After the founding of the Jin Dynasty, it conquered Liao Kingdom and the Northern Song Dynasty swiftly. The Jurchen nationality soon adopted the culture of the Han nationality and even the language since they moved southward. Though the Jin culture retained and adopted some cultural tradition of the Jurchen nationality, the main part of it was from the Han culture of Liao Kingdom and Song Dynasty.
The Jurchen ScriptThe Jurchen people had no script before the Jin Dynasty was founded. In the third year of Tianpu Peiord (A.D. 1119) Wanyan Xiyin and Yelu created Jurchen script, which were called the big Jurchen script. After that in the first year of Tianjuan Period (A.D. 1138), Emperor Xizong created another set of Jurchen script, which were called the small Jurchen script. The above two sets of Jurchen scripts were all based on the Chinese and Qidan (Khitan) script. The big and small Jurchen script became the official script since they were created and issued for enforcement, and they were used together with the Chinese and Qidan script in the Jin Dynasty. The Jurchen scripts were used in writing credentials, orders and proclamations, and schools were set up to teach them.
Confucianism and HistoriographyThe Jurchen people had only the primitive Shamanism at the very beginning. After they conquered the Liao Kingdom, Buddhism which was once flourishing in the Liao Kingdom continued to evolve in areas such as the main capital of the Jin Dynasty. After the Northern Song Dynasty was conquered by the Jin Dynasty, the Confucianism of the Northern Song Dynasty began to dominate in the culture of the Jin Dynasty. The imperial examination system was held in the early Jin Dynasty, in which the talents were selected according to their grasp of the Confucian classics. Emperor Xizong built Confucian temples in the upper capital and ordered that the Confucian classics should be translated into the Jurchen script and The Analects of Confucius and The Book of Filial Piety should be read as required reading.Historiography in the Jin Dynasty was not very advanced. After the Liao Kingdom was conquered, Xiao Yongqi from Qimiao carried on his teacher’s career and compiled seven hundred and fifteen volumes of History of Liao, which was basically adapted from The Veritable Records written by Yelv Yan, a writer of Liao Kingdom.
Literature and ArtThe Jurchen people at the early Jin Dynasty were mostly vulgar and illiterate, till Emperor Xizong and Emperor Hailing, the nobles of upper class adopted the culture of the Han nationality and, under the influence of the Confucian scholar, began to create literature works. The typical representatives were Emperor Xizong, Emperor Hailing and Wanyan Liang.From the nobles to the common people, the Jurchen people all liked dancing and singing. Before the founding of the Jin Dynasty, the Jurchen people found their partners through singing songs. Their lives of fishing and hunting were also reflected through their dances and songs. The Jurchen people believe in the Shamanism and songs and dances of the Shamanism were recorded in many historical books.
Science and TechnologyThough superstitions were flourishing in Beijing area during the Jin Dynasty, science was still evolving gradually. Some scientific inventions appeared, firstly in the areas of astronomy and calendar system.AstronomyThe Jin Dynasty set up astronomical observatories for the purpose of divining the good or ill luck of the dynasty.Calendar systemIn the fifth year of the Tianhui period in the Jin Dynasty (A.D. 1127), Yangji, officer of the authority that administer the affairs about the sky and calendar, began to compose the Ming Dynasty Calendar. In the eleventh year of the Dading period (A.D. 1171), the Revised Ming Dynasty Calendar, composed by Zhao Zhiwei, an officer from the same authority, was successful. Soon after the capital was moved to Mingchang, another officer of the authority composed another calendar. Unfortunately, the downfall of the Jin Dynasty brought an end to the new calendar when it was waiting for proofreading.Because they had no calendar at the early stages of the Jin Dynasty, the Jurchen people didn’t know their ages. They only knew that a year was passed when they saw the grass was green again. In the fifteenth year of the Tianhui period the first calendar was put into force, which was a big step forward in the development of the Jurchen society.
EducationThe upper capital of the Jin Dynasty was always the center of education and examination for the Jurchen people. During the time of Emperor Taizong, Yelv Gu, Head of Guangning was ordered to translate classic books to be used as textbooks. The appearance of the teachers such as Yelu who had a good command of the Jurchen script prepared for the establishment of the Jurchen schools.In the third year of Tiande period during Emperor Hailing’s reign, the Imperial College, the first national institution of higher education in the Jin Dynasty, was set up, which later became the administrative institution governing the Imperial Colleges and Taixue (the highest seat of learning in ancient China).
