The SONG DYNASTY (Chinese : 宋朝; pinyin : _Sòng cháo_;
960–1279) was an era of Chinese history that began in 960 and
continued until 1279. It succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
period , coincided with the Liao and
Western Xia dynasties, and was
followed by the
Yuan dynasty . It was the first government in world
history to issue banknotes or true paper money nationally and the
first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy . This
dynasty also saw the first known use of gunpowder , as well as the
first discernment of true north using a compass .
Song dynasty is divided into two distinct periods, Northern and
Southern. During the NORTHERN SONG (Chinese : 北宋; 960–1127), the
Song capital was in the northern city of Bianjing (now
Kaifeng ) and
the dynasty controlled most of what is now Eastern China. The SOUTHERN
SONG (Chinese : 南宋; 1127–1279) refers to the period after the
Song lost control of its northern half to the Jurchen Jin dynasty in
Jin–Song Wars . During this time, the Song court retreated south
Yangtze and established its capital at Lin'an (now
Song dynasty had lost control of the traditional
"birthplace of Chinese civilization" along the
Yellow River , the Song
economy was still strong, as the Southern Song
Empire contained a
large population and productive agricultural land. The Southern Song
dynasty considerably bolstered its naval strength to defend its waters
and land borders and to conduct maritime missions abroad. To repel the
Jin, and later the
Mongols , the Song developed revolutionary new
military technology augmented by the use of gunpowder. In 1234, the
Jin dynasty was conquered by the Mongols, who took control of northern
China, maintaining uneasy relations with the Southern Song. Möngke
Khan , the fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, died in 1259 while
besieging the city of
Chongqing . His younger brother
Kublai Khan was
proclaimed the new Great Khan, though his claim was only partially
recognized by the
Mongols in the west. In 1271,
Kublai Khan was
Emperor of China . After two decades of sporadic
warfare, Kublai Khan's armies conquered the
Song dynasty in 1279. The
Mongol invasion led to a reunification under the Yuan dynasty
The population of
China doubled in size during the 10th and 11th
centuries. This growth was made possible by expanded rice cultivation
in central and southern Song, the use of early-ripening rice from
south-east and southern Asia, and the production of widespread food
surpluses. The Northern Song census recorded a population of roughly
50 million, much like the Han and Tang dynasties. This data is found
in the _Standard Histories _. However, it is estimated that the
Northern Song had a population of some 100 million people, and 200
million by the time of the
Ming dynasty . This dramatic increase of
population fomented an economic revolution in pre-modern
China . The
expansion of the population, growth of cities, and the emergence of a
national economy led to the gradual withdrawal of the central
government from direct involvement in economic affairs. The lower
gentry assumed a larger role in grassroots administration and local
affairs. Appointed officials in county and provincial centers relied
upon the scholarly gentry for their services, sponsorship, and local
Social life during the Song was vibrant. Citizens gathered to view
and trade precious artworks, the populace intermingled at public
festivals and private clubs, and cities had lively entertainment
quarters. The spread of literature and knowledge was enhanced by the
rapid expansion of woodblock printing and the 11th-century invention
of movable-type printing. Technology, science, philosophy,
mathematics, and engineering flourished over the course of the Song.
Philosophers such as Cheng Yi and
Zhu Xi reinvigorated Confucianism
with new commentary, infused with Buddhist ideals, and emphasized a
new organization of classic texts that brought out the core doctrine
Confucianism . Although the institution of the civil service
examinations had existed since the
Sui dynasty , it became much more
prominent in the Song period. The officials who gained power by
succeeding in the exams became a leading factor in the shift from a
military-aristocratic elite to a bureaucratic elite.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Northern Song, 960–1126
* 1.2 Southern Song, 1127–1279
* 2 Society and culture
Civil service examinations and the gentry
* 2.2 Law, justice, and forensic science
* 2.3 Military and methods of warfare
* 2.4 Arts, literature, and philosophy
* 2.5 Cuisine and apparel
* 3 Economy, industry, and trade
* 4 Technology, science, and engineering
* 4.2 Measuring distance and mechanical navigation
* 4.3 Polymaths, inventions, and astronomy
Mathematics and cartography
Movable type printing
Hydraulic and nautical engineering
Structural engineering and architecture
* 5 See also
* 6 Notes
* 7 References
* 7.1 Citations
* 7.2 Sources
* 8 Further reading
* 9 External links
History of the Song dynasty Further information: List
of emperors of the
NORTHERN SONG, 960–1126
Emperor Taizu of Song (r. 960–976) unified the empire by conquering
other lands during his reign, ending the upheaval of the Five
Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period . In
Kaifeng , he established a
strong central government over the empire. He ensured administrative
stability by promoting the civil service examination system of
drafting state bureaucrats by skill and merit (instead of aristocratic
or military position) and promoted projects that ensured efficiency in
communication throughout the empire. In one such project,
cartographers created detailed maps of each province and city that
were then collected in a large atlas . Emperor Taizu also promoted
groundbreaking scientific and technological innovations by supporting
such works as the astronomical clock tower designed and built by the
Zhang Sixun .
The Song court maintained diplomatic relations with Chola
India , the
Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt,
Srivijaya , the
Kara-Khanid Khanate of
Central Asia , the
Goryeo kingdom in Korea, and other countries that
were also trade partners with
Japan . Chinese records even
mention an embassy from the ruler of "Fu lin" (拂菻, i.e. the
Byzantine Empire ),
Michael VII Doukas , and its arrival in 1081.
However, China's closest neighbouring states had the greatest impact
on its domestic and foreign policy. From its inception under Taizu,
Song dynasty alternated between warfare and diplomacy with the
ethnic Khitans of the
Liao dynasty in the northeast and with the
Tanguts of the
Western Xia in the northwest. The
Song dynasty used
military force in an attempt to quell the
Liao dynasty and to
Sixteen Prefectures , a territory under Khitan control
that was traditionally considered to be part of
China proper . Song
forces were repulsed by the Liao forces, who engaged in aggressive
yearly campaigns into northern Song territory until 1005, when the
signing of the
Shanyuan Treaty ended these northern border clashes.
The Song were forced to provide tribute to the Khitans, although this
did little damage to the Song economy since the Khitans were
economically dependent upon importing massive amounts of goods from
the Song. More significantly, the Song state recognized the Liao
state as its diplomatic equal.
Song dynasty managed to win several military victories over the
Tanguts in the early 11th century, culminating in a campaign led by
the polymath scientist, general, and statesman
Shen Kuo (1031–1095).
However, this campaign was ultimately a failure due to a rival
military officer of Shen disobeying direct orders, and the territory
gained from the
Western Xia was eventually lost. There was also a
significant war fought against the
Lý dynasty of
Vietnam from 1075 to
1077 over a border dispute and the Song's severing of commercial
relations with the
Đại Việt kingdom. After Lý forces inflicted
heavy damages in a raid on
Guangxi , the Song commander Guo Kui
(1022–1088) penetrated as far as Thăng Long (modern
Hanoi ). Heavy
losses on both sides prompted the Lý commander Thường Kiệt
(1019–1105) to make peace overtures, allowing both sides to withdraw
from the war effort; captured territories held by both Song and Lý
were mutually exchanged in 1082, along with prisoners of war.
