Chapter 13 -- Part 1: States and Cultures in East Asia
Sima Guang was a leading official and was known for his stern demeanor.
East Asia was the most advanced region in the world between 800 and 1400.
China's methods of production were advanced in fields as diverse as rice cultivation, the production of iron and steel, and the printing of books, despite the fact that the Chinese economy had grown spectacularly.
The arts and philosophy flourished.
For its time, China's system of government was advanced.
The principle that the government should be in the hands of highly educated scholar-officials was established in the Song period.
Song China's wealth and sophisticated government did not give it military advantage, and in this period China had to pay tribute to the more powerful northern neighbors, the Khitans, the Jurchens, and the Mongols.
Basic elements of Chinese culture had spread beyond China's borders, creating the East Asian cultural sphere based on the use of Chinese as the language of civilization.
As Japan, Korea, and China developed in different ways, the pendulum shifted towards cultural differentiation.
In both Korea and Japan, for several centuries the court aristocracy was dominant both politically and culturally, but they lost their power to military men in the countryside.
By 1200 Japan was dominated by warriors, known as samurai, whose ethos was quite different than that of China's educated elite.
One of the ties that continued to link the countries of East Asia was Buddhism.
China and Korea had to deal with neighbors to the north.
Japan had to mobilize its resources to fight off the two seaborne attacks.
Historians in China viewed dynasties as following a pattern.
Strong men were able to recruit followers to serve as officials and generals.
Externally they would extend China's borders, and internally they would bring peace.
Emperors born in the palace would get used to luxury and lack the strength and wisdom of their predecessors.
The government would have to impose heavier taxes on the poor if families with wealth or political power were to find ways to avoid taxes.
As a result, impoverished peasants would flee, the government and armies would decline, and the dynasty would not be able to maintain internal peace or defend its borders.
It was 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 800-273-3217 The centralizing features of the government had been abandoned, with power falling more and more to regional military governors.
The Chinese dynasties go through a predictable cycle of growth and decline as administrators become less strict and the well-off find ways to avoid paying taxes.
Historically, Chinese political theorists assumed that a strong, centralized government was better than a weak one or a political division, but, if anything, the Tang has been more intellectually and economically vibrant than the early Tang.
Trade and economic growth seem to have been stimulated by less government control.
China's population was around 50 million, close to what it was in 2 C.E., according to a government census.
By 1100, the population of China had reached 100 million, and the country's food supply had increased as a result.
China's population probably already surpasses that of all the Islamic countries of the time or that of all the countries of Europe put together.
Literature and the arts flourished as a result of urbanization.
Commercialization of the economy was aided by agricultural prosperity and denser settlement patterns.
Farmers in Song China aim at more than self-sufficiency.
Farmers used their profits to buy charcoal, tea, oil, and wine.
Sugar, oranges, cotton, silk, and tea are some of the commercial crops that farmers specialize in.
The inland and coastal shipping industries were stimulated by the need to transport the products of interregional trade.
Demand for money grew so much that the world's first paper money was created.
Merchants in late Tang times started trading receipts from deposit shops to avoid the weight and bulk of coins for large transactions.
The world's first government-issued paper money was produced in the 1120s when the government took over the issuing of these certificates of deposit.
The unit of currency was indicated in Chinese paper currency.
The note from the Mongol period attests to the continued use of paper money.
Merchants became more organized as a result of the intensification of trade.
They created partnerships and joint stock companies with a separation of owners and managers.
Merchants in large cities organized their guilds according to the type of product they sold, and they set prices periodically.
Foreign trade flourished during the Song period.
Chinese ships began to displace Indian and Arab merchants in the South Seas.
Complying with the water improved cargo protection.
The rudders improved steering.
The ships were large enough to hold several hundred men and were powered by both oars and sails.
The perfect compass was important to oceangoing travel.
The ability of a magnetic needle to point north had been known for a while, but in Song times the needle was attached to a fixed stem, rather than floating in water.
