Tang dynasty

The empire during the reign of Wu Zetian, circa 700
Portrait painting of Emperor Gaozu (born Li Yuan, 566–635), the first Tang Emperor.
Empress Wu (Wu Zetian), the sole officially recognized empress regnant of China in more than two millennia. She first ruled through her husband and sons for almost three decades, then became emperor herself and ruled in her own right for another fifteen years.
Map of An Lushan Rebellion
The Leshan Giant Buddha, 71 m high; begun in 713, completed in 803
Nanchan Temple (Wutai), built during the late 8th century
Xumi Pagoda, built in 636
A late Tang mural commemorating the victory of General Zhang Yichao over the Tibetans in 848 AD, from Mogao cave 156
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang wearing the robes and hat of a scholar
Tang tomb figure of an official dressed in Hanfu, with a tall hat, wide-sleeved belted outer garment, and rectangular "kerchief" in front. A white inner gown hangs over his square shoes. He holds a tablet to his chest, a report to his superiors.
Civil service exam candidates gather around the wall where results had been posted. Artwork by Qiu Ying.
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang giving audience to Zhang Guo, by Ren Renfa (1254–1327)
Emperor Taizong (r. 626–649) receives Gar Tongtsen Yülsung, ambassador of the Tibetan Empire, at his court; later copy of an original painted in 641 by Yan Liben (600–673)
The Chinese Tang dynasty during its greatest extension, controlling large parts of Central Asia.
Chinese officer of the Guard of Honour. Tomb of Princess Chang-le (长乐公主墓), Zhao Mausoleum, Shaanxi province. Tang Zhenguan year 17, i.e. 644 CE
A 10th-century mural painting in the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang showing monastic architecture from Mount Wutai, Tang dynasty; Japanese architecture of this period was influenced by Tang Chinese architecture
Tomb figure of mounted warrior similar to the one unearthed from the tomb of Crown Prince Li Chongrun
Tomb guardian (wushi yong), early 8th century
A bas relief of a soldier and the emperor's horse, Autumn Dew, with elaborate saddle and stirrups, designed by Yan Liben, from the tomb of Emperor Taizong c. 650
Illustration of Byzantine embassy to Tang Taizong 643 CE
Tang dynasty Kai Yuan Tong Bao (開元通寳) coin, first minted in 621 in Chang'an, a model for the Japanese 8th-century Wadōkaichin
Sancai glazed horse tomb figure
Tomb figure of a horse with a carefully sculpted saddle, decorated with leather straps and ornamental fastenings featuring eight-petalled flowers and apricot leaves.
A contract from the Tang dynasty that records the purchase of a 15-year-old slave for six bolts of plain silk and five Chinese coins. Found in the Astana Cemetery in Turfan.
Tomb Figure of a Sogdian merchant, 7th-century
A mural depicting a corner tower, most likely one of Chang'an, from the tomb of Prince Yide (d. 701) at the Qianling Mausoleum, dated 706
Map of Chang'an in Tang Dynasty
The bronze Jingyun Bell cast 711, height 247 cm high, weight 6,500 kg, now in the Xi'an Bell Tower
A Tang dynasty era copy of the preface to the Lantingji Xu poems composed at the Orchid Pavilion Gathering, originally attributed to Wang Xizhi (303–361 AD) of the Jin dynasty
A poem by Li Bai (701–762 AD), the only surviving example of Li Bai's calligraphy, housed in the Palace Museum in Beijing.
Calligraphy of Emperor Taizong on a Tang stele
A Tang dynasty sculpture of a Bodhisattva
An 8th-century silk wall scroll from Dunhuang, showing the paradise of Amitabha
A timber hall built in 857, located at the Buddhist Foguang Temple of Mount Wutai, Shanxi
A Tang sancai-glazed carved relief showing horseback riders playing polo
A late Tang or early Five Dynasties era silk painting on a banner depicting Guanyin and a female attendant in silk robes, from the Dunhuang caves, now in the British Museum
Palace ladies in a garden from a mural of Prince Li Xian's tomb in the Qianling Mausoleum, where Wu Zetian was also buried in 706
Tang era gilt-gold bowl with lotus and animal motifs
A Tang sancai-glazed lobed dish with incised decorations, 8th century
Tomb figure of a lady attendant, 7th- to 8th-century; during the Tang era, female hosts prepared feasts, tea parties, and played drinking games with their guests.
A rounded "offering plate" with design in "three colors" (sancai) glaze, 8th-century
A page of Lu Yu's The Classic of Tea
A square bronze mirror with a phoenix motif of gold and silver inlaid with lacquer, 8th-century
The Diamond Sutra, printed in 868, is the world's first widely printed book to include a specific date of printing.
The Dunhuang map, a star map showing the North Polar region. c. 700. The whole set of star maps contains over 1,300 stars.
"Great Tang" (Dà Táng) in seal characters.
A Tang Dynasty sancai statuette of Sogdian musicians riding on a Bactrian camel, 723 AD, Xi'an.

Imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907 AD, with an interregnum between 690 and 705.

- Tang dynasty
The empire during the reign of Wu Zetian, circa 700

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Que towers along the walls of Tang-era Chang'an, as depicted in this eighth-century mural from Li Chongrun's (682–701) tomb at the Qianling Mausoleum in Shaanxi

Chang'an

is the traditional name of Xi'an.

is the traditional name of Xi'an.

Que towers along the walls of Tang-era Chang'an, as depicted in this eighth-century mural from Li Chongrun's (682–701) tomb at the Qianling Mausoleum in Shaanxi
A terracotta horse head from the Han dynasty.
Map showing the history of city walls of Xi'an from Zhou dynasty to Qing dynasty.
Brief map of Han Chang'an painted in Qing dynasty
Map of Chang'an during the Tang dynasty
The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, built in 652 AD, located in the southeast sector of Chang'an.
The Small Wild Goose Pagoda, built in 709 AD, damaged by an earthquake in 1556 but still standing, in the central sector of Chang'an.
A Tang era gilt hexagonal silver plate with a Fei Lian beast pattern, found from a 1970 excavation in Xi'an.
A Tang era gilt-silver ear cup with flower design, found from a 1970 excavation in Xi'an.
A gilt-silver jar with a pattern of dancing horses, found from a 1970 excavation in Xi'an.
The bronze jingyun bell cast in the year 711 AD, measuring 247 cm high and weighing 6,500 kg, now located at the Bell Tower of Xi'an
The reconstructed Danfeng Gate, housing and conserving the on-site ruins of the original gate, of the Daming Palace
The ruin of Huanyuan Hall in Daming Palace
A theme park of Tang Chang'an in Xi'an today
Shaanxi History Museum

During the Tang dynasty, the area that came to be known as Chang'an included the area inside the Ming Xi'an fortification, plus some small areas to its east and west, and a substantial part of its southern suburbs.

Wu Zhou, c. 700

Zhou dynasty (690–705)

Short-lived Chinese imperial dynasty that existed between 690 and 705, when Wu Zhao ruled as empress regnant.

Short-lived Chinese imperial dynasty that existed between 690 and 705, when Wu Zhao ruled as empress regnant.

Wu Zhou, c. 700
Longmen Grottoes, begun before the life of Wu Zetian, she contributed greatly to them, both as wife of Gaozu and during her subsequent Zhou dynasty. In 2000 the site was inscribed upon the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding manifestation of human artistic creativity"
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, re-built during the Wu Zhou dynasty
The Unwritten Monument, erected by Wu Zetian without the usual inscribing of text, due to her view that what she had to express was too sublime to be expressed in words. Located in the Qianling Mausoleum.

Historians generally view the Wu Zhou as an interregnum of the Tang dynasty.

Li Bai Strolling, by Liang Kai (1140–1210)

Li Bai

Chinese poet, acclaimed from his own time to the present as a brilliant and romantic figure who took traditional poetic forms to new heights.

Chinese poet, acclaimed from his own time to the present as a brilliant and romantic figure who took traditional poetic forms to new heights.

