Atlantis Online

the Dawn of Civilization => China & the Asian Empires => Topic started by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 06:41:57 am

Title: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 06:41:57 am

Timeline of Chinese Dynasties
Ancient China
 Neolithic ca. 12000 - 2000 B.C.
Xia ca. 2100-1800 B.C.
Shang 1700-1027 B.C. 
Western Zhou 1027-771 B.C.
Eastern Zhou 770-221 B.C. 770-476 B.C. -- Spring and Autumn period
475-221 B.C. -- Warring States period
Early Imperial China
Qin 221-207 B.C.
Western Han 206 B.C.- 9 A.D.
Hsing (Wang Mang interregnum) 9-25 A.D.
Eastern Han 25-220 A.D.
Three Kingdoms 220-265 A.D.
Western Chin 265-316 A.D.
Eastern Chin 317-420 A.D. 
Southern and Northern Dynasties 420-588 A.D.
 Southern Dynasties

420-478 -- Song

479-501 -- Qi

502-556 -- Liang
557-588 -- Chen
Northern Dynasties

386-533 -- Northern Wei

534-549 -- Eastern Wei

535-557 -- Western Wei
550-577 -- Northern Qi

557-588 -- Northern Zhou
Classical Imperial China
Sui 580-618 A.D.
T'ang 618-907 A.D.
Five Dynasties 907-960 A.D. 907-923 -- Later Liang
923-936 -- Later Tang

936-946 -- Later Jin
947-950 -- Later Han

951-960 -- Later Zhou
Ten Kingdoms A.D. 907-979
Song A.D. 960-1279 960-1125 -- Northern Song
1127-1279 -- Southern Song
Liao A.D. 916-1125
Western Xia A.D. 1038-1227
Jin A.D. 1115-1234
Later Imperial China
Yuan A.D. 1279-1368
Ming A.D. 1368-1644
Qing A.D. 1644-1911

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 06:43:34 am

Neolithic China
The Yangshao and the Lungshan

The Neolithic period began in China about 12,000 B.C. However, good evidence of Neolithic settlements exists from only about 4,000 B.C. The Neolithic lasted until about 2,000 B.C. It is defined by a spread of settled agricultural communities, but hunting and gathering was still practiced. The largest concentration of agriculture was below the southern bend of the Yellow River and millet was the main crop. The geography of Neolithic China was different from today. It was much wetter, with most of Northern China being lakes and marshes and central China covered in an enormous lake. The climate was warm and moist, rather than the colder, arid China of today. The mountains were well forested and there was a variety of animals.

Silk production, for which China is famous, had already been invented before this time period began. The process began in Northern China. It involved feeding the silkworms mulberry leaves, helping them molt and spin their cocoons, and finally, boiling the cocoons to produce the raw silk. Pottery was also present during this time period. The two main types, Painted Pottery and Black Pottery, belong to the two distinct cultural groups of the Neolithic, the Yangshao and the Lungshan. These two types of pottery were not for everyday use, rather, a plain course type of pottery was used that varied between the colors gray, black, red, and white. The dwellings of this time were in clusters that suggest kinship was important. Clothing was made of hemp and the main domesticated animals were pigs and dogs.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 06:45:12 am
( (  (

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 06:45:57 am
The Yangshao lived in the mountainous regions of northern and western China in round or rectangular houses that were below ground level and surrounded by little walls of earth. They created Painted Pottery that had geometric designs on it. The pottery was fired at 1000-1500C, but the potters wheel was not used. Axes and arrowheads were made of polished stone and other tools were made of stone chips. Millet was the main crop of the Yangshao. They domesticated two main animals, the dog and the pig, with the pig being the more important.

The Lungshan lived on the plains of eastern China. Their villages were similar to those of the Yangshao, but evidence of stamped earth fortresses is found in some sites. They created Black Pottery. This pottery was of exceptional quality. It had a polished exterior, was never painted, and is almost always without decoration. This pottery may have been a direct predecessor to later Chinese pottery, as the forms of the vessels are typical of Chinese pottery. Firing bones for the purpose of divination, which continued into the following dynasties, also began during this time. The Lungshan began to bury their dead facing downwards, which is how all bodies were buried during the Bronze Age. They used bones for arrowheads and small tools, but used polished stones for axes and sickles. Their domesticated animals were the pig, dog, sheep, and ox.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 06:47:41 am
From hunter-gatherers to farmers

What is now China was inhabited by Homo erectus more than a million years ago. Recent study shows that the stone tools found at Xiaochangliang site are magnetostratigraphically dated as 1.36 million years ago. The archaeological site of Xihoudu (西侯渡) in Shanxi Province is the earliest record of use of fire by Homo erectus, which is dated 1.27 million years ago. The excavations at Yuanmou and later Lantian show early habitation. Perhaps the most famous specimen of Homo erectus found in China is the so-called Peking Man found in 1923. Two pottery pieces were unearthed at Liyuzui Cave in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province dated 16,500 and 19,000 BC. Early evidence for proto-Chinese millet agriculture is carbon-dated to about 7,000 BC, and associated with the Jiahu site (also the site of the earliest playable music instruments). This period also includes the earliest stage of the Chinese written language (still under debate) and the earliest wine production in the world. Jiahu contains the Peiligang culture of Xinzheng county, Henan, of which only 5% has been excavated as of 2006. With agriculture came increased population, the ability to store and redistribute crops, and to support specialist craftsmen and administrators. In late Neolithic times, the Yellow River valley began to establish itself as a cultural center, where the first villages were founded; the most archaeologically significant of those was found at Banpo (半坡), Xi'an.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 06:49:08 am

China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and countries linked to Chinese cultural and political history.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 06:50:08 am
The early history of China is complicated by the lack of a written language during this period coupled with the existence of documents from later time periods attempting to describe events that occurred several centuries before. The problem in some sense stems from centuries of introspection on the part of the Chinese people which has blurred the distinction between fact and fiction in regards to this early history. By 7000 BC, the Chinese were farming millet, giving rise to the Jiahu culture. At Damaidi in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to 6,000-5,000 BCE have been discovered "featuring 8,453 individual characters such as the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing." These pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters confirmed to be written Chinese. Later Yangshao culture was superseded by the Longshan culture around 2500 BC. Archaeological sites such as Sanxingdui and Erlitou show evidence of a Bronze Age civilization in China. The earliest bronze knife was found at Majiayao in Gansu and Qinhai province dated 3000 BC.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 06:52:00 am

Tenka Han (zh).png

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 06:53:47 am
Three August Ones and Five Emperors

The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors (Chinese: 三皇五帝; Pinyin: Sānhung wd; Wade-Giles: San-huang wu-ti) were mythological rulers of China during the period from c. 2852 BCE to 2205 BCE, which is the time preceding the Xia Dynasty.
(Actually, the translation of 帝 d/dei5 is a problematic one in that it is most often translated using its modern sense, which did not arise until after the advent of an imperial state under 秦始皇 Qnshĭhung/Cen4hi2wong4. Its original meaning, and the most likely translation thereof, is that of supreme being, a kind of bermann, rather than 'emperor'. The character 帝 originally represented a shaman wearing a liturgical mantel.)

The Three Sovereigns

The Three Sovereigns, sometimes known as the Three August Ones, were said to be god-kings or demigods who used their magical powers to improve the lives of their people. Because of their lofty virtue they lived to a great age and ruled over a period of great peace.
The Three Sovereigns are ascribed various identities in different Chinese historical texts. The Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian states that they were:
   The Heavenly Sovereign (天皇) that ruled for 18,000 years;
   The Earthly Sovereign (地皇) that ruled for 11,000 years;
   The Human Sovereign (泰皇 or 人皇)that ruled for 45,600 years,
The Yundou shu (運斗樞) and Yuanming bao (元命苞) identify them as:
   Fuxi (伏羲)
   Nwa (女媧)
   Shennong (神農)

Both Fuxi, and also Nwa, are the god and goddess husband and wife credited with being the ancestors of humankind after a devastating flood. The invention of the Primal Arrangement of the Eight Trigrams (Xian Tian Ba Gua, 先天八卦) is attributed to Fuxi. Shennong invented farming and is the first to use herbs for medical purposes.
The I Ching, starts like this: In the old times of King Fuxis regime, he observed sky and the stars when he looks upwards, and researched the earth when he looks downwards, and watched the birds and beasts to see how they live in their environment. He took examples from nearby and far away, and then made 8 Yin Yang signs to simulate the rules of universe...After Fuxi died, Shennong rises. He made Plow and teach people how to raise crops and fishing. He invented money and market for the exchange of goods."

The Shangshu dazhuan (尚書大傳) and Baihu tongyi (白虎通義) replace Nwa with Suiren (燧人), the inventor of fire. The Diwang shiji (帝王世紀) replaces Nwa with the Yellow Emperor (黄帝), the supposed ancestor of all Han Chinese people.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 07:02:52 am
The Five Emperors

The Five Emperors were legendary, morally perfect sage-kings. According to the Records of the Grand Historian they were:
   The Yellow Emperor (黄帝)
   Zhuanxu (顓頊)
   Emperor Ku (帝嚳)
   Emperor Yao (堯)
   Emperor Shun (舜)
Yao and Shun are also known as the Two Emperors, and, along with Yu the Great (禹), founder of the Xia dynasty, were considered to be model rulers and moral exemplars by Confucians in later Chinese history. The Shangshu Xu (尚書序) and Diwang shiji include Shaohao (少昊) instead of the Yellow Emperor.
The Song of Chu (楚辭) identifies the Five Emperors as directional gods:
   Shaohao (east)
   Zhuanxu (north)
   Yellow Emperor (center)
   Shennong (west)
   Fuxi (south)
The Book of Rites (禮記) equates the Five Emperors with the Five Lineages (五氏), which comprise:
   Youchao-shi (有巢氏)
   Suiren-shi (燧人氏)
   Fuxi (伏羲氏)
   Nwa (女媧氏)
   Shennong (神農氏)

In one sense of the word, the first historical Emperor of China was Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇), who coined a new term for "Emperor" (huangdi 皇帝) by combining the titles of "sovereign" (huang 皇) and "god-king" (di 帝).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 05, 2007, 07:03:47 am

Xia Dynasty

For many years, the Xia Dynasty was thought to be a part of a myth that the Chinese tell as part of their history. The Xia Dynasty was in oral histories, but no archaeological evidence was found of it until 1959. Excavations at Erlitous, in the city of Yanshi, uncovered what was most likely a capital of the Xia Dynasty. The site showed that the people were direct ancestors of the Lungshan and were predecessors of the Shang. Radiocarbon dates from this site indicate that they existed from 2100 to 1800 B.C. Despite this new archaeological evidence of the Xia, they are not universally accepted as a true dynasty.

The Xia were agrarian people, with bronze weapons and pottery. The ruling families used elaborate and dramatic rituals to confirm their power to govern. The rulers often acted as shamans, communicating with spirits for help and guidance.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 12, 2007, 06:43:17 am

Bronze container Lozenge Carven Ding (菱纹鼎) found at Erlitou site, the Xia palace.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 12, 2007, 06:45:21 am
The Xia Dynasty (Chinese: 夏朝; Pinyin: xi cho; Wade-Giles: hsia-ch'ao), ca. 2070 BC1600 BC,[1] of China is the first dynasty to be described in the Records of the Grand Historian and unofficial Bamboo Annals, which record the names of seventeen kings over fourteen generations lasted 431 or 471 years. The dynasty was preceded by the legendary Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, and followed by the Shang Dynasty.

According to the official history, the Xia Dynasty was founded when Shun abdicated the throne in favor of his minister Yu, whom Shun viewed as the perfect civil servant. Instead of passing power to the person deemed most capable of rulership, Yu passed power to his son, Qi, setting the precedence for dynastic rule. The Xia Dynasty thus began a period of family or clan control.

The Skeptical school of early Chinese history (yigupai) in the twenties, started by Gu Jiegang, was the first to seriously question within China the traditional story of its early history: the later the time, the longer the legendary period of earlier history... early Chinese history is a tale told and retold for generations, during which new elements were added to the front end[2] Yun Kuen Lee's criticism of nationalist sentiment in developing an explanation of Three Dynasties chronology focuses on the dichotomy of evidence provided by archaeological versus historical research, in particular the claim that the archaeological Erlitou Culture is also the historical Xia Dynasty. How to fuse the archaeological dates with historical dates is a challenge to all chronological studies of early civilization.

According to traditional Chinese proponents of the Dynastic cycle, it was during this period that Chinese civilization developed a benign civilian government and harsh punishment for legal transgressions. From this the earliest forms of Chinese legal codes came into being.

Jie, the last ruler, was said to be a corrupt king. He was overthrown by Tang, the leader of Shang people from the east.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 12, 2007, 06:47:01 am

Bronze cup found at Erlitou site in 1963.

Archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs that point to the possible existence of the Xia dynasty at locations cited in ancient Chinese historical texts. There exists a debate as to whether or not Erlitou culture was the site of the Xia dynasty. Radiocarbon dating places the site at ca. 2100 to 1800 BC, providing physical evidence of the existence of a state contemporaneous with and possibly equivalent to the Xia Dynasty as described in Chinese historical works. In 1959, a site located in the city of Yanshi was excavated containing large palaces that some archaeologists have attributed as capital of the Xia Dynasty. Though later historical works mention the Xia dynasty, no written records dated to the Xia period have been found to confirm the name of the dynasty and its sovereigns. At a minimum, the archaeological discoveries marked an evolutionary stage between the late neolithic cultures and the typical Chinese urban civilisation of the Shang Dynasty.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 12, 2007, 06:49:11 am
Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project

The Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project (Simplified Chinese: 夏商周断代工程; Pinyin: Xa Shāng Zhōu Dundi Gōngchng) was a multi-discipline project commissioned by the People's Republic of China in 1996 to determine with accuracy the location and time frame of the Xia Dynasty, the Shang Dynasty and the Zhou Dynasty. Some 200 experts took part in the project, the results of which were released in November 2000.

The project correlated radiocarbon dating, archaeological dating methods, historical textual analysis, astronomy, and used other interdisciplinary methods to achieve more accurate temporal and geographic accuracy.

There is some controversy over the results of the project. One of the criticisms is that the project supports the concept of a 5000-year, unbroken and homogenous history of China, wherein the Three Dynasties were large and powerful states--ignoring that many other groups of people existed throughout China and Central Asia during this period.

Technical controversies involve the following matters: Firstly, the archaeological boundaries between Xia and Shang and between Shang and Zhou have been strongly disputed, partly due to the methods adopted for carbon-dating. Secondly, it has also been argued that the astronomical/literature bases of the project are ill-founded. This was partly caused by persistent doubts in the reliability of the historical records used for the deduction, partly caused by dubious, inaccurate astronomical calculations, and partly caused by selective use of the presumed historical record (which, if used in its entirety, might have no solution at all). Thirdly, numerous unjustified changes have been introduced into the bronze vessel inscriptions, which affect the entire chronology. Finally, lack of understanding on the ancient calendar further complicated the matter.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 12, 2007, 06:50:41 am
Sovereigns of the Xia Dynasty

Posthumous Names (Shi Hao 諡號)1
Order Reign2 Chinese Hanyu Pinyin Notes
01 45 禹 Y also Yu the Great (大禹; d y)
02 10 啟 Q   
03 29 太康 Tai Kang   
04 13 仲康 Zhng Kāng   
05 28 相 Xiāng   
06 21 少康 Sho Kāng   
07 17 杼 Zh   
08 26 槐 Hui   
09 18 芒 Mng   
10 16 泄 Xi   
11 59 不降 B Jing   
12 21 扃 Jiōng   
13 21 廑 Jn Guoyu: jn, putonghua: jn
14 31 孔甲 Kng Ji   
15 11 皋 Gāo   
16 11 發 Fā   
17 52 桀 Ji

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on August 12, 2007, 06:54:30 am
Shang Dynasty


Remnants of advanced, stratified societies dating back to the Shang period have been found in the Yellow River Valley.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 01, 2007, 11:52:03 pm
The Shang Dynasty (Chinese: 商朝) or Yin Dynasty (殷代) (ca. 1600 BC - ca. 1046 BC) is the first historic Chinese dynasty and ruled in the northeastern region of the area known as "China proper", in the Yellow River valley. The Shāng Dynasty followed the quasi-legendary Xi Dynasty and preceded the Zhōu Dynasty. Information about the Shang Dynasty comes from historical records of the Zhou Dynasty, the Han Dynasty Shiji by Sima Qian and from Shang inscriptions on bronze artifacts and oracle bonesturtle shells, cattle scapula or other bones on which were written the first significant corpus of recorded Chinese characters. The oracle bone inscriptions, which date to the latter half of the dynasty, typically recorded the date in the Sexagenary cycle of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, followed by the name of the diviner and the topic being divined about. An interpretation of the answer (prognostication) and whether the divination later proved correct were sometimes also added. Present-day Chinese culture can be traced to this early dynasty.

These divinations can be gleaned for information on the politics, economy, culture, religion, geography, astronomy, calendar, art and medicine of the period, and as such provide critical insight into the early stages of the Chinese civilization. One site of the Shang capitals, later historically called the Ruins of Yin (殷墟), is near modern day Anyang (安陽). Archaeological work there uncovered 11 major Yin royal tombs and the foundations of palace and ritual sites, containing weapons of war and human as well as animal sacrifices. Tens of thousands of bronze, jade, stone, bone and ceramic artifacts have been obtained; the workmanship on the bronzes attests to a high level of civilization. In terms of inscribed oracle bones alone, more than 20,000 were discovered in the initial scientific excavations in the 1920s to 1930s, and many more have since been found.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 01, 2007, 11:52:51 pm

Bronze vessel Beast Face Flat Footed Ding (兽面扁足鼎) dated early Shang Dynasty, 1600 - 1350 BC.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 01, 2007, 11:53:53 pm
The Shang dynasty is believed to have been founded by a rebel leader who overthrew the last Xia ruler. Its civilization was based on agriculture, augmented by hunting and animal husbandry. The Records of the Grand Historian states that the Shang dynasty moved its capital six times. The final and most important move to Yin in 1350 BC led to the golden age of the dynasty. The term Yin dynasty has been synonymous with the Shang dynasty in history, and indeed was the more popular term, although it is now often used specifically in reference to the latter half of the Shang Dynasty. The Japanese and Korean still refer to the Shang dynasty exclusively as the Yin (In) dynasty.

A line of hereditary Shang kings ruled over much of northern China, and Shang troops fought frequent wars with neighboring settlements and nomadic herdsmen from the inner Asian steppes. The capitals, particularly that in Yin, were centers of glittering court life. Court rituals to propitiate spirits developed. In addition to his secular position, the king was the head of the ancestor- and spirit-worship cult. The king often performed oracle bone divinations himself, especially near the end of the dynasty. Evidence from the royal tombs indicates that royal personages were buried with articles of value, presumably for use in the afterlife. Perhaps for the same reason, hundreds of commoners, who may have been slaves, were buried alive with the royal corpse.

The Shang dynasty had a fully developed system of writing; its complexity and state of development indicates an earlier period of development, which is still unattested. Bronze casting and pottery also advanced in Shang culture. The bronze was commonly used for art rather than weapons. In astronomy, the Shang astronomers discovered Mars and various comets. Many musical instruments were also invented at that time.

Shang influence, though not political control, extended as far northeast as modern Beijing, where early pre-Yan culture shows evidence of Shang material culture. At least one burial in this region during the Early Shang period contained both Shang-style bronzes and local-style gold jewelry. This Shang influence likely made possible the integration of Yan into the later Zhou Dynasty.

The Shang king, in his oracular divinations, repeatedly shows concern about the fang groups, which represented barbarians outside of the civilized tu regions that made up the Shang center. In particular, the tufang group of the Yan Shan region is regularly mentioned as hostile to the Shang. The discovery of a Chenggu-style ge dagger-axe at Xiaohenan demonstrates that even at this early stage of Chinese history, there was some level of connection between the distant areas of north China

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 01, 2007, 11:54:48 pm

Shang/Zhou sculpture, 14-10th century BC.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 01, 2007, 11:56:09 pm
Shang Zhou, the last Yin king, committed suicide after his army was defeated by the Zhou people. Legends say that his army betrayed him by joining the Zhou rebels in a decisive battle.

A classical novel Fengshen Yanyi is about the war between the Yin and Zhou, in which each was favored and supported by one group of gods.

After the Yin's collapse, the surviving Yin ruling family collectively changed their surname from their royal Zi (子) (pinyin: zi; Wade-Giles: tzu) to the name of their fallen dynasty, Yin (殷). The family remained aristocratic and often provided needed administrative services to the succeeding Zhou Dynasty. The King Cheng of Zhou (周成王) through the Regent, his uncle the Duke Dan of Zhou (周公旦), enfeoffed the former Shang King Zhou's brother the ruler of Wei, WeiZi (微子) in the former Shang capital at Shang (商) with the territory becoming the state of Song (宋). The State of Song and the royal Shang descendants maintained rites to the dead Shang kings which lasted until 286 BC. (Source: Records of the Grand Historian.)

Both Korean and Chinese legends state that a disgruntled Yin prince named Jizi (箕子), who had refused to cede power to the Zhou, left China with his garrison and founded Gija Joseon near modern day Pyongyang to what would become one of the early Korean states (Go-, Gija-, and Wiman-Joseon).

Many Shang clans migrated northeast and were integrated into Yan culture during the Western Zhou period. These clans maintained an elite status, continuing their sacrificial and burial traditions.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 01, 2007, 11:57:10 pm

This bronze ritual wine vessel, dating from the Shang Dynasty in the 13th century BC, is housed at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 01, 2007, 11:58:28 pm
Late and Early Shang

Written records found at Anyang confirm the existence of the Shang dynasty. However, Western scholars are hesitant to associate some settlements contemporaneous with the Anyang settlement with the Shang dynasty. For example, archaeological findings at Sanxingdui suggest a technologically advanced civilization culturally unlike Anyang but lacking writing. The extent of Shang control is difficult to determine, given the lack of archaeological exploration. It is accepted among historians that Yin, ruled by the same Shang of official history, coexisted and traded with other culturally diverse settlements in North China.

