Coordinates: 34°09′21″N 108°56′47″E / 34.15583°N
108.94639°E / 34.15583; 108.94639
206 BC–220 AD
A map of the
Western Han Dynasty in 2 AD: 1) the territory shaded in
dark blue represents the principalities and centrally-administered
commanderies of the Han Empire; 2) the light blue area shows the
extent of the
Tarim Basin protectorate of the Western Regions.
(206 BC–9 AD, 190–195 AD)
(23–190 AD, 196 AD)
Taoism，Chinese folk religion
202–195 BC (first)
189-220 AD (last)
Battle of Gaixia; Han rule of
Interruption of Han rule
Abdication to Cao Wei
50 BC est. (
Western Han peak)
6,000,000 km2 (2,300,000 sq mi)
100 AD est. (Eastern Han peak)
6,500,000 km2 (2,500,000 sq mi)
2 AD est.
Ban Liang coins and Wu Zhu coins
Today part of
"Han" in ancient seal script (top left), Han-era clerical script (top
right), modern Traditional (bottom left), and Simplified (bottom
right) Chinese characters
History of China
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Timeline of Chinese history
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Science and technology history
Han dynasty (/hɑːn/; Chinese: 漢朝; pinyin: Hàn cháo) was
the second imperial dynasty of
China (206 BC–220 AD), preceded by
Qin dynasty (221–206 BC) and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms
period (220–280 AD). Spanning over four centuries, the Han period is
considered a golden age in Chinese history. To this day, China's
majority ethnic group refers to themselves as the "Han Chinese" and
the Chinese script is referred to as "Han characters". It was
founded by the rebel leader
Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor
Gaozu of Han, and briefly interrupted by the
Xin dynasty (9–23 AD)
of the former regent Wang Mang. This interregnum separates the Han
dynasty into two periods: the
Western Han or Former Han (206 BC–9
AD) and the Eastern Han or Later Han (25–220 AD).
The emperor was at the pinnacle of Han society. He presided over the
Han government but shared power with both the nobility and appointed
ministers who came largely from the scholarly gentry class. The Han
Empire was divided into areas directly controlled by the central
government using an innovation inherited from the Qin known as
commanderies, and a number of semi-autonomous kingdoms. These kingdoms
gradually lost all vestiges of their independence, particularly
following the Rebellion of the Seven States. From the reign of Emperor
Wu (r. 141–87 BC) onward, the Chinese court officially
Confucianism in education and court politics, synthesized
with the cosmology of later scholars such as Dong Zhongshu. This
policy endured until the fall of the
Qing dynasty in 1911 AD.
Han dynasty saw an age of economic prosperity and witnessed a
significant growth of the money economy first established during the
Zhou dynasty (c. 1050–256 BC). The coinage issued by the
central government mint in 119 BC remained the standard coinage of
China until the
Tang dynasty (618–907 AD). The period saw a number
of limited institutional innovations. To finance its military
campaigns and the settlement of newly conquered frontier territories,
the Han government nationalized the private salt and iron industries
in 117 BC, but these government monopolies were repealed during the
Eastern Han dynasty. Science and technology during the Han period saw
significant advances, including the process of papermaking, the
nautical steering ship rudder, the use of negative numbers in
mathematics, the raised-relief map, the hydraulic-powered armillary
sphere for astronomy, and a seismometer for measuring earthquakes
employing an inverted pendulum.
The Xiongnu, a nomadic steppe confederation, defeated the Han in
200 BC and forced the Han to submit as a de facto inferior
partner, but continued their raids on the Han borders. Emperor Wu
launched several military campaigns against them. The ultimate Han
victory in these wars eventually forced the
Xiongnu to accept vassal
status as Han tributaries. These campaigns expanded Han sovereignty
Tarim Basin of Central Asia, divided the
Xiongnu into two
separate confederations, and helped establish the vast trade network
known as the
Silk Road, which reached as far as the Mediterranean
world. The territories north of Han's borders were quickly overrun by
Xianbei confederation. Emperor Wu also launched successful
military expeditions in the south, annexing
Nanyue in 111 BC and Dian
in 109 BC, and in the
Korean Peninsula where the Xuantu and Lelang
Commanderies were established in 108 BC. After 92 AD, the palace
eunuchs increasingly involved themselves in court politics, engaging
in violent power struggles between the various consort clans of the
empresses and empresses dowager, causing the Han's ultimate downfall.
Imperial authority was also seriously challenged by large Daoist
religious societies which instigated the
Yellow Turban Rebellion
Yellow Turban Rebellion and
the Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion. Following the death of Emperor Ling
(r. 168–189 AD), the palace eunuchs suffered wholesale massacre
by military officers, allowing members of the aristocracy and military
governors to become warlords and divide the empire. When Cao Pi, King
of Wei, usurped the throne from Emperor Xian, the
Han dynasty would
eventually collapse and ceased to exist.
2.1 Western Han
2.2 Wang Mang's reign and civil war
2.3 Eastern Han
2.4 End of the Han dynasty
3 Society and culture
3.1 Social class
3.2 Marriage, gender, and kinship
3.3 Education, literature, and philosophy
3.4 Law and order
3.7 Religion, cosmology, and metaphysics
4.1 Central government
4.2 Local government
4.3 Kingdoms and marquessates
5.1 Variations in currency
5.2 Taxation and property
5.3 Private manufacture and government monopolies
6 Science and technology
6.1 Writing materials
6.2 Metallurgy and agriculture
6.3 Structural and geotechnical engineering
6.4 Mechanical and hydraulic engineering
6.7 Cartography, ships, and vehicles
7 See also
9 External links
According to the Records of the Grand Historian, after the collapse of
Qin dynasty the hegemon
Xiang Yu appointed
Liu Bang as prince of
the small fief of Hanzhong, named after its location on the Han River
(in modern southwest Shaanxi). Following
Liu Bang's victory in the
Chu–Han Contention, the resulting
Han dynasty was named after the
Main article: History of the Han dynasty
See also: List of emperors of the Han dynasty
Main articles: Han–
Xiongnu War and Southward expansion
Further information: Loulan Kingdom, Shule Kingdom, Kingdom of Khotan,
Saka, and Tocharians
China's first imperial dynasty was the
Qin dynasty (221–207 BC). The
Qin unified the Chinese Warring States by conquest, but their empire
became unstable after the death of the first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.
Within four years, the dynasty's authority had collapsed in the face
of rebellion. Two former rebel leaders,
Xiang Yu (d. 202 BC)
of Chu and
Liu Bang (d. 195 BC) of Han, engaged in a war to
decide who would become hegemon of China, which had fissured into 18
kingdoms, each claiming allegiance to either
Xiang Yu or
Xiang Yu proved to be a capable commander,
Liu Bang defeated
Battle of Gaixia (202 BC), in modern-day Anhui.
assumed the title "emperor" (huangdi) at the urging of his followers
and is known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu (r. 202–195 BC).
Chang'an was chosen as the new capital of the reunified empire under
At the beginning of the
Western Han (also known as the Former Han)
dynasty, thirteen centrally controlled commanderies—including the
capital region—existed in the western third of the empire, while the
eastern two-thirds were divided into ten semi-autonomous kingdoms.
To placate his prominent commanders from the war with Chu, Emperor
Gaozu enfeoffed some of them as kings. By 157 BC, the Han court had
replaced all of these kings with royal
Liu family members, since the
loyalty of non-relatives to the throne was questioned. After
several insurrections by Han kings—the largest being the Rebellion
of the Seven States in 154 BC—the imperial court enacted a series of
reforms beginning in 145 BC limiting the size and power of these
kingdoms and dividing their former territories into new centrally
controlled commanderies. Kings were no longer able to appoint
their own staff; this duty was assumed by the imperial court.
Kings became nominal heads of their fiefs and collected a portion of
tax revenues as their personal incomes. The kingdoms were never
entirely abolished and existed throughout the remainder of Western and
Han dynasty in 87 BC
At the end of
Han dynasty in 189 -220 AD
To the north of
China proper, the nomadic
Xiongnu chieftain Modu
Chanyu (r. 209–174 BC) conquered various tribes inhabiting the
eastern portion of the Eurasian Steppe. By the end of his reign, he
controlled Manchuria, Mongolia, and the Tarim Basin, subjugating over
twenty states east of Samarkand. Emperor Gaozu was troubled about
the abundant Han-manufactured iron weapons traded to the
the northern borders, and he established a trade embargo against the
group. In retaliation, the
Xiongnu invaded what is now Shanxi
province, where they defeated the Han forces at Baideng in 200 BC.
After negotiations, the heqin agreement in 198 BC nominally held the
leaders of the
Xiongnu and the Han as equal partners in a royal
marriage alliance, but the Han were forced to send large amounts of
tribute items such as silk clothes, food, and wine to the Xiongnu.
A silk banner from Mawangdui, Changsha,
Hunan province. It was draped
over the coffin of
Lady Dai (d. 168 BC), wife of the
Cang (利蒼) (d. 186 BC), chancellor for the Kingdom of
Despite the tribute and a negotiation between Laoshang Chanyu
(r. 174–160 BC) and Emperor Wen (r. 180–157 BC) to
reopen border markets, many of the Chanyu's
Xiongnu subordinates chose
not to obey the treaty and periodically raided Han territories south
of the Great Wall for additional goods. In a court conference
assembled by Emperor Wu (r. 141–87 BC) in 135 BC, the majority
consensus of the ministers was to retain the heqin agreement. Emperor
Wu accepted this, despite continuing
Xiongnu raids. However, a
court conference the following year convinced the majority that a
limited engagement at Mayi involving the assassination of the Chanyu
would throw the
Xiongnu realm into chaos and benefit the Han. When
this plot failed in 133 BC, Emperor Wu launched a series of
massive military invasions into
Xiongnu territory. The assault
culminated in 119 BC at the Battle of Mobei, where the Han commanders
Huo Qubing (d. 117 BC) and
Wei Qing (d. 106 BC) forced the
Xiongnu court to flee north of the Gobi Desert.
After Wu's reign, Han forces continued to prevail against the Xiongnu.
