By the end of this period, the boundaries established by the Qin dynasty and maintained by the Han more or less define the present-day nation of China. Other enduring aspects of Chinese culture introduced at this time include Confucianism; an administrative system that serves as a model for government until the early twentieth century; and the construction of the Great Wall of China. The Qin dynasty, pronounced chin, became the source of the Western name China. The arts introduced in the previous periodbronze casting, lacquerwork, and jade carvingflourish. Technical innovations such as the casting of copper, silver, or gold into the decoration of bronze vessels herald the beginning of a new style of metalworking often thought to have been introduced into China from the West.
- 771 B.C.The
move of the capital east to Luoyang in Henan Province, after the invasion
of the nomadic Quanrong, marks the beginning of the Eastern Zhou era,
which is divided into two periods: the Spring and Autumn (770ca.
475 B.C.) and the Warring States (ca. 475221 B.C.). The latter,
when China is divided into smaller, conflicting polities, is a period
of technical and artistic brilliance noted for its bronze vessels with
decoration inlaid in silver and gold.
- ca. 400200 B.C.The
Daodejing (Classic of the Way and Its Power) is composed. Based
on the work of Laozi, this text is one of the foundations of the practice
of Daoism (Taoism), a form of mysticism that stresses the union of man
with the forces of nature.
- ca. 400200 B.C.The
earliest extant paintings on silk, one showing a woman with a dragon and
a phoenix, the other a man with the same mythological creatures, are excavated
from sites associated with the state of Chu, centered in the regions of
Hebei and Hunan provinces. Noted for its lacquer goods, Chu is one of
the more powerful polities in China during the Warring States period.
The Chuci (Songs of the South), an anthology compiled during
the Han dynasty,
contains many poems thought to have originated in Chu and attributed to
Qu Yuan (ca. 343277 B.C.), one of the first individual poets.
- 221206 B.C.The Qin dynastypronounced "chin," thereby providing the Western name Chinais established by Ying Zheng (259210 B.C.), the ruler of a minor polity in the northwest who conquered the six states remaining at the end of the Warring States period. Famous in legend for creating the "Great Wall of China" by uniting several preexisting structures, Ying Zheng, who titled himself Qin Shihuangdi (First Emperor of the Qin), also undertakes several massive construction projects, including his tomb, which is guarded by a lifesize terracotta army of over 7,000 figures. The use of smaller terracotta armies to guard the perimeters of imperial tombs continues for at least a century. One spectacular group of over 40,000 such figures about one-third lifesize is excavated in 1990 outside the joint tomb of Emperor Jingdi (r. 157141 B.C.) and his wife, Empress Wang.
- 206 B.C.9 A.D.The Western
Han dynasty, named after the location of the capital at Chang'an
(present-day Xi'an), is founded after the civil war that follows the death
of Qin Shihuangdi. One of the largest cities in the ancient world, the
roughly rectangular Chang'an has walls fifteen miles long and houses numerous
palaces, administrative and residential buildings, and two bustling marketplaces.
- 14186 B.C.Under the
rule of Wudi ("martial emperor"), China temporarily expands its boundaries as far west
as the Pamir Mountains and as far east as the northern part of Korea.
Wudi's rule also sees a flowering of poetry, literature, and philosophy and
the publication of the 116-chapter Shiji (Records of the Historian)
by Sima Qian (ca. 14580 B.C.), a work that sets the standard for
government-sponsored histories until the early twentieth century.
- 100 B.C. Monumental stone
sculptures, valued for their aura of permanence, appear above tombs and
in other public locations. By the first century A.D., "spirit roads,"
avenues of stone monuments and figures lining the approach to an imperial
tomb, have replaced the terracotta armies common earlier. This practice,
which spreads to Korea and Vietnam, continues in China for centuries.
"China, 1000 B.C.1 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=04®ion=eac (October 2000)