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[Sanzi Jing]

Three-Character Classic: A Confucian Roadmap for Kids

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Paragraph 3: The Dynasties

Original Translation Commentary

The classics and the philosophers mastered,
read the histories.
Examine the connection between the eras,
know the ends and the beginnings.

From Xi and Nong.
to the Yellow Emperor,
they are called the Three Sovereigns.
who lived in ancient times.
[Fu] Xi ("Animal Domesticator") (2953-2852 BCE)
[Shen] Nong ("Divine Farmer") (2852-2737 BCE)
Yellow Emperor (2698-2599 BCE)

Tang and Yu,
called the Two Emperors,
one abdicated after the other
and theirs was called the Age of Prosperity.
[Tang] Yao (2357-2255 BCE)
[Yu] Shun (2255-2205 BCE)

The Xia had Yu,
the Shang had Tang,
the Zhou had Wen and Wu;
they are called the Three Kings.
The Xia dynasty was founded by Yu the Great, the pacifier of the Great Flood (21st century BCE).
Wu founded the Zhou dynasty. Wen was his father, who died during the conquest of the Shang.

The Xia handed the throne from father to son,
making a family of all under Heaven.
After four hundred years,
the Xia ended.
Xia Dynasty (2205-1766 BCE)
Before the Xia, the throne was not hereditary.

Tang ended the Xia,
the dynasty was called Shang.
After six hundred years,
it ended with Zhou (Dixin).
Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BCE)

King Wu of the Zhou
slew Zhou (Dixin).
Eight hundred years long;
the longest dynasty ever.
Western Zhou Dynasty (1027-771 BCE). The 800 years include the period of the Eastern Zhou, when Zhou rule was only nominal.

When the Zhous made tracks eastwards,
the feudal bond loosened,
shields and spears flaunted,
wandering advisers held in high esteem.
Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-221 BCE). The court moved east to present day Luoyang. This was also a time of the "Hundred Schools of Thoughts" where teachers, strategists, and philosophers offered their services to the various states.

Began with the Spring and Autumn Period
and ended with the Warring States Period.
Five feudal lords ruled,
seven feudal states arose.
Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BCE)
Warring States Period (475-221 BCE)

The Qin of the Ying clan,
started to unify all the states.
The throne passed for two generations
and Chu and Han contended.
Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE)

Gaozu rose,
and the Han dynasty ruled
until the reign of Xiaoping,
when Wang Mang usurped the throne.
Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE-9 AD). It was founded by Liu Bang, who ruled as  Han Gaozu.
Wang Mang interregnum (9-24)

Guangwu rose,
and founded the Eastern Han.
Four hundred years,
ending with Emperor Xian.
Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220)

Wei, Shu and Wu,
contended for the Han trophy.
Called the Three Kingdoms,
it lasted until two Jin Dynasties.
Three Kingdoms:
  • Wei (220-265)
  • Shu [-Han]  (221-263)
  • Wu (229-280)

Western Jin (265-316)
Eastern JIn (317-420)
[Sixteen Kingdoms (304-420)]

Followed by the Song and the Qi,
then the Liang and Chen,
they are the Southern dynasties,
with the capital at Jinling (Nanjing).
Southern Dynasties:
  • Song (420-478)
  • Qi (479-501)
  • Liang (502-556)
  • Chen (557-588)

The Northern Dynasties are the Wei of the Yuan clan,
which split into East and West,
the Zhou of Yu Wen clan,
with the Qi of the Gao clan.
Northern Dynasties:
  • Northern Wei (386-533)
  • Eastern Wei (534-549)
  • Western Wei (535-557)
  • Northern Qi (550-577)
  • Northern Zhou (557-588)

Finally, under the Sui,
the empire was united.
but not passed on,
it lost the succession.
Sui Dynasty (581-617)

Tang Gaozu
raised a righteous army,
ended the disorder of the Sui,
established the foundation of his dynasty.
Tang Dynasty (618-907)

Twenty times the throne was transmitted,
in a period of 300 years.
The Liang destroyed it,
and the dynasty changed.


The Liang, Tang, Qin
Han and Zhou,
called the Five Dynasties,
each exist for a reason.
Five Dynasties:
  • Later Liang (907-923)
  • Later Tang (923-936)
  • Later JIn (936-946)
  • Later Han (947-950)
  • Later Zhou (951-960)
  • [Ten Kingdoms (902-979)]

The fiery Song arose,
and received the resignation of the Zhou.
Eighteen times the throne was transmitted,
and then the north and the south were reunited.
Song Dynasty:
  • Northern Song (960-1127)
  • Southern Song (1127-1279)

Liao and Jin
each called a dynasty.
The Yuan extinguished the Jin
and finished the Song era
Liao (916-1125). Tartar.
[Western Xia (1032-1227)]
Jin (1115-1234). Tartar.
Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). Mongol.

Taizu arose,
set up the great Ming,
called himself Hong Wu.
The capital was at Jinling (Nanjing)
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

until Cheng Zu
moved it to Yanjing (Beijing).
Seventeen generations
until it ended with Chong Zhen.
Chengzu reigned from 1403-1425.

The power of the eunuchs unchecked;
bandits flourished like a forest.
Li Chuang revolted,
divine artifacts burned.
Li Chuang was a rebel leader who sacked Beijing, causing the Ming emperor to hang himself. The defending general, Wu Sangui, invited the Manchu army into the city to help defeat Li Chuang.  They did but then they stayed and founded the Qing dynasty.

The great ancestor of the Qing
received destiny's call;
Peace in the four directions,
achieved great stability.
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Manchu.
26 廿

The twenty one histories
are complete.
They record government disorder;
understand prosperity and decline.
Republic of China (1911-Present)
People's Republic of China (1949-Present)
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