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ANCIENT CHINA

 

 

 

 

Chinese Dynasties


The Chinese were ruled by various dynasties. A dynasty is a time period that is ruled by a specific family. When a new dynasty was to come into power it would overthrow the existing dynasty.

Chinese civilization, as described in mythology, begins with Pangu - sometimes spelled Bangu - the creator of the universe, and a succession of legendary sage-emperors and culture heroes (among them are Huang Di , Yao, and Shun) who taught the ancient Chinese to communicate and to find sustenance, clothing, and shelter.

 


XIA DYNASTY: 2000 - 1500 BC

The first prehistoric dynasty is said to be Xia, from about the twenty-first to the sixteenth century B.C. Until scientific excavations were made at early bronze-age sites at Anyang , Henan Province, in 1928, it was difficult to separate myth from reality in regard to the Xia. But since then, and especially in the 1960s and 1970s, archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs that point to the existence of Xia civilization in the same locations cited in ancient Chinese historical texts. At minimum, the Xia period marked an evolutionary stage between the late neolithic cultures and the typical Chinese urban civilization of the Shang dynasty.

 


SHANG DYNASTY: 1700 - 1027 BC

Thousands of archaeological finds in the Huang He, Henan Valley - the apparent cradle of Chinese civilization--provide evidence about the Shang dynasty, which endured roughly from 1700 to 1027 B.C. The Shang dynasty (also called the Yin dynasty in its later stages) is believed to have been founded by a rebel leader who overthrew the last Xia ruler. Its civilization was based on agriculture, augmented by hunting and animal husbandry. Two important events of the period were the development of a writing system, as revealed in archaic Chinese inscriptions found on tortoise shells and flat cattle bones (commonly called oracle bones), and the use of bronze metallurgy. A number of ceremonial bronze vessels with inscriptions date from the Shang period; the workmanship on the bronzes attests to a high level of civilization.

A line of hereditary Shang kings ruled over much of northern China, and Shang troops fought frequent wars with neighboring settlements and nomadic herdsmen from the inner Asian steppes. The capitals, one of which was at the site of the modern city of Anyang, were centers of glittering court life. Court rituals to propitiate spirits and to honor sacred ancestors were highly developed. In addition to his secular position, the king was the head of the ancestor- and spirit-worship cult. Evidence from the royal tombs indicates that royal personages were buried with articles of value, presumably for use in the afterlife. Perhaps for the same reason, hundreds of commoners, who may have been slaves, were buried alive with the royal corpse.

The last Shang ruler, a despot according to standard Chinese accounts, was overthrown by a chieftain of a frontier tribe called Zhou, which had settled in the Wei Valley in modern Shaanxi Province. The Zhou dynasty had its capital at Hao, near the city of Xi'an, or Chang'an, as it was known in its heyday in the imperial period. Sharing the language and culture of the Shang, the early Zhou rulers, through conquest and colonization, gradually sinicized, that is, extended Shang culture through much of China Proper north of the Chang Jiang ( or Yangtze River).

 


THE ZHOU DYNASTY: 770- 221 BC

The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other. It was philosophers of this period who first enunciated the doctrine of the mandate of heaven (tianming), the notion that the ruler the governed by divine right but that his dethronement would prove that he had lost the mandate. The doctrine explained and justified the demise of the two earlier dynasties and at the same time supported the legitimacy of present and future rulers.

The term feudal has often been applied to the Zhou period because the Zhou's early decentralized rule invites comparison with medieval rule in Europe. At most, however, the early Zhou system was proto-feudal, being a more sophisticated version of earlier tribal organization, in which effective control depended more on familial ties than on feudal legal bonds. Whatever feudal elements there may have been decreased as time went on. The Zhou amalgam of city-states became progressively centralized and established increasingly impersonal political and economic institutions. These developments, which probably occurred in the latter Zhou period, were manifested in greater central control over local governments and a more routinized agricultural taxation.

In 771 B.C. the Zhou court was sacked, and its king was killed by invading barbarians who were allied with rebel lords. The capital was moved eastward to Luoyang in present-day Henan Province. Because of this shift, historians divide the Zhou era into Western Zhou (1027-771 B.C.) and Eastern Zhou (770-221 B.C.). With the royal line broken, the power of the Zhou court gradually diminished; the fragmentation of the kingdom accelerated. Eastern Zhou divides into two subperiods. The first, from 770 to 476 B.C., is called the Spring and Autumn Period, after a famous historical chronicle of the time; the second is known as the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C. ).

 


 

QIN DYNASTY: 221-207

This dynasty was vigorous but short-lived. Much of what came to constitute China Proper was unified for the first time in 221 B.C. In that year the western frontier state of Qin, the most aggressive of the Warring States, subjugated the last of its rival states. Once the king of Qin consolidated his power, he took the title Shi Huangdi ( First Emperor), a formulation previously reserved for deities and the mythological sage-emperors, and imposed Qin's centralized, nonhereditary bureaucratic system on his new empire.

In subjugating the six other major states of Eastern Zhou, the Qin kings had relied heavily on Legalist scholar-advisers. Centralization, achieved by ruthless methods, was focused on standardizing legal codes and bureaucratic procedures, the forms of writing and coinage, and the pattern of thought and scholarship.

To silence criticism of imperial rule, the kings banished or put to death many dissenting Confucian scholars and confiscated and burned their books. Qin aggrandizement was aided by frequent military expeditions pushing forward the frontiers in the north and south. To fend off barbarian intrusion, the fortification walls built by the various warring states were connected to make a 5,000-kilometer-long great wall.

What is commonly referred to as the Great Wall is actually four great walls rebuilt or extended during the Western Han, Sui, Jin, and Ming periods, rather than a single, continuous wall. At its extremities, the Great Wall reaches from northeastern Heilongjiang Province to northwestern Gansu.

A number of public works projects were also undertaken to consolidate and strengthen imperial rule. These activities required enormous levies of manpower and resources, not to mention repressive measures. Revolts broke out as soon as the first Qin emperor died in 210 B.C. His dynasty was extinguished less than twenty years after its triumph. The imperial system initiated during the Qin dynasty, however, set a pattern that was developed over the next two millennia.

 


 

THE THREE HAN DYNASTIES: 206 BC- 220 AD

Founder of the Han Dynasty

After a short civil war, a new dynasty, called Han emerged with its capital at Chang'an. The new empire retained much of the Qin administrative structure but retreated a bit from centralized rule by establishing vassal principalities in some areas for the sake of political convenience.

The Han rulers modified some of the harsher aspects of the previous dynasty; Confucian ideals of government, out of favor during the Qin period, were adopted as the creed of the Han empire, and Confucian scholars gained prominent status as the core of the civil service.