ShamanismThe Jurchen people showed their respect to the natural power and natural objects, which was one form of animistic religion—shamanism. “Shaman” was originally a word from Tungusic, meaning people dancing crazily with excitement. Shamanism is also called “Shanman”. In Shamans’ dance ceremony to exorcize evil spirits they danced crazily and so were regarded as witches or wizards. It is said that shamans were the intermediary between the gods and the human being. They organized religious rites, addressed on behalf of the gods and convey the blessing from the gods.Most ancient minorities in northeast believed in the heavenly laws, which advocated that everything had its soul, and from which Shamanism originated. After the founding of the Jin Dynasty, Shamanism still spread in the upper capital area instead of disappearing. The etiquette and custom of worshiping heaven had developed thoroughly to the emperor etiquette. The belief in Shamanism by the Jurchen people is demonstrated in the following five aspects:1. The Jurchen people believe that shamans can address people on behalf of the gods and predict the future events.2. According to the teaching of Shamanism, Shamans can let the soul leave the body and fly to the sky or the hell. They can communicate directly with the gods or spirits. When the shamans were possessed by the gods, they were worshiped by people as gods.3. The Jurchen people believed that shamans can cure illnesses and exorcize evil spirits.4. The Jurchen people used shamans to revenge and rob properties. They believed that shamans could cause death to people by imprecating.5. Shamans could pray for blessing for people.Besides, shamans had their special clothing in religious activities: sacred hat, scared clothes, sacred shoes, lumbar bell. The instruments included sacred drum, sacred knife, sacred stick, and sacred soil.After the Liao Kingdom and the Northern Song Dynasty were conquered by the Jin Dynasty, the integration of nationalities boosted the integration of the cultures. The Jurchen people adopted Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, and finally reached a religious state with the above three religions as integral part of the whole.
BuddhismAfter the founding of the Jin Dynasty, the Jurchen people, under the influence of refugees and Qidan people, soon adopted Buddhism, and believed it sincerely. Buddhism soon developed.The flourishing period of Buddhism in the Jin Dynasty started from Emperor Taizong after the Jurchen people passed the Great Wall and moved southwards. During the period of Emperor Taizong, there were temples being built and activities of monks in the upper capital. But it developed slowly since the ruler did not attach too much importance to it. In October of the first year of Tianhui period of the Emperor Tai Zong (A.D. 1123), the first temple in the main capital was set up which was named Qingyuan Temple. Soon after, Emperor Taizong was converted to Buddhism. Till the period of t Emperor Xizong, Buddhism was gradually viewed highly by the rulers of Jurchen people. Buddhism temples were widely built within and out of the upper capital. Buddhism preaching activities were on the increase. The Jurchen people, from nobles to the common people, all believed Buddhism. During the period of Emperor Xizong, Buddhism further developed and kept a close relationship with the royal family. The mother of Emperor Hailing, Empress Dowager Tushan, actively supported the Buddhist activities.Compared with Shamanism, the teaching of Buddhism was more logical, more easily to poison people’s minds. This was the important reason why Buddhism developed quickly in the upper capital region and was attached great importance by the ruler of the Jin Dynasty.
TaoismTaoism in the Jin Dynasty was also well developed, with activities and believers equaling that of Buddhism. Many northern frustrated landlords and intellectuals were converted to Taoism for the purpose of finding a fortune, which contributed to the flourishing of Taoism in the north and founding of many sects. The rulers of the Jin Dynasty believed in religions. Therefore, like Buddhist Temples, Taoist temples were built everywhere. The main sects flourishing in the upper capital were Supreme Oneness School and Great Dao School. The Supreme Oneness School was one of the religious sects of Taoism that rose in the north in early Jin Dynasty. It was founded by Xiao Baozhen in the first year of Tianjuan Period of Emperor Xizong (A.D. 1138—1140). The School of the Perfect Great Dao was one of the three religious sects of Taosim appeared in the north in early Jin Dynasty. It was founded by Liu Deren during the Huangtong Period of Emperor Xizong (A.D. 1140—1149).Taoism originated from the people and at its early stages it reflected strong affinity to the people. It won people’s support for advocating equality and curing the illness of people.