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The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an
interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order. Archetypally, it was the period of time between the reign of one monarch and the next (coming from Latin ''i ...
between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the
Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China The earli ...

Sui dynasty
and followed by the
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (), from 907 to 979 was an era of political upheaval and division in 10th-century Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from t ...
. Historians generally regard the Tang as a high point in Chinese civilization, and a
golden age#REDIRECT Golden Age The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology, particularly the ''Works and Days'' of Hesiod, and is part of the description of temporal decline of the state of peoples through five Ages of Man, Ages, Gold being the first a ...
of cosmopolitan culture. Tang territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivaled that of the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
. The Lǐ family () founded the dynasty, seizing power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire and inaugurating a period of progress and stability in the first half of the dynasty's rule. The dynasty was formally interrupted during 690–705 when Empress
Wu Zetian Wu Zhao, commonly known as Wu Zetian (17 February 624 – 26 November 705), alternatively Wu Hou, and during the later Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, ...
seized the throne, proclaiming the
Wu Zhou dynasty Wu may refer to: States and regions on modern China's territory *Wu (state) (; och, *, italic=yes, links=no), a kingdom during the Spring and Autumn Period 771–476 BC ** Suzhou or Wu (), its eponymous capital ** Wu County (), a former county in ...
and becoming the only legitimate Chinese
empress regnant A queen regnant (plural: queens regnant) is a female monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of st ...
. The devastating
An Lushan Rebellion The An Lushan Rebellion was an uprising against the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregn ...

An Lushan Rebellion
(755–763) shook the nation and led to the decline of central authority in the dynasty's latter half. Like the previous
Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China The earli ...

Sui dynasty
, the Tang maintained a civil-service system by recruiting
scholar-official The scholar-officials, also known as literati, scholar-gentlemen or scholar-bureaucrats (), were government officials and prestigious scholars in Chinese society, forming a distinct social class. Scholar-officials were politicians and governmen ...
s through standardized examinations and recommendations to office. The rise of regional military governors known as ''
jiedushi The ''jiedushi'' (), or jiedu, was a title for regional military governors in China which was established in the Tang dynasty, Tang dynasty and abolished in the Yuan dynasty, Yuan dynasty. The post of ''jiedushi'' has been translated as "milit ...
'' during the 9th century undermined this civil order. The dynasty and central government went into decline by the latter half of the 9th century; agrarian rebellions resulted in mass population loss and displacement, widespread poverty, and further government dysfunction that ultimately ended the dynasty in 907. The Tang capital at
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between th ...
(present-day
Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals ...
) was then the world's most populous city. Two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries estimated the empire's population at about 50 million people, which grew to an estimated 80 million by the dynasty's end. From its numerous subjects, the dynasty raised professional and conscripted armies of hundreds of thousands of troops to contend with nomadic powers for control of
Inner Asia Inner Asia refers to landlocked regions within East Asia and North Asia that are part of today's Western China, Mongolia Mongolia (, Mongolian language, Mongolian: , Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: ') is a landlocked country in ...
and the lucrative trade-routes along the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
. Far-flung kingdoms and states paid tribute to the Tang court, while the Tang also indirectly controlled several regions through a
protectorate A protectorate is a state that is controlled and protected by another sovereign state. It is a dependent territory A dependent territory, dependent area, or dependency (sometimes referred as an external territory) is a territory that does not ...
system. In addition to its political
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (new ...
, the Tang exerted a powerful cultural influence over neighboring
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
n nations such as
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...
and
Korea Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...
.
Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse and varying, with customs and traditions varying grea ...
flourished and further matured during the Tang era. It is traditionally considered the greatest age for
Chinese poetry Chinese poetry is poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in S ...
. Two of China's most famous poets,
Li Bai Li Bai (, 701–762), also known as Li Bo, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere ...

Li Bai
and
Du Fu Du Fu (; 712–770) was a Chinese poet and politician of the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna o ...

Du Fu
, belonged to this age, contributing with poets such as Wang Wei to the monumental ''
Three Hundred Tang Poems The ''Three Hundred Tang Poems'' () is an anthology In book publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term ref ...
''. Many famous painters such as
Han Gan Han Gan (Chinese language, Chinese: 韩干/韓幹) (c. 706-783) was a Chinese painter during the Tang Dynasty. Image:Palefrenier menant deux chevaux par Han Gan.jpg, Man herding horses He came from a poor family in either Chang'an, modern-day X ...
,
Zhang Xuan 260px, ''Spring Outing of the Tang Court'', by Zhang Xuan. Zhang Xuan () (713–755) was a Chinese painter who lived during the Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to ...
, and Zhou Fang were active, while Chinese court music flourished with instruments such as the popular
pipa The pipa, pípá, or p'i-p'a () is a traditional China, Chinese List of traditional Chinese musical instruments, musical instrument, belonging to the Plucked string instrument, plucked category of instruments. Sometimes called the "Chinese lut ...

pipa
. Tang scholars compiled a rich variety of
historical literature History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximat ...
, as well as encyclopedias and geographical works. Notable innovations included the development of
woodblock printing Woodblock printing or block printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of textile printing, printing on textiles and later paper. As a Woodbl ...
.
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
became a major influence in Chinese culture, with
native Chinese sects
native Chinese sects
gaining prominence. However, in the 840s Emperor Wuzong enacted policies to suppress Buddhism, which subsequently declined in influence.


History


Establishment

The Li family belonged to the northwest military aristocracy prevalent during the
Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China The earli ...

Sui dynasty
, and claimed to be paternally descended from the Taoist founder,
Lao Tzu Lao Tzu (),"Lao Zi"
''
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
General
Li Guang Li Guang (died 119 BC) was a Chinese general of the Western Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by ...
and founder of Han Chinese kingdom Western Liang ruler
Li Gao Li Gao or Li Hao (; 351–417), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere ...
. This family was known as the Longxi Li lineage (; ), which includes the Tang poet
Li Bai Li Bai (, 701–762), also known as Li Bo, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere ...

Li Bai
. The Tang Emperors also had part-
Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were a Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the Middle Mongol language, the language spoken at the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empir ...
maternal ancestry, from
Emperor Gaozu of Tang Emperor Gaozu of Tang (7 April 566 – 25 June 635, born Li Yuan, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the ...
's Xianbei mother, Duchess Dugu. Li Yuan was Duke of Tang and governor of
Taiyuan Taiyuan (; ; Mandarin pronunciation: ; also known as (), ()) is the capital and largest city of Shanxi Province Shanxi (; ; formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division ...

Taiyuan
, modern
Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of the province is ...

Shanxi
, during the Sui dynasty's collapse, which was caused in part by the Sui failure to conquer the northern part of the
Korea Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...

Korea
n peninsula during the
Goguryeo–Sui War The Goguryeo–Sui War were a series of invasions launched by the Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties The Nort ...
. He had prestige and military experience, and was a first cousin of
Emperor Yang of Sui Emperor Yang of Sui (隋煬帝, 569 – 11 April 618), personal name Yang Guang (), alternative name Ying (), Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were an ancient nomadic people that once resided in the eastern Eurasian steppes in what is today Mong ...
(their mothers were sisters). Li Yuan rose in rebellion in 617, along with his son and his equally militant daughter
Princess Pingyang Princess Pingyang (, formally Princess Zhao of Pingyang (, 590s-623) was the daughter of Li Yuan (later enthroned as Emperor Gaozu of Tang, Emperor Gaozu), the founding emperor of the Tang dynasty. She helped him to seize power and eventually tak ...
(d. 623), who raised and commanded her own troops. In winter 617, Li Yuan occupied
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between th ...
, relegated Emperor Yang to the position of ''
Taishang Huang In Chinese history, a Taishang Huang or Taishang Huangdi is an honorific and institution of retired emperorship. The former emperor had, at least in name, abdicated in favor of someone else. Although technically no longer the reigning sovereign, ...
'' or retired emperor, and acted as
regent A regent (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...
to the puppet child-emperor,
Yang You Emperor Gong of Sui (隋恭帝) (605 – 14 September 619), personal name Yang You (楊侑), was an emperor of the Chinese Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unifi ...
. On the news of Emperor Yang's murder by General
Yuwen Huaji Yuwen Huaji (; died 619) was a general of the Chinese Sui Dynasty who, in 618, led a coup against and murdered Emperor Yang of Sui. He subsequently declared Emperor Yang's nephew Yang Hao (Sui dynasty), Yang Hao emperor and led Emperor Yang's elit ...
on June 18, 618, Li Yuan declared himself the emperor of a new dynasty, the Tang. Li Yuan, known as
Emperor Gaozu of Tang Emperor Gaozu of Tang (7 April 566 – 25 June 635, born Li Yuan, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the ...
, ruled until 626, when he was forcefully deposed by his son
Li Shimin Emperor Taizong of Tang (28January 59810July 649), previously Prince of Qin, personal name Li Shimin, was the List of emperors of the Tang dynasty, second emperor of the Tang dynasty of History of China, China, ruling from 626 to 649. He is ...
, the Prince of Qin. Li Shimin had commanded troops since the age of 18 years old, had prowess with
bow and arrow The bow and arrow is a ranged weapon A ranged weapon is any weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the efficacy and eff ...

bow and arrow
,
sword A sword is an edged, bladed weapon intended for manual cutting or thrusting. Its blade, longer than a knife A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Ge ...
and
lance A lance is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

lance
and was known for his effective
cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via O ...

cavalry
charges. Fighting a numerically superior army, he defeated
Dou Jiande Dou Jiande (; 573 – 3 August 621) was a leader of the agrarian rebels who rose against the rule of Emperor Yang of Sui Emperor Yang of Sui (隋煬帝, 569 – 11 April 618), personal name Yang Guang (), alternative name Ying (), Xianbei ...
(573–621) at
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
in the
Battle of Hulao The Battle of Hulao () or Battle of Sishui (汜水之戰, Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, du ...

Battle of Hulao
on May 28, 621. In a violent elimination of royal family due to fear of assassination, Li Shimin ambushed and killed two of his brothers,
Li Yuanji Li Yuanji (李元吉) (603 – 2 July 626The date of the incident at Xuanwu Gate The Xuanwu Gate Incident was a palace Coup d'état, coup for the throne of the Tang dynasty on 2 July 626, when Prince Emperor Taizong of Tang, Li Shimin (Prince of ...
(b. 603) and
Crown prince A crown prince or hereditary prince is the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when i ...

