Talk:Society of the Song dynasty

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Society of the Song dynasty is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Society of the Song dynasty is part of the Song Dynasty series, a featured topic. This is identified as among the best series of articles produced by the Wikipedia community. If you can update or improve it, please do so.
This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on May 23, 2008.
Article milestones
July 31, 2007Good article nomineeNot listed
August 12, 2007Good article nomineeListed
September 24, 2007Featured topic candidatePromoted
November 18, 2007Featured article candidatePromoted
October 11, 2009Featured topic removal candidateKept
March 29, 2010Featured topic removal candidateDemoted
November 29, 2011Featured topic candidatePromoted
Current status: Featured article

Failed "good article" nominationEdit

This article failed good article nomination. This is how the article, as of July 31, 2007, compares against the six good article criteria:

1. Well written?:   There are a lot of major problems with WP:MOS throughout the article which do not really have an easy fix. The biggest issue with this article throughout is a lack of stating the obvious. You have to remember that this article may not be read after or in with accord other Song Dynasty articles. Especially troublesome are the conventions of the lead per WP:LEAD. I suggest that an informal cleanup be instigated, focusing on combing through the article per each section of the Manual of Style and keeping in mind that the article should stand on its own. Another troubling factor is that almost every section has contains some writing with a basically un-encyclopedic tone. By this I mean a un-academic, personal tone of voice that, even when backed by sources, sounds exceedingly casual and sometimes sensationalistic.
2. Factually accurate?:   The information that is included is well-sourced.
3. Broad in coverage?:   This is the most lacking area of this article to me. In contrast to the articles on Song Dynasty architecture, art, and commerce, this article provides too much detail in some areas (such as gender relations and postal system) while neglecting others. A basically sociological article on the Song Dynasty should include major independent sections on the political, military, religious, and class aspects of society. Perhaps this is a symptom of other cultural subjects such as the aforementioned articles taking up quite a bit of the normal subject matter of a societal/cultural world history article. But again, state the obvious and remember that the article should be able to stand on its own.
4. Neutral point of view?:   Generally okay, but again there is sensationalistic language occasionally. The beginning of the "urban life" section reads like cheerleading for the breadth and scope of the urban society of the dynasty rather than a sober recounting of its place in history. You could present equally extravagant facts about the size of many of the periods of history in every nation.
5. Article stability?   Yes.
6. Images?:   Images are good and well-placed.

While in most other articles I would place a hold period, the expansion and cleanup (an entire re-write of some sections) required of this one will take much more than a week. I suggest once that is finished, the article be re-submitted for GA. Feel free to contact me personally and I would be happy to approve it providing these corrections are taken to heart.

When these issues are addressed, the article can be resubmitted for consideration. If you feel that this review is in error, feel free to take it to a GA review. Thank you for your work so far. — VanTucky (talk) 20:18, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

I've recently added the military section, which is an improvement upon what you have suggested, but yes, this article still needs a lot of work.--PericlesofAthens 18:35, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
I also cut down on the family and gender section, which you have suggested.--PericlesofAthens 08:20, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
I've created a new "Social class" section, as you've requested.--PericlesofAthens 08:57, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

GA ReviewEdit

I have concluded my review and made some basic copyedits including spelling and grammar corrections. This is a well-referenced and decently-structured article. Here are the areas that I see as needing work:


  • The lead paragraph does not meet the requirements of WP:LEAD in that it doesn't summarize the most important points of the article. It does not include any information on religion or forensic science, for example. I would also mention why the Song dynasty was culturally distinct from the Tang and Yuan dynasties.
  • Dates are not consistent with WP:DATE-- do not include AD unless there is confusion about the era (i.e., the paragraph discusses both 430 BC and 430 AD).
  • The following sentences need re-writing.
The city of Hangzhou was remarkable for its efficiency in municipal maintenance. For example, to combat the spread of fires in the city, the government issued two thousand soldiers of fourteen established fire stations within the city (and more in the outlying suburbs).
Through a plethora of diverse sources (written stories, legal cases, and other documents) dating to the Song period, one can dismiss the literal associations with the ideal concepts of the "bread-winning" male and the ultimately domestically-kept wife.
Remarriage to a new spouse after the death of a spouse, mutual differences between the two, or broken family ties was common during the Song Dynasty.
The Chinese of the Song period were greatly interested in aspects of the spirit realm, according to Chinese beliefs. It was popular in Song literature, as Hong Mai (1123-1202), a prominent member of an official family from Jiangxi, wrote a popular book called The Record of the Listener, a book with many anecdotes that dealt with the spirit realm and people's interactions with it.
In parallel to those belonging to the realm of the living, the Chinese believed that spirits and deities had the same emotions and drives as living people had, and in some cases a local city's chief deity was believed to act as a municipal official who could receive and dispatch orders on how to handle spirits.
In contrast to the exam-drafted scholar-officials who came mostly from prominent families, military officers owed their status in society to the government they served.
Although lacking enough horses for a large cavalry-based army, the Song built a considerable navy in the 10th century reunification of the Chinese empire, as well as in the 12th century defenses against the northern Jurchens.

Broad in Coverage?:

From the time of the previous review, there have been some improvements. I wonder if there could be a more fullsome discussion of commerce/mercantilism and politics?

