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(yüän), Mongol dynasty of China that ruled from 1271 to 1368. It was a division of the great empire conquered by the MongolsMongols
, Asian people, numbering about 6 million and distributed mainly in the Republic of Mongolia, the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China, and Kalmykia and the Buryat Republic of Russia.
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. Kublai KhanKublai Khan
, 1215–94, Mongol emperor, founder of the Yüan dynasty of China. From 1251 to 1259 he led military campaigns in S China. He succeeded (1260) his brother Mongke (Mangu) as khan of the empire that their grandfather Jenghiz Khan had founded.
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, who adopted the Chinese dynastic name Yüan in 1271, swept down from N China, which the Mongols had ruled since the 1230s, and finally defeated the Sung dynasty in 1279. The Mongols set up a government in some ways modeled on the traditional Chinese administrative system, kept key government positions to themselves, and hired people from Central Asia to serve in the government. The Mongols adopted policies that discriminated against the Chinese, and to prevent rebellion Mongol troops were deployed all over the country. In its early period the Yüan dynasty developed a fine postal system and an extensive network of roads and canals reaching to the distant Mongol domains of Turkistan, Persia, and S Russia. There was continuous overland contact with the West and exchange of products, and in this period gunpowder, the compass, and printing seem to have been introduced to Europe from China. The best known of the European travelers to Yüan China is Marco PoloPolo, Marco
, 1254?–1324?, Venetian traveler in China. His father, Niccolò Polo, and his uncle, Maffeo Polo, had made (1253–60) a trading expedition to Constantinople.
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. Tibetan Buddhism was officially patronized by the Mongol court, but other religions were tolerated. Resentful of alien rule, many talented Chinese withdrew from political life and turned to theater and other forms of artistic activity. As a result the Yüan dynasty was a period of great accomplishments in the theater, arts, fiction, and painting. The Yüan dynasty was overthrown by the messianic religious rebellions that broke out in the 1350s. One of the rebel leaders was Chu Yüan-chang, who founded the Ming dynasty in 1368.


See M. Rossabi, Khubilai Khan (1988); J. W. Dardess, Conquerors and Confucians (1973); E. Endicott-West, Rule in China: Local Administration in the Yüan Dynasty (1989).


(yüän), river, 540 mi (869 km) long, rising in S Guizhou prov. and flowing generally NE to Donting lake, Hunan prov., SE China. Navigation above Changde is limited by rapids to small craft. The Yuan valley, a major north-south trade route, yields tungsten, iron ore, and tung yu (wood oil).



(also Ta Yüan [Great Yüan]), a Mongol dynasty that ruled in Mongolia and China in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The conquest of China was begun by Genghis Khan; under his successor, Ogadai, North China was subjugated by Mongol feudal lords by 1234. In the late 1250’s the Mongol feudal empire in effect disintegrated into a number of autonomous states, one of which was the state of Kublai Khan, who acceded to the throne in 1260. At first the state encompassed Mongolia proper and North China. In 1271, Kublai Khan gave his dynasty the Chinese name of Yüan. In 1279, he completed the conquest of South China by destroying the Chinese Southern Sung empire. The conquest of China was accompanied by massacres, the annihilation of cities, and the destruction of valuable property and cultural artifacts. Mongol feudal lords enslaved a large part of the population of North China. The period of Mongol hegemony in China was marked by economic stagnation. Under Kublai Khan, campaigns of conquest were undertaken against Vietnam, Burma and Japan, all of which ended in failure.

After the death of Temur Khan, who succeeded Kublai Khan and ruled from 1295 to 1307, a bitter struggle began among the pretenders to the throne, which was occupied by eight emperors in succession between 1308 and 1332. During the reign of Tokon-Temur (1333–68), popular revolts began in China (seeRED TURBANS REBELLION OF 1351–68). Protracted struggle by the Chinese people led to the overthrow of the Mongol conquerors, and in 1368 the Chinese Ming Dynasty was founded. In Mongolia, the power of Genghis Khan’s successors declined, and the country split into separate feudal domains.


Istoriia Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1967.
Borovkova, L. A. Vosstanie “Krasnykh voisk” v Kitae. Moscow, 1971. (Contains bibliography.)
Tataro-mongoly v Azii i Evrope: Sb. st., 2nd ed. Moscow, 1977.



the monetary unit of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), equal to 10 chiao or 100 fen.

Yuans were first produced, as silver coins, in 1835. Until 1933 the monetary unit in circulation was the Hang. Customs duties (until 1930) and taxes (until 1933) were computed in yuans. The yuan contained 23.9025 g of pure silver; from 1933 to 1935 it contained 23.4934 g. Under a monetary reform carried out in 1935, silver yuans were removed from circulation and replaced with paper yuans, or fa-pi. Excessive printing of paper money led to inflation of the yuan. Under a monetary reform in 1948, the gold content of the yuan was set at 0.22217 g of pure gold; new paper money—“gold yuans”—was issued, for which fa-pi were exchanged at the rate of 3 million to one.

In December 1948 the People’s Bank of China was established; it began issuing its own banknotes—jenmin-pi—(yuans). After the formation of the PRC, local money throughout the country was exchanged for the new banknotes; the exchange had essentially been completed by early 1952 in China and by 1959 in Tibet. From Mar. 1 to Apr. 30, 1955, old money was exchanged for new at the rate of 10,000 to one. According to the rate of exchange set by the State Bank of the USSR in September 1978, 100 yuans equal 45 rubles and 50 kopecks.


the standard monetary unit of China, divided into 10 jiao and 100 fen.