A History of China eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 559 pages of information about A History of China.
the life of the dead, great ritual ceremonies, or adventurous scenes from mythology.  Bronze vessels have representations in inlaid gold and silver, mostly of animals.  The most important documents of the painting of the Han period have also been found in tombs.  We see especially ladies and gentlemen of society, with richly ornamented, elegant, expensive clothing that is very reminiscent of the clothing customary to this day in Japan.  There are also artistic representations of human figures on lacquer caskets.  While sculpture was not strongly developed, the architecture of the Han must have been magnificent and technically highly complex.  Sculpture and temple architecture received a great stimulus with the spread of Buddhism in China.  According to our present knowledge, Buddhism entered China from the south coast and through Central Asia at latest in the first century B.C.; it came with foreign merchants from India or Central Asia.  According to Indian customs, Brahmans, the Hindu caste providing all Hindu priests, could not leave their homes.  As merchants on their trips which lasted often several years, did not want to go without religious services, they turned to Buddhist priests as well as to priests of Near Eastern religions.  These priests were not prevented from travelling and used this opportunity for missionary purposes.  Thus, for a long time after the first arrival of Buddhists, the Buddhist priests in China were foreigners who served foreign merchant colonies.  The depressed conditions of the people in the second century A.D. drove members of the lower classes into their arms, while the parts of Indian science which these priests brought with them from India aroused some interest in certain educated circles.  Buddhism, therefore, undeniably exercised an influence at the end of the Han dynasty, although no Chinese were priests and few, if any, gentry members were adherents of the religious teachings.

With the end of the Han period a further epoch of Chinese history comes to its close.  The Han period was that of the final completion and consolidation of the social order of the gentry.  The period that followed was that of the conflicts of the Chinese with the populations on their northern borders.

Chapter Seven


(A) The three kingdoms (220-265)

1 Social, intellectual, and economic problems during the first division

The end of the Han period was followed by the three and a half centuries of the first division of China into several kingdoms, each with its own dynasty.  In fact, once before during the period of the Contending States, China had been divided into a number of states, but at least in theory they had been subject to the Chou dynasty, and none of the contending states had made the claim to be the legitimate ruler of all China. 

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A History of China from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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