Ming dynasty, Wade Giles Romanization Ming, Chinese dynasty that lasted from 1368 to 1644 and offered an interval of indigenous Chinese rule between periods of Mongol and Manchu rule. During the Ming period, China exerted immense cultural and political influence over East Asia and the Turks in the west, and Vietnam and Myanmar in the south. The Ming Dynasty is famous worldwide for its graceful blue and white glazed porcelain and for the travels of Zheng He and the treasure fleet. The Ming were also the only Han Chinese family to rule the empire between 1270 and the end of the imperial system in 1911. The Chinese fleet reached its peak in the 15th century under the leadership of the Muslim eunuch, Admiral Zheng He. He led seven maritime expeditions. The Yongle Emperor asked Admiral Zheng He to explore the oceans in search of goods.  Between 1405 and 1433, representatives were sent to other countries to demand tribute in the form of money or property to show that they recognized the power of the Chinese Empire. Zheng He`s fleet reached a total of 37 countries and expanded China`s influence along Asian sea routes.  China`s trade potential and peaceful voyages left their mark on the countries visited, demonstrating China`s trade potential and naval strength.  Although Zheng He is often portrayed as an “ambassador of friendship” who initiated contacts between China and other countries, revisionist historians suggest that his travels were attempts to colonize China`s neighbors.  The intention behind the Yongle Emperor`s order was to establish tributary or vassal states in the east and to extend China`s hegemonic dominance.  If China had had a Pax Ming (a period of peace in East Asia), the world would have seen the Chinese emperor as the rightful ruler of the East. Zheng He`s fleets were accompanied by military personnel who set up depots in Southeast Asia, allowing control of waterways.  Chinese technology was far more advanced than anything else in Europe at the time. The voyages of the Ming Dynasty demonstrated China`s technological and navigational ability in the world in the 15th century.  For this reason, it was believed that China would discover the “new world” before Columbus.  Traditional Chinese theatrical practices were banned during the Song Dynasty and drove the practice underground and further south. During the Ming Dynasty, this was restored. Tang Xianzu was a popular playwright during the Ming Dynasty.  Chuanqi and Kunqu forms of musical theatre have been implemented. These forms have been adapted to form complete operas. In addition, the painting traditions of the Ming Dynasty can be classified according to the “literary painting” of the Wu school and the “professional academic” painting of the Zhe school.  Individual artists became popular during this period and left traces of their personal style in their works.
Zhu Yuanzhang`s first major coup was the capture of Nanjing in 1356. Zhu`s successes continued and he defeated his two rival rebel leaders and their armies, first Chen Youliang at the Battle of Poyang Lake (1363 AD) and then Zhang Shicheng in 1367 AD. At the death of Han Lin`er, who had claimed to be the rightful heir to the line of Song emperors, Zhu was the most powerful leader in China, and he declared himself emperor in January 1368. Zhu adopted the name of the Hongwu government (meaning “abundantly marital”) and the Ming dynasty he founded (meaning “brilliant” or “brilliant”). The Hongwu Emperor (aka Ming Taizu) ruled until 1398 AD, and his successors continued his efforts to unify China through a strong centralized government, thus consolidating the power of the Ming Dynasty. A new draconian code of laws was compiled (the Da Ming lü or Great Declarations); Dissenting officials were ruthlessly punished or executed; the Secretariat, which had functioned as a bureaucratic limit on the power of an emperor, was abolished; Real estate and tax obligations have been meticulously recorded; Provincial governments were reorganized, led by members of the imperial family; Hereditary military service was imposed on the peasantry in threatened areas; International trade was restricted, as anything foreign was considered a threat to the regime; And the old system of tribute demanded by neighbouring states has been revived. The Ming Dynasty experienced a publishing boom in China, with an avalanche of affordable books produced for citizens. Reference books were popular, as were religious tracts, textbooks, Confucian literature, and civil service examination guides.  Unknown author: “Ming Dynasty”, Brittanica.com [online], available at www.britannica.com/topic/Ming-dynasty-Chinese-history (accessed March 30, 2020) One of the Ming emperors` enduring contributions to Chinese history was the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Known in Chinese as Zijincheng (“Purple Forbidden City”) and begun by the Yongle Emperor from 1407 AD, the complex was built as an imperial residence.
The buildings were made of lacquered red wood and yellow ceramic tiles and were surrounded by a high wall. The complex, which was also used by Qing Dynasty emperors, was continuously expanded and restored until it reached its current impressive size of about 7.2 square kilometers. Vernacular writers have made significant contributions to novels and plays. Many feature films were adaptations of ancient narrative cycles drawn from centuries of oral tradition.  Some classic novels include The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, and Journey to the West. A woodcut illustration was implemented to accompany these books. This method allowed editors to easily reproduce images. It was also a brand that distinguished publishers from each other.  Women in Ming China had the ability to become landowners if they were rich enough. They also had access to literature when it was widely disseminated. In the 17th century, an anthology of Chinese poetry contained poems by up to 1,000 women.
Writer Li Yu is an example of an early feminist who argues that women should be equal to men.  The economic prosperity of Ming China would in turn trigger an arts boom, as a wealthier class of nobles grew, who had money to spend, and had a great desire to show their appreciation of the visual arts to every visitor to their home. Aesthetic taste was also not limited to the classical arts, as gardens became a popular way for the wealthy to entertain guests and show off their culture. The walled gardens of Suzhou became particularly famous, where specially selected rocks, pines and bamboos, pavilions and walkways were arranged to create a harmonious imitation of the scenes seen in the landscape paintings of renowned artists such as Shen Zhou (1427-1509 AD) and Dong Qichang (1555-1636 AD). During the first five decades of the Ming dynasty, the Mongols were expelled north into present-day Mongolia.  After that, the northern border becomes a place of growing threat. After the death of the Yongle Emperor in 1424, the Ming Dynasty became extremely vulnerable to outside invasions.  In 1449, Mongolian-speaking Oirate peoples invaded China. Emperor Yingzong led an unsuccessful counterattack. Emperor Yingzong was lured into an ambush near Tumu.  He was then taken hostage. This incident led to a shift from an expansionist policy to a defensive border strategy.
Yingzong`s China lacked the military resources to defend itself against the Mongols. In 1474, a brick and stone barrier was erected on the walls of the Qin Dynasty. This barrier became known as the Great Wall of China. . The Great Wall was strengthened and preserved throughout the Ming Dynasty. By 1514, Portuguese merchants had reached China. Over the next 35 years, a trading post was established in Macao.  Chinese porcelain became very popular in 1604. At that time, Portuguese ships with Chinese porcelain were captured by the Dutch.