Chinese historians living in later periods were accustomed to the notion of one dynasty succeeding another, but the actual political situation in early China may have been more complicated. The Xia and the Shang can possibly refer to political entities that existed concurrently, just as the early Zhou (successor state of the Shang), is known to have existed at the same time as the Shang. This approach to the Sandai (Or Three Dynasties) system was promoted by noted archaeologist Kwang-chih Chang.

Furthermore, though the ruins of Yinxu confirms the existence of the Late Shang dynasty, no evidence has been unearthed proving the existence of the Shang dynasty before its move to its last capital. This is seen in research by the reference to Yin-era Shang as Late Shang and pre-jiaguwen Shang as Early Shang. The difficulty is less one of conspirators trying to legitimize the Shang Dynasty and more the problem of historians and archaeologists sorting out historical societies and pre-historic (That is, pre-writing) archeological cultures.

At the Shang Dynasty site of Ao, large walls were erected in the 15th century BC that had dimensions of 20 meters / 65 feet in width at the base and enclosed an area of some 2100 yards squared. In similar dimensions, the ancient Chinese capital for the State of Zhao, Handan (founded in 386 BC), had walls that were again 20 meters / 65 feet wide at the base, a height of 15 meters / 50 feet tall, with two separate sides of its rectangular enclosure measured at a length of 1530 yards

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 01, 2007, 11:59:35 pm

The site of Yin, the capital (1350 - 1046 BC) of the Shang Dynasty, also called Yin Dynasty.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:01:07 am
Organization, craft, and labor

As far back as c. 1500 BC, the early Shang Dynasty engaged in large-scale production of bronze-ware vessels and weapons. This production necessitated large labor force that would handle the mining, refining, and transportation of copper, tin, and lead ores. The Shang Dynasty royal court and aristocrats required a vast amount of different bronze vessels for various ceremonial purposes and events of religious divination, hence the need for official managers that could provide oversight and employment of hard-laborers and skilled artisans and craftsmen. With the increased amount of bronze available, the army could become better equipped with an assortment of bronze weaponry, and bronze was also able to furnish the fittings of spoke-wheeled chariots that came into widespread use by 1200 BC.

Apart from their role as the head military commanders, Shang kings also asserted their social supremacy by acting as the high priest of society and leader of divination ceremonies. As the oracle bone texts reveal, the Shang kings were viewed as the best qualified members of society to offer sacrifices to their royal ancestors, to the high god Di, who in their beliefs was responsible for the rain, wind, and thunder.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:02:42 am
Shang Military

Shang infantry were armed with a variety of stone or bronze weaponry, including mo spears, yu pole-axes, ge pole-based dagger-axes, the compound bow, and bronze or leather helmets (Wang Hongyuan 1993). Their western military frontier was at the Taihang Mountains, where they fought the ma or "horse" barbarians, who might have used chariots. The Shang themselves likely only used chariots as mobile command vehicles or elite symbols. Although the Shang depended upon the military skills of their nobility, the masses of town dwelling and rural commoners provided the Shang rulers with conscript labor as well as military obligation when mobilized for ventures of defense or conquest. The subservient lords of noble lineage and other state rulers were obligated to furnish their locally-kept forces with all the necessary equipment, armor, and armaments, while the Shang king maintained a force of about a thousand troops at his capital, and personally led this force into battle. A rudimentary military bureaucracy was needed in order to muster troops of three to five thousand troops in border campaigns, while it was recorded that up to thirteen thousand troops were mustered in order to suppress uprisings of insolent states to Shang authority.

The army was divided into three sections - left, right, and middle. There were largely two types of army units in these sections, those being the loosely organized infantry that were conscripted from the privileged populace and played a supporting role, while the core of the army was the warrior nobility who rode in chariots. Chariot-based warfare continued as a prime means of conducting battle well into the Warring States (481 BC-221 BC) period, although this was slowly phased out by massive infantry, and then large cavalry-based forces by the 3rd century BC. However, even after the Shang integrated the chariot into their military forces, the nobility were still largely amassed in infantry form, as the chariot was mostly associated with transportation, ceremonies, and large-scale royal hunting expeditions. Chariots in the Shang period generally carried three men, the driver placed at the center, an archer on the left, and a warrior armed with a dagger-ax on the right. It had a rectangular frame, with two large spoked wheels, and was driven by two horses, although some had teams of four horses

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:03:52 am

A Shang Dynasty bronze-ware pot with lid and handle.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:04:51 am

A Shang Dynasty jade-carved deer ornament, Shanghai Museum.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:06:13 am

A bronze liu ding ritual vessel

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:07:18 am

A bronze pou vessel with four ram heads

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:08:36 am

A bronze gong ritual vessel

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:09:32 am

A bronze gefuding gui vessel

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:10:31 am

A bronze yuefu you vessel

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:11:26 am

A bronze zun ritual vessel

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:12:54 am

A jade ring in the shape of a dragon

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:13:51 am

A jade carved fish

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:16:04 am

Simuwu Ding (司母戊) of Late Shang Dynasty. Height 133 cm, length 110 cm, width 79 cm, weight 832.84 kg. It is the largest discovered bronze piece in the world. It was made by Zu Jia of Shang for his mother Wu (戊), Wu Ding (武丁)'s wife. Unearthed at Anyang in 1939.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:17:40 am
Zhou Dynasty

The Zhou Dynasty (Chinese: 周朝; Pinyin: Zhōu Cho; Wade-Giles: Chou Ch`ao; 1122 BC to 256 BC preceded by the Shang Dynasty and followed by the Qin Dynasty in China. The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other in Chinese history--though the actual political and military control of China by the dynasty only lasted during the Western Zhou. During the Zhou, the use of iron was introduced to China, while this period of Chinese history produced what many consider the zenith of Chinese bronze-ware making. The dynasty also spans the period in which the written script evolved from the ancient stage as seen in early Western Zhou bronze inscriptions, to the beginnings of the modern stage, in the form of the archaic clerical script of the late Warring States period.

During the Zhou Dynasty, the origins of matured Chinese philosophy developed, its initial stages beginning in the 6th century BC. The greatest Chinese philosophers, those who made the greatest impact on later generations of Chinese, were Kong Fuzi (Latin: Confucius), founder of Confucianism, and Laozi, founder of Daoism. Other philosophers, theorists, and schools of thought in this era were Mozi (Latin: Micius), founder of Mohism, Mengzi (Latin: Mencius), a famous Confucian who expanded upon Kong Fuzi's legacy, and Shang Yang and Han Feizi, responsible for the development of ancient Chinese Legalism (the core philosophy of the Qin Dynasty). In an age of intellectual sophistication, Chinese philosophy of this period has been often compared to its contemporary in ancient Greece.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:18:41 am

Boundaries of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1050 - 771 BC) in China

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:20:08 am
Mandate of Heaven

In the Chinese historical tradition, the Zhou defeated the Shang and oriented the Shang system of ancestor worship toward a universalized worship away from the worship of Di and to that of Tian or "heaven". They legitimized their rule by invoking the Mandate of Heaven, the notion that the ruler (the "Son of Heaven") governed by divine right but that his dethronement would prove that he had lost the mandate. The doctrine explained and justified the demise of the Xia and Shang Dynasties and at the same time supported the legitimacy of present and future rulers. The Zhou dynasty was founded by the Ji family and had its capital at Ho (鎬, near the present-day city of Xi'an in the Wei River valley). Sharing the language and culture of the Shang, the early Zhou rulers, through conquest and colonization, established a large imperial territory wherein states as far as Shandong acknowledged Zhou rulership and took part in elite culture. The spread of Zhou bronzes, though, was concurrent with the continued use of Shang style pottery in the distant regions and these states were the first to recede during the late Western Zhou.

Zhou military

The early Western Zhou supported a strong military split into two major units: The Six Armies of the West and The Eight Armies of Chengzhou. The armies campaigned in the northern Loess Plateau, modern Ningxia and the Huanghe floodplain. The military prowess of Zhou peaked during the 19th year of King Zhao's reign, when the Six Armies were wiped out along with King Zhao on a campaign around the Han River, Zhou power declined ever since. The Zhou period saw the introduction of the use of massed chariots in battle, a technology imported from Central Asia.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:21:20 am

A Western Zhou bronze gui vessel, c. 1000 BC

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:22:06 am
Fengjian (Feudalism)

In the West, the Zhou period is often described as feudal because the Zhou's early rule invites comparison with medieval rule in Europe. However, historians debate whether or not this description is valid; the more appropriate term for the Zhou Dynasty's political arrangement would be from the Chinese language itself: the Fēngjin (封建) system. The Zhou amalgam of city-states became progressively centralized and established increasingly impersonal political and economic institutions. These developments, which probably occurred in the later Zhou period, were manifested in greater central control over local governments and a more routinized agrarian taxation. Zhou officials were not paid a salary but instead were given semi-regular gifts by the King, which often included land in the Wei River valley. Imperial stability was ensured through marriages between the Zhou court and local lords as well as the installment of Zhou lords into command over distant regions.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:23:55 am

Western Zhou Dynasty musical bronze bell

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:25:56 am
Western and Eastern Zhou

Initially the Ji family was able to control the country firmly. In 771 BC, after King You had replaced his queen with a concubine Baosi, the capital was sacked by the joint force of the queen's father, who was the powerful Marquess of Shen, and a nomadic tribe, the Quanrong. The queen's son Ji Yijiu was proclaimed the new king by the nobles from the states of Zheng, L, Qin and the Marquess of Shen. The capital was moved eastward in 722 BC to Luoyang in present-day Henan Province.

Because of this shift, historians divide the Zhou era into the Western Zhou (西周, pinyin Xī Zhōu), lasting up until 771 BC, and the Eastern Zhou (Traditional Chinese: 東周, Simplified Chinese: 东周, pinyin: Dōng Zhōu) from 770 up to 256 BC. The beginning year of the Western Zhou has been disputed - 1122 BC, 1027 BC and other years within the hundred years from late 12th century BC to late 11th century BC have been proposed. Chinese historians take 841 BC as the first year of consecutive annual dating of the history of China, based on the Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian. The Eastern Zhou corresponds roughly to two subperiods. The first, from 722 to 481 BC, is called the Spring and Autumn Period, after a famous historical chronicle of the time; the second is known as the Warring States Period (480 to 221 BC), after another famous chronicle. The Warring States Period extends slightly past the 256 BC end date of the Eastern Zhou; this discrepancy is due to the fact that the last Zhou king's reign ended in 256, 35 years before the beginning of the Qin dynasty which ended the Warring States period.


With the royal line broken, the power of the Zhou court gradually diminished, and the fragmentation of the kingdom accelerated. From Ping Wang onwards, the Zhou kings ruled in name only, with true power lying in the hands of powerful nobles. Towards the end of the Zhou Dynasty, the nobles did not even bother to acknowledge the Ji family symbolically, rebelled and declared themselves to be kings. The dynasty had disappeared some years prior to Qin Shi Huang's unification of China in 223 BC.


Agriculture in the Zhou Dynasty was very intensive and in many cases directed by the government. All farming lands were owned by nobles, who then gave their land to their serfs, a situation similar to European feudalism. For example, a piece of land was divided into nine squares in the shape of the character for "water well," jing (井), with the grain from the middle square taken by the government and that of surrounding squares kept by individual farmers. This way, the government was able to store surplus food and distribute it in times of famine or bad harvest. Some important manufacturing sectors during this period included bronze smelting, which was integral to making weapons and farming tools. Again, these industries were dominated by the nobility who directed the production of such materials.

China's first projects of hydraulic engineering were founded during the Zhou Dynasty, ultimately for means to aid agricultrual irrigation. The Prime Minister of Wei, Sunshu Ao, who served King Zhuang of Chu (楚莊王) (died 591 BC) dammed a river to create an enormous irrigation reservoir in modern-day northern Anhui province. For this Sunshu is credited as China's first hydraulic engineer. The later Wei statesman Ximen Bao, who served Marquis Wen of Wei (文侯) (445 BC-396 BC), is the first hydraulic engineer of China to have created a large irrigation canal system. As the main focus of his grandiose project, his canal work eventually diverted the waters of the entire Zhang River to a spot further up the Huang He River.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:27:15 am

Zhou vase with glass inlays, 4th-3rd century BCE, British Museum.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:28:26 am

Dake bronze ritual vessel, Western Zhou Dynasty

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:30:37 am

You bronze ritual vessel, Western Zhou Dynasty

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:31:36 am

Qizhong Hu bronze vessel, Western Zhou Dynasty

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:32:46 am

Dou vessel with a hunting scene, Eastern Zhou Dynasty

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:33:56 am

A bo vessel of the Duke of Qin, Eastern Zhou Dynasty

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:34:54 am

Pu vessel with dragon designs, Eastern Zhou Dynasty

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:36:41 am
Spring and Autumn Period

The Spring and Autumn Period (Chinese: 春秋時代; Pinyin: Chūnqiū Shdi) was a period in Chinese history, which roughly corresponds to the first half of the Eastern Zhou dynasty (from the second half of the 8th century BC to the first half of the 5th century BC). Its name comes from the Spring and Autumn Annals, a chronicle of the state of Lu between 722 BC and 481 BC, which tradition associates with Confucius.

During the Springs and Autumns, China was ruled by a feudal system. The Zhou dynasty kings held nominal power over a small Royal Domain, centered on their capital (modern Luoyang), and granted fiefdoms over the rest of China to several hundreds of hereditary nobles (Zhuhou 诸侯), descendants of members of the Zhou clan, close associates of the founders of the dynasty, or local potentates. The most important feudal princes (known later as the twelve princes, 十二诸侯) met during regular conferences, where important matters, such as military expeditions against foreign groups or offending nobles were decided. During these conferences, one prince was sometimes declared hegemon (伯 and then 霸), and took the leadership over the armies of all feudal states.

As the era unfolded, larger states annexed or claim suzerainty over smaller ones. By the 6th century BC, most small states had disappeared, and a few large and powerful principalities dominated China. Some southern states, such as Chu and Wu, claimed independence from the Zhou. Wars were undertaken to oppose some of these states (Wu and Yue). In the state of Jin, six powerful families fought for supremacy, and a series of civil wars resulted in the splitting of Jin into three smaller states by the beginning of the fifth century.

At that time, the control Zhou kings exerted over feudal princes was greatly reduced, the feudal system crumbled, and the Warring States Period began.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:37:41 am

Urbanisation during the Spring and Autumn period.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:38:40 am
Beginning of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty

After the Zhou capital was sacked by western barbarian tribes, crown prince Ji Yijiu (姬宜臼) fled to the east. During the flight from the western capital to the east, the king relied on the nearby lords of Qi (齐), Zheng (郑) and Jin (晋) for protection from barbarians and rebellious lords. He moved the Zhou capital from Zongzhou (Hao) to Chengzhou (Luoyang) in the Yellow River valley.

The fleeing Zhou elite did not have strong footholds in the eastern territories; even the crown prince's coronation had to be supported by those states to be successful. With the Zhou domain greatly reduced, i.e. to Luoyang and nearby areas, the court could no longer support six groups of standing troops (六軍, li jūn). Subsequent Zhou kings had to request help from neighbouring powerful states for protection from raids and for resolution of internal power struggles. The Zhou court would never regain its original authority; instead, it was relegated to being merely a figurehead of the feudal states. Though the king de jure retained the Mandate of Heaven, de facto the title held no real power.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:40:21 am
Rise of the hegemonies

The first nobility to help the Zhou kings was the Duke Zhuang of Zheng (郑庄公) (r. 743 BC-701 BC). He was the first to establish the hegemonical system (b 霸), which was intended to retain the old proto-feudal system. Traditional historians justified the new system as a means of protecting weaker civilized states and the Zhou royalty from the intruding "barbarian" tribes. Located in the south, north, east and west, the barbarian tribes were, respectively, the Man, Yi, Rong and Di.

The newly powerful states were more eager to maintain aristocratic privileges over the traditional ideology of supporting the weak ruling entity during times of unrest (匡扶社稷 kuāng f sh j), which had been widely propagated during imperial China to consolidate power into the ruling family.

Dukes Huan of Qi (r. 685 BC-643 BC) and Wen of Jin (r. 636 BC-628 BC) made further steps in installing the overlordship system, which brought relative stability, but in shorter time periods than before. Annexations increased, favoring the several most powerful states, including Qin, Jin, Qi and Chu. The overlord role gradually drifted from its stated intention of protecting weaker states; the overlordship eventually became a system of hegemony of major states over weaker satellites of Chinese and "barbarian" origin.

The great states used the pretext of aid and protection to intervene and gain advantages over the smaller states during their internal quarrels. Later overlords were mostly derived from these great states. They proclaimed themselves master of their territories, without even recognizing the petty figurehead of Zhou. Establishment of the local administration system (Jun and Xian), with its officials appointed by the government, gave states better control over the dominion. Taxation facilitated commerce and agriculture more than proto-feudalism.

The three states of Qin, Jin and Qi not only optimized their own strength, but also repelled the southern state of Chu, whose rulers had proclaimed themselves kings. The Chu armies gradually intruded into the Yellow River Basin. Framing Chu as the "southern barbarian", Chu Man, was merely a pretext to warn Chu not to intervene into their respective spheres of influence. Chu intrusion was checked several times in three major battles with increasing violence - the Battle of Chengpu, the Battle of Bi and the Battle of Yanling; this resulted in the restorations of the states of Chen and Cai.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:42:48 am
Interstate relations

During the period a complex system of interstate relations developed. It was partially structured upon the Western Zhou system of feudalism, but elements of realpolitik were emerging. A collection of interstate customary norms and values, which can perhaps be loosely termed international law, was also evident. As the operational and cultural areas of states expanded and intersected, diplomatic encounters increased.

Changing tempo of war

After a period of increasingly exhaustive warfare, Qi, Qin, Jin and Chu finally met for a disarmament conference in 579 BC, where the other states essentially became satellites. In 546 BC, Jin and Chu agreed to yet another truce.

During the relatively peaceful 6th century BC, the two coastal states in today's Zhejiang, Wu and Yue, gradually grew in power. After defeating and banishing King Fu Chai of Wu, King Gou Jian of Yue (r. 496 BC-465 BC) became the last recognized overlord.

This era of peace was only a prelude to the maelstrom of the Warring States Period. The four powerful states were all in the midst of power struggles. Six elite landholding families waged war on each other in Jin. The Chen family was eliminating political enemies in Qi. Legitimacy of the rulers was often challenged in civil wars by various royal family members in Qin and Chu. Once all these power strugglers firmly established themselves in their dominions, the bloodshed among states would continue in the Warring State Period. The Warring States Period officially started in 403 BC when the three remaining elite families in Jin - Zhao, Wei and Han - partitioned the state; the impotent Zhou court was forced to recognize their authority.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:47:02 am
List of overlords, or Ba (霸)
Traditionally, the Five Overlords of Spring and Autumn Period (春秋五霸 Chūn Qiū Wǔ B) include:
   Duke Huan of Qi (齐桓公)
   Duke Wen of Jin (晋文公)
   King Zhuang of Chu (楚莊王)
   Duke Mu of Qin (秦穆公)
   Duke Xiang of Song (宋襄公)
While some other historians suggest that the Five Overlords include:
   Duke Huan of Qi (齐桓公)
   Duke Wen of Jin (晋文公)
   King Zhuang of Chu (楚庄王)
   King Fu Chai of Wu (吴王夫差)
   King Gou Jian of Yue (越王勾踐)
List of prominent states
The name following the name of the state is the capital (English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese).
Qi (state) 齐 - Linzi 臨淄 临淄
Chu (state) 楚 - Ying 郢 郢
Qin (state) 秦 - Xianyang 咸陽 咸阳
Jin (state) 晉
Lu (state) 鲁 - Qufu 曲阜 曲阜
Chen (state) 陈; - Wanqiu 宛丘; 宛丘
Cai (state) 蔡 - Shangcai 上蔡 上蔡
Cao (state) 曹
Song (state) 宋 - Shangqiu 商丘 商丘
Wei (Spring and Autumn state) 卫
Wu (state) 吴 - Gusu 姑蘇 姑苏
Yue (state) 越 - Kuaiji 會稽 会稽
Hua (state) 滑
Zheng (state) 郑 - Xinzheng 新鄭
Yan (state) 燕
List of important figures
Bureaucrats or Officers
Guan Zhong (管仲), statesman and advisor of Duke Huan of Qi and regarded by some modern scholars as the first Legalist.
Baili Xi (百里奚), famous prime minister of Qin.
Bo Pi, (伯噽)the corrupted bureaucrat under King He Lu and played important diplomatic role of Wu-Yue relations.
Wen Zhong文種 and Fan Li范蠡, the two advisors and partisans of King Gou Jian of his rally against Wu.
Zi Chan, (子产)leader of self-strengthening movements in Zheng
Influential scholars
Confucius(孔子), leading figure in Confucianism
Laozi (老子)or Lao tse, founder of Daoism
Mozi, known as Motse (墨子 M Zǐ) or "Mocius" (also "Micius") to Western scholars, founder of Mohism
Confucius(孔子), the editor of Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋)
Lu Ban(鲁班)
Ou Ye Zi, literally means Ou the wielder and mentor of the couple Gan Jiang and Mo Ye
Entrepreneurs and Commercial personnel
Fan Li
Generals, military leaders and authors
Rang Ju, elder contemporary and possibly mentor of
Sun Tzu, (孙子)the author of The Art of War
Yao Li, (要离)sent by He Lu to kill Qing Ji(庆忌).
Zhuan Zhu,(专渚) sent by He Lu to kill his cousin King Liao
Mo Xie

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:50:32 am
Warring States Period

The Warring States Period (Traditional Chinese: 戰國時代; Simplified Chinese: 战国时代; Pinyin: Zhngu Shdi), also known as the Era of Warring States, covers the period from some time in the 5th century BC to the unification of China by the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, following the Spring and Autumn Period, although the Zhou dynasty itself ended in 256 BC, 35 years earlier than the end of the Warring States period. As with the Spring and Autumn Period, the king of Zhou acted merely as a figurehead. The name Warring States Period was derived from the Record of the Warring States, a historical work compiled early in the Han Dynasty. The date for the beginning of the Warring States Period is somewhat in dispute. While it is frequently cited as 475 BC (following the Spring and Autumn Period), 403 BC the date of the tripartition of the Jin is also sometimes considered as the beginning of the period.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:51:45 am

Warring States period

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:52:44 am
The Warring States Period, in contrast to the Spring and Autumn Period, was a period when regional warlords annexed smaller states around them and consolidated their rule. The process began in the Spring and Autumn Period, and by the 3rd century BC, seven major states had risen to prominence. These Seven Warring States (戰國七雄/战国七雄 Zhngu Qīxing, literally "Seven Hegemonial among the Warring States"), were the Qi (齐), the Chu (楚), the Yan (燕), the Han (韩), the Zhao (赵), the Wei (魏) and the Qin (秦). Another sign of this shift in power was a change in title: warlords still considered themselves dukes (公 gōng) of the Zhou dynasty king; but now the warlords began to call themselves kings (王 wng), meaning they were equal to the Zhou king.

