Shang dynasty culture and art relationship

Shang Dynasty Chinese Art - Bronze Age China | Study Guides

shang dynasty culture and art relationship

The art of the Shang Dynasty was also made from stone, ceramics, and Objects that date from the Shang period provide many clues about Shang culture. The Shang dynasty or Yin dynasty (殷代; Yīndài), according to traditional historiography, ruled . In , the site of the Erlitou culture was found in Yanshi , south of the Yellow River near Luoyang. . Trade relations and diplomatic ties with other formidable powers via the Silk Road and Chinese voyages to the Indian Ocean. Learn more about Chinese art and architecture with Grolier Online and Scholastic ART During the Southern Song period (), court painters such as Ma Yuan and Xia Chinese painters were increasingly exposed to the art of Western cultures. About Us · Social Responsibility · Media Room · Investor Relations.

The philosophers Confucius — bceMencius c. The interstate competition that drove rulers to select the most capable and meritorious individuals to serve in their courts resulted in an unprecedented degree of social mobility. The populace, most of whom were farmers, also underwent changes in status. In feudal times the peasants had been subjects of their lords. By paying taxes, the tiller of the field acquired the privilege of using the land as his own possession, which perhaps was the first step toward private ownership.

With the collapse of the feudal structure, farmers in general gradually ceased to be subjects of a master and became subjects of a state. A similar transformation occurred among the merchants and artisans, who gradually passed from being household retainers of a lord to the status of independent subjects.

Thus, the feudal society was completely reshaped in the two centuries preceding the Qin unification. Cultural change These great political and socioeconomic changes were accompanied by intellectual ferment, as the people tried to adjust themselves to a rapidly changing world. Ideas about the proper relationships between members of society were naturally questioned when the old feudal order was shaken, and in that period the great teacher Confucius elaborated the social concepts that henceforth became normative for Chinese civilization.

In place of rigid feudal obligations, he posited an order based on more-universal human relationships such as that between father and son and taught that ability and moral excellence rather than birth were what fitted a person for leadership.

ConfuciusConfucius, statue in Beijing. Even the individualist thinkers known as Daoists Taoistswho did not follow Confucius, formulated their teachings as a rebuttal to the Confucian system. Confucius and other pre-Qin thinkers viewed the traditional political institutions of China as bankrupt and tried to devise a rationale for something to replace them. Some, such as Confucius, put their main emphasis on the quality of the ruling elite group; others, such as Shang Yang died bce and Hanfeizi died bceregarded a well-organized governing mechanism as the only way to an orderly society.

The development of the new centralized monarchical state after the middle of the Chunqiu period is not only the embodiment of the ideas of these various thinkers but also the working premise in the context of which they elaborated their theories.

The high degree of social and political consciousness that characterized most of the pre-Qin philosophical schools set the pattern for the close association of the intellectual with government and society in later China.

The burgeoning commercial life of the period also influenced other spheres, especially in the prevalence of contractual relationships. This kind of contractual relationship remained common in China until the tide of commercialism was ended by the restriction of commercial activity under the Han emperor Wudi in the 2nd century bce. The local cultures of China were blended into one common civilization during Chunqiu times. Through contacts and interchanges, the gods and legends of one region became identified and assimilated with those of other regions.

Local differences remained, but, from that time on, the general Chinese pantheon took the form of a congregation of gods with specific functions, representing a celestial projection of the unified Chinese empire with its bureaucratic society. Bold challenges to tradition have been rare in Chinese historyand the questioning and innovating spirit of the Chunqiu period was to have no parallel until the ferment of the 20th century, after two millennia had elapsed under the domination of Confucian orthodoxy.

The Qin empire — bce The Qin state The history of the Qin dynasty may be traced to the 8th century bce.

Shang dynasty

According to the Qin historical record, when the Zhou royal house was reestablished at the eastern capital in bce, the Qin ruling house was entrusted with the mission of maintaining order in the previous capital. This may be an exaggeration of the importance of the Qin rulers, and the Qin may have been only one of the ruling families of the old states that recognized Zhou suzerainty and went to serve the Zhou court.

