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Analyse The Social Order Of Ancient Chinese Society During The Zhou Dynasty

1368 words - 6 pages

Zhou dynasty
The Zhou dynasty was the longest lasting dynasty in Chinese history lasting from around 1122 B.C.E until 221 B.C.E. This dynasty was split into two main parts, the Western Zhou (1122 to 771) and Eastern Zhou (771 to 221) dynasties. The Zhou clan had always been present in China but it was around this time that they grew in size and power. In 1046, the newly appointed leader of the Zhou clan overthrew the Shang leaders to begin the new dynasty.
It was a time of territorial expansion, increased education and financial growth. During the Zhou dynasty, agriculture was the main source of sustenance and iron and bronze were being used in regular life. Infrastructure changed to ...view middle of the document...

This system is known as proto-feudalism and is very similar to the system used in the Middle Ages in European countries. By the end of the Eastern Zhou period, there were over 200 individual states which failed to prosper and as a result were defeated by the Qin empire, marking the start of a new dynasty.
Evidence of the importance of these noblemen can be seen in the tomb belonging to the marquis Yi of Zeng. The tomb had four separate chambers, was 220 square metres in area and contained 15, 404 artefacts. His chamber contained 21 women buried in coffins, believed to be concubines for the afterlife. The largest set of bronze bells in the world was uncovered, comprising of 65, all elaborately inscribed and decorated. This evidence suggests that ancient China believed in an afterlife and that the leader of each state was well respected and honoured in their state.
During the Zhou dynasty, many schools were built teaching philosophy, law and religion. This led to many great philosophers including Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism and Confucius. Confucius was a social philosopher who taught that everyone had a place in society and that people had a responsibility towards one another. Born in 551 B.C, Confucius reformed many Chinese people to improve themselves through education and living an ethical life.

Warrior Class
Warriors of the Zhou society were the men who battled for the expansion and wealth of the Zhou dynasty and achieved this either as a chariot warrior or as part of the infantry. As reward for their courage, they were granted large portions of land and peasants and slaves to work it in return for a portion of the profit to be paid to the emperor and to serve the emperor in battle. Upper class warriors would wear heavy armour made of buffalo or rhinoceros hide, inlayed with gold and bronze and upholstered with silk. The status of each warrior could be determined by how elaborate their armour and weaponry was.
Warriors were treated with great dignity and respect throughout their lives and this continued as seen in a mass burial site uncovered in Beijing. "We discovered that in the cemetery there are 22 large-scale tombs, of which 10 have four tunnels -- which we know now are the highest class of tombs in the Western Zhou Dynasty.” (Wang Zhankui, archaeologist at burial site in Beijing, China)

Middle Class – Artisans and Craftspeople
This class made a living through working with a large range of materials during the Zhou dynasty. During this dynasty, art was a practical display of skill, being used on drinking vessels, mirrors and candle holders. As seen in most civilisations, art was used to reflect the culture of society at the time. This is seen in the artefact known as the bronze Gui of Shi You, a large drinking vessel which features long, deep carved lines around it and an inscription dedicating the vessel to the emperor at the time.

These artisans worked with other craftsmen such as metalworkers to...

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