Developments in East Asia

Unit 1: c. 1200-1450

Main Ideas:

  • Song Dynasty used traditional Confucian methods to create an imperial bureaucracy to maintain its rule

  • Chinese culture flourished & shaped neighboring regions' cultures (Korea, Japan, Vietnam, etc.)

  • Buddhism spread to East Asia & influenced a variety of schools & practices

  • Song Dynasty's economy flourished & became more commercialized → More trade with South & Southeast Asia

Song Dynasty


Key Ideas:

  • Confucian merit-based bureaucracy allowed the empire to maintain its rule

  • Economy flourished

    • Naval technology → Song merchants could reach Indian Ocean trade route

    • Specialized in iron, gunpowder, mechanical clocks, & other exotic goods

    • Population increase → More people could participate in commercial activities

  • Spread its cultural influence to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam

    • Adopted similar cultural practices & built palaces in a similar style to Song China

  • Buddhism developed into different schools & practices

    • Zen (Chan) Buddhism: Emphasized meditation & personal intuition​

    • Pure Land School: Emphasized devotion to the Buddha to reach salvation

    • Mahayana Buddhism: Emphasized following Buddha's teachings to advance in the cycle of samsara but staying in the cycle to help others

A city gate built in 1223 during the Song Dynasty


Scale model of Chinese mechanical clock from 1092


Quanfu Temple, a Buddhist Temple built in 1086 during the Song Dynasty


Yuan Dynasty


Key Ideas:

  • Ruled by Mongols, established by Khubilai Khan

  • Did not embrace Chinese cultural traditions & forbade Chinese people from learning Mongol culture

Khubilai Khan, the Mongol founder of the Yuan Dynasty


Marco Polo (a Venetian merchant) at the court of Khubilai Khan. Polo came to Khan's court & helped Khan administer the Yuan Dynasty


Ming Dynasty


Key Ideas:

  • Revived Chinese cultural traditions (e.g. Confucian bureaucracy) after they were lost in the Yuan Dynasty

  • Just like Song Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty promoted trade

    • Emperor Yongle sent Zheng He on 7 overseas trading voyages to establish Chinese dominance in the Indian Ocean

Ming Tombs, a series of tombs of Ming Rulers. This one was built in 1425


Forbidden City, a series of palaces where the Ming Emperors lived. Commissioned in 1406