Jin dynasty (266–420)

The Jin dynasty ([tɕîn]; Chinese: 晉朝; pinyin: Jìn cháo) or the Jin Empire, sometimes distinguished as the Sima Jin (司馬晉) or the Two Jins (兩晉), was an imperial dynasty in China that existed from 266 to 420. It was founded by Sima Yan, eldest son of Sima Zhao, who had previously been declared the King of Jin. There are two main divisions in the history of the dynasty. The Western Jin (266–316) was established as the successor to Cao Wei after Sima Yan usurped the throne from Cao Huan and took the title of Emperor Wu. The capital of the Western Jin was initially in Luoyang, though it later moved to Chang'an (modern Xi'an). In 280, after conquering Eastern Wu, the Western Jin ended the Three Kingdoms period and reunited China proper for the first time since the end of the Han dynasty.

8 February 266–10 July 420
The Jin dynasty and contemporary polities c. 300
The Jin dynasty (yellow) at its greatest extent, c. 280, during the Western Jin dynasty
The Jin dynasty (yellow) at its greatest extent, c. 280, during the Western Jin dynasty
Common languagesEastern Han Chinese
Buddhism, Daoism, Chinese folk religion
• 266–290 (first of Western Jin)
Emperor Wu of Jin
• 318–323 (first of Eastern Jin)
Emperor Yuan of Jin
• 419–420 (last)
Emperor Gong of Jin
• Establishment
8 February 266
• Reunification of China proper under Jin rule
1 May 280
• Jin evacuates to region south of the Huai River; Eastern Jin begins
• Abdication to Liu Song
10 July 420
280 (Western Jin peak)[1]3,100,000 km2 (1,200,000 sq mi)
347 (Eastern Jin peak)[1]2,800,000 km2 (1,100,000 sq mi)
CurrencyChinese coin, Cash
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Cao Wei
Eastern Wu
Sixteen Kingdoms
Liu Song
Today part of

From 291 to 306, a series of civil wars known as the War of the Eight Princes were fought over control of the Jin state which weakened it considerably. In 304, the dynasty experienced a wave of rebellions by non-Han ethnicities termed the Five Barbarians, who went on to establish several short-lived dynastic states in northern China. This inaugurated the chaotic and bloody Sixteen Kingdoms era of Chinese history, in which states in the north rose and fell in rapid succession, constantly fighting both one another and the Jin. Han-Zhao, one of the northern states established during the disorder, sacked Luoyang in 311, captured Chang'an in 316, and executed Emperor Min of Jin in 318, ending the Western Jin era. Sima Rui, who succeeded Emperor Min, then reestablished the Jin dynasty with its capital in Jiankang (modern Nanjing), inaugurating the Eastern Jin (317–420).

The Eastern Jin dynasty remained in near-constant conflict with its northern neighbors for most of its existence, and it launched several invasions of the north with the aim of recovering its lost territories. In 383, the Eastern Jin inflicted a devastating defeat on the Former Qin, a Di-ruled state that had briefly unified northern China. In the aftermath of that battle, the Former Qin state splintered, and Jin armies recaptured the lands south of the Yellow River. The Eastern Jin was eventually usurped by General Liu Yu in 420 replaced with the Liu Song dynasty. The Eastern Jin dynasty is considered the second of the Six Dynasties.

History edit

Background edit

During the Three Kingdoms period, the Sima clan—with its most accomplished individual being Sima Yi—rose to prominence within the kingdom of Cao Wei that dominated northern China. Sima Yi was the regent of Cao Wei, and in 249 he instigated a coup d'état known as the Incident at Gaoping Tombs, the Sima clan began to surpass the Cao clan's power in the kingdom. After Sima Yi's death in 251, Sima Yi's eldest son Sima Shi succeeded his father as regent of Cao Wei, maintaining the Sima clan's tight grip on the Cao Wei political scene. After Sima Shi's death in 255, Sima Shi's younger brother Sima Zhao became the regent of Cao Wei. Sima Zhao further assisted his clans' interests by suppressing rebellions and dissent.

In 263, he directed Cao Wei forces in conquering Shu Han and capturing Liu Shan (the son of Liu Bei), marking the first demise of one of the Three Kingdoms. Sima Zhao's actions awarded him the title of King of Jin, the last achievable rank beneath that of emperor. He was granted the title because his ancestral home was located in Wen County, on the territory of the Zhou-era state of Jin, which was centered on the Jin River in Shaanxi. Sima Zhao's ambitions for the throne were visible, but he died in 265 before any usurpation attempt could be made, passing the opportunity to his ambitious son Sima Yan.

