Ancient China. REACH 2013-2014 Windows to the World: Ancient River Civilizations. Location & Geography. China is located on the continent of Asia.
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Ancient China REACH 2013-2014 Windows to the World: Ancient River Civilizations
Location & Geography • China is located on the continent of Asia. • It is surrounded by the Gobi & Taklimakan Deserts to the north and west, the Himalayan Mountains to the west and south, and the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea to the east and south.
Archaeology • In 1974, the tomb of Emperor Qin was discovered. • The tomb contained 8,000 life-sized clay (terra cotta) soldiers and horses each with different faces. • The soldiers were guarding the emperor’s tomb.
Agriculture • Farmers along the Huang He River grew millet. • Farmers along the Yangtze River grew rice and this also spread to the Huang He. • Wheat and vegetables were grown by farmers. • Silk worms were raised and their cocoons were used to make silk.
Social Hierarchy • China was ruled by a series of dynasties. • Chinese society was like a ladder. The highest ranking people were the emperors and the royal family. • Next came the civil servants who were government workers that served the royal family. They were highly respected because they could read and write. • Below them were the peasants and artisans. They were also respected; peasants because they raised food for China, and artisans because they used their skills to make weapons, tools, silk cloth, and bronze, jade and clay works of art. • Next, near the bottom, came the merchants. Even though many merchants were wealthy (traders and shopkeepers) they were not respected because they made their wealth from trading goods produced by others – not made with their own hands. • On the bottom of this social ladder were the entertainers, soldiers and servants. They had little hope of climbing up the social ladder.
Economics • In Ancient China shells and silk cloth were used for money. • During the Qin Dynasty, bronze coins were used. • Goods were exchanged, bought and sold along the Silk Road.
Beliefs • The Chinese believed that their emperors communicated with the gods by using oracle bones. • Ancestors were worshipped and elders were very much respected. • Confucius born in 551 BC, was the best known thinker in Ancient China. He taught peace, and harmony, and the importance of respecting and being obedient to elders and rulers.
Beliefs • The beliefs of Daoism began in Ancient China. • The founder, Lao Zi believed in balance in nature. He taught people to live simple lives in harmony with nature symbolized by the yin and yang. • The yin (darker half of symbol = earth, female, dark and wet) and the yang (lighter half = heavenly, male, light and dry). • Happiness requires an equal balance between the yin and the yang.
Trade • The Silk Road was a series of trade routes that connected Ancient China with India, the Middle East and the Roman Empire. • Chinese merchants grew very wealthy selling silks, spices, tea and Chinese crafts. • Chinese merchants received gold, silver, glass, wool, pearls and furs. • Caravans were formed to travel along the silk road because of the many dangers. • Few merchants traveled the entire length of the Silk Road. Instead, goods were sold from one trader to another until they reached their destination.
Trade – Marco Polo • In 1271, Marco Polo traveled on the Silk Road from Venice, Italy to China. • He served as an important official in China for almost 20 years. • When he returned to Italy, he wrote Description of the World, which taught Europeans about the advanced civilization of China.
Writing • Chinese writing called calligraphy is made up of more than 40,000 characters. • The characters represent words andsounds. • Each character is written using special brushes and ink and must be written in the proper order. • The first Chinese writing was done on oracle bones. • Master calligraphers were and still are highly respected and considered to be great artists.
Art • Calligraphy, poetry, and painting were known as the “three perfections.” • The combination of these three arts was considered the highest form of art. • The three perfections were usually combined with a landscape painting having beautiful calligraphy running down one side. • From the Song Dynasty (960 CE) on, the practice of the three perfections was considered to be the greatest accomplishment of an educated person.
Technology • Some of the world’s greatest inventions came from China. • Emperors encouraged the development of science and technology.
Culture • The Chinese people worked long, hard days from dawn to dusk. The Chinese calendar had several national festivals. • The largest and most important festival was and is the New Year or Spring Festival, marking the beginning of spring. • The New Year Festival lasts 15 days and began as a spring festival before the farmers did their spring planting. • This festival is a time to pay debts, settle quarrels, and make a fresh start to the new year. • The Chinese year 4708 began on February 14, 2010.
New Year’s Celebration Days 1 & 2 • Special activities are held during this celebration including many fireworks to frighten away evil spirits. • The first two days are times to put on new clothes and visit with family and friends exchanging gifts of cake, oranges and candy.
New Years – Days 3 & 4 • The third day, people sweep their houses to clean out the old and let in health and happiness. • The fourth day is when daughters visit their parents . • The fourth day is also the day for dragon and lion dancers to parade through the streets. The dragons are made of silk, paper, and bamboo carried by young men who dance as they go through the streets.
Chinese New Year – Day 15 • On the 15th day, the Chinese mark the end of the New Year’s Festival with the Lantern Festival. • In Ancient China the 15th day represented the increasing daylight and warmth after the cold winter. • The Chinese people hang glowing lanterns in temples and carry lanterns to an evening parade under the light of the full moon. • The lanterns were usually works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs and scenes from history or legends.
Chinese Calendar & Zodiac • Chinese legend says that in ancient times, Buddha asked all of the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. • Twelve animals came, and Buddha named a year after each one. • He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality. • Those born in 2010, The Tiger’s Year, are natural leaders, and excel as actors, writers, and managers. They are authoritative, courageous, emotional, and intense.
Chinese Calendar • 1998 Tiger – Brave & sensitive • 1999 Rabbit – Luckiest of all. Talented, loving, but shy • 2000 Dragon – Proud, energetic, good health • 2001 Snake – Wise and good-looking, but has a bad temper • 2002 Horse – Popular and good-looking, but impatient • 2003 Ram – Elegant and creative, but shy • 2004 Monkey – Smart and funny, but easily confused • 2005 Rooster – Honest and adventurous, but selfish • 2006 Dog – Loyal and honest but stubborn and selfish • 2007 Boar or Pig – Honorable and brave • 2008 Rat – Honest, ambitious and a big spender • 2009 Ox – Bright, patient, and inspires others
Culture • In China,red is considered a lucky color that represents joy and good fortune. • During the New Years Spring Festival, friends give gifts wrapped in red paper and children receive money in red envelopes from their relatives.
Bibliography • Clip art and graphics were used in accordance with the rules and regulations set forth by Microsoft Word and from http://chinese.phillipmartin.info/index.htm • Cotterell, Arthur. Ancient China Eyewitness Books. New York: DK Publishing, Inc., 2005. • Hartman, Holly. "Infoplease.com." Chinese New Year:2010. 2007. Family Education Network. 25 February 2010 <http://www.infoplease.com/spot/chinesenewyear1.html>. • Scher, Linda. "From Top to Bottom, Celebrating the Chinese Year." Kids Discover 2007: 4-17.