Xiongnu leader Huhanye
Chanyu (呼韓邪) (r. 58–31 BC)
finally submitted to Han as a tributary vassal in 51 BC. His rival
claimant to the throne, Zhizhi
Chanyu (r. 56–36 BC), was killed
Chen Tang and Gan Yanshou (甘延壽/甘延寿) at the Battle of
Zhizhi, in modern Taraz, Kazakhstan.
A gilded bronze oil lamp in the shape of a kneeling female servant,
dated 2nd century BC, found in the tomb of Dou Wan, wife of the Han
Liu Sheng; its sliding shutter allows for adjustments in the
direction and brightness in light while it also traps smoke within the
In 121 BC, Han forces expelled the
Xiongnu from a vast territory
Hexi Corridor to Lop Nur. They repelled a joint
Xiongnu-Qiang invasion of this northwestern territory in 111 BC. In
that year, the Han court established four new frontier commanderies in
this region: Jiuquan, Zhangyi, Dunhuang, and Wuwei. The majority
of people on the frontier were soldiers. On occasion, the court
forcibly moved peasant farmers to new frontier settlements, along with
government-owned slaves and convicts who performed hard labor. The
court also encouraged commoners, such as farmers, merchants,
landowners, and hired laborers, to voluntarily migrate to the
Even before Han's expansion into Central Asia, diplomat Zhang Qian's
travels from 139 to 125 BC had established Chinese contacts with many
surrounding civilizations. Zhang encountered
Dayuan (Fergana), Kangju
Daxia (Bactria, formerly the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom);
he also gathered information on Shendu (
Indus River valley of North
India) and Anxi (the Parthian Empire). All of these countries
eventually received Han embassies. These connections marked the
beginning of the
Silk Road trade network that extended to the Roman
Empire, bringing Han items like silk to Rome and Roman goods such as
glasswares to China.
From roughly 115 to 60 BC, Han forces fought the
Xiongnu over control
of the oasis city-states in the Tarim Basin. Han was eventually
victorious and established the
Protectorate of the Western Regions
Protectorate of the Western Regions in
60 BC, which dealt with the region's defense and foreign affairs.
The Han also expanded southward. The naval conquest of
Nanyue in 111
BC expanded the Han realm into what are now modern Guangdong, Guangxi,
and northern Vietnam.
Yunnan was brought into the Han realm with the
conquest of the
Dian Kingdom in 109 BC, followed by parts of the
Korean Peninsula with the
Han conquest of Gojoseon
Han conquest of Gojoseon and colonial
Xuantu Commandery and
Lelang Commandery in 108
BC. In China's first known nationwide census taken in 2 AD,
the population was registered as having 57,671,400 individuals in
To pay for his military campaigns and colonial expansion, Emperor Wu
nationalized several private industries. He created central government
monopolies administered largely by former merchants. These monopolies
included salt, iron, and liquor production, as well as bronze-coin
currency. The liquor monopoly lasted only from 98 to 81 BC, and the
salt and iron monopolies were eventually abolished in early Eastern
Han. The issuing of coinage remained a central government monopoly
throughout the rest of the Han dynasty. The government monopolies
were eventually repealed when a political faction known as the
Reformists gained greater influence in the court. The Reformists
opposed the Modernist faction that had dominated court politics in
Emperor Wu's reign and during the subsequent regency of Huo Guang
(d. 68 BC). The Modernists argued for an aggressive and
expansionary foreign policy supported by revenues from heavy
government intervention in the private economy. The Reformists,
however, overturned these policies, favoring a cautious,
non-expansionary approach to foreign policy, frugal budget reform, and
lower tax-rates imposed on private entrepreneurs.
Wang Mang's reign and civil war
Wang Mang and Xin dynasty
Left image: A Western-Han painted ceramic mounted cavalryman from the
tomb of a military general at Xianyang, Shaanxi
Right image: A Western or Eastern Han bronze horse statuette with a
Wang Zhengjun (71 BC–13 AD) was first empress, then empress dowager,
and finally grand empress dowager during the reigns of the Emperors
Yuan (r. 49–33 BC), Cheng (r. 33–7 BC), and Ai
(r. 7–1 BC), respectively. During this time, a succession of
her male relatives held the title of regent. Following the death
of Ai, Wang Zhengjun's nephew
Wang Mang (45 BC–23 AD) was appointed
regent as Marshall of State on 16 August under Emperor Ping (r. 1
BC–6 AD). When Ping died on 3 February 6 AD,
Ruzi Ying (d. 25
AD) was chosen as the heir and
Wang Mang was appointed to serve as
acting emperor for the child. Wang promised to relinquish his
Liu Ying once he came of age. Despite this promise, and
against protest and revolts from the nobility,
Wang Mang claimed on 10
January that the divine
Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven called for the end of the
Han dynasty and the beginning of his own: the
Xin dynasty (9–23
Wang Mang initiated a series of major reforms that were ultimately
unsuccessful. These reforms included outlawing slavery, nationalizing
land to equally distribute between households, and introducing new
currencies, a change which debased the value of coinage. Although
these reforms provoked considerable opposition, Wang's regime met its
ultimate downfall with the massive floods of c. 3 AD and 11 AD.
Gradual silt buildup in the
Yellow River had raised its water level
and overwhelmed the flood control works. The
Yellow River split into
two new branches: one emptying to the north and the other to the south
Shandong Peninsula, though Han engineers managed to dam the
southern branch by 70 AD.
The flood dislodged thousands of peasant farmers, many of whom joined
roving bandit and rebel groups such as the
Red Eyebrows to
survive. Wang Mang's armies were incapable of quelling these
enlarged rebel groups. Eventually, an insurgent mob forced their way
Weiyang Palace and killed Wang Mang.
A spade-shaped bronze coin issued during Wang Mang's (r. 9–23 AD)
Gengshi Emperor (r. 23–25 AD), a descendant of Emperor Jing
(r. 157–141 BC), attempted to restore the
Han dynasty and
Chang'an as his capital. However, he was overwhelmed by the
Red Eyebrow rebels who deposed, assassinated, and replaced him with
the puppet monarch
Liu Penzi. Gengshi's brother
Liu Xiu, known
posthumously as Emperor Guangwu (r. 25–57 AD), after
distinguishing himself at the
Battle of Kunyang
Battle of Kunyang in 23 AD, was urged to
succeed Gengshi as emperor.
Under Guangwu's rule the Han
Empire was restored. Guangwu made Luoyang
his capital in 25 AD, and by 27 AD his officers
Deng Yu and Feng Yi
had forced the
Red Eyebrows to surrender and executed their leaders
for treason. From 26 until 36 AD, Emperor Guangwu had to wage war
against other regional warlords who claimed the title of emperor; when
these warlords were defeated,
China reunified under the Han.
The period between the foundation of the
Han dynasty and Wang Mang's
reign is known as the
Western Han dynasty (simplified Chinese: 西汉;
traditional Chinese: 西漢; pinyin: Xī Hàn) or Former Han dynasty
(simplified Chinese: 前汉; traditional Chinese: 前漢; pinyin:
Qiánhàn) (206 BC–9 AD). During this period the capital was at
Chang'an (modern Xi'an). From the reign of Guangwu the capital was
moved eastward to Luoyang. The era from his reign until the fall of
Han is known as the Eastern
Han dynasty (simplified Chinese: 东汉;
traditional Chinese: 東漢; pinyin: Dōng Hàn) or the Later Han
dynasty (simplified Chinese: 后汉; traditional Chinese: 後漢;
pinyin: Hòu Hàn) (25–220 AD).
Situation of warlords and peasant forces at the beginning of Eastern
Left image: Western-Han painted ceramic jar decorated with raised
reliefs of dragons, phoenixes, and taotie
Right image: Reverse side of a Western-Han bronze mirror with painted
designs of a flower motif
The Eastern Han, also known as the Later Han, formally began on 5
August 25, when
Liu Xiu became Emperor Guangwu of Han. During the
widespread rebellion against Wang Mang, the state of
Goguryeo was free
to raid Han's Korean commanderies; Han did not reaffirm its control
over the region until AD 30. The
Trưng Sisters of Vietnam
rebelled against Han in AD 40. Their rebellion was crushed by Han
general Ma Yuan (d. AD 49) in a campaign from AD 42–43.
Wang Mang renewed hostilities against the Xiongnu, who were estranged
from Han until their leader Bi (比), a rival claimant to the throne
against his cousin Punu (蒲奴), submitted to Han as a tributary
vassal in AD 50. This created two rival
Xiongnu states: the Southern
Xiongnu led by Bi, an ally of Han, and the Northern
Xiongnu led by
Punu, an enemy of Han.
During the turbulent reign of Wang Mang,
China lost control over the
Tarim Basin, which was conquered by the Northern
Xiongnu in AD 63 and
used as a base to invade the
Hexi Corridor in Gansu. Dou Gu
(d. 88 AD) defeated the Northern
Xiongnu at the Battle of Yiwulu
in AD 73, evicting them from
Turpan and chasing them as far as Lake
Barkol before establishing a garrison at Hami. After the new
Protector General of the Western Regions
Chen Mu (d. AD 75) was
killed by allies of the
Karasahr and Kucha, the garrison at
Hami was withdrawn. At the
Battle of Ikh Bayan
Battle of Ikh Bayan in AD 89, Dou Xian
(d. AD 92) defeated the Northern
Xiongnu chanyu who then
retreated into the Altai Mountains. After the Northern Xiongnu
fled into the
Ili River valley in AD 91, the nomadic
the area from the borders of the
Buyeo Kingdom in
Manchuria to the Ili
River of the
Wusun people. The
Xianbei reached their apogee under
Tanshihuai (檀石槐) (d. AD 180), who consistently defeated
Chinese armies. However, Tanshihuai's confederation disintegrated
after his death.
Ban Chao (d. AD 102) enlisted the aid of the Kushan Empire,
occupying the area of modern India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and
Tajikistan, to subdue
Kashgar and its ally Sogdiana. When a
request by Kushan ruler Vima Kadphises
(r. c. 90–c. 100 AD) for a marriage alliance with the
Han was rejected in AD 90, he sent his forces to
to attack Ban Chao. The conflict ended with the
because of lack of supplies. In AD 91, the office of Protector
General of the Western Regions was reinstated when it was bestowed on
Eastern Han inscriptions on a lead ingot, using barbarous Greek
alphabet in the style of the Kushans, excavated in Shaanxi, 1st-2nd
Foreign travelers to Eastern-Han
China include Buddhist monks who
translated works into Chinese, such as
An Shigao from Parthia, and
Lokaksema from Kushan-era Gandhara, India. In addition to
tributary relations with the Kushans, the Han
Empire received gifts
from the Parthian Empire, from a king in modern Burma, from a ruler in
Japan, and initiated an unsuccessful mission to
Daqin (Rome) in AD 97
Gan Ying as emissary. A Roman embassy of Emperor Marcus
Aurelius (r. 161–180 AD) is recorded in the
Weilüe and Hou
Hanshu to have reached the court of
Emperor Huan of Han
Emperor Huan of Han (r. AD
146–168) in AD 166, yet
Rafe de Crespigny asserts that this
was most likely a group of Roman merchants. In addition to Roman
glasswares and coins found in China, Roman medallions from the
Antoninus Pius and his adopted son
Marcus Aurelius have been
Óc Eo in Vietnam. This was near the commandery of Rinan
(also Jiaozhi) where Chinese sources claim the Romans first landed, as
well as embassies from Tianzhu (in northern India) in the years 159
Óc Eo is also thought to be the port city "Cattigara"
Ptolemy in his Geography (c. 150 AD) as lying east of the
Golden Chersonese (Malay Peninsula) along the
Magnus Sinus (i.e. Gulf
of Thailand and South
China Sea), where a Greek sailor had
Gansu Flying Horse, depicted in full gallop, bronze sculpture, h
34.5 cm. Wuwei, Gansu, China, AD 25–220
Emperor Zhang's (r. 75–88 AD) reign came to be viewed by later
Eastern Han scholars as the high point of the dynastic house.
Subsequent reigns were increasingly marked by eunuch intervention in
court politics and their involvement in the violent power struggles of
the imperial consort clans. With the aid of the eunuch Zheng Zhong
(d. 107 AD), Emperor He (r. 88–105 AD) had Empress Dowager Dou
(d. 97 AD) put under house arrest and her clan stripped of power.
This was in revenge for Dou's purging of the clan of his natural
mother—Consort Liang—and then concealing her identity from
him. After Emperor He's death, his wife Empress Deng Sui
(d. 121 AD) managed state affairs as the regent empress dowager
during a turbulent financial crisis and widespread Qiang rebellion
that lasted from 107 to 118 AD.
When Empress Dowager Deng died, Emperor An (r. 106–125 AD) was
convinced by the accusations of the eunuchs Li Run (李閏) and Jiang
Jing (江京) that Deng and her family had planned to depose him. An
dismissed Deng's clan members from office, exiled them and forced many
to commit suicide. After An's death, his wife, Empress Dowager Yan
(d. 126 AD) placed the child
Marquess of Beixiang on the throne
in an attempt to retain power within her family. However, palace
Sun Cheng (d. 132 AD) masterminded a successful overthrow
of her regime to enthrone
Emperor Shun of Han (r. 125–144 AD).
Yan was placed under house arrest, her relatives were either killed or
exiled, and her eunuch allies were slaughtered. The regent Liang
Ji (d. 159 AD), brother of
Empress Liang Na (d. 150 AD), had
the brother-in-law of Consort Deng Mengnü (later empress)
(d. 165 AD) killed after Deng Mengnü resisted Liang Ji's
attempts to control her. Afterward, Emperor Huan employed eunuchs to
depose Liang Ji, who was then forced to commit suicide.
These rammed earth ruins of a granary in Hecang Fortress (Chinese:
河仓城； Pinyin: Hécāngchéng), located ~11 km (7 miles)
northeast of the Western-Han-era Yumen Pass, were built during the
Western Han (202 BC–9 AD) and significantly rebuilt during the
Western Jin (280–316 AD).
Students from the Imperial University organized a widespread student
protest against the eunuchs of Emperor Huan's court. Huan further
alienated the bureaucracy when he initiated grandiose construction
projects and hosted thousands of concubines in his harem at a time of
economic crisis. Palace eunuchs imprisoned the official Li Ying
(李膺) and his associates from the Imperial University on a dubious
charge of treason. In 167 AD, the Grand Commandant
Dou Wu (d. 168
AD) convinced his son-in-law, Emperor Huan, to release them.
However the emperor permanently barred Li Ying and his associates from
serving in office, marking the beginning of the Partisan
Following Huan's death,
Dou Wu and the Grand Tutor Chen Fan (陳蕃)
(d. 168 AD) attempted a coup d'état against the eunuchs Hou Lan
(d. 172 AD), Cao Jie (d. 181 AD), and Wang Fu (王甫). When
the plot was uncovered, the eunuchs arrested Empress Dowager Dou
(d. 172 AD) and Chen Fan. General Zhang Huan (張奐)
favored the eunuchs. He and his troops confronted
Dou Wu and his
retainers at the palace gate where each side shouted accusations of
treason against the other. When the retainers gradually deserted Dou
Wu, he was forced to commit suicide.
Under Emperor Ling (r. 168–189 AD) the eunuchs had the partisan
prohibitions renewed and expanded, while also auctioning off top
government offices. Many affairs of state were entrusted to the
Zhao Zhong (d. 189 AD) and
Zhang Rang (d. 189 AD)
while Emperor Ling spent much of his time roleplaying with concubines
and participating in military parades.
End of the Han dynasty
Main article: End of the Han dynasty
A Chinese crossbow mechanism with a buttplate from either the late
Warring States Period or the early Han dynasty; made of bronze and
inlaid with silver
The Partisan Prohibitions were repealed during the Yellow Turban
Rebellion and Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion in 184 AD, largely because
the court did not want to continue to alienate a significant portion
of the gentry class who might otherwise join the rebellions. The
Yellow Turbans and Five-Pecks-of-Rice adherents belonged to two
Daoist religious societies led by faith healers
Zhang Jue (d. 184 AD) and Zhang Lu (d. 216 AD),
respectively. Zhang Lu's rebellion, in modern northern
southern Shaanxi, was not quelled until 215 AD. Zhang Jue's
massive rebellion across eight provinces was annihilated by Han forces
within a year, however the following decades saw much smaller
recurrent uprisings. Although the Yellow Turbans were defeated,
many generals appointed during the crisis never disbanded their
assembled militia forces and used these troops to amass power outside
of the collapsing imperial authority.
He Jin (d. 189 AD), half-brother to Empress He
(d. 189 AD), plotted with
Yuan Shao (d. 202 AD) to overthrow the
eunuchs by having several generals march to the outskirts of the
capital. There, in a written petition to Empress He, they demanded the
eunuchs' execution. After a period of hesitation, Empress He
consented. When the eunuchs discovered this, however, they had her
brother He Miao (何苗) rescind the order. The eunuchs
He Jin on September 22, 189 AD.
Yuan Shao then besieged
Luoyang's Northern Palace while his brother
Yuan Shu (d. 199 AD)
besieged the Southern Palace. On September 25 both palaces were
breached and approximately two thousand eunuchs were killed. Zhang
Rang had previously fled with Emperor Shao (r. 189 AD) and his
Liu Xie—the future
Emperor Xian of Han
Emperor Xian of Han (r. 189–220 AD).
While being pursued by the Yuan brothers, Zhang committed suicide by
jumping into the Yellow River.
Left: Animalistic guardian spirits of day and night wearing Chinese
Han dynasty paintings on ceramic tile;
Michael Loewe writes
that the hybrid of man and beast in art and religious beliefs predated
the Han and remained popular during the first half of
Western Han and
the Eastern Han.
Right: Detail of a mural showing two women wearing
Hanfu silk robes,
from the Dahuting Tomb (Chinese: 打虎亭汉墓, Pinyin: Dahuting Han
mu) of the late
Eastern Han Dynasty
Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 AD), located in
Henan province, China,
Dong Zhuo (d. 192 AD) found the young emperor and his
brother wandering in the countryside. He escorted them safely back to
the capital and was made Minister of Works, taking control of Luoyang
Yuan Shao to flee. After
Dong Zhuo demoted Emperor
Shao and promoted his brother
Liu Xie as Emperor Xian,
Yuan Shao led a
coalition of former officials and officers against Dong, who burned
Luoyang to the ground and resettled the court at
Chang'an in May 191
Dong Zhuo later poisoned Emperor Shao.
Dong was killed by his adopted son
Lü Bu (d. 198 AD) in a plot
hatched by Wang Yun (d. 192 AD). Emperor Xian fled from Chang'an
in 195 AD to the ruins of Luoyang. Xian was persuaded by Cao Cao
(155–220 AD), then Governor of Yan Province in modern western
Shandong and eastern Henan, to move the capital to
Xuchang in 196
Yuan Shao challenged
Cao Cao for control over the emperor. Yuan's
power was greatly diminished after Cao defeated him at the Battle of
Guandu in 200 AD. After Yuan died, Cao killed Yuan Shao's son Yuan Tan
(173–205 AD), who had fought with his brothers over the family
inheritance. His brothers
Yuan Shang and
Yuan Xi were killed in
207 AD by
Gongsun Kang (d. 221 AD), who sent their heads to Cao
After Cao's defeat at the naval
Battle of Red Cliffs
Battle of Red Cliffs in 208 AD, China
was divided into three spheres of influence, with
Cao Cao dominating
Sun Quan (182–252 AD) dominating the south, and
(161–223 AD) dominating the west.
Cao Cao died in March 220 AD.
By December his son
Cao Pi (187–226 AD) had Emperor Xian relinquish
the throne to him and is known posthumously as Emperor Wen of Wei.
This formally ended the
Han dynasty and initiated an age of conflict
between three states: Cao Wei, Eastern Wu, and Shu Han.
Society and culture
Main article: Society and culture of the Han dynasty
See also: Chinese nobility, Marquis Baocheng, and Four occupations
Two Han-dynasty red-and-black lacquerwares, one a bowl, the other a
tray; usually only wealthy officials, nobles, and merchants could
afford domestic luxury items like lacquerwares, which were common
commodities produced by skilled artisans and craftsmen.
Left: a late Eastern Han (25–220 AD) Chinese tomb mural showing
lively scenes of a banquet (yanyin 宴飲), dance and music (wuyue
舞樂), acrobatics (baixi 百戲), and wrestling (xiangbu 相撲),
from the Dahuting Tomb (Chinese: 打虎亭漢墓, Pinyin: Dahuting Han
mu), on the southern bank of the Siuhe River in Zhengzhou, Henan
China (just west of Xi County)
Right: a mural from an Eastern Han tomb at Zhucun 朱村, Luoyang,
Henan province; the two figures in the foreground are playing liubo,
with the playing mat between them, and the liubo game board to the
side of the mat.
In the hierarchical social order, the emperor was at the apex of Han
society and government. However the emperor was often a minor, ruled
over by a regent such as the empress dowager or one of her male
relatives. Ranked immediately below the emperor were the kings
who were of the same
Liu family clan. The rest of society,
including nobles lower than kings and all commoners excluding slaves
belonged to one of twenty ranks (ershi gongcheng 二十公乘).
Each successive rank gave its holder greater pensions and legal
privileges. The highest rank, of full marquess, came with a state
pension and a territorial fiefdom. Holders of the rank immediately
below, that of ordinary marquess, received a pension, but had no
territorial rule. Officials who served in government belonged to
the wider commoner social class and were ranked just below nobles in
social prestige. The highest government officials could be enfeoffed
as marquesses. By the Eastern Han period, local elites of
unattached scholars, teachers, students, and government officials
began to identify themselves as members of a larger, nationwide gentry
class with shared values and a commitment to mainstream
scholarship. When the government became noticeably corrupt in
mid-to-late Eastern Han, many gentrymen even considered the
cultivation of morally grounded personal relationships more important
than serving in public office.
The farmer, or specifically the small landowner-cultivator, was ranked
just below scholars and officials in the social hierarchy. Other
agricultural cultivators were of a lower status, such as tenants, wage
laborers, and in rare cases slaves. Artisans, technicians,
tradespeople and craftsmen had a legal and socioeconomic status
between that of owner-cultivator farmers and common merchants.
State-registered merchants, who were forced by law to wear
white-colored clothes and pay high commercial taxes, were considered
by the gentry as social parasites with a contemptible status.
These were often petty shopkeepers of urban marketplaces; merchants
such as industrialists and itinerant traders working between a network
of cities could avoid registering as merchants and were often
wealthier and more powerful than the vast majority of government
officials. Wealthy landowners, such as nobles and officials,
often provided lodging for retainers who provided valuable work or
duties, sometimes including fighting bandits or riding into battle.
Unlike slaves, retainers could come and go from their master's home as
they pleased. Medical physicians, pig breeders, and butchers had
a fairly high social status, while occultist diviners, runners, and
messengers had low status.
Marriage, gender, and kinship
See also: Women in Han China
The Han-era family was patrilineal and typically had four to five
nuclear family members living in one household. Multiple generations
of extended family members did not occupy the same house, unlike
families of later dynasties. According to Confucian family norms,
various family members were treated with different levels of respect
and intimacy. For example, there were different accepted time frames
for mourning the death of a father versus a paternal uncle.
Marriages were highly ritualized, particularly for the wealthy, and
included many important steps. The giving of betrothal gifts, known as
bridewealth and dowry, were especially important. A lack of either was
considered dishonorable and the woman would have been seen not as a
wife, but as a concubine. Arranged marriages were normal, with
the father's input on his offspring's spouse being considered more
important than the mother's. Monogamous marriages were also
normal, although nobles and high officials were wealthy enough to
afford and support concubines as additional lovers. Under certain
conditions dictated by custom, not law, both men and women were able
to divorce their spouses and remarry. However, a woman who had
been widowed continued to belong to her husband's family after his
death. In order to remarry, the widow would have to be returned to her
family in exchange for a ransom fee. Her children would not be allowed
to go with her.
Left image: A Han pottery female servant in silk robes
Right image: A Han pottery female dancer in silk robes
Apart from the passing of noble titles or ranks, inheritance practices
did not involve primogeniture; each son received an equal share of the
family property. Unlike the practice in later dynasties, the
father usually sent his adult married sons away with their portions of
the family fortune. Daughters received a portion of the family
fortune through their marriage dowries, though this was usually much
less than the shares of sons. A different distribution of the
remainder could be specified in a will, but it is unclear how common
Women were expected to obey the will of their father, then their
husband, and then their adult son in old age. However, it is known
from contemporary sources that there were many deviations to this
rule, especially in regard to mothers over their sons, and empresses
who ordered around and openly humiliated their fathers and
brothers. Women were exempt from the annual corvée labor duties,
but often engaged in a range of income-earning occupations aside from
their domestic chores of cooking and cleaning.
The most common occupation for women was weaving clothes for the
family, sale at market or for large textile enterprises that employed
hundreds of women. Other women helped on their brothers' farms or
became singers, dancers, sorceresses, respected medical physicians,
and successful merchants who could afford their own silk clothes.
Some women formed spinning collectives, aggregating the resources of
several different families.
Education, literature, and philosophy
A fragment of the 'Stone Classics' (熹平石經); these stone-carved
Five Classics installed during Emperor Ling's reign along the roadside
of the Imperial University (right outside Luoyang) were made at the
Cai Yong (132–192 AD), who feared the Classics housed
in the imperial library were being interpolated by University
Carved reliefs on stone tomb doors showing men dressed in Hanfu, with
one holding a shield, the other a broom,
Eastern Han Dynasty
Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220
AD), from Lanjia Yard, Pi County,
Museum of Chengdu
Western Han court simultaneously accepted the philosophical
teachings of Legalism,
Huang-Lao Daoism, and
Confucianism in making
state decisions and shaping government policy. However, the Han
court under Emperor Wu gave
Confucianism exclusive patronage. He
abolished all academic chairs or erudites (bóshì 博士) not dealing
with the Confucian
Five Classics in 136 BC and encouraged nominees for
office to receive a Confucian-based education at the Imperial
University that he established in 124 BC. Unlike the original
ideology espoused by Confucius, or Kongzi (551–479 BC), Han
Confucianism in Emperor Wu's reign was the creation of Dong Zhongshu
(179–104 BC). Dong was a scholar and minor official who aggregated
the ethical Confucian ideas of ritual, filial piety, and harmonious
relationships with five phases and yin-yang cosmologies. Much to
the interest of the ruler, Dong's synthesis justified the imperial
system of government within the natural order of the universe.
The Imperial University grew in importance as the student body grew to
over 30,000 by the 2nd century AD. A Confucian-based education
was also made available at commandery-level schools and private
schools opened in small towns, where teachers earned respectable
incomes from tuition payments.
Some important texts were created and studied by scholars.
Philosophical works written by Yang Xiong (53 BC–18 AD), Huan Tan
(43 BC–28 AD),
Wang Chong (27–100 AD), and Wang Fu (78–163 AD)
questioned whether human nature was innately good or evil and posed
challenges to Dong's universal order. The Records of the Grand
Sima Tan (d. 110 BC) and his son
Sima Qian (145–86 BC)
established the standard model for all of imperial China's Standard
Histories, such as the
Book of Han
Book of Han written by
Ban Biao (3–54 AD),
Ban Gu (32–92 AD), and his daughter
Ban Zhao (45–116
AD). There were dictionaries such as the
Shuowen Jiezi by Xu Shen
(c. 58–c. 147 AD) and the
Fangyan by Yang Xiong. Biographies on
important figures were written by various gentrymen. Han dynasty
poetry was dominated by the fu genre, which achieved its greatest
prominence during the reign of Emperor Wu.
Law and order
Han scholars such as
Jia Yi (201–169 BC) portrayed the previous Qin
dynasty as a brutal regime. However, archaeological evidence from
Zhangjiashan and Shuihudi reveal that many of the statutes in the Han
law code compiled by Chancellor
Xiao He (d. 193 BC) were derived
from Qin law.
Various cases for rape, physical abuse and murder were prosecuted in
court. Women, although usually having fewer rights by custom, were
allowed to level civil and criminal charges against men. While
suspects were jailed, convicted criminals were never imprisoned.
Instead, punishments were commonly monetary fines, periods of forced
hard labor for convicts, and the penalty of death by beheading.
Early Han punishments of torturous mutilation were borrowed from Qin
law. A series of reforms abolished mutilation punishments with
progressively less-severe beatings by the bastinado.
Acting as a judge in lawsuits was one of many duties of the county
magistrate and Administrators of commanderies. Complex, high-profile
or unresolved cases were often deferred to the Minister of Justice in
the capital or even the emperor. In each Han county was several
districts, each overseen by a chief of police. Order in the cities was
maintained by government officers in the marketplaces and constables
in the neighborhoods.
The most common staple crops consumed during Han were wheat, barley,
foxtail millet, proso millet, rice, and beans. Commonly eaten
fruits and vegetables included chestnuts, pears, plums, peaches,
melons, apricots, strawberries, red bayberries, jujubes, calabash,
bamboo shoots, mustard plant and taro. Domesticated animals that
were also eaten included chickens, Mandarin ducks, geese, cows, sheep,
pigs, camels and dogs (various types were bred specifically for food,
while most were used as pets). Turtles and fish were taken from
streams and lakes. Commonly hunted game, such as owl, pheasant,
magpie, sika deer, and
Chinese bamboo partridge
Chinese bamboo partridge were consumed.
Seasonings included sugar, honey, salt and soy sauce. Beer and
wine were regularly consumed.
Woven silk textiles from Tomb No. 1 at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan
province, China, 2nd century BC
Further information: Hanfu
The types of clothing worn and the materials used during the Han
period depended upon social class. Wealthy folk could afford silk
robes, skirts, socks, and mittens, coats made of badger or fox fur,
duck plumes, and slippers with inlaid leather, pearls, and silk
lining. Peasants commonly wore clothes made of hemp, wool, and ferret
Religion, cosmology, and metaphysics
An Eastern-Han bronze statuette of a mythical chimera (qilin), 1st
Families throughout Han
China made ritual sacrifices of animals and
food to deities, spirits, and ancestors at temples and shrines. They
believed that these items could be utilized by those in the spiritual
realm. It was thought that each person had a two-part soul: the
spirit-soul (hun 魂) which journeyed to the afterlife paradise of
immortals (xian), and the body-soul (po 魄) which remained in its
grave or tomb on earth and was only reunited with the spirit-soul
through a ritual ceremony.
In addition to his many other roles, the emperor acted as the highest
priest in the land who made sacrifices to Heaven, the main deities
known as the Five Powers, and the spirits (shen 神) of mountains and
rivers. It was believed that the three realms of Heaven, Earth,
and Mankind were linked by natural cycles of yin and yang and the five
phases. If the emperor did not behave according to proper ritual,
ethics, and morals, he could disrupt the fine balance of these
cosmological cycles and cause calamities such as earthquakes, floods,
droughts, epidemics, and swarms of locusts.
A rubbing of a Han pictorial stone showing an ancestral worship hall
It was believed that immortality could be achieved if one reached the
lands of the
Queen Mother of the West
Queen Mother of the West or Mount Penglai. Han-era
Daoists assembled into small groups of hermits who attempted to
achieve immortality through breathing exercises, sexual techniques and
use of medical elixirs. By the 2nd century AD, Daoists formed
large hierarchical religious societies such as the Way of the Five
Pecks of Rice. Its followers believed that the sage-philosopher Laozi
(fl. 6th century BC) was a holy prophet who would offer salvation
and good health if his devout followers would confess their sins, ban
the worship of unclean gods who accepted meat sacrifices and chant
sections of the Daodejing.
Buddhism first entered
China during the Eastern Han and was first
mentioned in 65 AD.
Liu Ying (d. 71 AD), a half-brother to
Emperor Ming of Han (r. 57–75 AD), was one of its earliest
Chinese adherents, although Chinese
Buddhism at this point was heavily
Huang-Lao Daoism. China's first known Buddhist
temple, the White Horse Temple, was constructed outside the wall of
the capital, Luoyang, during Emperor Ming's reign. Important
Buddhist canons were translated into Chinese during the 2nd century
AD, including the Sutra of Forty-two Chapters, Perfection of Wisdom,
Shurangama Sutra, and Pratyutpanna Sutra.
Main article: Government of the Han dynasty
A pottery model of a palace from a Han-dynasty tomb; the entrances to
the emperor's palaces were strictly guarded by the Minister of the
Guards; if it was found that a commoner, official, or noble entered
without explicit permission via a tally system, the intruder was
subject to execution.
In Han government, the emperor was the supreme judge and lawgiver, the
commander-in-chief of the armed forces and sole designator of official
nominees appointed to the top posts in central and local
administrations; those who earned a 600-bushel salary-rank or
higher. Theoretically, there were no limits to his power.
However, state organs with competing interests and institutions such
as the court conference (tingyi 廷議)—where ministers were
convened to reach majority consensus on an issue—pressured the
emperor to accept the advice of his ministers on policy
decisions. If the emperor rejected a court conference decision,
he risked alienating his high ministers. Nevertheless, emperors
sometimes did reject the majority opinion reached at court
Below the emperor were his cabinet members known as the Three
Councillors of State (San gong 三公). These were the Chancellor or
Minister over the Masses (Chengxiang 丞相 or Da situ 大司徒), the
Imperial Counselor or Excellency of Works (Yushi dafu 御史大夫 or
Da sikong 大司空), and Grand Commandant or Grand Marshal (Taiwei
太尉 or Da sima 大司馬).
The Chancellor, whose title was changed to 'Minister over the Masses'
in 8 BC, was chiefly responsible for drafting the government budget.
The Chancellor's other duties included managing provincial registers
for land and population, leading court conferences, acting as judge in
lawsuits and recommending nominees for high office. He could appoint
officials below the salary-rank of 600 bushels.
The Imperial Counselor's chief duty was to conduct disciplinary
procedures for officials. He shared similar duties with the
Chancellor, such as receiving annual provincial reports. However, when
his title was changed to Minister of Works in 8 BC, his chief duty
became oversight of public works projects.
A scene of historic paragons of filial piety conversing with one
another, Chinese painted artwork on a lacquered basketwork box,
excavated from an Eastern-Han tomb of what was the Chinese Lelang
Commandery in modern North Korea
The Grand Commandant, whose title was changed to Grand Marshal in 119
BC before reverting to Grand Commandant in 51 AD, was the irregularly
posted commander of the military and then regent during the Western
Han period. In the Eastern Han era he was chiefly a civil official who
shared many of the same censorial powers as the other two Councillors
Ranked below the
Three Councillors of State
Three Councillors of State were the Nine Ministers
(Jiu qing 九卿), who each headed a specialized ministry. The
Minister of Ceremonies (Taichang 太常) was the chief official in
charge of religious rites, rituals, prayers and the maintenance of
ancestral temples and altars. The Minister of the Household
(Guang lu xun 光祿勳) was in charge of the emperor's security
within the palace grounds, external imperial parks and wherever the
emperor made an outing by chariot. The Minister of the Guards
(Weiwei 衛尉) was responsible for securing and patrolling the walls,
towers, and gates of the imperial palaces. The Minister Coachman
(Taipu 太僕) was responsible for the maintenance of imperial
stables, horses, carriages and coach-houses for the emperor and his
palace attendants, as well as the supply of horses for the armed
forces. The Minister of Justice (Tingwei 廷尉) was the chief
official in charge of upholding, administering, and interpreting the
law. The Minister Herald (Da honglu 大鴻臚) was the chief
official in charge of receiving honored guests at the imperial court,
such as nobles and foreign ambassadors. The Minister of the
Imperial Clan (Zongzheng 宗正) oversaw the imperial court's
interactions with the empire's nobility and extended imperial family,
such as granting fiefs and titles. The Minister of Finance (Da
sinong 大司農) was the treasurer for the official bureaucracy and
the armed forces who handled tax revenues and set standards for units
of measurement. The Minister Steward (Shaofu 少府) served the
emperor exclusively, providing him with entertainment and amusements,
proper food and clothing, medicine and physical care, valuables and
Left: a Chinese ceramic statue of a seated woman holding a bronze
mirror, Eastern Han period (25–220 AD),
Sichuan Provincial Museum,
Right: a pottery dog found in a Han tomb wearing a decorative dog
collar, indicating their domestication as pets, while it is known
from written sources that the emperor's imperial parks had kennels for
keeping hunting dogs.
The Han Empire, excluding kingdoms and marquessates, was divided, in
descending order of size, into political units of provinces (zhou),
commanderies (jun), and counties (xian). A county was divided
into several districts, the latter composed of a group of hamlets,
each containing about a hundred families.
The heads of provinces, whose official title was changed from
Inspector to Governor and vice versa several times during Han, were
responsible for inspecting several commandery-level and kingdom-level
administrations. On the basis of their reports, the officials in
these local administrations would be promoted, demoted, dismissed or
prosecuted by the imperial court.
A governor could take various actions without permission from the
imperial court. The lower-ranked inspector had executive powers only
during times of crisis, such as raising militias across the
commanderies under his jurisdiction to suppress a rebellion.
A commandery consisted of a group of counties, and was headed by an
Administrator. He was the top civil and military leader of the
commandery and handled defense, lawsuits, seasonal instructions to
farmers and recommendations of nominees for office sent annually to
the capital in a quota system first established by Emperor Wu.
The head of a large county of about 10,000 households was called a
Prefect, while the heads of smaller counties were called Chiefs, and
both could be referred to as Magistrates. A
law and order in his county, registered the populace for taxation,
mobilized commoners for annual corvée duties, repaired schools and
supervised public works.
Kingdoms and marquessates
Main article: Kings of the Han dynasty
Western Han (202 BC–9 AD) or
Xin Dynasty (9–25 AD) wall
murals showing men and women dressed in Hanfu, with the Queen Mother
of the West dressed in shenyi, from a tomb in Dongping County,
Shandong province, China
Kingdoms—roughly the size of commanderies—were ruled exclusively
by the emperor's male relatives as semi-autonomous fiefdoms. Before
157 BC some kingdoms were ruled by non-relatives, granted to them in
return for their services to Emperor Gaozu. The administration of each
kingdom was very similar to that of the central government.
Although the emperor appointed the Chancellor of each kingdom, kings
appointed all the remaining civil officials in their fiefs.
However, in 145 BC, after several insurrections by the kings, Emperor
Jing removed the kings' rights to appoint officials whose salaries
were higher than 400 bushels. The Imperial Counselors and Nine
Ministers (excluding the Minister Coachman) of every kingdom were
abolished, although the Chancellor was still appointed by the central
With these reforms, kings were reduced to being nominal heads of their
fiefs, gaining a personal income from only a portion of the taxes
collected in their kingdom. Similarly, the officials in the
administrative staff of a full marquess's fief were appointed by the
central government. A marquess's Chancellor was ranked as the
equivalent of a county Prefect. Like a king, the marquess collected a
portion of the tax revenues in his fief as personal income.
A Han Dynasty era pottery soldier, with a now-faded coating of paint,
is missing a weapon.
At the beginning of the Han dynasty, every male commoner aged
twenty-three was liable for conscription into the military. The
minimum age for the military draft was reduced to twenty after Emperor
Zhao's (r. 87–74 BC) reign. Conscripted soldiers underwent
one year of training and one year of service as non-professional
soldiers. The year of training was served in one of three branches of
the armed forces: infantry, cavalry or navy. The year of active
service was served either on the frontier, in a king's court or under
the Minister of the Guards in the capital. A small professional (paid)
standing army was stationed near the capital.
During the Eastern Han, conscription could be avoided if one paid a
commutable tax. The Eastern Han court favored the recruitment of a
volunteer army. The volunteer army comprised the Southern Army
(Nanjun 南軍), while the standing army stationed in and near the
capital was the Northern Army (Beijun 北軍). Led by Colonels
(Xiaowei 校尉), the Northern Army consisted of five regiments, each
composed of several thousand soldiers. When central authority
collapsed after 189 AD, wealthy landowners, members of the
aristocracy/nobility, and regional military-governors relied upon
their retainers to act as their own personal troops (buqu
During times of war, the volunteer army was increased, and a much
larger militia was raised across the country to supplement the
Northern Army. In these circumstances, a General (Jiangjun 將軍) led
a division, which was divided into regiments led by Colonels and
sometimes Majors (Sima 司馬). Regiments were divided into companies
and led by Captains. Platoons were the smallest units of
Main article: Economy of the Han dynasty
Variations in currency
A wuzhu (五銖) coin issued during the reign of Emperor Wu (r.
