Ancient China Nobles

The ancient Chinese believed in a strict social structure that divided people up by social position.

The positions not only helped to keep jobs and responsibilities in place, but was also confirmed by their philosopher Confucius as a requirement for a disciplined and successful society.

Every person in ancient Chinese society had their particular job and farmers and peasants were the lowliest in the social structure.

Members of nobility included the royal family and all that had been granted special titles, money, and property.
Ancient Chinese Noble

Male Domination

Ancient Chinese society was male dominated, and women were considered to be second class citizens.

They had to obey the demands of the males in the family, were not educated like male children were, and were thought to be of lesser value.

Female children had their feet bound as a sign of attraction. The binding of feet left them crippled and deformed often unable to even walk.

The emperor might have many wives, but once he had selected the child that would take his place, only the mother of that child was called empress.

The empress was one of the few females that had power and could grant favors for her family including land and royal positions.
Ancient Chinese Nobles

Order of Society

While older people were respected for their wisdom and knowledge, the main divisions of ancient Chinese society included: the emperor and his family, nobles and officials, peasants, artisans, and merchants.

The Nobles:

Those in ancient China that were considered to be in the Nobles class had a lot of wealth, power, land, privilege, and even military members that fought for them.

Nobility was not a lifetime guarantee because the privilege could be removed at any time by the emperor.

Each time a new emperor came into power, it was fairly common for noble titles to be removed and new ones granted.

Nobles were landowners and some of the wealthiest people in ancient China. They were required to give some of their profit to the emperor so that it helped to guarantee their protection.

Nobles had incredibly extravagant clothing, homes, and jewelry. They hunted wild animals for sport and if they committed any serious crimes, the emperor could pardon them to allow them to choose what they considered to be honorable suicide instead of standard death sentencing.

Small Percentage

Just as in many places in the world today, those that were privileged made up a small portion of the overall population.

In ancient China, these were the emperor and his family, and the nobles, with the balance of the population living in poverty. Life in the country side was mostly made up of farmers and peasants living in poor huts.

Life in the city was very different, with a lot of trade, nicer houses, and even a better diet of fish and rice.

Wealthy nobles and members of the royal family had little in the way of furniture, and instead placed value on their beautiful gardens. City life also brought a higher level of education for male members of the society.

Chinese Nobility

  • The poor in ancient China typically lived in a 2-room hut with thatched rooftops and only a few wooden benches.
  • Of all of the workers, merchants were considered to be the lowest of all and, unlike, nobles, weren’t allowed to ride in carriages or wear silk.
  • Warfare among the nobles and in support of the emperor was a high priority and it was due to this fact that the crossbow was invented.
  • In Chinese mythology, the dragon was considered to be a symbol of good luck and fortune. The dragon was associated with the emperor and their families had dragons as part of their home decorations.
  • The ancient Chinese associated body odor with barbaric behavior and wealthy noble women would wear scented bags around their waists as well as suck on cloves to get rid of bad breath.


Which ancient Chinese woman was given the title of Empress?

The mother of the chosen next Emperor

Was the title and privilege of a noble for life?


What are the six social orders of ancient China?

the emperor and his family, nobles and officials, peasants, artisans, and merchants.

What weapon invention was created to assist both nobles and the Emperor in war?


Were both boys and girls sent to school?

no Only boys

Why did nobles wear scented bags around their waste?

to fight body odor