The transition from the classical to the post-classical period marked a great divergence between each era’s respective legacies and contributions to history. While the classical era is noted for being a period of intense cultural flourishing, post-classical times are best remembered for achievements in other areas. Despite the geographical distance between the various regions, all of the world’s the post-classical societies underwent major economic developments in trade and communications as well as cultural growth through expansion of religion. In post-classical China, the collapse of classical societies caused people to seek a “greater power” to console their fears and strife, causing religions such as Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism to flourish. China also saw an increase in communication with other regions, primarily through the interactions required to exchange their innovative goods and ideas, including gunpowder and the use of horses for travel, along the Silk Road and maritime networks. These influences shaped the development of each dynasty in a different manner, resulting in notable distinctions between the cultures, economies, and societies of the dynasties. Despite these discrepancies, some commonalities remained throughout the dynasties, highlighting characteristics that defined the time period as a whole. While religion in post-classical China shaped the cultures of each dynasty differently and more frequent interactions with other regions through trade led an increase in economic developments and new technologies, traditional Confucian ideals continued to influence government and social structure. The spread of religion during post-classical times was rapid, and its impact on the culture of each dynasty was great, albeit different for each. One major religion that transformed post-classical China was Buddhism, altering the cultures and economies of the Tang and Song dynasties. Buddhism had been present in China since the classical times, however it gained a larger following during the Tang dynasty. During the Tang, the capital Chang’an had strict schools teaching Buddhism, believing that strict punishment would shock students into finding the truth. This contributed to Tang culture as the influence of Buddhism took hold on the lives of many young people, shaping their education and values. Buddhism had a similar effect on the culture of the Songsong dynasty; in Document 8, the painting depicts Zen monk Shih K’o meditating, which was a key aspect of the religion as it is essential to reaching nirvana and finding the truth. Painting and calligraphy were deeply appreciated during the Song dynasty, thus the artist’s decision to paint a Buddhist monk indicates the strong Buddhist influence on culture. The effect of religion on the dynasties evolved as the religion itself changed – as Buddhism had a major impact on Tang and Song dynasties, Neo-Confucianism shaped Song culture in a different way, as well as affecting the Ming economy. The fusion of Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist ideals, which were all prevalent during the Song, led to the rise of Neo-Confucianism. The changing nature of religion and its impact on culture is illustrated in Document 7, which is a painting of Song dynasty Neo-Confucian philosopher Zhu Xi meditating. As can be seen by Xi’s simple robes and calm demeanor, he emphasized Zen-like features that are typically associated with Buddhism, showing how Buddhist influence on culture had evolved to fuse with Confucianism. However, because minimalism and freedom from material goods are key ideals of the Buddhist religion, the presence of robes on the monk rather than minimal clothing highlights the painting’s its differences divergence from Buddhism in favor of more Confucian features, illustrating how religious ideas have changed from the Tang dynasty. These changing religious ideals continued throughout the post-classical era, as the same religion was was not perceived the same way in each dynasty. Though Neo-Confucianism was appreciated during the Song, in contrast it had negative effects in the Ming, as the dominance of Neo-Confucianism strengthened their contempt for commerce and contributed to Ming anti-commercialism, illustrating the impact religion had on economy. Though Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism were the predominant religions at different points throughout the post-classical era, traditional Chinese religion, though not as widespread, had an impact on government during the Song dynasty. In Document 2, author and civil service administrator Lu You travels through southern China on a provincial assignment and documents his experiences in his diary. However, it is important to note that You was an educated and wealthy bureaucrat, thus, his journey consists of many experiences that only the wealthy have access to, therefore You’s travels cannot be applied to those of lower classes. In addition, he includes his thoughts opinions on his experiences, therefore the piece has a bias. Despite this, he provides great insight into the culture of the region, describing his visits to various monasteries and temples. At a monastery, You observes calligraphic records of the emperor’s dreams, showing that religion had an impact on the government as the emperor was associated with a religion, therefore his empire likely did as well. You also visits the Shaman Mountain, of which there is a Shen Nu, or goddess, and a sacrificial priest. The presence of these rituals resemble the religious rites of the Mesoamerican region, in which the peoples are