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Early Chinese Ceramics - Historical Review

[General Considerations]  [Historical Review]  [Chinese Grave Customs]  [Pottery Of The Chou, Han And Other Pre-T'ang Dynasties]  [Wares Of The Tang Dynasty]  [Ju Yao And Some Related Wares]  [Kuan Yao]  [Chun Yao]  [Ting Yao And Related Wares]  [Lung-Chuan Yao And Related Celadons]  [Tz'u Chou Yao]  [Chien Yao And Related Wares]  [More Articles Related To Chinese Ceramics] 

( Originally Published 1922 )



The dynastic histories of China were compiled at the close of each dynasty from accounts written by scholars and historians appointed for the purpose at the time when the events were taking place. No one but the historians themselves was allowed to read these records; not even the reigning Emperor was permitted to edit the home truths which were being said about him, and this system has obtained since the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 25). The records were locked up in chests which were not opened until the close of the dynasty, when they formed the basis of its official history. In this way we have complete and authentic accounts of the principal events which have taken place since very early times.

The mythical Pan Ku is said to have lived about 4850 B.C. and is regarded as the founder of Chinese art; to him are ascribed the five essential artistic qualifications, for he modelled the earth, he shaped the mountains, he carved out the rivers; he beat out the volcanoes and he painted the heavens.

P'an Ku was the progenitor of a series of legendary kings of whom Fu Hsi 2852-7738 B.C.) is one of the most famous. He invented the lute and the lyre, and was the first to devise a form of writing by pictorial expression. It is related of him that, while standing on the bank of the Yellow River, he saw emerge from its muddy waters a dragon horse, on whose back were portrayed mystic signs, which were subsequently developed by Fu Hsi into the eight trigrams or pa kua which have played so important a part in the systems of divination of every succeeding age. The Emperor Wen Wang (1231-1135 B.C.) later developed the pa kua from eight into sixty-four symbols. Some authors state that the dragon horse presented Fu Hsi with a scroll on which the mystic diagrams were inscribed.

Shen Nung (2737 B.C.) elaborated the pictorial element in the primitive characters and signs, such as those for sun, moon, tree and horse. These are still to be found on pottery and porcelain, and they also provide the basis of the modern characters for these nouns.

Huang Ti (2697 B.C.), the Yellow Emperor, was another legendary king who is reputed to have taught the people how to make utensils of wood, pottery and metal.

Of the other great names of this era that of Chin T'ien (2597 B.C.) is important. He is said to have maintained that " in the earth were substances being heated by natural forces which one day man would bend to his will and make containers," and during his reign pottery is said to have been made by pounding clay into rough shapes. Ti Chih (2366 B.C.) improved the process by discovering a " scarlet clay which greatly pleased the people." The Emperor Yao, his successor (2357 B.C.) is regarded as the first sage. He it was who first began improving cultivation by draining the marshes, and apparently in his reign different coloured clays were used for the crude pottery of the time. His son-in-law Shun (2255 B.C,) was equally famous; he also made pottery and produced a criminal code which is the basis of that used today.

But authentic Chinese history really begins with the foundation of the Hsia dynasty (2205-1766 B.c.) by the great Yu. The name of the dynasty is derived from that of a small state in Honan which was given to Yu for controlling the Yellow River. His father had been employed by Yao in draining the marshes and controlling the floods caused by that river overflowing its banks, but his failure to do so with success brought about his execution and the task was given to his son, who succeeded in coping with the floods by making channels instead of erecting dams. His success in this work led directly to the throne, and he founded a dynasty which lasted four hundred years. The overthrow of this dynasty came about during the reign of its seventeenth representative, Chieh Kuei, a most dissolute monarch who is chiefly famous for the underground palace he built for his consort, where orgies of every description were conducted.

The Shang dynasty (1766-1122 B.C.) was founded by T'ang, who is reputed to have been the son of the Minister of Education under Shun, and the capital was placed at Po in the present province of Anhui. He changed the royal colour from black to white to emphasise the change of dynasty and is renowned for his dealing with a drought which persisted for seven years of his reign. Though various steps were taken to relieve the people in their distress, these were of no avail, and so T'ang decided that more drastic measures were necessary. He proceeded to a mulberry grove arrayed in sacrificial white and there confessed his sins, offering himself as a sacrifice to Heaven in place of his innocent subjects. Copious rain immediately fell in response to his prayers. The next succeeding reigns were of small importance, but it is interesting to note that the capital was moved first to Kan to avoid the inundations of the Yellow River, thence to Siang in Honan, thence to Kung in Shansi, and thence to Hsing T'ai in Chihli : finally it was removed to Yin, a town north of the Yellow River in Honan, by Pan Keng (1401-1373 B.C.), who changed the name of the dynasty to Yin.

