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The Han Dynasty Essay

I. Han dynasty came after the Qin dynasty and preceded the Three Kingdoms in China. A. After the death of Shih Huang-Ti, the dynasty was conquered by Liu Pang/ Liu Bang and the Han dynasty was established. B. Liu Pang or Liu Bang is first emperor of the Han Dynasty.

1. He believed in the teachings of Confucius and even restored Confucianism as the guide for imperial administration, side by side with legalistic philosophy. 2. He is commonly known by his temple name as Gaozu.
3. He built his capital in Luoyang (later moved to Chang’an) and appointed Lu Zhi as his empress and his son Liu Ying as crown prince.
C. These are the first two periods of Han Dynasty:
1.Former Han Dynasty (Qian Han) or the Western Han Dynasty (Xi Han)
a. It ran from 206 BC to AD 9.
b. Its seat was at Chang’an.
2. The Later Han Dynasty (Hou Han) or the Eastern Han Dynasty (Dong Han)
a. It ran from 25 to 220 AD.
b. Its seat was at Luoyang.
D. Below is a list of the Emperors of the Han Dynasty:

E. Emperor Wu of Han was the 7th emperor of the Han Dynasty of China ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC.

1. His personal name was Liu Che. 2. He is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized. 3. He was cited in Chinese history as the greatest emperor of the Han dynasty and one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history. II. Society during the Han Dynasty consisted of various rules, ideas, philosophies, and practices which, when mixed, created a culture that is uniquely Han. A. Politics in the Han dynasty followed a specific hierarchy. 1. Four qualifications were demanded for those who wanted to work for the government: a. He must have a credible recommendation.

b. He has finished a high level of education. c. He passed the civil service examination. d. He possesses experience for the position applied for . 2. Local officials were directly responsible to the central government and the central government was responsible to the emperor. Local officials made annual reports which were presented to their superiors. Investigations were also done to check on the performance of the individual officers. B. The subjugation of the Central Asian barbarians encouraged trade not only among their neighbors but with other empires as well and this improved the economy of China. 1. Under Emperor Wu Ti, garrisons were built along the trade routes to deal with problems of the northern barbaric invasions. This was also to ensure that looting and robbery were effectively stopped.

2. In return, the traders paid the Chinese government for the maintenance of their safety. 3. Farmers were also encouraged to live around the areas of the garrisons. They also contributed to government funds to ensure their protection against barbaric attacks. C. In industry, productivity was improved greatly in both metallurgy and the textile industry. Looms were used taking the place of manual labor in weaving. Iron-smelting was carried on a large scale and steel was made using coal as fuel. Hydraulics were developed using water power to drive a celestial sphere. D. Culture and arts during the Han dynasty was anchored in the idea of Confucianism. 1. Literature flourished with the invention of paper, as art flourished with the invention of the loom, and the invention of porcelain. From the reign of Emperor Wu, Confucianism became the main stream of thought in government. The phenomenon of letting a hundred schools of thought strive which was formed in the Spring and Autumn Period had disappeared. Henceforth, Confucianism became the philosophy for emperors in many dynasties to manage their state affairs.

2. The great historian SimaQian contributed to the Chinese historiography by writing the Book of History. It is the first chronicle of Chinese history (from Huangdi to Emperor Wu) and occupies an important status in the history and literature of China. E. The stability of the country and rapid development of the arts with the invention of paper and porcelain and industry provided commerce a favorable environment to develop. 1. Many commercial cities developed around the center of Chang’an. Not only domestic trade flourished but foreign trade prospered due to the opening up of the Silk Road. Diplomatic missions and trade were established with ancient Rome, India and many other countries.

2. Trade occurred among the Parthians, Sassanids, Gupta Indians, and the citizens of Roman Empire to the west. The Romans spent fortunes for the acquisition of Chinese silk, porcelain, and tea. 3. Development of trade was made possible due to the annexation of Tibet, Sinkiang, and the Kansu Territories along the western borders of China. 4. Outposts were established to secure caravan trade and maintain peace. 5. The Chinese favored the horses of the Central Asian barbarians, which were exchanged for Chinese silk and tea with the nomads. 6. Korea and Vietnam became part of China during the Han dysnasty. III. There are many significant contributions of this dynasty. A. Various ideas flourished during the Han dynasty.

