Running toward the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD) – Part 1/4

September 24, 2010

If we were to compare Chinese civilization to an amusement ride, it would be a roller coaster.

As each dynasty ended, there was usually a period of chaos, war and anarchy among rival factions.

After the collapse of China’s last Dynasty, the Qing, between 1911 and 1949, chaos, anarchy, warlords, rebellion and World War II tore at the fabric of China. See The Roots of Madness

Then Communist China was born, which eventually led to China’s Capitalist Revolution.

The Xia Dynasty (about 2205 – 1766 BC) ended with the reign of a tyrannical emperor, who lived an extravagant life. When patriotic ministers attempted giving him good advice, he killed them. Then the people rose in rebellion.

The Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1122 BC) ended in similar circumstances when the last emperor lived a luxurious life and tortured both his ministers and people. Another rebellion led by the chief of the Zhou tribe brought down the Shang.

The Zhou Dynasty (1122 – 221 BC) was divided between the Eastern and Western Zhou Dynasties, which fell apart during the Spring and Autumn (770 – 475 BC) Period and the Warring States Period (476 – 221 BC) when the Zhou Emperor didn’t have the power to control the nobles, who fought amongst themselves again leading to chaos and anarchy.

The short Qin Dynasty (221 to 207 BC) unified all China ending the Warring States Period.

However, Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor, was brutal and soon after his death, the Qin Dynasty was swept aside to be replaced by the Han Dynasty.

The Han Dynasty (207 BC to 220 AD) was divided into the Western and Eastern Han. Near the end of the Han, the last two emperors were weak. The rule of law broke down again and life was hard.

The Han ended with another rebellion leading to the Three Kingdom’s Period (220 – 280 AD), which meant more chaos and anarchy before China would be unified again under one emperor.

With the end of the Three Kingdoms Period, the Jin Dynasty (265 – 420 AD) ruled until the final emperors were too weak to control the warlords, which led to chaos and anarchy.

The Jin Dynasty was followed by four successive southern dynasties (420 – 589 AD)  and five northern dynasties (386 – 581 AD) followed by the Sui Dynasty that lasted for 38 years when the last emperor of the Sui yielded the throne to the Emperor Gaozu of the Tang Dynasty.

The early Tang emperors built an empire that pushed China’s boundaries to their farthest existence and a culture whose achievements would profoundly influence all Asia.

A thriving economy with complex international ties created one of the richest, strongest and most sophisticated states in world history.

The western capital of Chan-an, which had been the first capital of the Zhou, Qin and Han Dynasties, had a population of a million inside the city walls.

Continued in the Tang Dynasty – Part 2

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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. 

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Emperor Wu of Zhou Dynasty – Part 4/4

September 7, 2010

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is a tribute to the Rituals from the Zhou Dynasty.

What the Zhou Dynasty established is still embedded in everyday aspects of Chinese social life. Showing respect for family ancestors originated with the Zhou Dynasty and is practiced today all over China.

The Book of Songs was the first poetry collection in Chinese history. Among the poems is the Eulogy for the Zhou Dynasty.


Video: Chinese with English subtitles.

The Book of Changes, which also discusses military thought, came from the Zhou Dynasty.

The civilization established by the Zhou Dynasty influenced the cultures of Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia.

Duke Zhou, Emperor Wu’s younger brother, was regent for seven years when King Cheng was mature enough to assume the power of king.  Duke Zhou stepped aside.

The Zhou Dynasty is also known for its bronze castings with history unscripted on them. Jade became important at this time too.

Zhou Dynasty at its greatest

The Zhou Dynasty attached great importance to agriculture and a large number of bronze farming tools were extensively used.

The Zhou Dynasty continued to expand as other states were slowly absorbed.  The Zhou also fought the nomads to the north and northwest.

Return to Emperor Wu of Zhou Dynasty – Part 3 or start with Part 1

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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”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.


Emperor Wu of Zhou Dynasty – Part 3/4

September 7, 2010

Historical records shows that the Zhou people introduced what would become Chinese social codes—some followed to this day.

Duke Zhou, a younger brother to Emperor Wu, became an important figure after his older brother’s death.

According to tradition, the oldest son would succeed to his father’s position. Due to this, King Wu’s son, Jisong, became emperor after his father’s death.

Jisong became King Cheng but was too young to rule, so his uncle, the Duke of Zhou, became regent.

Some of the vassal states didn’t like this and revolted. Duke Zhou led a military expedition to suppress the revolt.


Video: Chinese with English subtitles

Duke Zhou then wrote China’s first laws known as the Ritual of Zhou—more than 3,000 rules that covered behavior and manners.

The rules also formulated wedding rituals and required ancestral temples in each vassal state, which encouraged loyalty to the king. The Zhou Dynasty attached great important to ritual and music.

The Kings of Zhou proclaimed that they were “the sons of Heaven.”  There were rituals for burials.

Worship for ancestors and Heaven were of prime importance and were practiced into the 20th century, which explains the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

The Zhou tomb of the Marquis of Jin was discovered in 1992 in Shanxi province. Many jade articles were found.

Return to Emperor Wu of Zhou Dynasty – Part 2 or continue to Part 4

______________

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”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.


Emperor Wu of Zhou Dynasty – Part 2/4

September 7, 2010

To defeat the Shang Dynasty, King Wu crossed the Yellow River and immediately marched his army toward the capital.

At the Battle of Muye, the Zhou army was outnumbered more than three to one with less than fifty thousand troops against one hundred and seventy thousand.

However, during the battle, many slaves and conscripted prisoners of war from other tribes in the Shang army changed sides to fight with the Zhou army.


Video: Chinese with English subtitles

The remaining Shang army offered little resistance after that.  The Shang king fled to his capital leaving what was left of his army behind. Once he arrived at his capital, he set himself on fire.

To honor his father, King Wu named him the founder of the Zhou Dynasty (1126 – 222 B.C.). Now an Emperor, Wu established a feudal kingdom built on a patriarchal clan system.

The agricultural system of the time required peasants to not only farm the land they owned but also a plot of state land—this was called the “jing-fields” system.

Return to Emperor Wu of Zhou Dynasty – Part 1 or continue with Part 3

______________

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”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.


Emperor Wu of Zhou Dynasty – Part 1/4

September 6, 2010

Wu of the Western Zhou Dynasty was named Jifa. He was the second son of King Wen, and the founder of the Western Zhou Dynasty.

The Zhou Dynasty would last almost 900 years. Source: Cultural China

The Zhou people lived along the western part of the Yellow River and were one of the first nations to develop agriculture. To the Northwest of Zhou were barbarian tribes.


Video: Chinese with English subtitles

The Zhou capital was near today’s modern city of Xian in Shanxi Province, and the Zhou, a vassal state, were given the job of protecting the Shang Dynasty’s western frontier.

However, while the brutal last king of the Shang Dynasty waged endless wars with surrounding tribes, the Zhou ruler placed more importance on developing agriculture and his small kingdom grew wealthy.

Zhou’s prosperity bothered the Shang king so he threw King Wen in prison.  After his release, Wen recruited a talented general to lead his army to wage war on the Shang Dynasty.

The Zhou king died during the war and his son Wu became king and defeated the Shang. To achieve this victory King Wu forged an alliance with other Shang vassal states.

According to historical records, the Shang Dynasty fell in the first month of 1027 B.C.

Continued with Emperor Wu of Zhou Dynasty – Part 2

______________

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”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.