ChAPTER 17 -- Part 6: Reunification and Renaissance in
This expansion in scale was accompanied by a growing sophistication in commercial credit available in China.
Domestic marketing and international commerce were transformed by the innovations in instruments for economic exchange in the following millennium.
Deposit shops, an early form of the bank, were found in many parts of the empire as the proportion of exchanges involved in the money economy expanded.
Paper money was used for the first time in the Tang era.
Merchants deposited their profits in their hometowns.
Merchants made perilous journeys from one market center to another because of the danger of robbery on vouchers.
The government began to issue paper money in the early 11th century after an economic crisis made it clear that the private could not handle the demand for the new currency.
The Tang and Song eras saw a surge in urban growth as a result of the expansion of commerce and artisan production.
The population of the Tang capital and its suburbs at Chang'an was larger than any other city in the world at the time.
The imperial city, an inner citadel within the walls of Chang'an, was divided into a domi nated by the palace and audience halls and a section crowded with the offices of the ministries and secretariats of the imperial government.
Outside of Chang'an's walls, there were gardens and a hunting park for the emperors and courtiers.
The urban growth in the rest of China was fed by the spread of commerce.
In the north and south, old cities grew as suburbs spread from the original city walls.
The proportion of the empire's population living in urban centers grew steadily.
After the Industrial Revolution, the number of people living in large cities in China may have been as high as 10 percent.
In the Tang and Song period, the population moved southward to the fertile valleys of the Yangzi and other river systems.
The rulers of both dynasties promoted the expansion of Chinese settlement and agricultural production.
Their officials encouraged peasant groups to migrate to uncultivated areas or those occupied by non- Chinese people.
The Postclassical Period, 600-1450: New Faith and New Commerce to protect the new settlements and complete the task of subduing non- Chinese peoples.
Irrigation and embankment systems were regulated by the state.
The canals made it possible for peasants to grow specialized crops, such as tea or silkworms, and sell them over the empire.
The introduction of new seeds, such as the famed Champa rice from Vietnam, better use of human, animal, and silt manures, and more thorough soil preparation and weeding, increased the yields of peasant holdings.
Much of the time of most Chinese people, tasks such as plowing, planting, and weeding were taken care of by inventions such as the wheelbarrow.
The rulers of the Sui and Tang dynasties decided to break up the great estates of the old aris tocracy and distribute land more evenly among the free peasant households of the empire.
The threat that the aris tocracy posed for the new dynasties was designed into these policies.
They were intended to bolster the position of the ordinary peasants, whose labors and well-being had long been viewed by Confucian scholars as essential to a prosperous and stable social order.
These measures succeeded.
The average holding size in many areas rose as the number of free peasantry increased.
Many of the old aristocratic families were stripped of their inde pendent centers of power because of the decline in their fortunes.
The nation that dominated the imperial bureaucracy illustrated the farming methods developed in the Song era.
The overseer is protected by an umbrella.
The extended- family households of the gentry that were rice meant that China's long-held advantages over other civilizations in terms of found in rural settlements in the Han era increased in size the population it could support increased in this era.
The Chinese empire may have had widespread use of a quarter of humanity.
Curved roofs were reserved for people of high rank.
The great dwellings of the gentry were adorned with intricately carved and painted roof timbers and glazed tiles of yellow or green, which left no doubt about the status and power of the families who lived in them.
Their simple lines, wood and bamboo construction, and muted colors blend beautifully with nearby gardens and groves of trees.
In the Tang and Song centuries, Chinese family organization was very similar to what it was in earlier periods.
Under the Tang and early Song eras, the position of women showed signs of improvement, but then deteriorated in the late Song.
Normally, extended- family households were only available to the upper classes.
The male-dominated hierarchy held sway at all levels.
In the Tang period, the authority of elders and males within the family was but tressed by laws that prescribed beheading as a punishment for children who struck their parents or grandparents in anger, and two and one-half years of hard labor for younger brothers or sisters who hit their older
Forging marriage alliances developed over the centuries.
Both families were helped by professional go-betweens to negotiate prickly issues such as matching young men and women and the amount of dowry to be paid to the husband's family.
In contrast to India, brides and grooms in China were generally the same age.
Both within the family and in society at large, women were clearly subservient to men.
According to some evidence, the opportunities for personal expression increased in the Tang and early Song for women of the upper classes in urban areas.
Tang women could wield considerable power at the highest levels of Chinese society.
A pottery figure from the early Tang period of a young woman playing polo shows that they enjoyed access to a broad range of activities.
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