Portal:History of Imperial China

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History of Imperial China

The history of Imperial China spans from the beginning of the Qin dynasty in 221 BC to the end of the Qing dynasty and the formation of the Republic of China in 1912 AD.

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A Song wooden statue of a bodhisattva

The Song dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝; pinyin: Sòng Cháo; Wade–Giles: Sung Ch'ao) was a ruling dynasty in China between 960–1279 CE; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, and was followed by the Yuan dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese polity to establish a permanent standing navy.

The Song Dynasty is divided into two distinct periods: the Northern Song and Southern Song. During the Northern Song (Chinese: 北宋, 960–1127), the Song capital was in the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) and the dynasty controlled most of inner China. The Southern Song (Chinese: 南宋, 1127–1279) refers to the period after the Song lost control of northern China to the Jin dynasty. During this time, the Song court retreated south of the Yangtze river and established their capital at Lin'an (now Hangzhou). Although the Song had lost control of the traditional birthplace of Chinese civilization along the Yellow River, the Song economy was not in ruins, as the Southern Song contained 60 percent of China's population and a majority of the most productive agricultural land. (read more...)

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Dufu.jpg
Du Fu (Chinese: 杜甫; pinyin: Dù Fǔ; Wade–Giles: Tu Fu, 712770) was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. Along with Li Bai (Li Po), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His own greatest ambition was to help his country by becoming a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and the last 15 years of his life were a time of almost constant unrest.

Initially little known, his works came to be hugely influential in both Chinese and Japanese culture. Of his poetic writing, nearly fifteen hundred poems written by Du Fu have been handed down over the ages. He has been called Poet-Historian and the Poet-Sage by Chinese critics, while the range of his work has allowed him to be introduced to Western readers as "the Chinese Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Wordsworth, Béranger, Hugo or Baudelaire". (read more...)

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Panorama of Along the River During Qingming Festival, an 18th century remake of the 12th century original


A 1736 remake of Zhang Zeduan's twelfth century cityscape scroll "Along the River During Qingming Festival" in ink and colors on silk. Created by five Qing dynasty court painters, this is one of many versions of the original scroll. It depicts over 4000 people from all levels of society and as an artistic piece has been revered throughout history. The painting is famous because of its geometrically accurate images of boats, bridges, shops, and scenery which provide much insight into the daily lives of people in the city and its rural outskirts.

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