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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Jiaozi, the world's first paper-printed currency, an innovation of the Song dynasty.

The Song dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝; 960–1279 CE) provided some of the most significant technological advances in Chinese history, many of which came from talented statesmen drafted by the government through imperial examinations.

The ingenuity of advanced mechanical engineering had a long tradition in China. The Song dynasty engineer Su Song admitted that he and his contemporaries were building upon the achievements of the ancients such as Zhang Heng (78–139), an astronomer, inventor, and early master of mechanical gears.[1] The application of movable type printing advanced the already widespread use of woodblock printing to educate and amuse Confucian students and the masses. The application of new weapons employing the use of gunpowder enabled the Song dynasty to ward off its militant enemies—the Liao, Western Xia, and Jin with weapons such as cannons—until its collapse to the Mongol forces of Kublai Khan in the late 13th century. (read more...)

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Zhou Tong GR.svg
Zhou Tong (Chinese: 周同 and 周侗; pinyin: Zhōu Tóng; d. late 1121 CE) was the archery teacher and second military arts tutor of famous Song dynasty general Yue Fei. Originally a local hero from Henan, he was hired to continue Yue Fei's military training in archery after the boy had rapidly mastered spearplay under his first teacher. In addition to the future general, Zhou accepted other children from Yue's village as archery pupils. During his tutelage, Zhou taught the children all of his skills and even rewarded Yue with his two favorite bows because he was his best pupil. After Zhou's death, Yue would regularly visit his tomb and perform unorthodox sacrifices that far surpassed that done for even beloved tutors. Yue later taught what he had learned from Zhou to his soldiers and they were successful in battle.

With the publishing of Yue Fei's fictional 17th-18th century biography, The Story of Yue Fei, a new distinct fictional Zhou Tong emerged, which differed greatly from his historical persona. Not only was he now from Shaanxi; but he was Yue's adopted father, a learned scholar with knowledge of the eighteen weapons of war, and his personal name was spelled with a different, yet related, Chinese character. The novel's author portrayed him as an elderly widower and military arts tutor who counted Lin Chong and Lu Junyi, two of the 108 outlaws on which the Water Margin is based, among his former pupils. A later republican era folktale by noted Yangzhou storyteller Wang Shaotang not only added Wu Song to this list, but represented Zhou as knight-errant with supreme swordsmanship. (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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  1. ^ Needham, Volume 4, Part 2, 466.
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