Tortoise shell Carving

Tortoise shell is the substance that is usually comes from sea turtles, mostly from the endangered specie the Hawksbill, the turtle shell material comes from the area that surround its back and belly.

The tortoise shell on the Hawksbill is divided to two, the back of the tortoise is cover with plates that are more like horns, this called the carapace, while the belly part plates are called plastron, The plastron has more yellowish amber color.

The process to remove the shell from the turtle was done in the past in a very barbaric way, and mostly the animal was boiled in hot water or oil while it was still alive…

in 1970’s they have became endangered specie and protected by federal law, its important to say that Real Rare Antiques does not support the tortoise shell carving that are made today,  all the tortoise shell items we posses are Antiques and are older than 100 years.

In the past centuries the main use for tortoise shell was to make jewelry, boxes, guitar picks, glasses, hair combs and other items..

The Tortoise shell is highly prized for its beauty, its natural ability to take high polish, its very light weight and durability, also its ability to be heated and softened and then shaped to many forms and be hardened again after cooling.

It also has the ability to be bonded which means that plates can be fused together in order to create bigger ones.

Since it was highly valued there were other material which replaced it for a cheaper price, one of those substance is Horn (derived from cattle), the horn was dyed in tortoise shell color, while some items show very good carving skill and many times could deceive the eye.

In later years of the 19th century scientists have researched for other substances and discovered the Celluloid materials which were cheaper and could be reused, it could be easily shaped by moulds.

Genuine tortoise shell items are handmade, or at least finished by hand, and mostly will show some small imperfections, while synthetic substances are usually done by mould and will often bear signs of the molding process like extra flakes or bumbs.

In China, Tortoise shell has been used to satisfy the European needs for those carving, mostly for hair combs and boxes in the Victorian period.

also Tortoise shell has been used for the Chinese Scepter called Ruyi, which was used mostly as ceremonial scepter or Talisman that symbolized power and good fortune, and even snuff bottles were made out of it.

As you can see our collection of tortoise shell items contains hand carved boxes, Ruyi scepters, table painting and even vases.

To see more of our antique Chinese  Tortoise shell carving press here

Antique Chinese Snuff Bottles

The use of snuff bottles is known since the Qing dynasty ruled in china (1644-1912 A.D.), it was used to replace smoking of tobacco which was forbidden in China during the Qing dynasty, The tobacco was powdered and was put inside the small snuff bottle.

Snuff is made from pulverized tobacco leafs, it is usually inhaled through the nose, the Chinese were using bottles in order to inhale it, each snuff bottle contains a tiny spoon on the stopper to extract the snuff and inhale it.

The use of snuff was first introduced to the Chinese during the 16th century, starting as fashion in the upper class, and then spread to all social classes, it was a sign of wealth and position, whoever had the rarest and most beautiful snuff bottle was considered at a higher status.

During the 18th century, in Emperor Qianlong regime (1735-1796 A.D.) , snuff bottles manufacturing was at its peak, when the trend spread to all of china, people has started to greet each other by offering a pinch of snuff from their bottle.

Most of the snuff bottle are made small and are not over few inches as they were made to be held by hand, most of them have a very fine feeling.

Snuff bottles were made mostly from glass, but the material they were made from varied to many different materials such as: porcelain, jade, coral, wood, tortoise shell, gemstones and metals, many of them were decorated with characters, painting, or carvings.

One of the most incredible works is inside painting snuff bottles, those are made from glass, and the artist painting inside the bottle, usually including calligraphy, those painting have to be done by inserting a small brush into the neck of the bottle and create a reversed painting, those kind of bottles are still made today by some talented artist and sold to private collectors, the variety of paintings you can see is limitless, it said that the bests artists of inside painting will produce only few bottles a year, as the work is complicated and time consuming, some artists can create a beautiful inside painting snuff bottle in a month or more.

In the left side you can see an example of a very famous inside painting artist in the collection, this bottle was made by Wang Xisan and shows a nude painting of a lady on one side and painting of bamboo on the other, this snuff bottle is offered for sale.

press here for more photos

Today those antique snuff bottle are collected by museums and private collectors and are highly valued, you can see auctions in christie’s, sothebyes and bonhams offering many rare and beautiful snuff bottles from every kind of materials.

