Song dynasty and its significance in Chinese History Essay

In this article, I would like to introduce the “Culture History” of Song dynasty. I will mainly talk about “Literature”, which will be divided into 4 parts that are: 1)Poetry; 2)Prose; 3) Ci(?); and 4)History. After introducing the Literature, I would like to explain Song dynasty’s significance in Chinese History.

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In Zhen Zong period, Xi Kun Ti became popular among the high officials. The representative of the Xi Kun Ti were Yang Yi, Liu-yun, Qian Wei-yan and the like. Besides Xi Kun Ti, there were some poets with special style in early-Song period. They were called “Late Tang group”. For instance, Wei-ye, Lin Bu, Kou Zhun and the like were all the representatives of “Late Tang group”. Then in the Ren Zong period, Ouyang Xiu had proceeded “Classical Prose Movement” and created created a flow of poetry new to each other model, with the help of Mei Yao-chen and Su Shun-qin, also reference by Han Yu. In the period of Shen Zong, Wang An-shi was active on creating political poem. He did write poem about politics, in the expression of a neat style while incorporating the ancient poems poetry-Story. Another wonderful poet must be introduced is Su Shi. He created a lot of marvelous poems and taught many students, For instance, all of Huang Ting-jian, Zhang Lei, Chao Bu-zhi and Qin-guan were students of Su Shi. Especially Huang had the greatest impact on posterity-statement gave birth to a stream called “Jiang Xi Shi Pai” after.

Then, to represent the sadness of the lose of North China and the lather of being oppressed in Gangnam were Chen Yu-yi, Ceng Ji and Lu Ben-zhong. Many poems of them had mentioned the sadness of losing kingdom and reflected the age. Among three, Chen Yu-yi, who respected Du-fu very much, had the most similar style with Du-fu that always criticized the problems of the country in his poems. Entering into the reign of Xiao Zong, poetry celebrated the heyday again as Southern Song Dynasty gained a certain extent of stability. The representatives of this period were Fan cheng-da, Yang wan-li and the best poet in Southern Song?Lu You. Lu You had been the top in Ke Ju, but because of Qin Xun, who was the grandson of Qin Gui, he could only be No.2. Until he died when he was 86, he had created 9000 poems which is a surprising amount.

Followed by a period of peace since the end of the Xiao Zong period, the number of people read poems had increased significantly. “Yong Jia Si Ling” was the representative of this period and they were called “Jiang Hu Pai”. “Yong Jia Si Ling” included Xu Zhao, Xu Ji, Weng Jaun and Zhao Shi-xiu. At the Late-Southern Song period, Mongolia’s attack was intensifying day by day. And Wen Tian-xiang was the one who could mostly describe the sadness and lather of worrying the dynasty. “Song of sanity” was famous that giving a deep impression on posterity patriot. After the fall of the Southern Song dynasty, people who presented themselves, as “remnants of the Song people” even became the era of the original weave. They reminisced about the poem in the song of past days. The representatives in this period were Wang Yuan-liang, Xie Ao and Zheng Si-xiao.

After introducing the poetry, I would like to introduce prose in Song dynasty. In the early Song, “Pian Wen” was the major form of poetry. However, Liu Kai, Wan Yu-cheng, Shi Jie and Fan Zhong-yan had claimed a return to the simple and spartan style that was used in Qin Han dynasty. Especially the “Tai Xue Ti” created by Shi Jie was even used as the form for exam. However, “Tai Xue Ti” was actually affected by Han Yu, who was using a form that was arduous to understand. In 1057, when Ouyang Xiu served as the examiner, he let some people like Su Zhe and Ceng Gong passed but failed the answer of “Tai Xue Ti”.