Emperor Taizu of Song (r. 960–976), a court portrait painting
During the 11th century, political rivalries divided members of the
court due to the ministers' differing approaches, opinions, and
policies regarding the handling of the Song's complex society and
thriving economy. The idealist Chancellor ,
Fan Zhongyan (989–1052),
was the first to receive a heated political backlash when he attempted
to institute the
Qingli Reforms , which included measures such as
improving the recruitment system of officials, increasing the salaries
for minor officials, and establishing sponsorship programs to allow a
wider range of people to be well educated and eligible for state
Cizhou ware pillow of Northern
Song dynasty with
incised decoration and iron-pigmented black slip with the image of a
bird A Liao polychrome wood-carved statue of
Guanyin , Shanxi
After Fan was forced to step down from his office, Wang Anshi
(1021–1086) became Chancellor of the imperial court. With the
backing of Emperor Shenzong (1067–1085),
Wang Anshi severely
criticized the educational system and state bureaucracy. Seeking to
resolve what he saw as state corruption and negligence, Wang
implemented a series of reforms called the New Policies . These
involved land value tax reform, the establishment of several
government monopolies , the support of local militias , and the
creation of higher standards for the
Imperial examination to make it
more practical for men skilled in statecraft to pass.
The reforms created political factions in the court. Wang Anshi's
"New Policies Group" (_Xin Fa_), also known as the "Reformers", were
opposed by the ministers in the "Conservative" faction led by the
historian and Chancellor
Sima Guang (1019–1086). As one faction
supplanted another in the majority position of the court ministers, it
would demote rival officials and exile them to govern remote frontier
regions of the empire. One of the prominent victims of the political
rivalry, the famous poet and statesman
Su Shi (1037–1101), was
jailed and eventually exiled for criticizing Wang's reforms.
While the central Song court remained politically divided and focused
upon its internal affairs, alarming new events to the north in the
Liao state finally came to its attention. The Jurchen , a subject
tribe of the Liao, rebelled against them and formed their own state,
Jin dynasty (1115–1234) . The Song official Tong Guan
(1054–1126) advised Emperor Huizong (1100–1125) to form an
alliance with the Jurchens, and the joint military campaign under this
Alliance Conducted at Sea toppled and completely conquered the Liao
dynasty by 1125.
However, the poor performance and military weakness of the Song army
was observed by the Jurchens, who immediately broke the alliance,
Jin–Song Wars of 1125 and 1127. In the Jingkang
Incident during the latter invasion, the Jurchens captured not only
the capital, but the retired emperor Huizong, his successor Emperor
Qinzong , and most of the Imperial court.
The remaining Song forces regrouped under the self-proclaimed Emperor
Gaozong of Song (1127–1162) and withdrew south of the
establish a new capital at Lin'an (modern
Hangzhou ). The Jurchen
North China and shift of capitals from
Kaifeng to Lin'an
was the dividing line between the Northern and Southern Song
SOUTHERN SONG, 1127–1279
Southern Song in 1142
Although weakened and pushed south beyond the
Huai River , the
Southern Song found new ways to bolster its strong economy and defend
itself against the Jin dynasty. It had able military officers such as
Yue Fei and
Han Shizhong . The government sponsored massive
shipbuilding and harbor improvement projects, and the construction of
beacons and seaport warehouses to support maritime trade abroad,
including at the major international seaports , such as
Guangzhou , and
Xiamen , that were sustaining China's commerce.
To protect and support the multitude of ships sailing for maritime
interests into the waters of the
East China Sea and
Yellow Sea (to
Southeast Asia , the
Indian Ocean , and the Red Sea
, it was necessary to establish an official standing navy . The Song
dynasty therefore established China's first permanent navy in 1132,
with a headquarters at
Dinghai . With a permanent navy, the Song were
prepared to face the naval forces of the Jin on the
Yangtze River in
1161, in the
Battle of Tangdao and the
Battle of Caishi . During these
battles the Song navy employed swift paddle wheel driven naval vessels
armed with trebuchet catapults aboard the decks that launched
gunpowder bombs . Although the Jin forces commanded by Wanyan Liang
(the Prince of Hailing) boasted 70,000 men on 600 warships, and the
Song forces only 3,000 men on 120 warships, the
Song dynasty forces
were victorious in both battles due to the destructive power of the
bombs and the rapid assaults by paddle wheel ships. The strength of
the navy was heavily emphasized after that. A century after the navy
was founded it had grown in size to 52,000 fighting marines.
The Song government confiscated portions of land owned by the landed
gentry in order to raise revenue for these projects, an act which
caused dissension and loss of loyalty amongst leading members of Song
society but did not stop the Song's defensive preparations.
Financial matters were made worse by the fact that many wealthy,
land-owning families—some of which had officials working for the
government—used their social connections with those in office in
order to obtain tax-exempt status. A seated wooden Bodhisattva
Jin dynasty (1115–1234)
Song dynasty was able to hold back the Jin, a new foe
came to power over the steppe, deserts, and plains north of the Jin
Mongols , led by
Genghis Khan (r. 1206–1227), initially
invaded the Jin dynasty in 1205 and 1209, engaging in large raids
across its borders, and in 1211 an enormous Mongol army was assembled
to invade the Jin. The Jin dynasty was forced to submit and pay
tribute to the
Mongols as vassals ; when the Jin suddenly moved their
capital city from
Beijing to Kaifeng, the
Mongols saw this as a
revolt. Under the leadership of
Ögedei Khan (r.1229–1241), both
the Jin dynasty and Western
Xia dynasty were conquered by Mongol
Mongols also invaded
Korea , the Abbasid
the Middle East and the Kievan Rus\' .
Mongols were allied with the Song, but this alliance was broken
when the Song recaptured the former imperial capitals of Kaifeng,
Luoyang , and Chang\'an at the collapse of the Jin dynasty. The Mongol
Möngke Khan led a campaign against the Song in 1259 but died
on August 11 during the Battle of
Diaoyu Fortress in
Möngke's death and the ensuing succession crisis prompted Hulagu Khan
to pull the bulk of the Mongol forces out of the Middle East where
they were poised to fight the Egyptian Mamluks (who defeated the
Mongols at Ain Jalut ). Although Hulagu was allied with
Kublai Khan , his forces were unable to help in the assault against
the Song, due to Hulagu's war with the
Golden Horde .
