Sociedade e Cultura
Both the Sui and Tang Dynasties had turned away from the more feudal culture of the preceding Northern Dynasties, in favor of staunch civil Confucianism . The governmental system was supported by a large class of Confucian intellectuals selected through either civil service examinations or recommendations. In the Tang period,Daoism and Buddhism reigned as core ideologies as well, and played a large role in people's daily lives. The Tang Chinese enjoyed feasting, drinking, holidays, sports, and all sorts of entertainment, while Chinese literature blossomed and was more widely accessible with new printing methods.
Leisure in the Tang
Much more than earlier periods, the Tang era was an era renowned for its time reserved for leisure activity, especially for those in the upper classes. Many outdoor sports and activities were enjoyed during the Tang, including archery , hunting , horse polo , cuju football , cockfighting , and even tug of war . Government officials were granted vacations during their tenure in office. Officials were granted 30 days off every three years to visit their parents if they lived 1,000 miles / 1,600 kilometres away, or 15 days off if the parents lived more than 167 miles / 269 kilometres away (travel time not included). Officials were granted nine days of vacation time for weddings of a son or daughter, and either five, three, or one days/day off for the nuptials of close relatives (travel time not included). Officials also received a total of three days off for their son's capping initiation rite into manhood, and one day off for the ceremony of initiation rite of a close relative's son.
Traditional Chinese holidays such as Chinese New Year , Lantern Festival , Cold Food Festival , and others were universal holidays. In the capital city of Chang'an there was always lively celebration, especially for the Lantern Festival since the city's nighttime curfew was lifted by the government for three days straight. Between the years 628 and 758, the imperial throne bestowed a total of sixty-nine grand carnivals nationwide, granted by the emperor in the case of special circumstances such as important military victories, abundant harvests after a long drought or famine , the granting of amnesties , the installment of a new crown prince , etc. For special celebration in the Tang era, lavish and gargantuan-sized feasts were sometimes prepared, as the imperial court had staffed agencies to prepare the meals. This included a prepared feast for 1,100 elders of Chang'an in 664, a feast for 3,500 officers of the Divine Strategy Army in 768, and a feast for 1,200 women of the palace and members of the imperial family in the year 826. Drinking wine and alcoholic beverages was heavily ingrained into Chinese culture, as people drank for nearly every social event. A court official in the 8th century allegedly had a serpentine-shaped structure called the 'Ale Grotto' built with 50,000 bricks on the groundfloor that each featured a bowl from which his friends could drink.
Chang'an, the Tang capital
Although Chang'an was the site for the capital of the earlier Han and Jin dynasties, after subsequent destruction in warfare, it was the Sui Dynasty model that comprised the Tang era capital. The roughly square dimensions of the city had six miles (10 km) of outer walls running east to west, and more than five miles (8 km) of outer walls running north to south. From the large Mingde Gates located mid-center of the main southern wall, a wide city avenue stretched from there all the way north to the central administrative city, behind which was the Chentian Gate of the royal palace, or Imperial City. Intersecting this were fourteen main streets running east to west, while eleven main streets ran north to south. These main intersecting roads formed 108 rectangular wards with walls and four gates each, and each ward filled with multiple city blocks . The city was made famous for this checkerboard pattern of main roads with walled and gated districts, its layout even mentioned in one of Du Fu's poems. During the Heian period , the city ofHeian kyō (present-day Kyoto ) of Japan like many cities was arranged in the checkerboard street grid pattern of the Tang capital and in accordance with traditional geomancy following the model of Chang'an. Of these 108 wards in Chang'an, two of them (each the size of two regular city wards) were designated as government-supervised markets, and other space reserved for temples, gardens, ponds, etc. Throughout the entire city, there were 111 Buddhist monasteries, 41 Daoist abbeys, 38 family shrines, 2 official temples, 7 churches of foreign religions, 10 city wards with provincial transmission offices, 12 major inns, and 6 graveyards. Some city wards were literally filled with open public playing fields or the backyards of lavish mansions for playing horse polo and cuju football.
