Sunday, November 24, 2013

Religion and Culture: Neo-Confucianism

Neo-Confucianism, the dominant religion of the Song Dynasty was the strongest feature of daily life. Although during the Song Dynasty, the religions Daoism and Buddhism were very important, Confucian thinkers blended the teachings of Confucius with elements of Daoism and Buddhism and as a result, Confucianism had broadened its outlook. The dominant philosophy was Neo-Confucianism which was an "expression of the tendency to seek "harmony" in all things." A Neo-Confucian scholar, Zhu Xi, selected and commented on class Chinese writings. In 1190, Zhu Xi's work was published as the "Four Books". This work became the foundation of study for all civil service exams. This philosophy soon became the main explanation of Confucianism for the purposes of the civil service exams, which was disapproved by Zhu Xi. He got his teachings from the four books which he had recommended to read in order, "Great Learning", "Doctrine of the Mean", "Analects of Confucius", and "Book of Mencius". Zhu Xi believed that students should get knowledge from these books so that they could learn it just like he did himself, and he made this a policy. This practice is important because society and the world can only be a vigorous environment if the people in it are good and have an effort to make better changes. It is also important because the policy and teachings of this prompts people to read and learn about their beliefs and culture as well as to encourage themselves in what they want to know or change.

In difference to Neo-Confucianism, Legalism is the belief that strict obedience on people would change the way that they act and think. Legalism would have been a bad religious belief for the Song Dynasty because the people would feel mistreated by the government and would be afraid to express their knowledge and thoughts because they would get punished for the certain way they act or think. It is important to have people indicate their thoughts towards something so they know that their idea had been shared and heard with other people. Overall, legalism would have not been a good philosophy because there would have been strict laws to make people do things that would make the government satisfied, and not the people. For the Song Dynasty, Neo-Confucianism was a better philosophy. 

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Inventions: Gunpowder

Gunpowder was one of the many artifacts invented in China. Gunpowder was invented in China during the Song Dynasty, in the 9th century. It was a very important invention during the Song Dynasty because it helped in many fields and most importantly, during warfare. Soldiers were able to attack enemies from a far distance through the rockets and also had the ability to tear down stone barriers. During that time, there had been many conflicts between the dynasty and other regions, and for this reason, the troops were able to strike their enemies from a long distance. Gunpowder was originally made by mixing elemental sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate. The creation of gunpowder impacted many people's lives.

Gunpowder, which was one of the useful things created in China was invented by Chinese Taoist Alchemists seeking an elixir of immortality. They began to recognize the properties of potassium nitrate and sulfur which were the two essential ingredients to make gunpowder. Before gunpowder was invented, many of the Chinese armies used weapons that were not as powerful as gunpowder. Many soldiers died while trying to attack their enemies because the weapons were not as forceful. The most recognizable way that gunpowder was used was in fireworks for Chinese traditions and celebrations. The gunpowder was invented accidentally by Chinese Taoist Alchemists who were people that studied alchemy, the science of mixing substances. They took ordinary items such as straw and tried to turn it into something such as gold. The Chinese Taoist Alchemists were trying to find an elixir of immortality when they realized that the ingredients that they were using was essential for gunpowder. Gunpowder was first used to launch fireworks during celebrations and to use as weapons. They used it in cannons, rockets, and guns, which was also used to defend the city of Kaifeng during war, which was the capitol of the Song Dynasty.

Gunpowder has changed people's lives in many ways. Although gunpowder from ancient times and modern day may work a bit differently, it is almost still used for the same reason it was used back then. Gunpowder has been very important in wars, and without gunpowder, many of the technologies even until this day would have not been advanced. Song military engineers found gunpowder to be helpful in warfare, leading to the development of early types of rockets, cannons, grenades, and mines. It was also used a lot in fireworks for religious purposes. Many armies that used gunpowder in rockets and cannons as a weapon in war were in a much safer condition than going into their enemies boundaries and start attacking. This is because the gunpowder in the rockets or cannons were able to shoot from a far distances without having the soldiers get to close to their opponents. However, gunpowder was also used to treat skin diseases and to kill insects before its advantage as a weapon was made clear. Even in modern day, gunpowder is used in many ways such as in fireworks. Overall the invention of gunpowder was successful and has been useful in ancient times as well as in modern day.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Opinion/Editorial Article

Song Dynasty Lost Control to the Mongols? No way!

          The emperor has announced an issue which brought alert and attention to the Song Dynasty, Kublai has blocked Yangzi River with his fleet in order to attack the troops throughout the country. This has created many difficulties and struggles throughout the people in the country. Blocking off the river will not help the Mongols succeed in attacking the troops of the dynasty. The Mongols have also tried to attack China the previous time, this was not the right choice. Getting back revenge from another empires fall will not improve China or teach a lesson, but make it more complicated and vulnerable. The downfall of the Song Dynasty will affect the living situation and have China end up in a harmful and unsafe environment. China could undergo a industrial revolution, the transformation from an agricultural to an industrial nation. The Mongols are very brutal and vicious warriors, and need everything their way. If something is not going in their desired way, their plan is to kill thousands of people to fight their way into victory. It did not matter to the Mongols if their army had many skilled horsemen that could ride a great speed with minimal supply, an organized transit system for message runners, utilitarian weapons, or well structured armies. The Mongols had no right to invade through the walls of China and take over the dynasty to overcome the power of Song, they demolished anything that stood in their way of becoming a successful empire. The people should live in peace and quiet, throughout their whole life. There might be alarming situations that come throughout overtime, but the Song Dynasty will be changed forever if such a tragic incident happens. The Mongols should think twice before ruining their reputation on such a big empire, and should also consider the people of China and their actions and feelings towards a devastating occurrence they are willing to take place in. 

