Han, Chinese dynasty
, dynasty of China that ruled from 202 B.C. to A.D. 220. Liu Pang, the first Han emperor, had been a farmer, minor village official, and guerrilla fighter under the Ch'in dynasty. During the period of civil strife that followed the fall of the Ch'in
, he advanced from the Huai River valley, defeated his rivals for the throne, and then established himself in Chang'an (see Xi'an
) near the old Ch'in capital. Under Liu Pang and the succeeding Han emperors the task of unification begun by the Ch'in was carried further. However, the harsh laws of the Ch'in were repealed, taxes were lightened, the absolute autocracy of the emperor was lessened, and, most importantly, Confucianism was made the basis of the state. The pyramidal bureaucracy of Ch'in administration was retained, and the Han period saw the beginnings of one of the distinguishing features of the Chinese educational and state system, the recruiting of members of the bureaucracy through civil service examinations. The dynasty attained its greatest territorial expanse under the emperor Wu Ti (reigned 140 B.C.–87 B.C.), who extended Han power W to Xinjiang and Central Asia, N to Manchuria and Korea, and S to Yunnan, Hainan island, and Vietnam. One of China's greatest historians, Ssu-ma Ch'ien
, flourished during the reign of Wu Ti. The Han emperors ruled for 400 years with one interruption; in A.D. 8 an agrarian reformer usurped the throne and established the Hsin dynasty. This short-lived dynasty has come to mark the division between the Early, or Western, Han period and the Later, or Eastern, Han period, which began A.D. 25, when the Han capital was moved east to Luoyang. The entire Han era was one of political and cultural centralization and expansion. The writing brush and paper and ink came into wide use and the manufacture of porcelain had its beginnings in this period. Many classic texts were edited, and the first dictionary was compiled. The coming of Buddhism increased cultural ties with India and parts of the Middle East. Trade with border states was increased to pacify these regions and to gain their allegiance. The dynasty collapsed c.A.D. 220 and was followed by some 350 years of smaller political units, including the Three Kingdoms
and the Tsin
dynasty. China was eventually reunited under the Sui
See P. Ku, The History of the Former Han Dynasty (tr., 3 vol., 1938–55); Ssu-ma Ch'ien, Records of the Grand Historian of China (tr., 2 vol., 1961); M. Loewe, Everyday Life in Early Imperial China (1968); J. Gernet, Ancient China from the Beginnings to the Empire (tr. 1968); Tung-hsi Ch'u, Han Social Structure (1972).
Han, rivers, China
Han. 1 River of S China, 210 mi (338 km) long, rising in W Fujian prov. and flowing S through Guangdong prov. to the South China Sea at Shantou; navigable for about 100 mi (160 km) upstream. The densely populated delta is a rich agricultural area; two crops of rice are grown annually. Manganese and tungsten are mined in the upper valley. 2 River of central China, c.700 mi (1,130 km) long, rising in SW Shaanxi prov. and flowing E between the Qinling and the Daba mts., then SE through Hubei prov. to join the Chang at Wuhan; navigable for about 300 mi (480 km) upstream. The river floods its fertile lower valley in summer. There is a hydroelectric power station at Danjiangkou near Xiangyang (Xiangfan), Hubei prov. The reservoir there is also the starting point for the central route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, which transfers water from the Chang and its tributaries to the Huang He and cities and provinces in the north.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
an imperial dynasty that ruled China from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. The Han Dynasty is divided into the Western, or Former (Old), Han, which lasted from 206 B.C. to 25 A.D.; and the Eastern, or Later (New), Han, which lasted from 25 A.D. to 220 A.D. Chinese historians often treat as a discrete period the reign of Wang Mang (9–23 A.D.) and the two-year reign of Liu Hsiian (Keng Shih), which immediately followed; by this reckoning, the Western Han lasted from 206 B.C. to 8 A.D.
The founder of the Han Dynasty, Liu Pang, united the country and created a strong centralized empire. Liu Pang’s policy of granting extensive territories to his close associates and to members of the imperial clan, however, led to the fragmentation of the country. The principalities formed as a resuit of his policy had their own troops, finances, and administration and became independent kingdoms hostile to the central government.
Central authority was strengthened during the reign of the emperors Ching-ti (156–141 B.C.) and, especially, Wu-ti (140–87 B.C.). The Han Dynasty adopted the ideas of Confucianism, which became the official ideology under Wu-ti. The Han waged wars of conquest in the north and northwest against the Hsiung-nu, in the west against the Ch’iang tribes, in the east and northeast against the Koreans, the Wu-huan, and the Hsien-pei, and in the south and southwest; these wars greatly extended the boundaries of the empire. During the Han Dynasty commercial and cultural contacts were established with the states of Middle Asia and India.
The Western Han Empire was brought to an end by the peasant uprisings of the Red Eyebrows (seeRED EYEBROW REBELLION) and the Dwellers in the Green Forests (17–27 A.D.). The Eastern Han Empire collapsed as a result of the peasant uprising of the Yellow Turbans, which took place between 184 and 204 (seeYELLOW TURBANS, REBELLION OF THE), and strife among feudal military cliques.
REFERENCESIstoriia Kitaia s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei. Moscow, 1974.
an ancient Chinese state. The Han state, which was formed in 403 B.C., encompassed southeastern Shansi Province and central Honan Province; it was conquered by the Ch’in state in 230 B.C.
(also Han-gang), a river in South Korea. The Han measures 514 km in length and drains an area of 34,500 sq km. It originates in the Taebaek-sanmaek and flows primarily through low mountains and hills. In the lower course it flows through the Han Lowland. The river empties into the Kanghwa-man, an inlet of the Yellow Sea, forming an estuary.
The mean flow rate is approximately 670 cu m per sec. Flash floods occur in summer. The river is navigable by junks for more than 300 km. The city of Seoul is located on the Han.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
1. the imperial dynasty that ruled China for most of the time from 206 bc to 221 ad, expanding its territory and developing its bureaucracy
2. the Chinese people as contrasted to Mongols, Manchus, etc.
a river in E central China, rising in S Shaanxi and flowing southeast through Hubei to the Yangtze River at Wuhan. Length: about 1450 km (900 miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005