China travel guide


China Travel Guide

Southern and Northern dynasties

Southern and Northern dynasties For around four hundred years, China was trapped in a general chaos. After the last Han emperor abdicated, began the short period known as the Three Kingdoms Period (220-265) when the three states of Wei, Wu and Shu caused devastation because of them conflicts of power. In 265 the Wei general Sima Yan took the control the center of the country for a brief period of 50 years -called the Jin Dynasty-.

In the early 4th century, the non-Chinese groups (Wu Hu) of the north defeated the Jin and controlled much of the country.

This situation forced a large-scale Han Chinese migration to south. In the next 250 years, North China was divided and ruled by several non-Chinese dynasties, while the south was ruled by a succession of four transitory Chinese dynasties, all centered at present-day Nanjing.

This was a dark age, of war and disruption, but when peace came, a very different society had been born, with a new cultural thought and economic system. Several areas around the greatest rivers produced a food surplus which could support the requirements of the people in the cities and maintain big armies. During the rivalry between Northern and Southern China, a growing number of people adopted Buddhism as personal life guidance and state ideology. Culture also developed, literature flourished, calligraphy and sculpture, especially Buddhist carvings, all enhanced by Indian and central Asian elements.

In 386 the north was invaded by the Tobas (also known as Xianbei tribe), who founded the Wei dynasty after their aristocracy adopted Chinese customs and manners. They created a fantastic series of Buddhist carvings in their first capital, Datong, but in 534 their kingdom fell apart.

In 581, general Yang Jian unified the disjointed northern states and eight years later, he annexed the last Southern dynasty. It was the origin of the Sui dynasty and the end of the Southern and Northern dynasties.

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