The first reports of a compass were made in 1119.
It was useful for sea navigation in Song times when it was placed in a protective case.
There were many advances in industrial techniques witnessed by the Song.
The heavy industry grew very fast.
In 1078, iron production reached around 125,000 tons per year, a sixfold increase over the output in 800.
The iron was used for military purposes.
Iron armor was made in small, medium, and large sizes.
High-quality steel was made for swords.
Chinese engineers are experimenting with gunpowder.
In the wars against the Jurchens, those defending a besieged city used gunpowder to propel projectiles.
The growth of cities was fueled by economic expansion.
Dozens of cities had 50,000 or more residents, and a few had more than 100,000 inhabitants, compared to other places in the world at the time.
There are an estimated 1 million residents in the two capitals of China.
Marco Polo said that Hangzhou was the best city in the world.
It had ten marketplaces, each half a mile long, where tens of thousands of people would shop on any given day.
Marco Polo described the courtesans as "adorned in much finery, highly perfumed, occupying well-furnished houses, and attended by many female domestics."
The economic center of China south was shifted during the medieval economic revolution.
The north China plain had many advantages over this area.
Rice provides more calories per unit of land and allows denser settlement.
The milder temperatures allowed two crops to be grown on the same plot of land, first a summer crop of rice and then a winter crop.
The cost of transportation was reduced because of the abundance of rivers and streams.
Ordinary people benefited from the Song economic revolution.
If you stayed in agriculture, you had a better chance of improving your situation by taking up sideline production of wine, charcoal, paper, or textiles.
Farmers who grow cash crops such as sugar, tea, mulberry leaves, and cotton could grow rich.
The availability of goods at the rural markets increases every five or ten days because of greater interregional trade.
Chinese farmers grow rice in a seedbed and then transplant it into a flooded field when the field is free.
The Song government commissioned illustrations of the steps to be followed in order to promote up-to-date agricultural technology.
The painting is from a later version.
Not everyone grew rich.
Poor farmers who fell into debt had to sell their land, and if they still owed money they could be forced to sell their daughters as prostitutes.
The prosperity of the cities created a huge demand for women to serve the rich in other ways, and Song sources mention that criminals would kidnap girls and women to sell in distant cities at huge profits.
Chinese art critics were surprised by the ability of exceptional painters to evoke an emotional reaction from viewers.
It can be compared to comments made by the Roman man of letters, Pliny the Elder.
Even before he was twenty, the poor orphan, who was so talented by nature, had mastered all the nuances of painting.
The emperor summoned him to court when he heard of his fame.
The General Pei Min sent a gift of gold and silk to the painter, who was asked to paint the walls of the monastery.
Daozi returned the gold and silk with a note saying he had heard of General Pei.
Even though he was in mourning, the general did the sword dance for Wu Daozi, and when the dance was over, he made his brush fly with such strength that the painting was done in no time.
The laying on of the colors was done by the man.
There is a painting in the western corridor of the temple.
The emperor wanted to go to Sichuan on the road to the Jialing River.
He allowed the use of post horses and ordered him to make sketches of the scenery.
He was told to put it on the walls.
The dragons in the Inner Hall had scales that moved.
mist would come from them when it was about to rain.
I heard from an old monk that when Master Wu painted a Hell scene at the temple, butchers and fishmongers who saw it became so frightened by it that they decided to change their profession and do good works.
Not long before the time of Augustus, Arellius had earned distinction at Rome, save for the sacrilege by which he degraded his art.
He painted goddesses in the person of his mistresses because he always wanted to be in love with them.
The painter Famulus lived a long time ago, he was grave and severe in his person, while his painting was rich and vivid.
He painted an animal whose eyes were turned to the spectator.
I must not forget the story of Lepidus while painting.
He had been escorted by the magistrates of a town to a lodging in the middle of a wood, and on the next morning complained that the singing of the birds prevented him from sleeping.
They stretched the painted snake all around the grove.