A civil service examination system also was initiated. Intellectual, literary, and artistic endeavors revived and flourished. The Han period produced China's most famous historian, Sima Qian ( 145-87 B.C.?), whose Shiji (Historical Records) provides a detailed chronicle from the time of a legendary Xia emperor to that of the Han emperor Wu Di (141-87 B.C.). Technological advances also marked this period. Two of the great Chinese inventions, paper and porcelain, date from Han times.

The Han dynasty, after which the members of the ethnic majority in China, the "people of Han," are named, was notable also for its military prowess. The empire expanded westward as far as the rim of the Tarim Basin (in modern Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region), making possible relatively secure caravan traffic across Central Asia to Antioch, Baghdad, and Alexandria. The paths of caravan traffic are often called the "silk route" because the route was used to export Chinese silk to the Roman Empire.

Chinese armies also invaded and annexed parts of northern Vietnam and northern Korea toward the end of the second century B.C. Han control of peripheral regions was generally insecure, however. To ensure peace with non-Chinese local powers, the Han court developed a mutually beneficial "tributary system". Non-Chinese states were allowed to remain autonomous in exchange for symbolic acceptance of Han overlordship. Tributary ties were confirmed and strengthened through intermarriages at the ruling level and periodic exchanges of gifts and goods.

After 200 years, Han rule was interrupted briefly (in A.D. 9-24 by Wang Mang, a reformer), and then restored for another 200 years. The Han rulers, however, were unable to adjust to what centralization had wrought: a growing population, increasing wealth and resultant financial difficulties and rivalries, and ever-more complex political institutions. Riddled with the corruption characteristic of the dynastic cycle, by A.D. 220 the Han empire collapsed.

A.D. 220-280: Three Kingdoms

220-265 -- Wei

221-263 -- Shu

229-280 -- Wu

A.D. 265-316: Western Jin

A.D. 317-420: Eastern Jin

A.D. 420-588: 420-478 -- Song - 479-501 -- Qi - 502-556 -- Liang - 557-588 -- Che - 386-533 -- Northern Wei - 534-549 -- Eastern Wei - 535-557 -- Western Wei - 550-577 -- Northern Qi - 557-588 -- Northern Zhou

 


SUI DYNASTY: 589-617 AD

Founder of the Sui Dynasty

The decline and fall of the Later Han dynasty produced a long period of independent states each contending for hegemony over neighboring states; this period, in fact, lasted so long that the more or less uniform Chinese culture almost died out completely. Starting in 384 AD, however, the Northern Wei kingdom began the long, arduous process of reuniting the kingdoms into a single empire.

They moved their capital to the ancient site of Loyang, adopted Chinese as their language, as well as Chinese culture. Although they failed to unify the kingdom, they had managed to preserve Chinese culture during the fractious centuries of the Three Kingdoms. By 534, the Northern Wei faded from view, and China fell into a brief period of short-lived kingdoms. In 589, however, a Turkic-Chinese general, Sui Wen-ti, would found a new dynasty over a restored empire.

During the period of The Three Kingdoms, Chinese scholarship and thought slowly faded into insignificance. In its place arose a widespread growth of two religions, Neo-Taoism, a native religion forged from philosophical Taoism, and Buddhism, a foreign import from India.

Neo-Taoism, which was called "the mysterious learning" in early China, had grown during the waning years of the Later Han, had both a scholarly and a popular form. The scholarly form concentrated on discussing the Taoist classics, as well as general conversations and a search for immortality. It was the popular form, however, that spread like wildfire and changed Chinese history. The folk Neo-Taoism was a pantheistic, moral and salvation religion; all human acts, both good and evil, would be punished or rewarded in an afterlife. The Neo-Taoist religions had priests, curing shamans, and even churches. These religions also inspired secret societies; two of these societies, the Yello Turbans and the Five Pecks of Rice, were mainly responsible for overthrowing the Wang Mang and the remnants of the Later Han dynasty.

Buddhism entered China in the first century AD; an Indian religion that was initially a radical form of Hinduism, the dominant religion in ancient India, it was accepted with open arms in China. This is largely due to the fact that the early Chinese initially thought that Buddhism was another form of Taoism, particularly since the translators used Taoist terms to translate Buddhist doctrines. The early Chinese, in fact, believed that Lao Tzu had travelled to India and that the Buddha was his disciple. Despite this, Buddhism never really took off during the Later Han period. However, when the Han government collapsed and China fell into chaos, Buddhism caught fire all over the former empire, primarily among the common population. Like folk Neo-Taoism, it offered salvation and was a moral religion. By the time of the rise of the Northern Wei in 384, Buddhism had spread over the whole of China. Although Buddhists were occasionally persecuted, on the whole they were tolerated. Some emperors even converted to Buddhism.

The chaos of the Three Kingdoms finally came to an end under the hand of Sui Wen-ti, a general of mixed blood. He reunified the northern kingdoms, centralized the government, reformed the taxation structure, and conquered the south all in a single lifetime. The government he established was remarkably stable during his lifetime, and he began ambitious building and economic projects. However, unlike the founders of the Han dynasties, Sui Wen-ti did not adopt Confucianism as the state philosophy, but rather embraced Buddhism and Taoism, both of which had spread so rapidly during the Three Kingdoms period. Sui Wen-ti employed a cadre of Buddhist advisors in his program to unify the country, and Buddhism would become the government philosophy until the founding of the Sung dynasty several centuries later.

But his son, Sui Yang-ti, who rose to be emperor on the death of his father, soon overextended himself, meddling first in the politics of the northern tribes and then leading military expeditions against Korea. Eventually, these wars with Korea, in combination with a series of unlucky natural disasters, bankrupted the government, which soon suffered under the weight of widespread rebellion. In the fight for power which followed the assassination of Sui-Yang-ti, the control of the new, centralized government fell to Li Yuan, one of Sui Yang-ti's generals. Li Yuan began a new dynasty, the T'ang, which lasted for another three hundred years.

 

 


TANG DYNASTY: 618-907 AD

Founder of the Tang Dynasty

The Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907), with its capital at Chang'an, is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization--equal, or even superior, to the Han period. Its territory, acquired through the military exploits of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han.

Stimulated by contact with India and the Middle East, the empire saw a flowering of creativity in many fields. Buddhism, originating in India around the time of Confucius, flourished during the Tang period, becoming thoroughly sinicized and a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture.

Block printing was invented, making the written word available to vastly greater audiences. The Tang period was the golden age of literature and art. A government system supported by a large class of Confucian literati selected through civil service examinations was perfected under Tang rule.

This competitive procedure was designed to draw the best talents into government. But perhaps an even greater consideration for the Tang rulers, aware that imperial dependence on powerful aristocratic families and warlords would have destabilizing consequences, was to create a body of career officials having no autonomous territorial or functional power base. As it turned out, these scholar-officials acquired status in their local communities, family ties, and shared values that connected them to the imperial court. From Tang times until the closing days of the Qing empire in 1911, scholar-officials functioned often as intermediaries between the grass-roots level and the government.