The Tang capital was the largest city in the world at its time, the population of the city wards and its suburban countryside reaching 2 million inhabitants. The Tang capital was very cosmopolitan, with ethnicities of Persia , Central Asia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam , Tibet , India, and many other places living within. Naturally, with this plethora of different ethnicities living in Chang'an, there were also many different practiced religions, such as Buddhism , Nestorian Christianity , Manichaeism , Zoroastrianism , Judaism , and Islam being practiced within. With widely open access to China that the Silk Road to the west facilitated, many foreign settlers were able to move east to China, while the city of Chang'an itself had about 25,000 foreigners living within. Exotic green-eyed, blond-haired Tocharian ladies serving wine in agate and amber cups, singing, and dancing at taverns attracted customers. If a foreigner in China pursued a Chinese woman for marriage, he was required to stay in China and was unable to take his bride back to his homeland, as stated in a law passed in 628 to protect women from temporary marriages with foreign envoys. Several laws enforcing segregation of foreigners from Chinese were passed during the Tang dynasty. In 779 the Tang dynasty issued an edict which forced Uighurs in the capital, Chang'an, to wear their ethnic dress, stopped them from marrying Chinese females, and banned them from passing off as Chinese.
Chang'an was the center of the central government, the home of the imperial family, and was filled with splendor and wealth. However, incidentally it was not the economic hub during the Tang Dynasty. The city of Yangzhou along the Grand Canal and close to the Yangtze River was the greatest economic center during the Tang era.
Yangzhou was the headquarters for the Tang's government monopoly on salt , and the greatest industrial center of China; it acted as a midpoint in shipping of foreign goods that would be organized and distributed to the major cities of the north. Much like the seaport of Guangzhou in the south, Yangzhou boasted thousands of foreign traders from all across Asia.
There was also the secondary capital city of Luoyang , which was the favored capital of the two by Empress Wu . In the year 691 she had more than 100,000 families (more than 500,000 people) from around the region of Chang'an move to populate Luoyang instead. With a population of about a million, Luoyang became the second largest capital in the empire, and with its close proximity to the Luo River it benefited from southern agricultural fertility and trade traffic of the Grand Canal. However, the Tang court eventually demoted its capital status and did not visit Luoyang after the year 743, when Chang'an's problem of acquiring adequate supplies and stores for the year was solved. As early as 736, granaries were built at critical points along the route from Yangzhou to Chang'an, which eliminated shipment delays, spoilage, and pilfering. An artificial lake used as a transshipment pool was dredged east of Chang'an in 743, where curious northerners could finally see the array of boats found in southern China, delivering tax and tribute items to the imperial court.
The Tang period was a golden age of Chinese literature and art . There are over 48,900 poems penned by some 2,200 Tang authors that have survived until modern times.Perfecting one's skills in the composition of poetry became a required study for those wishing to pass imperial examinations, while poetry was also heavily competitive; poetry contests amongst esteemed guests at banquets and courtiers of elite social gatherings was common in the Tang period. Poetry styles that were popular in the Tang included gushi and jintishi , with the renowned Tang poet Li Bai (701-762) famous for the former style, and Tang poets like Wang Wei (701-761) and Cui Hao (704-754) famous for their use of the latter. Jintishi poetry, or regulated verse, is in the form of eight-line stanzas or seven characters per line with a fixed pattern of tones that required the second and third couplets to be antithetical (although the antithesis is often lost in translation to other languages). Tang poems in particular remain the most popular out of every historical era of China. This great emulation of Tang era poetry began in the Song Dynasty; in that period, Yan Yu (嚴羽; active 1194-1245) asserted that he was the first to designate the poetry of the High Tang (c. 713-766) era as the orthodox material with "canonical status within the classical poetic tradition." [ Yan Yu reserved the position of highest esteem among all Tang poets for Du Fu (712-770), who was not viewed as such in his own era, and was branded by his peers as an anti-traditional rebel.
There were other important literary forms besides poetry during the Tang period. There was Duan Chengshi 's (d. 863) Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang , an entertaining collection of foreign legends and hearsay, reports on natural phenomena, short anecdotes , mythical and mundane tales, as well as notes on various subjects. The exact literary category or classification that Duan's large informal narrative would fit into is still debated amongst scholars and historians.
Short story fiction and tales were also popular during the Tang, one of the more famous ones being Yingying's Biography by Yuan Zhen (779-831), which was widely circulated in his own time and by the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368) became the basis for plays in Chinese opera . Timothy C. Wong places this story within the wider context of Tang love tales, which often share the plot designs of quick passion, inescapable societal pressure leading to the abandonment of romance, followed by a period of melancholy . Wong states that this scheme lacks the undying vows and total self-commitment to love found in Western romances such as Romeo and Juliet , but that underlying traditional Chinese values of inseparableness of self from one's environment (including human society) served to create the necessary fictional device of romantic tension.
