Xia Dynasty (2100-1600 BC)

The realm of China has been well renowned for its sundry and unique culture – that is why a lot of researchers, students, and tourists became very much fascinated with the historical background and roots of this culture. For decades, Chinese history and culture have undergone huge tons of changes – from the places, food, clothing, political beliefs, spiritual choices, attitude of people, structure of buildings and residences, government types, arts, and others alike. All of the alleged factors have undergone change and innovation throughout the point in time, living massive impact on its people.

To better acquire an understanding of the up-to-date transformation in the ethnicity and traditions of China, it is better to be aware of the roots of modernization where innovation and colossal amendment took place. According to unswerving sources, there are proof and substantiation that the immense variations on the Chinese history and culture was distinguished and took consign during the Xia Dynasty, roughly around 2100 B.C. to 1600 B.C. The Xia Dynasty lasted for nearly 500 years and during those long years, a lot of modification has been made doable under diverse leaders from one generation to another. All through those years, the nation of China has been under the leadership of 17 different emperors that has left a lot of remarkable changes in the country’s culture.

The Origins and Development of the Xia Dynasty

First, it is important to go through the origin of the Xia Dynasty – where did it all start? There are a lot of different versions and story lines on the subject of the roots of the Xia Dynasty but regardless of those speculations, lone factor will remain the same, and that is Xia was the very first established dynasty system in China. Long before, the Xia Dynasty had been established through battles between two tribes that had long existed – the two battling tribes are the Xia tribe and Chiyou’s tribe.

The Patriarch of the Xia Tribe

The Xia tribe was noted to progressively develop and took place during the time of Zhuanxu, who is well acknowledged as one of the five great emperors of China. According to classical research, reviews and historical texts, a lot of evidences have proved that Yu the Great, which is the first leader of China during the Xia Dynasty was the grandson of Zhuanxu. Other classical facts and historical rites profess that Xia is a member of the fifth generation of Zhuanxu. Whether of the alleged facts are true or not, the only fact that will remain the same is that the first conqueror and leader of China’s Xia Dynasty originated from the Zhuanxu, evidently making it possible that the Xia clan was mainly the descendants of the great emperor.

Areas of Habitation and the Abdication System

The development of the Xia Dynasty served as a very significant part of the Chinese history and culture since during those periods the development has marked the end of the Primitive civilization and highlighted the beginning of the class and more modernized society. Most people during the Xia Dynasty period localized in the western area of the province of Henan and some also inhabited the northern and southern part of the province of Shanxi. During the earlier times of Xia Dynasty, the approach in selecting the right leader was first set up by Yu the Great, who made the Abdication System the way of choosing the right leader. The Abdication System is an approach where a leader is chosen according to their advanced ability and competence.

Gun’s Mission to Stop the Flooding at the Yellow River

Throughout the Xia Dynasty, the main problem that Yu the Great had to deal with was the flooding of the Yellow River. Long before the time of Gun, known as the earliest member of the Xia clan and also the father of Yu the Great, Gun and other tribe members attempted to solve the problems of flooding. Gun was appointed by Yao to stop the flooding of the Yellow river; Yao ordered the establishment and construction of large line of defense and blockade that would stop the flooding and destruction of their farm or field crops. The attempt of Yu’s father to build a defense and effective barrier to prevent and control the flood lasted for nine long years, but in the end they still failed to attain their goal since the flood became stronger and more uncontrollable. That failure has lead to the order of execution of Yu the Great’s father Gun, who was ordered by Shun the succeeding leader of the throne.

Gun’s Execution and Yu’s Mission

Gun was ordered to be executed on the mountain located between the Donghai countries – because of his father’s failure to solve the flooding, Yu the Great was motivated to continue his father’s attempt to stop the flooding of the Yellow River. Since Yu the Great was highly trusted by Shun, he was then assigned to continue his father’s work – the method and technique of Yu greatly differ from his father’s approach. As you can recall, the method used by Gun was to build a blockade that will redirect the path of the water to stop the flood but since it is a failure, Yu the Great tried a whole lot of different approach. The first step that Yu considered was to acquire help from other tribes. What he did was unite people coming from the different tribes and ordered them to lend him a hand in solving their flooding problems by effectively building canals in all the major rivers around China, which will redirect the water into its way to the sea, consequently preventing it from flooding their farms.