Crown prince
Li Jiancheng Li Jiancheng (; 589 – July 2, 626, formally Crown Prince Yin (, literally, "the hidden crown prince"), nickname Vaishravana (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classi ...
(b. 589), in the
Xuanwu Gate Incident The Xuanwu Gate Incident was a palace coup for the throne of the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded b ...
on July 2, 626. Shortly thereafter, his father abdicated in his favor and Li Shimin ascended the throne. He is conventionally known by his
temple name Temple names are posthumous titles accorded to monarchs of the Sinosphere The East Asian cultural sphere, Chinese cultural sphere or Sinosphere (also Sinic/Sinitic world) encompasses the countries within East and Southeast Asia South ...
Taizong. Although killing two brothers and deposing his father contradicted the Confucian value of
filial piety In Confucian ethics, Confucian, Chinese Buddhist ethics, Buddhist and Taoism, Taoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xiào'') is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. The Confucian ''Classic of Filial Piety'', thought to be wri ...
, Taizong showed himself to be a capable leader who listened to the advice of the wisest members of his council. In 628, Emperor Taizong held a Buddhist memorial service for the casualties of war, and in 629 he had Buddhist monasteries erected at the sites of major battles so that monks could pray for the fallen on both sides of the fight. During the Tang campaign against the Eastern Turks, the
Eastern Turkic Khaganate The Eastern Turkic Khaganate () was a Turkic khaganate formed as a result of the internecine wars in the beginning of the 7th century (AD 581–603) after the Göktürk Khaganate (founded in the 6th century in Mongolia by the Ashina cla ...
was destroyed after the capture of its ruler,
Illig Qaghan Illig Qaghan ( Old Turkic: , chinese: , Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is often ...
by the famed Tang military officer Li Jing (571–649); who later became a
Chancellor of the Tang dynasty The chancellor Chancellor ( la, links=no, cancellarius) is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the ' of Roman courts of justice—ushers, who sat at the ''cancelli'' or latti ...
. With this victory, the Turks accepted Taizong as their
khagan Khagan or Qaghan ( otk, 𐰴𐰍𐰣, Kaɣan, mn, Xаан or ᠬᠠᠭᠠᠨ, Khaan, ota, خواقين, Ḫākan, or خان ''Ḫān'', tr, Kağan or ''Hakan'', ug, قاغان, Qaghan) ''Khāqān'', alternatively spelled Kağan, Kagan, Kh ...
, a title rendered as
Tian Kehan Khan of Heaven or Tian Kehan, Celestial Kha(ga)n, Heavenly Kha(ga)n, Tengri Kha(ga)n () was a title addressed to the Emperor Taizong of Tang by various Turkic nomads. It was first mentioned in accounts on May 20, 630 and again on October 24, 646, sh ...
in addition to his rule as
emperor of China Emperor of China, or ''Huángdì'' (), was the Chinese sovereign, monarch of China during the History of China#Imperial China, imperial period of Chinese history. In traditional Chinese political theory, the emperor was considered the Son of He ...
under the traditional title "
Son of Heaven Son of Heaven, or ''Tianzi'' (), was the sacred monarchical title of the Chinese sovereign. It originated with the ancient Zhou dynasty and was founded on the political and spiritual doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven. Since the Qin dynasty, th ...
". Taizong was succeeded by his son Li Zhi (as Emperor Gaozong) in 649 CE. The Tang Dynasty further led the
Tang campaigns against the Western Turks The Tang campaigns against the Western Turks, known as the Western Tujue in Chinese sources, were a series of military campaigns conducted during the Tang dynasty of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country ...
. Early military conflicts were a result of the Tang interventions in the rivalry between the
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
and Eastern Turks in order to weaken both. Under Emperor Taizong, campaigns were dispatched in the Western Regions against
Gaochang Gaochang (; Old Uyghur The Old Uyghur language () was a Turkic language which was spoken in Qocho from the 9th–14th centuries and in Gansu Gansu (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kansu) is a landlocked provinces ...
in 640,
Karasahr Karasahr or Karashar ( ug, قاراشەھەر, Qarasheher, 6=Қарашәһәр), which was originally known, in the Tocharian languages The Tocharian (sometimes Tokharian) languages ( or ), also known as ''Arśi-Kuči'', Agnean-Kuchean or Kuchea ...
in 644 and 648, and
Kucha 250px, Location of Kucha within Aksu in yellow Kucha or Kuche (also: ''Kuçar'', ''Kuchar''; ug, كۇچار, Кучар; zh, t=wikt:龜茲, 龜茲, p=Qiūcí also zh, t=wikt:库车, 库车, p=Kùchē; sa, Kucina), was an ancient Buddhist ki ...
in 648. The wars against the Western Turks continued under Emperor Gaozong, and the
Western Turkic Khaganate The Western Turkic Khaganate () or Onoq Khaganate ( otk, 𐰆𐰣:𐰸:𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣, On oq budun, Ten arrow people) was a Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at le ...

Western Turkic Khaganate
was finally annexed after General
Su Dingfang Su Dingfang () (591–667), formal name Su Lie () but went by the courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosph ...
's defeat of Qaghan
Ashina Helu Ishbara Khagan (Old Turkic Old Turkic (also East Old Turkic, Orkhon Turkic language Orkhon Turkic (also Gokturk) is the language used in the oldest known written Turkic texts. It is the first stage of Old Turkic Old Turkic (also East ...
in 657 CE.


Wu Zetian's usurpation

Although she entered Emperor Gaozong's court as the lowly consort,
Wu Zetian Wu Zhao, commonly known as Wu Zetian (17 February 624 – 26 November 705), alternatively Wu Hou, and during the later Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, ...
rose to the highest seat of power in 690, establishing the short-lived Wu Zhou. Empress Wu's rise to power was achieved through cruel and calculating tactics: a popular conspiracy theory stated that she killed her own baby girl and blamed it on Gaozong's empress so that the empress would be demoted. Emperor Gaozong suffered a
stroke A stroke is a medical condition A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function (biology), function of all or part of an organism, and that is not due to any immediate external injury. Di ...

stroke
in 655, and Wu began to make many of his court decisions for him, discussing affairs of state with his councilors, who took orders from her while she sat behind a screen. When Empress Wu's eldest son, the crown prince, began to assert his authority and advocate policies opposed by Empress Wu, he suddenly died in 675. Many suspected he was poisoned by Empress Wu. Although the next heir apparent kept a lower profile, in 680 he was accused by Wu of plotting a rebellion. He was then banished and later obliged to commit suicide. In 683, Emperor Gaozong died. He was succeeded by
Emperor Zhongzong An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife (empress consort), m ...
, his eldest surviving son by Wu. Zhongzong tried to appoint his wife's father as chancellor: after only six weeks on the throne, he was deposed by Empress Wu in favor of his younger brother, Emperor Ruizong. This provoked a group of Tang princes to rebel in 684. Wu's armies suppressed them within two months. She proclaimed the Tianshou
era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology 222px, Joseph Scaliger's ''De emendatione temporum'' (1583) began the modern science of chronology Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging t ...
of Wu Zhou on October 16, 690, and three days later demoted Emperor Ruizong to
crown prince A crown prince or hereditary prince is the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when i ...
. He was also forced to give up his father's surname Li in favor of the Empress Wu. She then ruled as China's only
empress regnant A queen regnant (plural: queens regnant) is a female monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of st ...
. A
palace coup , the official residence of Emperor of Japan. File:Korea-Seoul-Blue House (Cheongwadae) Reception Center 0688&9-07 cropped.jpg, The Blue House, the official residence of the President of South Korea. A palace is a grand residence, especially a ...
on February 20, 705, forced Empress Wu to yield her position on February 22. The next day, her son Zhongzong was restored to power; the Tang was formally restored on March 3. She died soon after. To legitimize her rule, she circulated a document known as the ''Great Cloud Sutra'', which predicted that a
reincarnation Reincarnation, also known as rebirth or transmigration, is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with p ...
of the
Maitreya Maitreya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. ...

Maitreya
Buddha would be a female monarch who would dispel illness, worry, and disaster from the world. She even introduced numerous revised written characters to the written language, which reverted to the originals after her death. Arguably the most important part of her legacy was diminishing the hegemony of the Northwestern aristocracy, allowing people from other clans and regions of China to become more represented in Chinese politics and government.


Emperor Xuanzong's reign

There were many prominent women at court during and after Wu's reign, including (664–710), a poet, writer, and trusted official in charge of Wu's private office. In 706 the wife of Emperor Zhongzong of Tang, Empress Wei (d. 710), persuaded her husband to staff government offices with his sister and her daughters, and in 709 requested that he grant women the right to bequeath hereditary privileges to their sons (which before was a male right only). Empress Wei eventually poisoned Zhongzong, whereupon she placed his fifteen-year-old son upon the throne in 710. Two weeks later,
Li Longji Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (; 8 September 685 – 3 May 762), also commonly known as Emperor Ming of Tang or Illustrious August, personal name Li Longji, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 713 to 756 CE. His reign ...
(the later Emperor Xuanzong) entered the palace with a few followers and slew Empress Wei and her faction. He then installed his father Emperor Ruizong (r. 710–712) on the throne. Just as Emperor Zhongzong was dominated by Empress Wei, so too was Ruizong dominated by
Princess Taiping Princess Taiping (, lit. "Princess of Great Peace", personal name unknown, possibly Li Lingyue (李令月)) (after 662 – 2 August 713) was a royal princess during the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial ...

Princess Taiping
. This was finally ended when Princess Taiping's coup failed in 712 (she later hanged herself in 713) and Emperor Ruizong abdicated to
Emperor XuanzongXuanzong (Hsuan-tsung in Wade–Giles) may refer to the following Chinese emperors: * Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (reigned 713-756) * Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (9th century) (reigned 846-859) * Emperor Xuanzong of Jin (reigned 1213-1224) * Emperor Xuanz ...
. During the 44-year reign of Emperor Xuanzong, the Tang dynasty reached its height, a golden age with low economic inflation and a toned down lifestyle for the imperial court. Seen as a progressive and benevolent ruler, Xuanzong even abolished the death penalty in the year 747; all executions had to be approved beforehand by the emperor himself (these were relatively few, considering that there were only 24 executions in the year 730). Xuanzong bowed to the consensus of his ministers on policy decisions and made efforts to staff government ministries fairly with different political factions. His staunch Confucian chancellor
Zhang Jiuling Zhang Jiuling () (678 or 673-740), courtesy name Zishou (), nickname Bowu (), formally Count Wenxian of Shixing (), was a prominent minister, noted List of Chinese language poets, poet and scholar of the Tang Dynasty, serving as chancellor of Tang D ...

Zhang Jiuling
(673–740) worked to reduce
deflation In economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behav ...

deflation
and increase the money supply by upholding the use of private coinage, while his aristocratic and
technocratic Technocracy is a system of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists ...
successor
Li Linfu Li Linfu () (died January 3, 753), nickname Genu (), formally the Duke of Jin (), was an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an in ...
(d. 753) favored government monopoly over the issuance of coinage. After 737, most of Xuanzong's confidence rested in his long-standing chancellor
Li Linfu Li Linfu () (died January 3, 753), nickname Genu (), formally the Duke of Jin (), was an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an in ...
, who championed a more aggressive foreign policy employing non-Chinese generals. This policy ultimately created the conditions for a massive rebellion against Xuanzong.


An Lushan Rebellion and catastrophe

The Tang Empire was at its height of power up until the middle of the 8th century, when the
An Lushan Rebellion The An Lushan Rebellion was an uprising against the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregn ...

An Lushan Rebellion
(December 16, 755 – February 17, 763) destroyed the prosperity of the empire.
An Lushan An Lushan or An Lu-shan (20th day of the 1st month (February), 703 – 25/29 January 757) was a general in the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an int ...
was a half- Sogdian, half- Turk Tang commander since 744, had experience fighting the
Khitans The Khitan people (Khitan small script The Khitan small script () was one of two writing systems used for the now-extinct Khitan language Khitan or Kitan ( in large script or in small, ''Khitai''; , ''Qìdānyǔ''), also known as Liao, is a n ...
of
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
with a victory in 744, yet most of his campaigns against the Khitans were unsuccessful. He was given great responsibility in
Hebei Hebei (; alternately Hopeh) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, f ...
, which allowed him to rebel with an army of more than 100,000 troops. After capturing Luoyang, he named himself emperor of a new, but short-lived, Yan state. Despite early victories scored by Tang General
Guo Ziyi Guo Ziyi (Kuo Tzu-i; Traditional Chinese: 郭子儀, Simplified Chinese: 郭子仪, Hanyu Pinyin: Guō Zǐyí, Wade-Giles: Kuo1 Tzu3-i2) (697 – July 9, 781), posthumously Prince Zhōngwǔ of Fényáng (), was the Tang dynasty general who ended t ...

Guo Ziyi
(697–781), the newly recruited troops of the army at the capital were no match for An Lushan's frontier veterans, so the court fled Chang'an. While the heir apparent raised troops in
Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of the province is ...

Shanxi
and Xuanzong fled to
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
province, they called upon the help of the
Uyghur Khaganate The Uyghur Khaganate (or Uyghur Empire or Uighur Khaganate, self defined as Toquz-Oghuz country; otk, 𐱃𐰆𐰴𐰕:𐰆𐰍𐰕:𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣, Toquz Oγuz budun, Tang-era names, with modern Hanyu Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often a ...

Uyghur Khaganate
in 756. The
UyghurUyghur may refer to: * Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia * Uyghur language, a Turkic language spoken primarily by the Uyghurs ** Uyghur alphabets, any of four systems used to write the language * Uyghur Khaganate, a T ...
khan Moyanchur was greatly excited at this prospect, and married his own daughter to the Chinese diplomatic envoy once he arrived, receiving in turn a Chinese princess as his bride. The Uyghurs helped recapture the Tang capital from the rebels, but they refused to leave until the Tang paid them an enormous sum of tribute in silk. Even assisted the Tang in putting down An Lushan's rebellion. The
Tibet Tibet (; ; ) is a region in East Asia covering much of the Tibetan Plateau spanning about . It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa people, Monpa, Tamang people, Tamang, Qia ...

Tibet
ans took hold of the opportunity and raided many areas under Chinese control, and even after the
Tibetan Empire The Tibetan Empire (, ; ) was an empire centered on the Tibetan Plateau, formed as a result of imperial expansion under the Yarlung dynasty heralded by its 33rd king, Songsten Gampo in the 7th century. The empire further expanded under the 38th ...

