In the reform fever of various kingdoms, a batch of scholars broke the parochial clan network and moved freely.
1 Commerce prosperity and cultural awakening
1 Commerce prosperity and cultural awakening
In the late Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, the iron tools and ox-led farming enhanced rapid development of productivity, boosted commerce and town prosperity, and seriously impacted the traditional ritual order. In the reform fever of various kingdoms, a batch of scholars broke the parochial clan network and moved freely. They maneuvered among various political groups and gave lectures here and there, greatly enlarging their field of vision and enhancing cultural awakening.
2 Widespread education
In the Spring and Autumn Period, the pattern of "cultural learning exclusive to officials and nobles" was broken and "private schools"for spreading culture established by scholars gradually prevailed. For instance, Confucius of tho State of Lu vigorously promoted the thought of "education for all," with more than 3,000 disciples, including 72 famous ones, some of whom were of humble birth. Widespread education paved the way for the booming culture in that period of transformation.
3 Agricultural development and scientific advances
An intensive yeoman economy showed much more benefits than the simple and extensive farming, which further aroused the enthusiasm inside the producers. Furthermore, the highly-developed handicrafts and commercial sectors and the reforms in all kingdoms aimed at building a more prosperous society helped achieve great scientific and technological progresses in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. Bronze casting techniques were extremely mature, resulting in a vast number of superb bronze art-works. Raw iron could be smelted as early as the Spring and Autumn Period, and cast iron techniques were invented in the Warring States Period, which was 2,000 years earlier than those in the West. The Spring and Autumn Period saw the production of the worlds earliest cementite steel. The Warring States Period witnessed the accomplishment of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, built by the masses and led by Li Bing and his son. The irrigation system, consisting of the fish-mouth water diversion dike, bottleneck and flying and weir, was able to prevent and drain floods, as well as irrigate and carry boats. It helped the Chengdu Plain develop into a land of abundance and can irrigate tens of millions mu of land even today.
Astronomically, The Shi Star Catalogue recorded the world's earliest observations of comets in BC 613. The Shi Star Catalogue, the world’s first star catalogue, recorded the positions of more than 120 stars. Arithmetically, the 9x9 Formula for Multiplication and the Method of Count Calculating were invented. Physically, the Mohist Canon, written in the Warring States Period, includes the Lever Principle and the Theory of Buoyancy, as well as knowledge about acoustics and optics—proof of outstanding achievements made in ancient China, Medically, Bian Que, a famous doctor in the Warring States Period, established a theory of four diagnostic procedures, namely inspection, auscultation and olfaction, inquiry, and pulse-taking and palpation. These procedures have been adopted by Chinese doctors for 2,000 years and Bian Que was thus reputed as the "ancestor of Chinese pulse-taking science."
Great scientific advances sped up the awakening of rationalism and cultural spirit.
4 The Book of Odes and Chu odes
The Spring and Autumn Period saw the emergence of China's first poetry collection, The Book of Odes, which is a compilation of 305 odes written in the 500 years from the early Western Zhou to the middle Spring and Autumn Period. The book has three parts, namely Feng, Ya and song. The Feng section (also named Guofeng is of the highest quality, with records of folk songs in the Spring and Autumn Period that include satires on the ruling class, praises for the protesting spirit of the masses, and wishes for beautiful love. With simple and rich languages, The Book of Odes mainly contains four-character sentences and many overlapping sentence forms, marking the formation of Chinese poetry. The inclination toward realism and rhetoric means of Fu, Bi and Xing had a far-reaching influence on poets of later generations. In the subsequent Warring States Period, Chu odes, a new form of poetry based on folk songs in the state of Chu in the south, emerged and became popular. With free-style sentences, they are more suitable for expressing complicated feelings. The Lament, written by Qu Yuan, was a collection of famous works in Chu odes expressing his political hopes and patriotic feelings. The poems feature the repeated use of symbol and metaphor, and combine myth, legend, historical figures and natural scenes with magnificent words, distinctive imagination, strong feelings and profound concepts.
The Book of Poetry, with Guofeng as its representative, and Chu odes, with The Lament as their representative, are usually combined and called Feng Sao, which reflect the emergence of early cultural spirits and respectively started the realistic and romanticist styles of ancient Chinese poetry.