Talk:Han dynasty

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Featured articleHan dynasty is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Featured topic starHan dynasty is the main article in the Han Dynasty series, a featured topic. This is identified as among the best series of articles produced by the Wikipedia community. If you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on November 20, 2009.
On this day... Article milestones
March 27, 2009Good article nomineeListed
April 21, 2009Featured article candidatePromoted
June 11, 2009Featured topic candidatePromoted
On this day... Facts from this article were featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on January 10, 2014, January 10, 2016, January 10, 2017, January 10, 2019, January 10, 2022, and January 10, 2023.
Current status: Featured article

Image problems[edit]

This is a brilliantly written article, though I have found a problem. Many images in the History section violate WP:SANDWICH. If there is a good soul who is knowledgable about the Han dynasty and could fix this that would be highly appreciated. Cheers! Wretchskull (talk) 10:12, 4 February 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Sources problem[edit]

May I ask how were the sources compiled after Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution? A lot of ancient Chinese history was destroyed! (talk) 03:12, 3 May 2021 (UTC)[reply]

China had a lot of history to start off with so what remained was still substantial. Senorangel (talk) 20:56, 7 April 2022 (UTC)[reply]

A Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion[edit]

The following Wikimedia Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion:

Participate in the deletion discussion at the nomination page. —Community Tech bot (talk) 07:40, 30 June 2021 (UTC)[reply]


Why isn't Taiwan shown as coming under control of the Han dynasty in the map? Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 15:12, 28 February 2023 (UTC)[reply]

I also have the same question, it is at least a consensus in the Chinese historical community that Taiwan belongs to the control of the Han Dynasty. Fibre of paramecium (talk) 15:39, 26 May 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Is it really? Our article History of Taiwan claims the first possible contact was during the Sui dynasty, while the first outposts date only to the Yuan dynasty. Baidu's article on Taiwan mentions a possibility of contact during the Three Kingdoms period, but nowhere is there any claim that Han dynasty China was even aware of Taiwan, much less in control of it. Are there new archaeological discoveries that all these articles have missed? What are your sources for this reputed consensus in the Chinese historical community? Folly Mox (talk) 10:36, 27 May 2023 (UTC)[reply]

"Confucianism" as a religion during this period[edit]

I'm now at two reverts, which I don't like, the latter of which reverted an editor whom I greatly respect. But nothing I have read in the field of Han dynasty history, nor indeed the history of the succeeding centuries, indicates that Confucianism was seen as anything other than a political philosophy during this period, and I think it's deeply misleading to use "Confucianism" as a value for the |religion= infobox parameter in this article.

In the early Han dynasty, we don't even really have the differentiation of schools of thought, which were named by Sima Tan in the 100s BCE. It was "Kongzi thought" the same way we now have "Mao Zedong thought", "Deng Xiaoping thought" and so forth. It's true that Wudi made the study of certain classics that were associated with Confucius required prerequisite knowledge in the government training facility for new officers. It was a presumed subject matter perspective the same way modern politicians might be expected to have some background in law and economics. The spiritual dimension that is currently attached to Religious Confucianism was the same spirituality that had existed since before record keeping began: ancestor veneration and folk religion.

Our articles on Confucius and Confucianism are already too much written from a religious studies perspective, and lose dight of the fact that for hundreds of years, if Confucianism was mentioned at all, it was as a political philosophy and not a religion.

Obviously, I don't have sources to prove a negative. There aren't Han dynasty documents that list out religions or even use the word translated as "religion". I am open to being wrong if anyone is able to provide a sound historical soyrce demonstrating that Cobfucian thought was considered a religion during the Han period, but it's my informed understanding that it analgamated the aspects of ancestor veneration and Chinese folk religion that had always been present and subsumed them into part of itself, albeit strictly later than the period discussed as this article topic. Folly Mox (talk) 06:52, 28 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]

