Traditional Chinese History
Traditional Chinese History
Li’s role in the Tradition of Chinese History
The literal meaning of li is rituals or ceremonies, social conduct rules and proper code of conduct or propriety. In the society of Chinese, the li concept is a peace, harmony and discipline promotion factor. Li has three categorical concepts as discussed in the next paragraph.
Ceremony or ritual as the first li concept is a service of religion involved with actions that are performed in an order that is fixed. Proper code of conduct or propriety is li’s second concept. It defines special relationships within a well organized system where everyone has explicit attitudes toward another. It makes a man to have moral discipline in his own conduct. Social conduct rules are li’s third notion that means laws of customs. It discourages punishment as a form of correction (Ritual and the Life Cycle, ppt).
Li is a type of law mainly concerned with the observation of the cultural and customs of the Chinese. It encourages the use of common sense in every aspect of life one is involved in. In China, rituals were performed as a way of reconciling with others and also as a show of respect which was considered a responsibility to the society. As a result, few squabbles were witnessed among the Chinese (Ebrey 2010, 76).
Sage uses li to find that which is appropriate as it sets example admired and followed by others. The word ritual in China refers to ancestral worship ceremonies, parent’s burial and rules guiding the relationship between children and parents: rulers and servants. Propriety is concerned with what should be done in the right manner.
As a result, several schools of thought for philosophy emerged. Consequently, only three traditions of philosophy have shaped and had a great impact on the culture of Chinese. Such include Confucianism that deals with relationships between humans, Buddhism that favors philosophy than religion and Taoism that deals with how nature brings harmony to human. The three are teachings of philosophy but not religions as far as the Chinese are concerned (Ppt, The Hundred Schools of Thought).
It is a religion of a family, a daily life and an organizations social philosophy. It is a school of thought with lots of emphasis on individual’s mutual relationship with fellow man. Despite being a religion belief system, it is ethical and based on the relationship’s concept. According to philosopher Confucius, obligations and responsibility has a dual aspect in relationships that must be fulfilled (Ebrey 2010, 82). Confucianicism states that man can be improved through teaching and perfected via communal and endeavour that is personal. Basically, it stresses the vitality of the relationships of human and how they should live in harmony (Confucius and Confucianism ppt).
Confucius argues that man’s behavior and actions are portrayed in his personality in the five relationships. Such include parental, conjugal, governmental, friendship and fraternal. For instance, mundane such as helping an old man carry a load can cause a different feeling on a person. By doing what one loves and enjoys, his desires are satisfied. A person is well positioned if she is aware of her likes and dislikes (Ebrey 2010, 43). Eventually, a person will understand herself much better and even be extra ordinary with an influence that is incredible.
The ethical ideas of philosophy of Confucian are perfected through practice. Under the right circumstances and with encouragement, Confucianism holds that individuals can control their emotions. It is also considered that for the mind to be thoughtful enough then it should be in its fresh and pure state. Li is embodied in the mind and is not influenced by the external factors. It is a fact that knowing what to do and doing it rightly is compatible. Additionally, Confucius argues that the heart and the mind work together and one should not just do what he thinks should be done but also what his heart desires. In so doing, the desired decisions and responses are achieved simultaneously (Ppt, Confucius and Confucianism).
TaoismTaoism emerged the same time as Confuniacism. It was the Chinese tradition of religion practiced centuries ago. Lao-Tse is believed by many as the founder of Taoism, a present-day of Confucius. It is the power that governs both the living and non-living things and provides equality in the universe. It indicates that for anything right to exist, then its opposite wrong side exists too. Though it commenced as a combination of both the philosophy and psychology, Taoism, in 440CE, evolved into a religious faith and the state adopted it as a religion.
Taoism state support ended in 1911 with the end of Ching dynasty. In the next period of warlordism, heritage of Taoism was destroyed and there was no more freedom of religion after the victory of Communist in 1949. Temples were confiscated and treasures pillaged as manual labor was put to monks.
