Ming Dynasty

Ming Dynasty

Overview
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling 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...

 of 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...

 from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

-led Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese
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...

. Although the Ming capital Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng (who established the Shun Dynasty
Shun Dynasty
The Shun Dynasty was an imperial dynasty created in the brief lapse from Ming to Qing rule in China. The dynasty was founded in Xi'an on 8 February 1644, the first day of the lunar year, by Li Zicheng, the leader of a large peasant rebellion. Li, however, only went by the title of King, not Emperor...

, soon replaced by the Manchu-led 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....

), regimes loyal to the Ming throne — collectively called the Southern Ming
Southern Ming Dynasty
The Southern Ming Dynasty was the Ming loyalist regime that continued in Southern China from 1644 to 1662 following the capture of Beijing by rebel armies and the death of the last Ming emperor in 1644....

 — survived until 1662.

Ming rule saw the construction of a vast navy
Naval history of China
The naval history of China dates back thousands of years, with archives existing since the late Spring and Autumn Period about the ancient navy of China and the various ship types used in war. China was leading maritime power in the years 1405-1433, when Chinese shipbuilders began to build massive...

 and a 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...

 of one million troops.
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Encyclopedia
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling 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...

 of 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...

 from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

-led Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese
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...

. Although the Ming capital Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng (who established the Shun Dynasty
Shun Dynasty
The Shun Dynasty was an imperial dynasty created in the brief lapse from Ming to Qing rule in China. The dynasty was founded in Xi'an on 8 February 1644, the first day of the lunar year, by Li Zicheng, the leader of a large peasant rebellion. Li, however, only went by the title of King, not Emperor...

, soon replaced by the Manchu-led 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....

), regimes loyal to the Ming throne — collectively called the Southern Ming
Southern Ming Dynasty
The Southern Ming Dynasty was the Ming loyalist regime that continued in Southern China from 1644 to 1662 following the capture of Beijing by rebel armies and the death of the last Ming emperor in 1644....

 — survived until 1662.

Ming rule saw the construction of a vast navy
Naval history of China
The naval history of China dates back thousands of years, with archives existing since the late Spring and Autumn Period about the ancient navy of China and the various ship types used in war. China was leading maritime power in the years 1405-1433, when Chinese shipbuilders began to build massive...

 and a 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...

 of one million troops. Although private maritime trade and official tribute missions from China had taken place in previous dynasties, the tributary fleet under the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 eunuch admiral Zheng He
Zheng He
Zheng He , also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from...

 in the 15th century far surpassed all others in size. There were enormous construction projects, including the restoration of the Grand Canal
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

 and 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...

 and the establishment of the Forbidden City
Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum...

 in Beijing during the first quarter of the 15th century. Estimates for the late-Ming population vary from 160 to 200 million.

Emperor Hongwu
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

 (ruled in 1368–98) attempted to create a society of self-sufficient rural communities in a rigid, immobile system that would have no need to engage with the commercial life and trade of urban centers. His rebuilding of China's agricultural base and strengthening of communication routes through the militarized courier
Courier
A courier is a person or a company who delivers messages, packages, and mail. Couriers are distinguished from ordinary mail services by features such as speed, security, tracking, signature, specialization and individualization of express services, and swift delivery times, which are optional for...

 system had the unintended effect of creating a vast agricultural surplus that could be sold at burgeoning markets located along courier routes. Rural culture and commerce became influenced by urban trends. The upper echelons of society embodied in 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...

 were also affected by this new consumption-based culture. In a departure from tradition, merchant families began to produce examination candidates to become scholar-officials
Scholar-bureaucrats
Scholar-officials or Scholar-bureaucrats were civil servants appointed by the emperor of China to perform day-to-day governance from the Sui Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, China's last imperial dynasty. These officials mostly came from the well-educated men known as the...

 and adopted cultural traits and practices typical of the gentry. Parallel to this trend involving social class and commercial consumption were changes in social and political philosophy, bureaucracy and governmental institutions, and even arts and literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

.

By the 16th century the Ming economy was stimulated by trade with the Portuguese
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

, the Spanish
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

, and the Dutch
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

. China became involved in a new global trade of goods, plants, animals, and food crops known as the Columbian Exchange
Columbian Exchange
The Columbian Exchange was a dramatically widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations , communicable disease, and ideas between the Eastern and Western hemispheres . It was one of the most significant events concerning ecology, agriculture, and culture in all of human history...

. Trade with European powers
Early modern Europe
Early modern Europe is the term used by historians to refer to a period in the history of Europe which spanned the centuries between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, roughly the late 15th century to the late 18th century...

 and the Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese brought in massive amounts of silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

, which then replaced copper and paper banknote
Banknote
A banknote is a kind of negotiable instrument, a promissory note made by a bank payable to the bearer on demand, used as money, and in many jurisdictions is legal tender. In addition to coins, banknotes make up the cash or bearer forms of all modern fiat money...

s as the common medium of exchange
Medium of exchange
A medium of exchange is an intermediary used in trade to avoid the inconveniences of a pure barter system.By contrast, as William Stanley Jevons argued, in a barter system there must be a coincidence of wants before two people can trade – one must want exactly what the other has to offer, when and...

 in China. During the last decades of the Ming the flow of silver into China diminished greatly, undermining state revenues. This damage to the Ming economy was compounded by the effects on agriculture of the incipient Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

, natural calamities, crop failure, and sudden epidemics. The ensuing breakdown of authority and people's livelihoods allowed rebel leaders such as Li Zicheng to challenge Ming authority.

Revolt and rebel rivalry


The Mongol
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

-led Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 (1271–1368) ruled before the establishment of the Ming Dynasty. Alongside institutionalized ethnic discrimination against Han Chinese
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...

 that stirred resentment and rebellion, other explanations for the Yuan's demise included overtaxing areas hard-hit by 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...

, and massive flooding of 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...

 as a result of the abandonment of irrigation projects. Consequently, agriculture and the economy were in shambles and rebellion broke out among the hundreds of thousands of peasants called upon to work on repairing the dykes of the Yellow River.

A number of Han Chinese groups revolted, including the Red Turbans
Red Turban Rebellion
The Red Turban Rebellion was an uprising much influenced by the White Lotus Society members that targeted the ruling Yuan Dynasty.- Causes :...

 in 1351. The Red Turbans were affiliated with the White Lotus
White Lotus
White Lotus was a type of Buddhist sectarianism that appealed to many Han Chinese, who found solace in worship of the "Unborn or Eternal Venerable Mother" , who was to gather all her children at the millennium into one family....

, a Buddhist secret society. Zhu Yuanzhang was a penniless peasant and Buddhist monk who joined the Red Turbans in 1352, but soon gained a reputation after marrying the foster daughter of a rebel commander. In 1356, Zhu's rebel force captured the city of Nanjing
Nanjing
' is the capital of Jiangsu province in China and has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China on several occasions...

, which he would later establish as the capital of the Ming Dynasty.

With the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 crumbling, competing rebel groups began fighting for control of the country and thus the right to establish a new dynasty
Dynastic cycle
Dynastic cycle is an important political theory in Chinese history. According to this theory, every dynasty goes through a culture cycle.-The cycle:The dynastic cycle appears as it follows:...

. In 1363, Zhu Yuanzhang eliminated his arch rival and leader of the rebel Han faction Chen Youliang
Chen Youliang
Chen Youliang was the founder of the insurgent state of Dahan in the late Yuan Dynasty period of Chinese history.-Biography:...

 in the Battle of Lake Poyang
Battle of Lake Poyang
The naval battle of Lake Poyang took place 30 August – 4 October AD 1363 and was one of the final battles fought in the fall of China's Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty...

, arguably the largest naval battle in history
Largest naval battle in history
The title of "largest naval battle in history" is disputed between adherents of criteria which include the numbers of personnel and/or vessels involved in the battle, and the total tonnage of the vessels involved...

. Known for its ambitious use of fire ships, Zhu's force of 200,000 Ming sailors were able to defeat a Han rebel force over triple their size, claimed to be 650,000-strong. The victory destroyed the last opposing rebel faction, leaving Zhu Yuanzhang in uncontested control of the bountiful Yangtze River Valley and cementing his power in the south. After the dynastic head of the Red Turbans suspiciously died in 1367 while a guest of Zhu, there was no one left who was remotely capable of contesting his march to the throne, and he made his imperial ambitions known by sending an army toward the Yuan capital Dadu
Khanbaliq
Khanbaliq or Dadu refers to a city which is now Beijing, the current capital of the People's Republic of China...

 (present-day Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

) in 1368. The last Yuan emperor fled north to Shangdu and Zhu declared the founding of the Ming Dynasty after razing the Yuan palaces in Dadu to the ground; the city was renamed Beiping in the same year. Zhu Yuanzhang took Hongwu
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

, or 'Vastly Martial,' as his reign title.

Reign of the Hongwu Emperor


Hongwu made an immediate effort to rebuild state infrastructure. He built a 48 km (29.8 mi) long wall around Nanjing
City Wall of Nanjing
The City Wall of Nanjing was designed by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang after he founded the Ming Dynasty and established Nanjing as the capital 600 years ago. To consolidate his sovereignty and keep out invaders, he adopted the suggestions of advisor Zhu Sheng to build a higher city wall, to collect...

, as well as new palaces and government halls. The History of Ming
History of Ming
The History of Ming is one of the official Chinese historical works known as the Twenty-Four Histories of China. It consists of 332 volumes and covers the history of Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644, which was written by a number of officials commissioned by the court of Qing Dynasty, with the lead...

states that as early as 1364 Zhu Yuanzhang had begun drafting a new Confucian
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...

 law code, the Da Ming Lü, which was completed by 1397 and repeated certain clauses found in the old Tang Code
Tang Code
The Tang Code was a penal code that was established and used during the Tang Dynasty in China. Supplemented by civil statutes and regulations, it became the basis for later dynastic codes not only in China but elsewhere in East Asia. The Code synthesised Legalist and Confucian interpretations of...

 of 653. Hongwu organized a military system known as the weisuo, which was similar to the fubing system
Fubing system
The Fubing system , also romanized as Fu-ping, was a local militia system existing in China between 6th century and 8th century. It originated in the Western Wei dynasty, and was subsequently used in the Sui and Tang dynasties.-Characteristics:...

 of 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).

In 1380 Hongwu had the Chancellor Hu Weiyong
Hu Weiyong
Hu Weiyong was the last Chancellor of China Ming Dynasty from 1373 to 1380.-Biography:Hu Weiyong was born in HaoZhou, Anhui Province . In 1363 Hu contributed a large number of warship to Zhu Yuanzhang to use for battle with Chen Youliang...

 (胡惟庸) executed upon suspicion of a conspiracy plot to overthrow him; after that Hongwu abolished the Chancellery and assumed this role as chief executive and emperor, a precedent mostly followed throughout the Ming period. With a growing suspicion of his ministers and subjects, Hongwu established the Jinyi Wei
Jinyi Wei
The Jinyi Wei was the imperial military secret police of the Chinese emperors of the Ming Dynasty and were bound to serving the emperor only. The Jinyi Wei was founded by the Hongwu Emperor in 1368 to serve as his personal bodyguards and it developed into a military organization the following year...

, a network of secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

 drawn from his own palace guard. They were partly responsible for the loss of 100,000 lives in several purges over three decades of his rule. For details of the many Ming policies laid down by the Hongwu Emperor, see History of the Ming Dynasty
History of the Ming Dynasty
The History of the Ming Dynasty covers a period including its rule as the dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty...

 and Hongwu Emperor
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

.

South-Western frontier



In Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

, the Salar Muslims voluntarily came under Ming rule, their clan leaders capitulating around 1370. Uyghur
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

 troops under Uyghur general Hala Bashi suppressed the Miao Rebellions
Miao Rebellions (Ming Dynasty)
The Miao Rebellions were a series of Rebellions of the aboriginal Miao and other aboriginal tribes of southern China. The Ming Dynasty crushed the rebels with overwhelming force...

 of the 1370s and settled in Changde, Hunan. Hui Muslim troops also settled in Changde, Hunan after serving the Ming in campaigns against other aboriginal tribes. In 1381, the Ming Dynasty annexed the areas of the southwest that had once been part of the Kingdom of Dali
Kingdom of Dali
Dali or Great Li was a Bai kingdom centred in what is now Yunnan Province of China. Established by Duan Siping in 937, it was ruled by a succession of 22 kings until the year 1253, when it was conquered by an invasion of the Mongol Empire. The capital city was at Dali.- History :The Kingdom of...

 following the successful effort by Hui Muslim Ming armies to defeat Yuan
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

-loyalist Mongol and Hui Muslim troops holding out in Yunnan province. The Hui
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 troops under General Mu Ying
Mu Ying
Mu Ying was a general during the Ming Dynasty, and an adopted son of its founder, the Hongwu Emperor . Mu Ying was a Chinese Muslim. Mu Ying was one of the few capable generals who survived the massacre of the Hongwu Emperor....

, who was appointed Governor of Yunnan, were resettled in the region as part of a colonization effort. By the end of the 14th century, some 200,000 military colonists settled some 2,000,000 mu (350,000 acres) of land in what is now 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...

 and Guizhou
Guizhou
' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its provincial capital city is Guiyang.- History :...

