1. Discuss the legacy of the Tang Dynasty in China, Japan, and Central Asia.

The Li family created the Tang dynasty when they seized power from the Sui, and the footprint that they left in the world impacted the entire Asian continent. They brought about revolutionary changes and ideas, such as the idea of credit and the use of a religious belief in the political system. Their Empire also spurred trade in the area and helped to bring many cultural and social changes through trading cities like their own capital. Eventually though, the Tang dynasty came to an end in 907 after internal strife and rebellion weakened the government. The Li family was descendants from Turkish elites and that heritage showed in their conquest. In 618 when the Li seized power from the disorganized Sui dynasty, they used a powerful mixture of Chinese and Turkish/Silk Road war technology to dominate the battlefield. An emperor by the name of Li Shimin took advantage of not only the decay Sui Empire, but also advents such as the Chinese crossbow and infantry and the Turkish horsemen and iron stirrups. After the downfall of the Sui, the Li family created the Tang dynasty, basing it much on the Sui government practice and structure; however they also introduced their own ideas. The Tang kept their government slightly decentralized by giving power to local nobles and officials, as well as establishing the Tang law code. The Tang rulers decided to kept the Confusion civil service exams as they were, but also introduced religion into their government as never before. The main sect of Buddhism in place was the Mahayana sect, and the local princes and nobles would ask the church to pray and speak on their behalf, giving them a better public face. In addition, these princes (who were competing with one another) would ask the monasteries to contribute to their personal war chest. In return, the prince would give them land, tax exemptions, and special gifts. Using this system, Buddhism became very popular in China, Japan, and Central Asia, and the princes gained more popularity among the peoples. Chang’an was made the capital city during the Sui rule, and the Tang decided to keep it as the capital during their rule. Chang’an was a central hub for trade and the Chinese society. It had a well-established road and water system, and even though it was not connecting to the Grand Canal (between the Yellow and the Yangzi river), it still served as a trading highway in which people could travel and exchange goods and ideas. The city of Chang’an was much like a modern one, lined with stalls, vendors, mosques, temples, inns, and restaurants. Historians call this city and most of the Tang Empire a cosmopolitan because of the immense diversity that existed. Chang’an’s population reached over one million people during the Tang rule, yet most of those people lived outside the walls of the city. They lived in suburbs where they had special duties such as maintaining tombs and maintaining the Imperial Resort. These peasants helped to maintain the cities growth and posterity. Cities just like this one existed all over the Tang Empire. These cities played an enormous role in cultural diffusion. People compare these cities to melting pots because of this. This created a rich culture that spread all over Asia and Japan, and that culture still exists today. The Grand Canal also played a big role in the cultural and technological advancements in Asian society, as well as spurring trade in the region. The Grand Canal system was so important that it had its own budget, ships, and all future capitals were built within reach of it. It linked central Asia to the Indian Ocean trading system, opening the door for many countries and cultures to trade with the Tang peoples. It also helped to push technological advancements. Seafarers had to design and build larger and more advanced ships that could carry more supplies in order to take advantage of the large Tang economy. All of the trade and cultural diffusion that took place in the Tang dynasty helped to spread ideas and art styles. New motifs and themes emerged in Chinese art and pottery, and the entire clothing style changed. Instead of wearing the traditional robes, the

working class now wore pants made of cotton instead of hemp or silk. Also, New stringed instruments and music reached China during the Tang dynasty. Trading of imported foods such as spices and tea changed the Chinese diet of not only the peasants but also the noblemen. Throughout all of this though, China still remained the dominant and superior source for silk. The Tang dynasty encouraged more designs and patterns that were becoming more and more complex. This made a huge demand for silk, which kept the economy moving. Also the Tang dynasty was the first to come up with the idea of credit, which was much like today’s credit card. The end of the Tang Empire was brought about in 907 because of internal strife. The military campaigns that had expanded the empire so greatly left the empire controlled by local warlords and the government became very decentralized. Also internal power struggles and rebellion led to the Tang’s downfall. These struggles had a lot to do with the growing suspicion of Buddhists. The Tang elites started to regard Buddhism as evil and undermining Confusion ideals. They especially regarded women in a lower status and were displeased with Buddhist ideas of women’s worth. The government and officials started to blame common evils and barbaric behavior on Buddhism. The Tang saw it as a threat to the throne as the Buddhist temple and monks did not pay taxes and did not serve the army. They claimed that eradicating the Buddhism “threat” would restore ancient values and peace. Though local warlords protected some Buddhist temples, most of them were destroyed and Buddhism never recovered in China.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.