Tang Dynasty
Overview
 
The Tang Dynasty (June 18, 618 – June 1, 907) was an imperial dynasty of China
Dynasties in Chinese history
The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they...

 preceded by the Sui Dynasty
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

 and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms was between 907–960/979 AD and an era of political upheaval in China, between the fall of the Tang Dynasty and the founding of the Song Dynasty. During this period, five dynasties quickly succeeded one another in the north, and more than 12 independent states were...

. It was founded by the Li (李) family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire. The dynasty was interrupted briefly by the Second Zhou Dynasty (October 8, 690 – March 3, 705) when Empress Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian , personal name Wu Zhao , often referred to as Tian Hou during the Tang Dynasty and Empress Consort Wu in later times, was the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant...

 seized the throne, becoming the first and only Chinese empress regnant
Queen regnant
A queen regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire....

, ruling in her own right.

The Tang Dynasty, with its capital at Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

 (present-day Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

), the most populous city in the world at the time, is generally regarded as a high point in Chinese civilization—equal to, or surpassing that of, the earlier Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

—a golden age of cosmopolitan culture.
Timeline

618    Li Yuan becomes Emperor Gaozu of Tang, initiating three centuries of Tang Dynasty rule over China.

626    Li Shimin, posthumously known as Emperor Taizong of Tang, assumes the throne over the Tang Dynasty of China.

755    An Lushan revolts against Chancellor Yang Guozhong at Fanyang, initiating the An Shi Rebellion during the Tang Dynasty of China.

762    During An Shi Rebellion, Tang Dynasty, with the help of Huihe tribe, recaptured Luoyang from the rebels.

764    Tibetan troops occupy Chang'an, the capital of the Chinese Tang Dynasty, for fifteen days.

Encyclopedia
The Tang Dynasty (June 18, 618 – June 1, 907) was an imperial dynasty of China
Dynasties in Chinese history
The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they...

 preceded by the Sui Dynasty
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

 and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms was between 907–960/979 AD and an era of political upheaval in China, between the fall of the Tang Dynasty and the founding of the Song Dynasty. During this period, five dynasties quickly succeeded one another in the north, and more than 12 independent states were...

. It was founded by the Li (李) family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire. The dynasty was interrupted briefly by the Second Zhou Dynasty (October 8, 690 – March 3, 705) when Empress Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian , personal name Wu Zhao , often referred to as Tian Hou during the Tang Dynasty and Empress Consort Wu in later times, was the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant...

 seized the throne, becoming the first and only Chinese empress regnant
Queen regnant
A queen regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire....

, ruling in her own right.

The Tang Dynasty, with its capital at Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

 (present-day Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

), the most populous city in the world at the time, is generally regarded as a high point in Chinese civilization—equal to, or surpassing that of, the earlier Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

—a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Its territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han period, and it rivalled that of the later Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 and Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

. In two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records estimated the population by number of registered households at about 50 million people. Yet, even when the central government was breaking down and unable to compile an accurate census of the population in the 9th century, it is estimated that the population had grown by then to about 80 million people. With its large population base, the dynasty was able to raise professional and conscripted armies of hundreds of thousands of troops to contend with nomadic powers in dominating Inner Asia
Inner Asia
Inner Asia has a range of meanings among different researchers and in different countries. Denis Sinor defined Inner Asia broadly as the homelands of the Altaic peoples and the Uralic peoples .German makes a distinction between "Zentralasien", meaning Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, and...

 and the lucrative trade routes along the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

. Various kingdoms and states paid tribute to the Tang court, while the Tang also conquered or subdued several regions which it indirectly controlled through a protectorate system
Ancient China's Protectorate System
-3. Dongyi Protectorate :Dongyi Protectorate and its precedent, Dongyi military area-3. Dongyi Protectorate (东夷都护府) (648A.D):Dongyi Protectorate and its precedent, Dongyi military area-3. Dongyi Protectorate (东夷都护府) (648A.D):Dongyi Protectorate and its precedent, Dongyi military area(东夷校尉府,was in...

. Besides political hegemony, the Tang also exerted a powerful cultural influence over neighboring states such as those in Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, Japan, and Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

.

The Tang Dynasty was largely a period of progress and stability, except during the An Shi Rebellion
An Shi Rebellion
The An Lushan Rebellion took place in China during the Tang Dynasty from CE December 16, 755 to CE February 17, 763, beginning when general An Lushan declared himself emperor, establishing the rival Yan Dynasty in Northern China...

 and the decline of central authority in the latter half of the dynasty. Like the previous Sui Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty maintained a civil service system by drafting officials
Scholar-bureaucrats
Scholar-officials or Scholar-bureaucrats were civil servants appointed by the emperor of China to perform day-to-day governance from the Sui Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, China's last imperial dynasty. These officials mostly came from the well-educated men known as the...

 through standardized examinations and recommendations to office. This civil order was undermined by the rise of regional military governors known as jiedushi
Jiedushi
The Jiedushi were regional military governors in China during the Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. Originally set up to counter external threats, the jiedushi were given enormous power, including the ability to maintain their own armies, collect taxes, and pass their...

 during the 9th century. Chinese culture
Culture of China
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest and most complex. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces...

 flourished and further matured during the Tang era; it is considered the greatest age for Chinese poetry
Chinese poetry
Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language, which includes various versions of Chinese language, including Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Yue Chinese, as well as many other historical and vernacular varieties of the Chinese language...

. Two of China's most famous poets, Li Bai
Li Bai
Li Bai , also known in the West by various other transliterations, especially Li Po, was a major Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty poetry period. He has been regarded as one of the greatest poets in China's Tang period, which is often called China's "golden age" of poetry. Around a thousand existing...

 and Du Fu
Du Fu
Du Fu was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty.Along with Li Bai , he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations...

, belonged to this age, as did many famous painters such as Han Gan
Han Gan
Han Gan was a Tang Dynasty painter.He came from a poor family in either Chang'an, modern day Xi'an, Shaanxi; Lantian, modern day Shaanxi; or Daliang, modern day Kaifeng, Henan. As a young man, Han Gan was recognized by Wang Wei, a prominent poet, who sponsored Han in learning arts...

, Zhang Xuan
Zhang Xuan
Zhang Xuan was a Chinese painter who lived during the Tang Dynasty .Zhang Xuan painted many pieces of art, one of his best known paintings is Court Ladies Preparing Newly-Woven Silk, of which a single copy survives painted by Emperor Huizong of Song in the early 12th century...

, and Zhou Fang. There was a rich variety of historical literature
Chinese historiography
Chinese historiography refers to the study of methods and assumptions made in studying Chinese history.-History of Chinese Historians:Record of Chinese history dated back to the Shang Dynasty. The Classic of History, one of the Five Classics of Chinese classic texts is one of the earliest...

 compiled by scholars, as well as encyclopedias and geographical works.

There were many notable innovations during the Tang, including the development of woodblock printing
Woodblock printing
Woodblock 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 printing on textiles and later paper....

. Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 became a major influence in Chinese culture, with native Chinese sects gaining prominence. However, Buddhism would later be persecuted by the state and decline in influence. Although the dynasty and central government were in decline by the 9th century, art and culture continued to flourish. The weakened central government largely withdrew from managing the economy
Economic history of China
China's economic system before the late-1990s, with state ownership of certain industries and central control over planning and the financial system, has enabled the government to mobilize whatever surplus was available and greatly increase the proportion of the national economic output devoted to...

, though the country's mercantile affairs stayed intact and commercial trade continued to thrive regardless.

Establishment

The Li family belonged to the northwest military aristocracy prevalent during the reign of the Sui emperors
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

. The mothers of both Emperor Yang of Sui
Emperor Yang of Sui
Emperor Yang of Sui , personal name Yang Guang , alternative name Ying , nickname Amo , known as Emperor Ming during the brief reign of his grandson Yang Tong), was the second son of Emperor Wen of Sui, and the second emperor of China's Sui Dynasty.Emperor Yang's original name was Yang Ying, but...

 (r. 604–617) and the founding emperor of Tang were sisters, making these two emperors of different dynasties first cousins. Li Yuan
Emperor Gaozu of Tang
Emperor Gāozǔ of Táng , born Lǐ Yuān , courtesy name Shūdé , was the founder of the Tang Dynasty of China, and the first emperor of this dynasty from 618 to 626. Under the Sui dynasty, Li Yuan was the governor in the area of modern-day Shanxi, and was based in Taiyuan.In 615, Li Yuan was assigned...

 (later to become Emperor Gaozu of Tang, r. 618–626) was the Duke of Tang and former governor of Taiyuan
Taiyuan
Taiyuan is the capital and largest city of Shanxi province in North China. At the 2010 census, it had a total population of 4,201,591 inhabitants on 6959 km² whom 3,212,500 are urban on 1,460 km². The name of the city literally means "Great Plains", referring to the location where the Fen River...

 when other government officials were fighting off bandit leaders in the collapse of the Sui Empire, caused in part by a failed Korean campaign
Goguryeo-Sui Wars
The Goguryeo–Sui Wars were a series of campaigns launched by the Sui Dynasty of China against the Goguryeo of Korea between 598 and 614. It resulted in the defeat of Sui and contributed to the eventual downfall of the dynasty in 618.-Background:...

. With prestige and military experience, he later rose in rebellion along with his son and his equally militant daughter Princess Pingyang (d. 623) who raised her own troops and commanded them. In 617, Li Yuan occupied Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

 and acted as regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 over a puppet child emperor
Emperor Gong of Sui
Emperor Gong of Sui , personal name Yang You , was an emperor of the Chinese Sui Dynasty. Traditionally, he was considered the last emperor of the dynasty because he was the one who formally yielded the throne to the founding emperor to the succeeding Tang Dynasty, Emperor Gaozu of Tang ,...

 of the Sui, relegating Emperor Yang to the position of Taishang Huang
Taishang Huang
Retired Emperor, Grand Emperor, or Emperor Emeritus is a title occasionally used throughout East Asian feudal regimes for former emperors who had abdicated voluntarily to their sons. This title appeared in the history of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam...

, or retired emperor/father of the present emperor. With the news of Emperor Yang's murder by his general Yuwen Huaji
Yuwen Huaji
Yuwen Huaji was a general of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty who, in 618, led a coup against Emperor Yang of Sui, killing him. He subsequently declared Emperor Yang's nephew Yang Hao led Emperor Yang's elite Xiaoguo Army north, but was then repeatedly defeated by Li Mi, Li Shentong , and...

 (d. 619), on June 18, 618, Li Yuan declared himself the emperor of a new dynasty, the Tang.

Li Yuan ruled until 626 before being forcefully deposed by his son Li Shimin, Prince of Qin. Li Shimin had commanded troops since the age of 18, had prowess with a bow
Bow (weapon)
The bow and arrow is a projectile weapon system that predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.-Description:A bow is a flexible arc that shoots aerodynamic projectiles by means of elastic energy. Essentially, the bow is a form of spring powered by a string or cord...

, sword
Chinese swords
Swords have a long history in China. Stone swords were used in prehistoric times. Bronze swords have been traced back to the bronze daggers of the Shang period,. Bronze long swords suddenly appeared during the mid-third century BC. Later swords were made of iron or steel. These metals were...

, lance
Lance
A Lance is a pole weapon or spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior. The lance is longer, stout and heavier than an infantry spear, and unsuited for throwing, or for rapid thrusting. Lances did not have tips designed to intentionally break off or bend, unlike many throwing weapons of the...

, and was known for his effective cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 charges. Fighting a numerically superior army, he defeated Dou Jiande
Dou Jiande
Dou Jiande was a leader of the agrarian rebels who rose against the rule of Emperor Yang of Sui near the end of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty...

 (573–621) at Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

 in the Battle of Hulao
Battle of Hulao
The Battle of Hulao of 28 May 621, located just east of Luoyang, was a decisive victory for Li Shimin, through which he was able to subdue two warlords, Dou Jiande and Wang Shichong. Li Shimin led a siege on the city of Luoyang, head of the self-declared emperor Wang Shichong, who solicited help...

 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
Li Yuanji , formally Prince La of Chao , more commonly known by the title of Prince of Qi , nickname Sanhu , was an imperial prince of the Chinese Tang Dynasty...

 (b. 603) and Crown Prince
Crown Prince
A crown prince or crown princess is the heir or heiress apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The wife of a crown prince is also titled crown princess....

 Li Jiancheng
Li Jiancheng
Li Jiancheng , formally Crown Prince Yin , nickname Pishamen , was a crown prince of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty. He was the oldest son of the founding emperor Emperor Gaozu and therefore was designated crown prince after the founding of the dynasty in 618...

 (b. 589) in the Incident at Xuanwu Gate
Incident at Xuanwu Gate
The Incident at Xuanwu Gate refers to an incident on July 2, 626, when Li Shimin the Prince of Qin, a son of Emperor Gaozu of Tang , in an intense rivalry with his older brother Li Jiancheng the Crown Prince and fearing that Li Jiancheng was about to kill him, set an ambush at Xuanwu Gate, the...

 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 name
Temple names are commonly used when naming most Chinese, Korean , and Vietnamese royalty. They should not be confused with era names. Compared to posthumous names, the use of temple names is more exclusive...

 Taizong
Emperor Taizong of Tang
Emperor Taizong of Tang , personal name Lǐ Shìmín , was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, ruling from 626 to 649...

 (唐太宗). Although killing two brothers and deposing his father contradicted the Confucian value
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 of filial piety
Filial piety
In Confucian ideals, filial piety is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors. The Confucian classic Xiao Jing or Classic of Xiào, thought to be written around 470 BCE, has historically been the authoritative source on the Confucian tenet of xiào /...

, 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 had Buddhist monasteries erected at the sites of major battles so that monks could pray for the fallen on both sides of the fight. This was during the campaign against Eastern Tujue
Emperor Taizong's campaign against Eastern Tujue
Emperor Taizong of Tang , the second emperor of Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, faced a major threat from Tang's northern neighbor, the Eastern Turkic Khaganate, whom his father Emperor Gaozu of Tang had been subjugated by in several manners...

, a Göktürk
Göktürks
The Göktürks or Kök Türks, were a nomadic confederation of peoples in medieval Inner Asia. Known in Chinese sources as 突厥 , the Göktürks under the leadership of Bumin Qaghan The Göktürks or Kök Türks, (Old Turkic: Türük or Kök Türük or Türük; Celestial Turks) were a nomadic confederation of...

 khanate that was destroyed after the capture of Jiali Khan Ashini Duobi by the famed Tang military officer Li Jing
Li Jing
Li Jing , né Yaoshi , formally Duke Jingwu of Wei , was a general and one time chancellor of the Chinese Tang Dynasty...

 (571–649), who later became a Chancellor of the Tang Dynasty
Chancellor of the Tang Dynasty
The chancellor of the Tang Dynasty was an office that was semi-formally designated for a number of high level officials at one time during the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty.- Origins :...

. With this victory, the Turks accepted Taizong as their Khagan
Khagan
Khagan or qagan , alternatively spelled kagan, khaghan, qaghan, or chagan, is a title of imperial rank in the Mongolian and Turkic languages equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a khaganate...

, or Great Khan (天可汗)
Tian Kehan
Tian Kehan also translated as Heavenly Khagan, Celestial Khagan or Tengri Khagan, was a title addressed to Emperor Taizong of Tang by various Turkic nomads...

, in addition to his rule as the Son of Heaven
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

.

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 legal code
Legal code
A legal code is a body of law written by a governmental body, such as a U.S. state, a Canadian Province or German Bundesland or a municipality...

, he issued a new legal code
Tang Code
The Tang Code was a penal code that was established and used during the Tang Dynasty in China. Supplemented by civil statutes and regulations, it became the basis for later dynastic codes not only in China but elsewhere in East Asia. The Code synthesised Legalist and Confucian interpretations of...

 that subsequent Chinese dynasties would model theirs upon, as well as neighboring polities in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, and Japan. The earliest law code to survive though 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 clearly 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
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 (1368–1644) code of 1397, yet there were several revisions in later times, such as improved property rights for women during the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 (960–1279).

The Tang had three departments (省, shěng), which were obliged to draft, review, and implement policies respectively. There were also six ministries (部, ) under the administrations that implemented policy, each of which was assigned different tasks. These divisional state bureaus
Three Departments and Six Ministries
The Three Departments and Six Ministries system was the main central administrative system adopted in ancient China. The system first took shape after the Western Han Dynasty , was officially instituted in Sui Dynasty , and matured during Tang Dynasty...

 included the personnel administration, finance, rites, military, justice, and public works—an administrative model which would last until the fall of the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 (1644–1912). Although the founders of the Tang related to the glory of the earlier Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (202 BC-220 AD), the basis for much of their administrative organization was very similar to the previous Southern and Northern Dynasties
Southern and Northern Dynasties
The Southern and Northern Dynasties was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589 AD. Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spreading of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism...

