The Tang Dynasty

By: Rose and Alec

Politics

In 618, a military leader named Tang Gaozu founded the Tang Dynasty which would rule for nearly 300 years. Tang Gaozu’s son became the first emperor in 626. The Tang Dynasty had a strong army which expanded the borders and protected the growing population. China grew to it’s largest population during the Tang Dynasty. In the late 600’s Wu Zhao became the first women emperor to rule China ever. The people from the Tang Dynasty welcomed foreigners and people from neighboring countries. They lived in a place called Chang’an. Visitors came from the silk road and they would trade goods. For much of the Tang rule, China was at war with neighboring peoples and this allowed the military leaders to gain power. But, in the 700s, drought, famine, and high taxes started to cause problems. In the late 700s, several military soldiers rebelled. Then, neighbors started to attack and then they started to revolt and fight back. In 907, a military leader named Zhu Quanzhong overthrew the last Tang emperor named Emperor Ai because he wasn’t governing the country wisely and spent all his money on himself.

Religion/Culture/Social Life

The Tang Dynasty was part of China’s golden age because of it’s artistic inventions and their way of living. For example, they had lots of different types of pottery that were usually yellow, brown, and green. They would make vases and jars with ceramic and porcelain that would become fancy plates which are also called china.They are mostly used as decoration even to this day. They also would make figures of horses and camels and famous people. Also, poetry was very common. A poet named Li Bai wrote about 1,000 short poems. His favorite topics were about nature. Calligraphy, Poetry, and painting was very important to the people. Boys and girls would stay at their house to learn their entire life. Poor families had to work on the fields all day, but rich families learned at home and they had servants/slaves to do the work for them. They usually lived with their aunts, uncles, and grandparents. It was very important to respect elders. The chinese honored their ancestors after they died and they were very important to them. The Main Religions the people believed in was daoism and buddhism. Daoism started from 1111 BCE-256 BCE by Laozi. Daoism is when people believe that everyone should be in peace and be one with each other. Also, it believes that people should live very complicated lives, they should always focus on doing the right thing. A good leader shouldn’t boast about their accomplishments, instead, they should work quietly behind the scenes. Buddhism began in India about 2500 years ago and is based on the teachings of an Indian prince named Gautama who lived around 500 BCE. They believe that if you do good things then you will get good rewards, but if you do bad things then you will get bad consequences. It also tells you about how to overcome difficulties and if you have a conflict with something. It also teaches that people should live simple lives and be at peace.

Economics

Economics is a big part of any civilization, that stays true for the Tang dynasty. The Tang did a lot of their trade by a silk route, but not the one you think, it was the Maritime Silk Route. They traded with the Byzantine Empire over the Maritime. One of the Tangs’ major cities, Guangzhou, was a major port for trading with 10,000 inhabitants from many different countries. Some of the items that they traded were ceramics, silk, paper, tea, jade, in return for fine textile, pearls, coral, and aromatic wood from Persia, East Africa and India. In fact they mass produced these goods and exported them to sea. The Maritime route was only for one purpose and that was for items that couldn’t be taken by camel. Silk, paper, and tea were traded by camel on the traditional silk road. The Tangs’ capital, Chang’an sat at one end of the silk road, and every major city in China become major trade centers. Trade is always important for any empire, and the Tang mastered that.

Jobs

Jobs, we usually think of them as a must, but for a ever expanding empire there everything. The Tang took government roles very seriously as they Civil Service exams instead of just giving them the job because they know them. Jobs are earned in pretty much every society today. This just shows how much the Tang cared about their government. Farming was also important as rice was their main food source. They created new methods and got 2 or 3 more harvests per year. But everyone needs to go to school, so they had a public school in each district town. But for higher education, the capital, Chang’an had colleges in math, law, calligraphy, and medicine. Even though you might think of your work day as boring, in the Tang dynasty it is necessary.


Inventions

Gunpowder is what makes our fireworks explode and is ultimately a pretty cool invention. But would you believe that it was invented by chinese alchemists by accident. These alchemists were trying to make a pill, but instead invented gunpowder. But this wasn’t their only notable invention as they also created distilled wine. This also happened by accident as they left wine over night and become pure alcohol. Then they created distilled wine. But probably the most important invention was block printing. This allowed them to create and mass produce books. Mass producing anything is important for money and trade.


Architecture

But you still need buildings and cities for a complete empire. Great homes, temples, gardens, plus the imperial palace stood inside the walls of Chang’an. But this wasn’t the original chang’an as the Tang rebuilt it after it was destroyed. This Chang’an had multi story elevation, elevated walkways, and bridges. But every ruler needs his tomb. Most tombs were dug up, but some were so big that they had to be carved out mountains. You may not think of how much time is put into building something but, what the Tang did in just 300 years is definitely impressive.