The Chinese civilization developed and prospered on the banks of Hwang – Ho. The earliest civilization that flourished in China was the Shang civilization. It lasted from 1765 to 1122 BC. Later, the Shang dynasty was overthrown by Chou Dynasty in twelfth century  BC.

 Hwang – Ho- where  the Chinese civilization developed and prospered
Hwang – Ho– where the Chinese civilization developed and prospered

Describe The Religious Life of Chinese People

In the Shang Dynasty the earliest period we know much about, people in China worshiped a lot of different gods – weather gods and sky gods – and also a higher god called Shang – Ti, who ruled over the other gods. People who lived during the Shang Dynasty also believed that their ancestors their parents and grandparents became like gods when they died, and that their ancestors wanted to be worshiped too, like gods. Each family worshiped it’s own ancestors.

By the time of the Chou Dynasty ( about 1100 BC), the Chinese were also worshipping a natural force called t’ien, which we usually translate as Heaven. Like Shang – Ti, Heaven ruled over all the other gods.

Around 600 BC, under the Eastern Chou Dynasty. And for the next two hundred years, there were a lot of new ideas in Chinese religion. First, a Chinese philosopher named  Lao Tzu (he may be mythical) created the philosophy of Taoism, which became very popular. Taoism holds that people should not try to get their way by force, but through compromise and using natural forces in their favour. It is party a philosophy, and partly a religious faith. Taoists believe that there is a universal force flowing through all living things, and respecting that force is essential for happy life.

Taoism developed in China around 600 BC
Taoism developed in China around 600 BC

Not long after Lao Tzu, another Chinese scholar called Confucius created a diffirent philosophical system called Confucianism, which disagreed with Taoism, But also became very popular.

Two other philosophical schools of this period were one started by Mo Tzu, which suggested that the way to happiness was for everyone to treat all other people as well as they treated their own families, and Legalism (a kind of Confucianism), which believed that people were all basically bad, and needed to be kept in line by strict laws and harsh punishment in order to create order and peace.

When Did Buddhism Become Popular in China

Around 500 A.D, In the period of Three Kingdom, Buddhism first came to China from India, where the Buddha had lived and where Buddhism got started. Actually, there were Buddhists in China even during the Han Dynasty, around 50 AD, but their number increased considerably under the Three Kingdoms. Some Buddhists were persecuted by the emperors, but generally. The Tang Dynasty Empress Wu. For example, was a Buddhist. But Taoism was still very strong in China.

Under the Sung Dynasty (about 1000 AD), a sort of Confucianism combined with Buddhism became popular. Scholars reread the old Confucian philosophical writings in Buddhists terms, and tried to derive Buddhist meaning out of them.

 Buddhism first came to China  around 500 A.D
Buddhism first came to China around 500 A.D

Describe The Economic Structure of China

In China, as in West Asia, Africa, or Europe, most of people spent most of their time in farming for the last ten thousand years. In northern China, people mostly cultivated wheat, while in southern China it is mostly rice. But there was also a lot of trade in China, and between China and the West.

Some of the traders went south to India, and some went along the northern Silk Road through Turkestan and Uzbekistan to the Persian Empire. Mainly people shipped silk to the West, and imported gold. People first used cowrie shells as money in China as early as 1800 BC, under the Shang Dynasty. Then people used metal imitations of cowrie shells, and then metal strings of beads called cash. We don’t know whether the idea to make coins with writing on them, guaranteed by the government, come from Western Asia or not, But there were definitely bronze coins in China by the 400’s BC. During the Chou Dynasty.

Agriculture was the main sector of Chinese economic around 1000 years ago
Agriculture was the main sector of Chinese economic
around 1000 years ago

What Did The Chinese People Wear?

People in China generally wore tunics (like long t – shirts). Women wore long tunics down to the ground, with belts, and men wore shorter ones down to their knees. Sometimes, they wore jackets over their tunics. In the winter, when it was cold, people wore padded jackets over their tunics, and sometimes pants under them.

