The Meaning of Ancient Chinese Cities
Charles Nelson
Spring Semester, 2017
Academy for Life Long Learning
Time 1 PM to 3 PM
Dates March 16, 23, 30 and April 6, 2017
Bellingham Cruise Terminal


Brief course description:         eMail the instructor
The past is always present in China. Learn how ancient Chinese cities were constructed to capture and redistribute the life force of the universe. You'll never look at the Forbidden City or the towered walls of Xi'an in quite the same way after you understand their underlying purpose. Continuing beyond the influence of Chinese urban design, the course examines the microcosms of residential structures and social space in China, and their change and continuity over time.

MENU    . = new material

 Urban Planning in Pre-Industrial China
   Political theology at the industrial scale
   download Ancient Chinese Cities as PDF

 Structure of the City
    Material used in class presentations.

 The Mandate of Heaven
    Material used in class presentations.

 The Field Well System    < REVISED
    Material used in class presentations.

 Oracles & Divination   < REVISED
    Material used in class presentations..

 Dragons in Ancient China
    Material used in class presentations.

 siheyuan & mingtang   < REVISED
 the basis architectural space

    Material used in class presentations.

 fengshui    < NEW
    Material used in class presentations.

 Detailed Timeline for Chinese History
   Dynasties, Dates, brief Histories.
 Simple Timeline for Chinese History
   Good for Maps & Tombs.
 Becoming China Timeline [PDF]
   Elements of Chinese Culture.
 Xia-Shang-Zhou Chronology Project
   Official time line of the PRC

 Emperor Yu's Flood [PDF]
   Disruption integrates Bronze-Age China.

 Yongning ward in Tang Chang'an
   Daily life in the Tang capital city

   download Yongning as PDF

 Skinner's Work Reviewed
   Provides a context for CPT in China.
   download Skinner Review as PDF
   Note: CPT = Central Place Theory

 The Big Dipper Clock
   Follow the Big Dipper hourly & seasonally.
   Hint: Move the tab on the calendar bar.

 Lost Meanings from the Yijing
   The Houtian Sequence in the Luoshu
   download Yijing as PDF

 Bronze Age China
   A very short overview; use links.
   download Bronze Age China as PDF
   But more material at website.

 Yin Oracle Archive
    Shang record keeping.

 Bronzes in historical context
    Shang & Zhou history in bronze:
    types, design, inscriptions, collections.

 The Nine Sacred Vessels of Shang
   Securing the Mandate of Heaven
   download Sacred Vessels as PDF
   The PDF includes additional material.

 Astrology in the Zhou period
   Keeping Heaven's Mandate  Note:
   The web article lacks illustrations.
   download Zhou Astrology as PDF
   The PDF includes all illustrations.
   Interested in Nine Field Astrology?
   download Theory of Fenye as PDF

 

 

*Note: The website fails to display some of the figures on some browsers, but the PDF Acrobat file caputures them all, though the formatting is a bit rough in places.

 

Preliminary Course Outline

5,000 years of Cultural Stability in China - implications
   Can you read the Bible in the original?
   The Past is always Present in China
   Neolithic origins of the field-well system
   The field-well system and the Chinese cosmos
The Mandate of Heaven
   Heavenly vessels of the Shang
   All is lost in the collapse of the Chou (Zhou)
   Regaining the Mandate of Heaven
   The Zhou diaspora & 'a hundred schools' of thought
   Enfeoffment & the Mandate of Heaven
   The Duke of Yansheng (Confucius)
   Chinese assessment of human nature
   How the mandate was regained
Qi and the Mandate of Heaven
   Why old Chinese coins have square holes
   Polaris is the home of heaven
   Where Santa gets his powers
   Power flows from north to south
   Fengshui - hinder the wind and hoard the water
As emperor, how do you employ heaven's breath?
   The chain of being
      Tension twixt kinship & ability as organizing principles
      The end of the Zhou and the power of culture
   Entrenching and directing civil power
   Entwining religious and political power
      Managing Qi locally
      Fixing populations in place geographically and socially
Qi engineering works
   Canals, flood control, the largest dam in the world
   City management of water and wind
The "Qi-antum" physics of ancient Chinese cities
   Location of the city
   Where and how Qi enters the city
   Interior circulation
   Compass points
   Where does Qi go when it leaves the city?
   Qi on the road 7 - league boots & robotic horses
Qi, political hierarchies, and central place theory
   Capitals, cities, towns, villages, neighborhoods, families
   Skinner and the mathematics of Qi
   The geography of human resources and productivity
   Modular planning
Economic activity within the ideal Chinese city
   Bringing the outside inside
   Placing and managing markets
   Managing merchants, goods & money
Systems of numerology and the structure of the city
   The ancient Chinese well-field system
   As reflected in the world of the dead
   As reflected in the sacred vessels
   As reflected in architecture
   How it informs the structure of the city
   The nine-square mandala
   Squares and rectangles
Changšan (Sui-Tang Capital City)
   History of the city ­ population size
   Modular planning illustrated
   Management of Qi ­ regular and irregular elements
   Management of markets
   Interactive model of ancient Changšan
   Mapping the empire to the capitol
   Touring the empire within the capitol
The structure of the central government
   Reflected in the well-field model
   Reflected in the nine-square mandala
The spread of Chinese urban design in East Asia
Returning to the microcosm of the family compound
   Residential structures and social space
   Modular building ­ its origins and plan
Concluding Considerations
   What aspects of the traditional city still survive?
   Will it survive modern Chinese capitalism?
   Parallels with the Warring States Period?