Category Archives: Letters

Stories communicated in letters are a unique way to know how history was passed down.

The Situation of Xia Dynasty from 2000 BC-1600 BC

My dear Riya,

In this letter I will tell you about the first two dynasties of China from 2000 BC to 1046 BC and the remarkable accomplishments in this period in the fields of handicrafts, pottery, stoneware, textiles, metallurgy and music. Let us begin with the first dynasty- the Xia.

Yu or Siyu was a heroic figure of the Xia tribe and was later chosen its chief. He undertook many punitive expeditions against the tribes in the south and also called a conference of many tribes at Mount Tu. He was a good administrator and divided his state into nine administrative districts. He recommended an able administrator Gaotao to succeed him but the latter pre-deceased him. Thereupon Boyi was chosen to succeed him but after Yu’s death, Qi, his son seized the position of the king and established the system whereby the ruler ‘takes all under heaven as his family possession.’ This was the beginning of dynastic rule in China.

The Xia divided the state into nine administrative divisions, each under a governor. A very interesting aspect of the Xia rule was the appointment of Xishi and Heshi as incharge  of observing celestial bodies and the four seasons. Based on these observations they worked out a calendar called ‘Xia Xiao Zheng’ which divided the year into 12 months. They also recorded the monthly farming activities in different seasons and weathers and thereby drew conclusions of how the crop will fare in different weathers.

Excavations in Erlitou of Henan Provinces indicate the production of many varieties of pottery, stoneware and bronze wares. Bronze metallurgy was a newly developed industry and the techniques adopted were fairly advanced. People sang and danced with the ‘Shao Music’ of the Xia dynasty which was very melodious. Another interesting find of this period is the development of brewing industry. It became a fashion for Xia people to drink wines.