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Shang Dynasty

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The Shang Dynasty was established in 1675 BC by King Tang after he toppled the tyrannical rule of Jie, the last emperor of the Xia Dynasty. During its 600 year reign, the dynasty was led by 30 different emperors, and had capital cities in several places. Yin (the present Xiaotun Village, in Anyang City of Henan Province) was one of the more stable capitals, and therefore the dynasty is also known as 'Yin Shang'.

The second Chinese ancient slave society was a byproduct of the Shang Dynasty. During this time, the slave system was very tyrannical and included such rituals as the Sacrifice System of Killing People, which were practiced in the middle period of the dynasty. So during the final period, the people could no longer bear such a fierce and cruel system and this, on top of the despotical rule of the Emperor Zhou's rule, caused uprisings to break out across the dynasty. The dynasty was finally overthrown by Emperor Wu, the chief of Zhou tribes living in the western part of the Shang Dynasty.

Agricultural techniques developed quickly in the Shang Dynasty. Five cereals, including wheat and rice, were first planted during the Shang reign. The breeding of livestock also played an important role in agricultural development, as did the development of farm tools which were mostly made of stone.

In addition to promoting agriculture, the rulers of the Shang Dynasty attached great importance to the development of the business trade and transportation industry. People of the dynasty that were accomplished in business were called 'Shang men', which means businessmen. Shell was used as currency at that time.

 Arts and Crafts
The casting techniques of bronze wares peaked during the Shang Dynasty. The most famous bronze work is the Simuwu Ding (a four-legged, rectangular bronze vessel) which weighs 832.84 kilograms (about 1,836 pounds). It is the largest and heaviest Chinese bronze vessel.

Other handicrafts from the period include fine jade carvings, silk products, embroidery, chinaware, and lacquered objects. These reflect the development of the textile industry, ceramic industry and lacquer painting industry as well as the wisdom of the Shang Dynasty's brilliant people.

Even today, the Chinese character system is regarded as the only ancient characters still in use today. A peculiar character, dating back to the Shang Dynasty, was found at 'Yin Ruins' in Henan Province. These are known as the Oracle Scripts: a kind of character usually carved on tortoise shells, animal bones and some utensils like bronze wares. These characters provide a record of the Shang people's fortune telling, and their belief in and worship to God and their ancestors. The Oracle Scripts provide rich materials for today's study on the Shang Dynasty's history. 

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