Kublai continued the assault against the Song, gaining a temporary
foothold on the southern banks of the Yangtze. Kublai made
preparations to take
Ezhou , but a pending civil war with his brother
Ariq Böke —a rival claimant to the Mongol Khaganate—forced Kublai
to move back north with the bulk of his forces. In Kublai's absence,
the Song forces were ordered by Chancellor
Jia Sidao to make an
immediate assault and succeeded in pushing the Mongol forces back to
the northern banks of the Yangtze. There were minor border skirmishes
until 1265, when Kublai won a significant battle in
From 1268 to 1273, Kublai blockaded the
Yangtze River with his navy
and besieged Xiangyang , the last obstacle in his way to invading the
Yangtze River basin. Kublai officially declared the creation of
Yuan dynasty in 1271. In 1275, a Song force of 130,000 troops
Jia Sidao was defeated by Kublai's newly appointed
commander-in-chief, general Bayan . By 1276, most of the Song
territory had been captured by Yuan forces.
Battle of Yamen on the
Pearl River Delta in 1279, the Yuan
army, led by the general
Zhang Hongfan , finally crushed the Song
resistance. The last remaining ruler, the 8-year-old emperor Emperor
Huaizong of Song , committed suicide, along with Prime Minister Lu
Xiufu and 800 members of the royal clan. On Kublai's orders, carried
out by his commander Bayan, the rest of the former imperial family of
Song were unharmed; the deposed Emperor Gong was demoted, being given
the title 'Duke of Ying', but was eventually exiled to
Tibet where he
took up a monastic life. The former emperor would eventually be forced
to commit suicide under the orders of Kublai's great-great grandson,
Gegeen Khan , out of fear that Emperor Gong would stage a coup to
restore his reign. Other members of the Song Imperial Family
continued to live in the Yuan dynasty, including
Zhao Mengfu and Zhao
SOCIETY AND CULTURE
Society of the Song dynasty and Culture of the Song
dynasty A city gate of
Zhejiang province, built in
1223 during the Song Dynasty
Song dynasty was an era of administrative sophistication and
complex social organization. Some of the largest cities in the world
were found in
China during this period (
populations of over a million). People enjoyed various social clubs
and entertainment in the cities, and there were many schools and
temples to provide the people with education and religious services.
The Song government supported social welfare programs including the
establishment of retirement homes , public clinics , and paupers '
graveyards . The
Song dynasty supported a widespread postal service
that was modeled on the earlier
Han dynasty (202 BCE – CE 220)
postal system to provide swift communication throughout the empire.
The central government employed thousands of postal workers of various
ranks to provide service for post offices and larger postal stations.
In rural areas, farming peasants either owned their own plots of land
, paid rents as tenant farmers , or were serfs on large estates. _
The White Jasmine Branch_, early 12th-century painting; small
paintings in the style of round-albums that captured realistic scenes
of nature were widely popular in the Southern Song period.
Although women were on a lower social tier than men (according to
Confucian ethics ), they enjoyed many social and legal privileges and
wielded considerable power at home and in their own small businesses.
As Song society became more and more prosperous and parents on the
bride's side of the family provided larger dowries for her marriage,
women naturally gained many new legal rights in ownership of property.
Under certain circumstances, an unmarried daughter without brothers,
or a surviving mother without sons, could inherit one-half of her
father's share of undivided family property. There were many
notable and well-educated women, and it was a common practice for
women to educate their sons during their earliest youth. The mother
of the scientist, general, diplomat, and statesman
Shen Kuo taught him
essentials of military strategy. There were also exceptional women
writers and poets, such as
Li Qingzhao (1084–1151), who became
famous even in her lifetime.
Religion in China during this period had a great effect on people's
lives, beliefs, and daily activities, and
Chinese literature on
spirituality was popular. The major deities of
ancestral spirits , and the many deities of
Chinese folk religion were
worshipped with sacrificial offerings. Tansen Sen asserts that more
Buddhist monks from
India travelled to
China during the Song than in
Tang dynasty (618–907). With many ethnic foreigners
China to conduct trade or live permanently, there came
many foreign religions; religious minorities in
China included Middle
Eastern Muslims , the
Kaifeng Jews , and Persian Manichaeans .
Huang Tingjian (1045–1105), a renowned calligrapher
and associate of
The populace engaged in a vibrant social and domestic life, enjoying
such public festivals as the
Lantern Festival and the Qingming
Festival . There were entertainment quarters in the cities providing a
constant array of amusements. There were puppeteers, acrobats, theatre
actors, sword swallowers, snake charmers, storytellers , singers and
musicians, prostitutes, and places to relax, including tea houses,
restaurants, and organized banquets. People attended social clubs
in large numbers; there were tea clubs, exotic food clubs, antiquarian
and art collectors' clubs, horse-loving clubs, poetry clubs, and music
clubs. Like regional cooking and cuisines in the Song, the era was
known for its regional varieties of performing arts styles as well.
Theatrical drama was very popular amongst the elite and general
Classical Chinese —not the vernacular language
—was spoken by actors on stage. The four largest drama theatres in
Kaifeng could hold audiences of several thousand each. There were
also notable domestic pastimes, as people at home enjoyed activities
such as the go and xiangqi board games.
CIVIL SERVICE EXAMINATIONS AND THE GENTRY
Society of the Song dynasty _ Scholar in a
Chinese painting of the 11th century
During this period greater emphasis was laid upon the civil service
system of recruiting officials; this was based upon degrees acquired
through competitive examinations , in an effort to select the most
capable individuals for governance. Selecting men for office through
proven merit was an ancient idea in
China . The civil service system
became institutionalized on a small scale during the Sui and Tang
dynasties, but by the Song period it became virtually the only means
for drafting officials into the government. The advent of widespread
printing helped to widely circulate Confucian teachings and to educate
more and more eligible candidates for the exams. This can be seen in
the number of exam takers for the low-level prefectural exams rising
from 30,000 annual candidates in the early 11th century to 400,000
candidates by the late 13th century. The civil service and
examination system allowed for greater meritocracy , social mobility ,
and equality in competition for those wishing to attain an official
seat in government. Using statistics gathered by the Song state,
Edward A. Kracke, Sudō Yoshiyuki, and Ho Ping-ti supported the
hypothesis that simply having a father, grandfather, or
great-grandfather who had served as an official of state did not
guarantee one would obtain the same level of authority. Robert
Hartwell and Robert P. Hymes criticized this model, stating that it
places too much emphasis on the role of the nuclear family and
considers only three paternal ascendants of exam candidates while
ignoring the demographic reality of Song China, the significant
proportion of males in each generation that had no surviving sons, and
the role of the extended family . Many felt disenfranchised by what
they saw as a bureaucratic system that favored the land-holding class
able to afford the best education. One of the greatest literary
critics of this was the official and famous poet
Su Shi . Yet Su was a
product of his times, as the identity, habits, and attitudes of the
scholar-official had become less aristocratic and more bureaucratic
with the transition of the periods from Tang to Song. At the
beginning of the dynasty, government posts were disproportionately
held by two elite social groups: a founding elite who had ties with
the founding emperor and a semi-hereditary professional elite who used
long-held clan status, family connections , and marriage alliances to
secure appointments. By the late 11th century, the founding elite
became obsolete, while political partisanship and factionalism at
court undermined the marriage strategies of the professional elite,
which dissolved as a distinguishable social group and was replaced by
a multitude of gentry families. _
Longquan celadon wares from
Zhejiang , 13th century The Spinning Wheel_, a painting created
by Northern Song artist Wang Juzheng, is one of the earliest
representations of the invention
Due to Song's enormous population growth and the body of its
appointed scholar-officials being accepted in limited numbers (about
20,000 active officials during the Song period), the larger scholarly
gentry class would now take over grassroots affairs on the vast local
level. Excluding the scholar-officials in office, this elite social
class consisted of exam candidates, examination degree-holders not yet
assigned to an official post, local tutors, and retired officials.