As a result, the form of Ouyang Xiu and other people who had same thinking with him like Su Xin, Su Zhe, Su Shi, Wang An-shi and Ceng Gong, that means “Tang Song Ba Da Jia” became the major form. Even in the same category of Guwen, Ouyang Xiu’s guwen was described as “Yin Rou” while Han Yu’s was described as “Yang Gang”. Although Ou was lack of inflection, his writing was plain, clear and easy to understand. Therefore, even in Southern Song period, the form of guwen basically still followed Ou’s form. Thus, we can say that Ou Yang-shiu should be the most momentous person of prose in Song dynasty.

Then, I would like to introduce Ci. Northern Song Ci prosperity was largely taken over five generations. Ren Zong period and its after was the true prosperity period. The representatives of this period were Yan Shu, Ouyang Xiu, Zhang Xian, Liu Yong and the like. Especially the last two had opened a new field of Ci. Ci included mundane things since Zhang wrote daily things in Ci. Also, after Liu Yong, a form called “Slow Ci” also became famous not only among civilians but also the literati. The most important person in the Shen Zong period was Su Shi. Su Shi formed a friendship with Zhang when he was appointed to Hangzhou as passing judgment, and was greatly affected by Zhang. Su Shi genius did not stop there, but picked a theme, such as the Battle of Red Cliff in “Three Kingdoms”, which was a topic that did not appear in the traditional Ci. By this, he opened a new frontier of Ci. In the Hui Zong period, Zhou Bang-yan had done the culmination of the Ci. Zhou was good at music, so was ordered to set up the music departments “Da Cheng Fu”. Zhou had extremely large effect that Zhou derived almost all of Southern Song Ci writers. The style of Zhou’s Ci was described as “Hun Hou He Ya”. Another person should be mentioned is Li Qing-zhao, who was a female Ci writer.

She intensived colloquial expression, emotional expression was also characterized by delicate feminine. In the Southern Song dynasty, Ci had change a lot by entering into the Old Southern area, which was a place Ci was being famous. The representatives of this period should be Xin Qi-ji and Jiang Kui. As Xin supported occurring war against Jin, he was unfortunate for spicy. His Ci was similar to Su Shi and both of them were called “Hao Fang Pai” and also “Su Xin”, which is a simplified name by taking their surnames. On the contrary, Jiang Kui inherited the style of Zhou Bang-yan that his Ci was very elegant. Although Jiang did not want to be official, he could still form relationships with many officials by his Ci. Finally, in the late Southern Song period, Chinese Sanqu poetry had been the major instead of Ci as many Ci had been changed to something about the lost of kingdom. It was better to sing with melody but not just by reading words. Thus, Ci started being long forgotten since the fall of Song dynasty.

The last thing I would like to introduce is History of Song dynasty. The most representative history book written in Song period must be “Zizhi Tongjian”, which is a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography, published in 1084, in the form of a chronicle, by Sima Guang. Besides “Zizhi Tongjian”, there were also other historical books like “Bo Gu Tu” by Lu Da-lin and “Xuan He Bo Gu Tu Lu” by Hui Zong. It should also be mentioned that epigraphy, which is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions about the writing and the writers, was started by Ouyang Xiu. Ouyang Xiu collected all the epigraphs and editd them as “Ji Gu Lu”. Therefore, history was also a remarkable point of Song culture history.

Last but not least, the significance of Song dynasty in Chinese History will be talked about in the follows. First I would like to talk about the significance of Song culture in Chinese History. About the Song Ci, Ci had established music literature, or we would say that Chinese music was started by Ci. Many literati had participated in the writing of the word and they were even called “Hao Fang Pai”. From a literary point of view, “Hao Fang Pai” had created a new kind of Ci. Xin Qi-ji also engaged in the writing of the patriotic words; but from the musical point of view, Ci written by “Hao Fang Pai” caused the deviation of Ci.

