Han Dynasty

Han Dynasty

Overview


The Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) was the second imperial dynasty of China
Dynasties in Chinese history
The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they...

, preceded by the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 (221–207 BCE) and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

 (220–280 CE). It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously
Posthumous name
A posthumous name is an honorary name given to royalty, nobles, and sometimes others, in East Asia after the person's death, and is used almost exclusively instead of one's personal name or other official titles during his life...

 as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty
Xin Dynasty
The Xin Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty which lasted from AD 9 to 23. It followed the Western Han Dynasty and preceded the Eastern Han Dynasty....

 (9–23 CE) of the former regent Wang Mang
Wang Mang
Wang Mang , courtesy name Jujun , was a Han Dynasty official who seized the throne from the Liu family and founded the Xin Dynasty , ruling AD 9–23. The Han dynasty was restored after his overthrow and his rule marks the separation between the Western Han Dynasty and Eastern Han Dynasty...

. This interregnum separates the Han into two periods: the Western Han (206 BCE – 9 CE) and Eastern Han (25–220 CE).
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Timeline

202 BC   coronation ceremony of Liu Bang as Emperor Gaozu of Han takes place, initiating four centuries of the Han Dynasty's rule over China

141 BC   Liu Che, posthumously known as Emperor Wu of Han, assumes the throne over the Han Dynasty of China.

221   Liu Bei, a Chinese warlord and member of the Han royal house, declares himself emperor of Shu-Han and claims his legitimate succession to the Han Dynasty.

 
Encyclopedia


The Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) was the second imperial dynasty of China
Dynasties in Chinese history
The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they...

, preceded by the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 (221–207 BCE) and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

 (220–280 CE). It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously
Posthumous name
A posthumous name is an honorary name given to royalty, nobles, and sometimes others, in East Asia after the person's death, and is used almost exclusively instead of one's personal name or other official titles during his life...

 as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty
Xin Dynasty
The Xin Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty which lasted from AD 9 to 23. It followed the Western Han Dynasty and preceded the Eastern Han Dynasty....

 (9–23 CE) of the former regent Wang Mang
Wang Mang
Wang Mang , courtesy name Jujun , was a Han Dynasty official who seized the throne from the Liu family and founded the Xin Dynasty , ruling AD 9–23. The Han dynasty was restored after his overthrow and his rule marks the separation between the Western Han Dynasty and Eastern Han Dynasty...

. This interregnum separates the Han into two periods: the Western Han (206 BCE – 9 CE) and Eastern Han (25–220 CE). Spanning over four centuries, the period of the Han Dynasty is considered a golden age
Golden Age
The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages, and then the present, a period of decline...

 in Chinese history. To this day, China's majority ethnic group
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 refers to itself as the "Han people" and Chinese characters are referred to as "Han characters".

The Han Empire was divided into areas directly controlled by the central government, known as commanderies, and a number of semi-autonomous kingdoms. These kingdoms gradually lost all vestiges of their independence, particularly following the Rebellion of the Seven States
Rebellion of the Seven States
The Rebellion of the Seven States or Revolt of the Seven Kingdoms took place in 154 BC against China's Han Dynasty to resist the emperor's attempt to centralise the government further.-Prelude to the rebellion:...

. The Xiongnu
Xiongnu
The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation north of the agriculture-based empire of the Han Dynasty. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources...

, a nomadic confederation which dominated the eastern Eurasian Steppe
Eurasian Steppe
The Eurasian Steppe is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome. It stretches from Hungary to Mongolia...

, defeated the Han army in battle in 200 BCE. Following the defeat, a political marriage alliance
Heqin
Heqin was a term used in ancient China for an alliance by marriage. It usually referred to the Chinese Emperor marrying off a "princess" to an aggressive "barbarian" chieftain or ruler. The theory was that in exchange for the marriage, the chieftain would cease all aggressive actions toward China...

 was negotiated in which the Han became the de facto inferior partner. When, despite the treaty, the Xiongnu continued to raid Han borders, Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han , , personal name Liu Che , was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized...

 (r. 141–87 BCE) launched several military campaigns
Sino-Xiongnu War
The Sino-Xiongnu War is a name given to a series of battles between the Han Dynasty and the tribes of Xiongnu between 133 BC and 89 AD. The nature of these battles varied through time between Han conquest and the possession of city-states in central Asia. The war culminated in Geng Kui driving the...

 against them. The ultimate Han victory in these wars eventually forced the Xiongnu to accept vassal status as Han tributaries. These campaigns expanded Han sovereignty into the Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin
The Tarim Basin is a large endorheic basin occupying an area of about . It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west. Its northern boundary is the Tian Shan mountain range and its southern is the Kunlun Mountains on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The...

 of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and helped establish the vast trade network known as the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

, which reached as far as the Mediterranean world
History of the Mediterranean region
The history of the Mediterranean region is the history of the interaction of the cultures and people of the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea —the central superhighway of transport, trade and cultural exchange between diverse peoples...

. Han forces managed to divide the Xiongnu into two competing nations, the Southern and Northern Xiongnu, and forced the Northern Xiongnu across the Ili River
Ili River
thumb|right|300px|Map of the Lake Balkhash drainage basin showing the Ili River and its tributariesThe Ili River is a river in northwestern China and southeastern Kazakhstan .It is long, of which is in Kazakhstan...

. Despite these victories, the territories north of Han's borders were quickly overrun by the nomadic Xianbei
Xianbei
The Xianbei were a significant Mongolic nomadic people residing in Manchuria, Inner Mongolia and eastern Mongolia. The title “Khan” was first used among the Xianbei.-Origins:...

 Confederation.

After 92 CE, the palace eunuchs increasingly involved themselves in court politics, engaging in violent power struggles between the various consort clan
Consort clan
The consort clan is the family, clan of or group related to an empress dowager or a spouse of a Chinese dynastic ruler or a warlord. The leading figure of the clan was either a sibling, cousin, or parent of the empress or consort.- Han Dynasty :...

s of the empresses and empress dowager
Empress Dowager
Empress Dowager was the title given to the mother of a Chinese, Korean, Japanese or Vietnamese emperor.The title was also given occasionally to another woman of the same generation, while a woman from the previous generation was sometimes given the title of Grand empress dowager. Numerous empress...

s, causing the Han's ultimate downfall. Imperial authority was also seriously challenged by large Daoist religious societies which instigated the Yellow Turban Rebellion
Yellow Turban Rebellion
The Yellow Turban Rebellion, also translated as Yellow Scarves Rebellion, was a peasant revolt that broke out in 184 AD in China during the reign of Emperor Ling of the Han Dynasty...

 and the Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion
Way of the Five Pecks of Rice
Way of the Five Pecks of Rice or the Way of the Celestial Master, commonly abbreviated to simply The Celestial Masters, is a Chinese Taoist movement that was founded by the first Celestial Master Zhang Daoling in 142 CE. At its height, the movement controlled a theocratic state in the Hanzhong...

. Following the death of Emperor Ling
Emperor Ling of Han
Emperor Ling of Han, trad. ch. 漢靈帝;, sim. ch. 汉灵帝, py. hàn líng dì, wg. Han Ling-ti, was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty. He was a great-great-grandson of Emperor Zhang. The Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out during Emperor Ling's reign.Emperor Ling's reign saw yet another repetition of...

 (r. 168–189 CE), the palace eunuchs suffered wholesale massacre by military officers, allowing members of the aristocracy and military governors to become warlords and divide the empire. When Cao Pi
Cao Pi
Cao Pi , formally known as Emperor Wen of Wei, was the first emperor of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. Born in Qiao County, Pei Commandery , he was the second son of the late Han Dynasty warlord Cao Cao.Cao Pi, like his father, was a poet...

, King of Wei, usurped the throne from Emperor Xian
Emperor Xian of Han
Emperor Xian of Han , personal name Liu Xie, style name Bohe, was the last emperor of the Han Dynasty period of Chinese history...

, the Han Dynasty ceased to exist.

The Han Dynasty was an age of economic prosperity
Economy of the Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty of ancient China experienced contrasting periods of economic prosperity and decline. It is normally divided into three periods: Western Han , the Xin Dynasty , and Eastern Han . The Xin Dynasty, established by the former regent Wang Mang, formed a brief interregnum between lengthy...

 and saw a significant growth of the money economy first established during the Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

 (c. 1050–256 BCE). The coinage issued by the central government mint
Mint (coin)
A mint is an industrial facility which manufactures coins for currency.The history of mints correlates closely with the history of coins. One difference is that the history of the mint is usually closely tied to the political situation of an era...

 in 119 BCE remained the standard coinage of China until the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 (618–907 CE). To pay for its military campaigns and the settlement of newly conquered frontier territories, the government nationalized
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

 the private salt and iron industries in 117 BCE. These government monopolies were repealed during the Eastern Han period, and the lost revenue was recouped through heavily taxing private entrepreneurs
Economic history of China
China's economic system before the late-1990s, with state ownership of certain industries and central control over planning and the financial system, has enabled the government to mobilize whatever surplus was available and greatly increase the proportion of the national economic output devoted to...

. The emperor
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

 was at the pinnacle of Han society
Society and culture of the Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was a period of ancient China divided by the Western Han and Eastern Han periods, when the capital cities were located at Chang'an and Luoyang, respectively. It was founded by Emperor Gaozu of Han and briefly interrupted by the regime of Wang Mang The Han Dynasty (206 BCE –...

. He presided over the Han government
Government of the Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty of ancient China was the second imperial dynasty of China, following the Qin Dynasty . It was divided into the periods of Western Han and Eastern Han , briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of Wang Mang...

 but shared power with both the nobility
Chinese nobility
Chinese sovereignty and peerage, the nobility of China, were an important feature of traditional social and political organization of Imperial China. While the concepts of hereditary sovereign and peerage titles and noble families were featured as early as the semi-mythical, early historical...

 and appointed ministers who came largely from the scholarly gentry class
Gentry (China)
As used for imperial China, landed gentry does not correspond to any term in Chinese. One standard work remarks that under the Ming dynasty, called shenshi or shenjin, meaning variously degree-holders, literati, scholar-bureaucrats or officials, they are loosely known in English as the Chinese...

. From the reign of Emperor Wu onward, the Chinese court officially sponsored Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 in education and court politics, synthesized with the cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 of later scholars such as Dong Zhongshu
Dong Zhongshu
Dong Zhongshu was a Han Dynasty Chinese scholar. He is traditionally associated with the promotion of Confucianism as the official ideology of the Chinese imperial state.-History:...

. This policy endured until the fall of the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 in 1911 CE. Science and technology during the Han period
Science and technology of the Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty of ancient China, divided between the eras of Western Han , Xin Dynasty of Wang Mang The Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) of ancient China, divided between the eras of Western Han (206 BCE – 9 CE, when the capital was at Chang'an), Xin Dynasty of Wang Mang The Han Dynasty...

 saw significant advances, including papermaking
Papermaking
Papermaking is the process of making paper, a substance which is used universally today for writing and packaging.In papermaking a dilute suspension of fibres in water is drained through a screen, so that a mat of randomly interwoven fibres is laid down. Water is removed from this mat of fibres by...

, the nautical steering rudder
Rudder
A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

, the use of negative numbers in mathematics
Chinese mathematics
Mathematics in China emerged independently by the 11th century BC. The Chinese independently developed very large and negative numbers, decimals, a place value decimal system, a binary system, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry....

, the raised-relief map
Raised-relief map
A raised-relief map or terrain model is a three-dimensional representation, usually of terrain. When representing terrain, the elevation dimension is usually exaggerated by a factor between five and ten; this facilitates the visual recognition of terrain features.-History:In his 1665 paper for the...

, the hydraulic
Hydraulics
Hydraulics is a topic in applied science and engineering dealing with the mechanical properties of liquids. Fluid mechanics provides the theoretical foundation for hydraulics, which focuses on the engineering uses of fluid properties. In fluid power, hydraulics is used for the generation, control,...

-powered armillary sphere
Armillary sphere
An armillary sphere is a model of objects in the sky , consisting of a spherical framework of rings, centred on Earth, that represent lines of celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features such as the ecliptic...

 for astronomy
Chinese astronomy
Astronomy in China has a very long history, with historians considering that "they [the Chinese] were the most persistent and accurate observers of celestial phenomena anywhere in the world before the Arabs."...

, and a seismometer
Seismometer
Seismometers are instruments that measure motions of the ground, including those of seismic waves generated by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other seismic sources...

 employing an inverted pendulum
Inverted pendulum
An inverted pendulum is a pendulum which has its mass above its pivot point. It is often implemented with the pivot point mounted on a cart that can move horizontally and may be called a cart and pole...

.

Western Han


China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

's first imperial dynasty
Dynasties in Chinese history
The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they...

 was the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 (221–206 BCE). The Qin unified the Chinese Warring States
Warring States Period
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC...

 by conquest, but their empire became unstable after the death of the first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. Within four years, the dynasty's authority had collapsed in the face of rebellion. Two former rebel leaders, Xiang Yu
Xiang Yu
Xiang Yu was a prominent military leader and political figure during the late Qin Dynasty. His given name was Ji while his style name was Yu ....

 (d. 202 BCE) of Chu and Liu Bang (d. 195 BCE) of Han
Hanzhong
Hanzhong is a municipality in southwest Shaanxi Province, China, occupying a historically significant valley in the mountains between the Xi'an area, home to many Chinese capitals, and the fertile but isolated Sichuan Basin...

, engaged in a war
Chu-Han contention
The Chu–Han Contention was a post-Qin Dynasty interregnum period in Chinese history. Following the collapse of the Qin Dynasty, Xiang Yu split the former Qin Empire into the Eighteen Kingdoms. Two prominent contending powers, Western Chu and Han, emerged from these principalities and engaged in a...

 to decide who would become hegemon of China, which had fissured into 18 kingdoms, each claiming allegiance to either Xiang Yu or Liu Bang. Although Xiang Yu proved to be a capable commander, Liu Bang defeated him at the Battle of Gaixia
Battle of Gaixia
The Battle of Gaixia was a Chinese battle in 202 BC, during the Chu-Han contention between rival rulers of China which followed the collapse of the Qin Dynasty...

, in modern-day Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

. Liu Bang assumed the title "emperor"
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

 (huangdi) at the urging of his followers and is known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu (r. 202–195 BCE). Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

 was chosen as the new capital of the reunified empire under Han.

At the beginning of the Western Han Dynasty, thirteen centrally controlled commanderies—including the capital region—existed in the western third of the empire, while the eastern two-thirds was divided into ten semi-autonomous kingdoms. To placate his prominent commanders from the war with Chu, Emperor Gaozu enfeoffed
Enfeoffment
Under the European feudal system, enfeoffment was the deed by which a person was given land in exchange for a pledge of service. This mechanism was later used to avoid restrictions on the passage of title in land by a system in which a landowner would give land to one person for the use of another...

 some of them as kings. By 157 BCE, the Han court had replaced all of these kings with royal Liu
Liu
劉 is a common Chinese family name. The transliteration Liu can represent several different surnames written in different Chinese characters:*劉 / 刘, pinyin: Liú...

 family members, since the loyalty of non-relatives to the throne was questioned. After several insurrections by Han kings—the largest being the Rebellion of the Seven States
Rebellion of the Seven States
The Rebellion of the Seven States or Revolt of the Seven Kingdoms took place in 154 BC against China's Han Dynasty to resist the emperor's attempt to centralise the government further.-Prelude to the rebellion:...

 in 154 BCE—the imperial court enacted a series of reforms beginning in 145 BCE, limiting the size and power of these kingdoms and dividing them into smaller ones or new commanderies. Kings were no longer able to appoint their own staff; this duty was assumed by the imperial court. Kings became nominal heads of their fiefs and collected a portion of tax revenues as their personal incomes. The kingdoms were never entirely abolished and existed throughout the remainder of Western and Eastern Han.

To the north of China proper
China proper
China proper or Eighteen Provinces was a term used by Western writers on the Qing Dynasty to express a distinction between the core and frontier regions of China. There is no fixed extent for China proper, as many administrative, cultural, and linguistic shifts have occurred in Chinese history...

, the nomadic Xiongnu
Xiongnu
The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation north of the agriculture-based empire of the Han Dynasty. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources...

 chieftain Modu Chanyu (r. 209–174 BCE) conquered various tribes inhabiting the eastern portion of the Eurasian Steppe
Eurasian Steppe
The Eurasian Steppe is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome. It stretches from Hungary to Mongolia...

. By the end of his reign, he controlled Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

, Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

, and the Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin
The Tarim Basin is a large endorheic basin occupying an area of about . It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west. Its northern boundary is the Tian Shan mountain range and its southern is the Kunlun Mountains on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The...

, subjugating over twenty states east of Samarkand
Samarkand
Although a Persian-speaking region, it was not united politically with Iran most of the times between the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire and the Arab conquest . In the 6th century it was within the domain of the Turkic kingdom of the Göktürks.At the start of the 8th century Samarkand came...

. Emperor Gaozu was troubled about the abundant Han-manufactured iron weapons traded to the Xiongnu along the northern borders, and he established a trade embargo
Embargo
An embargo is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country, in order to isolate it. Embargoes are considered strong diplomatic measures imposed in an effort, by the imposing country, to elicit a given national-interest result from the country on which it is...

 against the group. Although the embargo was in place, the Xiongnu found traders willing to supply their needs. In response, Emperor Wu ordered the execution of 500 merchants who continued to trade contraband items with the Xiongnu in 121 BCE. Chinese forces also mounted surprise attacks against Xiongnu who traded at the border markets. In retaliation, the Xiongnu invaded what is now Shanxi
Shanxi
' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

 province, where they defeated the Han forces at Baideng in 200 BCE. After negotiations, the heqin
Heqin
Heqin was a term used in ancient China for an alliance by marriage. It usually referred to the Chinese Emperor marrying off a "princess" to an aggressive "barbarian" chieftain or ruler. The theory was that in exchange for the marriage, the chieftain would cease all aggressive actions toward China...

agreement in 198 BCE nominally held the leaders of the Xiongnu and the Han as equal partners in a royal marriage alliance, but the Han were forced to send large amounts of tribute items such as silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

 clothes, food, and wine to the Xiongnu.

Despite the tribute and a negotiation between Laoshang Chanyu (r. 174–160 BCE) and Emperor Wen
Emperor Wen of Han
Emperor Wen of Han was the fifth emperor of the Han Dynasty in China. His given name is Heng.Liu Heng was a son of Emperor Gao of Han and Consort Bo, later empress dowager...

 (r. 180–157 BCE) to reopen border markets, many of the Chanyu
Chanyu
Chanyu , was the title used by the nomadic supreme rulers of Middle and Central Asia for 8 centuries, starting...

