The prosperous city of Hangzhou during the time period of around 600 C.E. continued to grow economically, socially and politically. The economic harmony continued to grow, for many reasons. One because of the way the import/export system was structured. The small imports of metals and precious substances, and the exports of gold, silk, silver, pearls, spices etc… which were transported by the Grand Canal, aided in how well the economy was doing. The Hangzhou children and students were taught from early ages for political knowledge, by the teachings of Confucius. This aided in the future government positions available to well taught Confucians. The social structure was to be considered patriarchal, which led to women’s feet were bound from early ages.


Hangzhou was a prosperous imperial city in Southern China. It was the capital city of the Song Dynasty, and helped the economic, political, and social systems expand and grow. It became the capital during the time period of 600 C.E. To 1400 C.E. One of the major economic growth reasons is because it was located right next to the Grand Canal. This also helped the social order, because of travelers and missionaries that had spread their culture within the city. Because of its location, this city was able to export more then import, which was ideal to gain economic value. The students in Hangzhou were also very well educated, which helped the political structure due to enhanced knowledge by Confucian studies. Women in Hangzhou were also neglected and thought to be weak, and not trusted to roam free, which led to the need of foot-binding the wealthier woman. All of these factors led to a greatly powerful city, that was a key economic station, and trading post.

The economic structure of Hangzhou China was a very stable and beneficial economy. The economy thrived throughout time especially during the Song and Tang Dynasty. First, many valuable and prized exports were traded among many countries throughout Asia, and Europe. The transportation of these goods was also very important to keeping a firm economy. The fact that the climate of Hangzhou was stable enough to maintain the growing and harvesting of valuable items also played a major factor. The involvement in the Silk routes made the Hangzhou economy great.
Hangzhou traded throughout Asia and Europe. Exports extended all the way to the Abbasid Empire (former Byzantine). Trade throughout Asia was also present. Contact between India, Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and neighboring cities aided in how the economy grew. Exports included Gold, Silk, Silver, Pearls, Spices, Rice, Tortoise Shells, Porcelain, tea, and birds and wild animals. All of these exports were important to how other cities managed to survive as well. Since the exports of Hangzhou exceeded the imports, it was an ideal economy. The reason for this is because when you export goods to other countries, you gain income for the exports. You also receive other goods, to reimburse your exports. Since the imports only included Ivory, Incense, Ingots, and Copper, the exports were more valuable than the imports, giving more economic benefit to the state of Hangzhou.
The exports grown and harvested were very valuable. If not for the climate many of the essential exports would not be present, making the economy weaker and unstable. The government of Hangzhou also played a huge role in the economy. The government mandated the construction of the Grand Canal. If not for the Grand Canal, the transport of goods may have decreased drastically and the amount of imports would have decreased as well. The Grand Canal bought economic and agricultural dominance away from the Yellow River and to Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Hangzhou parts of China. The Grand Canal now connected the North and South (Hangzhou) together through an easy fast way to transport goods. Instead of exporting goods northwest, now with the introduction of the Grand Canal, Hangzhou now was able to send goods directly from a northern city to be distributed to the west.
The economy also continued to flourish majorly because the production of Silver, Rice and Silk. Silver and Silk, were very important because without them, there would not be a dominant currency. Silver was used all over the place in order to pay for different goods. Silver also aided in the production of banks. Now that there was a presence of a national currency throughout Asia, banks were able to hold your money and let you keep it in a safe spot. Silk was also a popular type of currency. Silk robes though, were very popular as well. Robes were purchased for nobles throughout different areas. The constant demand of Silk robes was needed, so jobs were created as well. The job of weaving fabrics like Silk into robes was a popular job in the city. Not only did it increase the production of silk robes, but it provided jobs and secure wages for workers. The creation of wages provided money to civilians that would then purchase items, putting more money into the economy. Rice was a vital importance too. Rice in the southern climate of Hangzhou harvested quickly and easily. Now, with the fast production of rice, exports of the grain were able to continue throughout Asia.


Hangzhou was an imperial city in Southern Song China between the Yangzi and the Yellow rivers. This positioning helped produce fertile soil for crops which led to a great economic flourish. It was also right next to the Grand Canal. This entered a new system of trade, and modification of Hangzhou culture, effected by, and affecting many other traditions from encounters by missionaries, travelers, scholars, and traders. Since it was also in the system of trade through the Silk route, it was very profitable in gaining religious, cultural, and economic support. This benefit to the economic order brought forth a variety of cultural, religious, and patriarchal views, which altered the social system in various means. Religion traveled among the Silk Routes and Grand Canal, some including Buddhism, Daoism, Neo-Confucianism, and Hinduism. Many of these religions have already been in this domain during the time. But, from encounters by various travelers, the religions have greatly varied their perspectives.

