Because of the latest film「 战国 」i.e. The Warring States, I delved a little into Chinese history – with purpose.
The Warring States Period
(476 BC – 221 BC)
In the context of the history of China
Paraphrased from Wikipedia’s “ History of China ” article
The Warring States Period is the last period of the Ancient Era which follows through as:
Xia Dynasty (c. 2100-1600 BC)
Shang Dynasty (c. 1700-1046 BC)
Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC)
Spring and Autumn Period (722-476 BC)
Warring States Period (476-221 BC)
Prior to the Ancient Era is time known as Prehistory, which is split into Palaeolithic and Neolithic.
After the Ancient Era is time known as the Imperial Era, which started with the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), saw through 12 other dynasties (including Han, Sui, Tang and Ming) ending with the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911).
This fell through to the Modern Era and the formation of the Republic of China which then became the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 1st October 1949 and continues to this day.
476 BC – 221 BC : the Warring States Period
Factual source: ChinaTour360.com’s “ The Warring States ” article
Even more turbulent than the preceding historical period of the Spring and Autumn Period, the following Warring States Period cast off old traditions and systems in order to establish new ones. After numerous wars, the more powerful states annexed the smaller ones, which resulted in the coexistence of the seven powerful states of:
1. Qi | 2. Chu | 3. Yan | 4. Han | 5. Zhao | 6. Wei | 7. Qin
aka, ‘the Seven Overlords in the Warring States Period’.
During both the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, the king of Zhou acted merely as a figurehead but both periods of history are nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, although the Zhou Dynasty itself ended in 256 BC, 35 years earlier than the end of the Warring States Period.
Maybe this was a way for the Zhou Dynasty to find successors and instigators of change following it’s retirement – who knows?
“ It was was a period when regional warlords annexed
smaller states around them and consolidated their rule. ”
Thank God, otherwise we’d be living in a mess.
“ The process began in the Spring and Autumn Period, and by
the 3rd century BC, seven major states had risen to prominence. ”
Which is a timeframe of around 500 years i.e. it took half a century to sort out the multitude of factions, tribes, states and feuds into a compilation of seven overriding states of power and rule.
“ Those Seven Warring States were the Qi , the Chu, the Yan,
the Han, the Zhao, the Wei and the Qin. ”
These 7 powerful states eventually all got their time in the hot seat of the Imperial throne. Even their names have significance and is worth delving into the contemplation of the symbolic shapes of their Chinese calligraphy, but maybe do not place too great an importance on this because, after all, a name is raised and established through time, effort and energy and is a tireless task that is most often misunderstood or not understood deeply enough.
“ Another sign of this shift in power was a change in title: warlords once considered themselves dukes of the Zhou Dynasty emperor; but now the warlords began to call themselves kings, meaning they were equal to the Zhou Emperor. ”
How exciting, that through the effort of prior dynasties, in particular, the Zhou dynasty such significant warlords and their states could acquire enough appropriate resources to be raised into prominence equal to that of the Zhou Emperor. Although such times were harsh and tough, it was what was necessary to pull forwards to better times as swift and thoroughly as possible.
During this Period:
iron replaced bronze as the dominant metal used in warfare and iron working proliferated in China;
other areas such as Shu (currently Sichuan) and Yue (currently Zhejiang) were brought into the Chinese cultural sphere;
the Hundred Schools of Thought denoted that there were numerous philosophies, including:
Confucianism (elaborated by Mencius);
Taoism (elaborated by Lao Zi and to a lesser extent, Zhuang Zi, whose texts actually furthered away from ‘classical Daoism’);
Legalism (formulated by Han Feizi), and
Mohism (formulated by Mozi).
trade became important to the point where some merchants had considerable power in politics.
military tactics combined use of infantry and cavalry and chariots fell into disfavour, thus the nobles in China remained a literate class rather than a warrior class, while the kingdoms competed by throwing masses of soldiers at each other;
dagger-axes were an extremely popular weapon in various kingdoms, especially for the Qin who produced eighteen-foot long pikes;
legendary military strategist Sun Tzu (Sun Zi) wrote The Art of War which is recognized today as the most influential, and oldest known military strategy guide.
As an aside, the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China are:
T’ai Kung’s Six Secret Teachings;
The Methods of the Sima;
Sun Bin’s Art of War;
Three strategies of Huang Shigong, and
The Questions and Answers of Tang Taizong and Li Weigong.
Once China was unified, these seven military classics were locked away and access was restricted due to their tendency to promote revolution.