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Introduction and General Remarks for Ancient China


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Introduction and General Remarks for Ancient China
Ancient civilizations of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians have long disappeared, but Ancient Chinese civilization and its transformation to modern times has lasted as the largest and most enduring one in human history. This is even more remarkable when observing the numerous leitmotifs of the Chinese society that were inaugurated so long ago, and many of these themes still resonate today. Ancestral worship, the Mandate of Heaven, and the numerous philosophical ideas, especially of Confucius, have been practiced or used for thousands of years. Remote and mysterious are two adjectives that Western Society has applied to China until recently.
China is the only civilization where western thought had no influence until modern times, and also practically the only large region in the world where western men never ruled. For westerners, Chinese customs seem reversed to theirs. White is the color of mourning for the Chinese not black, and for them the left side is one of honor not the right side. Writing is read vertically from the top right-hand corner downward. These few differences reveal that Chinese culture evolved independently of western influences.
One can only marvel at the longevity of Chinese civilization.
Influence of Geography
Geography has played an important role in Chinese History as in most ancient, medieval, and modern cultures. While 85% of China is arid or inaccessible steppes, deserts or mountains, this has never kept China from creatively developing its natural resources. Today, China occupies nearly four million square miles, and is the third largest country in the world. Only
Russia and Canada are larger in area. Not until the early 1700’s did China reach its present size. About 3500 years ago it consisted of a number of small states in the region of the Hwang-He or Yellow River. Though the
Yellow River’s waters are nearly useless for navigation because of its swiftness and cataracts, its waters are vital for irrigation. Flooding was a common occurrence, but massive dikes were built to stop this. Silt left behind was great soil for growing crops. The Hwang-He still goes by its nickname as ‘China’s Sorrow,” and later on in the discussion on customs there will be a discussion on an important festival connected to this great waterway. During the course of many centuries the various rulers gradually pushed the frontier outward in all directions and China was welded into a strong and united empire.
The Division of Chinese History into Dynasties and the Cohesion and
Continuity of Chinese History
Chinese history is divided into dynasties like ancient Egypt, but with names not numbers. A particular dynasty was a family that stayed in power for a few to many centuries. With only a couple of exceptions, China was
ruled by dynasties for 4000 years. Names of the various dynasties are spelled differently, but the following ones will be discussed in this lecture:
Hsia, Shang, Chou or Zhou, Chin, and Han. Compared to the discontinuity and change of Ancient Indian and Ancient Mesopotamian civilizations, China is characterized by cohesion and continuity. While there were numerous invasions of China over the centuries, the Chinese were not forced to adopt the language or customs of their invaders. Rather invaders invariably became Chinese. All Chinese are mongoloids like their nomadic invaders.
The Chinese enjoyed racial and cultural homogeneity throughout their history. Later this homogeneity was further cemented by the standardization of their writing system, which enables speakers of widely differing dialects to communicate with each other. In contrast look at the sub-continent of India where even today there are fourteen national languages, and English is the linqua franca. Relative political unity has persisted and is important as their cultural continuity. Many scholars attribute this largely to the unique secularization of Chinese society. This was the only great civilization that never produced a priestly class. In fact, inventions were created by man not the deities as in other societies. Thus, no great division existed between the religious community and the laity, between church and state. Nor was there any counterpart to Ancient India’s
Epics that were steeped in metaphysics and concerned with personal salvation. Rather Chinese literature emphasized the life of human beings
and especially the relationships between members of the family; and between ruler and his subjects.
Pre-dynastic and the Hsia Dynasty
According to Chinese legends Huang-Ti was the founder of the Chinese
Civilization circa 2500 B.C.E. because he defeated the neighboring barbarians and united the Chinese people throughout the Yellow River plain.
To this day many Chinese call themselves descendants of the Yellow
Emperor. Before Huang-Ti the earth was ruled by deities, and according to the myths, during the reign of Huang-Ti and his four successors, the government of the world was perfect. The last successor Yu, founded the
Hsia Dynasty around 2000 B.C.E. Archaeological evidence has located the capitol of the Hsia. Yu was called the “great engineer” as he was considered the first to build large-scale waterworks to control the flooding of the Yellow River. In addition, the Hsia Dynasty fixed the lunar calendar of
366 days. Today the Chinese still use this Hsia calendar to base their traditional festivals’ dates.
The Early Invention of Silk
Other Chinese legends relate that Empress Hsi Ling-Shi discovered silk around 2000 B.C.E.
The emperor had told her to find out what was wrong with the mulberry trees in the garden. She found them covered with white