Western Jin (266–316) edit

Founding edit

Western Jin-era porcelain figurine

The Jin dynasty was founded by Sima Yan, who was known posthumously as Emperor Wu (the "Martial Emperor of Jin"). After succeeding his father as the King of Jin and regent of Cao Wei in 265, Sima Yan declared himself emperor of the Jin dynasty in February 266 and forced the final Wei ruler Cao Huan to abdicate. Emperor Wu permitted Cao Huan to live with honor as the Prince of Chenliu, and buried him with imperial ceremony. Under Emperor Wu, the Jin dynasty conquered Eastern Wu in 280 and united China proper, thus ending the Three Kingdoms period. The period of unity was relatively short-lived, as the Jin state was soon weakened by corruption, political turmoil, and internal conflicts. Emperor Wu's son Zhong, posthumously known as Emperor Hui, was developmentally disabled.

Decline edit

Emperor Wu died in 290, and in 291 conflict over his succession caused the devastating War of the Eight Princes. The dynasty was greatly weakened by this civil conflict, and it soon faced more upheaval when the Upheaval of the Five Barbarians began in 304. During this unrest, the Jin capital Luoyang was sacked by Han-Zhao ruler Liu Cong in 311, and Jin emperor Sima Chi, posthumously known as Emperor Huai, was captured and later executed. Emperor Huai's successor Sima Ye, posthumously known as Emperor Min, was then also captured and executed by Han-Zhao forces when they seized Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) in 316. This event marked the end of the Western Jin.[2] The surviving members of the Jin imperial family, as well as large numbers of Han Chinese from the North China Plain, subsequently fled to southern China. These refugees had a large impact on the lands they moved to—for example, they gave Quanzhou's Jin River its name upon their settlement there.

Material culture edit

The Jin dynasty is well known for the quality of its greenish celadon porcelain wares, which immediately followed the development of proto-celadon. Jar designs often incorporated animal, as well as Buddhist, figures.[3] Examples of Yue ware are also known from the Jin dynasty.[4]

Eastern Jin (317–420) edit

Lacquer screen, from the tomb of Sima Jinlong, 484 CE. Untypical of the Northern Wei style, it was probably brought from the court of the Jin dynasty by Sima Jinlong's father.[5] Alternatively, it could be a Northern Wei work strongly influenced by Jin artistic styles, such as the work of Gu Kaizhi.[6]
Western Jin celadon figures

Establishment edit

After the fall of Chang'an and the execution of Emperor Min of Jin, Sima Rui, posthumously known as Emperor Yuan, was enthroned as Jin emperor in 318. He reestablished the Jin government at Jiankang (present-day Nanjing), which became the dynasty's new capital. This marked the start of the Eastern Jin period.[2] One of Sima Rui's titles was the prince of Langya, so the recently established northern states, who denied the legitimacy of his succession, occasionally referred to his empire as "Langya".

The Eastern Jin period witnessed the pinnacle of menfa (門閥 'gentry clan') politics. The authority of the emperors was limited, while national affairs were controlled by powerful immigrant elite clans like the Wang () clans of Langya and Taiyuan, the Xie () clan of Chenliu, the Huan () clan of Qiao Commandery, and the Yu () clan of Yingchuan. Among the people, a common remark was that "Wang Dao and Sima Rui, they dominate the nation together" (王與馬,共天下).[7] It was said that when Emperor Yuan was holding court, he even invited Wang Dao to sit by his side so they could jointly accept congratulations from ministers, but Wang Dao declined the offer.[8]

Wars with the north edit

In order to recover the lands lost during the fall of the Western Jin, the Eastern Jin dynasty launched several military campaigns against the northern states, such as the expeditions led by Huan Wen from 354 to 369. Most notably, in 383, a heavily outnumbered Eastern Jin force inflicted a devastating defeat on the state of Former Qin at the Battle of Fei River. After this battle, the Former Qin—which had recently unified northern China—began to collapse, and the Jin dynasty recovered the lands south of the Yellow River. Some of these lands were later lost, but the Jin regained them once more when Liu Yu defeated the northern states in his northern expeditions of 409–416.

Despite successes against the northern states like the Battle of Fei River, paranoia in the royal family and a constant disruptions to the throne often caused loss of support for northern campaigns. For example, lack of support by the Jin court was a major cause of Huan Wen's failure to recover the north in his expeditions. Additionally, internal military crises—including the rebellions of generals Wang Dun and Su Jun, but also lesser fangzhen (方鎮 'military command') revolts—plagued the Eastern Jin throughout its 104-year existence.