By the middle of the eighth century A.D., Tang power had ebbed. Domestic economic instability and military defeat in 751 by Arabs at Talas, in Central Asia, marked the beginning of five centuries of steady military decline for the Chinese empire. Misrule, court intrigues, economic exploitation, and popular rebellions weakened the empire, making it possible for northern invaders to terminate the dynasty in 907. The next half-century saw the fragmentation.

 


SUNG DYNASTY: 960 AD

Founder of the Sung Dynasty

In 960 the Sung Dynasty had begun. A military leader, Chao K'uang Yin seized power and proclaimed the Sung Dynasty. Within a few years he and his officials had restored peace. The Sung were wiser than the other dynasties because they knew how the other dynasties had fallen when the governors became too powerful. Instead they did not split up the land into sections. China was under the emperors hands only. They re-established Confucianism as the master philosophy and . reunified most of China Proper.

The Sung period divides into two phases: Northern Song (960-1127) and Southern Song (1127-1279). The division was caused by the forced abandonment of north China in 1127 by the Song court, which could not push back the nomadic invaders.

The founders of the Sung dynasty built an effective centralized bureaucracy staffed with civilian scholar-officials. Regional military governors and their supporters were replaced by centrally appointed officials. This system of civilian rule led to a greater concentration of power in the emperor and his palace bureaucracy than had been achieved in the previous dynasties.

The Sung dynasty is notable for the development of cities not only for administrative purposes but also as centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce. The landed scholar-officials, sometimes collectively referred to as the gentry, lived in the provincial centers alongside the shopkeepers, artisans, and merchants. A new group of wealthy commoners--the mercantile class--arose as printing and education spread, private trade grew, and a market economy began to link the coastal provinces and the interior. Landholding and government employment were no longer the only means of gaining wealth and prestige.

Culturally, the Sung refined many of the developments of the previous centuries. Included in these refinements were not only the Tang ideal of the universal man, who combined the qualities of scholar, poet, painter, and statesman, but also historical writings, painting, calligraphy, and hard-glazed porcelain. Song intellectuals sought answers to all philosophical and political questions in the Confucian Classics. This renewed interest in the Confucian ideals and society of ancient times coincided with the decline of Buddhism, which the Chinese regarded as foreign and offering few practical guidelines for the solution of political and other mundane problems.

The Sung Neo-Confucian philosophers, finding a certain purity in the originality of the ancient classical texts, wrote commentaries on them. The most influential of these philosophers was Zhu Xi (1130-1200), whose synthesis of Confucian thought and Buddhist, Taoist, and other ideas became the official imperial ideology from late Song times to the late nineteenth century. As incorporated into the examination system, Zhu Xi's philosophy evolved into a rigid official creed, which stressed the one-sided obligations of obedience and compliance of subject to ruler, child to father, wife to husband, and younger brother to elder brother. The effect was to inhibit the societal development of premodern China, resulting both in many generations of political, social, and spiritual stability and in a slowness of cultural and institutional change up to the nineteenth century. Neo-Confucian doctrines also came to play the dominant role in the intellectual life of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

While the Sung was successful, events in distant lands showed the end and destruction of the dynasty.

 

In 1206 an assembly of Mongolian tribes at Karakorum and they agreed to unite under Genghis Khan. The Mongol leader Genghis Khan was one of the great conquerors in the history of the world. He was the son of Yesugei, leader of a small tribe in northeastern Mongolia. Yesugei was poisoned when Temujin (Genghis Khan's name as a youth) was about 10 years old, and the orphaned boy later entered the service of Toghril Khan, the most powerful Mongol ruler of the time. In 1215 Genghis Khan captured Beijing in 1279. Kublai Khan, his grandson, completed what they called The Quest of China and then he ended the Sung Dynasty.

Kublai Khan

 


LIAO DYNASTY: A.D. 916-1125

For 300 years, China was divided by several competing dynasties and kingdoms. One of these was Liao, a powerful kingdom established by the Qidan, who came from the north beyond the Great Wall. Even though their dynasty ruled most of northern China, the Qidan kept many of their own customs, which were strange to the Chinese of the south. One of these was to mummify their dead, a practice that the Chinese considered barbaric; however, it was the Liao way of preserving the body as a sanctuary for the spirit.

 


WESTERN XIA: A.D. 1038-1227

 


JIN: A.D. 1115-1234

Gilt Bronze Warrior

 


YUAN: A.D. 1279-1368

The Yuan Dynasty had now begun. Despite their initial success, the Mongols had lost their power rapidly in the 14th century. They lost power because they did not adopt the Chinese language and customs from the earlier dynasties. Heavy taxes were raised and it lead to peasantry. During this time a widespread famine was going on and floods were almost everywhere in China. Soon there were revolts in every province of China. In the Yangtze Valley, Chu Yu-chang, a former Buddhist monk had turned to become a rebel leader. He led a peasant army to power in the 1360's. He was the founder of a new dynasty -the Ming.

 


MING: A.D. 1368-1644

Founder of the Ming Dynasty

Yu-chang founded the Ming Dynasty in 1368 and in 1371 he drove the Mongols out of Beijing. After more than a century of ruling the Mongolians retreated to the Mongolian heartland. They had continued to harass their Chinese neighbors, but could never again conquer the Chinese nation. The Mings were less inventive than the past dynasties because this was a trading period between the European neighbors.

This became a trading period because in the 18th century China's trading business expanded almost all over the world. In this period it is called "restoration and reorganization." Many non-Chinese states were forced to know the power of China, and was forced to pay tribute. Later, the Ming dynasty was weakened and the treasury was low because it was used up by defending their borders. A rebellion broke out in the Shanxxi province that was brought to a famine. After the rebels took Beijing the Ming formed a union with the Manchus who had recently gained power over Manchuria. Once inside China the Manchus refused to leave. Rebellions broke out and that was the end of the dynasty. The rebels forced the last emperor to commit suicide.

 

 

Chinese Astrology


More than 3,000 years ago, Chinese people invented the 10 Heavenly Stems and 12 Earthly Branches for chronological purposes. These signs are used to designate the hours, days, months and years. However, since most people at that time were illiterate, the signs were difficult to use. Later, to make things easier to memorize, people used animals to symbolize the12 Earthly Branches. The animals in order are the mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Many Chinese people strongly believe that the time of a person's birth is the primary factor in determining that person's personality. Many fortune-tellers, when telling your fortune, say what they need to know is your exact time of birth. Then, whether you are successful in your life and career, or whether you will be happy is clear to the fortune-tellers.