The last emperor of the dynasty was even worse than Chieh Kuei, who brought the Hsia dynasty to its doom. His name was Chou Hsin, and he also had a consort who encouraged him in vice; an underground palace did not suit her ideas, and the Emperor to please her built the famous Stag Tower, which took seven years to erect. Here orgies of the most monstrous kinds were perpetrated and the most fiendish forms of cruelty and torture were devised. The people at last openly rebelled, and the Emperor fled to the Stag Tower, where he burned himself to death by setting the building on fire, and his consort was seized and executed, to the delight and relief of all.

The Chou dynasty (II22-255 B.c.) with its span of 867 years is the longest dynasty in the history of China. During its course many of the laws, philosophies and national institutions which persist to the present day find their origin, though the philosophers of the Sung dynasty are the most famous. The dynasty was founded by Wu Wang, another descendant of the Minister of Education under Shun, who signalised its inauguration by altering the royal colour to brown. With the loyal help of his brother, the Duke of Chou, who on Wu Wang's death acted as regent, the kingdom was systematically organised; the feudal system was perfected and five orders of nobility' were created-dukes (kung), marquises (hou), earls (po), viscounts (tzu), and barons (nan), to whom were allotted varying areas of territory. Schools were established throughout the Empire and houses were built in which the aged might pass their last days in comfort at the expense of the national Exchequer. The revenue was derived from tithes, either of land produce or of income, and the national administration was secured by a Cabinet of Ministers acting under the Emperor.

The capital of the Empire was moved from the province of Shensi to Lo Yang in Honan in 770 B.C., and this step was probably largely instrumental in causing the downfall of the dynasty; for though the seat of government was thus placed in a more central position and became less exposed to inroads from barbarians, the power of the crown was transferred largely to the nobles of the vassal states : in particular, less control could be exercised over the state of Chin, which held sway in Shensi, and which was gradually gaining power.

Mu Wang, the fifth sovereign of the dynasty (1001-946 B.C.), is said to have made a famous journey to the West in his chariot drawn by eight marvellous horses, but the story is purely mythological and cannot be taken as evidence of contact at that date with Western Asia and its civilisation.

In the year 551 B.c. Confucius was born, and the advent of this philosopher would alone mark the Chou dynasty as especially conspicuous in Chinese history. He was a contemporary of Lao Tzu and is said by some historians to have been a disciple of that great exponent of Taoism. Tao may be said to represent impersonal nature which permeates everything and to which everything owes its origin, and its cult is intimately bound up with mysticism. Confucianism, as inculcated by the great sage, is a philosophy pure and simple, a system of morality rather than a religion, and the supernatural plays no part in its doctrine. Particular stress was laid on reverence for tradition and on filial piety, which included not only dutiful behaviour on the part of children to parents, but loyalty to the throne and respect for authority. Corrupted though the doctrine became in later times, it has probably done more to keep the Empire together than any other single influence. In 372 B.C. Mencius was born, and this famous philosopher and moralist is held in Chinese estimation as second only to Confucius, whose teachings he expounded.

The dynasty, which came to an end owing to the growth in power of the vassal state of Ch'in, probably owes the length of its sway to the fact that the feudal states were more or less equal in power, and predominance was not attained by any one of them until near its close. Distinguished generals and statesmen abound in its history, but with a few exceptions its rulers were men of but moderate ability. On the artistic side, the dynasty is chiefly renowned for its bronzes, of which a good many specimens are extant in this country : no doubt a vastly greater number are treasured in China. The forms of the bronzes were copied later in pottery and porcelain, and the main shapes and forms are consequently familiar to us.

The reader will find China often referred to as the " Middle Kingdom," and it may be of interest to explain how the term came to be used. During early days the " world " was China in the eyes of its inhabitants, and they styled their country t'ien hsia, or " all that is under heaven." Later, exploration showed that there were other countries " under heaven," and so the title could not be considered strictly accurate. But these other bordering lands and peoples could not be regarded in Chinese estimation as of much importance, and China was still the hub of the universe: so the name chung kuo, or the Middle Kingdom, became applied to the empire instead of t'ien hsia.