. The Northern Zhou
Northern Zhou
The Northern Zhou Dynasty followed the Western Wei, and ruled northern China from 557 to 581. It was overthrown by the Sui Dynasty.Northern Zhou's basis of power was established by Yuwen Tai, who was paramount general of Western Wei, following the split of Northern Wei into Western Wei and...

 (557–581) divisional militia (fubing
Fubing system
The Fubing system , also romanized as Fu-ping, was a local militia system existing in China between 6th century and 8th century. It originated in the Western Wei dynasty, and was subsequently used in the Sui and Tang dynasties.-Characteristics:...

) was continued by the Tang government, along with farmer-soldiers serving in rotation from the capital or frontier in order to receive appropriated farmland. The equal-field system
Equal-field system
The Equal-field system land system was a historical system of land ownership and distribution in China used from the Six Dynasties to Mid-Tang dynasty....

 of the Northern Wei Dynasty
Northern Wei
The Northern Wei Dynasty , also known as the Tuoba Wei , Later Wei , or Yuan Wei , was a dynasty which ruled northern China from 386 to 534 . It has been described as "part of an era of political turbulence and intense social and cultural change"...

 (386–534) 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
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

 (modern Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

), where the emperor maintained his large palace quarters, and entertained political emissaries with music, sports, acrobatic
Acrobatics
Acrobatics is the performance of extraordinary feats of balance, agility and motor coordination. It can be found in many of the performing arts, as well as many sports...

 stunts, poetry, paintings, and dramatic theater performances
Pear Garden
The Pear Garden or Lìyuán was the first known royal acting and musical academy in China. It was founded during the Tang Dynasty by Emperor Xuanzong...

. The capital was also filled with incredible amounts of riches and resources to spare. When the Chinese prefectural
Prefecture
A prefecture is an administrative jurisdiction or subdivision in any of various countries and within some international church structures, and in antiquity a Roman district governed by an appointed prefect.-Antiquity:...

 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 municipal
Township
The word township is used to refer to different kinds of settlements in different countries. Township is generally associated with an urban area. However there are many exceptions to this rule. In Australia, the United States, and Canada, they may be settlements too small to be considered urban...

 construction to build every visiting official his own private mansion
Mansion
A mansion is a very large dwelling house. U.S. real estate brokers define a mansion as a dwelling of over . A traditional European mansion was defined as a house which contained a ballroom and tens of bedrooms...

 in the capital.

Imperial examinations

Following the Sui Dynasty's example, the Tang abandoned the nine-rank system
Nine-rank system
The nine rank system , or much less commonly nine grade controller system, was a civil service nomination system during the Three Kingdoms and the Southern and Northern Dynasties in China...

 in favor of a large civil service system. Students of Confucian
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 studies were potential candidates for the imperial examination
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

s, the graduates of which could be appointed as state bureaucrats in the local, provincial, and central government. There were two types of exams that were given, mingjing ('illuminating the classics examination') and jinshi ('presented scholar examination'). The mingjing was based upon the Confucian classics
Chinese classic texts
Chinese classic texts, or Chinese canonical texts, today often refer to the pre-Qin Chinese texts, especially the Neo-Confucian titles of Four Books and Five Classics , a selection of short books and chapters from the voluminous collection called the Thirteen Classics. All of these pre-Qin texts...

, and tested the student's knowledge of a broad variety of texts. The jinshi tested a student's literary abilities in writing essay-style responses to questions on matters of governance and politics, as well as their skills in composing poetry
Chinese poetry
Chinese poetry is poetry written, spoken, or chanted in the Chinese language, which includes various versions of Chinese language, including Classical Chinese, Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Yue Chinese, as well as many other historical and vernacular varieties of the Chinese language...

. Candidates were also judged on their skills of deportment, appearance, speech, and level of skill in calligraphy
Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

, all of which were subjective criteria that allowed the already wealthy members of society to be chosen over ones of more modest means who were unable to be educated in rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

 or fanciful writing skills. There was a disproportionate number of civil officials coming from aristocratic as opposed to non-aristocratic families. The exams were open to all male subjects whose fathers were not of the artisan or merchant classes
Four occupations
The four occupations or "four categories of the people" was a hierarchic social class structure developed in ancient China by either Confucian or Legalist scholars as far back as the late Zhou Dynasty and is considered a central part of the Fengjian social structure...

, although having wealth or noble status was not a prerequisite in receiving a recommendation. In order to promote widespread Confucian education, the Tang government established state-run schools and issued standard versions of the Five Classics with selected commentaries.

This competitive procedure was designed to draw the best talent into government. But perhaps an even greater consideration for the Tang rulers, aware that imperial dependence on powerful aristocratic families and warlord
Warlord
A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war...

s would have destabilizing consequences, was to create a body of career officials having no autonomous territorial or functional power base
Base (politics)
In politics, the term base refers to a group of voters who almost always support a single party's candidates for elected office. Base voters are very unlikely to vote for the candidate of an opposing party, regardless of the specific views each candidate holds...

. The Tang law code ensured equal division of inherited property amongst legitimate heirs, allowing a bit of social mobility
Social mobility
Social mobility refers to the movement of people in a population from one social class or economic level to another. It typically refers to vertical mobility -- movement of individuals or groups up from one socio-economic level to another, often by changing jobs or marrying; but can also refer to...

 and preventing the families of powerful court officials in becoming landed nobility
Landed nobility
Landed nobility is a category of nobility in various countries over the history, for which landownership was part of their noble privileges. Their character depends on the country.*Landed gentry is the landed nobility in the United Kingdom and Ireland....

 through primogeniture
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

. As it turned out, these scholar-officials acquired status in their local communities and in family ties, while they also shared values that connected them to the imperial court. From Tang times until the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, scholar-officials
Scholar-bureaucrats
Scholar-officials or Scholar-bureaucrats were civil servants appointed by the emperor of China to perform day-to-day governance from the Sui Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, China's last imperial dynasty. These officials mostly came from the well-educated men known as the...

 functioned often as intermediaries between the grassroots
Grassroots
A grassroots movement is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures...

 level and the government. Yet the potential of a widespread examination system was not fully realized until the Song Dynasty, where the merit-driven scholar official largely shed his aristocratic habits and defined his social status through the examination system. As historian Patricia Ebrey states of the Song period scholar-officials:
Nevertheless, the Sui and Tang dynasties institutionalized and set the foundations for the civil service system and this new elite class of exam-drafted scholar-officials.

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 Daoist
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 sage Laozi
Laozi
Laozi was a mystic philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching . His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of Taoism...

 (fl. 6th century BC). People bidding for office would have monks from Buddhist temples pray for them in public, in return for cash donations or gifts if the person was to be selected. Before the persecution of Buddhism in the 9th century, Buddhism and Daoism were accepted side by side, and Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang , also commonly known as Emperor Ming of Tang , personal name Li Longji , known as Wu Longji from 690 to 705, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 712 to 756. His reign of 43 years was the longest during the Tang Dynasty...

 (r. 712–56) invited monks and clerics of both religions to his court. At the same time Xuanzong exalted the ancient Laozi by granting him grand titles, wrote commentary on the Daoist Laozi, set up a school to prepare candidates for examinations on Daoist scriptures, and called upon the Indian monk Vajrabodhi
Vajrabodhi
Vajrabodhi was an Indian buddhist monk and Esoteric Buddhist teacher in Tang China. He is one the eight patriarchs in Shingon Buddhism....

 (671–741) to perform Tantric
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

 rites to avert a drought in the year 726. In 742 Emperor Xuanzong personally held the incense burner during the ceremony of the Ceylonese monk Amoghavajra
Amoghavajra
Amoghavajra was a prolific translator who became one of the most politically powerful Buddhist monks in Chinese history, acknowledged as one of the eight patriarchs of the doctrine in Shingon lineages.-Life:Born in Samarkand of an Indian father and Sogdian mother, he went...

 (705–74) reciting "mystical incantations to secure the victory of Tang forces." While religion played a role in politics, politics also played a role in religion. In the year 714, Emperor Xuanzong forbade shops and vendors in the city of Chang'an to sell copied Buddhist sutras, instead giving the Buddhist clergy of the monasteries the sole right to distribute sutras to the laity
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

. In the previous year of 713, Emperor Xuanzong had liquidated the highly lucrative Inexhaustible Treasury, which was run by a prominent Buddhist monastery in Chang'an. This monastery collected vast amounts of money, silk, and treasures through multitudes of anonymous people's repentances, leaving the donations on the monastery's premise. Although the monastery was generous in donations, Emperor Xuanzong issued a decree abolishing their treasury on grounds that their banking
History of banking in China
The history of banking in China includes the business of dealing with money and credit transactions in China.- Early Chinese banks :Chinese financial institutions were conducting all major banking functions, including the acceptance of deposits, the making of loans, issuing notes, money exchange,...

 practices were fraudulent, collected their riches, and distributed the wealth to various other Buddhist monasteries, Daoist abbeys, and to repair statues, halls, and bridges in the city.

Taxes and the census

The Tang Dynasty government attempted to create an accurate census of the size of their empire's population, mostly for effective taxation and matters of military conscription for each region. The early Tang government established both the grain tax and cloth tax at a relatively low rate for each household under the empire. This was meant to encourage households to enroll for taxation and not avoid the authorities, thus providing the government with the most accurate estimate possible. In the census of 609, the population was tallied by efforts of the government at a size of 9 million households, or about 50 million people. Again, the Tang census of the year 742 approximated the size China's population to about 50 million people. Patricia Ebrey writes that even if a rather significant number of people had avoided the registration process of the tax census, the population size during the Tang had not grown significantly since the earlier Han Dynasty (the census of the year 2
History of the Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty , founded by the peasant rebel leader Liu Bang ,From the Shang to the Sui dynasties, Chinese rulers were referred to in later records by their posthumous names, while emperors of the Tang to Yuan dynasties were referred to by their temple names, and emperors of the Ming and Qing...

 recording a population of roughly 58 million people in China). S.A.M. Adshead disagrees, estimating that there were about 75 million people by 750.

In the Tang census of the year 754, there were 1,859 cities, 321 prefectures
Prefecture (China)
The term Prefectures, or the more formal prefectural level divisions, in the context of China, is used to refer to several unrelated political divisions in both ancient and modern China. Other than provincial level divisions, prefectural level divisions are not mentioned in the Chinese constitution...

, and 1,538 counties throughout the empire. Although there were many large and prominent cities during the Tang, the rural and agrarian areas comprised the majority of China's population at some 80 to 90%. There was also a dramatic migratory shift of the population from northern to southern China
Northern and southern China
Northern China and southern China are two approximate regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions has never been precisely defined...

, as the North held 75% of the overall population at the dynasty's inception, but by its end was reduced to 50%.

Chinese population size would not dramatically increase until the Song Dynasty period, where the population doubled to 100 million people due to extensive rice cultivation in central and southern China, coupled with rural farmers holding more abundant yields of food that they could easily provide the growing market.

Military and foreign policy

Protectorates and tributaries

The 7th century and first half of the 8th century is generally considered the zenith era of the Tang Dynasty. Emperor Tang Xuanzong brought the Middle Kingdom
All under heaven
Tianxia is a phrase in the Chinese language and an ancient Chinese cultural concept that denoted either the entire geographical world or the metaphysical realm of mortals, and later became associated with political sovereignty.In ancient China, tianxia denoted the lands, space, and area divinely...

 to its golden age while the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 thrived, with sway over Indochina
Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

 in the south, and to the west Tang China was master of the Pamirs
Pamir Mountains
The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range in Central Asia formed by the junction or knot of the Himalayas, Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and Hindu Kush ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains and since Victorian times they have been known as the "Roof of the World" a probable...

 (modern-day Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

) and protector of Kashmir bordering Persia.

Some of the kingdoms paying tribute to the Tang Dynasty included Kashmir, Nepal, Khotan
Khotan
Hotan , or Hetian , also spelled Khotan, is the seat of the Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang, China. It was previously known in Chinese as 于窴/於窴 and to 19th-century European explorers as Ilchi....

, Kucha
Kucha
Kuchaor Kuche Uyghur , Chinese Simplified: 库车; Traditional: 庫車; pinyin Kùchē; also romanized as Qiuzi, Qiuci, Chiu-tzu, Kiu-che, Kuei-tzu from the traditional Chinese forms 屈支 屈茨; 龜玆; 龟兹, 丘玆, also Po ; Sanskrit: Kueina, Standard Tibetan: Kutsahiyui was an ancient Buddhist kingdom...

, Kashgar
Kashgar
Kashgar or Kashi is an oasis city with approximately 350,000 residents in the western part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Kashgar is the administrative centre of Kashgar Prefecture which has an area of 162,000 km² and a population of approximately...

, Japan, Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, Champa
Champa
The kingdom of Champa was an Indianized kingdom that controlled what is now southern and central Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832.The Cham people are remnants...

, and kingdoms located in Amu Darya
Amu Darya
The Amu Darya , also called Oxus and Amu River, is a major river in Central Asia. It is formed by the junction of the Vakhsh and Panj rivers...

 and Syr Darya
Syr Darya
The Syr Darya , also transliterated Syrdarya or Sirdaryo, is a river in Central Asia, sometimes known as the Jaxartes or Yaxartes from its Ancient Greek name . The Greek name is derived from Old Persian, Yakhsha Arta , a reference to the color of the river's water...

 valley. Turkic nomads addressed the Emperor of Tang China as Tian Kehan
Tian Kehan
Tian Kehan also translated as Heavenly Khagan, Celestial Khagan or Tengri Khagan, was a title addressed to Emperor Taizong of Tang by various Turkic nomads...

. After the widespread Göktürk revolt of Shabolüe Khan
Shabolüe Khan
Ishbara Qaghan Ishbara Qaghan Ishbara Qaghan (Old Turkic: , Ϊšbara qaγan, 沙缽略可汗/沙钵略可汗, Pinyin: shābōlüè kěhàn, Wade-Giles: sha-po-lüeh k'o-han, personal name Ashina Helu (阿史那賀魯/阿史那贺鲁, āshǐnà hèlǔ, a-shih-na ho-lu) (before 620—658) was a khan of the Western Turkic Khaganate. He had served the...

 (d. 658) was put down at Issyk Kul
Issyk Kul
Issyk Kul is an endorheic lake in the northern Tian Shan mountains in eastern Kyrgyzstan. It is the tenth largest lake in the world by volume and the second largest saline lake after the Caspian Sea. Although it is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, it never freezes; hence its name, which means "hot...

 in 657 by Su Dingfang
Su Dingfang
Su Dingfang , formal name Su Lie but went by the courtesy name of Dingfang, formally Duke Zhuang of Xing , was a general of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty who succeeded in destroying the Western Tujue in 657. He was born in Wuyi...

 (591–667), Emperor Gaozong established several protectorates
Ancient China's Protectorate System
-3. Dongyi Protectorate :Dongyi Protectorate and its precedent, Dongyi military area-3. Dongyi Protectorate (东夷都护府) (648A.D):Dongyi Protectorate and its precedent, Dongyi military area-3. Dongyi Protectorate (东夷都护府) (648A.D):Dongyi Protectorate and its precedent, Dongyi military area(东夷校尉府,was in...

 governed by a Protectorate General or Grand Protectorate General, which extended the Chinese sphere of influence
Sphere of influence
In the field of international relations, a sphere of influence is a spatial region or conceptual division over which a state or organization has significant cultural, economic, military or political influence....

 as far as Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

 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
Fubing system
The Fubing system , also romanized as Fu-ping, was a local militia system existing in China between 6th century and 8th century. It originated in the Western Wei dynasty, and was subsequently used in the Sui and Tang dynasties.-Characteristics:...

troops began abandoning military service and the homes provided to them in the equal-field system. The supposed standard of 100 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.

Turkic and Western regions

The Sui and Tang carried out very successful military campaigns against the steppe nomads. Chinese foreign policy to the north and west now had to deal with Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 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 royal princesses off to marry Turkic clan leaders, a total of four of them 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 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 to 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 nomadisized Han Chinese, a desinicized
Desinicization
Desinicization is a term that describes the act of the elimination of Chinese influence, which is the opposite of "sinicization".-Historical:...

 people.

