Song Dynasty (960 CE-1279 CE)

Sarah Firdaus and Gauri Girirajan pd-6

Politics

The rulers of China did several things to make China more unified. One thing was the civil service exam. Out of thousands of applicants only 200 were chosen. This made sure that only the most qualified of people ruled China at the time. You were appointed based on ability not wealth. The Song dynasty was also divided into two time periods called the Northern song and the Southern song. The Song dynasty in China was founded by a man named Sung T'ai Tsu. After a short term of fighting, he rose to power. The Song lost power to corruption and getting too comfortable with their wealth. They also couldn't hold on to their southern territories. This is what happened to many other dynasties. But although the Song dynasty's political system was one of the best, it fell just like all the other dynasties.
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Sung T'ai Tsu was the founder of the Song dynasty.

Religion, Culture and Social Life

There were certain rules in culture back in the time of the Song dynasty. Some of those things were VERY different than what we experience in life today. For example, women were only respected if they gave birth to sons and even that was eventually. Women also left their family when they got married. As you can imagine the status of women declined during this period of time. But children were highly valued as they carried on the family into the next generation. This dynasty encouraged many different beliefs some being Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. This dynasty also incorporated art into many things. For example, people made sculpted representations of Bhudda and landscape paintings. They also did oral storytelling and conventional poetry and people played the two-stringed fiddle.
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A wooden Bodhisattva statue from the Song dynasty.

Inventions/Technology/Science & Architecture

Printing, paper money, porcelain, restaurants, gunpowder, the compass, tea and much more! The number of things the Song dynasty gave to China is amazing! Many things we have today came from ancient China.The Song dynasty provided some of the most significant technology advances in Chinese history.The Song dynasty promoted the publication of texts. Printing technology in the form of movable type was invented by Bi Sheng in the 11th century. Movable type alongside woodblock painting increased literacy with the mass production of printed materials. Because printing was now invented the production of paper money also started. For centuries, the basic unit of currency in China was the bronze or copper coin with a hole in the center for stringing. Large business deals were calculated in terms of strings of coins, but given their weight these were difficult to carry long distances. As trade increased, demand for money grew. The government created more coins but now it was getting harder keeping the heavy coins. From the production of printing the paper money was finally made. Tea had also had been invented previously but it was really in the Song Dynasty that tea reached its cult status. It was drunk out of very beautiful, extraordinarily exquisite tea bowls made from porcelain, one of the glories of the Song Dynasty. The architecture of the Song dynasty was noted for its towering Buddhist Pagodas, enormous stone and wooden bridges, lavish tombs, and extravagant palaces. The highest structure in Kaifeng, Northern Song’s capital, was a pagoda. The temples in the dynasty were often the first thing a person saw when they first came.

Economics

Merchants, traders and artisans were occupations that grew and were important during the Song dynasty. Merchants engaged in overseas trade through investments in trading vessels and trade which reached ports as far away as East Africa. The Song dynasty traded with its northern neighbors was set up by the payments Song made to them. The Song dynasty contributed to trade by setting up supervised markets along the border to encourage this trade. Chinese goods that flowed north in large quantities included tea, silk, copper coins (widely used as a currency outside of China), paper and printed books, porcelain, lacquerware, jewelry, rice and other grains, ginger and other spices. The return flow included some of the silver that had originated with the Song and the horses that Song desperately needed for its armies, but also other animals such as camel and sheep, as well as goods that had traveled across the Silk Road, including fine Indian and Persian cotton cloth, precious gems, incense, and perfumes.

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Camels, loaded with goods, about to exit the city through the gate, Beijing scroll