1. Confucian became the dominant philosophy. a. Han emperors established universities in urban areas and encouraged popular education whose curriculum were based on Confucian teachings. b. Emphasis was put on the importance of observing traditions, ancestor worship, obedience to superiors, and importance of the government. c. Those who wanted to work for the government underwent examinations according to the Confucian Classics. d. Confucianism became the doctrine of the citizens of the Han dynasty creating a uniform outlook on life. 2. Buddhism was introduced.

e. Buddhism found its way to China through the caravan trade from India to Central Asia. f. The Chinese people easily accepted the religion because they were taught that Buddha was one of the Taoist gods. g. Buddhism introduced the idea of life after death, a concept that was absent in the philosophies of China. B. There are many famous people during this time.

1. Liu Ying succeeded to the throne although power was held by his mother Queen Lu Zhi 2. Liu Heng (Emperor Wen) and Liu Qi (Emperor Jing) became the emperors in succession after the 16 yrs of power of Lui Ying and both reduced the people’s tax burdens as Emperor Gaozu had done and encouraged the people to farm and be thrifty in life. 3. Emperor Wu achieved its most powerful and prosperous period. His wars assured safe trade routes and the establishment of the great silk road. Furthermore, he changed the official state religion to Taoism to Confucianism 4. During the time of Emperor Zhao and Emperor Xuan, the dynasty reached its zenith. 5. Emperor Yuan began to lose the power to deal with the state affairs. 6. During the time of Liu Ying, the western Han ended.

7. Wang Mang seized the throne and changed the name of dynasty to Xin. However, after a series of protests the social rebellion became so serious that the rule of Wang Mang was overthrown by an uprising of peasants. This uprising was suppressed by Liu Xiu, (a royal of the Han) who was trusted by the people. In 25, Liu Xiu reestablished the Han Dynasty (now called Eastern Han) and made Luo Yang the capital city. C. There are various inventions which improved civilization during the Han dynasty. 1. Chuko Liang (181-234 A.D.) of China is considered to be the inventor of the wheelbarrow. Liang was a general who used the wheelbarrows to transport supplies and injured soldiers. The Chinese wheelbarrows had two wheels and required two men to propel and steer.

2. The watermill was invented in China during the Han dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) in order to grind grain as well as to power piston bellows of a blast furnace in forging cast iron. 3. Iron-smelting was carried on a large scale and steel was made using coal as fuel. 4. The compass was first invented as a device for divination as early as the Chinese Han Dynasty. The compass was used in Song Dynasty China by the military for navigational orienteering by 1040-1044, and was used for maritime navigation by 1117. 5. Printing is one of the four great inventions of ancient China. It has a long history and far-reaching impact.

With a development process of over 5,000 years, printing is a key component of Chinese civilization. It produced the world’s first print culture and eventually lead to the printing of the first book later on called the Diamond Sutra. 6. Papermaking has traditionally been traced to China about AD 105, when Cai Lun, an official attached to the Imperial court during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 220), created a sheet of paper using mulberry and other bast fibres along with fishnets, old rags, and hemp waste. 7. Seismograph (measures the intensity of earthquakes)

8. Gunpowder was discovered in the 9th century by Chinese alchemists searching for an elixir of immortality. Later on, this was developed for ammunitions. 9. Fireworks stemmed from gunpowder which the Chinese develop to create tremendous noise to drive away the evil spirits and to welcome the good spirits, especially in their celebration of New Year. IV. Toward the last two hundred years of the Han dynasty, the peasants and the noblemen revolted against the central government. Weak emperors were helpless in preventing the barbaric invasions from the north; this forced many Chinese to migrate southwards to the fertile lands of the Yang Tze River. Several Chinese continued their migrations to Southeast Asia.

I. Books
Gonzalez, A. & Atutubo, J. C. (2007). Asian History and Civilizations. Pages 170-173. Quezon City : Phoenix Publishing House Incorporated.

II. Internet Source

Shanghai News and Press Bureau. (2007). Liu Bang (256-195BC). Retrieved from: Lau, J. (February 2000). Emperor Gaozu of Han. Retrieved from: Anonymous. (1999). The History of Han Dynasty. Retrieved from: Szczepanski,

K. (n.d.) Han Dynasty Emperors of China. Retrieved from: Anonymous. (2006, February 9). The Legacy of Ancient China. The Han Dynasty. Retrieved from:

Sung, T. (2002). Han Dynasty. Retrieved from:

Yang, B. (1977). Timeline of Chinese History. Retrieved from:

Simmons, G. (n.d). A Brief History of Calculus. Retrieved from:

Shanghai News and Press Bureau. (2006). Science and Invention. Printing. Retrieved from: (2007). The Four Great Inventions. Retrieved from:

Bellis, M. (n.d.). History of Engineering. Wheelbarrow. Retrieved from:

Woods, N. (n.d.). History of China – Famour Inventions. Watermill. Retrieved from:

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