1. What are some of the causes that allowed Buddhism and Daoism to creep into China?
With the collapse of the Han Empire came political fragmentation and signaled the rise of powerful and locally entrenched aristocratic families. It also meant the incursion of northern nomads, many of whom learned Chinese, dressed like Chinese, married into Chinese families, and governed northern regions of the country in Chinese fashion. Such conditions of disunity, unnatural in the eyes of many thoughtful Chinese, discredited Confucianism and opened the door to a greater acceptance of Buddhism and Daoism among the elite. (Original: p. 242; With Sources: p. 380) 2. In what way did the Sui Dynasty unify China from 589-618?
Sui emperors solidified the unity by a vast extension of the country’s canal system, stretching some 1,200 miles in length. Those canals linked northern and southern China economically and contributed much to the prosperity that followed. (Original: p. 242; With Sources: p. 380)
3. Discuss the ways in which the Tang and Song Dynasties were regarded as the “Golden Age of Chinese Achievement.”
Culturally—During this period, China reached a cultural peak, setting standards of excellence in poetry, landscape painting, and ceramics. Particularly during the Song Dynasty, there was an explosion of scholarship that gave rise to Neo-Confucianism. Population grew rapidly, from 50 million-60 million people during the Tang dynasty to 120 million by 1200, spurred in part by a remarkable growth in agricultural production. During this period, China possessed many cities of over 100,000 people and a capital at Hangzhou with a population of over a million people.
Politically—the Tang and Song dynasties built a state structure that endured for a thousand years.
Economically—These two dynasties experienced an economic revolution that made it the richest empire on earth. Industrial production soared and technological innovation flourished, including the invention of printing and gunpowder, along with innovations in navigation and shipbuilding that led the world. The economy of China became the most highly commercialized in the world, producing for the market rather than for local consumption. (Original: p. 244; With Sources: p. 382)
4. In what ways did women’s lives change during the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties?
Chinese women of the Tang dynasty had greater freedom in their social lives. This was because of the influence of steppe nomads, whose women led less restricted lives. However, the revival of Confucianism and rapid economic growth of the Song resulted in the tightening of patriarchal restrictions on women, such as foot-binding. In the textile industry, urban workshops and state factories increasingly took over the skilled tasks of weaving textiles that had previously been the work of rural women. Growing wealth and urban environments offered women opportunities as restaurant operators, sellers of vegetables and fish, maids, cooks, or dressmakers. The growing prosperity of elite families funneled increasing numbers of women into roles as concubines, entertainers, courtesans, and prostitutes. This trend reduced the ability of wives to negotiate as equals with their husbands, and it set women against one another. Some positive trends occurred during the Song Dynasty. Women saw their property rights expanded, and in some quarters, the education of women was advocated as a way to better prepare their sons for civil service exams. (Original: pp. 246-247; With Sources: pp. 384-385)
5. Why did the Chinese interact with their nomadic neighbors to the north?
Many nomadic pastoral or semi-agricultural peoples of the steppes lived in areas unable to sustain Chinese-style farming. They focused their economies around the raising of livestock and the mastery of horse riding. These kin-based groups periodically created much larger and powerful states that could draw on military skills when necessary. Such specialized pastoral societies needed grain and other agricultural products from China, and their leaders developed a taste for Chinese manufactured and luxury goods—wine and silk for example—with which they could attract and reward followers. Yet, the Chinese needed the nomads for their horses, so essential for the Chinese military, as well as skins, furs, amber and other products. (Original: p. 248-249; With Sources: pp. 386-387)
6. Even though China saw itself as “the center of the world,” why did it allow itself to deal with the “barbarians?”
Educated Chinese saw their won society as self-sufficient, requiring little from the outside world, while barbarians, quite understandably, sought access to China’s wealth and wisdom. Furthermore, China was willing to permit that access under controlled conditions, for its sense of superiority did not preclude the possibility that barbarians could become civilized. (Original: p. 249; With Sources: p. 387)
7. Why did the Chinese government often give other states gifts that were in fact worth more than the tribute those states paid to China?
