Chinese Civilization Essay, Research Paper
?In the formative era of Chinese civilization as early as the first millennium b.c. the Chinese thought of the world as all the regions of the heavens, and within the ?four seas.? They called it Tianxia, which literally means ?under heaven.? Because this was a universal term, with an undertanding of the inhabited world known to the Chinese at the time, it implicitly meant ?All Under Heaven.? Tianxia was first of the entire physical world, the arena in which human history was acted out? (The Chinese World).
China is a very large and beautiful country. It is full of history and culture. Even so, China has grown slowly and unevenly to its present size. This is due to the fact that all the components that China consists of haven?t always existed in harmony in the past. They have fought long and hard for their freedom and independence as a people. It?s a very interesting society with many different aspects that make it worth a very close look into the areas of geography, economy, and history, past and present. The people of China, from all the nationalities within have joined together to create a wonderful culture and have a glorious revolutionary tradition. They have bonded together and fought long and hard to become a free people. The people of China encountered wave after wave of struggles for national independence, liberation, for democracy and freedom. It wasn?t until the 20th century that great historical changes have taken place in China. ?The Revolution of 1911, which was led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, put an end to the feudal monarchy and marked the beginning of the Republic of China? (Chinascape). Unfortunately, even threw all that, the Chinese people had yet to fulfil their historical task of overthrowing imperialism and feudalism. After many hard and tortuous struggles, it finally came to an end in 1949. They overthrew the rule of imperialism, feudalism. ?Bureaucrat capitalism had finally won the victory for which they had fought so long for. This was to be the new-democratic revolution, and it founded the People?s Republic of China.?(Chinascape) The Chinese people were able to take state power into their own hands and become the masters of their own country. Through all this, the rise and fall of dynasties, and the struggles for independence, there has been an undeniable factor effecting their culture and turn of historical events. The Great Wall symbolizes many things to not only the Chinese people, but also the world. The Wall, being an enormous physical boundary, has also had a major effect on their social standing, geography and agriculture of the land. China is known for two amazing structures that have greatly influenced the geography of the land such as the Great Wall and the Grand Canal.
China is the third largest country in the world taking up one-fifteenth of the worlds? land mass. Large mountains and hilly lands take up a large sixty five percent of the total area. Within this sixty five percent, there are five main mountain ranges. Seven of these mountain peaks are higher than eight thousand meters above sea level. There are also four bordering seas and each surrounds China on the eastern and southeastern coast. They are the Bohai Sea, the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea. It also has many rivers running threw it. One thousand, five hundred of the rivers cover an area that is larger than one thousand square kilometers. There are also over fifty thousand rivers that cover areas larger than one hundred square kilometers. Two of the main rivers in China are the Yangtze and the Yellow River. The Yangtze, which is six thousand three hundred kilometers, holds the title of being the longest river in China. The Yellow River is five thousand, four hundred, sixty-four kilometers long. Most of the rivers in China flow out of the west and into the east to dump itself into the Pacific Ocean.
In the year 221 b.c., there was a great ruler over the Ch?in kingdom in China, named Shih Huang Ti. Shih was power hungry and wanted more land so he gathered his army and captured the surrounding kingdoms. As the ruler of so many kingdoms he became ?the first emperor? of China. Shih showed his tyranny when he burned all history books to insure that his people and future generations would only remember him and none of the earlier rulers. Even though he had strong armies, Chinese villages in the north were being attacked by the fierce tribes of northern China. These were the clans of the Mongols and the Huns. Unforturnatly for Shih, they had stronger armies and the attackers threatened to invade all of China. These nomadic tribes would come into China and steal crops and animals and then destroy everything that they had left behind and did not want. Emperor Zin Shi Hunag Di needed a way to protect his people from these enemies.
