Ming Dynasty

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by bellasetterfield
Last updated 6 years ago

Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
World History

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Ming Dynasty

Coming to Power

Emperor Hongwu

Philosophy,Religion and Lifestyle

During the Ming Dynasty the dominant philosophy was Neo-Confucianism of Chu Hisi. Most of the Ming emperors were Buddhist and they extended Buddhism throughout China. Although some emperors were strongly against Buddhism, it remained the main religion during most of the Ming Dynasty reign. The Islam population throughout China meant a growing Muslim society, which did not fare well with traditional Chinese. This caused riots and arguments. In 1588 a riot broke out and was only resolved with palace guards interfering. This kind of riot was not regular. Although the traditional Chinese didn't always get along, some of the Islamic ways of life were woven into the Chinese daily lifestyle. Food was a big part of this. In the 16th century Islamic cuisine became popular, as did their preparation of food. The Buddhist artists also began to include Muslim art features.

Social Structure

Zhu Yuanzang, better known as Emperor Hongwu, was the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. He was born into a family of peasants and it is said he was the youngest of seven or eight children. After losing his family to famine and flooding, Zhu Yuanzhang was brought up in a monastry where he learnt to read and write. In his mid-twenties, Zhu Yuanzhang joined a rebel army, which then joined the large Red Turban army. He became the leader of the Red Turban army before the age of thirty.

The Ming Dynasty

During the 40-year reign of the Yuan Dynasty there were many famines, droughts, plagues and flooding of the Yellow River. This caused people to believe the Mandate of Heaven had ended. In 1351 an uprising of peasents began. After seventeen years of battling and bloodshed, the Mongols, who had set up the Yuan Dynasty, were overthrown and fled back to the north.

The Ming Dynasty ruled China for almost 300 years, from 1368- 1644. The Ming took control from the Yuan Dynasty when Zhu Yuanzhang claimed the Mandate of Heaven. The Mandate was the ancient Chinese belief that Heaven granted Emporers the right to rule based on ability to govern well. This caused many years of battles until finally the Ming won. The battles with the Yuan Dynasty led to the Ming building much of the existing parts of the Great Wall of China. The religion and culture of the Ming Dynasty changed over the years, for both the good and the bad.

Confucianism played an important roll in the creation of the social structure of the Ming Dynasty. The structure was divided into four divisions, these were: Shang, Nong, Shi and Gong. These categories determined the amount of respect people would receive.The Shi were highly respected and primarily made up of people who had enough power to lead a battle. Over the time this class also began to include aristocrat scholars or educated bureaucracy. These people were educated and highly thought of, as there was very limited access to knowledge. The Shi were looked at as wise and educated.The Nong were the second class and thought of as giving to society. This division was made up of peasants, who worked to sustain the empire by growing foods. As there had been much famine, this was thought of highly. The Nong also paid tax, earning them much respect.The third class, the Gong, was made up of mostly artisans. These were skilled in crafting daily objects, used by the rest of society. The skills were generally passed down from generation to generation of families. The least respected Ming class was made up of merchants and traders. The Shang would transport the goods made by the Gong and Nong. They had no skill so were less respected by the other divisions. The Shang was also thought of as doing their job out of greed for money.

Confucianism played an important role in the creation of the social structure of the Ming Dynasty. The structure was divided into four divisions, these were: Shang, Nong, Shi and Gong. These categories determined the amount of respect people would receive.The Shi were highly respected and primarily made up of people who had enough power to lead a battle. Over time this class also began to include aristocrat scholars or educated bureaucracy. These people were educated and highly thought of, as there was very limited access to knowledge. The Shi were looked at as wise and educated.The Nong were the second class and thought of as giving to society. This division was made up of peasants, who worked to sustain the empire by growing foods. As there had been much famine, the Nong was thought of highly. The Nong also paid tax, earning them much respect.The third class, the Gong, was made up of mostly artisans. These were skilled in crafting daily objects, used by the rest of society. The skills were generally passed down from generation to generation in families. The least respected Ming class was made up of merchants and traders. The Shang would transport the goods made by the Gong and Nong. They had no skill so were less respected by the other divisions. The Shang was also thought of as doing their job out of greed for money.

The Ming Dynasty built great landmarks throughout their reign. Four of their most famous ones are the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, most of the Wall of China and the Ming Tombs. The Temple of Heaven was visited every winter solstice by the emperor. The temple was located south-east of central Beijing and is a replica of the Purple Palace, which is thought to house God. The Forbidden City, in the heart of Beijing, housed many of the Ming emperors. The city was forbidden for everyday people to enter, hence the name. The Forbidden City is made up of approximately 980 buildings and 8,700 rooms. Much of the Wall of China was built during the Ming Dynasty and still stands today. The 33 feet tall and 15 feet wide wall was made to protect China from invaders in the north. The 7,00 watch towers used smoke signals to communicate as it is the longest manmade structure in the world. The Ming Tombs housed 13 emperors and 23 princes, princesses and empresses bodies. Located north-west of Beijing, the tombs started being buildt in 1409 and continued expansions over the next 200 years. These amazing structures are still standing.

Landmarks

This photo is considered a primary source because it is a photo of a genuine Ming vase. It has beautiful lotus patterning. It is unknown who used it. It has marking of the reign of Emperor Xuande from 1403- 1424. This vase is in the British Museum collection after being donated by Sir John Addis. The museum is hoping to inspire people to research the Ming Dynasty more by taking the vase on an exhibition tour. We can only assume the vase was made by the imperial producers as it has the typical markings and skill level. Although no one really knows how or when it was used, it is thought that is was primarily used for decorative purposes. It is unknown how it survived the approximate six centuries but is highly valued.

Source 1 Analyses

Source 2 Analyses

This is a photo of the 42 statues standing in front of the location where the Ming Ancestral Tombs once stood. This source is primary because the photo was taken of the original statues. It is thought that men issued by Emperor Hongwu would have built statues for his grandfather and great grandfather. It is believed that the statues where made in China and stand where they were submerged by earth and water until found in 1982. The Tombs which the statues guarded have now been washed away. They where made during Hongwu's reign from 1386-1413 and stood by the tombs from their creation. I believe each 40m high statue survived after being buried and protected by earth.

When the Ming Dynasty first came to power, the focus was on cultural expansion and restoration. The Ming court recruited painters to teach the techniques introduced in the Song Dynasty. The painters incorporated landscapes and flowers to their designs. The aim was to make their dynasty look more majestic. The Ming became famous for their vases which are now highly valued. The Ming also became well known for their many inventions. The Ming invented the Yongle encyclopedia, bristle toothbrush and ship rudders. These inventions have all been improved since Ancient China but they all began during the Ming Dynasty. A large Ming architectural achievement was the Forbidden City. With almost 1000 buildings, the city was the perfect place for the Emperor to live. The Ming Dynasty also excelled at crafting statues. These statues are some of the many beautiful pieces of art and architecture the Ming created.

Art, Inventions and Architecture

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1Kx9wsi9Vc

http:www.sacu.orgmingdynasty.htm

http:blog.britishmuseum.org/2014/04/07/made-in-china-an-imperial-ming-vase/


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