Although you have to be careful as the demand for those bottles created a big amount of fakes that fill the market with many kind of forgeries, however the craftsmanship on the antique ones are extraordinary, and shows a very detailed and high quality bottles, since during the Qing dynasty, quality was the main keyword, especially for Chinese officials, it is said in some cases when an artist presented his work to the emperor, if the work wasn’t finely finished, the piece was smashed on the floor in the artist face and sometimes even punishment or worse, even execution could be the result.

press here to see other antique snuff bottles from our collection

Yuan dynasty antique Chinese porcelain vase

In this post i would like to show you the differences between my Yuan dynasty porcelain vase and the new made porcelain that you see today in the market, copy based on this style.

So…

First thing you can see is the big difference between the shapes of the two pieces, on the left side,a real Yuan dynasty vase, while on the right side with the cover, a new made porcelain from Jingdezhen which its shape is much more ellipse then the real antique porcelain.

since in the old times, the kilns were wood based, and not gas based as today, what have made the makers to be without any control on the fire level and temperature, especially during the Yuan and Ming dynasties, many of the porcelain had kiln firing faults, which you can see as small imperfections in different variations.

another thing you should take to a consideration is that in the modern world to make a wood based kiln will cost a lot of money, since wood is expensive compare to gas, off course i do believe some of the kilns who try to make forgery (however those cannot be mass produce kilns, but private ones) maybe are trying to use wood based kiln in order to make an item appear more genuine, but this is risky, since the temperature cannot be controlled  and they risk of loosing precious time and materials.

as you probably know, the mass produce kilns are using Molds to create the porcelain, what makes each piece to be exactly in the same shape, however if you will look closely on the real Yuan dynasty vase you will see a shape that will be too difficult to achieve since the mold will not be able to support it because of the almost square shape.

another thing you should take to consideration is the material that have been used, with the original vase the porcelain is made of a high quality and the vase is very heavy, it weights 10.5 kilograms, while the forgery ones weight less.

 Crackles

even though it is possible to create artificial crackles, those usually happens in the end of the firing process when the outside surface cools before the clay underneath, small crackles can also happen during years of use and wear, you can see this vase has some crackles in different parts of the porcelain, after close examination with magnifying glass, those crackles appear to be genuine, you can see their yellowish/brown color that it is due to its age.

Color

The color is another important element to check, as if it match’s the period color, since some colors were only available in different periods, it can point out to an answer wherever the item is genuine or not, and also approximately the year it was made, note that many of the porcelain today is made with chemical color, which to trained eye is easy to detect.

The color in this vase looks right to be a Yuan dynasty vase, the style of painting match’s for Yuan, as well is the design,

you can see some of the iron that was mixed with the color start to go to the surface of the porcelain, which bring me to the next point.

 

Rust spots

Rust spots are maybe one of the most important age signs you can find in porcelain, it is very difficult to artificially make, and even though its possible, someone who have seen a real rust spot on antique Chinese porcelain will know the difference, the forgers have not quite figured this one yet,

Since clay has some impurities, being a mineral coming from the nature, mostly it has iron mixed with it, after few hundreds of years, the iron start moving to the surface and it become oxidized when touches the air, and receive black to brownish color,  usually you can find rust spots from Yuan/Ming dynasties, since enough time has passed since then, and the iron had time to touch the surface, Qing dynasty porcelain, usually does not have any rust spots, although you can find some pieces who has it, but it less common because the clay material in the Qing dynasty has developed and the porcelain is of higher quality.

You can see my vase has some rust spots in different parts of the surface.

Kiln Firing Faults

During the Yuan and Ming dynasties, the art and technology of porcelain making was still not at its best,

as mentioned above, the kilns were based on wood, and it was impossible to control the temperature and the wild fire inside, this have created many kiln firing faults, which can be seen as imperfections such as glaze contractions, small breaks, it can happen from another vessel which have exploded in the kiln from the heat, throwing chips everywhere, it can be seen as discoloration if the porcelain was far away from fire, if it didnt receive the appropriate temperature or was over heated, such imperfections were happening during the Yuan/Ming dynasties for about 70% of the heated wares, the other 30% were appropriate for official uses.

Although you can certainly find a perfect piece from Ming and Yuan dynasties it is uncommon and you should look for other age signs and be very cautious.

My Yuan dynasty vase show some glaze contractions, and small kiln firing faults,

Age signs

Think about porcelain who is 700 years old, people must have used it at some point, unless it was buried in the ground for the whole time, and before it was buried it must have been used (off course there are exceptional, but most of the porcelain items will show some age signs) look for signs of use and wear, look at scratches on the surface, at the bottom, look for signs that this item really existed 700 years ago, as you can see in the pictures, my Yuan dynasty vase has some breaks and chips, it has scratches to the surface and shows many signs of use.