These learned men, degree-holders, and local elites supervised local
affairs and sponsored necessary facilities of local communities; any
local magistrate appointed to his office by the government relied upon
the cooperation of the few or many local gentry in the area. For
example, the Song government—excluding the educational-reformist
government under Emperor Huizong—spared little amount of state
revenue to maintain prefectural and county schools; instead, the bulk
of the funds for schools was drawn from private financing. This
limited role of government officials was a departure from the earlier
Tang dynasty (618–907), when the government strictly regulated
commercial markets and local affairs; now the government withdrew
heavily from regulating commerce and relied upon a mass of local
gentry to perform necessary duties in their communities.
The gentry distinguished themselves in society through their
intellectual and antiquarian pursuits, while the homes of prominent
landholders attracted a variety of courtiers , including artisans,
artists, educational tutors, and entertainers. Despite the disdain
for trade, commerce and the merchant class exhibited by the highly
cultured and elite exam-drafted scholar-officials, commercialism
played a prominent role in Song culture and society. A
scholar-official would be frowned upon by his peers if he pursued
means of profiteering outside of his official salary; however, this
did not stop many scholar-officials from managing business relations
through the use of intermediary agents.
LAW, JUSTICE, AND FORENSIC SCIENCE
Society of the Song dynasty _ The Broken
Balustrade_, early 12th-century painting
The Song judicial system retained most of the legal code of the
earlier Tang dynasty, the basis of traditional Chinese law up until
the modern era. Roving sheriffs maintained law and order in the
municipal jurisdictions and occasionally ventured into the
countryside. Official magistrates overseeing court cases were not
only expected to be well-versed in written law but also to promote
morality in society. Magistrates such as the famed Bao Qingtian
(999–1062) embodied the upright, moral judge who upheld justice and
never failed to live up to his principles. Song judges specified the
guilty person or party in a criminal act and meted out punishments
accordingly, often in the form of caning . A guilty individual or
parties brought to court for a criminal or civil offense were not
viewed as wholly innocent until proven otherwise, while even accusers
were viewed with a high level of suspicion by the judge. Due to
costly court expenses and immediate jailing of those accused of
criminal offences, people in the Song preferred to settle disputes and
quarrels privately, without the court's interference.
Shen Kuo's _
Dream Pool Essays _ argued against traditional Chinese
beliefs in anatomy (such as his argument for two throat valves instead
of three); this perhaps spurred the interest in the performance of
post-mortem autopsies in
China during the 12th century. The
physician and judge known as
Song Ci (1186–1249) wrote a pioneering
work of forensic science on the examination of corpses in order to
determine cause of death (strangulation, poisoning, drowning, blows,
etc.) and to prove whether death resulted from murder, suicide, or
Song Ci stressed the importance of proper coroner
's conduct during autopsies and the accurate recording of the inquest
of each autopsy by official clerks.
MILITARY AND METHODS OF WARFARE
Society of the Song dynasty "Four Generals of
Zhongxing" by Southern
Song dynasty artist Liu Songnian (1174–1224);
the renowned general
Yue Fei (1103–1142) is the second person from
the left. The
Liaodi Pagoda , the tallest pre-modern Chinese
pagoda built in 1055, was built as a Buddhist religious structure ,
yet it served a military purpose as a watchtower for reconnaissance .
The Song military was chiefly organized to ensure that the army could
not threaten Imperial control, often at the expense of effectiveness
in war. Northern Song's Military Council operated under a Chancellor,
who had no control over the imperial army. The imperial army was
divided among three marshals, each independently responsible to the
Emperor. Since the Emperor rarely led campaigns personally, Song
forces lacked unity of command. The imperial court often believed
that successful generals endangered royal authority, and relieved or
even executed them (notably Li Gang,
Yue Fei , and
Although the scholar-officials viewed military soldiers as lower
members in the hierarchic social order, a person could gain status
and prestige in society by becoming a high-ranking military officer
with a record of victorious battles. At its height, the Song military
had one million soldiers divided into platoons of 50 troops,
companies made of two platoons, battalions composed of 500 soldiers.
Crossbowmen were separated from the regular infantry and placed in
their own units as they were prized combatants, providing effective
missile fire against cavalry charges. The government was eager to
sponsor new crossbow designs that could shoot at longer ranges, while
crossbowmen were also valuable when employed as long-range snipers .
Song cavalry employed a slew of different weapons, including halberds,
swords, bows, spears, and 'fire lances ' that discharged a gunpowder
blast of flame and shrapnel .
Military strategy and military training were treated as science that
could be studied and perfected; soldiers were tested in their skills
of using weaponry and in their athletic ability. The troops were
trained to follow signal standards to advance at the waving of banners
and to halt at the sound of bells and drums.
The Song navy was of great importance during the consolidation of the
empire in the 10th century; during the war against the Southern Tang
state the Song navy employed tactics such as defending large floating
pontoon bridges across the
Yangtze River in order to secure movements
of troops and supplies. There were large naval ships in the Song that
could carry 1,000 soldiers aboard their decks, while the swift-moving
paddle-wheel craft were viewed as essential fighting ships in any
successful naval battle.
In a battle on January 23, 971, massive arrow fire from Song dynasty
crossbowmen decimated the war elephant corps of the
Southern Han army.
This defeat not only marked the eventual submission of the Southern
Han to the Song dynasty, but also the last instance where a war
elephant corps was employed as a regular division within a Chinese
There was a total of 347 military treatises written during the Song
period, as listed by the history text of the _Song Shi_ (compiled in
1345). However, only a handful of these military treatises have
survived, which includes the _
Wujing Zongyao _ written in 1044. It was
the first known book to have listed formulas for gunpowder; it gave
appropriate formulas for use in several different kinds of gunpowder
bombs. It also provided detailed descriptions and illustrations of
double-piston pump flamethrowers , as well as instructions for the
maintenance and repair of the components and equipment used in the
ARTS, LITERATURE, AND PHILOSOPHY
Culture of the Song dynasty
Culture of the Song dynasty Further information: Islam
Song dynasty A wooden
Bodhisattva statue from the
Song dynasty (960–1279) A fresco shows late Northern Sung
dynasty women sitting at their dressing tables
The visual arts during the
Song dynasty were heightened by new
developments such as advances in landscape and portrait painting. The
gentry elite engaged in the arts as accepted pastimes of the cultured
scholar-official, including painting , composing poetry , and writing
calligraphy . The poet and statesman
Su Shi and his associate Mi Fu
(1051–1107) enjoyed antiquarian affairs, often borrowing or buying
art pieces to study and copy. Poetry and literature profited from the
rising popularity and development of the ci poetry form . Enormous
encyclopedic volumes were compiled, such as works of historiography
and dozens of treatises on technical subjects. This included the
universal history text of the _
Zizhi Tongjian _, compiled into 1000
volumes of 9.4 million written
Chinese characters . The genre of
Chinese travel literature also became popular with the writings of the
Fan Chengda (1126–1193) and Su Shi, the latter of whom
wrote the 'daytrip essay' known as _Record of Stone Bell Mountain _
that used persuasive writing to argue for a philosophical point.
