BECK index

CHINA, KOREA & JAPAN to 1800 has been published. For ordering information please click here.


Shang, Zhou and the Classics

Shang Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
Yi Jing (Book of Changes)
Shi Jing (Book of Odes)
Li (Propriety)
Shu Jing (Book of Documents)
Spring and Autumn Era
Sun-zi's Art of War
Period of Warring States

Confucius, Mencius and Xun-zi

Teachings of Confucius
Followers of Confucius
Later Confucian Works

Daoism and Mo-zi

Teachings of Mo-zi
Songs of Chu

Legalism, Qin Empire and Han Dynasty

Book of ShangYang
Han Fei-zi
Qin Empire 221-206 BC
Founding the Han Dynasty 206-141 BC
Wu Di's Reign 141-87 BC
Confucian China 87-7 BC

China 7 BC to 1279

Wang Mang's Revolution
Later Han Empire
China Divided and Reunited 220-618
Sui Dynasty 581-617
Tang Dynasty Empire 618-907
Liao, Xi Xia, and Jin Dynasties 907-1234
Song Dynasty Renaissance 960-1279
Neo-Confucian Ethics
Literature of Medieval China

Mongols and Yuan China

Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire
Khubilai Khan in China
Yuan Dynasty 1294-1368
Chinese Theater in the Yuan Era

Ming Empire 1368-1644

Ming Dynasty Founded by Hongwu
Ming Empire 1398-1464
Ming Empire 1464-1567
Ming Decline 1567-1644
Wang Yangming and Ming Confucians
Ming Era Short Stories
Novels of the Ming Era
Theater in the Ming Era

Qing Empire 1644-1799

Qing Conquest of Ming China 1644-61
Kangxi's Consolidation 1661-1722
Yongzheng's Reforms 1723-35
Qianlong's Expansion 1736-99
Confucian Intellectuals in the Qing Era
Theater in the Qing Era
Wu Jingzi's Novel The Scholars
Cao Xueqin's Dream of the Red Chamber

Korea to 1800

Koguryo, Paekche, and Silla to 668
Silla and Parhae 668-936
Koryo 936-1392
Yi Begins Choson Dynasty 1392-1567
Korea and Foreign Invasions 1567-1659
Korea and Practical Learning 1659-1800

Japan to 1615

Japan to 794
Japan's Heian Era 794-1192
Murasaki's Tale of Genji
Feudal Japan 1192-1333
Feudal Japan 1333-1465
No Plays of Kannami, Zeami, and Zenchiku
Japan under Warlords 1465-1568
Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu 1568-1615

Japan 1615-1800

Tokugawa Japan's Seclusion 1615-1716
Japanese Confucianism and Religion
Saikaku's Stories of Sex and Money
Chikamatsu's Plays
Takeda-Namiki-Miyoshi Plays
Tokugawa Japan 1716-1800
Japanese Culture 1716-1800

Summary and Evaluation

Ancient China to 221 BC
Imperial China 221 BC to 1368
Ming Dynasty
Qing Dynasty to 1875
Korea to 1875
Japan to 1875
Evaluating China, Korea, and Japan


Chronology of East Asia to 1950


         China is the largest civilization with continuity from ancient times. Although Sumerians did many things first, the Chinese developed independently a natural philosophy of practical living based on the two polarities of yin and yang. Their historical tradition is so old that all dates since 841 BC are considered accurate. Their ancient philosophers Lao-zi, Confucius, Mo-zi, Mencius, Zhuang-zi, Xun-zi, and Han Fei-zi probably are only surpassed by the ancient Greeks. Confucian scholars made humanistic education the foundation of Chinese culture, and the spiritual philosophy of Mahayana Buddhism was welcomed by the tolerant Chinese.
After centuries of regional kingdoms, which occasionally went to war, China became a unified empire in 221 BC. China was self-sufficient and did not usually attempt to expand its empire beyond neighbors such as Vietnam and Tibet. For centuries the Chinese were arguably the most advanced in using iron, steel, crop rotation, water mills, porcelain (which is still called china), horse collars, wheelbarrows, paper, compass navigation, stirrups, paper money, gunpowder, crankshafts, clocks, and printing. The printing with movable type led to an earlier renaissance than in Europe and the Neo-Confucian philosophy that became the basis for civil service examinations.
         The Mongols led by Genghis Khan and his relatives were very aggressive and conquered more of the world in the 13th century than anyone had. However, these nomadic tribes tended to adopt the culture of those they governed. The Chinese overthrew the Mongol domination in 1368, and the Ming dynasty lasted nearly three centuries. The northern Manchus invaded China to found the Qing dynasty that ruled China to 1911, but they too adopted Chinese institutions and culture. However, the lack of interest in other nations eventually resulted in isolated China falling behind other cultures.
         Korea adopted much of Chinese culture, especially its Confucian philosophy and Chinese forms of Buddhism. The Koreans were more class conscious based on family lines. In the 15th century they designed the phonetic Han’gul alphabet that made learning how to read and write much easier. The Koreans were also a conduit for passing on Chinese culture to Japan, which was influenced by its versions of Confucianism and Buddhism.
         The Japanese had their own Shinto belief in the gods, especially the sun goddess Amaterasu, from whom they believed their line of emperors was descended. Salvation by praying to Amida Buddha in Pure Land Buddhism was most popular in Japan, but the Zen methods of meditation and koans also appealed to intellectuals and influenced various arts. After the peaceful Heian era, in the 12th century Japan suffered clan warfare that led to the installation of a supreme military ruler called the shogun and a feudal system. The warriors (samurai) often fought in civil wars, but like China their isolation prevented most foreign wars. The exception was Hideyoshi’s invasion of Korea in 1592 that failed. After his death Ieyasu founded the Tokugawa era that would use the military to keep the peace for 250 years. China and Japan produced refined literature and theater.
         Instead of the old Wade-Giles method, I have used the modern Pinyin system for transliterating Chinese names. Pinyin is much easier to read as long as you know that q is pronounced like ch, and x is pronounced like sh. I have kept the older Latinized names for Confucius and Mencius.

BECK index