Tibetan Empire
had fallen apart in 842 (and the Uyghurs soon after) the Tang were in no position to reconquer Central Asia after 763. So significant was this loss that half a century later ''jinshi'' examination candidates were required to write an essay on the causes of the Tang's decline. Although An Lushan was killed by one of his eunuchs in 757, this time of troubles and widespread insurrection continued until rebel
Shi Siming Shi Siming () (19th day of the 1st month, 703? – 18 April 761), or Shi Sugan (), was a general of the History of China, Chinese Tang Dynasty who followed his childhood friend An Lushan in rebelling against Tang, and who later succeeded An Lusha ...
was killed by his own son in 763. One of the legacies that the Tang government left since 710 was the gradual rise of regional military governors, the
jiedushi The ''jiedushi'' (), or jiedu, was a title for regional military governors in China which was established in the Tang dynasty, Tang dynasty and abolished in the Yuan dynasty, Yuan dynasty. The post of ''jiedushi'' has been translated as "milit ...
, who slowly came to challenge the power of the central government. After the An Lushan Rebellion, the autonomous power and authority accumulated by the jiedushi in Hebei went beyond the central government's control. After a series of rebellions between 781 and 784 in today's Hebei,
Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subn ...

Shandong
, Hubei and
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China The provincial level administrative divisions () are the highest-level administrative divisions of China. There are 34 such divisions claimed by the People's Republic of ...

Henan
provinces, the government had to officially acknowledge the jiedushi's hereditary ruling without accreditation. The Tang government relied on these governors and their armies for protection and to suppress locals that would take up arms against the government. In return, the central government would acknowledge the rights of these governors to maintain their army, collect taxes and even to pass on their title to heirs. As time passed, these military governors slowly phased out the prominence of civil officials drafted by exams, and became more autonomous from central authority. The rule of these powerful military governors lasted until 960, when a new civil order under the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
was established. Also, the abandonment of the equal-field system meant that people could buy and sell land freely. Many poor fell into debt because of this, forced to sell their land to the wealthy, which led to the exponential growth of large estates. With the breakdown of the land allocation system after 755, the central Chinese state barely interfered in agricultural management and acted merely as tax collector for roughly a millennium, save a few instances such as the Song's failed land nationalization during the 13th-century war with the
Mongols The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to the Inner Mongolia, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, Mongolia an ...

Mongols
. With the central government collapsing in authority over the various regions of the empire, it was recorded in 845 that bandits and river pirates in parties of 100 or more began plundering settlements along the Yangtze River with little resistance. In 858, massive floods along the
Grand CanalGrand Canal can refer to multiple waterways: * Grand Canal (China) in eastern China * Grand Canal (Ireland), between the River Shannon and Dublin in Ireland * Grand Canal (Venice) in Venice, Italy * Grand Canal d'Alsace in eastern France *Grand Cana ...
inundated vast tracts of land and terrain of the
North China Plain 200px, The North China Plain is shown in dark. The Yellow River is shown as "Río Amarillo". The North China Plain () is a large-scale downfaulted rift basin formed in the late Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; ...
, which drowned tens of thousands of people in the process. The Chinese belief in the
Mandate of Heaven The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsgranary A granary is a storehouse or room in a barn in Lubbock, Texas, U.S., was used as a teaching facility until 1967. , Coggeshall, England, originally part of the Cistercian monastery of Coggeshall. Dendrochronologically dated from 1237–126 ...

granary
system throughout the country. The central government was able then to build a large surplus stock of foods to ward off the rising danger of famine and increased agricultural productivity through
land reclamation Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, and also known as land fill (not to be confused with a waste landfill), is the process of creating new Terrestrial ecoregion, land from oceans, list of seas, seas, Stream bed, riverbeds or lake be ...
. In the 9th century, however, the Tang government was nearly helpless in dealing with any calamity.


Rebuilding and recovery

Although these natural calamities and rebellions stained the reputation and hampered the effectiveness of the central government, the early 9th century is nonetheless viewed as a period of recovery for the Tang dynasty. The government's withdrawal from its role in managing the economy had the unintended effect of stimulating trade, as more markets with fewer bureaucratic restrictions were opened up. By 780, the old grain tax and labor service of the 7th century was replaced by a semiannual tax paid in cash, signifying the shift to a money economy boosted by the merchant class. Cities in the
Jiangnan Jiangnan or Jiang Nan (; formerly romanized Kiang-nan, literally "South of the River" meaning "South of the Yangtze") is a geographic area in China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It i ...

Jiangnan
region to the south, such as
Yangzhou Yangzhou, Postal Map Romanization, postal romanization Yangchow, is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu Province (Suzhong), East China. Sitting on the north bank of the Yangtze, it borders the provincial capital Nanjing to the southwest, H ...

Yangzhou
,
Suzhou Suzhou (; ; , Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and c ...

Suzhou
, and
Hangzhou Hangzhou (, , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ...

Hangzhou
prospered the most economically during the late Tang period. The government monopoly on the production of salt, weakened after the
An Lushan Rebellion The An Lushan Rebellion was an uprising against the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregn ...

An Lushan Rebellion
, was placed under the Salt Commission, which became one of the most powerful state agencies, run by capable ministers chosen as specialists. The commission began the practice of selling merchants the rights to buy monopoly salt, which they would then transport and sell in local markets. In 799 salt accounted for over half of the government's revenues. S.A.M. Adshead writes that this salt tax represents "the first time that an indirect tax, rather than tribute, levies on land or people, or profit from state enterprises such as mines, had been the primary resource of a major state." Even after the power of the central government was in decline after the mid 8th century, it was still able to function and give out imperial orders on a massive scale. The ''Tangshu'' (
Old Book of Tang The ''Old Book of Tang'', or simply the ''Book of Tang'', is the first classic historical work about the Tang dynasty, comprising 200 chapters, and is one of the Twenty-Four Histories. Originally compiled during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdo ...
) compiled in the year 945 recorded that in 828 the Tang government issued a decree that standardized
irrigation Irrigation is the agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in seden ...

irrigation
al square-pallet
chain pump The chain pump is type of a water pump A pump is a device that moves fluids (s or es), or sometimes , by mechanical action, typically converted from electrical energy into hydraulic energy. Pumps can be classified into three major groups accordin ...
s in the country:
In the second year of the Taihe reign period in the second month...a standard model of the chain pump was issued from the palace, and the people of Jingzhao Fu (d footnote: the capital) were ordered by the emperor to make a considerable number of machines, for distribution to the people along the Zheng Bai Canal, for irrigation purposes.,
The last great ambitious ruler of the Tang dynasty was Emperor Xianzong of Tang, Emperor Xianzong (r. 805–820), whose reign was aided by the fiscal reforms of the 780s, including a government monopoly on the salt industry. He also had an effective well trained imperial army stationed at the capital led by his court eunuchs; this was the Army of Divine Strategy, numbering 240,000 in strength as recorded in 798. Between the years 806 and 819, Emperor Xianzong conducted seven major military campaigns to quell the rebellious provinces that had claimed autonomy from central authority, managing to subdue all but two of them. Under his reign there was a brief end to the hereditary jiedushi, as Xianzong appointed his own military officers and staffed the regional bureaucracies once again with civil officials. However, Xianzong's successors proved less capable and more interested in the leisure of hunting, feasting, and playing outdoor sports, allowing eunuchs to amass more power as drafted scholar-officials caused strife in the bureaucracy with factional parties. The eunuchs' power became unchallenged after Emperor Wenzong of Tang, Emperor Wenzong's (r. 826–840) failed Ganlu Incident, plot to have them overthrown; instead the allies of Emperor Wenzong were publicly executed in the Chang'an#West Central Chang'an, West Market of Chang'an, by the eunuchs' command. However, the Tang did manage to restore at least indirect control over former Tang territories as far west as the Hexi Corridor and Dunhuang in Gansu. In 848 the ethnic Han Chinese general Zhang Yichao (799–872) managed to wrestle control of the region from the Era of Fragmentation, Tibetan Empire during its civil war. Shortly afterwards Emperor Xuānzong of Tang (r. 846–859) acknowledged Zhang as the protector (防禦使, ''Fangyushi'') of Sha Prefecture and ''jiedushi'' military governor of the new Guiyi Circuit.''Zizhi Tongjian'', :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷249, vol. 249.


End of the dynasty

In addition to natural calamities and jiedushi amassing autonomous control, the Huang Chao, Huang Chao Rebellion (874–884) resulted in the sacking of both Chang'an and Luoyang, and took an entire decade to suppress. The Tang never recovered from this rebellion, weakening it for future military powers to replace it. Large groups of bandits in the size of small armies ravaged the countryside in the last years of the Tang. They smuggled illicit salt, ambushed merchants and convoys, and even besieged several walled cities. Amid the sacking of cities and murderous factional strife among eunuchs and officials, the top tier of aristocratic families, which had amassed a large fraction of the landed wealth and official positions, was largely destroyed or marginalized. During the last two decades of the Tang dynasty, the gradual collapse of central authority led to the rise of two prominent rival military figures over northern China: Li Keyong and Zhu Wen. Tang forces had defeated Huang Chao's rebellion with the crucial aid of allied Shatuo Turkic peoples of what is now
Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of the province is ...

Shanxi
led by Li Keyong. He was made a jiedushi governor and later Jin (Later Tang precursor), Prince of Jin, bestowed with the imperial surname Li by the Tang court. Zhu Wen, originally a salt smuggler who served as a lieutenant under the rebel Huang Chao, surrendered to Tang forces. By helping to defeat Huang, he was Courtesy name, renamed Zhu Quanzhong ("Zhu of Perfect Loyalty") and granted a series of rapid military promotions to military governor of Xuanwu Circuit. In 901, from his powerbase of Kaifeng, Zhu Wen seized control of the Tang capital Chang'an and with it the imperial family. By 903 he forced Emperor Zhaozong of Tang to move the capital to Luoyang, preparing to take the throne for himself. In 904 Zhu assassinated Emperor Zhaozong to replace him with the emperor's young son Emperor Ai of Tang. In 905 Zhu executed the brothers of Emperor Ai as well as many officials and Empress He (Tang dynasty), Empress Dowager He. In 907 the Tang dynasty was ended when Zhu deposed Ai and took the throne for himself (known posthumously as Emperor Taizu of Later Liang). He established the Later Liang (Five Dynasties), Later Liang, which inaugurated the
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (), from 907 to 979 was an era of political upheaval and division in 10th-century Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from t ...
. A year later Zhu had the deposed Emperor Ai poisoned to death. Zhu Wen's hated nemesis Li Keyong died in 908 but, out of loyalty to Tang, Li never claimed the Chinese sovereign, title of emperor. His son Li Cunxu (Emperor Zhuangzong) inherited his title Prince of Jin along with his father's rivalry against Zhu. In 923 Li Cunxu declared a "restored" Tang dynasty, the Later Tang, before toppling the Later Liang dynasty the same year. However, southern China would remain splintered into various small kingdoms until most of China was reunified under the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
(960–1279). Control over parts of northeast China and
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
by the Liao dynasty of the Khitan people also stemmed from this period. In 905 their leader Abaoji formed a military alliance with Li Keyong against Zhu Wen but the Khitans eventually turned against the Later Tang, helping another Shatuo leader Shi Jingtang of Later Jin (Five Dynasties), Later Jin to overthrow Later Tang in 936.


Administration and politics


Initial reforms

Taizong set out to solve internal problems within the government which had constantly plagued past dynasties. Building upon the Sui code (law), legal code, he issued Tang Code, a new legal code that subsequent Chinese dynasties would model theirs upon, as well as neighboring polities in Vietnam,
Korea Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...

