The Passage and Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act, 1885-1943

Non-Chinese workers in the United States came to resent the Chinese laborers, who they feared would squeeze them out of their jobs. Introduction In the 1850s, Chinese workers migrated to the United States, first to work in the gold mines, but also to take agricultural jobs, and factory work, especially in the garment industry. Chinese[…]

How the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868 Changed U.S.-China Relations

There was a general effort to convince the Chinese to adopt a more Western approach to diplomacy and governance. Introduction China and the United States concluded the Burlingame-Seward Treaty in 1868 to expand upon the Treaty of Tianjin of 1858. The new treaty established some basic principles that aimed to ease immigration restrictions and represented[…]

Philosophical Influences on Contemporary Chinese Law

One must study Chinese Law within the context of Chinese social, cultural, political, and legal history. By Weng LiAssistant Professor, Department of LawHangzhou University Introduction Those unfamiliar with China’s legal system frequently raise two questions: whether “Chinese law” is a meaningful concept[1] and whether there is value in discussing the philosophical influences on China’s legal[…]

Ancient Chinese Philosophy

Confucianism, Taoism, and Legalism would ultimately absorb other concepts and condemn previous schools of thought. Introduction The term Ancient Chinese Philosophy is generally understood to refer to the belief systems developed by various philosophers during the era known as the Hundred Schools of Thought (also The Contention of the Hundred Schools of Thought) when these[…]

The Political Development of Ancient and Medieval Imperial China

Exploring imperial China during the period from about 221 BCE to about 1644 CE. Introduction The word imperial means “ruled by an emperor. ” During this time, China was under the control of a series of dynasties, or ruling families. China is located on the continent of Asia—the largest continent on Earth. China has three[…]

Discoveries and Inventions in Ancient and Medieval China

Exploring discoveries and inventions made by the Chinese between about 200 and 1400 C.E. Introduction Over the centuries, Chinese scholars and scientists studied engineering, mathematics, science, and medicine, among other subjects. Their studies led to scientific and technological progress that was often far ahead of advances in the rest of the world. To understand the[…]

Economic Growth in Medieval China

During this period, China’s huge cities dwarfed the cities of medieval Europe. Introduction The Song period was a time of great prosperity in China. Changes in agriculture, especially a boom in the production of rice, fueled the growth of the economy. Trade and business flourished. These developments had started during the Tang dynasty. Under the[…]

Medieval China’s Contacts with the Outside World

Exploring how the Chinese both welcomed and rejected foreign contacts. Introduction At times, the Chinese welcomed foreign contacts. Great cultural exchange resulted as new ideas and products flowed into and out of China. Buddhism, which originally came from India, reached its height of influence during the Tang dynasty. A Chinese monk, Xuan Zang (zhwoo-AN ZANG),[…]

Ancient Chinese Literature

The earliest written works in China are ghost stories and myths. By Emily MarkHistorian Introduction Chinese literature is some of the most imaginative and interesting in the world. The precision of the language results in perfectly realized images whether in poetry or prose and, as with all great literature from any culture, the themes are timeless.[…]

Ancient Chinese Calligraphy

The brushwork of calligraphy, its philosophy, and materials would influence Chinese painting styles. Introduction Calligraphy established itself as the most important ancient Chinese art form alongside painting, first coming to the fore during the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). All educated men and some court women were expected to be proficient at it,[…]

Music in Ancient, Medieval, and Modern China

The legendary founder of music in Chinese mythology was Ling Lun, who made bamboo pipes tuned to the sounds of birds. Introduction The music of China dates back to the dawn of Chinese civilization with documents and artifacts providing evidence of a well-developed musical culture as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1122 B.C.E. – 256[…]

Astronomy in China since the Ancient World

China continues to be active in astronomy, with many observatories and its own space program. Introduction Astronomy in China has a very long history. Oracle bones from the Shang Dynasty (second millennium B.C.E.) record eclipses and novae. Detailed records of astronomical observations were kept from about the sixth century B.C.E. until the introduction of Western[…]

Imperial Examinations (Keju) for Government Service in Ancient China

The Chinese civil service system later served as a model for the civil-service systems elsewhere. Introduction The Imperial examinations or Keju (Traditional Chinese: 科舉; pinyin: kējǔ), were an essential part of the Chinese government administration from their introduction in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E. to 220 C.E.) until they were abolished during Qing attempts at[…]

A History of Science and Technology in China since the Ancient Han Dynasty

Among the earliest inventions were the abacus, the “shadow clock,” and the first flying machines. Introduction The history of science and technology in China is both long and rich with science and technological contribution. In antiquity, independent of Greek philosophers and other civilizations, ancient Chinese philosophers made significant advances in science, technology, mathematics, and astronomy.[…]

Early Medieval Chinese Presence in the Nubian and Abyssinian Kingdoms

Examining the visit of Du Huan to Molin-guo and Laobosa. Abstract This article focuses on the first Chinese whose presence in Africa is clearly documented. Due to the geographical curiosity of the T’ang dynasty, extracts of an 8th century travel report of a Chinese military officer, Du Huan, were documented and preserved. He visited Arabian[…]

