A Day in The Life of a Zhou Peasant
The Zhou people lived in the Wei River valley of northwestern China. For years, they battled nomadic raiders from the steppe in the west and Shang forces in the east. The Zhou allied with the Shang and won recognition as kings of the western regions. In 1122 B.C.E., the Zhou forces over-powered the Shang government. They ruled most of northern and central China until 256 B.C.E. Ho Zhi Whi, a 25 year old Zhou peasant, lived during this time.
Ho Zhi Whi was a farmer during the Zhou Dynasty. He was physically separated from those of other social classes. The only contact with another social class that he had was with his lords. He worked the fields for his lords in exchange for plots to farm, security, and a portion of the harvest. Whi lived in a small subterranean house that was about one meter deep and he was protected from the weather by thatched walls and roofs. He lived with his wife and his four children. His extended family, his parents and his brother, also resided in the same home. Family was a major part of life during the Zhou. The only way a family could prosper was if everyone in that family, dead or alive, young or old, worked together to achieve a common interest. While Whi was out working the fields, hunting, or fishing, his wife was doing her duties inside. Her duties consisted of making wine, weaving, and cultivation of silkworms.
There was a possibility of war, considering that starting in 403 B.C.E. was known as the Period of the Warring States. Each of the smaller states was fighting trying to take control of the entire dynasty. They mostly ate fish, game and items that Whi had harvested. There was no organized religion; the head of the family officiated at rites and ceremonies honoring the ancestors' spirits. They also believed that if one respected and ministered the proper needs to the spirits, that they would support and protect the family. They thought that when one died, their