Han Dynasty 206BC-220AD

The long period of Han dynastic rule consolidated the unification of the Qin but with a lessening of the autocratic use of force. The majority of Chinese people still call themselves 'Han Chinese' and the language is often called 'hanyu' after the name of this dynasty. The empire extended far to the West and trade with the Romans along the Silk Route brought great riches to the merchants. Paper money was introduced for the first time.

The setting up of open examinations to fill posts for the high officials was a major innovation. The high officials were mainly eunuchs. However the dependence of Confucian doctrine became a stultifying factor in later centuries.

After the brief interregnum when Wang Mang established some significant economic and social reforms the Han dynasty was re-established in the more easterly city of Luoyang. The study of astronomy, earth sciences and botany flourished.

Emperors Western Han (206BC-23AD)

Gaodi206-195BC
Huidi195-188BC
[Lu Hou] Regent188-180BC
Wendi180-157BC
Jingdi157-141BC
Wudi141-87BC
Zhaodi87-74BC
Xuandi74-49BC
Yuandi49-33BC
Chengdi22-7BC
Aidi 7-1BC
Pingdi 1BC-6AD
Ruzi7-9
Wang Mang 9-23

2,000 year old harvest scene
Tomb decorated with Harvest scene
The upper half has a lotus pond with fish and ducks. A hunter about to shoot a goose from under a tree. Lower half, peasants harvesting rice. Eastern Han (AD25-220). Width 42cms. Unearthed Chengdu, Sichuan

Emperors Eastern Han (25-220)

Guang Wudi 25-57
Mingdi57-75
Zhangdi 75-88
Hedi88-106
Shangdi 106
Andi106-125
Shundi125-144
Chongdi144-145
Zhidi145-146
Huandi146-168
Lingdi168-189
Xiandi189-220

Bronze charger
By representing the three feet of this handsome horse off the ground and making the right hind hoof step on a flying swallow with a back-turned head, the ancient bronzesmith ingeniously succeeded in conveying the idea of a 'galloping horse treading on a flying swallow' and created a masterpiece worthy of the tradition of 'beauty in form and dignity in spirit' in Chinese art. Eastern Han Length 45cms Unearthed in 1969 at Wuwei, Gansu province

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China sage guide to Han dynasty

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