Because the scores of Ci was generally “Qian Zhen Di Chang” and “Chou Mou Wan Zhuan”, such as “Nian Nu Jiao”, it expressed the amiability of prostitutes by music. However, this kind of music was obviously different with Su Shi’s creation “Da Jian Dong Qu” by using the Cipai. Unfortunately, Ci scores now had basically lost, but the Ci had created an important mode of music, had a significant impact on the development of drama. From the Yuan Dynasty to Modern Peking Opera and local opera, the basic mode was to write Ci by fixed scores. People often called Ci as “Song Ci”, of course, it means people have marked the Song as the highest level of Ci of this literary genre.

Then about prose, after the beginning of Song Dynasty, prose became popular and almost been handed down till now. For instance, “Tang Song Ba Da Jia” included 6 people of Song Dynasty. As Chinese characters seem like square, the most suitable genre to express the beauty of words should roughly be Parallel Prose, ancient poems and couplets. Parallel Prose should not be totally rejected, but the Guwen was undoubtedly more freely and fully express ideas and depicted on the analysis things comparing to Parallel Prose. Overall, Song prose achievement was greater than the Tang Dynasty.

About History, Song Dynasty was the heyday of Chinese History. Many history books were edited by the official. Some history new genre was created. In addiction, the realm of history expanded from the compiling of geography and chronicles to epigraphy. The epigraphy pioneered by Song was the forerunner of modern archeology. All these, and also the great lengthy books, historians achievements of Song was great and it is enough to override the Han and Tang Dynasties, even can be arrogant to the Ming and Qing.

Then I would like to introduce other significance of Song Dynasty. The Song Dynasty formated a new social class structure. The old social class structure in mid-steps of the Tang Dynasty like Gentry Clans and Jun Tian households, slaves capacity, ragtag, Fan Carpenter and slaves changed to the Song Dynasty bureaucratic landlord and Tian Ke of, above and under group of village, poor-employed Carpenter, and employed Carpenter, human and women to make a new social class structure. This is a major change of the internal class relations of ancient Chinese society. This is an adjustment of the social relations of production. This change gradually affirmed by the law. After the down of late Tang emperor and the total collapse of the Shi Zhu polity, the Song Dynasty established the Centralization, Autonomy. This actually already pointed out that the status of the Song Dynasty in Chinese history, which means it was a continue to develop the new period following the middle of the Tang Dynasty.

Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, not only the social and economic development was on the basis of the conventionalism of the Song Dynasty, their political system and some of its iconic prominent social phenomenon was also emerging as early as the Song Dynasty. For instance, Chu Rui-xi indicated that Ming and Qing eight-legged essay prototype was started from Song. Also, Li Hong-qi thought that Ming Qing Ju Ren’s benefits and privileges has existed in the Song Dynasty. These phenomenas are still many, just because we can’t research the all. Such as the country of residence of the Ming and Qing dynasties and fame, who are extremely similar to the official and on behalf of the local forces, but actually they are just normal people, had been appeared in Northern Song Dynasty and in the Southern Song Dynasty, the number was even greater.

Taixue in Song dynasty and local counties, colleges of boom. Among them, College influence in particular. In Shen Zong period, Taixue triple care law, that is, homes on residential care homes and rounded down and upgrade system, which is the first in the history of China and even the whole world education, in fact, pioneer of modern education classification system. Northern Song dynasty on the previous-generation’s Education Division has been developed, in addition to Taixue, establishing martial arts, law, medicine, programme, as well as calligraphy, painting, although not enough attention to other subjects, but is undoubtedly higher education branch of green shoots.

Thanks to the development of printing, such as the Chinese surnames, of the thousand character classic spelling book series of popular education larger than the former was popular in the Song dynasty, there have been many urban and rural areas dedicated teachers, many districts use year organizing winter study. Educational achievement in the song at the same time, should also be noted that, starting from the Northern Song dynasty, completed the study of imperial examination, education and Trinity together, thus education features simply, narrowly linked to career, which gave birth to Chinese education towards backward factors.