Conclusion

Although  there is no provenance to support this claim, however after looking at all the signs for real antiques from Yuan dynasty, looking at the shape and compare it to the new made mass production porcelain , examine the bottom, see it wasn’t made by a mold, looking at the color of bottom and the shape, discovering crackles, rust spots, looking at the age signs and the wear this vase has been through all those years, examine the painting and style of design, shape, color and material,

This is a genuine, real, antique Chinese Yuan dynasty vase.

an Extremely rare piece, in every condition.

 

 

Antique Opium Pipes


As you can see in the Shop section, there is a category with antique opium pipes for sale, and opium smoking accessories, opium has played a major rule in the history of china, and the items that were made for it are extraordinary, such as most of Chinese art works.

 In this article you can read about the history of those antique pipes and China.

During the Tang dynasty (618-907 A.D.) opium has been introduced to China by the Arab traders, the use of opium back in that time and until the Qing dynasty was mostly as a medicine.

In the 18th Century, Europe has tried to trade with china, and sell their own manufactured products to the Chinese, However, the emperor has refused, and declared they do not need anything from the foreign countries, China  was still involved in the trade of Silk, Porcelain and tea, but only as exporter.

Chinese porcelain, silk and other imported goods were bought by the Europeans, gold and silver that was used to pay for those items stayed in china, as the trade was only going in one way, until the British found a solution, Opium.

Opium as a drug was introduced to the Chinese during the 18th century, but the amount was limited in the beginning, and was rising with the progress of the years.

The east India company has brought opium to the coast of china where it was sold to Chinese smugglers who distribute the opium with a defiance of the Chinese law,

 Emperor Daoguang who ruled china between 1820-1850 has tried to restrict the use of opium, and issued many edicts against it, what has caused the first opium war.

 

The First Opium War (1839-1842 A.D.)

The first opium war has began when Emperor Daoguang was calling to take action against the opium smuggling and use in China.

He has ordered one of his commissioners to stop it, he sent letter to Queen Victoria, when no replay came, he ordered to destroy a large supply of opium that was coming to china, but was still in international waters, when the British learned about the destruction in Canton (the port that was open to Great Britain), They have sent a large British-Indian army to deal with China.

The British army was much more advanced in technology, Muskets and modern canons who fired rapidly has caused a lot of destruction on Chinese coast, canton has fell to the hand of the British who moved up the Yangtze river and took the tax barges.

The Chinese empire sued for piece, and sign a peace treaty with the British, they were forced to pay indemnity and surrendered Hong-Kong as well as open four ports for the British.

 

Second opium war (1856-1860 A.D.)

After the first opium war, the Chinese government tried to minimize the trade with foreign merchants and even victimized Chinese who traded with the British.

The British gave those Chinese merchants a British registration for their ship and thought the Chinese will not interfere with ships who carries their flag.

In 1856 A.D. a ship name “Arrow” was caught by Chinese authorities and seized for piracy, the ship was still flying the British flag, however their registration was expired. the British governor demand the immediate release of the crew and an apology for the insult of the British flag.

The Chinese has released the crew, however haven’t provided any apology.

The governor in Hong-Kong commanded his warships to fire at canton, and the second opium war has started.

Even though the Hong-Kong governor acted rashly without consulting London he received support from Prime Minister Palmerston who wanted to force the Chinese for a full trade relations, whether they liked it or not.

The French empire who was eager to join this conflict assembled their army, and Anglo-French army under Admiral sir Michael Seymour fought at canton and then moved up to capture the Taku forts near Tientsin.

Negotiations has brought the Tientsin treaties in 1858 A.D. however they did not last, and the war continued, the Anglo-French army has arrived to Peking and looted the summer palace after few engagements with Chinese armies.

China sued for peace once again, and agreed to all demands, they have opened new ports for trade, returned captives of war and regulated the opium trade with Chinese authorities, Kowloon was surrendered to the British, diplomats were allowed to go to Peking and indemnity was paid both to Great-Britain and France.

 

Revolution (1949-1952 A.D.)

China which was forced to keep with the opium trade has decided to grow opium herself, and many lands were dedicated to growing of opium, so the profit money from the opium will not only go to the foreign traders.

