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The Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) Another imperial son fled south and settled in 1127 at Hangzhou, where he resumed the Song rule as the emperor Gaozong. The Song retained control south of the Huai River, where they ruled for another one and a half centuries. Although militarily weak and limited in area, the Southern Song represented one of China's most brilliant periods of cultural, commercial, maritime, and technological development. Despite the loss of the north, trade continued to expand, enabling a commercial revolution to take place in the 13th century. Cut off from the traditional overland trade routes, Sung merchants turned to the ocean with the aid of such improvements as compasses and huge oceangoing ships called junks. The development of a paper money economy stimulated commercial growth and kept it going. At the end of the Southern Song Dynasty, the ruling class and the imperial court indulged themselves in art and luxurious living in the urban centers; the latest nomad empire arose in the north. The formidable Mongol armies, conquerors of Eurasia as far west as eastern Europe and of Korea in the east, descended on the Southern Song.
Culture in the Song period
The Song period was noted for landscape painting, which in time came to be considered the highest form of classical art. The city-dwelling people of the Sung period romanticized nature. This romanticism, combined with a mystical, Taoist approach to nature and a Buddhist-inspired contemplative mood, was reflected in landscape paintings showing people dwarfed by nature.
In philosophy, the trend away from Buddhism and back to Confucianism, which had begun in the late Tang, continued. Pure and simple restoration of the ancient teaching was impossible, because Confucianism had been challenged by Buddhism and Taoism. Confucianism needed to explain humanity and the universe as well as to regulate human relations within society. In the late Tang and early Song, several strands of Confucianism emerged. The great scholar Zhu Xi synthesized elements of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. This reconstituted philosophy became known as Neo-Confucianism, and it was the orthodox state doctrine until the end of the imperial system. Zhu Xi’s philosophy was one that stressed dualism, the goodness of human nature, and self-cultivation by education through the continuing "investigation of things." comprehensive view of things combined the five essential of the universe, metal, wood, water, fire, and earth) and the theories of Yin and Yang. He proclaimed, following Confucians that men were innocent at birth and this goodness can be cultivated. He also tried to preserve the family as the basis of society and maintained that the emperor was the father of his people.
Flower of arts were blooming in the Song. Many litterateurs appeared. Ci of poetry was popular. Chinese calligraphy and painting flourished.

The Sung scholars and historians also attempted to synthesize history. Si-ma guang made the first effort at producing a comprehensive history since Si-ma Qian of the Han. In 294 chapters, he wrote a chronological account of the period from 403 BC to AD 959, which was abridged by Zhu Xi in the 12th century. Another first in Song scholarship was the creation of encyclopedias. `Assembled Essentials on the Tang', a collection completed in 961, became the example for the various types of encyclopedic literature that followed.
The Sung period is famous for porcelain with a celadon glaze, which was one of the most desired items in foreign trade (See Pottery and Porcelain). The development of gunpowder led to the invention of a type of hand grenade. In shipbuilding, the great seagoing junks were admired and imitated by Arab and Western sailors. By far the largest ships in the world at the time, they had watertight compartments and could carry up to 1,000 passengers. Oceanic and coastal trade was concentrated in large ports such as Canton, Hangzhou, and Quanzhou (Marco Polo's Zayton), where large foreign trading communities developed. Koreans dominated the trade with the eastern islands, while Persians and Arabs controlled commerce across the western seas. Along with commercial expansion came the urbanization, or increasing importance of cities, in Sung society. Hangzhou, the Southern Sung capital, had a population of more than 2 million. Commercialization and urbanization had a number of effects on Chinese society. People in the countryside faced the problems of absentee landlordism. Although many city residents enjoyed luxury, with a great variety of goods and services, poverty was widespread.
A change associated with urbanization was the decline in the status of women of the upper classes. With the concentration of the upper classes in the cities, where the work of women became less essential, women were treated as servants and playthings. This was reflected in the practices of concubinage and of binding girls' feet to make them smaller. Neither practice was banned until the 20th century.

The prehistory of China
The Xia Dynastry(21st-17th centuryBC)
The Shang Dynasty(17th-11th century BC)
The Zhou Dynasty(11th century BC-256BC)
The Spring Autumn(770-476BC) and Warring States Period(475- 221BC)
The Qin Dynasty(221-206BC)
The Western Han Dynasty(206BC-25AD)
The Eastern Han Dynasty(25AD-220AD)
The Sui Dynasty(589-618)
The Tang Dynasty(618-907)
The Five Dynasties(907-960)
The Northern Song Dynasty(960-1127)
The Liao Dynasty(907-1125), Western Xai Dynasty(1038-1227) and Jin Dynasty(1115-1234)
The Southern Dynasty(1127-1279)
The Yuan Dynasty(1206-1368)
The Ming Dynasty(1368-1644)
The Qing Dynasty(1616-1911)
Republic of China(1912-1949)
The People's Republic of China(1949-)

 

 

 


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