Timed writing cot: Post-Classical China 600-1450



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Timed writing

COT: Post-Classical China 600-1450

  • In Post-Classical China (600-1450) the mandate of heaven remained a way to determine dynastic succession providing structure through rebuilding of infrastructure (Great Wall and the new Grand Canal linking the Yangtze to the Yellow Rivers), the role of the civil service bureaucracy would facilitate sound political decision making through the organization of the economy based on Confucian principles, however, trade would increase expanding both China’s size (during the Tang Dynasty) and their hegemony (sinification of Korea, Viet Nam and Japan) and extension of maritime (junk ship trade across the Indian Ocean) and caravan trade (across the silk routes) .
  • In post-classical China the increase in trade (proto-industrialism/commercial expansion) would lead Tang-Song China to actively pursue tributary ties. The influence of Buddhism through trade routes would lead to great internal conflict eventually developing into neo-Confucianism. With all of this trading influence, however, the status of merchants would not be elevated based on Confucian principles.

2004 DBQ Prompt

  • Based on the following documents, analyze the spread of Buddhism in China. What additional documents would you need to evaluate the extent of Buddhism's appeal in China?

Important Things to Know

  • 1. Read carefully the question prompt and the historical background. Underline the tasks demanded and the terms which are unique to the question.  Make sure you understand EXACTLY what the question is asking (social responses?  economic impact? causes for rebellion?).  DO NOT MAKE UP YOUR OWN QUESTION!!!
  • 2. Read the documents carefully.
    • a. Make sure that you understand the content of the document.
    • b. What is the author's Point of View (POV).
    • c. Where is the tension?
    • d. What is the origin of the document?
    • e. Is the document valid or is it hearsay?
    • f. If time, gender or age were changed would the person be saying the same thing?

Important Things to Know

  • 3. You must use all of the documents.
  • 4. Do not simply cite the documents in "laundry list" fashion. You should strive to IMPOSE order on the documents. Find groupings for the documents. Can they be organized into three or four strong, analytical points? What is the OVERALL picture presented by the documents? 

Important Things to Know

  • 5. Your essay should be an ANALYSIS of the documents and their content. You are demonstrating analysis if you are doing the following:
    • a. The essay contains a thesis which divides your answer into three to four categories.
    • b. The documents are used as evidence to support your thesis.
    • c. Frequent reference is made to the terms of the question.  Constantly and consistently return to the question to make sure that all of your points (evidence and analysis) go to answer the question.  Be certain that your answer is always focused directly on the question. Do not drift afield.
  • 6. Be certain that, if the question allows, you exploit all of the following in writing your answer.
    • a. Point of View (POV) is both indicated and discussed from several angles.  You must analyze at least TWO POVs in the essay.
    • b. You request an additional document that (1) Represents a voice that is missing and (2) could plausibly be found in history.

What do you know about Buddhism in China?

  • Came into China across the Silk Route
  • Originated as Theraveda and became Mahayana
  • Appealed to the masses (why?)
  • People followed Bodhisatvas(those who attained enlightenment but remained to help others)
  • Buddhist had great conflicts with Confucians and Taoist:
  • Buddhism was a “foreign” religion
  • Buddhist monasteries did not pay taxes
  • Buddhist spent time away from their families meditating
  • Buddhist were exempt from military service (ahimsa)
  • Empress Wu made Buddhism state-sponsored religion
  • Buddhist were oppressed and monasteries burned

