China Magnificent: Five Thousand Years of Chinese Art

By Dagny Carter | Go to book overview

II
FEUDAL CHINA

IT IS a strange fact that, in all the tens of thousands of years that it has taken the human race to evolve, the four peoples of antiquity which have more than any other influenced modern civilization-- China, India, Israel and Greece--should come to fruition about the same time. Somewhere about 1000 B.C. in each of these lands, men began to sing songs and to keep these songs for posterity in writing. The earliest of China's odes, the Rig-Veda of India, the earliest snatches of Hebrew poetry, the Iliad and the Odyssey--all date from about this time.

Then another few hundred years, and the world is startled by a birth of thought. Up to this time men had thought what their fathers thought; there were no questionings. Literature consisted of the songs and the priestly lore that must be handed down. Then in all four lands there came a time when men began to question, to challenge, the very foundations of society. Amos, the herdsman of Tekoa, came from the wilderness to the great shrine of Bethel and questioned the efficacy of sacrifice and ritual, the first of the great line of Hebrew prophets, those rebels against the established order in Israel. Buddha refused to live the conventional life of a prince, and rode forth to found a religion that was destined one day to cover half of Asia. It was at this time that Lao Tzŭ the mystic, and Confucius, the champion of common sense and the gentleman's code, appeared in China, while a hundred years later Socrates at Athens was made to drink the hemlock for teaching new things and corrupting the minds of the youth.

What sort of a China was this, that was contemporary with the great classic period of Israel and Greece? If we look at the history of China and that of Israel at this time, we see a curious parallelism. In each land, at about 1000 B.C. authentic history begins and the first clear dynasty

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China Magnificent: Five Thousand Years of Chinese Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Part One - Graves and Altars 1
  • I - Stone-Age Graves And Prehistoric Sites 3
  • II - Feudal China 11
  • III - Nomad Invasions 27
  • IV - The Empire Builder 41
  • V - Imperial Expansion 49
  • VI - The Graves of the Sons of Han 59
  • Part Two - Temples and Palaces 73
  • VIII - The Dark Ages 83
  • IX - Cave Temples 95
  • X - The Glory That Was T'Ang 109
  • XI - The Art of the T'Ang Era 117
  • XII - Artistic Fulfilment 135
  • Part Three - Shops and Marts 153
  • XIII - Conquered China 155
  • XIV - Ming Nationalism 165
  • XV- The European Expansion and China 181
  • XVI - The Manchus 191
  • Bibliography 209
  • Index 217
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