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Transcript of Ancient China
ANCIENT CHINESE BELIEF
The Mandate of Heaven is an ancient Chinese philosophy in which heaven granted emperors the right to rule based on their ability to govern well and fairly. The Chinese believed if you became a selfish, cruel, and unfair emperor, heaven would decide you could no longer rule and would send a disaster that would kill a lot of people (flood, famine, earthquake, rebellion, or invasion).
THE SILK ROAD
The Invention of gunpowder belongs to Chinese alchemy, and is listed as one of the great Inventions of China. It's an explosive consisting of a powdered mixture of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. During ancient times it was used in dynomite and fireworks.
Block printing is the process of using an object to make an inked impression upon a flat surface. This was invented in 1450 A.D. during the Tang Dynasty.
A compass is an navigational instrument which shows directions using a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the Earth. The magnetic compass was first invented as a device for divination (to ask god a question) as early as the Han Dynasty in 206 B.C.
Silk is a natural protein fiber which can be woven into textiles. The Chinese produced silk by using the silkworm. Chinese legend says an empress, Leizi (His-Ling-Shin) invented silk in the 27th Century B.C. Silk was originally reserved for the Emperors of China for their own use and for gifts.
Tea is a hot drink made by infusing the dried leaves of the tea plant into boiling water. Tea originated in China as a medicinal drink and the first cup was served to Emperor Shennong who worked with agriculture and herbal drugs.
Porcelain (also known as fine china) is a is a ceramic substance made by heating materials like clay in a kiln in temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 °C (2,200 and 2,600 °F). The toughness, strength, and translucence of porcelain comes from the formation of glass and the mineral mullite within the high temperatures of the kiln. Glazed pottery originated as early as the Shang Dynasty (1650 B.C. - 1027 B.C.) and Translucent Porcelain came about during the Yuan Dynasty (1279A.D. - 1368 A.D.).
A seismograph is a machine for detecting the time and place of an earthquake. It was first developed in Ancient China in 132 A.D. by Zhang Heng. Zhang came up with the seismograph because it took the emperor one to two weeks to find out about an earthquake and just as long to send support. With this earthquake detector he could tell were the earth quake came from and get help faster.
The Silk Road is a series of trade and cultural routes through different regions of the Asian continent. Over time, this road connected the West to the East by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, and nomads from China to the Mediterranean Sea. Extending 4,000 miles, the Silk Road gets its name from the trade in Chinese silk carried out along its path, beginning during the Han Dynasty in 207 B.C. Camels were used as they were the only animals who could survive the conditions. Over many centuries, trading along the Silk Road assisted not only with the exchange of goods but also ideas, culture, religion and even disease.
Cai Lun invented paper during the Han Dynasty (202 B.C. - 220 A.D.). Paper was orginally made out of hemp or silk but more economical paper was soon made out of worn fishnet, bark and cloth. Paper spread from China through the Middle East to medieval Europe in the 13th century, where the first water-powered paper mills were built.
ANCIENT CHINESE FOLKTALE
THE TEN SUNS
MANDATE OF HEAVEN
This is a picture of the oldest paper book which dates back to 256 A.D.
THE THREE WAYS
The majority of the people in Ancient China were peasant farmers. Although they were respected for the food they provided, they lived tough and difficult lives. Farmers had to work for the government for one month each year. They served in the military or worked construction projects such as building canals, palaces, and city walls. Farmers also had to pay taxes by giving the government a percentage of their crops. Rice, wheat, millet (grain), beans, vegetables and tea were the main staples of food for people.
Clothing in ancient china was a symbol of status. Peasants wore clothing made out of hemp, a rough material made from plant fibers. The rich wore clothes made out of silk from the silkworm. The Chinese were the first to make silk clothing.
People living in cities worked a variety of jobs including being merchants, craftsmen, government officials, and scholars. Many cities in Ancient China grew very large with some having populations totaling hundreds of thousands of people. The cities of China were surrounded by formidable walls made from packed dirt. Every night each city gate was locked and no one was allowed to enter or leave after dark.
Generations of one family often lived in the same house together and older people were greatly respected and obeyed. The life of women in Ancient China was especially difficult. as they were considered much less valuable than men. Sometimes when a baby girl was born and the family did not want her she was set outside and left to die. Women generally took care of the home and raised the children. Marriage partners were decided by the parents.
Only wealthy boys attended school in Ancient China. They learned how to write using calligraphy. They also learned about the teachings of Confucius and studied poetry. These were important skills for government officials and the nobles.
The Chinese dragon is a symbol of wisdom, power, and luck in Chinese culture.
Around the age of 6, Chinese girls had their feet painfully bound to prevent them from growing as small feet were considered a mark of exceptional beauty. This made it difficult to walk as their feet were severely deformed. Foot binding was banned in 1911.
Three generations (grandparents, parents, and children) all lived in the same house. Traditional homes were divided by courtyards and the inner courtyard was for the primary family. It was open to the sky and was known as the Well of Heaven.
In the Chinese culture, the color red symbolizes fire, good fortune, and joy. Red is found everywhere most especially during the Chinese New Year in February and other national holidays.
THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA
The Great Wall is one of the wonders of the world. Like a gigantic dragon, the wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus stretching from eastern China to western China. The total length of the wall is now believed to be 13,170 miles long.
