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HIST241: Pre-Modern Northeast Asia

Unit 3: China's Golden Age: The Sui, Tang, and Song Dynasties   After the fall of the Han dynasty in 589 C.E., China descended into political and cultural turmoil.  The bureaucracy collapsed and a “foreign” religion—Buddhism— replaced Confucianism as the primary force in cultural life.  The scholar-gentry lost power to landed families.  Decline was evident in technology, in the economy, and in the cities.  But beginning in the latter sixth century, three successive dynasties restored the Chinese bureaucracy and economy.  As you will see in this unit, the Sui, Tang and Song reinvigorated the Chinese political system, engineered massive public works projects, distributed land in an equitable manner and revived the Confucian order.  These influential dynasties ushered in China’s “golden age,” an era of technological, artistic, and literary flourishing that ultimately formed connections with the cultures and societies of Europe.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
Time Advisory: This unit should take you 16 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 3.1: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2: 1.75 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3: 4 hours ☐    Introduction: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 3.3.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 3.3.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3.4: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 3.4: 8.75 hours ☐    Introduction: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 3.4.1: 0.5 hour

☐    Subunit 3.4.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 3.4.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.4.4: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 3.4.6: 2.25 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
- Evaluate the agricultural and technological achievements of the Sui and Tang Dynasties and how they in turn affected the economic growth of the region. - Connect the prosperous Chinese economy with new trade networks leading to the west. - Examine the import of Buddhist thought and its affects on the existing Chinese schools of thought. - List the cultural achievements and demographic changes that occurred during the Song Dynasty

3.1 The Sui Dynasty   - Reading: Penn State University: Professor Gregory James Smits’ Topics in Pre-Modern Chinese History: “Chapter 8: The Middle Dynasties” Link: Penn State University: Professor Gregory James Smits’ Topics in Pre-Modern Chinese History: “Chapter 8: The Middle Dynasties” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link entitled “The Sui & Tang Dynasties” on the left-hand side of the webpage, and read the section in order to understand the technological and cultural changes that took place under the Sui and Tang Dynasties.  Note that this reading will cover the material you need to know for Subunits 3.1.1, 3.1.2, 3.2.1, and 3.2.2.  Some of the embedded hyperlinks in the text are broken, but most links provide images and additional resources for exploring.  Reading and taking notes should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.

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3.1.1 The Return of Centralized Dynastic Control   - Lecture: iTunes: The China History Podcast: Lazlo Montgomery’s “024 The Sui Dynasty” Link: iTunes: The China History Podcast: Lazlo Montgomery’s “024 The Sui Dynasty” (iTunes)
 
Instructions: Please scroll down the webpage to the “CHP-024 The Sui Dynasty” lecture, and select the “View in iTunes” link to launch the lecture.  Please listen to the entire 21-minute lecture from Lazlo Montgomery, an amateur historian who hosts the “China History Podcast” series.  This lecture will address the brief, but significant reign of the Sui Dynasty and will touch on religious (namely Buddhist), cultural, technological, and political aspects of Sui society.  The rise of the Sui Dynasty brought about an expansion in China’s canal system, culminating with one of, if not the most impressive accomplishment of the era, the building of the Grand Canal.  This transportation innovation greatly improved the flow of goods and people and remained a vital artery to Chinese commerce until the 19th century.  This topic is also covered by the first paragraph of the reading assigned below subunit 3.1.
 
Listening to this lecture and taking notes should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.

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3.1.2 Sui Excess and Collapse   Note: This topic is covered by the second paragraph of the reading assigned below subunit 3.1.  The early successes of the Sui soon became overshadowed by the military failures and strife of conscripted peasants.  Think about the following questions as you read.  In what ways did the Sui emperors lose the “Mandate of Heaven?”  How can we view the Grand Canal as both a success for the Tang and a cause for its eventual downfall? 

3.2 Emergence of the Tang Dynasty   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 3.1.  Focus specifically on the section entitled, “The Sui & Tang Dynasties,” (from the third paragraph to the end of the section) and “The Rise of the Scholar-Gentry Class.”  The implementation of the equal-field system and the expansion of the imperial civil service exams brought about a cultural an economic boom during the Tang Dynasty.  With its system of roads and an international capital at Chang’an, the Tang built on the triumphs of the Sui and ushered in a golden era of Chinese culture.

