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The Zhou Dynasty
Transcript of The Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty
by Annie, Esha, and Seira
With the social classes, specific jobs follow. For example, the highest class, the Shi, was just below the king and it consisted of nobles, government officials, and aristocratic scholars. Next were the warriors and gentry scholars. Following them, there were the artisans, farmers and craftsmen with the merchants, traders, and peddlers at the bottom with the exception of slaves because there were very few in the Zhou dynasty. Despite the various types of jobs, nine out of ten of the people were farmers. Farmer's crops would sometimes by sent out to the market along with other items avalible to the people.
Arts and Technology
During the Zhou dynasty, technology and art were advanced. For example, the iron plow was invented. This helped farmers break up the land that had once been too hard to farm with. As a result, more food was available, and China’s population increased greatly. They also developed irrigation and flood control systems which helped farmers water their crops, but before, they relied on rain water. Following this, children played with kites made of bamboo and silk in their free time. Additionally, iron was introduced during the Zhou dynasty. This strong metal allowed durable weapons to be made, and many things could be manufactured. Even though iron was used, bronze was more popular. They made bronze jars, bells, belt hooks, candle holders, weapons, and vessels (liquid containers). The Chinese also invented lacquer, red sap from the lac tree, to paint on wood. Adding on, artists created the first Chinese picture of whole scenes with several people. Also, gold and silver inlays started to be used. The musical instruments of the Zhou were bamboo flutes, pan pipes, bronze drums, stone chimes, and bronze bells.
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The Zhou Dynasty*
The Zhou dynasty was a great and prosperous dynasty that lasted for over 700 years. It is the longest dynasty in all of Chinese history. This presentation will be to inform you about the Zhou dynasty and its more in-depth secrets.
Economy: Bought and Sold
Within the dynasty, civilians went to the market to barter and buy anything they needed to live out their days. Their currency started out as cowrie shells, but later it evolved into bronze or sometimes medal coins with holes in them. The coins were strung together to pay a larger amount. With these coins they appreciated and bought salt, cattle, fish, and certain means of transportation like horses or small boats. Additionally, they bought pots, cloth, carpets, and silk which was highly sought for everywhere.
Philosophies and Religion
During the Zhou Dynasty, the origins of native Chinese Philosophy developed, its initial stages beginning in the 6th century BC. There was Confucius (Confucianism) and Lao-tzi (Daoism) that were the main philosophers, but other minor philosophers were Mozi (Mohism), Mencius (philosophy unknown), and Shang Yang and Han Fei who were responsible for the development of Legalism. Also Xun Zi, who could be known arguably as the center of ancient Chinese intellectual life during his time.
Shi - Gentry Scholars
Nong - Farmers
Gong - Artists and Craftsman
Shang - Merchants and Traders
Although the king was not included in the social classes, it was for a good reason. The king was a very respected and powerful person, but they did not create a whole social class for just the king; it was too complicated.
The Shi - Gentry Scholars
The Shi were not all born scholars, but most had come from the warrior caste. It gradually evolved until it was mostly mad of aristocratic soldiers, who studied in order to occupy positions of rank. They were never very rich, but were respected because of their knowledge. Access to information was limited in ancient times, so scholarly pursuits were very challenging. They are the class right below the king, or monarch.
The Nong - Farmers
Daily life in the Zhou dynasty was very busy and everyone had a role. The children who couldn’t afford to go to school worked in the fields picking weeds or planting seeds. In China, sons were more important than daughters, because they'd be able to inherit the family’s job and continue to do what their fathers had done before them. In addition, only boys were allowed to go to school. Most of them were from rich families, but sometimes farmers dismissed their sons and let them go to school. The daughters weren’t as lucky. They were usually married off by age 15, and lived the rest of their life in their husband’s house. Furthermore, after the girls married, they had to do whatever the husband’s mother said to do. The wife’s job was to be calm, gentle, respectful, and to obey their husband. If the wife did something wrong, the whole family was in disgrace.
During the Zhou dynasty, the main diet was rice, vegtables, fruit, and fish. Meat was a delicacy that normally only the nobles enjoyed. Additionally, despite their busy lives, children enjoyed their quality time. They would swim in lakes and rivers, play GO (a board game that is basically the same thing as Othello) or chess. Sometimes, the children would play with kites or have competitions on who could fly their kite the highest. Also, the cloths people wore were different. Rich nobles would wear colorful silk while poor people would wear rough clothing. People in the Zhou dynasty had busy, but simple lives.
The Zhou dynasty exported valuable items to many places worldwide. They traded as far as Greece, the Middle East, and certain countries in Asia. They sent out fur, spices, pottery, bronze, and silk which was very important and wanted by many. For transporting the goods, traders either traveled by water or they followed the Silk Road. It spread basically from east to west and it was originally started by the Zhou; it provided a good route out of China. They exchanged Chinese goods for horses, carpets, Parthian tapestries, and wool. Furthermore, these things allowed them to go on with their everyday lives.
The Zhou dynasty began with the downfall of the previous dynasty: the Shang. The Chou was a small kingdom under the Shang’s rule. They formed an army led by King Wu of Chou and rebelled, conquering the last Shang king, King Zhou in about 1045 BC. They inhabited what near the Yellow River and what is now present day Shaanxi (around the eastern side of China). King Wu believed in a peaceful rule and that kept the dynasty going for about seven hundred years.