According to one legend, during a Chinese New Year celebration, Buddha invited all the animals to his kingdom, but unfortunately, for reasons only known to the animals, a total of 12 turned up. The mouse was naturally the first, followed by the ox, then the tiger, the rabbit and so on and finally the pig.

Out of gratitude, Buddha decided to name the year after each of the animals in their order of arrival, and people born of that year would inherit the personality traits of that particular animal. These animals are also supposed to have some influence over the period of time they were named after.

It is essential in China that every person knows which animal sign he is born under. That is because it has been implicitly agreed upon that no important steps of life should be taken without consulting first the Chinese Zodiac. Some Chinese consider this superstition, but many truly believe that the signs reveal the hidden secrets of a person's character.

By the 5th century, the Chinese had cataloged 1464 stars.

In Beijing, there were about 5,000 stargazers.

Ancient astrologers could correctly predict when tides, seasons, and other things, just by looking at the stars and planets. One of the uses for astrology was for farming - the porper time to plant and harvest crops.

A lot of the Chinese looked to the stars, but some were drawn to the Earth, trying to solve riddles and mysteries of math. They did not know that everything was made from hundreds and millions of atoms, but instead they thought everything was made up of the five elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. They looked at how these elements could change, and explained how nature worked in those terms. Wood goes through a basic change to become fire (flames), fire turns into the earth (ashes), earth makes the metal (iron and other metals) mined from the earth. Metal brings water (metal collects dew if outside over night). And to make the circle, water produces wood (wood plants need water to grow). The scientists did not think of the five elements as DNA, but more like changing things in nature; and that is how the Chinese viewed life and nature.

Mythology:

The roots of this interpretive art, are based deeply in the classical philosophy of Confucius, Lao-tse and the Yi Jing (I Ching). According to Chinese legend, the order of the twelve signs was determined by Buddha, upon celebration of the Chinese New Year (which falls on different dates, from mid-January to mid-February.) The Buddha invited all of the animals in the kingdom together for a meeting, but only 12 creatures attended

 

 

Chinese Dragons


The Celestial Chinese Dragon is comparable as the symbol of the Chinese race itself. Chinese around the world, proudly proclaim themselves "Lung Tik Chuan Ren" (Descendents of the Dragon). Dragons are referred to as the divine mythical creature that brings with it ultimate abundance, prosperity and good fortune.

As the emblem of the Emperor and the Imperial command, the legend of the Chinese Dragon permeates the ancient Chinese civilization and shaped their culture until today. Its benevolence signifies greatness, goodness and blessings.

The Chinese Dragon, or Lung , symbolizes power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. A dragon overcomes obstacles until success is his. He is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious.

Unlike the the negative energies associated with Western Dragons, most Eastern Dragons are beautiful, friendly, and wise. They are the angels of the Orient. Instead of being hated, they are loved and worshipped. Temples and shrines have been built to honor them, for they control the rain, rivers, lakes, and seas. Many Chinese cities have pagodas where people used to burn incense and pray to dragons. The Black Dragon Pool Chapel, near Peking, was reserved for the Empress and her court.

Special worship services took place there on the first and fifteenth of every month. Dragon shrines and altars can still be seen in many parts of the Far East. They are usually along seashores and riverbanks, because most Eastern Dragons live in water. The Isle of the Temple, in Japan's Inland Sea, has become a famous stopover for pilgrims who meditate and pray to dragons. Both male and female dragons have mated with humans. Their descendants became great rulers. The Japanese Emperor Hirohito traced his ancestry back 125 generations to Princess Fruitful Jewel, daughter of a Dragon King of the Sea. Emperors in many Asian countries claimed to have dragon ancestors. This made them so proud, that everything they used was decorated with dragons and described in terms of the dragon: dragon-throne, dragon-robe, dragon-bed, dragon-boat. Calling an emperor "dragon-face" was a supreme compliment. People believed that rulers could change themselves into dragons. For hundreds of years, Japanese emperors sat concealed behind bamboo curtains whenever visitors came. Anyone who dared to peek was condemned to death.

Everything connected with Eastern Dragons is blessed. The Year of the Dragon which takes place ever twelve years, is lucky. Present-day Oriental astrologersclaim that children born dunng Dragon Years enjoy health, wealth, and long life. (1964 and 1976 were Dragon Years.)

Dragons are so wise that they have been royal advisors. A thirteenth-century Cambodian king spent his nights in a golden tower, where he consulted with the real ruler of the land a nine-headed dragon. Eastern Dragons are vain, even though they are wise. They are insulted when a ruler doesn't follow their advice, or when people don't honor their importance. Then, by thrashing about, dragons either stop making rain and cause water shortages, or they breathe black clouds that bring storms and floods. Small dragons do minor mischief, such as making roofs leak, or causing rice to be sticky. People set off firecrackers and carry immense paper dragons in special parades. They also race dragon-shaped boats in water all to please and appease their dragons.

The Dragon brings upon the essence of life, in the form of its celestial breath, known to many as sheng chi. He yields life and bestows its power in the form of the seasons, bringing water from rain, warmth from the sunshine, wind from the seas and soil from the earth. The Dragon is the ultimate representation of the forces of Mother Nature. The greatest divine force on Earth.

The Chinese Dragon is often seen as the symbol of divine protection and vigilance. It is regarded as the Supreme Being amongst all creatures. It has the ability to live in the seas, fly up the heavens and coiled up in the land in the form of mountains. Being the divine mythical animal, the Dragon can ward off wandering evil spirits, protect the innocent and bestow safety to all that hold his emblem. The Chinese Dragon is look upon as the ultimate symbol of Good Fortune.

Those who are born in the Year of the Dragon, you might be interested in some of the traits.

 


ASTROLOGY - 2000 THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON
1904 - Wood Dragon
1916 - Fire Dragon
1928 - Earth Dragon
1940 - Metal dragon
1952 - Water dragon
1964 - Wood Dragon
1976 - Fire Dragon
1988 - Earth Dragon
2000 - Metal Dragon
2012 - Water Dragon
WOOD DRAGON: The Wood Dragon is creative, imaginative, and inquisitive. He is both a thinker and a doer and is capable of brilliant new concepts. His every move is guided by sound logic. His drive and ambition allow him to put many of his ideas into practice, nevertheless this Dragon is capable of concealing his domination and tries not to offend. He will even compromise if it is advantages. Although not as self-centered as other Dragons, he is still outspoken and fearless when challenged.

FIRE DRAGON: The Fire Dragon is the most extroverted and competitive Dragon. He tends to push too hard and expects a lot from everyone. His criticisms are objective and he has the ability to arouse massive popular support. His insatiable ambition can make him short-tempered and intolerant. He is an empire builder who needs to master his less favorable traits and learn how to communicate more humbly with people as individuals.