I will check back in 7 days and hope that you will have made progress. Please feel free to leave any comments/discussion on these suggestions on my talk page. Argos'Dad 16:09, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

Addressing concernsEdit

Hi Argos'Dad, I am glad that you've chosen to review the article, one that I've put a lot of work into. Addressing some of your concerns so far, I have expanded the lead considerably to incorporate all of the recently added material and new sections, while I have also edited every sentence that you designated as needing rewording. I have not yet addressed your suggestions for expanding info on Song politics and commerce, but I have so far addressed many of your concerns. Thanks once again for reviewing the article.--PericlesofAthens 18:16, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

I just expanded the Social class sub-section with new info on artisans and craftsmen as well, and the scholar officials viewpoint that they should be respected more than the merchants. I also provided a lot of information about architectural engineers and writers, and their highly venerated status despite being traditionally lower in society than the scholar-officials.--PericlesofAthens 18:40, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
You are doing excellent work here. I think you have addressed everything except, I would recommend adding a short section on politics and summarize (and link to) that part of the History of the Song Dynasty article. Again, good work! Argos'Dad 21:10, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
As you requested, new the Politics section has been added.--Pericles of AthensTalk 13:31, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Successful good article nominationEdit

I am glad to report that this article nominee for good article status has been promoted. This is how the article, as of August 12, 2007, compares against the six good article criteria:

1. Well written?: prose is solid and illuminating
2. Factually accurate?: article is well-sourced
3. Broad in coverage?: article is complete
4. Neutral point of view?: no issues here
5. Article stability? article is free of edit wars and reversions
6. Images?: free of copyright issues

If you feel that this review is in error, feel free to take it to a GA review. Thank you to all of the editors who worked hard to bring it to this status, and congratulations. — Argos'Dad 19:44, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Awesome! That is very good news.--Pericles of AthensTalk 00:21, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

Comments from ScartolEdit

Sorry it's taken me so long to get around to reviewing this. It's clear you've put in a lot of work, and it appears very thorough and well-sourced. Hopefully I can make some helpful suggestions.


  • Right off the bat, I'm feeling jittery about how it starts. WP:LEAD says it's okay not to have the article title in boldface under certain circumstances, and this would appear to be one of those. However, it seems like the reader needs to make it through the entire first paragraph before getting a handle on the article's nutshell. IMO, the best way to proceed would be to start with something like: "The society of the Song Dynasty was organized…" (If you started this way, you could even give us the bold title.)
  • The educated scholars and scholar-officials, sometimes collectively referred to as the gentry, lived in the county and provincial centers filled with shopkeepers, artisans, and wealthy merchants. Gentry living in small communities around county and provincial centers were the local elite of their areas; gaining their cooperation and employment was essential for the county or provincial official who was overburdened with official duties. Do you need to the second and third appearances of "county and provincial centers"?
  • Scholar-officials of the Song period departed in many ways from the more aristocratic-based scholar-officials of the earlier Tang Dynasty (618–907), "aristocratic-based" sounds weird to me. Do you need the "-based"? Also, try to combine this sentence with the one which follows it. Maybe something like: "Scholar-officials of the Song period were more numerous and varied…".
  • These disagreements often led to factional political strife… Is there any other kind? I'd lose "factional".
  • …the merchants of the Song period often rivaled officials and remaining aristocratic land-holders… I'd lose "remaining". It's not clear where they remain from.
  • …soldiers were not viewed as highly respected members of society. Is it not possible simply to say: "…soldiers were not respected members of society."?
  • Although certain duties were expected of them, women in Song society enjoyed a wide range of social and legal rights that benefited them in an otherwise patriarchal society. Awadewit often chastises me for sentences like this, wherein the pronoun (here: "them") comes before the referent (here: "women"). I don't mind them, but she may be right that it could cause confusion. (Wow, now I'm channeling her.)
  • I removed "In court cases" before "Song judges were encouraged…". It seemed redundant. (Feel free to revert any copyedits I make if you disagree with them.) Later in this sentence, it says: …based upon their practical knowledge… Shouldn't it be "personal knowledge"?
  • Is the military structure and strength really a matter for an article about Song-era society? This isn't a redundant question; I don't know and I'm asking because I assume you do.

More to come! – Scartol · Talk 02:58, 30 October 2007 (UTC)


  • By 1100, the number of registered households within the walls was 1,050,000 people, while the army stationed there boosted the overall populace to some 1.4 million people. (I edited this sentence a bit.) The sentence starts out talking about registered households, then switches to number of people. It should be consistent one way or another. Also try to use phrasings other than "some (#)" from time to time.
  • With a thriving shipbuilding industry connected to overseas commerce… Do you need this last part? Isn't it assumed?
  • During the Song period there were two capital cities, Kaifeng and Hangzhou, the former being… This has already been explained in the previous paragraph; I'd start the sentence by saying: The first capital, Kaifeng, was the seat of….
  • Maybe we should indicate that "Northern Song" and "Southern Song" were chronological terms? The years right afterwards do this, but it might still be a bit confusing for some readers. (Is geography related to it at all?)
  • the two official marketplaces of Chang'an had strict daily curfews ending at dusk The curfew ended at dusk? So people weren't allowed to travel during the day? Or did the curfew start at dusk?

More to come! – Scartol · Talk 15:49, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Good suggestions, I have edited the article based on them.--Pericles of AthensTalk 16:22, 31 October 2007 (UTC)
  • The government assigned two thousand soldiers to fourteen fire stations built to combat the spread of fire within the city, and stationed twelve hundred soldiers in areas outside the city's ramparts. Since the first part of the sentence (and the one which follows) concerns fire fighting, it's a good idea to mention why the other 1200 were stationed outside the ramparts. (If possible, put the info about firefighting together.)

More to come! (I really shouldn't edit when I only have a few minutes.) Also, you don't have to respond every time, unless you really want to or there's something specific you'd like to reply about. – Scartol · Talk 16:51, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Does this article need the info at the end of this section about the postal service after Song? It feels extraneous to me.


