Harman, Part 2: chapters 2-3 Chinese geography

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Study Guide 2


Harman, Part 2: chapters 2-3

  • Yellow River Valley

  • Loess

  • Yangtze River Valley

  • Shang dynasty

  • ancestor worship

  • Zhou dynasty (1122 BCE - 256 BCE)

  • “Mandate of Heaven”: The Zhou defeated the Shang around 1100 B.C.E. and built their empire on Shang cultural foundations. In order to legitimize and strengthen their claims to the Shang domain, Zhou kings devised a religious system in which the chief god was referred to as “Heaven,” the king was the “Son of Heaven,” and the king's rule was a product of the “Mandate of Heaven”—heaven's ultimate authority to choose the king. The Mandate of Heaven proclaimed that kings would have the backing of the gods, but only as long as they were wise and principled guardians of the people. Incompetent or otherwise unfit rulers—as the Shang had supposedly been—would have the Mandate withdrawn and would be replaced. Compared with that of the Shang, Zhou religion was more accessible to those outside the ruling elite. The result was a separation of religion from politics, which allowed for the development of important secular philosophies during the Zhou period. The most prominent of those philosophies was based on the ideas of Confucius.

  • “meet the new boss . . .” --- The masses had played a key role in the uprising. But they did not benefit from its outcome. The new empire was scarcely different from the old.” (Harman)

  • Confucius (551-479 BCE): Ways that Confucian philosophy attempts to create societal harmony: By emphasizing the idea that the country is parallel to the family, By expanding the traditional feelings of benevolence toward family so that they apply to all of humanity, By avoiding violence and promoting justice, loyalty, and dignity, By emphasizing the goodness of human nature and seeking to promote it through education, particularly of public officials

  • yin/yang: Harmony remained an important consideration for social order in Confucianism, as well as in religious precepts such as Daoism. It manifested itself in the idea of filiality, which emphasized obedience in both personal and political relationships. When people do their duty, the yin/yang characteristics are balanced and the “right order” of society exists. To maintain one's honor, one must show respect for and submission to the family and the state. Harmony is also reflected in the aesthetic and spiritual order of feng shui, which represents the desire to harmonize buildings with the terrain and the elements of nature, including light, water, wind, and chi (the natural energy or “force” in the world).

  • Warring States Period (480-221 B.C.E.): Confucius developed a doctrine of duty and public service that became the most influential philosophy in China. He combined ancestor worship with the assumption that hierarchy is the natural order of the universe, emphasizing that societal harmony depended on everyone following prescribed rules of conduct and ceremonial behavior. Confucius believed that, like a moral family, the government should be based on ren, or benevolence. His teachings emphasized benevolence, justice, loyalty, and dignity. Taking a very different approach to social harmony, the Daoists believed that one should be passive and take minimal action. Since the world lacks any real meaning or absolute morality, all that really matters is the individual's understanding of, and efforts to live in accordance with, the “path” of nature.

  • Lao Tze (c.604 - c.521 BCE) and Taoism: Lao-tze is the reputed author of the 'Tao Te Ching' and founder of the Taoist religion in China. His name means 'Old Master' and 'Tao' means the 'Way'. The 'Tao Te Ching' teaches a nonagressive approach to life and a stoical indifference to the powers of the world. It called for a return to an imaginary simple way of the past and for a style of life in harmony with the universe. It says that man must imitate the universe, which endures because it does not live for itself. Lao-tze worked as a librarian at the court of Chou. -- accepting the world as you find it, avoiding useless struggles, and adhering to the “path” of nature.

  • Qin state

  • Shi Huangdi (259-210 B.C.E.): Shi Huangdi, the founder of the Qin dynasty, was a violent and brutal man. Shi Huangdi provided a dynasty for generations to come, unfortunately, it was through the suffering of his people. Shi Huangdi had many names that were used, including Shi Huangdi, Ch'in, Prince Zheng, and Qin. Qin pronounced "chin" became the family name. Shi Huangdi named his land after one of his many names, the land became known as China

  • Legalism: The Chinese political system that relied primarily on strict laws and punishments to compel people to behave

  • Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E. – 220 C.E. 426 years.)