Buddhism originated from India after being established by Siddhartha Gautama who was a Confucius contemporary. It got its way into China during Empire Han Ming Ti ruling. Its impact was not immediately felt as the Chinese were resistant to it due to their emphasis toward relationship’s rituals that revolve around society and family. Eventually, its fame came during the great time of barbaric and social indecision (Ppt, Buddhism in China).
Gautama realized and felt saddened by the fact that human was suffering and decided to look for alternative means of bringing comfort. He realized that the human can overcome pain by overcoming his own desires. He, therefore, came up with a set of rules known as the Eightfold Path that are similar to the biblical Ten Commandments. The mindset was to bring peace that is spiritual where it is believed that harmony substitutes pain.In summation, li concept is a factor that aids in the promotion of peace in the society of Chinese as it encourages living together harmoniously. China Buddhism incorporates practices of religion that the Chinese believe bring salvation to them. There has been a mix of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism since the incoming rule of Song Dynasty. The resultant mix is the philosophy and culture of Chinese. However, the role of li changed a bit as a result of the changes in governance.
The Han DynastyFounded by the rebel leader, Liu Bang, the imperial Han Dynasty was the first in China that lasted for a longer time. It rebelled against Qin Dynasty that was the government so oppressive. Liu Bang and his lieutenants created a stable government after several years of political instability. The Han Dynasty is more of a golden age to the Chinese in their history. It is composed of two periods that include the former Han Qianhan and the later Han Houhan. Geographically, Han Qianhan represents the western Han Xihan and the Han Houhan represents the Eastern Han Donghan (The Han Dynasty–Part One, Political History ppt).The court residence was in Changan during the Western Han rule and in the Luoyang during the Eastern Han government. The capital shifting from Western to Eastern is a pattern similar to those preceding governments. The only variation is that unlike the other dynasties that shifted as a result of military divergences, the Han Dynasty capital shifting was due to economic and political reasons.Equipped with apparatus of administration inherited from the Qin Dynasty, Liu Bang formed a government run on the basis of the Confucianism doctrines which ensured that the people’s welfare were well-taken care of. Measures of strict control of the finances of the state were put into place. Qin’s policy of legalists was adopted and a system that is censorial applied for registration of all the members of households. Bang’s administration came up with strict measures to put the local government into check (Ppt, The Han Dynasty–Part One, Political History)In the Han Dynasty, there were regions that were under the extreme control of the central government called commanderies which were administered by military commanders. The commanders were responsible for revenue collection and ensuring that peace prevailed. Due to rebellion from seven other states, these commanderies lost their independence. In 200BC, the Han Dynasty was defeated by Xiongnu and was forced to join the government as an inferior member. Xiongnu’s continued attacks on the Han’s borders forced the leader then, emperor Wu to launch a counter military strike that finally led to the defeat of Xiangnu.The sovereignty of Han thus extended to the basin of Tarim of Central Asia after the conquering of Xiongnu, which was then divided into two distinct confederations. As a result, there was the start of trade along the Silk Road that extended all the way to the Mediterranean. Chinese silk had demand in the Roman Empire market and, as a result, there was an increment in the level of their wealth. Precious ores such as silver and gold were also traded on.Schools were established under the Han administration so as to promote the ideals of the official scholars. Additionally, the university was further established where the classics of Confucian were studied and thereafter the young graduates became bureaucrats. As the number of graduates increased the state became autocratic (Ebrey 2010, 53). With time, a political culture that was bureaucratic was formed. It helped balance the partnership among the scholars, political and economic elite. The Economy and the Social OrderThe Han leadership formed coalitions with other leaders thus they were able to get social support from other diverse regions. The strategy ensured that the tax base widened hence there was more revenue collection. Promotion of business growth by the state pushed the merchants to form a business partnership with the ruling elites. Funds raised through trade in salt and silk was used in financing the military functions.There was paper invention that improved the Chinese lifestyle. People started writing as painting with scroll commenced. Confucius teaching would be written as well as literature. The Han administration controlled the businesses of merchants as peasants got dignified treatment for being productive Expansion of the Silk Road and the EmpireSignificant economic achievement of the Han’s Dynasty was the opening and expansion of the Silk Road. Canals were built for better and efficient movement of goods and merchants who took advantage of the canals made wealth and invested. Eventually, this opened up other routes that merchants could follow to reach out to the customers. As a result, the empire prospered economically and the intermingling led in exchange of cultures. The creation and expansion of an army that is powerful was essential to the expansion of the empire borders. The traders were, therefore, assured of security along the Silk Road Settlement of traders and farmers brought lots of development along the Silk Road due to the government’s support.Canals were built for better and efficient movement of goods and merchants who took advantage of the canals made wealth and invested. The largest Chinese work of historiography known as the Grand Historian Records was done during the Han Dynasty by Sima Qian. The historiography contains the Chinese history that dates back to 2,000 years ago. It is also during the Han’s reign that the whole modern China proper the Northern Vietnam among others was incorporated into China.Generally, the Han Dynasty rule brought about changes in social, political and economic arena due to trade expansion and political stability.