  • As a fanatical go player, I have to ask if there's anything notable about the playing of that game during this era? =) Maybe just add it to the sentence at the end about board games? (If it was popular, of course.)
It was popular; the Song era scientist and mathematician Shen Kuo even calculated the total number of positions one could use on a board of five rows and twenty-five game pieces, yielding the number 847,288,609,443!--Pericles of AthensTalk 14:48, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
Yay! Thanks for adding that. – Scartol · Talk 17:46, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
  • A text of 1235 mentions… Maybe just explain that it lists a variety of clubs, then list 3-4? Instead of listing so many?
I do not see your point; there is not an excessive amount of clubs listed. In fact, the very reason why I included them is to give the reader an idea of the types of clubs found, not just the fact that there were social clubs.--Pericles of AthensTalk 14:48, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
I feel that the list of eleven clubs is unnecessarily detailed. It's obviously up to you, but I'd prefer a more truncated list. I think you could indicate the variety of clubs by saying something like: "A text from 1235 describes a wide range of organizations, from the West Lake Poetry Club to the Horse-Lovers' Club." – Scartol · Talk 17:46, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
I really admire what you've done to the article in slimming it down and cutting out unnecessary material. However, leave this one alone. Each one of those specific club names is valuable; together, they reveal the amount of variety in Song era social organizations. Simply saying that there was variety is one thing; actually displaying that variety through rich example is quite another.--Pericles of AthensTalk 17:08, 2 November 2007 (UTC)
Hey, it's your project – I'm just visiting. =) My suggestions are all exactly that: suggestions. You're totally free to take 'em or leave 'em. – Scartol · Talk 19:40, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Rural lifeEdit

  • The people spent their days … paying rents and taxes… This doesn't feel like a daily activity. Surely it only took place once in a while?
  • The Song government provided tax incentives to farmers who tilled lands along… Why was it important that these areas be farmed?
    • Why was it important that these areas be farmed? Because farming more available land meant gaining a larger surplus of food. A larger surplus of food = economic and political stability. Every little space that could be farmed was deemed valuable.--Pericles of AthensTalk 22:51, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

Social classEdit

  • I changed the em dashes in one spot to en dashes, because they were spaced. If you use em dashes, they need to be unspaced.
  • The entertainment business in the covered bazaars in the marketplace and at the entrances of bridges also provided a lowly means of occupation for … old soldiers who flaunted their strength by lifting heavy beams, iron weights, and stones for show. I'd just end it with "…flaunted their strength."
Yeah, but then the reader might ask questions of "how did they flaunt their strength?" So a short few examples aren't such a bad idea.--Pericles of AthensTalk 14:50, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Nonetheless, Song Chinese urban society was teeming with "wholesalers… It's important to indicate where this quote comes from.

More to come! – Scartol · Talk 17:44, 31 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Despite their suspicion and disdain for the powerful merchants, the latter colluded with the ruling scholarly elite… What does "the latter" refer to here?
  • Sometimes "scholar officials" is hyphenated, and sometimes it's not. When you have some time, go through and make it consistent throughout the article.
  • His written manual on standard building codes and procedures was sponsored by Emperor Huizong for these government agencies to employ… Maybe just: "…was required by Emperor Huizong for these government agencies"?

Education and civil serviceEdit

  • Random comment, not related to this section: The image of the vase at the top seems incongruous, insofar as society tends to deal with people, and pottery is more about culture. There are clearly a number of great images of people, which I think would work better as a primary image.

More to come! – Scartol · Talk 15:51, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

  • I don't know how I feel about the blockquote poem. It's a great poem, but the structure of the layout bothers me. Go ahead and leave it for now and let's see what other folks say. I removed the sentence after the poem, since it wasn't necessary and it's a bit WP:OR.
  • I don't know that you need to keep saying "the earlier Tang dynasty". Just "the Tang dynasty" is sufficient, I think. The "earlier" bit is kind of like linking it; necessary early on, and afterwards only when especially relevant.
  • There was also the Neo-Confucian Donglin Academy… It's best not to start sentences with "There was…". If you can, reword this to say something like: "The Neo-Confucian Donglin Academy was also [insert adjective]." (Other sentences in the article also begin with "There were…")


  • Wang also established government monopolies exacted upon the tea, salt, and wine producers and distributors. I'm not really sure what this means; a monopoly usually isn't exacted upon a producer. Instead, a monopoly will put producers out of business.
  • …which in turn aligned his known political rivals in opposition. Again, this is unclear.


  • I changed the name Kong Fuzi to Confucius, since it's probably more familiar to readers. If you had a specific reason for not using it, feel free to revert this change.
  • I removed the Gernet blockquote, since those are reserved for quotations over four lines in length.


  • It is often claimed that… This is passive voice (because the subject of the sentence – here, "it" – isn't doing the action). Passive voice should be used with extreme rarity. Better to say something like: "Historians often claim that…" or (even better) just get to the point: "Women in the Tang dynasty…".
  • It was common for wealthy women to… In this sentence, one of the things is not like the others: "wives to be jealous and conniving towards concubines their wealthy husbands brought home". This is an element of the domestic sphere, and the first part of the sentence sets up examples of women doing things outside of that sphere.
  • For future reference: WP:PUNC indicates that quotations need to go in "double quote marks". I fixed the ones in this section.

More to come! – Scartol · Talk 17:43, 1 November 2007 (UTC)


  • the magistrates and prefects of the Song period were expected to know more than just the written laws.[1] They were expected to promote morality in society, to punish the wicked, and carefully recognize in their sentences which party in a court case was truly at fault. It's not clear to me how this is different from modern judges. Isn't the US Supreme Court supposed to do the same thing?
  • Jacques Gernet states that it was often the most serious cases… Is it necessary to call him out by name here? Seems like that should happen only when quoting directly or explaining differing viewpoints.
  • I'm not sure I'm in favor of the huge excerpted judicial decision blockquote. Maybe summarize it or quote only the most pertinent sentences?

More to come. – Scartol · Talk 02:56, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

  • In the Song Dynasty, sheriffs were employed to investigate and apprehend suspected criminals, determining from the crime scene and evidence found on the body if the cause of death was disease, old age, an accident, or foul play. The beginning of this sentence is about criminals in general, and it ends up about suspected murder specifically. It's best to stick to one or the other – or else logically narrow the focus somehow. ("When murder was suspected…")
  • Again, I don't know if I like the big blockquote from Song Ci. Maybe just quote the last sentence and summarize the rest?
  • Is there no Wikipedia page for Roderic de Castro's book? Seems like an important topic to be WP-page-less.
I agree. I just don't have enough info on him to start any sort of substantial article.--Pericles of AthensTalk 20:56, 5 November 2007 (UTC)


  • The placement of the "Four Generals of Zhongxing" image is botched. See WP:MOS#Images. ("Do not place left-aligned images directly below second-level (===) headings…") Same for the Song Dynasty naval river ship image.
  • This military section makes me want to break out my copy of Civilization III again, heh. Nice job.

