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Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Home Arts Educational magazines Loewe, Michael Loewe, Michael Updated About encyclopedia. Loewe, Michael gale. Hulsew; The economic and social history of former Han Nishijima Sadao; The economic and social history of later Han Patricia Ebrey; The religious and intellectual background Michael Loewe; The concept of sovereignty Michael Loewe; The development of the Confucian schools Robert P.

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In B. Folk songs from this period were recorded and preserved in imperial archives. Although the music has been lost some of the words have survived and the way that phrases are repeated indicates the songs were performed by choral singers. Han dynasty dances included a dance with 16 boys acting out chores performed by farmers such reaping, cutting grass and shooing away birds, and a dance with young girls moving around a sacrificial altar.

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Bas reliefs and rubbings from the period depict dances with weapons, scarves and long sleeves. The movements that were represented are similar to dance moves still performed today. Its purpose was to collect regional popular music and poetry, oversee ceremonies at court, hire musicians, and standardize pitch. A version of this office continued to operate until Many ancient traditions lost during the Qin dynasty — B.

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Significantly, instruments such as the harps, lutes, and drums depicted in the caves at Dunhuang and other oasis towns in Central Asia were making their way into China from the south and west as trade began along the routes that would become the Silk Road. Among those brought from the west were lutes similar to today's Middle Eastern ud, oboe-type instruments, and metal trumpets; among those brought from India were long-necked lutes and drums. In China, the ud-like instrument, with its round back, was transformed into the flat-backed pipa. The same Middle Eastern instrument later migrated west and became the European lute, used from the Middle Ages through the Baroque period.

Indeed, "lute" is a corruption of the Arabic al ud—an etymological clue to the instrument's origin. Objects unearthed from Han-era tombs include gilded silkworms; stones with humans battling bears; golden belt buckles with a bear and a tiger devouring a horse; bronze incense burners held by an image of an immortal; horned terra cotta heads used to ward off evil; and pear ornaments with girls holding lamps that would show the way to the afterlife.

Han-era jade tiger Many great works of pottery and ceramic art came from the Han Dynasty. Lovely vessels and objects were buried with the dead and have been excavated by archeologists and looters. The first use of glazes on Chinese pottery dates back to this period. Han emperors and noblemen commonly decorated their tombs with pottery replicas of warriors, concubines, servants, horses, domestic animals, trees, plants, furniture, models of towers, granaries, mortars and pestles, stoves and toilets, and almost everything found in the real world so the deceased would have everything he needed in the next world.

In terms of jades, the most representative items here include; a pi disc, a set of jade pieces, a jade-decorated sword, a cup, a cicada amulet, a pig-shaped carving, and a jade suit sewn together with gold, silver, and copper. Lacquerware was popular in the everyday life of the upperclass.

The most common forms here include a wine container, a food vessel, a case, a winged-cup, and plates and basins. Ceramics include a celadon bowl and container as well as items in yellow and green glaze, a pot, a miniature tower and animals, and figures. Tiles and "pictorial" bricks, although materials associated with architecture and tombs respectively , also reveal the beauty of visual art and design in the Han dynasty.

Famous Han era pieces at the National Palace Museum, Taipei, include: a jade horn-shaped drinking cup with dragon design; a pottery hu in the shape of a cocoon; a bronze chia-liang standard measure; a bronze mirror with figure motif; and a jade his-pi small disk with dragon design. Consolidating the empire involved not merely geographical expansion, but also bringing together and reconciling the ideas and practices that had developed in the different states. The new state incorporated elements of Legalism, Daoism, and Confucianism in its ideology but the officials who administered the state came to be identified more and more with Confucian learning.

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Reflecting the development of religious practices during the Warring States period, Han art and literature are rich in references to spirits, portents, myths, the strange, and the powerful. Politically, there was the end of feudalism and the emergence of the fountainhead of the imperial system. Socially, the strict hierarchy was crumbling in the face of increasing egalitarianism. Ideologically, studies especially catering to the nobility broadened to a wider, richer pool of knowledge to which all scholars could contribute.

