Xia Dynasty (2100-1600 BC)
The Xia dynasty was the first dynasty in Chinese history although it has been thought of as a myth because there is no archaeological evidence of the dynasty. People lived mainly through agriculture and hunter-gathering. They made coins to buy things within their own country. At first, they believed in natural spirits such as shamans, spirits, and cremation of the dead bodies. After the 11th century, the Xia went into Lamaism (another form of Buddhism). There were a total of 17 emperors. The hereditary system was in effect during this dynasty. The Xia was based on slavery.
Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC)
The Shang dynasty was the first dynasty in Chinese history to have archaeological evidence. Slaves constituted an integral part of the Shang economy. The most important part of China’s economy was the agricultural sector. Folk religion during the Shang was polytheistic. Ancestor worship was also very important to the Shang. It was thought that the success of crops, health, and well being of the people were based on the happiness of dead ancestors. The government was a monarch ruled by a line of kings.
Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC)
The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other Chinese dynasty. All farming lands were owned by nobles, who then gave their land to their serfs. This was similar to feudalism. Currency was mostly spade and knife coins. The Zhou also followed Chinese folk religion. They emphasized the “Mandate of Heaven”. The government of the Zhou was a monarchy with a feudal-like system.
Qin Dynasty (221-202 BC)
The Qin dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China. Their currency was Ban liang coins. After unifying the territory later known as “China", the Qin took some contradictory measures to enhance the economical productivity of the empire. However, after starting the major construction work such as the Epang Palace and the Great Wall of China, taxes were raised. Chinese folk religion and legalism were the religions in this dynasty. The Chinese offered sacrifices in an attempt to contact another realm. This rituals and others were to ensure that the dead journeyed and stayed in the other realm, and to receive blessings from the spirit realm. The Qin government was highly bureaucratic.
Han Dynasty (206-220 AD)
The Han dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Qin and was briefly interrupted by the Xin dynasty. Its currency was Ban liang coins and wu zhu coins. Aside from the landowner’s land tax paid in a portion of their crop yield, the poll tax and property taxes were paid in coin cash. Religions were Daoism, Confucianism, and Chinese folk religion. The Han dynasty was a monarchy where the emperor was the supreme judge and lawgiver.
Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD)
The Jin dynasty was a ruling house founded by Sima Yan. They used Chinese coin and cash as currency. Religion was Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Chinese folk religion. Buddhism filled an abstract gap that Confucianism was unable to fill. The government was a monarchy.
Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD)
The Sui dynasty was a short-lived imperial Chinese dynasty. It unified China for the first time after over a century of division. They used Chinese coin and cash as currency. The tax system of the Sui dynasty consisted of three parts: the tax in grain, in textiles or other materials, and in labour or military service for 20 days a year. Religions in this time period were Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Chinese folk religion. They had a central bureaucracy.
Tang Dynasty (618-907)
The Tang dynasty is generally regarded as a high point in Chinese civilization. Their currency was Chinese coin and cash. Two markets served as supply of goods and for tax income. The equal-land system was intended to ensure a certain tax income to the state by reducing the amount of large land estates. Religions included Chinese Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Chinese folk…