Although an early form of the local geographic gazetteer existed in
China since the 1st century, the matured form known as "treatise on a
place", or _fangzhi_, replaced the old "map guide", or _tujing_,
during the Song dynasty.
The imperial courts of the emperor's palace were filled with his
entourage of court painters, calligraphers, poets, and storytellers.
Emperor Huizong was a renowned artist as well as a patron of the arts.
A prime example of a highly venerated court painter was Zhang Zeduan
(1085–1145) who painted an enormous panoramic painting , _Along the
River During the
Qingming Festival _. Emperor Gaozong of Song
initiated a massive art project during his reign, known as the
Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute _ from the life story of Cai Wenji
(b. 177). This art project was a diplomatic gesture to the Jin dynasty
while he negotiated for the release of his mother from Jurchen
captivity in the north. Portrait of the
Zen Buddhist monk Wuzhun
Shifan , painted in 1238.
In philosophy , Chinese
Buddhism had waned in influence but it
retained its hold on the arts and on the charities of monasteries.
Buddhism had a profound influence upon the budding movement of
Confucianism , led by Cheng Yi (1033–1107) and Zhu Xi
Fan Zhongyan and Wang
Anshi through its concept of ethical universalism , while Buddhist
metaphysics deeply affected the pre–Neo-Confucian doctrine of Cheng
Yi. The philosophical work of Cheng Yi in turn influenced Zhu Xi.
Although his writings were not accepted by his contemporary peers,
Zhu's commentary and emphasis upon the Confucian classics of the Four
Books as an introductory corpus to Confucian learning formed the basis
of the Neo-Confucian doctrine. By the year 1241, under the sponsorship
of Emperor Lizong , Zhu Xi's
Four Books and his commentary on them
became standard requirements of study for students attempting to pass
the civil service examinations. The East Asian countries of
Korea also adopted Zhu Xi's teaching, known as the Shushigaku
(朱子學, School of Zhu Xi) of Japan, and in
Korea the Jujahak
(주자학). Buddhism's continuing influence can be seen in painted
artwork such as
Lin Tinggui 's _Luohan Laundering_. However, the
ideology was highly criticized and even scorned by some. The statesman
Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072) called the religion a "curse"
that could only be remedied by uprooting it from Chinese culture and
replacing it with Confucian discourse. A true revival of
Chinese society would not occur until the Mongol rule of the Yuan
dynasty, with Kublai Khan's sponsorship of Tibetan
Drogön Chögyal Phagpa
Drogön Chögyal Phagpa as the leading lama . The Christian sect of
Nestorianism , which had entered
China in the Tang era, would also be
China under Mongol rule.
CUISINE AND APPAREL
Culture of the Song dynasty
Culture of the Song dynasty A red lacquerware
food tray with gold foil engraving designs of two long-tailed birds
and a peony, dated 12th to early 13th century.
Sumptuary laws regulated the food that one consumed and the clothes
that one wore according to status and social class. Clothing was made
of hemp or cotton cloths, restricted to a colour standard of black and
white. Trousers were the acceptable attire for peasants, soldiers,
artisans, and merchants, although wealthy merchants might choose to
wear more ornate clothing and male blouses that came down below the
waist. Acceptable apparel for scholar-officials was rigidly defined by
social ranking system. However, as time went on this rule of
rank-graded apparel for officials was not as strictly enforced. Each
official was able to display his awarded status by wearing
different-coloured traditional silken robes that hung to the ground
around his feet, specific types of headgear, and even specific styles
of girdles that displayed his graded-rank of officialdom.
Women wore long dresses, blouses that came down to the knee, skirts
and jackets with long or short sleeves, while women from wealthy
families could wear purple scarves around their shoulders. The main
difference in women's apparel from that of men was that it was
fastened on the left, not on the right.
The main food staples in the diet of the lower classes remained rice,
pork , and salted fish. Song restaurant and tavern menus are recorded
which list entrées for feasts, banquets, festivals, and carnivals.
They reveal a diverse and lavish diet for those of the upper class.
They could choose from a wide variety of meats and seafood, including
shrimp, geese, duck, mussel, shellfish, fallow deer , hare, partridge,
pheasant, francolin, quail, fox, badger, clam, crab, and many others.
Dairy products were rare in Chinese cuisine at this time. Beef was
rarely consumed since the bull was a valuable draft animal, and dog
meat was absent from the diet of the wealthy, although the poor could
choose to eat dog meat if necessary (yet it was not part of their
regular diet). People also consumed dates , raisins, jujubes , pears,
plums, apricots, pear juice, lychee -fruit juice, honey and ginger
drinks, pawpaw juice, spices and seasonings of
Sichuan pepper , ginger
, soy sauce , oil , sesame oil , salt, and vinegar.
ECONOMY, INDUSTRY, AND TRADE
Economy of the Song dynasty _ Chinese boats from
Zhang Zeduan 's (1085–1145) painting Along the River During Qingming
Festival _; Chinese ships of the Song period featured hulls with
watertight compartments .
Song dynasty had one of the most prosperous and advanced
economies in the medieval world. Song Chinese invested their funds in
joint stock companies and in multiple sailing vessels at a time when
monetary gain was assured from the vigorous overseas trade and
domestic trade along the Grand
Yangtze River. Prominent
merchant families and private businesses were allowed to occupy
industries that were not already government-operated monopolies .
Both private and government-controlled industries met the needs of a
growing Chinese population in the Song. Artisans and merchants
formed guilds that the state had to deal with when assessing taxes,
requisitioning goods, and setting standard worker's wages and prices
The iron industry was pursued by both private entrepreneurs who owned
their own smelters as well as government-supervised smelting
facilities. The Song economy was stable enough to produce over a
hundred million kilograms (over two hundred million pounds) of iron
product a year. Large-scale deforestation in
China would have
continued if not for the 11th-century innovation of the use of coal
instead of charcoal in blast furnaces for smelting cast iron . Much
of this iron was reserved for military use in crafting weapons and
armouring troops, but some was used to fashion the many iron products
needed to fill the demands of the growing domestic market. The iron
China was advanced by the construction of new canals ,
facilitating the flow of iron products from production centres to the
large market in the capital city. _ Left item_: A Northern Song
qingbai-ware vase with a transparent blue-toned ceramic glaze , from
Jingdezhen , 11th century; _Center item_: A Northern or Southern Song
qingbai-ware bowl with incised lotus decorations, a metal rim, and a
transparent blue-toned glaze, from Jingdezhen, 12th or 13th century;
_Right item_: A Southern Song miniature model of a granary with
removable top lid and doorway, qingbai porcelain with transparent
blue-toned glaze, Jingdezhen, 13th century.