There were large encyclopedias published in the Tang. The Yiwen Leiju encyclopedia was compiled in 624 by the chief editorOuyang Xun (557-641) as well as Linghu Defen (582-666) and Chen Shuda (d. 635). The encyclopedia Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era was fully compiled in 729 by Gautama Siddha (fl. 8th century), an ethnic Indian astronomer, astrologer, and scholar born in the capital Chang'an.
Chinese geographers such as Jia Dan wrote accurate descriptions of places far abroad. In his work written between 785 and 805, he described the sea route going into the mouth of the Persian Gulf , and that the medieval Iranians (whom he called the people of Luo-He-Yi) had erected 'ornamental pillars' in the sea that acted as lighthousebeacons for ships that might go astray. Confirming Jia's reports about lighthouses in the Persian Gulf, Arabic writers a century after Jia wrote of the same structures, writers such as al-Mas'udi and al-Muqaddasi . The Tang Dynasty Chinese diplomat Wang Xuance traveled to Magadha (modern northeastern India ) during the 7th century. Afterwards he wrote the book Zhang Tianzhu Guotu (Illustrated Accounts of Central India), which included a wealth of geographical information.
Many histories of previous dynasties were compiled between 636 and 659 by court officials during and shortly after the reign of Emperor Taizong of Tang . These included the Book of Liang , Book of Chen , Book of Northern Qi , Book of Zhou , Book of Sui , Book of Jin , History of Northern Dynasties and the History of Southern Dynasties. Although not included in the official Twenty-Four Histories , the Tongdian and Tang Huiyao were nonetheless valuable written historical works of the Tang period. TheShitong written by Liu Zhiji in 710 was a meta-history, as it covered the history of Chinese historiography in past centuries until his time. The Great Tang Records on the Western Regions , compiled by Bianji , recounted the journey of Xuanzang , the Tang era's most renowned Buddhist monk .
The Classical Prose Movement was spurred large in part by the writings of Tang authors Liu Zongyuan (773-819) and Han Yu (768-824). This new prose style broke away from the poetry tradition of the 'piantiwen' style begun in the ancient Han Dynasty. Although writers of the Classical Prose Movement imitated 'piantiwen', they criticized it for its often vague content and lack of colloquial language, focusing more on clarity and precision to make their writing more direct. This guwen (archaic prose) style can be traced back to Han Yu, and would become largely associated with orthodox Neo-Confucianism .
Religião e filosofia
Since ancient times, the Chinese believed in a folk religion that incorporated many deities. The Chinese believed that the afterlife was a reality parallel to the living world, complete with its own bureaucracy and afterlife currency needed by dead ancestors. This is reflected in many short stories written in the Tang about people accidentally winding up in the realm of the dead, only to come back and report their experiences.
Buddhism , originating in India around the time of Confucius , continued to flourish during the Tang period and was adopted by the imperial family, becoming thoroughly sinicized and a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture. In an age before Neo-Confucianism and figures such as Zhu Xi (1130–1200), Buddhism had begun to flourish in China during the Southern and Northern Dynasties , and became the dominant ideology during the prosperous Tang. Buddhist monasteries played an integral role in Chinese society, offering lodging for travelers in remote areas, schools for children throughout the country, and a place for urban literati to stage social events and gatherings such as going-away parties. Buddhist monasteries were also engaged in the economy, since their land property and serfs gave them enough revenues to set up mills, oil presses, and other enterprises. Although the monasteries retained 'serfs', these monastery dependents could actually own property and employ others to help them in their work, including their own slaves.