The Ch'in dynasty (255-206 B.C.) can hardly be said to have become dominant over all China until the Emperor Shih Huang Ti reached full power in 22 B.C. His name is famous for two particular reasons. He desired to mark the fact that Chinese history before his accession was of no account, so he ordered the burning of all the ancient books except those on agriculture, medicine and divination, and caused four hundred and sixty litterati to be burned alive; fortunately, the order in regard to the books was not carried out with completeness, and in later years some of the ancient books were unearthed and served as a basis for the redissemination of the classics. The other event for which his reign is famous was the building of the Great Wall by his general 1VVIeng T'ien, which took ten years to erect and involved the employment of 300,000 labourers. 1Vfeng T'ien is believed to have been the inventor of the writing brush; and paper made from silk was also first used at this time, though paper made from the cheaper bamboo was not introduced till the Han dynasty. Moreover, the use of the Lesser Seal characters in place of the more cumbrous Greater Seal was an invention of this age.

Despite his failings Shih Huang Ti was a great statesman, and he left behind him a China which was an empire and not a congeries of petty warring states.

We now come to one of the most important eras from the ceramic point of view. The Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 25) was founded by Kao Ti, the Lofty Emperor or Lofty Ancestor: he gave his dynasty the title of Han, from the name of a river flowing into the Yang-tze near which he was born, and he moved his capital from Lo Yang to Ch'ang An in Shensi. He is said to have given a great impetus to pottery production by founding a new school of pottery-makers and subsidising it from the Imperial treasury.

The dynasty reached the zenith of its power in the reign of Wu Ti (140-86 B.C.), who surrounded himself with eminent scholars and experienced councillors, though it should be noted that his love for the occult gave great impetus to Taoism and enabled that philosophy to obtain a foothold which it retained for many a generation.

Communication with the Western races first took place during this epoch, since the travels of 1VIu Wang referred to earlier are mere legends. This fact accounts probably for the initial appearance of glaze upon the ceramic wares of China, which, in the opinion of most authorities, occurred during this dynasty.

Towards the close of the dynasty supreme power was usurped by Wang IVIang, but he was eventually overthrown by Liu Hsuan; the latter ruled, however, for two years only and abdicated in favour of Liu Hsiu, who established the Later or Eastern Han dynasty which was dominant from A.D. 25-22I. Liu Hsiu, or Kwang Wu Ti as he called himself on founding the new regime, was a great general, who studied military tactics by means of pottery figures; on attaining supreme power he devoted himself to bringing peace to the Empire. Kwang Wu Ti moved his capital back to Lo Yang in Honan, which accounts for the dynasty being called the Eastern Han. His son 1Vding Ti is said to have introduced Buddhism into China from India in A.D. 65, and the influence of this religion on ceramic art is discussed later.

The succeeding epoch of Chinese history was a most exciting period. It is known as the San Kuo, or the Three Kingdoms (A.D. 22I-265), and corresponds in the Chinese imagination to our romantic age, when King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table were performing their deeds of chivalry or deciding questions of policy by feats of arms. A high percentage of the plots on which subsequent Chinese novels have been based was gathered from the stories centring round these brave days of old. This period is of some interest to collectors, as it produced the famous warrior-general Kwan Yu or Kwan Ti, who was deified as the God of War in A.D. 1594 by the 1Vling Emperor Shen Tsung or Wan Li.

The Three Kingdoms were the Wei in the North, with its capital at Lo Yang; the Wu in the country immediately south of the Yang-tze, with its capital at Nanking; and the Shu in the SouthWest, with its capital at Ch'eng Tu in Szechuan. Eventually, the Wei emerged as the superior power, and under another Wu Ti the Western Chin dynasty was formed (A.D. 265-317). Some measure of peace and progress was secured in this short period, but rather more than a hundred years of anarchy and rebellion followed when the Eastern Chin dynasty assumed control (A.D. 317-420). The division between the North and South of China came next. In the North, the most important ruling power was the Northern Wei dynasty (House of Toba) which held sway from A.D. 386-535. This house was succeeded by other minor supremacies while four houses held Imperial power elsewhere, viz., Sung, generally known as the " House of Liu," 420-479, which must not be confused with the great Sung dynasty established later; Chi, 479-502; Liang, 502-557, and Ch'en, 557-587. The three hundred and sixty odd years which elapsed after the extinction of the power of the house of Han were full of disturbance; first one kinglet obtained the upper hand and then another; each change was accompanied by cruelty and slaughter, and the whole country was in a state of turmoil and unrest. With no continuous and central government the arts had little chance of cultivation, but on the establishment of the next dynasty great advances were put on foot. It should, however, be noted that many fine examples of the sculptor's art date from the Northern Wei dynasty.