Confucius was known to have said the date was 2640 B.C.E.
worms spinning cocoons. By accident the empress dropped one of the cocoons into some hot water and when she removed it, the silk thread came out. This secret of making silk or the production of sericulture remained with the Chinese for about 3000 years. To discuss silk making with a barbarian or outsider was punishable by death.2 There will be discussion later on the Silk Road.
The Shang Dynasty and the Invention of Writing
Sometime in the 16th century B.C.E. the Hsia Dynasty was defeated by a neighboring tribe called the Shang. The Shang Dynasty, circa 1523-1027
B.C.E. marks the beginning of documented written Chinese history. Giving us our understanding of the Shang Dynasty, are 20,000 inscribed oracle bones. Modern Chinese writing evolved from this logographic script incised into scapula bones of oxen, tortoise shells, and later bamboo, wood, and silk. These oracle bones were originally used for divination, which is the art of telling future events through consulting the supernatural. The Chinese
Shaman was either a man or a woman, who would write down a question on the bone, drill holes in the bone, and when a hot poker was heated and then stabbed into the holes, further cracks appears. These cracks were then interpreted as an answer from the gods or an ancestor. Typical questions were: is the drought caused by ancestor X? If we raise an army of 3000 men

It was not until 550 C.E. when two Christian monks smuggled silkworm eggs and mulberry seeds out of
6 to drive them away will we succeed? Was it a propitious time for sowing or for gathering the harvest? When was the best time to take a journey or go hunting? Scholars did not know about this writing until some of them visited in the late nineteen century some Chinese herbal shops in Peking and noticed some writing on the pile of ground-up bones used in their medicinal remedies. These bones were then ground into powder and highly prized by druggists in China, becoming remedies for nervous disorders and other ailments.3 Ancestor Worship
During the Shang Dynasty their ruler was a king, but he was not considered divine like the Egyptian pharaoh. During this time only the king could consult a shaman, and offer sacrifices to his ancestors and other spirits. Some of these sacrifices were human. The evidence for this is found in Shang Dynasty tombs, bronze vessels, and huge bronze axes that were used by the executioners during the ritual sacrifices. On the ax were a half human and half animal face. Ancestors and their living descendants had reciprocal obligations. This concept of reciprocity is the essence of ancestor worship practiced by the Chinese today, and was true of the Ancient Greeks and other ancient cultures.

