An Uprising: Empire of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

Zhu Yuanzhang, the peasant leader responsible for many victories during the Mongol invasion, was crowned Emperor and established the Ming Dynasty in 1368, which lasted for three centuries, until 1644.  The capital city, Nanjing, was founded and later relocated north to Beijing.  Economic development in the south flourished with entrepreneurs who cultivated farms for maize and sweet potato while industries seized opportunities with mining and textiles, which also led to the completion of the Great Wall.  Silver played a huge part in international trade with Europe and Japan, by replacing paper banknotes and copper coins.  This influenced the merchant class, and the gentry at times borrowed money from rich merchants to fund civil projects. The reflection of this was a vibrant, urban population.[1]

Arts such as poetry, painting, music, and drama developed.  “Painters recruited by the Ming court were instructed to return to didactic and realistic representation, in emulation of the styles of the earlier Southern Song (1127–1279) Imperial Painting Academy. Large-scale landscapes, flower-and-bird compositions, and figural narratives were particularly favored as images that would glorify the new dynasty and convey its benevolence, virtue, and majesty.” (The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), 2000-2012)[2]

The Ming left an impression on the world.  “Ming- which means ‘bright’ in Chinese was an appropriate name for a dynasty whose 276 years of rule were marked by stability, economic growth, and a dramatic flourishing f the arts.”[3]  Since learning, knowledge, and art was highly respected, the era was well documented. Geography was no exception and well-written records were maintained. The Chinese started the tradition of geographical documentation in the fifth century BC and by the time of the Ming Dynasty it was quite advanced. In addition, the printing technology of allowed the existence of detailed and descriptive maps and books. Many of these survived and have given us much knowledge about the Ming geographers and cartographers.[4]


[1] Dat Nguyen, “Ming Dynasty of China,” Culture-4-Travel, (Nguyen, 2008),

[2] “Ming Dynasty (1368-1644),” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accessed September 19, 2012,

[3] “Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty,” accessed September 19, 2012,

[4] “Ming Dynasty Geography,” Total History, accessed September 19, 2012,


The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). (2000-2012). Retrieved September 19, 2012, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty. (2008, June 27). Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty. San Fransisco, CA: Asian Art Museum.

Ming Dynasty Geography. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2012, from Total History:

Nguyen, D. (2008). Ming Dynasty of China. Retrieved September 19, 2012, from Culture-4-Travel:


About Amanda

"a mind that questions everything, unless strong enough to bear the weight of its ignorance, risks questioning itself and being engulfed in doubt. if it cannot discover the claims to existence of the objects of its questioning—and it would be miraculous if it so soon succeeded in solving so many mysteries—it will deny them all reality, the mere formulation of the problem already implying an inclination to negative solutions. but in so doing it will become void of all positive content and, finding nothing which offers it resistance, will launch itself perforce into the emptiness of inner revery." - emile durkheim
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s