This chapter provides a comprehensive discussion about the transformation of warfare in the Warring States period, when the previous aristocratic way of managing military affairs characteristic of the Springs and Autumns period was abandoned, and a completely new model of combat based on large-scale armies of conscripted infantry soldiers emerged. The Warring States period was defined by a new type of total warfare, characterized by military campaigns in which the whole population participated. In this new context victory meant survival, while defeat meant annihilation of the whole state. The chapter also presents an overview of the origins and the development of specialized and technical military writings in ancient China, touching upon key texts including Sunzi’s Art of War, among others.
This chapter introduces the new developments of Chinese art during the Warring States period (475–221
Scott Bradley Cook
This chapter describes the nature and scope of musical practice and performance during Zhou-dynasty China and the roles that music was thought to play in promoting political stability and social harmony. Following a quick overview of instrumental finds from the Neolithic and Shang periods, the chapter examines textual and archaeological evidence to provide a synopsis of instrumental types and ensembles as they developed into the Zhou, and then proceeds to describe the musical system—from the five tones (wuyin五音) to the twelve pitch-standards (liulü六律)—within which those instruments were both manufactured and performed, with particular attention to the bell and chimestone sets of Marquis Yi of Zeng 曾侯乙. The chapter concludes with a discussion of musical institutions and regulations during the Zhou dynasty, followed by a very brief overview of philosophies of music in the Warring States.
This chapter, by employing securely dated vessels, discusses stylistic characteristics of three phases of Western Zhou bronzes in the Zhou metropolitan centers in the Wei River Valley in Central Shaanxi and Luoyang area in Henan. The assemblage of bronze vessels in tombs and caches is also discussed in order to understand Zhou ancestral sacrifices and ritual practices and their changes from the Early to Middle and Late Western Zhou periods. The Zhou interaction with local communities through regional states and military posts beyond the center also stimulated the rise of exotic bronze vessel types inspired by local ceramic traditions.
Hong Xu and Yu Liu
This chapter analyzes bronze-casting technology, noting that the Erlitou phase is transitional rather than representative of the beginning of bronze-casting. Through analysis of the samples of bronze, slag and mold, the study focuses on production techniques and the evolution of the composition of bronzes, beginning with an initial high copper content to a bronze alloy that gradually stabilizes. Evidence for a bronze workshop, how bronze is melted, and the lack of smelting are reviewed, noting that the source of copper, tin, and lead still needs further study. The formation of the independent Chinese bronze-working tradition appears in the use of the piece-mold casting process. This technical process and philosophical construct, are very different from the technical tradition of ancient Mesopotamia or in the ancient Egyptian region where designs were made after the bronze wares were formed. Bronze production during the Erlitou period shows a high level of organization, indicating that this phase of working bronze follows an earlier and probably longer period of development.
Change and Continuity at the Intersection of Received History and the Material Record during the Warring States Period
This chapter concentrates on archaeologically recovered paleographic and material culture remaining from the pre-imperial and early imperial periods in China. One part of the chapter treats capitals and the settlements and cities that preceded them. Another section considers the systems of household registration that, beginning circa fourth century
This article examines state formation and urbanisation in China from an archaeological perspective. It explains that modern archaeology conducted by Chinese archaeologists began in the 1920s and it was the result of an interplay between the Chinese traditions of historiography, the introduction of western scientific methodology, and rising nationalism. The first site excavated by a Chinese-led archaeology team was Yinxu (the ruins of Yin/Shang) in Anyang, Henan and the excavations revealed a large urban site, which is known as a capital of the late Shang dynasty. During the second half of the twentieth century, Chinese archaeology developed dramatically, not only as the results of salvage archaeology in response to nationwide construction, but also as the result of topic-oriented research.
John S. Major and Elizabeth Childs-Johnson
Although the origins of Chu are still unclear, by the Western Zhou period Chu was known as a polity in the mid–Han River Valley, participating in the Zhou multistate system and evolving culturally with formalized religious practices and matchless artistic expression. The Chu kings were culturally conservative yet highly innovative, abiding by Shang and Western Zhou religious and ritual norms. Cosmological and shamanic systems of belief pervade Chu texts such as the Chuci (Elegies of Chu) and the Shanhaijing (Classic of mountains and seas) as well as works of art. It is evident that the cosmological deity Taiyi (Great Undifferentiated Unity) of Chu is directly related to the concept of immortality and metamorphosis and to the antler-bearing wooden figures (interpreted as guardians or guides for the soul) found in Chu tombs. Chu artisanship, in addition, gives birth to the earliest Sinitic narrative scenes of ritual and otherworldly subjects, such as hunting, feasting, and warfare in this world as well as the liminal world of the afterlife. Chu was not only culturally distinctive but a major part of the larger Sinitic world.
Warring Kingdoms thought divides into a humanist tradition (Analects and Mencius), a naturalist tradition (Daoism), and an institutional tradition (Mohism and Legalism). The humanist tradition is based on charismatic leadership with a strong moral (de, virtue) content. The Naturalists situate the social in the biological and subordinate it to the biological, emphasizing the concepts of ziran and wanwu (all things created by Dao, each one of which must fulfill its own unique nature). The institutionalists place human society under a rule of bureaucratic law (fa) guided by an administrative rather than a charismatic leader.
