Shandong History

Last updated by fabiowzgogo at 2017/5/15

Shandong has been a political, economic and cultural center of China since ancient times. During the early Xia Dynasty, in 21st century B.C., the tribes of the Dongyi people lived here. The early activity center of the Shang Dynasty (from around 17 B.C. to 11 B.C.), was in Southwest Shandong. During the Spring and Autumn Period, (between 770 B.C. and 221 B.C.), the Qi and Lu states under the Western Zhou Dynasty (from around 11th century B.C. to 256 B.C.), are now the largest states in today's Shandong. Since the two states exerted a significant influence on the politics, economy and culture in history of China, Shandong is also nicknamed "Qilu"; furthermore, "Lu" is used as an abbreviation for the province.

Shandong was first used as a geographical name during the Warring States period (475 B.C.-221B.C.).It generally referred to the area east of the Taihang Mountain. The name Shandong was used to describe an administrative area in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). During the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), the government established Shandong "dao" (an administrative division at that time).In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the government established Shandong "buzhengsi" (an administrative division), forming a territory similar to today's Shandong Province; most of the names of the counties were used up until recently. Shandong Province was formally established in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), with its capital at Jinan. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the province assumed its present administrative division after several adjustments.

Historical Figures

Confucius (Kongzi in Chinese)

Confucius, who lived from 551 B.C. to 479 B.C., was born in Changping, Zouyi of the state of Lu during the Spring and Autumn Period. His given name was "Qiu" and his honorific title was Zhong Ni. He was a great educator and philosopher in ancient times and the founder of Confucianism.

Confucius was born in a time full of chaos and war. His lived a hard and poor life; on top of that, his father passed away when he was just a little boy. In spite of the hardships and impoverishment, he was much industrious to seize every minute possible to study. He had obtained a good master of rites, music, archery, driving, calligraphy and mathematics which were known as "Six Skills" in the ancient times. He had his own far-sighted political ambitions and specific ideas for how to run the government; he advocated recovering the prosperity of a slavery society at the beginning of the West Zhou Dynasty. He was sure that "(a) Wise person would love other people" and that a person should" Do as you would be done by others". Even though he was anxious to make a full play of his political talents and held a very high post almost equivalent to the prime minister of the Lu State, his political advice was not put into practice by the rulers; his political career was full of unrest and setbacks.

The most outstanding achievement of Confucius was in field of education. He broke the tradition in which culture and education were controlled entirely by the slave owners and the aristocrats. It was he who first set up private schools and received students from every walk of life without consideration of their social status. He publicly put forth a slogan "just education, no discrimination", trying his best to provide people of every social status an opportunity of receiving education. In his teaching, he instructed his students according to their aptitudes, and applies different methods to different people. He paid much emphasis on the dialectic relations between study and thinking, as well as the relation between study and review. He taught 3,000 students, of whom 72 were the most distinguished, and later called the 72 wisdoms by the posterities. Because of inheritance and publicizing by Confucius' disciples, his thoughts and wisdom as well as his personality not only exerted influence on the contemporary people, but also have been handed down to the later generations. What's more, these disciples have further developed and enriched Confucius's doctrines and thinking. In this sense, they themselves have played an essential role on the development of early Confucianism and even on the whole process of Confucianism's development.

Another great achievement of Confucius is that he organized and compiled many historical records and cultural materials, such as the "Book of Songs" and "Classic of Documents". According to the state of Lu's history, he edited the first annalistic history book---"The Spring and Autumn Annals". Most of his thoughts, sayings and deeds were compiled by his disciples or their posterities into "The Analects of Confucius".

Mencius (Mengzi in Chinese)

Mencius lived from 372 B.C. to 298 B.C., his given name was "Ke" and his honorific title was Zi Yu. He is a famous thinker, statesman and educator born in the state of Zou during the Warring States Period. He lived through numerous hardships and poverty; his father died when he was still very young. Fortunately, he received a good education from his mother. It is said that when Mencius was a little child, his mother thought the surrounding environment would do no good to Mencius's study; she moved their house three times and finally settled down in a place not far from the school, so that Mencius could be absorbed in his study. "The mother of Mengzi cut the cloth on her loom to teach her son a lesson." Mencius is the second generation of disciple of Zisi, grandchild of Confucius. He paid high respect to Confucius; he studied very diligently. His life goal was to inherit Confucius' career and improve and develop on his teachings and doctrines. The theory of "Ren" (benevolence) is the kernel of Confucianism; Mencius built a second concept onto this—Yi. In this, he attaches more importance to people's right of survival. Mencius thinks that the power of people must not be ignored, and he advocated that in the Constitution of a state, "the people rank the highest, the land and grain comes next, and the ruler counts the least". He called for the ruler to lighten taxes and to run the government by "Ren" (benevolence). In order to propagandize his political ideas, he had been engaged in private teachings for a long time and had led his disciples touring around all the states to popularize his teachings. Because of the great contribution he made to the development of the Confucius's theory, he is regarded as the second sage in the Confucian school. Most of his thoughts, sayings and deeds are included in the book of "Mencius" compiled by his disciples.

Wang Xizhi

Wang Xizhi, the nephew of Wang Dao, who lived from 303 to 361 A.D., was a great calligrapher in the state of Eastern Jin. He was born in Langya, Linyi, and his honorific title was Yishao. He had served as a general of the right arms force, and an imperial officer in Kuaiji, and was called "Wang Right Arms Force" by people. After he resigned his official position, he settled down in Shanyin, Kuaiji and was devoted to calligraphy. At the beginning, he studied under a well-known lady calligrapher, Madam Wei Shuo, and then he learned from Zhang Zhi and Zhong Nu. He learned much from the precious calligraphers, absorbing all the strong points of other styles and devoting much attention to creating his own style of calligraphy; this was a new flowing and elegant style that revolutionized the simple style of calligraphy since the Han and Wei Dynasties. His calligraphy assimilated many other styles, and has a quiet beauty. He was especially good at the Zheng (regular) style and Xing (walking) style of calligraphy, which breathe life and motion into the written words, but he wrote with more fluidity and grandeur. Wang Xizhi's style of writing continued to be a dominant influence of Chinese calligraphy. He was highly respected by scholars of all dynasties. He is known as the Sage of Calligraphy due to his prominence above all of art history's calligraphers. Original examples of Wang Xizhi's handwriting are rarely seen today. Most of the works we can see now are rubbing copies of his works by contemporary people. Most celebrated pieces of his calligraphy include, "Lan Ting Xu" (the prelude of the Orchid Pavilion), "Leyi Lun" and "Shiliu Tie". His son Wang Xianzhi is the son-in-law of the emperor Jin Weidi, and served as the Zhongshu Ling (an official position in the past), so he got the name "Wang Daling". He is also a famous calligrapher. He learned much from all the other styles of calligraphy, and is especially adept in Xing and Cao calligraphy. He further revolutionized the contemporary archaic and clumsy style of handwriting, and his style is renowned as the Po (break through) style. Both father and son enjoyed equal high notoriety, and were later deemed "Two Wangs".

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