141–87 BC), 25.5 mm in diameter
Han dynasty inherited the ban liang coin type from the Qin. In the
beginning of the Han, Emperor Gaozu closed the government mint in
favor of private minting of coins. This decision was reversed in 186
BC by his widow Grand Empress Dowager Lü Zhi (d. 180 BC), who
abolished private minting. In 182 BC, Lü Zhi issued a bronze
coin that was much lighter in weight than previous coins. This caused
widespread inflation that was not reduced until 175 BC when Emperor
Wen allowed private minters to manufacture coins that were precisely
2.6 g (0.09 oz) in weight.
In 144 BC Emperor Jing abolished private minting in favor of
central-government and commandery-level minting; he also introduced a
new coin. Emperor Wu introduced another in 120 BC, but a year
later he abandoned the ban liangs entirely in favor of the wuzhu
(五銖) coin, weighing 3.2 g (0.11 oz). The wuzhu
became China's standard coin until the
Tang dynasty (618–907 AD).
Its use was interrupted briefly by several new currencies introduced
during Wang Mang's regime until it was reinstated in 40 AD by Emperor
Since commandery-issued coins were often of inferior quality and
lighter weight, the central government closed commandery mints and
monopolized the issue of coinage in 113 BC. This Central government
issuance of coinage was overseen by the Superintendent of Waterways
and Parks, this duty being transferred to the Minister of Finance
during Eastern Han.
Taxation and property
Aside from the landowner's land tax paid in a portion of their crop
yield, the poll tax and property taxes were paid in coin cash.
The annual poll tax rate for adult men and women was 120 coins and 20
coins for minors. Merchants were required to pay a higher rate of 240
coins. The poll tax stimulated a money economy that necessitated
the minting of over 28,000,000,000 coins from 118 BC to 5 AD, an
average of 220,000,000 coins a year.
Left image: Eastern-Han tomb models of towers with dougong brackets
supporting balconies, 1st–2nd century AD.
Zhang Heng (78–139 AD)
described the large imperial park in the suburbs of
Chang'an as having
tall towers where archers would shoot stringed arrows from the top in
order to entertain the
Western Han emperors.
Right image: A painted ceramic architectural model—found in an
Eastern-Han tomb at Jiazuo,
Henan province—depicting a fortified
manor with towers, a courtyard, verandas, tiled rooftops, dougong
support brackets, and a covered bridge extending from the third floor
of the main tower to the smaller watchtower.
The widespread circulation of coin cash allowed successful merchants
to invest money in land, empowering the very social class the
government attempted to suppress through heavy commercial and property
taxes. Emperor Wu even enacted laws which banned registered
merchants from owning land, yet powerful merchants were able to avoid
registration and own large tracts of land.
The small landowner-cultivators formed the majority of the Han tax
base; this revenue was threatened during the latter half of Eastern
Han when many peasants fell into debt and were forced to work as
farming tenants for wealthy landlords. The Han government enacted
reforms in order to keep small landowner-cultivators out of debt and
on their own farms. These reforms included reducing taxes, temporary
remissions of taxes, granting loans and providing landless peasants
temporary lodging and work in agricultural colonies until they could
recover from their debts.
In 168 BC, the land tax rate was reduced from one-fifteenth of a
farming household's crop yield to one-thirtieth, and later to a
one-hundredth of a crop yield for the last decades of the dynasty. The
consequent loss of government revenue was compensated for by
increasing property taxes.
The labor tax took the form of conscripted labor for one month per
year, which was imposed upon male commoners aged fifteen to fifty-six.
This could be avoided in Eastern Han with a commutable tax, since
hired labor became more popular.
Private manufacture and government monopolies
A Han-dynasty iron
Ji (halberd) and iron dagger
In the early Western Han, a wealthy salt or iron industrialist,
whether a semi-autonomous king or wealthy merchant, could boast funds
that rivaled the imperial treasury and amass a peasant workforce of
over a thousand. This kept many peasants away from their farms and
denied the government a significant portion of its land tax
revenue. To eliminate the influence of such private
entrepreneurs, Emperor Wu nationalized the salt and iron industries in
117 BC and allowed many of the former industrialists to become
officials administering the monopolies. By Eastern Han times, the
central government monopolies were repealed in favor of production by
commandery and county administrations, as well as private
Liquor was another profitable private industry nationalized by the
central government in 98 BC. However, this was repealed in 81 BC and a
property tax rate of two coins for every 0.2 L (0.05 gallons) was
levied for those who traded it privately. By 110 BC Emperor Wu
also interfered with the profitable trade in grain when he eliminated
speculation by selling government-stored grain at a lower price than
demanded by merchants. Apart from Emperor Ming's creation of a
short-lived Office for Price Adjustment and Stabilization, which was
abolished in 68 AD, central-government price control regulations were
largely absent during the Eastern Han.
Science and technology
Main article: Science and technology of the Han dynasty
The ruins of a Han-dynasty watchtower made of rammed earth at
Gansu province, the eastern edge of the
Han dynasty was a unique period in the development of premodern
Chinese science and technology, comparable to the level of scientific
and technological growth during the
Song dynasty (960–1279).
In the 1st millennium BC, typical ancient Chinese writing materials
were bronzewares, animal bones, and bamboo slips or wooden boards. By
the beginning of the Han dynasty, the chief writing materials were
clay tablets, silk cloth, and rolled scrolls made from bamboo strips
sewn together with hempen string; these were passed through drilled
holes and secured with clay stamps.
The oldest known Chinese piece of hard, hempen wrapping paper dates to
the 2nd century BC. The standard papermaking process was invented by
Cai Lun (AD 50–121) in 105. The oldest known surviving piece of
paper with writing on it was found in the ruins of a Han watchtower
that had been abandoned in AD 110, in Inner Mongolia.
Metallurgy and agriculture
Evidence suggests that blast furnaces, that convert raw iron ore into
pig iron, which can be remelted in a cupola furnace to produce cast
iron by means of a cold blast and hot blast, were operational in China
by the late
Spring and Autumn period
Spring and Autumn period (722–481 BC). The bloomery
was nonexistent in ancient China; however, the Han-era Chinese
produced wrought iron by injecting excess oxygen into a furnace and
Cast iron and pig iron could be
converted into wrought iron and steel using a fining process.
A pair of Eastern-Han iron scissors
The Han-era Chinese used bronze and iron to make a range of weapons,
culinary tools, carpenters' tools and domestic wares. A
significant product of these improved iron-smelting techniques was the
manufacture of new agricultural tools. The three-legged iron seed
drill, invented by the 2nd century BC, enabled farmers to carefully
plant crops in rows instead of casting seeds out by hand. The
heavy moldboard iron plow, also invented during the Han dynasty,
required only one man to control it, two oxen to pull it. It had three
plowshares, a seed box for the drills, a tool which turned down the
soil and could sow roughly 45,730 m2 (11.3 acres) of land in a single
To protect crops from wind and drought, the grain intendant Zhao Guo
(趙過) created the alternating fields system (daitianfa 代田法)
during Emperor Wu's reign. This system switched the positions of
furrows and ridges between growing seasons. Once experiments with
this system yielded successful results, the government officially
sponsored it and encouraged peasants to use it. Han farmers also
used the pit field system (aotian 凹田) for growing crops, which
involved heavily fertilized pits that did not require plows or oxen
and could be placed on sloping terrain. In southern and small
parts of central Han-era China, paddy fields were chiefly used to grow
rice, while farmers along the
Huai River used transplantation methods
of rice production.
Structural and geotechnical engineering
A stone-carved pillar-gate, or que (闕), 6 m (20 ft) in
total height, located at the tomb of Gao Yi in Ya'an, Sichuan
province, Eastern Han dynasty
Han dynasty tomb architecture
Timber was the chief building material during the Han dynasty; it was
used to build palace halls, multi-story residential towers and halls
and single-story houses. Because wood decays rapidly, the only
remaining evidence of Han wooden architecture is a collection of
scattered ceramic roof tiles. The oldest surviving wooden halls
China date to the
Tang dynasty (AD 618–907). Architectural
historian Robert L. Thorp points out the scarcity of Han-era
archaeological remains, and claims that often unreliable Han-era
literary and artistic sources are used by historians for clues about
lost Han architecture.
Though Han wooden structures decayed, some Han-dynasty ruins made of
brick, stone, and rammed earth remain intact. This includes stone
pillar-gates, brick tomb chambers, rammed-earth city walls,
rammed-earth and brick beacon towers, rammed-earth sections of the
Great Wall, rammed-earth platforms where elevated halls once stood,
and two rammed-earth castles in Gansu. The ruins of rammed-earth
walls that once surrounded the capitals
stand, along with their drainage systems of brick arches, ditches, and
ceramic water pipes. Monumental stone pillar-gates, twenty-nine
of which survive from the Han period, formed entrances of walled
enclosures at shrine and tomb sites. These pillars feature
artistic imitations of wooden and ceramic building components such as
roof tiles, eaves, and balustrades.
The courtyard house is the most common type of home portrayed in Han
artwork. Ceramic architectural models of buildings, like houses
and towers, were found in Han tombs, perhaps to provide lodging for
the dead in the afterlife. These provide valuable clues about lost
wooden architecture. The artistic designs found on ceramic roof tiles
of tower models are in some cases exact matches to Han roof tiles
found at archaeological sites.
An Eastern-Han vaulted tomb chamber at
Luoyang made of small bricks
Over ten Han-era underground tombs have been found, many of them
featuring archways, vaulted chambers, and domed roofs.
Underground vaults and domes did not require buttress supports since
they were held in place by earthen pits. The use of brick vaults
and domes in aboveground Han structures is unknown.
From Han literary sources, it is known that wooden-trestle beam
bridges, arch bridges, simple suspension bridges, and floating pontoon
bridges existed in Han China. However, there are only two known
references to arch bridges in Han literature, and only a single
Han relief sculpture in
Sichuan depicts an arch bridge.
Underground mine shafts, some reaching depths over 100 metres
(330 ft), were created for the extraction of metal ores.
