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Han China vs. Gupta India Essay

The Chinese Han Empire, which date from 206 BC to 220 AD, and the Indian Gupta Empire, which date from 375 AD to 550 AD, were elaborate kingdoms that thrived during their time. Although Han China and Gupta India were politically stable, Han China’s developing bureaucracy was centralized, while Gupta India was much more regionalized. Han China and Gupta India both featured extensive internal trade; however Gupta India was more involved with trade. Both empires had many intellectual achievements but Han China had much more innovative achievements, as in improving things, while Gupta India was much more dynamic, meaning the Indians worked on theories and then proved them. Something the Gupta Empire and the Han Empire had in common was that the emperors of these empires both believed they were chosen from the gods to rule.

Han China had a very centralized bureaucracy which meant the emperor ruled over China, and this helped the rulers rule over a vast amount of land. The bureaucracy was capable of carrying out the duties of a complex state. In Gupta India, however, their government was regionalized meaning there were many local rulers ruling over certain regions. There was not much emphasis on politics in Gupta India so they did not develop solid political institution, like Han China did. There were very few formal political values or institutions besides regionalism so the political culture was not as involved or intricate. Despite the fact that both Han China and Gupta India had a deal of internal and external trade, the Gupta Empire was much more involved in trading overall.

In Han China, much of the trade focused on luxury items for the upper class, such as silk, jewelry, leather goods and furniture. They also traded food and copper coins once they began to circulate. The Gupta Empire traded things such as cotton, silk, dyes, drugs, gold, ivory and more, getting in return pottery, wine, metals, slaves and gold. The merchants in the Han Empire were not as respected as they were in the Gupta Empire because of the Confucian emphasis on learning and politics, not on money-making. In the Gupta Empire, merchants were of relatively high class according to the caste system. Even though the Gupta and the Han both were involved in trade, both were largely agricultural societies so they depended greatly on the peasant class.

The two empires, Han and Gupta, both had many intellectual achievements, although it could be argued that the Indians had much more of a variety. The Gupta Empire was more dynamic than the Han, meaning it was open and branched out much more. During the time of the Gupta Empire, they developed pieces of literature and Indian drama flourished. Their most notable intellectual achievements were the Indian numbering system, the concept of zero, and the decimal system. In the Han Empire, people were encouraged to not stray away from practicality. Chinese scientists were always improving their machinery and they invented a seismograph. The Han focused more on how things worked, which is why Chinese scholars would study the mathematics in music.

One may assume that Han China and Gupta India were only different but that is not the case. As well as their many differences, such as a bureaucracy in China and a regionalized government in India, both empires were politically stable with rulers that believed they were chosen by the gods to rule. Despite Gupta India having more emphasis on trading, both empires were agricultural societies which depended on the peasant class. The Gupta Empire and the Han Empire both had an abundance of intellectual achievements although the Gupta Empire was much more dynamic while the Han Empire was restraint. Both empires blossomed in their time because of the many characteristics that make an empire great such as their economy, their intellectual achievements and their political institutions.

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