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Ancient Chinese Dynasties Ms. Chou. The Three August Ones and Five Emperors (Mythological Rulers of China) 2,850 B.C. – 2,205 B.C . 2,575 BC- work begins on the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt. 2,700 BC Egyptians create 365 day calendar with new year starting in June.

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The Three August Ones and Five Emperors

(Mythological Rulers of China)

2,850 B.C. – 2,205 B.C.

2,575 BC- work begins on the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt.

2,700 BC Egyptians create 365 day calendar with new year starting in June.

The Three August Ones (Huang)

The Three August Ones, were said to be god-kings who used their magical powers to improve the lives of their people.

They lived to a great age and ruled over a period of great peace.

Fuxi(伏羲) - creator

Shennong (神農) - literally meaning "Divine Farmer", taught the ancients agriculture and medicine.

Huang Di(黄帝)-is considered to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese over 4,000 years ago.

The Five Emperors (Di)- All decendent of Huang Di


Zhuanxu(顓頊) - Grandson of the Yellow Emperor

Emperor Ku(帝嚳) - Great grandson of the Yellow Emperor;

Yao(堯) - The son of Ku.

Shun(舜) - passed his place as leader of the Huaxia tribe to Yu the Great (禹).



The Yellow Emperor

Huangdi was known as the Yellow Emperor in honor for his contributions to agriculture. Thus, yellow forever became the imperial color.

Stories said that all Chinese surname were all originated from his sons. He sent his sons out to different parts of China to establish settlements, each taking on a surname based on the geographic location they ruled.

All the noble families of the first three dynasties of China, Xia, Shang, and Zhou (Chou) were direct descendants of Huangdi.


Huangdi was the first rulers of China developed the basis of civilization, such as domesticating animals and spoken language.

His historian 倉頡 Chān Gjié created the first Chinese characters.

His wife 嫘祖 Lou Zǔ taught the Chinese how to weave silk from silkworms.

chinese ethnic groups
Chinese Ethnic Groups

Han Chinese - 91%


Other 55 ethnic groups- 9%








Yellow River

Yellow River is the second-longest river in China after the Yangtze River and the 6th longest in the world at the estimated length of 3,395 miles.

Yellow River is extremely prone to flooding.It has flooded 1,593 times in the last 3,000–4,000 years largely due to the elevated river bed in its lower course, while its main course changed 12 times.


Yellow River gets its name from the muddiness of its water, which is a constant yellow color.

Sediment carried by the river is deposited in large amounts at the bottom of the river. In many places, the bed of the Yellow River is several meters higher than the surrounding land, creates a “hanging river” phenomenon.

The sediment also created very fertile land. Much of the rice harvested in China is grown along the bank of the Yellow River.

The Yellow River’s basin became the birthplace of the Chinese civilizations and was the most prosperous region in early Chinese history.

the great flood and yu the great
The Great Flood and Yu the Great

Yao led the people in building canals and levees. After thirteen years, flooding problems were solved under Yu's command and he became the Xia Dynasty's founder.


Xia Dynasty

2100 B.C. - 1700 B.C .

China's first dynasty began in 2,070 BC.


Shang Dynasty

1600 B.C.-1046 B.C.

The most advanced bronze-working civilization in the world.

1500-1000 B.C.Greeks destroy Troy (c. 1193 B.C.).


Zhou (Chou) Dynasty

1027B.C. - 221 B.C.

It was philosophers of this period who first proclaimed the principles of the “Mandate of Heaven," the notion that the ruler (the "son of heaven") governed by divine right but his dethronement would mean that he had lost his mandate.

Agriculture in Zhou Dynasty was very intensive and in many cases directed by the government. All farming lands were owned by nobles, who then gave their land to their serfs, similar to European feudalism. Well-Field System was established. A piece of land was divided into nine squares in the shape of the character jing (井), with the grain from the middle square taken by the government and that of surrounding squares kept by individual farmers.


Spring and Autumn Period

770 B.C. -476 B.C.

776 BC-Olympic games started in Greece

In the year 551 B.C., the famous thinker and educator of ancient China, Confucius, was born. He had been advocating his political views and seeking to have his service accepted by different states. To his disappointment, no one appreciated his ideas. So he devote all his energy to education.

Confucius’ Five Principal Relationships-

(1) ruler and subject; (2) father and son; (3) elder brother and younger brother; (4) husband and wife; and (5) friend and friend.

"To know your faults and be able to change is the greatest virtue."

"What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others."


Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese military general and strategist is said to have written The Art of War at this time.

  • “If you know both yourself and your enemy, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss. “
  • “All warfare is based on deception. “

After further political consolidation, seven prominent states remained by the end of 5th century B.C., and the years in which these few states battled each other are known as the Warring States Period.

Warring States Period

475B.C.-220 B.C.

Qin Dynasty

221B.C.-207 B.C.

When Qin Shi Huang Di(chin sure-hwang-dee). united China in 221 BC, he felt that his achievements had surpassed those of all the rulers who have gone before him. So he combined the ancient titles of Huang (皇) and Di(帝) to create a new title, Huangdi (皇帝), usually translated as Emperor.