Borehole drilling and derricks were used to lift brine to iron pans
where it was distilled into salt. The distillation furnaces were
heated by natural gas funneled to the surface through bamboo
pipelines. Dangerous amounts of additional gas were siphoned off
via carburetor chambers and exhaust pipes.
Mechanical and hydraulic engineering
A Han-dynasty pottery model of two men operating a winnowing machine
with a crank handle and a tilt hammer used to pound grain.
Han-era mechanical engineering comes largely from the choice
observational writings of sometimes-disinterested Confucian scholars
who generally considered scientific and engineering endeavors to be
far beneath them. Professional artisan-engineers (jiang 匠) did
not leave behind detailed records of their work. Han scholars,
who often had little or no expertise in mechanical engineering,
sometimes provided insufficient information on the various
technologies they described. Nevertheless, some Han literary
sources provide crucial information. For example, in 15 BC the
philosopher and writer Yang Xiong described the invention of the belt
drive for a quilling machine, which was of great importance to early
textile manufacturing. The inventions of mechanical engineer and
Ding Huan (丁緩) are mentioned in the Miscellaneous Notes
on the Western Capital. Around AD 180, Ding created a manually
operated rotary fan used for air conditioning within palace
buildings. Ding also used gimbals as pivotal supports for one of
his incense burners and invented the world's first known zoetrope
Modern archaeology has led to the discovery of Han artwork portraying
inventions which were otherwise absent in Han literary sources. As
observed in Han miniature tomb models, but not in literary sources,
the crank handle was used to operate the fans of winnowing machines
that separated grain from chaff. The odometer cart, invented
during Han, measured journey lengths, using mechanical figures banging
drums and gongs to indicate each distance traveled. This
invention is depicted in Han artwork by the 2nd century, yet detailed
written descriptions were not offered until the 3rd century.
Modern archaeologists have also unearthed specimens of devices used
during the Han dynasty, for example a pair of sliding metal calipers
used by craftsmen for making minute measurements. These calipers
contain inscriptions of the exact day and year they were manufactured.
These tools are not mentioned in any Han literary sources.
A modern replica of Zhang Heng's seismometer
The waterwheel appeared in Chinese records during the Han. As
Huan Tan about AD 20, they were used to turn gears that
lifted iron trip hammers, and were used in pounding, threshing and
polishing grain. However, there is no sufficient evidence for the
China until about the 5th century. The Nanyang
Commandery Administrator and mechanical engineer
Du Shi (d. 38
AD) created a waterwheel-powered reciprocator that worked the bellows
for the smelting of iron. Waterwheels were also used to power
chain pumps that lifted water to raised irrigation ditches. The chain
pump was first mentioned in
China by the philosopher
Wang Chong in his
1st-century Balanced Discourse.
The armillary sphere, a three-dimensional representation of the
movements in the celestial sphere, was invented in Han
China by the
1st century BC. Using a water clock, waterwheel and a series of
gears, the Court Astronomer
Zhang Heng (AD 78–139) was able to
mechanically rotate his metal-ringed armillary sphere. To address
the problem of slowed timekeeping in the pressure head of the inflow
water clock, Zhang was the first in
China to install an additional
tank between the reservoir and inflow vessel. Zhang also invented
a device he termed an "earthquake weathervane" (houfeng didong yi
候風地動儀), which the British scientist and historian Joseph
Needham described as "the ancestor of all seismographs". This
device was able to detect the exact cardinal or ordinal direction of
earthquakes from hundreds of kilometers away. It employed an
inverted pendulum that, when disturbed by ground tremors, would
trigger a set of gears that dropped a metal ball from one of eight
dragon mouths (representing all eight directions) into a metal toad's
mouth. The account of this device in the Book of the Later Han
describes how, on one occasion, one of the metal balls was triggered
without any of the observers feeling a disturbance. Several days
later, a messenger arrived bearing news that an earthquake had struck
in Longxi Commandery (in modern
Gansu Province), the direction the
device had indicated, which forced the officials at court to admit the
efficacy of Zhang's device.
Three Han mathematical treatises still exist. These are the Book on
Numbers and Computation, the Arithmetical Classic of the Gnomon and
the Circular Paths of Heaven and the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical
Art. Han-era mathematical achievements include solving problems with
right-angle triangles, square roots, cube roots, and matrix
methods, finding more accurate approximations for pi,
providing mathematical proof of the Pythagorean theorem, use of
the decimal fraction,
Gaussian elimination to solve linear
equations, and continued fractions to find the roots of
One of the Han's greatest mathematical advancements was the world's
first use of negative numbers. Negative numbers first appeared in the
Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art
Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art as black counting rods, where
positive numbers were represented by red counting rods. Negative
numbers were also used by the Greek mathematician
Diophantus around AD
275, and in the 7th-century
Bakhshali manuscript of Gandhara, South
Asia, but were not widely accepted in Europe until the 16th
A Han-dynasty era mold for making bronze gear wheels (Shanghai Museum)
The Han applied mathematics to various diverse disciplines. In musical
Jing Fang (78–37 BC) realized that 53 perfect fifths was
approximate to 31 octaves while creating a musical scale of 60 tones,
calculating the difference at 177147⁄176776 (the same value of 53
equal temperament discovered by the German mathematician Nicholas
Mercator [1620–1687], i.e. 353/284).
Mathematics were essential in drafting the astronomical calendar, a
lunisolar calendar that used the Sun and Moon as time-markers
throughout the year. Use of the ancient Sifen calendar
(古四分曆), which measured the tropical year at 3651⁄4 days, was
replaced in 104 BC with the Taichu calendar (太初曆) that measured
the tropical year at 365385⁄1539 days and the lunar month at
2943⁄81 days. However, Emperor Zhang later reinstated the Sifen
Han Chinese astronomers made star catalogues and detailed records of
comets that appeared in the night sky, including recording the 12 BC
appearance of the comet now known as Halley's comet.
Han dynasty astronomers adopted a geocentric model of the universe,
theorizing that it was shaped like a sphere surrounding the earth in
the center. They assumed that the Sun, Moon, and planets were
spherical and not disc-shaped. They also thought that the illumination
of the Moon and planets was caused by sunlight, that lunar eclipses
occurred when the Earth obstructed sunlight falling onto the Moon, and
that a solar eclipse occurred when the Moon obstructed sunlight from
reaching the Earth. Although others disagreed with his model,
Wang Chong accurately described the water cycle of the evaporation of
water into clouds.
Cartography, ships, and vehicles
Western Han dynasty silk map found in tomb 3 of Mawangdui,
depicting the Kingdom of
Changsha and Kingdom of
Nanyue in southern
China (note: the south direction is oriented at the top).
Han dynasty pottery ship model with a steering rudder at
the stern and anchor at the bow
Evidence found in Chinese literature, and archaeological evidence,
show that cartography existed in
China before the Han. Some of
the earliest Han maps discovered were ink-penned silk maps found
Silk Texts in a 2nd-century-BC tomb. The
general Ma Yuan created the world's first known raised-relief map from
rice in the 1st century. This date could be revised if the tomb
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang is excavated and the account in the Records
of the Grand Historian concerning a model map of the empire is proven
to be true.
Although the use of the graduated scale and grid reference for maps
was not thoroughly described until the published work of
Pei Xiu (AD
224–271, there is evidence that in the early 2nd century,
Zhang Heng was the first to use scales and grids for
Han dynasty Chinese sailed in a variety of ships differing from those
of previous eras, such as the tower ship. The junk design was
developed and realized during the Han era. Junk ships featured a
square-ended bow and stern, a flat-bottomed hull or carvel-shaped hull
with no keel or sternpost, and solid transverse bulkheads in the place
of structural ribs found in Western vessels. Moreover, Han ships
were the first in the world to be steered using a rudder at the stern,
in contrast to the simpler steering oar used for riverine transport,
allowing them to sail on the high seas.
Although ox-carts and chariots were previously used in China, the
wheelbarrow was first used in Han
China in the 1st century BC.
Han artwork of horse-drawn chariots shows that the Warring-States-Era
heavy wooden yoke placed around a horse's chest was replaced by the
softer breast strap. Later, during the
Northern Wei (386–534),
the fully developed horse collar was invented.
Further information: Traditional Chinese medicine
The physical exercise chart; a painting on silk depicting the practice
Qigong Taiji; unearthed in 1973 in
Hunan Province, China, from the
Western Han burial site of Mawangdui, Tomb Number 3.
Han-era medical physicians believed that the human body was subject to
the same forces of nature that governed the greater universe, namely
the cosmological cycles of yin and yang and the five phases. Each
organ of the body was associated with a particular phase. Illness was
viewed as a sign that qi or "vital energy" channels leading to a
certain organ had been disrupted. Thus, Han-era physicians prescribed
medicine that was believed to counteract this imbalance. For
example, since the wood phase was believed to promote the fire phase,
medicinal ingredients associated with the wood phase could be used to
heal an organ associated with the fire phase. Besides dieting,
Han physicians also prescribed moxibustion, acupuncture, and
calisthenics as methods of maintaining one's health. When surgery
was performed by the Chinese physician
Hua Tuo (d. AD 208), he used
anesthesia to numb his patients' pain and prescribed a rubbing
ointment that allegedly sped the process of healing surgical
wounds. Whereas the physician
Zhang Zhongjing (c. AD 150–c.
219) is known to have written the
Shanghan lun ("Dissertation on
Typhoid Fever"), it is thought that both he and
Hua Tuo collaborated
in compiling the
Shennong Ben Cao Jing
Shennong Ben Cao Jing medical text.
List of emperors of the Han dynasty
Han Emperors family tree
Battle of Jushi
Campaign against Dong Zhuo
Comparative studies of the Roman and Han empires
Early Imperial China
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^ Ch'ü (1972), p. 71.
^ Loewe (1994), p. 55; Csikszentmihalyi (2006), p. 167; Sun
& Kistemaker (1997), pp. 2–3; Ebrey (1999), pp. 78 79.
^ Ebrey (1999), pp. 78–79; Loewe (1986), p. 201; de
Crespigny (2007), pp. 496, 592.
^ Loewe (2005), pp. 101–102; Csikszentmihalyi (2006),
^ Hansen (2000), p. 144.