The annual output of minted copper currency in 1085 reached roughly
six billion coins. The most notable advancement in the Song economy
was the establishment of the world's first government issued
paper-printed money, known as Jiaozi (see also _Huizi _). For the
printing of paper money , the Song court established several
government-run factories in the cities of
Chengdu , Hangzhou
, and Anqi . The size of the workforce employed in paper money
factories was large; it was recorded in 1175 that the factory at
Hangzhou employed more than a thousand workers a day.
The economic power of Song
China heavily influenced foreign economies
abroad. The Moroccan geographer al-Idrisi wrote in 1154 of the prowess
of Chinese merchant ships in the
Indian Ocean and of their annual
voyages that brought iron, swords, silk, velvet, porcelain, and
various textiles to places such as
Yemen ), the
Indus River ,
Euphrates in modern-day Iraq. Foreigners, in turn, affected
the Chinese economy. For example, many West Asian and Central Asian
Muslims went to
China to trade, becoming a preeminent force in the
import and export industry, while some were even appointed as officers
supervising economic affairs. Sea trade with the South-east Pacific,
the Hindu world, the Islamic world, and East Africa brought merchants
great fortune and spurred an enormous growth in the shipbuilding
industry of Song-era
Fujian province. However, there was risk
involved in such long overseas ventures. In order to reduce the risk
of losing money on maritime trade missions abroad, wrote historians
Ebrey, Walthall, and Palais:
investors usually divided their investment among many ships, and
each ship had many investors behind it. One observer thought eagerness
to invest in overseas trade was leading to an outflow of copper cash.
He wrote, 'People along the coast are on intimate terms with the
merchants who engage in overseas trade, either because they are
fellow-countrymen or personal acquaintances.... money to take with
them on their ships for purchase and return conveyance of foreign
goods. They invest from ten to a hundred strings of cash, and
regularly make profits of several hundred percent'.
TECHNOLOGY, SCIENCE, AND ENGINEERING
Science and technology of the Song dynasty and
Architecture of the Song dynasty
Architecture of the Song dynasty Further information: List of Chinese
List of Chinese discoveries
History of gunpowder
History of gunpowder _ An illustration of a
trebuchet catapult from the
Wujing Zongyao _ manuscript of 1044.
Trebuchets like this were used to launch the earliest type of
Advancements in weapons technology enhanced by gunpowder, including
the evolution of the early flamethrower , explosive grenade , firearm
, cannon , and land mine , enabled the Song Chinese to ward off their
militant enemies until the Song's ultimate collapse in the late 13th
century. The _
Wujing Zongyao _ manuscript of 1044 was the first
book in history to provide formulas for gunpowder and their specified
use in different types of bombs. While engaged in a war with the
Mongols , in 1259 the official Li Zengbo wrote in his _Kezhai Zagao,
Xugaohou_ that the city of
Qingzhou was manufacturing one to two
thousand strong iron-cased bomb shells a month, dispatching to
Xiangyang and Yingzhou about ten to twenty thousand such bombs at a
time. In turn, the invading
Mongols employed northern Chinese
soldiers and used these same types of gunpowder weapons against the
Song. By the 14th century the firearm and cannon could also be found
in Europe, India, and the Islamic Middle East, during the early age of
gunpowder warfare .
MEASURING DISTANCE AND MECHANICAL NAVIGATION
As early as the
Han dynasty , when the state needed to effectively
measure distances traveled throughout the empire, the Chinese relied
on the mechanical odometer device. The Chinese odometer came in the
form of a wheeled-carriage, its inner gears functioning off the
rotated motion of the wheels, and specific units of distance—the
Chinese li —marked by the mechanical striking of a drum or bell for
auditory alarm. The specifications for the 11th century odometer were
written by Chief Chamberlain Lu Daolong, who is quoted extensively in
the historical text of the _Song Shi_ (compiled by 1345). In the Song
period, the odometer vehicle was also combined with another old
complex mechanical device known as the south-pointing chariot . This
device, originally crafted by
Ma Jun in the 3rd century, incorporated
a differential gear that allowed a figure mounted on the vehicle to
always point in the southern direction, no matter how the vehicle's
wheels' turned about. The device concept of the differential gear for
this navigational vehicle is now found in modern automobiles in order
to apply the equal amount of torque to wheels rotating at different
POLYMATHS, INVENTIONS, AND ASTRONOMY
Chinese astronomy and List of Chinese inventions
An interior diagram of the astronomical clocktower of Kaifeng
Su Song 's book, written by 1092 and published in printed
form by the year 1094.
Polymath figures such as the statesmen
Shen Kuo and Su Song
(1020–1101) embodied advancements in all fields of study, including
biology , botany , zoology , geology , mineralogy , mechanics ,
horology , astronomy , pharmaceutical medicine , archeology ,
mathematics , cartography , optics , art criticism , and more.
Shen Kuo was the first to discern magnetic declination of true north
while experimenting with a compass. Shen theorized that geographical
climates gradually shifted over time. He created a theory of land
formation involving concepts accepted in modern geomorphology . He
performed optical experiments with camera obscura just decades after
Ibn al-Haytham was the first to do so. He also improved the designs
of astronomical instruments such as the widened astronomical sighting
tube , which allowed
Shen Kuo to fix the position of the pole star
(which had shifted over centuries of time).
Shen Kuo was also known
for hydraulic clockworks, as he invented a new overflow-tank clepsydra
which had more efficient higher-order interpolation instead of linear
interpolation in calibrating the measure of time.
Su Song was best known for his horology treatise written in 1092,
which described and illustrated in great detail his hydraulic
-powered, 12 m (39 ft) tall astronomical clock tower built in Kaifeng.
The clock tower featured large astronomical instruments of the
armillary sphere and celestial globe , both driven by an early
intermittently working escapement mechanism (similarly to the western
verge escapement of true mechanical clocks appeared in medieval
clockworks , derived from ancient clockworks of classical times).
Su's tower featured a rotating gear wheel with 133 clock jack
mannequins who were timed to rotate past shuttered windows while
ringing gongs and bells, banging drums , and presenting announcement
plaques. In his printed book, Su published a celestial atlas of five
star charts . These star charts feature a cylindrical projection
Mercator projection , the latter being a cartographic
Gerardus Mercator in 1569.
The Song Chinese observed supernovae . Moreover, _the_ _Soochow
Astronomical Chart_ on Chinese planispheres was prepared in 1193 for
instructing the crown prince on astronomical findings. The
planispheres were engraved in stone several decades later.
MATHEMATICS AND CARTOGRAPHY
Chinese mathematics and
Chinese geography _
The Yu Ji Tu_, or "Map of the Tracks of Yu", carved into stone in
1137, located in the
Stele Forest of Xi\'an . This 3 ft (0.91 m)
squared map features a graduated scale of 100 li for each rectangular
grid. China's coastline and river systems are clearly defined and
precisely pinpointed on the map. Yu refers to the Chinese deity
described in the geographical chapter of the _
Book of Documents _,
dated 5th–3rd centuries BCE.