Well, I suppose that's it. Thanks for putting in so much work on this – I enjoyed reading it, and I learned a lot. Cheers! – Scartol · Talk 20:13, 2 November 2007 (UTC)


Hi, thanks for getting to the article. I like your suggestions, and so I have taken the liberty of editing the article to delete some words here and there and reword some sentences for better clarity.

Is the military structure and strength really a matter for an article about Song-era society?

Yes. Soldiers and officers are nonetheless part of society, they are not removed from it. There is a bunch of additional background information so that the reader can be well informed on the topic, but notice statements such as:

During the Song Dynasty, if one did not have the advantage of gaining a formal education, then the quickest way to power and joining the upper echelons of society was to first join the military. If a man had a successful career in the military and had victorious battles to boast of, then he had a sure path to success in politics. Exam-drafted scholar-officials came mostly from prominent families and could rely on their clan status to advance their careers and place in society. Yet many Song military officers did not have this advantage of higher clan affiliation and owed their status in society solely to the status that military power granted them. Many court eunuchs such as Tong Guan (1054–1126) were eager to enlist as military officers in the central army since this was a means to elevate their position at court. Hence the military became a prospect for many in Song society.

This was a crucial blow to the Song military elites, as they had been closely tied to the political structure until 1127; afterwards the military leadership became alienated from the emperor and the Song court.

Emperor Gaozong of Song (r. 1127–1162), desperate to refill the diminished ranks of the central army, drafted men from all over the country.

This had been done in previous times but not on the same scale. Only the most skilled became imperial guardsmen, while under Gaozong entire central army units were composed of soldiers from every region and background.

Unlike many other Chinese dynasties throughout history, the Song Dynasty did not model its military infrastructure and organization on the precedent of northern nomadic armies, such as the earlier Xianbei and later Mongols.

These statements speak volumes about the lives of soldiers and their place in society.--Pericles of AthensTalk 18:18, 30 October 2007 (UTC)


  • Copyedited the lead (extremely long) lead section, mainly aiming to trim redundancies and combine sentences. However, I think a thorough cleanup is in order, at least for this section. IMO, 3 sentences--the first sentence, a short sentence on the civil exams, and a short sentence on increasing social mobility--are all that are needed. Everything else should be incorporated into their respective sections and removed from the lead. This would also help smooth out the disjointedness (i. e. abruptly moving from the military to women's social positions at the end of the 2nd paragraph) that is nearly impossible to copyedit in the current state. Thoughts or comments? --Malachirality 03:51, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
Great job so far! Keep it up.--Pericles of AthensTalk 15:59, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Congrats on the FA! Also it seems the article has been previously copyedited. Based on these two facts, I am going to consider this copyedit request filled and move it to the proofreading LOCE page, in an attempt to prevent another backlog on the LOCE project. Unless, of course, you have further concerns? --Malachirality (talk) 05:48, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Very interesting section, suggestionsEdit

The material from people joining the military to gain power from the Wu and wen, violence and culture sub-heading is very interesting. The section reads:

During the Song Dynasty, for those without formal education, the quickest way to power and the upper echelons of society was to join the military.[141] If a man had a successful career in the military and could boast of victorious battles, he had a sure path to success in politics.[141] Exam-drafted scholar-officials came mostly from prominent families and could rely on their clan status to advance their careers and place in society. Many Song military officers did not have this advantage, and owed their status in society to the advantage that military power granted them.[141] Many court eunuchs such as Tong Guan (1054–1126) were eager to enlist as officers in the central army since this was a means to elevate their position at court.[69]

The family memoir of Yue Fei describes events in the General's life that closely matches that described above. Yue Fei idolized certain historical heroes like Guan Yu and even patterned his life after them (which one historian claims led to his execution). Despite being literate, giving him a chance to become a scholar, Yue chose the military path because his family was poor and because there had never been any tradition of full-fledged Confucian civil service in his family history. So there was no need for him to study the classics in order to live up to or surpass the accomplishments of his ancestors to help elevate his family's social rank. His great-great-great grandfather had been a low-level government functionary, but was never apart of the Confucian class. One historian claims Yue was nowhere near as educated as some make him out to be. So, in essence, Yue's only option was the military. And since he gained much military and civil power later in life, I think Yue's tale (peasant to Generalissimo to civil official) would serve as a nice example used to illustrate the info from above. If anyone would like citations and quotes that you can paraphrase (and you know who you are) please contact me and I will provide them to you. Please keep in mind that I just recently moved and some of the sources might be buried under a mountain of boxes. So it might take me some time to track them down. Or I can just give you the citations and you can track the info down yourself. --Ghostexorcist 07:33, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Awesome! I love making those sort of connections with history: generalities and then specific figures tied together to make a comprehensive whole. Good luck with your move! I hope you like your new place.--Pericles of AthensTalk 13:19, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

spaced em dashes?Edit

MOS prefers unspaced, because spaced ones are rather lumpy visually. The very acceptable alternative, if you like the spaces, is to turn them into en dashes. Tony (talk) 01:01, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Cool, thank you.--Pericles of AthensTalk 18:26, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Featured Article status!Edit

Woohoo! Thanks to everyone who contributed to the article. It looks great.--Pericles of AthensTalk 00:23, 19 November 2007 (UTC)


Um, there are a lot of problems with this article, I just took a brief glance and will make some further suggestions after I review a few things, but first off:

1) The whole section on Foreign minorities is a mess.

