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The Han Dynasty

The Han Dynasty is a very important historical dynasty in Chi- na. It was in this time that the Han nationality, the mainstay of the Chinese nation, formally took shape. The Han Dynasty became One of the most powerful empires in the world. It exerted its far-reach- ing influence on the development of various dynasties in the Chinese history thereafter. That is why until today many countries in the world still regard "Han" as a synonym for the Chinese people and civilization.

The Han city of Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) was the first international metropolis in Chinese history. Compared with the an- cient city of Rome in the west, Chang'an was twice as large. These ceramic drainage pipes are very close to those of the present-day. This indicates that there was already an advanced sewer system in Chang'an. These are the most famous eaves tiles of the Han Dynasty in ancient China. Compared with the Qin tiles, the Han tiles are larg- er with wider edges, and greyish in colour. A major characteristic about the Han tiles was that there was an increase in the number of tiles that are inscribed with characters. The characters on the tiles not only tell of their uses, but are also of great calligraphic value.

The Han Dynasty attached great importance to the develop- ment of agriculture. Oxen were widely employed in the central plain and gradually introduced into the northwest frontier. These iron farm tools and clay potteries with grain in them were excavated from Hah tombs. They indicate the high level of development o~ agriculture in the Han Dynasty.

Animal husbandry was quite advantageous too, with agricul- tural development as its base. Various species of domestic animals and fowls had been bred in great numbers. These pottery oxen, chicks, ducks and pigsties are all burial objects excavated from Hah tombs.

The Han Dynasty outstripped the previous dynasties both in scale and skill in metallurgy, textiles, pottery-manufacture and paper-making. Metallurgy, especially, was conducted on a large scale. This rubbing picture of iron smelting on the stone relief vivid- ly depicts the operation in an iron smelting workshop in the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Pottery in the Han Dynasty includes mainly two types: color- painted and under-glazed. There are colored pottery tripods, square pots and fumigators. Here is an under-glazed pot. Green and yellow colors were commonly used at that time.

This sort of paper made in the Western Han Dynasty was dis- covered in a Western Han tomb at Baqiao, Xi'an in 1957. It was believed that paper was invented by Cai Lun in 105 A. D.. But the year when this sort of paper was made'was no later than 118 B. C.. Therefore, the discovery of the Baqiao paper pushed the origin of paper-making in China at least 200 years earlier.

During the reign of Emperor Han Wudi, the Silk Road which ran across the Asian Continent was formally opened. It enabled Chinese silk to be exported to various countries in the Western Re- gions, and in return, horses of fine breeds, plants, music and dances in these regions were imported into China. At this time the city of Chang'an became the largest centre in Asia for international exchanges.

This plump and sturdy horse is a typical fine breed brought to the interior of China through the Silk Road. Seeking horses of fine breeds had been one of the important motives for the Han Dynasty to open the Silk Road.

There are a variety of silk products in the Han Dynasty. These are the fragmented silk fahrics discovered along the Silk Road. Here on display in the case are terra-cotta warriors and horses unearthed from a Han tomb at Yangjiawan in Xianyang.

(For details, please see the Xianyang Museum. )

The Prehistoric Age

the Zhou Dynasty (771--221 B. C. )

The Qin Dynasty (221--206 B. C. )

The Wei, Jin, South & North Dynasties (220--581 A. D. )

The Sui and Tang Dynasties (5817-907 A. D. )

The Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties (960--1840 A. D. )

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