3.2.1 Cultural Importance of the Examination System   - Lecture: iTunes U: University of Louisville’s Survey of Asian Art: “Tang-1” Link: iTunes U: University of Louisville’s Survey of Asian Art: “Tang-1” (iTunes U)
 
Instructions: Scroll down to the title “Tang-1,” and select the “View in iTunes” link to launch the lecture.  Please watch this entire 34-minute podcast on the Tang Dynasty painting to gain a better understanding of how the examination system and the bureaucracy of the Tang influenced its cultural artifacts.  From scroll paintings to ceramics to calligraphy, this lecture will discuss aspects of the economy, military, and political administration of the Tang Dynasty.  The imperial civil service examination system created a large class of trustworthy and highly educated bureaucrats capable of coordinating the affairs of the state.  Viewing this lecture and taking notes should take you approximately 45 minutes to complete.
 
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3.2.2 The Growth of Buddhism in China   - Reading: University of Washington’s Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization History: Professor Patricia Buckley Ebrey’s “Buddhism” Link: University of Washington’s Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization History: Professor Patricia Buckley Ebrey’s “Buddhism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire webpage, and click on the sections “Images,” “Temples,” and “Practice,” (and the subsequent units within those sections) to gain an understanding of the role of Buddhism in China beginning with the Han Dynasty.  During the Tang and Song Dynasties, Buddhism became a dramatic force in Chinese culture.  Be sure to think about the questions provided on the webpage and how the religion of Buddhism fits with established cultural practices in Chinese society that we have explored so far in the course.  This reading and questions should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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3.3 The Song Dynasty   - Reading: Penn State University: Professor Gregory James Smits’ Topics in Pre-Modern Chinese History: “Chapter 8: The Middle Dynasties” Link: Penn State University: Professor Gregory James Smits’ Topics in Pre-Modern Chinese History: “Chapter 8: The Middle Dynasties” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link entitled “The Song Dynasty” on the left-hand side of the screen, and read the section to gain a background understanding of the massive changes that took place during the Song Dynasty.  Note that this reading will cover the material you need to know for Subunits 3.3.1 through 3.3.4.  Some of the embedded hyperlinks in the text are broken, but most links provide images and additional resources for exploring.  This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.

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3.3.1 Partial Restoration   Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 3.3.  After a period of about 60 years without one clear, dynastic rule, the Song came to power and built upon the foundations laid by the Han, Sui, and Tang.  A relatively weak dynasty militarily, the Song Dynasty witnessed an even greater expansion of the civil service examination system that marked a pronounced shift towards governance based on merit rather than familial connections. 

3.3.2 Revival of Confucian Thought   - Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Confucian Revival: “Neo-Confucianism” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Confucian Revival: “Neo-Confucianism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the section entitled “Neo-Confucianism” and all of the information in the yellow box on the left-hand side of the screen.  Click on the links in the yellow box to read associated content.  This reading will connect the use of Confucian texts during the Han Dynasty with the revival of their use in the Song period.  In what ways did Confucian scholars adapt and respond to the rise of Buddhism in China? This reading and question should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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3.3.3 Attempts at Reform   - Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Confucian Revival: “Scholar-Officials of the Song and the Examination System” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Confucian Revival: “Scholar-Officials of the Song and the Examination System” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire page in order to examine the expansion of the scholar-gentry class and the imperial civil service examination system under the Song Dynasty.  Be sure to also read the information and click on the hyperlinks in the yellow box at the bottom of the webpage entitled, “More about Scholar-Officials and the Civil Service Examinations” to expand your knowledge on the broader cultural implications of Confucianism and the exams in Song society.  In this section, you will explore how the Song used Han (and Tang) ideas and expanded the series of civil service exams in order to train a new class of bureaucrats as Confucian scholars capable of handling the growing governmental demands of the state.  This subunit builds upon the discussion of the examination system put in place by the Tang Dynasty as covered in subunit 3.2.  The reading assigned beneath subunit 3.3, specifically the section entitled “Rise of the Scholar-Gentry Class,” also covers this topic.  
 
