Early China (to 3rd c. BCE)
Asian Timelines Table of Contents Literary & Cultural History
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|8000-4000||Transition to sedentary agriculture and silkweaving|
|Yangshao emerge in northern China in fertile loess region of Yellow River plains; hunting, fishing predominate. From the legendary pre-literate times of the Yangshao culture come heroes such as Yu (*see Xia Kingdom below) who was able to control the great rivers with dikes. Evidence suggests that the Yangshao also buried their dead in extensive burial mounds and cemeteries, and may have had seers who divined by animal bones--scholars speculate on whether ancestor veneration began with the Yangshao.|
Gods, Mythological Sage-Emperors,
as described in mythology, begins with Pan Gu, the
creator of the universe. Born from the egg of Chaos
simultaneously with the initial separation of heavy and
light elements (yin and yang) into the earth and heavens,
he is said to have lived for 18,000 years. Components of
his body transformed into the sun and moon, mountains,
rivers and seas, and trees and plants, while the fleas on
his body became the human race. sustenance, clothing, and
shelter. (See Painted pottery bowl of the Neolithic
Age 10,000-4,000 years
"Mythological Era (5000-2200 BC)" also come
"The Age of the Three Divine Rulers," who
taught the ancient Chinese to communicate and to find
sustenance, clothing, and shelter.
The legendary pre-literate cultures of ancient China also produced a succession of sage-emperors and culture heroes, including Yao, Yu the Great, and Shun. Yao, one of the legendary "Five Emperors, and, along with Shun and Yu, one of the "Three Model Emperors," is associated with China's early "golden age." Yao was noted for the benevolence of his rule despite his failed attempts to control the Yellow River, and his decision to set aside his sons and abdicate the throne to the virtuous Shun."
Yao and Shun (2400-2200 BCE) "are regarded as the ideal rulers in China. Much of their unrivaled popularity is undoubtedly due to the [later] eulogies of Confucius and Confucian scholars, who have endowed them with every virtue known to human. They are worshipped not because of the deeds they performed, but because of the spotless lives they led. They are models as humans and rulers, and their days are generally accepted as the Golden Age in Chinese history. No greater honor can be paid to a Chinese emperor than to compare him to Yao and Shun....Chinese historians generally regard the accession of Yao as the dawn of authentic history. The first official act of Yao was to give his people a more correct calendar than that which had previously existed. The prosperity of the nation was, however, temporarily disturbed by a thirteen-year flood which began in the sixty-first year of Yao's reign. It was a terrible disaster, and Yao was greatly grieved by the sufferings of his people." The task of controlling the floods fell eventually to Yu (Yoder). "It took Yu eight years to finish the work. Instead of building high embankments as his father had done, he deepened the beds of existing rivers and cut as many channels as were necessary to carry the water off to the sea. By his great engineering success, he soon became the idol of the nation. 'We would have been fish but for Yu,' is a saying which has come down to us from those days."
Yu the Great, legendary founder of the Xia (Hsia) dynasty), later succeeded Shun and "moved his capital to An-I, and adopted the name of his former principality, Xia, as the name of the dynasty he now founded. Yu, as ruler, desired to maintain the closest relations with his people, and caused to be hung at the entrance to his court five instruments---a drum, a gong, a stone instrument, a bell, and a rattle. The drum was to announce the coming of a caller who desired to discourse with him upon any of the virtues which should adorn a monarch. By beating the gong, he who disapproved of the king's conduct could be admitted to audience. If any one had important news, or personal grievances to communicate, he had but to strike the stone instrument, or ring the bell, as the case might be, in order to gain admittance; while the king was always ready to hear any appeal from the judicial decisions of his judges whenever he heard the sound of the rattle. These instruments kept Yu so very busy that, as historians inform us, he was always late at his midday meal."
From Outlines of Early Chinese History, by Li Ung Bing (eds. Joseph Whiteside, Soochow University, and Snow N. Snow).