's
Xiongnu subordinates chose not to obey the treaty and periodically raided Han territories south of the Great Wall
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

 for additional goods. In a court conference assembled by Emperor Wu
Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han , , personal name Liu Che , was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized...

 (r. 141–87 BCE) in 135 BCE, the majority consensus
Consensus decision-making
Consensus decision-making is a group decision making process that seeks the consent, not necessarily the agreement, of participants and the resolution of objections. Consensus is defined by Merriam-Webster as, first, general agreement, and second, group solidarity of belief or sentiment. It has its...

 of the ministers was to retain the heqin agreement. Emperor Wu accepted this, despite continuing Xiongnu raids. However, a court conference the following year convinced the majority that a limited engagement at Mayi
Battle of Mayi
The Battle of Mayi was an abortive ambush operation by the Han Dynasty against the invading Xiongnu forces; casualties were minimal. It marked the end of de jure peace between the Han Dynasty and Xiongnu, and stimulated the use of effective cavalry forces and offensive military policies by the Han...

 involving the assassination of the Chanyu
Chanyu
Chanyu , was the title used by the nomadic supreme rulers of Middle and Central Asia for 8 centuries, starting...

 would throw the Xiongnu realm into chaos and benefit the Han. When this plot failed in 133 BCE, Emperor Wu launched a series of massive military invasions
Sino-Xiongnu War
The Sino-Xiongnu War is a name given to a series of battles between the Han Dynasty and the tribes of Xiongnu between 133 BC and 89 AD. The nature of these battles varied through time between Han conquest and the possession of city-states in central Asia. The war culminated in Geng Kui driving the...

 into Xiongnu territory. Chinese armies captured one stronghold after another and established agricultural colonies to strengthen their hold. The assault culminated in 119 BCE at the Battle of Mobei
Battle of Mobei
The Battle of Mobei was a military campaign fought in the northern part of the Gobi Desert. It was part of a major strategic offensive launched by the Han Dynasty in January, 119 BC, into the heartland of the nomadic Xiongnu...

, where the Han commanders Huo Qubing
Huo Qubing
Huo Qubing , born in Linfen, Shanxi, was a general of the western Han dynasty under Emperor Wu. Being the illegitimate son of Wei Shaoer, he was the nephew of Wei Qing and Empress Wei Zifu....

 (d. 117 BCE) and Wei Qing
Wei Qing
Wei Qing , born Zheng Qing in Linfen, Shanxi, was a famous general during Han Dynasty of China, whose campaigns against the Xiongnu earned him great acclaim. He was the younger half-brother of Empress Wei Zifu, making him the the Emperor Wu's brother-in-law...

 (d. 106 BCE) forced the Xiongnu court to flee north of the Gobi Desert
Gobi Desert
The Gobi is a large desert region in Asia. It covers parts of northern and northwestern China, and of southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Hexi Corridor and Tibetan Plateau to the...

.

After Wu's reign, Han forces continued to prevail against the Xiongnu. The Xiongnu leader Huhanye Chanyu (呼韓邪) (r. 58–31 BCE) finally submitted to Han as a tributary vassal in 51 BCE. His rival claimant to the throne, Zhizhi Chanyu
Zhizhi Chanyu
Zhizhi Chanyu was a Chanyu of the Xiongnu at the time of the first Xiongnu civil war, who held the north and west in contention with his younger brother Huhanye who held the south. His original name in Chinese transcription was Luanti Hutuwusi, i.e...

 (r. 56–36 BCE), was killed by Chen Tang
Chen Tang
Chen Tang , born in Jining, Shandong, was famous for his battle against Zhizhi in 36 BC , and a quote 夫胡兵五而当汉兵一 "a single soldier of Han is equivalent to five Central Asian soldiers"....

 and Gan Yanshou (甘延壽/甘延寿) at the Battle of Zhizhi
Battle of Zhizhi
The Battle of Zhizhi was fought in 36 BC between the Han Dynasty and the Xiongnu chieftain Zhizhi Chanyu. Zhizhi was defeated and killed. The battle was probably fought near Taraz on the Talas River in eastern Kazakhstan, which makes it one of the westernmost points reached by a Chinese army...

, in modern Taraz
Taraz
Taraz , is a city and a center of the Jambyl Province in Kazakhstan. It is located in the south of Kazakhstan, near the border with Kyrgyzstan, on the Talas River...

, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

.

In 121 BCE, Han forces expelled the Xiongnu from a vast territory spanning the Hexi Corridor
Hexi Corridor
Hexi Corridor or Gansu Corridor refers to the historical route in Gansu province of China. As part of the Northern Silk Road running northwest from the bank of the Yellow River, it was the most important route from North China to the Tarim Basin and Central Asia for traders and the military. The...

 to Lop Nur
Lop Nur
Lop Lake or Lop Nur is a group of small, now seasonal salt lake sand marshes between the Taklamakan and Kuruktag deserts in the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, southeastern portion of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China.The lake system into which the Tarim...

. They repelled a joint Xiongnu-Qiang invasion of this northwestern territory in 111 BCE. In that year, the Han court established four new frontier commanderies in this region: Jiuquan
Jiuquan
- Suzhou town :The administrative center of the "prefecture-level city" of Jiuquan is the "District" of Suzhou , which occupies 3,386 square km in the eastern part of Jiuquan "prefecture-level city", and had a population of 340,000 as of 2002....

, Zhangyi, Dunhuang
Dunhuang
Dunhuang is a city in northwestern Gansu province, Western China. It was a major stop on the ancient Silk Road. It was also known at times as Shāzhōu , or 'City of Sands', a name still used today...

, and Wuwei. The majority of people on the frontier were soldiers. On occasion, the court forcibly moved peasant farmers to new frontier settlements, along with government-owned slaves and convicts who performed hard labor. The court also encouraged commoner
Commoner
In British law, a commoner is someone who is neither the Sovereign nor a peer. Therefore, any member of the Royal Family who is not a peer, such as Prince Harry of Wales or Anne, Princess Royal, is a commoner, as is any member of a peer's family, including someone who holds only a courtesy title,...

s, such as farmers, merchants, landowners, and hired laborers, to voluntarily migrate to the frontier.

Even before Han's expansion into Central Asia, diplomat Zhang Qian
Zhang Qian
Zhang Qian was an imperial envoy to the world outside of China in the 2nd century BCE, during the time of the Han Dynasty...

's travels from 139 to 125 BCE had established Chinese contacts with many surrounding civilizations. Zhang encountered Dayuan
Dayuan
The Dayuan or Ta-Yuan were a people of Ferghana in Central Asia, described in the Chinese historical works of Records of the Grand Historian and the Book of Han. It is mentioned in the accounts of the famous Chinese explorer Zhang Qian in 130 BCE and the numerous embassies that followed him into...

 (Fergana
Fergana
Fergana is a city , the capital of Fergana Province in eastern Uzbekistan, at the southern edge of the Fergana Valley in southern Central Asia, cutting across the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan...

), Kangju
Kangju
Kangju was the name of an ancient people and kingdom in Central Asia. It was a nomadic federation of unknown ethnic and linguistic origin which became for a couple of centuries the second greatest power in Transoxiana after the Yuezhi....

 (Sogdiana
Sogdiana
Sogdiana or Sogdia was the ancient civilization of an Iranian people and a province of the Achaemenid Empire, eighteenth in the list on the Behistun Inscription of Darius the Great . Sogdiana is "listed" as the second of the "good lands and countries" that Ahura Mazda created...

), and Daxia
Daxia
Daxia, Ta-Hsia, or Ta-Hia is the name given in antiquity by the Han Chinese to the territory of Bactria....

 (Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

, formerly the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom was the easternmost part of the Hellenistic world, covering Bactria and Sogdiana in Central Asia from 250 to 125 BC...

); he also gathered information on Shendu (Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

 valley of North India
North India
North India, known natively as Uttar Bhārat or Shumālī Hindustān , is a loosely defined region in the northern part of India. The exact meaning of the term varies by usage...

) and Anxi (the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

). All of these countries eventually received Han embassies. These connections marked the beginning of the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 trade network that extended to the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, bringing Han items like silk
History of silk
According to Chinese tradition, the history of silk begins in the 27th century BCE. Its use was confined to China until the Silk Road opened at some point during the latter half of the first millennium BCE. China maintained its virtual monopoly over silk for another thousand years...

 to Rome and Roman goods such as glasswares
Roman glass
Roman glass objects have been recovered across the Roman Empire in domestic, industrial and funerary contexts. Glass was used primarily for the production of vessels, although mosaic tiles and window glass were also produced. Roman glass production developed from Hellenistic technical traditions,...

 to China. From roughly 115 to 60 BCE, Han forces fought the Xiongnu over control of the oasis city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

s in the Tarim Basin. Han was eventually victorious and established the Protectorate of the Western Regions
Protectorate of the Western Regions
The Protectorate of the Western Regions was a regional government established by the Han Dynasty to manage and to control the Western Regions, roughly today's Xinjiang ....

 in 60 BCE, which dealt with the region's defense and foreign affairs. The naval conquest of Nanyue
Nanyue
Nanyue was an ancient kingdom that consisted of parts of the modern Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Yunnan and northern Vietnam. Nanyue was established in 204 BC at the final collapse of the Qin Dynasty by Zhao Tuo, who was the military commander of Nanhai Commandery at the time, and...

 in 111 BCE expanded the Han realm into what are now modern Guangdong
Guangdong
Guangdong is a province on the South China Sea coast of the People's Republic of China. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province...

, Guangxi
Guangxi
Guangxi, formerly romanized Kwangsi, is a province of southern China along its border with Vietnam. In 1958, it became the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, a region with special privileges created specifically for the Zhuang people.Guangxi's location, in...

, and northern Vietnam
Northern and southern Vietnam
Northern Vietnam and Southern Vietnam are two general regions within Vietnam.Of the two regions, the older is Northern Vietnam, where the Vietnamese culture originated over 2000 years ago in the Red River Delta, though Vietnamese people eventually spread south into the Mekong Delta...

. Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 was brought into the Han realm with the conquest of the Dian Kingdom
Dian Kingdom
The Dian Kingdom was established by the Dian people, who lived around Lake Dian in northern Yunnan, China from the late Spring and Autumn Period until the Eastern Han Dynasty. The Dian buried their dead in vertical pit graves...

 in 109 BCE, followed by parts of the Korean Peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

 with the colonial establishments of Xuantu Commandery
Xuantu Commandery
Xuantu Commandery was a commandery established beyond the far eastern pale of Han China. It was one of Four Commanderies of Han, established in 107 BCE, after the Han Dynasty invaded Wiman Joseon of Korea. Goguryeo rose in this area in competition with the Chinese over the region...

 and Lelang Commandery
Lelang Commandery
Lelang was one of the Chinese commanderies which was established after the fall of Gojoseon in 108 BC until Goguryeo conquered it in 313. Lelang Commandery was located in the northern Korean peninsula with the administrative center near modern P'yongyang....

 in 108 BCE. In China's first known nationwide census
Census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

 taken in 2 CE, the population was registered as having 57,671,400 individuals in 12,366,470 households.

To pay for his military campaigns and colonial expansion, Emperor Wu nationalized
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

 several private industries. He created central government monopolies
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 administered largely by former merchants
Four occupations
The four occupations or "four categories of the people" was a hierarchic social class structure developed in ancient China by either Confucian or Legalist scholars as far back as the late Zhou Dynasty and is considered a central part of the Fengjian social structure...

. These monopolies included salt, iron
History of ferrous metallurgy
The history of ferrous metallurgy began far back in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 5th millennium BC in Iran and 2nd millennium BC in China, were made from meteoritic iron-nickel. It is not known when or where the smelting of iron from ores began, but by the end of the...

, and liquor production, as well as bronze-coin currency. The liquor monopoly lasted only from 98 to 81 BCE, and the salt and iron monopolies were eventually abolished in early Eastern Han. The issuing of coinage remained a central government monopoly throughout the rest of the Han Dynasty. The government monopolies were eventually repealed when a political faction known as the Reformists gained greater influence in the court. The Reformists opposed the Modernist faction that had dominated court politics in Emperor Wu's reign and during the subsequent regency
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 of Huo Guang
Huo Guang
Huo Guang , courtesy name Zimeng was a Western Han statesman who was a rare example in Chinese history of a powerful official who deposed an emperor for the good of the state rather than to usurp the throne...

 (d. 68 BCE). The Modernists argued for an aggressive and expansionary foreign policy supported by revenues from heavy government intervention in the private economy. The Reformists, however, overturned these policies, favoring a cautious, non-expansionary approach to foreign policy, frugal budget
Government budget
A government budget is a legal document that is often passed by the legislature, and approved by the chief executive-or president. For example, only certain types of revenue may be imposed and collected...

 reform, and lower tax rates imposed on private entrepreneurs.

Wang Mang's reign and civil war


Wang Zhengjun
Empress Wang Zhengjun
Empress Wang Zhengjun , , official imperial title Empress Xiaoyuan , later and more commonly known as Grand Empress Dowager Wang, born in Yuancheng , was an empress during the Western Han Dynasty of China, who played important roles during the reigns of five successive Han emperors—her...

 (71 BCE–13 CE) was first empress, then empress dowager
Empress Dowager
Empress Dowager was the title given to the mother of a Chinese, Korean, Japanese or Vietnamese emperor.The title was also given occasionally to another woman of the same generation, while a woman from the previous generation was sometimes given the title of Grand empress dowager. Numerous empress...

, and finally grand empress dowager
Grand Empress Dowager
The title Grand Empress Dowager was given to the grandmother or a woman from the grandmother generation of the Chinese, Korean. Japanese dynastic ruler. Some grand empress dowagers held regency within the beginning years of reign of an underage or young emperor...

 during the reigns of the Emperors Yuan
Emperor Yuan of Han
Emperor Yuan of Han was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty. He reigned from 48 BC to 33 BC. Emperor Yuan was remembered for the promotion of Confucianism as the official creed of Chinese government. He appointed Confucius adherents to important government posts...

 (r. 49–33 BCE), Cheng
Emperor Cheng of Han
Emperor Cheng of Han was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty ruling from 33 BC until 7 BC.Under Emperor Cheng, the Han dynasty continued its slide into disintegration while the Wang clan continued its slow grip on power and on governmental affairs as promoted by the previous emperor...

 (r. 33–7 BCE), and Ai
Emperor Ai of Han
Emperor Ai of Han was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty. He ascended the throne when he was 20, having been made heir by his uncle Emperor Cheng, who was childless, and he reigned from 7 BC to 1 BC....

 (r. 7–1 BCE), respectively. During this time, a succession of her male relatives held the title of regent. Following the death of Ai, Wang Zhengjun's nephew Wang Mang
Wang Mang
Wang Mang , courtesy name Jujun , was a Han Dynasty official who seized the throne from the Liu family and founded the Xin Dynasty , ruling AD 9–23. The Han dynasty was restored after his overthrow and his rule marks the separation between the Western Han Dynasty and Eastern Han Dynasty...

 (45–23 CE) was appointed regent for Emperor Ping
Emperor Ping of Han
Emperor Ping was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty from 1 BC to AD 5. After Emperor Ai died childless, the throne was passed to his cousin Emperor Ping—then a child of nine years old. Wang Mang was appointed regent by the Grand Empress Dowager Wang...

 (r. 1 BCE – 6 CE). When Ping died in 6 CE, the Empress Dowager appointed Wang Mang to act as emperor for the child Liu Ying
Ruzi Ying
Emperor Ruzi of Han , commonly known as "Ying the Kid" and with the personal name of Liu Ying , was last emperor of the Chinese Western Han Dynasty from AD 6 to AD 9. After Emperor Ping died without heirs, Wang Mang chose the youngest of the available successors in order to maintain his power in...

 (d. 25 CE). Wang promised to relinquish his control to Liu Ying once he came of age. Despite this promise, and against protest and revolts from the nobility, Wang Mang claimed that the divine Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimaze rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of...

 called for the end of the Han Dynasty and the beginning of his own: the Xin Dynasty
Xin Dynasty
The Xin Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty which lasted from AD 9 to 23. It followed the Western Han Dynasty and preceded the Eastern Han Dynasty....

 (9–23 CE).

Wang Mang initiated a series of major reforms that were ultimately unsuccessful. These reforms included outlawing slavery
History of slavery
The history of slavery covers slave systems in historical perspective in which one human being is legally the property of another, can be bought or sold, is not allowed to escape and must work for the owner without any choice involved...

, nationalizing
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

 land to equally distribute
Well-field system
The well-field system was a Chinese land distribution method existing between the ninth century BCE to around the end of the Warring States Period...

 between households, and introducing new currencies
Chinese currency
The Renminbi is the official currency of the People's Republic of China . It is the legal tender in mainland China, but not in Hong Kong and Macau. It is abbreviated as RMB, and the units for the Renminbi are the Yuan , Jiao , and Fen : 1 Yuan = 10 Jiao = 100 Fen. Fen have almost disappeared, so...

, a change which debased the value of coinage. Although these reforms provoked considerable opposition, Wang's regime met its ultimate downfall with the massive floods of c. 3 CE and 11 CE. Gradual silt buildup in the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 had raised its water level and overwhelmed the flood control works
Flood control
In communications, flood control is a feature of many communication protocols designed to prevent overwhelming of a destination receiver. Such controls can be implemented either in software or in hardware, and will often request that the message be resent after the receiver has finished...

. The Yellow River split into two new branches: one emptying to the north and the other to the south of the Shandong Peninsula, though Han engineers managed to dam the southern branch by 70 CE. The flood dislodged thousands of peasant farmers, many of whom joined roving bandit and rebel groups such as the Red Eyebrows
Chimei
Chimei refers, as an umbrella term, to one of the two major agrarian rebellion movements against Wang Mang's Xin Dynasty, initially active in the modern Shandong and northern Jiangsu regions, that eventually led to Wang Mang's downfall by draining his resources, allowing the leader of the other...

 to survive. Wang Mang's armies were incapable of quelling these enlarged rebel groups. Eventually, an insurgent mob forced their way into the Weiyang Palace
Weiyang Palace
Weiyang Palace was a palace complex, located near the city of Chang'an . Built in 200 BC at the request of Han Gaozu, under the supervision of his prime minister Xiao He, it served as the administrative centre and imperial residence of the Western Han Dynasty, as well as the Western Jin dynasty...

 and killed Wang Mang.

Emperor Gengshi of Han
Emperor Gengshi of Han
Emperor Gengshi of Han, ch. 漢更始帝, py. gèng shĭ dì, wg. Keng-Shih-ti, , also known as the Prince of Huaiyang , courtesy name Shenggong , was an emperor of the restored Chinese Han Dynasty following the fall of Wang Mang's Xin...

