Jeremy Keeshin The Ming Dynasty was a time of great change in China.

Traditional Chinese values combined with trade and foreign policy fueled the Chinese outward and inward in regards to their culture. Clashing religions coincided to generate new religious ideas while prior beliefs continued to hold their ground. Agriculture also became a more significant source of economy as it commercialized The Ming Dynasty was a function of traditional Chinese values in two main areas. It continued its strong base in Confucianism and Taoism. In regards to Taoism, it kept the focus on nature. The landscape paintings were a return to traditional values because they showed that everything must be put into focus under the greater idea of nature; a Taoist belief. Also a traditional ideal that continued during the Ming Dynasty was

Confucianism. Hungwu was the first ruler in the Ming Dynasty and he encouraged many Confucian beliefs such as filial piety. He also emphasized loyalty to the authority, which held strictly to the five relationships, where the latter was required to be subservient to the superior. He believed that agriculture was a source of wealth and those who were given more material possessions should give charity to the peasants. Therefore he stripped the wealthy of their land and gave it to the peasants, showing his appreciation of agriculture, which in essence serves as the base for his tax policy. Even more considerable is the fact that the civil service examination started by the Qin and Han was reinstated. This is a clear return to traditional ideas because the whole nexus of the exam was based on Confucian teachings. Also, the absolute power with which he ruled was founded in Confucian teachings and Legalistic views. Foreign influence during the Ming was equally as significant as the traditional principles. Trade became a vital aspect of the dynasty. The Silk Road brought over fresh

Jeremy Keeshin ideas and products that revamped daily life. A major idea that came along the Silk Road was Buddhism. Buddhism taught that the world was an illusion, which went against most Confucian ideas of family and hard work. Therefore Neo-Confucianism was developed as a response to Buddhism and Taoism. Neo-Confucianism said that there was a material world and a spiritual world and humans were the link between the two. NeoConfucianism added a key element of nirvana and the Supreme Ultimate that was not present in the original Confucian doctrine. Neo-Confucianism is an amalgamation of Buddhist ideas with Confucian ideas. Yongle, who was the son of Hungwu, was fundamental in the foreign influence on the Ming Dynasty. Yongle sponsored expeditions out into foreign lands on mostly the basis of curiosity. Because of this inquisitiveness, China gained knowledge of these outside places that it would not have otherwise. The voyages brought in new animals, like the giraffe, and with it brought a ripe economic profit. These journeys, led by the court official Zhenghe, established China as a power throughout the water, and gave it a reputation throughout the near world. When Yongle died, these sea expeditions were stopped altogether and signified a pivotal point in Chinese history. From that point forward, the whole Chinese culture turned inward and isolated itself. Mongol influence was also vital to the development of the Ming Dynasty. As the Mongols continued to attack the Chinese needed a way to combat them. In response, the Great Wall was built as a fortification from these nomads. Both the foreign and traditional ideas collectively created what was known as the Ming Dynasty by the way they impacted the existing and future economy, agriculture, foreign policy, and defense of the Chinese.

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