Huangdi (Huang-ti), the Yellow Emperor,
"ruled for 100 years and is considered an early
founder of the Chinese nation due to his suppression of
the southern barbarian tribes. He is associated with the
invention of wheeled vehicles, ships, armor, pottery, and
sericulture (silk-making). He is further identified with
the investigation of natural phenomena, especially
minerals and plants, and therefore with the early growth
See The Queen Mother of the West, considered leader of all the
celestial maidens of the western region, she was
respected as a mother -- the mother of all Living
creatures. Perhaps the name "Queen Mother of the
West" is derived from these legendary aspects.
XIA DYNASTY ca. 2200-1500 BCE
known of Xia Dynasty and until recently it was
thought a myth; now the Xia Dynasty is believed to have
existed, descended from a widespread Yellow River
Neolithic culture known as Longshan, with
millet cultivation, domesticated pigs, cattle, and sheep;
silkmaking, and famous for black-lacquered pottery.
Though no known examples of Xia era writing survive,
historians now believe these peoples had a writing
system, a precursor of the Shang dynastys
Until scientific excavations were made at early bronze-age sites at Anyang, Henan Province, in 1928, it was difficult to separate myth from reality in regard to the Xia. But since then, and especially in the 1960s and 1970s, archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs that point to the existence of Xia civilization in the same locations cited in ancient Chinese historical texts. (See photo of excavation of a site associated with the "legendary" Xia capital, Yangcheng, at Taosi in western Henan.) At minimum, the Xia period marked an evolutionary stage between the late neolithic cultures and the typical Chinese urban civilization of the Shang dynasty.
Centuries of migration, amalgamation, and development brought about a distinctive system of writing, philosophy, art, and political organization that came to be recognizable as Chinese civilization. What makes Chinese civilization unique in world history is its continuity through over 4,000 years to the present century.
The geography of China (see map) has greatly impacted its history: intersecting sets of roughly parallel mountain chains divide China into distinct geographical regions. Two great rivers flow eastward: the Yellow River (Huanghe), 2700 miles long and largely non-navigable, and the Yangtze (Changjiang, or Ch'ang Chiang), 3200 miles long and navigable in its lower reaches.
SHANG DYNASTY 1750 1040/1027 BCE
(or Yin) was the most advanced bronze-making
civilization in the world at this time. The
Shang, believed to have been led by a rebel leader who
overthrew the last Xia ruler, were
warlike nomads under strong kings, with bronze weapons
and horses, who conquered most other linguistic/ethnic
groups of northern Yellow River region. (See Shang era bronze ceremonial weapons.) Thousands of archaeological finds in the Huang
He (Yellow River), Henan Valley--the apparent cradle
of Chinese civilization--provide evidence about the Shang
Dynasty. It was an agricultural civilization,
augmented by hunting and animal husbandry. The Shang left
evidence of cooking vessels and cuisine; domesticated
silkworm (serioculture) for fabric making, and fortified
cities. See A Vessel from the Shang Dynasty
Chinese Writing: Under the Shang (1523-1027), a distinctive Chinese culture emerged, esp. through the important development of a writing system, leaving the most complete record of Chinese writing to date. Using standardized pictographic ideographs, the Shang had developed 3,000 characters by end of their era, able to convey complex ideas. These archaic inscriptions have been found on "oracle" or divining bones. e.g., carved into the shoulder blades of pigs, tortoise shells, and flat cattle bones, as well as bronze vessels (later bamboo slips, silk scrolls, and wooden plates would be used for writing). The workmanship on the Shang bronzes attest to a high level of civilization.
