History of Chinese Calligraphy – The Golden Age of Chinese Calligraphy: Han Dynasty (漢朝/Han Chao/Han Ch’ao) and the Age of Text

 

The Formation of a Literati Class During Han Dynasty as an Ascendant for the Tradition of Chinese Calligraphy

After only a decade and a half, the Qin Dynasty fell apart. However the Han nation, under the direction of Liu Bang, quickly defeated the 18 Kingdoms to reunify China. The name for the Han Dynasty thus comes from the name of the ancient prinipality of of Han, in modern-day Si Chuan and Southern Shaanxi. Unlike the fall of the Zhou, the 18 Kingdoms period was only a few years long, and the Imperial model was rapidly reasserted. (Han dynasty map)  Central to the success of the Imperial model was the dedication of a class of scribes, officials and courtiers referred to collectively as the ‘literati’. These men (they were usually men) of letters provided the centralized government and social institutions with legitimacy by carrying out and contributing to the political discourse of their times.

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History of Chinese Calligraphy – The Golden Age of Chinese Calligraphy: The Wei and Jin Period of Disunion

 

The Fall of the Han: Toward a New Dynasty

After over four centuries of relative stability, the Han Dynasty ended following a period of intense rebellion and court intrigue. The remains of the once-strong Han Empire was quickly divided into three separate political regimes, each of which laid claim to the authority of the Han throne. For the next six decades, these Kingdoms, the Wei, Shu and Wu, would maintain a war footing against each other. Each of these states was destroyed in turn: the Wei being the last to fall and usher in the Western Jin in 265 CE.

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History of Chinese Calligraphy – The Golden Age of Chinese Calligraphy: The Development of Calligraphy During Tang Dynasty (唐朝/Tang Chao/T’ang Ch’ao)

 

The Tang Dynasty (唐朝/Tang Chao/T’ang Ch’ao): China Reunified

It would be almost three hundred years following the the fall of the Han before a stable Chinese empire would once again be created. Many scholars have commented on the parallels between the Qin-Han succession and the Sui-Tang succession. In both cases, a military power conquered and unified China only to fall to a usurping force that would hold that empire together for hundreds of years.

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