China: Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)

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Manchu-Ming battle
Prince Rui Dorgon
Kangxi Emperor in court dress
Camp of Manchu army in Khalkha
Portraits of the Yongzheng Emperor
Portrait of the QianLong Emperor

Campaign against the Dzungaers
Pine, Plum and Cranes
Commerce on the water, Prosperous Suzhou
Canton foreign factories
A scene of the Taiping Rebellion
Imperialism in 1900 (x2)

In 1644 the nomadic tribes to the north of China, in Manchuria, were thought to be constrained behind the Great Wall. But they came south and captured Beijing from the Ming Dynasty and set up their own dynasty, the Qing (meaning pure). The founders were the Manchu Jurchen Aisin Gioro clan. The Dynasty was politically stable and they ruled until 1911.

This Manchu Dynasty set about extended its rule in Central Asia, Tibet, and Siberia. It was at its greatest under the Qianlong Emperor, while the the Kangxi and Qianlong Emperors were well-educated and became the greatest patrons of traditional Chinese art, notably they supported painting and calligraphy, as well as arts and crafts.

The Qing leaders were:

1616-1626Nurhachu, Emperor Taizu (founded the Latter Jin and created the Banner System)
1636–1643Huang Taiji (eighth son of Nurhachu, second Khan of the Later Jin, founder of Qing)
1643–1650Dorgon, Prince Rui (Taiji’s half-brother as Regent)
1644–1661Fulin, Shunzhi Emperor (Taiji’s five-year old, ninth son, during his reign the Ming were defeated)
1661–1722Xuanye, Kangxi Emperor (third son of Fulin, longest serving and one of the greatest emperors – a patron of the arts)
1723–1735Yinzhen, Yongzheng Emperor (fourth son of Xuanye)
1735–1796Hongli, Qianlong Emperor (Yinzhen’s son, the empire reached its largest in territory terms – a patron of the arts)
1796–1820Yongyan, Jiaqing Emperor (Hongli’s son, he prosecuted Shen, his father’s corrupt chancellor)
1820–1850Minning, Daoguang Emperor (Yogyang’s son, 1840 First Opium War)
1850–1861Yizhu, Xianfeng Emperor (Minning’s son, Taiping Revolution, te Qing Dynasty began to decline)
1861–1875Zaichun, Tongzhi Emperor (Yizhu’s son, died early)
1875–1908Zaitian, Guangxu Emperor (Daogang’s grandson, a progressive, but couldn’t halt the decline)
1908–1911Zaifeng, Prince Chun – as Regent
1908–1911Puyi, Xuantong Emperor – the last feudal monarch and Qing emperor, imprisoned at Shenyand until released by Mao in 1959)

In the early 17th century a loose confederation of semi-nomadic tribes occupied land in Manchuria, to the north of China. In 1644, unified by strong leaders, the Manchus swept down through the Great Wall, captured Beijing and established their own Qing (or Pure) dynasty, thus ending the era of Ming Dynasty art (1368-1644). Originally founded by the Jurchen Aisin Gioro clan, the Qing dynasty controlled China until the end of the dynasty in 1911.

Qing Dynasty emperors brought with them their own Manchu traditions and language but were quick to adopt Chinese art and culture to seal their legitimacy as Confucian-style rulers. Over the next century and a half, the Of these, the Kangxi and Qianlong Emperors were the greatest patrons of traditional Chinese art, notably painting and calligraphy, as well as a range of decorative art and crafts.


Image source: Wikimedia commons

An illustration of Nurhaci’s biography depicting the battle of Sarhu (1619) depicting the Manchu cavalry charging Ming infantry in the battle. It was drawn in 1635.
Hong Taiji died suddenly in September 1643. As the Jurchens had traditionally “elected” their leader through a council of nobles, the Qing state did not have a clear succession system. The leading contenders for power were Hong Taiji’s oldest son Hooge and Hong Taiji’s half brother Dorgon. A compromise installed Hong Taiji’s five-year-old son, Fulin, as the Shunzhi Emperor, with Dorgon. Nurhavi’s fourteenth son. as regent and de facto leader of the Manchu nation; he was already a prince of the Qing Dynasty..
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

The Kangxi Emperor (reigned 1662–1722), sixty-one years, the longest of any Chinese emperor. Kangxi’s reign is also celebrated as the beginning of an era known as the “High Qing”, during which the dynasty reached the zenith of its social, economic and military power. Kangxi’s long reign started when he was eight years old upon the untimely demise of his father. To prevent a repeat of Dorgon’s dictatorial monopolizing of power during the regency, the Shunzhi Emperor, on his deathbed, hastily appointed four senior cabinet ministers to govern on behalf of his young son. The four ministers – Sonin, Ebilun, Suksaha, and Oboi – were chosen for their long service, but also to counteract each other’s influences.
Camp of the Manchu army in Khalkha in 1688. A fragment of a scroll painting depicting the Emperor’s encampment on the Kherlen river en route to attack the Dzungar Khan, Galdan Boshugtu, painted in 1696.
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: visual-arts-cork.com

Hanging scroll portraits of the Yongzheng Emperor enjoying himself during the lunar month (one of a set of twelve), by anonymous court artists. Yongzheng period (1723-35). It is colour on silk, and on show at the Palace Museum, Beijing.
The Qianlong Emperor was the fifth Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. Born named Hongli he reigned from 11 October 1735 to 8 February 1796. In 1796, he abdicated in favour of his son, the Jiaqing Emperor, in order not to reign for longer than his grandfather, the Kangxi Emperor, who had ruled for 61 years.
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

The sixth of twelve scrolls, depicting the 1751 Emperor’s inspection tour of southern China. This scroll produced by Xu Yang shows the Emperor entering the city of Suzhou and taking control of the Grand Canal.
Pine, Plum and Cranes, 1759, by Shen Quan (1682–1760). Hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk. The Palace Museum, Beijing
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

Prosperous Suizhou, showing commerce on the water. Painted by Xu Yang in 1759.

Image source: Wikimedia commons

View of the Canton River, showing the foreign-powers Thirteen Factories in the background, 1850–1855.

Image source: Wikimedia commons

The Taiping Rebellion, also known as the Taiping Civil War or the Taiping Revolution, was a massive rebellion or civil war that was waged in China from 1850 to 1864, between the established Qing dynasty and the theocratic Taiping Heavenly Kingdom – though following the fall of Nanjing the last rebel army was not wiped out until 1871.
Tse Tsan-tai, painted this ‘The Situation in the Far East’ 1872-1939. It depicted the western powers encroaching upon China at the end of the nineteenth century in a symbolic form.

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