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Front Page News Article

Song Dynasty Established by Zhao Kuangyin, Emperor Taizu

In February 4, 960 AD, it was the start of another reign. The Song Dynasty found by Zhao Kuangyin, now known as Emperor Taizu, has taken over. It was a magnificent time when everyone had heard that the Song Dynasty had arose in Central China. Zhao was born in Lo-yang, located in Central China and grew up in a military tradition family. Before becoming emperor, Zhao was a chief-general in the service of the preceding dynasty, Hou Zhou. Shi Zong, who was the emperor of the last dynasty, Hou Zhou, had a lot of trust and belief in Zhao to be successful and prosperous later on. Once Shi Zong died, Zhao took over the new dynasty, which now is the Song Dynasty. Zhao Kuangyin usurped the throne by military force. 

As the start of the dynasty, the Song controlled most of inner China. "Emperor Taizu is fantastic at dealing with state affairs. He promoted agricultural production and mulberry planting, and established a series of preferential policies for agriculture so as to promote the development of social economy. He strengthened centralization, took over local military power, and appointed civilians to be local officials." This was said about Zhao Kuangyin and how his actions once he ascended the throne and established the dynasty, has made many improvements for China. So far so great for Emperor Taizu, many believe that he has made great effort to enhance China, completed many accomplishments, and worked his way up well to establish the Song Dynasty.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Interview with Emperor Taizu of Song

Reporter- Good afternoon Emperor Taizu, thank you for joining me here today. I just have a few questions for you.
Taizu- Sure, go ahead.

Reporter- Emperor Taizu, what are some of the challenges you faced when establishing the Song Dynasty?
Taizu- Well, Shi Zong who was emperor of Hou Zhou, the last dynasty, had such belief and trust in me. During a time in 959, Shi Zong had died and I was trusted by him to be powerful, it seemed necessary for a strong man to take power. I faced many threats and unwelcoming battles, although sticks and stones hit me along the way to claim this new dynasty in which I now rule, I was prepared to take over the empire with the assistance of my brothers, friends, and consultants. 

Reporter- Ah...well on the other hand, I'm sure your childhood was completely different. In that case, how was your childhood different from your position as emperor?
Taizu- My childhood and position as emperor seems as the complete opposite. I was born in Lo-yang, located in Central China. I grew up excelling in mounted archery as well as in martial arts. My father, who was a Military Commander had confirmed to me that as years go by, I would be successful and prosperous. Of course being a child is much more peaceful than being an emperor with many responsibilities, worries, and duties that come upon me.

Reporter- What was the purpose of creating political institutions?
Taizu- I had created political institutions to allow a great deal of freedom, of debates and thoughts. Having others speak up with their knowledge and having discussions made communities of joyful freedom, which eased the growth of economic and achievements in art and literature.

Reporter- That's great! After all your hard work and accomplishments, what would you like to be remembered for?
Taizu- I have completed many successful tasks so far in my reign, which of course, is what i'd like everyone to remember about me. As a hardworking, brilliant, and strong man, I have accomplished many goals to satisfy my people as well as the better of my dynasty. My accomplishments, which is a big part in my reign is something that I would like everyone to keep in mind, one of them was when I reunited China after the fragmentation and revolt between the fall of the Tang Dynasty and the establishment of the Song Dynasty. Another task I completed which I am very proud of is when I personally led the army against the Northern Han. Can I just say that it took a very heroic part in me, I may have gotten that trait from my father. I was glad that I had overcome my fears as an emperor and chose to be brave, to help my dynasty live on. I would be more than happy to have my legacy continue and have everyone remember me as an intelligent and wise emperor.

Reporter- You are a great person Emperor Taizu, as of completing many tasks throughout your reign, there must have been times where you came upon challenges while ruling your dynasty. What is the hardest part of ruling a dynasty?
Taizu- Thank you, nice question! Being an emperor of a dynasty is mind blowing and quite difficult. After many battles, rearranging armies, helping out my people and other charges is a hassle. To spill the truth, the most difficult part about ruling a dynasty is when it comes to wars and figuring out a plan to battle against our enemies. I say that it is challenging because it takes a long period of time to organize my army and figure out a strategy to defeat our enemies.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Song Dynasty Map

This is a map of the Song Dynasty, the Song Dynasty ruled from 960 to 1279 AD. During its rule, the dynasty was split up into Northern and Southern Song due to nomadic invaders (Northern Song 860-1122 AD, Southern Song 1127-1279 AD). In the map of the dynasty the green represents the area controlled by the Song Dynasty, the orange represents the area controlled by China, until the Mongols invaded China from the north, defeated the Song and established the Yuan dynasty in 1279 AD. Based on the map of the Song Dynasty, it touches the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and as well as the South China Sea. Kaifeng which was the capital of the Song Dynasty is currently Beijing in modern day which is the capitol of China and is a very popular and busy city. Although modern day China is a lot bigger now, the Song Dynasty managed a lot of land.

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