Foreigners seeking access to China had to send a delegation to the Chinese court, where they would perform the kowtow, a series of ritual bowings and prostrations, and present their tribute—produce of value form their countries—to the Chinese emperor. In return for these expressions of submission, he would grant permission for foreigners to trade in China’s rich markets and would provide them with gifts or “bestowals,” often worth far more than the tribute they had offered. This was the mechanism by which successive Chinese dynasties attempted to regulate their relationships with their neighboring peoples. (Original: pp. 249-250; With Sources: pp. 387-388)
8. Who were the Xiongnu, the Uighurs, the Khitan, and the Jurchen in relation to the Chinese?
Xiongnu--The Xiongnu were a powerful nomadic confederacy that was able to deal with China on at lest equal terms. They were established about the same time as the Han Dynasty and eventually reached from Manchuria to Central Asia. Devastating Xiongnu raids into northern China persuaded the Chinese emperor to negotiate an arrangement that recognized the nomadic state as apolitical equal, promised its leader a princess in marriage, and, most important, agreed to supply him annually with large quantities of grain, wine, and silk. It was a reverse tribute system so the Xiongne would refrain from military incursions into China.
Uighurs—The Uighurs—a Turkic empire—actually rescued the Tang Dynasty from a serious internal revolt in the 750s. In return, the Uighur leader gained one of the Chinese emperor’s daughters as a wife and arranged a highly favorable exchange of poor-quality horses for high-quality silk that brought half a million rolls of the precious fabric annually into the Uighur lands.
Khitan and Jurchen—On occasion, a Chinese state broke down or collapsed and various nomadic groups moved in to pick up the pieces, conquering and governing parts of China. Such a process took place following the fall of the Han dynasty with the Xiongnu, and the Tang dynasty, when the Khitan (907-1125) and then the Jurchen (1115-1234) peoples established states that encompassed parts of northern China as well as major areas of the steppes to the north. Both of them required the Chinese Song dynasty, located farther south, to deliver annually huge quantities of silk, silver, and tea, some of which found its way into the Silk Road trading network. (Original: p. 250; With Sources: pp. 388-389)
9. Did the Chinese convert large numbers of the northern nomads to Chinese cultural ways? Why or Why not?
Some nomads adopted Chinese ways as they ruled parts of China. They employed Chinese advisors, governed according to Chinese practice, and at least for the elite, immersed themselves in Chinese culture and learning. The Jurchens learned to speak Chinese, wore Chinese clothing, married Chinese husbands and wives, and practiced Buddhism or Daoism. On the whole however, Chinese culture had only a modest impact on the nomadic people of the northern steppes. Unlike the native peoples of southern China, who were gradually absorbed into Chinese culture, the pastoral societies north of the Great Wall generally retained their own cultural patterns. Few of them were incorporated, and not for long, since most lived in areas where Chinese-style agriculture was simply impossible. (Original: p. 251; With Sources: p. 389)
10. In what (political, economic, and social) ways did Korea, Vietnam, and Japan experience and respond to Chinese influence?
Both Korea and Vietnam achieved political independence while participating fully in the tribute system as vassal states. Japan was never conquered by the Chinese but did participate for some its history in the tribute system as a vassal state. The cultural elite of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan borrowed heavily form China—Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, administrative techniques, the examination system, artistic and literary styles—even as their own cultures remained distinct. Both Korea and Vietnam experienced some colonization by ethnic Chinese settlers. Physically separated from China, Japan voluntarily adopted elements of Chinese civilization. It adopted a Chinese-style emperor, Confucianism, Buddhism, Chinese court and government, and the Chinese calendar. Nevertheless, Japan was selective in its borrowing and by the tenth century stopped tribute missions, and in the long run evolved in its own distinctive way. Unlike Korea or Japan, the cultural heartland of Vietnam was fully incorporated into the Chinese state for over a thousand years, far longer than corresponding parts of Korea. This political dominance led to cultural changes in Vietnam, such as the adoption of Chinese-style irrigated agriculture, the education of the Vietnamese elite in Confucian-based schools and their inclusion in the local bureaucracy, Chinese replacing the local language in official business, and the adoption of Chinese clothing and hairstyles. (Original: pp. 252-259; With Sources: pp. 390-397)
