The Shang Dynasty

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The Shang Dynasty was one of the oldest tribes of ancient China. The dynasty reign was from 16th century BC - 11th century BC. China's isolation and its sense of superiority shaped not only chinese attitudes towards people, but also their conception of them selves. The key characteristics of the Chinese view of the world were a belief that the Chinese stood at the center of the universe, that theirs was the 'Middle Kingdom', surrounded in all four directions. The belief in a powerful protective, Shang Di, the original ancestor of the ruling house, encouraged a sense of community. Shang Di presided over organically connected divine and human realms. They were the kings of Shang, rulers of a primordial agricultural nation with a rich religious and ceremonial life. Today they are famous for the beautiful designed ritual vessels, skillfully cast in bronze and engraved with symbolic figures, that were used in elaborate dramas honoring royal ancestors and fertility gods. Around 1000 BC the Shang Dynasty collaspsed. The last Shang ruler was a man of great personal strength and eloquence, but he had allowed his court to become so corrupted that it engaged in indecent, naked revels. It was thought that such decadence was an indication that the spiritual power of the line had been used up, and finally the king, abandoned by heaven, burned himself in his slendid palace. The Shang was a great literate and artistic culture. For centuries the dynasty had ruled the core Chinese cultural area. Indirect trading contact between China and the Nanyang, or southern Ocean, which the Chinese now call Southeast Asia, go back as far as the Shang dynasty when cowrie shells were used as currency. The most holy and vernerable of musical instruments were sets of stone chimes (triangular pieces of limestone that were suspended in racks of and struck with batons. These were sounded in the sacred

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