In early China, poor people made their clothes of hemp or ramie. Rich people wore silk. During the Sui Dynasty in the 500 AD. The emperor decided that all poor people had to wear blue or black clothes, and only rich people could rich people could wear colours.  In the Shung Dynasty, about 1100 AD, a fashion stared at the emperor’s court for women to blind their feet. Women thought that to be beautiful, they needed tiny feet, only about three inches long. They got these tiny feet by wrapping tight bandages around the feet of little girls, about five or six years old.

Chinese women's clothing had been changed over times
Chinese women’s clothing had been changed over times

Describe The Development of Art During The Period From 1766 To  1122 BC

By about 2000 BC, people in China had learnt from the people of West Asia how to make bronze out of coper and tin. They began to make many jars and plaques (flat pieces) out of bronze that were used for worshipping their gods. Right from beginning, these were of high quality.

About 1300 BC Late Shang rulers brought bronze pitcher from Henan of about 1100 BC, with inscriptions. These bronze jars and boxes were cast in molds using the lost – wax technique. Usually they were cast in several diffirent pieces and then soldered together with melted bronze or tin.

Some of them were plain with just a few lines cut (incised) into them. Other jars and goblets had a lot of fancy decorations sticking out all over them.  Some were abstact designs, others showed plants or animals or mythical monsters like dragons. Some showed demons, or human faces.

Toward the end of the Shang Dynasty, about 1200 BC, people began to write messages on these bronze jars and cups using the earliest Chinese pictograms.

 Bronze pitcher was in 1300 BC
Bronze pitcher was in 1300 BC

How Far Did The Art Develop Further During The Chou Dynasty?

During, the Chou Dynasty, often the shapes of the jars were more complicated than they had been before. As more and more people learnt to write, it became more common to put long inscriptions on the jars. People made special bronze jars for their ancestors, and write long inscriptions about their own lives, so that their ancestors and descendants would know what they had done. A lot of the jars were in animal shapes like birds and dragons. Towards the end of the Eastern Chou period, about 300 BC, artists began to create the first Chinese picture of whole scenes with several people and a landscape, often hunting scenes.

They also continued to make jade ornaments and decorations in complicated shape with carving on them. Pottery techniques became more complicated too, with wheel make pots being fired hotter ( this makes them harder) and sometimes with a greenish glaze on surface. It was also in the Eastern Chou period that people in China first began to make other kinds of art. Especially in southern China, people began to make things out of lacquer, the colored red sap of the lac tree painted onto wood. They used lacquer to make beautiful light – weight boxes, dishes, and even small statuettes.  And at the end of the Eastern Chou period, about 300 BC, people also began to paint scenes with people and landscapes into silk.

What Were The Two Major Philosophies of China And Who Spread It?

The first major philosopher who lived in China was Lao Tsu. He lived in China about 600 B.C) under the Eastern Chou dynasty. He founded the philosophy of Taoism, which said that people should try to live in harmony with the universe, rather than fighting it. Instead of living by rigid rules and laws, peole should try to work with the natural way of the world and in this way, their lives would be easier and happier.

Lao Tsu began teaching Taoist ideas, Another philosopher named Confucius, who lived about 550 BC, also under the Eastern Chou dynasty, taught that people should recognize their responsibilities to the larger society and work to uphold the laws and customs of their society. If everyone was a good citizen, the whole community would benefit and everyone would be happier.

 Lao Tsu and  Confucius  were the two major philosophies of China
Lao Tsu and Confucius were the two major philosophies of China

Describe Briefly The Food Habits of Chinese People

There is an archaeological evidence of rice farming along the Yang –tse River as early as about 5000 BC. People in northern China gathered wild millet and sorghum instead. They ate it boiled into a kind of porridge. Another food people associate with  China is tea. People in northern China first began to eat wheat during the Shang Dynasty, About 1500 BC. Wheat was not native to China, people brought it from West Asia. So, rice, millet, sorghum, and wheat were the main foods of China.

Rice and wheat were the main food of China
Rice and wheat were the main food of China

In southern China, people mostly ate rice. Some people bought or grew vegetables to put on their rice. Soya beans and cucumbers are native to China, The Chinese had oranges and lemons, peaches and apricots. Also beginning in the Han Dynasty, about 100 AD, Chinese people began to make their wheal and rice into long noodles.

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