Korea
, and Japan. The earliest law code to survive was the one established in the year 653, which was divided into 500 articles specifying different crimes and penalties ranging from ten blows with a light stick, one hundred blows with a heavy rod, exile, penal servitude, or execution. The legal code distinguished different levels of severity in meted punishments when different members of the social and political hierarchy committed the same crime. For example, the severity of punishment was different when a servant or nephew killed a master or an uncle than when a master or uncle killed a servant or nephew. The Tang Code was largely retained by later codes such as the early Ming dynasty (1368–1644) code of 1397, yet there were several revisions in later times, such as Society of the Song dynasty#Women: legality and lifestyles, improved property rights for women during the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
(960–1279). The Tang had three departments (), which were obliged to draft, review, and implement policies respectively. There were also six ministries () under the administrations that implemented policy, each of which was assigned different tasks. These Three Departments and Six Ministries included the personnel administration, finance, rites, military, justice, and public works—an administrative model which would last until the fall of the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). Although the founders of the Tang related to the glory of the earlier
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
(3rd century BC–3rd century AD), the basis for much of their administrative organization was very similar to the previous Northern and Southern dynasties. The Northern Zhou (6th century) fubing system of divisional militia was continued by the Tang, along with farmer-soldiers serving in rotation from the capital or frontier in order to receive appropriated farmland. The equal-field system of the Northern Wei (4th–6th centuries) was also kept, although there were a few modifications. Although the central and local governments kept an enormous number of records about land property in order to assess taxes, it became common practice in the Tang for literate and affluent people to create their own private documents and signed contracts. These had their own signature and that of a witness and scribe in order to prove in court (if necessary) that their claim to property was legitimate. The prototype of this actually existed since the ancient Han dynasty, while contractual language became even more common and embedded into Chinese literary culture in later dynasties. The center of the political power of the Tang was the capital city of
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between th ...
(modern
Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals ...
), where the emperor maintained his large palace quarters and entertained political emissaries with music, sports, Acrobatics, acrobatic stunts, poetry, paintings, and Pear Garden, dramatic theater performances. The capital was also filled with incredible amounts of riches and resources to spare. When the Chinese prefecture, prefectural government officials traveled to the capital in the year 643 to give the annual report of the affairs in their districts, Emperor Taizong discovered that many had no proper quarters to rest in and were renting rooms with merchants. Therefore, Emperor Taizong ordered the government agencies in charge of Township, municipal construction to build every visiting official his own private mansion in the capital.


Imperial examinations

Students of Confucianism, Confucian studies were candidates for the imperial examinations, which qualified their graduates for appointment to the local, provincial, and central government bureaucracies. Two types of exams given, ''mingjing'' (; "illuminating the classics") and ''jinshi'' (; "presented scholar"). The ''mingjing'' was based upon the Chinese classic texts, Confucian classics and tested the student's knowledge of a broad variety of texts. The ''jinshi'' tested a student's literary abilities in writing essays in response to questions on governance and politics, as well as in composing Chinese poetry, poetry. Candidates were also judged on proper deportment, appearance, speech, and calligraphy, all subjective criteria that favored the wealthy over those of more modest means who were unable to pay tutors of rhetoric and writing. Although a disproportionate number of civil officials came from aristocratic families, wealth and noble status were not prerequisites, and the exams were open to all male subjects whose fathers were not of the Four occupations, artisan or merchant classes. To promote widespread Confucian education, the Tang government established state-run schools and issued standard versions of the Five Classics with commentaries. Open competition was designed to draw the best talent into government. But perhaps an even greater consideration for the Tang rulers was to avoid imperial dependence on powerful aristocratic families and warlords by recruiting a body of career officials having no family or local Base (politics), power base. The Tang law code ensured equal division of inherited property amongst legitimate heirs, encouraging social mobility by preventing powerful families from becoming landed nobility through primogeniture. The competition system proved successful, as Scholar-bureaucrats, scholar-officials acquired status in their local communities while developing an Morale, esprit de corps that connected them to the imperial court. From Tang times until the end of the Qing dynasty in 1912, scholar-officials served as intermediaries between the grassroots, people and the government. Yet the potential of a widespread examination system was not fully realized until the succeeding Song dynasty, when the merit-driven scholar official largely shed his aristocratic habits and defined his social status through the examination system.


Religion and politics

From the outset, religion played a role in Tang politics. In his bid for power, Li Yuan had attracted a following by claiming descent from the Taoism sage
Lao Tzu Lao Tzu (),"Lao Zi"
''
Emperor XuanzongXuanzong (Hsuan-tsung in Wade–Giles) may refer to the following Chinese emperors: * Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (reigned 713-756) * Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (9th century) (reigned 846-859) * Emperor Xuanzong of Jin (reigned 1213-1224) * Emperor Xuanz ...
(r. 712–756). The Emperor invited Taoist and Buddhist monks and clerics to his court, exalted the Taoist ancient Lao Tzu with grand titles, wrote commentary on the ''Lao Tzu'' scriptures, and set up a school to prepare candidates for Taoist examinations. In 726 he called upon the Indian monk Vajrabodhi (671–741) to perform Vajrayana, Tantric rites to avert a drought. In 742 he personally held the incense burner while Amoghavajra (705–774, patriarch of the Shingon Buddhism, Shingon school) recited "mystical incantations to secure the victory of Tang forces." Emperor Xuanzong closely regulated religious finances. Near the beginning of his reign in 713, he liquidated the Chang'an#Northwestern Chang'an, Inexhaustible Treasury of a prominent Buddhist monastery in Chang'an which had collected vast riches as multitudes of anonymous repentants left money, silk, and treasure at its doors. Although the monastery used its funds generously, the Emperor condemned it for fraudulent History of banking in China, banking practices, and distributed its wealth to other Buddhist and Taoist monasteries, and to repair local statues, halls, and bridges. In 714, he forbade Chang'an shops from selling copied Buddhist sutras, giving a monopoly of this trade to the Buddhist clergy.


Taxes and the census

The Tang dynasty government attempted to create an accurate census of the empire's population, mostly for effective taxation and military conscription. The early Tang government established modest grain and cloth taxes on each household, persuading households to register and provide the government with accurate demographic information. In the official census of 609, the population was tallied at 9 million households, about 50 million people, and this number did not increase in the census of 742. Patricia Ebrey writes that nonwithstanding census undercounting, China's population had not grown significantly since the earlier History of the Han dynasty, Han Dynasty, which recorded 58 million people in the year 2. S.A.M. Adshead disagrees, estimating about 75 million people by 750. In the Tang census of 754, there were 1,859 cities, 321 Prefecture (China), prefectures, and 1,538 Counties of the People's Republic of China#History, counties throughout the empire. Although there were many large and prominent cities, the rural and agrarian areas comprised some 80 to 90% of the population. There was also a dramatic migration from Northern and southern China, northern to southern China, as the North held 75% of the overall population at the dynasty's inception, which by its end was reduced to 50%. Chinese population would not dramatically increase until the Song dynasty, when it doubled to 100 million because of extensive rice cultivation in central and southern China, coupled with higher yields of grain sold in a growing market.


Military and foreign policy


Protectorates and tributaries

The 7th and first half of the 8th century are generally considered to be the era in which the Tang reached the zenith of its power. In this period, Tang control extended further west than any previous dynasty, stretching from north Vietnam in the south, to a point north of Kashmir bordering Persia in the west, to northern Korea in the north-east. Some of the kingdoms paying tribute to the Tang dynasty included Kashmir region, Kashmir, Nepal, Khotan,
Kucha 250px, Location of Kucha within Aksu in yellow Kucha or Kuche (also: ''Kuçar'', ''Kuchar''; ug, كۇچار, Кучар; zh, t=wikt:龜茲, 龜茲, p=Qiūcí also zh, t=wikt:库车, 库车, p=Kùchē; sa, Kucina), was an ancient Buddhist ki ...
, Kashgar, Silla, Champa, and kingdoms located in Amu Darya and Syr Darya valley. Turkic nomads addressed the Emperor of Tang China as ''
Tian Kehan Khan of Heaven or Tian Kehan, Celestial Kha(ga)n, Heavenly Kha(ga)n, Tengri Kha(ga)n () was a title addressed to the Emperor Taizong of Tang by various Turkic nomads. It was first mentioned in accounts on May 20, 630 and again on October 24, 646, sh ...
''. After the widespread Göktürk revolt of Shabolüe Khan (d. 658) was put down at Issyk Kul in 657 by
Su Dingfang Su Dingfang () (591–667), formal name Su Lie () but went by the courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosph ...
(591–667), Emperor Gaozong established several protectorates governed by a Protectorate General or Grand Protectorate General, which extended the Chinese sphere of influence as far as Herat in Western Afghanistan. Protectorate Generals were given a great deal of autonomy to handle local crises without waiting for central admission. After Xuanzong's reign, military governors (jiedushi) were given enormous power, including the ability to maintain their own armies, collect taxes, and pass their titles on hereditarily. This is commonly recognized as the beginning of the fall of Tang's central government.


Soldiers and conscription

By the year 737, Emperor Xuanzong discarded the policy of conscripting soldiers that were replaced every three years, replacing them with long-service soldiers who were more battle-hardened and efficient. It was more economically feasible as well, since training new recruits and sending them out to the frontier every three years drained the treasury. By the late 7th century, the ''Fubing system, fubing'' troops began abandoning military service and the homes provided to them in the equal-field system. The supposed standard of 100 ''Mu (unit of area), mu'' of land allotted to each family was in fact decreasing in size in places where population expanded and the wealthy bought up most of the land. Hard-pressed peasants and vagrants were then induced into military service with benefits of exemption from both taxation and corvée labor service, as well as provisions for farmland and dwellings for dependents who accompanied soldiers on the frontier. By the year 742 the total number of enlisted troops in the Tang armies had risen to about 500,000 men.


Eastern regions

In East Asia, Tang Chinese military campaigns were less successful elsewhere than in previous imperial Chinese dynasties. Goguryeo–Sui War, Like the emperors of the Sui dynasty before him, Taizong established a military campaign in 644 against the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo in the Goguryeo–Tang War; however, this led to its withdrawal in the First conflict of the Goguryeo–Tang War, first campaign because they failed to overcome the successful defense led by General Yeon Gaesomun. Silla–Tang alliance, Allying with the Korean Silla Kingdom, the Chinese fought against Baekje and their Kofun period, Yamato Japanese allies in the Battle of Baekgang in August 663, a decisive Tang–Silla victory. The Tang dynasty navy had Naval history of China#Tang era, several different ship types at its disposal to engage in naval warfare, these ships described by Li Quan in his ''Taipai Yinjing'' (Canon of the White and Gloomy Planet of War) of 759. The Battle of Baekgang was actually a restoration movement by remnant forces of Baekje, since their kingdom was toppled in 660 by a joint Tang–Silla invasion, led by Chinese general Su Dingfang and Korean general Kim Yushin (595–673). In another joint invasion with Silla, the Tang army severely weakened the Goguryeo Kingdom in the north by taking out its outer forts in the year 645. With joint attacks by Silla and Tang armies under commander Li Shiji (594–669), the Kingdom of Goguryeo was destroyed by 668. Although they were formerly enemies, the Tang accepted officials and generals of Goguryeo into their administration and military, such as the brothers Yeon Namsaeng (634–679) and Yeon Namsan (639–701). From 668 to 676, the Tang Empire would control northern Korea. However, in 671 Silla broke the alliance and began the Silla–Tang War to expel the Tang forces. At the same time the Tang faced threats on its western border when a large Chinese army was defeated by the Tibetans on the Dafei River in 670. By 676, the Tang army was expelled out of Korea by Later Silla, Unified Silla. Following a revolt of the Eastern Turks in 679, the Tang abandoned its Korean campaigns. Although the Tang had fought the Japanese, they still held cordial relations with Japan. There were numerous Imperial embassies to China from Japan, diplomatic missions that were not halted until 894 by Emperor Uda (r. 887–897), upon persuasion by Sugawara no Michizane (845–903). The Japanese Emperor Tenmu (r. 672–686) even established his conscripted army on that of the Chinese model, his state ceremonies on the Chinese model, and constructed his palace at Fujiwara-kyō, Fujiwara on the Chinese architecture, Chinese model of architecture. Many Chinese Buddhist monks came to Japan to help further the spread of Buddhism as well. Two 7th-century monks in particular, Zhi Yu and Zhi You, visited the court of Emperor Tenji (r. 661–672), whereupon they presented a gift of a south-pointing chariot that they had crafted. This 3rd century mechanically driven directional-compass vehicle (employing a Differential (mechanical device), differential gear) was again reproduced in several models for Tenji in 666, as recorded in the ''Nihon Shoki'' of 720. Japanese monks also visited China; such was the case with Ennin (794–864), who wrote of his travel experiences including travels along Grand Canal (China), China's Grand Canal. The Japanese monk Enchin (814–891) stayed in China from 839 to 847 and again from 853 to 858, landing near Fuzhou, Fuzhou, Fujian and setting sail for Japan from Taizhou, Zhejiang during his second trip to China.


