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Huang Di, The Yellow Emperor

Qin Shi Huang

Mao ZeDong at ChingKangShan 1965

Deng Xiao Ping

Sun Yat Sen

Typical Mongol Warrior

Kublai Khan

HongWu, Founder of the Ming Dynasty

Qing Dynasty Flag

Chinese Silk Fan

A Chinese Medicine Pot without lid fitted

Zhaoqing at Night - Seen from 7-Stars Lake and Crags

Making a Silk Fan by Hand In Guilin

Lion Dance

Ancient and Modern Mix in Foshan City

Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an

Hand-held, trigger-operated crossbow from the 2nd century BC, Han Dynasty

Local Fisherman of the Li River, Guilin. The Cormorant's are trained birds used for fishing! They can count up to 7 fish, after which time they will not dive again unless fed!

Bea Making Chinese Tea - Shunde Long Jiang

Ogedei Khan

Modern Hun Bow - Typical of Mongol Bows

Ding Hu San, personal picture - This is a very BIG cooking pot! It is Used For Cooking on Special Days and can Feed over 2, 000 People

Farmer Collecting Firewood - Guilin
Chinese History
Imperial China - Song Era

The Tang dynasty is overthrown and followed by another unruly period. Pertinent factors for foreigners to China: The Dali Empire based from Yunnan province comes and goes, but brings conflict and understandings between nomadic Tibetan's and lowland Chinese. You may want to trace your modern thinking about Tibet back to this era

5 Dynasties & 10 Kingdoms (907–960)

Liao Dynasty 907–1125

Song Dynasty 960–1279
    Northern Song (960 - 1127)
    Southern Song (1127–1279)

Western. Xia (1032 - 1227)

Jin (1115 - 1234)

5 Dynasties & 10 Kingdoms 907–960

During this brief era, China was in all respects a multi-state system. Five dynasties succeeded one another rapidly in control of the old Imperial heartland of northern China. During this same time, 10 more stable regimes occupied sections of southern and western China

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The 5 Dynasties period centres on the North of China, ends when the Song take power and unify most of what was previously the Tang Empire. The 5 Dynasties are: Later Tang (Grew out of the Later Liang), Later Jin (Not Jurchen), Later Han, Later Zhao, and Northern Han + The Liao Dynasty independently

The 10 Kingdoms are represented in the map above (I only count nine - so remove the Liao; and then add the Qi and Chang = 10), and echo many of the usual suspects rising to power again - although sometimes in different geographical location.

The 10 Kingdoms are: Wu, Wuyue, Min, Southern Han, Chu, Jingnan (Nanping), Former Shu, Later Shu, and the Southern Tang

During the mid 900's, Tang proved to be the most powerful. They defeated both Wu, Min, and Chu. However, it was forced to give up land north of the Yangtze to the Zhou, and later became part of the Northern Song Empire

Also pay attention to the: Yan, Uyghurs, and Jin (Jurchen) - as these Kingdoms, which are currently outside of Chinese control, have been in this mix for centuries

The Jin listed here are The Jurchen (eventual Qing Empire), and not related to The Jin Dynasty we met previously
in post-Han China

Liao Dynasty 907–1125

The contemporary Liao Dynasty should be regarded as a separate entity during both the above period, and the subsequent early Song Dynasty

Map courtesy of GNU free licence

The Liao Dynasty, also known as the Khitan Empire, was an empire in East Asia that ruled over the regions of Manchuria, Mongolia, and parts of northern China proper. It was founded by the Yelü clan of the Khitan people in the same year as Tang Dynasty collapsed (907)
Although it was originally known as the Empire of the Khitan, the Emperor Yelü Ruan officially adopted the name "Liao" in 947 (938?). The name "Liao" was dropped in 983, but readopted in 1066

The Liao Empire was destroyed by the Jurchen of the Jin Dynasty in 1125. However, remnants of its people led by Yelü Dashi established Xi (Western) Liao Dynasty 1125-1220, also known as Kara-Khitan Khanate, which survived until the arrival of Genghis Khan's unified Mongolian army.

Song Dynasty 960–1279

The Song Dynasty is considered by many to be classical China's high point in science and technology, with innovative scholar-officials also active in advanced arts. There was court intrigue with the political rivals of the Reformers and Conservatives. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy

Northern Song (960–1127)

Map courtesy of Yu Ninjie

The early years are known as the Northern Song, when they gained power over most of China and established their Capital in Kaifeng near The Yellow River. Initially a time of great prosperity and artistic excellence, war was never far away

Southern Song (1127–1279)

The Northern Song lost control of Northern China to The Jin (Jurchen), and established a new capital at Hangzhou

Map courtesy of Yu Ninjie

Although much weakened and pushed south, the Southern Song found new ways to bolster its strong economy and defend its own state against the Jin Dynasty. They had able military and the government sponsored massive shipbuilding and harbour improvement projects, and the construction of beacons and port warehouses in order to support maritime trade abroad. The major international seaports, such as Quanzhou, Guangzhou, and Xiamen, were essentially sustaining Song commerce.

Constant warring marks the Empires borders, and this pushes military science forwards at a great rate. Gunpowder is used in warfare for the first time by the Jin, meaning: Guns, cannons, and mortars are invented; and used! The Song adapt and produce their own versions, which if memory serves me correctly, includes the first exploding cannonballs - some 5 centuries before Europe

The Song and Jin battle around the Yangtze River, and there developes a quasi status quo over time. Meanwhile...

Western Xia (1032 - 1227)

I in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi, and Ningxia, there emerged a Western Xia Dynasty from 1032 up to 1227, established by Tangut tribes. There reign like so many others of the time, ended with the Mongol invasion

Jin Dynasty (Jurchen) 1115 - 1234

In 1115 the Jurchen Jin Dynasty emerged to prominence in the far North, annihilating the Liao Dynasty in 10 years. Given enough time, they indubitably had the wherewithall to conquer China to the extent of the Tang. However, their quest for ultimate control was necessarily put on hold for centuries due in particular to a certain Mongol called Genghis Khan, and later the Ming Empire

Dali Empire

Remote from the Song and Jin thingamajig, there emerges a powerful Empire in Yunnan Province. The Dali Empire is explained elsewhere, as it is not pertinent to the current shenanigans. I just want you to have a feel for what was happening concurrently in other parts of what is now China

Click for enlarged, full world map
Map courtesy of Talessman


Yet another period of general turmoil and warring, which begins much as before - with Warlords and powerful families. However, new clans, tribes, and Dynasties emerge in other parts, heralding in a new era of alliances and subterfuge. Towards the end of this period, the main protagonists for the next millennia are emerging.

This small area is then unified by someone with far grander ambitions - Genghis Khan and the Mongols, which are known as the Yuan Empire of China

This information is as supplied by Wikipedia, as dated March 2009 or later, and/or other reliable sources.

Maps (Unless stated otherwise) are provided in association with Thomas Lessman

Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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