 (r. 23–25 CE), a descendant of Emperor Jing
Emperor Jing of Han
Emperor Jing of Han was an emperor of China in the Han Dynasty from 156 BC to 141 BC. His reign saw the limit and curtailment of power of feudal princes which resulted in the Rebellion of the Seven States in 154 BC. Emperor Jing managed to crush the revolt and princes were thereafter denied rights...

 (r. 157–141 BCE), attempted to restore the Han Dynasty and occupied Chang'an as his capital. However, he was overwhelmed by the "Red Eyebrow" rebels who deposed, assassinated, and replaced him with the puppet monarch Liu Penzi
Liu Penzi
Liu Penzi was a puppet "emperor" placed on the Han Dynasty throne temporarily by the Chimei agrarian rebels after the collapse of the Xin Dynasty, from 25 to 27. Liu Penzi and his 2 brothers were forced into the Chimei to be child soldiers. When Chimei submitted the new Emperor Gengshi of Han,...

. Emperor Gengshi's brother Liu Xiu, known posthumously as Emperor Guangwu
Emperor Guangwu of Han
Emperor Guangwu , born Liu Xiu, was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty, restorer of the dynasty in AD 25 and thus founder of the Later Han or Eastern Han...

 (r. 25–57 CE), after distinguishing himself at the Battle of Kunyang
Battle of Kunyang
The Battle of Kunyang was fought between June–July in 23AD, between the resurgent Han and Xin forces. The Han forces were led by Liu Xiu, while the far more numerous Xin were led by Wang Yi and Wang Xun...

 in 23 CE, was urged to succeed Gengshi as emperor. Under Guangwu's rule the Han Empire was restored. Guangwu made Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

 his capital in 25 CE, and by 27 CE his officers Deng Yu
Deng Yu
Deng Yu , courtesy name Zhonghua , was a Han Dynasty general and statesman who was a major contributor to Emperor Guangwu 's campaign to reestablish the Han Dynasty...

 and Feng Yi
Feng Yi
Feng Yi was a Chinese general of the Eastern Han Dynasty. He was famous for his modest character; he would sit under a tree while the other generals were receiving rewards for their conquests. For this particular reason, he was called The Big Tree General...

 had forced the Red Eyebrows to surrender and executed their leaders for treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

. From 26 until 36 CE, Emperor Guangwu had to wage war against other regional warlords who claimed the title of emperor; when these warlords were defeated, China reunified under the Han.

The period between the foundation of the Han Dynasty and Wang Mang's reign is known as the Western Han Dynasty or Former Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 9 CE). During this period the capital was at Chang'an (modern Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

). From the reign of Guangwu the capital was moved eastward to Luoyang. The era from his reign until the fall of Han is known as the Eastern Han Dynasty or the Later Han Dynasty (25–220 CE).

Eastern Han


During the widespread rebellion against Wang Mang, the Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

n state of Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

 was free to raid Han's Korean commanderies; Han did not reaffirm its control over the region until 30 CE. The Trưng Sisters
Trung Sisters
The Trưng sisters were leaders who rebelled against Chinese rule for three years, and are regarded as national heroines of Vietnam. Their names are Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị ....

 of Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 rebelled against Han in 40 CE. Their rebellion was crushed by Han general Ma Yuan (d. 49 CE) in a campaign from 42–43 CE. Wang Mang renewed hostilities against the Xiongnu, who were estranged from Han until their leader Bi (比), a rival claimant to the throne against his cousin Punu (蒲奴), submitted to Han as a tributary vassal in 50 CE. This created two rival Xiongnu states: the Southern Xiongnu led by Bi, an ally of Han, and the Northern Xiongnu led by Punu, an enemy of Han.

During the turbulent reign of Wang Mang, Han lost control over the Tarim Basin, which was conquered by the Northern Xiongnu in 63 CE and used as a base to invade Han's Hexi Corridor in Gansu
Gansu
' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

. Dou Gu
Dou Gu
Dou Gu , born in Xianyang, Shaanxi, was a general fought in the Battle of Yiwulu in 73. Shortly after the battle, Dou Gu sent of two of his generals Ban Chao and Guo Xun to the Western Regions for a diplomatic expedition.-References:...

 (d. 88 CE) defeated the Northern Xiongnu at the Battle of Yiwulu
Battle of Yiwulu
The Battle of Yiwulu, was a battle under a major expedition against the Xiongnu launched by the Han Dynasty in the February, 73, ever since the fall of Xin Dynasty. The battle was a success for the Han, who were led by Dou Gu...

 in 73 CE, evicting them from Turpan and chasing them as far as Lake Barkol before establishing a garrison at Hami
Hami Prefecture
Kumul Prefecture, also known as Hami Prefecture is located in eastern Xinjiang, China. It has an area of 140,749 km² and 492,096 inhabitants .- History :...

. After the new Protector General of the Western Regions Chen Mu
Chen Mu
Chen Mu , was a general during Han Dynasty, and served the first Protector General of the Western Regions under Eastern Han between 74-75. During the service, he was killed by the rebels from the state of Yanqi and Qiuci in 75.-References:...

 (d. 75 CE) was killed by allies of the Xiongnu in Karasahr
Karasahr
Yanqi , or Karasahr , is an ancient town on the Silk Road and capital of Yanqi Hui Autonomous County in the Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang, in northwestern China...

 and Kucha
Kucha
Kuchaor Kuche Uyghur , Chinese Simplified: 库车; Traditional: 庫車; pinyin Kùchē; also romanized as Qiuzi, Qiuci, Chiu-tzu, Kiu-che, Kuei-tzu from the traditional Chinese forms 屈支 屈茨; 龜玆; 龟兹, 丘玆, also Po ; Sanskrit: Kueina, Standard Tibetan: Kutsahiyui was an ancient Buddhist kingdom...

, the garrison at Hami was withdrawn. At the Battle of Ikh Bayan
Battle of Ikh Bayan
The Battle of Ikh Bayan , was a major expedition launched against the Xiongnu by the Han Dynasty in June, 89. The battle was a success for the Han under Dou Xian The Battle of Ikh Bayan , was a major expedition launched against the Xiongnu by the Han Dynasty in June, 89. The battle was a success...

 in 89 CE, Dou Xian
Dou Xian
Dou Xian was a prominent Chinese general and statesman of the Eastern Han Dynasty. A native of modern-day Xianyang, Shaanxi Province, he was part of the powerful Dou clan which dominated court politics during his tenure. However, his father Dou Xun fell into disgrace and died in 70, leaving Dou...

 (d. 92 CE) defeated the Northern Xiongnu chanyu who then retreated into the Altai Mountains. After the Northern Xiongnu fled into the Ili River
Ili River
thumb|right|300px|Map of the Lake Balkhash drainage basin showing the Ili River and its tributariesThe Ili River is a river in northwestern China and southeastern Kazakhstan .It is long, of which is in Kazakhstan...

 valley in 91 CE, the nomadic Xianbei
Xianbei
The Xianbei were a significant Mongolic nomadic people residing in Manchuria, Inner Mongolia and eastern Mongolia. The title “Khan” was first used among the Xianbei.-Origins:...

 occupied the area from the borders of the Buyeo Kingdom
Buyeo kingdom
Buyeo or Puyŏ , Fuyu in Chinese, was an ancient Korean kingdom located from today's Manchuria to northern North Korea, from around the 2nd century BC to 494. Its remnants were absorbed by the neighboring and brotherhood kingdom of Goguryeo in 494...

 in Manchuria to the Ili River of the Wusun
Wusun
The Wūsūn were a nomadic steppe people who, according to the Chinese histories, originally lived in western Gansu in northwest China west of the Yuezhi people...

 people. The Xianbei reached their apogee under Tanshihuai (檀石槐) (d. 180 CE), who consistently defeated Chinese armies. However, Tanshihuai's confederation disintegrated after his death.
Ban Chao
Ban Chao
Ban Chao , courtesy name Zhongsheng , was born in Xianyang, Shaanxi, and the younger brother of the famous historian, Ban Gu who, with his father Ban Biao, and sister, Ban Zhao, wrote the famous Hanshu, or 'History of the Former Han Dynasty'....

 (d. 102 CE) enlisted the aid of the Kushan Empire
Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

, occupying the area of modern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, and Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

, to subdue Kashgar
Kashgar
Kashgar or Kashi is an oasis city with approximately 350,000 residents in the western part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Kashgar is the administrative centre of Kashgar Prefecture which has an area of 162,000 km² and a population of approximately...

 and its ally Sogdiana. When a request by Kushan ruler Vima Kadphises
Vima Kadphises
Vima Kadphises was a Kushan emperor from around 90–100 CE. As detailed by the Rabatak inscription, he was the son of Vima Takto and the father of Kanishka.-Rule:...

 (r. c. 90–c. 100 CE) for a marriage alliance with the Han was rejected in 90 CE, he sent his forces to Wakhan
Wakhan
Wakhan or "the Wakhan" is a very mountainous and rugged part of the Pamir and Karakoram regions of Afghanistan. Wakhan District is a district in Badakshan Province.-Geography:...

 (Afghanistan) to attack Ban Chao. The conflict ended with the Kushans withdrawing because of lack of supplies. In 91 CE, the office of Protector General of the Western Regions was reinstated when it was bestowed on Ban Chao.

In addition to tributary relations with the Kushans, the Han Empire received gifts from the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

, from a king in modern Burma, from a ruler in Japan
Wa (Japan)
Japanese is the oldest recorded name of Japan. Chinese, Korean, and Japanese scribes regularly wrote Wa or Yamato "Japan" with the Chinese character 倭 until the 8th century, when the Japanese found fault with it, replacing it with 和 "harmony, peace, balance".- Historical references :The earliest...

, and initiated an unsuccessful mission to Daqin
Daqin
Daqin is the ancient Chinese name for the Roman Empire and, depending on context, the Near East, especially Syria. It literally means "Great Qin", Qin being the name of the founding dynasty of the Chinese Empire...

 (Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

) in 97 CE with Gan Ying
Gan Ying
Gan Ying , was a Chinese military ambassador who was sent on a mission to Rome in 97 CE by the Chinese general Ban Chao.Although Gan Ying never reached Rome, only travelling to as far as the Parthian coast of the Persian Gulf, he is, at least in the historical records, the Chinese who went the...

 as emissary. A Roman embassy
Sino-Roman relations
Romano-Chinese relations were essentially indirect throughout the existence of both empires. The Roman Empire and Han China progressively inched closer in the course of the Roman expansion into the Ancient Near East and simultaneous Chinese military incursions into Central Asia...

 of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180 CE) is recorded in the Hou Hanshu to have reached the court of Emperor Huan of Han
Emperor Huan of Han
Emperor Huan of Han, ch. 漢桓帝, py. hàn húan dì, wg. Han Huan-ti, was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty. He was a great-grandson of Emperor Zhang....

 (r. 146–168 CE) in 166 CE, yet Rafe de Crespigny
Rafe de Crespigny
Dr Rafe de Crespigny is a retired Adjunct Professor with the China and Korea Centre, Australian National University in Canberra, Australia...

 asserts that this was most likely a group of Roman merchants
Roman commerce
Roman trade was the engine that drove the Roman economy of the late Republic and the early Empire. Fashions and trends in historiography and in popular culture have tended to neglect the economic basis of the empire in favor of the lingua franca of Latin and the exploits of the Roman legions...

. Other travelers to Eastern-Han China included Buddhist monks
Bhikkhu
A Bhikkhu or Bhikṣu is an ordained male Buddhist monastic. A female monastic is called a Bhikkhuni Nepali: ). The life of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis is governed by a set of rules called the patimokkha within the vinaya's framework of monastic discipline...

 who translated works into Chinese
Silk Road transmission of Buddhism
The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to China is most commonly thought to have started in the late 2nd or the 1st century CE.The first documented translation efforts by Buddhist monks in China were in the 2nd century CE, possibly as a consequence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the...

, such as An Shigao of Parthia, and Lokaksema
Lokaksema
Lokakṣema , born around 147 CE, was the earliest known Buddhist monk to have translated Mahayana sutras into the Chinese language and as such was an important figure in Buddhism in China. The name Lokakṣema means 'welfare of the world' in Sanskrit.-Origins:Lokaksema was a Kushan of Yuezhi ethnicity...

 from Kushan-era Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

, India.


Eunuchs in state affairs


Emperor Zhang's
Emperor Zhang of Han
Emperor Zhang of Han, ch. 漢章帝, py. hàn zhāng dì, wg. Han Chang-ti, was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty from 75 to 88. He was the third emperor of the Chinese Eastern Han Dynasty....

 (r. 75–88 CE) reign came to be viewed by later Eastern Han scholars as the high point of the dynastic house. Subsequent reigns were increasingly marked by eunuch
Eunuch
A eunuch is a person born male most commonly castrated, typically early enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences...

 intervention in court politics and their involvement in the violent power struggles of the imperial consort clan
Consort clan
The consort clan is the family, clan of or group related to an empress dowager or a spouse of a Chinese dynastic ruler or a warlord. The leading figure of the clan was either a sibling, cousin, or parent of the empress or consort.- Han Dynasty :...

s. With the aid of the eunuch Zheng Zhong
Zheng Zhong
Zheng Zhong , courtesy name Jichan , was the first Han Dynasty eunuch with true power in government, thanks to the trust that Emperor He had in him for his contributions in overthrowing the clan of Empress Dowager Dou, particularly her autocratic brother Dou Xian...

 (d. 107 CE), Emperor He
Emperor He of Han
Emperor He of Han, ch. 漢和帝, py. hàn hé dì, wg. Han Ho-ti, was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty who ruled from 88 to 105. He was the 4th emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty....

 (r. 88–105 CE) had Empress Dowager Dou
Empress Dou (Zhang)
Empress Dou , formally Empress Zhangde , was an empress during Han Dynasty. Her husband was Emperor Zhang. She was already influential during her husband's reign, but became particularly powerful as empress dowager regent for her adoptive son Emperor He after Emperor Zhang's death...

 (d. 97 CE) put under house arrest
House arrest
In justice and law, house arrest is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to his or her residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all...

 and her clan stripped of power. This was in revenge for Dou's purging of the clan of his natural mother—Consort Liang
Consort Liang
Consort Liang , posthumous title Empress Gonghuai , was an imperial consort to Emperor Zhang of Han...

—and then concealing her identity from him. After Emperor He's death, his wife Empress Deng Sui
Empress Deng Sui
Empress Deng Sui , formally Empress Hexi was an empress during Han Dynasty. She was Emperor He's second wife. She later, as empress dowager, served as regent for his son Emperor Shang and nephew Emperor An, and was regarded as an able and diligent administrator...

 (d. 121 CE) managed state affairs as the regent empress dowager during a turbulent financial crisis and widespread Qiang rebellion that lasted from 107 to 118 CE.

When Empress Dowager Deng died, Emperor An
Emperor An of Han
Emperor Ān of Hàn, ch. 漢安帝, py. hàn ān dì, wg. Han An-ti, was an emperor of the Chinese Hàn Dynasty and the sixth emperor of the Eastern Hàn period ruling from 106 to 125...

 (r. 106–125 CE) was convinced by the accusations of the eunuchs Li Run (李閏) and Jiang Jing (江京) that Deng and her family had planned to depose him. An dismissed Deng's clan members from office, exiled them and forced many to commit suicide. After An's death, his wife, Empress Dowager Yan
Empress Yan Ji
Empress Yan Ji , formally Empress Ansi , was an empress during Han Dynasty. Her husband was Emperor An. She was known for her conspiratorial and nepotistic behavior, both as empress and as empress dowager...

 (d. 126 CE) placed the child Marquess of Beixiang
Marquess of Beixiang
The Marquess of Beixiang, , sometimes referred to as Emperor Shao , was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty...

 on the throne in an attempt to retain power within her family. However, palace eunuch Sun Cheng
Sun Cheng
Sun Cheng was an eunuch during Han Dynasty who, contrary to the stereotypes of Han eunuchs being corrupt and power-hungry, was loyal to the imperial family and tried to counter the culture of corruption....

 (d. 132 CE) masterminded a successful overthrow of her regime to enthrone Emperor Shun of Han
Emperor Shun of Han
Emperor Shun of Han, trad. ch. 漢順帝;, sim. ch. 漢顺帝, py. hàn shùn dì, wg. Han Shun-ti, was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty and the seventh emperor of the Eastern Han period...

 (r. 125–144 CE). Yan was placed under house arrest, her relatives were either killed or exiled, and her eunuch allies were slaughtered. The regent Liang Ji
Liang Ji
Liang Ji , courtesy name Bozhuo , was a politician and military commander of Han Dynasty China. He dominated government in the 150s together with his sister, Empress Liang Na. After his sister's death, Liang Ji was overthrown in a coup d'etat by Emperor Huan, with the support of the eunuch...

 (d. 159 CE), brother of Empress Liang Na
Empress Liang Na
Empress Liang Na , formally Empress Shunlie , was an empress during the Han Dynasty. Her husband was Emperor Shun of Han. She later served as regent for his son Emperor Chong, and the two subsequent emperors from collateral lines, Emperor Zhi and Emperor Huan...

 (d. 150 CE), had the brother-in-law of Consort Deng Mengnü
Empress Deng Mengnü
Empress Deng Mengnü , also briefly known as Liang Mengnü then as Bo Mengnü , was an empress during Han Dynasty. She was the second wife of Emperor Huan.- Family background :...

 (later empress) (d. 165 CE) killed after Deng Mengnü resisted Liang Ji's attempts to control her. Afterward, Emperor Huan employed eunuchs to depose Liang Ji, who was then forced to commit suicide.

Students from the Imperial University
Taixue
Taixue , or sometimes called the "Imperial Academy", "Imperial School" , "Imperial University" or "Imperial Central University", was the highest rank of educational establishment in Ancient China between the Han Dynasty and Sui Dynasty. It was replaced by the Guozijian...

 organized a widespread student protest
Student protest
Student protest encompasses a wide range of activities that indicate student dissatisfaction with a given political or academic issue and mobilization to communicate this dissatisfaction to the authorities and society in general and hopefully remedy the problem...

 against the eunuchs of Emperor Huan's court. Huan further alienated the bureaucracy when he initiated grandiose construction projects and hosted thousands of concubines in his harem
Harem
Harem refers to the sphere of women in what is usually a polygynous household and their enclosed quarters which are forbidden to men...

 at a time of economic crisis. Palace eunuchs imprisoned the official Li Ying (李膺) and his associates from the Imperial University on a dubious charge of treason. In 167 CE, the Grand Commandant Dou Wu
Dou Wu
Dou Wu , courtesy name Youping , was a Han Dynasty politician who was known as a Confucian scholar and served as a low-level official during the reign of Emperor Huan until his daughter Dou Miao was elevated from imperial consort to empress, which caused him to be promoted, eventually to become...

