The Zhou Dynasty in China: Culture and Rule

History 2023

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The Zhou Dynasty in China: Culture and Rule
The Zhou Dynasty in China: Culture and Rule

The Zhou Dynasty, which lasted more than 800 years, is one of the periods of China's ancient history. It is also called the Third Civilization. Its beginning is considered to be 1045 BC, the sunset falls on 249 BC. This is the most important era that has played a significant role in history. Wen-wang became the founder of the dynasty.

zhou dynasty culture

Prerequisites for the formation of the Zhou civilization

Zhou tribes in the 12th century BC lived in Southeast and East Asia in the Yellow River basin. They were engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture. According to the history of China, the ruling Shang dynasty, as a result of weakening, was defeated by the Zhou tribes, who occupied its territory, on which an early feudal state was formed.

The founder of the Zhou dynasty in China is considered to be Wen-wang, who reformed the system of tribal relations, creating a powerful principality on the border of the Shan state. This was facilitated by the transformation of a large part of the Zhou tribes from nomadic pastoralists into settled farmers, which lasted for severalprevious generations. They were getting high yields using irrigation irrigation systems.

Establishment of the State

The successor of his father's work and the first king of Zhou is Wu-wang, who builds a state in the likeness of Shan. He moved the capital to the city of Hao, located in the area of ​​\u200b\u200bmodern Xian. In the territories conquered from the Shang dynasty, the new rulers built a social structure, which historians commonly call Zhou feudalism. The gradual conquest of territories and the increase in population led to the complication of the social and administrative structure.

Zhou dynasty and its contribution to Chinese culture

Periods of the Zhou Dynasty in Ancient China

Depending on the military and political influence, the Zhou era is divided into two periods, which are commonly called:

1. Western Zhou. It was from this period that the formation of a new powerful state began. Occupies the period from 1045 to 770 BC. This is the heyday of the era, the time of possession of territories in the basin of the middle Huang He by the Zhou dynasty. Briefly, it can be described as the formation and rise of a powerful state. At the end, his capital was moved to Loyi (modern Luoyang).

2. Eastern Zhou. Late period from 770 to 256 BC The time of the gradual diminishing of the Zhou hegemony and the disintegration of the unified state into separate kingdoms. It is customary to divide it into sub-periods:

  • Chunqiu (Spring and autumn). This period, as the legend says, was edited by Confucius himself. It lasted from 770-480 BC. e. It can be characterizedin the following way. The territory of China was divided into many small kingdoms, which were inhabited by both the Zhou peoples and other peoples. All of them were under the rule of the rulers of the Zhou dynasty. Gradually, the real power of the House of Zhou became nominal.
  • Zhanguo (Warring States). Lasted in 480-256 BC. All kingdoms seemed to be in motion. Territories were constantly changing, as internecine wars were going on, which led to the weakening of the state and to the sad result of the collapse into small kingdoms.

Zhou feudalism

The country's social system during the Zhou Dynasty had a number of distinctive features. The king (wang) appointed rulers to the conquered lands (destinies), who were called zhuhou. They were given the titles of hou and guna. Often such positions were held by representatives of the lower lines of the dynasty. If the kingdoms recognized the Zhou hegemony, then their rulers were recognized as appanage with mandatory conditions for paying tribute and participating in hostilities on the side of the dynasty.

The rulers were constantly at war with each other, seizing the lands of their neighbors. Rule in many provinces was also established by the likes of Zhou. This led to the failure that many of them proclaimed themselves baths, which led to the undermining of stability in the state. After a certain time, the central government was no longer considered.

zhou dynasty in ancient china

Western Zhou

Public education was ethnically mixed, heterogeneous and imperfect. When seizing territories as a result of hostilities, theywere given to the management of the Chou feudal lords or retained local rulers who recognized their rule. For supervision, observers from the Zhou van were left. Strong control of the provinces continued until 772 BC

At this time, an event occurred when the Zhou king Yu-wang kicked out his wife. Instead, a concubine was taken. The father of the disgraced wife went to war against Yu-van, having previously concluded an alliance with nomadic tribes. After his overthrow, the queen's son Ping-wang was declared the new king, who was recognized by a number of authoritative district rulers. The city of Luoyang became the capital of the state. It is these events that Chinese historians associate with the beginning of the decline of the Zhou dynasty in ancient China.