Shang shamans (priests) performed rituals, "read" cracked animal divining bones, had a religious pantheon of nature sky gods, worshipped ancestors, and lived in patrilineal-patrilocal extended family compounds. The capitals, one of which was at the site of the modern city of Anyang, were centers of glittering court life. Court rituals to propitiate spirits and to honor sacred ancestors were highly developed. In addition to his secular position, the king was the head of the ancestor- and spirit-worship cult. Evidence from the royal tombs indicates that royal personages were buried with articles of value, presumably for use in the afterlife. The Shang were known for widespread human sacrifice (if a king died, more than 100 slaves, some beheaded, some thrown in alive, might have to join him in his grave); and kingship succession passed to brothers, rather than from father to eldest son.
scholars believe that the Xia, the Shang, and the Zhou (see
below) were three different cultures that emerged
at the about the same time in different parts of the
Yellow River Valley, the Shang arising to conquer the
Xia, and the Zhou eventually arising to the west of the
Shang heartland to conquer the Shang.
The last Shang ruler, a despot according to standard Chinese accounts, was overthrown by a chieftain of a frontier tribe called Zhou, which had settled in the Wei Valley in modern Shaanxi Province: see image of Zhou Wen Wang, the father of Wu Wang, first sovereign of the Zhou dynasty. According to Chinese tradition, Wen Wang ("literate," or "accomplished king") had become Count of the West with military responsibility for protecting the Shang frontier, but he was wrongfully imprisoned by the evil last emperor of the Shang. In prison he occupied himself with a study of the Yjing (I Ching, or the Book of Changes) until he was released as a result of the outcries of his people. In later tradition, Wen Wang was considered an ideal monarch, intelligent and benevolent. The Zhou dynasty had its capital at Hao, near the city of Xi'an (or Chang'an). Sharing the language and culture of the Shang, the early Zhou rulers, through conquest and colonization, gradually "sinicized," that is, extended Shang culture through much of China Proper north of the Chang Jiang (or Yangtze River).
ZHOU DYNASTY 1020 - 221 BCE
(or Early) Zhou (or Chou) Kingdom (see map): Zhou peoples may
have been Turkic speaking nomads expanding their rule
from the north into east and south China. China at the
time was a number of quasi-independent principalities,
but the Zhou were the most powerful of these and
subjugated less powerful indigenous "black-haired
people," though the Zhou were not as accomplished at
working bronze as the Shang. Zhou location, ruling from
the middle of this region of principalities, gave rise to
the Chinese calling their country "the Middle
Kingdom." The Zhou dynasty lasted longer
than any other, from 1027 to 221 B.C. It was
philosophers of this period who first enunciated the doctrine
of the "mandate of heaven" (tianming), the
notion that the ruler (the "son of heaven")
governed by divine right but that his dethronement would
prove that he had lost the mandate. The doctrine
explained and justified the demise of the two earlier
dynasties and at the same time supported the legitimacy
of present and future rulers.
The Zhou Dynasty used a father to son succession system, established elaborate state rituals, and began developing a professional bureaucracy of educated men for service as administrators, scribes, clerks, and advisors. The term feudal has often been applied to the Zhou period because the Zhou's early decentralized rule invites comparison with medieval rule in Europe. At most, however, the early Zhou system was proto-feudal, being a more sophisticated version of earlier tribal organization, in which effective control depended more on familial ties than on feudal legal bonds. Whatever feudal elements there may have been decreased as time went on. The Zhou amalgam of city-states became progressively centralized and established increasingly impersonal political and economic institutions. These developments, which probably occurred in the latter Zhou period, were manifested in greater central control over local governments and a more routinized agricultural taxation. (See map and essay on The Zhou Period.)
technology weakens bronze age empires.
The Zhou capital was sacked by barbarians from the west, the Zhou king killed, and the Zhou moved East, to Luoyang in present day Henan Provincebecause of this shift, historians divide the Zhou dynasty into the earlier "Western" (1100-771 BCE) and the later "Eastern" (771-256 BCE) periods. With the royal line broken, the power of the Zhou court gradually diminished and the fragmentation of the kingdom accelerated. (See also Lecture 20: Zhou (Chou), Qin (Ch'in) & Han Dynasties, Paul Brians, Washington State Univ.)
|Respect for the
government of the Zhou Dynasty may be
described as follows: a father was supreme in a
family, a king in a state, and old age in a village.