Lets break down doc 1 together

  • Source?
  • Meaning?
  • Theme?
  • Now its your turn
  • Doc. 1. Four Noble Truths, 5th century B.C.E. The Four Truths are
  • sorrow, craving, stopping sorrow, the way of stopping sorrow.
  • POV: lst sermon of the Buddha, which was used to teach people why there
  • is suffering and what to do about it.
  • Analysis: Basic doctrine of Buddhism. There is equality of suffering and
  • the ability to stop suffering. There are no duties to society, there is no
  • hierarchy.
  • NB: this doc. does not relate directly to responses to the spread of
  • Buddhism in China
  • Doc. 2. Zhi Dun, Chinese scholar, ca. 350 CE [period of unrest,
  • invasion by central Asian steppe nomads] In an era of “sensual
  • pleasures,” a Buddhist who observes the way will reach Nirvana.
  • POV: Zhi is a scholar who clearly admires Buddhism; who sees its value in
  • correct observances in face of uncontrolled passion (sensual pleasures).
  • He would pass his opinions on to the Chinese aristocracy at the time.
  • Analysis: In times of upheaval, Buddhism presents a comforting
  • worldview for Chinese scholars and aristocrats.
  • Doc. 3. Anon. Chinese Scholar, ca. 500 C.E., “The Disposition of
  • Error” [end of period of unrest] In Confucian dialogue format, the
  • scholar presents the arguments of the non-“Chinese-ness” of Buddha and
  • the non-usefulness of Buddhist monks since they do not have wives and
  • children. This scholar, however, feels that Confucius didn't have to explain
  • everything, and “wives, children, and property are luxuries of the world”
  • and replaced by goodness and wisdom.
  • POV: the scholar knows both Confucian and Buddhist philosophies, and
  • doesn't agree that Buddhism is in conflict with Confucianism or that it
  • is destabilizing. Tone of document is conciliatory. Students may
  • question the “anonymity” in a variety of ways.
  • Analysis: There is a sense of accommodation, blending, or coexistence of
  • the two philosophies. Doc. be used to show existence of conflict, or
  • used to extract Confucian criticisms of Buddhism at the time.
  • Doc. 4 Han Yu, Imperial Tang advisor, 819 C.E., “Memorial on
  • Buddhism” Buddhism is .a cult of barbarian peoples”; the relic of his
  • finger is “foul”; the Buddhist crowd might “mutilate their flesh” in
  • offerings to Buddha. The Emperor should not participate in the procession;
  • Buddhism should not be allowed to .delude the masses.”
  • POV: leading Confucian scholar who sees Buddhism as evil, anti-
  • Confucian, and illegal (“does not conform to our laws”). As a
  • Confucian scholar, his position and livelihood is vested in
  • Confucianism remaining dominant, especially with the civil service
  • examination system, which provides access to government jobs.
  • Analysis: Buddhism is foreign and therefore “evil”. It is also potentially
  • destabilizing (the crowd, the masses will be uncontrollable).
  • Doc. 5 Zong Mi, Buddhist scholar, Tang dynasty , 9th c. C.E, “On the
  • Nature of Man” All teachings (Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism) should
  • be accepted and acceptable.
  • POV: As Buddhism is under attack at the court (see doc. 4) this scholar is
  • trying to make the case-perhaps to the Emperor--that Buddhism is not a
  • threat to traditional Chinese social and political structures. This has a
  • slightly defense tone to it.
  • Analysis: He argues for the equality of beliefs and the social/political
  • usefulness of all of the philosophies. Zong must emphasize that
  • Buddhism poses no threat to the social order in order to counter
  • Confucian arguments that Buddhism is destabilizing. (argument similar
  • to Doc. 3)
  • Doc. 6, Tang Emperor Wu, 845 C.E., “Edict on Buddhism” Imperial
  • edict abolishing Buddhism, because it is foreign; monks and nuns are
  • useless parasites; because it is evil and destabilizes the family and the
  • society.
  • POV: This is an official Imperial edict. The emperor has been persuaded
  • that Buddhism is a threat to the Chinese economy, laws, family, social
  • structure and to his own status as well (the monasteries are grander than
  • the palace!).
  • Analysis: The emperor has been persuaded that Buddhism is antithetical to
  • Confucianism, which is native Chinese (and therefore good). He uses
  • the historical and the xenophobic argument

Sample “9” Thesis

  • As Buddhism spread from India to China beginning in the first century C.E., it was met with mixed results. Many Chinese accepted Buddhism and defended its policies while others scrutinized Buddhism’s absence from past texts and used it as a scapegoat for political and social problems. Still others remained indifferent, wishing to meld the aspects of belief systems in China to create a unique Chinese culture. Documents 2 and 3 defend and support Buddhism in China, while documents 4 and 6 scrutinize it and discourage its spread. Documents 1 and 5 neither encourage nor discourage the religions spread, but provide a third perspective on how it should be dealt with. An additional document that shows the actual numbers of converts to Buddhism during this time, preferably in a graph, would be useful in determining whether or not the worries of the authors in documents against Buddhism were grounded.

Missing Voice?



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