- History of East Asia
History of religions
What we know today as the ancient Chinese culture were developed in the northern area of modern China. The southern or western people spoke different languages and had their own cultures. Other areas, both the China today and other countries adopted the language, culture and thought of the northern China area gradually. The bronze products of
Shang Dynasty(1600–1046 BCE) tell us the Chinese in that period, thus the people who lived in the northern China today, sacrificed people for their gods and ancestors. In that period, getting "barbarians" for sacrifice was one of main purposes of warring. This way of worship seemed to be abolished in the early period of Zhou Dynasty(1122–256 BCE), but ancestor worship has been the main feature of Chinese religion in more sophisticated and peaceful forms.
In other regions, including Korea, Japan and Vietnam, ancestor worship is the oldest form of religion in the record. Their ways of worship has been influenced Chinese religions which we handles on the below, and gradually synthesized into those religions or remains as an alternative. In
Japan, ancestor worship was combined with animistic notions and developed into a polytheistic religion which we know as Shinto(literally "Way of Deities"). Confucianism Confucianism, more elaborated form of ancestor worship was a major influence on East Asian history. It was originated in the northern China in the 5th century BC and based on the Zhou Dynasty social system, including the ancestral worship. Confucianism showed a strong adherence toward existing hierarchy and respect for the authorities: aged, ancestor and political authority considered authentic by blood.
Debated during the
Warring States Periodand forbidden during the short-lived Qin Dynasty, Confucianism was chosen by Emperor Wu of Hanfor use as a political systemto govern the Chinese state. Despite its loss of influence during the Tang Dynasty, Confucianist doctrine remained a mainstream Chinese orthodoxy for two millennia until the 20th century, when it was attacked by radical Chinese thinkers as a vanguard of a pre-modern system and an obstacle to China's modernization, eventually culminating in its repression during the Cultural Revolutionin the People's Republic of China. After the end of the Cultural Revolution, Confucianism has been revived in mainland China, and both interest in and debate about Confucianism have surged.
cultures most strongly influenced by Confucianism include those of Chinese culture, Korean culture, and Vietnamese culture. On the other hand, while Confucianism as philosophy was introduced in Japan, as well as its ritual tradition, the latter didn't become popular in Japan. Buddhism
Buddhism, also one of major religion in East Asia, was introduced into China during the
Han dynastythrough Pakistanin the 1st century BC. Buddhism was originally introduced to Korea from China in 372, and eventually arrived in Japan around the turn of the 6th century.
For a long time Buddhism remained a foreign religion with a few believers in China, mainly taught by immigrant Indian teachers. In the mid of
Tang dynasty, a fair amount of translations from Sanskrit into Chinese were done by Chinese priests, and Buddhism became one of major religions of Chinese as well as other two indigenous religions.
In Korea, Buddhism was surpassed by Confucianism and lost its actuality.
In Japan, Buddhism and
Shintowas combined by a theological theory "Ryōbushintō", which says Shinto deities are avatars of various Buddhist entities including Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This became the mainstream notion of Japanese religion and until when the Meiji government declared their separation in the mid 19th Century, for many Japanese people Buddhism and Shinto were one same religion. Taoism
The third philosophical element of East Asia is
Taoism. In China, it affected Buddhism and develop the thought of void which would later ripe as Zen Buddhism. Also Taoism combined with the rural and vulgar religious feelings and developed its pantheon. Taoism is still widely believed in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Fengshui, a fortune telling related to location and colors is one of derivatives of Taoism.
Taoism was introduced to Korea from China during the Three Kingdoms period, and remains as a minor but significant element of Korean thought. Although Taoism did not dominate over Buddhism or Confucianism, it permeated all strata of the Korean populace, integrating with its native animism as well as Buddhist and Confucian institutions, temples, and ceremonies.
History before the 3rd Century
In East Asia, the Neolithic period may have began as early as 7500 BC. The earliest evidence suggests the existence of
Pengtoushan culturein northern Hunanprovince around 7500 BC to 6100 BC, and Peiligang culturein Henanprovince around 7000 BC to 5000 BC.
Jeulmun pottery periodis sometimes labelled the " Korean Neolithic", but since intensive agriculture and evidence of European-style 'Neolithic' lifestyle is sparse at best, such terminology is misleading [Lee 2001] . The Jeulmun was a period of hunting, gathering, and small-scale cultivation of plants [Lee 2001, 2006] . Archaeologists sometimes refer to this life-style pattern as 'broad-spectrum hunting-and-gathering'.