Continuation of tight, centralized authority/administration

Extension of the silk road (connects China to the Middle East)

Refinements in production of silk:

Han synthesis

Promotion of Confucianism (academy), even selecting government officials by tests on Confucian literature

Extend and protect silk route to Roman dominated Mediterranean world: In addition to transporting goods, the Silk Road was important in the exchange of ideas and cultures. Because of its size and isolated nature, it was not dominated by any one culture or state. As trade became increasingly important to the peoples along the road, the trend toward moving from the countryside to the cities and trading centers fundamentally altered people's lives. Cultural exchange along the road was particularly evident in religion. Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism combined to create a complex culture that affected both the peoples along the road and those far beyond.

Expansion of empire to Indo-China, Central Asia, southern Manchuria and northern Korea

Suppression peasant rebellions

***Merchant classes --- The merchants were unwilling to break with the other privileged classes and put forward a program of social transformation capable of drawing behind it the rebellious peasants, adopting instead the quietist Buddhist religion of India.

  • Height of Chinese power, prosperity and culture

Iron production, tools, weapons (adapted from Central Asia): Students should recognize some of the advances made in areas such as agriculture, husbandry, and warfare. The agricultural products exchanged along the Silk Road became important economically and also helped to diversify people's diets. Advances in horse and camel breeding were also closely linked to the road. Hybrid camels are one example of an improvement expressly designed to overcome the limitations of the road's climate and length. Those camels were bred so specifically for travel on the Silk Road that their numbers declined rapidly as the use of the road itself declined. The nature of warfare was dramatically changed by the invention of the stirrup, which gave mounted troops enormous advantages over their opponents.

Silks, porcelains, jade

Technology (e.g., iron ploughs, tools, fertilizers, crop rotation, water-wheel, wheel barrow, sun dial, water clock, paper)


The Confucian Classics





Intermingling beliefs

Strong family ties

  • 4th century crisis --- “The Chinese Empire, like the Roman Empire, fell apart in the face of economic breakdown and famine within, and incursions by ‘barbarians’ from without” (Harman)

drought, famine, plagues in the North --- emergence of rival ‘barbarian’ kingdoms

new barbarian kingdoms and assimilation

introduction of several innovations: horse collar, saddle, stirrup, bridge building techniques, mountain road techniques, medicinal plant

  • Yet, no “dark ages”

  • Shift in production to the South --- The agricultural devastation of the North was soon offset by the vigorous and sustained expansion of rice cultivation in the Yangtze region

  • Fall of the Han

Factionalism within the ruling clan

Corruption and inefficiency
Peasant uprisings
Spread of banditry
Attacks by nomads
Ambitions of rural warlords
Factionalism/political fragmentation (three separate states)
Migrations south
Traditional Chinese culture rolls on

Go to next page for India >>>>


  1. Northern India is bordered by

  1. India’s habitual political fragmentation

  1. Indo-European migration/Vedic Age (1500-500 BCE) lives.

  1. Rig Veda (hymns dedicated to various deities and describing _________ practices

  1. Brahmin caste (ritual and sacrifice)

  1. Indian caste system

  1. varna/caste --- Compliance with the demands of the Aryans was brought about by force, and backed by religious designation of the ordinary ‘Aryans’ as a lower caste of vaishyas (cultivators) and conquered peoples of the as a bottom caste of sudras (toilers). Caste arose out of a class organization of production in the villages and its persistence over millennia was rooted in this.

  1. atman & Brahman

  1. Traditional cycles of life:

  1. jati

  1. karma & moksha

  1. Sectarian breakaway movements:

  1. Jainism

  1. Siddartha Gautama (563 BCE to 483 BCE)

  1. Central Buddhist teaching: life is _________ and __________ is caused by desire

  1. Mahayana Buddhism

  1. Theravada Buddhism

  1. Hinduism

  1. Mahabharata:

  1. Bhagavad-Gita --- Arjun learns from Lord Krishna that __________


  1. karma

  1. dharma

  1. reincarnation of the atman depends on ________ standing in society

  1. Chandragupta Maurya (ruled 322–298 BCE)

  1. Mauryan Empire (322-185 BCE):

  1. Emperor Ashoka 264-227 BCE (fifty years after the death of Chandragupta). Ashoka converted to _________________.

  1. Collapse of Mauryan Empire after death of Ashoka --- feudalization of society for half a millennia.

  1. Gupta Empire (320-550 C.E.):

  1. Women during the Gupta Age:

  1. Southeast Asia and the World System:

  1. Indian Ocean trade with the Mediterranean Sea trade:

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