polytheistic and human sacrifice is a major aspect of tradition. For example, the Aztecs believed that their sun god must be sustained by human blood, and thus it was their responsibility to provide victims through sacrifice. They often chose war captives, and killed them in extravagant festivals in order to please their god. The similarity between these rituals in China and Mesoamerica demonstrate how religious influences in different areas have varying levels of impact on culture and their daily lives, as they dominate Mesoamerican society whereas they are overshadowed by Neo-Confucianism and Buddhism in China. As a whole, religion’s widespread influence impacted various areas of post-classical China, including culture, economics, and government, thereby signifying its importance to the legacy of each dynasty.Alongside religion, trade was another factor that attributed to economy throughout the dynasties, spurring interactions with foreign civilizations and new technologies. The interaction between Europe and China as a result of trade is one example of the many relations with other regions that China developed during post-classical times. This exchange is described in Document 5 by Marco Polo, a Venetian trader and city governor who travelled to Hangzhou during the Yuan dynasty and recounts his experiences in A Description of the World. He was shocked by the land of culture and wealth that little Europeans knew existed, and writes about Chinese society, describing marketplaces and bathing rituals, so that Europeans would be informed of Hangzhou’s wonders, thus spurring a greater interest in trade and exploration. Polo’s point of view is unique because of the intricate amount of description he provides, which can be likely attributed to the fact that he is from Venice and had never travelled to China before. However, it is highly plausible that Polo had given such a raving account of China in order to substantiate the success of his travels, thus upholding his importance as a prominent trader and official back home in Venice. he not have any previous impressions about China that would impact his opinion due to lack of European knowledge, thus eliminating bias. Through trade, European and Chinese cross-cultural and economic ties were strengthened and commenced a long relationship between the two countries. Over time, Chinese technologies including paper, printing, gunpowder, and many more were transmitted to Europe, demonstrating China’s increasing interaction with other regions. The economic changes that occurred in post-classical China could further be seen through the advancement of technology. Rice cultivation was an agricultural development that occurred during the Song dynasty and had a major impact on China’s economy. In Document 6, Chen Pu explains the process of rice cultivation in detail, describing the different types of crops, its financial benefits, and more. He provides a instructions and tips on how best farm rice, and also explains how men should conduct business with careful investment and without greed, invoking the traditional quote, “Profit comes from a little; confusion comes from a lot.” Pu’s explanation illustrates China’s development, as the Song people were learning and adapting to make their economy more efficient. It also created another product to be traded both domestically and with other regions – it advanced China’s trade market, and the spread of this development to other regions would increase China’s prestige and influence among the world. Another key technological innovation was the Grand Canal, which was originally built during the Sui dynasty as a state-sponsored commercial public facility, and it helped influence trade because of its location and usages. However, as time went on, the Grand Canal had to be adapted to suit China’s increasing needs – it was extended multiple times during the Song dynasty in order to reach more areas for trade and the new capital of Beijing and would thus have a greater economic influence. The evolution of the Grand Canal represents change and economic development throughout the dynasties as increasing foreign contacts demanded its advancement. Lastly, the technological advancement in military strategies further showed economic change. Document 3 depicts Mongol warriors on horses in war in the Yuan dynasty, using gunpowder and weaponry. This emphasizes the new technologies and their use, as gunpowder was created in the Song dynasty and was then put to more frequent and more advanced uses. Gunpowder served the Mongols in war, allowing them to defeat other civilizations and thus have more global influence, further elevating their domination of trade routes. In addition, they used horses for travel, showing how they developed multiple uses of the creature in order to benefit themselves. This allowed the Mongols to travel more quickly and efficiently, resulting in their influence being spread even more rapidly across the Eurasian region. The economic advancement that occurred in post-classical China signified the key role that trade played, showing how it uniquely shaped and defined each dynasty.Though trade and religion clearly distinguished each post-classical Chinese dynasty from one another, religion also provided a continuity throughout the dynasties: the Confucian philosophy was prevalent during the entire period and created constancies in government and social structure. Confucian ideals stemming from the classical era favored a bureaucratic government, with the examination system being a key aspect to the system. In Document 4, an unnamed author writes a test question for