After the Han Dynasty ended in A.D. 220, China had no central government. During this time, Korea broke away and created its own separate civilization. In A.D. 581, a General named Wendi declared himself emperor and founded the Sui dynasty. After he died, his son Yangdi took on many projects that helped China’s economy. Eventually, farmers that were forced to work on projects revolted against Yangdi and his army took control and killed him. Korea also broke free from China. This ended the Sui dynasty.
THE TANG DYNASTY In A.D. 618, one of Yangdi’s generals Tang made himself emperor and started the Tang dynasty. The Tang dynasty was in power for about 300 years. Tang rulers worked to strengthen the government. Their most powerful emperor was Taizong. He restored the civil service exam system and gave farmers land. Empress Wu ruled during the Tang dynasty and is known as the only woman in Chinese history to rule on her own. Rulers were not Buddhist, but allowed Buddhism to be practiced. Eventually though, in A.D. 845 they declared Buddhism against Chinese traditions. By mid A.D. 700’s, the Turks drove Tang’s armies out of central Asia and took control of the Silk Road. In A.D. 907, all of the disorder brought the Tang dynasty down. THE SONG DYNASTY In A.D. 960, the General Song declared himself emperor and began the Song dynasty. This dynasty lasted from A.D. 960 to 1279. During the Song dynasty, there was a period of prosperity and cultural achievement. Unfortunately, Song armies were not large enough to control the large empire. Tibet broke away, and much of China was taken over by nomads.
In the A.D. 300’s, Chinese Buddhists brought their religion to Korea. Korean’s later brought Buddhism to Japan. In a letter a Korean king wrote to Japan’s emperor, he claims “This religion is the most excellent of all teachings.” As a result of this, many Japanese people followed Buddhism
After the fall of the Han dynasty, Confucianism lost popularity. Tang and Song rulers brought Confucianism back into favor. Neo-Confucianism was created. It taught that life in this world was just as important as in the afterlife. Followers were expected to take part in life and help others. The Song dynasty adopted neo- Confucianism as their official belief system. Tang and Song rulers used civil service examinations to hire officials. As a result, this created a new social class, the scholar- officials. These students were not allowed to do any physical labor.
After the fall of the Han dynasty, there was much fighting and as a result, trade and farming suffered. When the Tang rulers took power in A.D. 618, they brought peace to the countryside and gave land to farmers. As a result, farmers made many advances. Farmers grew new kinds of rice and tea. With an abundance of food, this led to the rise of new cities. Travel also flourished during the Tang dynasty. Rulers built many useful roads and waterways. This promoted trade and the Silk Road was once again very successful. On the Silk Road, the Chinese traded silk fabric, tea, steel, paper and porcelain. The Chinese discovered coal could be used to heat things, and soon began the coal-mining industry. By heating iron, they soon discovered steel and began making steel armor, swords and helmets for their army and stoves, farm tools, chains, nails and needles.
Paper was invented in the Han dynasty. During the Tang dynasty, they began mass-producing paper. Soon, Chinese began printing books. The first known printed book a Buddhist book called “Diamond Sutra”. The invention of printing was important because it helped to spread ideas more rapidly. During the Song dynasty, China printed the world’s first paper money. Paper money helped the economy to expand and cities to grow.
Chinese writers expressed themselves through poetry. Li Bo and Du Fu were famous Chinese poets. Li Bo wrote about nature, while Du Fu often wrote about serious topics like social injustice and problems of the poor. Artists would often paint landscapes but made sure to leave blank spaces on their paintings. Daoists believed was that a person could not know the whole truth about something. Painters also wrote in calligraphy. The Chinese also perfected making porcelain, hence why today we call fine porcelain, “fine China”.