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(shäng) or


dynasty of China, which ruled, according to traditional dates, from c.1766 B.C. to c.1122 B.C. or, according to some modern scholars, from c.1523 B.C. to c.1027 B.C. It is the first historic dynasty of China; its legendary founder, T'ang, is said to have defeated the last HsiaHsia
, semilegendary first dynasty of China, which ruled, according to traditional dates, from c.2205 B.C. to c.1766 B.C. or, according to some modern scholars, from c.1994 B.C. to c.1523 B.C.
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 ruler, Chieh. His successors ruled over a city-state in modern Henan prov. and may have controlled other smaller states on the North China Plain. They warred against the Huns and against the ChouChou
, dynasty of China, which ruled from c.1027 B.C. to 256 B.C. The pastoral Chou people migrated from the Wei valley NW of the Huang He c.1027 B.C. and overthrew the Shang dynasty. The Chou built their capital near modern Xi'an in 1027 B.C. and moved it to Luoyang in 770 B.C.
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, who finally defeated the last Shang king, Shou. Archaeological remains at one of the capitals, near modern AnyangAnyang
, city (1994 est. pop. 458,400), N Henan prov., China, on the Beijing-Guangzhou RR, in a cotton-growing area. It is an agricultural and trade center with textile mills, coal mines, and a medium-sized iron and steel complex.
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, suggest (along with later records) that the Shang had a complex agricultural civilization of peasants and city-dwelling artisans, with a priestly class, nobles, and a king, who was also high priest. Shang religion was characterized by ancestor worship, sacrifices to nature deities, and divination. Stylized inscriptions on bone and bronze artifacts probably reveal the earliest examples of Chinese writing. Bronze casting under the Shang reached a height of artistic achievement rarely equaled anywhere in the world. There was a highly organized bureaucracy, and the patriarchal Chinese family system seems to have already been developed.


See H. G. Creel, The Birth of China (1954); T. Cheng, Archaeology in China: Vol. II, Shang China (1960); K. C. Chang, Shang Civilization (1980); D. Keightley, Early China (1981) and The Origins of Chinese Civilization (1983).



(also Yin), the name of the first verifiable period in the history of the Chinese people, as well as the name of an early state in China (16th—11th centuries b.c.). The last capital of the Shang state was situated near modern-day Anyang, near the village of Hsiaot’un in the province of Honan. The major branches of the economy were farming and livestock breeding; there was also hunting and fishing. The land was worked primarily with stone and wooden implements. Handicraft production had achieved a rather high level of development, especially the production of bronze vessels, weapons, certain work tools, and pottery. This period also saw the appearance of hieroglyphic writing, the so-called divination inscriptions on the bones of animals and the shells of tortoises.

The data provided by archaeological discoveries and studies of the inscriptions reveal a significant degree of property differentiation and class stratification in Shang society. The oppressed classes consisted of members of communities—the principal agricultural producers—and slaves. The members of communities (chung, chungjen) in actual fact were dependents of the state and thus differed very little from the slaves. The latter consisted largely of prisoners of war. By the 14th century b.c., a state had already formed, headed by a ruler of unlimited authority, the wang. The Shang state waged a long struggle against neighboring tribes (T’ufang, Mafang, Ch’iang). In the 11th century b.c., however, the related Chou tribe, taking advantage of the sharpening class contradictions and internecine war within the Shang state, was able to destroy it.

Scholars are still unable to agree on the character of the social organization of the Shang period. The majority of Chinese scholars (Kuo Mo-je, Wu Tse, and others) believe that a developed slave-holding society already existed in China at this time. Some (Lii Chen-yii, Fan Wen-Ian) even assert that the end of this period saw a transition to a feudal society. There are, however, some researchers (Chao Hsi-yüan) who feel that Shang society represented a transition between clan and class types of organization, and others (Yii Hsing-wu) who see it as the last stage of a primitive society. Soviet scholars likewise have differing opinions. Some see Shang society as a class society, whether of an early slave-holding (L. I. Duman) or a developed slave-holding type (R. V. Its), and others consider it to have been a disintegrating primitive communal system at the stage of a military democracy (T. V. Stepugina) or a society with an emerging class structure (M. V. Kriukov, L.S. Vasil’ev).



1. the dynasty ruling in China from about the 18th to the 12th centuries bc
2. of or relating to the pottery produced during the Shang dynasty
References in classic literature ?
You shall have your way with her before another day has passed, Matai Shang," said Thurid, "if you but say the word.
I have heard of the Temple of the Sun, Dator," replied Matai Shang, "but never have I heard that its prisoners could be released before the allotted year of their incarceration had elapsed.
If he should lead Matai Shang to that hollowed spot, then, too, should he lead John Carter, Prince of Helium.
He alone could sail the Cowrie, therefore the others could not leave Jungle Island without him; but what was there to prevent Gust, with just sufficient men to man the schooner, slipping away from Kai Shang, Momulla the Maori, and some half of the crew when opportunity presented?
Some day there would come a moment when Kai Shang, Momulla, and three or four of the others would be absent from camp, exploring or hunting.
To this end he organized hunting party after hunting party, but always the devil of perversity seemed to enter the soul of Kai Shang, so that wily celestial would never hunt except in the company of Gust himself.
One day Kai Shang spoke secretly with Momulla the Maori, pouring into the brown ear of his companion the suspicions which he harboured concerning the Swede.
It is true that Kai Shang had no other evidence than the natural cunning of his own knavish soul--but he imagined in the intentions of Gust what he himself would have been glad to accomplish had the means lain at hand.
We are old friends, Momulla; we cannot afford to quarrel, at least not while old Kai Shang is plotting to steal all the pearls from us.
Go and ask Kai Shang if there is not a wireless," replied Gust.
So Momulla went to Kai Shang and asked him if there was such an apparatus as a wireless by means of which ships could talk with each other at great distances, and Kai Shang told him that there was.
Then the Maori suggested that they speak with Kai Shang.