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The Tang Dynasty 618–907. The Li Family. founded by the Li (李) family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire.

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The li family
The Li Family

  • 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 16, 690–March 3, 705) when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, becoming the first and only Chinese empress regnant, ruling in her own right.

  • The An-Shi Rebellion (755-763) marks the turning point when the Tang dynasty started declining.

  • Comparable to the Han dynasty in terms of the open door policy; both dynasties are prosperous.

Three most important emperors
Three Most important Emperors

  • Taizong Li Shimin (reign 626 – 649)

  • Empress Wu Zetian (r. 690-705)

  • Xuanzong Li Longji (r. 712-756)

    • (the An-Shi Rebellion 775-763)

Emperor taizong of tang li shimin r 626 649

considered one of the greatest in Chinese history. Throughout the rest of Chinese history, Emperor Taizong's reign was regarded as the exemplary model against which all other emperors were measured, and his "Reign of Zhenguan" (Simplified Chinese 贞观之治/ Traditional Chinese 貞觀之治) was considered a golden age of Chinese history and required study for future crown princes.

Emperor Taizong of TangLi Shimin 李世民(r. 626– 649)

The palace coup at the xuanwu gate xu nw m n zh bi n

The crown prince Li Jiancheng Throughout the rest of Chinese history, Emperor Taizong's reign was regarded as the exemplary model against which all other emperors were measured, and his "李建成 and Li Shimin’s 4th younger brother Li Yuanji 李元吉 committed adultery with their father’s favorite consorts/concubines Zhang Jieyu & Yin Defei

Because of Li Shimin's contributions, at various times, Emperor Gaozu (Li Yuan) considered replacing Li Jiancheng with him, but eventually did not, as Li Jiancheng was supported by Li Yuanji and Emperor Gaozu's favorite concubines.

At the funeral service for Princess Ping Yang, when Li Shimin barely took a little sip of wine, a flying swallow left its dropping into his cup, and smeared his clothes. Li went to change clothes. All of a sudden, he felt sharp pains in his stomach…

On July 2nd 626, Li Shimin slaughtered his two brothers

The Palace Coup at the Xuanwu Gate玄武门之变 xuánwǔmén zhībiàn

Li shimin s quotation on government


A monarch to his subjects is as water to a boat;

Water can carry a boat; it can also capsize it.

Though Li Shimin had a bloody start, he turned out to be a great emperor


Crown prince is not qualified;

Li Shimin earned respect from his subjects;

Li Shimin’s Quotation“On Government”

Famous painting internal frames contrast
Famous painting Internal Frames (Contrast)

  • Emperor Taizong Li Shimin (r. 626-649) receives Ludongzan, 禄东赞 ambassador of Tibet, at his court; painted in 641 AD by Yan Liben 阎立本 (600-673)

  • 唐太宗接见吐蕃使者

  • Songtsän Gampo’s marriage

A soldier and his horse contrast in proportion
A Soldier and His Horse Contrast in Proportion

  • A bas-relief 浅浮雕/ 低浮雕(relief sculpture in which the figures project slightly from the background) of a soldier and horse with elaborate saddle and stirrups, from the tomb of Emperor Taizong, c. 650.

Songts n gampo

(605 or 617? - 649) was the founder of the Tibetan Empire (Tibetan: Bod; Chinese: 吐蕃, Tubo/Tufan), by tradition held to be the thirty-third ruler in his dynasty.

Songtsän Gampo松赞干布

Political significance

One marriage is equal to 100,000 elite troops; (Tibetan: Bod; Chinese: 吐蕃, Tubo/Tufan), by tradition held to be the thirty-third ruler in his dynasty.

Generous dowry

Chinese civilization was introduced to Tibet;

Princess Wencheng

Political Significance

Princess wencheng 623 680

In 641, Li Shimin sent Princess Wenchen to Tibet (Tibetan: Bod; Chinese: 吐蕃, Tubo/Tufan), by tradition held to be the thirty-third ruler in his dynasty.