 (d. 168 CE) convinced his son-in-law, Emperor Huan, to release them. However the emperor permanently barred Li Ying and his associates from serving in office, marking the beginning of the Partisan Prohibitions
Disasters of Partisan Prohibitions
The Disasters of Partisan Prohibitions refers to two incidents in which a number of Confucian scholars who served as officials in the Han imperial government and opposed to powerful eunuchs, and the university students in the capital Luoyang who supported them The Disasters of Partisan...

.

Following Huan's death, Dou Wu and the Grand Tutor Chen Fan (陳蕃) (d. 168 CE) attempted a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 against the eunuchs Hou Lan
Hou Lan
Hou Lan was a eunuch of the late Han Dynasty, who served Emperor Ling of Han. After Emperor Ling died and was succeeded by his son Liu Bian in 189, He Jin, Yuan Shao and Cao Cao invaded the capital for the purpose of defeating the Ten Attendants, leading to He Jin's beheading in the palace...

 (d. 172 CE), Cao Jie
Cao Jie (eunuch)
Cao Jie was an eunuch of the late Han Dynasty, who served Emperor Ling of Han; he was also one of the Ten regular attendants , a group of court eunuchs who held great influence in the Han imperial court. Cao Jie was responsible for the death of Dou Wu and Chen Fan....

 (d. 181 CE), and Wang Fu (王甫). When the plot was uncovered, the eunuchs arrested Empress Dowager Dou
Empress Dou Miao
Empress Dou Miao , formally Empress Huansi , was an empress during Han Dynasty. She was the third wife of Emperor Huan...

 (d. 172 CE) and Chen Fan. General Zhang Huan (張奐) favored the eunuchs. He and his troops confronted Dou Wu and his retainers at the palace gate where each side shouted accusations of treason against the other. When the retainers gradually deserted Dou Wu, he was forced to commit suicide.

Under Emperor Ling
Emperor Ling of Han
Emperor Ling of Han, trad. ch. 漢靈帝;, sim. ch. 汉灵帝, py. hàn líng dì, wg. Han Ling-ti, was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty. He was a great-great-grandson of Emperor Zhang. The Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out during Emperor Ling's reign.Emperor Ling's reign saw yet another repetition of...

 (r. 168–189 CE) the eunuchs had the partisan prohibitions renewed and expanded, while themselves auctioning off top government offices. Many affairs of state were entrusted to the eunuchs Zhao Zhong
Zhao Zhong
Zhào Zhōng was a eunuch of the late Han Dynasty, who served Emperor Ling of Han the Ten regular attendants . The eunuchs who had gained considerable power in the Han imperial court...

 (d. 189 CE) and Zhang Rang
Zhang Rang
Zhang Rang was a eunuch of the late Han Dynasty, who served Emperor Ling of Han; he was also the leader of the Ten regular attendants , a group of court eunuchs who held great influence in the Han imperial court...

 (d. 189 CE) while Emperor Ling spent much of his time roleplaying with concubines and participating in military parades.

End of the Han Dynasty


The Partisan Prohibitions were repealed during the Yellow Turban Rebellion
Yellow Turban Rebellion
The Yellow Turban Rebellion, also translated as Yellow Scarves Rebellion, was a peasant revolt that broke out in 184 AD in China during the reign of Emperor Ling of the Han Dynasty...

 and Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion
Way of the Five Pecks of Rice
Way of the Five Pecks of Rice or the Way of the Celestial Master, commonly abbreviated to simply The Celestial Masters, is a Chinese Taoist movement that was founded by the first Celestial Master Zhang Daoling in 142 CE. At its height, the movement controlled a theocratic state in the Hanzhong...

 in 184 CE, largely because the court did not want to continue to alienate a significant portion of the gentry class
Four occupations
The four occupations or "four categories of the people" was a hierarchic social class structure developed in ancient China by either Confucian or Legalist scholars as far back as the late Zhou Dynasty and is considered a central part of the Fengjian social structure...

 who might otherwise join the rebellions. The Yellow Turbans and Five-Pecks-of-Rice adherents belonged to two different hierarchical Daoist religious societies led by faith healers
Faith healing
Faith healing is healing through spiritual means. The healing of a person is brought about by religious faith through prayer and/or rituals that, according to adherents, stimulate a divine presence and power toward correcting disease and disability. Belief in divine intervention in illness or...

 Zhang Jue (d. 184 CE) and Zhang Lu (d. 216 CE), respectively. Zhang Lu's rebellion, in modern northern Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 and southern Shanxi
Shanxi
' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

, was not quelled until 215 CE. Zhang Jue's massive rebellion across eight provinces was annihilated by Han forces within a year, however the following decades saw much smaller recurrent uprisings. Although the Yellow Turbans were defeated, many generals appointed during the crisis never disbanded their assembled militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 forces and used these troops to amass power outside of the collapsing imperial authority.

General-in-Chief He Jin
He Jin
He Jin was the elder half-brother of Empress He, consort to Emperor Ling of the late Eastern Han Dynasty in China. He shared power with his sister as regents in 189, following the death of Emperor Ling. In the ensuing struggle with the influential eunuch faction for power, He Jin was assassinated...

 (d. 189 CE), half-brother to Empress He
Empress He (Ling)
Empress He , personal name unknown, formally known as Empress Lingsi was an empress of the Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. She was Emperor Ling's second wife...

 (d. 189 CE), plotted with Yuan Shao
Yuan Shao
Yuan Shao was a warlord during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. He occupied the northern territories of China during the civil war that occurred towards the end of the Han Dynasty and the beginning of the Three Kingdoms era...

 (d. 202 ) to overthrow the eunuchs by having several generals march to the outskirts of the capital. There, in a written petition to Empress He, they demanded the eunuchs' execution. After a period of hesitation, Empress He consented. When the eunuchs discovered this, however, they had her brother He Miao (何苗) rescind the order. The eunuchs assassinated He Jin on September 22, 189 CE. Yuan Shao then besieged Luoyang's Northern Palace while his brother Yuan Shu
Yuan Shu
Yuan Shu was a warlord during the late Han Dynasty era of Chinese history. He rose to prominence following the collapse of the imperial court in 189. He was said to be a younger cousin of the warlord Yuan Shao, but was actually Yuan Shao's younger half-brother...

 (d. 199 CE) besieged the Southern Palace. On September 25 both palaces were breached and approximately two thousand eunuchs were killed. Zhang Rang had previously fled with Emperor Shao
Prince of Hongnong
The Prince of Hongnong , was briefly an emperor of China during the Han dynasty. He is also known as "Emperor Han Shao" , a name which he shares with several other emperors with brief reigns...

 (r. 189 CE) and his brother Liu Xie—the future Emperor Xian of Han
Emperor Xian of Han
Emperor Xian of Han , personal name Liu Xie, style name Bohe, was the last emperor of the Han Dynasty period of Chinese history...

 (r. 189–220 CE). While being pursued by the Yuan brothers, Zhang committed suicide by jumping into the Yellow River.

General Dong Zhuo
Dong Zhuo
Dong Zhuo was a politician and warlord during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. He seized control of the capital city Luoyang in 189 when it was in a state of turmoil following the death of Emperor Ling and a clash between the eunuch faction and some court officials led by...

 (d. 192 CE) found the young emperor and his brother wandering in the countryside. He escorted them safely back to the capital and was made Minister of Works, taking control of Luoyang and forcing Yuan Shao to flee. After Dong Zhuo demoted Emperor Shao and promoted his brother Liu Xie as Emperor Xian, Yuan Shao led a coalition of former officials and officers against Dong, who burned Luoyang to the ground and resettled the court at Chang'an in May 191 CE. Dong Zhuo later poisoned Emperor Shao.

Dong was killed by his adopted son Lü Bu
Lü Bu
Lü Bu was a military general and later a minor warlord during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. According to the Records of Three Kingdoms, Lü Bu was highly-skilled in horse-riding and archery, and was thus nicknamed "Flying General"...

 (d. 198 CE) in a plot hatched by Wang Yun
Wang Yun
Wang Yun was a Minister over the Masses under Emperor Xian during the late Eastern Han Dynasty of China. During Wang Yun's time, the emperors were mere puppets under the power of eunuchs and warlords. In 192, Wang Yun plotted and successfully staged Lü Bu's assassination of Dong Zhuo, the...

 (d. 192 CE). Emperor Xian fled from Chang'an in 195 CE to the ruins of Luoyang. Xian was persuaded by Cao Cao
Cao Cao
Cao Cao was a warlord and the penultimate chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty who rose to great power during the dynasty's final years. As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the state of Cao Wei and was posthumously titled...

 (155–220 CE), then Governor of Yan Province in modern western Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

 and eastern Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

, to move the capital to Xuchang
Xuchang
Xuchang is a prefecture-level city in central Henan province in Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the northwest, Kaifeng to the northeast, Zhoukou to the east, Luohe to the southeast, and Pingdingshan to the southwest....

 in 196 CE.

Yuan Shao challenged Cao Cao for control over the emperor. Yuan's power was greatly diminished after Cao defeated him at the Battle of Guandu
Battle of Guandu
The Battle of Guandu was a military conflict between the warlords Cao Cao and Yuan Shao in 200 during the prelude to the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. The battle, which concluded with victory for Cao Cao, was a turning point in the war between the two warlords...

 in 200 CE. After Yuan died, Cao killed Yuan Shao's son Yuan Tan
Yuan Tan
Yuan Tan was the oldest son of the warlord Yuan Shao during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. After Yuan Shao's death, Yuan Tan split with his youngest brother Yuan Shang over the successorship to their father's realm. Yuan Tan sought help from the warlord Cao Cao and defeated Yuan...

 (173–205 CE), who had fought with his brothers over the family inheritance. His brothers Yuan Shang
Yuán Shàng
Yuan Shang , style name Xianfu , was a warlord during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. He was the third son of the warlord Yuan Shao, and succeeded his father...

 and Yuan Xi
Yuan Xi
Yuan Xi was the second son of the warlord Yuan Shao during the late Han Dynasty era of Chinese history.Yuan was described in Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms as "intelligent but weak and indecisive", in contrast to his older brother Yuan Tan, who was described as...

 were killed in 207 CE by Gongsun Kang
Gongsun Kang
Gongsun Kang was a warlord during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. He became a vassal of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period.-Biography:...

 (d. 221 CE), who sent their heads to Cao Cao.

After Cao's defeat at the naval Battle of Red Cliffs
Battle of Red Cliffs
The Battle of Red Cliffs, otherwise known as the Battle of Chibi, was a decisive battle at the end of the Han Dynasty, immediately prior to the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. It was fought in the winter of 208/9 AD between the allied forces of the southern warlords Liu Bei and Sun Quan...

 in 208 CE, China was divided into three spheres of influence, with Cao Cao dominating the north, Sun Quan
Sun Quan
Sun Quan , son of Sun Jian, formally Emperor Da of Wu, was the founder of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. He ruled from 222 to 229 as King of Wu and from 229 to 252 as Emperor of Wu....

 (182–252 CE) dominating the south, and Liu Bei
Liu Bei
Liu Bei , also known as Liu Xuande, was a warlord, military general and later the founding emperor of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history...

 (161–223 CE) dominating the west. Cao Cao died in March 220 CE. By December his son Cao Pi
Cao Pi
Cao Pi , formally known as Emperor Wen of Wei, was the first emperor of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. Born in Qiao County, Pei Commandery , he was the second son of the late Han Dynasty warlord Cao Cao.Cao Pi, like his father, was a poet...

 (187–226 CE) had Emperor Xian relinquish the throne to him and is known posthumously as Emperor Wen of Wei
Cao Pi
Cao Pi , formally known as Emperor Wen of Wei, was the first emperor of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. Born in Qiao County, Pei Commandery , he was the second son of the late Han Dynasty warlord Cao Cao.Cao Pi, like his father, was a poet...

. This formally ended the Han Dynasty and initiated an age of conflict between three states
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

: Cao Wei
Cao Wei
Cao Wei was one of the states that competed for control of China during the Three Kingdoms period. With the capital at Luoyang, the state was established by Cao Pi in 220, based upon the foundations that his father Cao Cao laid...

, Eastern Wu
Eastern Wu
Eastern Wu, also known as Sun Wu, was one the three states competing for control of China during the Three Kingdoms period after the fall of the Han Dynasty. It was based in the Jiangnan region of China...

, and Shu Han
Shu Han
Shu Han was one of the three states competing for control of China during the Three Kingdoms period, after the fall of the Han Dynasty. The state was based on areas around Sichuan, which was then known as Shu...

.

Social class


In the hierarchical social order, the emperor
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

 was at the apex of Han society and government. However the emperor was often a minor, ruled over by a regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 such as the empress dowager
Empress Dowager
Empress Dowager was the title given to the mother of a Chinese, Korean, Japanese or Vietnamese emperor.The title was also given occasionally to another woman of the same generation, while a woman from the previous generation was sometimes given the title of Grand empress dowager. Numerous empress...

 or one of her male relatives. Ranked immediately below the emperor were the kings who were of the same Liu
Liu
劉 is a common Chinese family name. The transliteration Liu can represent several different surnames written in different Chinese characters:*劉 / 刘, pinyin: Liú...

 family clan. The rest of society, including nobles
Chinese nobility
Chinese sovereignty and peerage, the nobility of China, were an important feature of traditional social and political organization of Imperial China. While the concepts of hereditary sovereign and peerage titles and noble families were featured as early as the semi-mythical, early historical...

 lower than kings and all commoners excluding slaves belonged to one of twenty ranks (ershi gongcheng 二十公乘).
Each successive rank gave its holder greater pensions and legal privileges. The highest rank, of full marquess
Marquess
A marquess or marquis is a nobleman of hereditary rank in various European peerages and in those of some of their former colonies. The term is also used to translate equivalent oriental styles, as in imperial China, Japan, and Vietnam...

, came with a state pension and a territorial fiefdom. Holders of the rank immediately below, that of ordinary marquess, received a pension, but had no territorial rule. Officials who served in government belonged to the wider commoner social class and were ranked just below nobles in social prestige. The highest government officials could be enfeoffed
Enfeoffment
Under the European feudal system, enfeoffment was the deed by which a person was given land in exchange for a pledge of service. This mechanism was later used to avoid restrictions on the passage of title in land by a system in which a landowner would give land to one person for the use of another...

 as marquesses. By the Eastern Han period, local elites of unattached scholars, teachers, students, and government officials began to identify themselves as members of a larger, nationwide gentry class
Gentry (China)
As used for imperial China, landed gentry does not correspond to any term in Chinese. One standard work remarks that under the Ming dynasty, called shenshi or shenjin, meaning variously degree-holders, literati, scholar-bureaucrats or officials, they are loosely known in English as the Chinese...

 with shared values and a commitment to mainstream scholarship. When the government became noticeably corrupt in mid-to-late Eastern Han, many gentrymen even considered the cultivation of morally grounded personal relationships more important than serving in public office.

The farmer
Farmer
A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, who raises living organisms for food or raw materials, generally including livestock husbandry and growing crops, such as produce and grain...

, or specifically the small landowner-cultivator, was ranked just below scholars and officials in the social hierarchy. Other agricultural cultivators were of a lower status, such as tenants
Leasehold estate
A leasehold estate is an ownership of a temporary right to land or property in which a lessee or a tenant holds rights of real property by some form of title from a lessor or landlord....

, wage laborers
Day labor
Day labor is work done where the worker is hired and paid one day at a time, with no promise that more work will be available in the future. It is a form of contingent work.-Types:Day laborers find work through three common routes....

, and in rare cases slaves. Artisan
Artisan
An artisan is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewellery, household items, and tools...

s and craftsmen had a legal and socioeconomic status
Socioeconomic status
Socioeconomic status is an economic and sociological combined total measure of a person's work experience and of an individual's or family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education, and occupation...

 between that of owner-cultivator farmers and common merchant
Merchant
A merchant is a businessperson who trades in commodities that were produced by others, in order to earn a profit.Merchants can be one of two types:# A wholesale merchant operates in the chain between producer and retail merchant...

s. State-registered merchants, who were forced by law to wear white-colored clothes and pay high commercial taxes, were considered by the gentry as social parasites with a contemptible status. These were often petty shopkeepers of urban marketplaces; merchants such as industrialists and itinerant traders working between a network of cities could avoid registering as merchants and were often wealthier and more powerful than the vast majority of government officials. Wealthy landowners, such as nobles and officials, often provided lodging for retainers who provided valuable work or duties, sometimes including fighting bandits or riding into battle. Unlike slaves, retainers could come and go from their master's home as they pleased. Medical physicians
Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts which have been developed in China and are based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage , exercise , and dietary therapy...

, pig breeders, and butchers had a fairly high social status, while occultist diviners
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

, runners, and messengers had low status.

Marriage, gender, and kinship



The Han-era family was patrilineal
Patrilineality
Patrilineality is a system in which one belongs to one's father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, names or titles through the male line as well....

 and typically had four to five nuclear family
Nuclear family
Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children. This is in contrast to the smaller single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have...

 members living in one household. Multiple generations of extended family
Extended family
The term extended family has several distinct meanings. In modern Western cultures dominated by nuclear family constructs, it has come to be used generically to refer to grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, whether they live together within the same household or not. However, it may also refer...

 members did not occupy the same house, unlike families of later dynasties. According to Confucian family norms
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

, various family members were treated with different levels of respect and intimacy. For example, there were different accepted time frames for mourning the death of a father versus a paternal uncle. Arranged marriage
Arranged marriage
An arranged marriage is a practice in which someone other than the couple getting married makes the selection of the persons to be wed, meanwhile curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. Such marriages had deep roots in royal and aristocratic families around the world...

s were the norm, with the father's input on his offspring's spouse being considered more important than the mother's. Monogamous marriages
Monogamy
Monogamy /Gr. μονός+γάμος - one+marriage/ a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse at any one time. In current usage monogamy often refers to having one sexual partner irrespective of marriage or reproduction...

 were also the norm, although nobles and high officials were wealthy enough to afford and support concubines as additional lovers. Under certain conditions dictated by custom, not law, both men and women were able to divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

 their spouses and remarry.
Apart from the passing of noble titles or ranks, inheritance
Inheritance
Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies...

 practices did not involve primogeniture
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

; each son received an equal share of the family property. Since the father usually sent his adult married sons away with a portion of the family fortune, unlike later dynasties, sons did not always receive their inheritance after the death of their father. Daughters were not formally included in a father's will, although they did receive a portion of the family fortune through their marriage dowries
Dowry
A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

.

