Song Dynasty

In 960 AD, Zhao Kuangyin launched Chenqiao Mutiny and seized the power. Song Dynasty was established, putting an end to the divisive situation. Song Dynasty lasted 319 years until it was overthrown by Yuan. The Song Dynasty was divided into the Northern period and Southern period. During the Northern period, Qidan tribe established Liao (947-1125 AD) in the further northern part of China. The Dangxiang tribe established Xixia (1038-1227) to the northwest of Song. In 1115 Nvzhen tribe established Jin in the north and defeated Liao. In 1127 Jin made its way in Kaifeng, capital of Song Dynasty and took captive of Emperor Huizong and Qinzong. The reign of Northern Song was over. However, in the southern city of Yintianfu, Zhaogou succeeded to the crown of his predecessors to become Gaozong of Song.  Later, he moved the capital to Lin’an which was the beginning of the Southern Song period. Differing from Northern Song, which confronted and battled with Liao, Xia and Jin, Southern Song is a dynasty that compromised and declined from inception.

Economy, culture and overseas trade all made great progress during Northern Song Dynasty. However, new reforms by such statesmen as Fan Zhongyan and Wang’anshi failed to bring about long-term prosperity, but they partly alleviated social conflicts, of which, revolts of the peasants led by Fang Lang and Song Jiang against the corrupted Emperor Huizong were most subversive. From the time Southern Song was established, it nested in the southern part of China, leaving the vast northern territory to the valiant tribes.

In the Song Dynasty, technology progressed rapidly. Three major inventions such as the compass, typography and power were put to use. Of the three, typography invented by Bi Sheng appeared 400 years earlier than the that in the Europe. The first chronometer was also invented by Su Song during this period; Shen Kuo’s handbook of “Sketchbook of Dream Brook” enjoyed a high reputation in technology.

In culture, research on the universal order was popular among such scholars like Zhu Xi and Lu Jiuyuan. Religiously Taoism, Buddhism and religions from abroad were all welcomed. Ou Yangxiu compiled the New Book of Tang, which contributed to the preservation of Tang history. Zi Zhi Tong Jian, or Comprehensive Mirror Providing Material for Government, written by Sima Guang is an impressive chronicle.

In literature, the Song Dynasty saw eminent prose writers including Ouyang Xiu and Sushi. Songci, a kind of poetry, reached its zenith of development with Yan Shu, Liu Yong, Zhou Bangyan, Li Qingzhao and Xin Qiji being the representatives. Operas were also popular during this time. In painting, natural landscapes, flowers and birds were the main objects for painters. The greatest work of all is The Riverside Scene at Qingming by Zhang Zeduan.

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