I entirely agree that Confucianism has been Westernized quite a bit on Wikipedia, but it is undeniable that the philosophical thoughts which would be formalized as the broad tradition of Confucianism is pertinent to the understanding of the Han, particularly from Wu onward. This being said t this point, I'd feel better also removing Daoism and Chinese folk religion (I hate that term) from the infobox as well, because the current predicament gives the sense that the former two were present and Confucianism was not.
On a technical standpoint, Chinese folk religion is unsourced in the article, and the only source for Daoism/Confucianism is "The early Western Han court simultaneously accepted the philosophical teachings of Legalism, Huang-Lao Daoism, and Confucianism in making state decisions and shaping government policy" – which talks of the Western Han court specifically, and does not say it was a "religion" per say. Aza24 (talk) 07:14, 28 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I disagree. The Han dynasty did have confucianism as a philosophy. Other dynasties list it. I think it should remain Zman19964 (talk) 14:21, 28 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
User:Zman19964, it's pretty inappropriate to revert the article while we're having a discussion here on the talkpage (although I've made the same mistake before, at History of China, which User:Aza24 correctly called me out on).
Regardless, you haven't addressed the substance of the objection: no one is saying Wudi didn't make Confucianism an official state doctrine; the point is that it was not a religion. Confucianism did not have religious aspects as early as the Han dynasty. And it doesn't matter if "other dynasties list it": all of them (except obviously Qin) came after the Han dynasty. The earliest I remember reading about temples to Confucius outside of Qufu – if we want to make that our terminus ante – is the Tang dynasty, four centuries after the Han ended.
I do agree that it's important to mention Confucianism prominently somewhere: after Han Wudi made proficiency in the classics mandatory you couldn't even get a government appointment by legitimate means without studying works attributed to or highly regarded by Confucius (I don't remember if the legend of him personally editing all of them was around by this point but it very well may have been). The point is that labeling it as a "religion", in the context of the Han dynasty, is wrong. Please provide a source that says otherwise, not just infoboxes on other Wikipedia articles. Folly Mox (talk) 19:40, 28 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I do also hate the term "Chinese folk religion", and would support removing |religion= parameters in general from all infoboxes of Chinese dynasties and former states prior to the introduction of Buddhism.
I agree that Confucianism should be represented somewhere prominently as an important lens for understanding the political landscape of the Han dynasty, along with Daoism for a stand-in of the more accurate "Huang–Lao thought", as well as Legalism.
One thing that's particularly challenging for this article is that the Han dynasty was the historical period during which the major strands of political and personal philosophy were systematised and labeled (I would characterise systematisation as Han scholarship's most salient characteristic and dominant metanarrative). Prior to the Han, philosophical thought was categorised mainly by the work it appeared in, or attributed to a single individual (or two, for Huang–Lao) rather than categorised into schools. The whole "Hundred Schools of Thought" (which should really be translated like "a whole lotta schools of thought") was a projection back in time by Han scholars seeking to systematise a mess. Warring States thinkers outside a select few are very difficult to assign categories to, because if they didn't write one of the classics of their field, their different writings can be seen to take inspiration from multiple "schools" as later defined by Sima Tan.
"Religion" and "Philosophy" are two separate things, despite desires to conflate them for ease of use. I propose we sub in the little used |politics_link= parameter for this infobox, and remove |religion= entirely, as it's misleading in the understanding of contemporary conceptualisation of schools of thought. I'm not sure how this parameter displays, but I'm sure it would aid understanding of the Han dynasty better than inappropriately labeling Confucianism as a religion so early. Folly Mox (talk) 14:30, 28 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
So I've been looking into this a lot today, to try to prove myself wrong or substantiate the perception my background knowledge gave me. Fortunately, the situation is hopelessly complicated.
