|Title:Study Group Autumn 2015 The Ming Dynasty 1368 to 1644|
Over the last few years the Study Group has considered, researched and presented papers on the Chinese dynasties from the Han to the Huan. We all enjoy choosing a subject, finding out as much as we can about it and then preparing and presenting a paper on it. We do not take ourselves too seriously but we do enjoy hearing what other members of the group have discovered and interacting with them in a relaxed atmosphere. It is a stimulating experience to learn so much of history and art particularly when one is part of a group which enjoys sharing such information.
We have now reached yet another of the golden eras of Chinese history with the Ming Dynasty. It was an exciting time of great advances within China. An age of cultural, scientific and technological achievements which led China to the forefront of the known world. The development of the printing process encouraged the availability of the popular novel and classics such as The Journey to the West and Outlaws of the Marsh led to a growing literacy. Advances in medical science meant that people lived longer and were less prone to outbreaks of plague. Improvements in agriculture and agricultural tools increased harvests and led to better dietary health, Blue & White porcelain, jade and bamboo carving demonstrated the skills of Chinese craftsmen and architectural success in the creation of much of the Forbidden City, the reconstruction and completion of the Great Wall and the re-opening of the Grand Canal all demonstrated what could be done in an age of relative peace at least for the majority of the Dynasty. Advancement in weaponry and artillery made the army a force to be reckoned with and acted as a deterrent to unrest and revolt. Overseas trade prospered to hitherto unseen heights and Chinese vessels under Admiral Zheng He explored seas previously unknown to Chinese vessels and traders.
We believe that there are many interesting skills, personalities, events and achievements of the dynasty which merit further exploration or expansion upon those already made known. Do join us for what will be a fascinating and rewarding series of presentations on the Ming. You will not be disappointed!
Bookings and Enquiries:
Contact Patrick Moss at firstname.lastname@example.org
photo copyright Marilyn Shea 2005
|Title:Study Group Spring 2015: China under Foreign Occupation: the Yuan Dynasty 1260 to 1368|
The Yuan Dynasty was the shortest of the major Chinese dynasties. To some it has been regarded as a time of occupation by the Mongol “hordes” and a “blip” in the development of China. However, despite its comparative brevity, its dramatic rise and even more tortuous fall, the Dynasty left its mark on history in ways which, with the benefit of hindsight, are noteworthy as indicators of the development of the country, its cultural advancement and its governance. They are not all bad!
Since government positions of power became difficult to obtain, the literati were able to express themselves in a more independent manner, as they were no longer obliged to “toe the party line”. Their work, such as that of the Four Masters of the Yuan, whether it was poetry, painting or any other art form, benefitted from their ability to indulge in self-expression rather than immediate visual appeal. The influence of Middle Eastern Islamic art and architecture, medicine, cartography, ornamentation resulted from the role that Muslims, particularly from Persia, played within the Yuan administration.
Presentation topics might include the birth of the novel, for example ‘The Water Margin’, the beginnings of opera, drama and puppetry, the growth of Buddhist art particularly from Tibet (which can be seen in the current Dunhuang exhibition), the Mongol courier system, the creation of a textile industry, the Red Turbans rebellion (origin of Moon Cakes), astronomy & astrology, the cultural habits of the Mongols as opposed to those of the Han, religious tolerance and the growth of new religions and, of course, personalities such as Kublai Khan, Genghis Khan, Zhu Yuanzhong, Marco Polo (again) and Liu Binzhong the architect of Dadu (Beijing).
Study Group meets every Tuesday at 10 a.m. Each participant researches and prepares a 30 to 45 minute presentation on their chosen topic within the main theme. Two presentations are usually presented each Tuesday.
Bookings and enquiries: Contact Patrick Moss at email@example.com
|Title:Study Group Autumn 2014: The Song Dynasty 960 to 1279|
Fifty years of strife followed the Tang Dynasty until the Song re-established unity. China enjoyed peace for three centuries leading to intellectual, artistic and technical innovation. While Europe endured the dark ages, China was the leading society in the world. Nothing Marco Polo saw in his travels compared with the agricultural productivity, industrial technology, urbanization and standard of living in China at that time. Painting, literature and philosophy flourished and fine artifacts were produced. Expansion of the civil service examination system led to a large class of scholarly elite and printing allowed families to read and collect books. Literacy, increased prosperity and changes in the legal system opened new possibilities for women while at the same time, foot binding and Neo-Confucianism limited their lives. Song emperors were successful diplomats but in 1127 they were forced south to Hangzhou where they ruled for another one and a half centuries before being defeated by the Mongols.
Presentation topics might include Northern Rivals – Liao, Jin, Xi Xia and the Mongol Empire, Emperor Taizu, Marco Polo and other foreign visitors, science and technical innovations, the architecture of pagodas, the Beijing Qingming Schroll, Ju ware ceramics, Tiger Cave Kiln and Guan ware, women’s lives, apparel, or the outlaw – Song Jiang.
|Title:Study Group Spring 2014 : The Tang Dynasty 618 TO 907|
This period, considered a golden age of cosmopolitan culture, will provide us with a wealth of information to research and describe. The Tang Dynasty was one of the greatest empires in the medieval world, and an open and fruitful period of Chinese history. During this time foreign influences from India, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Korea and Japan affected Chinese culture and art. Well-documented, with many artifacts still in existence, study of the Tang Dynasty will offer participants a wide variety of choice in topics.
These might include terracotta figures, landscape painting, wood block printing, the Beitung shipwreck, foreign influence and expansion, clothes and fashion, Tang women, eunuchs, Nestorian Christianity, Manicheism, the Tang legal code, horses, public works, agricultural practices and the military rebellion of 755-763.
Study Group meets every Tuesday at 10:00 AM at the Helena May on Garden Road. Each participant researches and prepares a 30 to 45 minute presentation on a selected topic. Two topics are usually presented each Tuesday.
Enquiries and registration: Contact Susan Kreidler at firstname.lastname@example.org