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Eastern Han (AD 25-220)
The new ruler who restored peace and order was a member of the house of Han, the original Liu family. His title was Kuang Wu Ti, "Shining Martial Emperor," from AD 25 to 57. During the Later Han, which lasted another 200 years, a concerted but unsuccessful effort was made to restore the glory of the former Han. The Later Han scored considerable success in recovering lost territories, however. Sent to befriend the tribes on the northwestern frontier in AD 73, a great diplomat-general, Pan Ch'ao, eventually led an army of 70,000 almost to the borders of Eastern Europe. Pan Ch'ao returned to China in 101 and brought back information about the Roman Empire. The Romans also knew about China, but they thought of it only as the land where silk was produced. The Later Han period was particularly plagued with evils caused by eunuchs, castrated males recruited from the lower classes to serve as bodyguards for the imperial harem. Coming from uneducated and poor backgrounds, they were ruthlessly ambitious once they were placed within reach of power. Toward the end of the Later Han, power struggles between the eunuchs and the landlord-officials were prolonged and destructive. Peasant rebellions of the Taoist-leaning Yellow Turbans in 184 and the Five Pecks of Rice in 190 led to the rise of generals who massacred over 2,000 eunuchs, destroyed the capital, and one after another became dictators. By 207 General Cao Cao had emerged as dictator in the north. When he died in 220 his son removed the powerless emperor and established the kingdom of Wei. The Eastern Han came to an end, and the empire was divided into the three kingdoms of Wei, Shu Han, and Wu. The pattern of the rise and fall of Han was to be repeated in later periods. This characteristic came to be known as the dynastic cycle.
Han culture
The Chinese show their pride in Han accomplishments by calling themselves the Han people. Philosophies and institutions that began in the Zhou and Qin periods reached maturity under the Han. During Han times, the Chinese distinguished themselves in making scientific discoveries, many of which were not known to Westerners until centuries later. The Chinese were most advanced in astronomy. They invented sundials and water clocks, divided the day equally into ten and then into 12 periods, devised the lunar calendar that continued to be used until 1912, and recorded sunspots regularly. In mathematics, the Chinese were the first to use the place value system, whereby the value of a component of a number is indicated by its placement. Other innovations were of a more practical nature: wheelbarrows, locks to control water levels in streams and canals, and compasses. The Han Chinese were especially distinguished in the field of art. The famous sculpture of the "Han flying horse" and the carving of the jade burial suit found in Han period tombs are only two superb examples. The technique of making lacquer ware was also highly developed. The Chinese are proudest of the tradition of historical writing that began in the Han period. Si-ma Qian (145?-85? BC) was grand historian (an office that combined the duties of court recorder and astronomer) during the time of Wu Ti. His `Historical Records', which took ten years to complete, established the pattern and style followed by subsequent histories. In the Eastern Han, the historical tradition was continued by the Ban family. Ban Biao, the father, started to bring Si-ma Qian `Records' up to date. The work was continued by his son Ban Gu (twin brother of the general Ban Chao) and was completed by his daughter Ban Chao, China's earliest and most famous woman scholar. Unlike Si-ma Qian, the Pan family limited their work to 230 years of the Early Han. This was the first of the dynastic histories, subsequently written for every dynasty. Ban Chao also wrote a highly influential work on the education of women, `Lessons for Women'. `Lessons' emphasized the "virtues" of women, which restricted women's activities. The Confucianism that the Han Dynasty restored differed from the original teachings of Confucius. The leading Han philosophers, Dong Zhongshu and others, used principles derived from the early Chinese philosophy of nature to interpret the ancient texts. The Chinese philosophy of nature explained the workings of the universe by the alternating forces of yin and yang--dark and light--and the five elements: earth, wood, metal, fire, and water. The Han period was marked by a broad eclecticism. Many Han emperors favored Taoism, especially the Taoist idea of immortality.

The prehistory of China
The Xia Dynastry(21st-17th centuryBC)
The Shang Dynasty(17th-11th century BC)
The Zhou Dynasty(11th century BC-256BC)
The Spring Autumn(770-476BC) and Warring States Period(475- 221BC)
The Qin Dynasty(221-206BC)
The Western Han Dynasty(206BC-25AD)
The Eastern Han Dynasty(25AD-220AD)
The Sui Dynasty(589-618)
The Tang Dynasty(618-907)
The Five Dynasties(907-960)
The Northern Song Dynasty(960-1127)
The Liao Dynasty(907-1125), Western Xai Dynasty(1038-1227) and Jin Dynasty(1115-1234)
The Southern Dynasty(1127-1279)
The Yuan Dynasty(1206-1368)
The Ming Dynasty(1368-1644)
The Qing Dynasty(1616-1911)
Republic of China(1912-1949)
The People's Republic of China(1949-)

 

 

 


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