We run into definitional problems immediately: what's a religion? what is Confucianism? There's no rigorous definition of "religion", and the English term "Confucianism" is used to translate two related Chinese words 儒家 and 儒教, the first of which is not a religion. The second term, 儒教, refers – after the first century or so after its appearance in the language – to a Confucianism that could potentially be called a religion, and which Western scholarship has been trying to wrangle into their understanding of what a religion is since the times of Matteo Ricci. In fact our sister project's article zh:儒教 has an entire level two subheading devoted to the question of whether or not it's a religion. The question is not only still not settled, but multiple recent English language book-length books have been written on the question, see brief review of two 2014 books at here.
Let us explore the position that 儒教 is a religion. When did it become a religion? The earliest person who seems to have disambiguated it from 儒家 and the related 儒學 was Cai Yong, at the very end of the Later Han (《蔡中郎集》卷五《司空杨公碑》). Was that when it became a religion? Or was it when the traditional morturary rituals were "Confucianised" during the 100s CE? link Did it become a religion when a totally separate complete system of beliefs in the form of Buddhism presented itself as an alternative choice? (Does a religion become a religion only if there is the option of an alternative?) This would also be in the extremely late Later Han or Three Kingdoms period. Li Shizheng (李師政), in the Tang dynasty, attributes the first direct comparison of Confucianism with Buddhism to Sun Quan, in the source 《辨惑一》, at least according to zh.wp. This does show that, whatever we want to call Confucianism, when Buddhism (uncontentiously a religion) showed up, contemporary individuals found the two to be an apt comparison, and so may have experienced Confucianism as a religion, whatever that means.
Still operating under the assumption that Confucianism can be called a religion, what does it mean that in the 130s BCE Han Wudi made knowledge of at least one "Classic" a requirement for academic-track government employment? (Nylan, 2007). Does the |religion= parameter in Template:Infobox former country encompass official state orthodoxy? Could Confucianism be called a religion at such an early point when the "Classics" would not reach a stable form until the editing and standardisation of all major pre-imperial works by Liu Xiang (scholar) and Liu Xin (scholar) from about 26 BCE to 26 CE? The people called 儒 in Han times were not even necessarily "Confucians": many modern scholars (Loewe, Nylan, Schaberg, Shi Jian) prefer "classicist". And Nylan 2009 reminds us that the "Five Classics" did not even become the "Five Confucian Classics" until the 1900s.
Even "Early Chinese Religion, Part Two: The Period of Division (220-589 AD) (Brill, 2010)", discussing the period where Confucianism-as-religion would be expected to arising as a concept, treats it as qualitatively different to Daoism and Buddhism, which it juxtaposes at length.
On the other hand, certainly by the Song dynasty, Confucianism was on par with Daoism and Buddhism as one of the "three great teachings", which we could lazily translate as "three religions", and the praxis of Confucianism had been stable since the Later Han. Moreover, as "transmitters of antiquity", Confucianists sort of adopted traditional morturary rites and ancestor veneration, Shang–Zhou cultural practices that could certainly be said to be religious in nature, so to take this argument to its logical endpoint, it could be said with some degree of accuracy that even predynastic Zhou practiced Confucianism, it just wasn't called that yet. If I recall correctly, zh.wp, Baidu, and some actual source seem to have Nanbeichao-ish as the answer for "when" Confucianism "became a religion".
I guess it's unsurprising that the Han dynasty history of Confucianism (its most dynamic and influential period) is complicated and changed over the course of the four hundred year dynasty. And that we don't have a secure answer as to whether Confucianism should be called a religion at any point in history.
To return to the infobox, I think the best and easiest solution is to put {{unbulleted list}} somewhere in there with the list items Confucianism and Daoism, but not in the |religion= parameter. I did load some other sources but they're long and I'm tired so I haven't read them yet. My alternate suggestion is to find out what the infobox said when the article was promoted to FA on 21 April 2009, and give the |religion= parameter whatever value it had then (I have not checked this, and it may very well have "Confucianism" in there, so this is not necessarily an argument in favour of my position: just a neutral compromise based on precedent of community review, although I do note that most of the sources I linked to here postdate the promotion to FA). Oh right I'd also be down to remove the parameter and its values from the infobox per Aza24's suggestion.
Anyway this is tiresome and I see that my true task here is to balance out the Confucianism article with a bunch of sources from historians rather than religious studies academics, because it gives a super biased perspective at the moment and contributes to misimpressions like the one seen in this little dispute. Folly Mox (talk) 05:01, 29 August 2023 (UTC) Edited 05:13, 29 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Noting that I experimented with the |politics-link= parameter, which seems to sub in a custom government type, which isn't exactly what we're looking for.
