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Ancient china essay

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					                                                                                                 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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