Not unlike the ground-up mummies’ powder used in Europe in Early Modern Centuries for curative care
Many oracle bones of the Shang Dynasty recorded solar and lunar eclipses. These Shang specialists became members of a Board of
Astronomers, which continued as part of the Chinese Government until the nineteenth century – for 3400 years. Their bronze vessels found in the tombs are considered by art historians unequaled in technical excellence and beauty. Bronze casting probably started about 2000 B.C.E. Jade was considered the most precious of all stones, and Chinese craftsmen were masters of executing the various colors of jade into dragons, and other animals. Zhou or Chou Dynasty and the Mandate of Heaven
“Now that the king has received the mandate, unbounded is the grace…heaven has removed and made an end to the great state [Shang]
Yin’s mandate…under the last king wise and good men lived in misery, leading their wives and carrying their children wailing and calling to heaven…oh, heaven had pity on the people of the four quarters, and looking with affection and giving its mandate, it employed the zealous ones [leaders of the Chou].” Thus the people of China heard their new Chou rulers justify their conquest of the Shang [Yin] Dynasty as the Mandate of Heaven. The
Chou told how the last Shang king had forfeited his right to rule by his personal immorality and tyrannical government, and so Di or Ti or Heaven had cut off the Shang’s Mandate to rule, and transferred it to the deserving
House of Chou. This concept of the Mandate of Heaven has remained the
cornerstone of Chinese political thinking up to this last century. For nearly
800 years, the Chou established the longest-lasting dynasty in Chinese history (from 11th century to 3rd century B.C.E.) Although the Chou rulers held the Title of Emperor, most of them were political figureheads. Within a few centuries after the conquest of the Shang, barbarians from outside really became the de facto powers, while the Chou rulers were only the de jure ones. During this new Dynasty, kings and commoners alike worshiped the spirits of their ancestors not just the rulers. Most of the commemorative bronze vessels cast and inscribed by Chou lords contained the following sentence: “May my sons and grandsons forever treasure and use this vessel,” meaning may the line continue and the descendants sacrifice to his spirit forever. Every family’s life was centered around its ancestral temple or shrine, but now the practice or human and animal sacrifices declined.
The Classical Age or the Age of Philosophers
During the Chou Dynasty the classical age or age of philosophers occurred. With the advent of Confucius’ thoughts and Taoism (Daoism), remarkable achievements occurred with the primary concern of ethics and the proper conduct in this life. Abstract questions that were dealt with in
Western metaphysics were not all that important to the Chinese. In later centuries Buddhism developed a different direction. Because of the
omnipresent warring during the Chou Dynasty, it is no wonder that many men pondered practical solutions to alleviate this chaotic course China was enduring. Confucius
Practical ”this-world” tendency is inherent in Chinese philosophy, and finds its fullest expression in Confucianism, which dominated Chinese thought for the last twenty-five centuries. Confucius’ teachings have probably influenced the lives of more people than any other body of thought in all of history.
Born in Northeast China probably about 551 B.C.E., Confucius lived less than a century before Socrates (the great philosopher of Ancient
Greece) and about the same time as the Buddha (India’s great philosopherteacher.)
During his boyhood, Confucius studied extensively, and became a government employee as a young man, an occupation that included teaching. Pondering the disorder of society, Confucius made efforts to persuade the feudal lords to adopt his ideas. His actions were unsuccessful, so Confucius spent the rest of his life teaching a small group of loyal followers his ideas. Confucius primarily was concerned with the behavior of human beings in this world. He paid little attention to such matters as sin, salvation, and fate of the soul. He believed that not until men learned to behave properly in this life could they turn their minds to problems of the
afterlife. If people would improve themselves, then both the individual and society would benefit. If people knew what was expected of them, then they would behave correctly. Confucius singled out five principal relationships in which people might be involved, and if all acted as recommended peace and harmony would result.
The Five Relationships of Confucius
The First relationship was between the ruler and his ministers.
Confucius placed a heavy burden on the ruler’s responsibility to his country to act as an outstanding example of proper social behavior. If he acted properly then his officials would be inspired to behave similarly. Wicked rulers that were brutal and dishonest could expect the same behavior from his ministers. The Second relationship was that of father and son.
Confucius called on fathers and sons to understand their obligations to each other. One of the foremost duties of father was to be a worthy model for his children, guiding their behavior and developing their character along the proper lines. As the father of accomplished children he could justly claim credit, but if they strayed, then it was the father’s fault. The son’s duties were to honor his parents while they lived and to respect their memory after their death. This filial piety was the highest virtue for Confucius. In the
Third relationship between the husband and wife, the husband was head of the family, responsible for maintaining memories of the ancestors, ensure the family name was passed to next generation, and keeping the good
reputation of the family. The wife’s duty was to bear sons. Harmony maintained between the oldest and younger brothers was the main maxim for the Fourth relationship. As the older son would someday be head of the family, his behavior was the model for his younger brothers. These youngest brothers in turn were to accept without complaint the special position of the oldest son. Finally, the Fifth relationship was between members of the community. Confucius had a “golden rule” to cover all other relationships: “Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.” Confucius’ Works and Pithy Sayings
After Confucius’ death in 479 B.C.E. his teachings were compiled by his followers into a book called the Analects. It is evident by his many
“sayings in his Analects that he recognized the strengths and weaknesses of the human character. Many of his richest pieces of wisdom are pithy and witty statements: a. “ Knowing what he knows and knowing what he doesn’t know, is characteristic of the person who knows.” b. “Making a mistake and not correcting it, is making another mistake.” c. “The superior man blames himself; the inferior man blames others.” Five other books dealing with more of Confucius ideas were called the Five Classics. Accepted by all Chinese as their heritage from ancient times, the world has incorporated “Confucius-like” sayings into fortune cookies.
Mencius (370-290 B.C.E.) was born about a century after the death of
Confucius, and was the greatest disciple of the famous sage. Like Confucius,
Mencius had faith in the basic goodness of people. Mencius thought that men were not obliged to be loyal to wicked rulers, and that people had the right to revolt against these oppressive and incapable rulers who neglected their responsibilities. This carried Confucius’ tenets one step further.
Taoism or Daoism
Confucianism had many rivals. Others did not agree with his ideas on what was wrong with society, or what might be done to remedy individual and society’s problems. Many followers were attracted to these philosophies either contemporary with Confucius or later. Two of the most successful were Taoism and legalism. According to tradition, the first great teacher of the philosophy of Taoism was Lao-Tsu (“Old Master”). Some scholars still doubt whether he was a real person. These ideas of Taoism were eventually recorded in the Book of the Way or Tao Te Ching. Taoism is not easily understood as its teachings cannot be conveyed by words alone, being similar to art, which must be viewed to be appreciated. Taoism must be sensed or felt, and is often called a mystical philosophy. The difficulty of making clear the meaning of Taoism once inspired a poet to write the following verse about Lao-Tsu and The Book of the Way. “Those who speak
know nothing; those who know are silent; these words, I am told were spoken by Lao-Tsu. If we are to believe that Lao-Tsu was himself one who knew how is it that he wrote a book of 5000 words? Taoists believed that man in his effort to understand the universe, divides it into many parts.
Man gives everything a name of its own, but in so doing he forgets that the natural world is an integrated whole. Man himself is merely one element of all the other elements in the natural world. If man is ignorant of his best interests in life, Taoists claim that society is largely responsible as human beings are not permitted to act in a completely natural way. To escape from man-made laws, man must find the way or the Tao. Formal knowledge and learning should be rejected, and reliance on one’s senses and instincts.
Peace of mind comes with behaving naturally and spontaneously. Taoists taught that government and its laws should be ignored as dangerous ideas.
Followers of Taoists withdrew into the mountains and forests, becoming hermits, and living with nature. Lao-Tsu is reported to have said: “Man follows the ways of the earth, the earth follows the ways of heaven, heaven follows the way of Tao, and Tao follows its own ways. There was usually a strong dash of Taoism in every Chinese to survive the strict relationships’ rules introduced by Confucius. Later on Taoism incorporated deities from
Confucius, Mencius, and other philosophers believed in the basic goodness of mankind and the world, but contrary beliefs were held by
Legalists. Legalists believed that man was bad by nature, so they had no interest in advancing the welfare of an individual. For the Legalists, wise rulers were to devote their energies to cracking the whip and keeping men in line. Severe laws backed by force were necessary to achieve the goals of rulers. Minor crimes and any failure to carry out government decrees were to be punished ruthlessly. They argued that if men were sternly dealt with for small crimes, then they would think seriously before committing major violations of the law. It was the Chin Emperor that used this methodology when the Zhou Dynasty was overthrown.

