Exploring the Cultures of East Asia
Hello, and welcome to my tackk page on East Asia. The purpose for this webpage is to inform you about the different dynasties, kingdoms, and groups living in East Asia. You will learn all about the Chinese dynasties, the Mongols, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.
Throughout the year the Chinese civilization has been able to fall and rise without much difficultly, but with the Sui, Song, and Tang dynasties it was much harder to get back to the level of height that they were at before. First, in the Sui dynasty the northern ruler was named Wendi. He was also known as Yang Jian and he was the first emperor of the dynasty and united China. Wendi build a more centralized government then before and he created new laws to protect males that owned land. The most important accomplishment of the Sui dynasty was the start of constructing the Grand Canal. The Grand Canal was a very long water route that connected northern and southern China. The fall of the Sui dynasty was due to the fact that they had many failed military actions and it came to a short end.
The next dynasty the came up was the Tang Dynasty which was formed by a Sui general. The dynasty lasted for about 400 years and it made the Chinese cultures spread. The rulers of the Tang built a strong government and made the city’s capital at Chang’an. They also made the civil service examination system, which would make people take written exams if they wanted to work for the government. The rulers also expanded the area of China which grew the wealth of the area. Buddhism also came to China from India during this dynasty. We can tell this because they build Buddhist temples and other things that we influenced by the religion. The Tang declined because they had too many rebellions and could not handle all the problems.
One more dynasty is the Song Dynasty, who was established by the Chinese during their split in the Tang Dynasty. They changed the capital to Kaifeng and switched back to a centralized government. During this time Neo-Confucianism was favored rather than regular Confucianism because it had newer and better ideas. People who did not pass the civil service examinations would become scholar-officials and would be educated. The achievements of the Song Dynasty were a better government, more peace with nomads, conquered more land, and they also invented porcelain, which is still used in many items around you houses today. They also learned how to use woodblock printing to make images on wood. The trade also grew because of the Silk Road routes that were developed at the time.
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The Mongols were the nomadic people that constantly attacked China. They were people that lived in grasslands that were all across the central part of Asia. The grasslands were way to dry for farming so the Mongols had to live as hunters who relied on herds of animals for food and all their needs. They would have to move around a lot due to the animals and they would build up quick settlements and take them down even faster. They herded sheep and goas, and road horse to keep up with the animals that they took care of. They were the type of people that could deal with anything life had to throw at them.
The Mongols were always lead by a chief, or khan. In the early 1200’s a powerful khan came to power and his name was Temujin. Later he changed his name to Genghis Khan which meant “Universal Ruler”. When he was leading the Mongols they became a very powerful military force. Under his rule they were able to quickly attack and could attack again very soon after. He could also watch and stalk his enemies like they were his prey. Genghis Khan lead his army to conquer a large amount of Asia. One of the achievements that the Mongols had was being one of the first to use gunpowder. When he died around 1227 he had control over China and central Asia.
After Genghis Khan’s death his sons divided up the lands and they started to conquer even more land than before. But they tried to attack and conquer India and Western Europe they failed. After that they had been devastated and when in to a time of people. This time of peace is now known as the Pax Mongolia meaning “Mongol Peace”. The Mongols transitioned into a more trading society and started to guard the Silk Roads. It is hard to say why the Mongols declined but many people believe it was because of dividing the empire into four different sectors that it faded away.
Japan is a nation that consists of thousands of large and small islands. The islands go on in a chain for more than 1,500 miles and are located on the Ring of Fire, which is a volcanoes and earthquake ring in the Pacific Ocean. Japan is a very large trading center because its location in Southeast Asia but it also had some farming. The farming that they are able to have is very good because the soil is good due to the tsunamis that they have. Because of the sea surrounding the islands it provided good protection to all who lived there.
One of the largest clans on the islands of Japan was the Yamato Clan. They were one of the most powerful and largest because the emperor of Japan was from there. The Yamato Clan said that the sun goddess, Amaterasu, was one of their ancestors. The clan was very good at farming and had a lot of control over the island Honshu. But over time other clans gained power over them and they stopped having control and just served as an example. Japan also had many Chinese influences because the Japanese could write Chinese, practiced their religion, and had similar art styles. The Japanese studied Buddhism because Prince Shotoku spread it to the islands of Japan.