The status of women was also a major contributor to the region. Because Hangzhou is the capital of the Song dynasty, it adopted many similar traits, used from other cities and towns within the dynasty. Men in Hangzhou were meant to wear a hat, and clothing with simple colors. This would represent “manhood,” and separate the men from the women because of the womens vivid, bright and colorful clothing. The womens clothing were very unexposed, due to fear of betrayal from men. Women were used and tested for to see if they were legible and trusted enough to be a proper wife. For one, women were forced to have their feet bound. This meant a control for men, leading towards a patriarchal society. Southern Song was a leading prospect to the foot binding tradition. Women would have their feet bound as a sign of weakness, and loyalty to the men, who were over protective about their women cheating. The men also forced the women to wear long skirts, because foot binding was private for only the family to know. This also indicated a hiding of social status, since only nobles could afford such a treatment. Foot binding was most likely used for protection purposes, rather then beauty. But, from expansion of ideas and traditions over trade, this method eventually had been altered into a sign of beauty for whoever beholds a bound foot.
Silk trade had also affected he traditions of nobles in the city. As a sign of respect, certain high classed civilians would trade silk robes to seal a deal, or give as gifts. This method of communication was adapted from the Post-Classical Chinese society, and was carried on from this time period from 600 CE to 1500 CE. One tradition that had been used in Hangzhou was the creating of tall multi-storied buildings, to compact the city in high elevation. Outsiders were impressed by this architecture, and lured in more traders to the city. It also was a sign of reaching the Buddha for the Buddhist religion because of the large altitude, and symbolism of Buddha being within the skies.
The corruption of the former capital of the Song dynasty, Kinsai, brought forth a need for a new capital city. This became Hangzhou. Because Hangzhou became a new threat toward the prosperity of other nearby societies, Hangzhou needed a strong and well prepared military system. This was easy because of the many rivers and streams that blocked off the city from invaders, and the bad weather in the area.
Some religions Hangzhou had stumbled upon were Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Neo-Confucianism. Buddhism had affected the Hangzhou social order because it set a new order for temples of magnificent arts and architecture. Hinduism, which fabricated the Buddhist religion, shared many similar beliefs, affecting the same perspectives in art. Daoism was an important religion on keeping peace with the flow, or “the way”. It was approved in Hangzhou because of its similarities with Buddhism, and the want from Confucius scholars to study its role in human desire. Daoist nobles believed in keeping concubines within their households to test and strengthen their will power. Many scholars believed that Confucians were unable to keep up with the lust that Daoist resisted in order to find enlightenment. Confucians also played a prominent role in the evaluation of the genders.

The Neo-Confucius religion was able to secure a largely taught political structure, that people of all ages were able to converse in. This religion was able to start a new educational system, used to help prosper the government and new innovations. Many colleges and civil service exams were created under the pressure of educational motivation from Neo-Confucians. This factor led to the expansion of governmental knowledge and political prosperity for the people of Hangzhou.

The political environment in Huangzhou during the years 600-1450 was shaped primarily by a merit based bureaucracy, very strong education system and a unified culture. These three factors allowed Huangzhou not only to get by and survive, but be prosperous and thrive. As the cultural unification brought everyone in Huangzhou together, the military and bureaucracies brought stabilization and equality. With the blend of the three, Huangzhou was one of the most powerful cities of its time period.

At the heart of Huangzhou there was a strong and fair bureaucratic system based on merit. This meant that people were recruited to the bureaucracies based on their level of education, loyalty and work efficiency. This was different than how it used to be than prior time periods in those areas of China. It used to be that the emperor appointed, or hand picked the bureaucratic officials usually choosing members of powerful families. Through the merit based system, the smartest and wisest of the men got to run these bureaucracies.

The equal field system also helped promote stability and ensure that land distribution was equal to all. Without the government's help, the effort to split the land equally would have caused more battles for power to break out. That would be bad because then one person or group of people might accumulate more wealth than the others. This would ultimately cause chaos, maybe not right away but in due time. The merit based bureaucracies helped preserve political stability in Huangzhou and kept it from slowly crawling into chaos.

In order to gain a high status, merit and maybe a bureaucratic job, the people of Huangzhou had to take many tests to prove their value in those positions. These tests were called civil service tests. Civil service tests created a Centralized rule in the Huangzhou. These tests could range anywhere from a couple of hours long to a couple of weeks long so completing a civil service exam was no easy task. To the people of Huangzhou completing civil service exams were not just part of schooling, but one of the ways to move up in their society. These tests consisted of many things such as Confucian teachings, law and common sense. As the people passed each exam, new doors opened up for them. The more tests they took, the higher their position was and the more likely they were to acquire a government job, which at that point in time was the best job you could get in the way of work.

Within the Huangzhou culture, the practice of Neo-Confucianism was also a way to practice politics, morality, social and political structure as well as Buddhist beliefs like the nature of the soul and spiritual relationships. Neo-Confucianism was developed in Huangzhou during the late Tang dynasty. It came around due to conflicts between Buddhism and Confucianism. Under the Song dynasty Neo-Confucianism grew tremendously. It bridged the gap between the two religions and promoted social unity. Now that the two religions weren’t fighting against each other, it created stability in the city, allowing the city to progress in all political aspects.


The growth of the city of Hangzhou during the time period of 600-1450 is clearly seen through its economic, social and political harmony. The Grand Canal, and Neo-Confucianism helped Hangzhou prosper and become a very powerful city. Due to all the economic harmony, political teachings, and stable social structure, Hangzhou stands out among the Southeast Asian cities as one of the most powerful and successful imperial cities. Their knowledge and high sophistication was able to spread through different routes to other major cities, because of the easy access to trade routes, and share their prosperity throughout the Song dynasty.