Neolithic Era — Primitive Society & Mythical History

This is the epoch starting from the existence of human beings to the establishment of the first dynasty Xia around the year 2070 B. C. by Yu the Great, who led people to defeat the Great Flood.

 

Many primitive cultures scattered in different places in China. Gradually, they became stronger, then here came many merger wars. 

Red-crowned Crane Bone Made Flute, Peiligang Culture (About 7000 — 8000 Years Ago) — Henan Antique Archaeology Institute (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Some Important Cultures in the Neolithic of China

Dawenkou Culture

Dawenkou was an era with the rise of Private Ownership and Patriarchy, and the gradual collapse of the Matrilineal system.

  • Around 4500 BC — 2500 BC

  • Shandong Province, East of China.

Achievements:

  • Cultivation of Millet and Keep of Livestocks;

  • Advanced Pottery of Different Colors;

  • Widely Use of Stone, Wood, Ivory, Jade, and Bone Tools.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Dawenkou Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying) 

Longshan Culture or Black Pottery Culture

Developed from the Dawenkou Culture, the Longshan Culture Entered the Bronze Age.

  • Around 2500 BC — 2000 BC

  • Shandong, Henan, Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi Provinces, etc; the Middle Kingdom Era of China.

Achievements:

  • Thin Fetal Black Pottery and Jade Articles showed advanced technology of Longshan Culture.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Longshan Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying) 

Hongshan Culture

Hongshan was an agricultural, Matrilineal culture, with grand worship sites, altar, temple, and hierarchy.

  • Around 4000 BC — 3000 BC

  • Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Hebei Provinces, North and Northeast of China.

Characteristics:

  • Delicate jade articles had clear ceremonial uses and were widely used in tombs. 

Unearthed Artifacts of the Hongshan Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Yangshao Culture

Yangshao was an ancient Matrilineal society that was made of village-scale clans. 

In later centuries of Yangshao Culture, the Matrilineal system declined, while hierarchy,  slaves, Private Ownership, and Patriarchal Commune appeared. 

  • Around 5000 BC — 3000 BC

  • Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Hubei Provinces, the Middle Kingdom Area of China.

Achievements:

  • Yangshao was a further developed agricultural culture that contained cultivation of millet, rice, vegetables, livestock, with hunting and fishing activities as supplements.

  • Painted Potteries were quite exquisite during this era. 

Unearthed Artifacts of the Yangshao Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying) 

Majiayao Culture

Developed from the Westward of Yangshao Culture, the Majiayao Culture official entered the Bronze Age.

  • Around 3300 BC — 2100 BC

  • Gansu, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Ningxia Provinces, Northwest of China.

Achievements:

  • Highly Developed Painted Pottery.

  • The earliest unearthed bronze knife in China was from the Majiayao Culture.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Majiayao Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Qijia Culture

Developed From the Westward of Yangshao Culture, the Qijia Culture was a Patriarchal Clan Society that had entered the Bronze Age and appeared hierarchy, Polygamy, and Human Sacrifice.

  • Around 2200 BC — 1600 BC

  • Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia Provinces, Northwest of China.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Qijia Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Shijiahe Culture

Shijiahe was a Bronze Age civilization with grand worship ceremony, city ruins, and exquisite jade articles.

  • Around 2800 BC — 2000 BC

  • Hubei, Hunan, Henan Provinces, Middle-South of China.

Unearthed Jade Artifacts of the Shijiahe Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Hemudu Culture 

Hemudu was an ancient Matrilineal society that consisted of clans.

  • Around 5000 BC — 3300 BC

  • Zhejiang Province, East of China.

Achievements:

  • Advanced Black Pottery Production;

  • Wide Use of Stone, Bamboo, Wood and Bone Tools;

  • Earliest Cultivation of Rice;

  • Stilt Style Houses;

  • Utilization of Fabric.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Hemudu Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Liangzhu Culture

Liangzhu was a well-developed culture that contained a ruling class, fancy palace, about 3 million square meters large capital city, mature agricultural production, and over 5000 years old water conservancy system.

  • Around 3300 BC — 2000 BC

  • Zhejiang, Jiangsu Provinces, East of China.

Achievements:

  • Exquisite ritual jade articles, which were believed as magical objects that can connect with deities, were used in worship ceremonies and burial of nobles.

 

They were the representative of monotheism religion, public power, and strict hierarchy of the Liangzhu Culture. 

  • Unearthed delicate black pottery, fabric, ivory, and lacquer wares, moreover, are concrete evidence of the mature social division of labor. 

Unearthed Artifacts of the Liangzhu Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Scientific Development: 

 

  • The invention of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 

 

  • Application of Terrace, which expanded cultivated farmland and decreased loss of water and soil.

 

  • The invention of Sericulture.

 

  • Wide utilization of Pottery, Lacquerware, and Bronze Ware. 

 

  • Invention and application of Bow and Arrow in wars. 

 

  • Wide Cultivation of Rice, Millet, Soybean, Domestication of Pig, Fermentation of Wine, etc.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Neolithic of China (Photo by Dongmaiying)

 

The Classic of Mountains and Seas (Unknown Writer)

 

Finished around 5000 years ago, this book had only pictures originally. The descriptive Chinese characters were added centuries later.

 

This miraculous book includes about 40 states, 550 mountains, 330 rivers, over 100 historical figures, more than 400 Mythical Animals, and their legends, agricultural activities, and customs, in addition to the creation myth, Chinese Gods and Mythical World

It is a combination of reality, myth, and legend; from the description of the wondrous and fantastic world in the book, people could find many of the prototypes even in the current world.  

 

This book records an era of mysterious immortals and brave heroes with influential contributions.

 

The boundary between humans and celestial was quite blur; supernaturals could come to the civilian’s world and help them, while excellent people could become immortals because of their great accomplishments. 

Together, they changed the world and made it a better place to live, through their diligence, strong will, and exceptional courage.

 

This is the origin of Chinese people’s Ancestor Worship and the initial stage of Chinese culture.