In 1907 A.D. the emperor has decided to gradually stop the growing and importing of opium, he planned to do it in a period of 10 years, however, so many people were already addicted and the task was very difficult.

The Qing dynasty was ended at 1911, and so the end of imperial China.

The Republic of China was born, and with many problems, it is said there were about 70 Million people in China that was addicted to opium by 1949 A.D. when the real opium revolution happened.

By 1949 the people of China were very poor, controlled by few rich landlords, warlords and foreign capitalists, what has made many of the common Chinese people to seek comfort in opium smoking.

“Mao Tsetung” was the one who has stopped the opium use in China, and he did it in three years, after his communist party has took control over china, and the power of society has been used to serve the people.

The revolutionary system has trusted the power to the hand of society, and made the people all over china get rid of the opium by themselves, campaigns has been launched and the newspapers and radio was helping to give moral to the people in order to solve this problem, it used the mass of the people to control the people.

Each person was entrusted in the power to change the society, while in the beginning many addicts tried to object and resist, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands and children’s argued and urged their love ones to get into the new society which was reforming in china, and the mass of the people couldn’t be stopped, addicts could not hide the fact they were using drugs, in addition, the revolutionaries attacked the supply networks of the opium, so even the addicts who wanted to continue using it found it hard to get any drugs.

One of most interesting thing about this method was that the addicted people weren’t treated bad, and even more than that, people who got out of smoking opium were praised, the society has supported them and complimented them for doing the right and revolutionary thing!

Mao’s government gave the addicts few months to get clean, and even allowed them to keep little of opium during that period, but after that, they had to get clean, small dealers were also treated mercifully and the government offered to buy their supply if they will stop selling it and get clean themselves.

Only the big dealers who got rich over the suffering of the majority during those many years, were imprisoned or executed.

In 1951 A.D. North of China was free from opium use and grow, while southern china was clean a year later.

Antique Chinese Porcelain

Today, Antique Chinese porcelain is of very high value, and is traded in auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s  and Bonham’s  for enormous amounts of money, it is traded in the internet as well, at Ebay and other ecommerce websites,

The more the interest for Antique Chinese porcelain is growing, the more we can see forgery flooding the market.

When buying Antique Chinese porcelain, you have to be very cautious and study well before buying,

The best way to determine if a piece is real antique or not, is to study the bottom of the piece, and look for age signs.

Most of the Antiques that were made during the dynasties period were heated at wood burning kiln. Today the mass producing kilns are using gas burning kilns to heat the porcelain.

Wood based kiln will cost too much money and it’s very difficult to control to temperature.

Even if you have studied the bottom of a piece, and you are sure 100% the bottom is old, some forgery today is made by using real antique bottoms that is fixed on a new made porcelain to deceive the buyers.

So you must check as well age signs on the surface of the porcelain, such as Rust spots, which are quite difficult to fake in the way it appear naturally, after hundreds of years, when the iron oxide is coming out to the surface.


 

Another thing you will want to check is if the design of the porcelain ware is match for the period, look at catalogues, Museums, private antique collections, see the shape of the wares during each period, the style of painting all this can lead you to whether the item you are looking at is real antique.

also important to keep in mind are  “Kiln firing faults”. during the Yuan-Ming dynasties the art of porcelain making was still not at its best, and many imperfections were happening.

Imagine large southern egg-shaped kiln, the fire is burning inside at 1200-1400 Celsius degrees, the hottest part is near the firebox, at the opposite end of the kiln, near the chimney was cooler, some wares are sitting at the far end, some are touched by the fire, some wares didn’t last and explodes, their chips hitting other wares.

only about 30% of the wares during the Yuan and Ming dynasties were coming out perfect from the kiln, so look for those signs of kiln firing faults, as well as for glaze contractions, which has been caused by a fleck or oily material which prevented from the glaze to cover the porcelain at some parts.

Always look for age signs, think about an item that exsist 500-700 years, people must have used it sometimes, it might get scratches on it, or other signs that it was used, if there are no signs to it, alert a big question mark if this item is real antique, altough some might have been cherished and kept in a very good condition, most of the antique porcelain was used, and therefore should have some evidence. off course if an item has been used it does not indicate it as antique, since the people who make the forgery today can make an item appear old, or make fake wear signs.

 

  

In the next articles I will show some examples of wares, fake and real, and show how to detect a real antique porcelain piece and a fake one.