EARTH DRAGON: The Earth Dragon is a quieter, more reflective Dragon, He will be appreciative of other's opinions even if he fails to agree with them. He is reasonable in his approach to problems and his leadership is less dictatorial. He is not given to outbursts of temper, but at the same time demands respect. He knows the value of cooperation and is more diplomatic than the other Dragons. He is ambitious, but his initiatives are less hurried and more carefully thought out.

METAL DRAGON: The Metal Dragon is the most strong-willed Dragon. He is inflexible, unbending, and combative. He gives little regard to the feelings of others. This ruthlessness can result in a rapid rise to a position of authority, but often at the cost of destroying important relationships. It is futile to attempt to convince him that certain things are simply undoable. He will go it alone if he can't gain support. He succeeds because he refuses to accept failure.

WATER DRAGON: The Water Dragon is less selfish and opinionated than the other Dragons. He is more inhibited and less power-hungry. He can accept defeat without recriminations. He makes a good negotiator as he knows when, where, and how to apply pressure. He has a tendency to be over-optimistic and needs to learn how to relinquish what is unfeasible so that he can concentrate his energies on the most rewarding endeavors.

 

 


THE DRAGON PERSONALITY TRAITS

The Dragon person is self confident and impulsive and consequently does notalways listen to the advice of others. He is also a perfectionist and he sets high standards for himself.

Although strong and decisive the Dragon is not manipulative or sly. He refuses to deceive or compromise and fails to spot subversive intent.He enjoys being in command and like an emperor holding court he eliminates obstacles until success is his.

 


TYPES OF DRAGONS

There are nine major types of Chinese dragons These include the horned dragon, the winged dragon, the celestial dragon (which supports and protects the mansions of the gods), the spiritual dragon which generates wind and rain for the benefit of mankind), the dragon of hidden treasures (which keeps guard over concealed wealth), the coiling dragon (which lives in water), and the yellow dragon (which once emerged from water and presented the legendary Emperor Fu Shi with the elements of writing)

The last of the nine is the dragon king, which actually consists of four separate dragons, each of which rules over one of the four seas, those of the east, south, west, and north.

The most powerful generalized type of Chinese dragon is the horned dragon, or lung, which can produce rain and is totally deaf. Additionally, there is a homeless dragon (Ii) that lives in the ocean and another type (chiao) that is scale-covered and usually inhabits marshes but also keeps dens in the mountains.

There are also nine ways the Chinese have traditionally represented these dragons, each one revealing a different dragon characteristic. There are dragons carved on the tops of bells and gongs, because of the beast's habit of calling loudly when attacked. A second type is carved on the screws of fiddles, since most dragons are fond of music. A third is carved on the tops of stone tablets, because of dragons' love of literature. A fourth is found at the bottom of stone monuments, as dragons can support heavy weights. A fifth is placed on the eaves of temples, as dragons are ever alert to danger. A sixth occurs on the beams of bridges, since dragons are fond of water. A seventh is carved on Buddha's throne, as dragons like to rest. An eighth is placed on the hilts of swords, since dragons are known to be capable of slaughter. The ninth is carved on prison gates, as these are dragons that are fond of quarreling and trouble making.

The colors of Chinese dragons are evidently quite variable, but in the case of the chiao type its back is striped with green, its sides are yellow, and it is crimson underneath. The nine major characteristics of a lung type dragon include a head like a camel's, horns like a deer's, eyes like a hare's, ears like a bull's, a neck like an iguana's, a belly like a frog's, scales like a carp's, paws like a tiger's, and claws like an eagle's. It has a pair of large canine teeth in its upper jaw The long, tendril-like whiskers extending from either side of its mouth are probably used for feeling its way along the bottom of muddy ponds. In color it varies from greenish to golden, with a series of alternating short and long spines extending down the back and along the tail, where they become longer. One specimen had wings at its side, and walked on top of the water. Another tossed its mane back and forth making noises that sounded like a flute.

Cow-heads are also common. A ten-footer, found lying on the banks of China's Yangtze River, was different from most because of its long, thick eyebrows. A Yellow River variety, seen on shore in the 1920s by a Chinese teacher, was bright blue, and as big as five cows. Both dragons crawled into the water as soon as it started to rain.

A few dragons begin life as fish. Carp, who successfully jump rapids and leap over waterfalls, change into fish-dragons. A popular saying, "The carp has leaped through the dragon's gate," means success, especially for students who have passed their exams.

Male dragons sometimes mate with other kinds of animals. A dragon fathers an elephant when he mates with a pig, and he sires a racehorse, after mating with a mare.

 

Chinese Inventions and Remedies


Some of the greatest inventions in the world were by made by the Chinese.


In the T'ang dynasty, fireworks were invented. These were originally for shows, but later on they used them to scare of enemies in war. The fireworks were mainly small bamboo cases filled with gunpowder, and a fuse was put on the side.

In the Han dynasty, they invented the wheel barrow, which was for carrying loads too heavy for a normal person's back to support. The wheel barrow was originally wood, so the Chinese nick named it the 'wooden ox'.

 


OTHER INVENTIONS

The compass was for religious use. When a new houses was being built, the used it to see if the house was faced in perfect harmony with nature (which meant they thought if you faced your house to magnetic north, you and nature would get along). The compass - which started out as a wooden circle with markings on it, and a magnetic spoon on top.

 

 

Ancient Chinese Mythology ~ Gods ~ Goddesses ~ Folklore


The writing of mythological tales began in the Wei and Jin Dynasties (220-420), when various writers, influenced by the alchemist's ideas and Taoist and Buddhist superstitions, were interested in inventing stories about gods and ghosts. Some of them show their unusual imagination and mastery of the written language. This practice was continued in the next period, the period of Southern and Northern Dynasties.

In the middle of the Tang Dynasty many well-known writers and poets began story writing. Their stories incorporate a wide range of subject matter and themes, reflecting various aspects of human nature, human relations and social life. In form they are not short notes or anecdotes like the tales produced before them, but well-structured stories with interesting plots and vivid characters, often several thousand words in length. Among them are many tales whose main characters are gods, ghosts, or foxes.

Mythical stories of the Song Dynasty show strong influence of Tang fiction, but hardly attain the Tang level. One achievement in the field of fiction worthy of special mention is the compilation of the great Taiping Guangji or Extensive Records Compiled in the Taiping Years (976-983), which is a collection of about seven thousand stories published before and in the first years of the Song Dynasty. The stories were selected from over three hundred books, many of which have long been lost to us. A large portion of the seven thousand stories are about gods, deities, fairies, and ghosts. In Song times there were stories written in the vernacular, called "notes for story-tellers".

In the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties that followed the best-known works of fiction were novels in the vernacular, such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms,Water Margin, Pilgrimage to the West, The Scholars, and Dream of the Red Mansions.