They terrified the birds into silence and that has been a recognized device for quieting them.
Some of the states that were separate from Tang China had non- Chinese rulers.
The Song, which came to control almost all of China south of the Great Wall, and the Liao, which held the territory of modern Beijing and areas north, were the two states that were long lasting.
The Song Dynasty had a larger population, but the Liao was the stronger of the two.
The Jin Dynasty, founded by non- Chinese people, conquered most of north China in 1127 and left Song to control only the south.
The Jin Dynasty of the Jurchens was defeated by the Mongols after a century.
Koryo Korea had regular contact with Song China, but Japan was no longer involved with the mainland by the late Heian period.
The borders of Korea and Japan were not changed by 1200 military families.
The northern third of the Song empire was seized by the Jin Dynasty, which had overthrown the Liao Dynasty on the mainland.
The Southern Song period is when the Song relocated its capital to the south.
In an act reminiscent of Roman practice, the founder of the Song Dynasty, Taizu, was elevated to emperor by his troops.
Civil officials were assigned to supervise Taizu's generals to make sure that such an act wouldn't happen in the future.
Civil bureaucrats dominated every aspect of Song government.
The civil service exam was expanded to give the dynasty a constant flow of men trained in the Confucian classics.
The military problem of defending against the nomadic Khitans' Liao Dynasty to the north was not solved by Curbing the generals' power.
The Song concluded a peace treaty with the Liao after several attempts to push them back beyond the Great Wall.
The Song agreed to make huge annual payments of gold and silk to the Khitans in order to prevent them from invading.
The Song rulers had a large army.
Half the government's revenues were consumed by military expenses by the middle of the eleventh century.
Song had an industrial base that produced swords, armor, and arrowheads in huge quantities, but had difficulty maintaining enough horses and well-trained horsemen.
Even though China was the economic powerhouse of the region, it was not easy to convert wealth to military advantage because the horse was a major weapon of war.
The military situation deteriorated quickly when the Khitan state was destroyed by another tribe, the Jurchens, who quickly realized how easy it would be to defeat the Song.
They captured the emperor and former emperor and took them and the entire court into captivity after setting siege to the Song capital.
The social, cultural, and intellectual life of the former Song territories were vibrant until the Song fell to the Mongols in 1279.
Certified through highly competitive civil service exams is one of the most distinctive features of Chinese civilization.
The elites of earlier periods in Chinese history were more educated.
The habits and prejudices of the aristocracy were mostly gone once the was fully developed.
Both scholars and officials were included in the Chinese educated elite.
The officials usually gained office by passing the civil service exam.
There is a system of selecting officials in China.
Men had to memorize the classics in order to be able to recognize obscure passages in the exams.
They had to master specific forms of composition, including poetry, and be ready to discuss policy issues.
When they succeeded, those who became officials this way were on average thirty years of age.
The trend toward a better-educated elite is a result of the invention of printing.
The art of carving words and pictures into wooden blocks was developed by Tang craftsmen.
Each block had a page of text.
In the ninth century, whole-page blocks were used for printing, but in the eleventh century, one piece of type for each character was invented, but it was rarely used because it was cheaper.
In China, the introduction of printing dramatically lowered the price of books, which aided the spread of literacy.
One piece of type is used for each character.
The availability of cheaper books made it possible for scholars to build their own libraries.
The classics of Chinese literature were printed by Song publishers.
Buddhist texts, as well as works on philosophy, science, and medicine, were also avidly consumed.
Song writers looked to Han and Tang for inspiration.
The encyclopedia first appeared in the Song period.
The life of an educated man is more than just studying for civil service exams.
Some extraordinary men were produced by the new scholar-official elite and were able to hold high court offices.
The first analytical catalogue of rubbings of ancient stone and bronze inscriptions was written by Ouyang Xiu.
While active in opposition politics, Su Shi wrote more than twenty-seven hundred poems and eight hundred letters.
He was a renowned painter, calligrapher, and theorist of the arts.