Chinese Porcelain

Porcelain is a ceramic material, discovered by the Chinese Han people, it is made by heating raw materials, such as: Kaolin (Clay mineral), pottery stones, Feldspars and Quartz.

Those mixed materials are heated in a kiln at 1200-1400 Celsius degrees.

Although proto-Porcelain wares has existed since the Shang dynasty (1600-1046 B.C.), glazed ceramic wares have developed in the Eastern Han dynasty into porcelain.

During the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907 A.D.), large variety of Chinese Ceramic wares has been widely produced, low fired ceramics and high fired porcelain wares started to be exported to the Islamic world where it was highly valued.

In the Song dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) porcelain manufacture has started to be more organized, and the kiln sites were able to do a massive amount of porcelain, Jingdezhen was established as the main production site for imperial porcelain.

The Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D. ) started to export porcelain to Europe, Africa and Asia, in massive quantities and controlled the porcelain trade, in Europe, Chinese porcelain has been of much value and was tried to be copied without success for many years.

Throughout the years of the Ming empire, the designs and structure of the porcelain has been developed, new techniques were developed, The porcelain material has been upgraded, and the Chinese discovered new ways to strengthen it, using high quality clay materials and making glazed bottoms.

Ming Dynasty Blue and White Porcelain Wares.

During the Qing dynasty (1644-1912 A.D.) the Chinese have mastered the art of porcelain making, and 90% of the Porcelain that was out of the kiln has been perfect. (During the Yuan and Ming dynasties only 30% of the heated porcelain were coming out as good)

The Empire of the Great Ming (1368-1644 A.D.)

The Empire of the great Ming, started as a rebellion against the Mongols from the Yuan dynasty, the rebel leader “Zhu yuanzhang” also known as “Emperor Hongwu” was the founder of the dynasty, This is the last dynasty in the history of china that was ruled by ethnic Han people.

 Zhu Yuanzhang was born as a poor peasant and joined the rebel army, “the Red turbans”, during the years he was promoted to be a commander, and his army joined forces with other rebels against the Yuan dynasty, conquering much of china from the hands of the Mongols.

in 1368 A.D. he has claimed the mandate of heaven, announcing a new dynasty “The Great Ming Dynasty”.

Emperor Hongwu has ruled china between the years 1368-1398 A.D, he made Nanjing as his capitol, after razing to ground the Yuan palaces in Dadu.

 he has created a new Confucian laws, and reestablish some laws and military system similar to the Tang dynasty, after his death, at 1398 A.D, he had announced his grandson to be his successor as “emperor Jianweng”, which ruled china from 1398-1402 A.D.

 when emperor jianweng started to rule, he had a conflict with Zhu Di one of Hongwu strongest sons, jianweng has arrested many of his associates, and Zhu Di plotted a rebellion which started a civil war for 3 years, until the palace in Nanjing was burned to ground along with emperor jianweng,

Zhu Di has announced himself as the new Emperor and ruled as “Emperor Yongle”, he established his new capitol in Beijing, and reversed many of his father rules, expanding the Chinese trade, he had order to build a new fleet, Emperor Yongle reign has lasted from 1402-1424 A.D. his son Emperor Hongxi was his successor, although he died a year later at 1425 A.D, and Emperor Xuande, his son, became the ruler of china, his ruling time is considered as a peaceful and successful, it lasted until the Year 1435 A.D, when his own son proceeded him, as Emperor  Zhengtong, which his reign lasted until 1449 A.D, when he was captured by the Mongols at a battle he led himself, and his own brother took the throne, the Mongols who saw no advantage in keeping him as captive while his brother “emperor Jingtai”  rules china, has set him free, and he was put in house arrest, and got a title has grand emperor, Emperor Zhengtong has took back the throne from his brother after 7 years of house arrest, and renamed himself as Emperor Tianshun, his reign lasted from 1457-1464 A.D.

His own son was his successor as “Emperor Changua”  from 1464 A.D. until he died at 1487 A.D, the story says there were a conspiracy in the imperial court by Lady Wan (Changua Concubine)  and some of the eunuchs to eliminate the heir for the throne, they used to do abortions for the ladies emperor Changua was having, and went as far as poisoning them if a birth of a child would threat their plans, Changua discovered at the year 1475 A.D. that he does have a son and he announced him as his successor, “Emperor Hongzhi”, who ruled peacefully over china between 1487-1505 A.D, leaving one living son to take the throne as “Emperor Zhengde” who died childless at 1521 A.D, leaving the throne to his cousin, “Emperor Jiajing”  who was known to be a cruel ruler and a self centered man, leaving the internal affairs of the kingdom to his advisors, and moved to live in isolation outside of the forbidden palace, his reign was the 2nd longest in the Ming dynasty history, and he ruled china until 1567 A.D.