. Roughly half a million more Chinese settlers came in later periods; these migrations caused a major shift in the ethnic make-up of the region, since formerly more than half of the population were non-Han peoples. Resentment over such massive changes in population and the resulting government presence and policies sparked more Miao
Miao people
The Miao or ม้ง ; ) is an ethnic group recognized by the government of the People's Republic of China as one of the 55 official minority groups. Miao is a Chinese term and does not reflect the self-designations of the component nations of people, which include Hmong, Hmu, A Hmao, and Kho Xiong...

 and Yao
Yao people
The Yao nationality is a government classification for various minorities in China. They form one of the 55 ethnic minority groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China, where they reside in the mountainous terrain of the southwest and south...

 revolts in 1464 to 1466, which were crushed by an army of 30,000 Ming troops (including 1,000 Mongols) joining the 160,000 local 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...

. After the scholar and philosopher Wang Yangming
Wang Yangming
Wang Yangming was a Ming Chinese idealist Neo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general. After Zhu Xi, he is commonly regarded as the most important Neo-Confucian thinker, with interpretations of Confucianism that denied the rationalist dualism of the orthodox...

 (1472–1529) suppressed another rebellion in the region, he advocated single, unitary administration of Chinese and indigenous ethnic groups in order to bring about sinification
Sinicization
Sinicization, Sinicisation or Sinification, is the linguistic assimilation or cultural assimilation of terms and concepts of the language and culture of China...

 of the local peoples.

Relations with Tibet



The Mingshi
History of Ming
The History of Ming is one of the official Chinese historical works known as the Twenty-Four Histories of China. It consists of 332 volumes and covers the history of Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644, which was written by a number of officials commissioned by the court of Qing Dynasty, with the lead...

— the official history of the Ming Dynasty compiled later by 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 1739 —states that the Ming established itinerant commanderies overseeing Tibetan administration while also renewing titles of ex-Yuan Dynasty officials from Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and conferring new princely titles on leaders of Tibet's Buddhist sects
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

. However, Turrell V. Wylie states that censorship
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 in the Mingshi in favor of bolstering the Ming emperor's prestige and reputation at all costs obfuscates the nuanced history of Sino-Tibetan relations during the Ming era.

Modern scholars still debate on whether or not the Ming Dynasty really had sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 over Tibet at all, as some believe it was a relationship of loose suzerainty
Suzerainty
Suzerainty occurs where a region or people is a tributary to a more powerful entity which controls its foreign affairs while allowing the tributary vassal state some limited domestic autonomy. The dominant entity in the suzerainty relationship, or the more powerful entity itself, is called a...

 which was largely cut off when the Jiajing Emperor
Jiajing Emperor
The Jiajing Emperor was the 11th Ming Dynasty Emperor of China who ruled from 1521 to 1567. Born Zhu Houcong, he was the former Zhengde Emperor's cousin...

 (ruled in 1521–67) persecuted Buddhism in favor of Daoism at court and some scholars argue that the significant religious nature of the relationship of the Ming court with Tibetan lamas is underrepresented in modern scholarship. Others underscore the commercial aspect of the relationship, noting the Ming Dynasty's insufficient amount of horses and the need to maintain the tea-horse trade with Tibet.

The Ming initiated sporadic armed intervention in Tibet during the 14th century, while at times the Tibetans also used successful armed resistance against Ming forays. Patricia Ebrey, Thomas Laird, Wang Jiawei, and Nyima Gyaincain all point out that the Ming Dynasty did not garrison permanent troops in Tibet, unlike the former Mongol Yuan Dynasty. The Wanli Emperor
Wanli Emperor
The Wanli Emperor was emperor of China between 1572 and 1620. His era name means "Ten thousand calendars". Born Zhu Yijun, he was the Longqing Emperor's third son...

 (ruled in 1572–1620) made attempts to reestablish Sino-Tibetan relations in the wake of a Mongol-Tibetan alliance initiated in 1578, the latter of which affected the foreign policy of the subsequent Manchu 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....

 (1644–1912) of China in their support for the Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is a high lama in the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The name is a combination of the Mongolian word далай meaning "Ocean" and the Tibetan word bla-ma meaning "teacher"...

 of the Yellow Hat
Gelug
The Gelug or Gelug-pa , also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa , a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader...

 sect. By the late 16th century, the Mongols proved to be successful armed protectors of the Yellow Hat Dalai Lama after their increasing presence in the Amdo
Amdo
Amdo is one of the three traditional regions of Tibet, the other two being Ü-Tsang and Kham; it is also the birth place of the 14th Dalai Lama. Amdo encompasses a large area from the Machu River to the Drichu river . While culturally and ethnically a Tibetan area, Amdo has been administered by a...

 region, culminating in Güshi Khan
Güshi Khan
Güshi Khan , a Khoshut prince and leader of the Khoshut Khanate, who had supplanted the Tumed descendants of Altan Khan. His military assistance to the Gelug school enabled the 5th Dalai Lama to establish political control over Tibet...

's (1582–1655) conquest of Tibet in 1642.

Reign of the Yongle Emperor


Rise to power


The Hongwu Emperor
Hongwu Emperor
The Hongwu Emperor , known variably by his given name Zhu Yuanzhang and by his temple name Taizu of Ming , was the founder and first emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China...

 specified his grandson Zhu Yunwen as his successor, and he assumed the throne as the Jianwen Emperor
Jianwen Emperor
The Jianwen Emperor , with the personal name Zhu Yunwen , reigned as the second Emperor of the Ming dynasty...

 (1398–1402) after Hongwu's death in 1398. The most powerful of Hongwu's sons, Zhu Di, then the militarily mighty disagreed with this, and soon a political showdown erupted between him and his nephew Jianwen. After Jianwen arrested many of Zhu Di's associates, Zhu Di plotted a rebellion, a rebellion that sparked a three-year civil war. Under the guise of rescuing the young Jianwen from corrupting officials, Zhu Di personally led forces in the revolt; the palace in Nanjing was burned to the ground, along with Jianwen himself, his wife, mother, and courtiers. Zhu Di assumed the throne as the Yongle Emperor
Yongle Emperor
The Yongle Emperor , born Zhu Di , was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China from 1402 to 1424. His Chinese era name Yongle means "Perpetual Happiness".He was the Prince of Yan , possessing a heavy military base in Beiping...

 (1402–1424); his reign is universally viewed by scholars as a "second founding" of the Ming Dynasty since he reversed many of his father's policies.

New capital and foreign engagement


Yongle demoted Nanjing to a secondary capital and in 1403 announced the new capital of China was to be at his power base in Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

. Construction of a new city there lasted from 1407 to 1420, employing hundreds of thousands of workers daily. At the center was the political node of the Imperial City
Imperial City (Beijing)
The Imperial City is a section of the city of Beijing in the Ming and Qing dynasties, with the Forbidden City at its center. It refers to the collection of gardens, shrines, and other service areas between the Forbidden City and the Inner City of ancient Beijing...

, and at the center of this was the Forbidden City
Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum...

, the palatial residence of the emperor and his family. By 1553, the Outer City was added to the south, which brought the overall size of Beijing to 4 by 4½ miles.

Yongle also used Zheng He's treasure fleet to expand China's tributary trade system farther afield than ever before, used woodblock printing to spread Chinese culture, and used the military
Ming Dynasty military conquests
The Ming Dynasty military conquests were instrumental to its hold on power during the early stages of the Ming Dynasty.-Hongwu reign :...

 (especially cavalry) to expand China's borders north into Manchuria and south into Vietnam.
Treasure fleet


Beginning in 1405, the Yongle Emperor entrusted his favored eunuch commander Zheng He
Zheng He
Zheng He , also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from...

 (1371–1433) as the admiral for a gigantic new fleet of ships designated for international tributary missions. The Chinese had sent diplomatic missions
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....

 over land and west since
History of the Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty , founded by the peasant rebel leader Liu Bang ,From the Shang to the Sui dynasties, Chinese rulers were referred to in later records by their posthumous names, while emperors of the Tang to Yuan dynasties were referred to by their temple names, and emperors of the Ming and Qing...

 the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (202 BCE – 220 CE) and had been engaged in private overseas trade
Economy of the Song Dynasty
The economy of China under the Song Dynasty of China was marked by commercial expansion, financial prosperity, increased international trade-contacts, and a revolution in agricultural productivity. Private finance grew, stimulating the development of a country-wide market network which linked the...

 leading all the way to East Africa for centuries
Chinese exploration
Chinese exploration includes exploratory Chinese travels abroad, on land and by sea, from the 2nd century BC until the 15th century.-Pamir Mountains and beyond:...

— culminating in the Song and Yuan dynasties —but no government-sponsored tributary mission of this grandeur and size had ever been assembled before. To service seven different tributary missions abroad, the Nanjing shipyards constructed two thousand vessels from 1403 to 1419, which included the large treasure ship
Treasure ship
A Treasure ship is the name for a type of large wooden vessel commanded by the Chinese admiral Zheng He on seven voyages in the early 15th century in Ming Dynasty...

s that measured 112 m (370 ft) to 134 m (440 ft) in length and 45 m (150 ft) to 54 m (180 ft) in width.

Tumu Crisis and the Ming Mongols



The Oirat
Oirats
Oirats are the westernmost group of the Mongols who unified several tribes origin whose ancestral home is in the Altai region of western Mongolia. Although the Oirats originated in the eastern parts of Central Asia, the most prominent group today is located in the Republic of Kalmykia, a federal...

 Mongol leader Esen Tayisi
Esen Tayisi
Esen taishi was a powerful Oirat Khagan of the Northern Yuan Dynasty in Mongolia in the 15th century. He is best known for capturing the Zhengtong Emperor of the Ming Dynasty in 1450 after the Battle of Tumu Fortress and briefly reuniting the Mongols...

 launched an invasion into Ming China in July of 1449. The chief eunuch Wang Zhen
Wang Zhen (eunuch)
Wáng Zhèn was the first Ming Dynasty eunuch with power in the court. The Zhihua Si Temple in Beijing was built in 1443 at his order.He was killed during the Tumu Crisis , a disastrous campaign against the Oirat Mongols for which he was responsible.- External links :*...

 encouraged Emperor Zhengtong
Zhengtong Emperor
Zhu Qizhen was an emperor of the Ming Dynasty. He ruled as the Zhengtong Emperor from 1435 to 1449, and as the Tianshun Emperor from 1457 to 1464....

 (ruled in 1435–49) to personally lead a force to face the Mongols after a recent Ming defeat; marching off with 50,000 troops, Zhengtong left the capital and put his half-brother Zhu Qiyu in charge of affairs as temporary regent. On September 8, Esen routed Zhengtong's army, and Zhengtong was captured—an event known as the Tumu Crisis
Tumu Crisis
The Tumu Crisis ; also called the Crisis of Tumubao or Battle of Tumu Fortress , was a frontier conflict between the Oirat Mongols and the Chinese Ming Dynasty which led to the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor on September 1, 1449 and the loss of an army of 500,000 men to a much smaller force....

. The Mongols held the Zhengtong Emperor for ransom. However, this scheme was foiled once Zhengtong's younger brother assumed the throne as the Jingtai Emperor
Jingtai Emperor
The Jingtai Emperor was Emperor of China from 1449 to 1457. The second son of the Xuande Emperor, he was selected in 1449 to succeed his older brother, the Zhengtong Emperor, when the latter was captured by Mongols following the Tumu Crisis...

 (ruled in 1449–57); the Mongols were also repelled once Jingtai's confidant and defense minister Yu Qian
Yu Qian
Yu Qian , a native of Qiantang , was a Chinese Defence Minister during the Ming dynasty.- Biography :...

 (1398–457) gained control of the Ming armed forces. Holding Zhengtong in captivity was a useless bargaining chip for the Mongols as long as another sat on his throne, so they released him back into Ming China. Zhengtong was placed under house arrest in the palace until the coup against Jingtai in 1457 known as the "Wresting the Gate Incident". Zhengtong retook the throne as the Tianshun Emperor (ruled in 1457–64).

Once Zhengtong regained the throne, his new reign as Tianshun proved to be a troubled one and Mongol forces within the Ming military structure continued to be problematic. On August 7, 1461, the Chinese general Cao Qin and his Ming troops of Mongol descent staged a coup against Tianshun
Rebellion of Cao Qin
The Rebellion of Cao Qin was a day-long uprising in the Ming Dynasty capital of Beijing on August 7, 1461, staged by Chinese general Cao Qin and his Ming troops of Mongol and Han descent against the Tianshun Emperor...

 out of fear of being next on his purge-list of those who aided Jingtai's succession. Cao's rebel force managed to set fire to the western and eastern gates of the Imperial City
Imperial City (Beijing)
The Imperial City is a section of the city of Beijing in the Ming and Qing dynasties, with the Forbidden City at its center. It refers to the collection of gardens, shrines, and other service areas between the Forbidden City and the Inner City of ancient Beijing...

 (doused by rain during the battle) and killed several leading ministers before his forces were finally cornered and he was forced to commit suicide.

