The late vedic texts emphasize magical and cosmic

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Unformatted text preview: sher. nied the rituals is the desire for prosperity, health, and victory. Fire sacrifices were particularly important. The late Vedic texts emphasize magical and cosmic aspects of ritual and sacrifice. Indeed, some of the Brahmanas maintain that only exacting performance of the sacrifice can preserve the world order. The word Brahman, originally used to designate the ritual utterance or word of power, came to refer also to the generalized divine power present in the sacrifice. In the Upanishads, some of the latest Vedic texts and the ones most concerned with speculation about the universe, Brahman was extended to refer to the Absolute, the CRAIMC01_001-039hr.qxp 30 8/12/10 3:57 PM Page 30 Part 1 Human Origins and Early Civilizations to 500 B.C.E. transcendent principle of reality. As the guardian of ritual and the master of the sacred word, the priest was known throughout the Vedic Aryan period by a related word, Brahmana, for which the English is Brahman. Echoes of these associations were to lend force in later Hindu tradition to the special status of the Brahman caste groups as the highest social class (see Chapter 4). Early Chinese Civilization Neolithic Origins in the Yellow River Valley Agriculture began in China about 4000 B.C.E. in the basin of the southern bend of the Yellow River. This is the northernmost of East Asia’s four great river systems. The others are the Yangtze in central China, the West River in southern 0 0 200 200 400 400 China, and the Red River in what is today northern Vietnam (see Map 1–6). All drain eastward into the Pacific Ocean. In recent millennia, the Yellow River has flowed through a deforested plain, cold in winter and subject to periodic droughts. But in 4000 B.C.E., its climate was warmer, with forested highlands in the west and swampy marshes to the east. The bamboo rat that today can be found only in semitropical Southeast Asia lived along the Yellow River. The chief crop of China’s agricultural revolution was millet. A second agricultural development focusing on rice may have occurred on the Huai River between the Yellow River and the Yangtze near the coast. In time, wheat entered China from the west. The early Chinese cleared land and burned its cover to plant millet and cabSee the Map bage and, later, rice and soybeans. When Ancient China at the soil became exhausted, fields were 600 MILES 600 KILOMETERS MANCHURIA Sea of Japan MONGOLIA Yell ow R. JAPAN KOREA Anyang Yellow Sea • Wei R. •Luoyang • (Sian) a Hu i R. R. Ha n R . zi ng Ya East China Sea TAIWAN West R. R. Re d South China Sea Map 1–6. Bronze Age China during the Shang Dynasty, 1766–1050 B.C.E. Anyang was a late Shang dynasty capital. Sian and Luoyang were the capitals of the Western and Eastern Zhou. CRAIMC01_001-039hr.qxp 8/12/10 3:57 PM Page 31 Chapter 1 abandoned, and sometimes early villages were abandoned, too. Tools were of stone: axes, hoes, spades, and sickleshaped knives. The early Chinese domesticated pigs, sheep, cattle, dogs,...
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