Questions / keynotes related to class presentations (notes on presentations 1-3 will be included shortly)


1. Name forms of punishment practiced during the Song dynasty.

2. Name at least one invention that revolutionized warfare from the Song on.

3. Who was Su Shi?

4. Why can Li Qingzhao be characterized as an unusual woman of the Song?

5. Describe ways in which footbinding influenced the culture of women in the Song.

6. Describe how burial practices contribute to the 'new society' of the Song.

7. Describe the basic religious concepts shared by Daoists, Buddhists, and Confucianists.

. Explain at least one reason why Chan Buddhism was accused of being un-intellectual.

9. Please describe significant changes in the life of a woman after marriage in the Song.

10. How did the local Chinese population cope with the changes after the Mongol invasion

11. The Mongols used paper-money more successfully than the Song. Name differences in their monetary practices.

12. Please describe why Mongol welfare relied on animals. Which was the most important animal for the Mongols and why?

13. During the time of Marco Polo's travels the 'Pax Mongolica' determined trade conditions in the Mongol empire. Please explain the meaning of this statement.

14. Name three of the most important steps of Wang Anshi's reform.


Keynotes to class presentations

1. Kyle Tuttle: The concept of law in Song China: The 'adventures' of Mr. Li
2. Stefanie Loh: Military Technology of the Song
3. Paul Quillen: The statesman and poet Su Dongpo = Su Shi (1037-1101

- born in Sichuan province in Western China
- father: Su Xun, brother Su Che
- after a traditional training in Daoist readings, the Confucian Classics, as well as prose and poetry composition he passed the jinshi- and the rare and even more difficult xianliang exams
- he was one of the most unconventional thinkers of the time
- opponent of chancellor Wang Anshi’ reforms; Wng in turn blocked his career whenever possible
- as an official dedicated to the Confucian ideals of good ruling;
- worked as an instructor in a provincial academy, served in the bureau of historiography; - constructed a dyke in the Southern Song capital Hangzhou by order of the eminent scientist, Shen Gua; later in life he became the governor of Hangzhou
- was banished and called back to office with promotion several times
- became one of the most cherished poets of China
- studied Buddhist writings as an adult and communicated with Buddhist teachers in an intellectual pursuit to solve ethical problems
- Like Li Qingzhao, Su Shi was most famous for his ci-poetry

4. Megan Salsbury: The poetess Li Qingzhao
(c. 1084-c. 1155)
- daughter of a highly educated father and mother;
- both were writers, Li's father was an official and acquaintance of Su Shi
- married by her family to the official Zhao Mingcheng (1081-1129) with whom she shares the love for antiques
- together they collect books, paintings, ritual bronze vessels etc. which they include in a catalogue
- as Zhao is appointed to different posts they move several times with their collection
- when the Jin invade China they flee south; Zhao Mingcheng is sent away on a special mission and dies while travelling
- after Zhao's funeral, Li falls ill herself but recovers eventually and follows the court when moving to the new capital, Hangzhou
- She remarries an official of minor position named Zhang Ruzhou, but after a few months divorces him because she finds out that he embezzeled money.
- she joins her younger brother's household, where she lives until she dies

Megan has categorized Li's poems into three groups: Poems reflecting her emotions for her husband, Zhao Mingcheng, poems referring to nature, and poems commemorating her native home.

(Modeled on the melody 'Grudge Against the Lord')
My dream is gone, the clepsydra is stilled
Coolness is born on my pillow
The emerald screen faces the dawn
Who has swept the fallen petals out-of-doors?
Last night’s wind
The sound of the jade flute is stilled, where is he?
Spring is gone again
How could he bear to stay away from home?
This love of mine, this grudge of mine
Fain would I confide to the passing clouds
And the God of Spring

(Modeled on the melody of Buddhist Coiffure)
Gentle breeze, mild sun, early spring
Lightly clad, lighthearted I suddenly feel
Up from my couch, I am lightly shivery
The plum flowers have died in my hair
Whither is my native land?
I forget it not, save in tipsiness
I forget it not, save in tipsiness
The scent is gone but the wine remains

