incarnation of the Maitreya Buddha.

When the Yung Dynasty fell in August 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang was the leader of the White Lotus Society (also known as the The Millennium Cult, with similarities to today’s Falun Gong religious cult).

Yuanzhang came from a poor background and did not trust the educated elite. He created an extremely authoritarian regime with harsh policies and ruled China from the city of Nanjing.

It would take several years before China recovered from the destruction caused by the rebellion.

The first hundred and fifty years of the Ming Dynasty saw an improvement in agricultural technology never before seen in China, which encouraged the development of the handicrafts industry and commerce.

Since the Roman Empire, products from China had already been known for their high quality and craftsmanship. During the Ming, these products reached even higher qualities.

The Yongle Emperor (1402 – 1424) moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing where he built a new city.

In fact, after being neglected for decades, the Yongle Emperor had the Grand Canal restored.

The Yongle Emperor also send the Muslim, eunuch Admiral Zheng He with a huge fleet across the oceans to Africa and possibly to the Americas well before Columbus set sail. The emperor’s goal was to gain respect from distant foreign nations.

To build the Ming fleet required techniques and technologies never seen in the world. To achieve this feat, the Chinese invented what has been credited to Ford Motor Company between 1908 and 1915 — an assembly line five centuries before Ford.

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Vestiges of China’s Early Empires

August 8, 2010

 David Frum writes about China’s Early Empires referring to Belknap’s six-volume history of Imperial China. Frum says, “There is no Chinese equivalent of the Parthenon or the Roman Forum, no Pantheon or Coliseum.  For all its overpowering continuity, China does not preserve physical remains of the past… Lewis offhandedly mentions at one point that there remains not a single surviving house or palace from Han China. There are not even ruins,” which is wrong.

I recently wrote a three-part series about Han Dynasty tombs discovered in Xuzhou, which was the location of the capital of the Han Dynasty. The tombs, which had not been destroyed or looted, are now tourist attractions. A museum was built to house artifacts that were discovered. One tomb has a living room and a bedroom before the coffin chamber.  Since the tomb was built inside a hollowed-out mountain and made of rock, it survived more than two millennia with evidence of how the Han Dynasty lived then.

In fact, I’ve toured the Ming tombs, seen the graves of heroes from the Song Dynasty near the West Lake in Hangzhou, south of Shanghai.  Also, let’s not forget that the Grand Canal, which was started five centuries before the birth of Christ and is still in use today.

In fact, the Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 with much of China’s imperial treasures.

Then, if you visit Tibet, there’s the Potala Palace, which was first built in 637 AD and is still lived in. Although much of ancient China has vanished, there are still vestiges that equal or surpass what the Roman and Greek civilizations left behind.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

Sign up for an RSS Feed for iLook China


China’s Grand Canal

April 30, 2010

An example of how hard the Chinese work stands in the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canal. To understand the significance, we will look at the Suez and Panama Canals first as a comparison.

China’s Grand Canal

In the 19th century, the French built a canal 100 miles across the Isthmus of Suez. When it opened, the Suez Canal was only 25 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom and 200 to 300 feet wide at the surface. About 20,000 ships use the canal each year. Source: History.com

The Panama Canal was started in 1881 by the French but ended a failure. The Americans finished the canal between 1904 – 1914. The canal was 51-miles long.  Today, it handles over 12,000 ships a year. Source: The Panama Canal

When I was in grade school, we learned about the Panama Canal in glowing terms. I’m sure the French and British brag about the Suez Canal in their textbooks too.

Until my first trip to China in 1999, I had never heard of the Grand Canal, which is the oldest and longest man-made canal in the world at more than a thousand miles from Beijing to Hangzhou south of Shanghai.

China’s Grand Canal

The construction started almost five hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ and was completed centuries later.  The canal is still in use today.  To finish it, the Pound lock was invented in the 10th century during the Song Dynasty. There are 24 locks and about 60 bridges.  Source: Wikipedia

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline