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Song Dynasty (960-1279)

Song Dynasty (960-1279)

Following the fall of the Tang Dynasty, China enters a chaotic century (period of the Five dynasties, 907-960). The Song Dynasty brings about military unification of most of the territory. It is divided in two halves :  the Northern Song (960-1126) succeeded by the Southern Song (1127-1279).

The period is typical of dizzying industry and trade development - both domestic and foreign - encouraged by the increase of merchant sailing ships. For the first time, effective ways to tax commerce (salt, tea, wine, silk) help fill government coffers for more than half of the budget, even exceeding the income on land taxes. This economic superiority would allow to limit the incursions of powerful neighbouring barbarian states of the North by regularly sending them substantial annual payments and rare products.

The army which counts nearly one million men is tighly ruled by civil officials. The scholar-official class, certified through competitive examinations, encouraged the revival of Confucian teachings. Interest in archaeology and history ; development of literati painting ; diversity and technical perfection of ceramics found all over the country, are the main characters of the intellectual and artistic life emphasized by the scholarly elite.

The artistically brilliant but politically disastrous reign of Huizong (r. 1101-1125) - absorbed in aesthetic matters among a foolish and extravagant court life - ends in 1126 in the destruction of the capital Bianliang, modern Kaifeng (Henan) by the Jurchens who declare themselves the Jin Dynasty. The Song court regroup in the South, in the lower Yangzijiang basin. Economic development of towns and the extraordinary boom of the capital Lin'an, modern Hangzhou (Zhejiang) accentuate differenciations between core and peripheral areas because of inflation due to increased issuing of paper money.

The Mongol conquest of Northern China in 1234 ends with the fall of the Song Dynasty in 1279.

  • Coupelle
  • Boîte lenticulaire
    Boîte lenticulaire -
  • Bol en grès à couverte céladon
    Bol en grès à couverte céladon -
  • Bol à thé dans sa casette de cuisson
    Bol à thé dans sa casette de cuisson -
  • Vase dou
    Vase dou
  • Deux bouteilles à anses tubulaires
    Deux bouteilles à anses tubulaires -
  • Bassin
  • Oreiller à motif de pie
    Oreiller à motif de pie -
  • Two Bodhisattvas
    Two Bodhisattvas
  • Pair of funerary vases
    Pair of funerary vases 13th century, Southern Song Era (1127 – 1279) - PoPorcelain with blue-white glaze (qingbai)
  • Head of a Bodhisattva
    Head of a Bodhisattva
  • Box and lid
    Box and lid Era of the Northern Song (960-1126) - Sandstone with celadon glaze (qingci)
  • Dish with Taoist decoration
    Dish with Taoist decoration 13rd century - Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) - Porcelain with "white transparent azure" glaze (qingbai)