The Warring States Period saw the proliferation of iron working in China, replacing bronze as the dominant metal used in warfare. Areas such as Shu (modern Sichuan) and Yue (modern Zhejiang) were also brought into the Chinese cultural sphere during this time. Different philosophies developed into the Hundred Schools of Thought, including Confucianism (elaborated by Mencius), Taoism (elaborated by Lao Zi and to a lesser extent Zhuang Zi, in that it is possible to see the philosophy espoused in the text of the Zhuang Zi as separate from what could be considered "classical Daoism"), Legalism (formulated by Han Feizi) and Mohism (formulated by Mozi). Trade also became important, and some merchants had considerable power in politics. Military tactics also changed. Unlike the Spring and Autumn Period, most armies in the Warring States Period made combined use of infantry and cavalry, and the use of chariots gradually fell into disfavor. Thus from this period on, the nobles in China remained a literate rather than warrior class, as the kingdoms competed by throwing masses of soldiers against each other. Arms of soldiers gradually changed from bronze to unified iron arms. Dagger-axes were an extremely popular weapon in various kingdoms, especially for the Qin who produced eighteen-foot long pikes.

This was also around the time the legendary military strategist Sun Tzu (Sun Zi) wrote The Art of War which is recognized today as the most influential, and oldest known military strategy guide. Along with this are other military writings that make up the Seven Military Classics of ancient China: T'ai Kung's Six Secret Teachings, The Methods of the Sima, Sun Bin's Art of War, Wu Qi, Wei Liaozi, Three strategies of Huang Shigong, and The Questions and Replies of Tang Taizong and Li Weigong (the last being made 800 years after this era ended). Once China was unified, these seven military classics were locked away and access was restricted due to their tendency to promote revolution.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:54:06 am

Bronze Music Bell Set (bianzhong) Zenghouyi (曾侯乙) dated Warring States, 433 BC. The largest bell weighs over 200 kg (440 pounds).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:55:42 am
Partition of Jin

In the Spring and Autumn Period, the State of Jin (晉) was arguably the most powerful state in China. However, near the end of the Spring and Autumn Period, the power of the ruling family weakened, and Jin gradually came under the control of six ministers belonging to six different families (六卿). By the beginning of the Warring States Period, after numerous power struggles, there were four families left: the Zhi (智) family, the Wei (魏) family, the Zhao (趙) family, and the Han (韓) family, with the Zhi family being the dominant power in Jin. Zhi Yao (智瑶), the last head of the Zhi family, attempted a coalition with the Wei family and the Han family to destroy the Zhao family. However, because of Zhi Yao's arrogance and disrespect towards the other families, the Wei family and Han family secretly allied with the Zhao family, and the three families launched a surprise attack at Jinyang, which was besieged by Zhi Yao at the time, and annihilated the Zhi.

In 403 BC, the three major families of Jin, with the approval of the Zhou king, partitioned Jin into three states, which was historically known as 'The Partition of Jin of the Three Families' (三家分晉). The new states were: the State of Han, the State of Zhao, and the State of Wei. The three family heads were given the title of Marquis (侯), and because the three states were originally part of Jin, they are also referred to as the Three Jins (三晉). The State of Jin continued to exist with a tiny piece of territory until 376 BC when the rest of the territory was partitioned by the Three Jins.

Change of government in Qi

In 389 BC, the Tian (田) family seized control of the State of Qi and was given the title of Duke. The old Jiang (姜) family's State of Qi continued to exist with a small piece of territory until 379 BC, when it was finally absorbed into Tian family's State of Qi.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:57:05 am

A jade-carved dragon garment ornament from the Warring States period.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 12:58:00 am
Early strife in the Three Jins, Qi, and Qin

In 371 BC, Marquess Wu of Wei died without specifying a successor, causing Wei to fall into an internal war of succession. After three years of civil war, Zhao and Han, sensing an opportunity, invaded Wei. On the verge of conquering Wei, the leaders of Zhao and Han fell into disagreement on what to do with Wei and both armies mysteriously retreated. As a result, King Hui of Wei (still a Marquess at the time) was able to ascend onto the throne of Wei.

In 354 BC, King Hui of Wei initiated a large scale attack at Zhao, which some historians believe was to avenge the earlier near destruction of Wei. By 353 BC, Zhao was losing the war badly, and one of their major cities Handan (邯鄲), a city that would eventually become Zhao's capital was being besieged. As a result, the neighbouring State of Qi decided to help Zhao. The strategy Qi used, suggested by the famous tactician Sun Bin (孫臏), a descendant of Sun Tzu, who at the time was the Qi army advisor, was to attack Wei's territory while the main Wei army is busy sieging Zhao, forcing Wei to retreat. The strategy was a success; the Wei army hastily retreated, and encountered the Qi midway, culminating into the Battle of Guiling (Pinyin: gu lng) (桂陵之戰) where Wei was decisively defeated. The event spawned the idiom "圍魏救趙", meaning "Surrounding Wei to save Zhao", which is still used in modern Chinese to refer to attacking an enemy's vulnerable spots in order to relieve pressure being applied by that enemy upon an ally.

In 341 BC, Wei attacked Han, and Qi interfered again. The two generals from the previous Battle of Guiling met again, and due to the brilliant strategy of Sun Bin, Wei was again decisively defeated at the Battle of Maling (馬陵之戰).

The situation for Wei took an even worse turn when Qin, taking advantage of Wei series of defeats by Qi, attacked Wei in 340 BC under the advice of famous Qin reformer Shang Yang (商鞅). Wei was devastatingly defeated and was forced to cede a large portion of its territory to achieve a truce. This left their capital Anyi vulnerable, so Wei was also forced to move their capital to Daliang.

After these series of events, Wei became severely weakened, and the Qi and Qin states became the two dominant states in China.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 01:01:27 am
Shang Yang's reforms in Qin

Around 359 BC, Shang Yang (商鞅), a minister of the State of Qin, initiated a series of reforms that transformed Qin from a backward state into one that surpasses the other six states. It is generally regarded that this is the point where Qin started to become the most dominant state in China.

Ascension of the Kingdoms

In 334 BC, the rulers of Wei and Qi agreed to recognize each other as Kings (王), formalizing the independence of the states and the powerlessness of the Zhou throne since the beginning of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. The King of Wei and the King of Qi joined the ranks of the King of Chu, whose predecessors had been Kings since the Spring and Autumn Period. From this point on, all the other states eventually declare their Kingship, signifying the beginning of the end of the Zhou Dynasty.

In 325 BC, the ruler of Qin declared himself as King.

In 323 BC, the rulers of Han and Yan declared themselves as King.

In 318 BC, the ruler of Song, a relatively minor state, declared himself as King.

The ruler of Zhao held out until around 299 BC, and was the last to declare himself as King.

Chu expansion and defeats

Early in the Warring States Period, Chu was one of the strongest states in China. The state rose to a new level of power around 389 BC when the King of Chu named the famous reformer Wu Qi (吳起) to be his prime minister.

Chu rose to its peak in 334 BC when it gained vast amounts of territory. The series of events leading up to this began when Yue (越) prepared to attack Qi. The King of Qi sent an emissary who persuaded the King of Yue to attack Chu instead. Yue initiated a large scale attack at Chu, but was devastatingly defeated by Chu's counter-attack. Chu then proceeded to conquer the State of Yue. This campaign expanded the Chu's borders to the coasts of the Pacific Ocean.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 01:03:02 am

A jade-carved huang with two dragon heads, Warring States, Shanghai Museum.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 01:05:12 am
The Domination of Qin and the resulting Grand Strategies

Towards the end of the Warring States Period, the State of Qin became disproportionately powerful compared to the other six states. As a result, the policies of the six states became overwhelmingly oriented towards dealing with the Qin threat, with two opposing schools of thought: Hezong (合縱/合纵 pinyin: hzng, "vertically linked"), or alliance with each other to repel Qin expansionism; and Lianheng (連橫/连横 pinyin: linhng, "horizontally linked"), or alliance with Qin to participate in its ascendancy. There were some initial successes in Hezong, though it eventually broke down. Qin repeatedly exploited the Lianheng strategy to defeat the states one by one. During this period, many philosophers and tacticians travelled around the states recommending the rulers to put their respective ideas into use. These "lobbyists" were famous for their tact and intellect, and were collectively known as Zonghengjia (縱橫家), taking its name from the two main schools of thought.

In 316 BC, Qin conquered the Shu area.

Around 300 BC, the Qi were almost totally annihilated by a coalition of five states led by Yue Yi of the Yan (The Qin were among those five). Although under General Tian Dan the Qi managed to recover their lost territories, it would never be a great power again. The Yan was also too exhausted afterwards to be of much importance in international affairs after this campaign.

In 293 BC the Battle of Yique against the Wei and Han resulted in victory for the Qin. This effectively removed the Wei and Han threat to further Qin aspirations.

In 278 BC, the Qin attacked the Chu and managed to capture their capital city, Ying, forcing the Chu king to move eastwards to Shouchun. This campaign virtually destroyed the Chu's military might, although they recovered sufficiently to mount serious resistance against the Qin 50 years later.

In 260 BC, the Battle of Changping was fought between the Qin and the Zhao, resulting in a catastrophic defeat for the latter. Although both sides were utterly exhausted after the titanic clash, the Zhao, unlike the Qin, could not recover after the event.

In about 50 years the Qin superiority was secure, thanks to its powerful military and, in part, constant feuding between the other states.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 01:06:57 am

King Goujian's bronze sword, about 500 BC. Goujian was the king of the Yue State in the late Spring and Autumn Period.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 01:08:11 am
Military developments

The Warring States Period saw the introduction of many new innovations to the art of warfare in China, such as the use of iron and cavalry.

The various states fielded massive armies of infantry, cavalry and chariots. Complex logistical systems maintained by efficient government bureaucracy, was needed to supply, train, and control such large forces. The size of the armies ranged from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand men.

Iron became more widespread and began to replace bronze. Most armour and weapons of this period was made from iron.

The first native Chinese cavalry unit was formed in 307 BC by King Wuling of Zhao. But the war chariot still retained its prestige and importance, despite the tactical superiority of cavalry.

Crossbow was the preferred long range weapon of this period due to many reasons. The crossbow could be mass-produced easily, and mass training of crossbowmen was possible. These qualities made it a powerful weapon against the enemy.

Infantrymen deployed a varieties of weapons, but the most popular was the dagger-axe. The dagger-axe came in various length from 918 ft, the weapon comprising a thrusting spear with a slashing blade appended to it.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on September 02, 2007, 01:09:55 am
Qin's conquest of China

In 230 BC, Qin conquers Han.
In 225 BC, Qin conquers Wei.
In 223 BC, Qin conquers Chu.
In 222 BC, Qin conquers Yan and Zhao.
In 221 BC, Qin conquers Qi, completing the unification of China, and ushering in the Qin Dynasty.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bianca on September 02, 2007, 06:27:56 pm

Bee Cha: 

Superb and fascinating.  Thank you!!!

Love an Peace,

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:03:02 am
Thanks, Bianca, a lot of work put into this!  And, a lot more to go, hope you and everyone else  stays interested! 

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:03:53 am
Qin Dynasty

The Qin Dynasty (Chinese: 秦朝; pinyin: Qn Cho; Wade-Giles: Ch'in Ch'ao) (221 BC - 206 BC) was preceded by the feudal Zhou Dynasty and followed by the Han Dynasty in China. The unification of China in 221 BC under the First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (or Shih Hwang-Tih) marked the beginning of Imperial China, a period which lasted until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912. The Qin Dynasty left a legacy of a centralized and bureaucratic state that would be carried onto successive dynasties. At the height of its power, the Qin Dynasty had a population of about 40 million people.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:18:41 am

Qin empire in 210 BC

Qin Shi Huangdi imposed the State of Qin's centralized, non-hereditary bureaucratic system on his new empire in place of the Zhou's quasi-feudalistic one. The Qin Empire relied on the philosophy of legalism (with skillful advisors like Han Fei and Li Si). Centralization, achieved by ruthless methods, was focused on standardizing legal codes and bureaucratic procedures, the forms of writing and coinage, and the pattern of thought and scholarship. Characters from the former state of Qin became the standard for the entire empire. The length of the wheel axle was also unified and expressways standardized to ease transportation throughout the country. To silence criticism of imperial rule, the emperor banished or put to death many dissenting Confucian scholars and confiscated and burned their books.

To prevent future uprisings, Qin Shi Huangdi ordered the confiscation of weapons and stored them in the capital. In order to prevent the resurgence of feudal lords, he also destroyed the walls and fortifications that had separated the previous six states. A national conscription was devised: every male between the ages of seventeen and sixty years was obliged to serve one year in the army. Qin aggrandizement was aided by frequent military expeditions pushing forward the frontiers in the north and south. To fend off a barbarian intrusion (mainly against the Xiongnu in the north), the fortification walls built by the various warring states were connected to make a wall; this is usually recognized as the first Great Wall of China, although the present, 4,856- kilometer-long Great Wall of China was largely built or re-built during the Ming Dynasty. A number of public works projects, including canals and bridges, were also undertaken to consolidate and strengthen imperial rule. A lavish tomb for the emperor, complete with a Terracotta Army, was built near the capital Xianyang, a city half an hour from modern Xi'an. These activities required enormous levies of manpower and resources, not to mention repressive measures.

Qin Shi Huangdi's behavior reportedly increasingly became erratic in the latter years of his rule. This may have been the result of drinking solutions containing mercury as well as other deadly compounds. Ironically, Qin ingested the mixtures in an increasingly desperate search for an elixir that would prolong his life. It has often been speculated that this was at least partially responsible for many of his later acts such as building the terracotta army. The elixirs may also have been the cause of his eventual death.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:19:39 am

The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang.

Second Emperor

During the last trip with his youngest son Huhai (胡亥) in 210 BC, Qin Shi Huang died suddenly at Shaqiu prefecture. Huhai, under the advice of two high officials the Imperial Secretariat Li Si(李斯) and the chief eunuch Zhao Gao, forged and altered Emperor's will. The faked decree ordered Qin Shi Huang's first son, the heir Fusu (扶蘇), to commit suicide, instead naming Huhai as the next emperor. The decree also stripped the command of troops from Marshal Meng Tian (蒙恬) a faithful supporter of Fusu and sentenced Meng's family to death. Zhao Gao step by step seized the power of Huhai, effectively making Huhai a puppet emperor. Thus beginning the Qin dynasty decline. (Note: This story actually came from Han dynasty historians. There is a controversy regarding whether Qin Shi Huang himself wanted Huhai to be the next emperor or not. The fundamental mistake of Qin Shi Huang was that he had not arranged his successor properly because he actually wanted to live forever.)

Out of concern for the security of his throne, Huhai killed all his brothers and sisters. At the end, he was killed by Zhao Gao. Thus Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor, has no known descendants. The Second Emperor, Huhai, also has no known descendants.

Within three years of Qin Shi Huangdi's death, widespread revolts by peasants, prisoners, soldiers, and descendants of the nobles of the Six Warring States sprang up all over China. Chen Sheng (陳勝) and Wu Guang (吳廣), two in a group of about 900 soldiers assigned to defend against the Xiongnu (匈奴), became the leaders of the first revolution by commoners.

Huhai lived to see the Battle of Julu, the major defeat of the Qin army in the hands of the rebels, which marked the end of the Qin Dynasty.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:20:13 am

Third Emperor

In the beginning of October 207 BC, Zhao Gao forced Huhai to commit suicide and replaced him with Fusu's son, Ziying (子嬰). Note that the title of Ziying was "king of Qin" to reflect the fact that Qin no longer controlled the whole of China. The Chu-Han contention ensued. Ziying soon killed Zhao Gao and surrendered to Liu Bang (劉邦) in the beginning of December 207 BC. But Liu Bang was forced to hand over Xianyang and Ziying to Xiang Yu. Xiang Yu then killed Ziying and burned down the palace in the end of January 206 BC. It is said the fire lasted two months before the inferno died down. A recent archeology survey of the ruin palace determined it to be roughly the size of Manhattan island of New York City. The palace is supported with thousands of pillars made from prehistoric lumbers growing to up to 115 meters (375 ft) high. One single pillar requires a team of a thousand workers a life time to harvest.[citation needed] Due to the weight and scale of each lumber, cutting the lumber can take weeks if not months, transporting from the prehistoric forest to the lumber mill requires certain weather so the river can be flooded to even move the massive lumber down river. The captain of each team is rewarded with imperial rank, their goal in life is to acquire one of these prehistoric lumber for the construction of the palace. It is said each pillar sacrificed the lives of a hundred men. Xiang Yu's controversial action sets the stage for the legendary battles between Xiang Yu, the warrior king and Liu Bang, the people's king. The Qin dynasty came to an end, three years after the death of Qin Shi Huang, and less than twenty years after it was founded.

Although the Qin Dynasty was short-lived, its legalist rule had a deep impact on later dynasties in China. The imperial system initiated during the Qin dynasty set a pattern that was developed over the next two millennia.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:20:48 am

Sovereigns of Qin Dynasty

Note: King Zhaoxiang of Qin (秦昭襄王) had already been ruling Qin for 51 years when Qin annihilated the Zhou Dynasty; however the other six warring states were still independent regimes. Historiographers thus used the next year (the 52nd year of King Zhaoxiang of Qin) as the official continuation from Zhou Dynasty.

Qin Shi Huang was the second Chinese sovereign to proclaim himself "Emperor", after reunifying China in 221 BC. That year is therefore usually taken as the start of the "Qin Dynasty".

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:25:23 am

A Han Dynasty incense burner with a sliding shutter.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:26:32 am
Han Dynasty

The Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 漢朝; Simplified Chinese: 汉朝; Hanyu Pinyin: Hn Cho; Wade-Giles: Han Ch'ao; 206 BC220 AD) followed the Qin Dynasty and preceded the Three Kingdoms in China. The Han Dynasty was ruled by the prominent family known as the Liu (劉) clan. The reign of the Han Dynasty, lasting over 400 years, is commonly considered within China to be one of the greatest periods in the history of China. To this day, the ethnic majority of China still refer to themselves as the "Han people."

During the Han Dynasty, China officially became a Confucian state and prospered domestically: agriculture, handicrafts and commerce flourished, and the population reached over 55 million. Meanwhile, the empire extended its political and cultural influence over Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Japan, and Central Asia before it finally collapsed under a combination of domestic and external pressures.

The first of the two periods of the dynasty was the Former Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 前漢; Simplified Chinese: 前汉; pinyin: Qinhn) or Western Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 西漢; Simplified Chinese: 西汉; pinyin: Xī Hn) 206 BC24 AD, seated at Chang'an. The Later Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 後漢; Simplified Chinese: 后汉; pinyin: Hu Hn) or Eastern Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 東漢; Simplified Chinese: 东汉; pinyin: Dōng Hn) 25220 AD was seated at Luoyang. The western-eastern Han convention is currently used to avoid confusion with the Later Han Dynasty of the Period of the Five Dynasties and the Ten Kingdoms although the former-later nomenclature was used in history texts including Sima Guang's Zizhi Tongjian.

The Han Dynasty was notable also for its military prowess. The empire expanded westward to the Tarim Basin (in modern Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region), with military expeditions as far west as beyond the Caspian Sea, making possible a relatively safe and secure caravan and merchantile traffic across Central Asia. The paths of caravan traffic are often called the "Silk Road" because the route was used to export Chinese silk. Chinese armies also invaded and annexed parts of northern Korea (Wiman Joseon) and northern Vietnam toward the end of the 2nd century BC. Han Dynasty control of peripheral regions was generally insecure, however. To ensure peace with non-Chinese local powers, the Han court developed a mutually beneficial "tributary system." Non-Chinese states were allowed to remain autonomous in exchange for symbolic acceptance of Han overlordship. Tributary ties were confirmed and strengthened through intermarriages at the ruling level and periodic exchanges of gifts and goods.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:27:49 am

A portrait of Han Gaozu entering Xianyang.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:28:38 am

Within the first three months after Qin Dynasty Emperor Qin Shi Huang's death at Shaqiu, widespread revolts by peasants, prisoners, soldiers and descendants of the nobles of the six Warring States sprang up all over China. Chen Sheng and Wu Guang, two in a group of about 900 soldiers assigned to defend against the Xiongnu, were the leaders of the first rebellion. Continuous insurgence finally toppled the Qin dynasty in 206 BC. The leader of the insurgents was Xiang Yu, an outstanding military commander without political expertise, who divided the country into 19 feudal states to his own satisfaction.

The ensuing war among those states signified the 5 years of Chu Han Contention with Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, as the eventual winner. Initially, "Han" (the principality as created by Xiang Yu's division) consisted merely of modern Sichuan, Chongqing, and southern Shaanxi and was a minor humble principality, but eventually grew into an empire; the Han Dynasty was named after the principality, which was itself named after Hanzhong (Traditional Chinese: 漢中; Simplified Chinese: 汉中; pinyin: hnzhōng) modern southern Shaanxi, the region centering the modern city of Hanzhong. The beginning of the Han Dynasty can be dated either from 206 BC when the Qin dynasty crumbled and the Principality of Han was established or 202 BC when Xiang Yu committed suicide

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:29:58 am

A Han Dynasty bronze mirror

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:30:40 am
Taoism and feudal system

The new empire retained much of the Qin administrative structure, but retreated somewhat from centralized rule by establishing vassal principalities in some areas for the sake of political convenience. After the establishment of the Han Dynasty, Emperor Gao (Liu Bang) divided the country into several "feudal states" to satisfy some of his wartime allies, though he planned to get rid of them once he had consolidated his power.