Su Song, a high official, built a mechanical clock that showed the time of day, the moon phase, and the position of planets in the sky.
As in Renaissance Europe a couple of centuries later, gifted men made advances in a wide range of fields.
Issues in ethics and metaphysics were debated by scholars.
For a long time Buddhism was more important than Confucianism.
In the late Tang period, Confucian teachers began to say that the teachings of the Confucians contained all the wisdom one needed and that a true Confucian would reject Buddhist teachings.
During the eleventh century, Confucian teachers urged students to set their sights on the higher goals of attaining wisdom than on exam success.
The development of Neo-Confucianism was fully developed in the 12th century by the immensely learned Zhu Xi.
He wrote, compiled, or edited almost a hundred books while in office, as well as teaching groups of disciples for years at a time.
After his death, his writings became orthodox and candidates for the exams had to be familiar with his commentaries on the classics.
The revival of Confucian thinking began in the eleventh century and was characterized by the goal of attaining wisdom, not exam success.
The majority of those who spent years studying for the civil service exams never became officials because of the fierce competition.
They found many other ways to fill their time, such as writing poetry, practicing calligraphy, and viewing each other's treasures.
A large share of the social life of upper-class men was centered on these refined pastimes: they gathered to compose or criticize poetry, view each other's art treasures, and patronize young talents.
They imagined themselves as solitary figures, walking in the mountains and drawing inspiration from the beauty of the landscape.
Scholars were depicted in paintings in landscapes.
The art of landscape painting was made better during the Song period.
In earlier periods, painters added background to images of people, birds, and buildings, but in Song times they often made the landscape the central element in the composition, developing new ways to show depth.
In the later half of the Song Dynasty, more intimate scenes were preferred, even though some landscape paintings focused on a large central mountain.
Birds and flowers were popular subjects for paintings.
Song painters used shades of ink instead of colors to depict a scene.
The image was sometimes coupled with a poem, which could be provided by the painter or someone else, such as the person who requested the painting.
Members of the court, including empresses and other consorts, supplied the calligraphy for the paintings.
A scholar and his boy servant are on an outing.
The scholar looked into the mist and saw a bird in flight.
The couplet was written by the Emperor.
Ma Yuan served the court.
"Brushed by his sleeves, wild flowers dance in the wind," it reads.
Officials are reading and discussing examination papers.
It was not uncommon for Chinese men of letters to have broad interests, but few could compare to Shen Gua, a man who tried his hand at everything from mathematics, geography, economics, engineering, medicine, divination, and archaeology to military.
On his assignments, Shen Gua often accompanied his father.
He got a post in the capital after passing the civil service exams.
He became involved in waterworks and the construction of defense walls while he held high posts.
He was sent to the Khitans in 1075 to try to settle a dispute.
He retired to write after the military campaign that he advised failed.
We know the breadth of his interests from his book of notes.
On assignment to inspect the frontier, he made a relief map of wood and glue-soaked sawdust to show the mountains, roads, rivers, and passes.
The emperor ordered all the border prefectures to make relief maps after he saw it.
There is a description of the use of petroleum and how to make a type from clay.
Gua applied a mathematical approach to issues that his peers did not think of.
He once calculated the total number of possible situations on a Go board, and another time he calculated the longest military campaign given the limits of human carriers, who had to carry their own food as well as food for the soldiers.
He is known for his scientific explanations.
He explained the location of the compass.
He argued that the region where petrified bamboo was found must have been warmer and more humid in ancient times.
He showed that tides correlate with the cycles of the moon by arguing against the theory that tides are caused by the rising and setting of the sun.
To convince his readers that the sun and moon were spherical, he suggested that they cover a ball with fine powder on one side and look at it obliquely.
The white part of the moon was shaped like a crescent as the viewer looked at it obliquely.
He criticized his peers for paying more attention to old treatises than to clinical experience.
He was sometimes stronger on theory than on observation.
He said longevity pills could be made from cinnabar.
