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(so͝ong), dynasty of China that ruled 960–1279. It was divided into two periods: Northern Sung (907–1126) with its capital at Kaifeng and Southern Sung (1127–1279) with its capital at Hangzhou. The first emperor, Chao K'uang-yinChao K'uang-yin
, Chinese emperor (960–79), founder of the Sung dynasty. A leading general during the short-lived Later Chou dynasty (951–60), he usurped the throne, and by the time of his death he had reunited most of China proper.
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, consolidated several warring states and established a domain that included the Chinese heartland and Hainan island in the south. He also laid the principle of civilian control over the military, which enabled the Sung to avoid the warlordism that had ultimately destroyed the T'ang. Hard pressed by the Khitan and the Tangut, the Sung paid tribute to avert invasion. In 1126, however, the Jurchens took over the Huang He river valley and established the Chin dynasty in the north. The Chinese court fled to the south and established what later historians call the Southern Sung dynasty. Although China was weak militarily and surrounded by strong enemies, the Sung dynasty is known for its economic, intellectual, and artistic accomplishments. The civil service examination system was extended, agricultural productivity increased with new technologies, and both domestic and overseas commerce expanded as advances in ship-building and the use of the magnetic compass made voyages safer. These developments resulted in the growth of cities and the introduction of paper currency. Wang An-shihWang An-shih
, 1021–86, Chinese Sung dynasty statesman. As a chief councilor (1069–74, 1075–76) he directed sweeping administrative and fiscal reforms that drew strong conservative opposition.
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's ambitious programs to increase revenue and strengthen the military failed because of factional conflicts within the government. Still, literacy increased as a result of the spread of printing, gunpowder was used for the first time, and Confucian philosophy was revived and broadened by Chu HsiChu Hsi
, 1130–1200, Chinese philosopher of Neo-Confucianism. While borrowing heavily from Buddhism, his new metaphysics reinvigorated Confucianism. According to Chu Hsi, the normative principle of human nature is pure and good.
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 and others. Many scholarly works were produced, including encyclopedia compilations, critical histories, and scientific treatises. With the help of government subsidies and patronage, the fine arts flourished, and connoisseurs consider Sung landscapes the greatest achievement in Chinese painting. The Southern Sung ruled until the Mongols conquered (1273–79) all of China and established the Yüan dynasty.


See J. Gernet, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250–1276 (tr. 1970); J. T. C. Liu, China Turning Inward: Intellectual-Political Changes in the Early Twelfth Century (1988); P. K. Bol, "This Culture of Ours": Intellectual Transitions in T'ang and Sung China (1992).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a dynasty and empire in China (960–1279).

The military commander Chao K’uang-yin founded the Sung dynasty at the end of the period of the Wu Tai (Five Dynasties, 907–960), destroying his enemies and extending his realm over southern and northern China as far as the lands of the Khitan state of Liao and the states of Hsi Hsia and Nan Chao. T’ai Tsung (976–997), Chao K’uang-yin’s successor, carried forward the unification of China, thereby fostering the growth of production forces, such as agriculture, mining and salt extraction, and domestic and foreign trade. Culture also made significant strides—in philosophy, for example, with the emergence of the neo-Confucianism of Chu Hsi. The Sung empire suffered defeats, however, at the hands of its northern nomadic neighbors. By peace treaties with the Khitan in 1004 and 1042 and with the Tangut in 1044, Sung rulers pledged to pay a tribute of silk, silver, and tea.

As exploitation in the countryside grew worse, as taxes increased, and as the burden of usury grew wearisome, the people found themselves much worse off than before, and the class struggle grew sharper. The peasant movement persisted unchecked. Urban revolts broke out for the first time. Opposition sprang up among the ruling class as well. The political strife of the 11th century grew into a reform movement, which achieved partial success in the reforms of Wang-An-shih.

In the 12th century the Juchen (the Chin state) invaded North China. In 1127 they took Pien (now K’aifeng), the capital of the empire, and crossed the Yangtze River. The imperial house moved south, and Linan (now Hangchow) became the capital of the Southern Sung (1127–1279). The emperors and feudal lords were unable to mount a defense against the invaders. In 1141 the Southern Sung government came to terms with the Juchen, concluding a treaty by which it ceded northern China to the Huai River and pledged the payment of an annual tribute. The empire of the Southern Sung fell to the Mongol conquerors and was destroyed.


Istoriia Kitaia s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei. Moscow, 1974. Pages 98–126.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Song
an imperial dynasty of China (960--1279 ad), notable for its art, literature, and philosophy
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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