Every three years the people of each village met, when a
banquet was given, presided over by a representative of
the Crown and with guests of honor seated according to
their ages. This was one of the
most solemn occasions and detailed rituals were
prescribed and followed."
and their origin: "The Zhou
Dynasty is commonly credited with having
introduced the custom of keeping eunuchs. The fact is,
eunuchs had existed for centuries before the family
became supreme in China. 'This class of men seems to have
originated with the law's severity rather than from the
callous desire on the part of any reigning house to
secure a craven and helpless medium and means for
pandering to, and enjoying the pleasures of the harem
without fear of sexual intrigue. Criminals whose feet
were cut off were usually employed as park-keepers,
simply because there could be no inclination on their
part to gad about and chase the game.... It is
sufficiently obvious why the castrated were specially
charged with the duty of serving females in a menial
capacity. Eunuchs were so employed because they were
already eunuchs by law.' Since the abolition of the law, 197
BC, however, men have been purposely made
eunuchs in order that their services as menials could be
(10th 7th c. BCE)
(or Shih Ching, trans. Classic of
Poetry), growing to a body of some 300 ritual hymns and
ballads, marks the beginning of the vernacular or folk
tradition in Chinese poetry, characterized by simplicity
of language and emotion. Orally composed in four word
verses, and passed down orally from generation to
generation, many the ancient poems, especially the
"Airs" (Feng), sing of the
daily life of peasants, , their sorrows and joys, their
occupations and festivitiesunlike the custom of
glorifying gods and heroes dominant in many other
cultures. Chinese poetry and music were closely linked
from earliest times. The Shi-jing grew
and changed over time with oral transmission, so the
poems are difficult to date.
The Classic of Poetry has four major sections: the Hymns (Song), the "Great Odes" (Da-ya), the "Lesser Odes" (Xiao-ya), and the "Airs" (Feng).
1. The Hymns, the oldest dating from 10th century BCE, were used in dynastic rituals to address the deified spirits of the founders of the Zhou Dynasty, Kings Wen and Wu. Ritualistic naming of things and actions and formal declaration in words to describe orderly systems of relations were necessary to make it so and serve its proper function in a system of ritual.
2. The "Great Odes" are public poetry of the dynasty, recounting crucial episodes in the founding of the Zhou Dynasty. A number of these celebrate the dynastys foundation by right of receiving Heavens charge, and bringing order and peace to the land and to the kings heart.
3. The "Lesser Odes" spoke less publicly for the official political lines; they might speak, not for the Zhou king, but for the officers and soldiers of the Zhou. Or they might declare more problematic exchanges and correspondences than in the obvious ritual and political order presented in the Hymns and "Greater Odes."
4. The "Airs" constitute more than half the 300 poems of the Classic of Poetry, and they may be the latest poems to be added. The "Airs" represent regional song traditions, and the points of view of the common folk and of the feudal courts of the many regions under the Zhou monarchy.
of companions to the dead...was almost
universal during the sixth and seventh centuries
BC. In the Book of Odes [The Classic of
Poetry], we read an account of the funeral of
Duke Mu of Qin. Before his death, he had decreed that
three of the ablest ministers of the time (brothers)
should be interred with him. Although the nation did not
approve of the choice thus made, yet the decree was
faithfully carried out, and the three "good men of
Qin" accompanied the remains of Duke Mu to their
last resting place."
"Silk was universally known [at this time]. That the women were mostly engaged in rearing silkworms, the Book of Odes [The classic of Poetry] abundantly testifies. Even the queen had to set an example in this industry at appointed times each year if she did not have to do the actual work. No cotton was known, so the poorer classes wore garments of hempen materials. In the cold weather, furs were used. Dyeing too was largely practiced."
From Li Ung Bing, Outlines of Early Chinese History (eds. Joseph Whiteside, Soochow University, and Snow N. Snow).
