Han ChinaPolitical Development: The Han organized and controlled the realm through a strong, nonhereditary bureaucracy. The Han de-emphasized legalism (Strict laws, harsh punishments, and sacrifice of personal freedom for the good of the state) in favor of a government based of Confucian values. The emperor had the support of the heavens as long as he was a good ruler.Economic Development: An urban empire that ruled a rural and peasant population. The emperor lived in the forbidden city, so called because only his family, servants, and closest advisors were permitted within its boundaries. Urban areas grew rapidly during this era, with as much as 30% of the population lived in towns and cities. Canals were built, and the road system expanded to improve communication and commerce. The most important export was silk.Social Distinctions: At the top of the Han Dynasty social structure was the emperor. No subject was allowed to address the present emperor by name lest they take the risk of punishment. The most powerful relative of the emperor was the empress dowager or the wife of the previous emperor. Empress dowagers have the power to issue edicts and pardons as well as to appoint a new emperor in the case of the present emperor passing away without a designated heir. Certain nobles were also present during different periods of the Han Dynasty. During the early Western Han, some military officers were designated as Kings. Later on, only the emperor’s male relatives were given that designation.. At the same time, those serving the government also had privileged positions during this dynasty. They were immune from arrests unless permission from the emperor was granted. Scholars also belonged to the same tier as that of the nobles and the government officials. Farmers and peasants comprise the second tier of the Han dynasty’s social hierarchy. Their social status can be considered to be above that of the laborers but well below those of the wealthier landowners. However, they were not looked down since the wealthy depended on them for their products.Third class citizens consisted mainly of artisans and craftsmen who were responsible making useful items such as swords and knives as well as creating luxury goods for the wealthier class. They also belong to the second tier of the society. However, their status is held below that of farmers. Despite this, they were still allowed to wear fancy outfits and ride on carriages and horses. They weren’t prohibited from becoming officials.
Merchants belonged to the third tier along with the commoners and the servants. Slaves make up about 1% of the dynasty’s whole population. They can either be privately owned or state-owned. State-owned slaves were often given work in palaces and offices while privately-owned slaves often end up doing domestic services and even farming.Innovation: The Han were interested in the decorative arts, and their bronze and ceramic figures, bowls, jade and ivory carvings, and woven silk screens were of very high quality. One of the highest art forms was calligraphy, or the artistic rendering if the written word, a skill that is highly prized in Chinese society. Mathematics, geography, and astronomy were also valued, especially for the practical inventions that were based on these sciences. An interest in the sciences led to more intensive knowledge of the parts of the body and their functions.Religion: Ancestors worship was still practiced during the Han Dynasty. Taoism is considered to be the main Han Dynasty religion. It was also founded during the Han Dynasty. Taoism can be characterized by the belief for opposites, such as, “there would be no love without hate.” Buddhism also became a major religion in China during the Han Dynasty after its arrival at around the 1st century CE. Confucianism, on the other hand, was more of a philosophy rather than a Han Dynasty religion but also ruled China for almost 2000 years. It was during the Han Dynasty that China first embraced Confucianism. Despite it not being a religion, it became one of the most important ideological beliefs during that era. Gupta IndiaPolitical Development: Gupta emperors ruled over a spectacular court at Pataliputra. An efficient central government allowed trade to prosper and provided a stable background for advances in learning and the arts. Gupta rulers also gave power to local leaders. Local leaders were elected by merchants and artisans. each village, a headman and councils made decisions for the village. n The most respected people of the village served on the council. At first, women were allowed to serve on councils, eventually, Hindu law placed greater restrictions on women excluding them from participation. The Gupta government was a highly decentralized one with the king at the
top of the hierarchical structure. The entire territory was divided into different provinces with a Viceroy who was appointed to look after the entire administration.Economic Development: The economy of the Gupta era continued to have agriculture as an important part but there was significant progress in industry and trade. The guilds that existed in the Mauryan period continued their work and remained centres of organization and were allowed to operate almost free from government control. One of the most important industries in the Gupta period was the textile industry. Not only was there significant internal demand, Indian textiles were sought after in many parts of the world. Silk, muslin, calico, linen, wool and cotton textiles were the major ones being produced. Goods were able to move easily throughout the country. Pack animals and ox carts were used to transport goods by road. Sea travel had developed significantly by this period and Indian ships were regularly moving around the Arabian sea, the China seas and the Indian Ocean. There is even evidence of trade with parts of East Africa.Social Distinctions: During the Gupta period there was peace and harmony in the society. The social ranking or caste of a person was decided by the trade or profession of that person. The society was classified in four castes namely; Brahmans, Vaishayas, Kshatriya’s and Sudras. The Brahmans carried out activities like trade, architecture, service, etc. The Gupta rulers were Vaishayas, The Kshatriya’s practiced industrial vocation. Sudras were engaged in activities like trade and agriculture. People lived in joint families and the society was primarily male dominating. The women were given secondary position. They were expected to obey the instructions given by the male members of the family. They were allowed to obtain education. However, they were not permitted to participate in any rituals or read sacred texts.Innovation: During the Gupta regime, education included grammar, composition, logic, metaphysics, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy which became highly specialized and reached an advanced level. Gupta architecture marked the epoch in the creation of a number of stone temples dedicated to the various Hindu gods. Additionally, Buddhists also built shrines to house the remains of select holy people. These structures were called ‘Stupas.’ This form of architecture made its way to China where it was altered slightly and renamed the ‘pagoda.’
Religion: Hinduism soon grew in complexity; acquiring more rituals, drawing more form astronomy, and absorbing aspects of both Buddhism and Jainism. Hinduism today owes much of its popularity and style to the Gupta Empire. Hinduism stands apart from all other religions for several reasons. It has no single founder, no single book of theological law and truth, no central religious organization, and no definition of absolute beginning and end.Hinduism is a code of life — a collection of attitudes, personal experiences, and spiritual practices. It is, in essence, defined by behaviors rather than beliefs.According to Hindu philosophy, there is one divine reality, and all religions are simply various interpretations of it. Because of this, Hinduism allows and even encourages individuals to choose a religious path that best suits their social, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs.