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Some problems of Dynastic System. A single family ruled Powerful and Great families became imperial affines through marrying their sons or daughters to emperors, princes, and princesses, and held important posts

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Some problems of Dynastic System

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Some problems of dynastic system l.jpg

Some problems of Dynastic System

A single family ruled

Powerful and Great families became imperial affines through marrying their sons or daughters to emperors, princes, and princesses, and held important posts

Eunuchs could become powerful enough to interfere with state affairs or actually ruled

Empress dowager held regency during the reign of an underage emperor, often causing political turmoil

Fratricide occurred because of the absence of primogeniture system when the emperor had many

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Multi-state and Multiculture

  • Multi-state system repeatedly appeared in Chinese history.

    • Pre-Qin (before 221 BCE)

      • The Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BCE)

      • The Warring States Period (453-221 BCE)

    • Post-Han (After 190AD or 220AD)

      • The Three Kingdoms Period (-- 265AD)

      • The Northern [Sixteen Kingdoms] and Southern Dynasties Period (317AD-589AD)

    • Post-Tang (After 906AD)

      • The Five Dynasties [and Ten-Kingdoms] Period (--960)

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  • Features of early multi-state system

    • Founder of a state was a charismatic military strongman

    • The fate of the state often depended on the life span of the founder

    • Conflict of interest led to political struggles between powerful landed families and military men, causing a tug of war and the change of political leadership of the state

    • A new charismatic leader would eventually rise to end the multi-state system and reunify China

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  • Multi-state system emerged after the collapse of Han

    • Reasons for the collapse other than the corrupt government:

    • rising population, increasing land concentration, powerful families grew more and more powerful; famine, floods, and high taxes resulted in peasants’ revolt, bandits became rampant, …

    • Armed and organized rebellion appeared; its leaders promised the coming of the “great peace” after overthrowing the ruling house.

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  • Rise of the great families resulted in a long period of aristocracy before and after the fall of the Han.

    • Members of wealthy, aristocratic families continued to hold high offices through “recommendation system” that valued one’s pedigree, family wealth, and prestige, rather than one’s ability.

    • They formed powerful and rival groups in outer court, often confronting or collaborating with eunuchs and imperial affines that dominated inner court.

    • Factionalism became a political reality

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  • High officials at court and landed elite engaged in campaigns against eunuchs and corrupt officials

    • “pure critique” (qingyi) movement emerged

  • Self-conscious scholars from powerless elite advocating Confucian values tried to redefine their role by calling their loose organization

    • “pure stream” (qingliu)

    • The group made itself distinct and ushered in a new era of intellectualism

    • Members of the group arrogated to themselves the right to criticize ruling elite

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Multi-state system: the Three Kingdoms

  • Warlordism amidst the fall of the Han divided China and formed the Three Kingdoms that fought to reunify China.

The Three Kingdoms: 220 A.D.-265 A.D.

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The Three Kingdoms

  • Wei: Cao Cao

  • Shu: Liu Bei

  • Wu: Sun Quan

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China Now and China in the Period of the Three Kingdoms

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Reunification of China

  • The three kingdoms ended in 265 AD, leading up the reunification of China in 280 by the Sima family, who established the short-lived Western Jin Dynasty

  • The Western Jin collapsed soon as a result of internal political struggle and foreign invasion. The Sima family moved thecapital to Jiankang (Nanjing) in 317 AD

  • China was divided into north and south—the beginning of the Northern and Southern Dynasties

    • Eastern Jin ruled south

    • Nomads ruled north

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Cao Cao and His Legacy

  • Cao Cao prepared his son Cao Pi to become the ruler (emperor) of the Wei, ruling north China in 220 AD, marking the end of the Han

  • The Cao family ruled the north until 265 AD, when the Sima family formally established the Jin Dynasty and unified China in 280 AD.

  • The Jin remained adherent to much of Cao Cao’s legacy

  • The most important of Cao Cao’s legacy: The Nine Rank Method for Designating Men to Office, and military dynasticism

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Mask representing Cao Cao in Beijing Opera

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The Nine-Rank System

  • Initiated by Cao Cao

  • Official bureaucracy was divided into nine ranks, with the rank one highest and rank nine lowest

  • Trusted and impartial judges selected by court and sent to their home commanderies to recruit candidates for offices

  • They reviewed the dossiers of recommended candidates, interviewed them, and graded them

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  • Candidates received higher grades were recommended to the central government, where there were made entry-level court appointments by the Personnel Board of the Secretariat

  • The system became officials’ ranking system, which was to last for many centuries

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  • Under Cao Cao’s rule, early phase of the system stressed the recruitment of talented men, irrespective of their moral traits

    • Filial piety, uprightness, or incorruptibility were not concerned

    • “inhumane and unfilial” men were welcomed, as long as they possessed the arts of ordering a state or they were capable of using the military.

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Military Dynasticism

  • Definition: ruler of the dynasty possesses military power derived from hereditary soldiery and substantial state-owned lands worked by tax-paying tenants.

  • In Cao Cao’s (Wei) case, hereditary soldiery came from military colonies

  • In Sun Quan’s case (Wu), it came from private armies

  • In Jin’s case, private armies/troops

  • Military population increased rapidly in the south

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  • Non-Han tribes in the North--viewed as barbarians by the Chinese

    • Tribal confederations

    • Powerful and successful chiefs became rulers of dynasties

    • Strongest one dominated and even unified the entire north, for instance, the Tuoba (Tabgatch) tribe led by TuobaGui

    • TuobaGui established a dynasty called Northern Wei, or Tuoba Wei,

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Non-Chinese dominance in the North

  • Non-Chinese officially took over north China in 317 AD. Powerful tribes included

    • Xiongnu

    • Xianbei (Murong, Yuwen, Tuoba)

    • Di, Qiang, Jie

  • Multi-state system began with the formation of the sixteen kingdoms, which occupied north China and challenged South China ruled by the Eastern Jin

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  • Rulers of Northern Wei (Tuoba Wei)

    • Tuoba Gui, ruler of the new Northern Wei state, built a unified Chinese-style capital at Ping Cheng in the north

    • His dynasty represented one of many “conquest dynasties” throughout Chinese history

    • adopted Chinese system of administration

    • Reorganized their people into eight artificial tribes and forced them to abandon nomadism

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  • Converted the nomadic tribal armies into a hereditary military-service class bound to the state, transferring military’s loyalty from tribal chief to the dynasty

  • As the emperor, Tuoba Gui commanded his armies with unchallenged power and authority

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  • Emperor Xiaowen

    • moved the capital to Luoyang and actually initiated a process of acculturation, that can be called sinicization, intending to integrate Xianbei and Han cultures

    • adopted Chinese bureaucratic system and recruiting talented Han Chinese to serve

    • fused Xianbei and Han Chinese through intermarriage and shared rankings;

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  • promoted intermarriage between powerful families of Han Chinese and Xianbei elites required his court officials to wear Chinese costume and speak Chinese language

  • allowed Han Chinese to administer Chinese districts/provinces as governors

  • used Chinese surnames in place of their tribal names, for instance, Tuoba was renamed as Yuan (元).

  • Adopted Chinese language and required Xianbei people to speak and write Chinese

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Transformation of Landscape

  • New capitals emerged in the south,alsointhenorth

  • New physical spaces for new activities appeared as a result of newly emerged literary and cultural forms:

    • gardens, villas, taverns, pavilions….

  • New architecture and city planning resulted from the rise of institutional religions, notably Buddhism

    • Temples, monasteries madenewpublicspacesavailable

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  • Capitalandcitieswerenolongerviewedasunreachable,grandioseentitiesbelongingtoimperialandofficials’residences, but as a part of rural life

  • Literary works fromlateHan reflected the close tie between ordinary people and cities, as in the poem titled “white head song”:

    • I hear you have a new love

    • And so have come to say farewell.

    • Our whole life in the city

    • Did we ever party with measures of wine?

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  • Today we party with measures of wine,

  • But tomorrow dawn I will stand at the head of the canal.

  • I trudge along the imperial canal,

  • With the water flowing east and west

  • West of the city wall there is a wood gatherer.

  • East of the city wall there is a wood gatherer.

  • 聞 君 有 兩 意 , 故 來 相 決 絕 。 

  • 平 生 共 城 中 , 何 嘗 斗 酒 會 ?

  • 今 日 斗 酒 會 , 明 旦 溝 水 頭 。

  • 蹀 躞 御 溝 上 , 溝 水 東 西 流。

  • 郭 東 亦 有 樵 , 郭 西 亦 有 樵 。  

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  • Each of the city wall there is a wood gatherer.

  • They both urge me on,

  • But without a family, for whom can one be proud?

  • 兩 樵 相 推 與 , 無 親 為 誰 驕。

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Awomanwasonceasigninggirlinacity( 昔為倡家女)

Awifesingingasadsonginaloftytower“levelwithclouds”(西北有高樓, 上與浮雲齊)

Areferenceto“theeasterncitywallishighandlong,windingandtwistingbackonitself”(東城高且長, 逶迤自相屬)


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  • ReferencestoLuoyangandNanyang(游戲宛與洛,洛中何鬱鬱),to mansionsofprincesandpeers(王候多第宅),andto “twopalacesdistantlyfaceoneanother,withtheirgatetowermorethanonehundredfeettall”(兩宮遙相望,雙闕百餘尺) abound.

  • Citieswereportrayedasplacesthatevokedsorrows,grief,andfeelingoflossandoffleetinglife.

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  • PreviousrhapsodiesthatportrayedcapitalcitiesofChang’anandLuoyangnowgavewaytothatportrayedregionalcapitals

    • ZuoSi’s“ThreeCapitalsRhapsodies”celebrate regionalcultureratherthanthegrandeurofthecapitalsofthestate.

    • Depictregionallandscape,customs,andreallifeexperiencesofeliteandordinarypeople

    • reflectsocialrealitythatcanbesubstantiatedbythenamesofreallocalplaces,things,nature,andcustom

      • Example:“TheWuCapitalRhapsody”

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Cities and Landscape in the South

  • Capital Jiankang represented an artificial replica of natural, mountain-and-water landscape

  • Gardens and large estates became new spaces for private and public activities

    • Construction or large gardens and estates that symbolized power and prestige caused deforestation

  • Mountains gained recognition

    • Landlords built private gardens in the capital, bring natural landscape into their own families

    • Established southern families converged in the southeast of Jiankang ; northern émigrés developed estates in Guiji, east of the capital

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Capital City Jiankang

  • Earlier, its natural landscape made it a defensive city without wall—the topography was described as “coiled dragon” and “crouching tiger”

  • Gardens and estates built throughout the capital and its surroundings blurred this topography or the natural barrier between city and country

  • The construction of Buddhist temples helped intensify this blurring of the boundary between the city and the country

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Gardens, villas, estates in the South

  • “West Garden” at Wang Dao’s residence

    • One of the earliest gardens built in Jiankang.

      • Filled with orchards, strange rocks, birds, and wildlife artificially reconstructed an invited recluse’s habitat in the mountains.

  • Xie Lingyun’s estate and lodge

    • As was portrayed in his rhapsody “On Dwelling in the Mountains.”

      • rivers, hills, gardens, orchards, bamboo groves

      • Gathering place of Buddhist monks and Daoist adepts

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  • Shi Chong’s “Golden Valley Villa”

    • Clear springs, fruit trees, bamboo, pines

    • Medical herb, cultivated land, two hundred head of sheep, chickens, pigs, geese, ducks…

    • Water mills, fish ponds, caves

    • Orchestra formed by players of lutes, zithers, and mouth organs, drums, and wind instruments

    • Poems were composed after music

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Northern Cities

  • Ye (in modern Hebei)—capital city of Cao Wei, Latter Zhao, Former Yan, Eastern Wei, and Northern Qi

    • The city was a rectangle bisected by a major east-west road

    • North of the road : palace complexes, aristocratic residences, and imperial park

      • Government offices on the eastern section, imperial retreat on the western section

    • South of the road: a grid of residential wards

      • Marked by a substantial female presence and activities

      • Men and women enjoyed relative equality

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  • Importance of the city:

    • City plan provided the immediate model for the capitals of the subsequent Sui and Tang dynasties

    • And for early capitals in the Korean peninsula, Palhae (Bohai), and Nara in Japan.

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Buddhist Temples

  • Now built in the capital city and many other cities became new public spaces

    • marked a major innovation in the spatial structure of the Chinese city

  • Number of temples in Luoyang increased rapidly:

    • 3, by late 3rd AD

    • 42, by 316 AD

    • 839, after 317 AD

    • 1,367 after 493 AD (Northern Wei)

    • Number continued to increase thereafter

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Cave Temple Sculpture

  • Large-scale public image worship

    • Yungang cave temple sculpture (started after 460 AD) built by the Northern Wei

Yungang Cave

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  • One of 2,895 pieces of Buddhist sculptures unearthed in the historical city Ye, in Chinese New Year time, in 2012.

  • These sculptures were made in the Northern Wei, the Eastern Wei, the Northern Qi, and the Tang

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Multistoried Pagoda

  • Signaled the extension of imperial power to Buddhist community, the expansion of Buddhism, and the change of urban life

  • A seven-storied pagoda was included in the Yongning Temple in 467 when Northern Wei had its capital in Pingcheng

  • Monasteries and pagodas were packed closely together in Luoyang, after Northern Wei moved its capital there in 493

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  • Who built these temples?

    • Members of the ruling elite (the majority)

    • Imperial clan

    • Middle-level officials

    • Wealthy commoners (probably businessmen)

    • Eunuchs

    • Monks (the minority)

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  • Why did they build temples?

    • Showed their piety towards Buddhism

    • Acquired political power and social prestige

  • Converting private mansions into temples became one of the important “lay donations”

  • Lay donations marked a turning point in Buddhist history

    • Imperial kin and wealthy people donated wealth to build temples, make Buddhist images, celebrate festivals…for the benefit of the populace

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  • Forms of devotion to Buddhism

    • Monetary donation to temples

    • Image, statue making

    • Building temples

    • Public display of Buddha’s statue in procession

    • Writing “miracle tales”

    • Festivals and public performances dedicated to the Buddha

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  • Social functions of temples

    • They were open, semi-public spaces to the populace

    • Their patrons included people from “all four directions,”

      • Chinese and “barbarian,”

      • men and women,

      • rich and poor,

      • monks and laymen

    • They were centers of regular festivals and public performances

      • Celebration of the Buddha’s birthday on April8th

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Structure of Early Buddhist Temples

  • First Yongning Temple in Pingcheng

  • Built in 467, by Empress Feng

  • included three large halls and a seven-story pagoda,

  • About three hundred chi (roughly 328 feet) tall, the largest and highest construction in China at that time

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  • The second Yongning Temple, built in 516 in Luoyang by the Dowager Empress Ling (Hu Chonghua), consisted a nine-story pagoda which was a central locus of imperial authority

900 Chinese feet high

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Worship of Buddhism

  • South: Imperial patronage

    • Emperor Wu of the Liang

  • North: absorption of the Buddhist monastic order

    • promoted self-image as “wheel-turning king”

    • sponsored sculpturing of images of buddhas

Cave 16, Standing Bodhisattva

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  • Number of Buddhist temples in Jiankang

    • 700 in Jiankang during the Liang Dynasty (502-556)

    • 2,816 in the entire Liang realm

  • Emperor Wu of the Liang supported Buddhism with much enthusiasm

    • Asserted his authority over monastic order by making himself a self-claimed “bodhisattva”

    • Offered vows, staged mass assemblies, and held the maigre feast

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  • The emperor held Universal Assemblies (or Assemblies Open to Everyone) in Jiankang, featuring

    • Buddhist lectures

    • Confessions

    • Ceremonial banquets

    • Vows

    • Participants included monks, officials, commoners

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Jiankang—new economic center

  • China’s political and economic center shifted from Pingcheng, Ye, Luoyang, to Jiankang

  • A trade entrepôt

    • Local and inter-regional trade flourished

    • Market arose in many locations, often next to temples

    • Sea-based foreign trade to Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia expanded

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  • River system in the region helped transport commodities

  • Estates could sell surpluses to the capital to be consumed or trans-shipped to other cities

  • Known for important commercial crops including rice, fruits, vegetable and timber, dried fish, ceramics, lacquer, bronze mirrors, textiles, and paper

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Changes: social structure and life

  • Innovations:

    • Crops: rice was double-cropped, a large variety of commercial crops were produced

    • Technologies: new ideas and new tools

    • Economy: cash economy flourished

  • Country estates and state-owned land

    • Landlordism and powerful/leading families in the south

    • State-owned land in the north

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  • New Ideas:

    • Labor-intensive farming was used to increase rice production

    • Opened new land, established estates in hills

      • Buddhism and Daoism helped reinforce this idea

    • Took advantage of animal power

      • Used the single-ox plow

      • Animal-drawn harrows

Animal-drawn hallow,N&SDynasties

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  • Seed selection

    • Quality seeds were identified, 98 varieties of millet 37 varieties of rice

  • Seed pregermination

    • This accelerated growth, particularly the growth of rice in the wet south

  • Sowing with seed-drill



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  • Transplantationofwetrice

    • Pre-germinatedseedssowninseedbeds

    • Transplantedintothemainfieldtwotoeightweekslater

    • Straight-rowplantingtofacilitateweeding(farmorelabor-intensivethantechniquesusedinEurope)

  • Useoforganicfertilizer

    • Animalmanuresandsilkwormdroppings

    • Greenmanures(e.g.,beans)

  • Croprotation—allowedmulticropping

    • Inter-plantingdifferentcropsorvarieties

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  • Grainstorage

    • Wealthylandlordusedgranaries

    • Commonpeopleusedearthenpits

    • Usedsalting,pickling,ormakingpastestopreservedifferentfoodcrops

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  • Atleast37speciesofvegetablesinthenorth

  • Fruitproductionincreasedinthesouth

    • ManycamefromcentralAsia:lichees,loquats,bananas,coconuts.

  • Numerousvarietiesappeared

    • 45ofjujubes,12ofpeaches,12pears

  • Distinctivefloraandfaunainthesouth

    • Theyweresoldinmarketsandgrowningardens

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  • Massiveproductionofriceinthesouth

    • Resultedfrommigrationandpopulationincrease

    • Labor-intensivecultivationbecamesignificant

    • Skilledpeasantshapedthesocialstructureofruralsociety

    • Large-scalemillingtechniqueandwater-drivenmachineryweredeveloped.

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  • Teagrowingandteaculture

    • GrowninhillsidesofsouthChina

    • Tea-drinkingbeganamongsouthernelite

    • Buddhistspromotedtea-drinking

    • Largelyproducedbyindividualpeasanthouseholdsormonasteriesatthistime

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Changes of social and familial structures

  • North

    • Large families remained, kinship structure unchanged

    • Large families used single pot, single stove

    • Shared common property

    • Women controlled household affairs, including economy

  • South

    • Families divided, kinship structure loosened

    • Divided families used separate pots and multiple stoves

    • Kept separate property

    • Women were subordinate to men,

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  • Militarized northern men tended to serve the state

  • Aristocratic/powerful families remained in power

    • but sinicization caused members of these families leave offices

  • Members of leading families lost their local bases if they kept their offices

  • Effiminate southern men tended to eschew office

  • Large émigré families unable to sustain political power

  • leading families played important role in local affairs

  • Members of leading families sacrificed their kin ties for their offices

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  • Equal-field system diminished great families’ dominance of local society

  • State-owned lands remained crucial

  • Office of Buddhist Clergy

    • “samgha households” (Buddha households)

  • Equal-field system not practiced in the south so no-office leading families remained influential in local society

  • State controlled some lands, such as “emolument lands” but leading families owned more

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North and South distinctions

  • Families were simple and sincere,

  • Valued relations by marriage

  • People were heroic, so they valued offices

  • They were martial, so they valued noble kin

  • Families were refined

  • Valued the exceptional individual

  • Priority given to talented sons regardless of their lower status (children of secondary wife)

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  • Northern Women

    • Women maintained family’s status, handled legal disputes, made formal calls, and received the powerful

    • Women’s carriages filled the streets

    • Wore fine silks, frequented government’s offices to seek offices for their sons

  • Southern Women

    • Almost had no social dealings

    • They stayed at home most of the time

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Village life in scholarly writing

  • Tao Qian (365-427)— “patriarch of the poets of reclusion”

    • Known for writing “farmstead poetry” similar to Western “pastoral poetry”

    • Known for writing the prose narrative “Peach Blossom Spring”

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ToRegistrarPang—Tao Qian

  • Capped, I met the troubles of the age;

  • First married, I lost my wife.

  • Fiery droughts repeatedly ablaze;

  • Insects rampant struck my fields;

  • Storms came from every side;

  • So the harvest did not meetone man’s needs.

  • 弱冠逢世阻,

  • 始室喪其偏。

  • 炎火屢焚如,

  • 螟蜮恣中田。

  • 風雨縱橫至,

  • 收斂不盈廛。

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Outer World during the Western Jin

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China’s World Order in the 5th C

  • China dominated Asia politically and culturally, although it never actually conquered its neighboring states.

  • Northern dynasties claimed right of suzerainty over the neighboring states, but sometimes southern dynasties also enjoyed suzerainty.

  • A tributary system was built to allow neighboring states to pay tributes to Chinese emperors and interact with the Chinese through diplomatic measures.

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  • Neighboring states adopted many features of Chinese culture and politics

  • Being a hybrid culture now, because of the fusion of tribal customs and life styles of the Han Chinese, China exerted its influences on the neighboring states

  • China’s influences on the neighboring states inclueded political system, Confucian values, ideas about family and social hierarchy, Chinese script or writing system, elements of tribal culture. This resulted in the formation of “Sinosphere,” “East Asian Values,” and “East Asian Civilization”.

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Outer World during the Western Jin

  • North and Northeast—Xianbei

    • Eastern: Murong, Yuwen, Duan

    • Central: Tuoba, Rouran

  • Northwest: Western Xianbei, Xiongnu

  • West: Wusun, Jiang

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Outer World during the Eastern Jin

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Outer World during the Northern Dynasty (Wei) and the Southern Dynasty (Qi)

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Outer World during the late Northern Dynasties (Northern Zhou and Qi) and Southern Dynasty (Chen)

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Outer World: Tributary States/City States

  • Northeastern neighborhood:

    • Koguryo, Paekche, Silla

  • Eastern neighborhood:

    • Japan(Yamato)

  • Southern neighborhood:

    • Vietnam (not a state yet)

  • Western neighborhood:

    • Central Asia: Kucha, Karashahr, Gaochang and Kroraina (including what is now Xinjiang, Afganistan, northern Pakistan and part of the former Soviet Union.)

