Six Dynasties

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Chinese historiography
Timeline of Chinese history
Dynasties in Chinese history
Linguistic history
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Six Dynasties (Chinese: 六朝; Pinyin: Liù Cháo) is a collective noun for six Chinese dynasties during the periods of the Three Kingdoms (220280 AD), Jin Dynasty (265420), and Southern and Northern Dynasties (420589).

This period immediately followed the fall of the Han Dynasty in 220 AD, and was a period of disunity, instability and warfare. The period ended when Emperor Wen of Sui reunified Southern and Northern China and the Sui Dynasty began.

The term generally refers to two groupings of dynasties during that period:

  • Six dynasties with capitals in Jiankang (the modern day Nanjing), and
  • Six dynasties with legitimate lineage.

Six Dynasties with capitals in Jiankang

The six dynasties were:

This listing is based on the states that maintained national capitals at Jiankang near the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang ). Xu Song (许嵩, Xǔ Sōng) in Tang Dynasty wrote a book, Jiankang Shilu (建康实录, Jiànkāng Shílù), that provides a historical account of Jiankang, which gave rise to this scheme of naming.

Six Dynasties with legitimate lineage

These six dynasties were:

Sima Guang, in his book Zizhi Tongjian, used the era names of these six dynasties as the timeline to describe this period of history. Later Chinese called this period the Six Dynasties period, or Wei Jin Southern and Northern Dynasties (魏晋南北朝, Wèi Jìn NánběiCháo).

Poetry in the Six Dynasties

The Six Dynasties was an important period in the history of Chinese poetry, especially remarkable for its frank (for Classical Chinese poetry) descriptions of love and beauty. Especially important, and frequently translated into English, is the anthology New Songs from the Jade Terrace, compiled by Xu Ling (507-83), under the patronage of Crown Prince Xiao Gang (Later Emperor Jien Wen) of the Liang Dynasty.[1]

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