There were many notable improvements to
Chinese mathematics during
the Song era. Mathematician
Yang Hui 's 1261 book provided the
earliest Chinese illustration of Pascal\'s triangle , although it had
earlier been described by Jia Xian in around 1100.
Yang Hui also
provided rules for constructing combinatorial arrangements in magic
squares , provided theoretical proof for
Euclid 's forty-third
proposition about parallelograms , and was the first to use negative
coefficients of 'x' in quadratic equations . Yang's contemporary Qin
Jiushao (c. 1202–1261) was the first to introduce the zero symbol
into Chinese mathematics; before this blank spaces were used instead
of zeroes in the system of counting rods . He is also known for
working with the
Chinese remainder theorem , Heron\'s formula , and
astronomical data used in determining the winter solstice . Qin's
major work was the _
Mathematical Treatise in Nine Sections _ published
Geometry was essential to surveying and cartography . The earliest
extant Chinese maps date to the 4th century BCE, yet it was not until
the time of
Pei Xiu (224–271) that topographical elevation , a
formal rectangular grid system, and use of a standard graduated scale
of distances was applied to terrain maps. Following a long tradition
Shen Kuo created a raised-relief map , while his other maps featured
a uniform graduated scale of 1:900,000. A 3 ft (0.91 m) squared map
of 1137—carved into a stone block—followed a uniform grid scale of
100 li for each gridded square, and accurately mapped the outline of
the coasts and river systems of China, extending all the way to India.
Furthermore, the world's oldest known terrain map in printed form
comes from the edited encyclopedia of Yang Jia in 1155, which
China without the formal grid system that was
characteristic of more professionally made Chinese maps. Although
gazetteers had existed since 52 CE during the
Han dynasty and
gazetteers accompanied by illustrative maps (Chinese: _tujing_) since
the Sui dynasty, the illustrated gazetteer became much more common in
the Song dynasty, when the foremost concern was for illustrative
gazetteers to serve political, administrative, and military purposes.
MOVABLE TYPE PRINTING
History of printing in East Asia _ One of
the star charts from
Su Song 's Xin Yi Xiang Fa Yao_ published in
1092, featuring cylindrical projection similar to Mercator projection
and the corrected position of the pole star thanks to Shen Kuo's
astronomical observations. Su Song's celestial atlas of five star
maps is actually the oldest in printed form.
The innovation of movable type printing was made by the artisan Bi
Sheng (990–1051), first described by the scientist and statesman
Shen Kuo in his _
Dream Pool Essays _ of 1088. The collection of Bi
Sheng's original clay-fired typeface was passed on to one of Shen
Kuo's nephews, and was carefully preserved.
Movable type enhanced
the already widespread use of woodblock methods of printing thousands
of documents and volumes of written literature, consumed eagerly by an
increasingly literate public. The advancement of printing deeply
affected education and the scholar-official class, since more books
could be made faster while mass-produced, printed books were cheaper
in comparison to laborious handwritten copies. The enhancement of
widespread printing and print culture in the Song period was thus a
direct catalyst in the rise of social mobility and expansion of the
educated class of scholar elites, the latter which expanded
dramatically in size from the 11th to 13th centuries.
The movable type invented by
Bi Sheng was ultimately trumped by the
use of woodblock printing due to the limitations of the enormous
Chinese character writing system, yet movable type printing continued
to be used and was improved in later periods. The Yuan dynasty
scholar-official Wang Zhen (fl. 1290–1333) implemented a faster
typesetting process, improved Bi's baked-clay movable type character
set with a wooden one, and experimented with tin-metal movable type.
The wealthy printing patron
Hua Sui (1439–1513) of the Ming dynasty
established China's first metal movable type (using bronze) in 1490.
In 1638 the
Gazette switched their printing process from
woodblock to movable type printing. Yet it was during the Qing
dynasty that massive printing projects began to employ movable type
printing. This includes the printing of sixty-six copies of a 5,020
volume long encyclopedia in 1725, the _
Gujin Tushu Jicheng _
(_Complete Collection of Illustrations and Writings from the Earliest
to Current Times_), which necessitated the crafting of 250,000 movable
type characters cast in bronze. By the 19th century the European
style printing press replaced the old Chinese methods of movable type,
while traditional woodblock printing in modern East Asia is used
sparsely and for aesthetic reasons.
HYDRAULIC AND NAUTICAL ENGINEERING
Science and technology of the Song dynasty
The most important nautical innovation of the Song period seems to
have been the introduction of the magnetic mariner's compass , which
permitted accurate navigation on the open sea regardless of the
weather. The magnetized compass needle – known in Chinese as the
"south-pointing needle" – was first described by
Shen Kuo in his
1088 _Dream Pool Essays_ and first mentioned in active use by sailors
in Zhu Yu 's 1119 _Pingzhou Table Talks_. A plan and side view of
a canal pound lock , a concept pioneered in 984 by the Assistant
Commissioner of Transport for
Huainan , the engineer Qiao Weiyo.
There were other considerable advancements in hydraulic engineering
and nautical technology during the Song dynasty. The 10th-century
invention of the pound lock for canal systems allowed different water
levels to be raised and lowered for separated segments of a canal,
which significantly aided the safety of canal traffic and allowed for
larger barges. There was the Song-era innovation of watertight
bulkhead compartments that allowed damage to hulls without sinking the
ships. If ships were damaged, the Chinese of the 11th century
employed drydocks to repair them while suspended out of the water.
The Song used crossbeams to brace the ribs of ships in order to
strengthen them in a skeletal-like structure.
Stern -mounted rudders
had been mounted on Chinese ships since the 1st century, as evidenced
with a preserved Han tomb model of a ship. In the Song period, the
Chinese devised a way to mechanically raise and lower rudders in order
for ships to travel in a wider range of water depths. The Song
arranged the protruding teeth of anchors in a circular pattern instead
of in one direction. David Graff and Robin Higham state that this
arrangement " them more reliable" for anchoring ships.
STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING AND ARCHITECTURE
Architecture of the Song dynasty
Architecture of the Song dynasty The 42-metre
(138 ft) tall, brick and wood
Lingxiao Pagoda of
built in 1045.
Architecture during the Song period reached new heights of
sophistication. Authors such as
Yu Hao and
Shen Kuo wrote books
outlining the field of architectural layouts, craftsmanship, and
structural engineering in the 10th and 11th centuries, respectively.
Shen Kuo preserved the written dialogues of
Yu Hao when describing
technical issues such as slanting struts built into pagoda towers for
diagonal wind bracing.
