Portal:History of Imperial China

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History of Imperial China

The history of Imperial China spans from the beginning of the Qin dynasty in 221 BC to the end of the Qing dynasty and the formation of the Republic of China in 1912 AD.

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The Liuhe Pagoda, or Six Harmonies Pagoda, in Hangzhou, 60 m (196 ft) in height, erected in 1156 and fully constructed in 1165 AD.

The architecture of the Song Dynasty (960–1279) was based upon the accomplishments of its predecessors, much like every subsequent dynastic period of China. The hallmarks of Chinese architecture during the Song period were its towering Buddhist pagodas, enormous stone and wooden bridges, its lavish tombs, and palatial architecture. Although literary works on architecture existed beforehand, during the Song Dynasty literature on architecture blossomed into maturity and held a greater professional outlook, described dimensions and working materials in a concise manner, and overall had a greater style of organization than previous works. Architecture in Song artwork and illustrations in published books showing building diagrams also aid modern historians in understanding all the nuances of architecture originating from the Song period.

The profession of the architect, craftsman, carpenter, and structural engineer were not seen as high professions equal to the likes a Confucian scholar-official in pre-modern China. Architectural knowledge was passed down orally for thousands of years in China, from a father craftsman to his son (if the son wished to continue the legacy of his father). However, there were government agencies of construction and building along with engineering schools. The Song literature of building manuals aided not only the various private workshops, but also the government employees enlisted as craftsmen for the central government.

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Zhang Heng.jpg
Zhang Heng (Chinese: 張衡; pinyin: Zhāng Héng; Wade–Giles: Chang Heng) (AD 78139) was an astronomer, mathematician, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar of the Eastern Han Dynasty in ancient China. He had extensive knowledge of mechanics and gears, applying this knowledge to several of his known inventions. He is best known for inventing the world's first water-powered armillary sphere to represent astronomical observation, improving the inflow clepsydra clock with an additional tank, and inventing the world's first seismometer device, which discerned the cardinal direction of earthquakes from incredibly far distances. In addition to writing an extensive star catalogue, Zhang also posited theories about the moon and its relationship to the sun, specifically the moon's sphericity, its illumination by reflecting sunlight, and solar and lunar eclipses. (read more...)

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Panorama of Along the River During Qingming Festival, an 18th century remake of the 12th century original


A 1736 remake of Zhang Zeduan's twelfth century cityscape scroll "Along the River During Qingming Festival" in ink and colors on silk. Created by five Qing dynasty court painters, this is one of many versions of the original scroll. It depicts over 4000 people from all levels of society and as an artistic piece has been revered throughout history. The painting is famous because of its geometrically accurate images of boats, bridges, shops, and scenery which provide much insight into the daily lives of people in the city and its rural outskirts.

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