The Great Wall was built by Emperor Qin (221-207 B.C.) as protection for his empire. The wall began as separate walls from different states however Emperor Qin was successful in having all the walls joined together under his rule. The purpose of the wall was to fend off the invasions from the Mongols in the North.
Transporting the large quantity of materials required for construction was difficult, so builders always tried to use local resources. Stones from the mountains, wood, and natural earth were used. Around one million workers were used. Possibly as many as 300,000 people died during the building of the Wall under the Qin Dynasty. The peasants who died while working were buried inside the wall and were later found by archaeologists.
The continued building of The Great Wall was revived during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D). The wall was built on a much larger scale and with longer lasting materials such as solid stones and bricks. At varying points along the wall were towers which were built to store weapons, house troops and send smoke signals.
With a history of more than 2000 years, most of the ancient walls have eroded away and very few sections remain today (8%). The claim that The Great Wall is visible from the moon is a myth because seeing it from the moon would be like trying to see a human hair from two miles away.
There were many different sports played in Ancient China by both men and women. These included archery, swordplay, polo, golf, ice-skating and football. The Chinese also played games which included dice, cards, chess, board games, kites and quick sticks.
Most Chinese people worked from dawn to dusk every day with no regular days off. However, the Chinese calendar had national holidays with the following festivals that are still celebrated today.
: The largest festival was the New Year (February) which marked the beginning of spring. During this 15 day holiday, families would gather to share a fancy meal and exchange gifts.
: This festival is on the last day of the New Year spring festival. Lanterns were lit in honor of Buddha.
: The Chinese swept the graves of their ancestors and left offerings of food for the spirits.
: This festival includes dragon boat racing, eating rice dumplings called zongzi, and wearing a perfume pouch to ward off evil spirits.
THE NIGHT OF SEVENS
: This festival started from a legend of love. Traditionally the day was a day to worship the stars and for young girls to pray for a good husband. Today it has become more of lovers' day like Valentine's Day.
: The Moon Festival is in late September and celebrates the bounty of the harvest.
: The number nine was special to the Ancient Chinese. It was the lucky number of the emperor and the dragon. People would climb a hill or mountain and drink tea to ward off evil spirits.
: This festival signals the shortest day of the year. People took the day off and met with friends and relatives. They also offered sacrifices to their ancestors.
In Ancient China, music was an important part of life. At the royal palace, the court orchestra played when the emperor received visitors or held banquets. Beautiful ceremonial music accompanied religious rituals. Musical instruments included harmonicas, zithers (stringed instruments) and flutes. Later, opera became a popular form of theater based on great historical events. Traditional Chinese opera is still performed today.
Historic Chinese tales have unique characters and exciting plots. Dragons, magic, ghosts and talking animals are just a few of the elements used to deliver a lesson within the plot of a story. Many Chinese legends and tales that are read today were not recorded on paper for hundreds of years. These stories were kept alive by one generation passing the tale on to the next.
China is the world's oldest continuous civilization. From 221 B.C. to 1912 A.D., it was united under a single great empire. This video shows the succession of dynasties in the Chinese empire starting from Qin, the first official emperor of China who unified the country.
In Ancient China, beliefs were divided into "the three ways":
. Throughout history, China was tolerant of all beliefs which made them unique among civilizations. Confucianism and Taoism emerged during the Warring States period (481-221 B.C.) so these two philosophies encouraged peaceful ways of being. Buddhism religion came to China from India in the 1st century A.D., and its gentle teachings became China's most popular belief.
CONFUCIOUS: The great Chinese thinker Confucius (born 551 B.C.) taught people to show respect for one another. He said that a good ruler should set an example by dealing fairly with his subjects and using force only as a last resort. In return, subjects had a duty to respect and obey their ruler. Confucious believed that respect in the family was important to have stability in society.
LAOZI: Taoists were followers of LaoZi, or "the Old Philosopher" (born 604 B.C.). He believed that people should live in harmony with nature by leading simple lives that did not disrupt the balance of the natural world. Taoism was represented by the yin yang sign, which reflects natural harmony.
BUDDHA: Buddhists follow the teaching of Buddha (born 563 B.C.), a north Indian prince who spent his life in search of personal peace or enlightenment. Indian belief was that people were reborn many times and people who lived badly might be reborn as an animal or insect. Buddha believed that by giving up worldly desires people could reach the blissful state of nirvana and end the cycle of rebirth.
THE THREE PERFECTIONS
Calligraphy, Poetry, and Painting were known as "the three perfections." The combination of these arts was considered the height of artistic expression such as a painting of a landscape with a poem written in calligraphy down one side. From the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) onward, the practice of the three perfections was seen as the greatest accomplishment of an educated person. To become a good calligrapher requires years of practice. Chinese writing is based on signs rather than sounds so every sign must be learned by heart and written in the correct sequence. With more than 40,000 characters in the Chinese language calligraphy is not an easy art.
There are four principles to the mandate:
1. The right to rule is granted by Heaven.
2. There is only one Heaven so there can be only one ruler.
3. The right to rule is based on the virtue of the ruler.
4. The right to rule is not limited to one dynasty.
Due to the natural barriers of deserts, mountains and seas, in ancient times, China was protected but also isolated from the outside world. China has three distinct physical regions with diverse geography, climates and wildlife.
1. Highlands: Western area with mountains and plateaus
2. Arid Region: Northern dry area of deserts and grasslands.
3. River Lowlands: Eastern area with the Yellow, Yangtze, Pearl rivers. Fertile.