Women were expected to obey the will of their father, then their husband, and then their adult son in old age. However, it is known from contemporary sources that there were many deviations to this rule, especially in regard to mothers over their sons, and empresses who ordered around and openly humiliated their fathers and brothers. Women were exempt from the annual corvée
Corvée
Corvée is unfree labour, often unpaid, that is required of people of lower social standing and imposed on them by the state or a superior . The corvée was the earliest and most widespread form of taxation, which can be traced back to the beginning of civilization...

 labor duties, but often engaged in a range of income-earning occupations aside from their domestic chores of cooking and cleaning.

The most common occupation for women was weaving clothes for the family, sale at market or for large textile enterprises that employed hundreds of women. Other women helped on their brothers' farms or became singers, dancers, sorceresses
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

, respected medical physicians, and successful merchants who could afford their own silk clothes. Some women formed spinning collectives, aggregating the resources of several different families.

Education, literature, and philosophy



The early Western Han court simultaneously accepted the philosophical teachings of Legalism
Legalism (Chinese philosophy)
In Chinese history, Legalism was one of the main philosophic currents during the Warring States Period, although the term itself was invented in the Han Dynasty and thus does not refer to an organized 'school' of thought....

, Huang-Lao Daoism
Huang-Lao
Huang-Lao or Huanglao was the most influential Chinese school of thought in the early 2nd-century BCE Han Dynasty, and is generally interpreted as encompassing Daoism and Legalism...

, and Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 in making state decisions and shaping government policy. However, the Han court under Emperor Wu
Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han , , personal name Liu Che , was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized...

 gave Confucianism exclusive patronage. He abolished all academic chairs or erudites (boshi 博士) not dealing with the Confucian Five Classics in 136 BCE and encouraged nominees for office to receive a Confucian-based education at the Imperial University
Taixue
Taixue , or sometimes called the "Imperial Academy", "Imperial School" , "Imperial University" or "Imperial Central University", was the highest rank of educational establishment in Ancient China between the Han Dynasty and Sui Dynasty. It was replaced by the Guozijian...

 that he established in 124 BCE. Unlike the original ideology espoused by Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

, or Kongzi (551–479 BCE), Han Confucianism in Emperor Wu's reign was the creation of Dong Zhongshu
Dong Zhongshu
Dong Zhongshu was a Han Dynasty Chinese scholar. He is traditionally associated with the promotion of Confucianism as the official ideology of the Chinese imperial state.-History:...

 (179–104 BCE). Dong was a scholar and minor official who aggregated the ethical Confucian ideas of ritual
Li (Confucian)
Li is a classical Chinese word which finds its most extensive use in Confucian and post-Confucian Chinese philosophy. Li encompasses not a definitive object but rather a somewhat abstract idea; as such, it is translated in a number of different ways...

, filial piety
Filial piety
In Confucian ideals, filial piety is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors. The Confucian classic Xiao Jing or Classic of Xiào, thought to be written around 470 BCE, has historically been the authoritative source on the Confucian tenet of xiào /...

, and harmonious relationships
Ren (Confucianism)
Ren is a Confucian notion denoting, as rough approximation, the good feeling a virtuous human experiences when behaving rightly, especially toward others...

 with five phases and yin-yang
Yin and yang
In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang , which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only...

 cosmologies. Much to the interest of the ruler, Dong's synthesis justified the imperial system of government within the natural order of the universe. The Imperial University grew in importance as the student body grew to over 30,000 by the 2nd century CE. A Confucian-based education was also made available at commandery-level schools and private school
Private school
Private schools, also known as independent schools or nonstate schools, are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students' tuition, rather than relying on mandatory...

s opened in small towns, where teachers earned respectable incomes from tuition
Tuition
Tuition payments, known primarily as tuition in American English and as tuition fees in British English, Canadian English, Australian English, New Zealand English and Indian English, refers to a fee charged for educational instruction during higher education.Tuition payments are charged by...

 payments.

Some important texts were created and studied by scholars. Philosophical works written by Yang Xiong (53 BCE – 18 CE), Huan Tan
Huan Tan
Huan Tan 桓譚 was a Chinese philosopher of the Han Dynasty and short-lived interregnum of the Xin Dynasty . Huan's mode of philosophical thought belonged to an Old Text realist tradition supported by other contemporaries such as the naturalist and mechanistic philosopher Wang Chong Huan Tan 桓譚 (c....

 (43 BCE – 28 CE), Wang Chong
Wang Chong
Wang Chong , courtesy name Zhongren , was a Chinese philosopher active during the Han Dynasty. He developed a rational, secular, naturalistic and mechanistic account of the world and of human beings and gave a materialistic explanation of the origin of the universe. His main work was the Lùnhéng...

 (27–100 CE), and Wang Fu
Wang Fu (philosopher)
Wang Fu , which endorsed the Confucian model of government.-Further reading:* Ann Behnke Kinney. The Art of the Han Essay: Wang Fu's Ch'ien-Fu Lun. Phoenix: Arizona State University Center for Asian Research, 1990. ISBN 0-939252-23-6...

 (78–163 CE) questioned whether human nature was innately good or evil and posed challenges to Dong's universal order. The Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Tan
Sima Tan
Sima Tan was an early Chinese historian who worked under the Western Han. He studied astronomy with Tang Du, the I Ching under Yang He and Daoism under Master Huang. He held the position of Grand Historian between 140-110 BC. While Sima Tan had begun the Records of the Grand Historian , he died...

 (d. 110 BCE) and his son Sima Qian
Sima Qian
Sima Qian was a Prefect of the Grand Scribes of the Han Dynasty. He is regarded as the father of Chinese historiography for his highly praised work, Records of the Grand Historian , a "Jizhuanti"-style general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to...

 (145–86 BCE) established the standard model
Chinese historiography
Chinese historiography refers to the study of methods and assumptions made in studying Chinese history.-History of Chinese Historians:Record of Chinese history dated back to the Shang Dynasty. The Classic of History, one of the Five Classics of Chinese classic texts is one of the earliest...

 for all of imperial China's Standard Histories
Twenty-Four Histories
The Twenty-Four Histories is a collection of Chinese historical books covering a period from 3000 BC to the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century. The whole set contains 3213 volumes and about 40 million words...

, such as the Book of Han
Book of Han
The Book of Han, Hanshu or History of the Former Han Dynasty |Fan Ye]] . Various scholars have estimated that the earliest material covered in the book dates back to between 206 and 202 BCE...

written by Ban Biao
Ban Biao
Ban Biao , courtesy name , was a Chinese historian, and an official born in what is now Xianyang, Shaanxi during the Han Dynasty. He was the nephew of Consort Ban, a famous poet and concubine to Emperor Cheng....

 (3–54 CE), his son Ban Gu
Ban Gu
Ban Gu , courtesy name Mengjian , was a 1st century Chinese historian and poet best known for his part in compiling the Book of Han. He also wrote in the main poetic genre of the Han era, a kind of poetry interspersed with prose called fu. Some are anthologized by Xiao Tong in his Selections of...

 (32–92 CE), and his daughter Ban Zhao
Ban Zhao
Bān Zhāo , courtesy name Huiban , was the first known female Chinese historian. She completed her brother Ban Gu's work as he was imprisoned and executed in the year 92 BCE. because of his association with the family of Empress Dowager Dou. It was said her works could have filled eight volumes...

 (45–116 CE). There were dictionaries such as the Shuowen Jiezi
Shuowen Jiezi
The Shuōwén Jiězì was an early 2nd century CE Chinese dictionary from the Han Dynasty. Although not the first comprehensive Chinese character dictionary , it was still the first to analyze the structure of the characters and to give the rationale behind them , as well as the first to use the...

by Xu Shen
Xu Shen
Xǔ Shèn was a Chinese philologist of the Han Dynasty. He was the author of Shuowen Jiezi, the first Chinese dictionary with character analysis, as well as the first to organize the characters by shared components. It contains over 9,000 character entries under 540 radicals, explaining the origins...

 (c. 58 – c. 147 CE) and the Fangyan
Fangyan
The Fāngyán , edited by Yang Xiong, was the first Chinese dictionary of dialectal terms. The full title is Yóuxuān shǐzhĕ juédài yǔ shì biéguó fāngyán "Local speeches of other countries in times immemorial explained by the Light-Carriage Messenger," which alludes to a Zhou Dynasty tradition of...

by Yang Xiong. Biographies
Biography
A biography is a detailed description or account of someone's life. More than a list of basic facts , biography also portrays the subject's experience of those events...

 on important figures were written by various gentrymen. Poems
Chinese poetry
Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language, which includes various versions of Chinese language, including Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Yue Chinese, as well as many other historical and vernacular varieties of the Chinese language...

 and rhapsodies were also popular forms of literature amongst the gentry.

Law and order


Han scholars such as Jia Yi
Jia Yi
Jia Yi was a Chinese poet and statesman of the Han Dynasty.- Life:Jia Yi was born in 201 BCE in Luoyang....

 (201–169 BCE) portrayed the previous Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 as a brutal regime. However, archaeological evidence from Zhangjiashan
Zhangjiashan Han bamboo texts
The Zhangjiashan Han bamboo texts are ancient Han Dynasty Chinese written works dated 196–186 BCE. They were discovered in 1983 by archaeologists excavating tomb no. 247 at Mount Zhangjia of Jiangling County, Hubei Province . The tomb was built for an early Western Han era official who had...

 and Shuihudi
Shuihudi Qin bamboo texts
The Shuihudi Qin bamboo texts are early Chinese texts written on bamboo slips, and are also sometimes called the Yúnmèng Qin bamboo texts. They were excavated in December 1975 from Tomb #11 at Chéngguān Shuìhǔdì , Yunmeng County, Hubei Province, China. The tomb belonged to a Qin administrator....

 reveal that many of the statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

s in the Han law code
Code (law)
A code is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the code was enacted, by a process of codification. Though the process and motivations for codification are similar in common law and civil law...

 compiled by Chancellor Xiao He
Xiao He
Xiao He was a Chinese statesman who lived during the early Han Dynasty. He served Liu Bang during the insurrection against the Qin Dynasty, and fought on Liu's side in the Chu–Han contention against Xiang Yu. After the founding of the Han Dynasty, Xiao He became chancellor and held office until...

 (d. 193 BCE) were derived from Qin law.

Various cases for rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

, physical abuse and murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 were prosecuted in court. Women, although usually having less rights by custom, were allowed to level civil and criminal charges against men. While suspects were jailed, convicted criminals were never imprisoned. Instead, punishments were commonly monetary fines, periods of forced hard labor for convicts, and the penalty of death by beheading. Early Han punishments of torturous
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 mutilation
Mutilation
Mutilation or maiming is an act of physical injury that degrades the appearance or function of any living body, usually without causing death.- Usage :...

 were borrowed from Qin law. A series of reforms abolished mutilation punishments with progressively less-severe beatings by the bastinado.

Acting as a judge in lawsuits was one of many duties of the Magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer of the state; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge or prosecutor. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law systems, a...

s of counties and Administrators of commanderies. Complex, high profile or unresolved cases were often deferred to the Minister of Justice in the capital or even the emperor. In each Han county was several districts, each overseen by a chief of police
Chief of police
A Chief of Police is the title typically given to the top official in the chain of command of a police department, particularly in North America. Alternate titles for this position include Commissioner, Superintendent, and Chief constable...

. Order in the cities was maintained by government officers in the marketplaces and constable
Constable
A constable is a person holding a particular office, most commonly in law enforcement. The office of constable can vary significantly in different jurisdictions.-Etymology:...

s in the neighborhoods.

Cuisine


The most common staple crops consumed during Han were wheat, barley, foxtail millet
Foxtail millet
Foxtail millet is the second most widely planted species of millet, and the most important in East Asia. It has the longest history of cultivation among the millets, having been grown in China since sometime in the sixth millennium BC...

, proso millet
Proso millet
Proso millet is also known as common millet, hog millet or white millet. Both the wild ancestor and the location of domestication of proso millet are unknown, but it first appears as a crop in both Transcaucasia and China about 7,000 years ago, suggesting that it may have been domesticated...

, rice, and bean
Bean
Bean is a common name for large plant seeds of several genera of the family Fabaceae used for human food or animal feed....

s. Commonly eaten fruits and vegetables included chestnuts, pears, plums, peaches, melons, apricots, strawberries, red bayberries, jujube
Jujube
Ziziphus zizyphus , commonly called jujube , red date, Chinese date, Korean date, or Indian date is a species of Ziziphus in the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae, used primarily as a fruiting shade tree.-Distribution:Its precise natural distribution is uncertain due to extensive cultivation,...

s, calabash
Calabash
Lagenaria siceraria , bottle gourd, opo squash or long melon is a vine grown for its fruit, which can either be harvested young and used as a vegetable, or harvested mature, dried, and used as a bottle, utensil, or pipe. For this reason, the calabash is widely known as the bottle gourd...

, bamboo shoot
Bamboo shoot
Bamboo shoots or bamboo sprouts are the edible shoots of many bamboo species including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis. They are used in numerous Asian dishes and broths...

s, mustard plant
Mustard plant
Mustards are several plant species in the genera Brassica and Sinapis whose small mustard seeds are used as a spice and, by grinding and mixing them with water, vinegar or other liquids, are turned into the condiment known as mustard or prepared mustard...

 and taro
Taro
Taro is a common name for the corms and tubers of several plants in the family Araceae . Of these, Colocasia esculenta is the most widely cultivated, and is the subject of this article. More specifically, this article describes the 'dasheen' form of taro; another variety is called eddoe.Taro is...

. Domesticated animals that were also eaten included chickens, Mandarin duck
Mandarin Duck
The Mandarin Duck , or just Mandarin, is a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck. It is 41–49 cm long with a 65–75 cm wingspan.-Description:...

s, geese, cows, sheep, pigs, camels and dogs (various types were bred specifically for food, while most were used as pets). Turtles and fish were taken from streams and lakes. Commonly hunted game, such as owl, pheasant, magpie, sika deer
Sika Deer
The Sika Deer, Cervus nippon, also known as the Spotted Deer or the Japanese Deer, is a species of deer native to much of East Asia and introduced to various other parts of the world...

, and Chinese Bamboo Partridge
Chinese Bamboo Partridge
The Chinese Bamboo Partridge is a small partridge native to eastern mainland China and Taiwan, and introduced successfully to Japan...

 were consumed. Seasonings included sugar, honey, salt and soy sauce
Soy sauce
Soy sauce is a condiment produced by fermenting soybeans with Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds, along with water and salt...

. Beer and wine were regularly consumed.

Clothing



The types of clothing worn and the materials used during the Han period depended upon social class. Wealthy folk could afford silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

 robes, skirts, socks, and mittens, coats made of badger or fox fur
Fur clothing
Fur clothing is clothing made of the fur of animals. Fur is one of the oldest forms of clothing; thought to have been widely used as hominids first expanded outside of Africa. Some view fur as luxurious and warm; others reject it due to moral beliefs...

, duck plumes, and slippers with inlaid leather, pearl
Pearl
A pearl is a hard object produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk. Just like the shell of a mollusk, a pearl is made up of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other...

s, and silk lining. Peasants commonly wore clothes made of hemp
Hemp
Hemp is mostly used as a name for low tetrahydrocannabinol strains of the plant Cannabis sativa, of fiber and/or oilseed varieties. In modern times, hemp has been used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food and fuel with modest...

, wool
Wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

, and ferret
Ferret
The ferret is a domesticated mammal of the type Mustela putorius furo. Ferrets are sexually dimorphic predators with males being substantially larger than females. They typically have brown, black, white, or mixed fur...

 skins.

Religion, cosmology, and metaphysics



Families throughout Han China made ritual sacrifices of animals and foodstuffs to deities, spirits, and ancestors at temples and shrines
Temple (Chinese)
A Chinese temple can refer to any temple which is used for the practice of Chinese folk religion, a conglomeration of China's three main religions: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism...

, in the belief that these items could be utilized by those in the spiritual realm. It was thought that each person had a two-part soul
Hun and po
Hun and po are types of souls in Chinese philosophy and religion. Within this ancient soul dualism tradition, every living human has both a hun spiritual, ethereal, and yang soul that leaves the body after death and a po corporeal, substantive, and yin soul that remains with the corpse...

: the spirit-soul (hun 魂) which journeyed to the afterlife paradise of immortals (xian
Xian (Taoism)
Xian is a Chinese word for an enlightened person, translatable in English as:*"spiritually immortal; transcendent; super-human; celestial being"...

), and the body-soul (po 魄) which remained in its grave or tomb on earth and was only reunited with the spirit-soul through a ritual ceremony. In addition to his many other roles, the emperor acted as the highest priest in the land who made sacrifices to Heaven
Tian
Tian is one of the oldest Chinese terms for the cosmos and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion. During the Shang Dynasty the Chinese called god Shangdi or Di , and during the Zhou Dynasty Tian "heaven; god" became synonymous with Shangdi...

, the main deities known as the Five Powers, and the spirits
Shen (Chinese religion)
Shen is a keyword in Chinese philosophy, Chinese religion, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.-Pronunciation:Shén is the Modern Standard Chinese pronunciation of 神 "spirit; god, deity; spiritual, supernatural; awareness, consciousness etc". Reconstructions of shén in Middle Chinese Shen is a...

 (shen 神) of mountains and rivers. It was believed that the three realms of Heaven, Earth, and Mankind were linked by natural cycles of yin and yang
Yin and yang
In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang , which is often referred to in the West as "yin and yang", is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only...

 and the five phases. If the emperor did not behave according to proper ritual, ethics, and morals, he could disrupt the fine balance of these cosmological cycles and cause calamities such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, epidemics, and swarms of locusts.

It was believed that immortality
Immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

 could be achieved if one reached the lands of the Queen Mother of the West or Mount Penglai. Han-era Daoists assembled into small groups of hermits who attempted to achieve immortality through breathing exercises, sexual techniques and use of medical elixirs
Elixir of life
The elixir of life, also known as the elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher's stone, is a legendary potion, or drink, that grants the drinker eternal life and or eternal youth. Many practitioners of alchemy pursued it. The elixir of life was also said to be able to create...

. By the 2nd century CE, Daoists formed large hierarchical religious societies such as the Way of the Five Pecks of Rice
Way of the Five Pecks of Rice
Way of the Five Pecks of Rice or the Way of the Celestial Master, commonly abbreviated to simply The Celestial Masters, is a Chinese Taoist movement that was founded by the first Celestial Master Zhang Daoling in 142 CE. At its height, the movement controlled a theocratic state in the Hanzhong...

. Its followers believed that the sage-philosopher Laozi
Laozi
Laozi was a mystic philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching . His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of Taoism...