Kuwabara: this was not the Maritime Trade Supervisor for Quanzhou, Jitsuzo Kuwabara was a Japanese researcher who wrote an article on P'u Shou-Keng (蒲壽庚) who was the Arab Maritime Trade Supervisor and whose perfidy aided the Mongols in their conquest of Song China. Kuwabara's article appears in the Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko.

It sounds like this was also confused with Zhao Rukua, whose lived about a century earlier and who wrote the Zhu Fanzhi.

One significant distinction between the Song and previous dynasties was the emergence of ethnographic literature, such as the Zhu Fanzhi and Lingwai daida, perhaps this should be included as well.

Additionally, if you're going to discuss foreigners, you also might want to include some information on those Chinese who lived in the Jin empire, as this gives a fuller picture of the complicated interaction between Chinese and foreigners during the period.

2) Perhaps more attention should be given to the demographic shift from Northern to Southeastern China, it is only obliquely mentioned. Hartwell's "Demographic Shift" is a good place to start.

3) Social class: a distinction should be made for the evolution of the shi, noting the difference between Northern Song shi who sought to maintain and achieve status by through holding offices at court , and the shi of the Southern Song, who adopted locally based methods of obtaining and perpetuating elite status. Additionally, some discussion of the how the first Song emperors sought to use the emerging shi class as their core constituency is necessary to understand how this relationship developed.

4) "Meritocracy and a greater sense of social mobility were also prevalent in the civil service examination system, as the government held a list of all examination graduates, showing that only roughly half of those who passed had a father, or grandfather, or great-grandfather who served as a government official."

This claim, first put forward by Kracke, has been proven to be patently untrue, especially if we are talking about the entire 300 year history of the Song. It was more true for the Northern Song, but even then only up to a point, there should be a mention of yin privilege. See Hymes' "Statesmen and Gentlemen," Hartwell "Demographic Change," and others.

5) )Factions: the whole section ignores the intellectual background of faction formation.

There are many other issues,

I look forward to helping make this a better article,

cheers. Aas217 (talk) 07:21, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Point #1Edit

  • My mistake, I completely misread Needham on page 465 of his 3rd volume; thank you for pointing out this embarrassing error on my part. I never looked into the matter afterwards and never attempted to research any other source materials about P'u Shou-Keng (or Pu Shougeng).
  • As far as ethnographic literature is concerned, I would like to include it, but I would have to have access to source material in order to add anything.
  • I might mention ethnicity in the Jin Empire, but this article should not stray from the focus of society within the Song Dynasty, not so much its "neighbor" to the north.--Pericles of AthensTalk 16:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Point #2Edit

  • I agree; hopefully his book is available at my university library. I will check, hold on.--Pericles of AthensTalk 16:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
I just checked, and I am glad to say that my library indeed has a copy of Hymes' book. I will check that out sooner or later. Unfortunately the library does not carry a copy of Hartwell's book "Demographic Change" or "Demographic Shift" (you used two different title names in your points above, and I checked for both at my library's catalogue).--Pericles of AthensTalk 16:12, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Point #3Edit

  • I would love to elaborate on this point, but I am limited in that I own only so many books about Chinese history, and JSTOR features only so many articles about Chinese history and society (let alone articles that focus on pre-modern Chinese gentry, and specifically within the Song Dynasty instead of a broad or general discussion of the gentry throughout many dynasties). If I can find source material on this subject I will improve the article in that regard, but I am unable to at the moment.--Pericles of AthensTalk 16:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Point #4Edit

  • Ok; I'm only stating a point in Ebrey's book (which never elaborates on much of anything, since it is a general history of East Asia and treats a variety of subjects with only brief coverage). I'm glad you mentioned yin privilege, this was elaborated on by my professor Mr. Chang in a class I took at George Mason University. I might still have the classroom notes on this. However, that would be considered original research, and until I can get a hold of the scholarly sources you mention, I cannot elaborate or even include that subject in this wiki article. Hopefully I will be able to access those sources.--Pericles of AthensTalk 16:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
I just used Hartwell's article to counter Kracke's statement about exams showing greater social mobility.--Pericles of AthensTalk 21:00, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
I just used Hymes' book to buttress the point made by Hartwell.--Pericles of AthensTalk 04:56, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Point #5Edit

  • Once again, I am limited in the amount of sources I own, and the sources that I have fail to elaborate on the differences in the intellectual roots of the political factions that arose during the Northern Song. I would love to improve the article according to your suggestions, but I am powerless to do so without access to a larger variety of texts and sources.--Pericles of AthensTalk 16:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)


I'll try to make some edits when I have some time next week, some articles that are available on JSTOR are Robert Hartwell's "Demographic, Political and Social Transformations of China, 750-1550," Peter Bol's "The Rise of Local History: History, Geography, and Culture in Southern Song and Yuan Wuzhou," and Paul Jakov Smith's "EURASIAN TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE TENTH TO THIRTEENTH CENTURIES: THE VIEW FROM SONG CHINA, 960-1279"

I would say that the biggest overall deficiency in this article is that it doesn't describe the dramatic changes that occurred in Song society over the course of its 300 years of existence. Society was not static from the founding of the Song to the Mongol invasion, many substantial changes occurred which had an extraordinary impact on the history of Early Modern China, these inceptive developments should at least be outlined in order to give the reader a better perspective and how Song society related to what preceded it and what followed.