Jōmon periodis a similar era in prehistoric Japan, with some characteristics of both Neolithic and Mesolithicculture.
Two civilizations in China
Civilizations were developed along two big rivers. In the northern area we would see dynasties which would invent Chinese characters or later Confucianism.The southern area whose people spoke different languages or dialects was gradually incorporated until the 2nd century BC, at least politically.
Chinese writing and language
The Chinese Script was historically used throughout the region, and is still used to some extent in most countries of the region. In most cases, the meaning of the characters remain unchanged, but the pronunciation differs between regions. Even within China, for example, a Cantonese person and a person from northern China probably cannot hold a conversation, but they can certainly understand each other by passing notes. The Chinese writing system is the oldest continuous writing system in the world (but by no means primitive). It was passed on first to Korea, and was part of the writing system there until the end of World War II, and to Japan, where it now forms a major component of the Japanese writing system. In Vietnam, classical Chinese (Han Tu) was used during the millennium of Chinese rule, with the vernacular Chu Nom script replacing it later on. However, this has now (since the early 20th century) been replaced completely by the Latin Alphabet-based Quoc Ngu. In these cultures, especially in China and Japan the educational level of person is traditionally measured by the quality of his or her calligraphy, rather than diction, as is sometimes the case in the west.
Though Korea, Japan, and Vietnam are not Chinese speaking regions, their languages have been heavily influenced by Chinese. Even though their writing systems have changed over time (with limited use of Chinese characters in Korea and none at all in modern Vietnam), Chinese is still found in the historical roots of many borrowed words, especially technical terms.
All under heaven
In classical Chinese political thought, the
Emperor of Chinawould nominally be the ruler of All under heaven. (That is, the entire world.) Although in practice there would be areas of the known world which were not under the control of the Emperor, in Chinese political theory the political rulers of those areas derived their power from the Emperor, and those monarchs were therefore his subjects. A great deal of East Asian history is affected by the efforts of Imperial China to exert influence over its neighbors.
The beginnings of
Imperial Chinaare typically associated with the unification of China in 221 BC under the First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.
Chinese influence to Korean Peninsula
Records of the Grand Historian" and other sources state Chinese political influence stretched toward the South Manchuria and Northern Korea in the 3rd century BCE, as a part of Yan kingdom. In the 2nd century BCE, after Qindestroyed Yan, the Yan emigrant founded Wiman Joseonin the northern Korea, the oldest Korean kingdom whose existence is assured by archeology. In 108 BC Wiman Joseon was destroyed by Emperor Wu of Hanand its territory was incorporated into Han. Han settled Lelang Commandery. While Lelang Commandery and its successive four commanderies aimed to govern Manchuria and North Korea originally, it was losing control of Manchuria and then of North Korea and finally abolished in 313 AD. The administrative office of Lelang Commandery was situated in the location of the modern Pyongyang. The Chinese Commanderies brought many Chinese cultural elements to the surrounding area.
Many large empires, civilizations and cultures have existed on the Asian continent. Many ancient civilizations were influenced by the
Silk Road, which connected China, India, the Middle East and Europe. The religions of Hinduismand Buddhism, which began in India, were an important influence on South and East Asia. Christianity, Nestorianismin particular, came to China via the Silk Road. While it had a significant presence in the Central Asia, but didn't got any significance in China and East Asia until modern missions from Europe and North America came in the 19th century. On the contrary, Silk Road passed Chinese products and inventions to the Western regions, including paper: papermakingwas originated in China and considered one of Four Great Inventions of ancient Chinaand known in the Middle Eastafter Battle of Talasbetween the Arabs and the Chinese Tang Dynastyin 751.
Silk Road was also a way for intruders, or Turkic peoples from Central Asia. For Chinese dynasties one of their main foreign affairs were how to defeat those "barbarians". The
Great Wall, started in the 2th century BC by the Qin dynasty, was one such attempt.