Civil war in China was almost totally diminished by 626, along with the defeat in 628 of the Ordos
Ordos Desert
The Ordos Desert is a desert and steppe region lying on a plateau in the south of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China . The soil of the Ordos is a mixture of clay and sand and, as a result, is poorly suited for agriculture. It extends over an area of...

 Chinese warlord Liang Shidu
Liang Shidu
Liang Shidu was an agrarian leader who rebelled against the rule of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty near the end of the reign of Emperor Yang of Sui...

; 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
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

 province, and southern Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 from the Turks. After this military victory, Emperor Taizong won the title of Great Khan amongst the various Turks in the region who pledged their allegiance to him and the Chinese empire (with several thousand Turks traveling into China to live at Chang'an). On June 11, 631, Emperor Taizong also sent envoys to the Xueyantuo
Xueyantuo
The Xueyantuo ' or Syr-Tardush were an ancient Tiele people and khanate in central/northern Asia who were at one point vassals of the Gokturks, later aligning with China's Tang Dynasty against the Eastern Gokturks....

 bearing gold and silk in order to persuade the release of enslaved Chinese prisoners who were captured during the transition from Sui to Tang
Transition from Sui to Tang
The transition from Sui to Tang refers to a period in which the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty disintegrated into a number of short-lived states, some ruled by former Sui officials and generals and some by agrarian rebel leaders, and then those states were consolidated into Tang Dynasty, founded by...

 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
Xiongnu
The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation north of the agriculture-based empire of the Han Dynasty. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources...

), the Tang government took on the military policy of dominating the central steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

. 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 Tuyuhun
Emperor Taizong's campaign against Tuyuhun
Emperor Taizong of Tang , the second emperor of Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, throughout most of his reign, faced challenges from Tang's western neighbor, the state of Tuyuhun, whose Busabuo Khan Murong Fuyun constantly challenged Chinese authority in the border regions...

, the Tufan
Emperor Taizong's campaign against Tufan
Emperor Taizong of Tang , the second emperor of Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, subjugated the Xianbei state Tuyuhun in 635. Thereafter, Tuyuhun's southwestern neighbor, the Tibetan state Tufan, rose in power and soon displaced Tuyuhun as the major threat to Tang's west...

, the Xiyu states
Emperor Taizong's campaign against Xiyu states
Emperor Taizong of Tang of Tang Dynasty China, after subjugating the Eastern Turkic Khaganate, began to exert his military power toward the Western Regions, then dominated by the Western Turkic Khaganate as well as a number of city-states loosely allied with the Western Turkic Khaganate...

, and the Xueyantuo
Emperor Taizong's campaign against Xueyantuo
Emperor Taizong of Tang , the second emperor of Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, early in his reign, had allied with Xueyantuo, a vassal of the powerful Eastern Tujue Khanate, against Eastern Tujue, which Tang successfully defeated in 630...

.

The Tang Empire competed with the 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
Princess Wencheng
Princess Wencheng was a niece of the powerful Emperor Taizong of China's Tang Dynasty, who left China in 640, according to records, arriving the next year in Tibet to marry the thirty-seven year old Songtsän Gampo the thirty-third king of the Yarlung Dynasty of Tibet, in a marriage of...

 (d. 680) to Songtsän Gampo (d. 649). A Tibetan tradition mentions that after Songtsän Gampo's death in 649 C.E., Chinese troops captured Lhasa. The Tibetan scholar Tsepon W. D. Shakabpa believes that the tradition is in error and that "those histories reporting the arrival of Chinese troops are not correct" and claims that the event is mentioned neither in the Chinese annals nor in the manuscripts of Dunhuang
Dunhuang
Dunhuang is a city in northwestern Gansu province, Western China. It was a major stop on the ancient Silk Road. It was also known at times as Shāzhōu , or 'City of Sands', a name still used today...

. There was a long string of conflicts with Tibet over territories in the Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin
The Tarim Basin is a large endorheic basin occupying an area of about . It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west. Its northern boundary is the Tian Shan mountain range and its southern is the Kunlun Mountains on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The...

 between 670–692 and in 763 the Tibetans even captured the capital of China, Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

, for fifteen days during the An Shi Rebellion
An Shi Rebellion
The An Lushan Rebellion took place in China during the Tang Dynasty from CE December 16, 755 to CE February 17, 763, beginning when general An Lushan declared himself emperor, establishing the rival Yan Dynasty in Northern China...

. In fact, it was during this rebellion that the Tang withdrew its western garrisons stationed in what is now Gansu
Gansu
' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

 and Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

, which the Tibetans then occupied along with the territory of what is now Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

. 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 a stone pillar outside the Jokhang
Jokhang
The Jokhang, , also called the Qokang Monastery, Jokang, Jokhang Temple, Jokhang Monastery or Zuglagkang , is located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa. For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. It is in some regards pan-sectarian, but is presently controlled by the Gelug school...

 temple in Lhasa.

During the Islamic conquest of Persia
Islamic conquest of Persia
The Muslim conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire in 644, the fall of Sassanid dynasty in 651 and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia...

 (633–656), the son of the last ruler of the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

, Prince Pirooz, fled to Tang China. According to the Book of Tang
Book of Tang
The Book of Tang , Jiu Tangshu or the Old Book of Tang is the first classic work about the Tang Dynasty. The book began when Gaozu of Later Jin ordered its commencement in 941...

, Pirooz was made the head of a Governorate of Persia in what is now Zaranj
Zaranj
Zaranj or Zarang is a border town in south-western Afghanistan, with a population of approximately 49,851 people as of 2004. It is the capital of Nimruz province and is situated next to Milak, Iran. It is linked by highways with Lashkar Gah to the east, Farah to the north and Zabol in Iran to the...

, Afghanistan. During this conquest of Persia, the Islamic Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan (r. 644–656) sent an embassy to the Tang court at Chang'an. By the 740s, the Arabs of Khurasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

 had established a presence in the Ferghana basin and in Sogdiana
Sogdiana
Sogdiana or Sogdia was the ancient civilization of an Iranian people and a province of the Achaemenid Empire, eighteenth in the list on the Behistun Inscription of Darius the Great . Sogdiana is "listed" as the second of the "good lands and countries" that Ahura Mazda created...

. At the Battle of Talas
Battle of Talas
The Battle of Talas in 751 AD was an especially notable conflict between the Arab Abbasid Caliphate and the Chinese Tang Dynasty for control not only of the Syr Darya region, but even more...

 in 751, Qarluq
Qarluq
The Karluks were a prominent nomadic Turkic tribe residing in the regions of Kara-Irtysh and the Tarbagatai Mountains west of the Altay Mountains...

 mercenaries under the Chinese defected, helping the Arab armies of the Islamic Caliphate to defeat the Tang force under commander Go Seonji (d. 756, also known as Gao Xianzhi, a general of Goguryeo descent). Although the battle itself was not of the greatest significance militarily, this was a pivotal moment in history; it marks the spread of Chinese papermaking
Papermaking
Papermaking is the process of making paper, a substance which is used universally today for writing and packaging.In papermaking a dilute suspension of fibres in water is drained through a screen, so that a mat of randomly interwoven fibres is laid down. Water is removed from this mat of fibres by...

 into regions west of China as captured Chinese soldiers revealed secrets of Chinese papermaking to the Arabs. These techniques ultimately reached Europe by the 12th century through Arab-controlled Spain. Although they had fought at Talas, on June 11, 758, an Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 embassy arrived at Chang'an simultaneously with the Uyghur Turks bearing gifts for the Tang Emperor. From even further west, a tribute embassy came to the court of Taizong in 643 from the Patriarch of Antioch. In 788-9 the Chinese concluded a military alliance with the Uighur
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

 Turks who twice defeated the Tibetans, in 789 near the town of Kuch'eng in Jungharia, and in 791 near Ning-hsia on the Yellow River.

Korea and Japan

In the east, the Chinese military campaigns were less successful than elsewhere. Like the emperors of the Sui Dynasty before him
Goguryeo-Sui Wars
The Goguryeo–Sui Wars were a series of campaigns launched by the Sui Dynasty of China against the Goguryeo of Korea between 598 and 614. It resulted in the defeat of Sui and contributed to the eventual downfall of the dynasty in 618.-Background:...

, Taizong established a military campaign in 644 against the Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

n kingdom of Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

 in the Goguryeo-Tang Wars
Goguryeo-Tang Wars
The Goguryeo–Tang Wars occurred in the 7th century between Korean Goguryeo and an allied Chinese Tang Dynasty and Silla. Exhausted from numerous attacks by China, Goguryeo finally succumbed to a two front attack by Tang and Silla...

; however, this led to its defeat in the First Goguryeo–Tang War because they failed to overcome the successful defense led by General Yeon Gaesomun
Yeon Gaesomun
Yeon Gaesomun was a powerful and controversial military dictator and Generalissimo in the waning days of Goguryeo, which was one of the Three Kingdoms of ancient Korea. Yeon is also remembered for a number of successful resistance in military conflicts with Tang Dynasty under Emperor Li Shimin and...

. Allying with the Korean Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

 Kingdom, the Chinese fought against Baekje
Baekje
Baekje or Paekche was a kingdom located in southwest Korea. It was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla....

 and their Yamato Japanese
Kofun period
The is an era in the history of Japan from around 250 to 538. It follows the Yayoi period. The word kofun is Japanese for the type of burial mounds dating from this era. The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes referred to collectively as the Yamato period...

 allies in the Battle of Baekgang
Battle of Baekgang
The Battle of Baekgang, also known as Battle of Baekgang-gu or by the Japanese name Battle of Hakusukinoe , was a battle between Baekje restoration forces and their ally, Yamato Japan, against the allied forces of Silla and the Tang Dynasty of ancient China...

 in August of 663, a decisive Tang–Silla victory. The Tang Dynasty navy had several different ship types at its disposal to engage in naval warfare
Naval warfare
Naval warfare is combat in and on seas, oceans, or any other major bodies of water such as large lakes and wide rivers.-History:Mankind has fought battles on the sea for more than 3,000 years. Land warfare would seem, initially, to be irrelevant and entirely removed from warfare on the open ocean,...

, 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 notable Korean general Kim Yushin
Kim Yushin
Kim Yushin was a general in 7th-century Silla. He led the unification of the Korean peninsula by Silla under the reign of King Muyeol of Silla and King Munmu of Silla. He is said to have been the great-grandchild of King Guhae of Geumgwan Gaya, the last ruler of the Geumgwan Gaya state...

 (595–673) and Chinese general Su Dingfang.

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
Li Shiji
Li Shiji , né Xu Shiji , later known in the reign of Emperor Gaozong of Tang as Li Ji , courtesy name Maogong , formally Duke Zhenwu of Ying , was one of the most celebrated generals early in the Chinese Tang Dynasty...

 (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
Yeon Namsaeng
Yeon Namsaeng was the eldest son of the Goguryeo Dae Mangniji Yeon Gaesomun . In 665, Yeon Namsaeng succeeded his father and became the 2nd Dae Magniji of Goguryeo.- Background :...

 (634–679) and Yeon Namsan
Yeon Namsan
Yeon Namsan was the third son of the Goguryeo military leader and dictator Yeon Gaesomun .The course of his career shadowed closely that of his elder brother Yeon Namsaeng...

 (639–701). From 668 to 676, the Tang Empire would control northern Korea. However, in 671 Silla began fighting the Tang forces there. 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 driven out of Korea by Unified Silla
Unified Silla
Unified Silla or Later Silla is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, when it conquered Baekje in 660 and Goguryeo in 668, unifying the southern portion of the Korean peninsula...

. 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
Imperial embassies to China
The Japanese Missions to Imperial China were diplomatic embassies which were intermittently sent to the Chinese court. Any distinction amongst diplomatic envoys sent from the Imperial Japanese court or from any of the Japanese shogunates was lost or rendered moot when the ambassador was received in...

 from Japan, diplomatic missions that were not halted until 894 by Emperor Uda
Emperor Uda
was the 59th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Uda's reign spanned the years from 887 through 897.-Name and legacy:Before his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, his personal name was or Chōjiin-tei....

 (r. 887–897), upon persuasion by Sugawara no Michizane
Sugawara no Michizane
, also known as Kan Shōjō , a grandson of Sugawara no Kiyotomo , was a scholar, poet, and politician of the Heian Period of Japan...

 (845–903). The Japanese Emperor Temmu
Emperor Temmu
was the 40th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Temmu's reign lasted from 672 until his death in 686.-Traditional narrative:...

 (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
Fujiwara-kyo
was the Imperial capital of Japan for sixteen years, between 694 and 710. It was located in Yamato Province , having been moved from nearby Asuka. However, in the Nihon Shoki, the name Fujiwara-kyō had never been used...

 on the Chinese model of architecture
Chinese architecture
Chinese architecture refers to a style of architecture that has taken shape in East Asia over many centuries. The structural principles of Chinese architecture have remained largely unchanged, the main changes being only the decorative details...

.

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
Emperor Tenji
, also known as Emperor Tenchi, was the 38th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Tenji's reign spanned the years from 661 through 671.-Traditional narrative:...

 (r. 661–672), whereupon they presented a gift of a South Pointing Chariot
South Pointing Chariot
The south-pointing chariot was an ancient Chinese two-wheeled vehicle that carried a movable pointer to indicate the south, no matter how the chariot turned. Usually, the pointer took the form of a doll or figure with an outstretched arm...

 that they had crafted. This 3rd century mechanically driven directional-compass
Compass
A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west. Intermediate directions are also defined...

 vehicle (employing a differential gear) was again reproduced in several models for Tenji in 666, as recorded in the Nihon Shoki
Nihon Shoki
The , sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most complete extant historical...

of 720. Japanese monks also visited China; such was the case with Ennin
Ennin
Ennin , who is better known in Japan by his posthumous name, Jikaku Daishi , was a priest of the Tendai school.- Birth and origin :...

 (794–864), who wrote of his travel experiences including travels along China's Grand Canal
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

. The Japanese monk Enchin
Enchin
' was a Japanese Buddhist monk the founder of the Jimon School of Tendai Buddhism, and Chief Abbot of Miidera at the foot of Mount Hiei...

 (814–891) stayed in China from 839 to 847 and again from 853 to 858, landing near Fuzhou, Fujian
Fuzhou
Fuzhou is the capital and one of the largest cities in Fujian Province, People's Republic of China. Along with the many counties of Ningde, those of Fuzhou are considered to constitute the Mindong linguistic and cultural area....

 and setting sail for Japan from Taizhou, Zhejiang
Taizhou, Zhejiang
Taizhou is a prefecture-level city in middle eastern Zhejiang province, People's Republic of China...

 during his second trip to China.

Trade and spread of culture

Through use of the land trade along the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 and maritime trade by sail at sea, the Tang were able to gain many new technologies, cultural practices, rare luxury, and contemporary items. From the Middle East, India, Persia, and Central Asia the Tang were able to acquire new ideas in fashion, new types of ceramics, and improved silver-smithing. The 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. To the Middle East, the Islamic world coveted and purchased in bulk Chinese goods such as silks, lacquerware
Lacquerware
Lacquerware are objects decoratively covered with lacquer. The lacquer is sometimes inlaid or carved. Lacquerware includes boxes, tableware, buttons and even coffins painted with lacquer in cultures mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere.-History:...

s, and porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 wares. Songs, dances, and musical instruments from foreign regions became popular in China during the Tang Dynasty. These musical instruments included oboe
Oboe
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

s, flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

s, and small lacquered drums from Kucha
Kucha
Kuchaor Kuche Uyghur , Chinese Simplified: 库车; Traditional: 庫車; pinyin Kùchē; also romanized as Qiuzi, Qiuci, Chiu-tzu, Kiu-che, Kuei-tzu from the traditional Chinese forms 屈支 屈茨; 龜玆; 龟兹, 丘玆, also Po ; Sanskrit: Kueina, Standard Tibetan: Kutsahiyui was an ancient Buddhist kingdom...

 in the Tarim Basin
Tarim Basin
The Tarim Basin is a large endorheic basin occupying an area of about . It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west. Its northern boundary is the Tian Shan mountain range and its southern is the Kunlun Mountains on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The...

, and percussion instruments from India such as cymbal
Cymbal
Cymbals are a common percussion instrument. Cymbals consist of thin, normally round plates of various alloys; see cymbal making for a discussion of their manufacture. The greater majority of cymbals are of indefinite pitch, although small disc-shaped cymbals based on ancient designs sound a...

s. At the court there were nine musical ensembles (expanded from seven in the Sui Dynasty) representing music from throughout Asia.