11. What’s the significance of the Trung Sisters in Vietnam?
In 39 C.E., an uprising was launched by two sisters, daughters of a local leader deposed by the Chinese. One of them, Trung Trac, whose husband had been executed, dressed in full military regalia and addressed some 30,000 soldiers. When the rebellion was crushed several years later, the Trung sisters committed suicide rather than surrender to the Chinese. In literature, monuments, and public memory, they long remained powerful symbols of Vietnamese resistance to Chinese aggression. (Original: p. 255; With Sources: p. 393)
12. In what different ways did Japanese and Korean women experience the pressures of Confucian orthodoxy (practices, beliefs)?
Elite Japanese women, unlike those in Korea, largely escaped the more oppressive features of Confucian culture, such as the prohibition of remarriage for widows, seclusion in the home, and foot binding. Moreover, elite Japanese women continued to inherit property, Japanese married couples often lived apart or with the wife’s family, and marriages in Japan were made and broken easily. (Original: p. 258-259; With Sources: pp. 396-397)
13. Why didn’t the Japanese succeed in creating an effective centralized and bureaucratic state to match that of China?
Over many centuries, the Japanese combined what they had assimilated form China with elements of their own tradition into a distinctive Japanese civilization, which differed from Chinese culture in many ways. Although the court and the emperor retained an important ceremonial and cultural role, their real political authority over the country gradually diminished in favor of competing aristocratic families, both at court and in the provinces. As political power became increasingly decentralized, local authorities developed their own military forces. (Original: p. 257; With Sources: p. 395)
14. What techniques or technologies did China export to other regions of Eurasia?
Chinese techniques for producing salt by solar evaporation spead to the Islamic world and later to Christian Europe. Papermaking, known in China since the Han dynasty, spread to Korea and Vietnam by the 4th century, to Japan and India by the 7th, to the Islamic world by the 8th, to Muslim Spain by 1150, to France and Germany in the 1300s, and to England in the 1490s. Printing, likewise a Chinese invention, rapidly reached Korea, where moveable type became a highly developed technique, and Japan as well. (Original: p. 259; With Sources:) 15. Between 300 and 800 C.E., what helped to facilitate the acceptance of Buddhism in China?
With the collapse of the Han Dynasty, the chaotic, violent, and politically fragmented centuries that followed seriously discredited Confucianism and opened the door to alternative understandings of the world. Nomadic rulers, now governing much of northern China, found Buddhism useful in part because it was foreign. Since Buddha was a “barbarian god,” they believed that he was the one they should worship. Rulers and elite families provided money and land that enabled the building of many Buddhist monasteries, temples, and works of art. In southern China, where many northern aristocrats had fled following the decline of the Han Dynasty, Buddhism provided some comfort in the face of a collapsing society. Its emphasis on ritual, mortality, and contemplation represented an intellectually and esthetically satisfying response to times that were so clearly in disarray. Under the Sui and Tang dynasties, Buddhism received growing state support. (Original: p. 263; With Sources: pp. 401-402)