Another period of time in Japan was the Heian Period. It was a time when the nobles lived in really nice palaces and enjoyed they easy life and had privilege. Court live was so popular amount the nobles that they called themselves “dwellers among the clouds” because they had live so good. Women in the time were very influential because they would wear brightly colored dressed and had many ideas about the time period. They often wrote many items of poetry and different things in Japanese literature. One famous writer was Lady Murasaki Shikibu because she wrote one of Japans greatest novel of that time period.
Korea is a peninsula in between China and Japan which mad it good for trade. But just like the islands of Japan it is covered with mountains, which makes them not able to have as much farming. Korea’s climate is somewhat like the way it is in Indiana, hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The Korean people were like the Mongols in the way that they were both nomads that would travel around. But later in history after China colonized it, it became more settled and they started learning the teaching of Confucianism. Also after China declined one of the kingdoms in Korea, the Silla, conquered the other two and then defeated the Chinese when they were weak.
The Koryo Dynasty was founded by the rebels from the Silla Kingdom. The rulers also used Chinese ideas and cultures, but they tried to make the Korean features show. Korea also adopted a civil service examination similar to the one in China, but this time only nobles could take the test. One of the achievements that came out of this dynasty was that they invented celadon pottery and they also discovered new methods of printing and making prints on wood blocks. The reason for the decline was because the Mongols attacked Korea and they never recovered from it.
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The area of Southeast Asia is the area located between India and China. This area provided many trade routes and good farming lands. One of the parts of Southeast Asia is the land, the land is what separates China and India from each other. The rivers that flow south are providing good farming land. The other part of Southeast Asia is the islands located where the Indian Ocean meets the Pacific Ocean. The islands are a good source of trade and travel for the people that live there. The seas also are important trade routes from India to China. The water ways in Southeast Asia were very important trade routes. The two most important trade routes were the Malacca Strait and the Sunda Strait. Whoever control these routes and other important trade routes would be wealthy and powerful. The merchants who traded and traveled often relied on monsoons to blow them from one place to another. India and China influenced Southeast Asia because they introduced them to Hinduism and Buddhism. They also helped they form more ideas about government and arts.
One of the first kingdoms to emerge in Southeast Asia was the Pagan Kingdom. In the 840’s people called the Burmans started the kingdom near the Irrawaddy River valley. The area where it was settled was ideal land for rice farming and it grew its agriculture. The first king in the Pahan Kindgom was Anawrahta who ruled from 1044 to 1077. He conquered the surrounding areas and united the Burmans. The areas Anawrahta conquered gave Pagan with good trading ports. They got the bases of their ideas from India and China. They supported Theravada Buddhism and built many temples and the traveler, Marco Polo, mentioned “the splendor of Pagan”. The fall of the Pagan Kingdom was due to the Mongols who demanded a tribute. After the king of Pagan attacked the Mongols their army was destroyed and they never recovered from it.
Another kingdom that was in Southeast Asia at the time was the Khmer Empire. The Khmer Empire is located in what is now known as Cambodia and was in the early 800’s. The empire showed a strong influence of Indian cultures because they rulers both had Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and gods. The capital of the city was Angkor and it symbolized the shape of the Hindu universe. The ruler of the empire build many complex walls and building to “beautify” they lands. The Khmer rulers also had grown a very large rice growing business and it helped spread agriculture. The Khmer empire lasted about 500 years but in the end it declined because it was too expensive to build new things all the time.
Trading kingdoms also developed on the island of Southeast Asia. On the island of Java many agricultural based kingdoms arose and traded with the other islands. The kingdom of Sailendra studied Mahayana Buddhism and is known for the art that came out of it. They also have a monument what has nine levels that symbolized the spiritual journey. On another island the Srivijaya Empire was good because it gained its wealth from the oversea traders. The rulers helped to make trade more widespread to India and China. The reason that they fell was because another kingdom attacked them and by the time they were able to get control again they had lost.
Most of Southeast Asia was influenced by India but Vietnam was influenced more by China. The Chinese ruled over Vietnam and the Vietnamese absorbed many things of their culture. The people of Vietnam spoke Chinese, wore their clothing, and even worshiped some of the same gods as them. The government was influenced a lot because it was a bureaucracy and had a civil service system. Later when Vietnam was trying to rebel against China two sisters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, got an army and drove the Chinese from Vietnam, briefly. After the fall of the Tang dynasty Vietnam took the opportunity were China was weak and gained their freedom.