Ritual and Ritual Obligations: Perspectives on Normativity from Classical China

Handscroll, ink and color on silk, 24.4 x 343.8 cm / British Library Exploring some of the theories that arose in classical China  concerning the ways in which normativity could be construed in ritual terms. By Dr. Michael Pruett / 09.19.2015 Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History and Anthropology Harvard University Introduction The goal[…]

Filial Piety and Confucian Law in Ancient and Medieval China

Scene from the Song Dynasty Illustrations of the Classic of Filial Piety, depicting a son kneeling before his parents. / National Palace Museum, Wikimedia Commons Filial piety is a typical feature of Chinese civilization. By Dr. Miao Chungang China University of Political Science and Law Abstract Filial piety is a typical feature of Chinese civilization.[…]

A Brief Overview of the Mongol Empire

The Mongol Empire expanded through brutal raids and invasions, but also established routes of trade and technology between East and West. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 08.29.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Rise of the Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire: Expansion of the Mongol empire from 1206 CE-1294 CE During Europe’s High Middle Ages the Mongol[…]

The Dynasties of Medieval China

Luoyang longmen grottoes / Photo by Tgasrio, Wikimedia Commons Examining the Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 08.23.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief The Tang Dynasty, 618-907 CE Rise of the Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty, generally regarded as a golden age of Chinese culture, was founded by the Lǐ family,[…]

The Character and Function of Ancient Chinese Walls and Fortifications

The Great Wall of China / Photo by Jakub Halun, Wikimedia Commons The concepts and technology of defensive fortifications fitfully but continually evolved. By Dr. Ralph D. Sawyer Senior Research Fellow University of Massachusetts The Fortifications LONG VIRTUALLY DEFINED by the mythic aspects of its Great Wall, China’s tradition of wall building far exceeds the most exaggerated[…]

China’s Semilegendary Period: Preliminary Orientations and Legendary Conflicts

King Zhu of the Shang Dynasty Lights the Signal Beacons, a Perspective Picture / Museum of Fine Arts Boston Archaeological discoveries over the past several decades have suddenly infused life into previously shadowy remnants of ancient Chinese civilization. By Dr. Ralph D. Sawyer Senior Research Fellow University of Massachusetts Introduction When warriors battle over territory,[…]

The Civilization of Ancient China

Great Wall illustration from French translation of an 1843 book by Thomas Allorn / Wikimedia Commons Major Stone Age farming cultures had grown up in China since the 7th millennium BCE. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 07.30.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Timeline of Ancient Chinese History 1766 BCE: traditional date for the founding of the first[…]

Public Spaces of Xi’an: Balancing Past and Future

Wikimedia Commons The emerging field of public history in Xi’an is essential to the city’s identity. By Luke Stanek / 09.26.2016 Council on East Asian Studies Yale University In cities like Xi’an, with such rich historical traditions, the People’s Republic of China faces the task of reckoning with history. In order to establish where China is going,[…]

The Construction Phases of the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China, built 221 BCE-1664 CE. / Photo by Emily Mark, Creative Commons Mark of national pride, failure as originally intended. By Emily Mark / 08.22.2015 Historian The Great Wall of China is a barrier fortification in northern China running west-to-east 13,171 miles (21,196 km) from the Jiayuguan Pass (in the west) to the Hushan Mountains in[…]

The Avars: From Mongolia to the Pontic Steppe

East Roman Empire, 6th century CE, showing the territories of the Avars, Goths, Franks, Lombards, Saxons, Thuringians, Slavs. / Image by William R. Shepherd, Wikimedia Commons The Avars were a confederation of heterogeneous people consisting of Rouran, Hephthalites, and Turkic-Oghuric races who migrated to the region of the Pontic Grass Steppe (an area corresponding to modern-day Ukraine. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 12.17.2014[…]

How Cotton Textile Production in Medieval China Unraveled Patriarchy

Detail of the central embroidery work of a woman’s summer robe, c1875–1900. / Wikimedia Commons In China, as in much of the preindustrial world, women carried out most of the textile production. By Dr. Melanie Meng Xue / 06.27.2018 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Economics Center for Economic History Northwestern University, Illinois Many societies suffer from the[…]