Potala Palace 布达拉宫 (in Tibet) was built for Princess Wencheng

Princess Wencheng文成公主 (623—680)

Li shimin s reign of zhenguan 626 649
Li Shimin’s “Reign of Zhenguan” (Tibetan: Bod; Chinese: 吐蕃, Tubo/Tufan), by tradition held to be the thirty-third ruler in his dynasty. 贞观之治 (626-649)

  • Li Shimin proved to be an energetic and competent ruler. He regularized the administrative system of six ministries that the Sui had initiated and set up a separate bureaucracy to administer the imperial household. He pursued a series of successful military campaigns that added or regained territory in Korea and Vietnam and extended Tang power far into Central Asia along the Silk Road. His capital, called Chang’an and located at the modern site of Xiꞌan, had a population of two million people and was the largest city in the world.

T ngs nc i archaeology tri colored glazed pottery of the tang dynasty
唐三彩【tángsāncǎi】 <archaeology> tri-colored glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty.

  • Tang statue of a civil official dressed in Hanfu, made of sancai glazed earthenware; he wears a tall hat, wide-sleeved outer garment tied at the waist with a wide belt, and rectangular "kerchief" in front. A white inner gown hangs over his square shoes. He holds a tablet to his chest, preparing to provide a report to his superiors.

Wu zetian 624 705 hold court from behind a screen curtain

Or the Second Zhou Dynasty (690–705) glazed pottery

Palace Examination

殿试【diànshì】 final imperial examination (presided over by the emperor) was pioneered by Wu Zetian

Wu Zetian(624-705)hold court from behind a screen/curtain

Judge di renjie 630 700
Judge Di Renjie glazed pottery 狄仁杰630-700

  • Nicknamed as Chinese sherlock Holmes, twice serving as chancellor during Wu Zetian’s reign. He was one of the most celebrated officials of Wu Zetian's reign

  • Amazing Detective Di Renjie, TV series

Sherlock holms
Sherlock Holms glazed pottery 歇洛克·福尔摩斯

  • Sherlock Holmes ( /ˈʃɜrlɒkˈhoʊmz/)is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A brilliant London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve difficult cases.

Arthur conan doyle 1859 1930 sherlock holmes right and dr watson by sidney paget
Arthur Conan Doyle glazed pottery 1859 – 1930Sherlock Holmes (right) and Dr. Watson, by Sidney Paget

Emperor xuanzong of tang li longji 685 762
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, glazed pottery Li Longji唐玄宗李隆基(685-762)

  • Emperor Xuanzong of Tang wearing the robes and the hat of a scholar

Famous painting
Famous Painting glazed pottery

  • A Man Herding Horses, by Han Gan (706-783), a court artist under Xuanzong

  • Everything is well fed in the Tang dynasty!

  • A different set of criteria in judging beauties.

  • Plumpness is preferred.

Xuanzong s accomplishments

Promotion of Daoism glazed pottery

Reclaim the territories in the west

Hire the right persons except his employment of An Lushan;

Xuanzong’s Accomplishments

Four ancient beauties xi shi wang zhaojun dao chan yang yuhuan
Four Ancient Beauties glazed pottery Xi Shi/Wang Zhaojun/Dao Chan/Yang Yuhuan

Xi shi sinking the fish in the spring autumn period
Xi Shi: Sinking the fish glazed pottery in the Spring & Autumn Period

  • King Fuchai of the Wu State (495–473 BC) in 494 BCE defeated King Goujian of Yue;

  • To win trust, Goujian, then in captivity as hostage with his chancellor Fan Li, tasted King Fuchai’s excrement!

  • Fan Li’s three strategies:

  • 1. Have garrison troops grow grains;

  • 2. station troops;

  • 3. dispatch pretty girls to King Fuchai of Wu;

Wang zhaojun or wang qiang the han dynasty

54 BCE glazed pottery

A political marriage between Han and Hun;

Wang refused to bribe the court painter Mao Yanshou ;

Emperor Yuan of Han had the painter Mao Yanshou executed;

Geese forgot to flip their wings upon seeing such a beauty!

