Chinese Dynasties ( (table))

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Chinese Dynasties ( (table))

Chinese Dynasties

Chinese Dynasties
Dynasty Characteristics and History
Hsia c.1994–c.1523 BC Semilegendary Emperor Yu built irrigation channels, reclaimed land. Bronze weapons, chariots, domestic animals used. Wheat, millet cultivated. First use of written symbols.
Shang or Yin c.1523–c.1027 BC First historic dynasty. Complex agricultural society with a bureaucracy and defined social classes. Well-developed writing, first Chinese calendar. Great age of bronze casting.
Chou c.1027–256 BC Classical age (Confucius, Lao Tzu, Mencius) despite political disorder. Written laws, money economy. Iron implements and ox-drawn plow in use. Followed by Warring States period, 403–221 BC
Ch'in 221–206 BC Unification of China under harsh rule of Shih Huang-ti. Feudalism replaced by pyramidal bureaucratic government. Written language standardized. Roads, canals, much of the Great Wall built.
Han 202 BC–AD 220 Unification furthered, but harshness lessened and Confucianism made basis for bureaucratic state. Buddhism introduced. Encyclopedic history, dictionary compiled; porcelain produced.
Three Kingdoms AD 220–265 Division into three states: Wei, Shu, Wu. Wei gradually dominant. Confucianism eclipsed; increased importance of Taoism and Buddhism. Many scientific advances adopted from India.
Tsin or Chin 265–420 Founded by a Wei general; gradual expansion to the southeast. Series of barbarian dynasties ruled N China. Continued growth of Buddhism.
Sui 581–618 Reunification; centralized government reestablished. Buddhism, Taoism favored. Great Wall refortified; canal system established.
T'ang 618–907 Territorial expansion. Buddhism temporarily suppressed. Civil service examinations based on Confucianism. Age of great achievements in poetry (Li Po, Po Chü-i, Tu Fu), sculpture, painting.
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 907–960 Period of warfare, official corruption, general hardship. Widespread development of printing (see type); paper money first printed.
Sung 960–1279 Period of great social and intellectual change. Neo-Confucianism attains supremacy over Taoism and Buddhism; central bureaucracy reestablished. Widespread cultivation of tea and cotton; gunpowder first used militarily.
Yüan 1271–1368 Mongol dynasty founded by Kublai Khan. Growing contact with West. Confucian ideals discouraged. Great age of Chinese playwriting. Revolts in Mongolia and S China end dynasty.
Ming 1368–1644 Mongols expelled. Confucianism, civil service examinations, reinstated. Contact with European traders, missionaries. Porcelain, architecture (see Chinese architecture), the novel and drama flourish.
Ch'ing or Manchu 1644–1912 Established by the Manchus. Territorial expansion but gradual weakening of Chinese power; decline of central authority. Increasing European trade; foreign powers divide China into spheres of influence. Opium War; Hong Kong ceded; Boxer Uprising. Last Chinese monarchy.

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