The Sui, Tang and Song dynasties are imperial dynasties in China, which have undergone dissimilar changes in the political structure, economic and social life in societies. The intent of this paper is to explore these changes in the three dynasties.
The Sui dynasty
The Sui dynasty was a regal dynasty in china that only lasted for few years. The dynasty commenced from 589 to 618 CE and came after the Northern and Southern dynasties of China (Ebrey, 2009). Historians consider it a significant dynasty owing to the changes that took place during its period. There were notable political changes during the Sui dynasty. For the first time in the history of China, there was an establishment of a new system in the political sphere. Notably, three separate departments and six new ministries were formed. Additionally, the royal rule was improved and the labour division in the courts became more informative. Consequently, the system for talent choice was seriously altered. The original hierarchical style of nine ranks of officials was substituted by the imperial examination style (Ebrey, 2009).
Economically, there were notable improvements in the agricultural sector. With new policies of land equalization, the acreage for agricultural production increased resulting to increased yields of crops. In the skills sector, new progress was reached especially in the ship-building technology (Ebrey, 2009). New economic policies were also introduced during this dynasty with a key goal of expanding the fiscal revenue. These included the tax control system and the regulation of weights and measures (Ebrey, 2009). With the construction of the Guangtong Channel, there was also improvement in the transport sector, with water transport becoming more suitable for the people.
Socially, there was great unification of the entire nation during the Sui dynasty. Communication was also enhanced between the north and south regions, particularly with the construction of a grand canal (Ebrey, 2009). There was also increased recognition of the minorities in this period than any other time before. Additionally, the dynasty re-established Confucian practices from the Han dynasty while maintaining Buddhism (Ebrey, 2009).
The Tang dynasty
Tang (618-19070) was also a dynasty in ancient China that followed the Sui dynasty. Similarly there were various changes that occurred during this dynasty. Politically, the Tang dynasty was a major hegemon during the period of its existence. It managed to conquer a number of regions and controlled them indirectly through a colonial system (Mote, 1999). The public system emulated from the Sui dynasty was still maintained in this dynasty but was challenged in the 9th century by the rise of area military governors (Mote, 1999). Consequently, the national economy of china rose to unprecedented levels during the Tang Dynasty. Notably, there were new policies in the agricultural sector which reduced the troubles of the peasants and increased competence in production (Mote, 1999). There was also great diversification in irrigation activities and an improvement in farm equipment. Additionally there was advancement in the handicraft sector, particularly the textile industry (Mote, 1999). These improvements in the agriculture and handicraft sector further provided a momentum for both domestic and foreign trade during this dynasty. In the social sphere, the role of women in society during the Tang dynasty experienced an immense change. Most importantly, unlike in other dynasties, women were given more recognition just like men in all sectors of the society. Consequently, a great significance was attached to education in this dynasty and women were given equal chances as men in the same. The Tang dynasty is also recognized as a great period for poetry and nurtured great talents in poems (Mote, 1999).
The Song dynasty
The Song dynasty lasted in AD 960–1279 in ancient China. This dynasty followed the Tang dynasty. In this dynasty, there were various political changes that took place basically to ensure peace and steadiness. In the military sector, there was a deprivation of the power of generals and a development of a new military council (McKnight, 1999). A variable defense system was similarly bestowed in the army. Administrative reforms during this dynasty included the creation of three core departments; the Secretariat, the Military Council, and the Chancellor of the Treasury who worked under the Prime Minister (McKnight, 1999). Generally there was increased consecration of power to the central government during this dynasty. Economically, the commerce and handicraft sectors prospered during this dynasty. There were more discoveries in the agricultural sector, for example the innovation of Tali plough to replace cattle (McKnight, 1999). Immense technological improvements were also achieved in the extraction of well salt in the southern part of china. These changes lead to increased economic output as well as growth in China during this dynasty. Socially, people’s way of life greatly changed during the Song dynasty. There were more people venturing into calligraphy, painting, and sculpture and weaving art (McKnight, 1999). Notably a large number of prominent calligraphers and artists emerged during the Song dynasty.
In conclusion, a great deal of changes in the political, economic and social structures of societies occurred during the various dynasties of china. Understanding these changes is important in providing a basis to understanding the Chinese history.
Ebrey, P. B., Walthall, A., & Palais, J. B. (2009). Pre-modern East Asia: to 1800: A cultural,
social and political history. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
McKnight, B. E., & Liu, J. T. C. (1999). The enlightened judgments: Qingming ji : the Sung dynasty
collection. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Mote, F. W. (1999). Imperial China, 900-1800. Cambridge (Mass.: Harvard University press.