While the Yongle Emperor
Yongle Emperor
The Yongle Emperor , born Zhu Di , was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China from 1402 to 1424. His Chinese era name Yongle means "Perpetual Happiness".He was the Prince of Yan , possessing a heavy military base in Beiping...

 had staged five major offensives north of the Great Wall against the Mongols, the constant threat of Mongol incursions prompted the Ming authorities to fortify the Great Wall from the late 15th century to the 16th century; nevertheless, John Fairbank notes that "it proved to be a futile military gesture but vividly expressed China's siege mentality." Yet the Great Wall was not meant to be a purely defensive fortification; its towers functioned rather as a series of lit beacons and signalling stations to allow rapid warning to friendly units of advancing enemy troops.

Reign of the Wanli Emperor


The financial drain of the Imjin War in Korea against the Japanese was one of the many problems—fiscal or other—facing Ming China during the reign of the Wanli Emperor
Wanli Emperor
The Wanli Emperor was emperor of China between 1572 and 1620. His era name means "Ten thousand calendars". Born Zhu Yijun, he was the Longqing Emperor's third son...

 (ruled in 1572–1620). In the beginning of his reign, Wanli surrounded himself with able advisors and made a conscientious effort to handle state affairs. His Grand Secretary Zhang Juzheng
Zhang Juzheng
Zhang Juzheng , courtesy name: Shuda , pseudonym: Taiyue , was a powerful Grand Secretary in the Ming Dynasty under the Longqing and Wanli emperors. Zhang was born in Jiangling, Hubei province, China and died in Beijing....

 (in office from 1572 to 82) built up an effective network of alliances with senior officials. However, there was no one after him skilled enough to maintain the stability of these alliances; officials soon banded together in opposing political factions. Over time Wanli grew tired of court affairs and frequent political quarreling amongst his ministers, preferring to stay behind the walls of the Forbidden City and out of his officials' sight. Scholar-officials lost prominence in administration as eunuchs became intermediaries between the aloof emperor and his officials; any senior official who wanted to discuss state matters had to persuade powerful eunuchs with a bribe simply to have his demands or message relayed to the emperor.

Role of eunuchs


It was said that Hongwu forbade eunuchs to learn how to read or engage in politics. Whether or not these restrictions were carried out with absolute success in his reign, eunuchs during Yongle's reign and after managed huge imperial workshops, commanded armies, and participated in matters of appointment and promotion of officials. The eunuchs developed their own bureaucracy that was organized parallel to but was not subject to the civil service bureaucracy. Although there were several dictatorial eunuchs throughout the Ming, such as Wang Zhen, Wang Zhi, and Liu Jin
Liu Jin
Liú Jĭn was a well-known Chinese eunuch during the reign of the Chinese Ming Dynasty Zhengde Emperor . Liu was famous for being one of the most corrupt officials in Chinese history and the emperor in all but name for some time...

, excessive tyrannical eunuch power did not become evident until the 1590s, when the Wanli Emperor
Wanli Emperor
The Wanli Emperor was emperor of China between 1572 and 1620. His era name means "Ten thousand calendars". Born Zhu Yijun, he was the Longqing Emperor's third son...

 increased their rights over the civil bureaucracy and granted them power to collect provincial taxes.

The eunuch Wei Zhongxian
Wei Zhongxian
Wei Zhongxian is considered by most historians as the most powerful and notorious eunuch in Chinese history. Originally a hoodlum and gambler, his initial name was Wei Si . He took the step of becoming a eunuch and entering palace service to escape from his creditors, taking the name Li Jinzhong...

 (1568–1627) dominated the court of the Tianqi Emperor
Tianqi Emperor
The Tianqi Emperor was the 15th emperor of the Ming dynasty from 1620 to 1627. Born Zhu Youxiao, he was the Taichang Emperor's eldest son. His era name means "Heavenly opening".-Biography:...

 (ruled in 1620–1627) and had his political rivals tortured to death, mostly the vocal critics from the faction of the Donglin Society
Donglin movement
The Donglin movement was an ideological and philosophical movement of the late Ming and early Qing dynasties of China.The movement was established in 1604, during the Wanli era, when Gu Xiancheng , a Ming Grand Secretary, and Gao Panlong , a scholar, restored the Donglin Academy in Wuxi with the...

. He ordered temples built in his honor throughout the Ming Empire, and built personal palaces created with funds allocated for building the previous emperor's tombs. His friends and family gained important positions without qualifications. Wei also published a historical work lambasting and belittling his political opponents. The instability at court came right as natural calamity, pestilence, rebellion, and foreign invasion came to a peak. Although the Chongzhen Emperor
Chongzhen Emperor
The Chongzhen Emperor was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He reigned from 1627 to 1644, under an era name that means "honorable and auspicious".- Early years :...

 (ruled in 1627–44) had Wei dismissed from court—which led to Wei's suicide shortly after—the problem with court eunuchs persisted until the dynasty's collapse less than two decades later.

Economic breakdown and disaster


During the last years of Wanli's reign and those of his two successors, an economic crisis developed that was centered around a sudden widespread lack of the empire's chief medium of exchange: silver. Philip IV of Spain
Philip IV of Spain
Philip IV was King of Spain between 1621 and 1665, sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands, and King of Portugal until 1640...

 (ruled in 1621–65) began cracking down on illegal smuggling of silver from Mexico and Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 across the Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 towards China, in favor of shipping American-mined silver directly from Spain to Manila. In 1639, the new Tokugawa
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 regime of Japan shut down most of its foreign trade with European powers, causing a halt of yet another source of silver coming into China. These events occurring at roughly the same time caused a dramatic spike in the value of silver and made paying taxes nearly impossible for most provinces. People began hoarding precious silver as there was progressively less of it, forcing the ratio of the value of copper to silver into a steep decline. In the 1630s, a string of one thousand copper coins was worth an ounce of silver; by 1640 this was reduced to the value of half an ounce; by 1643 it was worth roughly one-third of an ounce. For peasants this was an economic disaster, since they paid taxes in silver while conducting local trade and selling their crops with copper coins.

In this early half of the 17th century, famines became common in northern China because of unusual dry and cold weather that shortened the growing season; these were effects of a larger ecological event now known as the Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

. Famine, alongside tax increases, widespread military desertions, a declining relief system, and natural disasters such as flooding and inability of the government to properly manage irrigation and flood-control projects caused widespread loss of life and normal civility. The central government was starved of resources and could do very little to mitigate the effects of these calamities. Making matters worse, a widespread epidemic spread across China from Zhejiang to Henan, killing a large but unknown number of people. The deadliest earthquake of all time, the Shaanxi earthquake of 1556 that killed approximately 830,000 people, occurred during the Jiajing Emperor
Jiajing Emperor
The Jiajing Emperor was the 11th Ming Dynasty Emperor of China who ruled from 1521 to 1567. Born Zhu Houcong, he was the former Zhengde Emperor's cousin...

's reign.

Rise of the Manchu



A Jurchen tribal leader named Nurhaci
Nurhaci
Nurhaci was an important Jurchen chieftain who rose to prominence in the late sixteenth century in what is today Northeastern China...

 (ruled in 1616–26), starting with just a small tribe, rapidly gained control over all the 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...

n tribes. During the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598), he offered to lead his tribes in support of the Ming and Joseon
Joseon Dynasty
Joseon , was a Korean state founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul...

 army. This offer was declined, but he was granted honorific Ming titles for his gesture. Recognizing the weakness of Ming authority north of their border, he united all of the adjacent northern tribes and consolidated power in the region surrounding his homeland as the Jurchen-led Jin Dynasty (1115–1234) had done previously. In 1610, he broke relations with the Ming court; in 1618 he demanded the Ming pay tribute to him to redress the seven grievances which he documented and sent to the Ming court. This was effectively a declaration of war, as the Ming were not about to pay money to a former tributary.

By 1636, the Nurhaci's son Huang Taiji renamed his dynasty from the "Later Jin" to "Great Qing
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....

" at Shenyang
Shenyang
Shenyang , or Mukden , is the capital and largest city of Liaoning Province in Northeast China. Currently holding sub-provincial administrative status, the city was once known as Shengjing or Fengtianfu...

, which had fallen to Qing forces in 1621 and was made their capital in 1625. Huang Taiji also adopted the Chinese imperial title huangdi
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...

, took the reign title Chongde ("Revering Virtue"), and changed the ethnic name of his people from Jurchen to Manchu. In 1638 the Manchu defeated and conquered Ming China's traditional ally Joseon with an army of 100,000 troops. Shortly after, the Koreans renounced their long-held loyalty to the Ming Dynasty.

Rebellion, invasion, collapse


A peasant soldier named Li Zicheng (1606–45) mutinied with his fellow soldiers in western Shaanxi in the early 1630s after the Ming government failed to ship much-needed supplies there. In 1634 he was captured by a Ming general and released only on the terms that he return to service. The agreement soon broke down when a local magistrate had thirty-six of his fellow rebels executed; Li's troops retaliated by killing the officials and continued to lead a rebellion based in Rongyang, central 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...

 province by 1635. By the 1640s, an ex-soldier and rival to Li—Zhang Xianzhong
Zhang Xianzhong
Zhang Xianzhong or Chang Hsien-chung , nicknamed Yellow Tiger, was a Chinese rebel leader who conquered Sichuan Province in the middle of the 17th century. Upon capturing it, he declared himself emperor of the Daxi Dynasty .According to Chinese chronicles, many scholars rejected that claim, so he...

 (1606–47) —had created a firm rebel base in Chengdu
Chengdu
Chengdu , formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status...

, 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...

, while Li's center of power was in Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

 with extended influence over Shaanxi and Henan.

In 1640, masses of Chinese peasants who were starving, unable to pay their taxes, and no longer in fear of the frequently defeated Chinese army, began to form into huge bands of rebels. The Chinese military, caught between fruitless efforts to defeat the Manchu raiders from the north and huge peasant revolts in the provinces, essentially fell apart. Unpaid and unfed, the army was defeated by Li Zicheng— now self-styled as the Prince of Shun —and deserted the capital without much of a fight. On May 26, 1644, Beijing fell to a rebel army led by Li Zicheng when the city gates were treacherously opened from within.; during the turmoil, the last Ming emperor
Chongzhen Emperor
The Chongzhen Emperor was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He reigned from 1627 to 1644, under an era name that means "honorable and auspicious".- Early years :...

 hanged himself on a tree in the imperial garden
Guilty Chinese Scholartree
The Guilty Chinese Scholartree , a specimen of Pagoda Tree located in Beijing's Jingshan park, is a famous tree and national landmark on which the last Ming Chongzhen Emperor hanged himself after a group of peasants successfully stormed the Forbidden City in 1644.The tree was uprooted during the...

 outside the Forbidden City.

Seizing opportunity, the Manchus crossed the Great Wall after the Ming border general Wu Sangui
Wu Sangui
Wu Sangui was a Ming Chinese general who was instrumental in the succession of rule to the Qing Dynasty in 1644...

 (1612–1678) opened the gates at Shanhai Pass
Shanhai Pass
Shanhai Pass , or Shanhaiguan, along with Jiayu Pass and Juyong Pass, is one of the major passes of the Great Wall of China It is located in Shanhaiguan District, Qinhuangdao, Hebei. In 1961, Shanhaiguan became a site of China First Class National Cultural Site.It is a popular tourist destination,...

. This occurred shortly after he learned about the fate of the capital and an army of Li Zicheng marching towards him; weighing his options of alliance, he decided to side with the Manchus. The Manchu army under the Manchu Prince Dorgon
Dorgon
Dorgon , also known as Hošoi Mergen Cin Wang, the Prince Rui , was one of the most influential Manchu princes in the early Qing Dynasty. He laid the groundwork for the Manchu rule of China.-Early life:Dorgon was born in Yenden, Manchuria , China...

 (1612–50) and Wu Sangui approached Beijing after the army sent by Li was destroyed at Shanhaiguan
Shanhaiguan District
Shanhaiguan District is a district of the city of Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, People's Republic of China, named after the pass of the Great Wall within the district, Shanhai Pass...

; the Prince of Shun's army fled the capital on the fourth of June. On June 6, the Manchus and Wu entered the capital and proclaimed the young Shunzhi Emperor
Shunzhi Emperor
The Shunzhi Emperor was the third emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the first Qing emperor to rule over China, which he did from 1644 to 1661. "Shunzhi" was the name of his reign period...

 ruler of China. After being forced out of 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...

 by the Manchus, chased along the Han River
Han River (Hanshui)
The Han River is a left tributary of the Yangtze River with a length of 1532 km. Historically it was referred to as Hànshuǐ and the name is still occasionally used today....

 to Wuchang, and finally along the northern border of Jiangxi
Jiangxi
' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

 province, Li Zicheng died there in the summer of 1645, thus ending the Shun Dynasty
Shun Dynasty
The Shun Dynasty was an imperial dynasty created in the brief lapse from Ming to Qing rule in China. The dynasty was founded in Xi'an on 8 February 1644, the first day of the lunar year, by Li Zicheng, the leader of a large peasant rebellion. Li, however, only went by the title of King, not Emperor...

. One report says his death was a suicide; another states that he was beaten to death by peasants after he was caught stealing their food.