Li Bai Strolling, by Liang Kai (1140–1210)
Li Bai, as depicted in the Nanling Wushuang Pu by Jin Guliang, Ming dynasty
The China of Li Bai and Du Fu
Emperor Minghuang, seated on a terrace, observes Li Bai write poetry while having his boots taken off (Qing dynasty illustration).
Riders on Horseback, Northern Qi Dynasty, the general area of the rebel heartland, although of an earlier date.
Li Bai Memorial Hall in Jiangyou, Sichuan
The only surviving calligraphy in Li Bai's own handwriting, titled Shangyangtai (To Yangtai Temple), located at the Palace Museum in Beijing, China.
Chinese rice wine
Spring Evening Banquet at the Peach and Pear Blossom Garden with quoted text by Li Bai, painted by Leng Mei, late 17th or early 18th century, National Palace Museum, Taipei
Text of Li Bai's poem "Drinking Alone by Moonlight", in the classical top-to-bottom, right-to-left order

He and his friend Du Fu (712–770) were two of the most prominent figures in the flourishing of Chinese poetry in the Tang dynasty, which is often called the "Golden Age of Chinese Poetry".

There are no contemporaneous portraits of Du Fu; this is a later artist's impression.

Du Fu

There are no contemporaneous portraits of Du Fu; this is a later artist's impression.
Du Fu's China
The statue in his Thatched Cottage, Chengdu, China
A calligraphic copy of Du Fu's poem "Zui Ge Xing" by Dong Qichang
Part of Du Fu's poem "On Visiting the Temple of Laozi", as written by Dong Qichang
A Korean translated book of Du Fu's poems, 1481

Du Fu (712–770) was a Chinese poet and politician of the Tang dynasty.

A map of the Western Han dynasty in 2 AD
Principalities and centrally-administered commanderies

Protectorate of the Western Regions (Tarim Basin)

Han dynasty

Imperial dynasty of China , established by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu.

Imperial dynasty of China , established by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu.

A map of the Western Han dynasty in 2 AD
Principalities and centrally-administered commanderies