 (fl. 6th century BCE) was a holy prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

 who would offer salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

 and good health if his devout followers would confess their sins
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

, ban the worship of unclean
Unclean
Unclean may refer to:* Unclean animals, those whose consumption or handling is labeled a taboo* Unclean food, in Jewish dietary custom* Unclean hands, a term in contract law* Unclean , from 1984* Unclean spirit, in Christianity...

 gods who accepted meat sacrifices and chant sections of the Daodejing
Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching, Dao De Jing, or Daodejing , also simply referred to as the Laozi, whose authorship has been attributed to Laozi, is a Chinese classic text...

.

Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 first entered China during the Eastern Han and was first mentioned in 65 CE. Liu Ying
Liu Ying
Liu Ying was a son of Emperor Guangwu of Han, and half-brother of Emperor Ming. After becoming Prince of Chu, he was a known supporter of many religions...

 (d. 71 CE), a half-brother to Emperor Ming of Han
Emperor Ming of Han
Emperor Ming of Han, , was second emperor of the Chinese Eastern Han Dynasty.He was the second son of Emperor Guangwu. It was during Emperor Ming's reign that Buddhism began to spread into China. One night, he is said to have dreamed of a golden man or golden men...

 (r. 57–75 CE), was one of its earliest Chinese adherents, although Chinese Buddhism at this point was heavily associated with Huang-Lao Daoism. China's first known Buddhist temple, the White Horse Temple
White Horse Temple
White Horse Temple is, according to tradition, the first Buddhist temple in China, established in 68 AD under the patronage of Emperor Ming in the Eastern Han capital Luoyang. Today the site is located just outside the walls of the ancient Eastern Han capital, some east of Luoyang in Henan...

, was erected during Ming's reign. Important Buddhist canons were translated into Chinese during the 2nd century CE, including the Sutra of Forty-two Chapters
Sutra of Forty-two Chapters
The Sutra of Forty-two Chapters is the earliest surviving Buddhist sutra translated into Chinese. It was translated by two ordained Yuezhi monks, Kasyapa-Matanga and Dharmaraksha , in 67 CE...

, Perfection of Wisdom, Shurangama Sutra
Shurangama Sutra
The ' is a Mahāyāna Buddhist sūtra, and has been especially influential in the Chán school of Chinese Buddhism.- Etymology :According to Ron Epstein, roughly means "indestructible." The word is composed of Śūraṅ , with Gama...

, and Pratyutpanna Sutra
Pratyutpanna Sutra
The Pratyutpanna Sutra is an early Mahayana Buddhist scripture, which probably originated around the 1st century BCE in the Gandhara area of northwestern India.The Pratyutpanna Sutra was first translated into Chinese by the Kushan Buddhist monk Lokaksema...

.

Central government


In Han government, the emperor was the supreme judge and lawgiver, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and sole designator of official nominees appointed to the top posts in central and local administrations; those who earned a 600-dan salary-rank or higher. Theoretically, there were no limits to his power. However, state organs with competing interests and institutions such as the court conference (tingyi 廷議)—where ministers were convened to reach majority consensus
Consensus decision-making
Consensus decision-making is a group decision making process that seeks the consent, not necessarily the agreement, of participants and the resolution of objections. Consensus is defined by Merriam-Webster as, first, general agreement, and second, group solidarity of belief or sentiment. It has its...

 on an issue—pressured the emperor to accept the advice of his ministers on policy decisions. If the emperor rejected a court conference decision, he risked alienating his high ministers. Nevertheless, emperors sometimes did reject the majority opinion reached at court conferences.

Below the emperor were his cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

 members known as the Three Councillors of State. These were the Chancellor
Chancellor of China
The Chancellor , variously translated as Prime Minister, Chancellor of State, Premier or Chief Councillor, was a generic name given to the highest-ranking official in the imperial government in ancient China...

/Minister over the Masses
Minister over the Masses
Minister over the Masses was one of the three most important official posts during the Han Dynasty, called the Three Excellencies. The nominal salary attached was 20,000 dàn of grain. The position and title had existed since the Warring States, but was only standardised during the Qin Dynasty....

, Imperial Counselor/Excellency of Works, and Grand Commandant/Grand Marshal.

The Chancellor, whose title was changed to 'Minister over the Masses' in 8 BCE, was chiefly responsible for drafting the government budget
Government budget
A government budget is a legal document that is often passed by the legislature, and approved by the chief executive-or president. For example, only certain types of revenue may be imposed and collected...

. The Chancellor's other duties included managing provincial registers for land and population, leading court conferences, acting as judge in lawsuits and recommending nominees for high office. He could appoint officials below the salary-rank of 600-shi.

The Imperial Counselor's chief duty was to conduct disciplinary procedures for officials. He shared similar duties with the Chancellor, such as receiving annual provincial reports. However, when his title was changed to Minster of Works in 8 BCE, his chief duty became oversight of public works projects.

The Grand Commandant, whose title was changed to Grand Marshal in 119 BCE before reverting back to Grand Commandant in 51 CE, was the irregularly posted commander of the military and then regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 during the Western Han period. In the Eastern Han era he was chiefly a civil official who shared many of the same censorial powers as the other two Councillors of State.

Ranked below the Three Councillors of State were the Nine Ministers
Nine Ministers
The Nine Ministers was the collective name for nine high officials in the imperial government of the Han Dynasty , who each headed a specialized ministry and were subordinates to the Three Councillors of State...

, who each headed a specialized ministry. The Minister of Ceremonies was the chief official in charge of religious rites, rituals, prayers and the maintenance of ancestral temples and altars. The Minister of the Household was in charge of the emperor's security within the palace grounds, external imperial parks and wherever the emperor made an outing by chariot. The Minister of the Guards was responsible for securing and patrolling the walls, towers, and gates of the imperial palaces. The Minister Coachman was responsible for the maintenance of imperial stables, horses, carriages and coach-houses for the emperor and his palace attendants, as well as the supply of horses for the armed forces. The Minister of Justice was the chief official in charge of upholding, administering, and interpreting the law. The Minister Herald was the chief official in charge of receiving honored guests at the imperial court, such as nobles and foreign ambassadors
Foreign relations of Imperial China
Imperial China had a long tradition of foreign relations. From the Qin Dynasty until the Qing Dynasty, the Culture of China had an impact upon neighboring and distant countries, while gradually being transformed by outside influences as well....

. The Minister of the Imperial Clan oversaw the imperial court's interactions with the empire's nobility and extended imperial family, such as granting fiefs and titles. The Minister of Finance was the treasurer
Treasurer
A treasurer is the person responsible for running the treasury of an organization. The adjective for a treasurer is normally "tresorial". The adjective "treasurial" normally means pertaining to a treasury, rather than the treasurer.-Government:...

 for the official bureaucracy and the armed forces who handled tax revenues and set standards for units of measurement
Units of measurement
A unit of measurement is a definite magnitude of a physical quantity, defined and adopted by convention and/or by law, that is used as a standard for measurement of the same physical quantity. Any other value of the physical quantity can be expressed as a simple multiple of the unit of...

. The Minister Steward served the emperor exclusively, providing him with entertainment and amusements, proper food and clothing, medicine and physical care, valuables and equipment.

Local government


In descending order of size, the Han Empire, excluding kingdoms and marquessates, was divided into political units of provinces (zhou), commanderies (jun), and counties (xian). A county was divided into several districts
District (China)
The term district, in the context of China, is used to refer to several unrelated political divisions in both ancient and modern China....

, the latter composed of a group of hamlets
Hamlet (place)
A hamlet is usually a rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village, though sometimes the word is used for a different sort of community. Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village...

, each containing about a hundred families.

The heads of provinces, whose official title was changed from Inspector to Governor and vice versa several times during Han, were responsible for inspecting several commandery-level and kingdom-level administrations. On the basis of their reports, the officials in these local administrations would be promoted, demoted, dismissed or prosecuted by the imperial court.

A governor could take various actions without permission from the imperial court. The lower-ranked inspector had executive powers only during times of crisis, such as raising militias across the commanderies under his jurisdiction to suppress a rebellion.

A commandery consisted of a group of counties, and was headed by an Administrator. He was the top civil and military leader of the commandery and handled defense, lawsuits, seasonal instructions to farmers and recommendations of nominees for office sent annually to the capital in a quota system first established by Emperor Wu. The head of a large county of about 10,000 households was called a Prefect, while the heads of smaller counties were called Chiefs, and both could be referred to as Magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer of the state; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge or prosecutor. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law systems, a...

s. A Magistrate maintained law and order in his county, registered the populace for taxation, mobilized commoners for annual corvée
Corvée
Corvée is unfree labour, often unpaid, that is required of people of lower social standing and imposed on them by the state or a superior . The corvée was the earliest and most widespread form of taxation, which can be traced back to the beginning of civilization...

 duties, repaired schools and supervised public works.

Kingdoms and marquessates



Kingdoms—roughly the size of commanderies were ruled exclusively by the emperor's male relatives as semi-autonomous fiefdom
Fiefdom
A fee was the central element of feudalism and consisted of heritable lands granted under one of several varieties of feudal tenure by an overlord to a vassal who held it in fealty in return for a form of feudal allegiance and service, usually given by the...

s. Before 157 BCE some kingdoms were ruled by non-relatives, granted to them in return for their services to Emperor Gaozu. The administration of each kingdom was very similar to that of the central government. Although the emperor appointed the Chancellor of each kingdom, kings appointed all the remaining civil officials in their fiefs.

However, in 145 BCE, after several insurrections by the kings, Emperor Jing removed the kings' rights to appoint officials with salaries higher than 400-dan. The Imperial Counselors and Nine Ministers (excluding the Minister Coachman) of every kingdom were abolished, although the Chancellor was still appointed by the central government.

With these reforms, kings were reduced to being nominal heads of their fiefs, gaining a personal income from only a portion of the taxes collected in their kingdom. Similarly, the officials in the administrative staff of a full marquess's fief were appointed by the central government. A marquess's Chancellor was ranked as the equivalent of a county Prefect. Like a king, the marquess collected a portion of the tax revenues in his fief as personal income.


Military



At the beginning of the Han Dynasty, every male commoner aged twenty-three was liable for conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 into the military. The minimum age for the military draft was reduced to twenty after Emperor Zhao's
Emperor Zhao of Han
Emperor Zhao of Han was an emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty from 87 BC to 74 BC.Emperor Zhao was the youngest son of Emperor Wu of Han. By the time Zhao was born, Emperor Wu was already 62. Zhao ascended the throne after the death of Emperor Wu in 87 BC. He was only 8 years old...

 (r. 87–74 BCE) reign. Conscripted soldiers underwent one year of training and one year of service as non-professional soldiers. The year of training was served in one of three branches of the armed forces: infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

, cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 or navy
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

. The year of active service was served either on their frontier, in a king's court or under the Minister of the Guards in the capital. A small professional (paid) standing army was stationed near the capital.

During the Eastern Han, conscription could be avoided if one paid a commutable tax. The Eastern Han court favored the recruitment of a volunteer army
Volunteer Army
The Volunteer Army was an anti-Bolshevik army in South Russia during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1920....

. The volunteer army comprised the Southern Army (Nanjun 南軍), while the standing army
Standing army
A standing army is a professional permanent army. It is composed of full-time career soldiers and is not disbanded during times of peace. It differs from army reserves, who are activated only during wars or natural disasters...

 stationed in and near the capital was the Northern Army (Beijun 北軍). Led by Colonels (Xiaowei 校尉), the Northern Army consisted of five regiments, each composed of several thousand soldiers. When central authority collapsed after 189 CE, wealthy landowners, members of the aristocracy/nobility, and regional military-governors relied upon their retainers to act as their own personal troops (buqu 部曲).

During times of war, the volunteer army was increased, and a much larger militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 was raised across the country to supplement the Northern Army. In these circumstances, a General (Jiangjun 將軍) led a division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

, which was divided into regiment
Regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

s led by Colonels and sometimes Majors (Sima 司馬). Regiments were divided into companies
Company (military unit)
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–225 soldiers and usually commanded by a Captain, Major or Commandant. Most companies are formed of three to five platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure...

 and led by Captains. Platoon
Platoon
A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 16 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer—the...

s were the smallest units of soldiers.

Variations in currency



The Han Dynasty inherited the ban liang coin type from the Qin. In the beginning of the Han, Emperor Gaozu closed the government mint
Mint (coin)
A mint is an industrial facility which manufactures coins for currency.The history of mints correlates closely with the history of coins. One difference is that the history of the mint is usually closely tied to the political situation of an era...

 in favor of private minting of coins. This decision was reversed in 186 BCE by his widow Grand Empress Dowager Lü Zhi
Empress Lü Zhi
Empress Lü Zhi , commonly known as Empress Dowager Lü or formally as Empress Gao , courtesy name Exu , was the wife and empress of Emperor Gaozu of Han, founder of the Han Dynasty. They had two known children—the eventual Emperor Hui and Princess Luyuan...

 (d. 180 BCE), who abolished private minting. In 182 BCE, Lü Zhi issued a bronze coin that was much lighter in weight than previous coins. This caused widespread inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 that was not reduced until 175 BCE when Emperor Wen allowed private minters to manufacture coins that were precisely 2.6 g (0.09 oz) in weight.

In 144 BCE Emperor Jing abolished private minting in favor of central-government and commandery-level minting; he also introduced a new coin. Emperor Wu introduced another in 120 BCE, but a year later he abandoned the ban liangs entirely in favor of the wushu (五銖) coin, weighing 3.2 g (0.11 oz). The wushu became China's standard coin until the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 (618–907 CE). Its use was interrupted briefly by several new currencies introduced during Wang Mang's regime until it was reinstated in 40 CE by Emperor Guangwu.

Since commandery-issued coins were often of inferior quality and lighter weight, the central government closed commandery mints and monopolized the issue of coinage in 113 BCE. This central government issuance of coinage was overseen by the Superintendent of Waterways and Parks, this duty being transferred to the Minister of Finance during Eastern Han.

Taxation and property


Aside from the landowner's land tax paid in a portion of their crop yield
Crop yield
In agriculture, crop yield is not only a measure of the yield of cereal per unit area of land under cultivation, yield is also the seed generation of the plant itself...

, the poll tax
Poll tax
A poll tax is a tax of a portioned, fixed amount per individual in accordance with the census . When a corvée is commuted for cash payment, in effect it becomes a poll tax...

 and property tax
Property tax
A property tax is an ad valorem levy on the value of property that the owner is required to pay. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located; it may be paid to a national government, a federated state or a municipality...

es were paid in coin cash. The annual poll tax rate for adult men and women was 120 coins and 20 coins for minors. Merchants were required to pay a higher rate of 240 coins. The poll tax stimulated a money economy that necessitated the minting of over 28,000,000,000 coins from 118 BCE to 5 CE, an average of 220,000,000 coins a year.
The widespread circulation of coin cash allowed successful merchants to invest money in land, empowering the very social class the government attempted to suppress through heavy commercial and property taxes. Emperor Wu even enacted laws which banned registered merchants from owning land, yet powerful merchants were able to avoid registration and own large tracts of land.

The small landowner-cultivators formed the majority of the Han tax base; this revenue was threatened during the latter half of Eastern Han when many peasants fell into debt and were forced to work as farming tenants for wealthy landlord
Landlord
A landlord is the owner of a house, apartment, condominium, or real estate which is rented or leased to an individual or business, who is called a tenant . When a juristic person is in this position, the term landlord is used. Other terms include lessor and owner...

s. The Han government enacted reforms in order to keep small landowner-cultivators out of debt and on their own farms. These reforms included reducing taxes, temporary remissions of taxes, granting loans and providing landless peasants temporary lodging and work in agricultural colonies
Tuntian
The Tuntian or Duntian system was a system of government-encouraged agriculture originated in the Western Han Dynasty period of Chinese history...

 until they could recover from their debts.

In 168 BCE, the land tax rate was reduced from one-fifteenth of a farming household's crop yield to one-thirtieth, and later to a one-hundredth of a crop yield for the last decades of the dynasty. The consequent loss of government revenue was compensated for by increasing property taxes.

The labor tax took the form of conscripted labor
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 for one month per year, which was imposed upon male commoners aged fifteen to fifty-six. This could be avoided in Eastern Han with a commutable tax, since hired labor became more popular.

Private manufacture and government monopolies



In the early Western Han, a wealthy salt or iron industrialist, whether a semi-autonomous king or wealthy merchant, could boast funds that rivaled the imperial treasury
Treasury
A treasury is either*A government department related to finance and taxation.*A place where currency or precious items is/are kept....

 and amass a peasant workforce of over a thousand. This kept many peasants away from their farms and denied the government a significant portion of its land tax revenue. To eliminate the influence of such private entrepreneurs, Emperor Wu nationalized the salt and iron industries in 117 BCE and allowed many of the former industrialists to become officials administering the monopolies. By Eastern Han times, the central government monopolies were repealed in favor of production by commandery and county administrations, as well as private businessmen.

Liquor was another profitable private industry nationalized by the central government in 98 BCE. However, this was repealed in 81 BCE and a property tax rate of two coins for every 0.2 L (0.05 gallons) was levied for those who traded it privately. By 110 BCE Emperor Wu also interfered with the profitable trade in grain when he eliminated speculation
Speculation
In finance, speculation is a financial action that does not promise safety of the initial investment along with the return on the principal sum...

 by selling government-stored grain at a lower price than demanded by merchants. Apart from Emperor Ming's creation of a short-lived Office for Price Adjustment and Stabilization, which was abolished in 68 CE, central-government price control regulations were largely absent during the Eastern Han.

Science, technology, and engineering



The Han Dynasty was a unique period in the development of premodern Chinese science and technology, comparable to the level of scientific and technological growth
Technology of the Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty 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....

 during the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; 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 government to establish a...

 (960–1279).

Writing materials


Typical ancient Chinese writing materials were bronzewares and animal bones
Oracle bone script
Oracle bone script refers to incised ancient Chinese characters found on oracle bones, which are animal bones or turtle shells used in divination in Bronze Age China...

. By the beginning of the Han Dynasty, the chief writing materials were clay tablet
Clay tablet
In the Ancient Near East, clay tablets were used as a writing medium, especially for writing in cuneiform, throughout the Bronze Age and well into the Iron Age....

s, silk cloth, and rolled scrolls made from bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 strips sewn together with hempen string; these were passed through drilled holes and secured with clay stamps.

The oldest known Chinese piece of hard, hempen wrapping paper
Wrapping Paper
"Wrapping Paper" is a song with music composed by Jack Bruce and lyrics by Pete Brown, performed by Cream and originally released as a single in 1966 with "Cat's Squirrel" as the B side. It is featured on The Very Best of Cream...

 dates to the 2nd century BCE. The standard papermaking
Papermaking
Papermaking is the process of making paper, a substance which is used universally today for writing and packaging.In papermaking a dilute suspension of fibres in water is drained through a screen, so that a mat of randomly interwoven fibres is laid down. Water is removed from this mat of fibres by...

 process was invented by Cai Lun
Cai Lun
Cai Lun , courtesy name Jingzhong , was a Chinese eunuch. He is traditionally regarded as the inventor of paper and the papermaking process, in forms recognizable in modern times as paper...