After his death, his successors from Emperor Hui to Emperor Jing tried to rule China combining Legalist methods with the Taoist philosophic ideals. During this "pseudo-Taoism era", a stable centralized government over China was established through revival of the agriculture sectors and fragmentations of "feudal states" after the suppression of the Rebellion of the seven states.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:31:46 am
Emperor Wudi and Confucianism

During the "Taoism era", the government reduced taxation. This policy of the government's reduced role over civilian lives (Traditional Chinese: 與民休息; Simplified Chinese: 与民休息; pinyin: yǔ mn xiūxi) started a period of stability, which was called the Rule of Wen and Jing (Chinese: 文景之治; pinyin: Wn-Jǐngzhīzh), named after the two Emperors of this particular era. However, under Emperor Wu's leadership, among the most prosperous periods of the Han Dynasty, the Empire was able to fight back. At its height, Han China incorporated the present day Qinghai, Gansu, and northern Vietnam into its territories, as well as military expeditions into Siberian land beyond Lake Baikal in the northern extremeties and establishing military bases on the shores of the Caspian Sea in the western extremeties.

Emperor Wu decided that Taoism was no longer suitable for China, and officially declared China to be a Confucian state; however, like the Emperors of China before him, he combined Legalist methods with the Confucian ideal. This official adoption of Confucianism led to not only a civil service nomination system, but also the compulsory knowledge of Confucian classics of candidates for the imperial bureaucracy, a requirement that lasted up to the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911. Confucian scholars gained prominent status as the core of the civil service.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:32:42 am

A Han Dynasty pottery tomb model of a tower with corbel brackets supporting balconies, 1st-2nd century.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:33:47 am

The bureacratic system of the Han Dynasty can be divided into two system, the central and the local. As for the central bureaucrats in the capital, it was organized into a head cabinet of officials called the Three Lords and Nine Ministers (三公九卿). This cabinet was led by the Prime Minister (丞相), who was included as one of the three lords. Officials were graded by rank and salary, were appointed to posts based on the merit of their skills rather than aristocratic clan affiliation, and were subject to dismissal, demotion, and transfer to different administrative regions.[1] The local official during the former Han Dynasty was different from that of the later Han Dynasty. As for the former Han, there were two administered levels, the county (郡) and the xian (縣). In the former Han Dynasty the xian was a subdivision or sub-prefecture of a county. During the Han period, there were about 1,180 of these xian, or sub-prefectures. The entire Han Empire was heavily dependent upon its county governors (郡太守), as they could decide military policy, economic regulations, and legal matters in the county they presided over. According to historians Ebrey, Walthall, and Palais:

They collected taxes, judged lawsuits, commanded troops to suppress uprisings, undertook public works such as flood control, chose their own subordinates, and recommended local men to the central government for appointments.

The main tax exacted on the population during Han times was a poll tax, fixed at a rate of 120 government-issued coins for adults. For adults there was also the addition of mandatory labor service for one month out of the year. Besides the poll tax, there was also the land tax administered by county and commandery officials. This was set by the government at a relatively low rate of one-thirtieth of the collected harvest.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:34:49 am

A replica of Eastern Han Dynasty inventor Zhang Heng's seismometer, Houfeng Didong Yi

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:36:31 am
Culture, society, and technology

Intellectual, literary, and artistic endeavors revived and flourished during the Han Dynasty. The Han period produced China's most famous historian, Sima Qian (14590 BC), whose Records of the Grand Historian provides a detailed chronicle from the time of legendary Xia emperor to that of the Emperor Wu (14187 BC). Technological advances also marked this period. One of the great Chinese inventions, paper, dates from the Han Dynasty, largely attributed to the court eunuch Cai Lun (50 - 121 AD). By the 1st century BC, the Chinese had discovered how to forge the highly durable metal of steel, by melting together wrought iron with cast iron. There were great mathematicians, astronomers, statesmen, and technological inventors such as Zhang Heng (78 - 139 AD), who invented the world's first hydraulic-powered armillary sphere. He was also largely responsible for the early development of the shi poetry style in China. Zhang Heng's work in mechanical gear systems influenced countless numbers of inventors and engineers to follow, such as Ma Jun, Yi Xing, Zhang Sixun, Su Song, etc. Zhang Heng's most famous invention was a seismometer with a swinging pendulum that signified the cardinal direction of earthquakes that struck locations hundreds of kilometres away from the positioned device. There was also continuing development in Chinese philosophy, with figures such as Wang Chong (27 - 97 AD), whose written work represented in part the great intellectual atmosphere of the day. Among his various written achievements, Wang Chong accurately described the water cycle in meteorology. Zhang Heng argued that light emanating from the moon was merely the reflected light that came originally from the sun, and accurately described the reasons for solar eclipse and lunar eclipse as path obstructions of light by the celestial bodies of the earth, sun, and moon.

Military technology in the Han period was advanced by the use of cast iron and steel, which the 1st century engineer Du Shi had made easier by applying the hydraulic power of waterwheels in working the bellows of the blast furnace. The military of the Han Dynasty also engaged in chemical warfare, as written in the Hou Han Shu for the governor of Ling-ling, Yang Xuan, who fought against a peasant revolt near Guiyang in 178 AD:

The bandits were numerous, and Yang's forces very weak, so his men were filled with alarm and despondency. But he organized several dozen horse-drawn vehicles carrying bellows to blow powdered lime strongly forth, he caused incendiary rags to be tied to the tails of a number of horses, and he prepared other vehicles full of bowmen and crossbowmen. The lime chariots went forward first, and as the bellows were plied the smoke was blown forwards according to the wind, then the rags were kindled and the frightened horses rushed forwards throwing the enemy lines into confusion, after which the bowmen and crossbowmen opened fire, the drums and gongs were sounded, and the terrified enemy was utterly destroyed and dispersed.

There were other notable technological advancements during the Han period. This includes the hydraulic-powered trip hammer for agriculture and iron industry, the winnowing machine for agriculture, and the rotary fan and Cardan suspension of Ding Huan (fl. 180 AD).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:37:26 am

Han era bronze horse statue with saddle and plume, Freer Gallery of Art.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:38:29 am
Beginning of the Silk Road

From 138 BC, Emperor Wu also dispatched Zhang Qian twice as his envoy to the Western Regions, and in the process pioneered the route known as the Silk Road from Chang'an (today's Xi'an, Shaanxi Province), through Xinjiang and Central Asia, and on to the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Following Zhang Qian's embassy and report, commercial relations between China and Central as well as Western Asia flourished, as many Chinese missions were sent throughout the 1st century BC, initiating the development of the Silk Road:

"The largest of these embassies to foreign states numbered several hundred persons, while even the smaller parties included over 100 members... In the course of one year anywhere from five to six to over ten parties would be sent out." (Shiji, trans. Burton Watson).
China also sent missions to Parthia, which were followed up by reciprocal missions from Parthian envoys around 100 BC:

"When the Han envoy first visited the kingdom of Anxi (Parthia), the king of Anxi dispatched a party of 20,000 horsemen to meet them on the eastern border of the kingdom... When the Han envoys set out again to return to China, the king of Anxi dispatched envoys of his own to accompany them... The emperor was delighted at this." (Shiji, 123, trans. Burton Watson).
From 138 BC, Emperor Wu also dispatched Zhang Qian twice as his envoy to the Western Regions, and in the process pioneered the route known as the Silk Road from Chang'an (today's Xi'an, Shaanxi Province), through Xinjiang and Central Asia, and on to the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Following Zhang Qian's embassy and report, commercial relations between China and Central as well as Western Asia flourished, as many Chinese missions were sent throughout the 1st century BC, initiating the development of the Silk Road:

"The largest of these embassies to foreign states numbered several hundred persons, while even the smaller parties included over 100 members... In the course of one year anywhere from five to six to over ten parties would be sent out." (Shiji, trans. Burton Watson).
China also sent missions to Parthia, which were followed up by reciprocal missions from Parthian envoys around 100 BC:

"When the Han envoy first visited the kingdom of Anxi (Parthia), the king of Anxi dispatched a party of 20,000 horsemen to meet them on the eastern border of the kingdom... When the Han envoys set out again to return to China, the king of Anxi dispatched envoys of his own to accompany them... The emperor was delighted at this." (Shiji, 123, trans. Burton Watson).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:39:21 am

The 138126 BC travels of Zhang Qian to the West, Mogao Caves, 618712 AD mural.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:40:30 am
Rise of landholding class

To secure funding for his triumphant campaigns against the Xiongnu, Emperor Wu relinquished land control to merchants and the rich, and in effect legalized the privatization of lands. Land taxes were based on the sizes of fields instead of on income. The harvest could not always pay the taxes completely as incomes from selling harvest were often market-driven and a stable amount could not be guaranteed, especially not after harvest-reducing natural disasters. Merchants and prominent families then lured peasants to sell their lands since land accumulation guaranteed living standards of theirs and their descendants' in the agricultural society of China. Lands were hence accumulating into a new class of landholding families. The Han government in turn imposed more taxes on the remaining independent servants in order to make up the tax losses, therefore encouraging more peasants to come under the landholding elite or the landlords. This could be seen through such examples as the written evidence in the Yan Tie Lun (Discourses on Salt and Iron), written about 80 BC, where the Lord Grand Secretary is quoted in this passage in his support of nationalizing the salt and iron industries:

Formerly the overbearing and powerful great families, obtaining control of the profits of the mountains and lakes, mined iron ore and smelted it with great bellows, and evaporated brine for salt. A single family would assemble a multitude, sometimes as many as a thousand men or more, for the most part wandering unattached plebeians (fang liu ren min) who had traveled far from their own villages, abandoning the tombs (of their ancestors). Thus attaching themselves to the great families, they came together in the midst of mountain fastnesses or desolate marshes, bringing about thereby the fruition of business based on selfish intrigue (for profit) and intended to aggrandise the power of particular firms and factions.

Ideally the peasants pay the landlords certain periodic (usually annual) amount of income, who in turn provide protection against crimes and other hazards. In fact an increasing number of peasant population in the prosperous Han society and limited amount of lands provided the elite to elevate their standards for any new subordinate peasants. The inadequate education and often complete illiteracy of peasants forced them into a living of providing physical services, which were mostly farming in an agricultural society. The peasants, without other professions for their better living, compromised to the lowered standard and sold their harvest to pay their landlords. In fact they often had to delay the payment or borrow money from their landlords in the aftermath of natural disasters that reduced harvests. To make the situation worse, some Han rulers double-taxed the peasants. Eventually the living conditions of the peasants worsened as they solely depended on the harvest of the land they once owned.

The landholding elite and landlords, for their part, provided inaccurate information of subordinate peasants and lands to avoid paying taxes; to this very end corruption and incompetence of the Confucian scholar gentry on economics would play a vital part. Han court officials who attempted to strip lands out of the landlords faced such enormous resistance that their policies would never be put in to place. In fact only a member of the landholding families, for instance Wang Mang, was able to put his reforming ideals into effect despite failures of his "turning the clock back" policies.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:41:41 am

A terracotta horse head from the Late Han Dynasty (2nd century).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:42:57 am

A bronze coin of the Han Dynastycirca 1st century BC.

Interruption of Han rule

After 200 years, Han rule was interrupted briefly during AD 924 by Wang Mang, a reformer and a member of the landholding families. The economic situation deteriorated at the end of Western Han Dynasty. Wang Mang, believing the Liu family had lost the Mandate of Heaven, took power and turned the clock back with vigorous monetary and land reforms, which damaged the economy even further.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:44:19 am

Han Dynasty commanderies and kingdoms, AD 2

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:45:20 am

Han dynasty provinces AD 189

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:46:01 am
Rise and fall of Eastern Han Dynasty

A distant relative of Liu royalty, Liu Xiu, prevailed after a number of agrarian rebellions had overthrown Wang Mang's Xin Dynasty, and he reestablished the Han Dynasty (commonly referred to as the Eastern Han Dynasty, as his capital was at Luoyang, east of the old Han Dynasty capital at Chang'an). He and his son Emperor Ming of Han and grandson Emperor Zhang of Han were generally considered able emperors whose reigns were the prime of the Eastern Han Dynasty. After Emperor Zhang, however, the dynasty fell into states of corruption and political infighting among three groups of powerful individuals -- eunuchs, empresses' clans, and Confucian scholar-officials. None of these three parties was able to improve the harsh livelihood of peasants under the landholding families. Land privatizations and accumulations on the hands of the elite affected the societies of the Three Kingdoms and the Southern and Northern Dynasties that the landholding elite held the actual driving and ruling power of the country. Successful ruling entities worked with these families, and consequently their policies favored the elite. Adverse effects of the Nine grade controller system or the Nine rank system were brilliant examples.

Taiping Taoist ideals of equal rights and equal land distribution quickly spread throughout the peasantry. As a result, the peasant insurgents of the Yellow Turban Rebellion swarmed the North China Plain, the main agricultural sector of the country. Power of the Liu royalty then fell into the hands of local governors and warlords, despite suppression of the main upraising of Zhang Jiao and his brothers. Three overlords eventually succeeded in control of the whole of China proper, ushering in the period of the Three Kingdoms. The figurehead Emperor Xian reigned until 220 when Cao Pi forced his abdication.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:46:56 am

Tombs of the Han Dynasty

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:47:57 am

A Western Han Dynasty bronze tripod lamp

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:48:49 am

A Western Han Dynasty gilt-bronze lamp set

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:49:38 am
Sovereigns of Han Dynasty

Han Dynasty Sovereigns Posthumous Name Personal Name Period of Reign Era Name Range of years
Convention: "Han" + posthumous name, excepting Liu Gong, Liu Hong, Ruzi Ying, the Prince of Changyi, the Marquess of Beixiang, and the Prince of Hongnong.
Western Han Dynasty 206 BC 9 AD
Gao Zu
高帝 Liu Bang
劉邦 206 BC 195 BC Did not exist
Hui Di
惠帝 Liu Ying
劉盈 194 BC 188 BC Did not exist
Shao Di (Shao Di Gong)
少帝 Liu Gong
劉恭 188 BC 184 BC Did not exist
Shao Di (Shao Di Hong)
少帝 Liu Hong
劉弘 184 BC 180 BC Did not exist
Wen Di
文帝 Liu Heng
劉恆 179 BC 157 BC Huyun (後元) 163 BC 156 BC
Jing Di
景帝 Liu Qi
劉啟 156 BC 141 BC Zhōngyun (中元)
Huyun (後元) 149 BC 143 BC
143 BC 141 BC
Wu Di
武帝 Liu Che
劉徹 140 BC 87 BC Jinyun (建元)

Yunshu (元朔)
Yunshu (元狩)
Yundǐng (元鼎)
Yunfēng (元封)
Tichū (太初)
Tiānhn (天漢)
Tishǐ (太始)
Zhēngh (征和)

Huyun (後元) 140 BC 135 BC

134 BC 129 BC
128 BC 123 BC
122 BC 117 BC
116 BC 111 BC
110 BC 105 BC
104 BC 101 BC
100 BC 97 BC
96 BC 93 BC
92 BC 89 BC

88 BC 87 BC
Zhao Di
昭帝 Liu Fuling
劉弗陵 86 BC 74 BC Shǐyun (始元)

Yunfng (元鳳)

Yunpng (元平) 86 BC 80 BC

80 BC 75 BC

74 BC
The Prince of Changyi
昌邑王 or 海昏侯 Liu He
劉賀 74 BC Yunpng (元平) 74 BC
Xuan Di
宣帝 Liu Xun
劉詢 73 BC 49 BC Běnshǐ (本始)

Dji (地節)
Yunkāng (元康)
Shnju (神爵)
Wǔfng (五鳳)
Gānl (甘露)

Hunglng (黃龍) 73 BC 70 BC

69 BC 66 BC
65 BC 61 BC
61 BC 58 BC
57 BC 54 BC
53 BC 50 BC

49 BC
Yuan Di
元帝 Liu Shi
劉奭 48 BC 33 BC Chūyun (初元)

Yǒngguāng (永光)
Jinzhāo (建昭)

Jngnng (竟寧) 48 BC 44 BC

43 BC 39 BC
38 BC 34 BC

33 BC
Cheng Di
成帝 Liu Ao
劉驁 32 BC 7 BC Jinshǐ (建始)

Hpng (河平)
Yngshu (陽朔)
Hngjiā (鴻嘉)
Yǒngshǐ (永始)
Yunyn (元延n2)

Suīh (綏和) 32 BC 28 BC

28 BC 25 BC
24 BC 21 BC
20 BC 17 BC
16 BC 13 BC
12 BC 9 BC

8 BC 7 BC
Ai Di
哀帝 Liu Xin
劉欣 6 BC 1 BC Jinpng (建平)
Yunshu (元壽) 6 BC 3 BC
2 BC 1 BC
Ping Di
平帝 Liu Kan
劉衎 1 BC 5 Yunshǐ (元始) 1 5
Ruzi Ying
孺子嬰 Liu Ying
劉嬰 6 8 Jsh (居攝)
Chūshǐ (初始) 6 October 8
November 8 December 8
Xin Dynasty (AD 923)
Xin Dynasty of Wang Mang (王莽) 9 23 Shǐjingu (始建國)

Tiānfēng (天鳳)

Dhung (地皇) 9 13

14 19

20 23
Continuation of Han Dynasty
Geng Shi Di
更始帝 Liu Xuan
劉玄 23 25 Gēngshǐ (更始) 23 25
Eastern Han Dynasty 25 220
Guang Wu Di
光武帝 Liu Xiu
劉秀 25 57 Jinwǔ (建武)
Jinwǔzhongōyun (建武中元) 25 56
56 57
Ming Di
明帝 Liu Zhuang
劉莊 58 75 Yǒngpng (永平) 58 75
Zhang Di
章帝 Liu Da
劉炟 76 88 Jinchū (建初)

Yunh (元和)

Zhāngh (章和) 76 84

84 87

87 88
He Di
和帝 Liu Zhao
劉肇 89 105 Yǒngyun (永元)
Yunxīng (元興) 89 105
Shang Di
殤帝 Liu Long
劉隆 106 Ynpng (延平) 9 months in 106
An Di
安帝 Liu Hu
劉祜 106 125 Yǒngchū (永初)

Yunchū (元初)
Yǒngnng (永寧)
Jinguāng (建光)

Ynguāng (延光) 107 113

114 120
120 121
121 122

122 125
Shao Di, the Marquess of Beixiang
少帝 or 北鄉侯 Liu Yi
劉懿 125 Ynguāng (延光) 125
Shun Di
順帝 Liu Bao
劉保 125 144 Yǒngjin (永建)

Yngjiā (陽嘉)
Yǒngh (永和)
Hn'ān (漢安)

Jinkāng (建康) 126 132

132 135
136 141
142 144

Chong Di
沖帝 Liu Bing
劉炳 144 145 Yōngxī (永嘉) 145
Zhi Di
質帝 Liu Zuan
劉纘 145 146 Běnchū (本初) 146
Huan Di
桓帝 Liu Zhi
劉志 146 168 Jinh (建和)

Hpng (和平)
Yunjiā (元嘉)
Yǒngxīng (永興)
Yǒngshu (永壽)
Ynxī (延熹)

Yǒngkāng (永康) 147 149

151 153
153 154
155 158
158 167

Ling Di
靈帝 Liu Hong
劉宏 168 189 Jinnng (建寧)

Xīpng (熹平)
Guāngh (光和)

Zhōngpng (中平) 168 172

172 178
178 184

184 189
Shao Di, the Prince of Hongnong
少帝 or 弘農王 Liu Bian
劉辯 189 Guīngxī (光熹)
Zhonng (昭寧) 189
Xian Di
獻帝 Liu Xie (li xi)
劉協 189 220 Yǒnghn (永漢)

Chūpng (初平)
Xīngpng (興平)
Jin'ān (建安)

Ynkāng (延康) 189

190 193
194 195
196 220


Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:52:01 am

A Han Dynasty lacquered wooden basket with three-inch figure painting, unearthed at Lolang in North Korea

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on October 07, 2007, 06:53:03 am

A bronze Western Han horse in mid gallop, 2nd century BC, found in Gansu

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:15:06 pm

A Han Dynasty incense burner with a sliding shutter.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:18:47 pm

An Eastern Han lacquered wooden basket with three-inch figure painting, unearthed at Lolang, North Korea

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:19:43 pm

Sculptures of maids and servants, 2nd century BC

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:20:34 pm

A terracotta sitting lady, 2nd-1st century BC

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:21:40 pm

Jade art work in depiction of Fenghuang, 2nd century BC

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:22:55 pm

Jade ornament from the Western Han period

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:24:21 pm

Photo of the traditional site of Chibi, south of Wulin, taken in 2003.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:25:22 pm

Chinese Fragrance Burner (Boshan Xianglu)
Han Dynasty

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:26:31 pm

Emperor Xian of Han (seated) with his wife, Empress Fu Shou. Detail from a Qing Dynasty edition of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:27:41 pm

A bronze-cast horse with a lead saddle, from the Chinese Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD)

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:28:47 pm

Chinese Wine Vessel with a mountainshaped Lid
Han Dynasty

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:29:56 pm

Origins of the Chinese pagoda, a Han Dynasty era pottery model of a tower, the real version either used as a watchtower or residential tower. At each story of the tower corbel brackets woodwork supporting balconies and roofs can be seen. The typical Chinese ceramic-tile roof shingles with piped-ends are also seen. This tower was found in a tomb at Wangdu in Hebei, and is dated to the 1st or 2nd century AD.

