A Short History of China: part 2 of 6

During the Han Dynasty (BC 206 – 210 AD) in the first century B.C., trade with Central Asia introduced Buddhism to China.  Over the centuries, interest in Buddhism grew.  However, due to Confucianism and Taoism, the Chinese adapted Buddhist scripture to fit the Chinese culture creating the Mahayana sect, which spread to Korea and Japan.

Paper is one of the significant inventions from China, and in 105 AD, Cai Long submitted this discovery to the Han Emperor Liu Zhao.  The basic method of papermaking that Cai Long developed is still in use today.

In 132 AD, the first seismograph was invented, and in 134 AD the device measured its first earthquake that helped to accurately predict the location several hundred miles away.

Feminism is a social movement in the United States and Europe that is still struggling for equal rights for women, but China had a powerful feminist in Emperor Wu Zetian (625 – 705 AD), who was the only female emperor in China’s history.

The Tang Dynasty was a time of relative freedom for women. Women didn’t bind their feet (for a few more centuries) or lead submissive lives. It was a time in which a number of exceptional women contributed in the areas of culture and politics.

Gunpowder was also accidently discovered during the Tang Dynasty while Chinese scientists were looking for an elixir for immortality. What they ended up with, gunpowder, was a formula for death.

The Chinese also invented the crossbow, firearms, canons, and rockets, and ironically, the Mongols conquered China in the 13th century using weapons the Chinese invented.

Continued in Part 3 on January 10, 2017 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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