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  • Koguryo

    • During the Han, sent tribute to the Han and adopted the title of “king”

    • EstablishedaChinesestyleGrandAcademy

    • Adoptedalegalcodebasedonthatof theJin

    • BegantoconverttoBuddhism

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  • Paekche

    • Established relations with the Jin court (372)

    • Its ruler receivedrecognitionandtitlesfromtheJincourt (386) as a general and deputy king

    • Courtadoptedarchitectural,musical,andpoeticstylesfromtheChinese

    • TransmittedChinesepractices,alongwithBuddhism, to Japan

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Korea during the Eastern Jin and Former Qin

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Korea during the Northern Wei and Liu Song of the Southern Dynasties

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Korean Version of Its History

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  • Thepriestess-queenHimikosentmissionstoNorthern(Cao Wei)Chinainthe3rdcentury

    • Himiko augmented her prestige using Chinese-style bronze mirrors and military banners

  • After413,more than adozenJapanesemissionsvisitedtheSoutherndynasties

    • Receivedtitles,sealsofoffice,bronzemirrors,andmilitarybanners

    • CourtbegantotradewithChinainthe6thcentury

    • ImportedChinesecultureintoJapanviaKorea

      • Newstyleofarmor,ironmetallurgy,textualcanon,practicesofstatecraft,Buddhismanditstemplearchitecture

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Himiko: Queen of


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  • JapanbeganwholesaleadoptionoftheChinesestyleofgovernmentintheearly7thcentury

  • ChinesecultureandsystemsintroducedtoJapanincluded

    • Writingsystem,legalcode,Chinese-stylecapital city,populationregistrationsystem,landregistrationandallocationsystem

    • Imperialsystem,world-orderconcept,socialclassstructure

  • As a result, the Japanese established tribute relations with their own “barbarians”

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  • Belonged to a south China area known as Lingnan when the Qin conquered the place

  • After the Qin, the area remained independent for a century as the Southern Yue state loyal to the Han

  • During the Han, large-scale Han immigration caused the emergence of a “state” or “nation,” dominated by two towns: Jiaozhi (near modern Hanoi) and Panyu (modern Guangzhou of China)

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  • After the Han, it emerged as an independent state until early 3rd century, but divided into two regions, Jiaozhou and Guanzhou

  • Major families in Jiaozhou, led by one of the larger magnates, the Ly family, controlled the area and became independent in mid 6th century until the Sui unified China in 589.

  • Adopted Chinese writing system, political concepts, family and social structures, and Confucianism

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Central Asia

  • Now Xinjiang, Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, and parts of the former Soviet Union

  • Relations established by trade through “Silk Roads”

    • Silk transported to the West

    • Exotic goods flowed to China: precious metals, glass, slaves and entertainers, wild and domestic animals, furs and feathers, rare plants and wood, exotic foods, perfumes and drugs, textiles and dyes, secular and sacred art objects, as well as books and maps telling of the foreign places

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  • Costumes, white face powder, musical instruments and songs, foreign fruits, new styles and techniques in the arts

  • Cultural elements

    • Buddhism, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, Nestorian Christianity, and Islam

    • Tea and sugar associated with Buddhism started to draw attention

    • Chair associated with Buddhism was introduced to China

    • Buddhist texts, iconography , rituals, were used and adapted in Chinese monasteries

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    Kinship and Family

    Mounds of the Cao Family

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    Kinship structure redefined

    • Renewed sense of kinship linked up small families and brought about these changes:

      • lineage cemeteries/graveyards (family cemeteries)

      • Celebration of the Cold Food Festival

      • Multi-generation communal families

      • Ritualization of the Ghost Festival

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    Lineage cemeteries

    • Extended family members of the same lineage gathered at ancestral tombs to perform ancestor worship associated with the Qingming Festival (105 days after the winder solstice)

    • Multichambered family tombs emerged

    • Family tombs placed together formed the “mountain tombs” (often imperial families and rulers’ relations)

    • Imperial mausoleums became a norm in the Eastern Han and later

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    • Family tombs of great/large families in cluster or large tomb were often called “Mounds of the (Cao/Zhou/Wang) Family”

      • Cao family’s tombs, excavated in late 1973, spread an area of a mile and a quarter

      • Excavations of other family tombs (Wu, Zhou, Wang) indicate that eminent families tended to build large family graveyards.