The golden age of Chinese ancient science and technology development was the Song dynasty. Known in the four great inventions of ancient China, compass, printing and gunpowder was the three main application and development of the Song dynasty. Shen Kuo is the main representative figures of science and technology in the Song dynasty. His scientific achievements are manyremarkable. Northern Song dynasty had two famous Supernova records in the history of astronomy. The astronomical clock tower and armillary sphere were great. Others such as Agronomy, agricultural technology, architecture also had notable achievements. Beginning of the Northern Song dynasty, people almost build a large pontoon bridge across the Yangtze River, history of bridge initiative.

The view was expressed that study the history of science, must focus on the continuity of scientific development, which means people constantly added to the predecessors on the basis of results, just as it is in the history of science. From this point of view, the ancient Chinese science could be mainly divided to mathematics and medicine, which has connection to the fact that there were medical school in Song dynasty. Mathematics achievement was great in the Song dynasty, but had no impact on modern mathematics. Unique theoretical system of traditional Chinese medicine is well received by the influence of ancient philosophy.

Medical theories had new development in the Song and Jin dynasties period, and forensic books even occurred. Medical Branch at the time of the Northern Song dynasty was already similar to the branches of modern medicine. The Jin people did not know medical, so medicine of Jin should be the continuation of the Northern Song dynasty medicine and development. The meridian of the body mechanisms and Qi Gong was the oriental important scientific endeavor, even though so far we haven’t been able to resolve modern exact sciences. Making bronze and correlated with acupuncture and moxibustion in Song dynasty medical books was a landmark progress of acupuncture and moxibustion. Different from ancient mathematics, Chinese traditional medicine is still benefiting the Chinese nation, and make a greater contribution to human health.

Thus, we can say that the Song Culture History is an important and momentous page of Chinese History. Although Song may not be a perfect dynasty, it still has its significance among the 2000 years Chinese History.


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[3] Hargett, James M. “Some Preliminary Remarks on the Travel Records of the Song Dynasty (960–1279),” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR) (July 1985): 67–93.

[4] Needham, Joseph. (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 1, Introductory Orientations. Taipei: Caves Books Ltd.

[5] Bol, Peter K. “The Rise of Local History: History, Geography, and Culture in Southern Song and Yuan Wuzhou,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (2001)

[6] D.C.M. Platt, Finance, Trade and Politics in British Foreign Policy 1815-1914 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), p. 281.

[7] Ebrey, Patricia Buckley; Walthall, Anne; Palais, James B. (2006), East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, Boston: Houghton Mifflin

[8] Twitchett, Denis and Paul Jakov Smith (ed.). 2009. Cambridge History of China: Vol. 5 Part One: TheSung Dynasties and its Precursors, 907-1279. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[9] Franke, Herbert and Dennis Twitchett (ed.). 1994. Cambridge History of China: Vol. 6 , Alien Regimes and Border States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

[10] Uno Naoto, Kanshi no Rekishi (Touhou Shoten, 2005)

[11] Maeno Chokuakira, Chugoku Bunkashi (Tokyo Daigaku Shubankai, 1975)

[12] Murakami Satoshiken, Soushi no Sekai (Asia Books 50, Taishukan Shoten, 2002)

[13] Kojima Tsuyoshi, Soumana no Keisei to Tenkai (Soubusha, 1999)

[14] Mizoguchi Yuzou, Maruyama Matsusachi, Ikeda Tomohisa, Chugoku Shisou Bunka Jiten (Tokyo Daigaku Shubankai, 2001)

[15] Chen Yinke, Chen Yin Ke Wen Ji Volume 2 (Shanghai: Shanghai Guji Publishment, 1980)

[16] Chu Ruixi, Song Yuan Shi Dai de Shi Wen (Li Shi Yan Jiu, 1990)

[17] Li Hongqi, Song Dai de Ju Ren?Guo Ji Song Shi Yan Tu Hui Lun Wen Ji (Taipei: China Culture University, 1988)

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