Han Agriculture: The Formation of Early Chinese Agrarian Economy, 206 B.C.-A.D. 220

Han Agriculture: The Formation of Early Chinese Agrarian Economy, 206 B.C.-A.D. 220

Han Agriculture: The Formation of Early Chinese Agrarian Economy, 206 B.C.-A.D. 220

Han Agriculture: The Formation of Early Chinese Agrarian Economy, 206 B.C.-A.D. 220

Excerpt

This volume investigates the development of agriculture in the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-219 A.D.). As it was in the Han dynasty that the unification of China was consolidated after the brief rule of Ch'in, and in which the direction of Chinese civilization seemed to have been oriented, it is significant for us to pose the inquiry on one of the very essential phenomena that Chinese history has presented--a prolonged agrarian civilization. It appears that once the Chinese stepped upon the path of agriculture, they stayed on that course without deviation. Progress and change occurred from time to time, but agriculture remained paramount in the Chinese way of life. It is not a historical certainty, however, that China should have her development so oriented. In the years of turmoil from the fifth to the third century B.C., there was the strong possibility of developing a predominately urban- centered economic life rather than a rural-based agrarian economy. Large and prosperous market centers flourished and the urban mentality of profit making and of contractual reciprocity prevailed; both conditions would be fertile ground for the blossoming of commercialism. Even within its first hundred years, the imperial power of the Han dynasty was struggling against influential urban leaders who, with their social strength, threatened political authority.

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