The Sui dynasty (589-618) and its first Emperor Yang Chien, known as Kao Tsu, welded together again the North and South, and the capital was again placed in Ch'ang An in Shensi. The national outlook became broader and the arts were encouraged; science as applied to pottery was developed and the chemical treatment of glazes received attention. The Emperor himself formed a private collection of great intrinsic and artistic value, and subsidised potteries from his private purse. Yang Ti, the second representative of this House, was a person of extravagant taste; he moved his capital back to Lo Yang, where a series of magnificent palaces was erected for his use and for that of his ladies, who numbered 3,000. It is said that no less than 2,000,00o men were employed for building his palaces and for laying out the parks and gardens, in which the rarest flowers and trees from distant parts of the empire were planted. These flowering trees and shrubs were ordered by the Emperor to be in bloom all the year round, so when nature failed in the task, skilled workmen were employed to supply in silk and satin imitation flowers and leaves. Yang Ti is known to posterity chiefly for his construction of an immense system of canals which served for generations as the chief highways of traffic, though their original object was to gratify the luxurious Emperor by providing a comfortable means of travel on his pleasure trips. These canals were no mere ditches but were forty paces wide and lined with stone to prevent erosion of the banks. The Emperor prided himself also on his literary attainments and instituted new academic degrees.

The next dynasty was the Tang (A.D. 618-907), perhaps the greatest artistic age China has ever known: the second emperor of the house, T'ai Tsung, was one of its brightest ornaments; though a great general, he was a greater statesman, and his literary attainments and kindly disposition have gained for him a lasting respect. He was fortunate in having a queen who supported him in his beneficent rule. The history of China does not show us many Imperial ladies who added to the country's glory, though there are several who tarnished it; and it is pleasing to read of the influence exerted by the unpretentious but talented Ch'ang Sun.

During the early years of the dynasty the Empire was enlarged considerably and its sphere of influence spread to Thibet and India, though penetration into Corea met with only partial success at first. The wealth of China at this date increased enormously, and a vast commerce was opened up with the Indo-China Peninsula and the neighbouring islands of Java and Sumatra. Trade with the Persian Gulf was carried on and Arab merchants settled in the cities of China; even the Greek Emperor Theodosius sent an Embassy to the Chinese court in 640.

Lo Yang, the capital, was rebuilt upon a grand scale, magnificent palace buildings were erected, and large public gardens provided recreation for the people. But besides material advantages, this age is noted for its literary output, and it has been computed that eighty-eight per cent. of the poetry of China was produced in the T'ang dynasty.

The great T'ai Tsung was succeeded by his son Kao Tsung, but the real power was soon seized by one of the remarkable women of the world's history, Wu Hou. She is believed to have developed considerable artistic ability and to have published a volume of paintings and poetry which furnished subjects for ceramic decoration. But her proclivities led her into less desirable paths : possessed of great personal beauty, she soon ousted the Empress from Imperial favour and Kao Tsung became a puppet in her hands: after his death she became the virtual ruler of the Empire, and, though cruel, she ruled it with a firm hand.

Towards the end of the dynasty the power of the palace Eunuchs gradually became more and more pronounced, and the rebellions which took place during the latter part of the ninth century, and which finally brought about the downfall of the house of Tang, can be traced in large measure to their machinations.

The period which followed the T'ang dynasty was one of anarchy and military despotism, when supreme power was obtained by a series of successful military leaders; it is known as the Wu Tai, or the Five-Dynasty Epoch. It extended over about fifty years (907-960), and included the Posterior Liang, the Posterior T'ang, the Posterior Chin, the Posterior Han and the Posterior Chou dynasties. None of these can be said to have obtained sovereignty over China as a whole; on the North, the Tartar tribes were a continual source of trouble, and the states in the South owed little or no allegiance to the throne.

The last emperor of the Posterior Chou, Shih Tsung, is of some importance from a ceramic point of view, because it was in his reign (954-960) that the famous Ch'ai porcelain was made. Shih Tsung was of the family of Ch'ai, and from this fact the name of the ware is derived. A general of Shih Tsung and of his son Kung Ti was proclaimed emperor, who under the name of T'ai Tsu founded the famous Sung dynasty.

