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Posts Tagged ‘Emperor Qinshihuang’

The Symbol of a Unified State

Potrait of Qinshihuang, the first emperor in China's history

Portrait of Qinshihuang, the first emperor in China’s history

In ancient times it was the traditional belief that the powers of the rulers were bestowed on by the gods. Since the power of the emperor came from heaven, the emperor was known as the “Son of Heaven”. The Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-206 B.C.) overthrew six smaller states and unified the country, and was later superseded by an even stronger totalitarian Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.).This was the beginning of a consecutive 2,000 years of a unified state with centralized power. The establishment of this form of state government marks a turning point in Chinese history. The influence of this historic period on the art of gardening was also deep and profound.

From historic annals dating from the Qin and Han periods, we can see many records of large-scale architectural building and construction of gardens during this period which roughly covered 400 years. In the year 221 B.C., the Emperor Qinshihuang unified the country and set up a vast feudal empire. He ordered 200 thousand rich families to move to Xianyang in Shaanxi Province, in order to centralize manpower and resources so he could implement his ambitious construction plan. The Qin Dynasty palace is of astoundingly large proportions. The most famous Qin Dynasty palace is the E-fang Palace which was built south of the capital of that time, Xianyang. In the “Annals of History-Section on Emperor Qinshihuang”,“is wri????en the following passage-”…the front palace of E-fang is 500 paces from east to west, and 50 zhang (note: one zhang equals 10 Chinese feet) from south to north. It is large enough to hold 10 thousand people, and tall enough to erect a 5-zhang banner.

Emperor Qinshihuang used the Xianyang Palace as the center, and around in a radius extending for scores of miles planned to build over 200 palaces and chambers, which were all to be mutually connected by passageways above the ground. This made this whole region both his palace area and his garden area. This extravagant construction plan was never completed. The Qin Dynasty only lasted 13 years, and the dream of Emperor Qinshihuang of building an empire that would last down the ages went up in flames together with the fire that razed E-fang Palace. It is said that the fire raged for 3 months before E-fang Palace was finally burnt down to the ground.

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