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Ancient China Essay

China is located in East Asia. Ancient China is surrounded by Gobi Desert in the north, the Pacific Ocean in the east, the Himalayan Mountains in the southwest, and the Taklimakan desert in the west. This land has a wide variation of animals because of the different habitats provided for them. Most farming was done in the very fertile lands of the Yangtze valley. Present China is much bigger than Ancient China, which means that over time, the kings and different dynasties went gaining more and more land and wealth. All of the major rivers go in a western to eastern direction, and end up in the Pacific Ocean.

The two major rivers of China are the Yangtze and the Huan He. The major river of North China is the Huang He, or yellow river. This river left loess when the banks were flooded; desert winds brought this to this area. The Huang He also gained the name of “China’s Sorrow”, because in the past, it has destroyed large areas by flooding them. People used these rivers mostly for irrigation and transportation. The plant life In China is very varied. The natural forests are in the far-off mountain areas, where you can find are oak, ginkgo, pine, azalea, and camellia.

Also, a tree that would come to everyone’s mind as they think of China, is the bamboo. China is far away from any other civilizations at this time, so the people that lived there had to make their own goods, instead of trading things with other civilizations. Trade did exist, for example through the Silk Road, but not so many as in present day. Some of the species of animals in Ancient China were the paddlefish, some species of alligators and salamanders, water deer, giant pandas, apes, bears, leopards, wild horses, and birds of all types. Ancient China did have mineral resources.

The most common and used were tin and copper, to make bronze. Chinese worked very well with bronze. Also iron was very important. Jade was more precious than gold for the Chinese. China’s government was ruled by an emperor (king). The king had to do a very good job, and his people would have to like his work and effort, if not, they overthrew him and someone else came to rule. The mandate of heaven, or approval by the gods, was very important. For example, if the crops were good, and everything was moving along fine, it meant that the gods liked you.

But if there were floods and natural disasters, and if the crops were lost, then the people thought that that was because the gods were not pleased with the king, and then the king might lose the right to be king. China started having a government in the Shang dynasty. They ruled what would now be Henan, Hubei, Shandong and part of Anhui. The Shang were an aristocratic society, or a heredity ruling class. This dynasty was also the first to leave written records. The principal Shang city was Anyang, it was in a clearance deep inside the forest.

In 1027 BC, the Zhou overthrew the Shang and made their own dynasty. They were both very alike, and there was not much change in culture. But the Zhou brought up many fresh ideas, which would seem obvious because all people think in different ways, and have different solutions to their problems. As an excuse of overthrowing the Shang, they said that the last Shang king had done so badly, that the gods weren’t satisfied, so they decided to let the Zhou rule. This is a part of the mandate of heaven, which meant that the ruler had approval from the gods.

The Zhou dynasty also appointed lands to nobles and members of the king’s family, these nobles were granted land, but the land wasn’t theirs, because it all belonged to the king, this was called feudalism. These nobles had to provide protection to the people that lived there. The social pyramid in this government are the following. At the top was the king, ruler of all. He appointed nobles, to manage some land and territory. The nobles were very close to the king, or members of the royal family.

Below them, followed a literate priestly class, they were in charge of keeping records, mostly of the government, and to be a priest too. The three most important religious beliefs in China were Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. These people believed in many gods, making them polytheistic. Their gods were natural gods, river god, earth god, rain godThe most powerful was the sky god, T’ien, the king of all gods. Confucianism isn’t really a religion; it is just the thoughts of this man and his disciples, concerned with the principles of good conduct, practical knowledge, and proper social relationships.

Confucianism is a philosophy. Although he is a very important person in Chinese history, it still doesn’t make it a religion, because he was never a god. Confucius was born in 551BC, and died in 479 BC; he lived during the Zhou dynasty. His father was a noble, but he died when Confucius was only a few years old. He grew as a poor person. When he was a teenager, he became very interested in learning. In those days, only the high-class people like nobles and kings were allowed and education, so it was hard for him to get one.

So he went to work for a nobleman, and he learned much from him and he followed him everywhere, and that granted him a chance go to the capital. He studied a lot, he probably became the most intelligent and studied man at the time. He became known, and people sent their children to learn with him, and he was willing to teach anyone who wanted to learn. According to Confucius, Confucianism is not a religion, it is a way of behavior, so you will do the right things. Confucius never thought of himself as a god, but as a person who wanted to teach others.

But he didn’t just want to be a teacher; he wanted to change the Chinese society by advising people on how to govern wisely. Did you know that now, the Chinese celebrate Confucius Birthday (Teacher’s Day), in honor of him? Some of his wise thoughts: Do not do unto others, what you would not want others to do to you. If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake Taoism. Tao means the way to happiness. It is believed to be a way of looking at life. For example, if you look at things in a good, positive way, you will be much happier.

Taoism was started by Lao-Tse, born in 604BC and died in 531 BC. It started when he tried to find a way that would keep away from the steady feudal fighting and other problems that upsetted society. He wrote a book about his thoughts called Tao-Te-Ching. Taoism started as a blend of psychology,(smart solutions and thoughts, other ways and belief) and philosophy ( a basic theory concerning this subject)but grew into a religious belief in 440 CE, when it was accepted as a state religion. At that time Lao-Tse became recognized as a god.

In Taoism, people don’t pray as a Christian would. They look for answers by inner meditation, and outer observation. For them time is cyclical, or that it is repeated or rotated, not like we think, that time is linear, that you go and go in a straight line, and everything is different. The Yin, (dark side) is the part that made the earth, and the Yang, (light side) is the part that formed the heavens. They represent complete opposites, like good and evil, light and dark, and man and woman. The symbol of Taoism represents Yin and Yang in balance.

A meditation exercise or art is Tai Chi. They meditate and it stimulates the nervous system, reduces blood pressure, relieves stress and works muscles without straining them. Traditional Chinese medicine says that illness is caused lack of balance in the body’s “chi” (intrinsic energy, or built in-energy). Tai Chi is supposed to balance this energy flow. The third and last belief is Buddhism. Buddhism was founded by the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. He was native of Lumbini, which is now Nepal, in 563 BC.

When he was 29, he left his family and went to seek the truth. In these times it was normal for men to leave their families to live in austerity, or living in hardness, especially for religious reasons. Buddha means THE ENLIGHTENED ONE. In 535 BCE, he reached ultimate understanding and took the title Buddha (one who has awakened). I guess he finally did find what he was looking for and reached his goal. He did this through meditation, and the understanding and learning of his friends or colleagues.

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