Song dynasty refers to period in the history of China spread over the span of 300+ years. This period lasts from 960 to 1279 (Kuiper). In the history of China, the Song Dynasty enjoys special portion of eminence. The uncountable inventions made this era to be named as China's Age of Invention (Benn). The paper tends to explore it from various angels and aspects. The objective of paper is to give the reader a fair idea about the achievements and shortcomings of the Song Dynasty and compare it with other dynasties to see the possible causes of rank at which the Song Dynasty is placed.
Before going into the details of the Dynasty, it is important to mention that the period between 10th to 13th centuries was the period when human race was developing and exploring the earth resources for betterment of lifestyle. It was the time, when civilizations were developed to get their identity. During this period, many discoveries were made which paved way for technological revolution in later years (Benn).
The next section elaborates the various aspects of the Song Dynasty.
Economy of Song Dynasty
The economy of the Song Dynasty appears explain the most historic events that took place in China. The most important one of them was introduction of paper money in China (Hansin, Curtis and Curtis). It was the first paper currency of the world. It is interesting to mention that there was a time in the world's history when there was nothing like medium of exchange and all trade activities were carried out using the commodities of trade. The concept of barter trade was in practice and the primary source of determining the value of commodities was the volume of its supply and the power of its owner.
Gradually, the developments led to invention of gold and silver coins which were used as medium of exchange for quite a long period in the history. The next development was of currency notes. It was a piece of paper having endorsement of state that exalted its value and was issued against the gold reserves in the country.
The introduction of paper notes as money was to facilitate exchange transactions. It was the major breakthrough in the field of economies and all the generation of future adopted it as well (Hansin, Curtis and Curtis). Even in this era of globalization in the 21st century, currency notes prevail and no substitute has been in force for them.
In can be argued that credit cards and debit cards are acting as substitute of cash and their use is increasing as well, yet there are many outlets, which deal in paper note only. There is not a single outlet that deals in credit cards only. Facility to use credit card is offered as an added feature while paper note is still the primary medium of exchange.
Politics and Military of The Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was historic from other perspectives of culture, politics and military developments as well. It was the first time that the state officials conceived and implemented the idea of establishing permanent navy and operating it on standby basis (Lee). It was an important development at that time when the law and order was quite different and troops were in the search of any piece of land which they can invade and form their rule over it. It is interesting to mention that all the dynasties were formed the same way. The explorers were in search of attractive land and in love of power which forced them to have battle with the present rulers at that time. Whoever won the battle, took the charge of that very area. Expansions in the state boundaries were done the same way. There have been uncountable conflicts between the neighboring countries which finally led them to break a war either to rule other or to be ruled by others.
As mentioned earlier, it was the time when many discoveries were made; hence the Song Dynasty thought of securing their sea routes and established a permanent force there. The established force was used to serve multi-purposes of safeguarding the sea boundaries, protecting the sea resources and serving as a threat to the invaders planning to invade through sea routes. It showed the aggression of the Song Dynasty that they wanted to protect their powers. It can be said that this initiative was to protect the state. In both ways, it appeared as a logical action.
The Song Dynasty made other developments in military field. They introduced the use of gunpowder to defeat the enemies (Deng). It is interesting to mention that many developments in the field of military were made at the verges of the Song Dynasty. When they took over China, they were in the need to strengthen their power, hence they tool special measures. Later on, when their rule was threatened by the dynasties and rulers, they devised certain strategies in self-defense. The middle period of Song Dynasty was comparably less significant in terms of developments. This gap divided the Song Dynasty into the Northern and the Southern Song Dynasty. The Northern Song Dynasty refers to the initial period of the Song Dynasty while Southern Dynasty referred to the later period (Li). The Northern Dynasty was formed by a military general named as Zhao Kuangyin (Li) The last emperor of the Northern Dynasty became the founder of the Southern Dynasty.
As the military developments were carried out, political relations were reshaped. The military developments threatened many other invaders and invited the cooperation of few others who wanted to enjoy the power on international platform using its connections with Song Dynasty.
Culture of The Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was rich in art, culture and tradition. There were uncountable new creations which impressed the whole world. One of the most beautiful creations was the Rainbow Bridge (Schirokauer and Brown). It was named keeping in view its shape. It was bent like the rainbow colors and attracted the attention of visitors as well as bridge designers for centuries. The tomb figure was also introduced by the Song Dynasty in architecture (Kuiper). The famous poets of Song Dynasty are Su Shi, Ouyang Xiu, Zhuxi and Sima Guang (Levine).
In the Song dynasty, the population was doubled and many people were actively engaged in activities of commerce and cultural promotion.
Policy Differences between the Song Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty is referred to the period of 618 -- 907 (Benn). It was before the Song Dynasty and was considered as one of the most glorious dynasties in China. The similarity between the Song Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty is found in the fact that both made dedicated efforts to the development of China. The culture promotion was as its peak and the achievements of the Song Dynasty were often attributed to the continuation of the Tang Dynasty. However, there were certain areas in which Song Dynasty differed from the Tang Dynasty.
As mentioned earlier, The Song Dynasty was focused on development and new methods of government and military operations, they introduced a new policy to appoint state officials. Before the Song Dynasty, every official was dependent upon court and he was qualified in the common writing language which was in place for more than 20 centuries in China. The Song Dynasty promoted the new test which was based on Neo-Confucian. The Song Dynasty was in the favor of testing the knowledge and capabilities of state officials through their knowledge of modern text and tools. They assumed strong relationship between the capability of newly hired official and the knowledge of new texts. It discouraged many state officials who did not know the new texts. Furthermore, introducing altogether a new strategy for appointment was not welcomed by people. There is no debate about efficacy of this system in this paper; however, it is mandatory to mention that this system was introduced to elevate the level of state officials and make them unbeatable by the competitors. However, this policy emerged as the main difference between the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty.
The Tang Dynasty, though had lost power in China, yet was determined to beat the Song Dynasty. The major conflict was in the field of trade promotion through the Silk Route which was the achievement of the Tang Dynasty.
Another major difference between the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty was on the basis of interpretation of old concepts and philosophies in a novel manner. As the developments took place, the paradigm shift was made and the old concepts were transformed to develop the new methods and practices. It is commonly understood that changes are resisted by people. The Tang Dynasty had enjoyed long period of fame in China, the new Song Dynasty changed many of its philosophies altogether which was an undesired situation for the remaining members of the Tang Dynasty.
The Song Dynasty and Technological Advancements
The Song Dynasty was focused on development so much so that it explored…