From China with Love: Tang Xianzu was the Shakespeare of the Orient

Tang and Shakespeare’s dramas are being blended together in a series of adaptions. Performance Infinity, Author provided Shakespeare was not the only famous dramatist to die in 1616. On the other side of theworld, in China, another theatrical legend was laid to rest. By Dr. Mary Mazzilli / 07.21.2016 Lecture in Theatre and Performance Goldsmiths, University of London In his 400th anniversary year, Shakespeare is still rightly celebrated as[…]

Children and Youth in Late Imperial China

Armorial screen Qing dynasty, 1720–1730, Artists from Guangzhou (Canton), Guangdong province, China / Peabody Essex Museum via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Susan Fernsebner Professor of Modern Chinese History University of Mary Washington An exploration of primary sources on childhood in late imperial China (framed broadly as the Song through Qing dynasties, ca. 960-1911 CE) offers a[…]

Children and Youth in Ancient China

Damen bearbeiten neue Seide, by Meister nach Chang Hsüan / The Yorck Project via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Anne Kinney Professor of East Asian Languages, Literature and Cultures University of Virginia The unprecedented interest in the child who assumed unique importance in the Han period was set into motion by a convergence of historically-specific conditions: (1)[…]

How China’s First ‘Silk Road’ Slowly Came to Life – On the Water

Curioso/Shutterstock The story of the silk road, ancient or modern, is as much the story of the sea as the dunes. By Dr. David Abulafia / 10.02.2017 Professor of Mediterranean History University of Cambridge Few images are more enduring in the historical imagination than the train of two-humped Bactrian camels plodding across desert sands from west[…]

The Forgotten History of Beijing’s First Forbidden City

No go zone. pixelflake/Flickr, CC BY-SA Explore the hidden origins of one of China’s most significant historic sites. By Jonathan Dugdale / 06.09.2017 PhD Candidate in Medieval History University of Birmingham An ancient site rooted in the heart of modern Beijing, the Forbidden City is one of China’s most famous attractions. Completed in 1420, the city served as the palace of Ming Dynasty emperor, Yongle.[…]

Early Chinese Dynasties

Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 02.23.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – The Mythical Period 1.1 – Introduction 1.1.1 – Overview Early prehistoric China is called the “Mythical Period.” It encompassed the legends of Pangu, and the rule of the Three Sovereigns, and the Five Emperors. The period ended when the last Emperor, Shun, left[…]

The Concept of ‘Oriental Despotism’ from Aristotle to Marx

Terracotta Army detail, Xi’an, China / Photo by Peter Morgan, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Rolando Minuti / 05.03.2012 Fernand Braudel Fellow, Professor of History European University Institute Abstract The concept of Oriental Despotism has shaped the European interpretation and representation of Asiatic governments and societies for many centuries. Its origins can be found in Aristotelian[…]

Did Ancient Irrigation Technology Travel the Silk Road?

By Gerry Everding / 01.03.2018 Senior News Direct, Social Sciences Washington University, St. Louis Using satellite imaging and drone reconnaissance, archaeologists from Washington University in St. Louis have discovered an ancient irrigation system that allowed a farming community in arid northwestern China to raise livestock and cultivate crops in one of the world’s driest desert[…]

Ancient Agricultural Trade and Changing Crop Seasons

Barley continues to be the staple diet of people living in this Dolpo Valley of Nepal, a harsh environment at 13,000 feet above sea level. Research suggests that ancient barley cultivation moved into China after being farmed in high altitude regions such as this along the southern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)[…]

Paper in Ancient China

A 13th century CE wooden printing plate and paper bank note from the Chinese Yuan dynasty (1271-1368 CE). (Tokyo Currency Museum) By Mark Cartwright / 09.15.2017 Historian The widespread use of paper and printing were features of ancient China which distinguished it from other ancient cultures. Traditionally, paper was invented in the early 2nd century CE, but[…]

Why Study Chinese Philosophy?

Plato, Confucius and Aristotle. Ancient Greek philosophy is widely taught in American universities, but classes in Chinese philosophy are few and far between. Public domain By Dr. Bryan W. Van Norden / 07.19.2017 Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple Professor of Philosophy Yale-NUS College Part of what U.S. diplomats and informed citizens need to know is[…]