Ancient China

(Sui, Tang, and Song Dynasty)


The Sui Dynasty:
China Unified

Founded by a man named Yang Jian, also known as Wendi of the noble class in northern China, The Sui Dynasty began between 581 A.D and 589 A.D with a centralized government inspired by the dynasties that had come before his. During Wendi's rule, he reunified China by defeating each of the separate nations, which created peace and allowed for economical development. He also created new legal codes, polices to provide male men with land for farming, and reformed the bureaucracy.

Wendi also built the 1,000 mile Grand Canal that linked northern and southern china to allow each region access to the resources found in the other. Yang Jian however, did not get to see the Canal finished because the long process resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of peasants was completed under the short lived rule of Wendi's son, Yang Di, after Wendi's death. The Son of Emperor Wendi continued to attempt large scale projects like the building of the great canal, but because these projects involved forced labor from the peasants, who more often than not, died by the end of the projects, People began to resent Emperor Yang Di. In the year 618, Yang Di was assassinated by one of his government officials. Lastly, the death of Emperor Yang Di brought an end to the Sui dynasty and rise to the Tang Dynasty.

Painted pottery figures of female musicians. Sui dynasty.

The Tang Dynasty:

The Tang Dynasty was founded by a Sui general named Tang Kao Tsu in 618 A.D. The Empire lasted to 907 A.D. The Tang Dynasty had two main capitals that were located in Chang’an and Luoyang. The Tang rulers maintained a centralized government with a bureaucracy of talented officials that were obtained through the use of something called the "Civil Service Exam System". Another of the Tang Dynasties great achievements was the regaining land of Western Central Asia. The Tang dynasty also increased influence in many neighboring states such as Korea.

One of the most admired Emperors of the time was Taizong of the Tang Dynasty. Taizong was a strong military leader who led the Empire to victory in battle numerous times, but was also known for his creation of different schools to help people prepare for the Civil Service Examinations. Taizong Died in 649, leaving his throne for the taking of one of his sons. Emperor Gaozong, took the throne but only ruled for a short period of time. Gaozong suffered from a series of strokes that left him un able to rule even before his death when the throne was taken by his wife, Wu Zetian. Empress Wu Zetian was an efficient and harsh ruler that remained in power from 690 to 705.

The Song Dynasty:
China's Renaissance

After around 53 years of separation in china due to the end of the Tang Dynasty, the Song dynasty was finally formed. The Song Dynasty was separated into two sections, The southern Song Dynasty, Lasting from 906-960 and the Northern Song Dynasty that lasted from 960-1127. The southern Song Dynasty set Hangzhou as their capital, and turned it into a wealthy trading city that would help the Dynasty to prosper greatly. The Government of the Song Dynasty also build a powerful navy that would defeat many attackers.  The northern Song people were distracted by attackers which prohibited their shifted their focus from innovation such as cultural and trade development.

Autumn Colors on Rivers and Mountains, ink and color on a silk handscroll, an anonymous painting of the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127 AD), although later Ming Dynasty owners falsely attributed it to Zhao Boju (act. c. 1120–1162), now located in the Palace Museum of Beijing.

Scanned from Michael Sullivan's The Arts of China: Fourth Edition (1999)