^ Hansen (2000), pp. 144–146.
^ Needham (1972), p. 112; Demiéville (1986), pp. 821–822.
^ Demiéville (1986), pp. 821–822.
^ Demiéville (1986), p. 823.
^ Akira (1998), pp. 247–251; see also Needham (1972),
^ Ch'ü (1972), pp. 68–69.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1216; Wang (1949), pp. 141–143.
^ Bielenstein (1980), p. 144; Wang (1949), pp. 173–177.
^ Ch'ü (1972), pp. 70–71.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1221; Bielenstein (1980),
^ Wang (1949), pp. 143–144, 145–146, 177; Bielenstein (1980),
pp. 7–8, 14.
^ Wang (1949), pp. 147–148; Bielenstein (1980), pp. 8–9,
^ Wang (1949), p. 150; Bielenstein (1980), pp. 10–13.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1222; Wang (1949), p. 151;
Bielenstein (1980), pp. 17–23.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1222; Bielenstein (1980),
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1223; Bielenstein (1980), p. 31.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1223; Bielenstein (1980),
^ Bielenstein (1980), p. 38; Wang (1949), p. 154.
^ de Crespigny (2007), pp. 1223–1224; Bielenstein (1980),
^ Wang (1949), p. 155; Bielenstein (1980), p. 41.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1224; Bielenstein (1980), p. 43.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1224; Bielenstein (1980), p. 47.
^ Wang (1982), pp. 57, 203.
^ Bielenstein (1980), p. 83.
^ a b c de Crespigny (2007), p. 1228.
^ Bielenstein (1980), p. 103.
^ Nishijima (1986), pp. 551–552.
^ Bielenstein (1980), pp. 90–92; Wang (1949),
^ Bielenstein (1980), p. 91.
^ de Crespigny (2007), pp. 1230–1231; Bielenstein (1980),
p. 96; Hsu (1965), pp. 367–368.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1230; Bielenstein (1980), p. 100.
^ Bielenstein (1980), p. 100.
^ Hsu (1965), p. 360; Bielenstein (1980), pp. 105–106;
Loewe (1986), p. 126.
^ Hsu (1965), p. 360; Bielenstein (1980), pp. 105–106.
^ a b Bielenstein (1980), pp. 105–106.
^ Ch'ü (1972), p. 76.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1230; Bielenstein (1980), p. 108.
^ Chang (2007), pp. 70–71.
^ a b Nishijima (1986), p. 599; Bielenstein (1980), p. 114.
^ de Crespigny (2007), pp. 564–565, 1234.
^ Bielenstein (1980), pp. 114–115.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1234; Bielenstein (1980),
^ Ch'ü (1972), pp. 132–133.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1234; Bielenstein (1980), pp. 116,
^ a b Nishijima (1986), p. 586.
^ Nishijima (1986), pp. 586–587.
^ Nishijima (1986), p. 587.
^ Ebrey (1986), p. 609; Bielenstein (1986), pp. 232–233;
Nishijima (1986), pp. 587–588.
^ Nishijima (1986), pp. 587–588; Bielenstein (1980),
pp. 47, 83.
^ Nishijima (1986), pp. 600–601.
^ Nishijima (1986), p. 598.
^ Nishijima (1986), p. 588.
^ Bulling (1962), p. 312.
^ Guo (2005), pp. 46–48.
^ Nishijima (1986), p. 601.
^ Nishijima (1986), p. 577; Ch'ü (1972), pp. 113–114.
^ Nishijima (1986), pp. 558–601; Ebrey (1974), pp. 173
174; Ebrey (1999), pp. 74–75.
^ Ebrey (1999), p. 75; Ebrey (1986), pp. 619–621.
^ Loewe (1986), pp. 149–150; Nishijima (1986),
^ Nishijima (1986), pp. 596–598.
^ Nishijima (1986), p. 599; de Crespigny (2007),
^ Needham (1986c), p. 22; Nishijima (1986), pp. 583–584.
^ Nishijima (1986), p. 584; Wagner (2001), pp. 1–2; Hinsch
(2002), pp. 21–22.
^ Nishijima (1986), p. 584; Wagner (2001), pp. 15–17.
^ Nishijima (1986), p. 600; Wagner (2001), pp. 13–14.
^ Ebrey (1999), p. 75.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 605.
^ Jin, Fan &
Liu (1996), pp. 178–179; Needham (1972),
^ Loewe (1968), pp. 89, 94–95; Tom (1989), p. 99;
Cotterell (2004), pp. 11–13.
^ Buisseret (1998), p. 12; Needham & Tsien (1986),
pp. 1–2, 40–41, 122–123, 228; Day & McNeil (1996),
^ Cotterell (2004), p. 11.
^ Wagner (2001), pp. 7, 36–37, 64–68, 75–76; Pigott (1999),
^ Pigott (1999), pp. 177, 191.
^ Wang (1982), p. 125; Pigott (1999), p. 186.
^ Wagner (1993), p. 336; Wang (1982), pp. 103–105,
^ Greenberger (2006), p. 12; Cotterell (2004), p. 24; Wang
(1982), pp. 54–55.
^ Nishijima (1986), pp. 563–564; Ebrey (1986),
^ a b Nishijima (1986), pp. 561–563.
^ Hinsch (2002), pp. 67–68; Nishijima (1986),
^ Nishijima (1986), pp. 568–572.
Liu (2002), p. 55.
^ a b Ebrey (1999), p. 76.
^ Ebrey (1999), p. 76; Wang (1982), pp. 1–40.
^ Steinhardt (2004), pp. 228–238.
^ Thorp (1986), pp. 360–378.
^ Wang (1982), pp. 1, 30, 39–40, 148–149; Chang (2007),
pp. 91–92; Morton & Lewis (2005), p. 56; see also
Ebrey (1999), p. 76; see Needham (1972), Plate V, Fig. 15, for a
photo of a Han-era fortress in Dunhuang,
Gansu province that has
rammed earth ramparts with defensive crenallations at the top.
^ Wang (1982), pp. 1–39.
^ Steinhardt (2005a), p. 279;
Liu (2002), p. 55.
^ Steinhardt (2005a), pp. 279–280;
Liu (2002), p. 55.
^ Steinhardt (2005b), pp. 283–284.
^ Wang (1982), pp. 175–178.
^ a b Watson (2000), p. 108.
^ Needham (1986d), pp. 161–188.
^ Needham (1986c), pp. 171–172.
Liu (2002), p. 56.
^ Loewe (1968), pp. 191–194; Wang (1982), p. 105.
^ Loewe (1968), pp. 191–194; Tom (1989), p. 103; Ronan
(1994), p. 91.
^ Loewe (1968), pp. 191–194
^ Fraser (2014), p. 370.
^ Needham (1986c), pp. 2, 9; see also Barbieri-Low (2007),
^ Needham (1986c), p. 2.
^ Needham (1988), pp. 207–208.
^ Barbieri-Low (2007), p. 197.
^ Needham (1986c), pp. 99, 134, 151, 233.
^ Needham (1986b), pp. 123, 233–234.
^ Needham (1986c), pp. 116–119, Plate CLVI.
^ Needham (1986c), pp. 281–285.
^ Needham (1986c), pp. 283–285.
^ Loewe (1968), pp. 195–196.
^ Needham (1986c), pp. 183–184, 390–392.
^ Needham (1986c), pp. 396–400.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 184; Needham (1986c), pp. 370.
^ Needham (1986c), pp. 89, 110, 342–344.
^ Needham (1986a), p. 343.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1050; Needham (1986c), pp. 30, 479
footnote e; Morton & Lewis (2005), p. 70; Bowman (2000),
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1050; Needham (1986c), p. 479
^ Cited in Fraser (2014), p. 375.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1050; Fraser (2014), p. 375;
Morton & Lewis (2005), p. 70.
^ Needham (1986a), pp. 626–631.
^ Fraser (2014), p. 376.
^ Dauben (2007), p. 212;
Liu et al. (2003), pp. 9–10.
^ Needham (1986a), pp. 99–100; Berggren, Borwein & Borwein
(2004), p. 27.
^ Dauben (2007), pp. 219–222; Needham (1986a), p. 22.
^ Needham (1986a), pp. 84–86
^ Shen, Crossley & Lun (1999), p. 388; Straffin (1998),
p. 166; Needham (1986a), p. 24–25, 121.
^ Needham (1986a), pp. 65–66
^ a b
Liu et al. (2003), pp. 9–10.
^ Teresi (2002), pp. 65–66.
^ McClain & Ming (1979), p. 212; Needham (1986b),
^ Cullen (2006), p. 7; Lloyd (1996), p. 168.
^ Deng (2005), p. 67.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 498.
^ Loewe (1994), pp. 61, 69; Csikszentmihalyi (2006),
pp. 173–175; Sun & Kistemaker (1997), pp. 5, 21–23;
Balchin (2003), p. 27.
^ Dauben (2007), p. 214; Sun & Kistemaker (1997), p. 62;
Huang (1988), p. 64.
^ Needham (1986a), pp. 227, 414.
^ Needham (1986a), p. 468.
^ Hsu (1993), pp. 90–93; Needham (1986a), pp. 534–535.
^ Hsu (1993), pp. 90–93; Hansen (2000), p. 125.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 659
^ Needham (1986a), pp. 580–581.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1050; Hsu (1993), pp. 90–93;
Needham (1986a), pp. 538–540; Nelson (1974), p. 359.
^ Turnbull (2002), p. 14; Needham (1986d), pp. 390–391.
^ Needham (1986d), pp. 627–628; Chung (2005), p. 152; Tom
(1989), pp. 103–104; Adshead (2000), p. 156; Fairbank
& Goldman (1998), p. 93; Block (2003), pp. 93, 123.
^ Needham (1986c), p. 263–267; Greenberger (2006), p. 13.
^ a b Needham (1986c), pp. 308–312, 319–323.
^ Csikszentmihalyi (2006), pp. 181–182; Sun & Kistemaker
(1997), pp. 3–4; Hsu (2001), p. 75.
^ Csikszentmihalyi (2006), pp. 181–182.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 332; Omura (2003), pp. 15,
19–22; Loewe (1994), p. 65; Lo (2001), p. 23.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 332.
^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1055.
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