In the early period of the Qing Dynasty there appearedan anthology of short mythical stories written in the classical style-- Strange Stories from Happiness Studio by Pu Songling. For some time it was a most popular book, praised and liked by many people. After Pu, Ji Yun, who presided over the compilation of the Siku Quanshu (Complete Collection of Written Works Divided into Four Stores), wrote a book entitled Notes from a Thatched House, which includes anecdotes, rumours and tales about gods, foxes and ghosts.

 

As with other cultures, Chinese mythical stories are entwined with history. The history of the long period before recorded history began is partly based on legend, which is interwoven with mythology. Such ancient heroes and leaders as Fuxi, Shennong, Huangdi (the Yellow Emperor) and Yu are both historical figures according to legend and important characters in mythical stories.

 

Again - as in other cultures - myths reflect Creation, the importance of true love and balance, self-sacrifice, encourage good deeds and warn against sin, rebellion vs oppression.

All these features add up, perhaps, to one prevailing characteristic - China's mythical stories, either those created by the primitive people or those written by later scholars, are full of human feelings. Gods, ghosts, foxes and spirits are commonly described as living things with human qualities and human feelings. Chinese inventors of myths describe gods the way they describe man, or treat them as if they were human, and endow them with human nature.

There are also stories that try to illustrate fatalism, reincarnation, and all sorts of feudal ethical principles. This is only natural, because literary works inevitably reflect the beliefs of the age in which they are produced.

In style and art of writing, both early and later mythical stories are superb. Classical Chinese is extremely concise. A few hundred, even a few dozen words are enough to tell a story complete with dialogue and behavioral and psychological descriptions.

 


MYTHOLOGICAL GODS

CH'ENG-HUANG:

God of moats and walls. Every village and town had its own Ch'eng-Huang, most often a local dignitary or important person who had died and been promoted to godhood. His divine status was revealed in dreams, though the gods made the actual decision. Ch'eng-Huang not only protects the community from attack but sees to it that the King of the Dead does not take any soul from his jurisdiction without proper authority. Ch'eng-Huang also exposes evil-doers in the community itself, usually through dreams. His assistants are Mr. Ba Lao-ye and Mr. Hei Lao-ye -- Mr. Daywatchman and Mr. Nightwatchman.

CHU JUNG:

God of fire. Chu Jung punishes those who break the laws of heaven.

KUAN TI:

God of war. The Great Judge who protects the people from injustice and evil spirits. A red-faced god dressed always in green. An oracle. Kuan Ti was an actual historical figure, a general of the Han dynasty renowned for his skill as a warrior and his justness as a ruler. There were more than 1600 temples dedicated to Kuan Ti.

KWAN YIN:

Goddess of mercy and compassion. A lady dressed in white seated on a lotus and holding an infant. Murdered by her father, she recited the holy books when she arrived in Hell, and the ruler of the underworld could not make the dead souls suffer. The disgruntled god sent her back to the world of the living, where Kwan Yin attained great spiritual insight and was rewarded with immortality by the Buddha. A popular goddess, Kwan Yin's temple at the Mount of the Wondrous Peak was ever filled with a throng of pilgrims shaking rattles and setting off firecrackers to get her attention.

LEI KUN:

God of thunder. Lei Kung has the head of a bird, wings, claws and blue skin, and his chariot is drawn by six boys. Lei Kung makes thunder with his hammer, and his wife makes lightning with her mirrors. Lei Kung chases away evil spirits and punishes criminals whose crimes have gone undetected.

PA HSIEN:

The Eight Immortals of the Taoist tradition. Ordinary mortals who, through good works and good lives, were rewarded by the Queen Mother Wang by giving them the peaches of everlasting life to eat. They are:

TIEH-KUAI Li - of the Iron Crutch. A healer, Li sits as a beggar in the market place selling wondrous drugs, some of which can revive the dead.

 

P'AN-CHIN-LIEN:

Goddess of prostitutes. As a mortal, she was a widow who was much too liberal and inventive with her favors, and her father-in-law killed her. In death she was honored by her more professional associates and eventually became the goddess of whores.

SHI-TIEN YEN-WANG:

The Lords of Death, the ten rulers of the underworld. They dress alike in royal robes and only the wisest can tell them apart. Each ruler presides over one court of law. In the first court a soul is judged according to his sins in life and sentenced to one of the eight courts of punishment. Punishment is fitted to the offense. Misers are made to drink molten gold, liars' tongues are cut out. In the second court are incompetent doctors and dishonest agents; in the third, forgers, liars, gossips, and corrupt government officials; in the fifth, murderers, sex offenders and atheists; in the sixth, the sacrilegious and blasphemers; in the eighth, those guilty of filial disrespect; in the ninth, arsonists and accident victims. In the tenth is the Wheel of Transmigration where souls are released to be reincarnated again after their punishment is completed. Before souls are released, they are given a brew of oblivion, which makes them forget their former lives.

TI-TSANG WANG:

God of mercy. Wandering in the caverns of Hell, a lost soul might encounter a smiling monk whose path is illuminated by a shining pearl and whose staff is decorated with metal rings which chime like bells. This is Ti-Tsang Wang, who will do all he can to help the soul escape hell and even to put an end to his eternal round of death and rebirth. Long ago, Ti-Tsang Wang renounced Nirvana so that he could search the dark regions of Hell for souls to save from the kings of the ten hells. Once a priest of Brahma, he converted to Buddhism and himself became a Buddha with special authority over the souls of the dead.

T'SHAI-SHEN:

God of wealth who presides over a vast bureaucracy with many minor deities under his authority. A majestic figure robed in exquisite silks. T'shai-Shen is quite a popular god; even atheists worship him.

TSAO WANG:

God of the hearth. Every household has its own Tsao Wang. Every year the hearth god reports on the family to the Jade Emperor, and the family has good or bad luck during the coming year according to his report. The hearth god's wife records every word spoken by every member of the family. A paper image represents the hearth god and his wife, and incense is burned to them daily. When the time came to make his report to the Jade Emperor, sweetmeats were placed in his mouth, the paper was burned, and firecrackers were lit to speed him on his way.

TU-TI:

Local gods. Minor gods of towns, villages and even streets and households. Though far from the most important gods in the divine scheme, they were quite popular. Usually portrayed as kindly, respectable old men, they see to it that the domains under their protection run smoothly.

YENG-WANG-YEH:

Lord Yama King - Greatest of the Lords of Death. Yeng-Wang-Yeh judges all souls newly arrived to the land of the dead and decides whether to send them to a special court for punishment or put them back on the Wheel of Transmigration.