Mass migration to the south edit

The local aristocrat clans of the south were often at odds with the immigrants from the north. As such, tensions increased, and rivalry between the immigrants and southern locals loomed large in the domestic politics of the Jin. Two of the most prominent local clans, the Zhou () clan of Yixing and the Shen () clan of Wuxing, were dealt a bitter blow from which they never quite recovered. There was also conflict between the various northern immigrant clans. This led to a virtual balance of power, which somewhat benefited the emperor's rule.

Special "commanderies of immigrants" and "white registers" were created for the massive amounts of northern Han Chinese who moved south during the Eastern Jin.[9] The southern Chinese aristocracy was formed from the offspring of these migrants.[10] Particularly in the Jiangnan region, Celestial Masters and the nobility of northern China subdued the nobility of southern China during the Jin dynasty.[11] Southern China overtook the north in population due to depopulation of the north and the migration of northern Chinese to southern China.[12][13] Different waves of migration of aristocratic Chinese from northern China to the south at different times resulted in distinct groups of aristocratic lineages.[14]

Eastern Jin celadon jar

Demise edit

In 403, Huan Xuan, the son of esteemed general Huan Wen, usurped the Jin throne and declared the dynasty of Huan Chu. Huan Xuan was soon toppled by Liu Yu, who reinstated Jin rule by installing Sima Dezong on the throne, posthumously known as Emperor An. Meanwhile, the civilian administration suffered, as there were further revolts led by Sun En and Lu Xun, and Western Shu became an independent kingdom under Qiao Zong. In 419, Liu Yu had Sima Dezong strangled and replaced by his brother Sima Dewen, posthumously known as Emperor Gong. Finally, in 420, Sima Dewen abdicated in favour of Liu Yu, who declared himself the ruler of the new Song dynasty (which is referred to as the Liu Song dynasty by historians in order to prevent confusion with the Song dynasty established in 960). Sima Dewen was then asphyxiated with a blanket in the following year. In the north, Northern Liang, the last of the Sixteen Kingdoms, was conquered by Northern Wei in 439, ushering in the Northern dynasties period.

The Xianbei Northern Wei accepted the Jin refugees Sima Fei [zh] (司馬朏) and Sima Chuzhi [zh] (司馬楚之). They both married Xianbei princesses. Sima Fei's wife was named Huayang (公主), who was a daughter of Emperor Xiaowen; Sima Chuzhi's son was Sima Jinlong, who married a Northern Liang princess who was a daughter of the Xiongnu king Juqu Mujian.[15] More than fifty percent of Tuoba Xianbei princesses of the Northern Wei were married to southern Han Chinese men from the imperial families and aristocrats from southern China of the Southern dynasties who defected and moved north to join the Northern Wei.[16] Much later, Sima Guang (1019–1086), who served as chancellor for the Song and created the comprehensive history Zizhi Tongjian, claimed descent from the Jin dynasty (specifically, Sima Fu, brother of Sima Yi).

Government and demography edit

Administrative divisions of Eastern Jin dynasty as of 382

Qiaoren and baiji edit

The uprising of the five barbarians led to one in eight northerners migrating to the south. These immigrants were called qiaoren (僑人 'lodged people'), accounting for one-sixth of the population of the south at the time. With consideration of the material loss refugees had experienced before arrival, they were exempt from the diao (調) tax, and other services. Those whose registers were bound in white paper were called baiji (白籍), while the others with registers bound in yellow paper were called huangji (黃籍). When the crisis had subsided, this preferential increasingly seemed a heavy burden on the people, arousing dissatisfaction in the natives. Hence, tu duan was an increasingly important issue for the Eastern Jin.[clarification needed]

Lodged administrative divisions edit

The Eastern Jin court established three levels of administrative divisions which served as strongholds for the qiaoren: the qiaozhou (僑州, 'province'), qiaojun (僑郡, 'commandery'), and qiaoxian (僑縣, the lodged county), these lodged administrative divisions were merely nominal without possessing actual domain, or rather, they were local government in exile; what could scarcely be denied was their significance in Jin's legitimacy for the northern territory as somewhat an announcement. Furthermore, it was also an action done to appease the refugees' homesickness, which was evoking their desire to reacquire what had been lost.