You should dedicate approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to reading the text on the webpage, exploring embedded hyperlinks, and taking notes.
 
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3.3.4 The Rivals of the Song and the Flight to the South   - Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s Song Engagement with the Outside World: “Northern Rivals: Liao, Jin, Xi Xia, and the Mongols” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s Song Engagement with the Outside World: “Northern Rivals: Liao, Jin, Xi Xia, and the Mongols” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read all of the sections of this webpage to learn more about the rival groups who challenged the borders of the Song Dynasty and eventually forced its split and demise.  By placing the military under the leadership of civil servants rather than combat veterans, the Song Dynasty was militarily weak.  Invasions by the Khitan, Jurchen, and eventually the Mongols split the kingdom in two: Northern Song (960-1127) and Southern Song (1127-1279).  This webpage also contains links to further explore the Liao Dynasty and the rule of the Khitan.  You will read about the Mongols later in the course during Unit 6 on the Yuan Dynasty.  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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3.4 Culture and Society during the Golden Age   - Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Dynasty in China (960-1279): “Life in the Song Seen through a 12th Century Scroll” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Dynasty in China (960-1279): “Life in the Song Seen through a 12th Century Scroll” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage, including the sections “China in 1000 CE: The Most Advanced Society in the World” and “Why the Song Dynasty Is So Significant.”  Click on the link entitled “The Beijing Qingming Scroll: The Starting Point for This Unit” to see and read about the scroll that has been called China’s Mona Lisa.  This reading will lay a foundation for exploring the prosperous period of bureaucratic, cultural, and economic change that took place during the Song Dynasty.  Think about how the Song improved upon the foundational frameworks laid by previous dynasties.  This reading and note-taking should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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3.4.1 Population Rise   - Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Economic Revolution: “Population Boom” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Economic Revolution: “Population Boom” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this entire page to explore growth in population during the Song Dynasty.  Be sure to click on the link “Get a closer look at the street life around the city gate...” to view close-up images of the depiction of a Song city gate.  You can zoom in to see different members of Song society from a tax collector to workers to the exterior of an archery shop.  Keep these ideas in mind as you read the next two subunits on commercial expansion and urbanization during the Song Dynasty.  You should spend approximately 30 minutes reading the text and studying the interactive map of the city gate.
 
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3.4.2 Commercial Expansion and International Trade   - Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Economic Revolution: “Commercialization” and “From Copper Coins to Paper Notes” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Economic Revolution: “Commercialization” (HTML) and “From Copper Coins to Paper Notes” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read both of these pages to explore the Song Dynasty’s innovations in currency and commercialization.  With new commodities and growing urban areas, Chinese merchants sought innovative ways to pay for the sale of goods, including paper money.  Be sure to also read the information in the yellow box on the left-hand side of the “Commercialization” screen entitled, “Market Activity during the Song” to examine how Song merchants operated through local and state networks both in urban areas and the countryside.  Keep these ideas in mind as you read the next two subunits on urbanization and agriculture during the Song Dynasty.  You may also choose to click on the links at the bottom of the “Commercialization” page under the heading “More about Marco Polo” to explore the life of the Venetian merchant who visited China during the 13th century.  We will explore more of Polo’s writings later in the course as well.  You should dedicate approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to reading these webpages and exploring any embedded hyperlinks to read about associated content.
 
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  • Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s Song Engagement with the Outside World: “International Trade, Overland and Maritime and According to Marco Polo” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s Song Engagement with the Outside World: “International Trade, Overland and Maritime and According to Marco Polo” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read all of the sections on this page to understand the impact of foreign trade on the economy of the Song Dynasty.  Click on any embedded hyperlinks of interest to learn more about associated content.  What types of commodities moved over land and sea during the period?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of overland travel as compared to maritime trade?  Keep these ideas in mind as you read the next two subunits on urbanization and agriculture during the Song Dynasty.  This reading and these questions should take you approximately  1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
     
