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CHINA'S IMPERIAL HISTORY: THE SONG DYNASTY

THE SONG DYNASTY 
This period in Chinese history is characterized by prosperity, creativity and freedom of religion. A new urban class of scholar-officials rose, the arts flourished, and agricultural technology was disseminated. 

THE NORTHERN SONG: 960-1127 AD
The dynasty’s first capital was Bianjing, present-day Kaifeng in Henan Province.

  • Walk around Iron Pagoda, inlaid with the finest example of colored glazed bricks. Learn from a specialist in Chinese philosophy about the significant role Buddhism played in influencing the revival of Confucianism.
  • Explore the ancient Jewish quarter with a scholar of Chinese Jewish history and meet the few remaining descendants of this once thriving community. 
  • Join hundreds of calligraphers at the annual chrysanthemum cultural festival. Learn to write the Chinese character for chrysanthemum, the city flower and a favorite motif of Chinese poets and painters.

THE SOUTHERN SONG: 1127-1279 AD
An invasion from the north forced the court to flee south and establish a second capital in Lin’an, present-day Hangzhou, located in Jiangsu Province. 

  • Spend the day on a leisure boat on West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and transport yourself back into a classical Chinese landscape setting, surrounded by mountains and pagodas. West Lake's landscape inspired garden designs in Korea and Japan.
  • Hangzhou was a center for sericulture, creating beautiful silk patterns during the Song Dynasty. Study the technique of silk and satin weaving with a textile curator from the China National Silk Museum.
  • Cycle around the Longjing tea plantations and learn the intricacies of tea cultivation and connoisseurship. Tea reached 'cult' status during the Song Dynasty.
 
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A rendering of the Kaifeng synagogue which was destroyed by a flood.

Pictured at top is Hangzhou's scenic West Lake.


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