The Shang Dynasty By Marta, Ani, Jeramiah, and Sakib
The Shang Dynasty • Is one of the earliest Dynasty’s of China • Ruled around the area of the Huang He • Started in the 1700 – 1122 B.C.E. • Often fought against other Clans • Considered to be a myth to western foreigners • Might’ve been the 1st Chinese to learn how to write.
Government • Led by a powerful king who controlled the the land. • The king set up smaller kingdoms under his younger brothers and nephews. • Sometimes a son or a younger brother inherited the kingdom. • Depended to strong armies. • Engaged in almost constant war to defend and expand their kingdoms. • Captured prisoners to use as laborers and human sacrifices. • Armies: foot soldiers, archers, cavalry riding horses, and elephants, and fighters in chariots.
Social Structure • There were six social classes in the Shang Dynasty • The first was the king and his relatives • The nobles: ~ Fought in the kings armies. ~ Provided weapons, foot soldiers, and chariots. • The craftspeople: ~ Small social class. ~ Bronze and Jade workers, Potters, and stonemasons. ~ Lower status than nobles but high status than farmers ~ Made weapons used by Shang warriors. ~ Made containers and ornaments for religious ceremonies. • The traders ~ Ranked below nobles but above farmers – just like the craftsmen. ~ Mostly traded goods. ~ But used cowrie shells, a type of seashell as money. ~ Traded with neighboring regions.
Social Structure • The traders ~ Ranked below nobles but above farmers – just like the craftsmen. ~ Mostly traded goods. ~ But used cowrie shells, a type of seashell as money. ~ Traded with neighboring regions. • The Farmers ~ Largest social class. ~ Worked on small plots of land, grew millet, wheat, barley, rice, fruit, vegetables, and nuts. ~ Did not own the land they farmed. ~ The land was under control of either the king or the nobles. ~ Kept only enough crops to feed themselves and their families, and they gave the rest to the nobles who sent some to the king. ~ The farmers used simple tools such as: wooden sticks, stone-tipped hoes, and stone knives and scythes. • And last the slaves ~ Very bottom of the Shang society. ~ Had often been captured in wars. ~ Spent their lives building tombs and palaces. ~ When their masters died they got sacrificed.
Religion • Shang believed that dead ancestors had a life after death • It was important to honor ancestors and give them food and wine • A king’s relationship to the ancient spirit was very important • Kings used oracle bones to ask their ancestors for advice and when to hunt
Writing • The Shang used a type of writing called logograph • Logographs are characters that stand for words • They had inscription on oracle bones (that kings used) • Before the Shang invented logographs, they only used pictograph which were pictures representing something they wanted to say • Although the Shang people spoke different languages in different places, the people from the upper class all used the same form of writing • Because of the written language, the Shang had a better way of communicating
The Arts • The Shang artists were very good when working with bronze • Craftspeople made beautiful vessels • The vessels had either geometry or mythical creatures • They made many animal masks. The most common one was a taotie • The Shang also made very beautiful jade pieces • They believed the quality of jade represented a superior person and the hardness of jade stood for good wisdom
Technology • Working with bronze. • Used bronze to make many tools of war. • Arrowheads, spearheads, ax heads, and helmets. • ^ One of the reasons why they were able to remain in power for more than 500 years.
The Fall of the Shang Dynasty • Fighting many wars weakened the military power. • The king and nobles spent so much money on palaces, furnishings, clothing and tombs, and spending weakened the economy. • The last king did pleasurable activities instead of looking after his people. • 1045 B.C.E: A frontier state called Zhou (joh) rose up against the dynasty. • Zhou armies caught the Shang unaware, defeating and overthrowing them.
And now A Trivia! • Approximately how long did the Shang dynasty rule? • Who inherited the kingdom? • What were the 6 social classes of the Shang dynasty? • How did the kings ask their ancestors for advice? • What was the type of writing they used? • Name one of their tools that they used as weapons. • Who took over the Shang Dynasty?
The End! Hope you learned something interesting!
Bibliography For Pictures… • http://www.chinatownconnection.com/images/shangdynasty.jpg • http://www.artsmia.org/art-of-asia/history/images/maps/china-shang.gif • http://www.thejaderoad.com/html/images/shanggod1.jpg