Six Dynasties

Six Dynasties

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Six Dynasties is a collective noun for six Chinese
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...

 dynasties during the periods of the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

 (220
220
Year 220 was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Antonius and Eutychianus...

280
280
Year 280 was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Messalla and Gratus...

 AD), Jin Dynasty
Jìn Dynasty (265-420)
The Jìn Dynasty , was a dynasty in Chinese history, lasting between the years 265 and 420 AD. There are two main divisions in the history of the Dynasty, the first being Western Jin and the second Eastern Jin...

 (265
265
Year 265 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Valerianus and Lucillus...

420
420
Year 420 was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Theodosius and Constantius...

), and Southern and Northern Dynasties
Southern and Northern Dynasties
The Southern and Northern Dynasties was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589 AD. Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spreading of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism...

 (420
420
Year 420 was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Theodosius and Constantius...

589
589
Year 589 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 589 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Europe :* October 17 – The Adige River...

).

This period immediately followed the fall of 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...

 in 220 AD, and was a period of disunity, instability and warfare. The period ended when Emperor Wen of Sui
Emperor Wen of Sui
Emperor Wen of Sui — personal name Yang Jian , Xianbei name Puliuru Jian , nickname Naluoyan — was the founder and first emperor of China's Sui Dynasty . He was a hard-working administrator and a micromanager. As a Buddhist, he encouraged the spread of Buddhism through the state...

 reunified Southern and Northern China and 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....

 began.

The term generally refers to two groupings of dynasties during that period:
  • Six dynasties with capitals in Jiankang
    Jiankang
    Jiankang was the capital city of the Eastern Jin Dynasty and Southern Dynasties. Its walls are extant ruins in the modern municipal region of Nanjing.-History:...

     (the modern day 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...

    ), and
  • Six dynasties with legitimate lineage.

Six Dynasties with capitals in Jiankang


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

     (222–280)
  2. Jin Dynasty (265–420)
  3. Liu Song Dynasty (420–479)
  4. Southern Qi
    Southern Qi
    The Southern Qi Dynasty was the second of the Southern dynasties in China, followed by the Liang Dynasty. During its 23-year history, the dynasty was largely filled with instability, as after the death of the capable Emperor Gao and Emperor Wu, Emperor Wu's grandson Xiao Zhaoye was assassinated...

     (479–502)
  5. Liang Dynasty
    Liang Dynasty
    The Liang Dynasty , also known as the Southern Liang Dynasty , was the third of the Southern dynasties in China and was followed by the Chen Dynasty...

     (502–557)
  6. Chen Dynasty
    Chen Dynasty
    The Chen Dynasty , also known as the Southern Chen Dynasty, was the fourth and last of the Southern dynasties in China, eventually destroyed by the Sui Dynasty....

     (557–589)


This listing is based on the states that maintained national capitals at Jiankang
Jiankang
Jiankang was the capital city of the Eastern Jin Dynasty and Southern Dynasties. Its walls are extant ruins in the modern municipal region of Nanjing.-History:...

 near the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 (Chang Jiang ). Xu Song (许嵩, Xǔ Sōng) in 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...

 wrote a book, Jiankang Shilu (建康实录, Jiànkāng Shílù), that provides a historical account of Jiankang, which gave rise to this scheme of naming.

Six Dynasties with legitimate lineage


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

     (220–265)
  2. Jin Dynasty (265–420)
  3. Liu Song Dynasty (420–479)
  4. Qi Dynasty
    Southern dynasties
    The Southern dynasties comprise the Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang Dynasty and Chen Dynasty, whose capital were at Jiankang , and Emperor Yuan of Liang, as well as the later Western Liang emperors , also set their...

     (479–502)
  5. Liang Dynasty
    Southern dynasties
    The Southern dynasties comprise the Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang Dynasty and Chen Dynasty, whose capital were at Jiankang , and Emperor Yuan of Liang, as well as the later Western Liang emperors , also set their...

     (502–557)
  6. Chen Dynasty
    Southern dynasties
    The Southern dynasties comprise the Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang Dynasty and Chen Dynasty, whose capital were at Jiankang , and Emperor Yuan of Liang, as well as the later Western Liang emperors , also set their...

     (557–589)


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 his book Zizhi Tongjian
Zizhi Tongjian
The Zizhi Tongjian was a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography, published in 1084, under the form of a chronicles. In 1065 CE, Emperor Yingzong of Song ordered the great historian Sima Guang to lead with other scholars such as his chief assistants Liu Shu, Liu Ban and Fan Zuyu, the...

