|This square vase has a dark blue ground with lighter blue and white flowers and floral designs. The characters 福 fu and 寿 shou, meaning fortune and longevity respectively, are worked into the design. The vase dates to the Qing Dynasty (1636 -1911) and is estimated to have been made between 1368 and 1661.
The standard dates given for the Qing Dynasty are 1644 to 1911. Those are the dates for the "Chinese" Qing Dynasty. It actually has a much longer history. The Qing rulers were the descendents of the Jurchen tribes who established and ruled the north of China under the Jin Dynasty (1115 – 1234). The Jurchen pushed the Song Dynasty south and took over the north, including Beijing and most everything north of the Yangtze River. The Jin Dynasty was conquered by the Mongols who established the Yuan Dynasty.
While they lost the territory around Beijing and down to the Yangtze, the Jurchen Jin Dynasty did not disappear. They simply retreated to their homelands in Manchuria. They maintained their traditions and the Jin Dynasty.
In 1368, one of the Jin rulers, in order to reunite the tribes or "banners" of the Jin, changed the name of the dynasty to "Qing" and began to refer to the Manchu people rather than the Jurchen. Shortly thereafter the opportunity presented itself to step in and take over China from the Ming Dynasty which was facing attacks from rebels on all sides. So, the Qing Dynasty is the redux of the Jin and the Manchu the cousins of the Jurchen. Clear?
So, when dates are given for the "Qing" , they sometimes predate the official dates. While in Manchuria, the Jurchen Jin continued to develop arts, crafts, and trade. During the Ming Dynasty they, along with other countries bordering China, enjoyed an active trade relationship with the Chinese. Their traders would have been able to travel all over the region during times of peace between the two countries.
The Qing Dynasty was established in China in 1644 and adopted Beijing as its capital. The Manchus were determined to maintain their own language and culture, but at the same time, admired and encouraged the development of all areas of Chinese art, scholarship, and science. There was a very large conclave of Manchu living in Xi'an.
The dates used for the Qing Dynasty by the Shaanxi History Museum are 1636 -1911. These dates are often used, but modern references are beginning to use 1636 -1912, changing the ending date to reflect that the last emperor, Emperor Puyi, did not abdicate until 1912. The Wuchang Uprising that led to the establishment of the Republic of China took place in October of 1911. From the point of view of the rebels, the dynasty ended when they declared a government. From the point of view of the Qing rulers, until Emperor Puyi resigned, the dynasty continued. The proper date for the founding of the Republic of China remains 1911.
Last update: March 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2010