 (50–121 CE) in 105 CE. The oldest known surviving piece of paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

 with writing on it was found in the ruins of a Han watchtower
Watchtower
A watchtower is a type of fortification used in many parts of the world. It differs from a regular tower in that its primary use is military, and from a turret in that it is usually a freestanding structure. Its main purpose is to provide a high, safe place from which a sentinel or guard may...

 that had been abandoned in 110 CE, in Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

.

Metallurgy and agriculture


Evidence suggests that blast furnace
Blast furnace
A blast furnace is a type of metallurgical furnace used for smelting to produce industrial metals, generally iron.In a blast furnace, fuel and ore and flux are continuously supplied through the top of the furnace, while air is blown into the bottom of the chamber, so that the chemical reactions...

s, that convert raw iron ore into pig iron
Pig iron
Pig iron is the intermediate product of smelting iron ore with a high-carbon fuel such as coke, usually with limestone as a flux. Charcoal and anthracite have also been used as fuel...

, which can be remelted in a cupola furnace
Cupola furnace
A Cupola or Cupola furnace is a melting device used in foundries that can be used to melt cast iron, ni-resist iron and some bronzes. The cupola can be made almost any practical size. The size of a cupola is expressed in diameters and can range from . The overall shape is cylindrical and the...

 to produce cast iron
Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

 by means of a cold blast
Cold blast
Cold blast, in ironmaking, refers to a furnace where air is not preheated before being blown into the furnace. This represents the earliest stage in the development of ironmaking...

 and hot blast
Hot blast
Hot blast refers to the preheating of air blown into a blast furnace or other metallurgical process. This has the result of considerably reducing the fuel consumed in the process...

, were operational in China by the late Spring and Autumn Period (722–481 BCE). The bloomery
Bloomery
A bloomery is a type of furnace once widely used for smelting iron from its oxides. The bloomery was the earliest form of smelter capable of smelting iron. A bloomery's product is a porous mass of iron and slag called a bloom. This mix of slag and iron in the bloom is termed sponge iron, which...

 was nonexistent in ancient China; however, the Han-era Chinese produced wrought iron
Wrought iron
thumb|The [[Eiffel tower]] is constructed from [[puddle iron]], a form of wrought ironWrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon...

 by injecting excess oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 into a furnace and causing decarburization
Decarburization
Decarburization is the process opposite to carburization, namely aimed at decreasing the content of carbon in metals . Decarburization occurs when Carbon in the metal reacts with gasses present in the atmosphere...

. Cast iron and pig iron could be converted into wrought iron and steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 using a fining
Finery forge
Iron tapped from the blast furnace is pig iron, and contains significant amounts of carbon and silicon. To produce malleable wrought iron, it needs to undergo a further process. In the early modern period, this was carried out in a finery forge....

 process.

The Han-era Chinese used bronze and iron to make a range of weapons, culinary tools, carpenters' tools and domestic wares. A significant product of these improved iron-smelting techniques was the manufacture of new agricultural tools. The three-legged iron seed drill
Seed drill
A seed drill is a sowing device that precisely positions seeds in the soil and then covers them. Before the introduction of the seed drill, the common practice was to plant seeds by hand. Besides being wasteful, planting was very imprecise and led to a poor distribution of seeds, leading to low...

, invented by the 2nd century BCE, enabled farmers to carefully plant crops in rows instead of casting seeds out by hand
Sowing
Sowing is the process of planting seeds.-Plants which are usually sown:Among the major field crops, oats, wheat, and rye are sowed, grasses and legumes are seeded, and maize and soybeans are planted...

. The heavy moldboard iron plow, also invented during the Han Dynasty, required only one man to control it, two oxen to pull it. It had three plowshare
Plowshare
In agriculture, a plowshare is a component of a plow . It is the cutting or leading edge of a moldboard which closely follows the coulter when plowing....

s, a seed box for the drills, a tool which turned down the soil and could sow roughly 45,730 m2 (11.3 acres) of land in a single day.

To protect crops from wind and drought, the Grain Intendant Zhao Guo (趙過) created the alternating fields system (daitianfa 代田法) during Emperor Wu's reign. This system switched the positions of furrows and ridges
Ridge and furrow
Ridge and furrow is an archaeological pattern of ridges and troughs created by a system of ploughing used in Europe during the Middle Ages. The earliest examples date to the immediate post-Roman period and the system was used until the 17th century in some areas. Ridge and furrow topography is...

 between growing seasons. Once experiments with this system yielded successful results, the government officially sponsored it and encouraged peasants to use it. Han farmers also used the pit field system (aotian 凹田) for growing crops, which involved heavily fertilized pits that did not require plows or oxen and could be placed on sloping terrain. In southern and small parts of central Han-era China, paddy field
Paddy field
A paddy field is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing rice and other semiaquatic crops. Paddy fields are a typical feature of rice farming in east, south and southeast Asia. Paddies can be built into steep hillsides as terraces and adjacent to depressed or steeply sloped features such...

s were chiefly used to grow rice, while farmers along the Huai River
Huai River
The Huai River is a major river in China. The Huai River is located about mid-way between the Yellow River and Yangtze River, the two largest rivers in China, and like them runs from west to east...

 used transplantation
Transplanting
For botanical organ transplant, see GraftingIn agriculture and gardening, transplanting or replanting is the technique of moving a plant from one location to another. Most often this takes the form of starting a plant from seed in optimal conditions, such as in a greenhouse or protected nursery...

 methods of rice production.

Structural engineering



Timber
Timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

 was the chief building material during the Han Dynasty; it was used to build palace halls, multiple-story residential towers and halls and single-story houses. Because wood decays rapidly, the only remaining evidence of Han wooden architecture is a collection of scattered ceramic roof tiles. The oldest surviving wooden halls in China date to the Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 (618–907 CE). Architectural historian Robert L. Thorp points out the scarcity of Han-era archaeological remains, and claims that often unreliable Han-era literary and artistic sources are used by historians for clues about lost Han architecture.

Though Han wooden structures decayed, some Han-dynasty ruins made of brick, stone, and rammed earth
Rammed earth
Rammed earth, also known as taipa , tapial , and pisé , is a technique for building walls using the raw materials of earth, chalk, lime and gravel. It is an ancient building method that has seen a revival in recent years as people seek more sustainable building materials and natural building methods...

 remain intact. This includes stone pillar-gates, brick tomb chambers, rammed-earth city walls
Chinese city wall
Chinese city walls refer to civic defensive systems used to protect towns and cities in China in pre-modern times. The system consisted of walls, towers, and gates, which were often built to a uniform standard throughout the Empire....

, rammed-earth and brick beacon
Beacon
A beacon is an intentionally conspicuous device designed to attract attention to a specific location.Beacons can also be combined with semaphoric or other indicators to provide important information, such as the status of an airport, by the colour and rotational pattern of its airport beacon, or of...

 towers, rammed-earth sections of the Great Wall
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups...

, rammed-earth platforms where elevated halls once stood, and two rammed-earth castle
Castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

s in Gansu
Gansu
' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

. The ruins of rammed-earth walls that once surrounded the capitals Chang'an and Luoyang still stand, along with their drainage systems
Sewage collection and disposal
Sewage collection and disposal systems transport sewage through cities and other inhabited areas to sewage treatment plants to protect public health and prevent disease. Sewage is treated to control water pollution before discharge to surface waters....

 of brick arches, ditches, and ceramic water pipe
Water pipe
Water pipes are pipes or tubes, frequently made of polyvinyl chloride , ductile iron, steel, cast iron, polypropylene, polyethylene, or copper, that carry pressurized and treated fresh water to buildings , as well as inside the building.-History:For many centuries, lead was the favoured material...

s. Monumental stone pillar-gates, twenty-nine of which survive from the Han period, formed entrances of walled enclosures at shrine and tomb sites. These pillars feature artistic imitations of wooden and ceramic building components such as roof tiles, eaves, and balustrades.

The courtyard house
Courtyard house
A courtyard house is a type of house — often a large house — where the main part of the building is disposed around a central courtyard. Many houses that have courtyards are not courtyard houses of the type covered by this article. For example, large houses often have small courtyards surrounded by...

 is the most common type of home portrayed in Han artwork. Ceramic architectural models of buildings
Architectural model
An architectural model is a type of a scale model, tangible representation of a structure built to study aspects of an architectural design or to communicate design ideas to clients, committees, and the general public...

, like houses and towers, were found in Han tombs, perhaps to provide lodging for the dead in the afterlife. These provide valuable clues about lost wooden architecture. The artistic designs found on ceramic roof tiles of tower models are in some cases exact matches to Han roof tiles found at archaeological sites.

Over ten thousand Han-era underground tombs have been found, many of them featuring arch
Arch
An arch is a structure that spans a space and supports a load. Arches appeared as early as the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamian brick architecture and their systematic use started with the Ancient Romans who were the first to apply the technique to a wide range of structures.-Technical aspects:The...

ways, vaulted
Vault (architecture)
A Vault is an architectural term for an arched form used to provide a space with a ceiling or roof. The parts of a vault exert lateral thrust that require a counter resistance. When vaults are built underground, the ground gives all the resistance required...

 chambers, and dome
Dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

d roofs. Underground vaults and domes did not require buttress supports since they were held in place by earthen pits. The use of brick vaults and domes in aboveground Han structures is unknown.

From Han literary sources, it is known that wooden-trestle beam bridge
Beam bridge
Beam bridges are the most simple of structural forms being supported by an abutment at each end of the deck. No moments are transferred through the support hence their structural type is known as simply supported....

s, arch bridge
Arch bridge
An arch bridge is a bridge with abutments at each end shaped as a curved arch. Arch bridges work by transferring the weight of the bridge and its loads partially into a horizontal thrust restrained by the abutments at either side...

s, simple suspension bridge
Simple suspension bridge
A simple suspension bridge is an early type of bridge that is supported entirely from anchors at either end, and has no towers or piers. However, it may have saddles...

s, and floating pontoon bridge
Pontoon bridge
A pontoon bridge or floating bridge is a bridge that floats on water and in which barge- or boat-like pontoons support the bridge deck and its dynamic loads. While pontoon bridges are usually temporary structures, some are used for long periods of time...

s existed in Han China. However, there are only two known references to arch bridges in Han literature, and only a single Han relief sculpture in Sichuan depicts an arch bridge.

Underground mine shafts
Shaft mining
Shaft mining or shaft sinking refers to the method of excavating a vertical or near-vertical tunnel from the top down, where there is initially no access to the bottom....

, some reaching depths over 100 metres (328.1 ft), were created for the extraction of metal ores. Borehole
Borehole
A borehole is the generalized term for any narrow shaft bored in the ground, either vertically or horizontally. A borehole may be constructed for many different purposes, including the extraction of water or other liquid or gases , as part of a geotechnical investigation, environmental site...

 drilling and derrick
Derrick
A derrick is a lifting device composed of one tower, or guyed mast such as a pole which is hinged freely at the bottom. It is controlled by lines powered by some means such as man-hauling or motors, so that the pole can move in all four directions. A line runs up it and over its top with a hook on...

s were used to lift brine
Brine
Brine is water, saturated or nearly saturated with salt .Brine is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, in a process known as brining . Brine is also commonly used to age Halloumi and Feta cheeses, or for pickling foodstuffs, as a means of preserving them...

 to iron pans where it was distilled into salt. The distillation furnaces were heated by natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 funneled to the surface through bamboo pipelines
Pipeline transport
Pipeline transport is the transportation of goods through a pipe. Most commonly, liquids and gases are sent, but pneumatic tubes that transport solid capsules using compressed air are also used....

. Dangerous amounts of additional gas were siphoned off via carburetor
Carburetor
A carburetor , carburettor, or carburetter is a device that blends air and fuel for an internal combustion engine. It is sometimes shortened to carb in North America and the United Kingdom....

 chambers and exhaust pipes.

Mechanical and hydraulic engineering


Evidence of Han-era mechanical engineering comes largely from the choice observational writings of sometimes disinterested Confucian scholars. Professional artisan-engineers (jiang 匠) did not leave behind detailed records of their work. Han scholars, who often had little or no expertise in mechanical engineering, sometimes provided insufficient information on the various technologies they described. Nevertheless, some Han literary sources provide crucial information. For example, in 15 BCE the philosopher Yang Xiong described the invention of the belt drive
Belt (mechanical)
A belt is a loop of flexible material used to link two or more rotating shafts mechanically. Belts may be used as a source of motion, to transmit power efficiently, or to track relative movement. Belts are looped over pulleys. In a two pulley system, the belt can either drive the pulleys in the...

 for a quilling
Quilling
Quilling or paper filigree is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The paper is wound around a quill to create a basic coil shape...

 machine, which was of great importance to early textile manufacturing. The inventions of the artisan-engineer Ding Huan (丁緩) are mentioned in the Miscellaneous Notes on the Western Capital. Around 180 CE, Ding created a manually operated rotary fan used for air conditioning
Air conditioning
An air conditioner is a home appliance, system, or mechanism designed to dehumidify and extract heat from an area. The cooling is done using a simple refrigeration cycle...

 within palace buildings. Ding also used gimbal
Gimbal
A gimbal is a pivoted support that allows the rotation of an object about a single axis. A set of two gimbals, one mounted on the other with pivot axes orthogonal, may be used to allow an object mounted on the innermost gimbal to remain immobile regardless of the motion of its support...

s as pivotal supports for one of his incense burners and invented the world's first known zoetrope
Zoetrope
A zoetrope is a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures. The term zoetrope is from the Greek words "ζωή – zoe", "life" and τρόπος – tropos, "turn". It may be taken to mean "wheel of life"....

 lamp.

Modern archaeology has led to the discovery of Han artwork portraying inventions which were otherwise absent in Han literary sources. As observed in Han miniature tomb models, but not in literary sources, the crank handle
Crank (mechanism)
A crank is an arm attached at right angles to a rotating shaft by which reciprocating motion is imparted to or received from the shaft. It is used to change circular into reciprocating motion, or reciprocating into circular motion. The arm may be a bent portion of the shaft, or a separate arm...

 was used to operate the fan
Fan (mechanical)
A mechanical fan is a machine used to create flow within a fluid, typically a gas such as air.A fan consists of a rotating arrangement of vanes or blades which act on the air. Usually, it is contained within some form of housing or case. This may direct the airflow or increase safety by preventing...

s of winnowing machines that separated grain from chaff
Chaff
Chaff is the dry, scaly protective casings of the seeds of cereal grain, or similar fine, dry, scaly plant material such as scaly parts of flowers, or finely chopped straw...

. The odometer
Odometer
An odometer or odograph is an instrument that indicates distance traveled by a vehicle, such as a bicycle or automobile. The device may be electronic, mechanical, or a combination of the two. The word derives from the Greek words hodós and métron...

 cart, invented during Han, measured journey lengths, using mechanical figures banging drums and gongs to indicate each distance traveled. This invention is depicted in Han artwork by the 2nd century CE, yet detailed written descriptions were not offered until the 3rd century CE. Modern archaeologists have also unearthed specimens of devices used during the Han Dynasty, for example a pair of sliding metal caliper
Caliper
A caliper is a device used to measure the distance between two opposing sides of an object. A caliper can be as simple as a compass with inward or outward-facing points...

s used by craftsmen for making minute measurements. These calipers contain inscriptions of the exact day and year they were manufactured. These tools are not mentioned in any Han literary sources.

The waterwheel appeared in Chinese records during the Han. As mentioned by Huan Tan
Huan Tan
Huan Tan 桓譚 was a Chinese philosopher of the Han Dynasty and short-lived interregnum of the Xin Dynasty . Huan's mode of philosophical thought belonged to an Old Text realist tradition supported by other contemporaries such as the naturalist and mechanistic philosopher Wang Chong Huan Tan 桓譚 (c....

 in about 20 CE, they were used to turn gears that lifted iron trip hammer
Trip hammer
A trip hammer, also known as a helve hammer, is a massive powered hammer used in:* agriculture to facilitate the labor of pounding, decorticating and polishing of grain;...

s, and were used in pounding, threshing
Threshing
Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of cereal grain from the scaly, inedible chaff that surrounds it. It is the step in grain preparation after harvesting and before winnowing, which separates the loosened chaff from the grain...

 and polishing grain. However, there is no sufficient evidence for the watermill
Watermill
A watermill is a structure that uses a water wheel or turbine to drive a mechanical process such as flour, lumber or textile production, or metal shaping .- History :...

 in China until about the 5th century. The Nanyang Commandery Administrator Du Shi
Du Shi
Du Shi was a Chinese governmental Prefect of Nanyang in 31 AD and a mechanical engineer of the Eastern Han Dynasty in ancient China. Du Shi is credited with being the first to apply hydraulic power to operate bellows in metallurgy...

 (d. 38 CE) created a waterwheel-powered reciprocator
Reciprocating motion
Reciprocating motion, also called reciprocation, is a repetitive up-and-down or back-and-forth motion. It is found in a wide range of mechanisms, including reciprocating engines and pumps. The two opposite motions that comprise a single reciprocation cycle are called strokes...

 that worked the bellows
Bellows
A bellows is a device for delivering pressurized air in a controlled quantity to a controlled location.Basically, a bellows is a deformable container which has an outlet nozzle. When the volume of the bellows is decreased, the air escapes through the outlet...

 for the smelting of iron. Waterwheels were also used to power chain pumps that lifted water to raised irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 ditches. The chain pump was first mentioned in China by the philosopher Wang Chong in his 1st-century-CE Balanced Discourse
Lunheng
The Lunheng is a wide-ranging Chinese classic text containing critical essays by Wang Chong on natural science, Chinese mythology, philosophy, and literature.-Title:...

.

The armillary sphere
Armillary sphere
An armillary sphere is a model of objects in the sky , consisting of a spherical framework of rings, centred on Earth, that represent lines of celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features such as the ecliptic...

, a three-dimensional representation of the movements in the celestial sphere
Celestial sphere
In astronomy and navigation, the celestial sphere is an imaginary sphere of arbitrarily large radius, concentric with the Earth and rotating upon the same axis. All objects in the sky can be thought of as projected upon the celestial sphere. Projected upward from Earth's equator and poles are the...

, was invented in Han China by the 1st century BCE. Using a water clock
Water clock
A water clock or clepsydra is any timepiece in which time is measured by the regulated flow of liquid into or out from a vessel where the amount is then measured.Water clocks, along with sundials, are likely to be the oldest time-measuring instruments, with the only exceptions...