Protectorate of the Western Regions (Tarim Basin)
Thirteen direct-controlled commanderies including the capital region (Yellow) and ten semi-autonomous kingdoms of the early periods, 195 BC
Belt Buckle with nomadic-inspired zoomorphic design, manufactured in China for the Xiongnu. Mercury-gilded bronze (a Chinese technique). North China, 3rd-2nd century BC.
Map showing the expansion of Han dynasty in the 2nd century BC
The ruins of a Han-dynasty watchtower made of rammed earth at Dunhuang, Gansu province, the eastern edge of the Silk Road.
These rammed earth ruins of a granary in Hecang Fortress, located ~11 km (7 miles) northeast of the Western-Han-era Yumen Pass, were built during the Western Han (202 BC – 9 AD) and significantly rebuilt during the Western Jin (280–316 AD).
Situation of warlords and peasant forces at the beginning of Eastern Han dynasty
Eastern Han inscriptions on a lead ingot, using barbarous Greek alphabet in the style of the Kushans, excavated in Shaanxi, 1st–2nd century AD
Preserved arrow, Western Han
A late Eastern Han (25–220 CE) Chinese tomb mural showing lively scenes of a banquet (yanyin 宴飲), dance and music (wuyue 舞樂), acrobatics (baixi 百戲), and wrestling (xiangbu 相撲), from the Dahuting Tomb, on the southern bank of the Siuhe River in Zhengzhou, Henan province (just west of Xi County)
A mural from an Eastern Han tomb at Zhucun (朱村), Luoyang, Henan province; the two figures in the foreground are playing liubo, with the playing mat between them, and the liubo game board to the side of the mat.
Brick Relief with Acrobatic Performance, Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 220 CE)
Detail of a mural showing two women wearing Hanfu silk robes, from the Dahuting Tomb of the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 CE), located in Zhengzhou, Henan
Han period inscribed bamboo-slips of Sun Bin's Art of War, unearthed in Yinque Mountain, Linyi, Shandong.
A fragment of the Xiping Stone Classics; these stone-carved Five Classics installed during Emperor Ling's reign along the roadside of the Imperial University (right outside Luoyang) were made at the instigation of Cai Yong (132–192 CE), who feared the Classics housed in the imperial library were being interpolated by University Academicians.
A silk banner from Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan province. It was draped over the coffin of Lady Dai (d. 168 BCE), wife of the Marquess Li Cang (利蒼) (d. 186 BCE), chancellor for the Kingdom of Changsha.
A part of a Daoist manuscript, ink on silk, 2nd century BCE, Han Dynasty, unearthed from Mawangdui tomb 3rd, Changsha, Hunan Province.
An Eastern-Han bronze statuette of a mythical chimera (qilin), 1st century CE
A scene of historic paragons of filial piety conversing with one another, Chinese painted artwork on a lacquered basketwork box, excavated from an Eastern-Han tomb of what was the Chinese Lelang Commandery in Korean Peninsula.
A rubbing of a Han pictorial stone showing an ancestral worship hall (cítáng 祠堂)
Animalistic guardian spirits of day and night wearing Chinese robes, Han dynasty paintings on ceramic tile; Michael Loewe writes that the hybrid of man and beast in art and religious beliefs predated the Han and remained popular during the first half of Western Han and the Eastern Han.
The Gansu Flying Horse, depicted in full gallop, bronze sculpture, h 34.5 cm. Wuwei, Gansu, China, AD 25–220
A mural showing chariots and cavalry, from the Dahuting Tomb (Chinese: 打虎亭漢墓, Pinyin: Dahuting Han mu) of the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 AD), located in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China
Gold coins of the Eastern Han dynasty
A Han-dynasty iron ji (polearm) and iron dagger
A gilded bronze oil lamp in the shape of a kneeling female servant, dated 2nd century BC, found in the tomb of Dou Wan, wife of Liu Sheng, King of Zhongshan; its sliding shutter allows for adjustments in the direction and brightness in light while it also traps smoke within the body.
An array of bronze bells, Western Han dynasty
Ornamental belt buckle, decorated with Chinese mythical creatures. Chiseled and hammered gold, late Han period.
The physical exercise chart; a painting on silk depicting the practice of Qigong Taiji; unearthed in 1973 in Hunan Province, China, from the 2nd-century BC Western Han burial site of Mawangdui, Tomb Number 3.
A pair of stone-carved que (闕) located at the temple of Mount Song in Dengfeng. (Eastern Han dynasty.)
A pair of Han period stone-carved que (闕) located at Babaoshan, Beijing.
A stone-carved pillar-gate, or que (闕), 6 m (20 ft) in total height, located at the tomb of Gao Yi in Ya'an. (Eastern Han dynasty.){{sfnp|Liu|2002|p=55}}
An Eastern-Han vaulted tomb chamber at Luoyang made of small bricks
A Han-dynasty pottery model of two men operating a winnowing machine with a crank handle and a tilt hammer used to pound grain.
A modern replica of Zhang Heng's seismometer
An early Western Han dynasty silk map found in tomb 3 of Mawangdui, depicting the Kingdom of Changsha and Kingdom of Nanyue in southern China (note: the south direction is oriented at the top).
An Eastern Han dynasty pottery boat model with a steering rudder at the stern and anchor at the bow.

The coinage issued by the central government mint in 119 BC remained the standard coinage of China until the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD).

A 15th-century portrait of the Ming official Jiang Shunfu. The decoration of two egrets on his chest are a "mandarin square", indicating that he was a civil official of the sixth rank.

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.

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.

A 15th-century portrait of the Ming official Jiang Shunfu. The decoration of two egrets on his chest are a "mandarin square", indicating that he was a civil official of the sixth rank.
Scholars depicted on Han dynasty pictorial brick, discovered in Chengdu. Scholars wore hats called Jinxian Guan (进贤冠) to denominate educational status.

In the early part of the Tang dynasty, empress Wu Zetian reformed and improved the Imperial Examination system by establishing the Metropolitan Exam; people who passed it were called Jinshi (metropolitan graduates, highest degree), and people passed the Provincial Exam were called Juren (provincial graduates).

The intricate frontispiece of the Diamond Sutra from Tang Dynasty China, the world's earliest printed text containing a date of production, AD 868 (British Library)

Woodblock printing

Technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper.

Technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper.

