Shibu Afrah Shibu 7E 3/3/2011 Ancient China Ancient China is a well-developed civilisation with a complex religion, proper and advanced education, and unique art and architecture. Chinese mythology had many aspects to it, and the types of religion practised there were plentiful. There were also frequent religious ceremonies in Ancient China, for various causes. Religion also highly influenced Education in Ancient China. They invented an intricate a unique writing system. Inventions in the civilisation were advanced and are still used today, along with calendars and stories, which played a great role in Ancient China. One the their great pieces of architecture that showed their great education in strategy was the Great Wall of China, used for beauty as well as battle. Another few of their wonders were their paintings & sculptures, which portrayed several features of Chinese culture. Ancient Chinese also practiced the art of sericulture from a simple mistake an emperor’s wife made. All these inventions, discoveries, achievements, and stories were based on Ancient Chinese religion. Ancient Chinese mythology was very complex and had many deities and spirits. This civilisation worshipped ancestors as well. The Chinese believed the universe was shaped like an egg. When the egg broke, a giant named Pan-Ku emerged, along with Yin & Yang, the two forces of the universe. Eighteen thousand years later, Pan-Ku died. His head created the sun & moon, and the rivers and seas were formed from his blood. From his breath came the wind, and from his voice the thunder. Humans were generated from fleas living on Pan-Ku. This is one of the many myths that shape Chinese belief. Ancient China had many common spirits and demons as well that took part in everyday life, like spirits of nature, wealth, health, children, happiness, etc. All had to be kept happy to lead a good life. As mentioned before, the Ancient Chinese also worshipped spirits of ancestors, because it was believed that their ancestors made great influences of the major spirits’ decisions and could help them in the after world. Most of Ancient Shibu Chinese mythology was about how the world works; for example: There are twelve moons in twelve months, as there were ten suns for ten days in a week. Heng-O, the mother of the moons and suns, washed her children at a lake every month-beginning on the extreme Western and Eastern sides of the world (moons on the west and suns on the east) Then the moons travel on a month-long journey to the Easter side of the world, one by one. The suns, on the other hand, start their daylong trip on the eastern side. That is one of the myths that explain the universe. Another topic in Chinese mythology is dragons. These mystical creatures occupy a very important role in Chinese mythology, literature, poetry, arts, architecture, songs, etc. The origin of dragons is still unknown. Although much belief in Chinese religion is still unidentified, it is a unique and complex subject. The types of religion in Ancient China are plentiful. Different people and civilisations at different stages of time introduced the Ancient Chinese to different types of beliefs. Apart from the general myths and beliefs mentioned previously, Ancient China believed in Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. In five hundred BC, a man named Confucius founded Confucianism. The Five Classics, which are the main books of Confucianism, were used as examples of ideal writing. They included divine songs, stories, and thoughts. Lao Tzu, who lived around the same time as Confucius, believed that all living things should work in harmony. Tzu told people to meditate on the Tao, or Way, and his beliefs turned into a religion known as Taoism. Another religion is Buddhism, although this didn’t originate from China. In the first century, emperors were interested in this religion. They heard about it while trading with India, where it derived from. Buddhists believed in meditation and incarnation, and they worshipped a huge statue of Buddha (as well as other statues of him) carved into a mountain. Some of the many religions are still worshipped today. Ceremonies in Ancient China were held frequently for different reasons. There were burials, family ceremonies, weddings, coronations, puberty ceremonies, and more. In China, there were special days when people went to family shrines in the spring and fall, to worship Shibu their ancestors. Burials in the Shang dynasty were also a big deal. When a Shang king died, he was buried treasures and chariots; around his tomb were dead bodies of animals, human captives, and servants. Human sacrifices were vital in these funeral rituals. Usually the human is beheaded. Around the tomb were goods to take to the ‘next world’, or afterlife, too. Many of these rituals, myths, and other beliefs are taught immensely in Chinese education. Education in Ancient China was at several times closely connected to religion. Almost everything they did in education had something to do with the different religions in the civilisation. For example, medicine is closely connected with Taoism, and Chinese believed that one became ill if yin and yang were out of balance. They work to keep the two forces in balance by using acupuncture and other means. The Chinese calendars were religion-based as well, and will be explained later. Fiction stories usually had something to do with religion. Even the public schools are based mainly on Confucianism. The writing first used in Ancient china was for religious ceremonies too. In fourteen hundred BC Shang priests wrote to gods on oracle bones. These are only a few of the many circumstances where religion is used in education. The Ancient Chinese writing and number system was intricate and useful in their lives. They used writing and numbers for numerous reasons. Writing was first used for religious ceremonies in fourteen hundred BC. Four hundred BC scribes and artisans wrote on bamboo strips, wooden tablets, and coated silk cloth. They also used ink made from charcoal mixed with water and glue. Chinese characters barely changed since the Qin dynasty, when the emperor ordered standardised writing throughout the empire. Chinese writing consists of not alphabets, but logograms; symbols that represent a meaning, word, or idea. There are more than forty thousand symbols, each up to about twenty brushstrokes. Much of Chinese writing hasn’t been changed for millennia and is still used today. The Ancient Chinese number system, on the other hand, is also very similar to what people use today. Ancient Chinese called math ‘suan chu’ of the ‘art of calculation’. Number symbols date back to more than three thousand four hundred years. Chinese numbers are based on the decimal system still used today. One of the inventions to keep Shibu track of numbers