Later Zhou Period (8th century 221 BCE)
|8th century to 551||Eastern
(or Later) Zhou (or Chou) Dynasty was a weaker and much reduced kingdom with iron
technology. Migration and population growth gradually
shifted power over the regions of the two great Chinese
river systems: Yellow and Yantgze Rivers.
bureaucrats gained considerable influence, but
the Eastern Zhou period was one of increasing instability
and uncertainty breaking down social and political
The declining Later (or Eastern) Zhou era is further subdivided into the Spring and Autumn period (722-481) and the Warring States period (403-221) - see below.
|770/722 476/481||"Spring and Autumn Period," named for one of the 5 Classics of Chinese literature (the Chun Chiu [Spring and Autumn Annals], a history of the state of Lu from 722 to 481 BCE), is culturally important, for its rulers traced their ancestry back to Zhou Gong, or the Duke of Zhou, the brother of King Wu, the founder of the Zhou Dynasty. As founder of the ducal line in the state of Lu, the later birthplace of Confucius, Zhou Gong was also considered the "familiar spirit" of Confucius. Lu prided itself on preserving proper Zhou customs. This era was violent and aristocratic, with constant power struggles; and spawned new ideas and philosophies, especially Taoism (or Daoism) and Confucianism.|
Zhou The Five Classics (to 221 BCE)
high "literary" tradition in Chinese literature
is rooted in the Five "Classics":
(1) Shih Ching or Shi-jing (trans.Classic of Poetry - see above) purportedly collected and written down by Confucius, reached its final form ca. 600 BCE.
(2) I Ching, or Yi Ching (trans. Classic or Book of Changes), a divination text;
(3) Shu Ching, or Shu-jing (trans. Classic of Documents or Book of History), a miscellanea of ancient state documents, some probably dating from very early in the Zhou period (see Selections from the Shu Jing [The Classic of History] c. 6th Century BCE);
(4) Li Chi (trans. Book of Rites), a collection of ritual and governmental codes; and
(5) Ch'un Ch'iu, or Chun-qiu (Spring and Autumn Annals), a history of the state of Lu from 722 to 481 BCE., also reportedly edited by Confucius (552-479 BCE).
Zhou Great Era of Chinese Philosophy (551 233 BCE)
early days three groups of divinities were
recognized---those of the heaven, the earth, and human.
Besides these, ancestral worship was largely practiced.
Various kinds of sacrifices were offered according to
strictly enforced rituals at appointed times. Oracles
were consulted before even the smallest
undertakings." (Faber's "China ill the Light of
History." [sic]) The belief in astrology, fortune
telling, and dreams was almost universal; but by
the time of the Spring and Autumn Classic" [the Ch'un Ch'iu], the
intellectual temper of the times was changing,
as illustrated by these quotations:
nation that listeneth to human is bound to rise;
"'The will of heaven is
far off, but that of human near;
The great era of Chinese philosophy, or Period of "100 philosophers," was stimulated by the desire to try to end widespread conflicts and turmoil, and to stabilize and strengthen a unified political system (see map of 6th century China).