Western and Northern regions

The Sui and Tang carried out successful military campaigns against the steppe nomads. Chinese foreign policy to the north and west now had to deal with Turkic peoples, Turkic nomads, who were becoming the most dominant ethnic group in Central Asia. To handle and avoid any threats posed by the Turks, the Sui government repaired fortifications and received their trade and tribute missions. They sent four royal princesses to form Heqin, marriage alliances with Turkic clan leaders, in 597, 599, 614, and 617. The Sui stirred trouble and conflict amongst ethnic groups against the Turks. As early as the Sui dynasty, the Turks had become Turks in the Tang military, a major militarized force employed by the Chinese. When the Khitans began raiding northeast China in 605, a Chinese general led 20,000 Turks against them, distributing Khitan livestock and women to the Turks as a reward. On two occasions between 635 and 636, Tang royal princesses were married to Turk mercenaries or generals in Chinese service. Throughout the Tang dynasty until the end of 755, there were approximately ten Turkic generals serving under the Tang. While most of the Tang army was made of ''fubing'' Chinese conscripts, the majority of the troops led by Turkic generals were of non-Chinese origin, campaigning largely in the western frontier where the presence of ''fubing'' troops was low. Some "Turkic" troops were tribalized Han Chinese, a Desinicization, desinicized people. Civil war in China was almost totally diminished by 626, along with the defeat in 628 of the Ordos Desert, Ordos Chinese warlord Liang Shidu; after these internal conflicts, the Tang began an offensive against the Turks. In the year 630, Tang armies captured areas of the Ordos Desert, modern-day Inner Mongolia province, and southern Mongolia from the Turks. After this military victory, On June 11, 631, Emperor Taizong also sent envoys to the Xueyantuo bearing gold and silk in order to persuade the release of enslaved Chinese prisoners who were captured during the transition from Sui to Tang from the northern frontier; this embassy succeeded in freeing 80,000 Chinese men and women who were then returned to China. While the Turks were settled in the Ordos region (former territory of the Xiongnu), the Tang government took on the military policy of dominating the central steppe. Like the earlier Han dynasty, the Tang dynasty (along with Turkic allies) conquered and subdued Central Asia during the 640s and 650s. During Emperor Taizong's reign alone, large campaigns were launched against not only the Göktürks, but also separate campaigns against the Emperor Taizong's campaign against Tuyuhun, Tuyuhun, the Tang campaign against the oasis states, oasis city-states, and the Emperor Taizong's campaign against Xueyantuo, Xueyantuo. Under Emperor Gaozong, a campaign led by the general
Su Dingfang Su Dingfang () (591–667), formal name Su Lie () but went by the courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosph ...
was Conquest of the Western Turks, launched against the Western Turks ruled by Ashina Helu. The Tang Empire competed with the Tibetan Kingdom, Tibetan Empire for control of areas in Inner and Central Asia, which was at times settled with marriage alliances such as the marrying of Princess Wencheng (d. 680) to Songtsän Gampo (d. 649). A Tibetan tradition mentions that Chinese troops captured Lhasa after Songtsän Gampo's death, but no such invasion is mentioned in either Chinese annals or the Tibetan manuscripts of Dunhuang. There was a long string of conflicts with Tibet over territories in the Tarim Basin between 670 and 692, and in 763 the Tibetans even captured the capital of China,
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between th ...
, for fifteen days during the An Shi Rebellion. In fact, it was during this rebellion that the Tang withdrew its western garrisons stationed in what is now Gansu and Qinghai, which the Tibetans then occupied along with the territory of what is now Xinjiang. Hostilities between the Tang and Tibet continued until they signed a formal peace treaty in 821. The terms of this treaty, including the fixed borders between the two countries, are recorded in a bilingual inscription on Tang–Tibet Treaty Inscription, a stone pillar outside the Jokhang temple in Lhasa. During the Islamic conquest of Persia (633–656), the son of the last ruler of the Sassanid Empire, Peroz III, Prince Peroz and his court moved to Tang China. According to the ''
Old Book of Tang The ''Old Book of Tang'', or simply the ''Book of Tang'', is the first classic historical work about the Tang dynasty, comprising 200 chapters, and is one of the Twenty-Four Histories. Originally compiled during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdo ...
'', Peroz was made the head of a Governorate of Persia in what is now Zaranj, Afghanistan. During this conquest of Persia, the Rashidun Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (r. 644–656) sent an embassy to the Tang court at Chang'an. Arab sources claim Umayyad commander Qutayba ibn Muslim briefly took Shule Kingdom, Kashgar from China and withdrew after an agreement, but modern historians entirely dismiss this claim. The Arab Umayyad Caliphate in 715 deposed Ikhshid, the king the Fergana Valley, and installed a new king Alutar on the throne. The deposed king fled to
Kucha 250px, Location of Kucha within Aksu in yellow Kucha or Kuche (also: ''Kuçar'', ''Kuchar''; ug, كۇچار, Кучар; zh, t=wikt:龜茲, 龜茲, p=Qiūcí also zh, t=wikt:库车, 库车, p=Kùchē; sa, Kucina), was an ancient Buddhist ki ...
(seat of Anxi Protectorate), and sought Chinese intervention. The Chinese sent 10,000 troops under Zhang Xiaosong to Ferghana. He defeated Alutar and the Arab occupation force at Namangan and reinstalled Ikhshid on the throne.Bai Shouyi, Bai, Shouyi et al. (2003). ''A History of Chinese Muslim (Vol.2)''. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company. . pp. 235–236 The Tang dynasty Chinese defeated the Arab Umayyad Caliphate, Umayyad invaders at the Battle of Aksu (717). The Arab Umayyad commander Al-Yashkuri and his army fled to Tashkent after they were defeated. The Turgesh then Muslim conquest of Transoxiana#Umayyad–Turgesh Wars, crushed the Arab Umayyads and drove them out. By the 740s, the Arabs under the Abbasid Caliphate in Greater Khorasan, Khorasan had reestablished a presence in the Ferghana basin and in Sogdiana. At the Battle of Talas in 751, Karluks, Karluk mercenaries under the Chinese defected, helping the Arab armies of the Caliphate to defeat the Tang force under commander Gao Xianzhi. Although the battle itself was not of the greatest significance militarily, this was a pivotal moment in history, as it marks the spread of Chinese papermaking into regions west of China as captured Chinese soldiers shared the technique of papermaking to the Arabs. These techniques ultimately reached Europe by the 12th century through Al-Andalus, Arab-controlled Spain. Although they had fought at Talas, on June 11, 758, an Abbasid embassy arrived at Chang'an simultaneously with the Uighur Turks bearing gifts for the Tang Emperor. In 788–789 the Chinese concluded a military alliance with the Uyghur people, Uighur Turks who twice defeated the Tibetans, in 789 near the town of
Gaochang Gaochang (; Old Uyghur The Old Uyghur language () was a Turkic language which was spoken in Qocho from the 9th–14th centuries and in Gansu Gansu (; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Kansu) is a landlocked provinces ...
in Dzungaria, and in 791 near Ningxia on the Yellow River. Joseph Needham writes that a :zh:s:新唐書/卷221下, tributary embassy came to the court of Emperor Taizong in 643 from the List of Patriarchs of Antioch, Patriarch of Antioch. However, Friedrich Hirth and other Sinology, sinologists such as S.A.M. Adshead have identified ''Fu lin'' (拂菻) in the ''Old Book of Tang, Old'' and ''New Book of Tang'' as the Byzantine Empire, which those histories directly associated with ''Daqin'' (i.e. the Roman Empire). The embassy sent in 643 by ''Boduoli'' (波多力) was identified as Byzantine ruler Constans II, Constans II Pogonatos (''Kōnstantinos Pogonatos'', or "Constantine the Bearded") and Sino-Roman relations, further embassies were recorded as being sent into the 8th century. S.A.M. Adshead offers a different transliteration stemming from "patriarch" or "Patrician (ancient Rome), patrician", possibly a reference to one of the acting
regent A regent (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...
s for the young Byzantine monarch. The ''Old'' and ''New Book of Tang'' also provide a description of the Byzantine capital Constantinople, including Siege of Constantinople (674–678), how it was besieged by the ''Da shi'' (大食, i.e. Umayyad Caliphate) forces of Muawiyah I, who forced them to pay tribute to the Arabs. The 7th-century Byzantine historian Theophylact Simocatta wrote about the reunification of Northern and Southern dynasties, northern and southern China by the Sui dynasty (dating this to the time of Maurice (emperor), Emperor Maurice); the capital city ''Khubdan'' (from Old Turkic language, Old Turkic ''Khumdan'', i.e. Chang'an); the basic geography of China including its previous political division around the Yangtze River; the name of China's ruler ''Taisson'' meaning "Son of Heaven, Son of God", but possibly derived from the name of the contemporaneous ruler Emperor Taizong.


Economy

Through use of the land trade along the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
and maritime history, maritime trade by sail at sea, the Tang were able to acquire and gain many new technologies, cultural practices, rare luxury, and contemporary items. From Europe, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, the Tang dynasty were able to acquire new ideas in fashion, new types of ceramics, and improved silver-smithing techniques. The Tang Chinese also gradually adopted the foreign concept of stools and chairs as seating, whereas the Chinese beforehand always sat on mats placed on the floor. People of the Middle East coveted and purchased in bulk Chinese goods such as silks, lacquerwares, and porcelain wares. Songs, dances, and musical instruments from foreign regions became popular in China during the Tang dynasty. These musical instruments included oboes, flutes, and small lacquered drums from
Kucha 250px, Location of Kucha within Aksu in yellow Kucha or Kuche (also: ''Kuçar'', ''Kuchar''; ug, كۇچار, Кучар; zh, t=wikt:龜茲, 龜茲, p=Qiūcí also zh, t=wikt:库车, 库车, p=Kùchē; sa, Kucina), was an ancient Buddhist ki ...
in the Tarim Basin, and percussion instruments from India such as cymbals. At the court there were nine musical ensembles (expanded from seven in the Sui dynasty) that played ecletic Asian music. There was great interaction with India, a hub for Buddhist knowledge, with famous travelers such as Xuanzang (d. 664) visiting the South Asian state. After a 17-year-long trip, Xuanzang managed to bring back valuable Sanskrit texts to be translated into Chinese. There was also a Turkic languages, Turkic–Chinese dictionary available for serious scholars and students, while Turkic folk songs gave inspiration to some Chinese poetry. In the interior of China, trade was facilitated by the
Grand CanalGrand Canal can refer to multiple waterways: * Grand Canal (China) in eastern China * Grand Canal (Ireland), between the River Shannon and Dublin in Ireland * Grand Canal (Venice) in Venice, Italy * Grand Canal d'Alsace in eastern France *Grand Cana ...
and the Tang government's rationalization of the greater canal system that reduced costs of transporting grain and other commodities. The state also managed roughly of Postal administration, postal service routes by horse or boat.


Silk Road

Although the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
from China to Western civilization, Europe and the Western World was initially formulated during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han, Emperor Wu (141–87 BC) during the Han dynasty, Han, it was reopened by the Tang in 639 when Hou Junji ( 643) conquered the West, and remained open for almost four decades. It was closed after the Tibetans captured it in 678, but in 699, during Empress Wu's period, the Silk Road reopened when the Tang reconquered the Four Garrisons of Anxi originally installed in 640, once again connecting China directly to the West for land-based trade. The Tang captured the vital route through the Gilgit, Gilgit Valley from Tibet in 722, lost it to the Tibetans in 737, and regained it under the command of the Goguryeo-Korean General Gao Xianzhi. When the An Lushan Rebellion ended in 763, the Tang Empire withdrew its troops from its western lands, allowing the Tibetan Empire to largely cut off China's direct access to the Silk Road. An internal rebellion in 848 ousted the Tibetan rulers, and Tang China regained its northwestern prefectures from Tibet in 851. These lands contained crucial grazing areas and pastures for raising horses that the Tang dynasty desperately needed. Despite the many expatriate European travelers coming into China to live and trade, many travelers, mainly religious monks and missionaries, recorded China's stringent immigrant laws . As the monk Xuanzang and many other monk travelers attested to, there were many Chinese government border checkpoint, checkpoints along the Silk Road that examined travel permits into the Tang Empire. Furthermore, outlaw, banditry was a problem along the checkpoints and oasis towns, as Xuanzang also recorded that his group of travelers were assaulted by bandits on multiple occasions. The
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
also affected Tang dynasty paintings, Tang dynasty art. Horses became a significant symbol of prosperity and power as well as an instrument of military and diplomatic policy. Horses were also revered as a relative of the dragon.