(Modeled on the melody 'The Fisherman’s Pride')
In the snow, I already know spring’s message
The jade boughs of the plum tree being adorned with
delicate blossoms
Half-open, their scent face is full of charm
In the middle of the garden
They look like beauties just coming out of a bath
On purpose, the Creator made the moon shine
Bright as a precious stone
Newly-brewed wine in goblets of gold
Let’s drink and fear not tipsiness
For tonight we celebrate an incomparable flower

(Modeled on The Fisherman’s Pride)
The sky, the waves of clouds, the morning mist blended in one
The Milky Way was shimmering, a thousand sails were dancing
Methinks I was borne to the throne of God
“Whither are you going?” a celestial voice asked me
Sighing, I replied: “Long, long is the way, the day is dying.”
In vain, I compose astonishing verses
The roc-bird is soaring upon the wind for a ninety-thousandmile journey
Stop not, O wind!
Blow my boat to fairyland


5. Laura Slocum: Footbinding
- The origins of footbinding are largely unknown, but the tale of Yexian, the Cinderella of an old Chinese folk tale indicates a long tradition associating female beauty and sexual appeal with tiny feet in delicately decorated shoes.

- Yaoniang, a dancer at the court of Emperor Li Yu of the Southern Tang dynasty (r. 961-974), is said to have begun the tradition of footbinding. When the emperor had a lotus flower build she danced inside the artificial blossom with her feet bound in gauze and clad in socks.

- Once established, the custom developed from a beauty enhancing fashion into a tradition of domestication that cherished the expression of women's diligence (in shoemaking as in enduring the procedure of binding their feet and the feet of their daughters). As the custom spread, many traditions of footbinding evolved in different parts of China leading to many different styles of shoes and their decoration.

- Footbinding was abolished by the Manchu government and became despised as a 'feudal' practice under the influence of the strive for political and social modernization after the founding of the Republic (1912). The production of shoes for bound feet was continued to meet the needs of women whose feet had been bound in their youth. The last factory that produced shoes for bound feet was closed in China in 1996.

6. Lydia Mooyman: Burial in Song China
Most excavated tombs of periods prior to the Song dynasty belonged to aristocratic elites or the imperial family. Comparisons with Song tombs show that the Song saw the introduction and eventual dominance of a new, educated elite class, a development which brought with it changes to traditional burial rituals and ideologies.

This new class was constituted of educated scholar-officials and their families, literati, private scholars and teachers, landowners, men of property, merchants etc., or those with education and access to “wealth, power and prestige” (Kuhn. Pg. 1).

Though Buddhist thought dominated ideals of burial and concepts of the afterlife in the previous Tang dynasty, Confucianism had a cultural reawakening and a powerful reemergence at the beginning of the Song. This change of intellectual focus brought with it a desire for simplicity and a return to traditional Confucian ideals now termed Neo-Confucianism. In burials the new ideals are mirrored in the disappearance of expensive, extravagant burials, which could “ruin an affluent family.”

Though the ideal was to adhere to Confucian ideology, there was a variety of burial styles which comprised simple unadorned coffins in grave pits as well as elaborate vaulted, double occupancy tombs with wall paintings that often depicted domestic scenes.

Coffins were constructed with inner and outer coffins to preserve and house the body in the afterlife. These coffins ranged from plain wooden boxes to lacquered coffins with carved decoration. These coffins were then housed in small tombs, not intended to be entered, yet intended to “glorify in death as in life.”

Though it was predominantly a Buddhist tradition and not widely accepted, cremation was an alternative to expensive burials, as it could solve not only the problem of lacking funds for a more elaborate burial, but also reduced the problem of using agricultural land for burial.