“Emporer Longqing” the son of “Emperor Jiajing” took the throne at 1567 A.D, realizing his father left china corrupted and in disarray, he tried to reform a new government that would improve the bad situation the empire has got into, unfortunately he died 5 years later at 1572 A.D, leaving his son the 9 year old “Emperor Wanli” to rule china.

Emperor Wanli period was the longest in Ming dynasty history, he ruled china for 48 years, during his first years of reign he was aided by a nobleman name “Zhang Juzheng” and china prospered economically and military, in the middle years of his reign he helped the Korea in a fight against Japan.

In the end of his reigning, Emperor Wanli has left the court affairs, and refused to see his advisors, even for important meetings, in 1619 A.D, Jurchen people was united under Nurhaci, he tried to create the Later Jin dynasty, winning a great battle against the Ming dynasty forces.

After emperor Wanli death at 1620 A.D, his eldest son took the throne only he died one month after, leaving the throne to his own son “Emperor Tianqi”, who died 7 years later at 1627 A.D. leaving his younger brother to rule china as Emperor Chongzhen who was the 16th and last emperor of the Ming dynasty, he ruled china until 1644 A.D, during his reign a rebellion was growing while a threat from Manchuria in the north, the Ming army forces was having difficulties, eventually a treachery from within the city of Beijing led to the collapse of the empire, when someone opened the gates to the rebel army led by Li Zicheng, Emperor Chongzhen had hanged himself from a tree in the forbidden palace garden, while the Shun dynasty took over Beijing, only to lose it a year later to Manchurian forces, who has founded the Qing dynasty.

Although the Ming dynasty resistance lasted until 1662 A.D, as Southern Ming dynasty, they have lost the control over china in the year 1644 A.D.

The Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 A.D.)

The Song dynasty has started its reign in 960 A.D. after the Five dynasties/Ten kingdom period.

The Era of the Song dynasty was full with new inventions, and its divided into two period, The Northern Song (960 – 1127 A.D.) and the Southern Song (1127-1279 A.D.)

The Northern Song period starts with Emperor Taizu of Song who was the founder of the dynasty, he has unified china, conquering the lands from the five dynasties, he established his reign in bianjing (Today, Kaifeng) as capitol and ruled until 976 A.D.

During the Northern Song period, there were diplomatic and warfare relations with the Liao dynasty, until there were a rebellion in the Liao state by the jurchen tribe, and the Jin Dynasty was founded,

The Song court until then was very concentrated in its own internal affairs, now saw an opportunity and allied with the jurchen tribe, waging war againts the Liao dynasty, most of the territory was conquered by the Jin dynasty, and the Song dynasty has lost in a battle with the Liao forces.

the Jin dynasty saw the opportunity, as the Song dynasty armies was weaken, and broke the agreements, conquering the capitol of the Song dynasty Bianjing in 1127 A.D. capturing Emperor Qinzong and other members of the imperial court.

The remaining force of the Song dynasty has fled south and was reunited by Emperor Gaozong, who established a new capitol for the Southern Song dynasty at Lin’an (Today, Hangzhou), he ruled china (south china) between the years 1127-1162 A.D.

During those years, the Song has worked hard to regain their military power, and established their first Navy force, the first use of gunpowder was invented during the Song dynasty,  and when they clashed in war again with Jin dynasty on the Yangtze river in 1161 A.D, their Navy force which was smaller then the Jin’s has won a great victory.

Although the Song dynasty has been able to protect their lands from the Jin dynasty, a new threat has risen from North, and the Mongols, led by Genghis Khan has wage war with the Jin dynasty, making them vassals, and eventually conquering their lands.

At one time the Song and the Mongols were allies, until the Song dynasty saw the opportunity to recapture Bianjing, from the falling Jin dynasty, and the Mongols led by Mongke khan has entered a campaign against the southern Song dynasty.

After Mongke khan death at 1259 A.D, his brother Kublai khan has continued the campaign against the Song dynasty, eventually at 1271 A.D, he has founded the Great Yuan dynasty has a ruler of china, the Song dynasty still had a small resistance, but they were crushed by the Mongol force in 1279 A.D, The 8-years old Emperor Huaizong of song, has committed suicide with 800 more members of the royal clan, and eventually their era has finished.