Seaports and maritime trade

Chinese envoys had been sailing through the Indian Ocean to states of Kanchipuram, India since perhaps the 2nd century BC, yet it was during the Tang dynasty that a strong Chinese maritime presence could be found in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, into Persia, Mesopotamia (sailing up the Euphrates, Euphrates River in modern-day Iraq), Arabia, Egypt in the Middle East and Aksum (Ethiopia), and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. During the Tang dynasty, thousands of foreign expatriate merchants came and lived in numerous Chinese cities to do business with China, including Persian people, Persians, Arabs, Hindu Indians, Malays (ethnic group), Malays, Bengalis, Sinhalese people, Sinhalese, Khmer people, Khmers, Cham (Asia), Chams, History of the Jews in China, Jews and Nestorianism, Nestorian Christians of the Near East, among many others. In 748, the Buddhist monk Jian Zhen described Guangzhou as a bustling mercantile business center where many large and impressive foreign ships came to dock. He wrote that "many large ships came from Borneo, Persia, Qunglun (Indonesia/Java)...with...spices, pearls, and jade piled up mountain high", as written in the ''Yue Jue Shu'' (Lost Records of the State of Yue). Relations with the Arabs were often strained: When the imperial government was attempting to quell the
An Lushan Rebellion The An Lushan Rebellion was an uprising against the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregn ...

An Lushan Rebellion
, Arab and Persian pirates burned and looted Canton on October 30, 758. The Tang government reacted by shutting the port of Canton down for roughly five decades; thus, foreign vessels docked at Hanoi instead. However, when the port reopened, it continued to thrive. In 851 the Arab merchant Sulaiman al-Tajir observed the manufacturing of Chinese porcelain in Guangzhou and admired its transparent quality. He also provided a description of Guangzhou's landmarks, granaries, local government administration, some of its written records, treatment of travelers, along with the use of ceramics, rice, wine, and tea. Their presence Guangzhou massacre, came to an end under the revenge of Chinese rebel Huang Chao in 878, who purportedly slaughtered thousands regardless of ethnicity. Huang's rebellion was eventually suppressed in 884. Vessels from neighboring East Asian states such as Silla and Balhae of Korea and the Hizen Province of Japan were all involved in the Yellow Sea trade, which Silla dominated. After Silla and Japan reopened renewed hostilities in the late 7th century, most Japanese maritime merchants chose to set sail from Nagasaki Prefecture, Nagasaki towards the mouth of the Huai River, the Yangtze River, and even as far south as the Hangzhou Bay in order to avoid Korean ships in the Yellow Sea. In order to sail back to Japan in 838, the Japanese embassy to China procured nine ships and sixty Korean sailors from the Korean wards of Chuzhou and Lianshui cities along the Huai River. It is also known that Chinese trade ships traveling to Japan set sail from the various ports along the coasts of Zhejiang and Fujian provinces. The Chinese engaged in large-scale production for overseas export by at least the time of the Tang. This was proven by the discovery of the Belitung shipwreck, a silt-preserved shipwrecked Arabian dhow in the Gaspar Strait near Belitung, which had 63,000 pieces of Tang ceramics, silver, and gold (including a Changsha bowl inscribed with a date: "16th day of the seventh month of the second year of the Baoli reign", or 826, roughly confirmed by radiocarbon dating of star anise at the wreck). Beginning in 785, the Chinese began to call regularly at Sufala on the East African coast in order to cut out Arab middlemen, with various contemporary Chinese sources giving detailed descriptions of trade in Africa. The official and geographer Jia Dan (730–805) wrote of two common sea trade routes in his day: one from the coast of the Bohai Sea towards Korea and another from Guangzhou through Malacca towards the Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka and India, the eastern and northern shores of the Arabian Sea to the Euphrates River. In 863 the Chinese author Duan Chengshi (d. 863) provided a detailed description of the slave trade, ivory trade, and ambergris trade in a country called Bobali (Chinese geography), Bobali, which historians suggest was Berbera in Somalia. In Fustat (old Cairo), Egypt, the fame of Chinese ceramics there led to an enormous demand for Chinese goods; hence Chinese often traveled there (this continued into later periods such as Fatimid Egypt). From this time period, the Arab merchant Shulama once wrote of his admiration for Chinese seafaring Junk (ship), junks, but noted that their draft was too deep for them to enter the Euphrates River, which forced them to ferry passengers and cargo in small boats. Shulama also noted that Chinese ships were often very large, with capacities up to 600–700 passengers.


Culture and society


Art

Both the Sui and Tang Dynasties had turned away from the more feudal culture of the preceding Northern Dynasties, in favor of staunch civil Confucianism. The governmental system was supported by a large class of Confucian intellectuals selected through either civil service examinations or recommendations. In the Tang period, Taoism and
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
were commonly practiced ideologies that played a large role in people's daily lives. The Tang Chinese enjoyed feasting, drinking, holidays, sports, and all sorts of entertainment, while Chinese literature blossomed and was more widely accessible with new printing methods.


Chang'an, the Tang capital

Although Chang'an was the capital of the earlier Han and Jin dynasties, after subsequent destruction in warfare, it was the Sui dynasty model that comprised the Tang era capital. The roughly square dimensions of the city had six miles (10 km) of outer walls running east to west, and more than five miles (8 km) of outer walls running north to south. The royal palace, the Taiji Palace, stood north of the city's central axis. From the large Mingde Gates located mid-center of the main southern wall, a wide city avenue stretched from there all the way north to the central administrative city, behind which was the Chentian Gate of the royal palace, or Imperial City. Intersecting this were fourteen main streets running east to west, while eleven main streets ran north to south. These main intersecting roads formed 108 rectangular wards with walls and four gates each, and each ward filled with multiple city blocks. The city was made famous for this checkerboard pattern of main roads with walled and gated districts, its layout even mentioned in one of Du Fu's poems. During the Heian period, the city of Heian kyō (present-day Kyoto) of Japan like many cities was arranged in the checkerboard street grid pattern of the Tang capital and in accordance with traditional geomancy following the model of Chang'an. Of these 108 wards in Chang'an, two of them (each the size of two regular city wards) were designated as government-supervised markets, and other space reserved for temples, gardens, ponds, etc. Throughout the entire city, there were 111 Buddhist monasteries, 41 Taoist abbeys, 38 family shrines, 2 official temples, 7 churches of foreign religions, 10 city wards with provincial transmission offices, 12 major inns, and 6 graveyards. Some city wards were literally filled with open public playing fields or the backyards of lavish mansions for playing horse polo and cuju (Chinese soccer). In 662, Emperor Gaozong moved the imperial court to the Daming Palace, which became the political center of the empire and served as the royal residence of the Tang emperors for more than 220 years. The Tang capital was the largest city in the world at its time, the population of the city wards and its suburban countryside reaching two million inhabitants. The Tang capital was very cosmopolitan, with ethnicities of Persia, Central Asia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, India, and many other places living within. Naturally, with this plethora of different ethnicities living in Chang'an, there were also many different practiced religions, such as
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
, Nestorianism, Nestorian Christianity, and Zoroastrianism, among others. With the open access to China that the
Silk Road The Silk Road () was and is a network of trade routes connecting the Eastern world, East and Western culture, West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions ...

Silk Road
to the west facilitated, many foreign settlers were able to move east to China, while the city of Chang'an itself had about 25,000 foreigners living within. Exotic green-eyed, blond-haired Tocharians, Tocharian ladies serving wine in agate and amber cups, singing, and dancing at taverns attracted customers. If a foreigner in China pursued a Chinese woman for marriage, he was required to stay in China and was unable to take his bride back to his homeland, as stated in a law passed in 628 to protect women from temporary marriages with foreign envoys. Several laws enforcing segregation of foreigners from Chinese were passed during the Tang dynasty. In 779 the Tang dynasty issued an edict which forced Uyghur people, Uighurs in the capital, Chang'an, to wear their ethnic dress, stopped them from marrying Chinese females, and banned them from passing off as Chinese. Chang'an was the center of the central government, the home of the imperial family, and was filled with splendor and wealth. However, incidentally it was not the economic hub during the Tang dynasty. The city of
Yangzhou Yangzhou, Postal Map Romanization, postal romanization Yangchow, is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu Province (Suzhong), East China. Sitting on the north bank of the Yangtze, it borders the provincial capital Nanjing to the southwest, H ...

Yangzhou
along the
Grand CanalGrand Canal can refer to multiple waterways: * Grand Canal (China) in eastern China * Grand Canal (Ireland), between the River Shannon and Dublin in Ireland * Grand Canal (Venice) in Venice, Italy * Grand Canal d'Alsace in eastern France *Grand Cana ...
and close to the Yangtze River was the greatest economic center during the Tang era. Yangzhou was the headquarters for the Tang government's salt monopoly, and was the greatest industrial center of China. It acted as a midpoint in shipping of foreign goods that would be organized and distributed to the major cities of the north. Much like the seaport of Guangzhou in the south, Yangzhou boasted thousands of foreign traders from all across Asia. There was also the secondary capital city of
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
, which was the favored capital of the two by Wu Zetian, Empress Wu. In the year 691 she had more than 100,000 families (more than 500,000 people) from around the region of Chang'an move to populate Luoyang instead. With a population of about a million, Luoyang became the second largest city in the empire, and with its close proximity to the Luo River it benefited from southern agricultural fertility and trade traffic of the Grand Canal. However, the Tang court eventually demoted its capital status and did not visit Luoyang after the year 743, when Chang'an's problem of acquiring adequate supplies and stores for the year was solved. As early as 736, granaries were built at critical points along the route from Yangzhou to Chang'an, which eliminated shipment delays, spoilage, and pilfering. An artificial lake used as a transshipment pool was dredged east of Chang'an in 743, where curious northerners could finally see the array of boats found in southern China, delivering tax and tribute items to the imperial court.


Literature

The Tang period was a golden age of Chinese literature and Chinese art, art. Over 48,900 poems penned by some 2,200 Tang authors have survived to the present day. Skill in the composition of poetry became a required study for those wishing to pass imperial examinations, while poetry was also heavily competitive; poetry contests amongst guests at banquets and courtiers were common. Poetry styles that were popular in the Tang included Shi (poetry)#Gushi, ''gushi'' and Shi (poetry)#Jintishi, ''jintishi'', with the renowned poet
Li Bai Li Bai (, 701–762), also known as Li Bo, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere ...

Li Bai
(701–762) famous for the former style, and poets like Wang Wei (701–761) and Cui Hao (poet), Cui Hao (704–754) famous for their use of the latter. ''Jintishi'' poetry, or regulated verse, is in the form of eight-line stanzas or seven Chinese characters, characters per line with a fixed pattern of tones that required the second and third couplets to be antithetical (although the antithesis is often lost in translation to other languages). Tang poems remained popular and great emulation of Tang era poetry began in the Song dynasty; in that period, Yan Yu (嚴羽; active 1194–1245) was the first to confer the poetry of the High Tang (c. 713–766) era with "canonical status within the classical poetic tradition." Yan Yu reserved the position of highest esteem among all Tang poets for
Du Fu Du Fu (; 712–770) was a Chinese poet and politician of the Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna o ...