zhou dynasty briefly

Socio-political structure of the state

The great importance of the Zhou dynasty is noticeable in the process of formation of the early feudal state. Its signs can be observed already at the initial stages of its formation. During the early dynasty, a hierarchical system of ranks was strictly observed. The highest rank - "van" - could have only one person. It was passed on to the eldest son by inheritance. The rest of the children went down one rank and received hereditary possessions. They also left their rank to the eldest son, the rest descended even lower. The next in rank were the heads of large family clans. Ordinary people closed this system.

Belonging to one or another rank determined a strictly regulated way of life. This concerned everyday life, clothing, nutrition, the shape and size of the house, its decoration, the ceremony of relations between elders andjunior ranks. Even the number of trees on the graves was definite. This was done in order to be able to determine the place on the hierarchical ladder, which in the Zhou dynasty was determined solely by origin.

Heirs of high ranks could become commoners. Thus, the whole state was like one patriarchal community. Crafts and trade were the lot of the common people. Here, we alth could not change the location on the hierarchical ladder. Even a very rich merchant was still a commoner.

zhou dynasty

Eastern Zhou

This period lasted more than five hundred years, and its beginning is associated with the transfer of the capital. A number of circumstances forced this to be done, in particular, protection from the Rong tribe living in the north and north-west of the Zhou state. The state did not have the opportunity to resist him, which undermined his authority.

This had a negative impact on the influence of the Zhou dynasty. Gradually, independent provinces began to move away from it. In a short time, only the territory to which the influence of the Zhou domain extended was preserved. He was left alone, which practically equated him to specific principalities.

Spring and autumn

This is a time span from 722 to 480 BC. in the history of China is reflected in the collection of chronological comments "Zozhuan" and "Chunqiu". Zhou's power was still strong enough. The 15 vassal provinces recognized the leadership of the Zhou Dynasty.

At the same time, the kingdoms of Qi, Qin, Chu, Jin, Zheng werestrong and independent. They interfered in all the affairs of the royal court, dictated political conditions. Most of their rulers received the title of Vanir, which further strengthened their position. It was at this time that there were significant changes in the balance of power and changes in spheres of influence, which ultimately led to the collapse of the once great state.

zhou dynasty in china

Warring States (Zhanguo)

The duration of this period is from 480 to 221 BC. According to the chronicles, it continued for another 34 years after the collapse of the Zhou dynasty. These were battles for dominance. The once powerful state broke up into three large kingdoms - Wei, Zhao and Han.

The main opposition took place between 9 kingdoms, the rulers of which received the title of van. In short, the Zhou Dynasty no longer had influence. As a result of a difficult and many years of war, the Ying dynasty won and the Qin era began.

Significance of the Zhou Dynasty

Cultural Heritage

Despite the constant military conflicts, the Zhou era was a time of cultural and economic upsurge. Trade has developed significantly. The built channels played the most important role in this. Trade and economic relations with other civilizations had a certain impact on the development of the state. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the Zhou Dynasty and its contribution to the Chinese cultural and economic heritage.

It was during this era that round money became widespread in China. The first educational institution was created, whichwas called "Jixia Academy". Objects of arts and crafts, such as bronze and silver mirrors, various lacquered household items, jade crafts and jewelry, appeared during this era.

A special place in the culture of the Zhou dynasty was occupied by the development of philosophy, which was represented by various currents. This has been known in history as the "hundred philosophical schools". The most famous of its representatives was Kung Fu Tzu, whom we know as Confucius. He is the founder of Confucianism. The founder of another trend of Taoism is Lao Tzu. The founder of Moism was Mo-Tzu.

It should be noted that the culture of the Zhou era did not originate from scratch. It arose from the Shan culture, which wise rulers did not destroy, as is often the case in history, but took it as a basis. The economic development and peculiarities of the Zhou social system gave impetus to the formation of many directions in the culture of the new state, which occupies a special place in the great heritage of China.

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