Scattered Ming remnants held out after 1644, including that of Koxinga
Koxinga
Koxinga is the customary Western spelling of the popular appellation of Zheng Chenggong , a military leader who was born in 1624 in Hirado, Japan to Zheng Zhilong, a Chinese merchant/pirate, and his Japanese wife and died in 1662 on the island of Formosa .A Ming loyalist and the arch commander of...

 (Zheng Chenggong) on Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 (Formosa). Despite the loss of Beijing and the death of the emperor, Ming power was by no means totally destroyed. Nanjing, Fujian, Guangdong, Shanxi, and Yunnan were all strongholds of Ming resistance. However, there were several pretenders for the Ming throne, and their forces were divided. Each bastion of resistance was individually defeated by the Qing until 1662, when the last real hopes of a Ming revival died with the Yongli emperor, Zhu Youlang. Despite the Ming defeat, smaller loyalist movements continued until the proclamation of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

.

Province, prefecture, subprefecture, county


The Ming emperors took over the provincial administration system of the Yuan Dynasty, and the thirteen Ming provinces are the precursors of the modern provinces. Throughout the Song Dynasty, the largest political division was the circuit (lu 路). However, after the Jurchen invasion
Jingkang Incident
The Jingkang Incident , the Humiliation of Jingkang , or The Disorders of the Jingkang Period took place in 1127 when invading Jurchen soldiers from the Jin Dynasty besieged and sacked Bianjing , the capital of the Song Dynasty of China...

 in 1127, the Song court established four semi-autonomous regional command systems based on territorial and military units, with a detached service secretariat that would become the provincial administrations of the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Copied on the Yuan model, the Ming provincial bureaucracy contained three commissions: one civil, one military, and one for surveillance. Below the level of the province
Province (China)
A province, in the context of Chinese government, is a translation of sheng formally provincial level divisions, which is an administrative division. Provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions, and the special administrative regions, make up the four types of province of administrative division...

 (sheng 省) were prefectures
Prefecture (China)
The term Prefectures, or the more formal prefectural level divisions, in the context of China, is used to refer to several unrelated political divisions in both ancient and modern China. Other than provincial level divisions, prefectural level divisions are not mentioned in the Chinese constitution...

 (fu 府) operating under a prefect (zhifu 知府), followed by subprefectures (zhou 州) under a subprefect. The lowest unit was the county (xian 縣), overseen by a magistrate. Besides the provinces, there were also two large areas that belonged to no province, but were metropolitan areas (jing 亰) attached to Nanjing and Beijing.

Institutional trends


Departing from the main central administrative system generally known as the Three Departments and Six Ministries
Three Departments and Six Ministries
The Three Departments and Six Ministries system was the main central administrative system adopted in ancient China. The system first took shape after the Western Han Dynasty , was officially instituted in Sui Dynasty , and matured during Tang Dynasty...

 system, which was instituted by various dynasties
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...

 since late Han
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (202 BCE – 220 CE), the Ming administration had only one Department, the Secretariat, that controlled the Six Ministries. Following the execution of the Chancellor Hu Weiyong in 1380, emperor Hongwu abolished the Secretariat, the Censorate
Censorate
The Censorate was a top-level supervisory agency in ancient China, first established during the Qin Dynasty ....

, and the Chief Military Commission and personally took charge of the Six Ministries and the regional Five Military Commissions. Thus a whole level of administration was cut out and only partially rebuilt by subsequent rulers. The Grand Secretariat
Grand Secretariat
The Grand Secretariat was nominally a coordinating agency but de facto the highest institution in the Ming imperial government. It first took shape after Emperor Hongwu abolished the office of Chancellor in 1380 and gradually evolved into an effective coordinating organ superimposed on the Six...

, at the beginning a secretarial institution that assisted the emperor with administrative paperwork, was instituted, but without employing grand counselors, or chancellors. The ministries, headed by a minister and run by directors remained under direct control of the emperor until the end of the Ming.

The Hongwu Emperor sent his heir apparent to Shaanxi in 1391 to "tour and soothe" (xunfu) the region; in 1421 the Yongle Emperor commissioned 26 officials to travel the empire and uphold similar investigatory and patrimonial duties. By 1430 these xunfu assignments became institutionalized. Hence, the Censorate was reinstalled and first staffed with investigating censors, later with censors-in-chief. By 1453, the "grand coordinators"— or "touring pacifiers", as Michael Chang notes —were granted the title vice censor-in-chief or assistant censor-in-chief and were allowed direct access to the emperor. As in prior dynasties, the provincial administrations were monitored by a travelling inspector from the Censorate. Censors had the power to impeach officials on an irregular basis, unlike the senior officials who were to do so only in triennial evaluations of junior officials.

Although decentralization of state power within the provinces occurred in the early Ming, the trend of central government officials delegated to the provinces as virtual provincial governors began in the 1420s. By the late Ming Dynasty, there were central government officials delegated to two or more provinces as supreme commanders and viceroys, a system which reined in the power and influence of the military by the civil establishment.

Grand Secretariat and Six Ministries



Governmental institutions in China conformed to a similar pattern for some two thousand years, but each dynasty installed special offices and bureaus, reflecting its own particular interests. The Ming administration had the Grand Secretaries assisting the emperor, with paperwork handled by them under Yongle
Yongle Emperor
The Yongle Emperor , born Zhu Di , was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China from 1402 to 1424. His Chinese era name Yongle means "Perpetual Happiness".He was the Prince of Yan , possessing a heavy military base in Beiping...

's reign and finally appointed as top officials of agencies and Grand Preceptor, a top-ranking, non-functional civil service post, under the Hongxi Emperor
Hongxi Emperor
The Hongxi Emperor was the fourth emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He succeeded his father, the Yongle Emperor, in 1424. His era name means "Vastly bright".-Biography:...

 (ruled in 1424–5). The Grand Secretariat drew its members from the Hanlin Academy
Hanlin Academy
The Hanlin Academy was an academic and administrative institution founded in the eighth century Tang dynasty China by Emperor Xuanzong.Membership in the academy was confined to an elite group of scholars, who performed secretarial and literary tasks for the court. One of its main duties was to...

 and were considered part of the imperial authority, not the ministerial one (hence being at odds with both the emperor and ministers at times). The Secretariat was a coordinating agency, whereas the Six Ministries—which were Personnel, Revenue, Rites, War, Justice, and Public Works—were direct administrative organs of the state. The Ministry of Personnel was in charge of appointments, merit ratings, promotions, and demotions of officials, as well as granting of honorific titles. The Ministry of Revenue was in charge of gathering census data, collecting taxes, and handling state revenues, while there were two offices of currency that were subordinate to it. The Ministry of Rites was in charge of state ceremonies, rituals, and sacrifices; it also oversaw registers for Buddhist and Daoist priesthoods and even the reception of envoys from tributary states. The Ministry of War was in charge of the appointments, promotions, and demotions of military officers, the maintenance of military installations, equipment, and weapons, as well as the courier system. The Ministry of Justice was in charge of judicial and penal processes, but had no supervisory role over the Censorate or the Grand Court of Revision. The Ministry of Works was in charge of government construction projects, hiring of artisans and laborers for temporary service, manufacturing government equipment, the maintenance of roads and canals, standardization of weights and measures, and the gathering of resources from the countryside.

Bureaus and offices for the imperial household



The imperial household was staffed almost entirely by eunuchs and ladies with their own bureaus. Female servants were organized into the Bureau of Palace Attendance, Bureau of Ceremonies, Bureau of Apparel, Bureau of Foodstuffs, Bureau of the Bedchamber, Bureau of Handicrafts, and Office of Staff Surveillance. Starting in the 1420s, eunuchs began taking over these ladies' positions until only the Bureau of Apparel with its four subsidiary offices remained. Hongwu had his eunuchs organized into the Directorate of Palace Attendants, but as eunuch power at court increased, so did their administrative offices, with eventual twelve directorates, four offices, and eight bureaus. The dynasty had a vast imperial household, staffed with thousands of eunuchs, who were headed by the Directorate of Palace Attendants. The eunuchs were divided into different directorates in charge of staff surveillance, ceremonial rites, food, utensils, documents, stables, seals, apparel, and so on. The offices were in charge of providing fuel, music, paper, and baths. The bureaus were in charge of weapons, silverwork, laundering, headgear, bronzework, textile manufacture, wineries, and gardens. At times, the most influential eunuch in the Directorate of Ceremonial acted as a de facto dictator over the state.

Although the imperial household was staffed mostly by eunuchs and palace ladies, there was a civil service office called the Seal Office, which cooperated with eunuch agencies in maintaining imperial seals, tallies, and stamps. There were also civil service offices to oversee the affairs of imperial princes.

Scholar-officials


After the reign of Hongwu—who from 1373 to 84 staffed his bureaus with officials gathered through recommendations only—the scholar-officials who populated the many ranks of bureaucracy were recruited through a rigorous examination system that was first established by the Sui Dynasty
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

 (581–618). Theoretically the system of exams allowed anyone to join the ranks of imperial officials (although frowned upon for merchants to join); in reality the time and funding needed to support the study in preparation for the exam generally limited participants to those already coming from the landholding class. However, the government did exact provincial quotas while drafting officials. This was an effort to curb monopolization of power by landholding gentry who came from the most prosperous regions, where education was the most advanced. The expansion of the printing industry since Song times enhanced the spread of knowledge and number of potential exam candidates throughout the provinces. For young schoolchildren there were printed multiplication table
Multiplication table
In mathematics, a multiplication table is a mathematical table used to define a multiplication operation for an algebraic system....

s and primers
Primer (textbook)
A primer is a first textbook for teaching of reading, such as an alphabet book or basal reader. The word also is used more broadly to refer to any book that presents the most basic elements of a subject....

 for elementary vocabulary; for adult examination candidates there were mass-produced, inexpensive volumes of Confucian classics and successful examination answers.

As in earlier periods, the focus of the examination was classical Confucian texts, while the bulk of test material centered on the Four Books outlined by Zhu Xi
Zhu Xi
Zhū​ Xī​ or Chu Hsi was a Song Dynasty Confucian scholar who became the leading figure of the School of Principle and the most influential rationalist Neo-Confucian in China...

 in the 12th century. Ming era examinations were perhaps more difficult to pass since the 1487 requirement of completing the "eight-legged essay
Eight-legged essay
The eight-legged essay was a style of essay writing that had to be mastered to pass the imperial examinations during the Ming and Qing Dynasties...

", a departure from basing essays off progressing literary trends. The exams increased in difficulty as the student progressed from the local level, and appropriate titles were accordingly awarded successful applicants. Officials were classified in nine hierarchic grades, each grade divided into two degrees, with ranging salaries (nominally paid in piculs of rice) according to their rank. While provincial graduates who were appointed to office were immediately assigned to low-ranking posts like the county graduates, those who passed the palace examination were awarded a jinshi ('presented scholar') degree and assured a high-level position. In 276 years of Ming rule and ninety palace examinations, the number of doctoral degrees granted by passing the palace examinations was 24,874. Ebrey states that "there were only two to four thousand of these jinshi at any given time, on the order of one out of 10,000 adult males." This was in comparison to the 100,000 shengyuan ('government students'), the lowest tier of graduates, by the 16th century.

The maximum tenure in office was nine years, but every three years officials were graded on their performance by senior officials. If they were graded as superior then they were promoted, if graded adequate then they retained their ranks, and if graded inadequate they were demoted one rank. In extreme cases, officials would be dismissed or punished. Only capital officials of grade 4 and above were exempt from the scrutiny of recorded evaluation, although they were expected to confess any of their faults. There were over 4,000 school instructors in county and prefectural schools who were subject to evaluations every nine years. The Chief Instructor on the prefectural level was classified as equal to a second-grade county graduate. The Supervisorate of Imperial Instruction oversaw the education of the heir apparent to the throne; this office was headed by a Grand Supervisor of Instruction, who was ranked as first class of grade three.

Lesser functionaries


Scholar-officials who entered civil service through examinations acted as executive officials to a much larger body of non-ranked personnel called lesser functionaries. They outnumbered officials by four to one; Charles Hucker estimates that they were perhaps as many as 100,000 throughout the empire. These lesser functionaries performed clerical and technical tasks for government agencies. Yet they should not be confused with lowly lictors, runners, and bearers; lesser functionaries were given periodic merit evaluations like officials and after nine years of service might be accepted into a low civil service rank. The one great advantage of the lesser functionaries over officials was that officials were periodically rotated and assigned to different regional posts and had to rely on the good service and cooperation of the local lesser functionaries.

Eunuchs, princes, and generals


Eunuchs during the Ming Dynasty gained unprecedented power over state affairs. One of the most effective means of control was the secret service stationed in what was called the Eastern Depot at the beginning of the dynasty, later the Western Depot. This secret service was overseen by the Directorate of Ceremonial, hence this state organ's often totalitarian affiliation. Eunuchs had ranks that were equivalent to civil service ranks, only theirs had four grades instead of nine.

Princes and descendants of the first Ming emperor were given nominal military commands and large land estates without title. These estates were not feudatories, the princes did not serve any administrative function, and it was only during the reign of the first two emperors that they partook in military affairs. By contrast, princes in the Han and Jin Dynasties had been installed as local kings. Although princes served no organ of state administration, princes, consorts of imperial princesses, and ennobled relatives did staff the Imperial Clan Court, which took care of the imperial genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

.