    • “merit cloisters” served as family graveyards emerged because of Buddhist influence

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    The Cold Food Festival

    • Historical background

    • Development of the Qingming Festival

      • Families gathered at the tombs of their ancestors to clean the tombs, make offerings…

      • This custom was turned into multi-generation collective worship of ancestors in later times

    • Two major consequences for ancestor worship:

      • larger size of kinsmen made offering to early ancestors

      • The Cold Food Festival tied Kinsmen closely

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    Communal families

    • Families dwelt together for generations for self-defense

    • Encouraged by Confucian moralists and rewarded by the emperor regardless of purposes

    • Large kinship organization emerged in a village or town functioned more than self-defense

      • Financial/economic sufficiency

      • Self-supported agriculture

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    Expansion of Kinship

    • Furthered/affected by new form of writing

      • Family instructions, family rules

      • Genealogies

    • Yan Zhitui (531-591): The Family Instructions of the Yan Clan

      • Contrasts conduct in the north and in the south

      • Offers advices: not to remarry, carefully manage the family’s material resources, importance of books, study, and skillful writing, avoid military service, belief in Buddhism, adhere to “family tradition”…

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    Kinship and Buddhism

    • families showed piety towards Buddhism

      • Built stone statues/sculptures of the Buddha

      • Built votive stone stupas, which provide evidence of the fusion of Buddhism and indigenous beliefs or conventions

      • Carved memorial stelae

      • Made Buddhist images

      • Performed the Ghost Festival rituals

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    New Sense of Filial piety

    • Motherly love and mothers’ sufferings much emphasized

    • More wives and mothers became patrons of Buddhism

    • children urged to repay parents, particularly mothers

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    • female misogamy or women’s marriage resistance inspired by Goddesses such as Guanyin

    • erotic literature, created by men, also inspired by Goddesses

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    Gu Kaizhi, “the rejection scene” 7 of London Admonishing scroll—”Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies”

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    Gu Kaizhi, “the toilette scene” 4 of London Admonishing scroll—”Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies”

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    • Supporting the Confucian tradition and indigenous Chinese religion including Daoism

    • Allowing the construction of Buddhist temples and the spread of Buddhism

    A Lady reflects on her duty. Scene 8 of the London Admonitions Scrolls

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    The Growth of Buddhism & Daoism

    • Political and social change anticipated new social, intellectual, emotional needs not satisfied by old cults.

    • Buddhism and Daoism spread not only by the clergy’s efforts but also by lay supporters including emperors, elite, and commoners

    • Both underwent changes, adaptations, mutual borrowing, and transformation

    • Buddhism permeated every aspect of Chinese life; Daoism tuned into a religion pursuing immortality

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    Proto-Daoist Movement

    • The cult of the Queen Mother of the West (the end of the first millennium)

    • Mass worship of the Queen Mother in the expectation of her imminent arrival to save people’s lives

    • She was perceived as the presiding deity of a paradise in the far west, Mt. Kunlun, where dwellers ate peaches of immortality and wouldn’t die

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    • The cult was to search for immortality through Queen Mother’s saving power.

      • Use of magical talismans

      • Singing and dancing, accompanied by sprit travel in trance

      • pray to Queen Mother

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    • Millenarian rebellion of the Yellow Turbans and the Five Pecks of Grain (Rice) contributed to the formation of religious Daoism

      • Divinely revealed texts offered prophecy

      • Apocalyptic end of the world

      • New era arrived

      • Followers of the faith could be saved, their diseases healed, their lives prolonged

        • Make confession

        • Perform penance

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    • The Five Pecks of Grain (Rice) movement had a great impact on the development of religious Daoism

    • The family of Heavenly Master Zhang established a Daoist Kingdom in Sichuan at the 2nd century.

    • At the end of the 3rd century, a Daoist theocratic state in Sichuan called Da Cheng (Great Perfection) by a Li family.

    • The Five Pecks of Grain became the Heavenly Master Dao (Tianshi Dao), often referred to as the Orthodox Unity Dao (Zhengyi Dao)

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    New Trend of Daoism

    • Daoist ideas of immortality spread widely

      • Daoist masters and adepts promoted alchemical practices

        • Providing manuals that teaches alchemy, breathing and meditation exercises, exorcism, sexual hygiene, herbalism, talismanic charms etc.

      • The theory of “qi”

        • Retention and circulation of the body’s positive qi; expulsion of negative qi

        • Healthy diet: tree bark, fungi, dew, fruits, herbs…

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    Master Who Embraces Simplicity

    • Ge Hong (283-343)

      • Known as the first Daoist theorist of longevity and immortality

      • Regarded as the foremost expert possessing alchemical skills to compound “immortality drug” or “divine elixir”

        • Called “immortal cinnabar” (xiān dān) or “golden cinnabar” (jin dān), “cinnabar drug” (dān yào), “spirit-like cinnabar” (shén dān)

      • Developed recipes to make “nine cinnabars”

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    • The most prominent Daoist whose alchemical and immortality theories, as well as his recipe for an elixir became very popular in his time and remain influential today

    • Substances such as gold, cinnabar, and some natural minerals can be used to concoct elixir.

