Shang Society and Qin

Shang Society and Qin


ShangSociety and Qin

Whatvarious elements of Shang society can also be found in the Qin(Chin)? What elements disappeared?

TheShang Dynasty was founded between 1760 and 1520 BC after the XiaDynasty, and lasted until 1122 to 1030 BC (Cotterell,2007).It was then followed by the Zhou Dynasty. It is also referred to asYin Dynasty. It ruled along the Yellow River in the second millenniumand was founded by Xie who was born miraculously after the Wife ofEmperor Ku swallowed an egg of a black bird. Several years later, thefirst imperial dynasty known as the Qin (Chin) dynasty was founded.The dynasty lasted between 221 BC and 206 BC (Cotterell,2007).The state of Qin conquered six other states to form the Qin Dynasty.Qin dynasty overthrew the Zhou dynasty which ended the Shang Dynasty,and then conquered other warring states to take control of the wholeChina (Cotterell,2007).The founder of the dynasty was Qin Shi Huang, who became the firstemperor of the dynasty. The name of this dynasty was derived from thegeographical location of Qin, which is now referred to as Shaanxi andGansu. Shang Dynasty and Qin Dynasty have some similarities anddifferences as well. The founders of Qin descended from the Shangdynasty. Qin retained some of the characteristics of the Shang, butother elements also disappeared.

Oneof the elements that can be noted in both the Shang and Qin dynastiesis that they both developed Chinese writing. Shang dynasty was thefirst dynasty to develop Chinese writing, and Qin dynastystandardized the Chinese writing system (Cotterell,2007).Therefore, both dynasties embraced change and promoted civilizationso that human beings could know how to read and write to enhancebetter communication and sharing of knowledge.

Thedifferent elements of the two dynasties is that the Qin dynasty wasan imperial dynasty, and established structured political power andadministrative system with laws to govern citizens. The Qin dynastyalso established authoritarian system and a harsh philosophy. On theother hand, the Shang dynasty was among the earliest dynasties whichwere characterized by a bronze culture. It was known for its culturalartifacts and the development of Chinese culture. There were no legallaws and authoritarian administrative systems (Cotterell,2007).The writing system and legal system were also not standardized.However, some elements of power and politics in the two dynastieswere similar. For instance, both dynasties had strong armies toprotect their dynasties. Qin used the army to conquer several statesand overthrow its predecessor.

Interms of religion, the two dynasties also had some similarities anddifferences. Some of the similar religious elements includedivination, sacrifice and places of worship. Sacrifice was offered tovarious gods in both religions. Both dynasties believed that theirspiritual gods held power over them, so they offered sacrifices toappease them. The Shang and Qin dynasties also used shrines,sacrificial alters and sacred areas to offer sacrifices (Cotterell,2007).Divination was also common in both dynasties. The Qin dynasty soughtspiritual mediation and performed rituals to seek divine interventionfrom the ancestors. The Shang dynasty also worshiped the gods inshrines to seek divine intervention.

Thedifference of the two dynasties in terms of religion is that Shangbelieved in Shamanism which included the High God, nature powers,ancestors, and former lords (Cotterell,2007).On the other hand, the Qin dynasty believed in Shen (spirits) and Yin(shadows). Therefore, Qin and Shang have similar elements of religionand politics, and different religious, social and political elementsas well.


Cotterell,A. (2007). TheImperial Capitals of China&nbsp– An Inside View of the CelestialEmpire.London: Pimlico.