Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Qin Dynasty (221 B. C. — 207 B. C.) —

Epoch of Great Unification 

3 Emperors —  14 Years

Restoration Map of Royal Palace of the Qin Dynasty

Facts about the Qin Dynasty

 

1 Qin Dynasty is the first unified empire with centralized power in Chinese history that applied the System of Prefectures and Counties, instead of the previous System of Enfeoffment.

 

2 Qin’s king Qin Shi Huang is the first emperor in the history of China; he never nominated a queen nor a crown prince.

3 The Qin Dynasty set the foundation of the political systems (The Three Councillors and Nine Ministers System) for the next 2000 years of history in China. 

4 Qin Dynasty was believed the beginning of the “Great Unity” in Chinese culture.

Unearthed Jade Goblet of the Qin Dynasty — National Museum of China (Photo by Dongmaiying)

5 According to Shang Yang’s reform, commoners of Qin could get noble titles because of their military achievement, which was mainly based on how many heads of the enemies that one had cut out. 

6  Measurement, currency and language were unified in this era. 

Unearthed Unified Scale Hammer of the Qin Dynasty — National Museum of China

7 Commerce industry was suppressed by administrative means, therefore, most merchants came back to be the peasants.

8  Qin Dynasty respected and applied the Legalism.  

 

9 According to Qin’s law, if a husband derailed, his wife could kill him legally.

Unearthed Bamboo Slips Recording the Laws of the Qin Dynasty — Hubei Museum 

10 Many big projects were built in this era, such as the Great Wall, national road, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System and the Terre Cotta Warriors. 

 

11 The first large scale peasant uprising in Chinese history happened in the Qin Dynasty. 

Unearthed Terre Cotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty — Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum 

Brief History of the Qin Dynasty

Defeating of other Six Kingdoms and Unifying of Middle Kingdom 

Qin Shi Huang, one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history, established the first unified feudal imperial regime, the Qin Dynasty, after the remarkable general Wang Jian and his son had perished the other six kingdoms.

 

Under Qin's governance, the measurement, currency and language were unified, and standardized royal roads were constructed within the whole country. 

Qin Shi Huang also commanded to build the Great Wall to defend the Huns in the North, and the Terra Cotta Warriors to guard his own mausoleum underground. 

Unearthed Bronze Chariot and Horses — Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Cruel Snatching of the Throne, Large Scale Rebellions and Falling of the Qin Dynasty 

When Qin Shi Huang passed away in the year 210 B. C., his 18th son snatched the throne through conspiracy and assassinated all the other children of him. 

The next year, because of heavy taxes, levies, severe laws, and the next emperor's incapability, a big peasant rebellion happened, and then followed by rebel forces of nobles of the former six kingdoms.

The whole of nation fell into chaotic wars again. 

Those uprising armies together, defeated the main force of the Qin Empire.

Soon, the second emperor of Qin was forced to suicide. The third emperor ascended to the throne for less than a month, then he surrendered to King Liu Bang. Few days later, he was assassinated by King Xiangyu. 

This was the official ending of the Qin Dynasty. 

Then, those uprising armies kept fighting against each other, until Liu Bang defeated other forces and established another unified empire, the Han Dynasty.

Unearthed Sword and Armor of the Qin Dynasty — Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

Systems of the Qin Dynasty

 

Population:

 

Around 25 million to 30 million 

 

Political System:

Three Councillors and Nine Ministers System 

 

  • The emperor has the most paramount power; officers who were in charge of military, administration and supervision (Three Councillors) directly answer to the emperor. 

 

  • Other nine departments (Nine Ministers) that managed finance, judiciary, ceremony, security, etc, were independent from each other and only listen to the emperor. 

 

  • Independent vassal states were replaced by 48 counties that were in direct control by the central government, through assigning, monitoring and assessing governors of each county.

Official Selection System:

 

Emperor assignment, recommendation, and regular assessment. 

 

Tax:

 

Certain amounts of farmland products; capitation tax; military or labor services.

Currency of the Qin Dynasty (Qin Ban Liang) —Shanghai Museum

Military Service:

Everyone in the kingdom had the obligation to fight in their army and protect their family. 

 

More rewards were given to soldiers with military achievements, such as noble titles, money, exemption from duty, etc.

 

Land System:

 

Private Ownership of Land, in which civilians can own, cultivate and sell their farmland, while paying taxes to their country. 

Unearthed Eaves Tile of the Qin Dynasty — Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Scientific Development

 

  • Construction of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System (by Li Ping): As an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dujiangyan is one of the greatest, most scientific irrigation systems in Chinese history, which is still in use today. It changed Chengdu from a place that frequently suffered from huge flood and severe drought, to a cultivable, productive and fertile region. 

The Dujiangyan Irrigation System in Sichuan Province that is Still Functioning

  • Construction of the Great Wall and Terra Cotta Warriors.

  • Application of Greenhouse Cultivation. 

Unearthed Multiplication Table on Bamboo Slips of the Qin Dynasty — National Museum of China

Unearthed Inlayed Silver Carriage Piece of the Qin Dynasty — British Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)