• Classic of Poetry (Shijing)
• Classic of History (Shujing)
• Classic of Changes (Yijing)
• Record of Rites (Liji)
• Chronicles of the Spring and Autumn Period (Chunqiu)
• The Great Learning (Daxue)
• The Doctrine of the Mean (Zhongyong)
• The Analects of Confucius (Lunyu)
• The Mencius (Mengzi)
During the Song dynasty, the scholar Zhu
Xi (1130-1200) was very influential in the Confucian
revival of the time. In addition to the Five Classics that
had been the basis for Confucian study since the Han dynasty
(202 BCE-220 CE), Zhu Xi emphasized the Four Books as
a basis for Confucian learning and the civil service examinations.
Zhu Xi wrote commentaries on all Four Books.
More about the Confucian classics and the emergence of “Confucianism” during the Han dynasty...
A prominent statesman, strategist, educator, and writer
of the Northern Song Dynasty. Read
Fan Zhongyan’s biography at the China Central Television
Historian and high-ranking official of the Northern
Song best known compiling his monumental 294-chapter history
of China, entitled Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Governance (Zizhi
an excerpt from the Comprehensive Mirror ...
Confucian scholar of the Southern Song who wrote commentaries
to the Four Books of the Confucian tradition and synthesized
various philosophical ideas of the Confucian revival. Zhu
Xi’s synthesis was accepted as the orthodox interpretation
of Confucianism in the later Ming and Qing dynasties, as
well as in other East Asian countries. Read excerpts from
Zhu Xi’s Preface
to the Great Learning and The
Nature as Principle.
There was a vigorous revival of Confucianism in the Song period. Confucian
teachings were central to the civil service examination system, the identity
of the scholar-official class, the family system, and political discourse.
Confucianism had naturally changed over the centuries since the time
of Confucius (ca. 500 BCE). Confucius’s own teachings, recorded
by his followers in the Analects, were still a central element,
as were the texts that came to be called , which included early poetry, historical records,
moral and ritual injunctions, and a divination manual. But the issues
stressed by Confucian teachers changed as Confucianism became closely
associated with the state from about 100 BCE on, and as it had to face
competition from Buddhism, from the second century CE onward. Confucian
teachers responded to the challenge of Buddhist metaphysics by developing
their own account of the natural and human world.
With roots in the late Tang dynasty, the Confucian revival flourished
in the Northern and Southern Song periods and continued in the Yuan,
Ming, and Qing dynasties that followed. The revived Confucianism of the
Song period (often called Neo-Confucianism)
emphasized self-cultivation as a path not only to self-fulfillment but
to the formation of a virtuous and harmonious society and state.
revival of Confucianism in Song times was accomplished by teachers and
scholar-officials who gave Confucian teachings new relevance. Scholar-officials
of the Song such as and provided
compelling examples of the man who put service to the state above his
The Southern Song philosopher is
known for his synthesis of Neo-Confucian philosophy. Zhu Xi wrote commentaries
to of the Confucian tradition, which he extolled as
central to the education of scholars. Zhu Xi was also active in the
theory and practice of education and in the compiling of a practical
manual of family ritual.
In Confucian teaching, . Everyone should respect and obey his or her parents and put the interests of the family before personal interests. This extended also to ancestors. It was considered essential that everyone marry, so that family lines would continue and male heirs make offerings of food and drink to their deceased ancestors.
Girls left their families when they married. So long as they gave birth to sons, they would eventually gain a respected place in their family of marriage, and would be treated as ancestors by their sons and sons’ sons. Mothers and grandmothers had important and respected places in their families.
The Song is often seen as a time when . Compared to Tang times, women were
less active in politics and less commonly seen on the streets. Song
Confucian teachers argued against widows remarrying, and On the other hand, women’s rights
to property were relatively secure in Song times, and .
famous Chinese poet who wrote during the Song. She wrote poetry in a
new form that had become popular at
the time, with irregular lines that were inspired by musical lyrics.
Li Qingzhao’s poem To “Southern
They were what made possible the continuation of the family. Although they were expected to learn to be filial, they were also indulged. Toy peddlers like the one in the scroll were sometimes depicted by painters surrounded by excited children.
• “Concerns for the Family Head,” from Family and
Property in Sung China: Yuan Ts’ai’s Precepts for Social
Life, translated by
Patricia Buckley Ebrey (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984),
267-72, 280-84, 313-21.
• A Visual Sourcebook for Chinese Civilization: Painting as a Social Record: Private Life [Patricia Ebrey, University of Washington]
Examines “paintings portraying people in the private sphere of family and friends. In many cases, the artists’ sensitive treatment of personality and character, as well as careful attention to, say, the material distinctions between fine, elegant robes and the coarse textures of peasants’ everyday clothing, gives useful data about how social class and status were expressed visually and the dynamics of social interactions.” With discussion questions.