There was great contact and interest in India as a hub for Buddhist knowledge, with famous travelers such as Xuanzang
Xuanzang
Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period...

 (d. 664) visiting the South Asian subcontinent. After a 17-year long trip, Xuanzang managed to bring back valuable Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 texts to be translated into Chinese. There was also a Turkic
Turkic languages
The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

–Chinese dictionary available for serious scholars and students, while Turkic folksongs gave inspiration to some Chinese poetry. In the interior of China, trade was facilitated by the Grand Canal
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

 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 32100 km (19,946.1 mi) of postal service routes by horse or boat.

Silk Road

The Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 was the most important pre-modern Eurasian trade route
Trade route
A trade route is a logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. Allowing goods to reach distant markets, a single trade route contains long distance arteries which may further be connected to several smaller networks of commercial...

. During this period of the Pax Sinica
Pax Sinica
Pax Sinica is the time of peace in East Asia, maintained by Chinese hegemony, usually the period of rule by the Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, early Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty...

, the Silk Road reached its golden age, whereby Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 and Sogdian
Sogdiana
Sogdiana or Sogdia was the ancient civilization of an Iranian people and a province of the Achaemenid Empire, eighteenth in the list on the Behistun Inscription of Darius the Great . Sogdiana is "listed" as the second of the "good lands and countries" that Ahura Mazda created...

 merchants benefited from the commerce between East and West. At the same time, the Chinese empire welcomed foreign cultures making it very cosmopolitan in its urban centers.

Although the Silk Road from China to the West was initially formulated during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han , , personal name Liu Che , was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized...

 (141–87 BC), it was reopened by the Tang in 639 when Hou Junji
Hou Junji
Hou Junji was a major general and chancellor of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, particularly known for his campaigns against Gaochang and Tuyuhun...

 (d. 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
Four Garrisons of Anxi
The Four Garrisons of Anxi were Chinese military garrisons installed by Tang Dynasty between 648 and 658 that stationed at the city and capital of the Indo-European statelet Kucha, Khotan, Kashgar and Karashahr, the capital of Kucha was also the seat of Protectorate General to Pacify the West...

 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 Valley
Gilgit
Gilgit is a city in northern PakistanGilgit may refer to other terms related with the area of the city:* Gilgit River* Gilgit Valley* Gilgit District* Gilgit Agency * Gilgit Airport...

 from Tibet in 722, lost it to the Tibetans in 737, and regained it under the command of the Goguryeo-Korean General Gao Xianzhi. After the An Shi Rebellion ended in 763, the Tang Empire had once again lost control over many of its outer western lands, as the Tibetan Empire largely cut off China's direct access to the Silk Road. An internal rebellion in 848 ousted the Tibetan rulers, while Tang China regained its western territories from Tibet in 851, which contained crucial grazing areas and pastures for raising horses that the Tang Dynasty desperately needed.

Despite the many western travelers coming into China to live and trade, many travelers, mainly religious monks, recorded the strict border laws that the Chinese enforced. As the monk Xuanzang and many other monk travelers attested to, there were many Chinese government checkpoints
Border checkpoint
A border checkpoint is a place, generally between two countries, where travellers and/or goods are inspected. Authorization often is required to enter a country through its borders. Access-controlled borders often have a limited number of checkpoints where they can be crossed without legal...

 along the Silk Road that examined travel permits
Permit to travel
In the ticketing system of the British rail network, a Permit to Travel provisionally allows passengers to travel on a train when they have not purchased a ticket in advance and the ticket office of the station they are travelling from is closed, without incurring a penalty fare.Since a large...

 into the Tang Empire. Furthermore, banditry
Outlaw
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

 was a problem along the checkpoints and oasis
Oasis
In geography, an oasis or cienega is an isolated area of vegetation in a desert, typically surrounding a spring or similar water source...

 towns, as Xuanzang also recorded that his group of travelers were assaulted by bandits on multiple occasions.

Seaports and maritime trade

Chinese envoys had been sailing through the Indian Ocean to India
Kanchipuram
Kanchipuram, or Kanchi, is a temple city and a municipality in Kanchipuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a temple town and the headquarters of Kanchipuram district...

 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
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 and Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, into Persia, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 (sailing up the Euphrates River
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 in modern-day Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

), Arabia, Egypt, Aksum (Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

), and Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 in the Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

. From the same Quraysh tribe of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

, Sa'd ibn Abi-Waqqas sailed from Ethiopia to China during the reign of Emperor Gaozu
Emperor Gaozu of Tang
Emperor Gāozǔ of Táng , born Lǐ Yuān , courtesy name Shūdé , was the founder of the Tang Dynasty of China, and the first emperor of this dynasty from 618 to 626. Under the Sui dynasty, Li Yuan was the governor in the area of modern-day Shanxi, and was based in Taiyuan.In 615, Li Yuan was assigned...

. He later traveled back to China with a copy of the Quran, establishing China's first mosque
Islam during the Tang Dynasty
The History of Islam in China goes back to the earliest years of Islam. According to China Muslims' traditional legendary accounts, eighteen years after Muhammad's death, the third Caliph of Islam, Uthman ibn Affan sent a delegation led by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, the maternal uncle of Muhammad, to the...

, the Mosque of Remembrance, during the reign of Emperor Gaozong
Emperor Gaozong of Tang
Emperor Gaozong of Tang , personal name Li Zhi , was the third emperor of the Tang Dynasty in China, ruling from 649 to 683...

. To this day he is still buried in a Muslim cemetery at Guangzhou
Guangzhou
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

.
During the Tang Dynasty, thousands of foreigners came and lived in numerous Chinese cities for trade and commercial ties with China, including Persians, Arabs, Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 Indians, Malays, Sinhalese
Sinhalese people
The Sinhalese are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group,forming the majority of Sri Lanka,constituting 74% of the Sri Lankan population.They number approximately 15 million worldwide.The Sinhalese identity is based on language, heritage and religion. The Sinhalese speak Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language and the...

, Khmers
Khmer people
Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, accounting for approximately 90% of the 14.8 million people in the country. They speak the Khmer language, which is part of the larger Mon–Khmer language family found throughout Southeast Asia...

, Chams, Jews
History of the Jews in China
Jews and Judaism in China have had a long history. Jewish settlers are documented in China as early as the 7th or 8th century CE, but may have arrived during the mid Han Dynasty, or even as early as 231 BCE. Relatively isolated communities developed through the Tang and Song Dynasties Jews and...

 and Nestorian Christians
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

 of the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

, and many others. In 748, the Buddhist monk Jian Zhen described Guangzhou
Guangzhou
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

 as a bustling mercantile center where many large and impressive foreign ships came to dock. He wrote that "many big ships came from Borneo
Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

, Persia, Qunglun (Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

/Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

)...with...spices, pearls, and jade piled up mountain high", as written in the Yue Jue Shu (Lost Records of the State of Yue). After Arab and Persian pirates burned and looted Guangzhou in 758, the Tang government reacted by shutting the port down for roughly five decades, as foreign vessels docked at Hanoi
Hanoi
Hanoi , is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam...

 instead. However, when the port reopened it continued to thrive. In 851 the Arab merchant Suleiman al-Tajir observed the manufacturing of Chinese porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 in Guangzhou and admired its transparent quality. He also provided a description of Guangzhou's mosque, its granaries, its local government administration, some of its written records, the treatment of travellers, along with the use of ceramic
Ceramic
A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous...

s, rice-wine, and tea. However, in another bloody episode at Guangzhou in 879, the Chinese rebel Huang Chao
Huang Chao
Huang Chao was the leader of the Huang Chao Rebellion , known in mainland China as the Huang Chao Revolution in China that seriously weakened the once mighty Tang Dynasty of China...

 sacked the city, and purportedly slaughtered thousands of native Chinese, along with foreign Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the process. Huang's rebellion was eventually suppressed in 884.

Vessels from Korean Silla, Balhae
Balhae
Balhae was a Manchurian kingdom established after the fall of Goguryeo. After Goguryeo's capital and southern territories fell to Unified Silla, Dae Jo-yeong, a Mohe general, whose father was Dae Jung-sang, established Jin , later called Balhae.Balhae occupied southern parts of Manchuria and...

 and Hizen Province
Hizen Province
was an old province of Japan in the area of Saga and Nagasaki prefectures. It was sometimes called , with Higo Province. Hizen bordered on the provinces of Chikuzen and Chikugo. The province was included in Saikaidō...

 of Japan were all involved in the Yellow Sea
Yellow Sea
The Yellow Sea is the name given to the northern part of the East China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its name comes from the sand particles from Gobi Desert sand storms that turn the surface of the water golden...

 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
Nagasaki Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located on the island of Kyūshū. The capital is the city of Nagasaki.- History :Nagasaki Prefecture was created by merging of the western half of the former province of Hizen with the island provinces of Tsushima and Iki...

 towards the mouth of the Huai River
Huai River
The Huai River is a major river in China. The Huai River is located about mid-way between the Yellow River and Yangtze River, the two largest rivers in China, and like them runs from west to east...

, the Yangzi River, and even as far south as the Hangzhou Bay
Hangzhou Bay
Hangzhou Bay, or the Bay of Hangzhou , is an inlet of the East China Sea, bordered by the province of Zhejiang and the municipality of Shanghai. The Qiantang River flows into the bay.It lies south of Shanghai, and ends at the city of Hangzhou...

 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
Zhejiang
Zhejiang is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital...

 and Fujian
Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

 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
Belitung shipwreck
The Belitung shipwreck is the wreck of an Arabian dhow which sailed a route from Africa to China around 830 AD. The ship completed the outward journey but sank on the return journey, approximately off the coast of Belitung Island, Indonesia...

, a silt-preserved shipwrecked Arabian dhow
Dhow
Dhow is the generic name of a number of traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with lateen sails used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region. Some historians believe the dhow was invented by Arabs but this is disputed by some others. Dhows typically weigh 300 to 500 tons, and have a...

 in the Gaspar Strait
Gaspar Strait
Gaspar Strait separates Belitung and Bangka islands in Indonesia. It connects the Java Sea to the South China Sea.These straits, formed between the large islands Banca and Billiton, are generally called Gaspar Straits, after the Spanish captain from Manila, who passed through them in 1724; but...

 near Belitung
Belitung
Belitung, , is an island on the east coast of Sumatra, Indonesia in the Java Sea. The island is known for its pepper and for its tin. It was in the possession of the British from 1812 until the British ceded control of the island to the Dutch in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824...

, 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 AD, roughly confirmed by radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

 of star anise
Star anise
Illicium verum, commonly called Star anise, star aniseed, or Chinese star anise, is a spice that closely resembles anise in flavor, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a small native evergreen tree of northeast Vietnam and southwest China...

 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
Jia Dan
Jia Dan , courtesy name Dunshi , formally Duke Yuanjing of Wei , was a Chinese scholar-official, general, geographer, and cartographer from Cangzhou, Hebei during the Tang Dynasty of China.- Background :...

 (730–805) wrote of two common sea trade routes in his day: one from the coast of the Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea
Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of Northeastern and North China. It is approximately 78,000 km2 Bohai Sea , also known as Bohai Gulf, Bohai, or Bo Hai, is the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea on the coast of...

 towards Korea and another from Guangzhou through Malacca
Malacca
Malacca , dubbed The Historic State or Negeri Bersejarah among locals) is the third smallest Malaysian state, after Perlis and Penang. It is located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, on the Straits of Malacca. It borders Negeri Sembilan to the north and the state of Johor to the south...

 towards the Nicobar Islands
Nicobar Islands
The Nicobar Islands are an archipelagic island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean...

, Sri Lanka and India, the eastern and northern shores of the Arabian Sea to the Euphrates River. In 863 the Chinese author Duan Chengshi
Duan Chengshi
Duan Chengshi was an author and scholar of the Tang Dynasty in China. He was born to a wealthy family in present day Zibo, Shandong. A descendant of the early Tang official Duan Zhixuan 段志玄 , and the son of Duan Wenchang 段文昌, a high official under Tang Xuanzong, his family background enabled him...

 (d. 863) provided a detailed description of the slave trade, ivory trade
Ivory trade
The ivory trade is the commercial, often illegal trade in the ivory tusks of the hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, mammoth, and most commonly, Asian and African elephants....

, and ambergris
Ambergris
Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull gray or blackish color produced in the digestive system of and regurgitated or secreted by sperm whales....

 trade in a country called Bobali, which historians suggest was Berbera
Berbera
Berbera is a city and seat of Berbera District in Somaliland, a self-proclaimed Independent Republic with de facto control over its own territory, which is recognized by the international community and the Somali Government as a part of Somalia...

 in Somalia. In Fustat (old Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

), 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
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

 Egypt). From this time period, the Arab merchant Shulama once wrote of his admiration for Chinese seafaring junks
Junk (ship)
A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing vessel design still in use today. Junks were developed during the Han Dynasty and were used as sea-going vessels as early as the 2nd century AD. They evolved in the later dynasties, and were used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages...

, 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.

Usurpation of Wu Zetian

Although she entered Emperor Gaozong's court as the lowly consort Wu Zhao, Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian , personal name Wu Zhao , often referred to as Tian Hou during the Tang Dynasty and Empress Consort Wu in later times, was the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant...

 rose to the highest seat of power in 690, establishing the short-lived Later Zhou Dynasty. Empress Wu's rise to power was achieved through cruel and calculating tactics, 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 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 and was banished (and later forced to commit suicide).

In 683, Emperor Gaozong died. He was succeeded by Emperor Zhongzong
Emperor Zhongzong of Tang
Emperor Zhongzong of Tang , personal name Lǐ Xiǎn , at times during his life Li Zhe and Wu Xian , was the fourth Emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, ruling briefly in 684 and again from 705 to 710.Emperor Zhongzong was the son of Emperor Gaozong of Tang and Empress Wu...

, 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, 12 year old Emperor Ruizong
Emperor Ruizong of Tang
Emperor Ruizong of Tang , personal name Lǐ Dàn , known at times during his life as Li Xulun , Li Lun , Wu Lun , and Wu Dan , was the fifth and ninth emperor of Tang Dynasty...

. Wu was the real power. This provoked a group of Tang princes to rebel in 684; Wu's armies suppressed them within two months. In 690, she forced Ruizong to step down from the throne. She became China's first female emperor while Ruizong became crown prince. She ruled until 705, when a palace coup forced her to abdicate in favor of Zhongzong. She died soon after.

To legitimize her rule, she circulated a document known as the Great Cloud Sutra, which predicted that a reincarnation
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

 of the Maitreya
Maitreya
Maitreya , Metteyya , or Jampa , is foretold as a future Buddha of this world in Buddhist eschatology. In some Buddhist literature, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, he or she is referred to as Ajita Bodhisattva.Maitreya is a bodhisattva who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on...

 Buddha would be a female monarch who would dispel illness, worry, and disaster from the world. She even introduced numerous revised written characters
Chinese characters of Empress Wu
Chinese characters of Empress Wu, or the Zetian characters , are Chinese characters introduced by Empress Wu Zetian, the only reigning female in the history of China, to demonstrate her power. The characters were not created by the Empress herself, but were suggested by an official named Zong...

 to the written language, which reverted back to the originals after her death. Arguably the most important part of her legacy was diminishing the power of the northwest aristocracy, allowing people from other clans and regions of China to become more represented in Chinese politics and government.

Rise of Xuanzong

There were many prominent women at court during and after Wu's reign, including Shangguan Wan'er
Shangguan Wan'er
Shangguan Wan'er , imperial consort rank Zhaorong , posthumous name Wenhui , was the granddaughter of Shangguan Yi and was one of the women most famous in Chinese history for her talent...

 (664–710), a female poet, writer, and trusted official in charge of Wu's private office. In 706 the wife of Emperor Zhongzong of Tang, Empress Wei
Empress Wei (Zhongzong)
Empress Wei was an empress of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty. She was the second wife of Emperor Zhongzong, who reigned twice, and during his second reign, she tried to emulate the example of her mother-in-law Wu Zetian and seize power...

 (d. 710), convinced 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
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang , also commonly known as Emperor Ming of Tang , personal name Li Longji , known as Wu Longji from 690 to 705, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 712 to 756. His reign of 43 years was the longest during the Tang Dynasty...

 (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
Emperor Ruizong of Tang
Emperor Ruizong of Tang , personal name Lǐ Dàn , known at times during his life as Li Xulun , Li Lun , Wu Lun , and Wu Dan , was the fifth and ninth emperor of Tang Dynasty...

 (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
Princess Taiping was a princess of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and her mother Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty. She was the youngest daughter of Wu Zetian and Emperor Gaozong and was powerful during the reigns of her mother and her elder brothers Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong , particularly...

. This was finally ended when Princess Taiping's coup failed in 712 (she later hung herself in 713) and Emperor Ruizong abdicated to Emperor Xuanzong.

During the 44-year reign of Emperor Xuanzong, the Tang Dynasty was brought to its height, a golden age, a period of low economic inflation, as well as a toning down of the excessively lavish lifestyle of the imperial court. Seen as a progressive and benevolent ruler, Xuanzong even abolished the death penalty in the year 747, and all executions had to be approved beforehand by the emperor himself (which was relatively few, considering that there were only 24 executions in the year 730 alone). Xuanzong bowed to the consensus of his ministers on policy decisions and made efforts to fairly staff government ministries with different political factions. His staunch Confucian chancellor Zhang Jiuling
Zhang Jiuling
Zhang Jiuling , courtesy name Zishou , nickname Bowu , formally Count Wenxian of Shixing , was a prominent minister, noted poet and scholar of the Tang Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong.- Background :Zhang Jiuling was born in 673, during the reign of Emperor Gaozong...

 (673–740) worked to reduce deflation and increase the money supply by upholding the use of private coinage, although his aristocratic and technocratic
Technocracy (bureaucratic)
Technocracy is a form of government where technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields. Economists, engineers, scientists, health professionals, and those who have knowledge, expertise or skills would compose the governing body...

 successor Li Linfu
Li Linfu
Li Linfu , nickname Genu , formally the Duke of Jin , was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor for 18 years , during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong—one of the longest terms of service for a chancellor in Tang history, and the longest during Xuanzong's reign.Li...

 (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, who championed a more aggressive foreign policy employing non-Chinese generals. This policy ultimately created the conditions for a massive rebellion against Xuanzong.

An Shi Rebellion and catastrophe

The Tang Empire was at its height of power up until the middle of the 8th century, when the An Shi Rebellion
An Shi Rebellion
The An Lushan Rebellion took place in China during the Tang Dynasty from CE December 16, 755 to CE February 17, 763, beginning when general An Lushan declared himself emperor, establishing the rival Yan Dynasty in Northern China...

 (December 16, 755 – February 17, 763) destroyed the prosperity of the empire. An Lushan
An Lushan
An Lushan was a general who rebelled against the Tang Dynasty in China.His name was also transcribed into Chinese as Āluòshān or Gáluòshān ,...

 was a half-Sogdian
Sogdiana
Sogdiana or Sogdia was the ancient civilization of an Iranian people and a province of the Achaemenid Empire, eighteenth in the list on the Behistun Inscription of Darius the Great . Sogdiana is "listed" as the second of the "good lands and countries" that Ahura Mazda created...

, half-Turk
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 Tang commander since 744, had experience fighting the Khitans
Khitan people
thumb|250px|Khitans [[Eagle hunting|using eagles to hunt]], painted during the Chinese [[Song Dynasty]].The Khitan people , or Khitai, Kitan, or Kidan, were a nomadic Mongolic people, originally located at Mongolia and Manchuria from the 4th century...

 of Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

 with a victory in 744, yet most of his campaigns against the Khitans were unsuccessful. He was given great responsibility in Hebei
Hebei
' is a province of the People's Republic of China in the North China region. Its one-character abbreviation is "" , named after Ji Province, a Han Dynasty province that included what is now southern Hebei...

, which allowed him to rebel with an army of more than one hundred thousand troops. After capturing Luoyang, he named himself emperor of a new, but short-lived, Yan state
Yan (Anshi)
Yan , also known as the Great Yan , was a state established in 756 by the Tang Dynasty general An Lushan, after he rebelled against the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang in 755. The state was extinguished in 763, with the death of An Lushan's former subordinate, Shi Siming's son, Shi Chaoyi, who...

. Despite early victories scored by Tang General Guo Ziyi
Guo Ziyi
Guo Ziyi , formally Prince Zhongwu of Fenyang , was a general during the Tang Dynasty who ended the An Shi Rebellion, and participated in expeditions against the peoples of Huihe and Tubo...

 (697–781), the newly recruited troops of the army at the capital were no match for An Lushan's die-hard frontier veterans, so the court fled Chang'an. While the heir apparent raised troops in Shanxi
Shanxi
' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

 and Xuanzong fled to Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 province, they called upon the help of the Uyghur
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

 Turks in 756. The Uyghur khan Moyanchur
Bayanchur Khan
Bayanchur Khan , was an Uyghur khagan from 747 to 759 AD. His official titles were "Ay Tengrida Qut Bolmish" and "El Etmish Bilge Qaghan" . His Tang Dynasty-invested title was Yingwuweiyuanpiqiejuo Khan or Yingwu Khan in short...

 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 Abbasid Arabs assisted the Tang in putting down An Lushan's rebellion. The Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

ans took hold of the opportunity and raided many areas under Chinese control, and even after the 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
Shi Siming , or Shi Sugan , was a general of the Chinese Tang Dynasty who followed his childhood friend An Lushan in rebelling against Tang, and who later succeeded An Lushan's son An Qingxu as emperor of the Yan state that An Lushan established.-Background:It is not known when Shi Sugan was born,...

 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
Jiedushi
The Jiedushi were regional military governors in China during the Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. Originally set up to counter external threats, the jiedushi were given enormous power, including the ability to maintain their own armies, collect taxes, and pass their...

, who slowly came to challenge the power of the central government. After the An Shi 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
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

, Hubei and Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts 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 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
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

.

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, enormous floods along the Grand Canal
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

 inundated vast tracts of land and terrain of the North China Plain
North China Plain
The North China Plain is based on the deposits of the Yellow River and is the largest alluvial plain of eastern Asia. The plain is bordered on the north by the Yanshan Mountains and on the west by the Taihang Mountains edge of the Shanxi plateau. To the south, it merges into the Yangtze Plain...

, which drowned tens of thousands of people in the process.
The Chinese belief in the Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimaze rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of...

 granted to the ailing Tang was also challenged when natural calamities occurred, forcing many to believe the Heavens were displeased and that the Tang had lost their right to rule. Then in 873 a disastrous harvest shook the foundations of the empire; in some areas only half of all agricultural produce was gathered, and tens of thousands faced famine and starvation. In the earlier period of the Tang, the central government was able to meet crises in the harvest, as it was recorded from 714–719 that the Tang government responded effectively to natural disasters by extending the price-regulation granary
Granary
A granary is a storehouse for threshed grain or animal feed. In ancient or primitive granaries, pottery is the most common use of storage in these buildings. Granaries are often built above the ground to keep the stored food away from mice and other animals.-Early origins:From ancient times grain...

 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
Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, is the process to create new land from sea or riverbeds. The land reclaimed is known as reclamation ground or landfill.- Habitation :...

. 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 less 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 bolstered by the merchant class. Cities in the Jiangnan
Jiangnan
Jiangnan or Jiang Nan is a geographic area in China referring to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including the southern part of the Yangtze Delta...

 region to the south, such as Yangzhou
Yangzhou
Yangzhou is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu Province, People's Republic of China. Sitting on the northern bank of the Yangtze River, it borders the provincial capital of Nanjing to the southwest, Huai'an to the north, Yancheng to the northeast, Taizhou to the east, and Zhenjiang across...

, Suzhou
Suzhou
Suzhou , previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part...

, and Hangzhou
Hangzhou
Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

 prospered the most economically during the late Tang period. Although weakened after the An Shi Rebellion, in 799 the Tang government's salt monopoly accounted for over half of the government's revenues, while the salt commission
Salt commission
The Salt Commission was an organization in Tang China used to raise tax revenue from the state monopoly of the salt trade.-History:Following the An Lushan Rebellion revenues from the land tax began to fall. The equal-field system that sustained the land tax was undermined by the aristocracy and...

 became one of the most powerful state agencies, run by capable ministers chosen as specialists in finance. 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 since the mid 8th century, it was still able to function and give out imperial orders on a massive scale. The Tangshu (Book of Tang
Book of Tang
The Book of Tang , Jiu Tangshu or the Old Book of Tang is the first classic work about the Tang Dynasty. The book began when Gaozu of Later Jin ordered its commencement in 941...

) compiled in the year 945 recorded that in 828 the Tang government issued a decree that standardized irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

al square-pallet chain pumps in the country:
The last great ambitious ruler of the Tang Dynasty was Emperor Xianzong of Tang
Emperor Xianzong of Tang
Emperor Xianzong of Tang , personal name Li Chun , né Li Chun , was an emperor of the Chinese Tang Dynasty...

 (r. 805–820), his reign period aided by the fiscal reforms of the 780s, including the 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 of Tang
Emperor Wenzong of Tang , personal name Li Ang , né Li Han , was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China. He reigned from 827 to 840. Emperor Wenzong was the second son of Emperor Muzong and younger brother of Emperor Jingzong...

's (r. 826–840) failed plot to have them overthrown; instead the allies of Emperor Wenzong were publicly executed in the West Market of Chang'an, by the eunuchs' command.

Collapse

In addition to natural calamities and jiedushi amassing autonomous control, the Huang Chao Rebellion
Huang Chao
Huang Chao was the leader of the Huang Chao Rebellion , known in mainland China as the Huang Chao Revolution in China that seriously weakened the once mighty Tang Dynasty of China...

 (874–884) resulted in the sacking of both Chang'an and Luoyang, and took an entire decade to suppress. Although the rebellion was defeated by the Tang, it never recovered from that crucial blow, weakening it for the future military powers to take over. There were also large groups of bandits, in the size of small armies, that ravaged the countryside in the last years of the Tang, who smuggled illicit salt, ambushed merchants and convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

s, and even besieged several walled cities.

Zhu Wen, originally a salt smuggler who had served under the rebel Huang, surrendered to Tang forces. By helping to defeat Huang, he was granted a series of rapid military promotions. In 907 the Tang Dynasty was ended when Zhu Wen, now a military governor, deposed the last emperor of Tang, Emperor Ai of Tang
Emperor Ai of Tang
Emperor Ai of Tang , also known as Emperor Zhaoxuan , born Li Zuo, later Li Zhu , was the last emperor of the Tang dynasty of China. He reigned from 904 to 907. The Ai Emperor was the son of Emperor Zhaozong....

, and took the throne for himself (known posthumously as Emperor Taizu of Later Liang). He established the Later Liang Dynasty
Later Liang Dynasty
The Later Liang was one of the Five Dynasties during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period in China. It was founded by Zhu Wen, posthumously known as Taizu of Later Liang, after he forced the last emperor of the Tang dynasty to abdicate in his favour...

, which inaugurated the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms was between 907–960/979 AD and an era of political upheaval in China, between the fall of the Tang Dynasty and the founding of the Song Dynasty. During this period, five dynasties quickly succeeded one another in the north, and more than 12 independent states were...

. A year later the deposed Emperor Ai was poisoned to death by Zhu Wen.

Although cast in a negative light by many for usurping power from the Tang, Zhu Wen turned out to be a skilled administrator. Emperor Taizu of Later Liang was also responsible for the building of a large seawall
Seawall
A seawall is a form of coastal defence constructed where the sea, and associated coastal processes, impact directly upon the landforms of the coast. The purpose of a seawall is to protect areas of human habitation, conservation and leisure activities from the action of tides and waves...

, new walls and roads for the burgeoning city of Hangzhou
Hangzhou
Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

, which would later become the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty.

Society and culture

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
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

. The governmental system was supported by a large class of Confucian intellectuals selected through either civil service examinations or recommendations. In the Tang period, Daoism and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 reigned as core ideologies as well, and 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
Chinese literature
Chinese literature extends thousands of years, from the earliest recorded dynastic court archives to the mature fictional novels that arose during the Ming Dynasty to entertain the masses of literate Chinese...

 blossomed and was more widely accessible with new printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 methods.

Leisure in the Tang

Much more than earlier periods, the Tang era was an era renowned for its time reserved for leisure activity, especially for those in the upper classes. Many outdoor sports and activities were enjoyed during the Tang, including archery
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

, hunting, horse polo
Polo
Polo is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Sometimes called, "The Sport of Kings", it was highly popularized by the British. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team's goal using a...

, cuju
Cuju
Cuju is an ancient code of football with similarities to association football. It is seen by some to be a forerunner of modern football and originated in China, and was also played in Korea, Japan and Vietnam.-History:...

 football, cockfighting, and even tug of war
Tug of war
Tug of war, also known as tug o' war, tug war, rope war or rope pulling, is a sport that directly pits two teams against each other in a test of strength. The term may also be used as a metaphor to describe a demonstration of brute strength by two opposing groups, such as a rivalry between two...

. Government officials were granted vacations
Annual leave
Annual leave is paid time off work granted by employers to employees to be used for whatever the employee wishes. Depending on the employer's policies, differing number of days may be offered, and the employee may be required to give a certain amount of advance notice, may have to coordinate with...

 during their tenure in office. Officials were granted 30 days off every three years to visit their parents if they lived 1000 miles (1,609.3 km) away, or 15 days off if the parents lived more than 167 miles (268.8 km) 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
Traditional Chinese holidays
The traditional Chinese holidays are an essential part of Chinese culture. Many holidays are associated with Chinese mythology and folklore tales, but more realistically, they probably originated from ancient farmer rituals for celebrating harvests or prayer offerings...

 such as Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year – often called Chinese Lunar New Year although it actually is lunisolar – is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is an all East and South-East-Asia celebration...

, Lantern Festival
Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival ; is a festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar year in the Chinese calendar, the last day...

, Cold Food Festival
Cold Food Festival
The Cold Food Festival or Hanshi Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday celebrated for three consecutive days starting the day before the Qingming Festival in the Chinese Calendar, which falls on the 105th day after dongzhi...

, and others were universal holidays. In the capital city of Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

 there was always lively celebration, especially for the Lantern Festival
Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival ; is a festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar year in the Chinese calendar, the last day...

 since the city's nighttime curfew
Curfew
A curfew is an order specifying a time after which certain regulations apply. Examples:# An order by a government for certain persons to return home daily before a certain time...

 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 carnival
Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

s nationwide, granted by the emperor in the case of special circumstances such as important military victories, abundant harvest
Harvest
Harvest is the process of gathering mature crops from the fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper...

s after a long drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

 or famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

, the granting of amnesties
Amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

, the installment of a new crown prince
Crown Prince
A crown prince or crown princess is the heir or heiress apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The wife of a crown prince is also titled crown princess....

, 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.

Chang'an, the Tang capital

Although Chang'an was the site for 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. 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 block
City block
A city block, urban block or simply block is a central element of urban planning and urban design. A city block is the smallest area that is surrounded by streets. City blocks are the space for buildings within the street pattern of a city, they form the basic unit of a city's urban fabric...

s. 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
Heian period
The is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height...

, the city of Heian kyō (present-day Kyoto
Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

) 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 Daoist 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
Cuju
Cuju is an ancient code of football with similarities to association football. It is seen by some to be a forerunner of modern football and originated in China, and was also played in Korea, Japan and Vietnam.-History:...

 football.

The Tang capital was the largest city in the world at its time, the population of the city wards and its suburban countryside reaching 2 million inhabitants. The Tang capital was very cosmopolitan, with ethnicities of Persia, Central Asia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, 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
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Nestorian Christianity
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

, Manichaeism
Manichaeism
Manichaeism in Modern Persian Āyin e Māni; ) was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia.Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived...

, Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

, Judaism, and Islam being practiced within. With widely open access to China that the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 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 Tocharian ladies
Tocharians
The Tocharians were the Tocharian-speaking inhabitants of the Tarim Basin, making them the easternmost speakers of Indo-European languages in antiquity. They were known as, or at least closely related to, the Yuezhi of Chinese sources...

 serving wine in agate
Agate
Agate is a microcrystalline variety of silica, chiefly chalcedony, characterised by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks and can be common in certain metamorphic rocks.-Etymology...

 and amber
Amber
Amber is fossilized tree resin , which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Amber is used as an ingredient in perfumes, as a healing agent in folk medicine, and as jewelry. There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents...