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...Economic systems are explored in terms of market characteristics: market economies, command economies, and mixed economies. Legal systems are discussed in terms of the protections they offer for business: intellectual property, product safety, liability and contracts. The opening case explores the political and economic situation in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez was elected president in 1998. The closing case describes the challenges facing Indonesia, a vast country populated mainly by Muslims that stretches over 17,000 islands. Indonesia, after decades of corruption and a near dictatorship, now has a newly elected president. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 2: NATIONAL DIFFERENCES IN POLITICAL ECONOMY Opening Case: Chavez’s Venezuela Introduction Political Systems Collectivism and Individualism Democracy and Totalitarianism Economic Systems Market Economy Command Economy Mixed Economy Legal...

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Epyllion Textile and Epyllion Style

...Riaz uddin al Mamun Major buyers : Mark & Spencer (M&S), G-Star, Celio, C&A 2 Address: Factory: Epyllio n Knit t ex & Epyllio n St yle Lt d. Jangaliapara, Banglabazar, Joydebpur, Gazipur, Bangladesh Plot # I/1, Road # 06, Section # 07, Mirpur I/A, Dhaka-1216. Bangladesh Tel: +880-2-9006028, 9006747, 9013897, Fax # 880-2-9007978, 9016994, Corporate office: Website: 3 4 5 History through time In the whole animal kingdom, only human being needs garment. Bengal Cotton Fabrics used to be exported to the Roman and Chinese empires as mentioned in Ptolemy's Geography and the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, and by the ancient Chinese travelers. Dhaka Muslin, a very finely woven cotton fabric, become a brand name in textile industry and attracted foreign buyers during the Mughal era of Bengal. Today's Muslin is a different fabric altogether; the art is all but lost. Nakshi Kantha, the embroidered quilt said to be indigenous to Bangladesh. Historical background of 'Epyllion Group' The...

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Policies of Tcs

... KUALA LUMPUR MEXICO CITY TAIPEI TORONTO and associates in BERLIN IBADAN © Rajiv Gandhi 1985 First published 1946 by The Signet Press, Calcutta Centenary Edition 1989 Sixth impression 1994 Printed at Rekha Printers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi 110020 and published by Neil O'Brien, Oxford University Press YMCA Library Building, Jai Singh Road, New Delhi 110001 To my colleagues and co-prisoners in the A h m a d n a g a r Fort Prison C a m p from 9 August 1942 to 28 March 1945 FOREWORD My father's three books — Glimpses of World History, An Autobiograpy and The Discovery of India — have been my companions through life. It is difficult to be detached about them. Indeed Glimpses was' written for me. It remains t h e best introduction to the story of man for young and growing people in India and all over the world. The Autobiography has been acclaimed as not merely the quest of one individual for freedom, b u t as an insight into the making of the mind of new India. I h a d to correct the proofs of Discovery while my father was away, I think in Calcutta, and I was in Allahabad ill with mumps! The Discovery delves deep into the sources- of India's national personality. Together, these books have moulded a whole generation of Indians and inspired persons from m a n y other countries. Books fascinated Jawaharlal Nehru. He sought out ideas. He was extraordinarily sensitive to literary beauty. In his writings he aimed at describing his motives a n d...

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