was the abacus, created by the Ancient Chinese. It is made of wooden rods and balls that act as counting tools. With the help of the development of ink and paper, Ancient China used math for various reasons, including building, construction, flood control, sums for trading, etc. They also recorded history, kept track of time, and added and subtracted. A mathematician named Chang Heng even worked out the accurate value of pi π. The writing and number system in Ancient China helped them move forward and has given the modern world a jumpstart with their knowledge as well. Inventions in were highly developed and are still used today. Ancient China was known for their inventions, and much everyday as well as unusual equipment are still used today. This civilisation had state-of-the-art war techniques and weapons for their time, including crossbows, smokescreens, gunpowder, and rockets. Rockets, through, were also used for entertainment. Today they’re recognised as fireworks, and are very well known. Ancient china was also the source of some very popular inventions, which have been slightly altered or have stayed the same to this day. These include wheelbarrows, horse harnesses, and much more. Two of the most famous and widely used Ancient Chinese inventions are paper and paper money. Paper has changed the course of life today. Paper money has and still is being used by every country in the world. Ancient Chinese inventions have helped them make great advances in their life. Calendars and Stories were a very important part in Ancient China; many things relied on them. The Chinese calendar is very different from the common Gregorian calendar, since it follows the lunar cycle. One year consists of twelve months; each month represents a lunar phase (28 days). That is why Chinese New Year today is in early February. The Ancient Chinese had a special system of keeping track of the years. The legend goes that Buddha called all animals to his bedside, but only twelve came. He honoured these animals by naming one year after each animal. Some people believed that people born on the year of that specific animal would get the animal’s characteristics. The Chinese year calendars follows a somewhat spiral like design, with the latest year on the inside and the older years of the outside. Stories are yet another significant Shibu aspect in Ancient China. Fiction is one of the various things they used as entertainment. Writers and poets wrote about love, the pleasure of drink and the folly of war. The most famous pieces of fiction is ‘Journey to the West’ or ‘Monkey’, created by an Ancient Chinese known as Wu Cheng- en in the sixteenth century. This story makes fun of Taoists. Calendars and Stories, two features in Ancient China, are of great importance because they are very useful and/or entertaining, and helped Ancient China modernise much more. Ancient China’s famous Great Wall of China still stands after thousands of years. This Wonder of the World was originally built to protect northern borders from the intrusions of Nomadic tribes. Since the fifth century BC, many walls have been built or added to the Great Wall. One of the most famous is the wall built by the First Emperor Qin Shin Huang, from two hundred twenty to two hundred six BC. Little of that wall stands today, for it eroded or was manually destroyed throughout the dynasties. What is seen today was built during the Ming dynasty, and stands eight thousand eight hundred fifty one point eight km. Since it was difficult to transport necessary supplies to different parts of China, they used whatever they could find in their area. In mountain ranges, stones from mountains and bodies that died at work were used; while in the plains flattened earth and dead bodies were used. The core of the wall was filled with these materials. To make a smooth surface along the top, ten kg bricks were laid. Inside the Great Wall was also a complicated series of stairways to confuse outsiders. Since the Great Wall of China was built for military defence, the top of the wall is six metres wide for about five horses to travel side by side. Although the Great Wall of China is a tourist attraction today, it used to be China’s best form of defense and kept the civilisation unified for centuries. Paintings and sculptures were one of Ancient China’s trademarks. Ancient China had different subjects and techniques for their art than other civilisations. Sculptures were made mostly of jade and bronze, since they were the most prized materials in Ancient China. Jade was believed to have magical properties to preserve the dead. It was also special because it was very tough and had to be abraded and not carved to make pottery and other sculptures. Bronze was Shibu commonly used to make pottery, etc. Ancient Chinese had developed unique ways of casting bronze so it could be ornately decorated. Ancient China was also very advanced in ceramic production by the Shang dynasty. The design and invention of kilns meant very high and even temperatures reached throughout the ceramic piece. This made it possible to make ceramics of high quality. Paintings in Ancient china were of high quality as well. They usually portrayed religion, the rise of an emperor or the depiction of everyday life. Ouyang Xiu, and Chinese official and Master of Arts, introduced a new line of paintings expressing Confucianism instead of empty, meaningless art. Paintings and Sculptures were a hobby as well as a job in Ancient China; they prided themselves on their art. Sericulture, the raising of silkworms, originated in China millennia ago from a simple mistake. According to legend, in two hundred BC, Emperor Huang Di ordered his wife Xi Ling Shi to find out what was damaging the mulberry trees in their garden. She discovered small worms eat leaves and spinning cocoons. When taking them, Xi Sing Shi accidentally dropped a cocoon in hot water. It started to unravel, and she discovered the cocoon was made of a beautiful thread: silk. The Chinese kept the production of silk secret for centuries, but soon it became popular all over the world. Silk is a part of Chinese everyday clothing and art; without it, Ancient China would be a completely different civilisation. Ancient China, an advanced civilisation for their time, paid great importance to their religion, education, and art & architecture. A complex subject, Chinese mythology had many aspects to it, with many gods and spirits. The stories and calendars of Ancient China were also of great importance and were highly relied on. One of China’s most popular achievements was the Great Wall of China, which still stands almost untouched after thousands of years. Ancient China, one of the most civilisations of its time, has changed the world people live in today.
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