Also, I'm pretty sure you're still conflating Pu Shougeng with Zhao Rukua, the only monograph of major significance that is still extant regarding trade was the 諸蕃志, I'm not aware that Pu Shougeng wrote any monograph on the topic, but I'll double check. Aas217 (talk) 16:19, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

No need to mention Pu and Zhao, I've already deleted that mentioning of the monograph.
Although the article doesn't describe "dramatic changes" in every instance and in every sentence of the article, surely you must give it a bit of credit in some places, such as the evolution of Chinese military policy in the last section or the changes in the education system from Northern to Southern Song. I do agree, though, that overall it is lacking in that department. Once again, I would love to demonstrate what you're saying, but the sources I used did not explicitly lay that out. Leaving out any significant information of gradual change that occurred was never my intention; it had everything to do with limitation of sources and scant amount of elaboration in those sources on the subject of societal transformation from Northern to Southern Song.--Pericles of AthensTalk 17:00, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
As for enthnic and religious minorities in the Song, I have recently expanded that section, and it looks much better.--Pericles of AthensTalk 00:42, 16 May 2008 (UTC)


I've made recent improvements to the article, noting demographic changes in the "urban growth and management" sub-section as well as the evolution of career paths for officials in the new "Government and politics" section.--Pericles of AthensTalk 15:37, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

Using Hartwell's article I've made further improvements, and created two distinct sub-sections for the "Education and civil service" section.--Pericles of AthensTalk 20:21, 23 March 2008 (UTC)


I removed this quote -

The population of South China reached its height around 1080 and fell at an annual rate of 0.26% from 1080 to 1200.[1]

because it was inaccurate, Hartwell stated that the rate of growth fell to .26%, not that the population decreased at an annual rate. See p. 394.

I really admire the time and effort you've put into this, I feel that this article, if thoroughly revised, would be pretty good. As it is now, there are still many problems, but these can all be worked out.


Aas217 (talk) 22:25, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Despite whatever problems remain, I still think Pericles should be given a pat on the back for creating such a wide ranging article from scratch. --Ghostexorcist (talk) 23:38, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

I removed this quote

Oops! Thanks for fact-checking, Aas217. Also, thanks for the comment Ghostexorcist. That is such a cool name! Pericles of Athens is fine, since he was such a renowned statesman and reformer, but the user name just doesn't have the bad-ass quality to it as your name does. Lol.

Also, I am just now sitting down and reading Hymes' book. It's going to take longer than usual, as I've got mountains of schoolwork to do simultaneously. I'll try to strip down to the essentials and basic arguments of his book and summarize much of his nuanced material here. It is simply going to consume a large amount of time, so don't go holding your breath in wait for changes. Cheers.--Pericles of AthensTalk 00:15, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

I've used Hymes' book to buttress some already existing points; refer to the new inline citations in the "Notes" section to see where I applied his material. Also, I've recently expanded the "partisanship and reform" sub-section with some interesting information on Song beliefs about the tao and Wang's self-inflated psyche and beliefs that he possessed the sages' gift, which in turn led to his vehement rebuttals and rebuke of anyone who challenged his seemingly flawless reforms.--Pericles of AthensTalk 05:47, 26 March 2008 (UTC)


  1. ^ Hartwell, 394.

Law, justice, and revengeEdit

I just recently expanded the "Justice and Law" section with information on Wang Anshi's writing and his opinions about vigilante justice.--Pericles of AthensTalk 18:49, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

"In ancient China, criminals were guilty until proven innocent, the reverse of modern jurisprudence." Ancient Chinese Law and modern jurisprudence are not so different. Although 'innocent until proven guilty' is often shouted about, and exist in theory, and is regarded as a pillar of the legal system, in practice it does not stop the authorities in Western countries from holding suspects in prison on remand for months and even years without trial or until the final trial. Criminals by definition are guilty and not innocent, and so were correctly treated by the ancient Chinese legal system, as they are also guilty by definition in modern jurisprudence. Suspects were/ are however not criminals by definition. (talk) 00:44, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

I agree the presumption of innocence is not universal in modern jurisprudence and is not a feature, in practice, of current Chinese jurisprudence. To avoid geobias, maybe "In ancient China, criminals were guilty until proven innocent, the reverse of modern jurisprudence" should be rephrased to something like "In imperial China, criminals were guilty until proven innocent, the reverse of some modern jurisprudence". — AjaxSmack 01:24, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

'Criminal' has now been changed to 'accused'. However, were there not different degrees of 'accusation'? Given the reference to Judge Bao (Pao)- The Fair Judge, if no prima facie evidence was established, would the good Judge Bao or any fair judge still throw the accused in prison? I think not. This puts a slant on the Western justice system: The accused may very well be innocent and judged innocent after the final trial, but it does not stop the western system from holding the accused in custody on remand in a prison. Thus, in the west, a person may very well be innocent until proven guilty, but it does not stop him from being thrown in prison before the trial. The passage about in ancient China the accused is guilty until proven innocent is rather suspicious, as in both east and west, ancient and modern, the accused (though innocent) could very well end up in prison for some time. I suggest that the phrase is to be removed unless proof is given. (talk) 01:01, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

And of course someone convicted by a lower court is by law a criminal, and treated as a criminal until a higher court overturns the decision of the lower court. The 'criminal' may of course have been innocent all along, but was still labelled a criminal on the findings of the lower court. In this case the phrase, the criminal is guilty until proved innocent, applies. (talk) 01:21, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
The presumption of innocence is certainly a feature of current Chinese jurisprudence. All legal procedures depend on evidence. If you were found with a knife with blood on near a dead body, you would find it hard to explain to the Courts in a bail hearing that it was a coincidence. (talk) 01:09, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

I believe someone, not I, added the "reverse of modern jurisprudence" a long time ago without me noticing the change until recently. I believe the sentence originally simply read "In ancient China, criminals were guilty until proven innocent." Here is the section from page 107 of Jacques Gernet's book where I gathered this information:

An accused person was immediately thrown into prison: even an innocent person wrongfully accused was guilty of having disturbed the peace of the locality and the tranquility of the judge. Besides, since the idea of accusing him had arisen, his innocence was not complete. As for the accuser, he too was regarded with the greatest suspicion. Furthermore, it was expensive to have recourse to public justice, since an accusation could not be laid without making the usual offerings to the judge: it was a matter of decorum.