If cinnabar could be transformed in one direction, it should be susceptible to transformation in the opposite direction as well.
Solid cinnabar should prevent death since it causes death.
More books survive from the Song period than from earlier periods thanks to the spread of printing.
Stories, documents, and legal cases show us how widows ran inns, midwives delivered babies, and girls learned to read from their brothers.
Families who could afford it would try to keep their wives and daughters within the walls of the house, rather than allow them to work in the fields or inns.
There was a lot to do at home.
Not only was there the work of tending children and preparing meals, but spinning, weaving, and sewing were also considered women's work and took a lot of time.
The work of coddling the worms and getting them to spin their cocoons was done by women.
Women in the home had a lot of say in issues such as the selection of marriage partners for their children.
The work required for the creation of silk textiles is depicted in a long scroll.
Between the ages of sixteen and twenty, women tend to marry.
The average age of their husbands was a couple of years older than they were.
Marriages were arranged by their parents, who would have either called on a professional matchmaker or turned to a friend or relative for suggestions.
Before a wedding took place, written agreements were exchanged, listing the prospective bride's and groom's birth dates, parents, and grandparents; the gifts that would be exchanged; and the dowry the bride would bring.
The bride's first priority was to win over her mother-in law.
It was possible to quickly have a son for the family.
A woman secured her position in the family by becoming the mother of one of the men.
Older women were called to help when a woman went into labor.
If the family was well-to-do, arrangements could be made for a wet nurse to help take care of the newborn.
One or more of the women's children would die in infancy.
If a son reached adulthood and married before the woman herself was widowed, she would be considered fortunate, for she would have always had an adult man who could take care of business for her.
A woman with a healthy and prosperous husband faced another challenge in middle age: her husband could bring home a concubine.
The wives could give orders in the house, but the concubines had their own ways of getting back at the husband.
If the wife had only daughters and the concubine had a son, she would be dependent on the concubine's son in her old age.
It was wrong for a wife to be jealous of her husband's concubines, but modern documents suggest that was not the case.
The sons of a woman who contracted to a man as a secondary spouse were considered legitimate heirs.
The Song emperors were patrons of a temple in northern China that had a statue of the "holy mother," the founder of the Zhou Dynasty.
The forty-two maids who attend her, one of whom is shown here, seem to have been modeled on the palace ladies who attended Song emperors.
One of the best known of the NeoConfucian teachers, Cheng Yi, once told a follower that it would be better for a widow to die of starvation than to lose her virtue by remarry.
In Song times, widows often remarried.
It is true that foot binding began during the Song Dynasty, but it was not recommended by Neo-Confucian teachers, it was associated with the pleasure quarters and with women's efforts to look better.
The practice of binding the feet of girls with long strips of cloth to keep them small.
Some girls in China were bound to keep their feet small by the end of the Song Dynasty.
Striking archaeological evidence comes from the grave of a person who died at a young age.
Her feet were bound with a long strip of cloth, and her coffin included shoes measuring from 5 to 5 1/2 inches long.
Historians have found casual mentions of foot binding in Song period sources.
In the early 1300s, foreign visitors to China began to refer to foot binding.
The dancer's foot seems to be referred to in one of these.
She takes lotus steps, even though she is often sad.
She dances like a wind.
They are so small that they defy description.
This letter was written by Chen Liang in response to a letter he had received.
The reference to foot binding is a metaphor.
The morality of binding girls' feet was questioned by Che.
Yaoniang was a skilled dancer.
A six foot golden lotus festooned with jewels, ribbons, and garlands of pearls and gems was made by the ruler.
He put five-colored clouds inside the lotus.
He wrapped Yaoniang's feet in silk and made them like the new moon.
She was dancing to the song "In the Clouds" in plain socks, and later people imitated her, finding arched and slender feet wonderful.
It is the origin of foot binding.
In the 1320s, a friar from Italy named Odoric went to north China and briefly mentioned foot binding.