 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 Uighurs
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

 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
Yangzhou is a prefecture-level city in central Jiangsu Province, People's Republic of China. Sitting on the northern bank of the Yangtze River, it borders the provincial capital of Nanjing to the southwest, Huai'an to the north, Yancheng to the northeast, Taizhou to the east, and Zhenjiang across...

 along the Grand Canal
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

 and close to the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 was the greatest economic center during the Tang era.
Yangzhou was the headquarters for the Tang's government monopoly
Government monopoly
In economics, a government monopoly is a form of coercive monopoly in which a government agency or government corporation is the sole provider of a particular good or service and competition is prohibited by law...

 on salt, and 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
Guangzhou
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

 in the south, Yangzhou boasted thousands of foreign traders from all across Asia.

There was also the secondary capital city of Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

, which was the favored capital of the two by Empress Wu
Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian , personal name Wu Zhao , often referred to as Tian Hou during the Tang Dynasty and Empress Consort Wu in later times, was the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant...

. 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 capital 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
Golden Age
The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages, and then the present, a period of decline...

 of Chinese literature and art
Chinese art
Chinese art is visual art that, whether ancient or modern, originated in or is practiced in China or by Chinese artists or performers. Early so-called "stone age art" dates back to 10,000 BC, mostly consisting of simple pottery and sculptures. This early period was followed by a series of art...

. There are over 48,900 poems penned by some 2,200 Tang authors that have survived until modern times. Perfecting one's skills 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 esteemed guests at banquet
Banquet
A banquet is a large meal or feast, complete with main courses and desserts. It usually serves a purpose such as a charitable gathering, a ceremony, or a celebration, and is often preceded or followed by speeches in honour of someone....

s and courtiers of elite social gatherings was common in the Tang period. Poetry styles that were popular in the Tang included gushi and jintishi, with the renowned Tang poet Li Bai
Li Bai
Li Bai , also known in the West by various other transliterations, especially Li Po, was a major Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty poetry period. He has been regarded as one of the greatest poets in China's Tang period, which is often called China's "golden age" of poetry. Around a thousand existing...

 (701–762) famous for the former style, and Tang poets like Wang Wei (701–761) and Cui Hao
Cui Hao (poet)
Cui Hao was a Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty in China.Cui Hao was born in Biànzhōu and passed the imperial examinations in 723. He is known to have traveled extensively as an official, particularly between the years 723-744. He was known for three poetry topic - women, frontier outposts, and...

 (704–754) famous for their use of the latter. Jintishi poetry, or regulated verse, is in the form of eight-line stanza
Stanza
In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. In modern poetry, the term is often equivalent with strophe; in popular vocal music, a stanza is typically referred to as a "verse"...

s or seven characters per line with a fixed pattern of tones that required the second and third couplets to be antithetical (although the antithesis
Antithesis
Antithesis is a counter-proposition and denotes a direct contrast to the original proposition...

 is often lost in translation to other languages). Tang poems in particular remain the most popular out of every historical era of China. This great emulation of Tang era poetry began in the Song Dynasty; in that period, Yan Yu (嚴羽; active 1194–1245) asserted that he was the first to designate the poetry of the High Tang (c. 713–766) era as the orthodox material 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
Du Fu was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty.Along with Li Bai , he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations...

 (712–770), who was not viewed as such in his own era, and was branded by his peers as an anti-traditional rebel.

There were other important literary forms besides poetry during the Tang period. There was Duan Chengshi
Duan Chengshi
Duan Chengshi was an author and scholar of the Tang Dynasty in China. He was born to a wealthy family in present day Zibo, Shandong. A descendant of the early Tang official Duan Zhixuan 段志玄 , and the son of Duan Wenchang 段文昌, a high official under Tang Xuanzong, his family background enabled him...

's (d. 863) Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang
Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang
The Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang is a miscellany of Chinese and foreign legends and hearsay, reports on natural phenomena, short anecdotes, and tales of the wondrous and mundane, as well as notes on such topics as medicinal herbs and tattoos....

, an entertaining collection of foreign legends and hearsay, reports on natural phenomena, short anecdote
Anecdote
An anecdote is a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. It may be as brief as the setting and provocation of a bon mot. An anecdote is always presented as based on a real incident involving actual persons, whether famous or not, usually in an identifiable place...

s, 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.

Short story fiction and tales were also popular during the Tang, one of the more famous ones being Yingying's Biography by Yuan Zhen
Yuan Zhen
Yuan Zhen , courtesy name Weizhi , was a politician of the middle Tang Dynasty, but is more known as an important Chinese writer and poet, particularly for work Yingying's Biography , which was often adapted for other treatments, including operatic and musical ones...

 (779–831), which was widely circulated in his own time and by the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 (1279–1368) became the basis for plays in Chinese opera
Chinese opera
Chinese opera is a popular form of drama and musical theatre in China with roots going back as far as the third century CE...

. 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 melancholy
Melancholia
Melancholia , also lugubriousness, from the Latin lugere, to mourn; moroseness, from the Latin morosus, self-willed, fastidious habit; wistfulness, from old English wist: intent, or saturnine, , in contemporary usage, is a mood disorder of non-specific depression,...

. Wong states that this scheme lacks the undying vows and total self-commitment to love found in Western romances such as Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular archetypal stories of young, teenage lovers.Romeo and Juliet belongs to a...

, 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 encyclopedia
Encyclopedia
An encyclopedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding a summary of information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge....

s published in the Tang. The Yiwen Leiju
Yiwen Leiju
The Yiwen Leiju is a Chinese encyclopedia completed during the Tang Dynasty by the calligrapher Ouyang Xun.It was divided into 47 sections and many subsections. It covered all subjects and contains many quotations from older works, many long lost. It also cites its sources. It was completed by...

encyclopedia was compiled in 624 by the chief editor Ouyang Xun
Ouyang Xun
Ouyang Xun , courtesy name Xinben , was a Confucian scholar and calligrapher of the early Tang Dynasty. He was born in Hunan, Changsha, to a family of government officials; and died in modern Anhui province.-Achievements:...

 (557–641) as well as Linghu Defen
Linghu Defen
Linghu Defen , formally Duke Xian of Pengyang , was an official of the Chinese dynasties Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty...

 (582–666) and Chen Shuda
Chen Shuda
Chen Shuda , courtesy name Zicong , formally initially Duke Miao of Jiang , later Duke Zhong of Jiang , was an imperial prince of the Chinese dynasty Chen Dynasty, who, after Chen's destruction, served as an official for the succeeding Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty, becoming a chancellor during the...

 (d. 635). The encyclopedia Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era
Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era
The Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era is a Chinese astrology encyclopedia compiled by the lead editor Gautama Siddha and numerous scholars from 714 to 724 AD during the Kaiyuan era of Tang Dynasty. The compilation is attributed to the author by 729. Its full title is regarded as the Great...

was fully compiled in 729 by Gautama Siddha
Gautama Siddha
Gautama Siddha, astronomer, astrologer and compiler of Indian descent, known for leading the compilation of the Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era during the Tang Dynasty. He was born in Chang'an, and his family was originally from India, according to a tomb stele uncovered in 1977 in Xi'an...

 (fl. 8th century), an ethnic Indian astronomer, astrologer, and scholar born in the capital Chang'an.

Chinese geographers such as Jia Dan
Jia Dan
Jia Dan , courtesy name Dunshi , formally Duke Yuanjing of Wei , was a Chinese scholar-official, general, geographer, and cartographer from Cangzhou, Hebei during the Tang Dynasty of China.- Background :...

 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
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

, and that the medieval Iranians
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

 (whom he called the people of Luo-He-Yi) had erected 'ornamental pillars' in the sea that acted as lighthouse
Lighthouse
A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses or, in older times, from a fire, and used as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways....

 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
Al-Muqaddasi
Muhammad ibn Ahmad Shams al-Din Al-Muqaddasi , also transliterated as Al-Maqdisi and el-Mukaddasi, was a medieval Arab geographer, author of Ahsan at-Taqasim fi Ma`rifat il-Aqalim .-Biography:Al-Muqaddasi, "the Hierosolomite" was born in Jerusalem in 946 AD...

. The Tang Dynasty Chinese diplomat Wang Xuance
Wang Xuance
Wang Xuance , fl. 7th century) was a Tang Dynasty guard officer and diplomat. In 648, Tang Taizong sent him to India in response to Harshavardhana sending an ambassador to China. However once in India he discovered Harshavardhana had died and the new king attacked Wang and his 30 mounted subordinates...

 traveled to Magadha
Magadha
Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganga; its first capital was Rajagriha then Pataliputra...

 (modern northeastern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

) 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
Emperor Taizong of Tang
Emperor Taizong of Tang , personal name Lǐ Shìmín , was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, ruling from 626 to 649...

. These included the Book of Liang
Book of Liang
The Book of Liang , was compiled under Yao Silian, completed in 635. The book heavily relied on his father, Yao Ca's original manuscript, as his comments were quoted in several chapters....

, Book of Chen
Book of Chen
The Book of Chen was the official history of the Chinese dynasty Chen Dynasty. It ranks among the official Twenty-Four Histories of imperial China, and was compiled by the Tang Dynasty historian Yao Silian, completed in 636....

, Book of Northern Qi
Book of Northern Qi
The Book of Northern Qi , was the official history of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. It was written by the Tang Dynasty historian Li Baiyao and was completed in 636. It is listed among the official Twenty-Four Histories of China. The original book contains 50 chapters but it was found during...

, Book of Zhou
Book of Zhou
The Book of Zhou was the official history of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Zhou, and it ranks among the official Twenty-Four Histories of imperial China. It was compiled by the Tang Dynasty historian Linghu Defen and was completed in 636...

, Book of Sui
Book of Sui
The Book of Sui was the official history of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty, and it ranks among the official Twenty-Four Histories of imperial China. It was compiled by a team of historians led by the Tang Dynasty official Wei Zheng and was completed in 636.-External links:* of the Book of Sui,...

, Book of Jin
Book of Jin
The Book of Jin is one of the official Chinese historical works. It covers the history of Jin Dynasty from 265 to 420, which written by a number of officials commissioned by the court of Tang Dynasty, with the lead editor being the Prime Minister Fang Xuanling, drawing mostly from the official...

, History of Northern Dynasties
History of Northern Dynasties
The History of Northern Dynasties is one of the official Chinese historical works in the Twenty-Four Histories canon. It contain 100 volumes and covers the period from 386 to 618, the histories of Northern Wei, Western Wei, Eastern Wei, Northern Zhou, Northern Qi, and Sui Dynasty...

and the History of Southern Dynasties
History of Southern Dynasties
The History of Southern Dynasties is one of the official Chinese historical works in the Twenty-Four Histories canon. It contain 80 volumes and covers the period from 420 to 589, the histories of Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang Dynasty, and Chen Dynasty. Like the History of Northern Dynasties, the...

. Although not included in the official Twenty-Four Histories
Twenty-Four Histories
The Twenty-Four Histories is a collection of Chinese historical books covering a period from 3000 BC to the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century. The whole set contains 3213 volumes and about 40 million words...

, the Tongdian
Tongdian
The Tongdian is a Chinese institutional history and encyclopedia text. It covers a panoply of topics from high antiquity through the year 756, whereas a quarter of the book focuses on the Tang Dynasty. The book was written by Du You from 766 to 801...

and Tang Huiyao
Tang Huiyao
The Tang Huiyao is an institutional history of Tang Dynasty compiled by Wang Pu and presented it to Emperor Taizu of Song in 961. The book contains 100 volumes and 514 sections, it has an abundant content for the period before 846, and scarce material unobtainable from the Tongdian, Book of Tang,...

were nonetheless valuable written historical works of the Tang period. The Shitong
Shitong
The Shitong is the first Chinese work about historiography compiled by Liu Zhiji between 708 and 710. The book describes the general pattern of the past official dynastic historiography on structure, method, order of arrangement, sequence, caption and commentary back to the pre-Qin era.It contains...

written by Liu Zhiji
Liu Zhiji
Liu Zhiji , courtesy name Zixuan , was a Chinese historian and author of the Shitong born in present-day Xuzhou, Jiangsu during the Tang Dynasty. Liu's father Liu Zangqi and elder brother Liu Zhirou were officials, famous for their literary compositions...

 in 710 was a meta-history, as it covered the history of Chinese historiography
Chinese historiography
Chinese historiography refers to the study of methods and assumptions made in studying Chinese history.-History of Chinese Historians:Record of Chinese history dated back to the Shang Dynasty. The Classic of History, one of the Five Classics of Chinese classic texts is one of the earliest...

 in past centuries until his time. The Great Tang Records on the Western Regions
Great Tang Records on the Western Regions
The Great Tang Records on the Western Regions is a narrative of Xuanzang's nineteen year journey through Chang'an to Central Asia and eventually South Asia between 626 and 645...

, compiled by Bianji
Bianji
Bianji was a Chinese Buddhist monk, translator and the author of Great Tang Records on the Western Regions lived during the Tang Dynasty. Little is known about his life, he was a translator of several Buddhist scriptures and sutras before he was executed by Emperor Taizong, who was angry about his...

, recounted the journey of Xuanzang
Xuanzang
Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period...

, the Tang era's most renowned Buddhist monk.

The Classical Prose Movement
Classical Prose Movement
The Classical Prose Movement of the late Tang dynasty and the Song dynasty in China advocated clarity and precision rather than the florid piantiwen or parallel prose style that had been popular since the Han dynasty...

 was spurred large in part by the writings of Tang authors Liu Zongyuan
Liu Zongyuan
Liu Zongyuan , courtesy name Zihou , was a Chinese writer who lived in Chang'an during the Tang Dynasty. Liu was born in present-day Yongji, Shanxi, along with Han Yu, he was a founder of the Classical Prose Movement...

 (773–819) and Han Yu
Han Yu
Han Yu , born in Nanyang, Henan, China, was a precursor of Neo-Confucianism as well as an essayist and poet, during the Tang dynasty. The Indiana Companion calls him "comparable in stature to Dante, Shakespeare or Goethe" for his influence on the Chinese literary tradition . He stood for strong...

 (768–824). This new prose style broke away from the poetry tradition of the 'piantiwen' style begun in the ancient 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 orthodox
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism is an ethical and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and Li Ao in the Tang Dynasty....

.

Religion and philosophy

Since ancient times, the Chinese believed in a folk religion
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

 that incorporated many deities. The Chinese believed that the afterlife was a reality parallel to the living world, complete with its own bureaucracy and afterlife currency needed by dead ancestors. This is 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
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, originating in India around the time of Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

, continued to flourish during the Tang period and was adopted by the imperial family, becoming thoroughly sinicized and a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture. In an age before Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism is an ethical and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and Li Ao in the Tang Dynasty....

 and figures such as Zhu Xi
Zhu Xi
Zhū​ Xī​ or Chu Hsi was a Song Dynasty Confucian scholar who became the leading figure of the School of Principle and the most influential rationalist Neo-Confucian in China...

 (1130–1200), Buddhism had begun to flourish in China during the Southern and Northern Dynasties
Southern and Northern Dynasties
The Southern and Northern Dynasties was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589 AD. Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spreading of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism...

, 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 convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

s and temples that were exempt from state taxes beforehand were targeted by the state for taxation. In 845 Emperor Wuzong of Tang
Emperor Wuzong of Tang
Emperor Wuzong of Tang , né Li Chan , later changed to Li Yan just before his death, was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, reigning from 840 to 846. Emperor Wuzong is mainly known in modern times for the religious persecution that occurred during his reign...

 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
Four Buddhist Persecutions in China
The Four Buddhist Persecutions in China was the wholesale suppression of Buddhism carried out on four occasions from the fifth through the tenth century by four Chinese emperors.-First and Second:...

. 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 new revival of interest in native Chinese philosophies, such as Confucianism and Daoism. Han Yu
Han Yu
Han Yu , born in Nanyang, Henan, China, was a precursor of Neo-Confucianism as well as an essayist and poet, during the Tang dynasty. The Indiana Companion calls him "comparable in stature to Dante, Shakespeare or Goethe" for his influence on the Chinese literary tradition . He stood for strong...

 (786–824)—who Arthur F. Wright
Arthur F. Wright
Arthur Frederick Wright was an American academic, sinologist, editor and professor of history at Yale University. He specialized in Chinese social and intellectual history of the pre-modern period.- Early life:...

 stated was a "brilliant polemicist and ardent xenophobe
Xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek words ξένος , meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος , meaning "fear."...

"—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, Chán Buddhism
Zen
Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism founded by the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. The word Zen is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chán , which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "meditation" or "meditative state."Zen...

 gained popularity amongst the educated elite. There were also many famous Chan monks from the Tang era, such as Mazu Daoyi
Mazu Daoyi
Mazu Daoyi was a Ch'an Buddhist master in China during the Tang dynasty. In dharma-succession through Nanyue to the Sixth Patriarch, Mazu Daoyi contributed far-reaching insights and changes in teaching methods regarding the transmission of awareness...

