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Two Great Dynasties in China. Chinese artifact from the Tang Dynasty. Ch 12.1. In 589, Sui Wendi united northern and southern China. Restored a strong, centralized government. Emperor Sui Wendi. Grand Canal.

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two great dynasties in china

Two Great Dynasties in China

Chinese artifact from the Tang Dynasty

Ch 12.1

grand canal
Grand Canal
  • Waterway connected the Huang He and Yangtze River.
  • Provided a vital route of trade between the northern cities and southern rice-producing region.
1,000 mile waterway
  • Tens of thousands of peasant men and women labored for five years.
  • At least half of the workers died on the job.
  • Thousands more died to rebuild the Great Wall.
The endless labor on state projects turned the people against the Sui Dynasty.
  • Overworked and overtaxed, they finally revolted.
  • In 618, a member of the imperial court strangled the second Sui emperor.
golden age
Golden Age
  • The next two dynasties – Tang and Song (pronounced ‘Sung’) - brought China its ‘golden age’.
  • China became the most richest, most powerful, and most advanced country in the world.
expansion of empire
Expansion of Empire
  • Conquered northern and western lands that China lost during the Han dynasty.
  • Extended influence over Korea
empress wu zhao jow
Empress Wu Zhao (Jow)
  • Empress Wu was married to Tang Taizong at the age of 13.
  • After Taizong’s death, she became a favored wife of his son.
  • Wu Zhao soon rose above rival wives and became the emperor’s chief wife.
Emperor Taizong became ill, so Empress Wu ruled the throne.
  • She was 26 years old when he died.
  • After his death, Wu ruled the throne through their sons.
  • She became frustrated by their inability to be effective leaders and took the throne at age 65.
  • She lost power at age 80.
tang china prospers
Tang China Prospers
  • Tang Taizong lowered taxes
  • Took land away from the wealthy and gave it to the poor.
  • He promoted foreign trade
  • Made improvements in agriculture
scholar officials
Scholar Officials
  • Civil service officials had to take a test in order to become part of an elite group of scholar-officials.
  • Tang rulers opened schools around the country to train young scholars in Confucianism, poetry, and other subjects.
Exams were open to all commoners, but only the wealthy could afford to go to school to get the education required to pass the exam.
  • Men with political connections could obtain high positions without taking the exams.
  • As a result, talent and education became more important than noble birth.
tang dynasty collapses
Tang dynasty collapses
  • By the mid-700s, The Tang Dynasty was weakening.
  • To pay for military expansion, Tang rulers imposed crushing taxes.
  • This brought hardship to the people
  • Peasants fled their villages and roved the countryside in bandit gangs.
In 907, Chinese rebels sacked and burned the Tang capital and murdered the last Tang emperor, Emperor Ai.
  • He died from poisoning at age 17.
song dynasty
Song Dynasty
  • In 960, Song Taizu, the first Song emperor, reunited China.
  • The Song dynasty lasted 3 centuries.
  • Song tried to maintain peace with northern and western tribes, but was eventually forced southward.
The created a new capital near the Yangtze river, Hangzhou.
  • The south eventually became the economic heartland of China.
China grew in population, trade, wealth, new ideas, and artistic achievements.
  • By the Song era, China had at least 10 cities with a population of 1 million each.
  • China became the most populous and most advanced.
science and technology
Science and Technology
  • Moveable type
  • Gunpowder
  • Porcelain
  • Mechanical clock
  • Paper money
  • Magnetic compass for sailing
  • In the year 1000, China imported a new ‘fast-ripening’ rice from Vietnam.
  • This new rice allowed farmers to have two crops of rice per year instead of one.
  • The allowed China’s farmers to produce more food for the growing population.
Trade flourished

The silk roads connected China to the Roman Empire.

The use of the magnetic compass made it possible for sea trade to expand.

China lost control over the Silk Road trading Routes during the decline of the Tang dynasty.
  • They concentrated on ocean trade.
  • Chinese advances in sailing technology and the compass made China the greatest sea power in the world.
Through trade and travel, cultural diffusion took place.
  • Chinese culture rapidly spread throughout Asia.
  • One major influence was Buddhism. Buddhism spread from China to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
exchange of goods
Exchange of goods
  • Tea first arrived in China from Southeast Asia.
  • The Chinese became avid tea drinkers.
  • New ideas in mathematics and astronomy developed from contact with India.
  • Islam and Christianity also spread to China.
artistic creativity
Artistic creativity
  • Celebrated poets
  • Li Bo – celebrated life’s pleasures
  • Du Fu – praised orderliness and Confucian virtues.
    • Also wrote about war and hardship of soldiers
    • He was once captured by rebels

Li Bo

Du Fu

  • Emphasized Daoist love of nature
    • Artists emphasized the beauty of the natural landscapes, mountains, and rippling brooks
    • Objects such as a single branch or flower
    • Did not use brightly colored paints
    • Blank ink was their favorite.
      • “Black is ten colors.”
social changes in china
Social Changes in China
  • People moved to the cities in increasing numbers.
  • Growing cities offered many opportunities for managers, professionals, and skilled workers.
  • The most important avenue for social advancement was the civil service system.
  • A new larger upper class emerged of scholar-officials.
  • A class of powerful, well-to-do people is called the ‘gentry’.
  • The gentry attained their status through education and civil service positions, rather than through land ownership, although many scholar officials did own land.
The middle class included – merchants, shop keepers, skilled artisans, minor officials, and servants.
  • The lower class include – laborers, servants, soldiers, and peasants.
interesting note
Interesting Note
  • Many scholar officials grew their fingernails long to demonstrate they did no manual labor.
world record
This woman from Utah, currently has the longest nails in the world, over 24 feet.

She has not cut her nails since 1979.

Although the reasons why she grew them has nothing to do with our lesson.

World Record
  • Were always subservient to men throughout Chinese society.
  • Status further declined during the Tang and Song dynasties.
  • Women’s work was deemed less important to the family.
  • Peasant women usually labored in the fields to help their families.
bound feet
Bound Feet
  • It became customary to bind the feet of upper class girls when they were very young.
  • Their feet were bound tightly with cloth, which broke their arch and curled all but the big toe under.
  • This produced a “lily-foot” that became admired.
foot binding the lotus foot
Foot Binding – The ‘Lotus’ foot
  • Women with bound feet were crippled for life.
  • To others in society, such a woman reflected wealth and prestige of her husband who could afford such a beautiful and impractical wife.
  • Foot binding lasted until the 20th century
The technological advances, and social and economic changes permanently shaped Chinese civilization.
____ 1. Which of the following reflects the chronological order of Chinese dynasties?

a. Han, Sui, Song, Tang

b. Han, Sui, Tang, Song

c. Sui, Tang, Han, Song

d. Sui, Song, Han, Tang

____ 2. What contributed greatly to the fall of the Tang Dynasty?

the invention of gunpowder

the imposition of heavy taxes

the doubling of the Chinese population

the restoration of the civil service system

____ 3. Tang Taizong and Wu Zhao were emperors of the

Sui Dynasty

Han Dynasty

Song Dynasty

Tang Dynasty

____ 4. The invention of moveable type sped up the existing printing process mainly because the individual type

was smaller

was easier to carve

could be reused to print something else

could be used to print more than one copy of the same page.

_____ 5. All of the following were inventions of the Tang and Song dynasties EXCEPT:


paper money

the microscope

the magnetic compass

______ 6. In the Tang and Song dynasties, the new gentry gained social status through

noble birth


land ownership

trade and commerce