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China Information >> Cultural relics
 
Spring and Autumn Period

Spring and Autumn Period

Bronze vessel of the Spring and Autumn Period unearthed in Yancheng Site, Jiangsu Province

The Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC) refers to the period covered by Confucius# book The Spring and Autumn Annals, which recorded history from 722 to 48BC.

The Spring and Autumn Period was a time of turbulence and transition in Chinese history, with the decline of the patriarchal clan system, enfeoffment system and traditional cultural pattern of the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century-771BC).

The sword used by Gou Jian, King of the Yue State of the Spring and Autumn Period (55.7cm high, 4.6cm wide and with a handle of 8.4cm long)

During this period vassal states did not obey orders from the king and fought with each other for their own interests. Some powerful states united with other vassal lords by invoking the slogan loyalty to the King of the Zhou and fought anti-Zhou states and other resisting states. During the annexation of the vassal states, Duke Huan of the Qi, Duke Wen of the Jin, Duke Mu of the Qin, Duke Xiang of the Song and Duke Chu of the Zhuang, known as the Five Overlords of the Spring and Autumn Period, had, in turn, emerged as the supreme powers of the states.

From the social structure to the political system, great changes had taken place during the late Spring and Autumn Period. Cultural and educational systems were no exceptions. At that time persistent social upheavals gradually broke the monopoly of culture and literature by members of the nobility. To educate and foster more scholars and officials, private schools became a trendy development. Confucius started private tutoring under such circumstances. Praising King Wen of the Western Zhou Dynasty and influenced by Guan Zhong and Zi Chan of the Spring and Autumn Period, Confucius created a school of thought called Confucianism by refining various literary materials in history.

Following a long war period, only seven states -- the Seven Powers of the Warring States Period -- remained before they were finally absorbed by the Qin when the country was united.