The prominent status of Buddhism in Chinese culture began to decline as the dynasty and central government declined as well during the late 8th century to 9th century. Buddhist convents and temples that were exempt from state taxes beforehand were targeted by the state for taxation. In 845 Emperor Wuzong of Tang finally shut down 4,600 Buddhist monasteries along with 40,000 temples and shrines, forcing 260,000 Buddhist monks and nuns to return to secular life; this episode would later be dubbed one of the Four Buddhist Persecutions in China . Although the ban would be lifted just a few years after, Buddhism never regained its once dominant status in Chinese culture. This situation also came about through new revival of interest in native Chinese philosophies, such as Confucianism and Daoism.Han Yu (786-824)—who Arthur F. Wright stated was a "brilliant polemicist and ardent xenophobe "—was one of the first men of the Tang to denounce Buddhism. Although his contemporaries found him crude and obnoxious, he would foreshadow the later persecution of Buddhism in the Tang, as well as the revival of Confucian theory with the rise of Neo-Confucianism of the Song Dynasty. Nonetheless, Chán Buddhism gained popularity amongst the educated elite. There were also many famous Chan monks from the Tang era, such as Mazu Daoyi , Baizhang , and Huangbo Xiyun . The sect of Pure Land Buddhism initiated by the Chinese monk Huiyuan(334-416) was also just as popular as Chan Buddhism during the Tang.
Rivaling Buddhism was Daoism , a native Chinese philosophical and religious belief system that found its roots in the book of the Daodejing (attributed to Laozi in the 6th century BC) and the Zhuangzi . The ruling Li family of the Tang Dynasty actually claimed descent from the ancient Laozi. On numerous occasions where Tang princes would become crown prince or Tang princesses taking vows as Daoist priestesses, their lavish former mansions would be converted into Daoist abbeys and places of worship. Many Daoists were associated with alchemy in their pursuits to find an elixir of immortality and a means to create gold from concocted mixtures of many other elements. ] Although they never achieved their goals in either of these futile pursuits, they did contribute to the discovery of new metal alloys, porcelain products, and new dyes. The historian Joseph Needham labeled the work of the Daoist alchemists as "proto-science rather than pseudo-science." However, the close connection between Daoism and alchemy, which some sinologists have asserted, is refuted by Nathan Sivin , who states that alchemy was just as prominent (if not more so) in the secular sphere and practiced more often by laymen.
The Tang Dynasty also officially recognized various foreign religions. The Assyrian Church of the East , otherwise known as the Nestorian Christian Church , was given recognition by the Tang court. In 781, the Nestorian Stele was created in order to honor the achievements of their community in China. A Christian monastery was established in Shaanxi province where the Daqin Pagoda still stands, and inside the pagoda there is Christian-themed artwork. Although the religion largely died out after the Tang, it was revived in China following the Mongol invasions of the 13th century.
Concepts of women's social rights and social status during the Tang era were notably liberal-minded for the period. However, this was largely reserved for urban women of elite status, as men and women in the rural countryside labored hard in their different set of tasks; with wives and daughters responsible for more domestic tasks of weaving textiles and rearing of silk worms , while men tended to farming in the fields. There were many women in the Tang era who gained access to religious authority by taking vows as Daoist priestesses. The head mistresses of the bordellos in the North Hamlet of the capital Chang'an acquired large amounts of wealth and power. Their high-class courtesans , who likely influenced the Japanese geishas , were well respected. These courtesans were known as great singers and poets, supervised banquets and feasts, knew the rules to all the drinking games , and were trained to have the utmost respectable table manners .
Although they were renowned for their polite behavior, the courtesans were known to dominate the conversation amongst elite men, and were not afraid to openly castigate or criticize prominent male guests who talked too much or too loudly, boasted too much of their accomplishments, or had in some way ruined dinner for everyone by rude behavior (on one occasion a courtesan even beat up a drunken man who had insulted her). When singing to entertain guests, courtesans not only composed the lyrics to their own songs, but they popularized a new form of lyrical verse by singing lines written by various renowned and famous men in Chinese history.
It was fashionable for women to be full-figured (or plump). Men enjoyed the presence of assertive, active women. The foreign horse-riding sport of polo from Persia became a wildly popular trend amongst the Chinese elite, and women often played the sport (as glazed earthenware figurines from the time period portray). The preferred hairstyle for women was to bunch their hair up like "an elaborate edifice above the forehead," while affluent ladies wore extravagant head ornaments, combs, pearl necklaces, face powders, and perfumes. A law was passed in 671 which attempted to force women to wear hats with veils again in order to promote decency, but these laws were ignored as some women started wearing caps and even no hats at all, as well as men's riding clothes and boots, and tight-sleeved bodices.
There were some prominent court women after the era of Empress Wu , such as Yang Guifei (719-756), who had Emperor Xuanzong appoint many of her relatives and cronies to important ministerial and martial positions.
