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November 6, 2016
The Hwang -Ho or the Yellow River civilization in China (3500-3000 BC)
The history of the human race covers the entire period since man first appeared on earth. By about 4000 BC the accumulated knowledge and skills of the preceding thousands of years, combined with new discoveries of metals enabled man to live in urban societies. The emergence of this stage was a revolution in human history known as the metal age revolution. It led to the emergence of the first civilizations which are known as River Valley Civilizations. Such river valley civilizations were noted for the effective use of metal implements for Cultivation, weapons and domestic use.
The Bronze Age civilizations which flourished in different parts of the world between 5000 BC and 500 BC were
1. The Indus Valley civilization or the Harappan culture (3250 to 2750 BC)
2. The Tigris - Euphrates civilization of Mesopotamia, the modern Iraq (3500 BC to 1000 BC)
3. The Nile Valley Civilization in Egypt (4000-500BC)
4. The Hwang -Ho or the Yellow River civilization in China (3500-3000 BC)
The early Chinese Civilization or The Hwang-Ho Valley Civilization
The Hwang-Ho is known as Yellow river because it brings the Yellow alluvial soil and deposits it on its banks. The civilization represents the largest unbroken chain of development known to humanity. The role of rivers Hwang- Ho, and Yang-tze Kiang are significant in shaping the culture, civilization and History of China. The Hwang-Ho is called sorrow of China as its annual floods cause widespread destruction of both possessions and to agriculture. The geography and topography of China caused the civilization to develop in isolation. The Chinese people belonged to the Mongol race. They have yellow complexion, short, oblique eyes, snubbed nose and black hair.
Political History of Ancient China
Fu Xi was the first known king. The Shang dynasty (1766-1122.BC) unified the territories of Yellow river. The succeeding Chou dynasty and its ruler Wu-Wang introduced many reforms and the Chou Age is known as the classical Age of China. After the decline of Chou Dynasty China became disunited and feudal lords reigned supreme. Hence this age is known as feudal age. Shi - Huang -Ti who belonged to Chin dynasty, put an end to the feudal control. He is remembered in history as the builder of the great wall of China. The Chinese honoured the teachings of great philosophers named Confucius, and Lao tze.
Socio- Economic Condition
The Chinese society was divided into the privileged and unprivileged classes. The nobility and the priests enjoyed most of the privileges in China. The life of peasants was generally miserable. Slavery and forced Labour were common features. Women were not given much freedom in the society. The system of foot binding was common among women. They had no right to property. However there was no hereditary bureaucracy in China. The officials were chosen from a class known as “Mandarin” who were selected through a series of public examinations. After the spread of Confucianism, there was marked change in the society.
The Chinese cleared and drained the Hwang-Ho basin and cultivated crops; there canal irrigation was in practice. They wove silk garments which attracted the attention of the world trade. They developed the ceramic art to a very fine manner and even now ceramic cups are called China cups. The horse was known to them and was used in warfare.
The earliest commodities of trade in China were silk, ceramics, salt and iron. The trade was taken through the inland canals. There were guilds to protect the interest of the merchants. During this period commercial contacts with Asia, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean region and South Asia were established. The popular drink “Tea” is also a gift of the ancient Chinese to the modern world.
Religion and Philosophy
Chinese believed in ancestor worship and made offerings to them. They also worshipped petty village deities and believed in the existence of good and evil sprits. To welcome the good spirits and ward off evil spirits, they used to build towers in each village and burst crackers to ward off evil spirits. They believed that a mythological dragon was protecting their land and people. The great Chinese thinker LaoTse condemned ritualistic practices and advised people to go with nature. Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher emphasized that, moral living, discipline and duty consciousness alone would lead us to peaceful and prosperous society. Later on Buddhism was introduced and it soon became the most influential religion in China.
The Chinese developed a pictographic script and later brought out many changes in it. Their writing was done on bones or tortoise shells with the help of some sharp instrument. In 2nd century A.D they invented the paper. Silk pieces were also used for writing. Ink was invented in 5th Century AD. The Chinese pencils were made of bamboo.
Some of the valuable scientific discoveries owe their origin to ancient China. Theories of Lunar and Solar eclipses were also developed. They
made some scientific inventions like the Water Mill, the Mariner compass, the gunpowder and paper currency.
An anatomical study of human bodies was popular. In mathematics they introduced abacus method. One of the noblest contributions of ancient China was its art of block printing. The Chinese civilization has left an indelible mark on human progress and cultural legacy of the world.