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Early Chinese Beliefs

Topic: Early beliefs and practices in China

Primary Sources: Various translations of the I Ching, listed in the bibliography

Framework Connection: Students are expected to acquire cultural and historical literacy.

appreciation of various religious and philosophical approaches medieval and modern China can be better understood.

to

life

By

in

developing an ancient China,

Activities:

1.

2.

3.

4.

Set the stage by building on prior study of early humans who needed to hunt and gather and discuss changes as people began to settle in specific locations. (See Background Notes.) Have students look at physical maps of China to understand why permanent or semipermanent locations would have been desirable. Show visuals (see oraclebones.pdf) of oracle bones and tortoise shell inscriptions during short lecture on these topics and the introduction to the I Ching. Distribute handout "Using Coins to Obtain a Hexagram of the I Ching," various texts providing interpretations of the hexagrams, and duplicates of the shortened form of

readings for listed in the designating

each hexagram (available in most books on

bibliography). one side as

Be sure that each student yin, or tails, and the other

the I has side

Ching, such as those three identical coins, as yang, or heads.

5.

Demonstrate several tosses with readings before allowing students to try their own. Once students have arrived at one or more readings, emphasize that reading of the

I

Ching was often used to provoke thought and to much the same way many Americans read the inspirational writing.

instill calmness and/or motivation, Bible, a book of poetry, or other

Reflecting on Learning:

  • 1.

    Have students read a "story" interpretation of readings (similar to that written by Confucius), such as "the geese approach the shore," and then try to create a story for one of their readings.

  • 2.

    Students could illustrate their stories and present them to the class.

Optional Activities:

Students could research and report on:

  • 1.

    The extent to which China today is an agrarian society and how rural lifestyles may influence beliefs

  • 2.

    The extent to which people in China today read the I Ching and have readings done professionally

  • 3.

    The possible evolution of Chinese calligraphy from original tortoise shell inscriptions, since these inscriptions were believed to be the precursors of Chinese script.

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