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The Song Dynasty and Its Place in the World

Page history last edited by matthew.jason@... 11 years, 8 months ago

The Song Dynasty, China, 960 - 1279 CE



A Chinese junk, a ship with watertight compartments, that enabled trade over large distances.   



Chinese foreign trade and international relations



Chinese sea trade increased greatly during the Song Dynasty, with ports like Quanzhou taking the lead.  Trade across the seas helped by a booming shipbuilding industry in Fujian province.  It was also encouraged by an economic revolution in Song China and the many willing investors that gave money to lead missions overseas.  These were both trade missions, and designed to create contacts with the leaders of other governments in parts of Asia and Africa.


A number of factors enabled the Chinese to explore to the East African coast, South Asia, and even parts of the Middle East and North Africa.  First, the compass was invented in China in the 11th century.  It enabled sailors to not only have an idea of where they were going and how to get home, but also to know how to return to the same places.  Secondly, the Chinese were able to make advances in shipbuilding, using watertight compartments in their junks.  These compartments allowed the Chinese to ship more goods than before, and to keep the goods safe in rough seas.


There were several notable diplomatic missions sent to China from foreign countries during the Song Dynasty. This included the embassy of Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah of Egypt in 1008 as well as the embassy of Kulothunga Chola I of the Indian Chola Dynasty in 1077. 


Although the "golden age" of Chinese Buddhism ended during the Tang Dynasty, there were still influential Chinese Buddhist monks. This included the Zen Buddhist monk Wuzhun Shifan (1178-1249), who taught Japanese disciples such as Enni Ben'en (1201-1280). After returning to Japan from China, the latter contributed to the spread of Zen teaching in Japan and aided in the establishment of the temple known as  Tōfuku-ji.


The Buddhist monk Wuzhun Shifan (1178 - 1249), who taught many students from China as well as Japan.


Islam during the Song Dynasty


What is the connection between Islam and the Song Dynasty?  How did Muslims and Chinese come into contact during the 10th - 13th centuries?



Notice where Islam and Buddhism spread from and to.  What can be said about the areas where Islam and Buddhism spread?  Do you see any relationship between the two?


Now, follow this link to learn more about Islam in China during the Song Dynasty.



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