Phillip Luse's Eastern Asia Experience
A journey throughout ancient Eastern Asia that contains historical information about former dynasties in Eastern Asia
Sui, Tang, and Song Dynasty
Under the rule of Emperor Wendi, its first leader, the Sui dynasty had reached its highest point,of their 350 year span. Wendi worked on building a strong centralized government, restoring peace, and formed a new legal code. Also, he was able to give all male adults a small piece of land to ensure the ability to have grain. The major achievement during this time, was the 1,000 mile canal covering from Northern to Southern China. This made it easier to access the resources from both parts of the country. Emperor Yang Di sent millions of peasants to work on this massive project, hundreds of thousands laborers died. Unpleased with the result, they decided to assassinate Yang Di, causing the Sui to come to a crashing end.
A Sui general took throne as emperor, and founded the Tang Dynasty. The Tang Dynasty was able to sustain peace for almost around 300 years. During this time period, they elected better government officials, created a flexible law code, and significantly increased their territory and their influence on other neighboring countries. This caused China to strengthen their trade, causing their economy to flourish. The Tang Dynasty became to decline in the 750s. At this time, their government was weak, invasions by the Nomads, and peasant rebellions over rising taxes causing more problems. By 907, a powerful general killed the last emperor, causing the Tang Dynasty to end.
Not until 960, where China was unified by the Song Dynasty. Like the Tang Dynasty, it lasted for about 300 years. In the Song Dynasty, they produced great achievements and prosperity. They were able to restore centralized government control. In addition, they reformed the civil service examination system, which made sure the only the well educated few could be able to run the government. During the Song Dynasty, they made advancements in science and technology, as well in literature and art. They had developed woodblock printing and moveable type, giving them new ways on how to print more writing. Also during this time, paper money was made, which was light, and quickly distributed across the Tang Dynasty.
The Mongol Empire and Yuan Dynasty
Throughout history, the Mongol Empire was one off the most successful empire of all time. Unlike most empires during this time, the Mongol Empire didn't establish a central government, any type of religion, where they strictly focused on warfare. All the men had to fight in war, and the women and children stayed back at their tent camps. Under the rule of Genghis Kahn and Kublai Kahn, the Mongols were able to take over from Eastern China all the way to Western Europe. What made them so successful, was the fact they were extremely mobile, with the supplies they brought and mobile housing. Also, that they created the beast weapons and armor at that time. While in war, the Mongols used psychological warfare, by bathing in their own urine, causing them to have a horrible stench while fighting against other armies. Also, they would burn down villages and cities, just to prove a point that the Mongols were coming. This lasted until Genghis Kahn died in 1227. In 1260 Kublai Kahn, Genghis Kahn's grandson took over where he made a few minor changes to the Mongol Empire. He moved his capital to a city in China, near Beijing. Also, he improved trade in the Mongol Empire by making safe trade routes from Europe all the way to China, causing their economy to thrive. Their dynasty came to an end where they tried to expand their empire too much, by defeats trying to invade Japan and Southeast Asia.
Japan and the Heian Period
Korea and the Koryo Dynasty
The Japan civilization was able to sustain for a long period of time, due to their geographic advantages. The sea made it very difficult for neighboring civilizations to invade Japan. By the mid 500s Japan had borrowed many ideas from China, which they modified a little bit to create their own unique culture. Also Japan's culture was influenced by Korea's trade. These items that were brought over from China and Korea, included a written language, new types of art, religion, and new types of architecture.
In 794, Japan's emperor moved their capital to Heian, where they developed a better society. Life in the Heian period was very easy and were privileged, where people enjoyed the elegance of strolling through gardens and admiring art and poetry. Also, during the Heian period, Heian women had produced some of the best works of early Japanese literature.
The geography of Korea is very similar to Japan, where it is mostly covered by rugged mountains on the east coast, and the main populations are on the west side of the country. This area was controlled by the Han Dynasty of China, where it was influenced by Confucianism and adopted ways from China, such as agricultural methods and Chinese writing. After the Han Dynasty fell, three Kingdoms gained control of Korea. One of these kingdoms, the Silla partnered with the Tang Dynasty, where they conquered both kingdoms and took control of Korea. The Silla was able to achieve a central government and the Silla's leaders promoted Buddhism in Korea. Eventually, the Silla Kingdom collapsed around 935. The rebels who defeated the Silla Kingdom, had founded the Koryo Dynasty. During this time period, the economy of Korea had thrived. Korean artisans were able to create a new type of pottery, which was highly prized at that time. Also, they were able to print Buddhist texts, by using the method woodblock printing. This was able to last until 1392.
Southeast Asian Civilizations
The geography of this land can be split into two parts, the mainland of Southwest Asia, which consists of modern day Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Also the islands of Southwest Asia, consists of Indonesia, Philippines, and Singapore. In the mainland of Southwest Asia, farming was highly supported, due to the major rivers flowing south, making the valley regions very fertile. Also, the geography of the Southwest Asian Islands made trade very accessible, which helped kingdoms and empires gain money and boost their economy.
Around AD 840's, people called the Burmans established the Pagan Kingdom. Where the first ruler of this kingdom was King Anawrahta, who ruled from 1044 to 1077. Anawratha had supported Buddhism, he created thousands of statues and Buddhist temples. Also , he had expanded the empire to what is now present day Thailand. The Pagan Kingdom was able to last until the late 1200's, where the Mongols attacked the Kingdom, because they refused to pay a tribute to them, causing thousands of people to die and plantation fields ruined.
The Khmer empire was a powerful state in South East Asia, formed by people of the same name, lasting from 802 CE to 1431 CE. At its peak, the empire covered much of what today is Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and southern Vietnam. Just like the pagan Kingdom, the people had relied on farming and trade for their livelihood. Their empire's rulers had adopted both Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. The Khmer Empire's capital city, Angkor Wat, was designed to symbolize the Hindu universe, with a temple at its center. Also, Angkor Wat is known for the complex architectural towers and statues they built in the 1100's , that still stand here today. The Khmer rulers were able to fund such impressive building projects because their empire had grown prosperous from rice farming. Around 1250, the Khmer Empire was on a decline caused by costly building projects, and invasions from other empires.