Tea, food, and necessities
During the earlier Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589), and perhaps even earlier, the drinking of tea ( Camelia sinensis ) became popular in southern China. Tea was viewed then as a beverage of tasteful pleasure and with pharmacological purpose as well. During the Tang Dynasty, tea became synonymous with everything sophisticated in society. The Tang poet Lu Tong (790-835) devoted most of his poetry to his love of tea. The 8th century author Lu Yu (known as the Sage of Tea) even wrote a treatise on the art of drinking tea, called the Classic of Tea (Chájīng). Although wrapping paper had been used in China since the 2nd century BC, during the Tang Dynasty the Chinese were using wrapping paper as folded and sewn square bags to hold and preserve the flavor of tea leaves. Indeed, paper found many other uses besides writing and wrapping during the Tang era. Earlier, the first recorded use of toilet paper was made in 589 by the scholar-official Yan Zhitui (531-591), and in 851 anArab Muslim traveler commented on how the Tang era Chinese were not careful about cleanliness because they did not wash with water when going to the bathroom; instead, he said, the Chinese simply used paper to wipe themselves.
In ancient times, the Chinese had outlined the five most basic foodstuffs known as the five grains: sesamum , legumes , wheat , panicled millet , and glutinous millet. TheMing Dynasty encyclopedist Song Yingxing (1587–1666) noted that rice was not counted amongst the five grains from the time of the legendary and deified Chinese sageShennong (the existence of whom Yingxing wrote was "an uncertain matter") into the 2nd millenniums BC, because the properly wet and humid climate in southern China for growing rice was not yet fully settled or cultivated by the Chinese.
During the Tang, the many common foodstuffs and cooking ingredients in addition to those already listed were barley , garlic , salt ,turnips , soybeans , pears , apricots , peaches , apples , pomegranates , jujubes , rhubarb , hazelnuts , pine nuts , chestnuts , walnuts, yams , taro , etc. The various meats that were consumed included pork , chicken , lamb (especially preferred in the north), sea otter , bear (which was hard to catch, but there were recipes for steamed, boiled, and marinated bear), and even Bactrian camels . In the south along the coast meat from seafood was by default the most common, as the Chinese enjoyed eating cooked jellyfish withcinnamon , Sichuan pepper , cardamom , and ginger , as well as oysters with wine , fried squid with ginger and vinegar , horseshoe crabs and red crabs , shrimp , and pufferfish , which the Chinese called 'river piglet'. Some foods were also off-limits, as the Tang court encouraged people not to eat beef (since the bull was a valuable draft animal ), and from 831 to 833 Emperor Wenzong of Tangeven banned the slaughter of cattle on the grounds of his religious convictions to Buddhism. [ From the trade overseas and over land, the Chinese acquired peaches from Samarkand , date palms , pistachios , and figs from Persia, pine seeds and ginseng roots fromKorea , and mangoes from Southeast Asia . In China, there was a great demand for sugar ; during the reign of Harsha (r. 606-647) over North India , Indian envoys to Tang China brought two makers of sugar who successfully taught the Chinese how to cultivate sugarcane . Cotton also came from India as a finished product from Bengal , although it was during the Tang that the Chinese began to grow and process cotton, and by the Yuan Dynasty it became the prime textile fabric in China.
Methods of food preservation were important, and practiced throughout China. The common people used simple methods of preservation, such as digging deep ditches and trenches, brining , and salting their foods. The emperor had large ice pits located in the parks in and around Chang'an for preserving food, while the wealthy and elite had their own smaller ice pits. Each year the emperor had laborers carve 1000 blocks of ice from frozen creeks in mountain valleys, each block with the dimension of 0.91 m (3 ft) by 0.91 m by 1.06 m (3½ ft). There were many frozen delicacies enjoyed during the summer, especially chilled melon .
