Han Dynasty : Emperors and Achievements
“I learnt about the first imperial dynasty at Suresh uncle’s house, the Qin dynasty. I wish I had to time to learn about the Han dynasty also,” Rohan told his friend Sir Dig-a-Lot.
Sir Dig-a-Lot said, “No problem, Rohan, I will tell you all about it today.”
Rohan’s face lit up. He sat up on his bed while Sir Dig-a-Lot cleared his throat to tell Rohan all about the Han dynasty.
“The Han dynasty was perhaps the best dynasty in the history of China with regards to its contribution towards art, literature and economic growth. It is called the Golden era in the history of China that lasted for about 400 years. The Han dynasty that existed from 206 BC to 9 AD was the ‘West Han’ and the dynasty beginning from 25 to 220 AD, was known as the ‘East Han.’ There were about 24 emperors in this period. The dynasty left such a positive influence that Chinese people call themselves Han after the Han dynasty.”
“The Han dynasty was established after emperor Qin’s son was overthrown by a peasant revolt. However, even after the peasant leader Liu Bang killed the last of the Qin dynasty king, he had to fight his rival Xiang Yu to get the kingdom. The war lasted for four years and eventually Liu Bang became the first Han dynasty king. The name Han dynasty came from the river Han in China. Liu Bang changed his name to Han Gaozu.”
“One of the first achievements of this dynasty was to appoint educated people as advisors in the empire. In order to achieve this he started educational institutes and schools with a system of examinations to get coveted jobs in the empire. This era is also popular because of the advances in science. The major contribution of this dynasty was the invention of paper. Other important discoveries include casting iron, rotation of crops, and the art of acupuncture as well as progress in medicine, maths, architecture and astronomy.”
Rohan said, “I wonder how everyday life was in the Han empire.”
Sir Dig-a-Lot said, “Life was better for the educated and the rich in the city and in the country side peasants led a comfortable life. An important textile in this era was silk and the biggest products in the Han empire were salt, iron and copper. An important discovery in this dynasty was the Silk Route. It is a sea route connecting China and Europe. The dynasty prospered because they opened the gates to trade and world knowledge, unlike the Qin dynasty.”
Rohan said, “That was a wonderful lesson. Is there any other interesting Chinese dynasty?”
Sir Dig-a-Lot said, “Definitely. But let’s keep that for next time.”
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