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1)Why was the Yellow River called ‘China’s Sorrow?’

The Yellow River is called ‘China’s Sorrow’ because of strong streams which cause

the rivers flooding, and, as a result, destroy houses and take people’s lives.

2)How were the structural elements of the Xia dynasty established?

The Xia dynasty was the first dynasty in Chinese history described in chronicles. According to old Chinese texts, there were two tribes fighting for power: Xia and Chi You accordingly. In a while, Xia’s influence became stronger, and Yu (the leader of Xia tribe) stopped the flooding. After that Yu was asked to lead the army against Sanmiao. In the long run Yu won, henceforth strengthening Xia power and influence. After Shun’s death, Yu became his successor, starting the Xia dynasty.

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3)Why do we know more about the Shang than the Xia dynasty?

There are no tangible written proofs, except for archeological discoveries, which doubt the existence of Xia Dynasty.

“…the later the time, the longer the legendary period of earlier history... early Chinese history is a tale told and retold for generations, during which new elements were added to the front end” (Lee, 2002, p. 201).

4)   What was the significance of bronze for the rulers of the Shang dynasty? Where did they originally get it?

During the period of Shang dynasty, bronze was used for ritual ceremonies. Later, bronze was used for military prposes (such as weapons production); moreover, royal families and courts employed bronze for ceremonial purposes. The earliest tin-alloy ore for bronze was mined by the poor.

5)What could be found in the tomb of a Shang king?

In the tomb of a Shang king, one may find different artifacts made of bronze, jade, stone and bone.

6) Why do legendary and historical accounts of China focus on the Xia and Shang dynasties rather than their contemporaries?

For many years the Xia dynasty was thought to be a myth, a legend that was told by the Chinese. Conversely, the Shang dynasty is considered to be the first true Dynasty in the history of China.

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7) Why did the Zhou replace the Shang dynasty?

The Zhou superceded the Shang Dynasty in 1046 BC. There are two versions why the Zhou replaced the Shang Dynasty. One version states that when Wu of Zhou defeated Di Xin army, the latter committed suicide. According to the other version, Di Xin and Wu fought against each other supported by different gods. In that bloody battle, Di Xin died and Wu founded a new dynasty – the dynasty of Zhou.

8) Explain the mandate of heaven.

The mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept used as a source of legitimating the dynasty that rules. This concept became widely known during the Zhou dynasty. This mandate states that heaven would bless only just authority, and a despotic ruler may bring to his overthrowing.

9) What was life like for peasants in the Shang and Zhou dynasties?

During the reign of Shang dynasty in China, peasants lived predominantly outside the city walls, although there were some who lived within the district. The former had lived in their houses, in villages. Contrariwise, the latter resided in pits or cellars. It is believed that they planted millet, barley and rice. Fields were divided into nine parts: products from eight parts were kept by peasants, and products from the ninth part were given to a lord.

The majority of the people were farmers in those times. Undeniably,  their life was tremendously difficult. They lived in houses made of mud and straw. They works the soil but did not own the land %u2012 they had to land it from a lord.

10) What does ‘the veneration of ancestors’ mean?

The “veneration of ancestors” is a practice in the Chinese culture when living family members respect the departed, and try to provide the latter with continuous happiness and well being in the afterlife. It helps people feel the unity of family and linage.

11) Was Xia/Shang/Zhou China a patriarchal or matriarchal society?

Xia dynasty was matriarchal, and both Shang and Zhou Dynasties were patriarchal.

12) What is the significance of oracle bones? What kind of questions were they used to answer?

Oracle bones are pieces of shell or bones that were used for plastromancy. Oracle bones appeared in the times of Shang dynasty and were meant to answer questions related to weather forecasting, planting, future of the members of royal family and other similar topics.

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