Ciência, tecnologia e medicina
Technology during the Tang period was built also upon the precedents of the past. Advancements in clockworks and timekeeping included the mechanical gear systems of Zhang Heng (78-139) and Ma Jun (fl. 3rd century) gave the Tang engineer, astronomer, and monk Yi Xing (683-727) inspiration when he invented the world's first clockwork escapement mechanism in 725. This was used alongside a clepsydra clock and waterwheel to power a rotating armillary sphere in representation of astronomical observation. Yi Xing's device also had a mechanically timed bell that was struck automatically every hour, and a drum that was struck automatically every quarter hour; essentially, a striking clock . Yi Xing's astronomical clock and water-powered armillary sphere became well known throughout the country, since students attempting to pass the imperial examinations by 730 had to write an essay on the device as an exam requirement. However, the most common type of public and palace timekeeping device was the inflow clepsydra. Its design was improved c . 610 by the Sui-dynasty engineers Geng Xun and Yuwen Kai. They provided a steelyard balance that allowed seasonal adjustment in the pressure head of the compensating tank and could then control the rate of flow for different lengths of day and night.
There were many other mechanical inventions during the Tang era. This included a 0.91 m (3 ft) tall mechanical wine server of the early 8th century that was in the shape of an artificial mountain, carved out of iron and rested on a lacquered -wooden tortoise frame. This intricate device used a hydraulic pump that siphoned wine out of metal dragon -headed faucets, as well as tilting bowls that were timed to dip wine down, by force of gravity when filled, into an artificial lake that had intricate iron leaves popping up as trays for placing party treats. Furthermore, as the historian Charles Benn describes it:
Midway up the southern side of the mountain was a dragon…the beast opened its mouth and spit brew into a goblet seated on a large [iron] lotus leaf beneath. When the cup was 80% full, the dragon ceased spewing ale, and a guest immediately seized the goblet. If he was slow in draining the cup and returning it to the leaf, the door of a pavilion at the top of the mountain opened and a mechanical wine server, dressed in a cap and gown, emerged with a wooden bat in his hand. As soon as the guest returned the goblet, the dragon refilled it, the wine server withdrew, and the doors of the pavilion closed…A pump siphoned the ale that flowed into the ale pool through a hidden hole and returned the brew to the reservoir [holding more than 16 quarts/15 liters of wine] inside the mountain.—
Although the use of a teasing mechanical puppet in this wine-serving device was certainly ingenious, the use of mechanical puppets in China date back to the Qin Dynasty(221-207 BC) while Ma Jun in the 3rd century had an entire mechanical puppet theater operated by the rotation of a waterwheel.There was also an automatic wine-server known in the ancient Greco-Roman world, a design of Heron of Alexandria that employed an urn with an inner valve and a lever device similar to the one described above. There are many stories of automatons used in the Tang, including general Yang Wulian's wooden statue of a monk who stretched his hands out to collect contributions; when the amount of coins reached a certain weight, the mechanical figure moved his arms to deposit them in a satchel. This weight-and-lever mechanism was exactly like Heron's penny slot machine . Other devices included one by Wang Ju, whose "wooden otter" could allegedly catch fish; Needham suspects a spring trap of some kind was employed here.
In the realm of structural engineering and technical Chinese architecture , there were also government standard building codes, outlined in the early Tang book of theYingshan Ling (National Building Law). Fragments of this book have survived in the Tang Lü (The Tang Code), while the Song Dynasty architectural manual of the Yingzao Fashi (State Building Standards) by Li Jie (1065–1101) in 1103 is the oldest existing technical treatise on Chinese architecture that has survived in full. During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (712-756) there were 34,850 registered craftsmen serving the state, managed by the Agency of Palace Buildings (Jingzuo Jian).
Woodblock printing made the written word available to vastly greater audiences. One of the world's oldest surviving printed documents is a miniature Buddhist dharani sutraunearthed at Xi'an in 1974 and dated roughly from 650 to 670. The Diamond Sutra is the first full-length book printed at regular size, complete with illustrations embedded with the text and dated precisely to 868. Among the earliest documents to be printed were Buddhist texts as well as calendars, the latter essential for calculating and marking which days were auspicious and which days were not. With so many books coming into circulation for the general public, literacy rates could improve, along with the lower classes being able to obtain cheaper sources of study. Therefore, there were more lower class people seen entering the Imperial Examinations and passing them by the later Song Dynasty. Although the later Bi Sheng 's movable type printing in the 11th century was innovative for his period, woodblock printing that became widespread in the Tang would remain the dominant printing type in China until the more advanced printing press from Europebecame widely accepted and used in East Asia. The first use of the playing card during the Tang Dynasty was an auxiliary invention of the new age of printing.
