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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The Ming Dynasty Tombs located near Beijing.
The Ming Dynasty (Chinese: 明朝; pinyin: Míng Cháo), or Empire of the Great Ming (simplified Chinese: 大明国; traditional Chinese: 大明國; pinyin: Dà Míng Guó), was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Hans (the main Chinese ethnic group), before falling to the rebellion led in part by Li Zicheng and soon after replaced by the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty. Although the Ming capital Beijing fell in 1644, remnants of the Ming throne and power (collectively called the Southern Ming) survived until 1662.

Ming rule saw the construction of a vast navy and a standing army of 1,000,000 troops. Although private maritime trade and official tribute missions from China had taken place in previous dynasties, the tributary fleet under the Muslim eunuch admiral Zheng He in the 15th century surpassed all others in sheer size. There were enormous projects of construction, including the restoration of the Grand Canal and the Great Wall and the establishment of the Forbidden City in Beijing during the first quarter of the 15th century. Estimates for the population in the late Ming era vary from 160 to 200 million.(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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