prospective government officials with the purpose of generating their opinion on the examination system. The question explains how the examination system dictates a man’s power and wealth by predetermining his occupation, and then goes on to urge his audience, the test-takers, the government who holds power, to consider both the merits and disadvantages of the system. reconsider and potentially change the system. It can be inferred that it was written by a progressive, one who views the system to be too traditional as times have changed. Though the piece is informative, its credibility is questionable due to the bias with which the author writes, as he describes the system with negative connotations. This source reveals that the object of the examination system was to prompt prospective bureaucrats to discuss their political alliances, and therefore the author likely leaned far towards the progressive side in order to generate discussion. Furthermore, Despite its lack of objectivity, the document explains the examination system and the effects of it on society and occupations, with the author also expressing its pitfalls, as it limits men to simply their occupations. It gives insight into the continuities of the bureaucratic government throughout the dynasties, as it remained relatively unchanged even from classical times. The bureaucratic government of classical China was considered to be a superior method of selecting the most qualified officials for positions, and thus became one of China’s most defining traits. This can be attributed to Confucianism’s large presence during post-classical times, despite the spread of other religions, resulting in a government system based on Confucian roots that had little room for advancement.In addition to its impact on government, Confucianism affected the social structure of post-classical China, particularly the status of women. Confucianism strongly stressed the Five Relationships, but all of these relationships only pertained to men. Classical Confucian ideals largely marginalized women and forced them to be submissive to men, and this stayed consistent throughout the dynasties. Women did not gain much ground during this long time period, and were restricted to the same roles and forced to participate in superficial rituals throughout. In Document 1, author Li Bo, a famous Tang poet, writes from the perspective of a woman from the Tang dynasty whose husband is returning home and explains her emotions toward it. She married at age 14, and her young age suggests that she is unlikely to be mature enough for married life, and thus more inclined to be submissive towards her husband. Furthermore, her young age likely allows for her husband to have more control over her. She is also likely waiting patiently because she is reliant on her husband to provide for her, and thus cannot do much besides wait for him to return. Though the speaker is a woman, the actual writer, who is a male, addresses the fact that wives are submissive to their husband. His stance on the issue, however, is unclear as the poem does not indicate whether he agrees with this notion or not. He seems to leave this up to interpretation for the audience, which is to anyone who enjoyed poetry during the Tang dynasty. In the poem, a typical relationship between a married man and woman is described. She waits for her husband to return from a long journey, and she reflects on her sorrow and her deep longing for his presence. Bo explains reveals through the wife’s language that how the wife is submissive to her husband, referring to him as her “Lord,” describing herself as “bashful” and lowers her head. Furthermore, she states that she will “come out to meet him,” which is symbolic of how the woman is expected to go beyond to meet the standards of men. The role of this woman is reflective of traditional Confucian ideals, and is continuous throughout the dynasties. The practice of foot binding also demonstrated the low social status that women held, as wealthy women participated in this beauty standard in order to have small feet. Small feet were highly praised, but food binding itself was a very difficult and immobilizing activity. Once women bound their feet, they were most likely carried from location to location because they could not couldn’t physically walk. This practice marginalized woman as it put them through physical pain in order to meet superficial beauty standards, representing traditional Confucian views towards women and their submissive role to men. The Confucian influence on government and society during post-classical times reflect a continuity that had some negative effects, including a rigid government and the marginalization of women, yet provided a constant and familiar structure throughout all of the dynasties. The changes and continuities that occurred in post-classical China marked a clear departure from the classical era, perpetuating a new age. While the Confucian-based government and social structure resisted change during this period and remained quite similar to those of classical China, the radical changes that it underwent brought China into the post-classical world and “put it on the map.” These cultural and economic advancements made China increasingly well-known to foreign nations, foreshadowing its eventual influence as a world superpower. Though China is just one region of many that was influenced by trade and religion, these forces were powerful across the globe and truly transitioned the world out of classical times, setting the stage for more advanced cultural and economic developments in the years to come.