, Baizhang
Baizhang
Baizhang Huaihai was a Chinese Zen master during the Tang Dynasty. He was a dharma heir of Mazu Daoyi . Baizhang's students included Huangbo, Linji and Puhua....

, and Huangbo Xiyun
Huangbo Xiyun
Huángbò Xīyùn was an influential Chinese master of Zen Buddhism. He was born in Fujian, China in the Tang Dynasty. Huángbò was a disciple of Baizhang Huaihai and the teacher of Linji Yixuan .-Biography:Very little about Huángbò‘s life is known for certain as, unlike other Transmission of the...

. The sect of Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism
Pure Land Buddhism , also referred to as Amidism in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and currently one of the most popular traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha Buddha...

 initiated by the Chinese monk Huiyuan (334–416) was also just as popular as Chan Buddhism during the Tang.
Rivaling Buddhism was Daoism, a native Chinese philosophical and religious belief system that found its roots in the book of the Daodejing
Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching, Dao De Jing, or Daodejing , also simply referred to as the Laozi, whose authorship has been attributed to Laozi, is a Chinese classic text...

(attributed to Laozi
Laozi
Laozi was a mystic philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching . His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of Taoism...

 in the 6th century BC) and the Zhuangzi
Zhuangzi
Zhuangzi was an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BCE during the Warring States Period, a period corresponding to the philosophical summit of Chinese thought — the Hundred Schools of Thought, and is credited with writing—in part or in whole—a work known by his name,...

. The ruling Li family of the Tang Dynasty actually claimed descent from the ancient Laozi. On numerous occasions where Tang princes would become crown prince or Tang princesses taking vows as Daoist priestesses, their lavish former mansions would be converted into Daoist abbey
Abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

s and places of worship. Many Daoists were associated with alchemy
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

 in their pursuits to find an elixir of immortality
Elixir of life
The elixir of life, also known as the elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher's stone, is a legendary potion, or drink, that grants the drinker eternal life and or eternal youth. Many practitioners of alchemy pursued it. The elixir of life was also said to be able to create...

 and a means to create gold from concocted mixtures of many other elements. Although they never achieved their goals in either of these futile pursuits, they did contribute to the discovery of new metal alloys, porcelain products, and new dyes. The historian Joseph Needham labeled the work of the Daoist alchemists as "proto-science rather than pseudo-science." However, the close connection between Daoism and alchemy, which some sinologists
Sinology
Sinology in general use is the study of China and things related to China, but, especially in the American academic context, refers more strictly to the study of classical language and literature, and the philological approach...

 have asserted, is refuted by Nathan Sivin
Nathan Sivin
Nathan Sivin , also known as Xiwen is an American author, scholar, sinologist, historian, essayist, and currently professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania...

, who states that alchemy was just as prominent (if not more so) in the secular sphere and practiced more often by laymen.

The Tang Dynasty also officially recognized various foreign religions. The Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, otherwise known as the Nestorian Christian Church, was given recognition by the Tang court. In 781, the Nestorian Stele
Nestorian Stele
The Nestorian Stele is aTang Chinese stele erected in 781 that documents 150 years of history of early Christianity in China. It is a 279-cm tall limestone block with text in both Chinese and Syriac, describing the existence of Christian communities in several cities in northern China...

 was created in order to honor the achievements of their community in China. A Christian monastery was established in Shaanxi province where the Daqin Pagoda
Daqin Pagoda
Daqin Pagoda in Chang'an, Shaanxi Province, located about two kilometres to the west of Louguantai temple, is the remnant of the earliest surviving Christian church in China. The church and the monastery were built in 640 by early Nestorian missionaries...

 still stands, and inside the pagoda there is Christian-themed artwork. Although the religion largely died out after the Tang, it was revived in China following the Mongol invasions of the 13th century.

Tang 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 Daoist priestesses. The head mistresses of the bordellos in the North Hamlet of the capital Chang'an acquired large amounts of wealth and power. Their high-class courtesan
Courtesan
A courtesan was originally a female courtier, which means a person who attends the court of a monarch or other powerful person.In feudal society, the court was the centre of government as well as the residence of the monarch, and social and political life were often completely mixed together...

s, who likely influenced the Japanese geisha
Geisha
, Geiko or Geigi are traditional, female Japanese entertainers whose skills include performing various Japanese arts such as classical music and dance.-Terms:...

s, were well respected. These courtesans were known as great singers and poets, supervised banquets and feasts, knew the rules to all the drinking game
Drinking game
Drinking games are games which involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages. These games vary widely in scope and complexity, although the purpose of most is to become intoxicated as quickly as possible...

s, and were trained to have the utmost respectable table manners
Table manners
Table manners are the rules of etiquette used while eating, which may also include the appropriate use of utensils. Different cultures observe different rules for table manners...

.

Although they were renowned for their polite behavior, the courtesans were known to dominate the conversation amongst 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
Polo
Polo is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Sometimes called, "The Sport of Kings", it was highly popularized by the British. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team's goal using a...

 from Persia became a wildly popular trend amongst the Chinese elite, and women often played the sport (as glazed earthenware
Earthenware
Earthenware is a common ceramic material, which is used extensively for pottery tableware and decorative objects.-Types of earthenware:Although body formulations vary between countries and even between individual makers, a generic composition is 25% ball clay, 28% kaolin, 32% quartz, and 15%...

 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 Empress Wu
Wu Zetian
Wu Zetian , personal name Wu Zhao , often referred to as Tian Hou during the Tang Dynasty and Empress Consort Wu in later times, was the only woman in the history of China to assume the title of Empress Regnant...

, such as Yang Guifei
Yang Guifei
Consort Yang Yuhuan , often known as Yáng Guìfēi , known briefly by the Taoist nun name Taizhen , was known as one of the Four Beauties of ancient China...

 (719–756), who had Emperor Xuanzong appoint many of her relatives and cronies to important ministerial and martial positions.

Tea, food, and necessities

During the earlier Southern and Northern Dynasties
Southern and Northern Dynasties
The Southern and Northern Dynasties was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589 AD. Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spreading of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism...

 (420–589), and perhaps even earlier, the drinking of tea (Camelia 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 Tang poet Lu Tong
Lu Tong
-Brief:Lu Tong was a Chinese poet of Tang Dynasty known for his lifelong study of the "Tea Culture". He was a peculiar man who never became an official, and is better known for his love of tea than his poetry.-About the Lu Tong and his tea poems:...

 (790–835) devoted most of his poetry to his love of tea. The 8th century author Lu Yu
Lu Yu
Lu Yu is respected as the Sage of Tea for his contribution to Chinese tea culture. He is best known for his monumental book The Classic of Tea , the first definitive work on cultivating, making and drinking tea.-Biography:...

 (known as the Sage of Tea) even wrote a treatise on the art of drinking tea, called the Classic of Tea (Chájīng). Although wrapping paper
Wrapping Paper
"Wrapping Paper" is a song with music composed by Jack Bruce and lyrics by Pete Brown, performed by Cream and originally released as a single in 1966 with "Cat's Squirrel" as the B side. It is featured on The Very Best of Cream...

 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. Indeed, paper found many other uses besides writing and wrapping during the Tang era. Earlier, the first recorded use of toilet paper
Toilet paper
Toilet paper is a soft paper product used to maintain personal hygiene after human defecation or urination. However, it can also be used for other purposes such as blowing one's nose when one has a cold or absorbing common spills around the house, although paper towels are more used for the latter...

 was made in 589 by the scholar-official Yan Zhitui
Yan Zhitui
Yan Zhitui was a Chinese scholar, calligrapher, painter, musician, and government official who served four different Chinese states during the late Southern and Northern Dynasties: the Liang Dynasty in southern China, the Northern Qi and Northern Zhou Dynasties of northern China, and their...

 (531–591), and in 851 an Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 Muslim traveler commented on how the Tang era Chinese were not careful about cleanliness because they did not wash with water when going to the bathroom; instead, he said, the Chinese simply used paper to wipe themselves.

In ancient times, the Chinese had outlined the five most basic foodstuffs known as the five grains: sesamum
Sesamum
Sesamum is a genus of approximately 20 species in the flowering plant family Pedaliaceae. The plants are annual or perennial herbs with edible seeds. The best-known member of the genus is sesame, Sesamum indicum , the source of sesame seeds. The species are primarily African, with some species...

, legumes, wheat, panicle
Panicle
A panicle is a compound raceme, a loose, much-branched indeterminate inflorescence with pedicellate flowers attached along the secondary branches; in other words, a branched cluster of flowers in which the branches are racemes....

d millet
Millet
The millets are a group of small-seeded species of cereal crops or grains, widely grown around the world for food and fodder. They do not form a taxonomic group, but rather a functional or agronomic one. Their essential similarities are that they are small-seeded grasses grown in difficult...

, and glutinous millet. The Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 encyclopedist
Encyclopedia
An encyclopedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding a summary of information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge....

 Song Yingxing
Song Yingxing
Song Yingxing , born in Yichun of Jiangxi, was a Chinese scientist and encyclopedist who lived during the late Ming Dynasty . He was the author of an encyclopedia that covered a wide variety of technical subjects, including the use of gunpowder weapons...

 (1587–1666) noted that rice was not counted amongst the five grains from the time of the legendary and deified Chinese sage Shennong
Shennong
Shennong , which names mean "Divine Farmer", but also known as the Emperor of the Five Grains , was a legendary ruler of China and culture hero reputed to have lived some 5,000 years ago...

 (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.

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 (especially preferred in the north), sea otter
Sea Otter
The sea otter is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg , making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals...

, bear (which was hard to catch, but there were recipes for steamed, boiled, and marinated bear), and even Bactrian camel
Bactrian camel
The Bactrian camel is a large, even-toed ungulate native to the steppes of central Asia. It is presently restricted in the wild to remote regions of the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts of Mongolia and Xinjiang. A small number of wild Bactrian camels still roam the Mangystau Province of southwest...

s. In the south along the coast meat from seafood was by default the most common, as the Chinese enjoyed eating cooked jellyfish
Jellyfish
Jellyfish are free-swimming members of the phylum Cnidaria. Medusa is another word for jellyfish, and refers to any free-swimming jellyfish stages in the phylum Cnidaria...

 with cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

, Sichuan pepper
Sichuan Pepper
Sichuan pepper is the outer pod of the tiny fruit of a number of species in the genus Zanthoxylum , widely grown and consumed in Asia as a spice. Despite the name, it is not related to black pepper or to chili peppers...

, cardamom
Cardamom
Cardamom refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds...

, and ginger
Ginger
Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family . Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal....

, as well as oysters with wine, fried squid with ginger and vinegar, horseshoe crabs and red crabs, shrimp, and pufferfish, which the Chinese called 'river piglet'. Some foods were also off-limits, as the Tang court encouraged people not to eat beef (since the bull was a valuable draft animal), and from 831 to 833 Emperor Wenzong of Tang
Emperor Wenzong of Tang
Emperor Wenzong of Tang , personal name Li Ang , né Li Han , was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China. He reigned from 827 to 840. Emperor Wenzong was the second son of Emperor Muzong and younger brother of Emperor Jingzong...

 even banned the slaughter of cattle on the grounds of his religious convictions to Buddhism. From the trade overseas and over land, the Chinese acquired peaches from Samarkand, date palms, pistachios, and figs from Persia, pine seeds and ginseng roots from Korea, and mangoes from Southeast Asia. In China, there was a great demand for sugar; during the reign of Harsha
Harsha
Harsha or Harsha Vardhana or Harshvardhan was an Indian emperor who ruled northern India from 606 to 647 AD. He was the son of Prabhakara Vardhana and younger brother of Rajya Vardhana, a king of Thanesar, Haryana...

 (r. 606–647) over North India
North India
North India, known natively as Uttar Bhārat or Shumālī Hindustān , is a loosely defined region in the northern part of India. The exact meaning of the term varies by usage...

, Indian envoys to Tang China brought two makers of sugar who successfully taught the Chinese how to cultivate sugarcane
Sugarcane
Sugarcane refers to any of six to 37 species of tall perennial grasses of the genus Saccharum . Native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia, they have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six metres tall...

. Cotton also came from India as a finished product from Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, 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.

Methods of food preservation
Food preservation
Food preservation is the process of treating and handling food to stop or slow down spoilage and thus allow for longer storage....

 were important, and practiced throughout China. The common people used simple methods of preservation, such as digging deep ditches and trenches, brining
Brining
In cooking, brining is a process similar to marination in which meat is soaked in brine before cooking.Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked,...

, 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 0.91 m (3 ft) by 0.91 m by 1.06 m (3½ ft). There were many frozen delicacies enjoyed during the summer, especially chilled melon.

Science, technology, and medicine

Engineering

Technology during the Tang period was built also upon the precedents of the past. Advancements in clockworks and timekeeping included the mechanical gear systems of Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar from Nanyang, Henan. He lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty of China. He was educated in the capital cities of Luoyang and Chang'an, and began his career as a...

 (78–139) and Ma Jun
Ma Jun
Ma Jun , style name Deheng , was a Chinese mechanical engineer and government official during the Three Kingdoms era of China...

 (fl. 3rd century) gave the Tang engineer, astronomer, and monk Yi Xing
Yi Xing
Yi Xing , born Zhang Sui , was a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, mechanical engineer,and Buddhist monk of the Tang Dynasty...

 (683–727) inspiration when he invented the world's first clockwork escapement
Escapement
In mechanical watches and clocks, an escapement is a device that transfers energy to the timekeeping element and enables counting the number of oscillations of the timekeeping element...

 mechanism in 725. This was used alongside a clepsydra
Water clock
A water clock or clepsydra is any timepiece in which time is measured by the regulated flow of liquid into or out from a vessel where the amount is then measured.Water clocks, along with sundials, are likely to be the oldest time-measuring instruments, with the only exceptions...

 clock and waterwheel to power a rotating armillary sphere
Armillary sphere
An armillary sphere is a model of objects in the sky , consisting of a spherical framework of rings, centred on Earth, that represent lines of celestial longitude and latitude and other astronomically important features such as the ecliptic...

 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
Striking clock
A striking clock is a clock that sounds the hours audibly on a bell or gong. In 12 hour striking, used most commonly in striking clocks today, the clock strikes once at 1 AM, twice at 2 AM, continuing in this way up to twelve times at 12 noon, then starts over, striking once at 1 PM, twice at 2...

. Yi Xing's astronomical clock
Astronomical clock
An astronomical clock is a clock with special mechanisms and dials to display astronomical information, such as the relative positions of the sun, moon, zodiacal constellations, and sometimes major planets.-Definition:...

 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
Steelyard balance
A steelyard balance or steelyard is a straight-beam balance with arms of unequal length. It incorporates a counterweight which slides along the calibrated longer arm to counterbalance the load and indicate its weight...

 that allowed seasonal adjustment in the pressure head
Pressure head
Pressure head is a term used in fluid mechanics to represent the internal energy of a fluid due to the pressure exerted on its container. It may also be called static pressure head or simply static 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. This included a 0.91 m (3 ft) 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 lacquer
Lacquer
In a general sense, lacquer is a somewhat imprecise term for a clear or coloured varnish that dries by solvent evaporation and often a curing process as well that produces a hard, durable finish, in any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss and that can be further polished as required...

ed-wooden tortoise frame. This intricate device used a hydraulic pump that siphoned wine out of metal dragon
Chinese dragon
Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore, with mythic counterparts among Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Western and Turkic dragons. In Chinese art, dragons are typically portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creatures with four legs...

-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:
Although the use of a teasing mechanical puppet in this wine-serving device was certainly ingenious, the use of mechanical puppets in China date back to the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 (221–207 BC) while Ma Jun
Ma Jun
Ma Jun , style name Deheng , was a Chinese mechanical engineer and government official during the Three Kingdoms era of China...

 in the 3rd century 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 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 automaton
Automaton
An automaton is a self-operating machine. The word is sometimes used to describe a robot, more specifically an autonomous robot. An alternative spelling, now obsolete, is automation.-Etymology:...

s used in the Tang, including general Yang Wulian's wooden statue of a monk who stretched his hands out to collect contributions; when the amount 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
Slot machine
A slot machine , informally fruit machine , the slots , poker machine or "pokies" or simply slot is a casino gambling machine with three or more reels which spin when a button is pushed...