YU-HUANG-SHANG-TI:

Father Heaven - e August Supreme Emperor of Jade, whose court is in the highest level of heaven, originally a sky god. The Jade Emperor made men, fashioning them from clay. His heavenly court resembles the earthly court in all ways, having an army, a bureaucracy, a royal family and parasitical courtiers. The Jade Emperor's rule is orderly and without caprice. The seasons come and go as they should, yin is balanced with yang, good is rewarded and evil is punished. As time went on, the Jade Emperor became more and more remote to men, and it became customary to approach him through his doorkeeper, the Transcendental Dignitary. The Jade Emperor sees and hears everything; even the softest whisper is as loud as thunder to the Jade Emperor.

- by D.W. Owens

Confucious


One of the most famous people in ancient China was a wise philosopher named Confucius (circa 551-479 BC).

He sometimes went by the names Kong Zi though he was born - Kong Qiu - styled Zhong Ni.

I was born in the village of Zou in the country of Lu.

This chinese man was a well-known leader in philosophy and he also made many wise phrases and theories about the law, life, and the government. Philosophy is a kind of a system of ideas and thoughts that talk about the human's behavior, the rules that you should follow to make a successful life, and about the government.

In other words, it's about thoughts and theories that teach other people lessons about principles, or rules, about life and it also teaches you a moral ( sort of like the morals that are at the end of a fable). Confucius is famous for his philosophy because he made many wise sayings in ancient China that helped many people learn about nature, the world, and the human behavior. He also helped the government and the emperor by teaching them lessons on how the emperor should rule his kingdom successfully.

Confucius was born in a poor family in the year 551 B.C., and he was born in the state of Lu. His original name was K'ung Ch'iu. His father, commander of a district in Lu, died three years after Confucius was born, leaving the family in poverty; but Confucius nevertheless received a fine education. He was married at the age of 19 and had one son and two daughters.

He worked as a keeper of a market. Then he was a farm worker who took care of parks and farm animals. When he was 20, he worked for the governor of his district.

His mother died in 527 BC, and after a period of mourning he began his career as a teacher, usually traveling about and instructing the small body of disciples that had gathered around him. His fame as a man of learning and character and his reverence for Chinese ideals and customs soon spread through the principality of Lu.

Living as he did in the second half of the Zhou (Chou) dynasty (1027?-256 BC), when feudalism degenerated in China and intrigue and vice were rampant, Confucius deplored the contemporary disorder and lack of moral standards. He came to believe that the only remedy was to convert people once more to the principles and precepts of the sages of antiquity. He therefore lectured to his pupils on the ancient classics.

Confucius taught in his school for many years. His theories and principles were spread throughout China by his disciples, and soon many people learned from his wise sayings. One of his rules said," If you governed your province well and treat your people kindly, you kingdom shall not lose any war. If you govern selfishly to your people, you kingdom will not only lose a war, but your people will break away from your kingdom." He had also said a wise phrase called the golden rule that is still being used as a rule today. It said,"A man should practice what he preaches, but a man should also preach what he practices."

One day, his students and he passed a grave where they saw a women weeping at a gravestone. She told Confucius that her husband, her husband's father, and her son were killed by a tiger. When Confucius asked her why she didn't leave such a fated spot, she answered that in this place there was no oppressive government. Confucius said," Remember this my child. An oppressive government is fiercer and more feared than a tiger." That meant that the government in the woman's province did not rule the province well. So Confucius said that the government was more feared than a tiger. This was one of the many events he had to give a person a lesson.

He taught the great value of the power of example. Rulers, he said, can be great only if they themselves lead exemplary lives, and were they willing to be guided by moral principles, their states would inevitably become prosperous and happy. Confucius had, however, no opportunity to put his theories to a public test until, at the age of 52, he was appointed magistrate of Chung-tu, and the next year minister of crime of the state of Lu. His administration was successful; reforms were introduced, justice was fairly dispensed, and crime was almost eliminated. So powerful did Lu become that the ruler of a neighboring state maneuvered to secure the minister's dismissal. Confucius left his office in 496 BC, traveling about and teaching, vainly hoping that some other prince would allow him to undertake measures of reform. In 484 BC, after a fruitless search for an ideal ruler, he returned for the last time to Lu.

Confucius was then abandoned from his province and he wandered about China for 13 years. When Confucius was 69 years old, he returned to Lu, his home state, and he died there 3 years after settling in Lu - 479 BC.

After Confucius died, he was buried in a grave in the city of Ch'uFu, Shandong. Today the site of his final resting place is the beautiful K'ung Forest.

Yet, when the philosopher died, many people honored all of Confucius' work by building temples in every city in China to honor Confucius. Since Confucius' teachings and philosophy was so advanced, it was the education for China for 2,000 years. It is called Confucianism.

Confucius himself had a simple moral and political teaching: to love others; to honor one's parents; to do what is right instead of what is of advantage; to practice "reciprocity," i.e. "don't do to others what you would not want yourself"; to rule by moral example (d) instead of by force and violence; and so forth. Confucius thought that a ruler who had to resort to force had already failed as a ruler. "Your job is to govern, not to kill"

Confucius did not put into writing the principles of his philosophy; these were handed down only through his disciples.

The Lun Y (Analects), a work compiled by some of his disciples, is considered the most reliable source of information about his life and teachings. One of the historical works that he is said to have compiled and edited, the Ch'un Ch'iu (Spring and Autumn Annals), is an annalistic account of Chinese history in the state of Lu from 722 to 481 BC. In learning he wished to be known as a transmitter rather than as a creator, and he therefore revived the study of the ancient books. His own teachings, together with those of his main disciples, are found in the Shih Shu (Four Books) of Confucian literature, which became the textbooks of later Chinese generations.

 


ANOTHER SOURCE ON THE LIFE OF CONFUCIUS

Confucius (born Kong Qiu, styled Zhong Ni) was born in the village of Zou in the country of Lu in 551 B.C., a poor descendant of a deposed noble family. As a child, he held make-believe temple rituals; as a young adult, he quickly earned a reputation for fairness, politeness and love of learning, and he was reputed to be quite tall. He traveled extensively and studied at the imperial capital, Zhou, where he is said to have met and spoke with Lao Zi, the founder of Daoism.

Upon his return to Lu, he gained renown as a teacher, but when he was 35, Duke Zhao of Lu led his country to war, was routed and fled to the neighboring country of Qi; in the disorder following the battle, Confucius followed. Duke Zhao frequently came to him for advice, but upon counsel of one of his ministers, he decided against granting land to Confucius and gradually stopped seeking his counsel. When other nobles began plotting against Confucius' position, Duke Zhao refused to intervene, and Confucius returned to Lu. But conditions there were no better than before, and Confucius retired from public life to concentrate on teaching and studying.