3rd Century to 16th Century
Introduction of the stirrup
The first dependable representation of a rider with paired stirrups was found in
Chinain a Jin Dynasty tomb of about A.D. 322. [http://www.silk-road.com/artl/stirrup.shtml Dien, Albert. "THE STIRRUP AND ITS EFFECT ON CHINESE MILITARY HISTORY"] ] [ [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1310/is_1988_Oct/ai_6955868 "The stirrup - history of Chinese science." "UNESCO Courier, October, 1988] ] [ [http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_madeinchina/2005-07/21/content_70825.htm "The invention and influences of stirrup"] ] This technology quickly spread throughout East Asia and eventually the rest of the world. It empowered the Mongol Empireto conquer a large part of Asia in the 13th century, an area extending from China to Europe.
Chinese political situation: Divisions and re-unification
*Han destruction (3rd C AD)
Three Kingdoms(3 C)
Six Dynasties(3C-6C) / Southern and Northern Dynasties(5C-6C)
China, Japan, and the wars of Korean unification
In 660 A.D., the Korean peninsula was divided into three kingdoms,
Baekje, Sillaand Goguryeo. Although they shared a similar language and culture, these three kingdoms constantly fought with each other for control of the peninsula. Furthermore, Goguryeo had been engaged in constant wars with the Chinese. This included the Goguryeo-Sui Wars, where the Kingdom of Goguryeo managed to repel the invading forces of the Sui Dynasty.
As the Kingdom of Silla conquered nearby city-states, she gained access to the
Yellow Sea, making direct contact with the Tang Dynastypossible. The Tang Dynasty teamed up with Silla and formed a strategy to invade Goguryeo. Since Goguryeo had been able to repel earlier Chinese invasions from the North, perhaps Gorguryeo would fall if it were attacked by Silla from the south at the same time. However, in order to do this, the Tang-Silla alliance had to eliminate Goguryeo's nominal ally Baekje and secure a base of operations in southern Korea for a second front.
In 660, the coalition troops of Silla and Tang of China attacked Baekje, resulting in the annexation of Baekje by Silla. Together, Silla and Tang effectively eliminated Baekje when they captured the capital of Sabi, as well as Baekje's last king, Uija, and most of the royal family.
Japanand Baekje had been long-standing and very close allies. In 663, Baekje revival forces and a Japanese naval fleet convened in southern Baekje to confront the Silla forces in the Battle of Baekgang. The Tang dynasty also sent 7,000 soldiers and 170 ships. After five naval confrontations that took place in August 663 at Baekgang, considered the lower reaches of Tongjin river, the Silla-Tang forces emerged victorious.
The Silla-Tang forces turned their attention to Goguryeo. Although Goguryeo had repelled the Sui Dynasty a century earlier, attacks by the Tang Dynasty from the west proved too formidable. The Silla-Tang alliance emerged victorious in the
Goguryeo-Tang Wars. Silla thus unified most of the Korean peninsula in 668.
But the kingdom's reliance on China's Tang Dynasty had its price. Silla had to forcibly resist the imposition of Chinese rule over the entire peninsula. Silla then fought for nearly a decade to expel Chinese forces to finally establish a unified kingdom as far north as modern
Silla'a unification of Korea was short lived. The northern region of the defunct Goguryeo state later reemerged as
Balhae, due to the leadership of former Goguryeo General Dae Joyeong.
A government system supported by a large class of Confucian
literatiselected through civil service examinations was perfected under Tang rule. This competitive procedure was designed to draw the best talents into government. But perhaps an even greater consideration for the Tang rulers, aware that imperial dependence on powerful aristocratic families and warlords would have destabilizing consequences, was to create a body of career officials having no autonomous territorial or functional power base. As it turned out, these scholar-officials acquired status in their local communities, family ties, and shared values that connected them to the imperial court. From Tang times until the closing days of the Qing Dynastyin 1911, scholar officials functioned often as intermediaries between the grassroots level and the government. This model of government had an influence on Koreaand Japan.
The first known movable type system was invented in
Chinaaround 1040 AD by Pi Sheng(990-1051) (spelled Bi Sheng in the Pinyinsystem).Needham, Volume 5, Part 1, 201.] Pi Sheng's type was made of baked clay. As described by the Chinese scholar Shen Kuo(1031–1095):
Invasions from Central Asia
Goryeo-Khitan Warsof the 10th and 11th century.
Mongol invasions of Koreabetween 1231 to 1259.
Mongol invasions of Japanof 1274 and 1281.