cared most about people and
K'ung Fu-tzi (K'ung the master) or Confucius (551 478?): his search for ideal ruler and right administration shaped Chinese society for next 2,000 years. The Analects (Lun-yu) of Confucius were aphoristic sayings complied by his disciples. The Analects argue for proper proportion, humane conduct, admonish people to conduct themselves with decorum, propriety, ethical principles. Confucius considered it his task to restore the way (tao or dao) of the ancients (particularly, of the early Zhou period) through emphasis upon the preservation and practice of the ceremonies and rituals known as li, which could serve to regulate society and human conduct. He also stressed the primary virtue of ren ("benevolence," "human-heartedness," or "love"). As practiced by the cultivated, perfect man, li and ren included the concepts of loyalty, reciprocity, filial piety, courtesy, and faithful friendship, and together they constituted the underpinning of the natural moral order" (Paul Brians, Lecture 20: Zhou (Chou), Qin (Ch'in) & Han Dynasties, Washington State Univ.). Confucius believed that moral men make good rules, and that virtue, attained through right and proper behavior, is the most important quality an official can have. Confucius also argued that that the Chinese Emperor was the Son of "Heaven," a divine/natural force, and ruled by the Mandate of Heaven. "Among the virtues demanded by the Confucian ethics, propriety, reverence for tradition, and filial piety are the most important. The last especially is the foundation upon which have stood the social life and security of the Chinese government. Filial piety not only means dutiful behavior of children towards parents, but it also includes loyalty to the government and respect for authority....He sought to guide his fellows by holding up to them the wisdom and virtue of the ancients. His teaching was purely ethical and practical, confined to the daily life of humans as members of the state and of their family. He spoke little of God, and he avoided talking about the supernatural. For this reason it is often said that he cannot be called a religious teacher, but only a moral philosopher, and that Confucianism is rather a system of morality than religion." (From Li Ung Bing, Outlines of Early Chinese History [eds. Joseph Whiteside, Soochow University, and Snow N. Snow]). While Confucius ideas were not instituted in his lifetime, he acquired a large following of disciples, and through the development of the "Confucian school" of thought, his precepts have molded Chinese society for more than two thousand years.
"Whoever loves the world
as his self
Laozi (or Lao-tzu, 7th
or 5th century?), founder of Taoism, or Daoism and reputedly the author
of the Tao Te Ching
de Jing, trans."Classic
of the Way")--though scholars dispute whether
Laozi ever really existed and, if so, whether he alone
authored the Tao
Te Ching. " According
to legend, when in old age Lao Tzu was
leaving Ch'u he was stopped by the guardian of the pass
into the state of
"If men were to
regard the states of others as they regard their own,
Mo-tzu: "Confucius died in 479 BC, and about ten years later Mo-ti was born in the same state of Lu; he probably died about twenty years before Mencius was born in 371. According to the Huai-nan-tzu..., Mo-tzu had the same kind of traditional education in the six classics as Confucius but was critical of some Confucian ideas such as elaborate funerals and therefore rejected Chou [Zhou] traditions in favor of the older Hsia [Xia]. Judging by the wagon-load of books Mo-tzu took with him when he went to Wei as an envoy, he was quite a scholar. Since the purpose of his learning was to practice justice and teach others to do so also, Mo-tzu became a minister in the state of Sung and also traveled to different states to advise rulers on how they could apply his teachings. The Huai-nan-tzu stated that Mo-tzu never stayed anywhere long enough to make the seat warm. It goes on to say that for sages no mountains are too high and no rivers too wide; they bear shame and humiliation to advise rulers, not for wealth or position but merely to benefit the world and eliminate human catastrophes. Mo-tzu was such a man" (Sanderson Beck, Mo-tzu).
Menicus (or Meng-tzu, 371? to 289? BCE): Most of what we understand as Confucianism was written down by Mencius, a disciple of Confucius, who also believed that all men were basically good. "This inborn goodness could be developed by self-cultivation and education. Likewise, government was primarily a matter of ethics, and a truly moral ruler would receive the spontaneous support of his people while an immoral ruler would lose the support of heaven, as manifested by the revolt of his people. In the 12th century A D., the book of his writings known as the Mengzi was elevated to the status of a classic, and mastery of it was required for success in official examinations" (Paul Brians, Lecture 20: Zhou (Chou), Qin (Ch'in) & Han Dynasties, Washington State Univ.).
The Legalists: another disciple of Confucius named Xun-zi led the Legalist school of thought, believing that humans were basically evil and would look out for themselves first. Therefore, Legalists advocated a severe set of laws (e.g., under Qin Huang-di--see below--burning seditious books, burning dissenters alive, maintaining a secret police, having neighbors spy on one another) to create a general atmosphere of fear and make the state easier to control. And since the Emperor is the Son of Heaven and rules by the Mandate of Heaven, Legalists argued that there is no such thing as legitimate dissent.
