Running toward the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD) – Part 1/4

September 24, 2010

If we were to compare Chinese civilization to an amusement ride, it would be a roller coaster.

As each dynasty ended, there was usually a period of chaos, war and anarchy among rival factions.

After the collapse of China’s last Dynasty, the Qing, between 1911 and 1949, chaos, anarchy, warlords, rebellion and World War II tore at the fabric of China. See The Roots of Madness

Then Communist China was born, which eventually led to China’s Capitalist Revolution.

The Xia Dynasty (about 2205 – 1766 BC) ended with the reign of a tyrannical emperor, who lived an extravagant life. When patriotic ministers attempted giving him good advice, he killed them. Then the people rose in rebellion.

The Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1122 BC) ended in similar circumstances when the last emperor lived a luxurious life and tortured both his ministers and people. Another rebellion led by the chief of the Zhou tribe brought down the Shang.

The Zhou Dynasty (1122 – 221 BC) was divided between the Eastern and Western Zhou Dynasties, which fell apart during the Spring and Autumn (770 – 475 BC) Period and the Warring States Period (476 – 221 BC) when the Zhou Emperor didn’t have the power to control the nobles, who fought amongst themselves again leading to chaos and anarchy.

The short Qin Dynasty (221 to 207 BC) unified all China ending the Warring States Period.

However, Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor, was brutal and soon after his death, the Qin Dynasty was swept aside to be replaced by the Han Dynasty.

The Han Dynasty (207 BC to 220 AD) was divided into the Western and Eastern Han. Near the end of the Han, the last two emperors were weak. The rule of law broke down again and life was hard.

The Han ended with another rebellion leading to the Three Kingdom’s Period (220 – 280 AD), which meant more chaos and anarchy before China would be unified again under one emperor.

With the end of the Three Kingdoms Period, the Jin Dynasty (265 – 420 AD) ruled until the final emperors were too weak to control the warlords, which led to chaos and anarchy.

The Jin Dynasty was followed by four successive southern dynasties (420 – 589 AD)  and five northern dynasties (386 – 581 AD) followed by the Sui Dynasty that lasted for 38 years when the last emperor of the Sui yielded the throne to the Emperor Gaozu of the Tang Dynasty.

The early Tang emperors built an empire that pushed China’s boundaries to their farthest existence and a culture whose achievements would profoundly influence all Asia.

A thriving economy with complex international ties created one of the richest, strongest and most sophisticated states in world history.

The western capital of Chan-an, which had been the first capital of the Zhou, Qin and Han Dynasties, had a population of a million inside the city walls.

Continued in the Tang Dynasty – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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Honor, Chinese Style (in three parts)

February 4, 2010

We were visiting General Yue Fei’s tomb in Hangzhou. Hundreds of Chinese tourists were there. It was early October 2008. This was our third trip to the city in ten years, and I was watching people spitting on the kneeling, life sized metal statues of men dead for more than eight centuries. Those metal effigies with their hands tied behind their backs had been traitors.

It may be difficult to understand what honor means to of the Chinese people if one isn’t Chinese. One way to possibly understand the importance of this concept is to examine two of China’s historical moral heroes.

General Yue Fei died on January 27, 1142. He was a famous Chinese patriot and military general who fought for the Southern Song Dynasty against the Jurchen armies of the Jin Dynasty.

Several, jealous Song ministers lied to the emperor saying that Yue Fei was planning to kill him and take over. The emperor believed these lies and had General Yue Fei executed. When the truth came out, Yue Fei became a model for loyalty in Chinese culture. By spitting on those statues of those ministers that lied, the Chinese honor Yue Fei’s memory.

Learn about China’s Invisible White Elephants

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.