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Mandate of Heaven

December 11, 2011

℗ Pictures From History

The title Emperor of China in Chinese, Huángdì – refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai’s short-lived Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven – Tiānzǐ – a title that predates the Qin unification and includes the legendary dynasties, the Emperor was recognized as the ruler of ‘All Under Heaven’ – that is, the entire world. Notionally, such rulers enjoyed the ‘Mandate of Heaven‘.

Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is considered to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. The written history of China can be found as early as the Shang Dynasty (c. 1700 – c. 1046 BCE),   although ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian (ca. 100 BCE) and Bamboo Annals assert the existence of a legendary Xia Dynasty before the Shang. 

The conventional view of Chinese history is that of alternating periods of political unity and disunity, with China occasionally being dominated by Central Asian peoples, most of whom were in time assimilated into the Han Chinese population. Cultural and political influences from many parts of Asia, carried by successive waves of immigration, expansion, and cultural assimilation, are all part of the modern culture of China.

Pictures From History has assembled an unparalleled collection of images relating to Imperial China, including the most comprehensive collection of portraits of Chinese emperors, empresses and royal consorts available on the web. To view the nearly 500 images, go to Pictures From History‘s MANDATE OF HEAVEN page and click on any of the revolving images; to continue reading the above text, go to our IMPERIAL DYNASTIES OF CHINA page.

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