, used the era names
Chinese era name
A Chinese era name is the regnal year, reign period, or regnal title used when traditionally numbering years in an emperor's reign and naming certain Chinese rulers . Some emperors have several era names, one after another, where each beginning of a new era resets the numbering of the year back...

 of these six dynasties as the timeline
Chinese era name
A Chinese era name is the regnal year, reign period, or regnal title used when traditionally numbering years in an emperor's reign and naming certain Chinese rulers . Some emperors have several era names, one after another, where each beginning of a new era resets the numbering of the year back...

 to describe this period of history. Later Chinese called this period the Six Dynasties period, or Wei Jin Southern and Northern Dynasties (魏晋南北朝, Wèi Jìn NánběiCháo).

Poetry in the Six Dynasties



The Six Dynasties was an important period in the history of Chinese poetry, especially remarkable for its frank (for Classical Chinese poetry) descriptions of love and beauty. Especially important, and frequently translated into English, is the anthology New Songs from the Jade Terrace
New Songs from the Jade Terrace
New Songs from the Jade Terrace is a collection of Chinese poetry dating to the time of the Six Dynasties. Its poems have frequently been translated and have otherwise been of great artistic influence around the world. Although there is uncertainty about the authorship of the individual poems, the...

, compiled by Xu Ling (507-83), under the patronage of Crown Prince Xiao Gang (Later Emperor Jien Wen) of the Liang Dynasty
Liang Dynasty
The Liang Dynasty , also known as the Southern Liang Dynasty , was the third of the Southern dynasties in China and was followed by the Chen Dynasty...

. Also significant, is the Zi Ye, or "Lady Midnight" style, supposedly originating with an eponymously-named fourth century professional singer
Sing-song girls
Sing-song girls is an English term for the courtesans in China during the early 19th century.-Origin:Prior to the founding of modern China in 1911, concubinage was legal. In Chinese custom, males carry the family name and the family's heritage after marriage...

 of the Jin dynasty.

Legacy


The Six Dynasties preserves the political continuity of Chinese heritage, when most of northern China was ruled by Wu Hu
Wu Hu
Wu Hu was a Chinese term for the northern non-Chinese nomadic tribes which caused the Wu Hu uprising, and established the Sixteen Kingdoms from 304 to 439 AD.-Definition:...

 (similar to the term "barbarians" in Roman's time). With the fall of 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...

 often compared to the fall of Roman Empire in Europe, the Six Dynasties is compared to the role of Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 in preserving the Roman heritage. When Emperor Wen of Sui
Emperor Wen of Sui
Emperor Wen of Sui — personal name Yang Jian , Xianbei name Puliuru Jian , nickname Naluoyan — was the founder and first emperor of China's Sui Dynasty . He was a hard-working administrator and a micromanager. As a Buddhist, he encouraged the spread of Buddhism through the state...

 ruled the northern dynasties and reunified China in 589
589
Year 589 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 589 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Europe :* October 17 – The Adige River...

, the Wu Hu
Wu Hu
Wu Hu was a Chinese term for the northern non-Chinese nomadic tribes which caused the Wu Hu uprising, and established the Sixteen Kingdoms from 304 to 439 AD.-Definition:...

 had been assimilated and China emerged in a path different from Europe as a mostly unified nation as it is today.

As the first time in history that major political center of China being located to the south
Northern and southern China
Northern China and southern China are two approximate regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions has never been precisely defined...

, with surge in population and continual development of economy and culture, this transformed southern China
Northern and southern China
Northern China and southern China are two approximate regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions has never been precisely defined...

 from being remote territories to the economic center that can rival the north
Northern and southern China
Northern China and southern China are two approximate regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions has never been precisely defined...

 from 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...

 onward.

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...

, which first reached China in Eastern Han Dynasty, flourished in the Six Dynasties (and simultaneously in the Northern Dynasties) and became a major religion in China since then.

See also

  • Chinese history
  • Chinese sovereign
    Chinese sovereign
    Chinese sovereign is the ruler of a particular period in ancient China. Several titles and naming schemes have been used throughout history.-Emperor Title:...

  • Northern Dynasties
    Northern dynasties
    The Northern Dynasties included Northern Wei Dynasty, Eastern Wei Dynasty, Western Wei Dynasty, Northern Qi Dynasty, Northern Zhou Dynasty.Also see Southern and Northern Dynasties.-External links:*...

  • Southern Dynasties
    Southern dynasties
    The Southern dynasties comprise the Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang Dynasty and Chen Dynasty, whose capital were at Jiankang , and Emperor Yuan of Liang, as well as the later Western Liang emperors , also set their...

  • Nanking