Du Fu
(712–770), who was not viewed as such in his own era, and was branded by his peers as an anti-traditional rebel. The Classical Prose Movement was spurred in large part by the writings of Tang authors Liu Zongyuan (773–819) and Han Yu (768–824). This new prose style broke away from the poetry tradition of the ''piantiwen'' (, "parallel prose") style begun in the Han dynasty. Although writers of the Classical Prose Movement imitated ''piantiwen'', they criticized it for its often vague content and lack of colloquial language, focusing more on clarity and precision to make their writing more direct. This ''guwen'' (archaic prose) style can be traced back to Han Yu, and would become largely associated with orthodoxy, orthodox Neo-Confucianism. Short story fiction and tales were also popular during the Tang, one of the more famous ones being ''Yingying's Biography'' by Yuan Zhen (779–831), which was widely circulated in his own time and by the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) became the basis for plays in Chinese opera. Timothy C. Wong places this story within the wider context of Tang love tales, which often share the plot designs of quick passion, inescapable societal pressure leading to the abandonment of romance, followed by a period of Melancholia, melancholy. Wong states that this scheme lacks the undying vows and total self-commitment to love found in Western romances such as ''Romeo and Juliet'', but that underlying traditional Chinese values of inseparableness of self from one's environment (including human society) served to create the necessary fictional device of romantic tension. There were large encyclopedias published in the Tang. The ''Yiwen Leiju'' encyclopedia was compiled in 624 by the chief editor Ouyang Xun (557–641) as well as Linghu Defen (582–666) and Chen Shuda (d. 635). The encyclopedia ''Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era'' was fully compiled in 729 by Gautama Siddha (fl. 8th century), an ethnic Indian astronomer, astrologer, and scholar born in the capital Chang'an. History of geography#China, Chinese geographers such as Jia Dan wrote accurate descriptions of places far abroad. In his work written between 785 and 805, he described the sea route going into the mouth of the Persian Gulf, and that the medieval Iranian peoples, Iranians (whom he called the people of Luo-He-Yi) had erected 'ornamental pillars' in the sea that acted as lighthouse beacons for ships that might go astray. Confirming Jia's reports about lighthouses in the Persian Gulf, Arabic writers a century after Jia wrote of the same structures, writers such as al-Mas'udi and al-Muqaddasi. The Tang dynasty Chinese diplomat Wang Xuance traveled to Magadha (modern northeastern India) during the 7th century. Afterwards he wrote the book ''Zhang Tianzhu Guotu'' (Illustrated Accounts of Central India), which included a wealth of geographical information. Many histories of previous dynasties were compiled between 636 and 659 by court officials during and shortly after the reign of Emperor Taizong of Tang. These included the ''Book of Liang'', ''Book of Chen'', ''Book of Northern Qi'', ''Book of Zhou'', ''Book of Sui'', ''Book of Jin'', ''History of Northern Dynasties'' and the ''History of Southern Dynasties''. Although not included in the official ''Twenty-Four Histories'', the ''Tongdian'' and ''Tang Huiyao'' were nonetheless valuable written historical works of the Tang period. The ''Shitong'' written by Liu Zhiji in 710 was a meta-history, as it covered the history of Chinese historiography in past centuries until his time. The ''Great Tang Records on the Western Regions'', compiled by Bianji, recounted the journey of Xuanzang, the Tang era's most renowned Buddhist monk. Other important literary offerings included Duan Chengshi's (d. 863) ''Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang'', an entertaining collection of foreign legends and hearsay, reports on natural phenomena, short anecdotes, mythical and mundane tales, as well as notes on various subjects. The exact literary category or classification that Duan's large informal narrative would fit into is still debated amongst scholars and historians.


Religion and philosophy

Since ancient times, some Chinese had believed in Chinese folk religion, folk religion and Taoism that incorporated many deities. Practitioners believed the Tao and the afterlife was a reality parallel to the living world, complete with its own bureaucracy and afterlife currency needed by dead ancestors. Funerary practices included providing the deceased with everything they might need in the afterlife, including animals, servants, entertainers, hunters, homes, and officials. This ideal is reflected in Tang dynasty art. This is also reflected in many short stories written in the Tang about people accidentally winding up in the realm of the dead, only to come back and report their experiences.
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
, originating in India around the time of Confucius, continued its influence during the Tang period and was accepted by some members of imperial family, becoming thoroughly sinicized and a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture. In an age before Neo-Confucianism and figures such as Zhu Xi (1130–1200), Buddhism had begun to flourish in China during the Northern and Southern dynasties, and became the dominant ideology during the prosperous Tang. Buddhist monasteries played an integral role in Chinese society, offering lodging for travelers in remote areas, schools for children throughout the country, and a place for urban literati to stage social events and gatherings such as going-away parties. Buddhist monasteries were also engaged in the economy, since their land property and serfs gave them enough revenues to set up mills, oil presses, and other enterprises. Although the monasteries retained 'serfs', these monastery dependents could actually own property and employ others to help them in their work, including their own slaves. The prominent status of Buddhism in Chinese culture began to decline as the dynasty and central government declined as well during the late 8th century to 9th century. Buddhist convents and List of Buddhist temples, temples that were exempt from state taxes beforehand were targeted by the state for taxation. In 845 Emperor Wuzong of Tang finally shut down 4,600 Buddhist monasteries along with 40,000 temples and shrines, forcing 260,000 Buddhist monks and nuns to return to secular life; this episode would later be dubbed one of the Four Buddhist Persecutions in China. Although the ban would be lifted just a few years after, Buddhism never regained its once dominant status in Chinese culture. This situation also came about through a revival of interest in native Chinese philosophies such as Confucianism and Taoism. Han Yu (786–824)—who Arthur F. Wright stated was a "brilliant polemicist and ardent Xenophobia, xenophobe"—was one of the first men of the Tang to denounce Buddhism. Although his contemporaries found him crude and obnoxious, he would foreshadow the later persecution of Buddhism in the Tang, as well as the revival of Confucian theory with the rise of Neo-Confucianism of the Song dynasty. Nonetheless, Zen, Chán Buddhism gained popularity amongst the educated elite. There were also many famous Chan monks from the Tang era, such as Mazu Daoyi, Baizhang, and Huangbo Xiyun. The sect of Pure Land Buddhism initiated by the Chinese monk Huiyuan (Buddhist), Huiyuan (334–416) was also just as popular as Chan Buddhism during the Tang. Rivaling Buddhism was Taoism, a native Chinese philosophical and religious belief system that found its roots in the ''Tao Te Ching'' (a text attributed to a 6th-century BC figure named
Lao Tzu Lao Tzu (),"Lao Zi"
''

Leisure

Much more than earlier periods, the Tang era was renowned for the time reserved for leisure activity, especially for those in the upper classes. Many outdoor sports and activities were enjoyed during the Tang, including archery, hunting, horse polo, cuju (soccer), cockfighting, and even tug of war. Government officials were granted Annual leave, vacations during their tenure in office. Officials were granted 30 days off every three years to visit their parents if they lived away, or 15 days off if the parents lived more than away (travel time not included). Officials were granted nine days of vacation time for weddings of a son or daughter, and either five, three, or one days/day off for the nuptials of close relatives (travel time not included). Officials also received a total of three days off for their son's capping initiation rite into manhood, and one day off for the ceremony of initiation rite of a close relative's son. Traditional Chinese holidays such as Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Cold Food Festival, and others were universal holidays. In the capital city of
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between th ...
there was always lively celebration, especially for the Lantern Festival since the city's nighttime curfew was lifted by the government for three days straight. Between the years 628 and 758, the imperial throne bestowed a total of sixty-nine grand carnivals nationwide, granted by the emperor in the case of special circumstances such as important military victories, abundant harvests after a long drought or famine, the granting of amnesty, amnesties, the installment of a new crown prince, etc. For special celebration in the Tang era, lavish and gargantuan-sized feasts were sometimes prepared, as the imperial court had staffed agencies to prepare the meals. This included a prepared feast for 1,100 elders of Chang'an in 664, a feast for 3,500 officers of the Divine Strategy Army in 768, and a feast for 1,200 women of the palace and members of the imperial family in the year 826. Drinking wine and alcoholic beverages was heavily ingrained into Chinese culture, as people drank for nearly every social event. A court official in the 8th century allegedly had a serpentine-shaped structure called the 'Ale Grotto' built with 50,000 bricks on the groundfloor that each featured a bowl from which his friends could drink.


Status in clothing

In general, garments were made from silk, wool, or linen depending on your social status and what you could afford. Furthermore, there were laws that specified what kinds of clothing could be worn by whom. The color of the clothing also indicated rank. During this period, China's power, culture, economy, and influence were thriving. As a result, women could afford to wear loose-fitting, wide-sleeved garments. Even lower-class women's robes would have sleeves four to five feet in width.


Position of women

Concepts of women's social rights and social status during the Tang era were notably liberal-minded for the period. However, this was largely reserved for urban women of elite status, as men and women in the rural countryside labored hard in their different set of tasks; with wives and daughters responsible for more domestic tasks of weaving textiles and rearing of silk worms, while men tended to farming in the fields. There were many women in the Tang era who gained access to religious authority by taking vows as Taoist priestesses. The head mistresses of high-class courtesans in the Chang'an#East Central Chang'an, North Hamlet of the capital Chang'an acquired large amounts of wealth and power. Said courtesans, who likely influenced the Japanese geishas, were well respected. These courtesans were known as great singers and poets, supervised banquets and feasts, knew the rules to all the drinking games, and were trained to have the utmost respectable table manners. Although they were renowned for their polite behavior, the courtesans were known to dominate the conversation among elite men, and were not afraid to openly castigate or criticize prominent male guests who talked too much or too loudly, boasted too much of their accomplishments, or had in some way ruined dinner for everyone by rude behavior (on one occasion a courtesan even beat up a drunken man who had insulted her). When singing to entertain guests, courtesans not only composed the lyrics to their own songs, but they popularized a new form of lyrical verse by singing lines written by various renowned and famous men in Chinese history. It was fashionable for women to be full-figured (or plump). Men enjoyed the presence of assertive, active women. The foreign horse-riding sport of polo from Persia became a wildly popular trend among the Chinese elite, and women often played the sport (as glazed earthenware figurines from the time period portray). The preferred hairstyle for women was to bunch their hair up like "an elaborate edifice above the forehead", while affluent ladies wore extravagant head ornaments, combs, pearl necklaces, face powders, and perfumes. A law was passed in 671 which attempted to force women to wear hats with veils again in order to promote decency, but these laws were ignored as some women started wearing caps and even no hats at all, as well as men's riding clothes and boots, and tight-sleeved bodices. There were some prominent court women after the era of Wu Zetian, Empress Wu, such as Yang Guifei (719–756), who had Emperor Xuanzong appoint many of her relatives and cronies to important ministerial and martial positions.


Cuisine

During the earlier Northern and Southern dynasties (420–589), and perhaps even earlier, the drinking of tea (''Camellia sinensis'') became popular in southern China. Tea was viewed then as a beverage of tasteful pleasure and with pharmacological purpose as well. During the Tang dynasty, tea became synonymous with everything sophisticated in society. The poet Lu Tong (790–835) devoted most of his poetry to his love of tea. The 8th-century author Lu Yu (known as the Sage of Tea) even wrote a treatise on the art of drinking tea, called ''The Classic of Tea''. Although gift wrapping, wrapping paper had been used in China since the 2nd century BC, during the Tang dynasty the Chinese were using wrapping paper as folded and sewn square bags to hold and preserve the flavor of tea leaves. This followed many other uses for paper such as the first recorded use of toilet paper made in 589 by the scholar-official Yan Zhitui (531–591), confirmed in 851 by an Arab traveler who remarked that Tang Chinese lacked cleanliness because they relied on toilet paper instead of washing themselves with water. In ancient times, the Chinese had outlined the five most basic foodstuffs known as the five grains: sesamum, legumes, wheat, panicled millet, and glutinous millet. The Ming dynasty Encyclopedia, encyclopedist Song Yingxing (1587–1666) noted that rice was not counted amongst the five grains from the time of the legendary and deified Chinese sage Shennong (the existence of whom Yingxing wrote was "an uncertain matter") into the 2nd millenniums BC, because the properly wet and humid climate in southern China for growing rice was not yet fully settled or cultivated by the Chinese. Song Yingxing also noted that in the Ming dynasty, seven tenths of civilians' food was rice. During the Tang dynasty rice was not only the most important staple in southern China, but had also become popular in the north where central authority resided. During the Tang dynasty, wheat replaced the position of millet and became the main staple crop. As a consequence, wheat cake shared a considerable amount in the staple of Tang. There were four main kinds of cake: steamed cake, boiled cake, pancake, and Hu cake. Steamed cake was consumed commonly by both civilians and aristocrats. Like ''rougamo'' in modern Chinese cuisine, steamed cake was usually stuffed with meat and vegetables. Shops and packmen regularly sold inexpensive steamed cake on the streets of Chang’an. Boiled cake was the staple of the Northern Dynasties, and it kept its popularity in the Tang dynasty. It included a wide variety of dishes similar to modern wonton, noodles, and many other kinds of food that soak wheat in water. While aristocrats favored wonton, civilians usually consumed noodles and noodle slice soup that were easier to produce. Pancakes was rare in China before the Tang, when it gained popularity. Food shops in Tang cities such as Chang'an commonly sold both pancakes and dumplings. Hu cake, which means "foreign cake", was extremely popular during the Tang. Hu cake was toasted in the oven, covered with sesame seeds, and served at taverns, inns and shops. Japanese Buddhist monk Ennin observed that Hu cake was popular among all of China's civilians. During the Tang, the many common foodstuffs and cooking ingredients in addition to those already listed were barley, garlic, salt, turnips, soybeans, pears, apricots, peaches, apples, pomegranates, jujubes, rhubarb, hazelnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, walnuts, yams, taro, etc. The various meats that were consumed included pork, chicken, lamb and mutton, lamb (especially preferred in the north), sea otter, bear (which was hard to catch, but there were recipes for steamed, boiled, and marination, marinated bear), and even Bactrian camels. In the south along the coast meat from seafood was by default the most common, as the Chinese enjoyed eating cooked jellyfish with cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, cardamom, and ginger, as well as oysters with wine, fried squid with ginger and vinegar, horseshoe crabs and Portunus, red swimming crabs, shrimp and Tetraodontidae, pufferfish, which the Chinese called "river piglet". From the trade overseas and over land, the Chinese acquired peaches from Samarkand, date palms, pistachios, and figs from Greater Iran, pine nuts and ginseng roots from
Korea Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...

