Chinese Society and Culture

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1 Chinese Society and Culture Preview Main Idea / Reading Focus Han Society Trade and Buddhism Map: The Silk Roads Han Achievements

2 Main Idea Chinese Society and Culture The Han dynasty was a time of social change, the growth of trade, and great achievements in the arts and sciences. Reading Focus What features characterized Chinese society in the Han period? How did trade and the spread of Buddhism affect Han society? What were some achievements in art, science, and technology during the Han period?

3 Han Society China s Han period was a time of great prosperity, growth and achievement, defining imperial Chinese civilization for years. Family Life Confucianism shaped Chinese society Confucius taught that family was central to well-being of the state Officials promoted strong family ties Fathers head of family Filial piety stressed Obedience, devotion to parents, grandparents Dutiful Children Children served parents as they aged, honored dead at household shrines Han officials believed dutiful children made respectful subjects Some men even received government jobs because of respect shown parents

4 Family Life Women in China Had fewer privileges, less status than men Rarely received education, owned property Sons valued more than daughters Marriage Sons carried on family line Remained part of parents household after marriage Daughters married and joined husband s household Power and Status Older women achieved power because of Confucian respect for elders Ban Zhao, female scholar, writer; helped write history of Han dynasty Called for mutual respect between husbands, wives, education for women

5 Social Structure Han society highly structured, clearly defined social classes Emperor at top, ruled with mandate from heaven Upper class of palace court, nobles, government officials, scholars Second, largest class consisted of peasants, who grew empire s food Other Classes Third class composed of artisans, made useful items, luxury goods Merchants occupied fourth class, trade not valued by Confucianism Slaves at bottom of society Military not an official class, but part of government and offered way to rise in status

6 Rich and Poor Social class determined status, but not wealth or power Merchants usually wealthier than peasants, but were lower in status Wealthy in Han China lived well Spacious homes, large estates Hired numerous laborers Han Society Peasant Class 90 percent of nearly 60 million in China at time were peasants Lived in small villages in simple houses, labored long hours in fields, worked on government projects in winter High taxes, bad weather could force them into debt Many had to sell lands, become laborers for wealthy

7 Summarize What was life like for Chinese peasants during the Han dynasty? Answer(s): worked hard in fields, farmed, raised animals, often sold land to feed families, forced to work on building projects, easily forced into debt, worked for wealthy landowners

8 Trade and Buddhism Trade grew in Han period Agriculture basis of economy Growth of trade increased prosperity Led to contact between China, other civilizations Production of silk Most prized Chinese product Secret method for making silk Revealing secret punishable by death Han products Ironworkers made iron armor, swords Artisans made pottery, jade and bronze objects, lacquerware Major industry Raised silkworms, unwound threads of cocoons Dyed threads, wove into fabric Fabric beautiful, soft, strong Clothing costly, in high demand

9 Growth of Trade As they conquered areas of Central Asia, the Han learned people farther west wanted Chinese goods Zhang Qian returned from Central Asia mission, 126 BC Told of region s riches, demand for Chinese goods Events led to increased trade with west Blood-sweating horses seen by Qian Parasites caused boils that bled The Han thought they were blessed by heaven To obtain them, Emperor Wudi conquered more land Trade with Central Asia increased even more

10 Merchants traveling between China, Central Asia used overland routes. The most famous were called the Silk Roads. This network of routes eventually stretched from China over 4,000 miles to Mediterranean Sea, and linked China to India, the Middle East, and the Roman Empire. Travel The Silk Roads Trade Travelers on Silk Roads crossed rugged, barren terrain Faced attacks by bandits For protection, traveled in huge camel caravans Stopped at stations along way Most merchants traveled only part of way Traded goods with merchants from distant lands Most goods traded were luxury items Small, valuable, highly profitable

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12 Trade and Buddhism Traders carried ideas as well as goods over the Silk Roads Buddhism spread from to China from India Reached China in first century AD Han government became less stable, violence increased Buddhism s message of rebirth offered hope Buddhism gained popularity by AD 200 Example of cultural diffusion Spread of ideas from one culture to another

13 Draw Conclusions How did trade over the Silk Roads affect China s culture? Answer(s): profitable trade in luxury items, connections to Central Asia, introduction of Buddhism

14 Classical Age During Han period, arts flourished, sciences and technology improved life Han China boasted magnificent palaces, multistoried towers None survived, but ceramic models from tombs show architecture of period Artisans and Artists Artisans produced ceramic, bronze figurines, jade carvings, silk cloth Artists painted portraits and nature scenes on walls, scrolls, room screens During Later Han, Buddhist art flourished, including temple wall paintings Literature Han Achievements Han literature known for poetry, new styles of verse Fu style, combined prose and poetry to create long works of literature Shi featured short lines of verse, could be sung

15 Han Achievements Han writers produced important works of history Sima Qian Wrote Records of the Grand Historian or Shiji This early history became model for Chinese historical writing

16 Technology One of most important Han inventions - paper Made by grinding plant fibers into paste, paste dried in sheets Created books by connecting several sheets of paper into long scroll Farming Science Han Achievements Inventions included iron plow, wheelbarrow With iron plow, farmer could till more land With wheelbarrow, farmer could haul more Created seismograph to measure earthquake tremors Made advances in acupuncture, use of needles to cure disease, relieve pain Invented compass, sundial, water mill, ship s rudder

17 Summarize What were some technological advances of the Han dynasty? Answer(s): paper, iron plow, wheelbarrow, acupuncture, compass, sundial, water mill, rudder

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