King Wu focused on creating a simple life for the people by loving the people and following his ancestor’s principals. Necessarily, he followed the Mandate of Heaven. He believed that Heaven chose wise, fair people that respected the Dao (The Way). Since King Wu’s principles were so respectful and peaceful, most people in this dynasty followed Taoism or Confucianism.
Subsequently, the laws were fair and most of them benefitted the people in some way. Laws were usually recorded on a piece of paper with ink to be made official. The Mandate of Heaven made the King superior and therefore he was above the law. Everyone else had to obey all laws. The king had the authority to override, eliminate, and change any laws that were either made by him or any appointed official. The laws of the Zhou dynasty were written down in the Kang Gao made by King Wu. The Kang Gao was the first legitimate set of laws. These laws played a big part in the development of the dynasty. This dynasty followed the feudal system were the land was divided into smaller territories ruled mostly by the king's relatives which collected taxes and controlled the land.
After a long reign, the government started to lose its control as the feudal system started to fail. The larger territories started to capture smaller ones. Fighting broke out, the dynasty became vulnerable, and the Zhou dynasty came to an end in about 256 BCE as they were captured by a group called the Qin that took advantage of the dynasty's hard times.
The Zhou dynasty ruled in harmony with some ups and downs. Like many great governments and kingdoms, some mistakes were made, but this dynasty had a great rule of about seven hundred years and was known for all the things it did to make China a better place.
K'ung-Fu-tzu, or Confucius, was born into the minor nobility and probably rose no higher than a minor official position. In the end, he became a teacher and a scholar. Confucius' teachings are still, to this day, the most important influence on Chinese culture. Confucius took a conservative view of society and government and he argued in support of the established order, in which everyone had a place. For the order to function smoothly, all that was needed was for each person to know and keep his place, do his duty, and respect traditional culture. Confucius' system of thought relied on personal integrity; integrity would lead to just government and to a wise and good use of authority. His philosophy focused on personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. He put the greatest emphasis on the importance of study, and it is the Chinese character for study and learning. In this respect, he is seen by Chinese people as the Greatest Masters. He wanted his disciples to think for themselves and constantly study the world.
Another major figure is Lao-tzi, about whom historians know almost nothing - it isn't even known with certainty whether he lived during the Shang rf Zhou periods. According to tradition, Lao-tzi is the author of
Tao Te Ching,
a collection of short poems that can be interpreted as advice to princes or philosophy by which all people should live. The message of the Tao is non-involvement in the affairs of others; it advocates the wisdom of living as simply as possible and allows the outside world to take care of itself. Lao-tzi lived in the 6th century BC. He is normally regarded as the founder of traditions and concepts. Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility. Taoist's thoughts focused on health, longevity, immortality, and spontaneity and the concept of non-action.
The Mandate of Heaven
The Chinese considered their king to be the link between Heaven and Earth. His duty was to carry out religious rituals. The Chinese believed the rituals strengthened the link between them and the gods. This belief paved the way for the Zhou kings to introduce a new idea. This idea was that kings ruled China because they had the Mandate of Heaven. According to Zhou rulers, a heavenly law gave the Zhou king the power to rule. The mandate, or formal order, was called the Mandate of Heaven. Based on the mandate, the king was chosen by heavenly order because of his talent, virtue, wisdom, and goodness. The mandate worked in two ways. First, the people expected the king to rule according to the proper "Way," the Dao. His job was to keep the gods happy. A natural disaster or bad harvest was a sign that he had failed in his duty. People then had the right to replace the king. The mandate also worked another way. It gave the people, and the king, important rights. For example, people had the right to overthrow an evil ruler. It also said that the king was not a god himself. Each dynasty claimed it had the Mandate of Heaven. The only way people could question the claim was by overthrowing the dynasty.
The Nong were so high up on the scale because of the fact that agriculture played a key role in the rise of Chinese civilization. Not only did farmers produce food - they also paid land taxes, which was a source of state revenue for the ruling dynasties. Therefore, farmers were valuable members of society, although they were not Shi. However, Shi families also produced crops.
Gong - Artists and Craftsmen
The Gong were those who had skills to make useful objects. They demanded more respect than the Shang, because their skills were passed down from father to son. Some Gong who were successful became wealthy enough to hire apprentices or laborers that they could manage. Besides creating their own enterprises, the artisans also formed their own guilds.
Shang - Merchants and Traders
The Shang were the lowest group on the social classes for ancient China. Though they could achieve significant wealth, they were held in low esteem because they did not produce anything, but rather transported and traded goods made by others. Some would buy land to become farmers and command more respect. Some would buy a good education for their descendants so that they couls attain the status of scholars.
Comparing and Contrasting
The Gong were like farmers in that they produced essential items, but not all had land. Although the Shi only yearned for knowledge, they were held in higher respect than the Shang because scholarly pursuits were very challenging, due to the fact that access to information was limited in ancient times.
Men and Women
Chinese women were subordinate to men. First, she would obey her father, then her husband if she got married. Her main duty was to have a son. She was respected by her children and by relatives for her role in the family. Women could be sold by their male relatives for a variety of reasons, but it usually only happened in the lower classes. For example, a peasant farmer could sell his daughter to get the rest of the family through winter, if it was a bad harvest. According to Confucius, women were not equal to men and should not have an education. A Chinese woman had to listen to all the men in her life, and women weren't given names - they were called 'daughter no. 1' or 'daughter no. 2' and so on. The mens' duty was mainly to inherit their fathers' business or work.
*you may skim due to time