The Great Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 A.D.)

The Yuan dynasty was founded by Kublai khan at 1271 A.D. he has placed his grandfather “Genghis khan” on the official records when he claimed the mandate of heaven, and established the dynasty in the traditional Chinese way.

The Yuan dynasty considered both a Mongolian and a Chinese Imperial dynasty, was the first non-Han dynasty in the history of china.

Before Kublai khan has established the dynasty, he was running a campaign against the Song dynasty in south of china, while in 1259 A.D. his brother the great khan “Mongke” has died, Kublai has considered himself as his successor while his other brother, “Ariq Boke” who was sitting in the Karakorum (the Mongolian capitol) has declared himself as the great khan.

Kublai khan has declared him usurper, and after a battle, “Ariq Boke” has surrendered and Kublai was declared as the Great Khan.

Kublai khan have adopted many Chinese customs, and establish his capitol as “Zhongdu” (Modern Beijing) also was called “Dadu”.

In the early 1270’s Kublai has continued his campaign against the Song dynasty, and beat them in many battles, in 1276 A.D. he has captured almost all of the southern Song territory, and by 1279 he has crushed the last resistance of the Song dynasty, and united china under his reign.

Kublai khan has established a government with institutions similar to older Chinese dynasties, and made reforms in order to centralized his reign, he made himself as an absolute monarch, and divided his empire to provinces, while putting Mongol officials on important central posts, he saw that in order to rule china properly he need to employ Han Chinese advisors and officials, although he never totally relied on them.

The Yuan Empire has issued paper money banknotes known as “Chao”, Kublai khan was considered as a generous emperor, in hard times, he would reduce the taxes and he was building hospitals and orphanages, and also distribute food among the poor.

Kublai khan has died at the year of 1294 A.D., his successor was his grandson known as “Temur khan” or Emperor Chengzong who ruled the Yuan empire until 1307 A.D continuing many of his grandfather works.

After Temur khan reign, and after few different rulers of the dynasty,  the Yuan empire has started to lose their power, the northern Mongols has considered them more of Chinese then Mongols,

China started to have conflicts inside, outlaws ravaged the country and the Yuan armies’ power has started to weaken.

After many natural disasters such as droughts, floods and famines, that were dealt purely by the Yuan government, In the year 1351 A.D the “Red Turban Rebellion” has started and spread all over the country.

In 1368 A.D. Emperor “Toghan-Temur” has fled north from the capitol “Dadu” to “Shangdu”, after Ming dynasty forces led by zhu Yuanzhang (who also known later as Emperor Hongwu of Ming)   was coming to take Dadu, Emperor “Toghan-Temur” had tried to take it back later but failed, and then died at the year 1370 A.D.

The Tang Dynasty (618 -907 A.D)

The Tang dynasty was an imperial dynasty who ruled china between the years 618 – 907 A.D,

“Li Yuan” who was later known as Emperor “Gaozu” of Tang, has founded the dynasty after a rebellion, he put Emperor Gong from the Sui dynasty (589-618 A.D) as a puppet emperor and then removed him, and titled himself as emperor.

 Emperor “Gaozu” reign lasted between the years 618 – 626 A.D when he passed the throne to his son, “Li Shimin” after he killed both of his brothers, “Gaozu” was scared what might happened next and retired, leaving “Li Shimin” to rule china.

“Li shimin” or Emperor “Taizong” of Tang, was one of the most famous emperors in Chinese history, and perhaps one of its bests, in his reign after many military victories against the Turks of some regions in Mongolia, he has gained their alliance and received the title of Great Khan.

During Emperor Taizong reign, china was considered as the most powerful and large nation in the world, it covered most of today’s china, Vietnam, Mongolia and East as far as today Kazakhstan.

 The Tang dynasty was a progressing and stability period for china, and china has flourished in many ways, especially in art and culture, using a civil service system which made order in the empire, Emperor Taizong has also made a new legal code, which specified the crimes and punishments from minor to major, Taoism and Buddhism were the major religions and accepted side by side, and the capital city Chang’an was thriving.

After Emperor Taizong died of illness in 649 A.D, his successor “Li Zhi” who is known as “Emperor Gaozong”, who ruled china between 649 – 683 A.D.