WARRING STATES PERIOD 403-221 BCE
warfare tended to be short and armies small, during the Warring States Period massive armies (up to half a million), long
battles and sieges were common. Rulers and ministers each
seeking his own advantage fostered a culture of
contending philosophiesthe so-called "100
schools" or period of "100 philosophers."
Though with different approaches, both Confucianism (through virtue and natural order) and Legalism (by ruling with an iron fist) aimed for the same goal: the re-unification of a divided China. The situation became increasingly dark during the "Warring States Period."
"has not only existed in China, but has been
legalized by Confucianism. During the fifth
and sixth centuries BC, it was customary for a
feudal chief to marry his daughter to another chief with
many of her cousins or other relatives as maids (the
number went up as high as nineteen), so that in case [if]
she should die one of them would succeed her at the head
of the harem. The practice of making concubines
wives was almost universal among the states. For
over two thousand years no one seems to have regarded
this evil as sin, and much less, as a crime, until one Li
Kuei, a legalist and statesman of Wei in the
time of the Seven States, saw fit to declare polygamy a
crime punishable by death. While this has been the basis
of later legislation, law had never been stronger than Confucianism.
The reason why Confucianism sanctions
polygamy lies in the...belief that death without
an heir is a sin unpardonable."
"Divorce: The ancients sanctioned seven reasons why a husband could divorce his wife, including inability to bear a child. How far divorce was actually effected on this ground, we are not informed. It must not be understood that divorce in those days required legal proceedings as it now does. All the husband had to do to get rid of an undesirable wife was to expel her by force. On the other hand, no ground ever existed in law for a wife to break away from a wretch![that is, her husband]"
From Outlines of Early Chinese History, by Li Ung Bing (eds. Joseph Whiteside, Soochow University, and Snow N. Snow).
Classical Prose (6th to 3rd centuries)
addition to the work of Confucius, Laotze,
and other philosophers, prose works of this period
admired for their style as well as their philosophic
import, are the essays of Mo-tzu, Hsün-tzu
(flourished 3rd century BC), and Han-fei-tzuhe Shih
Chi (Records of the Historian) of Ssu-ma
Ch'ien (this last a monumental work dealing with all
Chinese history up to the Han dynasty), provided a pattern
for a long series of dynastic histories compiled over
a period of about 2000 years.
In political and moral philosophy, the Confucian scholars set the precedent for the literary tradition in Chinese prose. A standard literary language was adopted, which gradually became divorced from the spoken language. The Confucian school conserved older traditions, such as the rituals of Zhou, the Shih Ching, the Shu Ching, and the Ch'un Ch'iu. With the exception of the Shijing (The Classic of Poetry), reportedly collected and written down by Confucius himself, the folk tradition was long considered beneath the notice of the scholar-official class, who were the arbiters of literary taste. The folk tradition later grew to include drama and fiction, histories and popular stories and tales.
China Timelines Introduction
China Timeline 1: Early China (to 3rd c. BCE)
URL of this webpage: http://www.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum210/tml/ChinaTML/chinatml1.htm
China Timeline 2: Qin & Han Dynasties & "Time of Troubles" (3rd c. BCE - CE 7th c.)
China Timeline 3: Tang, Song, Yuan & Ming Dynasties (7th - 17th c.)
China Timeline 4: Qing Dynasty & Clashes with the West (1644-1911)
China Timeline 5: Republican & Communist China (20th c.) & China Timelines Sources
Asian Timelines: India China Japan
were first prepared by Cora Agatucci, in 1998.
They are slowly being updated in Winter 2001. Please bear with me.
Other Online HUM 210 Course Resources:
HUM 210 Syllabus Course Plan Assignments Student Writing
Asian Film Asian Links: India China Japan
Cora's Home Page | Site Map
| Cora's Classes
more Student Writing | COCC Links
If you're interested in other world literatures and cultures, visit these course websites:
Hum 211 - Culture and Literature of Africa
Eng 109 - Western World Literatures (late 18th-late 20th centuries)