An Overview of the Economy of Ancient China

Trade routes spanned China in early Shang dynasty times, but it was from mid-Zhou times that commerce expanded markedly. Agriculture The great majority of the people lived in farming villages, carrying out a host of tasks to grow their crops – sowing, ploughing, weeding, harvesting, storing  – and keep themselves fed, clothed and housed –[…]

Medieval Chinese Art and Architecture at the Longmen Caves of Luoyang

The Northern Wei was the most enduring and powerful of the northern Chinese dynasties before reunification. Imperial Patronage Worship and power struggles, enlightenment and suicide—the 2300 caves and niches filled with Buddhist art at Longmen in China has witnessed it all. The steep limestone cliffs extend for almost a mile and contain approximately 110,000 Buddhist stone statues,[…]

‘A Thousand Years of Art’ at China’s Mogao Caves of Dunhuang

The ‘Caves of the Thousand Buddhas’ are a magnificent treasure trove of Buddhist art. A Trove of Buddhist Art The ‘Caves of the Thousand Buddhas’ (Qianfodong), also known as Mogao, are a magnificent treasure trove of Buddhist art. They are located in the desert, about 15 miles south-east of the town of Dunhuang in north[…]

The Dragon in Ancient China

Dragons were one of the earliest creatures to appear in the tales and legends of ancient China. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Dragons appear in the mythology of many ancient cultures but nowhere else in the world was the creature quite so revered as in China. There, in marked contrast to other world mythologies, the dragon[…]

A History of Chinese Art from the Ancient World to Today

The earliest surviving examples of Chinese painting are fragments of painting on silk, stone, and lacquer items. Introduction Chinese art traditions are the oldest continuous art traditions in the world. Early so-called “stone age art” in China, consisting mostly of simple pottery and sculptures, dates back to 10,000 B.C.E.. This early period was followed by[…]

Civil Service Examinations in Ancient and Medieval Imperial China

The exams were in place for over a thousand years and are the principal reason why education is still particularly revered in Chinese culture today. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The civil service examinations of Imperial China allowed the state to find the best candidates to staff the vast bureaucracy that governed China from the Han[…]

Ethical Advice for Nobles and Civil Servants in Ancient China

Confucius looked to “the wisdom of the ancients” and a “return to li”. Introduction The teachings and writings of Confucius (551–479 BCE; also called Kung Fu Tzu or Master Kung) not only have endured more than two and a half millennia but have influenced Chinese culture to such a degree that they remain part of[…]

Ancient Chinese Philosophy

Chinese culture as a whole has been shaped by the influence of ancient intellectual leaders. Introduction Chinese philosophy is the intellectual tradition of the Chinese culture from their early recorded history to the present day. The main topics of Chinese philosophy were heavily influenced by the ideas of important figures like Lao-Tzu, Confucius, Mencius, and[…]

Ancient Chinese Art

Ancient Chinese artists were not professionals but gentlemen amateurs (and a few ladies) who were also scholars. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Ancient China covered a vast and ever-changing geopolitical landscape, and the art it produced over three millennia is, unsurprisingly, just as varied. Still, despite continuous indigenous technical developments, changes in materials and tastes, and[…]

The “Success” of the Yellow Turban Rebellion

They wanted to create a utopian state different from the current Confucian form of government. By Ryann Cervantes The Han dynasty in China lasted from 206 BCE to 220 CE and was ultimately brought down by the conflict that came from the Yellow Turban Rebellion and dynasty’s own inability to keep control of its territory.[…]

The Mandate of Heaven and the Yellow Turban Rebellion in Ancient China

A dynasty was considered just and worthy to rule only as long as it upheld divine will, determined by how well the government cared for the people. Introduction Throughout history, in order for a government to be respected and obeyed, it must possess some form of legitimacy recognized by the governed. Governmental systems have relied[…]

China’s Ancient Silk Road

The Silk Road was a vast trade network connecting Eurasia and North Africa via land and sea routes. Introduction In the first century CE, during the reign of Emperor Tiberius, silk had become a big problem. The luxury fabric, imported at great cost from China, had become a symbol of decadence and excess among Romans.[…]

City-States in Ancient China before Qin Dynasty Unification in 221 BCE

Such states and fiefdoms would again emerge during later dynasties as a political expedient when required. Introduction Ancient Chinese States were typified by variously sized city states and territories that existed in China prior to its unification by Qin Shi Huang in 221 BCE. In many cases these were vassal states characterized by tribute paid[…]

Women in the Mongol Empire

They had more rights than women in contemporary cultures to the east and west of Mongolia, some even reigning as regents. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Women in the Mongol Empire (1206-1368 CE) shared the daily chores and hardships of steppe life with men and were largely responsible for tending animals, setting up camps, childrearing, producing[…]

The Rise and Decline of the Medieval Mongol Empire

The descendants of Genghis each ruled a part of the empire – the four khanates. Introduction The Mongol Empire (1206-1368 CE) eventually dominated Asia from the Black Sea to the Korean peninsula following the initial conquests of its founder Genghis Khan (aka Chinggis, r. 1206-1227 CE), the first Great Khan or ‘universal ruler’ of the Mongol[…]