Yu’s Dedication to Stopping the Yellow River Floods

Yu the great has dedicated 13 years of his life in order to complete his mission and during those 13 years, he did not go home to see his family. It was said that throughout that 13 years he only passed by looking at his house without going inside and talking to his family. He was very much dedicated and highly motivated, he was an epitome of strength and intelligence may be that is the reason why all his hard work eventually paid off, and his technique was successful in leading the water directly into the sea, thus preventing the flood.

Mission Accomplished: Prosperity Ensues

The prevention of the flood eventually lead to the affluence and growth of the farm crops that was usually destroyed by the flood and this growth has lead to the strengthening of the Xia tribe, making Yu the leader of other surrounding tribes. Then eventually after several years, Shun abdicated his throne to Yu since Shun himself is getting old and needs to pass the throne and authority to a competent leader – he then chose Yu to succeed on his position. And that was noted as the first year of Yu’s leadership and also the birth of the Xia Dynasty. After several years of leadership, Yu was ought to pass the throne to a worthy leader but instead of choosing according to the competence and ability Yu chose to give the throne to his son Qi; that act marked the start of the Hereditary System in selecting a leader and began the era of clan leadership style of governing. The throne was continuously passed to sons of the kings, from generation to generation until the time of Jie took place. Jie was the last ruler of the Xia dynasty he was perceived as a corrupt leader, which lead to the rebellion of the people against his leadership that eventually lead him to be overthrown by Tang who started the Shang Dynasty.

Xia Dynasty Technology & Innovation

Other changes that were noted from the period of Xia Dynasty was subsequent, the use of stone tools like the hand axe, they also made use of fire in perfecting the stone tools that they created. Agriculture was also improved during the Xia period and pasturing was started. Irrigation technology was also greatly improved, the production of dried and earthen goods also took place, the use of ships and vehicles arose, the use of varnish became common practice. Silk production and weaving also took place during the Xia dynasty as well as drilling and carving technology. But the most recognized innovation during this period was the creation of the calendar based on two different patterns, the use of jade, bronze vessels, and bronze casting also became popular at this era.

14 responses to “Xia Dynasty (2100-1600 BC)”

  1. mariah says:

    were is the battles

    • lolface says:

      Sorry, grammar nut… *Where are the battles?*

      Also, to answer your question, Emperor Yü wasn’t faced with threats from outside his country. The main problem was the flooding of the Yellow River, which he fixed after 13 long years.

  2. lolface says:

    I found this information highly informative, and it actually helped a lot with a project that I am doing. Thanks, TotallyHistory!

  3. Traci says:

    Thank that’s all I needed to know

  4. summer says:

    how come ancient china has dynasties?

    • Justin says:

      Because anytime a king passes his kingdom to his son or heir, he creates a dynasty. This dynasty lasts precisely as long as the ruling family does.

  5. Yolonda says:

    I liked it, but not a lot on social and family life which is what I was looking for mostly. Hard to come by I guess.

  6. Brian Brown says:

    I like this website but not so much but i hope you ad more stuff soon

  7. virginia Bernhard says:

    So Chinese royalty.is in fact derived from common populance?.

  8. timmithy A.schofield says:

    I have found this site to be a very good source of information, I have used this site for the “Han” dynasty and the “Xia” dynasty with amazing results!!RIGHT ON BRO!.

  9. Tang, Chi-Khay says:

    Hi there, I love to learn more about the Xia Dynasty, right from the innovations (the ones listed here are very much appreciated), festivals, the geneology of the kings, culture and etc. Are there any books or even thesis that I can read? I’m not doing a research, just a regular Chinese guy who’s interested in chinese history. 🙂 . In addition to English, I also read French and Spanish.

  10. GRANDPOOBEAR says:

    Know it all.

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