Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Opinion/Editorial on the Jurchen Invaders

The Jurchen invaders were from Jin, a region to the North of the Southern Song. They were a major threat to emperor Gaozong, and many times, they pillaged the villages of the Southern Song and there were many battles between them over the years. These invasions began in 1129, and it wasn't until 12 years later, in 1141, that the two sides made a peace treaty. Unfortunately, some people, including a war hero named Yue Fei, did not agree with this. They wanted to drive away the Jurchen invaders and would stop at nothing. One of the emperor's advisers falsely accused him of treason, to get him out of the way.

I thought that this was a bad idea, on the adviser's part. He did not need to accuse Yue Fei of treason. If someone doesn't commit a crime, you shouldn't accuse them of one. And what happened to "innocent until proven guilty?" After all, the Jurchen had destroyed their former homes, books, and ancient objects. The Jurchen invaders did not really deserve a peace treaty, but they got one. I don't know how, but it would have been better if they went back to where they came from. They should've realized it was wrong to terrorize the Song Dynasty. I think that they could have worked something out, like buying their land rather than waging war.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Map of Song Dynasty

The South of China was lush and misty, compared to the North's arid, windy plains. There was a warm temperature and plenty of rainfall. If you look at the Southern Song Dynasty map shown below, you will see that the Yangzi River is right in the middle of the region. The city of Hangzhou is still there today, and so is the city of Guangzhou, as you can see on the Present Day China map. On the Southern Song Dynasty map, the thick black line shows where the border of the dynasty is. The dotted line is the Yangzi River.

Present Day China 

Southern Song Dynasty Map

Southern Song Fashion (Magazine Article)

  This is an article from a magazine from the Song Dynasty called "Song Fashion Weekly"

In this article of Song Fashion Weekly, we are going to reflect on all of the fashions and styles of our dynasty. Most fashionable women wear delicate robes, blouses, and capes made of silk, (from silkworms of course.) Since women never cut their hair, (unless a close friend or relative dies,) they can style it into many interesting shapes. Most women wear their long black hair in buns. Some hairstyles are a foot high! If you are looking for nice accessory for your hair, try hairpins! They can be made of ivory, gold, or silver. (Some popular shapes are birds, flowers, butterflies, and phoenixes.) Pink balsam leaves can be crushed to make nail polish. (Pale faces are a status symbol, they show that a woman never has to work in the sun, like a peasant.) To make pale faces paler, add a light powder to the face and tint cheeks red with rouge to the cheeks. Lastly, remove the eyebrows and then redraw them with a pencil-thin, black line, giving that "doll-like" appearence everyone wants!

Men have styles, too. To show how little acquainted they are with manual labor, Literati let their pinky nails grow very long, and they use highly decorated "nail guards" to protect the long nails. Low ranking officials wear "feet." "Feet" are long strips of cloth that hang from a hat that officials and emperors wear. Low ranking officials wear their "feet" hanging down and curved inward with wire, while high ranking officials wore their "feet" straight down. Only the emperor wears his "feet" straight out, parallel to the ground.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An Interview with Empress Meng

Interviewer- Meng, we're so glad to have an empress with us today.

Meng- Thank you. It's so great to be here.

Interviewer-  Meng, tell us about your first husband, Zhezong?   How did you feel when he left you for the alluring Liu?

Meng- After being selected from 100 candidates to be his bride and empress, I felt angry and crushed.   I couldn't believe he left me for that concubine, Liu!  He brought charges of witchcraft against me (which were obviously untrue,) all because of Liu.  I never participated in anything that had to do with witchcraft.  I was exiled, thanks to the corrupt court who were forced to turn against  me by Zhezong. I really hated him for that.

Interviewer- Did anything good come out of this?

Meng- Well, when the Jurchen army took over Kaifeng, I was overlooked while the other rulers were rounded up as prisoners. After one of the Jurchen became emperor, he found out about me and asked me to help him rule and serve as his regent. (A regent is someone who rules in the absence of another ruler.)

Interviewer- Did you agree to serve as regent to the Jurchen? What happened after this?

Meng- I did, but it didn't last long. Once I found out that the old emperor, Gaozong had survived, (he had fleed from the Jurchen earlier,) I stepped down and acknowledged him as China's rightful ruler.

Interviewer- That was nice of you. What was his reaction to this?

Meng- He was grateful. He had me taken out of Kaifeng and welcomed me into his court in Haozong. But I was forced by corrupt courtiers to serve as regent to his 3 year old son. This was a conspiracy that was eventually ended, and I gave up my regency, gladly, and returned the boy to his fathers care.

Interviewer- Do you consider yourself one of the true guardians of China?

Meng- Well I believe that I was known as one of the true guardians of China, but I'm modest, and I don't really consider myself to be a hero.

Interviewer- Thank you so much for the interview, Meng, it was so nice to talk to you you.

Religion, (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism)


Confucius believed that good government was based on social heirarchy and strict codes of behavior and moral conduct in traditional chinese society. In other words, he assumed that all people had basically good intentions, and only needed to be taught how to lea a virtuous life. He believed that the emperor should set an example by having morals, (being a good person,) and the people would follow his example.

Zhu Xi was a leader of Neo-Confucianism in the Song dynasty. He had many interpretations of Confucian beliefs. Zhu Xi believed that the human mind was linked to the forces of the universe. He wrote the 5 Confucian Classics, (The Book of Rites, The Analects, The Writings of Menicius, The Doctrine of the Mean, and The Great Learning.)

Over the Centuries, Daoism and Buddism added a spiritual element to the Confucian codes of morals. Confucianists began to speak in ways that involved themselves with "cosmic forces," like the yin yang symbol, (which comes from Daoism,)  or qi.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Southern Song Dynasty: Emperor Gaozong

        The first emperor of the Song dynasty was Gaozong. He began his rule very weakly, and the Song dynasty seemed to be heading downhill. The government was falling apart, and Gaozong had to try to form a new one. However, this attempt failed when he heard that the neighboring Jurchen army was invading. He and his court had to flee to a city near the Yangzi River, called Yangzhou. He had to relocate.
        But soon, they recieved news that the Jurchen invaders were arriving, and Gaozong ordered a group of courtiers to flee farther south wih his infant son, to the city of Hangzhou. After (mostly) everyone else fled, people started to doubt Gaozong's ability to restore the dynasty. A group of officials later conspired against him, forcing him to step down from power and bring his 3 year old son to power. Luckily his upporters helped him, and later brought him back to power.