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Posts Tagged ‘ancient china


When you hear China, you might think the Olympics; the Chinese food you had for dinner last night; your new pair of made-in-China flip-flops.

With the 2008 Olympics set to begin in Beijing on August 8, China is being somewhat reborn, as China is one of the most Ancient civilizations of the world as well as one of the largest. In fact, written Chinese history dates back to 3,000 B.C.

We know what went on in Ancient China because they had official historians who wrote down everything that happened. Being an official historian was dangerous, often they would get replaced frequently, but it was considered immoral to write down something other than the truth.

We also know that another important job at the court was the official “Reminder”, whose purpose was to remind rulers to live more simply like the ancient heroes of the past, not to shirk their responsibilities, or criticise the government officials. Today, our “Reminder” are blogs and the internet, in general.

The Chinese rulers, for the most part, managed their country gently and simply, allowing the lords of different states to rule as they liked. But then along came the ruler Ch’in Shi Huang, lord of one of the states.

The Rise of Ch’in Shi Huang.

Ch’in Shi Huang believed that good government was harsh government and that power was always right. In 221 B.C. he declared himself ruler of all China. Interestingly, Ch’in Shi Huang means “First Ch’in Sovereign Emperor” and that is how China got its name.

Another thing you might think of when you hear China is The Great Wall. The Great Wall was one of Ch’in Shi Huang’s many building projects, with all of them aimed at uniting China. He used his enemies and their families as slaves to build the Great Wall. The working conditions were cruel and many died.

Notice the watch towers? Those were there for Chinese soldiers to keep watch.

Notice the watch towers? Those were there for Chinese soldiers to keep watch.

History is mostly made up of power hungry people conquering other power hungry people and then figuring new ways to get their needs met. Which is why the Great Wall was built, its purpose was to protect and cocoon the empire from attacks from close warring tribes like the Huns and the Tartars.

The Great Wall is still there today, and stands 1500 miles long and 20 feet high.

Ch’in Shi Huang had a gigantic tomb built for him. Inside, it held an entire model army made out of terra cotta clay amounting to 7,500 soldiers. The rest of the army included clay chariots, horses and officers. Bows and arrows held by the terra cotta bowmen were actually set to shoot off should the tomb ever be robbed.

The tomb also held model palaces and canals with mercury running through them, run by wheels, like a great river. The tomb was only just discovered in 1974 and parts of it are still being unearthed.

After Ch’in Shi Huang died, the Ch’in Dynasty began a downward spiral, and the Han dynasty overthrew them.

China was ruled by dynasties for thousands of years. Like monarchy, there is a king and when the king dies his heir – usually the eldest son – takes over. Unlike monarchy, however, different dynasties were not related, a dynasty would end if the family died out, or if a competing family was able to overthrow it and take over.

That must be why they call it die-nasties (dynasties).

The Han Dynasty believed in good government and established an educational system for making sure the smartest boys in China were brought up to become government officials, no matter what their background.

The Battle of the Sexes. Or Something.

In Ancient China, and still some parts of the world today, females were treated as inferior to males. For example, a wife was never to address her husband by name and was to hand her husband things on a tray in order to avoid touching his hand. A wife’s duty was to serve her husband and parents-in-law and to take care of the children.

Typical Chinese clothing.

Typical Chinese clothing.

A girl whose fiancé has died was still expected to take care of his parents, which, in my opinion, is not fair at all.

Almost from birth, girls were taught to be subservient, and often baby girls slept on the floor to symbolize how inferior they were. Alright, we get it!

However, there is a story from the second century B.C. which goes: Emperor Liu Ch’e was so taken by the gentle manners and humility of a slave girl that he made her his empress. Eventually, her brother became a general, and her family became very powerful. The young girl’s humility dramatically changed the status of her family! But that still doesn’t make it right, I say.

Boys and girls played together until their teens. It was probably when those pesky hormones came up that they were separated. When a boy was twenty years old, his hair was ceremoniously pinned up under a cap.

But a girl was considered an adult at the age of fifteen, and that’s when there would also be a ceremony to pin up her hair.

Phew. If my family were living in Ancient China, I’m pretty sure it would be horrible for me, since I’m a girl and all. But I suppose in those days the girls were brought up as inferiors from the time they were born were probably used to it.

The world certainly has changed, what with more women’s rights now. Also not to mention that with the internet, everyone is equal and is heard.

Ancient China is very fascinating, but I think I much prefer my modern world.

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