History of China
This paper researches the history of China from 1000BC to 350BC. Many works of ancient Chinese philosophers, as well as unique cultural heritage, have survived until these days. This period of history was distinguished by the iron production and appearance of the new religions: Confucianism and Taoism. At the time, Chine was ruled by the Zhou dynasty; people of the country were prostrated by the endless wars.
The first millennium BC marked a new period in the history of South and East Asian, Mexico’s Caribbean coast, and Mediterranean empires. All these societies made a radical progress in the political ideas and culture. The new generations were guided by innovations in cultural, social, and political spheres, which were available both to women and men. These societies have rejected the patterns of the older societies. Many battles and wars of that period contributed to the competitive environment and, as a consequence, the development of an intellectual curiosity. In such a manner, people questioned the beginning of the human existence and looked for the explanation of the human behavior. Consequently, these intellectual disputes brought the right answers.
The new thinkers and leaders of China did not deny the old traditions; to the contrary, they considered them a gold heritage of valuable knowledge and wisdom. According to Lambert (n. d.), “Having ejected the Shang, the Zhou (1027 to 221 B.C., headquartered in Shensi near Si’an) undertook a number of political and symbolic measures to insure their authority over rival noble states.” Having experience of overthrowing the rule by power, the Zhou decided to implement a number of political measures for ensuring its authority among the noble rival states. A feudal network of sons and relatives for the vassal states was created. As a result, every conquered principality was ruled by the relatives who have to swear allegiance to the emperor; after that, they could freely govern their territory. According to Lambert (n. d.), “Whole communities descended from common lineage groups were dispatched with the vassal kings to serve as Zhou garrison forces over the local populations.” Perhaps a lot of feudatory states were formed in such a way.
People of these territories were worried about the legality of the new authorities; therefore, the Zhou made it known that the last kings ascended the throne in a corrupt; therefore, the sky god, T’ien, was offended and stopped caring for the Chinese people’s security and wellbeing. The Shang’s fall of spirit was the reason of the Zhou responsibility for the Chinese spirituality. The Mandate of Heaven was introduced; it meant that the support of T’ien would protect every morally decent family. The kings were guided through the sacrifices at the Altar of Heaven for the divine education. The expiry of king’s mandate was indicated by the bad omens. According to Lambert (n. d.), “This development not only placed inordinate emphasis on ritual procedures among the ruling class but it also introduced the concept of royal accountability to a higher moral authority.” Therefore, the assumption of power itself was a result of the religious rationalization by the Zhou. When the dynasty lost the moral ascendancy, nothing could save it.
A lot of Turkic and Mongolian mounting raids from the north caused many losses; as a result, the legitimacy and power of the Zhou weakened. There were a lot of robberies of the Chinese people by the roving bands of horse-mounted warriors. All these events have forced the Zhou to increase the taxes in profit of the army because of the incessant warfare. In 771BC, the overburdened alliance of the feudal lords captured the capital and robbed it killing the king. The survived prince of the dynasty fled to Loyang for revive the empire of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. However, there was not enough territory for creating the same dynasty, so the new empire had to accept the status of a figurehead. However, the Zhou kings in the East leaved the sacred rulers and continued imperial sacrifices for the equilibrium between the earth and heaven. The vassal former states could develop their states at their discretion; therefore, it was done at the expense of the bordering territories. An internecine warfare occurred very often. According to Lambert(n. d.), “This era known as the Spring and Autumn period (771-481 BC) as well as during the subsequent, significantly more violent era of the Warring States (480-222 BC).” These two periods witnessed a number of phenomena, which opposed each other. The ruling authorities were approved at the regional level, and the number of individual states gradually reduced. The violence rates significantly decreased; therefore, the surviving population of those states increased. The expansion of the Chinese territory to the neighboring west, north, and south lands and intensification of the agricultural production were the additional reasons for the population growth. For example, along the hills of the Yellow River, the local dynasties introduced some tax exemptions, land allotments, and sales for setting the colonies in the forests or grass plains before the non- Chinese nomads occupied the territories. Consequently, this process disrupted the neighboring nomads’ equilibrium for expanding the agricultural terrain because of the land clearance.
