The East Asian World summary and notes




The East Asian World summary and notes


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The East Asian World summary and notes



The East Asian World  




I. China at Its Apex

            A. From the Ming to the Qing

                        1. Ming (Bright) established under leadership of Zhu Yanzhang/Ming Hongwu in 1368

a. Yuan dynasty was overthrown by peasant rebellion

                                   b. Territorial expansion into Central Asia and Vietnam

                                   c. Series of voyages all the way to Africa in early 1400s, but discontinued

                        2. First contacts with the West

                                   a. Non-Chinese traditionally perceived as “younger brothers” in tribute system

                                   b. Portuguese arrived in 1514, eventually allowed to occupy Macao

                                   c. Some trade, but also ideas introduced by Jesuit missionaries

                        3. The Ming brought to earth

                                   a. Late 1500s, weak rulers led to corruption, peasant rebellions, inflation,

                                   the “little ice age,” and unrest along the northern frontier

b. Peasant revolt led by Li Zicheng occupied Beijing in 1644, Ming emperor commit suicide

c. Manchu/Jurchen, a mixed agricultural and hunting people from north of the Great Wall, allied with Ming generals, captured Beijing, and proclaimed a new dynasty, the Qing

            B. The Greatness of the Qing (Pure)

                        1. Was initial opposition to the Qing/Manchus

                                   a. Chinese were required to adopt Manchu dress and hair styles (the queue)

                                               1) “Lose your hair or lose your head”

                                   b. But Manchus were more adept than Yuan/Mongols

1) Adopted Chinese political system

2) Qing were eventually largely accepted by the Chinese

                                               3) Ming had strong early rulers

                        2. The Reign of Kangxi (1661-1722), possibly the greatest ruler in China’s history

                                   a. Stabilized Qing rule, making the dynasty acceptable to Chinese

                                   b. Pacified the western and northern frontiers

                                   c. Patron of arts and letters

                                   d. Tolerant of Jesuit missionaries, and several became court advisors

                                               1) Christians quarreled over meaning of ancestor veneration

                                               2) Pope said no Chinese Christians could venerate their ancestors

                                               3) Christianity began to be suppressed

                        3. The Reign of Qianlong (1736-1795)

                                   a. China became perhaps the world’s greatest power under Qianlong

                                   b. But seeds of decline

                                               1) Expensive military campaigns

                                               2) Qianlong came under the influence of Heshen, an official

                                               3) Peasant unrest, e.g. the White Lotus Rebellion

                        4. Qing Politics

                                   a. Retained the Ming political system

1) Stressed devotion to Confucian values

                                   b. Manchus, 2 percent of population, remained legally distinct

                                   c. Dyarchy system: administrative positions shared by Manchus and Chinese

                                   d. Civil service examination system established quotas for each group

                                   e. Manchus were largely assimilated in spite of efforts to retain separate identity

                        5. China on the Eve of the Western Onslaught

a. Russia, refusing to accept tributary status, signed equal Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689), establishing diplomatic relations and settling border disputes

                                   b. English replaced Portugal as dominate force in European trade

                                               1) First trading post at Canton in 1699

                                               2) Trade increased during 1700s, particularly in Chinese silk and tea

                                   c. By end of 1700s, British wanted access to other Chinese coastal cities

1) Balance of trade problem

a) British were paying for silk, tea, porcelain with silver bullion

                                   d. Lord McCartney mission, 1793, but Qianlong refused to liberalize trade

II. Changing China

            A. The Population Explosion

                        1. From 70 to 80 million in 1390 to 300 million by 1800

                                   a. Political stability and lack of wars

                                   b. New crops, including peanuts, sweet potatoes, and maize, faster-growing rice

                        2. Increased population put greater pressure on land, resulting in smaller farms

            B. Seeds of Industrialization

                        1. Growth of manufacturing and commerce

                        2. Did not follow European model

                                   a. Chinese bourgeoisie less independent

                                   b. Chinese trade and manufacturing remained under control of the state

c. Traditional prejudice again commercial activity, reflecting ancient preference for agriculture

                                   d. Taxes high on commerce so taxes could remain low on agricultural products

3. Result was a growing technological gap between China and Europe, e.g. clocks were perceived as toys

            C. Daily Life in Qing China

1. The family was still the center of Chinese society

a. Labor-intensive society based on cultivation of rice

b. Sons preferred, would continue to live at home

c. Filial piety was the norm, and marriages were generally arranged

d. Beyond the family was the clan               

2. The role of women, who were traditionally inferior to men

           a. Female children less desired and usually did not receive an education

           b. Women did play a strong role in the family, often in education the children

            D. Cultural Developments

1. The rise of the Chinese novel, a new form of literature

           a. Considered to be less respectable than poetry

           b. Colloquial style and characterized by realism regarding Chinese society

           c. Gold Vase Plum/The Golden Lotus and decadent aspects of late Ming society

           d. The Dream of the Red Chamber, 1791, China’s most distinguished novel

                        2. The Art of the Ming and the Qing

                                   a. Imperial City in Beijing, begun under Ming emperor Yongle in 1421

b. Decorative arts, including lacquerware, cloisonné, silks, and blue and white porcelain

