The Shang Dynasty 1766 BCE – 1027 BCE
Writing • The Shang Dynasty was the first dynasty in China to communicate with writing. • Some Chinese writing evolved from pictographs created during the Shang Dynasty period. • About 4500 characters have been found, and 1000 can be connected to Chinese writing today.
Society • The Shang people were ruled by a king who was believed to be a descendant of the supreme god, Shang Ti. • As the son of god he was thought to have the divine right to rule; this was called the “mandate of heaven”.
Society • The king made many of his decisions by casting oracle bones. The question would be written on a piece of ox bone or tortoise shell and cracked using high temperatures. The cracks would be read as saying: yes, no, lucky, or unlucky.
Society • Shang society was divided into classes: the king (also religious leader), nobles (war leaders and land owners), crafts people and merchants, and farmers (the largest amount of people), and finally slaves.
Society • Farmers provided food for the country, helped by working on the great buildings of the kingdom, and were soldiers during times of war. • Slaves were often prisoners of war, and they worked under threat of death.
Society • Crafts people worked with bronze and jade. They were skilled at making weapons, tools, jewellery, pottery, and fine silk cloth. • Merchants used rice or cowrie shells as money. Metal coins were invented in the 5 th century BCE. At first they were long and thin, but later made round with a hole in the middle to string on belts.
Bronze weapon from Shang Dynasty.
• The basic food of the Shang people was millet (a type of grain). Barley and wheat were also grown. • Vegetables and beans were grown in gardens, fish were caught from the rivers, and animals such as deer and bears were hunted on the plains. • By the Shang dynasty, the Chinese had domesticated pigs, dogs, goats, sheep, water buffalo, and some fowl. Food
Food • With the unpredictable river flooding or causing drought, the Chinese often experienced famine and starvation.
Food • People in Asia have been drinking tea for centuries. • According to Chinese mythology, tea was invented in 2737 BCE, when the Chinese emperor was sitting beneath a tea tree and leaf fell into his boiling water. • Tea became one of Chinas most valuable trading product between English traders and the Chinese.
Tea? Or tea?
Loose Leaf Tea
Food Where do fortune cookies come from? ? ? • Shang people used chopsticks for eating and cooking; they boiled, steamed, or stir fried their food.