Mid Term Essay

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The Chinese first settled in the Huang He, or Yellow River, valley of northern China by 3000 BC. By then they had pottery, wheels, farms, and silk, but they had not yet discovered writing or the uses of metals. The Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BC) is the first documented era of ancient China. The highly developed hierarchy consisted of a king, nobles, commoners, and slaves. Chinese and India forms of writing, developed by 2000 BC, were complex systems of picture writing using forms called ideograms, pictograms, and phonograms. They were used for record keeping in ancient China and India. The Chou Dynasty (1122-221 BC) saw the full flowering of, a middle class and iron was introduced to China and spread to India. The sage Confucius (551-479 BC) developed the code of ethics that dominated Chinese thought and culture for the next twenty-five centuries. In terms of religion, the Chinese were not passive recipients of Indian practices but adapted many Buddhist beliefs to traditional Chinese thought. Buddhism and Taoism were closely related. The adaption was easy because many Buddhist concepts were similar to those of Taoism, a popular religion in China. The Taoist practiced meditation and controlled breathing as did the Buddhist monks, as well as believing in the enlightenment form of Nirvana. Ancient people in India and China developed unique attributes. I would argue that the characteristic of Chinese civilization has been its ability to have less civilized invaders who absorb Chinese culture and the language rather than the other way around, as was frequently the case in India. Also important was the secular nature of Chinese civilization; it never produced a ‘priest’ class that had an important political role unlike India. In addition, Chinese culture stresses the social rather than the individual life of human beings, thus emphasizing the importance of

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