Religious life and culture of medieval China

Religious life and culture of medieval China

Since the beginning of the Middle Ages, Buddhism is spreading in China. In the VI. it becomes the state religion. It was the early Middle Ages that became the period of the establishment of Buddhism, which had a tremendous impact on the development of Chinese philosophy, literature and art. Buddhism absorbed local rites and the cult of ancestors: local sages and heroes were ranked among the saints.

Buddhism had the most support among the nobility, whereas in the common people Taoism was widespread. This teaching preserved the ideas of equality and condemned wealth. Since VII century. the Taoist church organization began to be created. Subsequently, the ruling elite essentially modified Taoism in its favor.

Between Taoism and Buddhism, the struggle for influence in Chinese society

continued. However, both religions could not compete with Confucianism – the basis of morality, education, state system, legislation. Confucianism taught to worship the emperor, beat the fair and honest, love the parents, respect people, especially respect the elders and take care of the younger ones. It was in the spirit of Confucianism that a system of compulsory state exams was developed, which officials handed in to obtain a position.

The coexistence of several religions was a characteristic feature of Chinese society in the early Middle Ages. 13 XI-XTI centuries. Confucianism began to introduce elements of Taoism and Buddhism. It is this mutated Confucianism that has become a new powerful political and cultural force in China. And although the new, Confucianism did not supersede either Taoism or Buddhism, at the end of the fourteenth century. it took the dominant position in the country.

Chinese culture of the Middle Ages reached unprecedented heights. Since ancient times, the Chinese owned a hieroglyphic letter. This brought to life a special kind of art – calligraphy. People, gifted with a talent to write beautifully, were looking for specially, especially among officials. Educated people gave the art of calligraphy a lot of time and energy, because they saw in it a way of spiritual perfection.


state promoted the development of education. Due to the increase in the number of primary and higher schools in China, many literate and knowledgeable people appeared. However, under the Song dynasty, educated people became a rarity. During the Mongols’ reign, the education of the Chinese proper was not paid attention. Therefore, it is not surprising that the founder of the Ming dynasty, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, was illiterate.

Great shifts have occurred in science. In the VIII century. in China, the General Academy of Sciences was opened. Particularly developed mathematics, astronomy, natural history. There were also works on different sections of medicine. Chinese medicine was famous for its study of the medicinal properties of plants. Engineering and mathematical knowledge used for the construction of cities, fortress walls, complex irrigation systems. It was the Chinese who invented paper, porcelain, a compass and gunpowder. These discoveries were of immense importance for all mankind.

In the XV century. Chinese scientists created multi-volume encyclopedias on history, geography, medicine, art, etc. The spread of scientific knowledge accelerated with the invention of printing. It was the Chinese in the VII century. invented its simplest form of xylograph. On wooden boards, hieroglyphs were cut out, they were applied with paint, and then the text was reprinted onto paper. China was famous for its large libraries. At the beginning of the VIII century. in the country began to go official government newspaper “Stolichny Vestnik”, which existed until the XX century. During the Song Dynasty, paper money was first issued for the banknotes.

Chinese poetry has reached a high level of development. Its “golden era” falls on the VIII – XIII centuries. During this period, such outstanding masters of the poetic word as Li Po, Du Fu, Yuan Zhen, Su Shi, talented poetess Qing-zhao and others created their lyrical works, singing the beauty of nature. The authors were imbued with the fate of their homeland and the suffering of the common people. In the XIV century. the genre of the historical novel was born. Its basis, as a rule, was the tragic events of the life of the Chinese people.

Chinese architecture and fine arts are developing under the influence of Buddhism. This is shown, in particular, by multi-storey stone pagoda constructions, sculptural works and murals of Buddhist cave temples. The pagoda takes its usual silhouette during the Tang dynasty, when the eaves on each floor become exquisitely arched. The temple of the “Caverns of Thousand Buddhas” is unique. In it there were almost 500 caves, it was decorated with an art painting in length almost 25 km.

In general, Chinese buildings palaces, temples, dwellings of wealthy townspeople or nobles, city gates, towers, bridges had light, refined forms. They were constructed either from stone or marble, or from wood or even metal. The roofs of the buildings had bent corners. Above, the imperial palaces or houses of the nobles were often sheltered with special gold sheets. In Beijing in the XIV-XV centuries. was built a huge complex of imperial palaces, surrounded by a moat and surrounded by a wall, the Purple city.

In the X century. The Academy of Arts was founded, where artists studied and exhibited their paintings. Chinese artists drew ink on silk fabric or on thin paper. Favorite theme – the landscape, which was called “mountains and waters.” The paintings were preserved for centuries because they were not hung on the walls. The cloth was twisted, neatly wrapped in silk and folded into special boxes. The paintings were taken out and unfurled only so that guests could appreciate their beauty, or when the owners themselves wanted to admire them.

Consequently, Chinese inventions, a rich and unique culture became the property of world civilization.

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Religious life and culture of medieval China