The Sung dynasty proper extended from 960-1127; but in the latter year the Empire was considerably curtailed and the Southern Sung dynasty was formed. During the Sung dynasty proper China became reunited and its capital was planted at K'ai-feng Fu in Honan, a city well known to collectors as the centre round which so many notable ceramic factories were established.

T'ai Tsu, the founder of the dynasty, set about reducing the military power of his great generals, to whom he owed his throne, by giving them land and civil positions in exchange for the surrender of their military commands : by this means he removed a probable menace to the stability of his House. He also took away the power of life and death from provincial governors and vested it in a central Board without the consent of which capital punishment could not be inflicted. A new era of peace consequently dawned within the Empire, though the incursions of the Tartar tribes, which later caused the partition of China and eventually gave rise to its complete subjugation, were a continual source of trouble from outside.

During the reign of Tai Tsu's successor, T'ai Tsung, war with the Chi Tans or Eastern Tartars was of periodic occurrence, but in the reign of his son (Chen Tsung) peace was patched up on the payment of a yearly subsidy to the Chi Tans. It was about this time (1004) that Chen Tsung ordered Imperial porcelain to be manufactured, and the famous ceramic metropolis of Ching-te Chen was consequently established as an Imperial factory. The original name of the place was Ch'ang-nan Chen, but it was changed to bear the reigning name of the emperor at that date, viz., Ching Te.

The last emperor of the Sung dynasty proper was Hui Tsung, and to his patronage may be ascribed much of the artistic eminence which distinguished this era. He was himself an artist of distinction, and, gathering about him the most talented painters,he instituted a great art academy. Hui Tsung also formed a museum of the first importance and spared no effort or expense in collecting antiques and objets d'art. To these galleries he took his fellow-artists, criticising the specimens and thereby encouraging progressive efforts on their part.

But these aesthetic labours evidently occupied the Imperial attention unduly, and the Foreign Office was neglected in consequence. Hui Tsung ill-advisedly entered into a treaty with the Chin Tartars whereby he hoped to bring about the destruction of the troublesome Chi Tans. Though the Chi Tans were successfully subdued by this means, the Chins became increasingly powerful, and turning covetous eyes on Northern China they soon overran the provinces north of the Yang-tze. The end of the Sung dynasty proper was brought about by a disgraceful treaty with the Chins, who imposed an enormous indemnity and captured Hui Tsung with 3,000 persons of the royal household.

The Southern Sung dynasty (1127-1280) which was thus formed had its capital at Hang Chou with the broad waters of the Yang-tze between it and the avaricious Chins. Here Kao Tsung and his successor Hsiao Tsung proceeded to restore the fallen fortunes of the House of Sung : successful efforts were made to resist the Chins, and territory was wrested from them, but this was probably due in some measure to Chin preoccupation on their Northern frontier, in which the Mongols were beginning to take an undesirable interest.

Hang Chou during this period was one of the most beautiful cities in China, as we can gather from Marco Polo's description of it. Adjoining a spacious lake with a series of islets upon it and intersected with waterways spanned by i2,ooo stone bridges, Hang Chou must have been a greater Venice. The streets were paved with stone with unpaved side-tracks for horsemen. Hot and cold baths, large enough to accommodate ioo persons each, existed to the number of 3,000, the water for which was supplied by springs. The palaces, temples and public buildings seem to have been built on a corresponding scale.

Here the court continued the azsthetic pursuits of Hui Tsung, and art in all its manifestations was encouraged to a degree at least as great as at K'ai-feng Fu. Included in the move across the river were master potters from the famous Northern factories, such as K'ai-feng Fu in Honan, where the Kuan ware was made, and they were re-established at the new capital to continue the production of beautiful specimens of this branch of art. The T'ao Shuo, or Description of Pottery, by Chu Yen, to which frequent reference will be made later, mentions the porcelains which were manufactured in kilns set up at Hang Chou.

The wares produced after the removal of the court to Hang Chou are regarded in some quarters as inferior to those made before that event. But there does not seem any real justification for this view, even if at this distance of time it is possible to distinguish them. A Chinese work written as long ago as i62o, speaking of the Ting wares, tells us that " lovers of ancient art-work who can distinguish Southern from Northern Ting and are not taken in by these later imitations, have no reason for shame and may be reckoned connoisseurs." Perhaps in the twentieth century we may be permitted to show equal respect for the wares produced on either side of the great river and count ourselves lucky if we can distinguish with certainty a Sung product from an eighteenth or nineteenth century Chinese or Japanese copy.