He relied heavily on strict legal codes. To silence criticism of imperial rule, he banished or put to death many dissenting Confucian scholars and confiscated and burned their books.


To fend off nomad invation, the fortification walls built by various Warring States were connected to make a 3,107 miles Great Wall.

The Great Wall is actually four great walls rebuilt or extended during the Western Han, Sui, Jin and Ming periods.


The terra cotta army was discovered by accident in 1974 at Xian, when local farmers digging wells about a mile west of the mausoleum broke into a pit containing 6,000 life-size terracotta figures.

Altogether over 7,000 terra cotta soldiers, horses, chariots, and even weapons have been unearthed from these pits. It is believed that an army of more than 8,000 terra cotta soldiers were buried fifteen to twenty feet beneath the earth not far from the tomb where Emperor Qin is believed to be buried .

Terracotta Army


The workers who made the soldiers may have modeled after the real soldiers of Emperor’s army. Each soldier appears to have his own individual personality. Some are almost smiling; some look very stern. Some look like they are middle aged, and some are very young. Each has his own mustache and different hairstyles. The soldiers were set up in real battle formation. Each man held an actual weapon. They are as sharp today as they were twenty-two centuries ago.

The ancient Chinese had a very strong belief in the afterlife. The army was meant to protect Emperor Qin in death, that’s why there were such incredible efforts to be realistic. The more lifelike the soldiers looked, the more effective they would be in guarding the Emperor against his enemies in the afterlife. He was a ruthless leader who ordered people to work on his huge projects. Historians believe that during Qin’s rule, one out of every ten Chinese was put to work creating not only Qin’s terra-cotta army but also 270 magnificent palaces.

Archeologists are convinced that Qin is buried in a spectacular tomb located inside a tomb pyramid in the center of the field where the terra-cotta army was found. In ancient Chinese history books, the tomb is called Mount Li, and is said to contain fabulous jewels, miniature cities, and rivers of mercury that flow to a man-made sea.


Han Dynasty

206 B.C. -220 A.D.

After a short civil war, Liu Bang seized power and a new dynasty called Han emerged with its capital at Chang'an.

The Han rulers modified some of the harsher aspects of the previous dynasty. Technological advances also marked this period with two inventions, paper and porcelain.

At the end of Han Dynasty, riddled with corruption, by 220 A.D. the Han Empire collapsed.


Three Kingdoms

220 A.D.- 265 A.D.

After the collapse of the Later Han Dynasty in 220, without a strong central government, warlords begin to rise and fight each other for land, plunging China into a state ofanarchy, establishing their boundaries from their conquered lands.China split into three kingdoms- Wei, Shu, and Wu.

It was militarily unstable configuration and Inner China was reunited in AD 265 by the Western Jin Dynasty, the successors of the Wei.


Warlord Sun Jian found the Imperial Seal and kept it secretly for himself, further weakening royal authority. Warlord Cao Cao and Liu Bei were also starting to build up power. Liu Bei, along with his sworn brothers Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, pledge to do their best for the country. Liu Bei later recruits the genius strategist Zhu Ge Liang and builds up his forces against Cao Cao.

“The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.”

~ 羅貫中 Luo, GuanzhongRomance of the Three Kingdoms


Jin Dynasty

265 A.D.– 420 A.D.

The Jìn Dynasty, was founded by the Wanyan (完顏 Wányán) clan of the Jurchens, the ancestors of the Manchus who established the Qing Dynasty some 500 years later.


Sixteen Kingdoms(Wu Hu Period)

304 A.D.- 443 A.D.

This was one of the most devastating periods in Chinese history. Following a long period of Chinese dominance since the Qin Dynasty. five northern tribes (Wu Hu)had been established in North China (匈奴 Xiongnu/Hun, 鲜卑 Xianbe, 羯 Jie, 羌 Qiang, 氐 Di). The Wu Hu uprising took over much of the Chinese heartland. It did not end until Jin reclaimed much of central China while Northern Wei took over the areas north of the Yellow River.


Southern and Northern Dynasties

420 A.D. – 589 A.D.

The Southern and Northern Dynastieswas an age of civil war and political disunity. However it was also a time of flourishing in the arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spread of Buddhism and native Daoism.


Sui Dynasty

581 A.D. – 618 A.D.

The Sui Dynasty held its capital at Luoyang. It was marked by the reunification of Southern and Northern China. The Equal-Field system was initiated to reduce the rich-poor social gap. The system worked on the basis that all land was owned by the government, which would then assign it to individual families.


Tang Dynasty618 A.D.- 907 A.D.

At the end of Sui Dynasty, the whole country fell into chaos due to the tyranny of Emperor. Rebellions roused by peasants were everywhere. One of the generals, Li Shih-min, took over ruling the empire, and established Tang Dynasty.

Historians regard the Tang Dynasty as a high point in Chinese civilization. The Tang period was the golden age of literature and art. Tang rule perfected a government system supported by a large class of Confucian literati selected through civil service examinations.


The Tang Dynasty (618-907) is the second great dynasty (of Chinese history that was able to unify a vast territory, to spread its culture and to absorb the cultures of surrounding states and peoples. Tang set it’s capital in Chang'an 長安 (modern Xian 西安). Trade stretched to the South East Asian archipelago, and the religion of Buddhism spread to Korea and Japan.