                                   c. Chinese art/chinoiserie was very popular in Europe in 1700s

III. Tokugawa Japan

            A. The Three Great Unifiers

                        1. 1400s and 1500s and the decline of the Ashikaga shogunate; a warring states era

                        2. Oda Nobunaga (1568-1582)

                                   a. Seized Kyoto in 1568 and the shogun

                                   b. Reduced the power of the Buddhist estates

                                   c. Killed by one of his own generals

                        3. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1582-1598), headquartered at Osaka

                                   a. By 1590 most of the daimyo accepted his authority

                                   b. Invaded Korea but was a disaster

                                   c. Organized “sword hunts” to restrict the availability of weapons

                        4. Tokugawa Ieyasu (1598-1616), a daimyo from Edo

                                   a. Continued pacification and consolidation of power

                                   b. Named himself shogun in 1603

c. Tokugawa shogunate lasted until 1868

            B. Opening to the West

1. Unification under the Three Great Unifiers occurred simultaneously with the arrival of Europeans

                                   a. Portuguese arrived in 1543 and first Jesuit missionary in 1549

                                               1) Brought tobacco, clocks, spectacles, and firearms

                                   b. Oda and Toyotomi used firearms and erected castles on European model

2. Missionaries had considerable success, converting local Daimyo, particularly on Kyushu and Shikoku

a. But papal claims of exclusive loyalty to the church, missionaries turning temples into Christian churches, and foreign involvement in local politics aroused government suspicion

            3. Expulsion of the Christians

a. Toyotomi Hideyoshi issued edict in 1587 outlawing Christian activities in Japan and missionaries were ordered to leave

           1) Jesuits appealed and Toyotomi allowed them to stay if discreet

           2) Spanish Franciscans more aggressive, and nine were executed

b. Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered expulsion of all missionaries in 1612

c. Persecution of Japanese Christians increased, leading to uprising in 1637

                        4. Foreign contacts were prohibited, including trade

a. The exception was Deshima Island in Nagasaki harbor, where only the Dutch were permitted some limited trade, and where Dutch ships were permitted to land only once each year

b. Some very limited trade was allowed with China

c. Japanese subjects were forbidden to leave Japan on penalty of death

            C. The Tokugawa “Great Peace”

                        1.Government more centralized, emperors remaining in Kyoto and the shoguns in Edo

2. Daimyo and Samurai

a. About 250 daimyo, in theory were autonomous but in fact were controlled by Shogun

1) Shogun required the daimyo to maintain two residences, one in own domains and one at Edo, leaving their families in Edo as hostages

b. Shogun limited the size of the samurai class, who had no function as a result of the Great Peace

1) Samurai were permitted to wear two swords as symbolic recognition of their class

                        3. Seeds of Capitalism

                                   a. Tokugawa “Long peace” saw a rise in urban commerce and manufacturing

                                               1) Edo had a population of over one million by mid-1700s

                                   b. Rising standard of living for many

                                   c. Banking and paper money

                                   d. New merchant class began to play a major role

                                   e. Samurai class did not benefit

                                               1) Revenues from their rice lands insufficient, and many in debt

                                               2) Many became “masterless samurai,” or ronin

a) “Forty-Seven Ronin,” a story of “masterless samurai” revenge

                        4. Land Problems

                        a. Peasants suffered because of rising costs and higher taxes, becoming landless laborers

                        b. Peasant revolts, but Japan’s slower population growth meant less deprivation than in China

            D. Life in the Village

                        1. Peasants were more regimented by the central government, e.g. the collection of taxes

                                   a. Nuclear family based upon primogeniture

                        2. The role of women

a. Women more restricted under Tokugawa shogunate than earlier

           1) Japanese society became more rigidly stratified under the Tokugawas

                        3. The eta were Japan’s outcasts, and their status was hereditary

            E. Tokugawa Culture

1. Tensions between the classical culture of Confucian themes, Buddhist quietism, samurai warrior tradition clashed with new urban culture

           a. The old classical culture received patronage from the shogunate

           b. The new urban culture reflected middle class aspirations

                        2. The Literature of the New Middle Class

                                   a. Woodblock printing made literature more available and literacy increased

                                   b. Saikaku (1642-1693) and his Five Women Who Loved Love

                                   c. Rise of Kubuki drama threatened the dominance of the classical No plays

                                               1) Early Kabuki often performed by prostitutes

2) Government outlawed women actors for moral reasons, so female impersonators instead

