Ming China


   The Ming dynasty was the last native imperial dynasty in Chinese history. Sandwiched between two foreign dynasties, the Ming stand as one last attempt to hold Chinese government in native hands. Humiliated and oppressed by the foreign rule of the Mongols, the Ming dynasty rises up out of a peasant rebellion to preside over the greatest economic and social revolution in China before the modern period. The Ming are also the first to deal with Europeans arriving in ever increasing numbers; as a pre-modern period, many of the issues and contentions of the modern period will have their precursors in the Ming dynasty.

   The story of the Ming dynasty, according to Chinese historians, begins in 1351 in the province of Huang-ling-kang Shantung. A group of laborers digging along the Huang-ho River uncover a statue with only one eye and an inscription: "Do not despise this one-eyed statue: it will be the herald of rebellion all throughout the empire." Soon, news of this discovery spreads all throughout China. On top of other portents, such as floods and landslides, the discovery of the statue announces one overwhelming idea: the Mandate of Heaven, the t'ien ming , had been withdrawn from the Mongol dynasty. Revolution was at hand.

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1997, Richard Hooker
Updated 3-6-97