Mongol invasions of Vietnamin 1257, 1285 and 1287 AD.
descriptions of the purification of saltpeter do not appear until the 1200s.Harvcolnb|Chase|2003|pp=31–32] Harvcolnb|Kelly|2004|pp=23–25]
The first reference to gunpowder is probably a passage in the "Zhenyuan miaodao yaolüe", a Taoism text tentatively dated to the mid-800s:Harvcolnb|Chase|2003|pp=31–32]
Some have heated together
sulfur, realgarand saltpeter with honey; smoke and flames result, so that their hands and faces have been burnt, and even the whole house where they were working burned down. [Harvcolnb|Kelly|2004|p=4]
The earliest surviving recipes for gunpowder can be found in the Chinese
militarytreatise "Wujing zongyao" of 1044 AD, which contains three: two for use in incendiary bombs to be thrown by siege engines and one intended as fuel for poison smoke bombs. [Harvcolnb|Kelly|2004|p=10] The formulas in the "Wujing zongyao" range from 27 to 50 percent nitrate.Harvcolnb|Needham|1986|p=345–346] Experimenting with different levels of saltpetre content eventually produced bombs, grenades, and land mines, in addition to giving fire arrows a new lease on life. By the end of the 12th century, there were cast iron grenadesfilled with gunpowder formulations capable of bursting through their metal containers.Harvcolnb|Needham|1986|p=347] The 14th century " Huolongjing" contains gunpowder recipes with nitrate levels ranging from 12 to 91 percent, six of which approach the theoretical composition for maximal explosive force.
In China, the 13th century saw the beginnings of
rocketry[Harvcolnb|Crosby|2002|pp=100–103] [Harvcolnb|Needham|1986|p=12] and the manufacture of the oldest gun still in existence, [Harvcolnb|Needham|1986|pp=293–294] a descendant of the earlier fire-lance, a gunpowder-fueled flamethrowerthat could shoot shrapnel along with fire. The "Huolongjing" text of the 14th century also describes hollow, gunpowder-packed exploding cannonballs.Needham, Volume 5, Part 7, 264.]
In the 13th century contemporary documentation shows gunpowder beginning to spread from China to the rest of the world, starting with EuropeHarvcolnb|Kelly|2004|pp=23–25] and the Islamic world.Harvcolnb|Urbanski|1967|loc=Chapter III: "Blackpowder"] The Arabs acquired knowledge of saltpetre—which they called "Chinese snow" ("thalj al-Sīn") —around 1240 and, soon afterward, of gunpowder; they also learned of fireworks ("Chinese flowers") and rockets ("Chinese arrows").Harvcolnb|Needham|1986|p=108] Harvcoltxt|al-Hassan argues—"contra" the general notion that Arabic alchemy and chemistry did not know of saltpetre until the thirteenth century—that Arabs were purifying saltpetre by the eleventh. [cite web | url = http://www.history-science-technology.com/Articles/articles%202.htm | title = Potassium Nitrate in Arabic and Latin Sources | accessdate = 2007-07-24 | last = al-Hassan | first = Ahmad Y. | authorlink = Ahmad Y Hassan | work = History of Science and Technology in Islam ] Gunpowder arrived in India by the mid-1300s, but could have been introduced by the
Mongolsperhaps as early as the mid-1200s.Harvcolnb|Chase|2003|p=130]
16th century to 1945
* The growth of European
Imperialism in Asia, starting with the rise of global trade routes.
Haw warsbetween the years 1865 and 1890.
Opium Warsin the mid 19th century (1840-1843 and 1856-1860 respectively).
Sino-French Warfrom September 1884 to June 1885.
First Sino-Japanese Waroccurred between 1894 and 1895, primarily over control of the country Korea.
Russo-Japanese Warfrom February 10, 1904 – September 5, 1905.
Second Sino-Japanese Waroccurred between 1931 (proceeding in earnest in 1937) and 1945, from 1941 on as part of World War II.
1945 to present
Cold War, the northern parts of Asia were communistcontrolled with the Soviet Unionand People's Republic of China, while western allies formed pacts such as CENTOand SEATO. Conflicts such as the Korean War, Vietnam Warand Soviet invasion of Afghanistanwere fought between communists and anti-communists.
East Asiaare listed by area in alphabetical order:
History of China
History of Hong Kong
History of Japan
History of Korea
History of Macau
History of Mongolia
Russian Far East
History of Ryukyu Islands
History of Siberia
History of Tibet
History of Taiwan
History of Vietnam
History of Vladivostok
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