Discuss the proposition that the Tang-Song era was at the same time both innovative and conservative.
The Tang-Song era was a time of shift and change in China. Things were changing within the population balance, patterns of trade and commerce, renewed urban expansions, forms of artistic and literary expressions, and technological inventions.
One of the biggest innovations during the Tang-Song era was establishing the Grand Canal. This was driven by the Sui emperors and the Tang rulers due to a major population shift. The Grand Canal was made to connect the original centers of Chinese civilization of North China plain with the Yangzi river basin (over 500 miles south). Another innovation was the development of junks and flying money. Junks were Chinese ships that had watertight bulkheads, sternpost rudders, compasses, and bamboo fenders. At this point in time, Junks were the best ships around and because of these Chinese sailors and merchants became the dominant force in Asian seas and Malayan peninsula. Flying money was a credit instrument that gave vouchers to merchants that would be redeemed at the end of travel to lessen the change of robbery.
As population moved south, the valleys became more fertile and became a large part of agrarian expansion. Farming methods during this time improved drastically. Productivity increased in staple crops which meant that the population support would increase. Family organization at the various class levels still resembled that of earlier times, although women began to gain higher positions, but this would later decline in the Song era.
The Tang-Song era is largely known for its great improvements in science, technology, literature, and fine arts. Some very major technological and scientific breakthroughs made their way during this time. Also, the reinvigorated scholar-gentry elite was responsible for a large portion of the literary creativity. Confucian scholar-gentry made...