Like scholar-officials, military generals were ranked in a hierarchic grading system and were given merit evaluations every five years (as opposed to three years for officials). However, military officers had less prestige than officials. This was due to their hereditary service (instead of solely merit-based) and Confucian values that dictated those who chose the profession of violence (wu) over the cultured pursuits of knowledge (wen). Although seen as less prestigious, military officers were not excluded from taking civil service examinations and after 1478 the military even held their own examinations to test military skills. In addition to taking over the established bureaucratic structure from the Yuan period, the Ming emperors established the new post of the travelling military inspector. In the early half of the dynasty, men of noble lineage dominated the higher ranks of military office; this trend was reversed during the latter half of the dynasty as men from more humble origins eventually displaced them.

Literature and arts



As in earlier dynasties, the Ming Dynasty saw a flourishing in the arts, whether it was painting
Chinese painting
Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. The earliest paintings were not representational but ornamental; they consisted of patterns or designs rather than pictures. Early pottery was painted with spirals, zigzags, dots, or animals...

, poetry
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...

, music
Music of China
Chinese Music has been made since the dawn of Chinese civilization with documents and artifacts providing evidence of a well-developed musical culture as early as the Zhou Dynasty...

, literature
Chinese literature
Chinese literature extends thousands of years, from the earliest recorded dynastic court archives to the mature fictional novels that arose during the Ming Dynasty to entertain the masses of literate Chinese...

, or dramatic theater
Chinese opera
Chinese opera is a popular form of drama and musical theatre in China with roots going back as far as the third century CE...

. Carved designs in lacquerware
Lacquerware
Lacquerware are objects decoratively covered with lacquer. The lacquer is sometimes inlaid or carved. Lacquerware includes boxes, tableware, buttons and even coffins painted with lacquer in cultures mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere.-History:...

s and designs glazed onto porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 wares displayed intricate scenes similar in complexity to those in painting. These items could be found in the homes of the wealthy, alongside embroidered silks and wares in jade
Chinese jade
Chinese jade is any of the carved-jade objects produced in China from the Neolithic Period onward. The Chinese regarded carved-jade objects as intrinsically valuable...

, ivory, and cloisonné
Cloisonné
Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects, in recent centuries using vitreous enamel, and in older periods also inlays of cut gemstones, glass, and other materials. The resulting objects can also be called cloisonné...

. The houses of the rich were also furnished with rosewood furniture and feathery latticework
Latticework
Latticework is a framework consisting of a criss-crossed pattern of strips of building material, typically wood or metal. The design is created by crossing the strips to form a network...

. The writing materials in a scholar's private study, including elaborately carved brush holders made of stone or wood, were all designed and arranged ritually to give an aesthetic appeal.

Connoisseurship in the late Ming period centered around these items of refined artistic taste, which provided work for art dealers and even underground scammers who made phony imitations of originals and false attributions to works of art. This was noted even by the Jesuit Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci, SJ was an Italian Jesuit priest, and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China Mission, as it existed in the 17th-18th centuries. His current title is Servant of God....

 while staying in Nanjing, writing that Chinese scam artists were ingenious when it came to making forgeries of artwork and made huge profits. However, there were guides to help the wary new connoisseur; in Liu Tong
Liu Tong
Liu Tong was a Chinese prose master and official from Macheng in Huanggang. He was a figure in the Ming Dynasty's Jingling school of Chinese prose literature in contrast to the Gongan school and the well known Yuan Hongdao and his brothers...

's (d. 1637) book printed in 1635, he told his readers various ways to spot a fake and authentic pieces of art. He revealed that a Xuande era (1426–35) bronzework could be authenticated if one knew how to judge its sheen; porcelain wares from the Yongle era (1402–24) could be judged authentic by their thickness.


There was a great amount of literary achievement in the Ming Dynasty. Xu Xiake
Xu Xiake
Xu Xiake , born Xu Hongzu , courtesy name Zhenzhi , was a Chinese travel writer and geographer of the Ming Dynasty known best for his famous geographical treatise, and noted for his bravery and humility. He traveled throughout China for more than 30 years, documenting his travels extensively...

 (1587–641), a travel literature
Travel literature
Travel literature is travel writing of literary value. Travel literature typically records the experiences of an author touring a place for the pleasure of travel. An individual work is sometimes called a travelogue or itinerary. Travel literature may be cross-cultural or transnational in focus, or...

 author, published his Travel Diaries in 404,000 written characters, with information on everything from local geography
History of geography
The history of geography includes various histories of geography which have differed over time and between different cultural and political groups. In more recent developments, geography has become a distinct academic discipline. 'Geography' derives from the from Greek - geographia,, a literal...

 to mineralogy
Mineralogy
Mineralogy is the study of chemistry, crystal structure, and physical properties of minerals. Specific studies within mineralogy include the processes of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals, their geographical distribution, as well as their utilization.-History:Early writing...

. The first reference to the publishing of private newspapers in Beijing was in 1582; by 1638 the Beijing Gazette
Gazette
A gazette is a public journal, a newspaper of record, or simply a newspaper.In English- and French-speaking countries, newspaper publishers have applied the name Gazette since the 17th century; today, numerous weekly and daily newspapers bear the name The Gazette.Gazette is a loanword from the...

 switched from using woodblock print
Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....

 to movable type
Movable type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....

 printing. The new literary field of the moral guide to business ethics was developed by the late Ming period, for the readership of the merchant class. Although short story fiction was popular as far back as the Tang Dynasty (618–907), and the work of contemporaneous authors such as Xu Guangqi, Xu Xiake, and Song Yingxing were often technical and encyclopedic, the Ming era witnessed the development of the novel. While the gentry elite were educated enough to fully comprehend the language of Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese or Literary Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese based on the grammar and vocabulary of ancient Chinese, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese...

, those with rudimentary education— such as women in educated families, merchants, and shop clerks —became a large, potential audience for literature and performing arts that employed Vernacular Chinese
Vernacular Chinese
Written Vernacular Chinese refers to forms of written Chinese based on the vernacular language, in contrast to Classical Chinese, the written standard used from the Spring and Autumn Period to the early twentieth century...

. The Jin Ping Mei
Jin Ping Mei
Jin Ping Mei, or The Plum in the Golden Vase is a Chinese naturalistic novel composed in the vernacular during the late Ming Dynasty. The author was Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng , "The Scoffing Scholar of Lanling", a clear pseudonym, and his identity is otherwise unknown...

, published in 1610, is considered by some to be the fifth great novel of pre-modern China, in reference to the Four Great Classical Novels
Four Great Classical Novels
The Four Great Classical Novels, or the Four Major Classical Novels of Chinese literature, are the four novels commonly regarded by scholars to be the greatest and most influential of pre-modern Chinese fiction. Dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties, they are well known to most Chinese readers...

. Two of these novels, the Water Margin
Water Margin
Water Margin , also known as Outlaws of the Marsh, All Men Are Brothers, Men of the Marshes, or The Marshes of Mount Liang, is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature.Attributed to Shi Nai'an and written in vernacular Chinese, the story, set in the Song Dynasty,...

and Journey to the West
Journey to the West
Journey to the West is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. It was written by Wu Cheng'en in the 16th century. In English-speaking countries, the tale is also often known simply as Monkey. This was one title used for a popular, abridged translation by Arthur Waley...

were products of the Ming Dynasty. To complement the work of novels, the theater scripts of playwrights were equally imaginative. One of the most famous plays in Chinese history, The Peony Pavilion
The Peony Pavilion
The Peony Pavilion is a play written by Tang Xianzu in the Ming Dynasty and first performed in 1598 at the Pavilion of Prince Teng. One of Tang's "Four Dreams", it has traditionally been performed as a Kunqu opera, but Chuan and Gan opera versions also exist...

, was written by the Ming playwright Tang Xianzu
Tang Xianzu
Tang Xianzu , courtesy name Yireng , was a Chinese playwright of the Ming Dynasty.Tang was a native of Linchuan, Jiangxi and his career as an official consisted principally of low-level positions. He successfully participated in the Provincial examinations at the age of 21 and at the imperial...

 (1550–1616), with its first performance at the Pavilion of Prince Teng
Pavilion of Prince Teng
The Pavilion of Prince Teng or Tengwang Pavilion is a building in the north west of the city of Nanchang, in Jiangxi province, China, on the east bank of the Gan River and is one of the Four Great Towers of China. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over its history...

 in 1598.

In contrast to Xu Xiake, who focused on technical aspects in his travel literature, the Chinese poet and official Yuan Hongdao
Yuan Hongdao
Yuan Hongdao was Chinese poet of the Ming Dynasty, and one of the Three Yuan Brothers. His life spanned nearly the whole of the Wanli period in Chinese history. Yuan was from Gong'an in Hukuang. His family had been military officials for generations. Yuan showed an interest in literature from...

 (1568–610) used travel literature to express his desires for individualism as well as autonomy from and frustration with Confucian court politics. Yuan desired to free himself from the ethical compromises which were inseparable from the career of a scholar-official. This anti-official sentiment in Yuan's travel literature and poetry was actually following in the tradition of the Song Dynasty poet and official Su Shi
Su Shi
Su Shi , was a writer, poet, artist, calligrapher, pharmacologist, gastronome, and statesman of the Song Dynasty, and one of the major poets of the Song era. His courtesy name was Zizhan and his pseudonym was Dongpo Jushi , and he is often referred to as Su Dongpo...

 (1037–1101). Yuan Hongdao and his two brothers, Yuan Zongdao (1560–1600) and Yuan Zhongdao
Yuan Zhongdao
Yuan Zhongdao 袁中道, , Chinese poet, essayist, travel diarist and official was born in Kung-an in Hukuang. He shares his fame with two other brothers, Yuan Zongdao and Yuan Hongdao . The three brothers dominated the literature of the period. From a family of financial means, they printed and...

 (1570–623), were the founders of the Gong'an School of letters. This highly individualistic school of poetry and prose was criticized by the Confucian establishment for its association with intense sensual lyricism, which was also apparent in Ming vernacular novels such as the Jin Ping Mei. Yet even gentry and scholar-officials were affected by the new popular romantic literature, seeking courtesans as soulmates to reenact the heroic love stories which arranged marriages often could not provide or accommodate.


There were many famous visual artists in the Ming period, including Ni Zan
Ni Zan
Ni Zan was a Chinese painter during the Yuan Dynasty. Along with Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, and Wang Meng, he is considered to be one of the four "Late Yuan" masters....

, Shen Zhou
Shen Zhou
Shen Zhou , courtesy name Qinan , was a Chinese painter in the Ming dynasty.-Life:Shen Zhou was born into a wealthy family in Xiangcheng, near the thriving city of Suzhou, in the Jiangsu province, China...

, Tang Yin
Tang Yin
Tang Yin , better known by his courtesy name Tang Bohu , was a Chinese scholar, painter, calligrapher, and poet of the Ming Dynasty period whose life story has become a part of popular lore...

, Wen Zhengming
Wen Zhengming
Wen Zhengming was a leading Ming Dynasty painter, calligrapher, and scholar.Born in present-day Suzhou, he claimed to be a descendant of the Song Dynasty prime minister and patriot Wen Tianxiang. Wen’s family was originally from Hengyang, Hunan, where his family had established itself shortly...

, Qiu Ying
Qiu Ying
Qiu Ying was a Chinese painter who specialized in the gongbi brush technique.Qiu Ying's courtesy name was Shifu , and his pseudonym was Shizhou . He was born to a peasant family in Taicang and studied painting under Zhou Chen in Suzhou...

, Dong Qichang
Dong Qichang
Dong Qichang , courtesy name Xuanzai , was a Chinese painter, scholar, calligrapher, and art theorist of the later period of the Ming Dynasty.-Painter:...

, and many others. They drew upon the techniques, styles, and complexity in painting achieved by their Song and Yuan predecessors, but added some new techniques and styles. Well-known Ming artists could make a living simply by painting, due to the high prices they demanded for their artworks and the great demand by the highly cultured community to collect precious works of art. The artist Qiu Ying was once paid 2.8 kg (100 oz) of silver to paint a long handscroll for the occasion of an eightieth birthday celebration for the mother of a wealthy patron. Renowned artists often gathered an entourage of followers, some who were amateurs who painted while pursuing an official career and others who were full-time painters.

Beyond painters, some potters also became renowned for their artwork, such as He Chaozong
He Chaozong
He Chaozong 何朝宗 was a celebrated early 17th century Chinese potter. He Chaozong fashioned mainly Buddhist white porcelain statuary in the tradition of the Dehua kilns in Fujian Province, known in the west as Blanc-de-Chine. Little documentary evidence remains for He Chaozong apart from extant...

 in the early 17th century for his style of white porcelain sculpture. The major production centers for porcelain items in the Ming Dynasty were Jingdezhen
Jingdezhen
Jingdezhen , is a prefecture-level city, previously a town, in Jiangxi Province, China, with a total population of 1,554,000 . It is known as the "Porcelain Capital" because it has been producing quality pottery for 1700 years. The city has a well-documented history that stretches back over 2000...

 in Jiangxi
Jiangxi
' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

 province and Dehua
Dehua
Dehua is located in central Fujian, one of the provinces on the southeast coast of China.-History:Dehua is rich in kaolin and famous for ceramic products, especially crafts and dinnerware, including candle holders, Piggy banks, photo frames, jewel boxes, flower baskets, jars, vases, plaques, wall...

 in Fujian
Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

 province. The Dehua porcelain factories catered to European tastes by creating Chinese export porcelain
Chinese export porcelain
Chinese export porcelain concerns a wide range of porcelain that was made and decorated in China exclusively for export to Europe and later to North America between the 16th and the 20th century.-Early China porcelain trade:...

 by the 16th century. In The Ceramic Trade in Asia, Chuimei Ho estimates that about 16% of late Ming era Chinese ceramic exports were sent to Europe while the rest were destined for Japan and South East Asia.