, waterwheel and a series of gears, the Court Astronomer Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar from Nanyang, Henan. He lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty of China. He was educated in the capital cities of Luoyang and Chang'an, and began his career as a...

 (78–139 CE) was able to mechanically rotate his metal-ringed armillary sphere. To address the problem of slowed timekeeping in the pressure head
Pressure head
Pressure head is a term used in fluid mechanics to represent the internal energy of a fluid due to the pressure exerted on its container. It may also be called static pressure head or simply static head...

 of the inflow water clock, Zhang was the first in China to install an additional tank between the reservoir and inflow vessel. Zhang also invented a seismometer
Seismometer
Seismometers are instruments that measure motions of the ground, including those of seismic waves generated by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other seismic sources...

 (Houfeng didong yi 候风地动仪) in 132 CE to detect the exact cardinal
Cardinal direction
The four cardinal directions or cardinal points are the directions of north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials: N, E, S, W. East and west are at right angles to north and south, with east being in the direction of rotation and west being directly opposite. Intermediate...

 or ordinal direction of earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s from hundreds of kilometers away. This employed an inverted pendulum
Inverted pendulum
An inverted pendulum is a pendulum which has its mass above its pivot point. It is often implemented with the pivot point mounted on a cart that can move horizontally and may be called a cart and pole...

 that, when disturbed by ground tremors, would trigger a set of gears that dropped a metal ball from one of eight dragon mouths (representing all eight directions) into a metal toad's mouth.

Mathematics



Three Han mathematical treatises still exist. These are the Book on Numbers and Computation, the Arithmetical Classic of the Gnomon and the Circular Paths of Heaven and the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art. Han-era mathematical achievements include solving problems with right-angle triangles, square root
Square root
In mathematics, a square root of a number x is a number r such that r2 = x, or, in other words, a number r whose square is x...

s, cube roots, and matrix methods
Matrix (mathematics)
In mathematics, a matrix is a rectangular array of numbers, symbols, or expressions. The individual items in a matrix are called its elements or entries. An example of a matrix with six elements isMatrices of the same size can be added or subtracted element by element...

, finding more accurate approximations for pi, providing mathematical proof
Mathematical proof
In mathematics, a proof is a convincing demonstration that some mathematical statement is necessarily true. Proofs are obtained from deductive reasoning, rather than from inductive or empirical arguments. That is, a proof must demonstrate that a statement is true in all cases, without a single...

 of the Pythagorean theorem
Pythagorean theorem
In mathematics, the Pythagorean theorem or Pythagoras' theorem is a relation in Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle...

, use of the decimal fraction
Fraction (mathematics)
A fraction represents a part of a whole or, more generally, any number of equal parts. When spoken in everyday English, we specify how many parts of a certain size there are, for example, one-half, five-eighths and three-quarters.A common or "vulgar" fraction, such as 1/2, 5/8, 3/4, etc., consists...

, Gaussian elimination
Gaussian elimination
In linear algebra, Gaussian elimination is an algorithm for solving systems of linear equations. It can also be used to find the rank of a matrix, to calculate the determinant of a matrix, and to calculate the inverse of an invertible square matrix...

 to solve linear equations, and continued fractions to find the roots of equations.

One of the Han's greatest mathematical advancements was the world's first use of negative numbers. Negative numbers first appeared in the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art as black counting rods
Counting rods
Counting rods are small bars, typically 3–14 cm long, used by mathematicians for calculation in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. They are placed either horizontally or vertically to represent any number and any fraction....

, where positive numbers were represented by red counting rods. Negative numbers are used in the Bakhshali manuscript
Bakhshali Manuscript
The Bakhshali Manuscript is an Ancient Indian mathematical manuscript written on birch bark which was found near the village of Bakhshali in 1881 in what was then the North-West Frontier Province of British India...

 of ancient India, but its exact date of compilation is unknown. Negative numbers were also used by the Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 mathematician Diophantus
Diophantus
Diophantus of Alexandria , sometimes called "the father of algebra", was an Alexandrian Greek mathematician and the author of a series of books called Arithmetica. These texts deal with solving algebraic equations, many of which are now lost...

 in about 275 CE, but were not widely accepted in Europe until the 16th century CE.

The Han applied mathematics to various diverse disciplines. In musical tuning
Musical tuning
In music, there are two common meanings for tuning:* Tuning practice, the act of tuning an instrument or voice.* Tuning systems, the various systems of pitches used to tune an instrument, and their theoretical bases.-Tuning practice:...

, Jing Fang
Jing Fang
Jing Fang , born Li Fang , courtesy name Junming , was a Chinese music theorist, mathematician and astrologer. Born in present-day Puyang, Henan during the Han Dynasty , he was the first to notice how closely a succession of 53 just fifths approximates 31 octaves...

 (78–37 BCE) realized that 53 perfect fifth
Perfect fifth
In classical music from Western culture, a fifth is a musical interval encompassing five staff positions , and the perfect fifth is a fifth spanning seven semitones, or in meantone, four diatonic semitones and three chromatic semitones...

s was approximate to 31 octave
Octave
In music, an octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems"...

s while creating a musical scale
Musical scale
In music, a scale is a sequence of musical notes in ascending and descending order. Most commonly, especially in the context of the common practice period, the notes of a scale will belong to a single key, thus providing material for or being used to conveniently represent part or all of a musical...

 of 60 tones, calculating the difference at 177147176776 (the same value of 53 equal temperament
53 equal temperament
In music, 53 equal temperament, called 53-TET, 53-EDO, or 53-ET, is the tempered scale derived by dividing the octave into 53 equal steps . Each step represents a frequency ratio of 21/53, or 22.6415 cents , an interval sometimes called the Holdrian comma.- History :Theoretical interest in this...

 discovered by the German mathematician Nicholas Mercator
Nicholas Mercator
Nicholas Mercator , also known by his Germanic name Kauffmann, was a 17th-century mathematician....

 [1620–1687], i.e. 353/284).

Astronomy



Mathematics were essential in drafting the astronomical calendar
Chinese calendar
The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. It is not exclusive to China, but followed by many other Asian cultures as well...

, a lunisolar calendar
Lunisolar calendar
A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year then the calendar will...

 that used the Sun and Moon as time-markers throughout the year. Use of the ancient Sifen calendar (古四分历), which measured the tropical year
Tropical year
A tropical year , for general purposes, is the length of time that the Sun takes to return to the same position in the cycle of seasons, as seen from Earth; for example, the time from vernal equinox to vernal equinox, or from summer solstice to summer solstice...

 at 36514 days, was replaced in 104 BCE with the Taichu calendar (太初历) that measured the tropical year at 3653851539 days and the lunar month
Lunar month
In lunar calendars, a lunar month is the time between two identical syzygies . There are many variations. In Middle-Eastern and European traditions, the month starts when the young crescent moon becomes first visible at evening after conjunction with the Sun one or two days before that evening...

 at 294381 days. However, Emperor Zhang later reinstated the Sifen calendar.

Han Chinese astronomers made star catalogue
Star catalogue
A star catalogue, or star catalog, is an astronomical catalogue that lists stars. In astronomy, many stars are referred to simply by catalogue numbers. There are a great many different star catalogues which have been produced for different purposes over the years, and this article covers only some...

s and detailed records of comets that appeared in the night sky, including recording the 12 BCE appearance of the comet now known as Halley's comet.

Han-era astronomers adopted a geocentric model
Geocentric model
In astronomy, the geocentric model , is the superseded theory that the Earth is the center of the universe, and that all other objects orbit around it. This geocentric model served as the predominant cosmological system in many ancient civilizations such as ancient Greece...

 of the universe, theorizing that it was shaped like a sphere
Celestial sphere
In astronomy and navigation, the celestial sphere is an imaginary sphere of arbitrarily large radius, concentric with the Earth and rotating upon the same axis. All objects in the sky can be thought of as projected upon the celestial sphere. Projected upward from Earth's equator and poles are the...

 surrounding the earth in the center. They assumed that the Sun, Moon, and planets were spherical and not disc-shaped. They also thought that the illumination of the Moon and planets was caused by sunlight
Sunlight
Sunlight, in the broad sense, is the total frequency spectrum of electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun. On Earth, sunlight is filtered through the Earth's atmosphere, and solar radiation is obvious as daylight when the Sun is above the horizon.When the direct solar radiation is not blocked...

, that lunar eclipse
Lunar eclipse
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth so that the Earth blocks the Sun's rays from striking the Moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a...

s occurred when the Earth obstructed sunlight falling onto the Moon, and that a solar eclipse
Solar eclipse
As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun as viewed from a location on Earth. This can happen only during a new moon, when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth. At least...

 occurred when the Moon obstructed sunlight from reaching the Earth. Although others disagreed with his model, Wang Chong accurately described the water cycle
Water cycle
The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle or H2O cycle, describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. Water can change states among liquid, vapor, and solid at various places in the water cycle...

 of the evaporation
Evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs only on the surface of a liquid. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which, instead, occurs on the entire mass of the liquid....

 of water into clouds.

Cartography, ships, and vehicles




Evidence found in Chinese literature, and archaeological evidence, show that cartography
Cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

 existed in China before the Han. Some of the earliest Han maps discovered were ink-penned silk maps found amongst the Mawangdui Silk Texts
Mawangdui Silk Texts
The Mawangdui Silk Texts are texts of Chinese philosophical and medical works written on silk and found at Mawangdui in China in 1973. They include some of the earliest attested manuscripts of existing texts such as the I Ching, two copies of the Tao Te Ching, one similar copy of Strategies of the...

 in a 2nd-century-BCE tomb. The general Ma Yuan created the world's first known raised-relief map
Raised-relief map
A raised-relief map or terrain model is a three-dimensional representation, usually of terrain. When representing terrain, the elevation dimension is usually exaggerated by a factor between five and ten; this facilitates the visual recognition of terrain features.-History:In his 1665 paper for the...

 from rice in the 1st century CE. This date could be revised if the tomb of Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang , personal name Ying Zheng , was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC...

 is excavated and the account in the Records of the Grand Historian concerning a model map of the empire is proven to be true.

Although the use of the graduated scale
Scale (map)
The scale of a map is defined as the ratio of a distance on the map to the corresponding distance on the ground.If the region of the map is small enough for the curvature of the Earth to be neglected, then the scale may be taken as a constant ratio over the whole map....

 and grid reference
Grid reference
Grid references define locations on maps using Cartesian coordinates. Grid lines on maps define the coordinate system, and are numbered to provide a unique reference to features....

 for maps was not thoroughly described until the published work of Pei Xiu
Pei Xiu
Pei Xiu , style name Jiyan , was a minister, geographer, and cartographer of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, as well as the subsequent Jin Dynasty. Pei Xiu was very much trusted by Sima Zhao, and participated in the suppression of Zhuge Dan's coup...

 (224–271 CE), there is evidence that in the early 2nd century CE, cartographer Zhang Heng was the first to use scales and grids for maps.

The Han-era Chinese sailed in a variety of ships differing from those of previous eras, such as the tower ship
Lou chuan
Lóu chuán were a type of naval vessel, primarily a floating fortress, which has seen use in China since the Han Dynasty...

. The junk design
Junk (ship)
A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing vessel design still in use today. Junks were developed during the Han Dynasty and were used as sea-going vessels as early as the 2nd century AD. They evolved in the later dynasties, and were used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages...

 was developed and realized during Han. Junks featured a square-ended bow
Bow (ship)
The bow is a nautical term that refers to the forward part of the hull of a ship or boat, the point that is most forward when the vessel is underway. Both of the adjectives fore and forward mean towards the bow...

 and stern
Stern
The stern is the rear or aft-most part of a ship or boat, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter rail to the taffrail. The stern lies opposite of the bow, the foremost part of a ship. Originally, the term only referred to the aft port section...

, a flat-bottomed hull
Hull (watercraft)
A hull is the watertight body of a ship or boat. Above the hull is the superstructure and/or deckhouse, where present. The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline.The structure of the hull varies depending on the vessel type...

 or carvel-shaped
Carvel (boat building)
In boat building, carvel built or carvel planking is a method of constructing wooden boats and tall ships by fixing planks to a frame so that the planks butt up against each other, edge to edge, gaining support from the frame and forming a smooth hull...

 hull with no keel
Keel
In boats and ships, keel can refer to either of two parts: a structural element, or a hydrodynamic element. These parts overlap. As the laying down of the keel is the initial step in construction of a ship, in British and American shipbuilding traditions the construction is dated from this event...

 or sternpost
Sternpost
A sternpost is the upright structural member or post at the stern of a ship or a boat, to which are attached the transoms and the rearmost left corner part of the stern...

, and solid transverse bulkheads
Bulkhead (partition)
A bulkhead is an upright wall within the hull of a ship or within the fuselage of an airplane. Other kinds of partition elements within a ship are decks and deckheads.-Etymology:...

 in the place of structural ribs
Boat building
Boat building, one of the oldest branches of engineering, is concerned with constructing the hulls of boats and, for sailboats, the masts, spars and rigging.-Parts:* Bow - the front and generally sharp end of the hull...

 found in Western vessels. Moreover, Han ships were the first in the world to be steered using a rudder
Rudder
A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

 at the stern, in contrast to the simpler steering oar
Steering oar
The steering oar or steering board is an oversized oar or board to control the direction of a ship or other watercraft prior to the invention of the rudder....

 used for riverine transport, allowing them to sail on the high seas.

Although ox-carts and chariots were previously used in China, the wheelbarrow
Wheelbarrow
A wheelbarrow is a small hand-propelled vehicle, usually with just one wheel, designed to be pushed and guided by a single person using two handles to the rear, or by a sail to push the ancient wheelbarrow by wind. The term "wheelbarrow" is made of two words: "wheel" and "barrow." "Barrow" is a...

 was first used in Han China in the 1st century BCE. Han artwork of horse-drawn chariots shows that the Warring-States-Era heavy wooden yoke placed around a horse's chest was replaced by the softer breast strap. Later, during the Northern Wei
Northern Wei
The Northern Wei Dynasty , also known as the Tuoba Wei , Later Wei , or Yuan Wei , was a dynasty which ruled northern China from 386 to 534 . It has been described as "part of an era of political turbulence and intense social and cultural change"...

 (386–534 CE), the fully developed horse collar
Horse collar
A horse collar is a part of a horse harness device used to distribute load around a horse's neck and shoulders when pulling a wagon or plow. The collar often supports and pads a pair of curved metal or wood pieces, called hames, to which the traces of the harness are attached...

 was invented.

Medicine


Han-era medical physicians believed that the human body was subject to the same forces of nature that governed the greater universe, namely the cosmological cycles of yin and yang and the five phases. Each organ of the body was associated with a particular phase. Illness was viewed as a sign that qi
Qi
In traditional Chinese culture, qì is an active principle forming part of any living thing. Qi is frequently translated as life energy, lifeforce, or energy flow. Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts...

or "vital energy" channels leading to a certain organ had been disrupted. Thus, Han-era physicians prescribed medicine that was believed to counteract this imbalance. For example, since the wood phase was believed to promote the fire phase, medicinal ingredients associated with the wood phase could be used to heal an organ associated with the fire phase. To this end, the physician Zhang Zhongjing
Zhang Zhongjing
Zhang Zhongjing , formal name Zhang Ji, was a Han Dynasty physician and one of the most eminent Chinese physicians during the later years of the Han Dynasty...

 (c. 150–c. 219 CE) prescribed regulated diets rich in certain foods that were thought to curb specific illnesses. These are now known to be nutrition disorders caused by the lack of certain vitamin
Vitamin
A vitamin is an organic compound required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism. In other words, an organic chemical compound is called a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from the diet. Thus, the term is conditional both on...

s consumed in one's diet. Besides dieting, Han physicians also prescribed moxibustion
Moxibustion
Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine therapy using moxa, or mugwort herb. It plays an important role in the traditional medical systems of China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, and Mongolia. Suppliers usually age the mugwort and grind it up to a fluff; practitioners burn the fluff or...

, acupuncture
Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine that treats patients by insertion and manipulation of solid, generally thin needles in the body....

, and calisthenics
Calisthenics
Calisthenics are a form of aerobic exercise consisting of a variety of simple, often rhythmical, movements, generally using multiple equipment or apparatus. They are intended to increase body strength and flexibility with movements such as bending, jumping, swinging, twisting or kicking, using...

 as methods of maintaining one's health. When surgery
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

 was performed by the physician Hua Tuo
Hua Tuo
Hua Tuo was an ancient Chinese physician who lived during the late Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. The Records of Three Kingdoms and Book of Later Han record Hua as the first person in China to use anesthesia during surgery. He used a general anesthetic combining wine with a...

 (d. 208 CE), he used anesthesia
Anesthesia
Anesthesia, or anaesthesia , traditionally meant the condition of having sensation blocked or temporarily taken away...

 to numb his patients' pain and prescribed a rubbing ointment that allegedly sped the process of healing surgical wounds.

See also


  • Battle of Jushi
    Battle of Jushi
    The Battle of Jushi was a battle between the Han Dynasty and the Xiongnu for the control of the people of the Jushi culture in the Turpan Basin in 67 BC. The battle was a success for the Han, who were led by Zheng Ji. The king of Jushi Wugui surrendered to Han, after the Han launched the attack...

  • Campaign against Dong Zhuo
    Campaign against Dong Zhuo
    The Campaign against Dong Zhuo was a punitive expedition initiated by a coalition of regional officials and warlords against Dong Zhuo, Chancellor of State, in 190 during the late Han Dynasty of Chinese history...

  • Early Imperial China
    Early Imperial China
    Early Imperial China begins in the Iron Age with the unification of China by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC. It ended five centuries of feudal warfare, similar to that of Western Europe, that plagued the Eastern Zhou dynasty. The short-lived Qin introduced centralized government under the absolute...

  • Family tree of the Han Dynasty
  • First Chinese domination (History of Vietnam)
    First Chinese domination (History of Vietnam)
    The first Chinese domination is an early historical period in Vietnamese history, during which the Vietnamese people repeatedly combated Chinese expansion from the north. In 111 B.C. Chinese armies reconquered Vietnam and incorporated it into the expanding Han Empire. The Viet resisted the Chinese...

  • Mawangdui
  • Shuanggudui
    Shuanggudui
    Shuanggudui is an archeological site located near Fuyang in China's Anhui province. Shuanggudui grave no. 1, which belongs to Xiahou Zao , the second marquis of Ruyin , was sealed in 165 BCE in the early Han Dynasty and excavated in 1977...

  • Ten Attendants
    Ten Attendants
    The Ten Attendants were a group of eunuchs from the Eunuch Faction of the Han Imperial Court in China...



Further reading

  • Yap, Joseph P. (2009). Wars with the Xiongnu: A Translation From Zizhi Tongjian. Author House. ISBN 978-1-4490-0604-4.

External links