In the early western Han Dynasty, the economy was seriously damaged and a host of neglected tasks cried for attention. Faced with the rehabilitation policy, the intellectual field was relatively loose and the philosophy of Huang Di and Lao Tze prevailed.
During the term of Emperor Wudi, ideological control intensified as the political situation became more stable and the economy prospered. Dong Zhongshu, a representative of Confucianism, put forward the opinion of "paying supreme tribute to Confucianism while banning all other schools of thought" and "banning all ways of spreading other schools of thought" except Confucianism, which he believed could make the people know what to obey and thus safeguard the ruling of the emperor. Emperor Wudi accepted his suggestion and established it as a national trategy. The new Confucianism of Dong Zhongshu, in fact, was a new ideological system shaped by combining many schools of thought like Yin-Yang School, Taoism and Legaism, based on Confucius’ political outlook of maintaining the hierarchical system and the thought of unification highlighted in The Kung-Yang Commentary of the Spring and Autumn Annals. Dong Zhongshu claimed that "social norms originate in the nature, and no changes in social norms shall happen without changes in the nature." He advocated that "regality is awarded by the heaven"based on the theory of " induction between the heaven and man."He also warned that if the emperor was brutal in his rule, the heavens would send calamities to condemn and deter the emperor. Therefore, the emperor must observe the way of the heavens and exercise benevolent rule. Dong emphasized that the emperor should rule the country with benevolence at its core and punishment as supplementary, and put forward the ethical norms of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and fidelity. The three cardinal guides—the ruler guides his subjects, the father guides his son, and the husband guides his wife—were the cardinal guides that could not be changed.
"Paying supreme tribute to Confucianism while banning all other schools of thought" is an important event in the history of China. Confucianism occupied a dominant position in politics, which was conducive to consolidating the unified country and stabilizing the ruling order. Since then, Confucianism became the required course of all schools and the assessment standard for the court to select officials. Thus the dominant position of Confucianism was established in the traditional culture of China.
2 Historical books
The Records of the Grand Historian, written by Sima Qian and The Book of Han, written by Ban Gu, were two famous historical books arising from the time of unification. Sima Qian, once the Prefect of the Grand Scribes and the Chief of the Secretariat during the regime of Emperor Wudi, compiled the first general history of biography in Chinese history by absorbing part of previous historical books and thought of many schools, making use of the files collected by the State and conducting field investigations and interviews. The book includes 130 chapters and more than 600,000 words, recording all the major historical events during the past 3,000 years from the legendary Huangdi to Emperor Wudi. It could be used to "study the relationship between humans and nature, understand the changes both in the past and at present and thus help shape unique and deep insight." The Records of the Grand Historian marked the fresh start of narrating historical events, systems, human activities and social changes by combining multiple ways of recording, including Benji (biographical sketches of kings), Biao (tables), Shu (records of systems), Shijia (records of vassals) and Liezhuan (biographies), and thus became the model for compiling historical books. The Book of Han written by Ban Gu was the first book of dynastic history, offering detailed and in-depth descriptions about the social evolution of the Han Dynasty.
3 Literature and art
The achievements of literature in the Han Dynasty were best reflected in the creation of Fu of the Han Dynasty and Yuefu. Fu is a kind of thyme that combines the rational spirit of The Book of Odes before the Qin Dynasty with the romantic expression of the Chu odes. Fu attaches importance to expatiation, parataxis and magnificent wording. Sima Xiangru and Yang Xiong were the most notable writers of Fu. Their works reflected the spirit of aggressive union of the Han Dynasty.
Yuefu was the musical department established during the reign of Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty. Poems collected, sorted and recorded by Yuefu department were called Yuefu poetry, which inherited and developed the excellent tradition of the folk songs in The Book of Odes and had lively language and various forms.
The Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Emperor Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty manifested the outstanding artistic achievements made in the Qin and Han dynasties with their exquisite artistic shapes and spectacular scale. Nearly 10,000pieces of terracotta warriors and horses, all the same size as real ones, have different appearances and postures and were extremely vivid and lively. Inside the 14,000-square-metersNo.1 pit is a huge army consisting of 6,000 terracotta warriors and horses, more than 40 chariots and 160 driving war horses. The army is "marching"eastward with the momentum of an avalanche like a living army, reproducing the gallant manner of the troops of Qin that bravely fought against the other six states in the central plains and manifesting the pioneering spirit of the time and the grandness of the unified empire.