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3.4.3 Urban Environments   - Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Cities of the Song: “A New Kind of City Emerges” and “Hangzhou and the Urban Elite” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Cities of the Song: “A New Kind of City Emerges” (HTML) and “Hangzhou and the Urban Elite” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read both of these pages to explore the new urban environments created during the Song Dynasty.  By examining the lives of people from all classes, ranging from the poor to the elite, you can better understand the rapid urban expansion that took place during the period of the Song.  Be sure to also read the information in the yellow box on the left-hand side of the “A New Kind of City Emerges” screen entitled, “Kaifeng, Prosperous Capital of the Northern Song” to examine a brief description of the environment of the ancient city.  How do these descriptions compare with your own experiences navigating through large cities in our modern world?  How did the flow of goods from the Silk Roads affect the rise of cities during the Song?  This reading and these questions should take you approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
 
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3.4.4 Expanding Agrarian Production   - Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s Technological Advances during the Song: “Rice Cultivation” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s Technological Advances during the Song: “Rice Cultivation” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the section entitled “Rice Cultivation” and “A Labor-Intensive Crop” to learn about the agricultural changes that occurred during the Song Dynasty with regards to growing rice.  Be sure to also read the information in the yellow box on the left-hand side of the screen entitled, “New Varieties of Rice” to examine the early-ripening rice from Vietnam and how it impacted Chinese agriculture.  Please also click on the links at the bottom of the page to read more about rice cultivation in China and to see photographic images of archaeological sites.  Reading this main text and exploring the embedded hyperlinks for further information should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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3.4.5 The Family, Women, and Children   Note: This topic is covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 3.3.2.  Look specifically at the sections entitled, “The Centrality of the Family in Confucian Teaching,” “The Status of Women,” and “Children.”  Be sure to view each of the images of women and children displayed on the page.  How do these depictions relate to the characteristics of family life during the Song Dynasty as detailed on the website?  

3.4.6 Scholarship and Art   - Lecture: iTunes U: University of Louisville’s Survey of Asian Art: “Song Dynasties” Link: iTunes U: University of Louisville’s Survey of Asian Art: “Song Dynasties” (iTunes U)
 
Instructions: Scroll down to the title ‘Song Dynasties,” and click on the “View in iTunes” link to launch the lecture.  Please watch this entire 42-minute podcast on the flourishing of arts that takes place during the Song Dynasty.  Think about how the Song bureaucracy helps to propel the rise of calligraphy, landscape painting, and ceramics.  How does the art of the period change when the Song Imperial Court flees to the South?  Viewing this lecture, taking notes, and answering the question above should take you approximately 1 hour.
 
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  • Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators’ “Great Tang Poets: Li Bo, the "Outsider" Poet (701-762)” and Li Po’s “Drinking Alone by Moonlight” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: “Great Tang Poets: Li Bo, the "Outsider" Poet (701-762)” (Adobe Flash) and Li Po’s “Drinking Alone by Moonlight” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please click on both of the links above to learn about the poetry of Li Po/Li Bo.  Watch the brief 2-minute videos concerning the poet and his work, which includes commentary by Professor Paul Rouzer.  Li Po wrote extensively during the Tang era, compiling perhaps as many as 1000 poems.  However, Confucian thinkers of the Tang and Song eras criticized Po for his Daoist beliefs.  Nevertheless, his poetry influenced future generations of Western artists, including Gustav Mahler and Ezra Pound.  You should spend approximately 15 minutes with this reading and these brief video lectures.
               
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  • Reading: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Confucian Revival: “The Three Perfections and Su Shi” Link: Columbia University: Asia for Educators: Patricia Ebrey and Conrad Schirokauer’s The Song Confucian Revival: “The Three Perfections and Su Shi” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this entire page in order to examine the cultural pursuits of the scholar-gentry class and most notably the arts of poetry writing, calligraphy, and painting, collectively known as the “Three Perfections.”  This reading also highlights the poetry and calligraphy of the scholar-official Su Shi.  Be sure to also read the information in the yellow box on the left-hand side of the screen entitled, “More about Northern Song Painting and Calligraphy,” where you can click on a link that will further explore artistic works from the collection of the National Palace Museum.  Reading, note-taking, and exploring embedded hyperlinks should take approximately 1 hour.
     
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