Useful Sources:
Kuhn, Dieter. Burial in Song China. Editions Forum: Heidelberg, 1994.
Kuhn Dieter. A Place for the Dead: An Archaeological Documentary on graves and Tombs of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Edition Forum: Heidelberg, 1996.
Tsao, Hsingyuan. Differences Preserved: Constructed Tombs from the Liao and Song Dynasties. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000.

7. Jonathan Reiter: Daoism
Religious practices in the Song are characterized by a few common concepts:
1. their followers believd in the migration of souls in the afterlife. The netherworld was seen as ruled by a bureaucracy that was a mirror image of the imperial administration and ruled over the souls of the deceased with rewards and punishments. The sould could rematerialize in a rebirth or could receive an assignment to serve as a spiritual being, as a deity or as an underworld administrator. Ghosts could influence the world of the living and nedd to be appeased, by offerings or ceremonies conducted by professional clergy.
2. All belief systems agreed in the existence of gods/ immortals/ Buddhas/Bodhisatvas.
3. Human conduct is important in all three teachings, and obedience to authority is a must.

Despite these common grounds ritual practices, divinities, regional and local cults, and the organization of clergy and lay communities were highly varied. The distribution of different cults was based on the travels of merchants who brought their practices wherever they travelled, on texts authored by members of the local elite that promoted the power of certain deities. Daoism in the Song attempted to subdue influential popular belief sytems and shamanistic practices by offering a structured model of elaborate regulations and rituals that met the spiritual needs of the followers. Daoist influence at court was significant at times during the Song and brought representatives of sects into high positions as advisers.

8. Matt Schultz: Chan Buddhism in the Song

Chan Buddhism in the Song dynasty insisted on the ‘separate transmission’ of the Buddha’s teaching, a transmission other than through the study of sutras. This transmission of the dharma (truth) through the mind worked through the immediate (mental) guidance between teacher and disciple.

Song Buddhists discussing the heritage of the teaching asked whether there indeed was a ‘separate transmission’ of Buddhist teachings from the Buddha through his disciples and followers that did not rely on scriptures as did the other eminent Buddhist schools.

Chan Buddhism has been described as different from the other Buddhist schools, and denounced as ‘un-intellectual’ related to the Chan interpretation of the prescription “not to set up scriptures” and instead rely on meditation and spiritual guidance by an experienced teacher to attain awakening/enlightenment.

Traditional Buddhist history claims that the founder of Chan Buddhism in India was a disciple of the Buddha himself. In India a lineage of 28 patriarchs followed the founder. The last of the 28 patriarchs was Bodhidharma who traveled to China and was himself followed by 5 patriarchs. Together they were commemorated as the lineage of the Six Patriarchs of Chinese Chan Buddhism.

Though the Chan lineage is largely fictitious it was established successfully in the Song and gained imperial patronage. Texts supporting this genealogical legacy were included in the Buddhist Canon, the collective Buddhist scriptures, acknowledged as authentic by the court.

Historical correctness of this lineage was questioned by competing Buddhist schools, who saw their own traditions questioned by the flourishing Chan school and its imperial support. They accused Chan Buddhists of fabricating their tradition by falsifying the history of the transmission of the teaching from Buddha to his disciple Mahakasyapa.

Chan followers could not leave this accusation unanswered and in 1061 an exegetical record was compiled that analyzed important historical sources. It created a new commentary on the history of the transmission of Buddha’s teachings that stressed the transmission of the truth through a teacher as opposed to textual learning.

9. Elisabeth Leonard: Women of the upper classes in the Song

10. Jenny Palm: Local changes after the Mongol invasion

11. Andre Comandon: Uses of currency in the Song and Yuan

12. Jess Tapia: The role of the horse in the Mongol army

13. Terence Li: Marco Polo

14. Wang Anshi's reforms

15. Wang Anshi and Th. Roosevelt

16. Neil Randol: The Xixia
China's neighbors - The Xixia

Xixia script

Lotus sutra in Xixia script



Xixia warrior equipment