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Ch'in Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Dynasty of 221-206 BC that unified China into a single empire. The Ch'in, from which the name China is derived, established the approximate boundaries and basic administrative system that Chinese dynasties were to follow for the next 2,000 years. The dynasty was originated by the state of Ch'in, one of the many small feudal states into which China was divided between 771-221 BC. In 247 BC, the boy king Chao Cheng came to the throne and he completed the Ch'in conquests and created the Ch'in empire. Chao Cheng proclaimed himself Ch'in Shih huang-ti (First Sovereign Emperor of Ch'in). To rule the vast territory the Ch'in installed a rigid authoritarian government; they standardized the writing system standardized the measurements of length and weight and the width of highways abolished all feudal privileges built the Great Wall and in 213 ordered all books burned except those on utilitarian subjects. Excavations have found examples of the standard weights and measures imposed on China. There is also a spectacular large group of lifesize pottery figures of warriors horses and chariots found in area adjacent to the tomb of the first Ch'in emperor Ch'in Shih huang-ti.
Ch'ing Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: The last imperial dynasty of China (1644-1911/12 AD), Manchu in origin. Under the Ch'ing, the territory tripled in size and the population grew from 150,000,000 to 450,000,000 and an integrated national economy was established. There are some elaborately constructed tombs. Ch'ing porcelain is technically masterful, but Ch'ing artists were individualistic and innovative.
Chin Dynasty
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Jin, Juchen, Jurchen, Ju-Chen, Ruzhen, Jurched, Jurchid
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A Chinese dynasty (AD 1115-1234) founded by the Jurchen tribes of Manchuria, who were formerly vassals of the Khitans or Liao dynasty (AD 916-1125). They overran most of northern China and captured the Sung capital of K'ai-feng, forcing the Chinese to move their capital south to Hang-chou in 1126. The empire covered much of Inner Asia and all of North China.
Eastern Chin Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A phase of the Chin dynasty; the ruling house of Chinese origin controlling southeastern China from 317-420 AD when northern China was under rule of Turkic tribes. There are numerous tombs and Yueh Ware. It was one of the Six Dynasties of China.
Great Silla Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: First unification of Korean peninsula under single rule (668-935 AD). The Unified Silla period produced more granite Buddhist images and pagodas than any other period and the T'ang Dynasty of China exerted considerable influence over the culture.
Han Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A historical dynasty and period in China, after the collapse of the brief rule of the Ch'in (Qin) Dynasty, from 206 BC to 220 AD. This dynasty took over the control of a unified China and had two main periods: Western (Early) Han (206 BC-8 AD) and Eastern (Late) Han (25-220 AD), separated by the Wang Meng (Wangman) of 9-25 AD. The Western Han capital was Chang'an and the Eastern (Late) Han (25-220 AD) at Lo-Yang (Luoyang). Next to the rich tombs at Mawangdui and Mancheng, perhaps the most revealing Han archaeological finds are a number of tombs whose wall paintings, decorated tiles, and stone reliefs form the earliest substantial corpus of Chinese pictorial art. The Han dynasty started iron and salt monopolies, extended itself through the commandery system, opened trade to the West via the silk route, and began the tradition of court histories.
Koryo Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Kingdom of Korea from 918-1392 AD; the dynasty lasted from 935-1392. It turned to Buddhism in adversity, built many temples, and made exquisite Celadon objects. Koryo's close cultural ties with China during the Sung period (960-1279) resulted in direct influences from the advanced Chinese urban culture. The peace of the realm was often disrupted by invaders from Manchuria, first Khitan, then Juchen, and finally by the Mongols. In 1232, the Koryo court fled to Kanghwa Island off the west coast of Korea, leaving the country to Mongol devastation and control. The art of Koryo never again equaled its pre-Mongol achievements. It is from the name Koryo that the Western word Korea is derived.
Liao Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A dynasty formed by the nomadic Khitan tribes (907-1125) in much of present-day Manchuria (Northeast Provinces) and Mongolia and the northeastern corner of China proper. There were elaborate chambered tombs.
Ming Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Major late Dynasty of China (1368-1644 AD), succeeding Mongol Yüan Dynasty (1280-1368). The period is known for painting and decorative arts, porcelain, lacquer, cloisonné, and textiles. The burial sites of the Ming emperors are near modern Beijing. The Ming extended the Chinese empire into Korea, Mongolia, and Turkistan on the north and into Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma) on the south, exercising more far-reaching influence in East Asia than any other native rulers of China.
Sui Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Ruling house, 581-618 AD, which reunified China after several centuries of fragmentation. Its capital was at Ch'ang-an and it laid the foundations for the T'ang Dynasty.
Sung Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Chinese dynasty (960-1279) that ruled the country (only in the south after 1127) during one of its most brilliant cultural epochs. The Sung dynasty was founded when Chao K'uang-yin, the military inspector general of the Chou dynasty, last of the Five Dynasties, gained control in a coup. China was reunified after the divisions of the 10th century and it was a period of great literary and artistic achievement, though constantly threatened by the Mongols.
T'ang Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: One of the greatest Chinese Dynasties, ruling from its capital Ch'ang-an (Sian), over a large portion of central Asia from 618-907 AD. It succeeded the short-lived Sui dynasty and developed a successful form of government and administration and stimulated a cultural and artistic golden age. The dynasty reached its peak in the early 8th century.
Western Chin Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A phase of the Chin dynasty, ruling China from AD 265 to 317. Important tombs of this period have been excavated in Kiangsu and Chekiang provinces in southeastern China, as well as Yüeh ware and rare jewelry items.
Yüan Dynasty
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Dynasty established in China (1206-1368) by Mongol nomads. Yüan rule stretched throughout most of Asia and eastern Europe, though the Yüan emperors were rarely able to exercise much control over their more distant possessions. The dynasty was established by Genghis Khan (c 1162-1227) and gained control of China under his grandson Kublai Khan (1215-1294). Peking was set up as the capital. The Yüan rebuilt the Grand Canal and there were new cultural achievements, including the development of the novel as a literary form. A renewed emphasis was placed upon traditional craft arts - silver, lacquer, ceramics, and other materials.
DEFINITION: Any line of rulers whose right to power is inherited; usually a line of kings, related by blood, who succeed each other on a throne. Egyptian history was divided into 31 dynasties by Manetho in the 3rd century BC when he wrote a history of Egypt. The dynasties of Mesopotamia were distinguished by their places of origin rather than their relationships, e.g. those of Ur, Larsa, etc. In China the dynasties were longer-lived and often encompassed only regions, those of Shang and Chou spanning twelve centuries. The term is sometimes used for rulers from a single city or ethnic group.

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