Ancient China Farmers

Ancient China farmers were needed to produce food for a rapidly growing population. Ancient China farmers were revered in their society. They were given a higher status in Ancient China society than merchants and artisans.

Life of ancient China Farmers

The life of ancient China farmers was hard. They lived in small family villages that consisted of many family members. Ancient China farmers worked their fields during the day and evening.

Very few ancient China farmers owned their land. They tended to land that was owned by nobles.
Ancient China farmers were forced to pay tribute or taxes to the nobles and the government. They also had to work for the government for a specific time period every year.

While working for the government they would construct buildings, canals, city walls, and fight at times of war.

Daily work

Ancient China farmers did most of the work on the land by hand using tools. Tools included a sickle that was originally made of bone and wood.

The sickles were ideal for harvesting millet and rice. After the ancient Chinese people developed iron, a spade was forged and attached to a wooden handle.

Ancient China farmers used animals when available. Animals such as oxen and dogs were harnessed and used to plough fields.

When animals were not available for use, ancient China farmers pulled the ploughs themselves.

Farming crops

Ancient China farmers planted two specific crops. Rice was planted in the wetter and warmer southern region of the country. Millet was grown in the northern portion of the country were the climate was dry and cool.

In later years, ancient China farmers planted sweet potatoes, soya beans, turnips, onions, garlic, and broad beans.

Ancient China farmers also tended to animals such as pigs, dogs, chickens, ducks and geese. They would also care for oxen or mules that were used to plough the fields.

Homes of ancient China farmers

The homes that ancient China farmers lived was a small two room hut. The huts had a thatched roof and were made of wood walls. Bamboo was a favorite wood to use when building homes.

The material was light but sturdy and could be easily shaped when wet. Houses only contained furniture like wooden benches. Ancient China farmers would eat and relax on mats made of woven materials.
Shennong tasting plants

Important facts about ancient China farmers

  • Ancient China farmers had a higher social status than merchants and artisans.
  • The two main crops that ancient China farmers planted and harvested were millet and rice.
  • Ancient China farmers lived in small family villages.
  • Most ancient China farmers did not own land.
  • Farm land was owned by nobles.
  • Ancient China farmers paid tribute to nobles and the government.
  • Ancient China farmers worked for the government for specific time period every year constructing buildings, canals, city walls and as soldier during time of war.
  • Ancient China farmers lived in two room thatched huts with little furniture.


1. What did ancient China farmers pay to the government and nobles?


2. What type of homes did ancient China farmers live in?

Two room thatched huts

3. What two main crops were harvested by ancient China farmers?

Rice and millet

4. Ancient China farmers held a higher class status then what other groups in ancient China?

Merchants and artisans