    • Theories of “external alchemy” and “internal alchemy”

      • External alchemy: use elixir, dietary restriction

      • Internal alchemy: breathing exercise, meditative practice, …

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    New Schools of Daoism

    • Daoist schools emerged:

      • The Supreme Purity (Shangqing, Maoshan)

      • The Numinous Treasure (Lingbao)

    • The legendary Laozi was apotheosized and new Daoist deities were created

    • Idea of preserving and guarding life force became predominant in Daoist/Taoist circle

      • Longevity and immortality became major goals

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    • Ways to prolong life were sought and researched

      • Meditation theory and skill further developed

      • Interest in medicines, drugs, herbs, rare plants…increased

      • Alchemical recipes were developed

      • Daoists began to write books and manuals regarding regimen, longevity, and immortality

    • Interests in alchemy spread

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    Buddhism in This Period

    • Entered China in the first century AD with

      • Central Asia merchants came to China’s Chang’an and Luoyang through “silk roads”

      • Sea-traveling traders arrived Jiaozhi, Panyu and Jiangsu…

    • Originally seen as a school of Daoism, and the Buddha was regarded as “golden immortal” (jinxian)

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    • Began to flourish

      • Scriptures were translated and studied

      • Monasteries were built, teachings were spread

      • Followers increased

      • Became an important topic in “Dark Studies”

    • Adaptation and transformation

      • Chinese began to interpret Buddhist doctrines through “matching meanings” (geyi)

        • Five precepts (prohibitions: not killing, not stealing, not committing sexual misconduct, not drinking, not lying =humaneness (benevolence), righteousness, propriety, wisdom and trustworthiness

      • Buddhist monks, Daoist priests, and Confucian elite engaged in conversations and debates

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    • Eminent monks were highly respected and polular

      • Zhi Dun (a Buddhist scholar)

      • Futudeng (Futucheng, a theurgist)

      • Kumarajiva (a translator)

      • Huiyuan (founder of a “Pure Land Society”)

    • Rulers became devout patrons of Buddhism, using Buddhism to enhance their already formidable power

      • Northern rulers and ruling houses built temples, pagodas, and made images and sculptures of buddhas and bodhisattvas, typical of them were in the two great Buddhist cave complexes at Yungang and Longmen

        • Inscriptions for statues and paintings in the caves prove imperial patronage and popularity of Buddhism

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    • Inscriptions also reflect the pious activities of lay societies/associations, and indicate the primary interests of the faithful: family well-being, health of family members and relatives, superior rebirth of the deceased kin

  • ordained monks, used vigorous regulations to control monks

  • Identified themselves with buddhas, seeing themselves as reincarnation of the Buddha

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    • Southern rulers

      • Emperor Wu of the Liang supported Buddhism with great enthusiasm

      • Asserted his authority over monastic order by making himself a self-claimed “bodhisattva”, assuming the status of a cakravartin, “wheel-turning” king or cosmic overload

      • Offered vows, staged mass assemblies, and held the maigre feast

      • Staged great assemblies to perform sutra lectures, public confessions, renewals of vows, and related rituals, such as festival, funeral rituals

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    Integration in Chinese culture

    China’s landscape

    Art and literature

    Intellectual life

    Political life

    Common people’s lives

    Wall painting depicting Jataka stories

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    Buddhism: Major tenets

    • Four noble truths

    • Eightfold path

      • Wisdom: right thoughts, right understanding

      • Morality: right speech, right action, right livelihood

      • Mental discipline: right efforts, right mindfulness, right concentration

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    Dependent origination and chains of causation


    Karma and rebirth

    Wall painting: “Five hundred thieves attain Buddhahood”

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    The Three Poisons

    • Desire (greed): rooster

    • Hatred: snake

    • Ignorance: pig

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    Buddhism and Common People’s Lives

    • Attracted to eminent monks

      • Included theurgists, such as Baozhi, Sengqie

    • Made donations to monasteries

    • Practiced sutra-copying and recitation

    • Sponsored carving, sculpturing, and painting of images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

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    • Praying to the Buddha and Buddhist deities

      • became integrated in the worship of ancestor and heaven

    • Devotees of the Pure Land faith increased

      • Increasing number of women entered monasteries

    • Strange/anomalous tales abounded

    Wall painting in a tomb: “Filial Son Feeding Parents”

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    • Monks engaged in story-telling, performed magic, to propagate Buddhism

    • Pious Buddhists wrote miraculous tales to show Buddhist monks prevailed over Daoist priests in fighting demons…

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    Convergence of Interest—the Mixture of Buddhism and Daoism

    • Scholars and the faithful began to fuse Daoism and Buddhism

    • The idea of immortality became widely recognized and accepted

    • Legendary heroes were enshrined as Daoist immortals and deities

      • Expansion of local cults

    • Daoists mixed Buddhist theories of causation, reward, rebirth, hells into their belief system

    • Philosophy of nature greatly impacted Chinese literature and art

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