Shen Kuo also preserved Yu's specified
dimensions and units of measurement for various building types. The
architect Li Jie (1065–1110), who published the _
Yingzao Fashi _
('Treatise on Architectural Methods') in 1103, greatly expanded upon
the works of
Yu Hao and compiled the standard building codes used by
the central government agencies and by craftsmen throughout the
empire. He addressed the standard methods of construction, design,
and applications of moats and fortifications, stonework, greater
woodwork, lesser woodwork, wood-carving, turning and drilling, sawing,
bamboo work, tiling, wall building, painting and decoration,
brickwork, glazed tile making, and provided proportions for mortar
formulas in masonry . In his book, Li provided detailed and vivid
illustrations of architectural components and cross-sections of
buildings. These illustrations displayed various applications of
corbel brackets, cantilever arms, mortise and tenon work of tie beams
and cross beams, and diagrams showing the various building types of
halls in graded sizes. He also outlined the standard units of
measurement and standard dimensional measurements of all building
components described and illustrated in his book. _ Games in the
Jinming Pool_, silk painting by
Zhang Zeduan , depiction of
Northern Song era.
Grandiose building projects were supported by the government,
including the erection of towering Buddhist Chinese pagodas and the
construction of enormous bridges (wood or stone, trestle or segmental
arch bridge ). Many of the pagoda towers built during the Song period
were erected at heights that exceeded ten stories. Some of the most
famous are the
Pagoda built in 1049 during the Northern Song and
Liuhe Pagoda built in 1165 during the Southern Song, although
there were many others . The tallest is the
Liaodi Pagoda of Hebei
built in 1055, towering 84 m (276 ft) in total height. Some of the
bridges reached lengths of 1,220 m (4,000 ft), with many being wide
enough to allow two lanes of cart traffic simultaneously over a
waterway or ravine. The government also oversaw construction of their
own administrative offices, palace apartments, city fortifications,
ancestral temples, and Buddhist temples.
The professions of the architect, craftsman, carpenter, and
structural engineer were not seen as professionally equal to that of a
Confucian scholar-official. Architectural knowledge had been passed
down orally for thousands of years in China, in many cases from a
father craftsman to his son.
Structural engineering and architecture
schools were known to have existed during the Song period; one
prestigious engineering school was headed by the renowned
Cai Xiang (1012–1067) in medieval
_ Bracket arm clusters containing cantilevers , from Li Jie\'s
Yingzao Fashi _, printed in 1103.
Besides existing buildings and technical literature of building
Song dynasty artwork portraying cityscapes and other
buildings aid modern-day scholars in their attempts to reconstruct and
realize the nuances of Song architecture.
Song dynasty artists such as
Li Cheng ,
Fan Kuan ,
Guo Xi ,
Zhang Zeduan , Emperor Huizong of Song
, and Ma Lin painted close-up depictions of buildings as well as large
expanses of cityscapes featuring arched bridges , halls and pavilions
, pagoda towers , and distinct Chinese city walls . The scientist and
Shen Kuo was known for his criticism of artwork relating to
architecture, saying that it was more important for an artist to
capture a holistic view of a landscape than it was to focus on the
angles and corners of buildings. For example, Shen criticized the
work of the painter Li Cheng for failing to observe the principle of
"seeing the small from the viewpoint of the large" in portraying
There were also pyramidal tomb structures in the Song era, such as
the Song imperial tombs located in Gongxian,
Henan province. About
100 km (62 mi) from Gongxian is another
Song dynasty tomb at Baisha,
which features "elaborate facsimiles in brick of Chinese timber frame
construction, from door lintels to pillars and pedestals to bracket
sets, that adorn interior walls." The two large chambers of the
Baisha tomb also feature conical-shaped roofs. Flanking the avenues
leading to these tombs are lines of
Song dynasty stone statues of
officials, tomb guardians, animals, and mythological creatures.
History of Chinese archaeology
In addition to the Song gentry's antiquarian pursuits of art
collecting, scholar-officials during the Song became highly interested
in retrieving ancient relics from archaeological sites, in order to
revive the use of ancient vessels in ceremonies of state ritual.
Scholar-officials of the Song period claimed to have discovered
ancient bronze vessels that were created as far back as the Shang
dynasty (1600–1046 BCE), which bore the written characters of the
Shang era . Some attempted to recreate these bronze vessels by using
imagination alone, not by observing tangible evidence of relics; this
practice was criticized by
Shen Kuo in his work of 1088. Yet Shen Kuo
had much more to criticize than this practice alone. Shen objected to
the idea of his peers that ancient relics were products created by
famous "sages" in lore or the ancient aristocratic class ; Shen
rightfully attributed the discovered handicrafts and vessels from
ancient times as the work of artisans and commoners from previous
eras. He also disapproved of his peers' pursuit of archaeology simply
to enhance state ritual, since Shen not only took an interdisciplinary
approach with the study of archaeology, but he also emphasized the
study of functionality and investigating what was the ancient relics'
original processes of manufacture. Shen used ancient texts and
existing models of armillary spheres to create one based on ancient
standards; Shen described ancient weaponry such as the use of a scaled
sighting device on crossbows; while experimenting with ancient musical
measures , Shen suggested hanging an ancient bell by using a hollow
handle. _ Scholars of the Song claim to have collected ancient
relics dating back as far as the
Shang dynasty , such as this bronze
ding_ vessel .
Despite the gentry's overriding interest in archaeology simply for
reviving ancient state rituals, some of Shen's peers took a similar
approach to the study of archaeology. His contemporary Ouyang Xiu
(1007–1072) compiled an analytical catalogue of ancient rubbings on
stone and bronze which pioneered ideas in early epigraphy and
archaeology. During the 11th century, Song scholars discovered the
ancient shrine of Wu Liang (78–151 CE), a scholar of the Han dynasty
(202 BCE – 220 CE); they produced rubbings of the carvings and
bas-reliefs decorating the walls of his tomb so that they could be
analyzed elsewhere. On the unreliability of historical works written
after the fact, scholar-official
Zhao Mingcheng (1081–1129) stated
"...the inscriptions on stone and bronze are made at the time the
events took place and can be trusted without reservation, and thus
discrepancies may be discovered." Historian R.C. Rudolph states that
Zhao's emphasis on consulting contemporary sources for accurate dating
is parallel with the concern of the German historian Leopold von Ranke
(1795–1886), and was in fact emphasized by many Song scholars. The
Song scholar Hong Mai (1123–1202) heavily criticized what he called
the court's "ridiculous" archaeological catalogue _Bogutu_ compiled
during the Huizong reign periods of Zheng He and Xuan He
(1111–1125). Hong Mai obtained old vessels from the
Han dynasty and
compared them with the descriptions offered in the catalogue, which he
found so inaccurate he stated he had to "hold my sides with laughter."
Hong Mai pointed out that the erroneous material was the fault of
Cai Jing (1047–1126), who prohibited scholars from
reading and consulting written histories .
* History of Imperial
* Emperors\' family tree
Four Great Books of Song
* Taxation in premodern
Tiger Cave Kiln
Tiger Cave Kiln
* ^ During the reign of the
Song dynasty the world population grew
from about 250 million to approximately 330 million. Please also see
Medieval demography .
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Taagepera 1997 , p. 493.
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