Purpose and Effects of Zheng He Voyages
Expedition and admirals of the eunuch are extensively addressed by Dreyer. Zheng He led seven voyages of the Chinese to Asian Southeast and the Indian Ocean accompanied by thousands of men in a fleet of ships. He followed the routes of trade already known by his men. The idea of the explorations was to make foreign emperors submit to China.Zheng He, a eunuch, and others were instructed to take orders of Imperial to the Western’s oceans various countries. They were to appropriately bestow upon the kings of the countries they visited with thin silks that were variegated and entwined with threads of gold. On the second day of October, 1407, Zheng He, who was the eunuch’s director, returned from the various western ocean’s countries where he had been. He brought with him, Chen Zu-yi who was a pirate and others in shackles (Zheng He: Ambassador of Peace or Conqueror?).
Of the seven voyages, one occurred under the reign of Xuande while the other remaining six happened during the reign of Yongle. Zheng He used valuable gifts during the voyages which he gave to the ruling elites as a way of easy dialogue and persuasion. His ability to conceptual the customs and practices of the hosts was key to making quick mutual ties. It is during this period that China’s business connections with the outside world expanded (Ebrey, 64). The empire was always pleased with He and gave him a go ahead to organize several voyages during his tenure. As a result, though other kingdoms were captured and borders expanded, the Chinese economy grew due to the expansion in growth. Every single voyage had a stipulated target.
He had previously come across Zu-yi and others when he arrived at Old Port 1 and sent his people to bring them to the pacification that had been negotiated. He discovered that Zu-yi pretended to have surrendered yet he had a secret plan to attack the Imperial army. His over 5,000 bandit gangs were killed, ten of the ships of the Zu-yi gang were burnt too and the number of ships captured was seven. It was Zu-yi’s greatest loss and defeat. An order was issued that all the captured prisoners be beheaded on arrival at the capital (Zheng He: Ambassador of Peace or Conqueror?).
On eighth October, 1407, temple 3 of the new heaven’s Tempress at Long jiang 4 was accomplished. The Court of Imperial sacrifice’s vice minister, Zhu Zhuo, was sent to dedicate the temple and offer sacrifices. It was at a time when the eunuch Zheng He had returned from Melaka, Calicut and other five countries of fan on a mission. The temple was eventually erected since Zheng He said that the spirits were of great help during his missions (Zheng He: Ambassador of Peace or Conqueror?).
The purpose of Zheng He’s voyages was to create a relationship of trading ties between China and other global countries. Though He managed to connect China with other nations, during his voyages, there were casualties they faced with his troop. The number of lives and property lost during this phase is of great negative effect than the positive effects. Zheng He did little to protect other people’s lives and property while he was on a mission to connect his country on matters related to trade (Ebrey 2010, 48). Contrary to the Chinese belief on relationships, Zheng’s missions during his expeditions were not totally pro propriety. The missions were based on developing business ties and expansion of China borders and actually having a mutual kind of relationships with the visited nations.
Ebrey, P. B. (2010). The Cambridge illustrated history of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ppt, Buddhism in China
Ppt, Ritual and the Life Cycle
Ppt, The Han Dynasty–Part One, Political History
Ppt, The Han Dynasty–Part One, Political History
Ppt, The Hundred Schools of ThoughtZheng He: Ambassador of Peace or Conqueror?).