At age 50, he was approached by the Baron of Qi to help defend against a rebellion, but he declined. He was later made a city magistrate by the new Duke of Lu, and under his administration the city flourished; he was promoted several times, eventually becoming Grand Secretary of Justice and, at age 56, Chief Minister of Lu. Neighboring countries began to worry that Lu would become too powerful, and they sent messengers with gifts and dancers to distract the duke during a sacrifice holiday. When the duke abandoned his duties to receive the messengers, Confucius resigned and left the country.

Confucius spent the next five years wandering China with his disciples, finding that his presence at royal courts was rarely tolerated for long before nobles would begin plotting to drive him out or have him killed. He was arrested once and jailed for five days, and at 62 he was pursued, along with his disciples, into the countryside by a band of soldiers sent by jealous nobles, until he was able to send a messenger to the sympathetic king of a nearby country, who sent his own soldiers to rescue them. Once again, Confucius was to be given land but was denied it upon counsel of another high minister. After further wanderings, he eventually returned to Lu at age 67. Although he was welcomed there and chose to remain, he was not offered public office again, nor did he seek it. Instead he spent the rest of his years teaching and, finally, writing. He died at 72.

 


FAMOUS SAYINGS

 

 

I CHING

The I Ching is an ancient Chinese oracle that provides an Oriental philosophical perspective to give insight on situations and problems.

"I" means change. "Ching" means book. Therefore I Ching means 'The Book Of Changes'.

The I Ching is both a book and a method of divination that represents one of the first efforts of humans to grasp their relationship to nature and society. The I Ching is a book of wisdom that illustrates correct and balanced action in a multitude of situations. It is a chart of changes. The basis of the I Ching philosophy is that nothing is static and that our task is to adjust to the ebbs and flows of change.

The I Ching has evolved over the centuries and is a mix of Taoist and Confucian philosophy. It is possibly the oldest book in existence. Its origins date back about 5000 years to the time of the ruler Fu Hsi. Fu Hsi was said to have found the eight trigrams that form the sixty-four hexagrams on the shell of a tortoise. Fu Hsi is credited as being the first person to give some order to what was, at that time, an uncivilized culture. were not written until much later.

The meanings evolved from then on but the book was used mostly for predicting natural events until King Wen wrote the first expositions on the sixty-four hexagrams about 3000 years ago. He wrote them while in prison from a vision on the prison wall. These were the first comments that included social and political connotations. Many renowned Chinese philosophers such as Lao Tzu and Confucius have influenced the I Ching through the centuries. Confucius was particularly dedicated to the study and application of the ideas in the I Ching.

Each inquiry to the oracle will result in a hexagram reading and possibly additional line readings. A hexagram is made up of two trigrams. There are eight possible trigrams: Ch'ien (Cosmos), Chen (Thunder), K'an (Water), Ken (Mountain), K'un (Earth), Sun (Wind/Wood), Li (Fire), and Tui (Lake). Each trigram is made up of three lines. Each line is either broken or solid, corresponding to the complementary forces Yin (negative) and Yang (positive). Every time a coin is thrown, one line of the hexagram is determined, thus, six throws decide a hexagram.

There are sixty-four different hexagrams, and each hexagram has six changing lines, any one of which may or may not apply for any particular reading. One method for casting the oracle is to use three Chinese coins for the throws. Each throw creates one line of the hexagram. One side of the coin represents a two and the other a three. These numbers are added to determine the result of the throw. Changing lines are created if there are any three-of-a-kind throws (a total of six or nine). The secondary reading can be thought of as changing from the primary reading and is only created if there are changing lines in the primary reading.

Solid line are (Yang) masculine. Broken Lines are (Yin) feminine

 

 

 

The Great Wall of China

 


Construction of the Great Wall started in the 7th century B.C. The vassal states under the Chou Dynasty in the northern parts of the country each built their own walls for defence purposes. After the state of Chin unified China in 221 B.C., it joined the walls to hold off the invaders from the Tsongnoo tribes in the north and extended them to more than 10,000 li or 5,000 kilometers. This is the origin of the name of the 10,000-li Great Wall .

The Great Wall was renovated from time to time after the Chin Dynasty. A major renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368, and took 200 years to complete. The wall we see today is almost exactly the result of this effort. With a total length of over 6,000 kilometers, it extends to the Jiayu Pass in Gansu Province in the west and to the mouth of the Yalu River in Liaoning Province in the east.

 

The Badaling section of the Great Wall snaking along the mountains northwest of Beijing was built at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century. Being 7.8 meters high and 5.8 meters wide at the top on the average, it has battle forts at important points, including the corners.

 


Battle forts built on the summits of hills.

 


 

The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, 70 kilometers northeast of Beijing, is linked to the Gubeikou section on the east and the Badaling section on the west. It is one of the best sections of Great Wall. The Mutianyu section is crenelatted for watching and shooting at the invading enemy. Some of the battle forts on the wall are as close as 50 meters apart.

 

Dates Dynasty
ca. 2000-1500 B.C. Xia
1700-1027 B.C. Shang
1027-771 B.C. Western Zhou
770-221 B.C. Eastern Zhou
770-476 B.C. -- Spring and Autumn period
475-221 B.C. -- Warring States period
221-207 B.C. Qin
206 B.C.-A.D. 9 Western Han
A.D. 9-24 Xin (Wang Mang interregnum)
A.D. 25-220 Eastern Han
A.D. 220-280 Three Kingdoms
220-265 -- Wei
221-263 -- Shu
229-280 -- Wu
A.D. 265-316 Western Jin
A.D. 317-420 Eastern Jin
A.D. 420-588 Southern and Northern Dynasties
420-588 Southern Dynasties
420-478 -- Song
479-501 -- Qi
502-556 -- Liang
557-588 -- Chen
386-588 Northern Dynasties
386-533 -- Northern Wei
534-549 -- Eastern Wei
535-557 -- Western Wei
550-577 -- Northern Qi
557-588 -- Northern Zhou
A.D. 581-617 Sui
A.D. 618-907 Tang
A.D. 907-960 Five Dynasties
907-923 -- Later Liang
923-936 -- Later Tang
936-946 -- Later Jin
947-950 -- Later Han
951-960 -- Later Zhou
A.D. 907-979 Ten Kingdoms
A.D. 960-1279 Song
960-1127 -- Northern Song
1127-1279 -- Southern Song
A.D. 916-1125 Liao
A.D. 1038-1227 Western Xia
A.D. 1115-1234 Jin
A.D. 1279-1368 Yuan
A.D. 1368-1644 Ming

 

 

ALL INFORMATION WAS TAKEN FROM:

 

http://www.crystalinks.com/china.html

http://www-chaos.umd.edu/history/toc.html

 

 

OTHER LINKS

http://sun.sino.uni-heidelberg.de/igcs/

http://members.aol.com/Donnclass/Chinalife.html

http://www.asianart.com/splendors/index.html

http://www.asterius.com/china/