Trade and Connections (02:56)
Under the Tang dynasty, the Silk Road linked China to other civilizations, transforming it into a global culture. East met West, exchanging goods and philosophies, marking the beginning of shared world history.
Luoyang was the capitol of the Zhou dynasty, considered the cultural hub of China. Buddha is centrally carved into Longmen Caves, speaking to the area's acceptance of foreigners; the adoption of the Indian religion greatly impacted the Tang dynasty and Chinese history. A storyteller relays the legend of Mingdi dreaming of and seeking out Buddha; he found and recruited two monks that established a monastery and translated scriptures.
Tang Monk Adventures (06:41)
In 600 AD, Xuanzang was born outside Luoyang; engrossed with Buddhism, he secretly embarked to India. His experiences would inspire China's popular fairy tales; see shadow puppet performance. After three years and 5,000 miles, the monk reached the Bodhi tree in India where Buddha gained enlightenment; he spent 16 years studying before returning home.
Tang Monk Returns (08:41)
Upon Xuanzang's homecoming, Emperor Taizong welcomed him back; stories of his journeys quickly spread, making him famous. He spent 17 years translating manuscripts; the Wild Goose Pagoda houses their remnants. He died in 664 AD; hear a reading of his letter to an abbot.
During the 7th century, Xi'An was the largest city in the world; the wealthy adopted foreign cultures and influences. The city was strictly designed with palaces, temples, homes, and variety of businesses; a drum tower nightly sounded curfew. The West Market was the central Asian quarter, offering goods and foods from Persia, India, and Pakistan.
Political Power and Expansion (09:02)
Emperor Taizong brought the Silk Road under Chinese control, creating the Tang Golden Age. Economy and population drove southern colonization; China became a commercial society, and Yangzhou its hub. The Grand Canal, built in the early 600s, made trade possible; it is still used today. The flourishing city operated constantly, using artificial lighting at night; via mass exportation, China had 55% of the world's global domestic product.
Western Religions (05:22)
Tang China exported Confucianism, architecture, Buddhism and script while being influenced by other cultures. Islam arrived peacefully soon after Muhammad's death; Chinese believed in the superiority of their civilization, but found all knowledge useful for greater understanding. The Nestorian Stele monument tells the history of Christianity's coming in 638 AD.
In the west, revolts and battles broke out; the Tang Empire abandoned the area until the 18th century. In response to spoiled, neglectful royalty, General An Lushan led the eight year rebellion; 35 million people died or were displaced during the national catastrophe.
End of a Dynasty (03:19)
The tomb of poet Du Fu is on Yanshi Middle School grounds; Michael Wood and students discuss the meaning of the poem "Meeting Li Guinian in the South." In 907 AD, the last Tang emperor abdicated, ending a period of prosperity.
Epilogue and Credits: The Story of China With Michael Wood: Part 2 (00:29)
Credits: The Story of China With Michael Wood: Part 2
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