Monday, December 22, 2014

Crucial Changes and Continuities

         In the period from 100 to 600 AD, China’s political power changed from the single Dynasty rule of the Han to various different governments in North and South China and China’s Culture changed from the Confucian society to a mostly Buddhist, one to which writing was important, while the family structure and dynastic cycle stayed relatively the same.
          There were many political changes during this time period, starting with the decline of the Han. The Han were known for the genius invention of paper and their strenuous civil service examinations as well as their calendars and compass. After their demise in 220 A.D. the Three Kingdoms Period occurred from 220-265 A.D. During this time China became disunified and remained so for the next 400 years. China was not ruled by one supreme Dynasty; rather, different kingdoms took over the rule of different regions. In the North power fell to the aristocratic, while the South went through a succession of six dynasties. In the late 6th century, Sui Went-ti came into power and unified China once again under the Sui Dynasty until it’s downfall in 618 A.D..
          Throughout this time period, Leaders were continually usurped and replaced by their usurpers. This was a perfect display of the dynastic cycle, which was vital to the way the Chinese Government was run. When a new dynasty arose and brought unification back to China, it went through stages and strengthened as an empire. This inevitable leads to the decline of the dynasty as the government becomes corrupt, and famines, floods, and invasions break out. This signifies to the people that the emperor has lost the mandate of heaven, which gives them justification for a rebellion. Thus the dynastic cycle ends in a disunified China once again.
          The culture of China changed seriously during this time period as well. A large part of this culture change was a rise in the support of and belief in Buddhism because despite all of the Han’s successes, the split between the rich and the poor was great. Buddhism provided a sort of save haven for the poor. In addition, Buddhism promised the same things regardless of a persons status in society, thus it was quite appealing to the poorer masses. Another major event that changed the Chinese culture was the advent of a singular writing system being introduced between the North and South. This allowed scholars from both regions to compile and add onto philosophies as well as other things. Due to the relative success of the Han, many intellectual, artists and technological advancements were also made.
          On the other hand, there were several cultural continuities despite the radical changes mentioned above. The family unit remained intact, even through the many intellectual advancements made from 100-600 A.D.. The first son was always required to marry. There was a very clear-cut hierarchy within each family; person’s rank in the family depended on their gender, age and relationship to other family members.
          From 100 to 600 A.D. China went through many changes but crucial elements stayed the same. A great empire fell. Dynasties rose and fell. Governments formed and collapsed. The dynastic cycle continued. Buddhism spread. Families remained intact. A single writing system was used. China changed politically and culturally, but the things that defined China remained the same throughout.