This picture appears on the Plate CCCXVIII page of Joseph Needham's book Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Part 3, Civil Engineering and Nautics.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:31:08 pm

Bronze Mirror from westen Han denasty king of chu's tomb
中文 : 出土于西汉楚王墓的铜镜

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:33:25 pm

Jin Dynasty (265420)

The Jn Dynasty (simplified Chinese: 晋朝; traditional Chinese: 晉朝; pinyin: jn cho; 265420), one of the Six Dynasties, followed the Three Kingdoms period and preceded the Southern and Northern Dynasties in China. The dynasty was founded by the Sima family (司馬 pinyin: Sīmǎ). Note that there are four periods of Chinese history using the name "Jin" (see clarification here). At its height the Jin Dynasty had a population of about 20 million people.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:34:36 pm

The Eastern Jin Dynasty (yellow) and the state of Former Qin in 376 CE

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:35:34 pm
The first of the two periods, the Western Jn Dynasty (ch: 西晉, 265316), was founded by Emperor Wu, better known as Sima Yan. Although providing a brief period of unity after conquering the Kingdom of Wu in AD 280, the Jn could not contain the invasion and uprising of nomadic peoples after the devastating War of the Eight Princes. The capital was Luoyang until 311 when Emperor Huai was captured by the forces of Han Zhao. Successive reign of Emperor Min lasted four years in Chang'an until its conquest by Han Zhao in 316.

Meanwhile remnants of the Jn court fled from the north to the south and reestablished the Jn court at Jiankang, south-east of Luoyang and Chang'an and near modern-day Nanjing, under Prince of Longya. Prominent local families of Zhu, Gan, Lu, Gu and Zhou supported the proclamation of Prince of Langye as Emperor Yuan of the Eastern Jn Dynasty (ch: 東晉 317420) when the news of the fall of Chang'an reached the south. (Because the emperors of the Eastern Jn Dynasty came from the Langye line, the rival Wu Hu states which did not recognize its legitimacy would at times refer to Jn as "Langye.")

Militaristic authorities and crises plagued the Eastern Jn court throughout its 104 years of existence. It survived the rebellions of Wang Dun and Su Jun. Huan Wen died in 373 before he could usurp the throne (which he had intended to do). Battle of Fei turned out to be a victory of Jn under a short-lived cooperation of Huan Chong, brother of Huan Wen and the Prime Minister (or Imperial Secretariat) Xie An. Huan Xuan, son of Huan Wen, usurped and changed the name of the dynasty to Chu. He was toppled by Liu Yu, who ordered the strangulation of the reinstated but retarded Emperor An. The last emperor and brother of Emperor An, Emperor Gong, was installed in 419. Abdication of Emperor Gong in 420 in favor of Liu Yu, then Emperor Wu, ushered in the Liu Song Dynasty and the Southern Dynasties.

Meanwhile North China was ruled by the Sixteen Kingdoms, many of which were founded by the Wu Hu, the non-Han Chinese ethnicities. The conquest of the Northern Liang by the Northern Wei Dynasty in 439 ushered in the Northern Dynasties.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:36:42 pm

Jar of the Western Jn, with Buddhist figures.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:38:16 pm

Sima's family tree of the 'Western Jn dynasty'

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:40:59 pm

Sima Yan, Emperor Wu of Jin

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:42:29 pm
Southern and Northern Dynasties

The Southern and Northern Dynasties (Chinese: 南北朝; pinyin: nnběicho; 420-589 AD) followed the Sixteen Kingdoms and preceded Sui Dynasty in China. It was an age of civil war and political disunity. However it was also a time of flourishing in the arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spread of foreign Mahayana Buddhism and native Daoism. Distinctive Chinese Buddhism was also matured during this time and shaped by the northern and southern dynasties alike.

During this period the process of sinicization accelerated among the non-Chinese arrivals in the north and among the aboriginal tribesmen in the south. Many northern Chinese also immigrated to the south. This process was also accompanied by the increasing popularity of Buddhism (introduced into China in the first century AD) in both north and south China, along with Daoism gaining influence from the outline of Buddhist scriptures (with two essential Daoist canons written during this period). Although multiple story towers such as guard towers and residential apartments existed in previous periods of China [1], during this period the distinct Chinese pagoda tower (for storing Buddhist scriptures) evolved from the stupa, the latter originating from Buddhist traditions of protecting sutras in ancient India.

The south and north developed into a relatively stable equilibrium, due to geographical differences. The flat steppes of the north gave a significant edge to cavalry, while the hilly and mountainous riverlands of the south gave a significant edge to naval warfare. A strong navy on the Yangtze River could protect the south from the north, since cavalry was almost useless in the mountainous riverlands. Likewise, logistical difficulties for the horse-poor south made it difficult to maintain a successful northern campaign. Depending on the relative strengths of the states, the Huai River area and the Sichuan basin were the primary areas of significant territorial changes. This barrier was only overcome by the first Emperor of the Sui Dynasty, who built a large invading navy in the Sichuan basin, hence his ability to more easily conquer the south and reunify China.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the political disunity of the times, there were notable technological advances in China. With the invention of the stirrup during the earlier Western Jin Dynasty, not only were cavalry tactics improved immensely, but heavily armored Chinese cavalry also became the norm in this age. Advances in medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and cartography are also noted by historians. The famous Chinese mathematician and astronomer Zu Chongzhi (429 - 500 AD) belonged to this age, an intellectual and social product of the elite culture shaped and developed in southern China during this period of time.

The Chinese arts of poetry, calligraphy, painting, and music flourished during this period like never before, as Chinese aristocrats mainly in the south were socially expected to master these as their pastimes. Although the north had its cultural achievements, the south (specifically at the capital of Nanjing) was the place for higher cultural achievement, elitist culture, artistic refinement, and new standards of art that ranked artists according to their various abilities.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:43:53 pm

A limestone statue of the Bodhisattva, from the Northern Qi Dynasty, 570 AD, made in what is now modern Henan province.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:44:30 pm
Although powerful in the conquest of the Wu Kingdom in 280 AD, the Jin Dynasty was severely weakened after the War of the Eight Princes from 291 to 306 AD. During Emperor Huai of Jin and Emperor Min of Jin, the country was put into grave danger with the invasion of the Xianbei tribe from the north. The sieges and ultimate sacking of Luoyang in the year 311 and Chang'an in the year 316 by invading Xianbei armies almost destroyed the dynasty. However, a scion of the royal house, Prince of Longya, fled south to salvage what was left in order to sustain the empire. Cementing their power in the south, the Jin established modern-day Nanjing (then called Jiankang) as their new capital, renaming the dynasty as the Eastern Jin (317 - 420 AD) since the new capital was located southeast of older Luoyang.

It was during the Southern and Northern Dynasties period that southern China (below the Yangtze River) was greatly developed from its previous state of early Chinese colonization and settlement. Beforehand, the south was inhabited by small and isolated communities of Chinese in a vast uncolonized wilderness of non-Chinese tribes, starting as a near peripheral frontier and changing into a thriving, urbanized, sinicized region of China. In his book Buddhism in Chinese History, Arthur F. Wright points out this fact by stating:

When we speak of the area of the Yangtze valley and below in the period of disunion, we must banish from our minds the picture of the densely populated, intensively cultivated South China of recent centuries. When the aristocrats of the remnants of the Chin [Jin] ruling house fled to the Nanking [Nanjing] area early in the fourth century, the south contained perhaps a tenth of the population of China. There were centers of Chinese culture and administration, but around most of these lay vast uncolonized areas into which Chinese settlers were slow to move.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:45:41 pm

A Chinese Northern Wei stone sarcophagus displaying the story of the filial grandson Yuan Gu, along with landscape art.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:46:21 pm
Although the Chinese of the Eastern Jin (and successive southern dynasties) were well-defended from the north by placement of naval fleets along the Yangtze River, there were still various problems faced with building and maintaining military strength. The designation of specific households for military service eventually led to a falling out in their social status, causing widespread desertion of troops on many occasions. Faced with shortage of troop numbers, Jin generals were often sent on campaigns to capture non-Chinese tribesman in the south in order to draft them into the military. The Eastern Jin Dynasty fell not because of external invasion, though, but because the regent Liu Yu seized the throne from Emperor Gong of Jin, becoming Emperor Wu of Liu Song (reigned 420 - 422 AD).

The southern dynasties of China were rich in cultural achievement, with flourishing of Buddhism and Daoism, especially with the latter as two new canons of scriptual writings were created for the Supreme Purity sect and its rival the Numinous Treasure Sect. With Buddhism, the southern Chinese were influenced greatly by the writings of monks such as Huiyuan, who applied familiar Daoist terms in describing Buddhism to other Chinese. The Chinese were in contact and influenced by cultures of India and trading partners farther south, such as the kingdoms of Funan and Champa (located in modern-day Cambodia and Vietnam). The Chinese arts of poetry, calligraphy, painting, and playing of music found greater precedent during this age, as their sophistication and complexity reached new heights. The earlier Cao Zhi, son of Cao Cao, is regarded as one of the greatest poets of his day. His style and deep emotional expression in writing gave influence to later poets of this new age such as Tao Qian (365 - 427 AD), or Tao Yuanming. Even during his lifetime, the written calligraphy of the "Sage of Calligraphy", Wang Xizhi (307 - 365 AD), was prized by many and considered a true form of personal expression like other arts. In regards to painting, this art became highly prized with artists such as Gu Kaizhi (344 - 406 AD), who largely established the tradition of landscape art in classical Chinese painting (to learn more, refer to the "Far East" section of the article for Painting). Institutions of learning in the south were also renowned, including the Zongmingguan (Imperial Nanjing University), where the famed Zu Chongzhi (mentioned above) had studied. Zu Chongzhi devised the new Daming Calendar in 465 AD, calcuated one year as 365.24281481 days (which is very close to 365.24219878 days as we know today), and calculated the number of overlaps between sun and moon as 27.21223 (which is very close to 27.21222 as we know today). Using this number he successfully predicted 4 eclipses during a period of 23 years (from 436 - 459 AD).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:47:36 pm

Part of the scroll for Admonitions of the Instructress to the Palace Ladies, a Tang Dynasty duplication of the original by Gu Kaizhi.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:48:10 pm
The Jin were supplanted by the Liu Song (420 - 479 AD), the Southern Qi (479 - 502 AD), the Liang Dynasty (502 - 557 AD), and then the Chen Dynasty (557 - 589 AD). The rulers of these shortlived dynasties were military generals who were able to seize power for several decades, but unable to securely pass power of rule onto their heirs to continue their dynasty successfully. Emperor Wu of Liang (502 - 549 AD), however, was the most notable ruler of his age, being a patron of the arts and of Buddhism. An avid poet, Emperor Wu was fond of gathering many literary talents at court, and even held poetry competitions with prizes of gold or silk for those considered the best. The authority of the last official Liang Dynasty ruler, Emperor Jing of Liang, was usurped by one of its own successful military generals, Chen Baxian, crowned as Emperor Wu of Chen in 557 AD. Under the later waning leadership of the Chen Dynasty, the southern Chinese were unable to resist the military power amassed in the north by Yang Jian after he defeated his rival General Weichi Jiong. Once Yang Jian usurped the throne from Emperor Jing of Northern Zhou to crown himself Emperor Wen of Sui, his establishment the Sui Dynasty and the invasion of the south reunified the whole of China.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:49:27 pm

A stele made of limestone. From the Chinese Northern Zhou Dynasty, inscribed and dated to 572 AD.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:50:23 pm
In the first half of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 - 534 AD), the Xianbei steppe tribesman who dominated northern China kept a policy of strict social distinction between them and their Chinese subjects. Chinese were drafted into the bureaucracy, employed as officials to collect taxes, etc. However, the Chinese were kept out of many higher positions of power. They also represented the minority of the populace where centers of power were located, such as the first Northern Wei capital at Pingcheng in modern-day northern Shanxi province.

Widespread social and cultural transformation in northern China came with Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei (reigned 471 - 499 AD), whose father was a Xianbei, but whose mother was Chinese. Although of the Tuoba Clan from the Xianbei tribe, Emperor Xiaowen asserted his dual Xianbei-Chinese identity, renaming his own dynasty after the Chinese Yuan ("primal"). In the year 493 Emperor Xiaowen instituted a new sinification program that had the Xianbei elites conform to many Chinese standards. These social reforms included donning Chinese clothing (banning Xianbei clothing at court), learning the Chinese language (if under the age of thirty), applied one-character Chinese surnames to Xianbei families, and encouraged the clans of high-ranking Xianbei and Chinese families to intermarry. Emperor Xiaowen also moved the capital city from Pingcheng to one of China's old imperial sites, Luoyang, which had been the capital during the earlier Eastern Han and Western Jin dynasties. The new capital at Luoyang was revived and transformed, with roughly 150,000 Xianbei and other northern warriors moved from north to south to fill new ranks for the capital by the year 495. Within a couple decades, the population rose to about half a million residents, and was famed for being home to over a thousand Buddhist temples. Defectors from the south, such as Wang Su of the prestigious Langye Wang family, were largely accommodated and felt at home with the establishment of their own Wu quarter in Luoyang (this quarter of the city home to over three thousand families). They were even served tea (by this time gaining popularity in southern China) at court instead of yogurt-drinks commonly found in the north.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:51:30 pm

Northern Wei Buddha Maitreya gilt-bronze figurine, 443 AD.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:52:14 pm
In the year 523, Prince Dongyang of the Northern Wei was sent to Dunhuang to serve as its governor for a term of fifteen years. With the religious force of Buddhism gaining mainstream acceptance in Chinese society, Prince Dongyang and local wealthy families set out to establish a monumental project in honor of Buddhism, carving and decorating Cave 285 of the Mogao Caves with beautiful statues and murals. This promotion of the arts would continue on for centuries at Dunhuang, and is now one of China's greatest tourist attractions.

In that same year of 523 a revolt of several military garrisons was caused by a food shortage far north of Luoyang. After this was suppressed, the government had 200,000 surrendered garrison rebels deployed to Hebei, which proved later to be a mistake when a former garrison officer organized another rebellion in the years 526 - 527. The Wei court was betrayed by one of their own generals, who had the empress dowager and the young emperor thrown into the Yellow River, while establishing his own puppet ruler to maintain authority. As conflict swelled in the north between successive leaders, Gao Huan took control of the east and Luoyang (holding Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei as a puppet ruler) by 534, while his rival Yuwen Tai took control of the west and the traditional Chinese capital of Chang'an by 535. Eventually, Gao Huan's son Gao Yang forced the Eastern Wei emperor to abdicate in favor of his claim to the throne, establishing the Northern Qi Dynasty (551 - 577 AD). Afterwards, Yuwen Tai's son Yuwen Jue seized the throne of power from Emperor Gong of Western Wei, establishing the Northern Zhou Dynasty (557 - 580 AD). The Northern Zhou Dynasty was able to defeat and conquer Northern Qi in 577, reunifying the north. However, this success was shortlived, as the Northern Zhou was overthrown in 581 by Yang Jian, who became Emperor Wen of Sui. With greater military power and morale, along with convincing propaganda that the Chen Dynasty ruler Chen Shubao was a decadent ruler who had lost the Mandate of Heaven, the Sui Dynasty was able to effectively conquer the south. After this conquest, the whole of China entered a new golden age of reunification under the centralization of the shortlived Sui Dynasty and succeeding Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:53:26 pm

Buddhist paintings. Yungang Grottoes, near Datong, Shanxi province, China.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:55:18 pm
Sui Dynasty

The Sui Dynasty (Chinese: 隋朝; pinyin: Su cho; 581-618 AD[1]) followed the Southern and Northern Dynasties and preceded the Tang Dynasty in China. It ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes.

The Sui Dynasty, founded by Emperor Wen, or Yang Jian, held its capital at Chang'an (present-day Xi'an). It was marked by the reunification of Southern and Northern China and the construction of the Grand Canal, though it was a relatively short Chinese dynasty. It saw various reforms by Emperors Wen and Yang: the land equalization system, initiated to reduce the rich-poor social gap, resulted in enhanced agricultural productivity; governmental power was centralized, coinage was standardized and re-unified; defense was improved, and the Great Wall was expanded. Buddhism was also spread and encouraged throughout the empire, uniting the varied people and cultures of China.

This dynasty has often been compared to the earlier Qin Dynasty in tenure and the ruthlessness of its accomplishments. The Sui dynasty's early demise was attributed to the government's tyrannical demands on the people, who bore the crushing burden of taxes and compulsory labor. These resources were overstrained in the completion of the Grand Canal--a monumental engineering feat-- and in the undertaking of other construction projects, including the reconstruction of the Great Wall. Weakened by costly and disastrous military campaigns against Goguryeo which ended with defeat of Sui in the early seventh century, the dynasty disintegrated through a combination of popular revolts, disloyalty, and assassination.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:56:41 pm

The Sui Dynasty of China amongst the Asian, African, and European spheres of the world, 600 AD.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:57:33 pm
When the Northern Zhou Dynasty defeated the Northern Qi Dynasty in 577 AD, this was the culminating moment and ultimate advantage for the northern Chinese to face south. The southern dynasties had lost hope in conquering the north, and the situation of conquest from north-to-south was only delayed in 523 with civil war.

The Sui Dynasty began when Wendi's daughter became the Empress Dowager of Northern Zhou, with her stepson as the new emperor. After crushing an army mutiny in the eastern provinces as the prime minister of Zhou, Wendi took the throne by force and claimed himself to be emperor. In a bloody purge, Wendi had fifty-nine princes of the Zhou royal family eliminated, yet nonetheless was known as the 'Cultured Emperor' (581 - 604 AD).[2] He abolished the anti-Han policies of Zhou and reclaimed his Han surname of Yang. Having won the support of the Confucian scholars that had powered previous Han dynasties (abandoning the nepotism and corruption of the Nine-rank system), Wendi initiated a series of reforms aimed at strengthening his empire for the war that would reunify China.

In his campaign for southern conquest, Wendi assembled thousands of boats to confront the naval forces of the Chen Dynasty on the Yangtze River. The largest of these ships were very tall, having five layered decks, the capacity of holding 800 passengers, and were outfitted with six 50-foot-long booms that were used to swing and damage enemy ships, or to pin them down so that Sui marine troops could use grapple-and-board techniques.[3] Besides employing Xianbei and Chinese ethnicities for the fight against Chen, Wendi also employed the service of aborigines from southeastern Sichuan, peoples that Sui had recently conquered.[4]

In 588 AD, the Sui had amassed 18,000 troops along the northern bank of the Yangtze River, stretching from Sichuan to the Pacific Ocean.[5] The Chen Dynasty was meanwhile collapsing, and could not withstand such an assault. By 589 AD, Sui troops entered Jiankang (Nanjing) and the last emperor of the southern Chen dynasty surrendered. The city was razed to the ground, while Sui troops escorted Chen nobles back north, where the northern aristocrats became fascinated with everything the south had to provide culturally and intellectually.

Although Wendi was famous for bankrupting the state treasury with warfare and construction projects, he made many improvements to infrastructure during his early reign. He established granaries as sources of food and as a means to regulate market prices from the taxation of crops, much like the earlier Han Dynasty.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:58:48 pm

Sui Dynasty Bodhisattva, sandstone, Tianlongshan Grottoes, Shanxi, 6th century. Tokyo National Museum.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 04:59:55 pm
Buddhism was popular during the Six Dynasties period that preceded the Sui dynasty, spreading from India through Kushan Afghanistan into China during the Late Han period. Buddhism gained prominence during the period, when central political control was limited. Buddhism created a unifying cultural force that uplifted the people out of war and into the Sui Dynasty. In many ways, Buddhism was responsible for the rebirth of culture in China under the Sui Dynasty.

The Emperor Wen and his empress had converted to Buddhism to legitimate imperial authority over China and the conquest of Chen. Wendi presented himself as a Cakravartin king, a Buddhist monarch that would use military force to defend the Buddhist faith, much like the notion of Jihad in Islam. In the year 601 AD, Emperor Wen had relics of the Buddha distributed to temples throughout China, with edicts that expressed his goals, "all the people within the four seas may, without exception, develop enlightenment and together cultivate fortunate karma, bringing it to pass that present existences will lead to happy future lives, that the sustained creation of good causation will carry us one and all up to wondrous enlightenment". Ultimately, this act was an imitation of the ancient Mauryan Emperor Ashoka of India.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:01:35 pm

Strolling About in Spring, by Zhan Ziqian, Sui era artist.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:02:14 pm
Yangdi gained the throne after his father's death (possibly by murder). He further extended the empire, but, unlike his father, he did not seek to gain support from the nomads. Instead, he restored Confucian education and the Confucian examination system for bureaucrats. By supporting educational reforms, he lost the support of nomads. He also started many expensive construction projects such as the Grand Canal of China. This combined with his failed invasions into Korea (with Chinese casualties exceeding well over 2 million in all the wars combined), invasions into China from Turkic nomads, and his growing life of decadent luxury at the expense of the peasantry, he lost public support and was assassinated by his own ministers.

Both Wendi and Yangdi sent military ventures into Vietnam as well, as northern Vietnam had been incorporated into the Chinese empire during the previous Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD). However, the ancient Kingdom of Champa in southern Vietnam became a major contestant to Chinese invasions to its north. These invasions became known as the Linyi-Champa Campaign (602-605 AD). According to Ebrey, Walthall, and Palais:

The Hanoi area [that the Han and Jin dynasties had held] was easily recovered from the local ruler in 602, and a few years later the Sui army pushed farther south. When the army was attacked by troops on war elephants from Champa (in southern Vietnam), Sui feigned retreat and dug pits to trap the elephants. The Sui army lured the Champan troops to attack, then used crossbows against the elephants, causing them to turn around and trample their own army. Although Sui troops were victorious, many succumbed to disease, as northern soldiers did not have immunity to tropical diseases such as malaria.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:03:09 pm

A Chinese stoneware pilgrim flask with transparent glaze from the era of the en:Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:03:53 pm
Arguably, the biggest factor that led to the downfall of Sui Dynasty was the series of massive expeditions into the Korean Peninsula to invade Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The war that conscripted the most soldiers was caused by Sui Yangdi. The army was so enormous it was actually recorded in historical texts that it took 30 days for all the armies to exit their last rallying point near Shanhaiguan before invading Korea; in one instance, the soldiers--both conscripted and paid-- listed over 3000 warships, 1.15 million infantry, 50,000 cavalry, 5000 artillery, and more. There were just as many supporting laborers, and an exorbitant military budget that included mounds of equipment and rations (most of which never reached the Chinese avant-guard, as they were captured by Goguryeo armies already). The army stretched to "1000 lis (a Chinese unit of length, in modern translation one half-kilometer, though its precision in antiquity may be questioned), or about 410 kilometers, across rivers and valleys, over mountains and hills."

