The Northern Song
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The Northern Song. Expression of Wen in the Song Rule. A benevolent policy on the treatment of officials. Emperors were generally tolerant toward outspoken officials Ministers, highly respected, were seated when discussing policy with the emperor

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Expression of wen in the song rule l.jpg
Expression of Wen in the Song Rule

A benevolent policy on the treatment of officials

  • Emperors were generally tolerant toward outspoken officials

  • Ministers, highly respected, were seated when discussing policy with the emperor

  • Civil officials led military forces, which continued to increase (from 220,000 to 912,000 men in Zhezongs’ reign) despite the emphasis on the civil principle


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Emperor Taizu Visits Zhao Pu on a Snowy Winter Night”

by Liu Jun, Ming Dynasty

The painting depicts Taizu’ consulting with his counselor about reunifying China, which was left unfinished because of his sudden death.


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  • Large publication projects

    • Taizu began a number of extensive publication projects, and Taizong carried on the task

    • Scholar-officials , including those from conquered kingdoms in the south, were commissioned to undertake these projects

    • Projects included:

      • reprinting of old anthologies,

      • Collation of official historical works

      • Compilation of various encyclopedias


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  • In 982, the Finest Flowers of the Preserve of Letters (Wenyuan yinghua)

  • 976-984, three major publications bearing the programmatic title of Taizong’s reign period, Taiping xingguo (Ascended Nation in Grand Tranquility):

    • 978, the Extensive Records of the Grand Tranquility Reign (Taiping guangji)

    • 984, the Imperially Reviewed Encyclopedia of the Grand Tranquility Reign (Taiping yulan)

    • 980, the Record of the World during the Grand Tranquility Reign (Taiping huangyu ji)


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  • 1001, the Seven Classics, which was expanded and published as the Thirteen Classics in 1011.

  • Publication of Buddhist and Daoist canons.

  • In 971, Taizu began the compilation of the Buddhist Canon or Tripitaka (Dazang jing), which was completed in 983, under Taizong. The canon was carved on 130,000 woodblocks, in a total of 5,048 fascicles.

  • In 1012, Zhenzong initiated the compilation of Daoist canon, which was completed in six years, in a total of 5,387 fascicles, and titled The Precious Canon of Heavenly Palace of the Great Song (Dasong Tiangong Baozang)


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Resurgent Class of civil officials

  • Scholar-officials (士大夫shì dài fū )

    • Drawn from a wide social background through the Civil Service Examinations

    • Emperors held palace examination to select men he trusted the most.

    • Candidates from humble backgrounds became degree holders

    • The Song society saw continuous upper social mobility as a result of nationwide civil service recruitment system

    • Civil bureaucracy was designed to serve the interests of the dynasty or the emperor.


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  • Trusted degree-holders were appointed to serve in the central government after a period of service as regional prefects

  • Three departments:

    • The Central Secretariat: decision making

    • The Chancellery: handle paperwork

    • Department of State Affairs: six ministries-- personel, revenue, rites, war, justice, works


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Some Important Developments central government after a period of service as regional prefects

  • Technology

    • Military technology: gunpowder, cannon

    • Transportation:

      • huge ships powered by oars and sails capable of holding several hundred men

      • Ships helped development of maritime trade

Unearthed 1974, 24.20 meters long

9.15 meters wide,1.92 meters deep


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Ox-driven water wheel central government after a period of service as regional prefects


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Other Industries central government after a period of service as regional prefects

  • Heavy industry: steel, iron production, hydraulic machinery used to drive bellows; explosive used to excavate mines

  • Light industry: paper making, silk, lacquer, ceramic, textile


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  • Printing technology: central government after a period of service as regional prefects

    • New printing technology produced new types of reading materials: printed and bound books

    • New printed and bound books replaced hand-written and hand-copied scrolls (books)

    • New printing technology resulted in a booming publishing industry

    • Publishing houses mushroomed rapidly


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Printing Industry central government after a period of service as regional prefects

  • From wood-block printing (c.700) to movable type (1045)

Printing Plate, for paper money

Books in “butterfly fold” format


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  • Printing in Tang times: central government after a period of service as regional prefects

    • Woodblock printing

      • Introduction of woodblock printing resulted in much higher demand for books

      • Printed instructional materials/manuals helped spread knowledge and steer many innovations

      • Tang government produced the first printed manual on agriculture.