Ornamental plaque, Eastern Jin dynasty, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During the rule of Emperor Yuan, Emperor Ming, and Emperor Cheng, the lodged administrative divisions were concentrated in the area south of the Huai River and the Lower Yangtze Plain. At first there was the lodged Langya Commandery within lodged Fei County in Jiankang, but when it began is not exactly known. Then the lodged Huaide County was also established in Jiankang, around 320. According to the Book of Song:

晉永嘉大亂,幽、冀、青、並、兗州及徐州之淮北流民,相率過淮,亦有過江在晉陵郡界者……又徙流民之在淮南者于晉陵諸縣,其徙過江南及留在江北者,並立僑郡縣以司牧之。徐、兗二州或治江北,江北又僑立幽、冀、青、並四州……(After Disaster of Yongjia, the refugees from You, Ji, Qing, Bing, Yan and Xu provinces came across the Huai River, some even came across the Yangtze River and stayed in Jinling Commandery... The lodged administrative divisions were established to govern them. The seats of Xu and Yan provinces perhaps were moved to the area north of the Yangtze River, where the lodged You, Ji, Qing, Bing provinces were established.)[17]

The lodged Pei, Qinghe, Xiapi, Dongguang, Pingchang, Jiyin, Puyang, Guangping, Taishan, Jiyang, and Lu commanderies were established when Emperor Ming ruled. The rebellions and invasions occurring in Jianghuai area led to more refugees switching to settle in the south of the Yangtze River, where the lodged Huainan Commandery was established afterwards.

However, carrying these out was more complex than the policy was formulated. Several actual counties were under the jurisdiction of the lodged commanderies.

A few lodged administrative divisions are still retained in China nowadays. For instance, Dangtu County was originally located in the area of Bengbu, however, the lodged Dangtu County was established in where it is now, and the latter replaced the former, inheriting its place name.

Tu Duan policy edit

The tu duan (土斷) is the abbreviation for yi tu duan (以土斷, means classifying people according to their present habitation to register). It was a policy to ensure the ancient hukou system working since the Western Jin. These terms were first recorded in the biographies of Wei Guan and Li Chong included in the Book of Jin:



Hence, it was perhaps initially proposed by these two people, but was only seriously implemented during the Eastern Jin and the Southern dynasties.

Society and culture edit

Religion edit

Scene of the Admonitions Scroll, traditionally considered as a Jin court painting by Gu Kaizhi (c. 345–406)

Taoism was polarized in the Jin dynasty. The Jin emperors repressed Taoists harshly, but also tried to exploit it, given the way it had been used near the end of the Han era in the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Amidst the political turmoil of the era, many successful merchants, small landowners, and other moderately comfortable people found great solace in Taoist teachings and a number of major clans and military officers also took up the faith. Ge Hong emphasized loyalty to the emperor as a Taoist virtue; he even taught that rebels could never be Taoist immortals,[20] which made Taoism more palatable to the imperial hierarchy. As a result, popular Taoist religions were considered heterodoxy while the official schools of the court were supported, but the popular schools like Tianshi Taoism were still secretly held dear and promulgated amongst ordinary people.[citation needed]

Disunity, disintegration, and chaos also made Buddhism more popular, in part due to the focus on addressing suffering. The Jin dynasty marked a critical era for the Mahayana school in China. Dharmarakṣa’s 286 translation of the Lotus Sutra was the most important one before Kumārajīva’s 5th-century translation. It was said that there were 1,768 Buddhist temples in the Eastern Jin.[21]

Furthermore, Taoism advanced chemistry and medicine in China, whereas the contribution of Mahayana was concentrated in philosophy and literature.[citation needed]

The British Museum copy of The Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies, attributed to Gu Kaizhi (c. 344–406), but likely a Tang-era copy

List of emperors and eras edit

Posthumous names Family name and given names Durations of reigns Era names and their according range of years Territories
Western Jin dynasty 266–316
Wu Sima Yan 266–290
  • Taishi 266–274
  • Xianning 275–280
  • Taikang 280–289
  • Taixi January 28, 290 – May 17, 290
Western Jin
Territorial extent of the Jin c. 280
Traditional Chinese西晉
Simplified Chinese西晋
Hui Sima Zhong 290–307
  • Yongxi May 17, 290 – February 15, 291
  • Yongping February 16 – April 23, 291
  • Yuankang April 24, 291 – February 6, 300
  • Yongkang February 7, 300 – February 3, 301
  • Yongning June 1, 301 – January 4, 303
  • Taian January 5, 303 – February 21, 304
  • Yongan February 22 – August 15, 304; December 25, 304 – February 3, 305
  • Jianwu August 16 – December 24, 304
  • Yongxing February 4, 305 – July 12, 306
  • Guangxi July 13, 306 – February 19, 307
none Sima Lun 301
  • Jianshi February 3 – June 1, 301
Huai Sima Chi 307–311
  • Yongjia 307 – 313
Min Sima Ye 313–316
  • Jianxing 313–316
Eastern Jin dynasty 317–420
Yuan Sima Rui 317–323
  • Jianwu 317–318
  • Taixing 318–322
  • Yongchang 322–323
Eastern Jin
The Jin Empire (yellow), c. 400
(Eastern Jin)
Traditional Chinese東晉
Simplified Chinese东晋
Ming Sima Shao 323–325
  • Taining 323–326
Cheng Sima Yan 325–342
  • Xianhe 326–335
  • Xiankang 335–342
Kang Sima Yue 342–344
  • Jianyuan 343–344
Mu Sima Dan 344–361
  • Yonghe 345–357
  • Shengping 357–361
Ai Sima Pi 361–365
  • Longhe 362–363
  • Xingning 363–365
none Sima Yi 365–372
  • Taihe 365–372
Jianwen Sima Yu 372
  • Xianan 372–373
Xiaowu Sima Yao 372–396
  • Ningkang 373–375
  • Taiyuan (太元) 376–396
An Sima Dezong 396–419
  • Longan 397–402
  • Yuanxing 402–405
  • Yixi 405–419
Gong Sima Dewen 419–420
  • Yuanxi 419–420