In all 4 main campaigns, the military conquest ended in failure. Nearly all the Chinese soldiers were defeated by the prominent army leader Eulji Mundeok of Goguryeo. For example, of the 305,000 Chinese troops, only 2,700 returned to China, according to the Book of Tang records, soldiers in summer conquests would return several years later, barely living through the cold and famishing winter. Many died of frostbite and hunger.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:05:09 pm
Eventually the resentment for the emperor increased and the wars, coupled with revolts and assassinations, led to the fall of the Sui Dynasty. One great accomplishment was rebuilding the Great Wall of China, but along with other large projects, strained the economy and angered the resentful workforce employed. During the last few years of the Sui Dynasty, the rebellion that rose against it took many of China's able-bodied men from rural farms and other occupations, which damaged the agricultural base and the economy further. Men would deliberately break their limbs in order to avoid military conscription, calling the practice "propitious paws" and "fortunate feet." In the year 642, Emperor Taizong of Tang made an effort to eradicate this practice by issuing a decree of a stiffer punishment for those who were found to deliberately injure themselves.

In 617, the rebel general Li Yuan (the later Emperor Gaozu of Tang) declared Emperor Yang's grandson Yang You emperor (as Emperor Gong) and "honored" Emperor Yang as Taishang Huang (retired emperor) at the western capital Daxing (Chang'an), but only the commanderies under Li's control recognized this change; for the other commanderies under Sui control, Emperor Yang was still regarded as emperor, not as retired emperor. After news of Emperor Yang's death in 618 reached Daxing and the eastern capital Luoyang, Li Yuan deposed Emperor Gong and took the throne himself, establishing Tang Dynasty, but the Sui officials at Luoyang declared Emperor Gong's brother Yang Tong (later also known as Emperor Gong during the brief reign of Wang Shichong over the region as the emperor of a brief Zheng (鄭) state) emperor. Meanwhile, Yuwen Huaji, the general under whose leadership the plot to kill Emperor Yang was carried out, declared Emperor Wen's grandson Yang Hao emperor but killed Yang Hao later in 618 and declared himself emperor of a brief Xu (許) state. As Yang Hao was completely under Yuwen's control and only "reigned" briefly, he is not usually regarded as a legitimate emperor of Sui, while Yang Tong's legitimacy is more recognized by historians but still disputed.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:08:44 pm
Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty (Chinese: 唐朝; pinyin: Tng Cho; Middle Chinese: dhng) (18 June 6184 June 907) was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li (李) family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire. The dynasty was interrupted briefly by the Second Zhou Dynasty (16 October 6903 March 705) when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, becoming the first and only Chinese empress regent, ruling in her own right.

The Tang Dynasty, with its capital at Chang'an (present-day Xi'an), the most populous city in the world at the time, is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization equal to or surpassing that of the earlier Han Dynasty as well as a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Its territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han period, and rivaled that of the later Yuan Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. The enormous Grand Canal of China, built during the previous Sui Dynasty, facilitated the rise of new urban settlements along its route, as well as increased trade between mainland Chinese markets. The canal is to this day the longest in the world. In two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records stated that the population (by number of registered households) was about 50 million people.a[] However, even when the central government was breaking down and unable to exact an accurate census of the population in the 9th century, it is estimated that the population in that century had grown to the size of about 80 million people.

In Chinese history, the Tang Dynasty was largely a period of progress and stability, except during the An Shi Rebellion and the decline of central authority in the latter half of the dynasty. Like the previous Sui Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty maintained a civil service system by drafting officials through standardized examinations and recommendations to office. This civil order was undermined by the rise of regional military governors known as jiedushi during the 9th century. Chinese culture flourished and further matured during the Tang era; it is considered the greatest age for Chinese poetry. Two of China's most famous historical poets, Du Fu and Li Bai, belonged to this age, as well as the poets Meng Haoran and Bai Juyi. Many famous visual artists lived during this era, such as the renowned painters Han Gan, Wu Daozi, and Zhan Ziqian. The religious and philosophical ideology of Buddhism became a major aspect of Chinese culture, with native Chinese sects becoming the most prominent. However, Buddhism would eventually be persecuted by the state and would decline in influence. Although the dynasty and central government were in decline by the 9th century, art and culture continued to flourish. The weakened central government largely withdrew from managing the economy, but the country's mercantile affairs stayed intact and commercial trade continued to thrive regardless.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:11:39 pm

Tang Dynasty circa 700 AD. Derived from Territories_of_Dynasties_in_China.gif.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:13:38 pm
Transition from Sui to Tang

Li Yuan (later to become Emperor Gaozu of Tang) was a former governor of Taiyuan when other government officials were fighting off bandit leaders in the collapse of the Sui Empire, with local elites developing defenses of their own. With prestige and military experience, he later rose in rebellion at the urging of his second son, the skilled and militant Li Shimin (later Emperor Taizong of Tang). Their family came from the background of the northwest military aristocracy prevalent during the reign of the Sui emperors. In fact, the mothers of both Emperor Yang of Sui and Gaozu of Tang were sisters, making these two emperors of different dynasties first cousins.

Li Yuan installed a puppet child emperor of the Sui Dynasty in 617 but he eventually removed the child emperor and established the Tang Dynasty in 618. Li Yuan ruled until 626 before being forcefully deposed by his son Li Shimin, Prince of Qin, known as "Tang Taizong." Li Shimin had commanded troops since the age of 18, had prowess with a bow, sword, lance, and was known for his effective cavalry charges. Fighting a numerically superior army, he defeated Dou Jiande at Luoyang in the Battle of Hulao in 621. In a violent elimination of royal family due to fear of assassination, Li Shimin ambushed and killed two of his brothers, Li Yuanji and Crown Prince Li Jiancheng in the Incident at Xuanwu Gate on July 2, 626. Shortly after, his father abdicated in favor of him and he ascended the throne as Emperor Taizong. Although his rise to power was brutal and violent, he showed to be a capable leader who listened to the advise of the wisest members of his council. In 628, Emperor Taizong held a Buddhist memorial service for the casualties of war, and in 629 had Buddhist monasteries erected at the sites of major battles so that monks could pray for the fallen on both sides of the fight. This was during Emperor Taizong's campaign against Eastern Tujue, a Gktrk khanate that was destroyed after the capture of Jiali Khan Ashini Duobi by the famed Tang military officer Li Jing (571649), who later became a Chancellor of the Tang Dynasty.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:15:17 pm

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, built in 652, Chang'an (modern-day Xi'an), China.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:17:12 pm
Taizong set out to solve internal problems within the government which had constantly plagued past dynasties. Building upon the Sui legal code, he issued a new legal code that subsequent Chinese dynasties would model theirs upon, as well as neighboring polities in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. The earliest law code to survive though was the one established in the year 653, which was divided into 500 articles specifying different crimes and penalties ranging from ten blows with a light stick, one hundred blows with a heavy rod, exile, penal servitude, or execution. The legal code clearly distinguished different levels of severity in meted punishments when different members of the social and political hierarchy committed the same crime. For example, the severity of punishment was different when a servant or nephew killed a master or an uncle than when a master or uncle killed a servant or nephew. Although the Tang legal code was largely retained by subsequent Chinese dynasties, there were several revisions in later times, such as improved property rights for women during the Song Dynasty (9601279).

Emperor Taizong had three administrations (省, shěng), which were obliged to draft, review, and implement policies respectively. There were also six divisions (部, b) under the administration that implemented policy, each of which was assigned different tasks. These divisional state bureaus included the personnel administation, finance, rites, military, justice, and public works an administrative model which would last until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in the early 20th century. Although the founders of the Tang related to the glory of the earlier Han Dynasty, the basis for much of their administrative organization was very similar to the previous Southern and Northern Dynasties. The Northern Zhou divisional militia (fubing) was continued by the Tang governments, along with farmer-soldiers serving in rotation from the capital or frontier in order to receive appropriated farmland. The equal-field system of the Northern Wei Dynasty was also kept, although there were a few modifications.

Although the central and local governments kept an enormous amount of records about land property in order to assess taxes, it became common practice in the Tang for literate and affluent people to create their own private documents and signed contracts. These had their own signature and that of a witness and scribe in order to prove in court (if necessary) that their claim to property was legitimate. The prototype of this actually existed since the ancient Han Dynasty, while contractual language became even more common and embedded into Chinese literary culture in later dynasties.

The center of the political power of the Tang was the capital city of Chang'an (modern Xi'an), where the emperor maintained his large palace quarters, and entertained political emissaries with music, sports, acrobatic stunts, poetry, paintings, and dramatic theater performances (see Pear Garden acting troupe). The capital was also filled with incredible amounts of riches and resources to spare. When the Chinese prefectural government officials traveled to the capital in the year 643 to give the annual report of the affairs in their districts, Emperor Taizong discovered that many had no proper quarters to rest in, and were renting rooms with merchants. Therefore, Emperor Taizong ordered the government agencies in charge of municipal construction to build every visiting official his own private mansion in the capital

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:18:27 pm

Sun Yangdi, Emperor of Sui

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:20:22 pm
Following the example from the Sui Dynasty, the Tang abandoned the nine-rank system in favor of a large civil service system. The Tang drafted learned and skilled students of Confucian studies who had passed standardized exams, and appointed them as state bureaucrats in the local, provincial, and central government (see imperial examination). There were two types of exams that were given, mingjing ('illuminating the classics examination') and jinshi ('presented scholar examination'). The mingjing was based upon the Confucian classics, and tested the student's knowledge of a broad variety of texts. The jinshi tested a student's literary abilities in writing essay-style responses to questions on matters of governance and politics, as well as their skills in composing poetry. Candidates were also judged on their skills of deportment, appearance, speech, and level of skill in calligraphy, all of which were subjective criteria that allowed the already wealthy members of society to be chosen over ones of more modest means who were unable to be educated in rhetoric or fanciful writing skills. Indeed there was a disproportionate amount of civil officials coming from aristocratic as opposed to non-aristocratic families. Nonetheless, these exams differed from the exams given by previous dynasties, in that they were open to all (male) citizens of all classes, not just those wealthy enough to receive a recommendation. In order to promote widespread Confucian education, the Tang government established state-run schools and issued standard versions of the Five Classics with selected commentaries.

This competitive procedure was designed to draw the best talent into government. But perhaps an even greater consideration for the Tang rulers, aware that imperial dependence on powerful aristocratic families and warlords would have destabilizing consequences, was to create a body of career officials having no autonomous territorial or functional power base. The Tang law code ensured equal division of inherited property amongst legitimate heirs, allowing a bit of social mobility and preventing the families of powerful court officials in becoming landed nobility through primogeniture. As it turned out, these scholar-officials acquired status in their local communities and in family ties, and shared values that connected them to the imperial court. From Tang times until the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, scholar-officials functioned often as intermediaries between the grassroots level and the government. Yet the potential of a widespread examination system was not fully realized until the Song Dynasty (960-1279), where the merit-driven scholar official largely shed his aristocratic habits and embodied more or less the modern concept of an educated bureaucrat. As historian Patricia Ebrey states of the Song period scholar-officials:

The examination system, used only on a small scale in Sui and Tang times, played a central role in the fashioning of this new elite. The early Song emperors, concerned above all to avoid domination of the government by military men, greatly expanded the civil service examination system and the government school system.

Nevertheless, the Sui and Tang dynasties institutionalized and set the foundations for the civil service system and this new elite class of exam-drafted scholar-officials.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:21:31 pm

A Tang era gilt-silver ear cup with flower design

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:22:37 pm
Religion, namely Buddhism, also played a role in Tang politics. People bidding for office would have monks from Buddhist temples pray for them in public in return for cash donations or gifts if the person was to be selected. There were many Buddhist temple structures built during the Tang Dynasty, such as the Xumi Pagoda of 636, during the reign of Taizong. Before the persecution of Buddhism in the 9th century, Buddhism and Taoism were accepted side by side, and Emperor Xuanzong of Tang invited monks and clerics of both religions to his court. At the same time Xuanzong exalted the ancient Laozi (granting him grand titles), wrote commentary on the Taoist Laozi, set up a school to prepare candidates for examinations on Taoist scriptures, and called upon the Indian monk Vajrabodhi (671741) to perform Tantric rites to avert a drought in the year 726. In 742 Emperor Xuanzong personally held the incense burner during the ceremony of the Ceylonese monk Amoghavajra (705774) reciting "mystical incantations to secure the victory of Tang forces." In addition, if religion played a role in politics, then politics played a role in religion as well. In the year 714, Emperor Xuanzong forbade shops and vendors in the city of Chang'an to sell copied Buddhist sutras, instead giving the Buddhist clergy of the monasteries the sole right to distribute sutras to the laity. In the previous year of 713, Emperor Xuanzong had liquidated the highly lucrative Inexhaustible Treasury, which was run by a prominent Buddhist monastery in Chang'an. This monastery collected vast amounts of money, silk, and treasures through multitudes of synonymous people's repentances, leaving the donations on the monastery's premise. Although the monastery was generous in donations, Emperor Xuanzong issued a decree abolishing their treasury on grounds that their banking practices were fraudulent, collected their riches, and distributed the wealth to various other Buddhist monasteries, Taoist abbeys, and to repair statues, halls, and bridges in the city.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:23:37 pm

Tang emperor Xuanzong (685-762, governed 712/13-56)

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:24:50 pm
The Tang Dynasty government attempted to create an accurate census of the size of their empire's population, mostly for effective taxation and matters of military conscription for each region. The early Tang government established both the grain tax and cloth tax at a relatively low rate for each household under the empire. This was meant to encourage households to enroll for taxation and not avoid the authorities, thus providing the government with the most accurate estimate possible. In the census of 609, the population was tallied by efforts of the government at a size of 9 million households, or about 50 million people. Again, the Tang census of the year 742 approximated the size China's population to about 50 million people. Even if a rather significant amount of people had avoided the registration process of the tax census, the population size during the Tang had not grown significantly since the earlier Han Dynasty (the census of the year 2 recording a population of 59 million people in China). In the Tang census of the year 754, there were 1,859 cities, 321 prefectures, and 1,538 counties throughout the empire. Although there were many large and prominent cities during the Tang, the rural and agrarian areas comprised the majority of China's population at some 80 to 90 percent. A high salt commission was also introduced, which proved valuable as a means of raising revenue for the central government since taxes from the populace could be gathered indirectly from cooperating merchants.

Chinese population size would not dramatically increase until the Song Dynasty (9601279) period, where the population doubled to 100 million people due to extensive rice cultivation in central and southern China, coupled with rural farmers holding more abundant yields of food that they could easily provide the growing market

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:26:04 pm

A Man Herding Horses, by Han Gan (706783), a court artist under Xuanzong.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:27:14 pm
The 7th century and first half of the 8th century is generally considered the zenith era of the Tang Dynasty. Emperor Tang Xuanzong (r. 712756) brought the Middle Kingdom to its golden age while the Silk Road thrived, with sway over Indochina in the south, and to the west Tang China was master of the Pamirs (modern-day Tajikistan) and protector of Kashmir bordering Persia. Some of the major kingdoms paying tribute to the Tang Dynasty included Kashmir, Neparo (Nepal), Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and over nine kingdoms located in Amu Darya and Syr Darya valley. Nomadic kingdoms addressed the Emperor of Tang China respectfully as Tian Kehan. Under Emperor Xuanzong, several military provinces were established on China's frontiers from Sichuan to Manchuria, as the military governors of these were given a great deal of autonomy to handle local crises without waiting for central admission. By the year 737, Emperor Xuanzong discarded the policy of conscripting soldiers that were replaced every three years, replacing them with long-service soldiers who were more battle-hardened and efficient. It was more economically feasible as well, since training new recruits and sending them out to the frontier every three years drained the treasury. By the year 742 the total number of enlisted troops in the Tang armies had risen to about 500,000 men.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:28:45 pm

A bas-relief of a soldier and horse with elaborate saddle and stirrups, from the tomb of Emperor Taizong, c. 650.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:30:03 pm
The Sui and Tang had one of the most successful military campaigns against the steppe nomads during its history. In terms of foreign policy to the north and west, the Chinese now had to deal with Turkic nomads, who were becoming the most dominant ethnic group in Central Asia. To handle and avoid any threats posed by the Turks, the Sui government repaired fortifications and received their trade and tribute missions. They sent royal princesses off to marry Turkic clan leaders, a total four of them in 597, 599, 614, and 617. The Sui stirred trouble and conflict amongst ethnic groups against the Turks. As early as the Sui Dynasty the Turks had become a major militarized force employed by the Chinese. When the Khitans began raiding northeast China in 605, a Chinese general led 20,000 Turks against them, distributing Khitan livestock and women to the Turks as a reward. The Tang, unlike the Sui, did not send royal princesses to their leaders; instead they were married to Turk mercenaries or generals in Chinese service, and such marriages only occurred in two rare occasions between 635 and 636. Throughout the Tang Dynasty until the end of 755, there were approximately ten Turkic generals serving under the Tang. While most of the Tang army was made of fubing Chinese conscripts, the majority of the army led by Turkic generals was of non-Chinese origin, campaigning largely in the western frontier where the presence of fubing troops was low.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:30:52 pm
After much of the civil war was ended by 626, along with the defeat of Liang Shidu in 628, a Chinese warlord who occupied the Ordos region, the Tang began an offensive against the Turks. In the year 630, Tang armies captured areas of the Ordos Desert, modern-day Inner Mongolia province, and southern Mongolia from the Turks. After this military victory, Emperor Taizong won the title of Great Khan amongst the various Turks in the region who pledged their allegiance to him and the Chinese empire (with several thousand Turks traveling into China to live at Chang'an). On June 11, 631, Emperor Taizong also sent envoys to the Xueyantuo bearing gold and silk in order to persuade the release of enslaved Chinese prisoners who were captured during the transition from Sui to Tang from the northern frontier; this embassy succeeded in freeing 80,000 Chinese men and women who were then returned to China. While the Turks were settled in the Ordos region (former territory of the Xiongnu), the Tang government took on the military policy of dominating the central steppe. Like the earlier Han Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty (along with Turkic allies) conquered and subdued Central Asia during the 640s and 650s. During Emperor Taizong's reign alone, large campaigns were launched against not only the Gktrks, but also separate campaigns against the Tuyuhun, the Tufan, the Xiyu states, and the Xueyantuo.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:32:09 pm

A Tang period gilt-silver jar with a pattern of dancing horses, shaped in the style of northern nomad's leather bag. The horse is seen dancing with a cup of wine in its mouth, just how the horses of Emperor Xuanzong were trained to do.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:33:48 pm
On and off the Tang Empire fought with the Tibetan Empire for control of areas in Inner and Central Asia, which was at times settled with marriage alliances. There were a long string of conflicts with Tibet over territories in the Tarim Basin between 670692 and in 763 the Tibetans even captured the capital of China, Chang'an, for fifteen days amidst the An Shi Rebellion. Hostilities continued until the Tibetan Empire and the Tang Dynasty finally signed a formal peace treaty in 821. The terms of this treaty, including the fixed borders between the two countries, are recorded in a bilingual inscription on a stone pillar outside the Jokhang temple in Lhasa.

By the 740s, the Arabs of Khurasan - by then under Abbasid control - had established a presence in the Ferghana basin and in Sogdiana. At the Battle of Talas in 751, Qarluq mercenaries under the Chinese defected, which forced Tang commander Gao Xianzhi to retreat. Although the battle itself was not of the greatest significance militarily, this was a pivotal moment in history; it marks the spread of Chinese papermaking into regions west of China, ultimately reaching Europe by the 12th century.

During the Islamic conquest of Persia (633656), the son of the last ruler of the Sassanid Empire, Prince Pirooz, fled to Tang China. According to the Book of Tang, Pirooz was made the head of a Governorate of Persia in what is now Zaranj, Afghanistan.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:35:05 pm
In terms of foreign policy to the east, the Chinese had more unsuccessful military campaigns as compared with elsewhere. Like the emperors of the Sui Dynasty before him, Taizong established a military campaign in 644 against the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo in the Goguryeo-Tang Wars. Since the ancient Han and Jin dynasties once had a commandery in ancient northern Korea, the Tang Chinese desired to conquer the region. Allying with the Korean Silla Kingdom, the Chinese fought against Baekje and their Yamato Japanese allies in the Battle of Baekgang in August of 663, a decisive Tang-Silla victory. The Tang Dynasty navy had several different ship types at its disposal to engage in naval warfare, these ships described by Li Quan in his Taipai Yinjing (Canon of the White and Gloomy Planet of War) of 759. The Battle of Baekgang was actually a restoration movement by remnant forces of Baekje, since their kingdom was toppled in 660 by a joint Tang-Silla invasion, led by notable Korean general Kim Yushin and Chinese general Su Dingfang. In another joint invasion with Silla, the Tang army severely weakened the Goguryeo Kingdom in the north by taking out its outer forts in the year 645. With joint attacks by Silla and Tang armies under commander Li Shiji (594669), the Kingdom of Goguryeo was destroyed by 668. Although they were formerly enemies, the Tang accepted officials and generals of Goguryeo into their administration and military, such as the brothers Yeon Namsan and Yeon Namsaeng. From 668 to 676, the Tang Empire would control northern Korea. However, in 671 Silla began fighting the Tang forces there. By 676, the Tang army was driven out of Korea by Unified Silla.

