The Song Dynasty

Civil Service Exam

What is the Civil Service Exam?

The Civil Service Exam is a test created to open up government jobs to more candidates. It was based off the teachings on Neo-Confucianism, which blended the way or Confucianism with elements of Buddhism. The Song Dynasty relied on it to open more opportunities and maintain their meritocracy.

What was the test like?

The test was a difficult, long event. Very few passed it, and it took many tries. The questions came from the Four Books, which were writings created by Zhu Xi's comments on classic Chinese writings. The requirements included writing poetry and exams in certain styles, social questions, and political issues. The candidates were stuck in rooms for days to prevent cheating. Examiners were not allowed to favorite, and clerks copied each candidates answers to prevent handwriting recognition. Names were also replaced with numbers to keep everything fair.

Who could take the exam?

Originally it was just the upper class, but as time went on, lower class men expanded to be able to test too, though it took much more work. They had to go to certain schools, take certain tests, and study very hard to even have the chance.
Class C Role Of Civil Service Exams

Influence of Confucianism

The exams were influenced by a new school of thought know as neo-Confucianism This new teaching blended the teachings of Confucianism with elements of Buddhism and Daoism ( Two traditional religions in China). A Confucian scholar, Zhu Xi, commented on Classic Chinese writings. Confucius taught that people must act properly in five important relationships. ruler and subject, father and son, older brother and younger brother, husband and wife, friend and friend. In particular, subject must be loyal to their rulers song emperors and scholar believed that officials who had studied Confucius would be rational.
Song Dynasty

Politics of the Song Dynasty

The Song Dynasty arguably has the best political structure in all of China’s history. The Song Dynasty was basically the rule of the scholars, but it was a time of opportunity. Anyone could be in the government during the Song Dynasty.

Like the previous dynasties, the Song used the Civil Service Exam to determine who could be a government official. Also, like the Tang, the Song allowed everyone to take the Civil Service Exam, however they also provided state supported education. This way commoners could also have a chance at passing the Civil Service Exam. The new systems, based on what people could actually do, was called Meritocracy.

The Civil Service Exam was based on Neo-Confucianism, a blend of teachings from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism. Four books were written to explain teachings of Neo-Confucianism. A common study for the tests was based off those four books. Confucianism had Five basic relationships to follow. They were Ruler-Subject, Father-Son, Older sibling-Younger sibling, Husband-Wife, and Friend-Friend.All of those except for friend has a higher person in the relationship. The higher person should always treat other with kindness and not be mean to them. The people below should listen to and treat the higher people with respect. The subject in Ruler-Subject relationship should be loyal to their rulers.

The Civil Service Exam was made so nobody could ever cheat.The exams were not easy and those who had passed had to wait years until their first appointment. The job they were offered was always away from home. It was like that so people could not play favorites to friend and family.The people that got the jobs were normally happy that they got such respected jobs. The had to wait about three years until they could get a moved up in rank or get a promotion.

Technological Advances of the Song Dynasty

Use of Gunpowder

The song Dynasty started upgrading their weapons with the use of gunpowder. The first appearances of the flame thrower, explosive grenades, fire arms, cannons, and land mines allowed the Song Chinese to fight off enemies until the big collapse.

Mechanical Navigation & Distance Measuring

The Chinese used a mechanical odometer to measure the distances traveled within the empire. The odometer was in a wheel formed carriage, with inner gears rotating from the motion of the wheels. The units of distance were marked by a drum or bell whenever each signal unit was reached.

Hydraulic & Nautical Engineering

The Song Dynasty also made advancements in hydraulic and nautical engineering for canal systems. The pound lock was invented in the tenth century for canals to allow different water levels to be raised or lowered for each canal segment. This invention allowed large barges to cross through the canal much more safely.