Religion



The dominant religious beliefs during the Ming dynasty were the traditional mixtures of ancestor worship
Ancestor Veneration in China
Ancestral veneration in Chinese culture is the practice of living family members who try to provide a deceased family member with continuous happiness and well-being in the afterlife. It is a way of continuing to show respect towards them, and it reinforces the unity of family and lineage. Showing...

, Daoism and 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...

. The Chinese believed in a host of deities in what may be termed Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

.

The late Ming period saw the first arrival of Jesuit missionaries
Jesuit China missions
The history of the missions of the Jesuits in China is part of the history of relations between China and the Western world. The missionary efforts and other work of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, between the 16th and 17th century played a significant role in continuing the transmission of...

 from Europe such as Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci
Matteo Ricci, SJ was an Italian Jesuit priest, and one of the founding figures of the Jesuit China Mission, as it existed in the 17th-18th centuries. His current title is Servant of God....

 and Nicolas Trigault
Nicolas Trigault
Nicolas Trigault was a Flemish Jesuit, and a missionary to China. He was also known by his latinised name Trigautius or Trigaultius, and his Chinese name Jīn Nígé .-Life and work:...

. There were also other denominations including the Dominicans
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 and Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

s.

Ricci worked with the Chinese mathematician, astronomer, and agronomist Xu Guangqi
Xu Guangqi
Xu Guangqi , was a Chinese scholar-bureaucrat, agricultural scientist, astronomer, and mathematician in the Ming Dynasty. Xu was a colleague and collaborator of the Italian Jesuits Matteo Ricci and Sabatino de Ursis and they translated several classic Western texts into Chinese, including part of...

 to translate the Greek mathematical
Greek mathematics
Greek mathematics, as that term is used in this article, is the mathematics written in Greek, developed from the 7th century BC to the 4th century AD around the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Greek mathematicians lived in cities spread over the entire Eastern Mediterranean, from Italy to...

 work Euclid's Elements
Euclid's Elements
Euclid's Elements is a mathematical and geometric treatise consisting of 13 books written by the Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria c. 300 BC. It is a collection of definitions, postulates , propositions , and mathematical proofs of the propositions...

into Chinese for the first time in 1607. The Chinese were impressed with European knowledge in astronomy, calendrical science, mathematics, hydraulics, and geography. Most European monks presented themselves more as educated elites than religious figures, in an effort to gain trust and admiration from the Chinese. However, most Chinese were suspicious and even outright critical of Christianity due to Chinese beliefs and practices that did not coincide with the Christian faith. The highpoint of this contention was the Nanjing Religious Incident of 1616–22, a temporary triumph of the Confucian traditionalists when Western missionaries and science were rejected in favor of the belief that Western science derived from a superior Chinese model; this was soon rejected in favor of once again staffing the Imperial Astronomical Board with Western missionaries learned in science.

Besides Christianity, the Kaifeng Jews
Kaifeng Jews
The Kaifeng Jews are members of a small Jewish community that has existed in Kaifeng, in the Henan province of China, for hundreds of years. Jews in modern China have traditionally called themselves Youtai in Mandarin Chinese which is also the predominant contemporary Chinese language term for...

 had a long history in China; Ricci discovered this when he was contacted by one of them in Beijing and learned of their history in China
History of the Jews in China
Jews and Judaism in China have had a long history. Jewish settlers are documented in China as early as the 7th or 8th century CE, but may have arrived during the mid Han Dynasty, or even as early as 231 BCE. Relatively isolated communities developed through the Tang and Song Dynasties Jews and...

. Islam in China
Islam in China
Throughout the history of Islam in China, Chinese Muslims have influenced the course of Chinese history. Chinese Muslims have been in China for the last 1,400 years of continuous interaction with Chinese society...

 had existed since the early 7th century during the Tang Dynasty
Islam during the Tang Dynasty
The History of Islam in China goes back to the earliest years of Islam. According to China Muslims' traditional legendary accounts, eighteen years after Muhammad's death, the third Caliph of Islam, Uthman ibn Affan sent a delegation led by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, the maternal uncle of Muhammad, to the...

; during the Ming Dynasty
Islam during the Ming Dynasty
As the Yuan Dynasty ended, many Mongols as well as the Muslims who came with them remained in China. Most of their descendants took Chinese names and became part of the diverse cultural world of China. During the following Ming rule , Muslims truly adopted Chinese culture...

 there were several prominent figures—including Zheng He
Zheng He
Zheng He , also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from...

—who was Muslim. The Hongwu Emperor also employed Muslim commanders in his army, such as Chang Yuqun, Lan Yu
Lan Yu (general)
Lan Yu was a Chinese general who contributed to the founding of the Ming Dynasty. His ancestral home was in present-day Dingyuan County, Anhui. In 1393 Lan was suspected and accused of plotting a rebellion and eventually put to death by the Hongwu Emperor...

, Ding Dexing, and Mu Ying
Mu Ying
Mu Ying was a general during the Ming Dynasty, and an adopted son of its founder, the Hongwu Emperor . Mu Ying was a Chinese Muslim. Mu Ying was one of the few capable generals who survived the massacre of the Hongwu Emperor....

.

Philosophy



Wang Yangming's Confucianism


During the Ming Dynasty, the doctrines of the Song Dynasty scholar-official Zhu Xi
Zhu Xi
Zhū​ Xī​ or Chu Hsi was a Song Dynasty Confucian scholar who became the leading figure of the School of Principle and the most influential rationalist Neo-Confucian in China...

 (1130–1200) and Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism is an ethical and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and Li Ao in the Tang Dynasty....

 were embraced by the court and the Chinese literati at large. However, total conformity to a single mode of thought was never a reality in the intellectual sphere of society. There were some in the Ming who—like Su Shi
Su Shi
Su Shi , was a writer, poet, artist, calligrapher, pharmacologist, gastronome, and statesman of the Song Dynasty, and one of the major poets of the Song era. His courtesy name was Zizhan and his pseudonym was Dongpo Jushi , and he is often referred to as Su Dongpo...

 (1037–1101) of the Song—were rebels at heart and were not abashed to criticize the mainstream dogmatic modes of thought. Leading a new strand of Confucian teaching and philosophy was the scholar-official Wang Yangming
Wang Yangming
Wang Yangming was a Ming Chinese idealist Neo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general. After Zhu Xi, he is commonly regarded as the most important Neo-Confucian thinker, with interpretations of Confucianism that denied the rationalist dualism of the orthodox...

 (1472–1529), whose critics said that his teachings were contaminated by Chan Buddhism
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

.

In analyzing Zhu Xi's concept of "the extension of knowledge" (i.e. gaining understanding through careful and rational investigation of things and events; Chinese: 理學, or 格物致知), Wang realized that universal principles were concepts espoused in the minds of all. Breaking from the mold, Wang said that anyone, no matter what socioeconomic status or background, could become as wise as the ancient sages Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

 and Mencius
Mencius
Mencius was a Chinese philosopher who was arguably the most famous Confucian after Confucius himself.-Life:Mencius, also known by his birth name Meng Ke or Ko, was born in the State of Zou, now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng , Shandong province, only thirty kilometres ...

, and that the writings of the latter two were not the source of truth, but merely guides that could have flaws if carefully examined. In Wang's mind, a peasant who had many experiences and drew natural truths from these was more wise than an official who had carefully studied the Classics but had not experienced the real world in order to observe what was true.

Conservative reaction



Conservative Confucian officials were wary of Wang's philosophical interpretation of the Confucian classics
Chinese classic texts
Chinese classic texts, or Chinese canonical texts, today often refer to the pre-Qin Chinese texts, especially the Neo-Confucian titles of Four Books and Five Classics , a selection of short books and chapters from the voluminous collection called the Thirteen Classics. All of these pre-Qin texts...

, the increasing number of his disciples while still in office, and his overall socially rebellious message. To curb his political influence he was often sent out to deal with military affairs and rebellions far away from the capital. Yet his ideas penetrated mainstream Chinese thought, and spurred new interest in Daoism and Buddhism. Furthermore, people began to question the validity of the social hierarchy and the idea that the scholar was above the farmer. Wang Yangming's disciple and salt-mine worker Wang Gen gave lectures to commoners about pursuing education to improve their lives, while his follower He Xinyin 何心隱 challenged the elevation and emphasis of the family in Chinese society. His contemporary Li Zhi 李贄 (1527–1602) even taught that women were the intellectual equals of men and should be given a better education; both Li and He eventually died in prison, jailed on charges of spreading "dangerous ideas". Yet these "dangerous ideas" of educating women had long been embraced with mothers giving their children primary education, as well as courtesan
Courtesan
A courtesan was originally a female courtier, which means a person who attends the court of a monarch or other powerful person.In feudal society, the court was the centre of government as well as the residence of the monarch, and social and political life were often completely mixed together...

s who were as literate and similarly trained in calligraphy, painting, and poetry as their male hosts.

In opposition to the liberal views of Wang Yangming were the conservative officials in the censorate—a governmental institution with the right and responsibility to speak out against malfeasance and abuse of power—and the senior officials of the Donglin Academy
Donglin Academy
The Donglin Academy , also known as the Guishan Academy , was originally built in AD 1111 during the Northern Song dynasty at present-day Wuxi in China...

, which was reestablished in 1604. These conservatives wanted a revival of orthodox Confucian ethics. Conservatives such as Gu Xiancheng (1550–1612) argued against Wang Yangming's idea of innate moral knowledge, stating that this was simply a legitimization for unscrupulous behavior such as greedy pursuits and personal gain. These two strands of Confucian thought created factionalism amongst ministers of state, who—like the old days of Wang Anshi
Wang Anshi
Wang Anshi was a Chinese economist, statesman, chancellor and poet of the Song Dynasty who attempted controversial, major socioeconomic reforms...

 and Sima Guang
Sima Guang
Sīmǎ Guāng was a Chinese historian, scholar, and high chancellor of the Song Dynasty, jinshi 1038.-Life, profession, and works:...

 in the Song Dynasty—used any opportunity to impeach members of the other faction from court.

Urban and rural life


Wang Gen was able to give philosophical lectures to many commoners from different regions because—following the trend already apparent in the Song Dynasty—communities in Ming society were becoming less isolated as the distance between market towns was shrinking. Schools, descent groups, religious associations, and other local voluntary organizations were increasing in number and allowing more contact between educated men and local villagers. Jonathan Spence
Jonathan Spence
Jonathan D. Spence is a British-born historian and public intellectual specializing in Chinese history. He was Sterling Professor of History at Yale University from 1993 to 2008. His most famous book is The Search for Modern China, which has become one of the standard texts on the last several...

 writes that the distinction between what was town and country was blurred in Ming China, since suburban areas with farms were located just outside and in some cases within the walls of a city. Not only was the blurring of town and country evident, but also of socioeconomic class in the traditional four occupations (Chinese: 士農工商), since artisans sometimes worked on farms in peak periods and farmers often traveled into the city to find work during times of dearth.


A variety of occupations could be chosen or inherited from a father's line of work. This would include—but was not limited to—coffinmakers, ironworkers and blacksmiths, tailors, cooks and noodle-makers, retail merchants, tavern, teahouse, or winehouse managers, shoemakers, seal cutters, pawnshop owners, brothel heads, and merchant bankers engaging in a proto-banking system involving notes of exchange. Virtually every town had a brothel
Brothel
Brothels are business establishments where patrons can engage in sexual activities with prostitutes. Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of prostitution, and bawdy house...

 where female and male prostitutes could be had. Male catamites fetched a higher price than female concubines since pederasty
Pederasty
Pederasty or paederasty is an intimate relationship between an adult and an adolescent boy outside his immediate family. The word pederasty derives from Greek "love of boys", a compound derived from "child, boy" and "lover".Historically, pederasty has existed as a variety of customs and...

 with a teenage boy was seen as a mark of elite status, regardless of sodomy
Sodomy
Sodomy is an anal or other copulation-like act, especially between male persons or between a man and animal, and one who practices sodomy is a "sodomite"...

 being repugnant to sexual norms. Public bathing
Public bathing
Public baths originated from a communal need for cleanliness. The term public may confuse some people, as some types of public baths are restricted depending on membership, gender, religious affiliation, or other reasons. As societies have changed, public baths have been replaced as private bathing...

 became much more common than in earlier periods. Urban shops and retailers sold a variety of goods such as special paper money
Joss paper
Joss paper , also known as ghost money, are sheets of paper and/or paper-crafts made into burnt offerings which are common in traditional Chinese religious practices including the veneration of the deceased on holidays and special occasions...

 to burn at ancestral sacrifices, specialized luxury goods, headgear, fine cloth, teas, and others. Smaller communities and townships too poor or scattered to support shops and artisans obtained their goods from periodic market fairs and traveling peddlers. A small township also provided a place for simple schooling, news and gossip, matchmaking, religious festivals, traveling theater groups, tax collection, and bases of famine relief distribution.

