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Home China History China Ancient History China Dynasties Qin Dynasty


Qin Dynasty


Emperor Qinshihuang
(click for a larger picture)
Thanks to the achievements of Shang Yang's Reform, in 221BC, Emperor Qinshihuang completed the historical mission of uniting China and established the first great feudalistic dynasty in China, generally we called it Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC). Emperor Qinshihuang, whose name was Yin Zheng, selected Xianyang as the national capital. Practices and policies of the Qin Dynasty were so widely effective and conducive to power that they were carried into the subsequent Han Dynasty and continue to flourish in today China. Here are some cross-sections of historic legacy from Qin Dynasty:

Centralization Policymaking: The dynasty adhered to Legalist principles, a Chinese philosophy that followed strict compliance to a rule of law. This belief allowed Qin to rule the population from a centralized power structure and proved a very effective way to govern. Such a policy however, did not allow for dissent. It was tremendously beneficent for Chinese long-standing union and non-separation.

Standardization of Written Characters: Qin instituted a uniform written language, allowing for greater communication and implementation of policies. Such a script allowed scholars to share information to a greater number of people and lead to the transmittal of culture that was previously only seen by a few. A single language allowed the later dynasties to communicate with nomadic tribes and pass along information on how to negotiate or fight with them.

Standardization of Roads: The construction of roads allowed for greater connections between provinces and major cities. The dynasty also standardized the length of axles in carts so that they could all ride on the newly-built roads.

Construction of the Great Wall: Construction of the Great Wall of China marked national boundaries that led to greater unity. Such a move was defensive, to protect against invading nomadic tribes to the north, though later dynasties were more expansionist and built over Qin’s original wall.

Standardization of Weights and Measures: The dynasty standardized all weights and measures that led to more efficient commerce and would allow subsequent dynasties to develop a taxation system.

Oneness of Coinage: The dynasty also standardized the Chinese currency, adding to greater commerce.

Due to its inexperience and the bloody oppression to the grassroots, Qin Dynasty did not last for a long time as Emperor Qinshihuang expected. But a lot of lessons or experiences of Qin Dynasty greatly nourished the subsequent dynasties. One other lasting impact of the Qin Dyansty is the power of a leader’s personality in China. After Qin Shihuang’s death in 210 BCE, his son, and later his grandson, took power, but both were short lived. The Qin Dynasty came to a close in 206 BCE, just four years after Qin Shihuang’s death. Almost immediately following his death, the same warring states that he unified sprang up again and China was again under numerous leaders until it was unified under the Han Dynasty. The Han would last over 400 years, but much of its practices were started in the Qing Dynasty.

Qin Shihuang’s power lied in his top-down rule, and people conformed because of the power of his personality. They followed him because he showed them something larger than their local kingdoms, an inkling into a future nation-state. The fact that China is named after Qin is also testament to his influence. While this is a very effective way to rule, once the leader dies, so can his dynasty. Similarities can be seen subsequent dynasties and in the modern era, such as with the death of Chairman Mao Zedong. Mao actually likened himself to Emperor Qin.

Qin Shihuan was buried in a tomb accompanied by an army of hundreds of thousands of terracotta soldiers in present-day Xian. The tomb was uncovered by a farmers digging for a well in 1974. The Emperor had been obsessed with immortality and spent years trying to find an elixir to life. While physical immortality was never achieved, it would seem Qin’s quest for to live forever was ultimately granted ?his policies and legacy are practiced and remembered in China today.

Qin was most-recently popularized in Chinese Director Zhang Yimou’s 2002 film Hero, which some have criticized as advocating totalitarianism. Movie goers however, went to see it in droves. Already a hit in China and Hong Kong, when it opened to North American audiences in 2004, it was the number one movie, and grossed $18 million in its opening weekend ?a rarity for a foreign film. Currently, about the stories of Qin Dynasty is largely blooming, relevant researches are meanwhile being moved on. The new excavation of new section of Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses is widely noticed at home and abroad. Maybe in the near future, more miracles and astonishment will cross the whole world from this area.

Qin Dynasty in Chinese history is characterized of legend and mystery both for its unbelievable architectural wonders like the Mausoluemn of Emperor Qinshihuang, The Great Wall and Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses. It is the real beginning of great time of China or Asia.





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