16. What were the major sources of opposition to Buddhism in China?
Some perceived the Buddhist establishment as a challenge to imperial authority, and there was a deepening resentment of its enormous wealth. Buddhism was clearly of foreign origin and therefore offensive to some Confucian and Daoist thinkers. For some Confucian thinkers, the celibacy of monks and their withdrawal from society undermined the Confucian-based family system of Chinese tradition. (Original: p. 264; With Sources: p. 402)
Explain the significance of the following: Neo-Confucianism—a philosophy that emerged in Song dynasty China; it revived Confucian thinking while adding Buddhist and Daoist elements (Original: p. 244; With Sources: p. 382)
Hangzhou—China’s capital during the Song dynasty, with a population of more than a million people (Original: p. 244; With Sources: p. 382)
Footbinding—Chinese practice of tightly wrapping girls’ feet to keep them small, begun in the Tang dynasty; an emphasis on small size and delicacy was central to views of female beauty (Original: p. 246-247; With Sources: p. 384)
Chang’an—The new capital Korean city of Kumsong was modeled directly on the Chinese capital of Chang’an. The Silla dynasty of Korea had sought to turn their small state into a miniature version of Tang China (Original: p. 253; With Sources: p. 391)
Hangul—In the 1400s, Korea moved toward greater cultural independence by developing a phonetic alphabet, known as hangul, for writing the Korean language. (Original: p. 254; With Sources: p. 392)
Shotoku Taisha—A prominent aristocrat (572-622) from one of the major Japanese clans who hoped to transform Japan into a centralized bureaucratic state. He launched a series of large-scale missions to China, which took hundreds of Japanese monks, scholars. Artists, and students to the mainland, and when they returned, they put into practice what they had learned. (Original: p. 256; With Sources: p. 394)
17th Article Constitution—Shotoku Taisha issued the Seventeen Article Constitution, proclaiming the Japanese ruler as a Chinese-style emperor and encouraging both Buddhism and Confucianism. In good Confucian fashion, the document emphasized the moral quality of rulers as a foundation for social harmony. (Original: p. 256; With Sources: p. 394)
Bushido—The “way of the warrior” referring to the military virtues of the Japanese samurai, including bravery, loyalty, and an emphasis on death over surrender. (Original: p. 257; With Sources: p. 395) Samarai—Members of Japan’s warrior class, which developed as political power became increasingly decentralized. (Original: p. 257; With Sources: p. 395)
Kami—Sacred spirits associated with ancestors and various natural phenomena. Much later referred to as Shinto, this tradition provided legitimacy to the imperial family based on claims of descent from the sun goddess. Because veneration of the kami lacked an elaborate philosophy or ritual, it conflicted very little with Buddhism. In fact, numerous kami were assimilated into Japanese Buddhism as local expressions of Buddhist deities or principles. (Original: p. 257-258; With Sources: p. 395)
Heian period of Japanese history—The Heian period of Japanese history (794-1192) was a highly refined esthetic culture that found expression at the imperial court, even as the court’s real political authority melted away. Court aristocrats and their ladies lived in splendor, composed poems, arranged flowers, and conducted their love affairs. One scholar wrote, “What counted was the proper costume, the right ceremonial act, athe successful turn of phrase in a poem, and the proper expression of refined taste.” (Original: p. 258; With Sources: p. 396)
The Tale of Genji—The first written novel by a woman, Murasaki Shikibu, that provided an intimate picture of the intrigues and romances of Heian court life. (Original: p. 258; With Sources: p. 396)
Johannes Gutenberg—Moveable type was re-invented by this man in the 15th century and he printed the largest Bible in the vernacular of the Germanic people, at that time. (Original: p. 259; With Sources: p. 397)
Pure Land Buddhism—One of the most popular forms of Buddhism in China, in which faithfully repeating the name of an earlier Buddha, the Amitabha, was sufficient to ensure rebirth in a beautifully described heavenly realm, the Pure Land. In its emphasis on salvation by faith, without arduous study or meditation, Pure Land Buddhism became a highly popular and authentically Chinese version of the Indian faith. (Original: p. 264; With Sources: p. 402)
Emperor Wendi—Sui dynasty emperor (581-604) that unified China. He used Buddhism to justify his military campaigns. He had monasteries constructed at the base of China’s five sacred mountains, further identifying the imported religion with traditional Chinese culture. (Original: p. 264; With Sources: p. 402)
An Lushan rebellion—After centuries of considerable foreign influence in China, a growing resentment against foreign culture, particularly among the literate classes, increasingly took hold. The turning point was probably the An Lushan rebellion (755-763), in which a general of foreign origin led a major revolt against the Tang dynasty. (Original: p. 265; With Sources: p. 403)