The intricate frontispiece of the Diamond Sutra from Tang Dynasty China, the world's earliest printed text containing a date of production, AD 868 (British Library)
A fragment of a dharani print in Sanskrit and Chinese, c. 650-670, Tang dynasty
Replica of The Great Dharani Sutra, the oldest printed text in Korea, c. 704-751
The Hyakumantō Darani, the oldest printed text in Japan, c. 770
Coloured woodcut Buddha, 10th century, China
Bronze plate for printing an advertisement for the Liu family needle shop at Jinan, Song dynasty (960-1279). The world's oldest extant print advertising medium.
Under the Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai, a ukiyo-e artist
Zōjō-ji in Shiba. From series Twenty Views of Tōkyō by Hasui Kawase, a shin-hanga artist.
Three episodes from the block book Biblia pauperum illustrating typological correspondences between the Old and New Testaments: Eve and the serpent, the Annunciation, Gideon's miracle
A revolving table typecase with individual movable type characters arranged primarily by rhyming scheme, from Wang Zhen's Nong Shu, published 1313.
Jikji: Selected Teachings of Buddhist Sages and Seon Masters, the earliest known book printed with movable metal type, 1377. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris
Movable type used to print the earliest extant book, the Jikji (1377)
Woodcut press, engraving in Early Typography by William Skeen, Colombo, Ceylon, 1872
Mino province: Yoro-taki from the series Views of Famous Places in the Sixty-odd Provinces by Hiroshige, an ukiyo-e artist

As a method of printing on cloth, the earliest surviving examples from China date to before 220 AD. Woodblock printing existed in Tang China by the 7th century AD and remained the most common East Asian method of printing books and other texts, as well as images, until the 19th century.

Remains of carriages and horses in Fenghao during the Western Zhou (11th–8th cent.BC)

Xi'an

Capital of Shaanxi Province.

Capital of Shaanxi Province.

Remains of carriages and horses in Fenghao during the Western Zhou (11th–8th cent.BC)
East Gate of Xi'an
Meibei Lake, Huyi District, Xi'an
Map including Xi'an (labeled as HSI-AN (SIAN) (walled)) (AMS, 1955)
Muslim Quarter in Xi'an
A pavilion of the City God Temple of Xi'an.
Xi'an Second Ring Road
Xi'an Hi-Tech Industries Development Zone
Xi'an Jiaotong University

Known as Chang'an in much of its history, Xi'an is one of the Chinese Four Great Ancient Capitals, having held the position under several of the most important dynasties in Chinese history, including Western Zhou, Western Han, Sui, Northern Zhou and Tang.

7th century Tang dynasty painting of envoys from the Three Kingdoms of Korea: Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla.

Three Kingdoms of Korea

Samhan or the Three Kingdoms of Korea refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo (고구려, 高句麗), Baekje (백제, 百濟), and Silla (신라, 新羅).

Samhan or the Three Kingdoms of Korea refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo (고구려, 高句麗), Baekje (백제, 百濟), and Silla (신라, 新羅).

7th century Tang dynasty painting of envoys from the Three Kingdoms of Korea: Baekje, Goguryeo, and Silla.
Goguryeo tomb mural.
Gilt-bronze Incense Burner of Baekje
Bangasayusang, 7th century
A Gaya soldier.
An unusual drinking vessel excavated from a Gaya mounded burial.
Historic example of a climbing kiln similar to those that were excavated from Songok-dong and Mulcheon-ri as early as the late Three Kingdoms Period, c. 600.
Roof tiles excavated from Goguryeo archaeological sites in the Han River valley, from National Museum of Korea.

In the 7th century, allied with China under the Tang dynasty, Silla unified the Korean Peninsula for the first time in Korean history, allowing for the first united Korean national identity.

Sui dynasty c. 609

Sui dynasty

Short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance .

Short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance .

Sui dynasty c. 609
Sui China divisions under Yangdi (western regions not depicted)
Administrative division of the Sui dynasty circa 610 AD
A Sui dynasty pilgrim flask made of stoneware
Tomb of An Bei panel showing a Sui dynasty banquet with Sogdian dance and music, 589 AD.
Chinese swords of the Sui dynasty, about 600, found near Luoyang. The P-shaped furniture of the bottom sword's scabbard is similar to and may have been derived from sword scabbards of the Sarmatians and Sassanians.
Strolling About in Spring, by Zhan Ziqian, Sui era artist
Model of a Pipa Player, Sui Dynasty
A Sui dynasty stone statue of the Avalokitesvara Boddhisattva (Guanyin)
Yang Guang depicted as Emperor of Sui

The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties, thus ending the long period of division following the fall of the Western Jin Dynasty, and laying the foundations for the much longer lasting Tang dynasty.