Elaborate tomb architecture Development of Confucian political and ethical thought Refinement of examination system & civil bureaucracy Introduction of Buddhism Han culture and society
Invasions of nomadic groups from northern steppes Diverse cultures and political structures Rise of Buddhism as significant moral and cultural influence After Han, age of disunity
Patterns have emerged… • Empire-building facilitated by military conquest, political alliances, cultural assimilation • Most invaders come from inland empires & steppes • Patchwork empire; significant local diversity • Confucian traditions develop alongside competing ethical and religious systems • Rulers emphasize popular welfare as the definition of good government, but expect obedient population
Tang rulers linked to nomadic groups Population reached some 50 million people Creation of unified legal code; resurrection of Han institutions Buddhist & Daoist institutions at the height of their power and wealth Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE)
Tang culture and society Increased trade led to greater variety of foodstuffs, like the “golden peaches of Samarkand”…
How to defend and police such a large population, such diffuse borders Problem of rebellion, particularly in borderlands: An Lushan and the Tibetans Attacks on the Buddhism: in 846, seizure of temples and other property Control and danger
Introduction of fast-growing rice led to dramatic population growth Development of specialized agriculture and more sophisticated urban markets Rise of Neo-Confucianism as state orthodoxy Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE)
Did language impede innovation? Was there an “equilibrium trap” between population and need for labor-saving devices? Defensive posture impedes trade and cultural exchange? Why no industrial revolution?
Song conquered first by Jin, then by Yuan (Mongols) Mongols discriminate against Han Chinese, but eventually revive many aspects of Song imperial system Song falls to northern invaders
As we leave the middle period… • How Chinese historians explained dynastic cycle: • Dynasties founded by virtuous rulers; corrupt heirs lose Mandate of Heaven; conquered by foreign invaders or peasant rebels • Recent explanations: periods of extreme technological development, population growth, and economic & cultural change lead to political instability • When conquerors were non-Han (often steppe people), were they fully assimilated? If not, how did foreign ideas make an impact?
Tactics in studying Chinese history… • Appreciating the extraordinary degree of geographical, cultural, linguistic, and ethnic diversity • Countering the myth of “eternal China” by defining historical units and themes that acknowledge growth, change, influences by outside world • Looking for historical themes that enrich our understanding of contemporary problems, without reducing them to stereotypes
Ming established by peasant rebellion against the Mongols Establishes vast imperial bureaucracy, sophisticated taxation system Examination system feeds gentry ambitions; Neo-Confucian texts orthodox Ming Dynasty (1308-1644) The Yongle emperor, son of Ming founder
7 voyages for diplomacy and trade; flaunted power and wealth “treasure ships” carried porcelain, silk, lacquer for export Carried back ivory, rhinoceros horn, rare woods and incense, medicine Voyages ceased as domestic trade & politics stabilized Zheng He’s voyages (1405-1444)
The legacy of the voyages? • “At the heart of the matter is China’s view of itself and its position in the world, which has changed little to the present day. Today there is still the same ambiguity toward foreigners and foreign influence. The opening and closing of doors. The sullen refuge in isolation.” • Shen Zhou’s Night Vigil (1492): “My outward form is slave to external things, and my mind takes its direction from them. Hearing is obscured by the sounds of bell and drum; seeing is obscured by patterns and beauty. This is why material things benefit people seldom, harm them often. Sometimes it happens, though, as with tonight’s sounds and colors, that while they do not differ from those of other times, yet they strike the ear and eye all at once, lucidly, wonderfully becoming a part of me. That they are bell and drum sounds, patterns and beauty, now cannot help but be an aid to the advancement of my self-cultivation. In this way, things cannot serve to enslave man.”
China once again ruled by foreign invaders, this time Manchu Almost fifty years required to subdue rebellion; pacification due to Han gentry cooperation Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)