Five Dynasties

907 A.D. – 960 A.D.

Ten Kingdoms

920 A.D. - 979 A.D.

Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms was 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 10 independent states were established, mainly in the south.


Song Dynasty

960 to 1,279 A.D.

In 960 A.D., the Song Dynasty came to power. This was the first government in world history to issue paper money. This dynasty also saw the first known use of gunpowder, as well as first discernment of true north using a compass.


As a means to make multiple impressions, woodblock printing has a long history in China and was already well developed in the Tang Dynasty. By the time of the Song Dynasty, woodblock art was thriving.


Yuan Dynasty

1,271 – 1,368 A.D.

In 1206, Genghis Khan united the entire Mongol tribes and extended his power over all of North China.

The conquest of the Southern Song was not completed until 1279, after Kublai Khan, his grandson, had succeeded to Mongol leadership.

Genghis Khan


Kublai moved the capital to Beijing, adopted much of the Chinese administrative system. The Central Asian trade routes were secured. Traffic from West to East increased. Missionaries and traders came to China, bringing new ideas, techniques, foods, and medicines.

Marco Polo arrives to write about the splendor of the Mongol Empire. He wrote of his extensive travels throughout Asia on behalf of the Khan, and their eventual return after 15,000 miles and 24 years of adventures.


However, discontent was growing in China. The Chinese resented Mongol’s restriction against the Chinese holding important offices. By the 1350s several major rebel leaders had emerged.


Ming Dynasty

1368 – 1644 AD

In the 1360s, a former Buddhist monk Zhu Yuan Zhangsuccessfully extended his power throughout the Yangtze Valley. In 1371, while the Mongol commanders were paralyzed by internal rivalries, he marched north and seized Beijing. The Mongols withdrew to Mongolia and from there continued to harass the Chinese.

Between 1405 and 1433, the Ming government sponsored seven naval expeditions. Ming’s Emperor Yongle intended to establish a Chinese presence and impose imperial control over trade.


During the first quarter of the 15th century, the Chinese fleet sailed the China seas and the Indian Ocean, reached as far as the east coast of Africa.

Toward the late Ming Dynasty, long wars with the Mongols, incursions by the Japanese into Korea, weakened Ming rule, which result in alien takeover. In 1644 the Manchu tribe took Beijing and establishing the last imperial dynasty.


Qing Dynasty

1644 – 1911 AD

Although the Manchus were not Han Chinese, they realized that to dominate the empire they would have to do things the Chinese way and so they retained many of the institutions of the Ming and earlier dynasties.

Ever suspicious of Han Chinese, the Qing rulers put into effect measures aimed at preventing the absorption of the Manchu into the dominant Han Chinese population. Han Chinese were prohibited from migrating into the Manchu homeland, and Manchu were forbidden to engage in trade or manual labor. Intermarriage between groups was forbidden.


The Kangxi Dictionary (康熙字典 Kāngxī zìdiǎn) was the standard Chinese dictionary during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Kangxi Emperor ordered its compilation in 1710 and it was published in 1716. It contains more than 47,000 characters (including obscure, variant, and rare characters). Less than a quarter of these characters are now in common use.


By the time of the Xian Fong Emperor's death in 1861, his wife Cixi became the first and only Qing Dynasty Empress to rule from "behind the curtains" (垂簾聽政).


In 1900, the Boxer Uprising broke out in northern China. The Boxers believed that they could perform extraordinary flight and become immune to swords and bullets through training, diet, martial arts and prayer. They also claimed that millions of spirit soldiers would descend from the heavens and assist them in purifying China from foreign influences.

Boxers recruited local farmers and other workers made desperate by disastrous floods, and focused blame on both Christian missionaries and Chinese Christians. They wanted to expel all foreigners from China.


Fearing further foreign intervention, the Qing leaders began to secretly support the Boxers and a formal declaration of war on the European powers. When the Westerners responded by dispatching the Eight-Nation Alliance (Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, France, United States, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary), the Chinese military was unable to prevent the Allied Army from marching on Beijing and seizing the Forbidden City. The Chinese military was under equipped and under funded partly because the Empress Cixi had earlier consumed precious funds to build Imperial Summer Palace.


Republic of China


Failure of reform from the top and the fiasco of the Boxer Uprising convinced many Chinese that the only real solution lay in outright revolution. The revolutionary leader, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, centered on the Three Principles of the People: "nationalism, democracy, and public welfare." On January 1, 1912, Sun was inaugurated in Nanjing as the provisional president of the new Chinese republic-Republic of China.


The Chinese Civil War was fought between the Kuomintang (KMT,Chinese Nationalist Party) and the Communist Party of China. The war began in 1927, represented a split between the Western-supported Nationalist KMT and the Soviet-supported Communist CPC. In 1945, Japan was defeated, marking the end of World War II, and China's full-scale civil war resumed in 1946. After a further four years, the newly founded People's Republic of China controlling mainland China, in 1949, Chiang Kai-Shek took his KMT army and retreated to Taiwan.