After almost 300 years of division and
fragmentation following the collapse of the Han
dynasty in 220 A.D., China was once again
unified under the Sui dynasty (581–618).
The numerous political and governmental
institutions established during this brief period of
peace and affluence lay the foundations for the
growth and prosperity of the succeeding Tang
Marked by strong and benevolent rule, successful
diplomatic relationships, economic expansion
and a cultural efflorescence of a very
cosmopolitan style, Tang China emerged as one
of the greatest empires in the medieval world and
became one of the most magnificent periods in
China's feudal history.
Merchants, clerics, and envoys from India, Persia,
Arabia, Syria, Korea and Japan thronged the
streets of Chang’an, the then capital, and hearing
foreign languages spoken was a common part of
Artists paid close attention to the richly colorful
society, and were especially interested in
displaying the idle and carefree life of aristocratic
women and men.
Although the Tang Dynasty was superior to the
Han Dynasty in terms of ruling people's lives and
all laws were more or less designed to facilitate
to the needs of the nobility, there still were a
great number of stipulations as to restricting and
conform civilians' daily life.
During the Tang Dynasty, court officials were
allowed to openly indulge in dallying with
courtesans though the fate of both state-owned
prostitutes and prostitutes catering for the army
was extremely unfortunate. According to the law
and in certain circumstances, army commanding
officers could actually put to death an army
prostitute and not been punished.
Burial figurines of graceful dancers and
musicians, mythical beasts and everyday objects
in terracotta reveal not only how people in early
China approached death but also how they lived.
Since people viewed the afterlife as an extension
of worldly life, such terracotta figurines, called
mingqi or “spirit utensils,” disclose details of
routine existence and provide insights into their