Jonathan Smith and Yuzhou Fan
This chapter offers a basic historiographical overview of the Shang period and polity, with focus on the roles that general archaeological, specifically inscriptional, and received textual evidence have played in approaching the history, chronology, religious traditions, calendrical practices, material culture, and lifeways of the Shang and their cultural forebears. Special attention is paid to pyro-osteomancy plus inscription, a defining feature of Shang religious life. These “oracle bone inscriptions” testify to the use of divination by or on behalf of Shang royals to gauge the auspiciousness of circumstances and hypothetical courses of action relating to sickness and health, military campaigns, hunting expeditions, agricultural production, meteorological conditions, and much else, perennial and overarching question being the proper manner of presenting sacrifice to deceased ancestors.
This chapter surveys the major archaeological discoveries of the Chunqiu (Springs and Autumns) period, which belongs to the first half of the Eastern Zhou period (770–256
This chapter analyzes the archaeological data documenting early and middle Shang cities and sites (Figure 1). The early Shang cities include Zhengzhou Shang City, Yanshi Shang City, Yuanqu Shang City, Panlongcheng Shang City, Dongxiafeng Shang City, Fucheng Shang City, and Wangjinglou Shang City, while the middle Shang cities and sites include Huanbei Shang City, Xiaoshuangqiao Shang site, and sites in the Xingtai area of Hebei Province. Primary archaeological data regarding each of the Shang cities is introduced and followed by an analysis of the principal archaeological remains from each, as represented by city layouts, rammed-earth city walls, palaces, and craft workshops as well as burial areas and common residential areas within each city.
This article focuses on the archaeology of East Asia. It explains that Chinese archaeology dominates interpretations of all archaeology in the region because of the sheer size of China and the importance of its historical influence. However, an analysis of East Asian archaeology based on China alone would be inadequate because the nation-states of South and North Korea, Japan, and Russia also practised their own archaeology. This article describes the archaeology of these nation-states.
This chapter explores the political and social order of the aristocratic Springs and Autumns period. It analyzes the formation of the multistate system in the wake of the weakening of the Zhou dynasty, this system’s functioning, and the eventual collapse of the attempts to ensure viable multistate order. The chapter shows that aggravating political fragmentation notwithstanding, the aristocratic elites throughout the Zhou realm maintained considerable cultural unity. Even the elites of alien political entities, such as Wu and Yue, became increasingly absorbed into the broad framework of the Zhou culture, contributing therewith to the expansion of the Zhou realm and the softening of Sino-alien dichotomy. The second part of the chapter focuses on domestic life of the component polities of the Zhou world. Particular attention is given to the power of hereditary aristocrats (specifically, the ministerial lineages) and to political activism of the lower stratum of “capital-dwellers,” who emerged as major beneficiaries of the ongoing struggles between the rulers and their chief ministers.
This chapter explores the historiography and political thought of the Springs and Autumns period. It analyzes major historical texts from the period—the Springs and Autumns Annals (Chunqiu) and the Zuo zhuan—addressing their nature, audience, and (especially in the case of the Zuo zhuan) the nature of their primary sources. The multiplicity of genres in the Springs and Autumns period historiography is contrasted with the proliferation of didactic anecdotes as major building blocks of historical knowledge during the subsequent Warring States period. The second part of the chapter explores major aspects of the Springs and Autumns period’s political thought as reflected in the Zuo zhuan. The marked aristocratic nature of this thought is contrasted with major trends of the subsequent Warring States period. The discussion focuses on the views of multistate order, concepts of rulership and ruler-minister relations, and views of social hierarchy and the importance of the ritual system.
This chapter explores the transformation of the Warring States–period polities from loose aristocratic entities into centralized bureaucratic states. It focuses primarily on the reforms in the state of Qin associated with Shang Yang and his followers. The reforms resulted in the formation of an assertive agro-managerial state, able to mobilize its population to agriculture and warfare. Shang Yang overhauled Qin’s social system, replacing the pedigree-based order with the system of the ranks of merit, which allowed sociopolitical and economic advancement to individuals who excelled on the battlefield or in increasing their grain yields. The accompanying centralization and profound bureaucratization of Qin’s society had dramatically improved the state’s control over its human and material resources. The newly emerging assertive and all-reaching state allowed Qin to successfully subjugate its rivals. In the long term, however, an excessively activist state proved to be a liability once imperial unification was achieved.
The volume, The Oxford Handbook on Early China, offers a rich assembly of pioneering research on pre-imperial China. The study is a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach focused on the period before the establishment of imperial rule, encompassing the whole span of time from the Neolithic through Eastern Zhou eras, ca. 5000–250
This chapter introduces Erlitou as the first dynasty of the Bronze Age by reviewing differing opinions and the basis for identifying the Erlitou Culture as that of Xia, ca. 2100–1600
The appearance of the cast iron industry was one of the most technological innovations in ancient China. Nonetheless, how iron technology shaped the historical development during this critical period has not yet been fully investigated. This chapter first reviews evidence dating to the Spring and Autumn period regarding the appearance of bloomery iron and cast iron industry. Archaeological evidence suggests a simultaneous development of cast iron in multiple states during the first half of the first millennium BCE. Regional variations between these two centers were also present. The chapter further explores regional variations in the development of the iron industries during the Warring States period on the basis of frequencies and types of iron objects from burial data in the Jin, Qin, and Chu regions. The regional comparison suggests that the total amount of iron objects in the Qin state was much less than the assemblage in the three Jin states; the latter should belong to the manufacturing core given the frequencies and types of iron objects in tombs. Moreover, the local iron industry of the Chu state distinctively focused on the manufacture of weapons compared to former two states. In sum, the regional variations in iron industry should be the foundation for further addressing the social significance of iron technology in ancient China. In addition, the iron industry in the Qin state during the Warring States period should be more carefully scrutinized in the future because it might have been operated on a relatively smaller scale than presently understood.