Although the Tang had fought the Japanese, they still held cordial relations with Japan. There were numerous Imperial embassies to China from Japan, diplomatic missions that were not halted until 894 by Emperor Uda, upon persuasion by Sugawara no Michizane. The Japanese Emperor Temmu (r. 672686) even established his conscripted army on that of the Chinese model, his state ceremonies on the Chinese model, and constructed his palace at Fujiwara on the Chinese model of architecture. Many Chinese Buddhist monks came to Japan to help further the spread of Buddhism as well. Two 7th century monks in particular, Zhi Yu and Zhi You, visited the court of Emperor Tenji (r. 661672), whereupon they presented a gift of a South Pointing Chariot that they had crafted. This 3rd century mechanically-driven directional-compass vehicle (employing a differential gear) was again reproduced in several models for Tenji in 666, as recorded in the Nihon Shoki of 720. Japanese monks also visited China; such was the case with Ennin (794864), who wrote of his travel experiences including travels along China's Grand Canal.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:36:18 pm

The South Pointing Chariot compass-vehicle with differential gears was crafted by two Chinese monks for Japanese Emperor Tenji in 658 and 666.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:38:51 pm
Although she entered Emperor Gaozong's court as the lowly consort Wu Zhao, Wu Zetian would rise to the highest seat of power in 690, establishing the short-lived latter Zhou Dynasty. Empress Wu's rise to power was achieved through cruel and calculating tactics. For example, she allegedly killed her own baby girl and blamed it on Gaozong's empress so that the empress would be demoted. Emperor Gaozong suffered a stroke in 655, and Wu began to make many of his court decisions for him, discussing affairs of state with his councilors that would take orders from her while she sat behind a screen. When Empress Wu's eldest son and crown prince began to assert his authority and announce his support for issues that were opposed to Empress Wu's ideas, he suddenly died in 675. Many suspected he was poisoned by Empress Wu. Although the next heir apparent kept a lower profile, in 680 he was accused by Wu of plotting a rebellion and was banished (and later forced to commit suicide). After only six weeks on the throne in 683, Emperor Zhongzong was deposed by Empress Wu after his attempt to appoint his wife's father as chancellor. Because she dominated the court of Emperor Ruizong, a group of Tang princes and their allies staged a major rebellion against Empress Wu in 684; yet her armies suppressed their dissent within two months. Becoming China's first female emperor in 690 upon her son's (forced) abdication, she ruled until her death in 705, her designated heir apparent becoming Emperor Zhongzong of Tang again. In order to legitimize her rule in a religious sense, she circulated a document known as the Great Cloud Sutra, which predicted that a reincarnation of the Maitreya Buddha would be a female monarch who would dispel illness, worry, and disaster from the world. Arguably the most important part of her legacy was diminishing the power of the northwest aristocracy, allowing people from other clans and regions of China to become more representative in Chinese politics and government.

There were many prominent women at court during and after Wu Zetian's reign, including Shangguan Wan'er (664710), a female poet, writer, and trusted court official of Wu Zetian as a palace secretary. In 706 the wife of Emperor Zhongzong of Tang, Empress Wei, convinced her husband to staff government offices with his sister and her daughters, and in 709 requested that he grant women the right to bequeth hereditary privileges to their sons (which before was a male right only). Empress Wei eventually poisoned Zhongzong, whereupon she placed his fifteen year old son upon the throne in 710. Two weeks later, Li Longji (the later Emperor Xuanzong) entered the palace with a few followers and slew Empress Wei and her faction. He then installed his father Emperor Ruizong on the throne. Just as Emperor Zhongzong was dominated by Empress Wei, so too was Ruizong dominated by Princess Taiping. This was finally ended when Princess Taiping's coup failed in 712 (she later hung herself in 713) and Emperor Ruizong abdicated to Emperor Xuanzong.

During the 44 year reign of Emperor Xuanzong, the Tang Dynasty was brought to its height, a golden age, a period of low economic inflation, as well as a toning down of the excessively lavish lifestyle of the imperial court. Seen as a progressive and benevolent ruler, Xuanzong even abolished the death penalty in the year 747, and all executions had to be approved beforehand by the emperor himself (which was relatively few, considering that there were only 24 executions in the year 730 alone).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:39:54 pm

A Tang Dynasty earthenware vase with three-color (sancai) glaze, with a spout in the shape of a bird's head.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:41:08 pm
Through use of the land trade along the Silk Road and maritime trade by sail at sea, the Tang were able to gain many new technologies, cultural practices, rare luxury, and contemporary items. From the Middle East, India, Persia, and Central Asia the Tang were able to acquire new ideals in fashion, new types of ceramics, and improved silver-smithing. The Chinese also gradually adopted the foreign concept of stools and chairs as seating, whereas the Chinese beforehand always sat on mats placed on the floor. To the Middle East, the Islamic world coveted and purchased in bulk Chinese goods such as silks, lacquer-wares, and porcelain wares. Songs, dances, and musical instruments from foreign regions became popular in China during the Tang Dynasty. These musical instruments included oboes, flutes, and small lacquered drums from Kucha in the Tarim Basin, and percussion instruments from India such as cymbals. There was great contact and interest in India as a hub for Buddhist knowledge, with famous travelers such as Xuanzang (d. 664) visiting the South Asian subcontinent. After a 17-year long trip, Xuanzang managed to bring back tons of valuable Sanskrit texts to be translated into Chinese. In the interior of China, trade was facilitated by the Grand Canal and the Tang government's rationalization of the greater canal system that reduced costs of transporting grain and other commodities.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:42:25 pm

A 5-stringed pipa (wuxian) from the Tang Dynasty.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:43:43 pm
The Silk Road was the most important pre-modern Eurasian trade route. During this period of the Pax Sinica, the Silk Road reached its golden age, whereby Persian and Sogdian merchants benefited from the commerce between East and West. At the same time, the Chinese empire welcomed foreign cultures, making the Tang capital the most cosmopolitan area in the world. In addition, the maritime port city of Guangzhou in the south was also a home to many foreign merchants and travelers from abroad.

Although the Silk Road from China to the West was initially formulated during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (14187 BC) centuries before, it was reopened by the Tang in 639 when Hou Junji conquered the West, and remained open for three decades. It was closed after the Tibetans captured it, largely blocking the route to the west. About 20 years later, during Empress Wu Zetian's period, the Silk Road reopened when the Tang empire reconquered the Four Garrisons of Anxi, once again connecting China directly to the West for land-based trade. After the An Shi Rebellion ended in 763, the Tang Empire had once again lost control over many of its outer western lands, as the Tibetan Empire largely cut off China's direct access to the Silk Road. It was not until the 840s that Tang China regained its western territories from Tibet, which contained crucial grazing areas and pastures for raising horses that the Tang Dynasty desperately needed.

Despite the many western travelers coming into China to live and trade, many travelers, mainly religious monks, recorded the strict border laws that the Chinese enforced. As the monk Xuanzang and many other monk travelers attested to, there were many Chinese government checkpoints along the Silk Road that examined travel permits into the Tang Empire. Furthermore, banditry was a problem along the checkpoints and oasis towns, as Xuanzang also recorded that his group of travelers were assaulted by bandits on multiple occasions.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:44:53 pm

A Tang Dynasty tri-color glazed figurine of a horse.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:46:22 pm
Chinese envoys had been sailing through the Indian Ocean to India since the 2nd century BC, yet it was during the Tang Dynasty that a strong Chinese maritime presence could be found in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, into Persia, Mesopotamia (sailing up the Euphrates River in modern-day Iraq), Arabia, Egypt, Aksum (Ethiopia), and Somalia in East Africa. From the same Quraysh tribe of Muhammad, Sa'd ibn Abi-Waqqas sailed from Ethiopia to China during the reign of Emperor Gaozu. He later traveled back to China with a copy of the Quran, establishing China's first mosque, the Mosque of Remembrance, during the reign of Emperor Gaozong. To this day he is still buried in a Muslim cemetery at Guangzhou.

During the Tang Dynasty, thousands of foreigners came and lived in Guangzhou for trade and commercial ties with China, including Persians, Arabs, Hindu Indians, Malays, Jews and Nestorian Christians of the Near East, and many others. In 748, the Buddhist monk Jian Zhen described Guangzhou as a bustling mercantile center where many large and impressive foreign ships came to dock. He wrote that "many big ships came from Borneo, Persia, Qunglun (Indonesia/Java)...with...spices, pearls, and jade piled up mountain high", as written in the Yue Jue Shu (Lost Records of the State of Yue). After Arab and Persian pirates burned and looted Guangzhou in 758, the Tang government reacted by shutting the port down for roughly five decades. However, when the port reopened it continued to thrive. In 851 the Arab merchant Suleiman al-Tajir observed the manufacturing of Chinese porcelain in Guangzhou and admired its transparent quality. He also provided description on the mosque at Guangzhou, its granaries, its local government administration, some of its written records, the treatment of travellers, along with the use of ceramics, rice-wine, and tea. However, in another bloody episode at Guangzhou in 879, the Chinese rebel Huang Chao sacked the city, and purportedly slaughtered thousands of native Chinese, along with foreign Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the process. His rebellion was eventually suppressed in 884.

The Tang government and Chinese merchants became interested in by-passing the Arab merchants who dominated the trade of the Indian Ocean, to gain access to thriving trade in the vast oceanic region. Beginning in 785, the Chinese began to call regularly at Sufala on the East African coast in order to cut out Arab middlemen, with various contemporary Chinese sources giving detailed descriptions of trade in Africa. In 863 the Chinese author Duan Chengshi provided detailed description about the slave trade, ivory trade, and ambergris trade in a country called Bobali, which historians point to the possibility of being Berbera in Somalia. In Fustat (old Cairo), Egypt, the fame of Chinese ceramics there led to an enormous demand for Chinese goods, hence Chinese often traveled there, also in later periods such as Fatimid Egypt. From this time period, the Arab merchant Shulama once wrote of his admiration for Chinese seafaring junks, but noted that the draft was too deep for them to enter the Euphrates River, which forced them to land small boats for passengers and cargo. Shulama also noted in his writing that Chinese ships were often very large, large enough to carry aboard 600 to 700 passengers each.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:47:28 pm

Figurine of a foreign merchant of the Tang Dynasty, 7th century.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:49:29 pm
The Tang Empire was at its height of power up until the middle of the 8th century, when the An Shi Rebellion (December 16, 755 February 17, 763) destroyed the prosperity of the empire. An Lushan was a half-Sogdian, half-Turk Tang commander since 744, had experience fighting the Khitans of Manchuria, yet most of his campaigns against the Khitans since 736 and after 744 were unsuccessful. He was given great responsibility in Hebei, which allowed him to rebel with an army of more than one hundred thousand troops. The newly recruited troops of the army at the capital were no match for An Lushan's die-hard frontier veterans, so the court fled Luoyang. While the heir apparent raised troops in Ningxia and Xuanzong fled to Sichuan province, they called upon the help of the Uyghur Turks in 756. The Uyghur khan Moyanchur was greatly excited at this prospect, and even married his own daughter to the Chinese diplomatic envoy once he arrived. Although the Uyghurs helped recapture the Tang capital from the rebels, they continued to stay and refused to leave until the Tang paid them an enormous sum of tribute in silk. Furthermore, the Tibetans took hold of the opportunity and raided many areas under Chinese control, and even after the Tibetan Empire had fallen apart in 842 (and the Uyghurs soon after) the Tang were in no position to reconquer Central Asia after 763. Although An Lushan was killed by his own son in 757, this time of troubles and widespread insurrection continued until 763.

One of the legacies that the Tang government left since 710 was the gradual rise of regional military governors, the jiedushi, who slowly came to challenge the power of the central government. After the An Shi Rebellion, the autonomous power and authority accumulated by the jiedushi in Hebei went beyond the central government's control. After a series of rebellions between 781 and 784 in today's Hebei, Shandong, Hubei and Henan provinces, the government had to officially acknowledge the jiedushi's hereditary ruling without accreditation. The Tang government relied on these governors and their armies for protection and to suppress locals that would take up arms against the government. In return, the central government would acknowledge the rights of these governors to maintain their army, collect taxes and even to pass on their title to heirs. As time passed on these military governors slowly phased out the prominence of civil officials drafted by exams, and became more autonomous from central authority. The rule of these powerful military governors lasted until 965, when a new civil order under the Song Dynasty was established.[78] Also, the abandonment of the equal-field system meant that people could buy and sell land freely. Many poor fell into debt because of this, forced to sell their land to the wealthy, which led to the exponential growth of large estates.

With the central government collapsing in authority over the various regions of the empire, it was recorded in 845 that bandits and river pirates in parties of 100 or more began plundering settlements along the Yangtze River with little resistance. In 858, enormous floods along the Grand Canal inundated vast tracts of land and terrain of the North China Plain, which drowned tens of thousands of people in the process.The Chinese belief in the Mandate of Heaven granted to the ailing Tang was also challenged when natural calamities occurred, forcing many to believe the Heavens were displeased and that the Tang had lost their right to rule. Then in 873 a disastrous harvest shook the foundations of the empire, in some areas only half of all agricultural produce being gathered, and tens of thousands faced famine and starvation. In the earlier period of the Tang, the central government was able to meet crisis in the harvest, as it was recorded from 714719 that the Tang government took assertive action in responding to natural disasters by extending the price-regulation granary system throughout the country. The central government was able then to build a large surplus stock of foods to meet danger of rising famine and increased agricultural productivity through effective land reclamation, yet the Tang government in the 9th century was nearly helpless in dealing with any calamity.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 05:50:50 pm

The Leshan Giant Buddha, 71 m (233 ft) in height; construction began in 713 and was completed ninety years later in 803.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 06:01:33 pm
Although these natural calamities and rebellions stained the reputation and hampered the effectiveness of the central government, the early 9th century is nonetheless viewed as a period of recovery for the Tang Dynasty. The government's withdrawal from its role in managing the economy had the unintended effect of stimulating trade, as more markets with less bureaucratic restrictions were opened up. Cities in the Jiangnan region to the south, such as Yangzhou, Suzhou, and Hangzhou prospered the most economically during the late Tang period. Yet even after the power of the central government was in decline since the mid 8th century, it was still able to function and give out imperial orders on a massive scale. Although weakened after the An Shi Rebellion, in 799 the Tang government's salt monopoly accounted for over half of the government's revenues, while the Salt commission became one of the most powerful state agencies, run by capable ministers chosen as specialists in finance. The Tangshu (Book of Tang) compiled in the year 945 recorded that in 828 the Tang government issued a decree that standardized irrigational square-pallet chain pumps in the country:

In the second year of the Taihe reign period [828 AD], in the second month...a standard model of the chain pump was issued from the palace, and the people of Jingzhao Fu (d footnote: the capital) were ordered by the emperor to make a considerable number of machines, for distribution to the people along the Zheng Bai Canal, for irrigation purposes.

The last great ambitious ruler of the Tang Dynasty was Emperor Xianzong of Tang (r. 805820), his reign period aided by the fiscal reforms of the 780s, including the government monopoly on the salt industry. He also had an effective well trained imperial army stationed at the capital led by his court eunuchs; this was the Army of Divine Strategy, numbering 240,000 in strength as recorded in 798. Between the years 806 and 819, Emperor Xianzong conducted seven major military campaigns to quell the rebellious provinces that had claimed autonomy from central authority, managing to subdue all but two of them. Under his reign there was a brief end to the hereditary jiedushi, as Xianzong appointed his own military officers and staffed the regional bureaucracies once again with civil officials. However, Xianzong's successors proved less capable and more interested in the leisure of hunting, feasting, and playing outdoor sports, allowing eunuchs to amass more power as drafted scholar-officials caused strife in the bureaucracy with factional parties. The eunuchs' power became unchallenged after Emperor Wenzong of Tang's failed plot to have them overthrown; instead the allies of Emperor Wenzong were publicly executed in the West Market of Chang'an, by the eunuch's command.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 06:03:35 pm

The Three Pagodas of Dali, Yunnan province, 9th and 10th centuries.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:10:13 pm
In addition to natural calamities and jiedushi amassing autonomous control, the Huang Chao Rebellion (875884) resulted in the sacking of both Chang'an and Luoyang, and took an entire decade to suppress. Although the rebellion was defeated by the Tang, it never recovered from that crucial blow, weakening it for the future military powers to take over. There were also large groups of bandits, in the size of small armies, that ravaged the countryside in the last years of the Tang, who smuggled illicit salt, ambushed merchants and convoys, and even besieged several walled cities.

A certain Zhu Wen (originally a salt smuggler) who had served under the rebel Huang had later surrendered to Tang forces, his military merit in betraying and defeating Huang's forces meaning rapid military promotions for him. In 907, after almost 300 years in power, the dynasty was ended when this military governor, Zhu Wen (known soon after as Taizu of Later Liang), deposed the last emperor of Tang, Emperor Ai of Tang, and took the throne for himself. He established his Later Liang Dynasty, which thereby inaugurated the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. A year later, the deposed Emperor Ai was poisoned to death by Zhu Wen.

Although cast in a negative light by many for usurping power from the Tang, Zhu Wen turned out to be a skilled administrator. Emperor Taizu of Later Liang was also responsible for the building of a large seawall, new walls and roads for the burgeoning city of Hangzhou, which would later become the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:11:43 pm

Painting of the scholar Fu Sheng, by the Tang poet, musician, and painter Wang Wei (701761)

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:12:32 pm
Both the Sui and Tang Dynasties had turned away from the more feudal culture of the preceding Northern Dynasties, in favor of staunch civil Confucianism. The governmental system was supported by a large class of Confucian intellectuals selected through either civil service examinations or recommendations. In the Tang period, Taoism and Buddhism reigned as core ideologies as well, and played a large role in people's daily lives. The Tang Chinese enjoyed feasting, drinking, holidays, sports, and all sorts of entertainment, while Chinese literature blossomed and was more widely accessible with new printing methods.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:14:13 pm
Much more than earlier periods, the Tang era was an era renowned for its time reserved for leisure activity, especially for those in the upper classes. Many outdoor sports and activities were enjoyed during the Tang, including archery, hunting, horse polo, cuju football, cockfighting, and even tug of war. Government officials were granted vacations during their tenure in office. Officials were granted 30 days off every three years to visit their parents if they lived 1000 miles/1609 km away, or 15 days off if the parents lived more than 167 miles/268 km away (travel time not included). Officials were granted nine days of vacation time for weddings of a son or daughter, and either five, three, or one days/day off for the nuptials of close relatives (travel time not included). Officials also received a total of three days off for their son's capping initiation rite into manhood, and one day off for the ceremony of initiation rite of a close relative's son. Traditional Chinese holidays such as Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Cold Food Festival, and others were universal holidays. In the capital city of Chang'an there was always lively celebration, especially for the Lantern Festival since the city's nighttime curfew was lifted by the government for three days straight. Between the years 628 and 758, the imperial throne bestowed a total of sixty-nine grand carnivals nationwide, granted by the emperor in the case of special circumstances like important military victories, abundant harvests after a long drought or famine, the granting of amnesties, the installment of a new crown prince, etc. For special celebration in the Tang era, lavish and gargantuan-sized feasts were sometimes prepared, as the imperial court had staffed agencies to prepare the meals. This included a prepared feast for 1,100 elders of Chang'an in 664, a feast for 3,500 officers of the Divine Strategy Army in 768, and a feast for 1,200 women of the palace and members of the imperial family in the year 826. Drinking wine and alcoholic beverages was heavily ingrained into Chinese culture, as people drank for nearly every social event. A court official in the 8th century even had a serpentine-shaped structure called the 'Ale Grotto' built with 50,000 bricks on the groundfloor that each featured a drinking bowl for his friends to drink from.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:15:59 pm

A Tang-era painting of a Bodhisattva holding an incense burner, from Dunhuang.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:18:35 pm
Although Chang'an was the site for the capital of the earlier Han and Jin dynasties, after subsequent destruction in warfare, it was the Sui Dynasty model that comprised the Tang era capital. The roughly-square dimensions of the city had six miles of outer walls running east to west, and more than five miles of outer walls running north to south. From the large Mingde Gates located mid-center of the main southern wall, a wide city avenue stretched from there all the way north to the central administrative city, behind which was the Chentian Gate of the royal palace, or Imperial City. Intersecting this were fourteen main streets running east to west, while eleven main streets ran north to south. These main intersecting roads formed 108 rectangular wards with walls and four gates each, and each ward filled with multiple city blocks. The city was made famous for this checkerboard pattern of main roads with walled and gated districts, its layout even mentioned in one of Du Fu's poems. During the Heian period, the city of Kyoto in Japan (like many cities) was arranged in the checkerboard street grid pattern of the Tang capital and in accordance with traditional geomancy following the model of Chang'an. Of these 108 wards in Chang'an, two of them (each the size of two regular city wards) were designated as government-supervised markets, and other space reserved for temples, gardens, ponds, etc. Throughout the entire city, there were 111 Buddhist monasteries, 41 Daoist abbeys, 38 family shrines, 2 official temples, 7 churches of foreign religions, 10 city wards with provincial transmission offices, 12 major inns, and 6 graveyards. Some city wards were literally filled with open public playing fields or the backyards of lavish mansions for playing horse polo and cuju football.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:19:39 pm
The Tang capital was the largest city in the world at its time, the population of the city wards and its outlying suburbs reaching 2 million inhabitants. The Tang capital was very cosmopolitan, with ethnicities of Persia, Central Asia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, India, and many other places living within. Naturally, with this plethora of different ethnicities living in Chang'an, there were also many different practiced religions, such as Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Islam being practiced within. With widely open access to China that the Silk Road to the west facilitated, many foreign settlers were able to move east to China, while the city of Chang'an itself had about 25,000 foreigners living within.

