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next   The collapse of the T’ang brought chaos to China as numerous dynasties vied for control. After 50 years of turmoil, one ruler emerged to re-unite the country. Donning the yellow robe, he declared himself T’ai-tsu, Emperor of the Sung. His dynasty would last 319 years and was one of China’s most brilliant and attractive.
Shang (1523-1027 BC)  
Chou (1027-221 BC)  
Ch'in (221-206 BC)  
Han (206 BC-AD 220)   The Emperor set aside military traditions and insisted on civilian control of his provinces, government, and military. Civil service exams were revived, schools spread, and literacy increased as new printing technology made books more widely available. From this grew a new class well versed in the arts and intellectual fields. Tiger shaped Pillow
Three Kingdoms (220-581)  
Sui (581-618)  
T'ang (618-907)  
Yüan (1279-1368)  
Ming (1368-1644)   The Sung boasted a welfare state that included housing and care for the elderly, state hospitals, low-interest loans for peasants, state orphanages, free pharmacies for the poor, filled state granaries, and fire stations and libraries in the large cities.
Tiger shaped Pillow
1115 - 1234
Jin Period
5 5/16 in. x 16 1/8 in.

Courtesy The University of Michgan Art Museum
Ch'ing (1644-1912)  
Opening the Door (1844-1911)  
The Period of Revolution (1912-1949)  
Mao's Dynasty (1949-1976)   The Sung introduced paper money in 1024. Checking accounts, bills of exchange, and promissory notes soon followed. Increased yields in agriculture grew from the introduction of new tools and techniques, and advances were made in the fields of mining and manufacturing of ceramics as China moved from an agrarian to a mercantile state.
Raising the Bamboo Curtain (1972-1979)  
Into the Next Millennium (1979-)  
Other countries took notice. From Japan to the Red Sea, countries sent fleets to Chinese ports seeking trade. China, too, explored foreign ports. Her ships, known as junks, were guided by compasses, and sported advanced capstans, pivoting sails, and watertight compartments, making China’s fleet the world’s greatest well into the fifteenth century.
In this the age of China’s renaissance, advancements and innovations flowed. The list is impressive. New methods of bridge building, canal lock-gates, and water-powered clocks improved industry and the movement of people. Methods of acupuncture and autopsies and a physician’s code of ethics were codified. Great scientific publications were compiled on zoology and botany. The field of philosophy swelled with the writings of neo-Confucians, and the arts, too, saw striking advancements in the lyrical song and portrait and landscape paintings.
The peace that permitted these grand accomplishments was purchased at a high price, as foreign lands to the north were paid large tributes. In time, those barbarians became so powerful that they swept down on China, pushing the Sung southward.
But in an adjacent part of the world another ruler was forging remarkable achievements of his own kind. The Mongol ruler Genghis Khan had by 1185 conquered central Asia as far west as the Black Sea. By 1232 the Jurchen state in north China fell to his pony soldiers. His son, Kublai, would defeat the Southern Sung in 1279.