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The Zhou Dynasty
Transcript of The Zhou Dynasty
Who, What, When, Where?
The Zhou Dynasty reigned over Ancient China during the years of 1046BC to 256BC. They were situated in the area of Xi'an which is in the Shaanxi Province.
The Zhou Dynasty was broken up into two Dynasties. These were called the Western and Eastern Dynasty.
The Western Zhou
The Western Dynasty commenced at 1046BC after defeating the previous rulers called the Shang Dynasty. This reign ended in 771BC. This time period experience several King's. Some were successful however others failed to do the job properly.
The first King to govern the Zhou Dynasty was King Wuwang. During his reign, he made the state prosperous and stable. The final ruler of the Western Zhou was called King You who reigned from 781BC to 771BC. He failed as a King after ridiculing his seigneurs.
The Eastern Zhou
The Eastern Zhou was broken up into two periods; the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring Period. It covered the years 770BC to 221BC.
Spring and Autumn Period
The Eastern Zhou existed during the years 770BC to 476BC. During this period, central authority broke down. This meant that the Zhou did not have the power to govern the lands.
The Warring Period begun after the collapse of the Spring and Autumn period. Seven powerful kingdoms joined forces to gain control over provinces. The Dynasty ended when Emperor Ch'in Shih-huang-ti unified the land on an imperial basis.
The people of the Zhou used their resources wisely. Despite their limited knowledge, they used iron and bronze to the best of their ability and invented some of the most useful items to mankind. Without their inventions, modern day China and the world of today would not be the way it is.
Mass production of tools occurred during the Warring Period. Iron plows drawn by draft animals allowed for a revolution in agriculture.
Manual labor times were reduced which allowed for an increase in population, new fields and increased productivity.
Some states advocated that all social classes should have access to iron however others stated that peasents could only use iron if they purchased it from the state, thus entering the market economy.
A plow used during the Zhou Dynasty
The use of iron allowed for stronger, sharper and deadlier weapons. The people of the Zhou period used this advancement to the best of their ability when going into battle. Many massacres occured thanks to the use of iron weapons.
Iron Swords used in battle
Huge economic expansion occurred during the Warring Period due to the iron casting. Extensive construction began with giant canals and roads being built.
Greater transportation was able to happen which boosted the economy. Grain, salt and iron artifact were the most important trading commodities.
Trade was made easier through the use of canals
A Change in Economics
The people of the Spring and Autumn periods changed the way trade and taxation occurred throughout China and around the globe. Previously cowrie shells had been used when making purchases. >
The state of Jin and the Zhou royal domain introduced the use of bronze money due to them being busy commercial centres that would benefit greatly from the money transaction. By the beginning of the Warring Period, every major power minted their own coins.
The earliest coins were called bu and were shaped like shovels. >
The use of bronze connected the monetary and political systems. Bronze was a very precious material and was associated with important affairs such as rituals and warfare.
Using cash instead of trading impacted peasantry lives. Instead of trading goods such as grain or fabric, peasants had to enter the market thus tying them to the state economy.
Coins were also used to reward admirable soldiers and payment to state laborers.
The global market boomed after the widespread use of bu.
The use of cowrie shells was eliminated when bronze coins were introduced by the Zhou.
Bu, the earliest Coins
Literature was one of the most important cultural advances which occurred during the Western Zhou. Zhou scholars were sent around the Kingdom where they collected legends and myths of past and present heroes and admirable events.
Shijing- Book of Songs
A collection of 305 short poems was collected and called the Shijing, meaning Book of Songs. This book provided a glimpse of commoner past life. It is a valuable resource to singers and educators for relaxation purposes.
I Ching- Book of Changes
I Ching means Book of Changes. This book was written during the time of King Wu's father whilst he was captured by the last Shang King.
The book interrelates the relationship between heaven, Earth and the people into 64 hexagrams. >
The book replaces the oracle bones which had been used by past generations.
When using the book, six stones were tossed and the result compared to either full or broken lines displayed in I Ching.
Each pattern had a specific significance.
The book is still used today, with minor additions being made.
The 64 Hexagrams