The First Chinese Dynasty The Huang He (HWANG HUH) River valley was the birth place of Chinese civilization. - We know this because of the artifacts (clay pots and cups) that archeologists have unearthed. Huang He River (“China’s Sorrow) Huang He River (“China’s Sorrow) • Archeologists think that people settled in the valley because of its rich soil. • The early people farmed the land and used the river for travel and trade. • As the population grew, the Chinese began building towns. Myths and Legends • Like other early civilizations, the ancient Chinese created myths to explain the creation of their world. • One myth is about a great hero named Yu. According the legend, Yu dug the first channels to control the flood waters of the Huang He. Yu the Great, a legendary ruler of Ancient China, controls the water. The Legend Continues… • Legend has it that Yu founded China’s first dynasty. • That dynasty, named the Xia (SHYAH), supposedly began about 2000B.C. • Archeologists have not found any historical evidence of the Xia. • Based on written records, China’s first dynasty is the Shang. Who were the Shang? • Archeologists have unearthed long-buried walls and buildings. These ruins show that the Shang built the first cities in China. • The capital was Anyang (AHNYAHNG). A palace and a temple stood in the center of the city. • Public buildings and homes of government officials circled the central area. • Outside the city center were workshops and other homes. Shang Dynasty ruins The Shang • The king was the most powerful person, serving as the political, religious, and military leader of the Shang Dynasty. • At first, Shang’s kings controlled only a small area of northern China, but over time, they conquered neighboring areas and ruled over most of the people of the Huang He valley. Early Shang King Growth of the Shang Kingdom • As the Shang kingdom grew, kings sent out large armies to defend the kingdom's borders. • The kings appointed warlords, military leaders who lead their own armies. • Shang kings relied on the warlords to stay in power. Shang Social Classes • Under the king, warlords and other royal officials formed the upper class. They were the aristocrats, people of noble birth whose wealth came from the land they owned. • Most people of Shang China were farmers. They lived in in rural villages and worked the land that belonged to the aristocrats. They raised cattle, sheep, and chickens, and they grew grains. • Finally, there were much smaller groups of merchants, artisans, and slaves. Shang Religion • Shang people worshipped many gods. • The god Shang Ti ruled as a supreme god over the lesser gods. • According to legend, the gods lived in the mountains, rivers, and seas. • The early Chinese admired and feared gods. • They believed that the gods could bring both good and bad fortune. • They attempted to please the gods by offering them gifts of food and other goods. Shang Ti (sometimes referred to as Shangdi) Shang Chinese Culture • They also honored their ancestors, or longdead family members. • They made offering to their ancestors. • They hoped that their ancestors would bring good luck and help them in difficult times. • Today, may Chinese still pay respect to their ancestors by going to temples and burning small paper copies of food, clothing, and other items. • These copies represent things that departed relatives need in the afterlife. Seeking Guidance from Ancestors • Shang kings believed that they received their power to rule from the gods and their wisdom from their ancestors. – Because of this, religion and government were very closely linked. – For the king, a very important duty was to contact the gods and the ancestors before making important decisions. • The kings asked for help by using oracle bones. – They instructed priests to scratch questions on the bones such as “Will I win the battle?” or “Will the harvest be abundant?” – Priests heated the bones over a fire until they cracked. – The patterns of the cracks provided answers from the gods and ancestors. Ancient Chinese Writing • The ancient Chinese wrote in pictographs, characters that represent objects, and ideographs, another type of character that links two or more pictographs to express an idea. Pictograph to represent “tree” • The English alphabet uses characters that represent sounds, but the Chinese language uses characters that represent entire words. Ideograph to represent “forest” Shang Arts Shang dagger c. 1650 B.C. • The Shang created some of the finest bronze objects ever made. – These included sculptures, daggers, vases, cups, and urns. Silk Worm • Some of the farmers raised silk worms, and the weavers made the silk into colorful clothing for the wealthy. • Artisans crafted vases and dishes from kaolin (KAY eh lehn), a fine, white clay. • They also carved statues and objects from ivory and a green stone called jade. Shang Kaolin c. 1600 B.C. Shang Jade c. 1100 B.C. Check your Knowledge 1. Who was the most powerful person in the Shang Dynasty, and what were his responsibilities? 2. Who were the warlords? 3. Explain how religion and government were very closely linked in the Shang Dynasty. 4. What was an oracle bone, and how was it used? Explain its purpose.