Chang'an was the center of the central government, the home of the imperial family, and was filled with splendor and wealth. However, incidentally it was not the economic hub during the Tang Dynasty. The city of Yangzhou along the Grand Canal and close to the Yangtze River was the greatest economic center during the Tang era. Yangzhou was the headquarters for the Tang's government monopoly on salt, and the greatest industrial center of China; it acted as a midpoint in shipping of foreign goods that would be organized and distributed to the major cities of the north. This was aided by Guangzhou in the south, the most important international seaport for the empire. There was also the secondary capital city of Luoyang, which was the favored capital of the two by Empress Wu. In the year 691 she had more than 100,000 families (more than 500,000 people) from around the region of Chang'an move to populate Luoyang instead. With a population of about a million, Luoyang became the second largest capital in the empire, and with its close proximity to the Luo River it benefited from southern agricultural fertility and trade traffic of the Grand Canal. However, the Tang court eventually demoted its capital status and did not visit Luoyang after the year 743, when Chang'an's problem of acquiring adequate supplies and stores for the year was solved.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:21:34 pm

Spring Outing of the Tang Court, by Zhang Xuan (713755)

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:22:40 pm

Chinese ladies playing cuju football, which was played in fields of city wards and in immediate areas outside of Chang'an.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:24:04 pm
The Tang period was a golden age of Chinese literature and art. There are over 48,900 poems penned by some 2,200 Tang authors that have survived until modern times. Perfecting one's skills in the composition of poetry became a required study for those wishing to pass imperial examinations, while poetry was also heavily competitive; poetry contests amongst esteemed guests at banquets and courtiers of elite social gatherings was common in the Tang period. Poetry styles that were popular in the Tang included gushi and jintishi, with the renowned Tang poet Li Bai famous for the former style, and Tang poets like Wang Wei (701761) and Cui Hao (704754) famous for their use of the latter. Jintishi poetry, or regulated verse, is in the form of eight-line stanzas or seven characters per line with a fixed pattern of tones that required the second and third couplets to be antithetical (although the antithesis is often lost in translation to other languages). Tang poems in particular remain the most popular out of every historical era of China. This great emulation of Tang era poetry began in the Song Dynasty period, as it was Yan Yu (active 11941245) who asserted that he was the first to designate the poetry of the High Tang (c. 713766) era as the orthodox material with "canonical status within the classical poetic tradition." At the pinnacle of all the Tang poets, Yan Yu had reserved the position of highest esteem for that of Du Fu (712770), a man who would not be viewed as such in his own era of poetic competitors, and branded by his peers as an anti-traditional rebel. Below is an example of Du Fu's poetry, To My Retired Friend Wei(Chinese: 贈衛八處士). Like many other poems in the Tang it featured the theme of a long parting between friends, which was often due to officials being frequently transferred to the provinces:

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:25:35 pm

Written calligraphy of Emperor Taizong on a Tang stele.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:26:20 pm
人生不相見, It is almost as hard for friends to meet
動如參與商。 As for the morning and evening stars.
今夕復何夕, Tonight then is a rare event,
共此燈燭光。 Joining, in the candlelight,
少壯能幾時, Two men who were young not long ago
鬢髮各已蒼。 But now are turning grey at the temples.
訪舊半為鬼, To find that half our friends are dead
驚呼熱中腸。 Shocks us, burns our hearts with grief.
焉知二十載, We little guessed it would be twenty years
重上君子堂。 Before I could visit you again.
昔別君未婚, When I went away, you were still unmarried;
兒女忽成行。 But now these boys and girls in a row
怡然敬父執, Are very kind to their father's old friend.
問我來何方。 They ask me where I have been on my journey;
問答乃未已, And then, when we have talked awhile,
兒女羅酒漿。 They bring and show me wines and dishes,
夜雨翦春韭, Spring chives cut in the night-rain
新炊間黃粱。 And brown rice cooked freshly a special way.
主稱會面難, My host proclaims it a festival,
一舉累十觴。 He urges me to drink ten cups --
十觴亦不醉, But what ten cups could make me as drunk
感子故意長。 As I always am with your love in my heart?
明日隔山嶽, Tomorrow the mountains will separate us;
世事兩茫茫。 After tomorrow - who can say?

Du Fu 

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:29:28 pm
There were other important literary forms besides poetry during the Tang period. There was Duan Chengshi's (d. 863) Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang, an entertaining collection of foreign legends and hearsay, reports on natural phenomena, short anecdotes, mythical and mundane tales, as well as notes on various subjects. The exact literary category or classification that Duan's large informal narrative would fit into is still debated amongst scholars and historians. Short story fiction and tales were also popular during the Tang, one of the more famous ones being Yingying's Biography by Yuan Zhen (779831), which was widely circulated in his own time and later became the basis for plays in Chinese opera. Chinese geographers such as Jia Dan wrote accurate descriptions of places far abroad. In his work written between 785 and 805, he described the sea route going into the mouth of the Persian Gulf, and that the medieval Iranians (whom he called the people of Luo-He-Yi) had erected 'ornamental pillars' in the sea that acted as lighthouse beacons for ships that might go astray. Confirming Jia's reports about lighthouses in the Persian Gulf, Arabic writers a century after Jia wrote of the same structures, writers such as al-Mas'udi and al-Muqaddasi. The Tang Dynasty Chinese diplomat Wang Xuance traveled to Magadha (modern northeastern India) during the 7th century. Afterwards he wrote the book Zhang Tian-zhu Guo Tu (Illustrated Accounts of Central India), which included a wealth of geographical information.Many histories of previous dynasties were compiled between 636 and 659 by court officials during and shortly after the reign of Emperor Taizong of Tang. These included the Book of Liang, Book of Chen, Book of Northern Qi, Book of Zhou, Book of Sui, Book of Jin, History of Northern Dynasties and the History of Southern Dynasties. Although not included in the official Twenty-Four Histories, the Tongdian and Tang Huiyao were nonetheless valuable written historical works of the Tang period. The Shitong written by Liu Zhiji in 710 was a meta-history, as it covered the history of Chinese historiography in past centuries until his time. The Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, complied by Bianji, recounted the journey of Xuanzang, the Tang era's most renowned Buddhist monk. There were also large encyclopedias published, such as the Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era, compiled in the 8th century by Gautama Siddha, an ethnic Indian astronomer, astrologer, and scholar born in the capital Chang'an.

The Classical Prose Movement was spurred large in part by the writings of Tang authors Liu Zongyuan (773819) and Han Yu (768824). This new prose style broke away from the poetry tradition of the 'piantiwen' style begun in the ancient Han Dynasty. Although writers of the Classical Prose Movement imitated 'piantiwen', they criticized it for its often vague content and lack of colloquial language, focusing more on clarity and precision to make their writing more direct. This guwen (archaic prose) style can be traced back to Han Yu, and would become largely associated with orthodox Neo-Confucianism.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:31:43 pm

A Tang Dynasty sculpture of a Bodhisattva

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:33:54 pm
Stimulated by contact with India and the Middle East, the Empire saw a flowering of creativity in many fields. Buddhism, originating in India around the time of Confucius, continued to flourish during the Tang period and was adopted by the imperial family, becoming thoroughly sinicized and a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture. In an age before Neo-Confucianism and figures such as Zhu Xi, Buddhism had begun to flourish in China during the Southern and Northern Dynasties, and became the dominant ideology during the prosperous Tang. Buddhist monasteries played an integral role in Chinese society, offering lodging for travelers in remote areas, schools for children throughout the country, and a place for urban literati to stage social events and gatherings such as going-away parties. Buddhist monasteries were also engaged in the economy, since their land property and serfs gave them enough revenues to set up mills, oil presses, and other enterprises. Although the monasteries retained 'serfs', these monastery dependents could actually own property and employ others to help them in their work, including their own slaves.

The prominent status of Buddhism in Chinese culture began to decline as the dynasty and central government declined as well during the late 8th century to 9th century. Buddhist convents and temples that were exempt from state taxes beforehand were targeted by the state for taxation. In 845 Emperor Wuzong of Tang finally shut down 4,600 Buddhist monasteries along with 40,000 temples and shrines, forcing 260,000 Buddhist monks and nuns to return to secular life; this episode would later be dubbed one of the Four Buddhist Persecutions in China. Although this ban would be lifted just a few years after it was enacted, Buddhism never regained its once dominant status in Chinese culture. This situation also came about through new revival of interest in native Chinese philosophies, such as Confucianism and Daoism. The "brilliant polemicist and ardent xenophobe" Han Yu (786824) was one of the first men of the Tang to denounce Buddhism. Although his contemporaries found him crude and obnoxious, he would foreshadow the later persecution of Buddhism in the Tang, as well as the revival of Confucian theory with the rise of Neo-Confucianism of the Song Dynasty. Nonetheless, Chn Buddhism gained popularity amongst the educated elite. There were also many famous Chan monks from the Tang era, such as Mazu Daoyi, Baizhang, and Huangbo Xiyun. The sect of Pure Land Buddhism initiated by the Chinese monk Huiyuan (334416) was also just as popular as Chan Buddhism during the Tang.

Rivaling Buddhism was Daoism, a native Chinese philosophical and religious belief system that found its roots in the book of the Daodejing (attributed to Laozi in the 6th century BC) and the Zhuangzi. The ruling Li family of the Tang Dynasty actually claimed descent from the ancient Lao Zi. On numerous occasions where Tang princes would become crown prince or Tang princesses taking vows as Taoist priestesses, their lavish former mansions would be converted into Taoist abbeys and places of worship. Many Taoists were associated with alchemy in their pursuits to find an elixir of immortality and a means to create gold from concocted mixtures of many other elements. Although they never achieved their goals in either of these futile pursuits, they did contribute to the discovery of new metal alloys, porcelain products, and new dyes. The historian Joseph Needham labeled the work of the Taoist alchemists as "proto-science rather than pseudo-science."

The Tang Dynasty also officially recognized various foreign religions. The Assyrian Church of the East, otherwise known as the Nestorian Christian Church, was given recognition by the Tang court. In 781, the Nestorian Stele was created in order to honor the achievements of their community in China. A Christian monastery was established in Shaanxi province where the Daqin Pagoda still stands, and inside the pagoda there is Christian-themed artwork.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:35:13 pm

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:37:03 pm
Woodblock printing made the written word available to vastly greater audiences. The text of the Diamond Sutra is an early example of Chinese woodblock printing, complete with illustrations embedded with the text. Among the earliest documents to be printed were Buddhist texts as well as calendars, the latter essential for calculating and marking which days were auspicious and which days were not. With so many books coming into circulation for the general public, literacy rates could improve, along with the lower classes being able to obtain cheaper sources of study. Therefore, there was more lower class people seen entering the Imperial Examinations and passing them by the later Song Dynasty (9601279). Although the later Bi Sheng's movable type printing in the 11th century was innovative for his period, woodblock printing that became widespread in the Tang would remain the dominant printing type in China until the more advanced printing press from Europe became widely accepted and used in East Asia.

Technology during the Tang period was built also upon the precedents of the past. The mechanical gear systems of Zhang Heng and Ma Jun gave the Tang engineer, astronomer, and Buddhist monk Yi Xing (683727) a great source of influence when he invented the world's first clockwork escapement mechanism in 725. This was used alongside a clepsydra clock and waterwheel to power a rotating armillary sphere in representation of astronomical observation. Yi Xing's device also had a mechanically-timed bell that was struck automatically every hour, and a drum that was struck automatically every quarter hour. His astronomical clock and water-powered armillary sphere also became well known throughout the country, since students attempting to pass the imperial examinations by 730 had to write an essay on the device as an exam requirement.

There were many other technically impressive inventions during the Tang era. This included a 3 ft. tall mechanical wine server of the early 8th century that was in the shape of an artificial mountain, carved out of iron and rested on a lacquered-wooden tortoise frame. This intricate device used a hydraulic pump that siphoned wine out of metal dragon-headed faucets, as well as tilting bowls that were timed to dip wine down, by force of gravity when filled, into an artificial lake that had intricate iron leaves popping up as trays for placing party treats. Furthermore, as the historian Charles Benn describes it:

Midway up the southern side of the mountain was a dragon...the beast opened its mouth and spit brew into a goblet seated on a large [iron] lotus leaf beneath. When the cup was 80 percent full, the dragon ceased spewing ale, and a guest immediately seized the goblet. If he was slow in draining the cup and returning it to the leaf, the door of a pavilion at the top of the mountain opened and a mechanical wine server, dressed in a cap and gown, emerged with a wooden bat in his hand. As soon as the guest returned the goblet, the dragon refilled it, the wine server withdrew, and the doors of the pavilion closed...A pump siphoned the ale that flowed into the ale pool through a hidden hole and returned the brew to the reservoir [holding more than 16 quarts/15 liters of wine] inside the mountain."

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:38:37 pm

The Diamond Sutra, printed in 868, the world's first widely printed book (using woodblock printing).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:39:57 pm

A Tang Dynasty Chinese foliate mirror made of bronze, with decorations of mythical animals and phoenixes, 8th century

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:41:21 pm
Although the use of a teasing mechanical puppet in this wine-serving device was certainly ingenious, the use of mechanical puppets in China date back to the Qin Dynasty (221207 BC) while Ma Jun in the 3rd century had an entire mechanical puppet theater operated by the rotation of a waterwheel. There was also an automatic wine-server known in the ancient Greco-Roman world, a design of Heron of Alexandria that employed an urn with an inner valve and a lever device similar to the one described above.

The Chinese of the Tang era were also very interested in the benefits of officially classifying all of the medicines used in pharmacology. In 657, Emperor Gaozong of Tang (r. 649683) commissioned the literary project of publishing an official materia medica, complete with text and aid of illustrated drawing for 833 different medicincal substances taken from different stones, minerals, metals, plants, herbs, animals, vegetables, fruits, and cereal crops. Beyond medicine, the Chinese of the Tang period employed complex chemical formulas for an array of different purposes, often found through experiments of Taoist alchemy. These included a waterproof and dust-repelling cream or varnish for clothes and weapons, fireproof cement for glass and porcelain wares, a waterproof cream applied to silk clothes of underwater divers, a cream designated for polishing bronze mirrors, and many other useful formulas.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:45:07 pm
In the realm of technical Chinese architecture, there were also government standard building codes, outlined in the early Tang book of the Yingshan Ling (National Building Law). Fragments of this book have survived in the Tang L (The Tang Code),[135] while the Song Dynasty architectural manual of the Yingzao Fashi (State Building Standards) by Li Jie (10651101) in 1103 is the oldest existing technical treatise on Chinese architecture that has survived in full. During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (712756) there were 34,850 registered craftsmen serving the state, managed by the Agency of Palace Buildings (Jingzuo Jian).

In the realm of cartography, there were further advancements since the map-makers of the Han Dynasty. When the Tang chancellor Pei Ju (547627) was working for the Sui Dynasty as a Commercial Commissioner in 605, he created a well-known gridded map with a graduated scale in the tradition of Pei Xiu (224271). The Tang chancellor Xu Jingzong (592672) was also known for his map of China drawn in the year 658. In the year 785 the Emperor Dezong had the geographer and cartographer Jia Dan (730805) complete a map of China and her former colonies in Central Asia. Upon its completion in 801, the map was 9.1 m (30 ft) in length and 10 m (33 ft) in height, mapped out on a grid scale of one inch equaling one hundred li (Chinese unit of measuring distance). A Chinese map of 1137 is similar in complexity to the one made by Jia Dan, carved on a stone stele with a grid scale of 100 li. However, the only type of map that has survived from the Tang period are star charts. Despite this, the earliest extant terrain maps of China come from the ancient State of Qin; maps from the 4th century BC that were excavated in 1986.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:47:11 pm

The Dunhuang map, a star map from the Tang Dynasty showing the North Polar region. This map is thought to date from the reign of Emperor Zhongzong of Tang (705710). Constellations of the three schools were distinguished with different colors: white, black and yellow for stars of Wu Xian, Gan De and Shi Shen respectively. The whole set of star maps contained 1,300 stars.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:49:14 pm
Women's social rights and social status during the Tang era were incredibly liberal-minded for the medieval period. However, this was largely reserved for urbane women of elite status, as men and women in the rural countryside labored hard in their different set of tasks; with wives and daughters responsible for more domestic tasks of weaving textiles and rearing of silk worms, while men tended to farming in the fields. There were many women in the Tang era who gained access to religious authority by taking vows as Taoist priestesses. The head mistresses of the bordellos in the North Hamlet (also known as the Gay Quarters) of the capital Chang'an acquired large amounts of wealth and power. Their high-class courtesans, who very much resembled Japanese geishas,  were well respected. These courtesans were known as great singers and poets, supervised banquets and feasts, knew the rules to all the drinking games, and were trained to have the utmost respectable table manners. Although they were renowned for their polite behavior, the courtesans were known to dominate the conversation amongst elite men, and were not afraid to openly castigate or criticize prominent male guests who talked too much or too loudly, boasted too much of their accomplishments, or had in some way ruined dinner for everyone by rude behavior (on one occasion a courtesan even beat up a drunken man who had insulted her). When singing to entertain guests, courtesans not only composed the lyrics to their own songs, but they popularized a new form of lyrical verse by singing lines written by various renowned and famous men in Chinese history.

Women who were full-figured (even plump) were considered attractive by men, as men also enjoyed the presence of assertive, active women. In example of the latter, the foreign horse-riding sport of polo from Persia became a wildly popular trend amongst the Chinese elite, as women often played the sport (as glazed earthenware figurines from the time period portray). The preferred hairstyle for women was to bunch their hair up like "an elaborate edifice above the forehead," while affluent ladies wore extravagant head ornaments, combs, pearl necklaces, face powders, and perfumes.

There were some prominent court women after the era of Empress Wu, such as Yang Guifei (719756), who had Emperor Xuanzong appoint some of her friends and cronies in important ministerial and martial positions.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:51:56 pm
During the earlier Southern and Northern Dynasties (420589), and perhaps even earlier, the drink of tea had become popular in southern China. Tea comes from the leaf buds of Camelia sinensis, native to southwestern China. Tea was viewed then as a beverage of tasteful pleasure and looked upon with pharmacological purpose as well. During the Tang Dynasty, tea was synonymous with everything sophisticated in society. The Tang poet Lu Tong (790835) devoted most of his poetry to his love of tea. The 8th century author Lu Yu (known as the Sage of Tea) even wrote a treatise on the art of drinking tea, called the Classic of Tea (Chjīng). Although wrapping paper had been used in China since the 2nd century BC, during the Tang Dynasty the Chinese were using wrapping paper as folded and sewn square bags to hold and preserve the flavor of tea leaves. Indeed, paper found many other uses besides writing and wrapping during the Tang era. Earlier, the first recorded use of toilet paper was made in 589 by the scholar-official Yan Zhitui (531591), and in 851 an Arab Muslim traveler commented on how the Tang era Chinese were not careful about cleanliness because they did not wash with water when going to the bathroom; instead, he said, the Chinese simply used paper to wipe with.

In ancient times, the Chinese had outlined the five most basic foodstuffs known as the five grains: sesamum, legumes, wheat, panicled millet, and glutinous millet. The Ming Dynasty encyclopedist Song Yingxing (15871666) noted that rice was not counted amongst the five grains from the time of the legendary and deified Shennong (the existence of whom Yingxing wrote was "an uncertain matter") into the 2nd and 1st millenniums BC, because the properly wet and humid climate in southern China for growing rice was not yet fully settled or cultivated by the Chinese. During the Tang, the many common foodstuffs and cooking ingredients in addition to those already listed were barley, garlic, salt, turnips, soybeans, pears, apricots, peaches, apples, pomegranates, jujubes, rhubarb, hazelnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, walnuts, yams, taro, etc. The various meats that were consumed included pork, chicken, lamb (especially preferred in the north), sea otter, bear (which was hard to catch, but there were recipes for steamed, boiled, and marinated bear), and even bactrian camels. In the south along the coast meat from seafood was by default the most common, as the Chinese enjoyed eating cooked jellyfish with cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, cardamom, and ginger, as well as oysters with wine, fried squid with ginger and vinegar, horseshoe crabs and red crabs, shrimp, and pufferfish, which the Chinese called 'river piglet'. Some foods were also off-limits, as the Tang court encouraged people not to eat beef (since the bull was a valuable draft animal), and from 831 to 833 Emperor Wenzong of Tang even banned the slaughter of cattle on the grounds of his religious convictions to Buddhism. With large amount of facilitated trade over land and overseas, the Chinese acquired golden peaches from Samarkand, date palms, pistachios, and figs from Persia, pine seeds and ginseng roots from Korea, and mangoes from Southeast Asia.

Methods of food preservation were important and practiced throughout China. The common people used simple methods of preservation, such as digging deep ditches and trenches, brining, and salting their foods. The emperor had large ice pits located in the parks in and around Chang'an for preserving food, while the wealthy and elite had their own smaller ice pits. Each year the emperor had laborers carve 1000 blocks of ice from frozen creeks in mountain valleys, each block with the dimension of 3 ft. by 3 ft. and 3 ft. There were many frozen delicacies enjoyed during the summer, especially chilled melon.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:53:52 pm

Terracotta sculpture of a lady, 7th-8th century, Tang Dynasty.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:55:06 pm

Beauties Wearing Flowers, by painter Zhou Fang, 8th century.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:56:41 pm

A page of Lu Yu's Classic of Tea.

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:57:22 pm
The first classic work about the Tang is the Book of Tang by Liu Xu (887946) et al of the Later Jin, who redacted it during the last years of his life. This was edited into another history (labelled the New Book of Tang) in order to distinguish it, which was a work by the historian Ouyang Xiu (10071072), Song Qi (9981061) et al of the Song Dynasty (between the years 1044 and 1060). Both of them were based upon earlier annals, yet those are now lost. Both of them also rank among the Twenty-Four Histories of China. One of the surviving sources of the Book of Tang, primarily covering up to 756, is the Tongdian, which Du You presented to the emperor in 801. The Tang period was again placed into the enormous universal history text of the Zizhi Tongjian, edited, compiled, and completed in 1084 by a team of scholars under the Song Dynasty Chancellor Sima Guang (10191086). This historical text, written with 3 million Chinese characters in 294 volumes, covered the history of China from the beginning of the Warring States (403 BC) until the beginning of the Song Dynasty (960).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 08:59:33 pm

A Chinese Tang Dynasty tri-colored glaze porcelain horse (ca. 700 AD).

Title: Re: China, a History
Post by: Bee Cha on December 08, 2007, 09:02:11 pm
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms

The period of political disunity between the Tang and the Song, known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (五代十国), lasted little more than half a century, from 907 to 960. During this brief era, when China was in all respects a multi-state system, five regimes succeeded one another rapidly in control of the old Imperial heartland in northern China. During this same time, 10 more stable regimes occupied sections of southern and western China, so the period is also referred to as that of the Ten Kingdoms (十国).