The record is not clear. In the old annals Qin did not appear as a significant power until the time of Mugong reigned — bcewho made Qin the main power in the western part of China. Although Qin attempted to obtain a foothold in the central heartland along the Huang He, it was blocked by the territories of Jin. Qin failed several times to enter the eastern bloc of powers and had to limit its activities to conquering, absorbing, and incorporating the non-Chinese tribes and states scattered within and west of the big loop of the Huang He.

The eastern powers, however, regarded Qin as a barbarian state because of the non-Chinese elements it contained. Qin, in fact, was the only major power that did not suffer battle within its own territory. Moreover, being a newly emerged state, Qin did not have the burden of a long-established feudal system, which allowed it more freedom to develop its own pattern of government.

shang dynasty culture and art relationship

This may be one reason why Qin was one of the handful of ruling houses that survived the great turmoil of the late Chunqiu period. A period of silence followed. Even the Qin historical record that was adopted by the historian Sima Qian yields almost no information for a period of some 90 years in the 5th century bce.

shang dynasty culture and art relationship

The evidence suggests that Qin underwent a period of consolidation and assimilation during the years of silence. When it reemerged as an important power, its culture appeared to be simpler and more martial, perhaps because of the non-Chinese tribes it had absorbed.

Struggle for power Until the 5th century bce, China was dominated by the central-plain power Weia successor to Jin, and by the eastern power Qi, a wealthy state with a new ruling house. Qin remained a secondary power until after the great reforms of Xiaogong — bce and Shang Yang Wei Yang. Shang Yang, a frustrated bureaucrat in the court of Wei, went westward seeking a chance to try out his ideas.

In the court of Qin he established a rare partnership with the ruler Xiaogong and created the best-organized state of their time. Shang Yang first took strong measures to establish the authority of law and royal decree. The law was to be enforced impartially, without regard to status or position.

He convinced Xiaogong that the rank of nobility and the privileges attached to it should be awarded only to those who rendered good service to the state, especially for valour in battle. This deprived the existing nobility of their titles and privileges, arousing much antagonism in the court. One of his most influential reforms was that of standardizing local administration.

It was a step toward creating a unified state by combining various localities into counties, which were then organized into prefectures under direct supervision of the court. This system was expanded to all of China after unification in bce.

Another measure taken by Shang Yang was that he encouraged production, especially in agriculture. Farmers were given incentive to reclaim wasteland, and game and fishing reserves were also opened to cultivation. A shortage of labour was met by recruiting the able-bodied from neighbouring states, especially from Han, Zhao, and Wei.

shang dynasty culture and art relationship

This policy of drawing workers to Qin had two consequences: In order to increase incentives, the Qin government levied a double tax on any male citizen who was not the master of a household.

The result was a breakdown of the extended-family system, since younger children were forced to move out and establish their own households.

China - The Shang dynasty |

The nuclear family became the prevalent form in Qin thereafter. As late as the 2nd century bce, Han scholars were still attacking the Qin family structure as failing to observe the principle of filial piety, a cardinal virtue in the Confucian moral code. Shang Yang also standardized the system of weights and measuresa reform of some importance for the development of trade and commerce. Qin grew wealthy and powerful under the joint labours of Xiaogong and Shang Yang.

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What remained of the Zhou royal court still survived, ruling over a fragmentary domain—poor, weak, and totally at the mercy of the contending powers. It was commonly felt that China ought to be unified politically, although the powers disagreed as to how it was to be done and who would be the universal king.

Huiwang, son of Xiaogong, claimed the royal title in bce. The adoption of the royal title by Qin was of course a challenge to Qi and Wei. Qin pursued a strategy of dividing its rivals and individually defeating them.

Qin appealed to the self-interest of other powers in order to keep them from intervening in any military action it was taking against one of its neighbours.