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The earliest surviving printed texts are eight-century samples of Buddhist dharani (charms) discovered in Xi’an, in 1974


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  • The earliest surviving book is probably a copy of the eighth-century Buddhist scripture (approximately 704-751 CE) discovered in 1966 Diamond Sutra dated 868, discovered in Dunhuang in 1907

  • The colophon says “reverently made this for blessings to my parents, and for universal distribution.”


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  • Printing in late Tang and the Five Dynasties eighth-century Buddhist scripture (approximately 704-751 CE) discovered in 1966

    • spread to many fields outside religion

    • Printed books on astrology, dream divination, geomancy, medicine, calendars , biographies of eminent Daoists and Buddhists, lexicographical works including dictionaries, rhyme books/manuals

    • The earliest surviving non-Buddhist materials are calendars, including the Zhonghe li produced in 881, in Emeperor Xizong’s reign


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  • Confucian classics were printed for the first time between 932-953

  • The first printed version of the Daoist canon was produced in 940

  • Several cities, including Chang’an, Luoyang, Kaifeng, Chengdu, Nanjing, and Hangzhou emerged as printing centers

  • Printing technology and business resulted in the mass publication of Song books, now highly appreciated by scholars studying Chinese culture and a small number of surviving “Song edition” books are extremely precious today


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  • Printing in the Song 932-953

    • New printing technology began to establish an empire-wide community of standardized scholarly discourse and to disseminate a more popular literate culture

    • Government sponsored publication works on mathematics, medicine, agriculture, the military arts, pharmacology and herbal lore, the Confucian canon with commentaries, dynastic histories, law codes, and writings of major philosophers, and complete editions of the Buddhist canon, including latest state-sponsored translations of Tantric scriptures


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  • Movable Type 932-953

  • Invented by Bi Sheng in the 1040s

  • Replaced cared woodblocks


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  • Standardization of publications 932-953

    • Layout, font, color of ink, the size and quality of paper, methods of binding

  • A large number of bibliophiles and private libraries emerged

    • Scholar-officials set up book collections and libraries

    • Competition in book collections resulted in the growth of large private libraries and publishers

  • Books became an important commodity sought after by foreign traders and pilgrims

  • “Song editions” remain the most precious books today.



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Wood movable type 932-953

Clay movable type


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  • Printing technology boosted education, the spread of knowledge, the increase of the civil examination candidates

    • Books were widely available, students had much easier excess to books

    • Highly specialized knowledge and scholarship emerged

    • Polymath appeared

  • Religious tracts and literature circulated widely

    • Buddhist and Daoist texts

  • State gained control over the proliferation of knowledge; scholar-officials helped to define both knowledge and education

  • Some scholar-officials, such as Su Shi, feared the quality of scholarship would suffer and hand-written manuscripts would be replaced


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Kaifeng: Capital City of knowledge, the increase of the civil examination candidatesthe Northern Song

  • Probably the greatest city in the world from the late 10th century to the late 12th century

    • Population: one million

    • The seat of the most advanced civilization

    • A cosmopolitan trade center

    • Center of great art and higher education

    • The central stage for a political and military power

    • Center of communications


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  • Some interesting observations knowledge, the increase of the civil examination candidates

    • No any historical monuments in the city survived

    • Unlike other great cities in Europe, such as Constantinople, the city is remembered in words, not in stones—a case of “monumental absence of the past.”


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Kaifeng: a Highly knowledge, the increase of the civil examination candidatesCommercialized City

  • Known for a wide array of industries, particularly

    • The textile industry

    • The iron and steel industries

    • The printing and book industries

  • Known for workshops of many kinds

    • Produced articles of luxury for the imperial family, high officials, wealthy businessmen

  • Known for the export trade

    • Tea, books, building materials, measures, chemicals, clothing


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Right: Da Xiangguo Temple knowledge, the increase of the civil examination candidates

Left: Ten-thousand arms Guanyin in the temple


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Sculptures knowledge, the increase of the civil examination candidates

on the walls

of the

pagoda

Iron Pagoda (originally, Kaibao Pagoda)

Reconstructed Song pagoda dated 997


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