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ChAPTER 17 -- Part 7: Reunification and Renaissance in
Both husband and wife consented to the divorce.
It was against the law for a husband to set aside his wife if her parents were dead or poor when they were married.
The Chinese wives had more defenses against their husbands' behavior than they did in India.
The practice of wealthy women in large cities taking lovers with the knowledge of their husbands was reported in late Song times.
Evidence of the independence and legal rights enjoyed by a small minority of women in the Tang and Song eras is overwhelmed by the worsening condition of Chinese women in general.
The neo-Confucian phi losophers, who became a major force in the later Song period, believed in the assertion of male dominance.
The woman's role as homemaker and mother was emphasized by the neo-Confucians.
The importance of virginity for young brides, fidelity for wives, and chastity for widows was emphasized by them.
In India, widows were discouraged from remarrying.
Men were allowed to have premarital sex without scandal, to take concubines if they could afford them, and to remarry if one or more of their wives died.
The Buddhists promoted career alternatives for women at the expense of marriage and raising a family, which was attacked by the neo-Confucians.
They drafted laws that favored men.
The kind of education that would allow women to enter the civil service and rise to positions of political power was not included.
The later Song period limited the possibilities of self-fulfillment for elite women.
The Tang and Song eras are remembered for their achievements in science, technology, literature, and the fine arts.
Major technological discoveries were made under each dynasty.
The course of human development was changed by the invention of new tools, production techniques, and weapons.
The arts and literature of China were not well known outside of its borders.
Their impact was limited to areas such as central Asia, Japan, and Vietnam, where Chinese imports had long been a major catalyst for cultural change.
The poetry and short stories of the Tang and the landscape paintings of the Song are some of the best artistic creations of all time.
The Tang and Song eras saw a lot of economic growth and social prosperity thanks to new agricultural tools and innovations.
The engineering feats of the period are noteworthy.
The practice may have begun with the delight one of the Tang emperors took in the tiny feet of his favorite dancing girls.
By the Song era, upper-class men preferred small feet for women.
The well-to-do peasantry was the first group to spread this preference further down on the social scale.
As early as five or six years old, fathers began to bind the feet of their daughters in response to male demands that the successful nego tiation of a young woman's marriage contract might hinge.
The young girl's toes were bound with silk, which was wound more tightly as she grew, as shown in the accompanying photo.
By the time she reached marriageable age, a young woman's feet had become the "golden lily" shapes that were preferred by husbands.
Bound feet made it very difficult for a woman to walk short distances, and they were a constant source of pain for the rest of her life.
It's easier for husbands to confine their wives to the family com if they have bound feet, since they depended heavily on the pound.
It also meant that women couldn't engage in occupations that resulted from footbinding for support when standing, except those that could be pursued within the extended family and walking.
The sole of the foot did not touch the ground or toes household.
The lower were fused together to make a pointed foot.
Footbinding became more difficult for the laboring classes when it was in fashion.
In Chinese Canal, Tang and Song engineers made great advances in building dikes and dams and regulating the society of women's feet flow of water in complex irrigation systems.
They devised ingenious new ways to build bridges, in order to make them smaller, which is a major focus of engineering efforts in a land dominated by mountains and waterways.
Most of the basic bridge types known to humans movement were pioneered in China.
One of the most important technological advances made in the Tang era was the inven tion of explosives.
The Chinese used these potent chemical combinations for fireworks for hundreds of years.
By the late Song, the imperial armies used a variety of grenades and bombs that were thrown at the enemy by catapults.
Song armies and warships were also equipped with weapons.
The dynasty used projectiles to check nomadic incursions.
The habit of drinking tea swept the empire, coal was used for the first time, and the first kite soared into the sky.
The number of major inventions in the Song era was lower than in the Tang, but they were important for the future of all civilizations.
Since the last centuries b.c.e., compasses have been used.
Merchants and tax collectors use the abacus to count their profits and keep track of their revenues.
The technique of printing with moving type was invented by Bi Sheng in the 11th century.
The production of written records and scholarly books was greatly improved by the use of movable type.
Printing and paper made it possible for the Chinese to attain a level of literacy that was unparalleled by any preindustrial civilization.
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