Finally, the Confucian school of thought ultimately prevailed and was endorsed by the government.

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Culturally, the era still placed focus on the practice of rites and ceremonies for the spirits, but it also represents the last gasp in the use of bronze ritual objects as cultural symbols. Replacing them were various objects of daily life that highlighted the utilitarian, pluralistic, and lively aspects of the people. From a broader perspective, such "traditions" that persisted and survived to impact the ensuing development of Chinese civilization actually originated in the Ch'in B. Indeed, it was truly a pivotal time of transition from the "classic" to "tradition".

The sword, knife, seal, and jade ornaments, as well as a bronze mirror, were what a gentleman would carry on him. The popularity of such subjects as the phoenix and dragon as well as the Four Spirits reinforces the belief in the Yin-yang and Five Elements. The prevalence of cloud patterns, astrological images, mountains of the immortals, auspicious beasts, winged figures, and the Queen Mother of the West also demonstrates this worldview of cosmic order as well as life and death. In addition to expressing these views of a more abstract nature, Han dynasty spiritual life also dealt with more immediate and earthly desires, as reflected in such auspicious inscriptions as "Everlasting happiness", "Life without bounds", "Great luck all around", and "Filial descendants".

Description of three-footed, Han-Dynasty inkstone with lid of auspicious animal decor height: It is comprised of the base and a cover, which is carved in high relief in the form of an auspicious animal standing proudly with an open mouth. The sides are carved in the form of two openwork dragons. The round cover is concave inside and fits over the raised lip of the inkstone.

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The surface is flat and the ridge would have held the ink inside. The legs are represented in the form of bears carved in relief with a band of six dragons connecting them. Both parts of the inkstone are carved with great detail. The characters "Chun i kuan" are engraved under the chin of the auspicious animal. Thus, this is not only a rare surviving example of this inkstone type, but it also of exceptional quality.

Description of Rubbing of detail of hunting scene from lintel relief: Height: This type of repetitive post and lintel system was often used to build underground tomb vaults. The individual members were pressed from clay to create the appropriate shape, decorated, and then fired to harden them.

Rubbings in ink on paper placed over these pottery members with designs can be done to make it what looks like drawings, which is why they are often called "pictorial bricks. This particular hunting scene is from an illustrated brick that once formed a lintel in a tomb. The delicate yet taut lines capture the pose of the tiger and the energy of the hunters.

This tense and lively composition is complemented by the delicate and flowing forms and lines to give an almost cartoon-like effect. Pictorial art during the Han Dynasty took the from of stone engraving, wall painting, and paintings on silk. None of these remain today and we have no clue what they looked like. Han painting is thought to have had a solemn style and didactic function.

The main objective of painting during this period was to educate people. After the invention of paper, calligraphy became an important art form to the Chinese. Chinese scribes used brush and ink to create beautiful characters with one or more strokes. Paper was the perfect medium for calligraphy since it absorbed the ink well. Before paper, the Chinese wrote on silk which could be rolled easily, but which was also very expensive. Bamboo strips were also used, but they were very bulky. Paper was both cheaper and easier to bind together into books.

It was made out of silk, hemp, bamboo, and seaweed pulp that was dried on a screen. Some experts believe the first true porcelain was made in Zhejiang province during the Eastern Han dynasty.

The Han Dynasty Part Two

As far back as BC, the so-called "porcelaneous wares" or "proto-porcelain wares" were made using at least some kaolin fired at high temperatures. The dividing line between the two and true porcelain wares is not a clear one. The late Han years saw the early development of the peculiar art form of hunping, or "soul jar": a funerary jar whose top was decorated by a sculptural composition. This type vessels became widespread during the following Jin dynasty — and the Six Dynasties.

Glazed pottery and lacquerware were also seldom used by ordinary people.


Gray pottery is what appeared among the belongings of the vast number of people in society, either for use in daily life or as funerary accompaniment. In Han dynasty funerals, large numbers of pottery figures were often made to accompany the tomb occupant. Made from clay fired at low temperatures, this type of pottery is relatively soft.