Questions may include or be similar to the following.
What was the earliest historical mainland King’s power called and what was it
based on? What sources do we have for this period?
(c. 1500 BC - 1045 BC)
The king of the Shang ruled based on his de, or his power to talk to gods
and ancestors and do spiritual work.
This was inscribed in oracle bones where the
king has ceremonies where he asks his ancestors and gods a yes or no question
regarding current problems, such as war, harvests, etc., and notes the answer on
two oracle bones.
Then they compare the cracks on each to see if the answer to
the question was a yes or no.
Then afterwards, the question and results were
inscribed onto the bones as well.
The king and his royal family are the only ones
that could attend and carry out ceremonies like these where they seek help from
their ancestors and make sacrifices of animals or people.
“De,” acquired by acquiring the throne, by regularly sending out armies of
men on campaigns.
Only the king was allowed to act as the high priest, the
person best qualified to offer sacrifices to the royal ancestors and high god, “di.”
Discuss the Mandate of Heaven and its invention and promotion. (c. 1045 BC +)
The Mandate of Heaven means that Heaven selects a virtuous man to rule.
The king has to listen to the people around him, do the proper sacrifices, and look
after his people.
But when the king becomes wicked or too extravagant, then the
people have the right to rebel and replace him with another virtuous man.
concept was invented by the Zhou after they had conquered the Shang.
needed something to legitimize their right to rule and also they needed something
to top the Shang gods for the Zhou cannot completely ignore the Shang gods for
the Shang people would be furious for they have strong beliefs towards them.
Creel thinks that the Mandate of Heaven was just a propaganda tactic thought up
by the Zhou.
The Shang had many primary sources destroyed and when the Zhou
came to power, all these documents talking about the Mandate of Heaven and
how the Shang followed the Mandate of Heaven by defeating the Xia since the
rulers of Xia were evil, thus creating the effect that the Shang had believed in this
concept before the Zhou came to power.
However, the way that the “new” history
was written was different in language and culture.
The Shang usually wrote on
durable material, such as bones and vessels, while Northern China wrote on
expensive materials, such as silk, bamboo, and wood.
In order to justify the
Zhou’s own actions of taking over the long ruling Shang, they needed to
legitimize themselves so the Zhou claimed that the Shang had abandoned the
Mandate of Heaven and thus the Zhou’s de, virtue, drew everyone to their rule.
Invented by the Zhou Dynasty.