Chinese Religions and Beliefs: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism


Three Major Religions or philosophies shaped many of the ideas and history of Ancient China. They include:

  1. Taoism
  2. Confucianism
  3. Buddhism


Was founded during the Zhou Dynasty in the 6th century by Lao-Tzu.
Tao Te Ching is a book that has his beliefs and philosophies.
At that time under this religion, one of the beliefs was that people should be with one nature and that all living things have a universal force flowing through them (Yin and Yang). These forces can be thought of as light and dark, cold and hot, male and female.

They are equal and balanced.


It was born in 551 BC. The name of this religion comes from ‘Confucius’ who was a philosopher and thinker.
His teachings focus on treating others with respect, politeness, and fairness. In his case, morality and honor were very important qualities.
The difference between Taoism and this is that in Confucianism they believed in a strong organized government.
Some of Confucius’ sayings include:

  • When anger rises, think of the consequences.

  • Forget injuries, never forget kindness.
  • Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.


It was based on the teachings of Buddha (born in Nepal, just south of China in 563 BC)
It mostly spread throughout much of India and China.
Buddhists believed in Rebirth and that the cycle of rebirth is complete once some individual lives a proper life.
They also believed in Karma whereby if you do good, good comes back to you.

Daily Life in Ancient China

Life as a farmer

The majority of the people were peasant farmers respected for the food they provide but lived difficult lives.

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A typical farmer lived in a small village of around 100 families.

Working for the Government

Farmers had to work for the government for about one month each year and had to pay taxes by giving a percentage of their crops.

Life in the city

People in the cities worked a variety of jobs including merchants, craftsmen, government, and scholars.
The cities of China were surrounded by walls and each night the city gates were locked and nobody could enter or leave the city after the dark.

Family life

The Chinese family was ruled by the father of the house and the rest were required to obey him.
Women took care of the home and raised the children.
Marriage partners were decided by the parents (arranged marriages).


Only wealthy boys attended school in Ancient China and mostly learned how to write using calligraphy and poetry.

Life of Women

The life of a woman in Ancient China was difficult as they were considered much less valuable than men.
When a baby girl was born she was usually put outside to die if she was unwanted.
Women had no say in whom they want to marry.

Interesting Facts About Daily Life in Ancient China

  • Merchants were considered the lowest class of workers. They weren’t allowed to wear silk or travel in carriages.
  • Three generations usually lived in the same house.
  • Tea became an important part of Chinese culture around the 2nd century. It was called ‘cha’.

Cite this page

Chinese Religions and Beliefs: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism. (2020, Oct 30). Retrieved from

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