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The Han Dynasty was China’s second imperial dynasty that reigned from 206 BC to 220 AD, making it one of the country’s longest major dynasties. It was regarded in Chinese history as the golden age of arts, politics, and technology; a time when Confucianism was promoted as the state religion which has been in effect until now.
See the fact file below for more information on the Han Dynasty or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Han Dynasty worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EMPEROR GAOZU AND THE START OF THE HAN EMPIRE
- In 2020 BC, Liu Bang was made emperor of the Han Dynasty and took the name of Emperor Gaozu.
- Along with this, one of the remaining palaces of the Qin Dynasty was turned into the Han capital of Chang’an and was later known as the Western Han, which became the empire’s capital, however it only lasted until 23 AD.
- Ancient China had numerous kingdoms. To prevent riots and rebellions, Gaozu replaced most of its kings with his family members before he passed away in 195 BC, however power and authority were taken advantage of by the kings from the Liu family which tested the resilience of the empire.
ACHIEVEMENTS: INVENTION OF PAPER
- One of the most distinguished achievements during the Han Dynasty was the invention of paper.
- Different tools were used during Han times. Pulleys and wheelbarrows were primarily used to move goods while water-powered trip hammers were used to pulverize ores and grains.
- These devices were helpful for production, however, a certain innovation from a eunuch named Cai Lun permanently changed the ways of many, especially for learning, and it is still used today.
- Using inner tree bark and rice straw, a watery oatmeal-like pulp was produced. A screen was dipped into the mixture and once it was lifted, a layer of sloppy pulp remained which was then pressed and dried which created paper.
- However, unlike how it is used now, paper was mostly used to wrap fish during Han times. Despite its different initial usage, tombs were discovered to have some written paper sheets from the era of the Han Dynasty.
ACHIEVEMENTS: SILK ROAD
- Among the accomplishments that the Han Dynasty achieved, the foundation of the Silk Road may be its greatest economic success.
- Emperor Wu instructed a man named Zhang Qian with a mission in 138 BC. His mission was to approach and communicate with the tribes to the West, however along with his men, he was seized by the tribe of Xiongnu. Fortunately, he was able to escape and resumed his journey to reach Bactria in Afghanistan.
- Upon his arrival, Zhang Qian spotted textiles and bamboo which came from China and was curious as to how they were acquired. The people stated that the products came from Shendu, a kingdom in Afghanistan.
- Zhang Qian returned to the emperor after thirteen years. He shared the details of what he encountered as he plotted and mapped out a route for an expedition back. After the route and map were used multiple times, it became an international trade route and called the Silk Road.
CULTURE AND SOCIETY: SOCIAL CLASS
- The emperor topped the social hierarchy of Han society and government; however, he was often a minor, dominated by a regent such as the empress dowager or one of her male relatives.
- After the emperor came the kings who were the same Liu family clan.
- The rest of society, such as the nobles lower than kings and all commoners except slaves, belonged to one of twenty ranks. Each successive rank offered its holder greater pensions and legal privileges.
- The top rank, full marquess, had a state pension and a territorial fiefdom. Those just below, ordinary marquess, had a pension but no territorial rule.
- During the Eastern Han period, local elites of unattached scholars, educators, students, and government officials started to identify themselves as members of a larger, country-wide gentry class with shared values and a commitment to scholarship.
- Farmers, or small landowner-cultivators, were below scholars and officials in the social pyramid. Other agricultural cultivators were of a lower status, including tenants, wage laborers, and in rare cases, slaves. Artisans, technicians, tradespeople, and craftsmen received a legal and socioeconomic status between that of the owner-cultivator farmers and common merchants.
CULTURE AND SOCIETY: MARRIAGE, GENDER, AND KINSHIP
- The Han Dynasty was patrilineal and typically had four to five nuclear family members in a single household.
- Based on Confucian family norms, different family members were treated with different levels of respect and intimacy. For instance, there were various accepted time frames for mourning the loss of a father versus a paternal uncle.
- Marriages were sacred and ritualized, especially for the rich, and included a number of important steps.
- Bridewealth and dowry, the giving of betrothal presents, were important. A lack of either was considered a disgrace and the woman would have been seen not as a wife, but a concubine, or just an interpersonal and sexual partner.
- Arranged marriages were also part of the norm, with the father’s input on his child’s spouse being considered more important than the mother’s.
- Monogamous marriages were also normal, although most wealthy people and high officials could afford concubines as additional lovers.
- Under certain conditions under customs, a couple could divorce and remarry.
- However, a widowed woman continued to belong to her husband’s family even after his death. In order to remarry, the widow had to go back to her family in exchange for a ransom fee, and her children were prohibited to go with her.
- The emperor served as the supreme judge and lawgiver, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and sole designator of official nominees appointed to the top position in central and local administrations during the Han Dynasty.
- Below the emperor were his cabinet members called the Three Councillors of State. These were composed of the Chancellor or Minister over the Masses, the Imperial Counselor or Excellency of Works, and Grand Commandant or Grand Marshal.
- Below these three were the Nine Ministers, who each headed a specialized ministry.
- These specialized departments included: (1) The Minister of Ceremonies, (2) The Minister of Household, (3) The Minister of the Guards, (4) The Minister Coachman, (5) The Minister of Justice, (6) The Minister Herald, (7) The Minster of the Imperial Clan, (8) The Minister of Finance, and (9) The Minister Steward.
- Excluding the kingdoms and marquessates, the Han Dynasty was separated, in decreasing order of size, into political units of provinces, commanderies, and counties.
- Each county was divided into a number of districts, which were composed of a group of hamlets, each housing about a hundred families.
- Governors, previously named inspectors, were the heads of provinces.
- They were responsible for inspecting a number of commandery-level and kingdom-level administrations.
- Commanderies were groups of counties headed by an administrator, who was the top civil and military leader of the commandery.
HAN DYNASTY ENDS
- Young death or failure to choose an heir was constantly happening by the end of the 1st century CE.
- Whenever an emperor died without a son, his cousin or any close relative were entitled to be the emperor, even if the new ruler was an infant or child – in such circumstances, they still needed to have an empress and the guardian of her family would be the one to hold the power. Situations like these led to manipulation and trickery in court.
- Aside from inner conflict in the palace, tremors, floods, grasshopper plagues, and other natural calamities during Han times were interpreted as the anger of heaven and the end of the dynasty.
- Corruption of eunuchs and rebellion ruptured into chaos.
- Dong Zhuo, a warlord, took control of the imperial capital but placed Liu Xie, a child who was also a member of the Han, as the new ruler.
- However, despite the placement, Dong Zhuo held the real power and control. He burned Luoyang and killed all the eunuchs. With every battle, the imperial order weakened which soon led to the resignation of Liu Xie in 220 CE. Despite the abdication, wars continued between states and warlords but after around 350 years, China was able to be one again.
Han Dynasty Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Han Dynasty across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Han Dynasty worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Han Dynasty which was China’s second imperial dynasty that reigned from 206 BC to 220 AD, making it one of the country’s longest major dynasties. It was regarded in Chinese history as the golden age of arts, politics, and technology; a time when Confucianism was promoted as the state religion which has been in effect until now.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Han Dynasty Facts
- Who Was Gaozu?
- More Han Facts
- Han Culture
- Silk Road
- Emperor Attributes
- East and West
- Han FAQs
- Other Rules
- Everything Han
- A Letter to the Emperor
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Link will appear as Han Dynasty Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 21, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.