Many new things happened during Han times. One of the most important was the start of trade with ancient Rome via the "silk road." The Roman Empire had high demand for Chinese silk, as well as gold, silver, and precious gems. This trade brought China great wealth.
Another was the invention of paper. Scroll painting began. Things were written down again. So much had been lost during the book burnings ordered by Emperor Qin. When the Han took over, people tried to remember and write down the literature and the teachings of Confucius.
Art was encouraged. Craftsman made gold ornaments and jade jewelry. A gorgeous glaze in vivid colors was invented for pottery, which was brightly painted with dragons, trees, and scenes of life during Han times. Chinese paper lanterns first became popular during the Han Dynasty.
There was a massive public works project to build canals for shipping goods. The canals enabled some merchants to become rich. They bought a title from the emperor, built mansions, and planted beautiful gardens. This made the nobles furious.
The Chinese made major advances in medicine.
Education was important in Han times. Public school started in every province only for boys, but it was free. The Grand School was the largest, located in the capital city. People wanted to learn new skills because jobs were given to people who qualified for them,. Jobs were no longer just for the nobles, and people were paid for their work.
The rich did not send their children to public school. Most were tutored at home, or in small groups. The rich imitated the behavior and clothing worn in the imperial palace. They wore silk robes and furs. They built beautiful homes decorated with cashmere carpets and richly colored drapes. They ate wonderful foods. They furnished their tombs with golden items and gorgeous fabrics. Many of the rich ordered stone lions to be placed inside their tomb to guard it.
Most people in Han times were peasant farmers, but some people lived in the city. Cities were laid out with main streets and little alleyways. Each city was surrounded by a wall made of earth and stone for protection from bandits and other invaders.
In the cities, the poor lived in crowded tenements. They had little food. Gangs roamed the streets, and they were often at war, which made walking in the city rather dangerous.
In the countryside, the poor were much better off. They did not own the land they farmed, but each family had its own home and enough food. Their clothes were simple, woven from a rather scratchy plant fiber. They worked very hard.
Source: Han Times
All Rights Reserved Written by Lin Donn