Major events edit

Jin dynasty
Traditional Chinese晉朝
Simplified Chinese晋朝
Sima Jin
Traditional Chinese司馬
Simplified Chinese司马
Liang Jin
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Literal meaningTwo Jins

See also edit

References edit

Citations edit

  1. ^ a b Taagepera, Rein (1979). "Size and Duration of Empires: Growth-Decline Curves, 600 B.C. to 600 A.D.". Social Science History. 3 (3/4): 128. doi:10.2307/1170959. JSTOR 1170959.
  2. ^ a b Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. pp. 56–57. ISBN 978-0-8135-1304-1.
  3. ^ Shanghai Museum permanent exhibit
  4. ^ Guimet Museum permanent exhibit
  5. ^ Dien, Albert E. (2007). Six Dynasties Civilization. Yale University Press. pp. 295–296. ISBN 978-0-300-07404-8.
  6. ^ Watt, James C. Y. (2004). China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200–750 AD. Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-58839-126-1.
  7. ^ Fang Xuanling; et al., eds. (1974) [648]. Book of Jin 晉書. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju. vol. 98, biography of Wang Dun. 帝初鎮江東,威名未著,敦與從弟導等同心翼戴,以隆中興,時人為之語曰:「王與馬,共天下。」
  8. ^ "Sima Rui" 司马睿. Office of the Committee for Local Records, Jiangsu Province. 2014. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017.
  9. ^ Gernet (1996), p. 182.
  10. ^ Tackett, Nicolas Olivier (2006). The Transformation of Medieval Chinese Elites (850–1000 C.E.) (PDF) (PhD thesis). Columbia University. p. 81. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016.
  11. ^ Wang Chengwen (2009). "The Revelation and Classification of Daoist Scriptures". In John Lagerwey; Lü Pengzhi (eds.). Early Chinese Religion: The Period of Division (220–589 AD). Vol. 2. Brill. p. 831. doi:10.1163/ej.9789004175853.i-1564.98. ISBN 978-90-04-17585-3.
  12. ^ Haywood, John (2000). Historical Atlas of the Classical World, 500 BC–AD 600. Barnes & Noble Books. p. 2.25. ISBN 978-0-7607-1973-2.
  13. ^ Haywood, John; Jotischky, Andrew; McGlynn, Sean (1998). Historical Atlas of the Medieval World, AD 600–1492. Barnes & Noble. p. 3.21. ISBN 978-0-7607-1976-3.
  14. ^ Hugh R. Clark (2007). Portrait of a Community: Society, Culture, and the Structures of Kinship in the Mulan River Valley (Fujian) from the Late Tang Through the Song. Chinese University Press. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-962-996-227-2.
  15. ^ Watt, James C.Y. (2004). China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200–750 AD. Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 18 ff. ISBN 978-1-58839-126-1.
  16. ^ Tang, Qiaomei (May 2016). Divorce and the Divorced Woman in Early Medieval China (First through Sixth Century) (PDF) (PhD thesis). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University. pp. 151–153.
  17. ^ Shen Yue (1974) [493]. Book of Song. Zhonghua Shuju. vol. 35.
  18. ^ Book of Jin, Vol. 36.
  19. ^ Book of Jin, Vol. 46.
  20. ^ Baopuzi, Vol. 3. 欲求仙者,要當以忠孝和順仁信為本。若德行不修,而但務方術,皆不得長生也。
  21. ^ 「東晉偏安一百四載,立寺乃一千七百六十有八,可謂侈盛……」Liu Shiheng (劉世珩,1874–1926) 南朝寺考 quoted from 釋迦氏譜

Sources edit

External links edit

Preceded by Jin dynasty
Succeeded by