We have already hinted at the growing power of the Mongols, which by the early years of the thirteenth century under the direction of Jenghis Khan was assuming gigantic proportions. The Chins were the first to feel the strength of Mongol arms both on their West and North-west frontiers : during the early stages of Mongol aggression the natural barriers formed by the passes in Shensi and Shansi helped the Chins to resist the onslaught, but by 1218 the Mongol army managed to establish itself in Shansi and Chihli. The closing years of Jenghis Khan's life (he died in 1227) were occupied in further conflict with the Chins, whose territory he wished to add to his mighty empire, created by the conquest of no fewer than forty kingdoms, great and small, extending to the Black Sea. The subjugation of the Chins was completed in 1233 with the ready assistance of the Sung armies, but this was the beginning of the end of the Chinese dynasty. By 1268 Jenghis Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan, now firmly established in his capital at Cambulac (Peking), was ready for the invasion and conquest of China south of the Yang-tze, in order to add that territory to that of the Yuan dynasty which he had already proclaimed. His object was not attained till twelve years later, but the end of the Sung dynasty came about in 1280, when the whole of China was added to the Mongol Empire, which then extended from the Yellow Sea in the East to the Black Sea in the West, and from Northern Mongolia to Tongking in the South.

The head of a world empire of these dimensions could not hope to exercise direct control over the heterogeneous units of which it was composed, and the Yuan dynasty was never firmly established in China except possibly during the earliest of its eighty-seven years of dominance.

The Mongols, being essentially a Northern and hardy race, found the softer climate of Southern China enervating; and the luxurious civilisation that they found in their new possessions was something to which they were unaccustomed and which they could not fully appreciate. The Chinese on their side never ceased to regard their new rulers as foreigners and barbarians; and while they were careful by means oŁ flattery and outward protestations to give the impression of complete subjugation, no real or lasting national change was created by the new order of things.

The material benefit which the Mongol absorption brought to China-besides administering a tonic to the moral of the people-was the opening up of intercourse with the West to a degree which had never before been possible. Trade with distant countries, forming other portions of the Mongol Empire, was a natural consequence, and the commercial prosperity of China was considerably increased. The completion of the Grand Canal connecting Hang Chou with Peking was another material advantage arising from Mongol enterprise. The canal had been made, in part, centuries before, but Kublai extended and completed it in order to convey more readily the tribute rice from Hang Chou to Peking. The work was commenced in 1282, and it took seven years to complete the 650 miles of new construction and connexion of existing waterways.

The effect on the artistic production of the country seems to have been to introduce a discordant note into the Sung ideals. Forcefulness of themes relating to war-like operations was superimposed not only in artistic expression on the literary side, but in the paintings and ceramic wares of the time. So far as the last-named are concerned there seems to have been no radical change in their general content and form, but an atmosphere of harshness seems to surround and permeate them.

Creative art could not be expected to flourish under these conditions, and from this point must be traced the first signs of decline in artistic expression which marks the productions of China in later ages.

This book deals only with the wares produced during the period ending with the Yuan dynasty; but as the traditions were to some extent carried on in the next succeeding Ming dynasty, some reference to its institution in 1368 should be made.

Chu Yuan-chang was the man who restored China to the Chinese : he was a man of humble origin, and his birth is said to have been signalised by the appearance of a bursting star over the house in which he was born. The nation which had for long been chafing under a foreign rule, totally opposed to its traditions and mentality, rose to the call of Chu Yiian-chang. He defeated the last Mongol Emperor Shun Ti and was hailed with acclamation to the Dragon Throne to found the 1VIing dynasty and to adopt the name of Hung Wu.

Hung Wu was no mere warrior; he was also a statesman, and his early acts mark him as such. He cut down the extravagant expenditure of the court which had characterised the closing years of the Yiian dynasty, and encouraged national education by re-establishing schools all over the country. In addition he gave special protection to the Han Lin Academy, and instituted libraries in all the provincial capitals.

It is not necessary to tell the story of the Ming or " Bright " dynasty, except to mention that its end was caused by the moral decay of the Imperial house, and to record that its downfall was brought about by the Manchus in 1644 after a rule of 276 years.



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