Wang Zhaojunor Wang Qiang (the Han dynasty)

Diao chan three kingdoms eclipsed the moon
Diao Chan (Three Kingdoms) glazed pottery eclipsed the moon!

Precious lady yang yuhuan embarrassed the flowers

杨贵妃,杨玉环 glazed pottery


Emperor Xuanzong’s favorite concubine who influenced/distractred him a great deal;

Associated with the An Lushan Rebellion

The precious lady’s elder brother Yang Guozhong became the chancellor!

“Precious Lady” Yang YuhuanEmbarrassed the flowers!

Li po a tang poet

Li Po or Li Bai (701 – 762) glazed pottery

Peak of Romanticism

“Precious Lady” Yang Yuhuan once ground ink for him

Li Po, a Tang Poet

Huaqing pool a hot spring

Huaqing Pool is located at the foot of north Lishan Hill in Lintong, leaning against Wei River in the north and about 30 kilometers from the city of Xi'an, and enjoys quite favorable geographical location boasting green mountains and blue water.

Huaqing Pool, A Hot Spring

Huaqing hot spring

Huaqing Hot Spring has been the site of a famous imperial bathing pool and various palace complexes over its 3,000 year history. It is a National Cultural Relic and one of China’s Hundred Famous Gardens.

Huaqing (Hua means brilliant, Chinese or flowery; qing means pure or clear)

Huaqing Hot Spring

An shi rebellion 755 763

An Lushan’s father was possibly a Hun, and his mother belongs to the Tujue ethnic group/Turk;

He knows multiple languages

His constant conflict with Yang Guozhong

An Lushan declared himself as emperor in the north;

Shi Siming

An Lushan finally got a direct access to the Precious Lady, calling her mother;

A power struggle between An Lushan and Yang Guozhong, Precious Lady’s elder brother and Li Linfu, the prime minister

An-Shi Rebellion(755-763)

Tang s artworks
Tang’s artworks belongs to the Tujue ethnic group/Turk;

  • A Tang period gilt-silver jar, shaped in the style of northern nomad's leather bag decorated with a horse dancing with a cup of wine in its mouth, as the horses of Emperor Xuanzong were trained to do.

P pa pipa
琵琶【pípa】 pipa belongs to the Tujue ethnic group/Turk;

  • A five-stringed pipa (wuxian) from the Tang Dynasty,

  • 琵琶【pípa】 pipa, a plucked string instrument with a fretted fingerboard.

T ngs nc i archaeology tri coloured glazed pottery of the tang dynasty
唐三彩【tángsāncǎi】 <archaeology> tri-coloured glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty.

  • A Tang Dynasty tri-color glazed figurine of a horse

D y n t
大雁塔 glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty.Dàyàn Tǎ

  • The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Chang'an (modern-day Xi'an. Built in 652, repaired by Empress Wu Zetian in 704.)

  • Successful candidates’ names will be posted after the imperial examinations;

  • The number one scholar could marry the emperor’s daughter!

A new aesthetic standard
A New Aesthetic Standard glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty.

  • 仕女图【shìnǚtú】 <painting> traditional Chinese painting of beautiful women.

  • In Tang painting, these women figures are no longer depicted as slim or slender;

  • Instead, they look plump!

  • Tang Dynasty represents the peak in Chinese civilization in many ways;

Zhang xuan zhou fang
Zhang Xuan & Zhou Fang glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty.唐·张萱、周昉《唐宫仕女图》

Du fu 712 770 with his moral engagement

Tang Poet representing the peak of realism in depicting the reality

His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and his last 15 years were a time of almost constant unrest.

“poet sage" (詩聖 shī shèng), a counterpart to the philosophical sage, Confucius.

Du Fu standardized the regulated Tang Poetry.

Du Fu (712–770) With his Moral Engagement

Pentasyllabic regulated verse 161 180 by zong qi cai
Pentasyllabic Regulated Verse reality161-180 by Zong-Qi Cai

  • Introduction to Chinese Poetry

  • Chapters on the Tang poetry