The Han Dynasty

The Jade of Classical Chinese Civilization

Han Dynasty Economics

The Han dynasty had a strong central government. Evidence of this was the fact that this dynasty minted it own coins. Since the Han dynasty minted their own coins, they also controlled the weights, measures, inflation, and the availability of currency. Since this dynasty minted its own coins, there was a specific currency throughout the entire empire which allowed for more travel and an opportunity for a national government. As for taxes, most peasants paid them with crops and labor. The labor tax or corvee could also be paid with coin but since most peasants could not afford to do this they were forced to work for one month every year. The merchants were asked to pay double the normal tax.

Salt, iron, alcohol, and other products were very popular items and the government soon gained the greatest control of these items. This coin based economy was easier to control than an economy based off of barter. This system led to the control of economic growth that could be operated from a specific location. All of these factors led to the rich economy of the Han dynasty and later to the rich economy of all of China.

Han Dynasty Religion

Confucianism was the main philosophy of the Han dynasty because the rulers of this dynasty saw the harsh laws that the Qin empire inflicted on its followers because of their legalistic beliefs. The Qin empire saw its downfall because of these harsh rules. The Han dynasty did not want to make the same mistake so they took up Confucius principles and made more lenient rules for the people of this empire to avoid revolt. As Confucianism spread throughout the land so did Buddhism. Buddhism spread throughout China because the Silk Road trade router not only traded goods but also ideas and one of those ideas was Buddhism and since most people followed the religion of their ruler, the people of the Han empire took up Buddhism.

As Buddhism began to flourish in the Han empire so did Taoism. Taoism and Buddhism worked well together because they both had similar views of nature and harmony. Since Buddhism gave an explanation about nature, life and the afterlife, people were less restless about everything and there was a little more peace all over the land because of this.

Han Dynasty Politics

The Han dynasty government was based off of Confucian principles. The Han dynasty had a strong central bureaucracy. At the top of this government was the emperor who appointed officials to positions, was the main lawmaker and was the head judge. Below the emperor were the three cabinet positions which were the Chancellor, the Imperial Counselor, and the Grand Commandant. Below these three cabinet positions were the nine ministers who handled trade, licensing, transportation, and agriculture and other matters of the people. During the rule of Liu Bang, land was divided among the allies or officials that Liu Bang trusted. These pieces of divided land were called provinces which were then divided into commandries then counties and finally districts. The local leaders were appointed by the central government. Since every province was overseen by a different person there were probably some differences between each province so the Han empire was an empire of great diversity.

Han Dynasty Social Setup

As in many societies, men were above women. Men were the head of their household and were above everyone in their family. If a man had a daughter, he would marry her off to increase the power of his family. The mother of the daughter being married off had little say in who her daughter should be married off to because women had to first follow their father, then their husband and then her older son.

In the Han empire there was also a strict social hierarchy. At the top of this hierarchy was the emperor then the marquees and nobles, the officials/educated gentry class, farmers, artisans, merchants, and finally the laborers and slaves. Since the scholars or educated class had such a high rank in this hierarchy, the Han society offered an exam that allowed for people to move up in rank. Since this exam was allowed, schools were placed all over the land that taught Confucius teachings so that those that wanted to move up the social hierarchy had a chance to do so.

Another important issue of society was the justice system. The justice system of the Han society was a bit more lenient than that of the Qin society but corruption was still very much involved. Women could file cases against men because as Confucian thought was spreading, civilization began to recognize that with balance comes happiness and although women were still inferior they were still allowed some rights. As for those that committed a crime, they had to as punishment do forced labor, pay a fine and if the crime were very severe, a beheading was in place.

Han Dynasty Intellectual Advancements

The Chinese were always ahead of everyone in both technological and intellectual advancements. During the Han dynasty a new way of ruling was invented called Meritocracy. This type of ruling was used up to WWI.

Another intellectual advancement during the Han dynasty was the establishment of the Silk Road trading route. This brought great wealth to the Han empire not only monetary wealth but cultural wealth.

Han Dynasty Art

We don't know much about the Han societies art. Buddhism influenced a lot of the artwork o this time period. For the Buddhist religion, artists made Buddhist statues and stupas or temples. Under Emperor Wudi's rule poetry, literature, and philosophy flourished.

During the Han dynasty paper was invented. This led to peopl painting on paper as opposed to silk. Perhaps this changed the style of painting. We may never know but the invention of paper was a monumental step in history and we owe it all to the Han dynasty.

Amazing Places of the Han Dynasty

This is the Han Dynasty

The Han Dynasty was a time of great thinkers and innovators. We owe a lot of today's inventions and ways of life to the Han dynasty. The Han dynasty impacted the world like no other society. It not only impacted China but the entire world.