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.
|[Lu Hou] Regent||188-180BC|
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
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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