So there you have it. The recent change to "accused" is justified by the source, and the statement "reverse of modern jurisprudence" should be scrapped since it does not reflect what the source entails, and we all know that in the modern West or anywhere else for that matter, when someone is accused and a potential suspect of a crime, they get their ass thrown into jail just in case! Lol. Case settled.--Pericles of AthensTalk 04:46, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

In light of all this, I have rewritten the last half of that paragraph as thus:

In ancient China, the accused in court were not viewed as fully innocent until proven guilty, while even the accuser was viewed with suspicion by the judge.[179] The accused were immediately put in filthy jails and nourished only by the efforts of friends and relatives.[179] Yet the accuser also had to pay a price: in order to have their case heard, Gernet states that they had to provide an offering to the judge as "a matter of decorum."[179]

Sound good to you, gentlemen?--Pericles of AthensTalk 04:57, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

What did you mean by 'not viewed as fully innocent until proven guilty'? Does Gernet's phrase of 'offering to the judge' really mean 'offering to the Court' which is really the Court fees in today's terminoloigy? If the person in prison had no friends or relatives, did he simply starve? Therefore is Gernet actually a reliable source? (talk) 00:03, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

What are you talking about? Gernet's statement "his innocence was not complete" is paraphrased by my statement "not viewed as fully innocent until proven guilty." I'm not sure about the offering, Gernet simply says "offering" and then calls it a matter of decorum; is paying a modern-day court fee considered an act of decorum? More or less it is the state being bureaucratic and needing funds to maintain itself, but Gernet does not disclose whether or not this money went into the pocket of the judge or if it was transmitted to the government's treasury. Once again, Gernet doesn't mention the fate of those who unfortunately did not have friends or relatives to feed them while they were in jail. I think what he is implying is yes, they would starve. As to his book not being a reliable source, that is not for you or I to judge, but if you have some scholar specifically stating "Gernet has it wrong about the justice system in the Song, people were also fed by such and such, etc. etc. etc." then feel free to add such a source (I doubt it exists).--Pericles of AthensTalk 01:47, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
Plus, his book is published by the Stanford University Press, not some no-name trade press, or even a big-shot trade press for that matter. With a team of editors and an unmerciful peer review process amongst learned scholars at the university level, Gernet's book would be under a lot of scrutiny. To think that it is somehow not legitimate is rather absurd, unless you have some scholarly material which completely rejects his book and specifically this statement.--Pericles of AthensTalk 16:24, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

It is just that the phrase 'not viewed as fully innocent until proven guilty' does not make sense. Do you mean 'not viewed as fully innocent until proven innocent', or 'not viewed as fully guilty until proven guilty'? Since Gernet is so unclear, it is hardly a reliable source, and does Stanford University Press a disservice as a reputable publisher demanding high standards. (talk) 23:55, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

I could see how the statement has caused confusion, so it is amended to say "not viewed as fully innocent until proven otherwise". Better? As for the source, if you find it so unreliable, go find a source to refute it! For heaven's sake, there should be tons of available literature about pre-modern Chinese justice. Plus, to say his book is unreliable on this point is ridiculous, you've obviously never read the book; if you had, you would understand that this was a brief point in passing and only one of many topics discussed in the chapter. So before raising your hands in the air and calling it an unreliable source, why don't you prove that it is an unreliable source.--Pericles of AthensTalk 00:01, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Yes, that is now perfectly acceptable. I did not mean that the whole of Gernet is unreliable, only the part discussed above. However any thorough person such as you should expect an author in non-fiction to be correct and consistent through out their work. Having an item that is not correct casts doubts on the rest of the work. Why should there be tons of available literature about pre-modern Chinese justice? Can you find another source independent from Gernet which agreed entirely with Gernet? If there are tons of literature as you say, then there must be others in total agreement with Gernet. As you are an American, you should know that studying history does not make money, and generally people simply quote/ misquote what they can find, which ends up as people quoting/ misquoting from other people who quote/ misquote from other people. Indeed there are a lot of people who quote from Wiki. (talk) 01:48, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

The reason I have a hard time questioning Gernet on this is because he usually provides a ton of examples for main themes which he discusses; he doesn't just pull things out of thin air (then again, what credible historian does?). Just because he did not lay out every example which would support that statement doesn't mean the material he used to construct this idea doesn't exist. The concept of innocence before the court of justice was not one of the main themes he was discussing, it was a sidenote of a much larger conversation. Why should he sidetrack himself and waste space describing something that was a sidenote concern? As to your concern about obtaining other scholar's statements to verify Gernet, that is a totally acceptable concern, but it is one I will address later, as I have been busy for the past month compiling information to improve Han Dynasty, which is in a poor dilapidated state compared to this article which is rather top-notch. My other priority with the Han article comes first.--Pericles of AthensTalk 15:15, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

This Gernet may be a historian, but he is clearly not a lawyer. (talk) 00:25, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

"This article may be too long" tagEdit

This article is already part of a "Song Dynasty" series; is the person who tagged this article suggesting that an article that is part of a series be broken up into yet another series? That sounds a bit futile and excessive. Plus, as the article stands, it has about 112 KB overall, but according to WP:SIZE, the only KB that matter are prose content, not additional fluff such as picture captions, external links, see also, introduction paragraphs, references, etc.--Pericles of AthensTalk 21:52, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

The article is not too long...The tag was inappropriate, as were several deletions by that same editor this morning. Modernist (talk) 22:25, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for your comment.--Pericles of AthensTalk 22:44, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
For anyone who is curious, the current size of this article's prose is 89 KB, as proven by my user sandbox.--Pericles of AthensTalk 00:44, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Very well done workEdit

I wish to congratulate the writers of this article for a job well-done. As of 23 May 2008 the article is excellent. Though long the article is very well-structured, extremely informative and (as far as I could see) reads well. Bravo for the article writers. You deserve a plaudit. :) (talk) 02:04, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