. Other devices included one by Wang Ju, whose "wooden otter" could allegedly catch fish; Needham suspects a spring trap
Spring (device)
A spring is an elastic object used to store mechanical energy. Springs are usually made out of spring steel. Small springs can be wound from pre-hardened stock, while larger ones are made from annealed steel and hardened after fabrication...

 of some kind was employed here.

In the realm of structural engineering and technical Chinese architecture
Chinese architecture
Chinese architecture refers to a style of architecture that has taken shape in East Asia over many centuries. The structural principles of Chinese architecture have remained largely unchanged, the main changes being only the decorative details...

, 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
Yingzao Fashi
The Yingzao Fashi is a technical treatise on architecture and craftsmanship written by the Chinese author Li Jie , the Directorate of Buildings and Construction during the mid Song Dynasty of China. A promising architect, he revised many older treatises on architecture from 1097 to 1100...

(State Building Standards) by 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
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang , also commonly known as Emperor Ming of Tang , personal name Li Longji , known as Wu Longji from 690 to 705, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 712 to 756. His reign of 43 years was the longest during the Tang Dynasty...

 (712–756) there were 34,850 registered craftsmen serving the state, managed by the Agency of Palace Buildings (Jingzuo Jian).

Woodblock printing

Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing
Woodblock 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 printing on textiles and later paper....

 made the written word available to vastly greater audiences. One of the world's oldest surviving printed documents is a miniature Buddhist dharani
Dharani
A ' is a type of ritual speech similar to a mantra. The terms dharani and satheesh may be seen as synonyms, although they are normally used in distinct contexts....

sutra
Sutra
Sūtra is an aphorism or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. Literally it means a thread or line that holds things together and is derived from the verbal root siv-, meaning to sew , as does the medical term...

 unearthed at Xi'an in 1974 and dated roughly from 650 to 670. The Diamond Sutra
Diamond Sutra
The Diamond Sūtra , is a short and well-known Mahāyāna sūtra from the Prajñāpāramitā, or "Perfection of Wisdom" genre, and emphasizes the practice of non-abiding and non-attachment...

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
Bi Sheng
Bì Shēng was the inventor of the first known movable type technology. Bi Sheng's system was made of Chinese porcelain and was invented between 1041 and 1048 in China.-Movable type printing:...

's movable type
Movable type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....

 printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 in the 11th century was innovative for his period, woodblock printing that became widespread in the Tang would remain the dominant printing type in China
History of typography in East Asia
The history of printing in East Asia refers to the use of woodblock printing and movable type printing by East Asian artisans. The former existed in Tang China as early as the 7th century, and the latter in Song China by the 11th century. Use of woodblock printing quickly spread to other East Asian...

 until the more advanced printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 from Europe became widely accepted and used in East Asia. The first use of the playing card
Playing card
A playing card is a piece of specially prepared heavy paper, thin cardboard, plastic-coated paper, cotton-paper blend, or thin plastic, marked with distinguishing motifs and used as one of a set for playing card games...

 during the Tang Dynasty was an auxiliary invention of the new age of printing.

Medicine

The Chinese of the Tang era were also very interested in the benefits of officially classifying all of the medicines
Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts which have been developed in China and are based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage , exercise , and dietary therapy...

 used in pharmacology
Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function...

. In 657, Emperor Gaozong of Tang
Emperor Gaozong of Tang
Emperor Gaozong of Tang , personal name Li Zhi , was the third emperor of the Tang Dynasty in China, ruling from 649 to 683...

 (r. 649–683) commissioned the literary project of publishing an official materia medica
Materia medica
Materia medica is a Latin medical term for the body of collected knowledge about the therapeutic properties of any substance used for healing . The term 'materia medica' derived from the title of a work by the Ancient Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides in the 1st century AD, De materia medica libre...

, complete with text and illustrated drawings for 833 different medicinal substances taken from different stones, minerals, metals, 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 Qian (d. 643) and Sun Simiao
Sun Simiao
Sun Simiao was a famous traditional Chinese medicine doctor of the Sui and Tang dynasty. He was titled as China's King of Medicine for his significant contributions to Chinese medicine and tremendous care to his patients....

 (581–682), the former who first identified in writing that patients with diabetes had an excess of sugar in their urine
Urine
Urine is a typically sterile liquid by-product of the body that is secreted by the kidneys through a process called urination and excreted through the urethra. Cellular metabolism generates numerous by-products, many rich in nitrogen, that require elimination from the bloodstream...

, and the latter who was the first to recognize that diabetic patients should avoid consuming alcohol and starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

y foods. As written by Zhen Qian and others in the Tang, the thyroid
Thyroid
The thyroid gland or simply, the thyroid , in vertebrate anatomy, is one of the largest endocrine glands. The thyroid gland is found in the neck, below the thyroid cartilage...

 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.

Cartography

In the realm of cartography
Cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

, there were further advances beyond the map-makers of the Han Dynasty. When the Tang chancellor Pei Ju
Pei Ju
Pei Ju , courtesy name Hongda , formally Duke Jing of Anyi , was a high level official during the Chinese dynasties Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty, briefly serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Gaozu of Tang...

 (547–627) was working for the Sui Dynasty as a Commercial Commissioner in 605, he created a well-known gridded map with a graduated scale
Scale (map)
The scale of a map is defined as the ratio of a distance on the map to the corresponding distance on the ground.If the region of the map is small enough for the curvature of the Earth to be neglected, then the scale may be taken as a constant ratio over the whole map....

 in the tradition of Pei Xiu
Pei Xiu
Pei Xiu , style name Jiyan , was a minister, geographer, and cartographer of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, as well as the subsequent Jin Dynasty. Pei Xiu was very much trusted by Sima Zhao, and participated in the suppression of Zhuge Dan's coup...

 (224–271). The Tang chancellor Xu Jingzong
Xu Jingzong
Xu Jingzong , courtesy name Yanzu , formally Duke Gong of Gaoyang , was a chancellor of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty...

 (592–672) was also known for his map of China drawn in the year 658. In the year 785 the Emperor Dezong
Emperor Dezong of Tang
Emperor Dezong of Tang , personally name Li Kuo , was an emperor of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and the oldest son of his father Emperor Daizong. His reign of 26 years was the third longest in the Tang dynasty...

 had the geographer and cartographer Jia Dan
Jia Dan
Jia Dan , courtesy name Dunshi , formally Duke Yuanjing of Wei , was a Chinese scholar-official, general, geographer, and cartographer from Cangzhou, Hebei during the Tang Dynasty of China.- Background :...

 (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
Li (unit)
The li is a traditional Chinese unit of distance, which has varied considerably over time but now has a standardized length of 500 meters or half a kilometer...

(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 chart
Star chart
A star chart is a map of the night sky. Astronomers divide these into grids to use them more easily. They are used to identify and locate astronomical objects such as stars, constellations and galaxies. They have been used for human navigation since time immemorial...

s. Despite this, the earliest extant terrain maps of China come from the ancient State of Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

; maps from the 4th century BC that were excavated in 1986.

Alchemy, gas cylinders, and air conditioning

The Chinese of the Tang period employed complex chemical formulas for an array of different purposes, often found through experiments of alchemy
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

. These included a waterproof and dust-repelling cream or varnish
Varnish
Varnish is a transparent, hard, protective finish or film primarily used in wood finishing but also for other materials. Varnish is traditionally a combination of a drying oil, a resin, and a thinner or solvent. Varnish finishes are usually glossy but may be designed to produce satin or semi-gloss...

 for clothes and weapons, fireproof
Fireproof
-Track List for Original 2002 Release:# "Fireproof" – 3:46# "Just 2 Get By" – 4:17# "Echelon" – 3:25# "Stay Up" – 3:40# "Behind Closed Doors" – 2:55# "Epidemic" – 3:14# "Hindsight" – 2:57# "Light at My Feet" – 3:28# "A Shame" – 3:17...

 cement for glass and porcelain wares, a waterproof cream applied to silk clothes of underwater divers
Underwater diving
Underwater diving is the practice of going underwater, either with breathing apparatus or by breath-holding .Recreational diving is a popular activity...

, a cream designated for polishing bronze mirrors, and many other useful formulas. The vitrified, translucent ceramic known as porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 was invented in China during the Tang, although many types of glazed ceramics preceded it.

Ever since the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (202 BC – 220 AD), the Chinese had drilled deep borehole
Borehole
A borehole is the generalized term for any narrow shaft bored in the ground, either vertically or horizontally. A borehole may be constructed for many different purposes, including the extraction of water or other liquid or gases , as part of a geotechnical investigation, environmental site...

s to transport natural gas from bamboo pipelines
Pipeline transport
Pipeline transport is the transportation of goods through a pipe. Most commonly, liquids and gases are sent, but pneumatic tubes that transport solid capsules using compressed air are also used....

 to stoves where cast iron
Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

 evaporation pans boiled brine
Brine
Brine is water, saturated or nearly saturated with salt .Brine is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, in a process known as brining . Brine is also commonly used to age Halloumi and Feta cheeses, or for pickling foodstuffs, as a means of preserving them...

 to extract salt. During the Tang Dynasty, a gazetteer
Gazetteer
A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary or directory, an important reference for information about places and place names , used in conjunction with a map or a full atlas. It typically contains information concerning the geographical makeup of a country, region, or continent as well as the social...

 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 cylinder
Gas cylinder
A gas cylinder is a pressure vessel used to store gases at above atmospheric pressure. High pressure gas cylinders are also called bottles. Although they are sometimes colloquially called "tanks", this is technically incorrect, as a tank is a vessel used to store liquids at ambient pressure and...

s; Robert Temple assumes some sort of tap
Tap (valve)
A tap is a valve controlling release of liquids or gas. In the British Isles and most of the Commonwealth, the word is used for any everyday type of valve, particularly the fittings that control water supply to bathtubs and sinks. In the U.S., the term "tap" is more often used for beer taps,...

 was used for this device.

The inventor Ding Huan (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 180 AD) of the Han Dynasty invented a rotary fan
Fan (mechanical)
A mechanical fan is a machine used to create flow within a fluid, typically a gas such as air.A fan consists of a rotating arrangement of vanes or blades which act on the air. Usually, it is contained within some form of housing or case. This may direct the airflow or increase safety by preventing...

 for air conditioning
Air conditioning
An air conditioner is a home appliance, system, or mechanism designed to dehumidify and extract heat from an area. The cooling is done using a simple refrigeration cycle...

, with seven wheels 3 m (10 ft) in diameter and manually powered. In 747, Emperor Xuanzong had a "Cool Hall" built in the imperial palace, which the Tang Yulin (唐語林) 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 Book of Tang
Book of Tang
The Book of Tang , Jiu Tangshu or the Old Book of Tang is the first classic work about the Tang Dynasty. The book began when Gaozu of Later Jin ordered its commencement in 941...

by Liu Xu (887–946 AD) et al. of the Later Jin
Later Jin Dynasty (Five Dynasties)
Note that there are four periods of Chinese history using the name "Jin" The Later Jìn was one of the Five Dynasties during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period in China. It was founded by Shi Jingtang, posthumously known as Gaozu of Later Jin...

, who redacted it during the last years of his life. This was edited into another history (labelled the New Book of Tang
New Book of Tang
The New Book of Tang , is a classic work of history about the Tang Dynasty edited by Ouyang Xiu and Song Qi and other official scholars of the Song Dynasty. The emperor called for a revision of the former Book of Tang in 1044. The New Book was presented to the throne in 1060. It was given its...

) in order to distinguish it, which was a work by the Song historians Ouyang Xiu
Ouyang Xiu
Ouyang Xiu was a Chinese statesman, historian, essayist and poet of the Song Dynasty. He is also known by his courtesy name of Yongshu, and was also self nicknamed The Old Drunkard 醉翁, or Householder of the One of Six 六一居士 in his old age...

 (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
Twenty-Four Histories
The Twenty-Four Histories is a collection of Chinese historical books covering a period from 3000 BC to the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century. The whole set contains 3213 volumes and about 40 million words...

of China. One of the surviving sources of the Book of Tang, primarily covering up to 756, is the Tongdian
Tongdian
The Tongdian is a Chinese institutional history and encyclopedia text. It covers a panoply of topics from high antiquity through the year 756, whereas a quarter of the book focuses on the Tang Dynasty. The book was written by Du You from 766 to 801...

, which Du You
Du You
Du You , courtesy name Junqing , formally Duke Anjian of Qi , was a Chinese scholar, historian and chancellor of the Tang Dynasty, who devoted thirty-six years to the compilation of the Tongdian, a historical encyclopedia with 200 sections , a collection of laws, regulations, and general events...

 presented to the emperor in 801. The Tang period was again placed into the enormous universal history
Universal history
Universal history is basic to the Western tradition of historiography, especially the Abrahamic wellspring of that tradition. Simply stated, universal history is the presentation of the history of humankind as a whole, as a coherent unit.-Ancient authors:...

 text of the Zizhi Tongjian
Zizhi Tongjian
The Zizhi Tongjian was a pioneering reference work in Chinese historiography, published in 1084, under the form of a chronicles. In 1065 CE, Emperor Yingzong of Song ordered the great historian Sima Guang to lead with other scholars such as his chief assistants Liu Shu, Liu Ban and Fan Zuyu, the...

, edited, compiled, and completed in 1084 by a team of scholars under the Song Dynasty Chancellor Sima Guang
Sima Guang
Sīmǎ Guāng was a Chinese historian, scholar, and high chancellor of the Song Dynasty, jinshi 1038.-Life, profession, and works:...

 (1019–1086). This historical text, written with 3 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

  • Di Renjie
    Di Renjie
    Dí Rénjié , courtesy name Huaiying , formally Duke Wenhui of Liang , was an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, twice serving as chancellor during her reign...

  • Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup
    Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup
    The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup or Eight Immortals Indulged in Wine were a group of Tang Dynasty scholars who are known for their love of alcoholic beverages. They are not deified and xian is metaphorical...

  • I Ching (monk)
    I Ching (monk)
    Yijing was a Tang Dynasty Chinese Buddhist monk, originally named Zhang Wenming . The written records of his travels contributed to the world knowledge of the ancient kingdom of Srivijaya, as well as providing information about the other kingdoms lying on the route between China and the Nālandā...

  • Kaiyuan Za Bao
    Kaiyuan Za Bao
    Kaiyuan Za Bao, or Kaiyuan Chao Pao, Bulletin of the Court, was an official publication which first appeared in the 8th century, during the Kaiyuan era. Its main subscribers were imperial officials. Every day the political news and domestic news were collected by the editors, and the writers...

    (government newspaper for officials)
  • List of Tang Emperors
  • List of tributaries of Imperial China
  • Nine Pinnacle Pagoda
    Nine Pinnacle Pagoda
    The Nine Pinnacle Pagoda or Jiuding Pagoda is an 8th century pavilion-style brick pagoda located in central Shandong Province, China. It is noted for its unique roof design featuring nine small pagodas.-Location:...

  • Qianling Mausoleum
    Qianling Mausoleum
    The Qianling Mausoleum is a Tang Dynasty tomb site located in Qian County, Shaanxi province, China, and is northwest from Xi'an, formerly the Tang capital. Built by 684 , the tombs of the mausoleum complex house the remains of various members of the royal Li family. This includes Emperor...

  • Tang Dynasty family tree
    Tang Dynasty family tree
    The following is a family tree of Chinese emperors from 581 to 1279, the second of three periods of 700 years, from the unification of China under the Sui Dynasty to the conquest of China by the Mongols under Kublai Khan....

  • Tang-Gokturk wars
  • Tang poetry
    Tang poetry
    Tang poetry refers to poetry written in or around the time of and in the characteristic style of China's Tang dynasty, and/or follows a certain style, often considered as the Golden Age of Chinese poetry...

  • Wei Zheng
    Wei Zheng
    Wei Zheng , courtesy name Xuancheng , formally Duke Wenzhen of Zheng , was a Chinese politician and the lead editor of the Book of Sui, composed in 636...

  • Yan Zhenqing
    Yan Zhenqing
    Yan Zhenqing was a leading Chinese calligrapher and a loyal governor of the Tang Dynasty. His artistic accomplishment in Chinese calligraphy parallels the greatest master calligraphers throughout the history, and his regular script style, Yan, is often imitated.-Early life:Yan Zhenqing was born...

  • Taxation in premodern China
    Taxation in premodern China
    In the premodern era of Chinese history, taxation by the various dynasties that ruled China varied greatly. Overall, the most important source of state revenue was the tax on agriculture, or land tax. During some dynasties, the government also imposed state monopolies which became important sources...



External links

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