Farming villagers in the north spent their days harvesting crops like wheat and millet, while farmers south of 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...

 engaged in intensive rice cultivation and had lakes and ponds where ducks and fish could be raised. The cultivation of mulberry trees for silkworms and tea bushes could be found mostly south of the Yangzi River; even further south of this sugarcane
Sugarcane
Sugarcane refers to any of six to 37 species of tall perennial grasses of the genus Saccharum . Native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia, they have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six metres tall...

 and citrus were grown as basic crops. Some people in the mountainous southwest made a living by selling lumber from hard bamboo. Besides cutting down trees to sell wood, the poor also made a living by turning wood into charcoal, burning oyster
Oyster
The word oyster is used as a common name for a number of distinct groups of bivalve molluscs which live in marine or brackish habitats. The valves are highly calcified....

 shells to make lime
Agricultural lime
Agricultural lime, also called aglime, agricultural limestone, garden lime or liming, is a soil additive made from pulverized limestone or chalk. The primary active component is calcium carbonate...

, fired pots, and wove mats and baskets. In the north traveling by horse and carriage was most common, while in the south the myriad of rivers, canals, and lakes provided cheap and easy water transport. Although the south had the characteristic of the wealthy landlord and tenant farmers, there were on average many more owner-cultivators north of the Huai River due to harsher climate, living not far above subsistence level.

Science and technology



Compared to the flourishing of science and technology in the Song Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty perhaps saw fewer advancements in science and technology compared to the pace of discovery in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

. In fact, key advances in Chinese science in the late Ming were spurred by contact with Europe. In 1626 Johann Adam Schall von Bell
Johann Adam Schall von Bell
Johann Adam Schall von Bell was a German Jesuit and astronomer. He spent most of his life as a missionary in China and became an adviser to the Chinese emperor.- Life :...

 wrote the first Chinese treatise on the telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

, the Yuanjingshuo (Far Seeing Optic Glass); in 1634 the last Ming emperor Chongzhen
Chongzhen Emperor
The Chongzhen Emperor was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming Dynasty in China. He reigned from 1627 to 1644, under an era name that means "honorable and auspicious".- Early years :...

 acquired the telescope of the late Johann Schreck
Johann Schreck
Johann Schreck, also Terrenz or Terrentius Constantiensis, Deng Yuhan Hanpo, Deng Zhen Lohan, was a German Jesuit, missionary to China and polymath...

 (1576–630). The heliocentric
Heliocentrism
Heliocentrism, or heliocentricism, is the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around a stationary Sun at the center of the universe. The word comes from the Greek . Historically, heliocentrism was opposed to geocentrism, which placed the Earth at the center...

 model of the solar system was rejected by the Catholic missionaries in China, but Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

 and Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

's ideas slowly trickled into China starting with the Polish Jesuit Michael Boym (1612–59) in 1627, Adam Schall von Bell's treatise in 1640, and finally Joseph Edkins
Joseph Edkins
Joseph Edkins was a British Protestant missionary who spent 57 years in China, 30 of them in Beijing. As a Sinologue, he specialized in Chinese religions. He was also a linguist, a translator, and a philologist. Writing prolifically, he penned many books about the Chinese language and the Chinese...

, Alex Wylie, and John Fryer
John Fryer Thomas Keane
John Fryer Thomas Keane , popularly known as Jack Keane, was a Yorkshire clergyman’s son who went to sea at the age of twelve...

 in the 19th century. Catholic Jesuits in China would promote Copernican
Nicolaus Copernicus
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance astronomer and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe....

 theory at court, yet at the same time embrace the Ptolemaic
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 system in their writing; it was not until 1865 that Catholic missionaries in China sponsored the heliocentric model as their Protestant peers did. Although Shen Kuo
Shen Kuo
Shen Kuo or Shen Gua , style name Cunzhong and pseudonym Mengqi Weng , was a polymathic Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty...

 (1031–95) and Guo Shoujing
Guo Shoujing
Guo Shoujing , courtesy name Ruosi , was a Chinese astronomer, engineer, and mathematician born in Xingtai, Hebei who lived during the Yuan Dynasty...

 (1231–316) had laid the basis for trigonometry in China, another important work in Chinese trigonometry would not be published again until 1607 with the efforts of Xu Guangqi and Matteo Ricci. Ironically, some inventions which had their origins in ancient China were reintroduced to China from Europe during the late Ming; for example, the field mill
Field mill (carriage)
A field mill, also known as a camp mill, was a premodern vehicle which acted as a mobile mill used for grinding grains, which had the very practical use of feeding a moving army...

.

The Chinese 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...

 was in need of reform since it inadequately measured the solar year at 365 ¼ days, giving an error of 10 min and 14 sec a year or roughly a full day every 128 years. Although the Ming had adopted Guo Shoujing's Shoushi calendar of 1281, which was just as accurate as the Gregorian Calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

, the Ming Directorate of Astronomy failed to periodically readjust it; this was perhaps due to their lack of expertise since their offices had become hereditary in the Ming and the Statutes of the Ming prohibited private involvement in astronomy. A sixth-generation descendant of Emperor Hongxi, the "Prince" Zhu Zaiyu
Zhu Zaiyu
Zhu Zaiyu , a prince of the Ming dynasty of China. In 1584 Prince Zhu innovatively described the equal temperament via accurate mathematical calculation...

 (1536–611), submitted a proposal to fix the calendar in 1595, but the ultra-conservative astronomical commission rejected it. This was the same Zhu Zaiyu who discovered the system of tuning known as equal temperament
Equal temperament
An equal temperament is a musical temperament, or a system of tuning, in which every pair of adjacent notes has an identical frequency ratio. As pitch is perceived roughly as the logarithm of frequency, this means that the perceived "distance" from every note to its nearest neighbor is the same for...

, a discovery made simultaneously by Simon Stevin
Simon Stevin
Simon Stevin was a Flemish mathematician and military engineer. He was active in a great many areas of science and engineering, both theoretical and practical...

 (1548–1620) in Europe. In addition to publishing his works on music, he was able to publish his findings on the calendar in 1597. A year earlier, the memorial of Xing Yunlu suggesting a calendar improvement was rejected by the Supervisor of the Astronomical Bureau due to the law banning private practice of astronomy; Xing would later serve with Xu Guangqi in reforming the calendar (Chinese: 崇禎暦書) in 1629 according to Western standards.

When the Ming founder Hongwu came upon the mechanical devices housed in the Yuan Dynasty's palace at Khanbaliq— such as fountains with balls dancing on their jets, self-operating tiger automata
Automaton
An automaton is a self-operating machine. The word is sometimes used to describe a robot, more specifically an autonomous robot. An alternative spelling, now obsolete, is automation.-Etymology:...

, dragon-headed devices that spouted mists of perfume, and mechanical clocks
Striking clock
A striking clock is a clock that sounds the hours audibly on a bell or gong. In 12 hour striking, used most commonly in striking clocks today, the clock strikes once at 1 AM, twice at 2 AM, continuing in this way up to twelve times at 12 noon, then starts over, striking once at 1 PM, twice at 2...

 in the tradition of Yi Xing
Yi Xing
Yi Xing , born Zhang Sui , was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, mechanical engineer,and Buddhist monk of the Tang Dynasty...

 (683–727) and Su Song
Su Song
Su Song was a renowned Chinese polymath who specialized himself as a statesman, astronomer, cartographer, horologist, pharmacologist, mineralogist, zoologist, botanist, mechanical and architectural engineer, poet, antiquarian, and ambassador of the Song Dynasty .Su Song was the engineer of a...

 (1020–101)—he associated all of them with the decadence of Mongol rule and had them destroyed. This was described in full length by the Divisional Director of the Ministry of Works, Xiao Xun, who also carefully preserved details on the architecture and layout of the Yuan Dynasty palace. Later, European Jesuits such as Matteo Ricci and Nicolas Trigault
Nicolas Trigault
Nicolas Trigault was a Flemish Jesuit, and a missionary to China. He was also known by his latinised name Trigautius or Trigaultius, and his Chinese name Jīn Nígé .-Life and work:...

 would briefly mention indigenous Chinese clockworks that featured drive wheels. However, both Ricci and Trigault were quick to point out that 16th century European clockworks were far more advanced than the common time keeping devices in China, which they listed as 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...

s, incense clock
Incense clock
The incense clock is a Chinese timekeeping device that appeared during the Song Dynasty and spread to neighboring countries such as Japan. The clocks' bodies are effectively specialized censers that hold incense sticks or powdered incense that have been manufactured and calibrated to a known rate...

s, and "other instruments... with wheels rotated by sand as if by water" (Chinese: 沙漏). Chinese records— namely the Yuan Shi (Chinese: 元史)—describe the 'five-wheeled sand clock', a mechanism pioneered by Zhan Xiyuan (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 1360–80) which featured the scoop wheel of Su Song's earlier astronomical clock
Astronomical clock
An astronomical clock is a clock with special mechanisms and dials to display astronomical information, such as the relative positions of the sun, moon, zodiacal constellations, and sometimes major planets.-Definition:...

 and a stationary dial face
Dial (measurement)
A dial is generally a flat surface, circular or rectangular, with numbers or similar markings on it, used for displaying the setting or output of a timepiece, radio, clock, watch, or measuring instrument...

 over which a pointer circulated, similar to European models of the time. This sand-driven wheel clock was improved upon by Zhou Shuxue (fl. 1530–58) who added a fourth large gear wheel, changed gear ratios, and widened the orifice for collecting sand grains since he criticized the earlier model for clogging up too often.

The Chinese were intrigued with European technology, but so were visiting Europeans of Chinese technology. In 1584, Abraham Ortelius
Abraham Ortelius
thumb|250px|Abraham Ortelius by [[Peter Paul Rubens]]Abraham Ortelius thumb|250px|Abraham Ortelius by [[Peter Paul Rubens]]Abraham Ortelius (Abraham Ortels) thumb|250px|Abraham Ortelius by [[Peter Paul Rubens]]Abraham Ortelius (Abraham Ortels) (April 14, 1527 – June 28,exile in England to take...

 (1527–1598) featured in his atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum the peculiar Chinese innovation of mounting masts and sails onto carriages, just like Chinese ships
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...

. Gonzales de Mendoza
Juan González de Mendoza
Juan González de Mendoza was the author of the first Western history of China to publish Chinese characters for Western delectation. Published by him in 1586, Historia de las cosas más notables, ritos y costumbres del gran reyno de la China is an account of observations several Spanish travelers...

 also mentioned this a year later— noting even the designs of them on Chinese silken robes —while Gerardus Mercator
Gerardus Mercator
thumb|right|200px|Gerardus MercatorGerardus Mercator was a cartographer, born in Rupelmonde in the Hapsburg County of Flanders, part of the Holy Roman Empire. He is remembered for the Mercator projection world map, which is named after him...

 (1512–94) featured them in his atlas, John Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

 (1608–74) in one of his famous poems, and Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest
Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest
Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest Dutch-American merchant who is mostly known for his participation in the last Dutch embassy to China under the tributary system.- Early career :...

 (1739–801) in the writings of his travel diary in China.

The encyclopedist Song Yingxing
Song Yingxing
Song Yingxing , born in Yichun of Jiangxi, was a Chinese scientist and encyclopedist who lived during the late Ming Dynasty . He was the author of an encyclopedia that covered a wide variety of technical subjects, including the use of gunpowder weapons...

 (1587–666) documented a wide array of technologies, metallurgic and industrial processes in his Tiangong Kaiwu (Chinese: 天工開物) encyclopedia of 1637. This includes mechanical and hydraulic powered devices for agriculture and irrigation, nautical technology such as vessel types and snorkeling
Snorkeling
Snorkeling is the practice of swimming on or through a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped tube called a snorkel, and usually swimfins. In cooler waters, a wetsuit may also be worn...

 gear for pearl divers, the annual processes of sericulture
Sericulture
Sericulture, or silk farming, is the rearing of silkworms for the production of raw silk.Although there are several commercial species of silkworms, Bombyx mori is the most widely used and intensively studied. According to Confucian texts, the discovery of silk production by B...

 and weaving with the loom
Loom
A loom is a device used to weave cloth. The basic purpose of any loom is to hold the warp threads under tension to facilitate the interweaving of the weft threads...