Shih was very disturbed with these invasions, His solution was to fix up some older walls that had been built earlier, build a new stronger wall, and then join all walls together. ?No one would be able to go around it, over it, under it, or through it? (World Landmarks). In the year two hundred fourteen, B.C., he freed prisoners and gathered workers and herds of animals. He gave all this to Meng T’?en, his loyal general. Right way, seven hundred thousand workers and three hundred soldiers were marched north to build the wall. Men, women and children were forced to work, and they worked day and night withought stopping. Meng, the people and animals were sent north to fortify Shih?s kingdoms from invading armies. Shih planned to make a ?great wall? by extending and enlarging preexisting walls made by previous rulers. This great wall would serve as a barricade to keep out all tribes that wanted to invade China. It also served to separate the civilized acts of the farmers in China to the barbaric acts of the nomadic tribes. What Shih did not know was that the construction would cause many deaths and much suffering to the builders of the wall.
The wall that Shih wanted to have constructed eventually became the Great Wall of China, which was used to protect China from its enemies is now world renowned.
The wall which Meng and his men created had watchtowers, forty feet tall, every two hundred yards. The purpose of these towers was to alert the defending soldiers of approaching, attacking using smoke signals, waving flags, blowing horns, and ringing bells. At nighttime they were to light firework-like objects in the sky. To walk the Great Wall from end to end without stopping would take about sixten days. The stone and brick wall was approximately fifteen hundred miles long total, and is about one thousand five hundred miles east from west one way across northern China. The wall is roughly thirty feet high and, at the base of the wall it is twenty-five feet thick. It was constructed of earth and gravel. First, they would make tall, wide mounds of dirt, and which they shaped by using bamboo poles. Then they made huge clay bricks and cut squares from stone. The bricks and stones were lifted and placed on the sides and tops of dirt mounds. The entire wall was just covered dirt with brick and stone. The way that they actually constructed it was as to walls aligned with each other. Then they would fill it in with a stone base pounded smooth. The wall traveled over mountains and thruough valleys. It went from Liatun, on the coast near Korea, then westward to the northern end of China on the Yellow River, and then southward to Lint?ao to close off the north west area of the empire from the Huns. The top of the wall is approximately thirteen feet wide so six people riding horses could ride side by side along the top. The great wall not only servered as a social divide, a protecting barrier, a physical record of history but also was a running work of art. On the side of the wall there are reliefs, which are two-dimensional firures on the wall. The great wall is sometimes also compared to a dragon with its head in the east and its tail in the west and its winding body. The dragon in China is considered protective and sacred rather than that of a destructive creature.
After a period of ten years the Great Wall was finally completed. It is stated by World Land Marks, that invaders did not threaten China again for more than one thousand years. Later, other emperors made improvements and restorations to the Great Wall. During the Qin Dynasty it had undergone renovations from time to time. The major rebuilding began during the Ming Dynasty by General Xu Da between the periods of thirteen sixty-eight and sixteen forty-four. It took two hundred years to complete the restoration on the stone General Zi Jiquang restored not only the wall itself but the old watch towers and added new towers to the wall. The Great Wall that we see today comes mostly from the construction during this time period. During World War II the wall was used to transport troops. Today some part of the Great Wall are still in good condition. Because of its enormous size, it is the only man made creation that we can actually see from space today. With the use of special satilites we have been able to find parts of the wall buried under tons of sand. These parts could not be located by methods used on Earth and were thought of as long since eroded away. Now thanks to these satilites, scientistis are able to local, uncover, study and restore these parts of the Great Wall that would have other wise been lost. At the present time other parts are currently being restored.
Chinese folklore has a rich blend filled with myths and fables of creation, courage and danger, of power and protection. When they breathe, they make the clouds. When they inhale water, they cause whirlpools. When they are underground, they form hills by humping their back?They are the Eastern dragon. There is one creature though, the dragon, that fills every aspect of the Chinese way of life. Dragons occupy a very important position in the Chinese Mythology. Dragons are present in thee areas of Art, literature, poetry, architecture, song, history and religion. The list is almost endless.