It befriended the more distant states while gradually absorbing the territories of those close to it. Within half a century, Qin had acquired undisputed predominance over the other contending powers. It continued maneuvering in order to prevent the others from uniting against it. The Qin strategists were ruthless: For a time, the eastern power Qi had seemed the most likely to win. It defeated Wei, crushed Yan in bce, and annexed Song in bce. Thorp states that the large assortment of weapons and ritual vessels in her tomb correlate with the oracle bone accounts of her military career and involvement in Wu Ding's ritual ancestral sacrifices.

Over time, court rituals to appease spirits developed, and in addition to his secular duties, the king would serve as the head of the ancestor worship cult. Often, the king would even perform oracle bone divinations himself, especially near the end of the dynasty.

Evidence from excavations of the royal tombs indicates that royalty were buried with articles of value, presumably for use in the afterlife. Perhaps for the same reason, hundreds of commoners, who may have been slaveswere buried alive with the royal corpse.

A line of hereditary Shang kings ruled over much of northern China, and Shang troops fought frequent wars with neighboring settlements and nomadic herdsmen from the inner Asian steppes.

Oracle Bone, Shang Dynasty

The Shang king, in his oracular divinations, repeatedly showed concern about the fang groups, the barbarians living outside of the civilized tu regions, which made up the center of Shang territory.

Consolidating power in these areas was crucial, as control of peasant-farmed agricultural territories ensured sufficient resources for the inhabitants of the walled towns. Land is brown and green with rivers in blue. Major archaeological sites in north and central China dating from the second millennium BCE. Anyang, another Shang capital, also in modern-day Henan Province, is another important—but slightly later—Shang city that has been excavated.

It was located at the intersection between lowland agricultural areas of the North China Plain and mountains which acted as a defensive border.

The names and timeframes of these kings match traditional lists of Shang kings. Anyang was a huge city, with an extensive cemetery of thousands of graves and 11 large tombs—evidence of the city's labor force, which may have belonged to the 11 Shang kings. Generally, Shang cities were not very well preserved in the archaeological record because of how they were built and the climate in northern China. Stone material was scarce, so the security of cities was reinforced by large walls made of compacted earth.

Buildings were often constructed with dried mud over a framework of wooden posts. Cities were crucial to political and religious affairs, and they were the seats of administrative affairs, royal tombs, palaces, and shrines. Common people were concentrated in the agricultural areas outside the cities. Shang relied heavily on neighboring fiefs for raw materials, much of which was devoted to ceremonial performances.

Fiefs were lands given to social elites to govern on behalf of a more powerful ruler. The holder of a fief was expected to provide resources political and military support to the ruler. Fiefs also had important economic roles; they often organized irrigation and flood control systems and supervised their construction. The aristocracy were centered around Anyang, which was the seat of governmental affairs for the surrounding areas. Regional territories farther from the capital were also controlled by the wealthy.

After the kings and the aristocrats, the Shang military were next in social status and were respected and honored for their skill. There were two subdivisions of the military: The latter were noted for their great skill in warfare and hunting. There were many local rulers who held hereditary titles. In this imperial system, elite classes benefitted from the production of peasants and large-scale projects under elite control, usually operated using various forms of unfree labor.

Their duties likely involved keeping an inventory of ritual materials, orchestrating ritual performances, managing large construction projects and bronze foundries, and tracking incoming tributes. The rulers and aristocrats patronized these artisans in order to gain luxury goods for both personal consumption and ceremonial purposes. Shang aristocrats and the royalty were likely buried with large numbers of bronze valuables, particularly wine vessels and other ornate structures. At the bottom of the social ladder were the peasants, the poorest of Chinese citizens.

They comprised the majority of the population and were limited to farming and selling crops for profit in a constraining feudal system. Archaeological findings have shown that masses of peasants were buried with aristocrats, leading some scholars to believe that they were the equivalent of slaves. However, other scholars have countered that they may have been similar to serfs, who were tied to aristocrat-held land and gave aristocrats part of their harvest.

shang dynasty culture and art relationship