Shang & Chou Dynasties

The Shang Dynasty was followed by the Chou Dynasty, which lasted to 250 BCE. This was the Bronze Age of ancient China.

The Chou built roads and canals for trade and travel. They were interested in the sciences, especially astronomy. They wrote literature. During the Chou Dynasty, ancient China was broken into feudal states.

Clan leaders during both the Shang and Chou Dynasties fought each other for control of land and cities. Each city was protected by a huge wall made of strong clay brick. Nobles, priests, and the king or emperor lived inside the walls in palaces made of wood and clay bricks. The homes were decorated with colorfully painted tiles and bronze candlesticks. Their food was plentiful and delicious. Their clothes were made of silk. They were buried in fancy tombs, filled with art and real chariots. The kings or emperors were buried with live people and animals in their tombs to protect them.

Outside the walls of a city, craftsmen and merchants lived in mud huts. They were supposed to be paid for their work, usually in food. The only way they could change their position in life was to join the military. If the city was attacked, the craftsmen and merchants were not brought inside the walls for protection.

The lowest class of people, the peasants or farmers, lived in small villages scattered around the countryside. Their lives were hard. Their clothing was a simple tunic and trousers, and they had few belongings. Land was broken up into small plots owned by a noble. In exchange for working all the time, the peasants got to keep some of the food they produced. If they were caught hoarding extra food to feed their families, they were killed. In the summer, peasants lived in temporary bamboo homes and farmed with stone and wood tools. In the winter, they moved back into their villages to live in one-room mud homes. They worked without pay on royal projects, such as repairing bridges and roads for the king or emperor or serving in the army.

The ground was too rough for horse-drawn chariots, so battles were fought on horseback and on foot. The top warriors wore battle clothes made of bronze, and carried metal daggers, spears, and axes.

The oldest male of each family was the head of the household. Children had to be obedient. If one member of the family did something wrong, the entire family could be punished.

Source: Shang & Chou Dynasties
All Rights Reserved Written by Lin Donn

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