Art of Asia
- Ming dynasty (1368–1644), an introduction
- An introduction to the Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
- Technology during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
- Spirit path to the tomb of the first Ming Emperor
- Red so rare it was lost to time —a ritual Ming dish
- The Forbidden City
- The Forbidden City
- Wang Lü among the peaks, Ming paintings of Mt. Hua
- The Abduction of Helen Tapestry
- Standing figure of Guanyin as Buddha
- Covered jar with fish in lotus pond
- Classical gardens of Suzhou
- Song of the morning
- Whirling Snow on the River Bank
- Shen Zhou, A Spring Gathering
- Shakyamuni, Laozi, and Confucius
- Congyi, Cloudy Mountains
- Qiu Ying, Journey to Shu
- Copy after Qiu Ying, Playing the Zither Beneath a Pine Tree
- Palace Women and Children Celebrating the New Year
- Eleven Dragons handscroll
- Wang Wen, Poem in cursive script
- Li (tripod)-shaped cloisonné incense burner
- ‘Kraak’ bowl, from Jingdezhen
- Brushrest with Arabic inscription
- Miniature figurines and furniture in a Ming Tomb
The Ming dynasty (1368–1644) arose following a series of natural disasters that hit China during the early and middle 1300s, adding to the misery of a people under the harsh rule of the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1279–1368). In 1368 rebel armies—led by Zhu Yuanzhang (1328–1398)—overthrew the Yuan, and Zhu established a dynasty he named Da Ming (“Great Brightness”). The only emperor in China’s long history to have been born to a peasant family, Zhu had been orphaned early in life. From these humble beginnings rose a dynasty that was to be ruled by seventeen emperors over a period of 276 years (more than half a century longer than the United States has been an independent nation).
From Nanjing, the first Ming capital (see map above), Zhu Yuanzhang reigned as the Hongwu emperor for thirty years (1368–1398). His priorities—consolidating his power, building an imperial capital, and setting up a system of government—were shared by his fourth son, Zhu Di, who, following a power struggle of nearly four years, usurped the throne from his nephew and ruled as the Yongle emperor from 1403 to 1424. During the Yongle reign, the seat of the Ming dynasty was moved to Beijing (see map). This was a time of exploration, with imperial expeditions sent as far away as the east coast of Africa.
Court arts of these early reigns reflect the emperors’ desires to display the power and glory of their dynasty. Subsequent Ming emperors were not as strong, and by the end of the dynasty much of the power and glory of the imperial family had faded.
The Ming Capitals
When Ming troops overthrew the Mongols of the Yuan dynasty (1368), the establishment of a capital city with an appropriate imperial presence became a high priority. The first Ming emperor settled in Nanjing, on the lower reaches of the Yangzi River, an area that was China’s wealthiest and home to many members of its educated elite. Nanjing (literally, “Southern Capital”) was the primary Ming capital until 1420, when the Yongle emperor (reigned 1403–1424) moved the capital to Beijing (“Northern Capital”). For the remainder of the dynasty Nanjing served as the secondary capital, with diminishing administrative significance. The construction of each of these capitals was an enormous undertaking, requiring the mobilization of massive labor forces and the amassing of great quantities of materials.
The city of Beijing changed considerably during the 224 years it served as the Ming capital. The emphasis during the early years was on creating an imperial capital that reflected the power and glory of the Ming court. By the 1500s this phase of building had been completed: Transportation systems and other infrastructures were in place, and the imperial compounds had come to include large numbers of warehouses, workshops, and places to house members of the court as well as support staff. By the end of the dynasty, Beijing’s inhabitants included an enormous population serving the needs of the imperial family and the official bureaucracy. Some estimates put the number of imperial family members supported by the state by the end of the dynasty as high as sixty thousand, and the total population of Beijing as high as one million.
Want to join the conversation?
- why did Ming China isolate?(3 votes)
- After a period of maritime explorations (see Zheng He) in the early 15th century, the Ming Dynasty started shutting the Middle Kingdom out of the rest of the world. This of course continued with the Qing, and the empire remained largely isolated until the 19th century, because of foreign "initiative."(2 votes)
- What were some of the ways that people communicated?
And what connections/networks were in the Ming Dynasty that connected out of the society?(2 votes)
- why did china isolate even when they where still trading on the silk road(1 vote)
- The governing authorities of China maintained isolation. The traders from Central Asia did not isolate, because there was money to be made. Money can cause people to break all kinds of governmental restrictions.(1 vote)
- How do you compare between the Ming and the Yuan dynasties?(1 vote)
- Since you ask, "how to", I offer the following.
Get a sheet of paper.
Fold it in half, so that you have a left side and a right side.
Label the left side, Yuan.
Label the right side, Ming.
Write the dates of the Yuan dynasty on the left side.
Write the dates of the Ming dynasty on the right side.
THAT is your first comparison. You should get "when" and "How long".
Now, find some art works representative of the Yuan Dynasty and list their names under "Yuan".
Do the same for thd Ming Dynasty.
Look at all of them, and compare styles, colors, materials and such.
That should give you several more comparisons.
Do the same with "technologies", "conquests" and "defeats".
That's how you do it.(1 vote)
- What natural disasters caused the Chinese to rebel against the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty?(0 votes)
- What did the Ming reintroduce into China after overthrowing the Yuan?(0 votes)
- If one considers the Ming to be a dynasty of "back to the past", then this question has merit and can be used as a guide to research. BUT, if the Ming is considered to be an "on to the future" deal, then reintroduction of ANYTHING is counterrevolutionary. I personally prefer to see the Ming as an advance on what they replaced.(0 votes)
- What kind of government? (King, democracy?)
Who were the important leaders?
What were the important cities?
What were some of the important qualities of the cities?
that may be in the reading(0 votes)
- 1. they had an absolute monarchy
2. most important leaders were the two mentioned above, Hongwu and Yonglo
3. important cities were Beijing and Nanjing
4. when capital was moved to Beijing, the Forbidden city was built by Yonglo(6 votes)
- Any resources on the imperial expeditions to Africa?(0 votes)
- Find them here:https://www.kwasikonadu.info/blog/2018/3/18/zheng-hes-ming-dynasty-voyages-to-east-africa
The general who led the expedition was a Muslim!(0 votes)