Summer School Curriculum Design Works – War between States in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period

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The Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period was a period of great division in Chinese history. During this period, more than 100 vassal states appeared one after another. There were constant disputes between the vassal states and between the vassal states and the surrounding ethnic minorities. The big vassal states continued to annex the smaller states, and finally completed by the Qin state in 221 BC. national unity. For such an era of contention among a hundred schools of thought and feudal feudal feudal lords, through the study of wars between states during this period, it is beneficial to better understand the relationship between the various vassal states and the history of the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period.

Data collection and organization

Data from Wikipedia – List of Chinese Wars . After manual collection, a total of 421 war data during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period were obtained. Each war entry contains the name of the war, the time of occurrence, the location, the attackers and defenders participating in the war, and the results of the war. These wars involved a total of 130 vassal states and ethnic tribes.

Visualization and Interaction Design

The work consists of two visual interfaces: a war overview view and a state relationship view. The overall tone of both views adopts a yellow like old paper, and the paper texture is used as the background, which highlights a strong sense of history.

Figure 1 War overview view

The first entry is the war overview view. This view shows the distribution of war over time from the perspective of the war itself. At the bottom of the view is a timeline with an attached histogram that reflects the distribution of wars across the timeline. Due to the large number of wars and the limited size of the display screen, we can view more wars by swiping left and right. The top country node lists the countries involved in the currently displayed war. When the mouse selects a war tab, the detailed information of the war will be displayed on the right side of the war tab, and a connection will be added between the war and all participating countries.

Figure 2 State Relationship View

From the perspective of countries, the state relationship view tries to show the relationship between countries through war data. On the left side of the view is the state relationship diagram (Figure 3). This part uses ancient chariots as the background pattern, which avoids the view from being too general and enhances the historical sense of the overall view. Each node in this part represents a country, and the layout of the nodes is obtained by constructing a high-dimensional vector based on the number of wars between a country and other countries, and then projecting it onto a two-dimensional plane. If the two countries are similar in layout, it means that the two countries have similar wars with other countries, and it can be further considered that the foreign policies of the two countries are similar, so it can be inferred that there is a potential alliance relationship between the two countries. When the mouse selects a country, it can further indicate the war between this country and other countries through the connection.

Figure 3 State relationship diagram. There is a potential alliance between two neighboring countries.

In addition, after a country is selected, the country information panel in the upper right corner will display the country’s basic information including start and end time, capital, cause of demise, historical records, etc., as well as statistical information about the wars involved.

Figure 4 Country Information Panel

The list in the lower right corner shows the distribution of wars in each country over time. The form of a histogram is adopted as a whole. Each column in the histogram uses a QR code to show the wars it contains. These wars are arranged in chronological order, and three colors of red, white and blue are used to indicate the wars of each war. Win, draw, and lose three outcomes. After selecting a country, you can select a war in that country in the histogram with the mouse. The details of the war will be presented in the form of bamboo slips (Figure 5). Since the rectangles representing wars in the bar graph are small and difficult to select, you can view other adjacent wars by clicking the toggle buttons on the left and right of the bamboo slips.

Figure 5 List of country wars. Each row shows the time distribution of wars a country is involved in

Exploring and Discovering – Trends in the Number of Wars

During the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, there were constant disputes, but the frequency of wars was not evenly distributed throughout the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. From the war overview view, it can be found that there is a clear dividing line in the histogram around the first 475 years (Figure 6): the number of wars on the left maintains a higher level in each period, while the number of wars on the right decreases. a lot of. In fact, this demarcation line basically coincides with the first 476 years of the demarcation line in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. The war in the Spring and Autumn Period was a war for hegemony between slave-owning countries. The scale of the war was usually small, the duration of the war was relatively short, and the war was relatively frequent. After entering the Warring States Period, the war became a feudal annexation, and the scale of the war increased. , the number of people participating in the war is often hundreds of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands. This huge scale also determines that the number of wars will not be too many.

Figure 6 Demarcation of the number of wars around 475 BC. It can be clearly seen that the war on the left side is very dense, while the right side suddenly becomes sparse.

Discovery-Sanjin Alliance

The three divisions of Jin was a significant event in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. It was an important watershed between the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. It marked the emergence of the emerging landlord class on the political stage and objectively promoted the establishment of the feudal system. After this incident, Han, Zhao and Wei of the Seven Heroes of the Warring States entered the stage of history. From the state relationship diagram, these three countries are in adjacent positions. Even changing the parameters of the projection algorithm could not “take them apart”, suggesting a possible close alliance between the three countries.

Figure 7 The three kingdoms of Han, Zhao, and Wei are in close proximity in the state relationship diagram. The locations of the three countries are circled in red.

Further selecting these three countries to observe war relations with other countries, one can see clear similarities. These three countries, Qin, Qi, and the former Jin state have had similar number of wars, and although the other countries they have fought against are not the same, these different countries are also similar in layout.

Figure 8 War relations between Han, Zhao, Wei and other countries

Looking further at the wars related to these countries, it can be seen that although there have been some confrontations between the three countries, more often the three countries will act together. In actual history, Han, Zhao, and Wei all formed alliances in the early days of the end of the three divisions of Jin and the end of the Warring States period.

Figure 9 Some war examples of the alliance of Zhao, Wei and Korea


In 221 BC, the state of Qin destroyed the state of Qi and completed the unification of the whole country. The Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period came to an end. From today’s point of view, although the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period have passed for more than 2,000 years, such an era of great changes in which a hundred schools of thought contend and disputes between princes have left many precious treasures for future generations.

From the perspective of the war itself and the country, this work explores the visual expression of the war in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, hoping to see the magnificent corner of the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period through visualization. The project time is limited, and there will inevitably be some omissions. I hope that readers and experts will not hesitate to correct me.

Curriculum Design “War between States in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period”
Group members: Ma Chiteng Peking University, Wang Xinyue Nanjing Academy of Arts, Li Sihang Peking University, Wu Jiawen Nanjing University, Bo Lin Nanjing Normal University, Tan Cheng Peking University Instructors: Yuan Xiaoru Peking University, Xu Ruige Syracuse University

The excellent course design of the summer school will be successively included in the “Visualizing China” webpage

Summer School webpage

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