                                   d. Poetry more traditional and serious

                                               1) Basho (1644-1694), meaning in life in nature, with seasonal images

                        3. Tokugawa Art

                                   a. Much luxury construction in Edo, including decoration

                                   b. Western/Dutch influence arrived through Korea

                                                1) “Dutch learning” in astronomy and languages

                                   c. Woodblock prints, purchased by the literate merchant class

                                               1) Portrayed urban life and Edo’s “floating world”

                                               2) Utamaro (1754-1806) painted erotic women in everyday poses

                                               3) Hokusai (1760-1849) and Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji

4) Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road

4. More popular culture in Japan than in China

a. Greater urban and mercantile growth in Japan

                                   b. In China, Confucianism perpetuated traditional values

IV. Korea: The Hermit Kingdom

            A. Yi dynasty

                        1. Founded by Yi Song Gye in late 1300s

                                   a. Capital at Seoul

2. Korea patterned itself on Chinese model

a. Emphasized agriculture and Confucian values, thus the reverse of Japan

b. But entrance by examination into the bureaucracy was restricted to the

aristocracy (the yangban)

3. Adopted a phonetic alphabet for writing the Korean spoken language (hangul) thus differed from China

                        4. Population increase

5. Growth of small urban industrial and commercial sector, and some yangban became merchants

V. Conclusion 


1.“The Art of Printing”—Is Ricci’s perspective more open than one might expect in a European of that

era? What does he think of the number and cost of books in China at that time? What are the differences

between Western and Chinese printing which Ricci alludes to? Do you agree that it was the simplicity of

the Chinese system which allowed the printing of so many book at a ridiculously low cost? Why or why

not? (page 450)


2. “Sixteen Confucian Commandments”—What relative weights might such factors as a desire for social

and political order, acceptance of a foreign ruling house by the Chinese people, and a solicitous desire for

public happiness have held in the author’s mind? Is Kangxi’s Sacred Edict entirely Confucian? Why or

why not? Which of these values might be considered “conservative” and which less so? Why? (p. 453)


3. “Last Will and Testament”— What does the career—and death—of Yang Jisheng illustrated about Qing China in the seventeenth century? What does his “final instructions” illustrate about family life in an official’s family? What is “Confucian” about the “final instructions”? Why was this document circulated so widely in late Ming and early Qing dynasties? (p. 454)


4. “A Chinese Woman Artist”—What obstacles did a woman as Chen Shu face in being an artist in Qing

China? Did her social class background assist in her artistic career? Why or why not? What does the

passage indicate about gender roles and the family in traditional Chinese society? Why was Chen Shu an

exception? (p. 460)


5. “A Present for Lord Tokitaka”—Was Lord Tokitaka’s response to the traders’ demonstration

equivalent to that of a ruler today who is shown a new, alternative-technology weapon? Did his statement

about the ancient sages serve to legitimize this novel technology, or might he have had other reasons for

mentioning them? Why or why not? (p. 465)


6. “Toyotomi Hideyoshi Expels the Missionaries”—Why does this letter take the tone it does? Why did

Hideyoshi object to Christianity? Or was he mainly objecting to Christians? Or to a perceived threat

from the West? Was its author truly angry at Portuguese actions, or might there also have been other

elements in this thoughts? If so, what? (p. 466)


7. “Keeping to the Straight and Narrow in Tokugawa Japan”—What appears to be the reason for the

issuance of this document? How does this compare, in tone and content, with Emperor Kangxi’s Sacred

Edict? What are the differences between the two excerpts, if any? Why? Is the Tokugawa decree

Confucian in tone and content? Why or why not? (p. 469)




1.Have students compare the causes and results of the rebellions of Zhu Yuanzhang and Li Zicheng with

the power seizures of Japan’s “Three Great Unifiers” in terms of their roles as channels of change.


2. Ask students to study and try to account for the contrasts in Ming Dynasty foreign and domestic policy,

particularly during the reign of Yongle. Do they see them as fundamental turning points in Chinese



3. Have students discuss and debate the causes as well as the consequences for the Ming withdrawal after

the extensive voyages of admiral Zhenghe.


4. Invite students to check over the governance system developed by the Qing Dynasty and assess

whether it was the policies or the quality of leadership which permitted the new elite to retain power with

relative ease, even while requiring the Chinese people to adopt Manchu dress and hairstyles. 


5. Ask students to probe the nature of the policies toward foreigners adopted and enforced by the

Tokugawa government and to consider why subsequent socioeconomic changes in Japan seemed significantly more benign than those in China.


6. Assign students to consider the natures and relative effectiveness of the Chinese, Japanese and Korean

responses to European pressures during the 1600s and 1700s. A look at the policies and fates of the

Mughal and Ottoman states might add useful perspective.

7. Have students compare and contrast China’s Qing dynasty’s relationship with the West with that of

Tokugawa Japan. How were the responses and reactions similar and how did they differ?


8. Have students examine the impact, and non-impact, of the West on China and Japan between 1500 and 1800.


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