, metallurgic processes such as the crucible
Crucible
A crucible is a container used for metal, glass, and pigment production as well as a number of modern laboratory processes, which can withstand temperatures high enough to melt or otherwise alter its contents...

 technique and quench
Quench
In materials science, quenching is the rapid cooling of a workpiece to obtain certain material properties. It prevents low-temperature processes, such as phase transformations, from occurring by only providing a narrow window of time in which the reaction is both thermodynamically favorable and...

ing, manufacturing processes such as for roasting iron pyrite
Pyrite
The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, is an iron sulfide with the formula FeS2. This mineral's metallic luster and pale-to-normal, brass-yellow hue have earned it the nickname fool's gold because of its resemblance to gold...

 in converting sulphide to oxide in sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

 used in gunpowder compositions— illustrating how ore was piled up with coal briquettes in an earthen furnace with a still-head that sent over sulfur as vapor that would solidify and crystallize
Crystallization
Crystallization is the process of formation of solid crystals precipitating from a solution, melt or more rarely deposited directly from a gas. Crystallization is also a chemical solid–liquid separation technique, in which mass transfer of a solute from the liquid solution to a pure solid...

 —and the use of gunpowder weapons such as a naval mine
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

 ignited by use of a rip-cord and steel flint wheel
Wheellock
A wheellock, wheel-lock or wheel lock, is a friction-wheel mechanism to cause a spark for firing a firearm. It was the next major development in firearms technology after the matchlock and the first self-igniting firearm. The mechanism is so-called because it uses a rotating steel wheel to provide...

.

Focusing on agriculture in his Nongzheng Quanshu, the agronomist Xu Guangqi
Xu Guangqi
Xu Guangqi , was a Chinese scholar-bureaucrat, agricultural scientist, astronomer, and mathematician in the Ming Dynasty. Xu was a colleague and collaborator of the Italian Jesuits Matteo Ricci and Sabatino de Ursis and they translated several classic Western texts into Chinese, including part of...

 (1562–1633) took an interest in irrigation, fertilizers, famine relief, economic and textile crops, and empirical observation of the elements that gave insight into early understandings of chemistry.

There were many advances and new designs in gunpowder weapons during the beginning of the dynasty, but by the mid to late Ming the Chinese began to frequently employ European-style artillery and firearms. The Huolongjing
Huolongjing
The Huolongjing is a 14th century military treatise that was compiled and edited by Jiao Yu and Liu Ji of the early Ming Dynasty in China...

, compiled by Jiao Yu
Jiao Yu
Jiao Yu was a Chinese military officer loyal to Zhu Yuanzhang , the founder of the Ming Dynasty . He was entrusted by Emperor Hongwu as a leading artillery officer for the rebel army that overthrew the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, and established the Ming Dynasty...

 and Liu Ji sometime before the latter's death on May 16, 1375 (with a preface added by Jiao in 1412), featured many types of cutting-edge gunpowder weaponry for the time. This includes hollow, gunpowder-filled exploding cannonballs
Round shot
Round shot is a solid projectile without explosive charge, fired from a cannon. As the name implies, round shot is spherical; its diameter is slightly less than the bore of the gun it is fired from.Round shot was made in early times from dressed stone, but by the 17th century, from iron...

, land mine
Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

s that used a complex trigger mechanism of falling weights, pins, and a steel wheellock to ignite the train of fuses, naval mines, fin-mounted winged rockets for aerodynamic control, multistage rocket
Multistage rocket
A multistage rocket is a rocket that usestwo or more stages, each of which contains its own engines and propellant. A tandem or serial stage is mounted on top of another stage; a parallel stage is attached alongside another stage. The result is effectively two or more rockets stacked on top of or...

s propelled by booster rocket
Booster rocket
A booster rocket is either the first stage of a multi-stage launch vehicle, or else a strap-on rocket used to augment the core launch vehicle's takeoff thrust and payload capability. Boosters are generally necessary to launch spacecraft into Earth orbit or beyond...

s before igniting a swarm of smaller rockets issuing forth from the end of the missile (shaped like a dragon's head), and hand cannons that had up to ten barrels
Gun barrel
A gun barrel is the tube, usually metal, through which a controlled explosion or rapid expansion of gases are released in order to propel a projectile out of the end at a high velocity....

.

Li Shizhen
Li Shizhen
Li Shizhen , courtesy name Dongbi , was one of the greatest Chinese herbologists and acupuncturists in Chinese history. His major contribution to medicine was his 27-year work, which is found in his epic book the Bencao Gangmu...

 (1518–93)— one of the most renowned pharmacologists
Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function...

 and physicians in Chinese history
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...

 —belonged to the late Ming period. In 1587, he completed the first draft of his Bencao Gangmu, which detailed the usage of over 1,800 medicinal drugs. Although it purportedly was invented by a Daoist hermit from Mount Emei
Mount Emei
"峨眉山" redirects here. For the county-level city that Mount Emei is located in, see Emeishan CityMount Emei is a mountain in Sichuan province, China...

 in the late 10th century, the process of inoculation
Inoculation
Inoculation is the placement of something that will grow or reproduce, and is most commonly used in respect of the introduction of a serum, vaccine, or antigenic substance into the body of a human or animal, especially to produce or boost immunity to a specific disease...

 for smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 patients was in widespread use in China by the reign of the Longqing Emperor
Longqing Emperor
The Longqing Emperor was the 12th emperor of the Ming dynasty in China between 1567-1572. His era name means "Great celebration". His name at birth was Zhu Zaihou and he was born during the reign of his father Emperor Jiajing, at the Forbidden City at the Ming Dynasty capital Beijing....

 (ruled 1567–72), long before it was applied anywhere else. In regards to oral hygiene
Oral hygiene
Teeth cleaning is part of oral hygiene and involves the removal of dental plaque from teeth with the intention of preventing cavities , gingivitis, and periodontal disease. People routinely clean their own teeth by brushing and interdental cleaning, and dental hygienists can remove hardened...

, the ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

ians had a primitive toothbrush of a twig frayed at the end, but the Chinese were the first to invent the modern bristle toothbrush
Toothbrush
The toothbrush is an oral hygiene instrument used to clean the teeth and gums that consists of a head of tightly clustered bristles mounted on a handle, which facilitates the cleansing of hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. Toothpaste, which often contains fluoride, is commonly used in conjunction...

 in 1498, although it used stiff pig hair.

Population


Sinologist historians
Sinology
Sinology in general use is the study of China and things related to China, but, especially in the American academic context, refers more strictly to the study of classical language and literature, and the philological approach...

 still debate the actual population figures for each era in the Ming Dynasty. The historian Timothy Brook notes that the Ming government census figures are dubious since fiscal obligations prompted many families to underreport the number of people in their households and many county officials to underreport the number of households in their jurisdiction. Children were often underreported, especially female children, as shown by skewed population statistics throughout the Ming. Even adult women were underreported; for example, the Daming Prefecture in North Zhili reported a population of 378 167 males and 226 982 females in 1502. The government attempted to revise the census figures using estimates of the expected average number of people in each household, but this did not solve the widespread problem of tax registration. Some part of the gender imbalance may be attributed to the practice of female infanticide
Infanticide
Infanticide or infant homicide is the killing of a human infant. Neonaticide, a killing within 24 hours of a baby's birth, is most commonly done by the mother.In many past societies, certain forms of infanticide were considered permissible...

. The practice is well documented in China, going back over two thousand years, and it was described as "rampant" and "practiced by almost every family" by contemporary authors. However, the dramatically skewed sex ratios, which many counties reported exceeding 2:1 by 1586, can't likely be explained by infanticide alone.

The number of people counted in the census of 1381 was 59 873 305; however, this number dropped significantly when the government found that some 3 million people were missing from the tax census of 1391. Even though underreporting figures was made a capital crime in 1381, the need for survival pushed many to abandon the tax registration and wander from their region, where Hongwu had attempted to impose rigid immobility on the populace. The government tried to mitigate this by creating their own conservative estimate of 60 545 812 people in 1393. In his Studies on the Population of China, Ho Ping-ti suggests revising the 1393 census to 65 million people, noting that large areas of North China and frontier areas were not counted in that census. Brook states that the population figures gathered in the official censuses after 1393 ranged between 51 and 62 million, while the population was in fact increasing. Even the Hongzhi Emperor
Hongzhi Emperor
The Hongzhi Emperor was emperor of the Ming dynasty in China between 1487 and 1505. Born Zhu Youcheng , he was the son of the Chenghua Emperor and his reign as emperor of China is called the Hongzhi...

 (ruled in 1487-505) remarked that the daily increase in subjects coincided with the daily dwindling amount of registered civilians and soldiers. William Atwell states that around 1400 the population of China was perhaps 90 million people, citing Heijdra and Mote.

Historians are now turning to local gazetteer
Gazetteer
A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary or directory, an important reference for information about places and place names , used in conjunction with a map or a full atlas. It typically contains information concerning the geographical makeup of a country, region, or continent as well as the social...

s of Ming China for clues that would show consistent growth in population. Using the gazetteers, Brook estimates that the overall population under the Chenghua Emperor
Chenghua Emperor
The Chenghua Emperor was Emperor of the Ming dynasty in China, between 1464 and 1487. His era name means "Accomplished change".-Childhood:Born Zhu Jianshen, he was the Zhengtong Emperor's son. He was only 2 years old when his father, the Zhengtong emperor, was captured by the Oirat Mongols and...

 (ruled in 1464–1487) was roughly 75 million, despite mid-Ming census figures hovering around 62 million. While prefectures across the empire in the mid-Ming period were reporting either a drop in or stagnant population size, local gazetteers reported massive amounts of incoming vagrant workers with not enough good cultivated land for them to till, so that many would become drifters, conmen, or wood-cutters that contributed to deforestation. The Hongzhi
Hongzhi Emperor
The Hongzhi Emperor was emperor of the Ming dynasty in China between 1487 and 1505. Born Zhu Youcheng , he was the son of the Chenghua Emperor and his reign as emperor of China is called the Hongzhi...

 and Zhengde
Zhengde Emperor
The Zhengde Emperor was emperor of China between 1505-1521. Born Zhu Houzhao, he was the Hongzhi Emperor's eldest son...

 emperors lessened the penalties against those who had fled their home region, while the Jiajing Emperor
Jiajing Emperor
The Jiajing Emperor was the 11th Ming Dynasty Emperor of China who ruled from 1521 to 1567. Born Zhu Houcong, he was the former Zhengde Emperor's cousin...

 (ruled in 1521–67) finally had officials register migrants wherever they had moved or fled in order to bring in more revenues.

Even with Jiajing's reforms to document migrant workers and merchants, by the late Ming era the government census still did not accurately reflect the enormous growth in population. Gazetteers across the empire noted this and made their own estimations of the overall population in the Ming, some guessing that the population had doubled, tripled, or even grown fivefold since 1368. Fairbank estimates that the population was perhaps 160 million in the late Ming Dynasty, while Brook estimates 175 million, and Ebrey states perhaps as large as 200 million. However, a great epidemic that entered China through the northwest in 1641 ravaged the densely populated areas along the Grand Canal; a gazetteer in northern Zhejiang
Zhejiang
Zhejiang is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital...

 noted more than half the population fell ill that year and that 90% of the local populace in one area was dead by 1642.

See also

  • 1421 Hypothesis
  • Economy of the Ming Dynasty
    Economy of the Ming Dynasty
    The economy of the Ming Dynasty of China was the largest in the world during that period. It is regarded as one of China's three golden ages...

  • Kaifeng flood of 1642
  • Kingdom of Tungning
    Kingdom of Tungning
    The Kingdom of Tungning was a government that ruled Taiwan between 1661 and 1683. A pro-Ming Dynasty state, it was founded by Koxinga after the Ming government in mainland China was replaced by the Manchu-ruled Qing Dynasty...

  • List of tributaries of Imperial China
  • Luchuan-Pingmian Campaigns
    Luchuan-Pingmian Campaigns
    In the middle of the fifteenth century Ming China began a series of four disastrous wars on its frontiers with Burma in Yunnan against Tai chieftainships....

  • Ming Dynasty family tree
    Ming Dynasty family tree
    This is a family tree of Chinese emperors from 1279 to 1912, the third of three periods of 700 years, from the conquest of China by the Mongols to the end of the Qing dynasty in 1912....

  • Ming Dynasty military conquests
    Ming Dynasty military conquests
    The Ming Dynasty military conquests were instrumental to its hold on power during the early stages of the Ming Dynasty.-Hongwu reign :...

  • Ming official headwear
    Ming official headwear
    The headwear of a Han Chinese official during Ming Dynasty China consisted of a black hat with two wing-like flaps of thin, oval shaped boards on each side called the wushamao...

  • Taxation in premodern China
    Taxation in premodern China
    In the premodern era of Chinese history, taxation by the various dynasties that ruled China varied greatly. Overall, the most important source of state revenue was the tax on agriculture, or land tax. During some dynasties, the government also imposed state monopolies which became important sources...

  • Ye Chunji
    Ye Chunji
    Ye Chunji was a Chinese county official during the Ming Dynasty of China.-Life and career:He was a native of Guangdong province and served as a county official of Huian County in Fujian province. Although topographic features were part of maps in China for centuries, Ye was the first to base...

     (for further information on rural economics in the Ming)
  • Zheng Zhilong
    Zheng Zhilong
    Zheng Zhilong also known as Nicholas Iquan Gaspard, a native of Nan'an, Fujian, China. He was a Chinese merchant, pirate and admiral for the Ming Empire. He was the father of Zheng Chenggong , also a military leader. Under the Qing Dynasty, Zheng was elevated to the rank of Count of the Second Rank...


External links