Korea
and mangoes from Southeast Asia. In China, there was a great demand for sugar; during the reign of Harsha over North India (r. 606–647), Indian envoys to the Tang brought two makers of sugar who successfully taught the Chinese how to cultivate sugarcane. Cotton also came from India as a finished product from Bengal, although it was during the Tang that the Chinese began to grow and process cotton, and by the Yuan dynasty it became the prime textile fabric in China. Some foods were also food taboo, off-limits, as the Tang court encouraged people beef taboo#China, not to eat beef. This was due to the role of the bull as a valuable working animal. From 831 to 833 Emperor Wenzong of Tang even banned the slaughter of cattle on the grounds of his religious convictions to
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
. Methods of food preservation were important, and practiced throughout China. The common people used simple methods of preservation, such as digging deep ditches and trenches, brining, and salting their foods. The emperor had large ice pits located in the parks in and around Chang'an for preserving food, while the wealthy and elite had their own smaller ice pits. Each year the emperor had laborers carve 1000 blocks of ice from frozen creeks in mountain valleys, each block with the dimension of by 3 ft by . Frozen delicacies such as chilled melon were enjoyed during the summer.


Science and technology


Engineering

Technology during the Tang period was built also upon the precedents of the past. Previous advancements in clockworks and timekeeping included the mechanical gear systems of Zhang Heng (78–139) and Ma Jun (mechanical engineer), Ma Jun (fl. 3rd century), which gave the Tang mathematician, mechanical engineer, astronomer, and monk Yi Xing (683–727) inspiration when he invented the world's first clockwork escapement mechanism in 725. This was used alongside a Water clock, clepsydra clock and waterwheel to power a rotating armillary sphere in representation of astronomical observation. Yi Xing's device also had a mechanically timed bell that was struck automatically every hour, and a drum that was struck automatically every quarter-hour; essentially, a striking clock. Yi Xing's astronomical clock and water-powered armillary sphere became well known throughout the country, since students attempting to pass the imperial examinations by 730 had to write an essay on the device as an exam requirement. However, the most common type of public and palace timekeeping device was the inflow clepsydra. Its design was improved c. 610 by the Sui-dynasty engineers Geng Xun and Yuwen Kai. They provided a steelyard balance that allowed seasonal adjustment in the pressure head of the compensating tank and could then control the rate of flow for different lengths of day and night. There were many other mechanical inventions during the Tang era. These included a 3 ft (0.91 m) tall mechanical wine server of the early 8th century that was in the shape of an artificial mountain, carved out of iron and rested on a lacquered-wooden tortoise frame. This intricate device used a hydraulic pump that siphoned wine out of metal Chinese dragon, dragon-headed faucets, as well as tilting bowls that were timed to dip wine down, by force of gravity when filled, into an artificial lake that had intricate iron leaves popping up as trays for placing party treats. Furthermore, as the historian Charles Benn describes it: Yet the use of a teasing mechanical puppet in this wine-serving device wasn't exactly a novel invention of the Tang, since the use of mechanical puppets in China date back to the Qin dynasty (221–207 BC). In the 3rd century Ma Jun (mechanical engineer), Ma Jun had an entire mechanical puppet theater operated by the rotation of a waterwheel. There was also an automatic wine-server known in the ancient Greco-Roman world, a design of the Greek inventor Heron of Alexandria that employed an urn with an inner valve and a lever device similar to the one described above. There are many stories of automatons used in the Tang, including general Yang Wulian's wooden statue of a monk who stretched his hands out to collect contributions; when the number of coins reached a certain weight, the mechanical figure moved his arms to deposit them in a satchel. This weight-and-lever mechanism was exactly like Heron's penny slot machine. Other devices included one by Wang Ju, whose "wooden otter" could allegedly catch fish; Needham suspects a Spring (device), spring trap of some kind was employed here. In the realm of structural engineering and technical Chinese architecture, there were also government standard building codes, outlined in the early Tang book of the ''Yingshan Ling'' (National Building Law). Fragments of this book have survived in the ''Tang Lü'' (The Tang Code), while the Song dynasty architectural manual of the ''Yingzao Fashi'' (State Building Standards) by Architecture of the Song dynasty#Literature, Li Jie (1065–1101) in 1103 is the oldest existing technical treatise on Chinese architecture that has survived in full. During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (712–756) there were 34,850 registered Artisan, craftsmen serving the state, managed by the Agency of Palace Buildings (Jingzuo Jian).


Woodblock printing

Woodblock printing made the written word available to vastly greater audiences. One of the world's oldest surviving printed documents is a miniature Buddhist ''dharani'' sutra unearthed at Xi'an in 1974 and dated roughly from 650 to 670. The ''Diamond Sutra'' is the first full-length book printed at regular size, complete with illustrations embedded with the text and dated precisely to 868. Among the earliest documents to be printed were Buddhist texts as well as calendars, the latter essential for calculating and marking which days were auspicious and which days were not. With so many books coming into circulation for the general public, literacy rates could improve, along with the lower classes being able to obtain cheaper sources of study. Therefore, there were more lower-class people seen entering the Imperial Examinations and passing them by the later Song dynasty. Although the later Bi Sheng's movable type printing in the 11th century was innovative for his period, woodblock printing that became widespread in the Tang would remain the dominant History of typography in East Asia, printing type in China until the more advanced printing press from Europe became widely accepted and used in East Asia. The first use of the playing card during the Tang dynasty was an auxiliary invention of the new age of printing.


Cartography

In the realm of cartography, there were further advances beyond the map-makers of the Han dynasty. When the Tang chancellor Pei Ju (547–627) was working for the Sui dynasty as a Commercial Commissioner in 605, he created a well-known gridded map with a Scale (map), graduated scale in the tradition of Pei Xiu (224–271). The Tang chancellor Xu Jingzong (592–672) was also known for his map of China drawn in the year 658. In the year 785 the Emperor Dezong of Tang, Emperor Dezong had the geographer and cartographer Jia Dan (730–805) complete a map of China and her former colonies in Central Asia. Upon its completion in 801, the map was 9.1 m (30 ft) in length and 10 m (33 ft) in height, mapped out on a grid scale of one inch equaling one hundred ''li (unit), li'' (Chinese unit of measuring distance). A Chinese map of 1137 is similar in complexity to the one made by Jia Dan, carved on a stone stele with a grid scale of 100 li. However, the only type of map that has survived from the Tang period are star charts. Despite this, Chinese cartography, the earliest extant terrain maps of China come from the ancient Qin (state), State of Qin; maps from the 4th century BC that were excavated in 1986.


Medicine

The Chinese of the Tang era were also very interested in the benefits of officially classifying all of the Traditional Chinese medicine, medicines used in pharmacology. In 657, Emperor Gaozong of Tang (r. 649–683) commissioned the literary project of publishing an official ''materia medica'', complete with text and illustrated drawings for 833 different medicinal substances taken from different stones, minerals, metals, History of opium in China, plants, herbs, animals, vegetables, fruits, and cereal crops. In addition to compiling pharmacopeias, the Tang fostered learning in medicine by upholding imperial medical colleges, state examinations for doctors, and publishing forensic manuals for physicians. Authors of medicine in the Tang include Zhen Chuan (d. 643) and Sun Simiao (581–682), the former who first identified in writing that patients with diabetes had an excess of sugar in their urine, and the latter who was the first to recognize that diabetic patients should avoid consuming alcohol and starchy foods. As written by Zhen Chuan and others in the Tang, the thyroid glands of sheep and pigs were successfully used to treat goiters; thyroid extracts were not used to treat patients with goiter in the West until 1890. The use of the Amalgam (dentistry), dental amalgam, manufactured from tin and silver, was first introduced in the medical text ''Xinxiu Bencao'' written by Su Gong in 659.


Alchemy, gas cylinders, and air conditioning

Chinese scientists of the Tang period employed complex chemical formulas for an array of different purposes, often found through experiments of alchemy. These included a waterproof and dust-repelling cream or varnish for clothes and weapons, fireproof cement for glass and porcelain wares, a waterproof cream applied to silk clothes of underwater diving, underwater divers, a cream designated for polishing bronze mirrors, and many other useful formulas. The vitrified, translucent ceramic known as porcelain was invented in China during the Tang, although many types of glazed ceramics preceded it. Ever since the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
(202 BC – 220 AD), the Chinese had drilled deep boreholes to transport natural gas from Pipeline transport, bamboo pipelines to stoves where cast iron evaporation pans boiled brine to extract salt. During the Tang dynasty, a gazetteer of Sichuan province stated that at one of these 182 m (600 ft) 'fire wells', men collected natural gas into portable bamboo tubes which could be carried around for dozens of km (mi) and still produce a flame. These were essentially the first gas cylinders; Robert Temple assumes Tap (valve), some sort of tap was used for this device. The inventor Ding Huan (floruit, fl. 180 AD) of the Han dynasty invented a Fan (mechanical), rotary fan for air conditioning, with seven wheels 3 m (10 ft) in diameter and manually powered. In 747,
Emperor XuanzongXuanzong (Hsuan-tsung in Wade–Giles) may refer to the following Chinese emperors: * Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (reigned 713-756) * Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (9th century) (reigned 846-859) * Emperor Xuanzong of Jin (reigned 1213-1224) * Emperor Xuanz ...
had a "Cool Hall" built in the imperial palace, which the ''Tang Yulin'' () describes as having water-powered fan wheels for air conditioning as well as rising jet streams of water from fountains. During the subsequent Song dynasty, written sources mentioned the air conditioning rotary fan as even more widely used.


Historiography

The first classic work about the Tang is the ''
Old Book of Tang The ''Old Book of Tang'', or simply the ''Book of Tang'', is the first classic historical work about the Tang dynasty, comprising 200 chapters, and is one of the Twenty-Four Histories. Originally compiled during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdo ...
'' by Liu Xu (887–946) et al. of the Later Jin (Five Dynasties), Later Jin, who redacted it during the last years of his life. This was edited into another history (labeled the ''New Book of Tang'') in order to distinguish it, which was a work by the Song historians Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072), Song Qi (998–1061), et al. of the Song dynasty (between the years 1044 and 1060). Both of them were based upon earlier annals, yet those are now lost. Both of them also rank among the ''Twenty-Four Histories'' of China. One of the surviving sources of the ''Old Book of Tang'', primarily covering up to 756, is the ''Tongdian'', which Du You presented to the emperor in 801. The Tang period was again placed into the enormous universal history text of the ''Zizhi Tongjian'', edited, compiled, and completed in 1084 by a team of scholars under the Song dynasty Chancellor Sima Guang (1019–1086). This historical text, written with three million Chinese characters in 294 volumes, covered the history of China from the beginning of the Warring States (403 BC) until the beginning of the Song dynasty (960).


See also

* Chinese emperors family tree (middle)#Tang and Second Zhou Dynasties, The family tree of the Tang dynasty emperors * Di Renjie * Dongyi Protectorate * Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup * ''Kaiyuan Za Bao'' (government newspaper for officials) * Nine Pinnacle Pagoda * Tang dynasty in Inner Asia * Tang poetry * Taxation in premodern China * Wei Zheng * Yan Zhenqing * Yijing (monk)


Notes


References


Citations


Works cited

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excerpt
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Further reading

* * * *


External links



at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

University of Virginia
Tang art with video commentary
from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

* ''Zizhi Tongjian'', vols. :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷182, 182, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷183, 183, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷184, 184, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷185, 185, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷186, 186, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷187, 187, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷188, 188, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷189, 189, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷190, 190, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷191, 191, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷192, 192, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷193, 193, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷194, 194, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷195, 195, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷196, 196, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷197, 197, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷198, 198, :zh:s:資治通鑑/卷199, 199. {{authority control Tang dynasty, 7th-century establishments in China 7th century in China 8th century in China 9th century in China 10th-century disestablishments in China 10th century in China 618 establishments 907 disestablishments Dynasties in Chinese history Former countries in Chinese history Imperial China Medieval Asia States and territories disestablished in 907 States and territories established in the 610s