The Chinese of the Tang era were also very interested in the benefits of officially classifying all of the medicines used in pharmacology . In 657, Emperor Gaozong of Tang(r. 649-683) commissioned the literary project of publishing an official materia medica , complete with text and illustrated drawings for 833 different medicinal substances taken from different stones, minerals, metals, plants, herbs, animals, vegetables, fruits, and cereal crops. In addition to compiling pharmacopeias, the Tang fostered learning in medicine by upholding imperial medical colleges, state examinations for doctors, and publishing forensic manuals for physicians. Authors of medicine in the Tang include Zhen Qian (d. 643) and Sun Simiao (581-682), the former who first identified in writing that patients with diabetes had an excess of sugar in their urine , and the latter who was the first to recognize that diabetic patients should avoid consuming alcohol and starchy foods. As written by Zhen Qian and others in the Tang, the thyroid glands of sheep and pigs were successfully used to treat goiters ; thyroid extracts were not used to treat patients with goiter in the West until 1890.
In the realm of cartography , there were further advances beyond the map-makers of the Han Dynasty. When the Tang chancellor Pei Ju (547-627) was working for the Sui Dynasty as a Commercial Commissioner in 605, he created a well-known gridded map with a graduated scale in the tradition of Pei Xiu (224-271). [ The Tang chancellor Xu Jingzong (592-672) was also known for his map of China drawn in the year 658. In the year 785 the Emperor Dezong had the geographer and cartographer Jia Dan (730-805) complete a map of China and her former colonies in Central Asia. Upon its completion in 801, the map was 9.1 m (30 ft) in length and 10 m (33 ft) in height, mapped out on a grid scale of one inch equaling one hundredli (Chinese unit of measuring distance). A Chinese map of 1137 is similar in complexity to the one made by Jia Dan, carved on a stone stele with a grid scale of 100 li. However, the only type of map that has survived from the Tang period are star charts . Despite this, the earliest extant terrain maps of China come from the ancient State of Qin ; maps from the 4th century BC that were excavated in 1986.
Alchemy, gas cylinders, and air conditioning
The Chinese of the Tang period employed complex chemical formulas for an array of different purposes, often found through experiments of alchemy . These included a waterproof and dust-repelling cream or varnish for clothes and weapons, fireproofcement for glass and porcelain wares, a waterproof cream applied to silk clothes of underwater divers , a cream designated for polishing bronze mirrors, and many other useful formulas. The vitrified, translucent ceramic known as porcelain was invented in China during the Tang, although many types of glazed ceramics preceded it.
Ever since the Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD), the Chinese had drilled deep boreholes to transport natural gas from bamboo pipelines to stoves where cast iron evaporation pans boiled brine to extract salt . During the Tang Dynasty, a gazetteer of Sichuan province stated that at one of these 182 m (600 ft) 'fire wells', men collected natural gas into portable bamboo tubes which could be carried around for dozens of km (mi) and still produce a flame. These were essentially the first gas cylinders ; Robert Temple assumes some sort of tap was used for this device.
The inventor Ding Huan ( fl. 180 AD) of the Han Dynasty invented a rotary fan for air conditioning , with seven wheels 3 m (10 ft) in diameter and manually powered. In 747, Emperor Xuanzong had a "Cool Hall" built in the imperial palace, which the Tang Yulin (唐語林) describes as having water-powered fan wheels for air conditioning as well as rising jet streams of water from fountains. [ During the subsequent Song Dynasty, written sources mentioned the air conditioning rotary fan as even more widely used.
The first classic work about the Tang is the Book of Tang by Liu Xu (887-946 AD) et al. of the Later Jin , who redacted it during the last years of his life. This was edited into another history (labelled the New Book of Tang ) in order to distinguish it, which was a work by the Song historians Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072), Song Qi (998-1061), et al. of the Song Dynasty (between the years 1044 and 1060). Both of them were based upon earlier annals, yet those are now lost. [ 279 ] Both of them also rank among theTwenty-Four Histories of China. One of the surviving sources of the Book of Tang , primarily covering up to 756, is the Tongdian , which Du You presented to the emperor in 801. The Tang period was again placed into the enormous universal history text of the Zizhi Tongjian , edited, compiled, and completed in 1084 by a team of scholars under the Song Dynasty Chancellor Sima Guang (1019–1086). This historical text, written with 3 million Chinese characters in 294 volumes, covered the history of China from the beginning of the Warring States (403 BC) until the beginning of the Song Dynasty (960).