Daily Life in Traditional China: The Tang Dynasty

Daily Life in Traditional China: The Tang Dynasty

Daily Life in Traditional China: The Tang Dynasty

Daily Life in Traditional China: The Tang Dynasty

Synopsis

This thorough exploration of the aspects of everyday life in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) provides fascinating insight into a culture and time that is often misunderstood, especially by those from western cultures. Here students will find the details of what life was really like for these people. How was their society structured? How did they entertain themselves? What sorts of food did they eat? The answers to these and other questions are provided in full detail to bring this golden age of Chinese culture alive for the modern reader.

Excerpt

This text is the product of a college course titled “Daily Life in Traditional China” that I have taught half a dozen times. The objective of the course was to introduce students of history, philosophy, religion, literature, art, and other disciplines to the “nitty-gritty” of ancient China. Its content covered the physical and material aspects (from toilets to tombs), as well as the customs, of premodern times (from festivals to funerals), features that are sometimes overlooked in courses that concentrate on theoretical issues. The scope of the course, however, is far too large for a modest survey such as this since it covers 3,000 years. Consequently this work will cover the Tang dynasty (618–907) only, an epoch of some 300 years that is the period of my scholarly endeavors.

The Tang dynasty is worthy of special treatment because it was the golden age of Chinese culture, at least in the opinion of many later Chinese. They have esteemed two of its poets as the greatest in their history. An anthology of three hundred Tang poems compiled in the eighteenth century is still the primer for children when they begin their study of verse. It was a text treasured by intellectuals sent to prison camps during the Cultural Revolution. Tang writers devised a simplified and terse form of prose that subsequently became the dominant style until the twentieth century. One of its painters was regarded as the greatest of all time for centuries after his death, even though few of his works survived the fall of the dynasty. The Tang was also one of the greatest, if not the greatest, periods in the development of music, song, and dance during Chinese history. Its law code, promulgated in 637, remained in force until

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