User:PericlesofAthens, apologies if this is an unwanted question, but do you have any thoughts on the thread here? I'm not sure I've ever started a content dispute thread on a featured article talk page and I'm unclear on best practices. Folly Mox (talk) 02:17, 30 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@Folly Mox @Aza24 @Zman19964 It might be flawed, but the article title "Chinese folk religion" is a sort of catchall term meant to encompass everything from Chinese mythology to ancestor worship, as well as overlapping beliefs in Daoism. It is a somewhat tidy way of summarizing a bunch of topics that could otherwise be crammed into that field of the info box, a link where readers can explore all of these topics in one place. I will discuss the problem with it below, though, as I also take issue with it (I think a scholarly sourced footnote explaining the shortcomings of the term is suitable rather than removing the link itself, which remains useful). Pericles of AthensTalk 19:13, 30 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Speaking of which, Confucianism would arguably fall under that same overarching category if considered a religion (we'll come back to that). This could hypothetically apply even to Chinese Buddhism, although as the article explains, the latter wasn't truly developed yet as a distinct ideology from contemporary schools/branches of Buddhism (based on the Mahayana strand). During the Han, Buddhism was a fresh new foreign import from India and was at first amalgamated with Huang-Lao Daoism. If we're going to include Confucianism in the religion field of he info box, it would be absurd to exclude Buddhism given how it is explained in the prose body of the article. As it now stands, the only "religions" specifically mentioned in the "Religion, cosmology, and metaphysics" are Daoism and Buddhism, so they deserve inclusion in the info box more than anything else. Pericles of AthensTalk 19:13, 30 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Worship of ancestral spirits and deities is vaguely mentioned in that religion sub-section, but these ideas are not grouped together under the banner or unified label of some coherent, overarching religion. The latter concept is explained right away in the lead section of the article "Ancient Greek religion", for instance; ancient Greece was similar in that they had a Greek pantheon of deities in Greek mythology and various cultic practices and rituals, but there was no single organized religion or even a word for religion! It is a modern anachronism to label the varied ancient Greek spiritual beliefs as belonging to a coherent religion; ditto for religion in ancient Rome before the Christianization of the late Roman empire and establishment of the state church of the Roman Empire. Pericles of AthensTalk 19:13, 30 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
As for Confucianism being a religion or not, I deliberately placed it in the philosophy sub-section rather than the religious one for a reason, since it was simply one of the philosophical Hundred Schools of Thought during the Warring States period and a governing ideology rather than a religious one. However, there is an enormous caveat here in regards to the Han dynasty mentioned in the philosophy sub-section: Dong Zhongshu infused the Confucianism of Kong Fuzi with concepts of Chinese cosmology. His philosophy argued that the ideas and practices of Confucianism were simply part of the natural cosmic order of the universe in line with the Wuxing (Chinese philosophy) "Five Phases" and comported with yin and yang. Confucianism of the Han dynasty was as much an invention of Dong as it was Confucius. If Confucianism is to be included in the info box, it must have a footnote explaining this, using either Kramer (1986) and Loewe (1994) who are already cited, or some other reliable scholarly source. In the meantime, though, it should simply be removed since its inclusion is not defended by a WP:Reliable source.
Pericles of AthensTalk 19:13, 30 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@Zman19964 to be absolutely clear, if you intend on adding "Confucianism" back into the "religion" field of the info box, you must do so with a footnote appearing in the "Notes" section of the article explaining all of this and a cited WP:Reliable source backing up your assertions, please. I have no problem with including Confucianism so long as readers understand the context here about Dong Zhongshu, whose cosmological ideas were embraced by Emperor Wu of Han as official state ideology that legitimized the Han form of imperial government in the natural order of the universe. Quite frankly that's the bare minimum an editor should do for a suddenly contentious topic in one of the WP:Featured articles that has led to WP:Edit warring. Pericles of AthensTalk 21:06, 30 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]