Good morning, we are now going to shift gears and learn about China in the documentary series: Empire of Time. This first episode explores astronomy. The run time is 48:48. I will admit that I am a little bit skeptical about writing a review about this series, but I will give it a shot.
Matteo Ricci was a Jesuit priest who entered China. He was the first European to enter China at the end of the 16th Century. He would look to convert the Emperor and eventually all of China to Catholicism. He was a man who was trained in geometry and algebra. He would use his learning to convert the people. He noted that Astronomy was important to the Chinese. After him, the Jesuits remained in China for three generations looking to convert the Emperor and eventually all of China.
During the Ming Dynasty, the Emperor was the center of a vast empire. He was considered the son of heaven and his power was based on how he mastered heaven and time. The story begins with the Emperor celebrating and praying at the temple of heaven. The second scene cuts to a man journeying through China. He is looking at the stars and admiring the night sky. He is a Jesuit priest and is about to enter the Forbidden City.
Time had a deep significance to the Chinese people. They wanted to do things at the right time. They felt that time should go with the flow of nature. To establish his legitimacy to rule, the Emperor adopted the term the Son of Heaven. He was the representative of the people before heaven and vice versa. He was between Heaven and Earth. The Emperor had to convince the people that he had a divine mandate to rule.
The Forbidden City leaned to this air. It was the most important place and like the Polar Star. The Polar Star was known as the “Star of the Emperor.” It was here where time was announced. Eventually, as society developed, there was a need for a more accurate measurement of time. For generations, people tried to calculate time. Eventually, two systems of time developed: one that followed the rotation of the earth and the other that followed the rotation of the atom. Timekeeping was an activity controlled by the state during the Chinese empire. Astronomers were civil servants. They were a major part of the Chinese bureaucracy.
There were three departments in this department of astronomy. One department was in charge of observation. The second department was responsible for establishing the calendar. The last department was to change the water out of the water clock. Time was measured according to the height of the water. Everything had to be carefully measured and controlled, otherwise, it would show that the Emperor had problems ruling his country. Punishments were severe for inaccurate information.
At the same time during this 1601 period, Pope Gregory was working to reform the calendar. This is where the Jesuit Priest Matteo Ricci. He was trained under a famous Jesuit Priest Christopher Clavius. He was the man who settled the debate on when to celebrate Easter. He also institutes mathematics as a separate subject in school. Matteo Ricci would make his way to China, he was going as a Jesuit Missionary. He would have traveled from Lisbon, Portugal, and would travel to India before making his way to Macau, China. He would eventually learn Chinese. He would meet up with a Jesuit Priest, Father Ruggieri and together they would study. The wrote the first Chinese-Portuguese dictionary. He did not go straight to Beijing but would explore the countryside. He would eventually visit an observatory and what he found in this observatory surprised him. What did he find in China? Would he make his way to the Forbidden City? To learn more about what Matteo Ricci did in China, continue to watch this series.
There were places where I found myself drifting, particularly the long (and I mean long) discussion on time. It was really slow-moving and disjointed at times. The recreations were fascinating. I am not impressed so far. I hope that it gets better, but I have my doubts. So far I am leaning that this documentary would not be a good fit for the classroom.
I'm a librarian with an active imagination who likes to create. Genealogist and Researcher.
My Teachers Pay Teachers Store! Worksheets available as a Word Document.
I am also on Lulu! If you're interested in genealogy I have several books available!
HistoryDocTube will not collect any personal information and will not sell any personal information to a third party. We will not request any personal information.
The purpose of this blog is to share information on what can be used in a classroom, private school, or home school setting as well as serve as a portfolio of my personal and professional work.
The reviews are my opinions and should be treated as such. I just want to provide a tool for teachers to select documentaries for their classrooms.