Why thank you! I'm Eric, the chief editor of this article. I believe I created this article about a year ago now, and it has certainly come to fruition. Once again, thanks for the comment. Cheers.--Pericles of AthensTalk 02:17, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Well, I was off by a bit; I created this article on April 3, 2007.--Pericles of AthensTalk 02:19, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

A job well done indeed; this is really an impressive article, certainly worthy of the Main Page. Shame I missed the FAC on this one. Fvasconcellos (t·c) 22:50, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

Oh well, at least you're seeing the article in its matured form. Thanks for the compliment.--Pericles of AthensTalk 23:18, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

I agree with the previous comments. Thank you and the other editors for your hard work and persistence. Wikipedia at its finest. — AjaxSmack 00:07, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

I too want to applaud this article's editors for the comprehensiveness and quality of their work. I'm often embarrassed by the quality of articles that pass FAC and are chosen to appear on the main page (to say nothing of the systematic bias in topics... maybe every time an article on video games, TV, wrestling, or other trivial topic goes up for FAC, the nominating editors should demonstrate that they've done some work on vital articles as well), but your work here has serves as an example to those critics who would caricature Wikipedia as a collection of POV warriors and fanboys. Thank you for your effort and expertise. Madcoverboy (talk) 22:32, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Wow, thank you AjaxSmack and Madcoverboy; those were very thoughtful comments. I too have noticed that a lot of featured articles cover arguably trivial pop culture topics while many vital articles are left unnoticed. It's a shame, but I'm doing my little part to reverse that persistent editing trend here at Wikipedia.--Pericles of AthensTalk 22:40, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

"Doctrine of equity"Edit

Fine by me, I never added that statement to begin with. The first paragraph of Equity (law) pretty much sums up your point.--Pericles of AthensTalk 09:24, 23 May 2008 (UTC)


Some of the wikiprojects covering this article seem really odd (talk) 14:54, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

Article title awkwardEdit

This article should be called "Song Dynasty Society". The present title, to my ear, is not plain English, and has the ambiguity of possibly referring to a organization of that name. Brilliant article though.

Jlittlenz (talk) 11:03, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, Jlittlenz. It would be fine to change the title (in fact, it was actually Song Dynasty society at first). However, it would also mean changing the other articles' titles, considering that the others are:

What about these? I would like to be consistent with the format of article titles.--Pericles of AthensTalk 17:55, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

IMO all these read better in English with "Song Dynasty" first, except perhaps the history article. There could perhaps be some guidance in wp:style#Article titles or a related page, because in English there's usually the option to reword phrases with two concepts to put either first. For example, "New Zealand Birds" or "Birds of New Zealand".

Jlittlenz (talk) 10:32, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

For titles of articles, the manual of style link you provided says: "A, an and the are normally avoided as the first word (Economy of the Second Empire, not The economy of the Second Empire), unless part of a proper noun (The Hague)." This example, "Economy of the Second Empire," follows the same format as "Economy of the Song Dynasty" above. From what I gather, our discussion here of renaming titles seems like a preference issue or a rule of thumb, not an actual rule. Nonetheless, you bring up an important issue of ambiguity over the title. It sounds similar to something like Society of Jesus, or Islamic Society of North America, or Law Society of England and Wales, etc. etc. Yet reading the first paragraph of the article, one is immediately aware that this article is not focused on some organization dedicated to Song Dynasty studies or what not.--Pericles of AthensTalk 11:42, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
And just for the record, the article was moved from "Song Dynasty society" to "Society of Song Dynasty" on April 4, 2007 by User:AQu01rius, the reason given being a "naming convention", although I'm not sure why he would have left "the" out of the title.--Pericles of AthensTalk 12:05, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

wikified Song DynastyEdit

I changed the lead by including an internal link to Song Dynasty. -- (talk) 23:48, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

No, you're actually not supposed to do that. If you noticed a recent edit before yours, it was delinked and linked right below the lead sentence, which is considered the title and should not have a link.--Pericles of AthensTalk 23:53, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't read WP:BOLDTITLE. Maybe the lead can be rewritten like some of the other Song Dynasty related articles that have Song Dynasty linked in the lead. See History of the Song Dynasty or Culture of the Song Dynasty. They have a nice flow, provide an initial context and most importantly, link to the Song Dynasty :) -- (talk) 00:06, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps they should be rewritten, but the History and Culture articles should also not have the link in the bold first title sentence.--Pericles of AthensTalk 00:14, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
I have removed bold from the lead sentence per WP:BOLDTITLE. Those other articles don't have bold first title sentences. -- (talk) 00:33, 26 May 2008 (UTC)


This article passed FAC at a decent 10,000 words; it is now at 13,700 words and substantially larger than most featured articles. What is going on here, and why can't summary style be better employed? User:Dr pda/Featured article statistics. With a 30% increase in text since passing FAC, it might be worth having another look at the article via WP:FAR. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:06, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Although it pained me to do so (since the content was very interesting), I deleted the description and blockquote in the court cases section which I cited from Robert Temple and contained 261 words. I hope that helps.--Pericles of AthensTalk 04:32, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

I see the same has occurred at Tang Dynasty and Ming Dynasty; for featured articles to grow post-FAC by a factor of a third is problematic; were they not comprehensive when they passed FAC, or has text been added that doesn't conform to WP:SS? And why was new text needed? At any rate, that is a lot of unvetted, unreviewed text (the equivalent of a regular size article) to be added post-FAC. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:38, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

I would hate to see this article picked to the bone. Is there anyway to split it into a couple of articles? --Ghostexorcist (talk) 04:59, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
10,000 words is not "picked to the bone", and it was vetted and reviewed at FAC. The question is *why* articles that were vetted and reviewed as comprehensive are growing by one-third. Summary style is the way to organize long articles. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:01, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Wikiproject associationsEdit

I deleted banners for law, sociology, anthropology, and education, as this article is not about these concepts at all, but rather a general article about the history of a period of time in one geographical region. The wikiprojects in these social science categories are about improving coverage on the general concepts of the categories themselves, not specific histories. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:04, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

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