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Read and learn for free about the following article: Shang Dynasty civilization. artisans and craftspeople to develop sophisticated technology and culture. .. How would you describe the relationship between Shang political leaders and the .. Math · Math by grade · Science & engineering · Computing · Arts & humanities. The Shang Dynasty (c BCE) was the second dynasty of China which By the time of the Zhou and Qin dynasties, Chinese culture was already Still, the arts were as important to the Shang as military campaigns. China - The Shang dynasty: The Shang dynasty—the first Chinese dynasty to leave associated with chariot burials, are further evidence of a northern connection. Art. Late Shang culture is also defined by the size, elaborate shapes, and.
Well, at least the nobles and ruling class did, as they were the only ones who could afford the finer things. They spent lavishly on palaces, jewelry, and clothes. They also spent a lot of time enjoying their favorite leisurely activities, such as hunting. Eventually, all this fighting and lavish spending would weaken the economy and military power of the Shang enough to cause their downfall.
Before that occurred, however, the Shang developed a society focused on family, skilled in bronze working, and united by a written language. The Religion The Shang believed in the afterlife, and that family was important. These are two facts that can be supported by the Shang religion, which is focused on ancestor worship. The tombs of Shang rulers are also evidence of their belief in life after death. Along with the dead, these tombs contain artifacts of furniture, sculptures, weapons, and money--all things they might need in the afterlife.
Some tombs of the ruling elite even contain the skeletons of soldiers, slaves, servants, and animals that were sacrificed to serve their master in the next life.
The Shang believed their dead ancestors held powers in the afterlife that could either help them succeed or cause them to fail. So, to keep in their good graces, people honored their ancestors by offering up food, wine, and other gifts.
Sometimes, those gifts were in the form of human sacrifices. It was through his ancestors that a Shang king held the authority to rule. This meant a king had a very big reason to keep his ancestors happy by following their wishes. To ensure that he was doing as the ancestors would want, the king used oracle bones to communicate with them. Oracle bones used in ancestor worship.Shang Dynasty Art
Oracle bones could be used for matters as simple as advice on the day's weather to whether or not a king should send his military into battle. To get the ancestor's answer, the priest would write the king's question on an oracle bone, which was a turtle shell or animal bone. Next, the priest would heat the bone over a fire or press a hot needle against the bone, causing it to crack. These cracks were then translated as the ancestor's response. A transitional period spanning the gap between the Late Erligang phase of Middle Shang and the Yinxu phase of Late Shang indicates a widespread network of Shang cultural sites that were linked by uniform bronze-casting styles and mortuary practices.
A relatively homogeneous culture united the Bronze Age elite through much of China around the 14th century bce. The Late Shang period is best represented by a cluster of sites focused on the village of Xiaotun, west of Anyang in northern Henan.
Sophisticated bronze, ceramic, stone, and bone industries were housed in a network of settlements surrounding the unwalled cult centre at Xiaotun, which had rammed-earth temple-palace foundations. And Xiaotun itself lay at the centre of a larger network of Late Shang sites, such as Xingtai to the north and Xinxiang to the south, in southern Hebei and northern Henan. Royal burials The royal cemetery lay at Xibeigang, only a short distance northwest of Xiaotun. The hierarchy of burials at that and other cemeteries in the area reflected the social organization of the living.
Large pit tombs, some nearly 40 feet 12 metres deep, were furnished with four ramps and massive grave chambers for the kings. Retainers who accompanied their lords in death lay in or near the larger tombs, members of the lesser elite and commoners were buried in pits that ranged from medium size to shallow, those of still lower status were thrown into refuse pits and disused wells, and human and animal victims of the royal mortuary cult were placed in sacrificial pits.
Only a few undisturbed elite burials have been unearthed, the most notable being that of Fuhaoa consort of Wuding. That her relatively small grave contained bronze objects, jades, and more than 6, cowries suggests how great the wealth placed in the far-larger royal tombs must have been. Glistening with bronze, it was initially a prestigious command car used primarily in hunting. The 16 chariot burials found at Xiaotun raise the possibility of some form of Indo-European contact with China, and there is little doubt that the chariot, which probably originated in the Caucasus, entered China via Central Asia and the northern steppe.
Animal-headed knives, always associated with chariot burials, are further evidence of a northern connection. Some of the animal forms—which include tigers, birds, snakes, dragons, cicadas, and water buffalo—have been thought to represent shamanistic familiars or emblems that ward away evil. The exact meaning of the iconography, however, may never be known. That the predominant taotie monster mask—with bulging eyes, fangs, horns, and claws—may have been anticipated by designs carved on jade cong tubes and axes from Liangzhu culture sites in the Yangtze delta and from the Late Neolithic in Shandong suggests that its origins are ancient.
