The Achievements of the Chinese Ancestors.
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The history of the later stage of primitive Chinese society was replete with legends passed down orally over the course of about three thousand years until they were set down in written form during the Western Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century-771 BC). The period related in These legends is known as the legendary age of ancient history, or the late stage of clan society. In archeology, it corresponds to the late Neolithic Age. At that time, personal be-longings or effects and division of the rich and the poor had already appeared and drastic changes in the social system and social ideology- had taken place.
Yandi and Huangdi (Yellow Emperor) were the first cultural forefathers of the Chinese nation during the legendary age. Both were leaders of tribes in China's western Loess Plateau. The era of Huangdi dates back 5,000 years and that of Yandi another 500 years earlier.
Yandi is most significantly known for the development of primitive farming. He is also known as Shen Nong.
Primitive farming appeared during the early Neolithic Age. However, agriculture occupied not the dominant position in economic life at that time, and hunting and fishing remained the primary sources of food. As time went by, the population grew, but the source of wild animals and birds for food progressively dwindled. Hunting and fishing were no longer sufficient, and more food had to be produced for people to survive.
Yandi invented the earliest farming tool called si, similar in shape to a spade, to till the land instead of using one's hands, thus improving efficiency of production. He also cultivated millet, the earliest agricultural grain, which is drought resistant, provides a high yield and can be stored for long periods. He is also credited with the invention of pottery, which is closely related to agricultural production. He created the "day market," in which regular gatherings took place for the exchange of products. These inventions and creations improved people's lives and he was loved and supported by the people.
Another of Yandi's achievements was in the development of medicine. Yandi sought out herbal medicines to treat diseases and to promote longevity, tasting and trying hundreds of herbal roots and materials. He was said to have been "afflicted by seventy kinds of poisonous plants in a day" and "narrowly escaped death a hundred times in a day" while tasting and trying so many herbs. Despite this, he never wavered in his experiments. He discovered a multitude of herbal medicines for the curing of diseases and the alleviation of suffering. To honor the founder of Chinese medicine, the posterity calls his medicinal classic Shen Nong's Materia Medica.
Yandi also invented the five-stringed qin and composed music for dances. At the end of a year he led people to sing and dance, giving thanks to heaven and earth for their benevolence and wishing for a good harvest in the coming year.
There were so many inventions made by Huangdi’s tribe, so many that they could be found almost in every aspect of social life.The most important of These inventions were written characters, clothes and headwear as well as various social systems.
According to legend, the inventor of Chinese characters was either Chang Jie or Ju Song. Both were subjects of Huangdi who acted as his historians. It is said that headwear was invented by Huangdi himself and clothes by his subject Hu Cao. The invention of clothes and headwear was not only to protect their wearers from cold, but also had a bearing on civilized cultivation and the institution of a personal effects system. Huangdi also established rules on official positions and administration, marking the beginning of China's administrative system. These inventions of the tribe of Huangdi, helping develop material civilization into a moral and systematic civilization, greatly promoted the development of society at that time.
These two tribes in the Loess Plateau gradually moved eastwards, entering central China (around the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River). Here, they encountered the tribe ofJiu Li, provoking an armed conflict between them. The migrants of the two tribes united in military alliance and defeated the tribe of Jiu Li, killing their leader. Later, the two groups of migrants fought against each other, resulting in the defeat of the tribe of Yandi. This group now broke up and left central China, moving to other areas. Having won the conflict, the tribe of Huangdi now dominated the area. During the fight between the new migrants and the tribe of Jiu Li, the tribes in the east of China supported the migrants. These struggles, which occurred frequently in the age of legends, resulted in the blending of competing tribes, which developed to become the principal part of the Chinese nation.
The migration and movement of the forefathers of various tribes, a very long process, led to frequent contacts between different clans and tribes and to the development of cultures.
As the tribes of Yandi and Huangdi migrated cast, they left a number of cultural relics with unique characteristics, which indicate the cultural exchanges that took place between the migrants and the local tribes on their route. Meanwhile, as These migrants were moving eastwards, tribes living in the lower reaches of the Yellow River were also moving westwards. The western migrants brought advanced farming skills to the eastern areas, while some of the ways and customs of the lower reaches were spread to the middle reaches of the river in the west.
Both winners and losers in battle had to continue to till the land and live on in China, creating together the ancient Chinese civilization. Chinese history has been created by all the peoples of the Chinese nation, and the tribes of Yandi and Huangdi are the first cultural ancestors of the whole nation.
The 5000-year-long Chinese culture originated from the age of Yandi and Huangdi. It is no exaggeration to say that Chinese culture has a remote source and a long stream of development.
Traditional Chinese culture stresses the unity and harmony of nature and man. Since ancient times, this has been one of the implications of the concept of the "unity of universe and man.”This concept differs from the religious idea "unity of universe and man," in that it does not deify the forces of nature as gods for people to worship. Instead, it urges people to positively recognize, make use of and protect nature. This idea was budding even in the age of Yandi and Huangdi. The farming skills invented by Yandi were a comprehensive product of this cognition, and included rudimentary knowledge of plants, soil, climate and astronomy. All this helped the ancestors escape from the state of barbarism and ignorance.
The humanism of Chinese culture also originated from the age of Yandi and Huangdi. In early literature, what we read is a history of human beings. Yandi and Huangdi themselves appeared in history as humans who had their own parents and children. They were not gods. They owed their achievements and success simply to their enterprising spirit.
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