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The founder was a ruler named Yu, who is also credited with introducing irrigation and draining the floodwaters that periodically threatened to inundate the northern China plain
Sig: historians of China have traditionally dated the beginning of Chinese civilization to the founding of the Xia dynasty more than 4,000 years ago
Known in the West as "ancestor worship", the practice, which continues to the present day in many Chinese communities, of burning replicas of physical objects to accompany the departed on their journey to the next world
Sig: important to the religious beliefs of the Chinese (even modern communities)
Villages were organized by clans rather than by nuclear family units, and all residents probably took the common clan name of the entire village. In some cases, a village may have included more than one clan.
Sig: major social organization of ancient Chinese civilizations
Utensils, weapons, and ritual objects made of bronze have been found in royal tombs in urban centers throughout the area known to be under Shang influence.
Sig: the Shang are perhaps best known for their mastery of the art of bronze casting
At the apex of the government hierarchy was the Zhou king, who was served by a bureaucracy of growing size and complexity. It now included several ministries responsible for rites, education, law, and public works.
Sig: was an important factor in the culture of China
According to the Rites of Zhou, one of the oldest surviving documents on statecraft, the Zhou dynasty ruled China b/c it possessed the "mandate of Heaven." Heaven (viewed as an impersonal law of nature rather than as an anthropomorphic deity) maintained order in the universe through the Zhou king, who thus ruled as a representative of Heaven but not as a divine being. Sig: was used to justify the Zhou conquest of the Shang & would eventually become a cardinal principle of Chinese statecraft
As time went on, the Chinese concept of religion evolved from a vaguely anthropomorphic god to a somewhat more impersonal symbol of universal order known as Heaven (Tian or T'ien)
Sig - the Chinese worshipped this figure in their religion
One of the earliest ideas was that the universe was divided into two primary forces of good and evil, light and dark, male and female, represented symbolically by the sun (yang) and the moon (yin). According to this theory, life was a dynamic process of interaction between the forces of yang and yin.
Sig: it is sometimes asserted that this belief has contributed to the heayy element of fatalism in Chinese popular wisdom
Philosophers invented ways to interpret the will f nature, while shamans were employed at court to assist the emperor in his policy deliberations until at least the 5th century CE
Sig - played a role similar to the Brahmins in India
Philosophers invented ways to interpret the willof nature, while shamans were employed at court to assist the emperor in his policy deliberations. Kown in English as the Book of Changes
Sig: one of the most famous manuals used for this purpose
The name is the Latin form of his honorific title, Kung Fuci, or K'ung Fu-Tzu, meaning Master Kung. born in the state of Lu. Independent political and social philosopher. His interest in philosophy was essentially political and ethical. Much of his concern was with uman behavior.
Sig: created one of the most important religions of ancient China
In conversations with his disciples contained in the Analects, Confucius often adopted a detached and almost skeptical view of Heaven.
Sig: literary work that was important to the religion of Confucianism
The key to proper behavior was to behave in accordance with the Dao (Way). Confucius assumed that all human beings had their own Dao, depending on their individual role in life, and it was their duty to follow it. The idea of the Dao is reminiscent of the concept of dharma in ancient India. two important concepts: duty - ruler should follow his "kingly way" & idea aka human-heartedness
Sig: key concept in Confucianism that dictated followers' behavior
stressed the humanistic side of Confucian ideas, arguing that human beings were by nature good and hence could be taught their civic responsibilities by example. He also stressed that the ruler had a duty to govern with compassion.
Sig: important philosopher in ancient China
The Old Master - Many modern scholars are skeptical that he actually existed
Sig: according to Chinese tradition, the Daoist school was founded by a contemporary of Confucius
Obtaining a clear understanding of the original concepts of Daoism is difficult because a short treatise known as the Dao De Jing (The Way of the Tao) is an enigmatic book whose interpretation has baffled scholars for centuries. The opening line explains less what the Dao is than what it is not.
Sig: primary document of Daoism
Where Confucian doctrine asserts that it is the duty of human beings to work hard to improve life here on earth, Daoists contend that the true way to interpret the will of Heaven is not action but inaction (wu wei)
Sig: major principle in Daoism
In the Qin dynasty, the central bureaucracy was divided into three ministries: civil authority, military authority, and a censorate, whose inspectors surveyed the efficiency of officials throughout the system. Below the central gov. were two levels of administration: provinces and countries. Unlike the Zhou system, officials at these levels didn't inherit their positions but were appointed by the court and were subject to dismissal at emperor's whim. Sig: dictated the lives of the citizens of the Qin dynasty
Possibly related to the Huns ad become increasingly active in the area of the Gobi desert. By the end of the Zhou dynasty, the nomadic Xiongnu posed a serious threat to the security of China's northern frontier, and Chinese principalities in the area built walls and fortifications to keep them out.
Sig: main area of concern for the Qin emperor was in the north, where a nomadic people, known as the Xiongnu, lived
The integration of Confucian doctrine with Legalist practice, creating a system known as State Confucianism, didn't take long to accomplish. Sig: adopted the Confucian approach while keeping many of the institutions of Legalism
During the Qin dynasty some form of merit system was used, although there is no evidence that selection was based on performance in an examination
Sig: the merit system, which was part of the government, affected the lives of the ancient Chinese
Han dynasty - 30 years later the first known civil service exam. was administered to candidates for positions in the bureaucracy or public service. The first candidates were almost all from aristocratic or other wealthy families, & the Han bureaucracy was still dominated by the traditional hereditary elite. Sig: principle of selecting officials on the basis of talent had been established & would eventually become standard practice
Under the Han dynasty the population increased rapidly, creating a growing need for a large and efficient bureaucracy to maintain the state in proper working order. Sig: factionalism at court remained a serious problem and undermined the efficiency of the central government, and the failure to curb the power of the wealthy clans eventually became a major factor in the collapse of the dynasty
A Han ruler known as Martial Emperor of Han
Sig: completed the assimilation into the empire of the regions south of the Yangtze river, including the Red River delta in what is today northern Vietnam
The reformist official who was troubled by the plight of the peasants and seized power from the Han court. He tried to confiscate the great estates, restore the ancient well field system, and abolish slavery. In so doing, he alienated powerful interests, who conspired to overthrow him. Beset by administrative chaos and a collapse of the frontier defenses, he was killed in a coup d'état. Sig: declared the foundation of a new Xin (New) dynasty
The dynasty was finally brought to an end when power was seized by Cao Cao, a general. He was unable to consolidate his power, and China entered a period of almost constant anarchy and internal division, compounded by invasions by northern tribal peoples.
Sig: known to later generations as one of the main characters in the famous Chinese epic The Romance of the Three Kingdoms
At the crux of the concept of family was the idea of filial piety, which called on all members of the family to subordinate their needs and desires to the patriarchal head of the family
Sig: more broadly, it created a hierarchical system in which every family member had his or her place
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