But the degree to which pure form or intrinsic meaning took priority, in either Neolithic or Shang times, is hard to assess.
Late Shang divination and religion Although certain complex symbols painted on Late Neolithic pots from Shandong suggest that primitive writing was emerging in the east in the 3rd millennium, the Shang divination inscriptions that appear at Xiaotun form the earliest body of Chinese writing yet known.
In Late Shang divination as practiced during the reign of Wuding c.
The resulting T-shaped stress cracks were interpreted as lucky or unlucky. After the prognostication had been made, the day, the name of the presiding diviner some are knownthe subject of the charge, the prognostication, and the result might be carved into the surface of the bone.
Among the topics divined were sacrifices, campaigns, hunts, the good fortune of the day week or of the night or day, weather, harvests, sickness, childbearing, dreams, settlement building, the issuing of orders, tribute, divine assistance, and prayers to various spirits.
Some evolution in divinatory practice and theology evidently occurred. By the reigns of the last two Shang kings, Diyi and Dixin c.
Shang Dynasty: Religion, Art & Culture
Oracle bone inscriptions from the village of Xiaotun, Henan province, China; Shang dynasty, 14th or 12th century bc. Presiding over a stable politico-religious hierarchy of ritual specialists, officers, artisans, retainers, and servile peasants, they ruled with varying degrees of intensity over the North China Plain and parts of Shandong, Shanxiand Shaanximobilizing armies of at least several thousand men as the occasion arose.
The worship of royal ancestors was central to the maintenance of the dynasty. The Shang dynastic group, whose lineage name was Zi according to later sourcesappears to have been divided into 10 units corresponding to the 10 stems. Succession to the kingship alternated on a generational basis between two major groupings of jia and yi kings on the one hand and ding kings on the other. The goodwill of the ancestors, and of certain river and mountain powers, was sought through prayer and offerings of grain, millet wine, and animal and human sacrifice.
Although Marxist historians have categorized the Shang as a slave society, it would be more accurate to describe it as a dependent society. The king ruled a patrimonial state in which royal authority, treated as an extension of patriarchal control, was embedded in kinship and kinshiplike ties.
The intensity with which ancestors were worshipped suggests the strength of the kinship system among the living; the ritualized ties of filiation and dependency that bound a son to his father, both before and after death, are likely to have had profound political implications for society as a whole.
This was not a world in which concepts such as freedom and slavery would have been readily comprehensible. Everybody, from king to peasant, was bound by ties of obligation—to former kings, to ancestors, to superiors, and to dependents.
Ancient Chinese Art – Early China – History of Art
The routine sacrificial offering of human beings, usually prisoners from the Qiang tribe, as if they were sacrificial animals and the rarer practice of accompanying-in-death, in which 40 or more retainers, often of high status, were buried with a dead king, suggest the degree to which ties of affection, obligation, or servitude were thought to be stronger than life itself.
If slavery existed, it was psychological and ideological, not legal. The political ability to create and exploit ties of dependency originally based on kinship was one of the characteristic strengths of early Chinese civilization. Such ties were fundamentally personal in nature.
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Only by traveling through his domains could he ensure political and economic support. These considerations, coupled with the probability that the position of king circulated between social or ritual units, suggest that, lacking a national bureaucracy or effective means of control over distance, the dynasty was relatively weak.
The Zi should above all be regarded as a politically dominant lineage that may have displaced the Si lineage of the Xia and that was in turn to be displaced by the Ji lineage of the Zhou.
But the choices that the Shang made—involving ancestor worship, the politico-religious nature of the state, patrimonial administration, the mantic role of the ruler, and a pervasive sense of social obligation—were not displaced. These choices endured and were to define, restrict, and enhance the institutions and political culture of the full-fledged dynasties yet to come. The Zhou and Qin dynasties The history of the Zhou — bce The vast time sweep of the Zhou dynasty —encompassing some eight centuries—is the single longest period of Chinese history.
However, the great longevity of the Ji lineage was not matched by a similar continuity of its rule. During the Xi Western Zhou — bcethe first of the two major divisions of the period, the Zhou court maintained a tenuous control over the country through a network of feudal states.
This system broke down during the Dong Eastern Zhou — bcehowever, as those states and new ones that arose vied for power.
The Dong Zhou is commonly subdivided into the Chunqiu Spring and Autumn period — bce and the Zhanguo Warring States period — bcethe latter extending some three decades beyond the death of the last Zhou ruler until the rise of the Qin in Courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts The origin of the Zhou royal house is lost in the mists of time. Although the traditional historical system of the Chinese contains a Zhou genealogy, no dates can be assigned to the ancestors.
The earliest plausible Zhou ancestor was Danfu, the grandfather of Wenwang.