According to Lambert (n. d.), “The political and social instability that accompanied the ineffectual leadership of the Zhou thus set in motion a number of changes.” All of these events led to the changes in different aspects of the state’s life. The regional leaders met together at the interstate conferences; the new administrative units were created; the ministers were selected according to their merit, and they dictated the rules. The technological achievement in the melting techniques promoted the development of the iron production; consequently, the production of deadly weapons became cheaper than ever before. As a result, the power passed to the local authorities. The commercial integration of the states was facilitated by the public works of the regional states. The economic development and expansion were improving as a result of the iron production and advanced agriculture. Tignor et al. (2010) assert, “Larger harvests promoted the emergence of a market economy. Various projects related to water control opened more acreage for cultivation. Expanding wealth created a society with more fluid social relations.”
Finally, the beginning of the Chinese Iron Age started in 600 BC, and this period had lasted since the rule of the Spring and Autumn Dynasty and late Warring States time to the appearance of the Qin Dynasty .The production of the cast-iron objects developed in Yangzi Valley; this event marked the beginning of the East Asian Iron Age. Archeologists found some objects of the kind at Nanjing and Changsha, and the first usage of iron started in Guangdong. The combination of bivalve moulds differed from the southern tradition; these Lingnan techniques included some achievements of the Zhongyuan. The vessels, bells, ornaments, sophisticated cast, and weapons were the products of the combination of these two periods.
In 476 BC, the period of the Warring States changed the Spring and Autumn period. Seven prominent states of China were fighting against each other; this fact gave name for this period.
The Eastern Zhou’s protracted wars made people search for the new views on the life and religion. It was a period of intellectual creativity and development of the Chinese philosophy. In such a manner, there were three strands in the Religion of China: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Confucius taught the newly emerging ruling class of China and was the traditionalist. He supported the Chinese traditional religion; therefore, he preached the devout life in the earth. He insisted that the heavenly god T’ien was a universal system of legality and order; according to the Tao, T’ien could not be the arbitrary king on the heaven. Moreover, people should live according to Dao. The emperor should make a sacrifice and follow the law in order to ensure the Chinese security. Everywhere, there should be the harmony between the human society and cosmic order. According to Lambert (n. d.), “This harmony presupposed the subordination of the individual to the community according to clearly defined principles of rank.” According to the philosophy of Confucius, everyone in society should occupy own defined place according to the social position. He named five Confucian relationships: Ruler to Subject, Parent to Child, Husband to Wife, Older Sibling to Younger Sibling, and Friend to Friend. The rules of these relationships mean that there are no two equal persons; therefore, the social inequality is always present. There were the main criteria of inequality: gender, age, and social rank. A human being was in the center of Confucianism, and the main virtue was Jen. The combination of a perfect society and perfect individual were the main goal of the entire Chinese philosophy. The person could reach Jen not by his profit, but by his wisdom, goodwill, and moral excellence. According to Lambert (n. d.), “The consequence of the Confucian system of regularized education and examination was to produce a sustained, educated elite to govern over the uneducated agricultural masses.” Taoism appeared at the same the Zhou era. The Taoists worshiped the Tao, indescribable natural force of all the living creatures. They believed in the non-action or Wuwei; it meant that people should resign themselves to the fatality of life, as well as be compassionate and humble. The Taoists believed in different gods.
The concept of Yin and Yang also appeared during the Zhou period. The ancient people of China believed that all things contained two different opposing principles. Yin was feminine, gentle, soft, receptive, wet, dark, and yielding element. Meanwhile, Yang was masculine, hot, active, hard, bright, aggressive, and dry element. The Chinese also believed in 5 elements: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. Moreover, the art of acupuncture developed during the Zhou period.
In 1000BCE to about 350BCE, China was ruled by the Zhou dynasty and passed through the period of the Warring States. Notwithstanding the continuous wars, the Chinese economy developed rapidly owing to the production of iron and agricultural development. This period witnessed the appearance of the new religions, ideas, and philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism. This period of the Chinese history played a prominent role in the history of the state and left a great heritage of the philosophical works, products of iron, and knowledge of the warfare.