600 CE, the T'ang Dynasty took over leadership of China. This
dynasty managed to end the Age
of Division, and all the squabbling. They pulled China together
again as one country.
Age of China: This was China's golden age. People were happy.
The wars were over. There was a gaiety in China in Tang times. Many new
things were introduced like bananas. Tea drinking became
Dynasty is famous for it's encouragement of literature, dancing, music,
scroll painting, and art. Craftsmen worked with bronze and silver and
gold and copper. Pottery was painted with ornate scenes of daily life,
and of carriages, and bridges, and signs of the zodiac. People came from
as far away as India and Korea to study the arts in China. There were
special rooms in the imperial palace for training. You had to have
talent, but the opportunity was there.
Job Market: Things changed in government, as well. Under Tang
leadership, you did not have to be a noble to get a good job. You did,
however, have to pass an examination. Examination Day was a big deal. It
was everyone's chance to move up in the world. The roadways were crowded
with carriages arriving at the examination hall. People came on foot.
Everyone wanted to take the exam. Those who passed were assigned a job
in the capital or in one of the many smaller towns in the
leadership, only boys could go to school. They did not have to go, but
school was free, and strongly encouraged. Girls were taught at home.
When a girl married, she left home and lived with her husband's
Even religion changed. People still worshipped their ancestors. Buddhism
had been introduced during Han times, but it really became important
during Tang times. This was the time period of the three doctrines, or the
three teachings - Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. People in Tang
times believed and followed all three teachings at the same time. Plus,
they worshiped their ancestors. Between all four of these things, there
were many festivals and holidays.
Life: Although many people were farmers during Tang times,
the capital city of Ch'ang-an was home to over one million people. The
city was arranged in blocks. There were 110 blocks. Each block was its
own village. Some homes were huge, built of brick and wood. There were
apartment houses, temples, a marketplace and lots of little shops like
tea shops, cake shops, pottery shops, gem and jewelry shops, shoe shops,
produce shops, and meat shops, and noodle shops, and pawnbrokers, and
other businesses. There were street acrobats and storytellers and
colorful banners and street bazaars. All of this activity occurred
in each block. Blocks were divided by broad wide streets and little side
streets. You were not stuck in your block. You were free to move about
and visit any block you wanted. There were street gangs, though. You had
to be a little careful. Like any city, some blocks were beautiful and
some blocks were pretty rough.
the city, the rich had a lot of fun with their homes. They had baths and
mirrors. The pagoda roof became popular. You'd see pagoda roofs on
temples and also homes. The rich were waited on by servants or slaves.
They had golden goblets and ceramic spoons. The harp was played during
dinner. It was incredible.
The rich were
not the only people who enjoyed entertainment. Everyone attended musical
and art performances. They were free. You could wander into a concert in
the park, listen for a while, and then leave. Some of the concerts were
huge, with 700 musicians playing together. Others were the concerts of
nature. One of the most popular was the bird concert. This was a place
where people gathered with their morning drink, to quietly sit and
listen to the wild birds chirp and sing. The men enjoyed hunting,
fishing, polo, and a kind of football. Everyone enjoyed the celebrations
They had fun with hair
style and make up. Women wore little hats that had dangling bells on
them that rang softly. They carried little make up boxes that held a
mirror, rouge, and a lipstick. Men wore topknots; they shaved their
heads except for the hair right in the center. They wrapped that hair up
in a knot. They used hairpins to keep it wrapped up.
were really important. They were a status symbol. Peasants wore straw
sandals. Nobles wore cloth slippers. Much of the clothing was made of
silk. They wore jade belts and fancy hats. It was very colorful
Life: Most people in Tang times were farmers. Out in the
countryside, homes were made of bamboo and sun dried brick. They were
simple, one room homes. The people wore simple clothes. They ate very
well, mostly because they owned their own farms!
The early Tangs took land from the nobles and gave
each peasant approximately 15 acres. Some families worked together to
grow crops more efficiently. But it was up to each family to decide how
to farm their land. This system broke down as time went on. Nobles took
back their land. Things were not as good for the peasants after
There was one group in the Tang Empire that did not farm and did not
live in the city. These people were nomads. Their homes were huts on
wagons that could be moved from place to place. They kept herds of goats
and sheep and cattle. They ate meat and milk, and vegetables when they
traded for them or gathered them. Their clothes were made of animal
skins. They were traders. They traded along the Silk Road.