Sunday 20 November 2016

Han Dynasty of China

The Han Dynasty, founded by Liu Bang in 202 BC, created a powerful centralized state with a highly efficient civil service that would serve as a model for future Chinese emperors over the next two millennia.

Gentlemen in conversation
Qin Shi Huang's son, the second emperor Qin Er Shi, fell under the influence of the eunuch Zhao Gao, who persuaded him to execute Li Si, his father's first minister, by having him cut into two at a market place at Xianyang. The emperor was forced to commit suicide in 207 BC.

Qin Er Shi

Upon this, Ziying, a nephew of Qin Er Shi, ascended the throne, and immediately executed Zhao Gao. Ziying, seeing that increasing unrest was growing among the people and that many local officials had declared themselves kings, attempted to cling to his throne by declaring himself one king among all the others. He was undermined by his ineptitude, however, and popular revolt broke out.

Liu Bang rose to prominence as a leader of a rebel band. In 206 BC, he captured  Xianyang, the Qin capital, negotiated the surrender of the last Qin ruler. In 202 BC he assumed the style of sovereign ruler naming himself Gaozu and used Han as the title of the new dynasty.

Emperor Gaozu(Liu Bang)

The coinage issued by the central government mint in 119 BC remained the standard coinage of China until the Tang dynasty(618–907 AD). The period saw a number of limited institutional innovations. To pay for its military campaigns and the settlement of newly conquered frontier territories, the government nationalized the private salt and iron industries in 117 BC.

Han China Coin

Science and technology during the Han period saw significant advances, including papermaking, the nautical steering rudder, the use of negative numbers in mathematics, the raised-relief map, the hydraulic-powered armillary sphere for astronomy, and a seismometer employing an inverted pendulum.

Paper from Han Period

Emperor Wu of Han (r. 141–87 BC) launched several military campaigns against Xiongnu, a nomadic steppe confederation. The ultimate Han victory in these wars eventually forced the Xiongnu to accept vassal status as Han tributaries. These campaigns expanded Han sovereignty into the Tarim Basin of Central Asia, divided the Xiongnu into two separate confederations, and helped establish the vast trade network known as the Silk Road, which reached as far as the Mediterranean world.

Emperor Wu of Han
Following the death of Emperor Ling(r. 168–189 AD), the palace eunuchs suffered wholesale massacre by military officers, allowing members of the aristocracy and military governors to become warlords and divide the empire. In 208 AD, Cao Cao(Chinese warlord and the penultimate Chancellor of the Eastern Han dynasty),  assumed power over the emperor.

After Cao's defeat at the naval Battle of Red Cliffs in 208 AD, China was divided into three spheres of influence, with Cao Cao dominating the north, Sun Quan (182–252 AD) dominating the south, and Liu Bei (161–223 AD) dominating the west. Cao Cao died in March 220 AD. By December his son Cao Pi (187–226 AD) had Emperor Xian relinquish the throne to him and is known posthumously as Emperor Wen of Wei. This formally ended the Han dynasty and initiated an age of conflict between three states: Cao Wei, Eastern Wu, and Shu Han. It was known as the Three Kingdom Period.

Cao Cao

The early Western Han court simultaneously accepted the philosophical teachings of Legalism, Huang-Lao Daoism, and Confucianism in making state decisions and shaping government policy. However, the Han court under Emperor Wu gave Confucianism exclusive patronage. He abolished all academic chairs not dealing with the Confucian Five Classics in 136 BC and encouraged nominees for office to receive a Confucian-based education at the Imperial University that he established in 124 BC.


The most common staple crops consumed during Han were wheat, barley, foxtail millet, proso millet, rice, and beans. Commonly eaten fruits and vegetables included chestnuts, pears, plums, peaches, melons, apricots, strawberries, red bayberries, jujubes, calabash, bamboo shoots, mustard plant and taro. Domesticated animals that were also eaten included chickens, Mandarin ducks, geese, cows, sheep, pigs, camels and dogs.

The types of clothing worn and the materials used during the Han period depended upon social class. Wealthy folk could afford silk robes, skirts, socks, and mittens, coats made of badger or fox fur, duck plumes, and slippers with inlaid leather, pearls, and silk lining. Peasants commonly wore clothes made of hemp, wool, and ferret skins.

Han Dynasty Palace Model

A pottery model of a palace from a Han-dynasty tomb; the entrances to the emperor's palaces were strictly guarded by the Minister of the Guards; if it was found that a commoner, official, or noble entered without explicit permission via a tally system, the intruder was subject to execution.

1 comment:

  1. I was interested in knowing about Qin dynasty facts, and I came to know about the origin of tea and its connection of Chinese history.


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