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            Yuan Dynasty
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            Yuan Dynasty
            By the mid-thirteenth century, the Mongols had subjugated north China, Korea, and the Muslim kingdoms of Central Asia and had twice penetrated Europe. With the resources of his vast empire, Kublai Khan (hū bì liè 忽必烈, 1215-94), a grandson of Genghis Khan (chéng jí sī hàn, 成吉思汗 1167?-1227) and the supreme leader of all Mongol tribes, began his drive against the Southern Song (nán sòng 南宋). Even before the extinction of the Song dynasty (sòng cháo 宋朝), Kublai Khan had established the first alien dynasty to rule all China–the Yuan (yuán cháo 元朝, 1279-1368).

            Kublai KhanAlthough the Mongols sought to govern China through traditional institutions, using Chinese (Han) bureaucrats, they were not up to the task. The Han were discriminated against socially and politically. All important central and regional posts were monopolized by Mongols, who also preferred employing non-Chinese from other parts of the Mongol domain–Central Asia, the Middle East, and even Europe–in those positions for which no Mongol could be found. Chinese were more often employed in non-Chinese regions of the empire.

            As in other periods of alien dynastic rule of China, a rich cultural diversity developed during the Yuan dynasty. The major cultural achievements were the development of drama and the novel and the increased use of the written vernacular. The Mongols’ extensive West Asian and European contacts produced a fair amount of cultural exchange.

            Western musical instruments were introduced to enrich the Chinese performing arts. From this period dates the conversion to Islam, by Muslims of Central Asia, of growing numbers of Mongol and Yuan Dynasty EmpiresChinese in the northwest and southwest. Nestorianism and Roman Catholicism also enjoyed a period of toleration. Lamaism (Tibetan Buddhism) flourished, although native Taoism endured Mongol persecutions. Confucian governmental practices and examinations based on the Classics, which had fallen into disuse in north China during the period of disunity, were reinstated by the Mongols in the hope of maintaining order over Han society.

            Advances were realized in the fields of travel literature, cartography and geography, and scientific education. Certain key Chinese innovations, such as printing techniques, porcelain production, playing cards, and medical literature, were introduced in Europe, while the production of thin glass and cloisonne became popular in China. The first records of travel by Westerners date from this time. The most famous traveler of the period was the Venetian Marco Polo, whose account of his trip to "Cambaluc,” the Great Khan’s capital (now Beijing), and of life there astounded the people of Europe. The Mongols undertook extensive public works. Road and water communications were reorganized and improved. To provide against possible famines, granaries were ordered built throughout the empire. The city of Beijing was rebuilt with new palace grounds that included artificial lakes, hills and mountains, and parks.

            During the Yuan period, Beijing became the terminus of the Grand Canal (dà yùn hé 大運河), which was completely renovated. These commercially oriented improvements encouraged overland as well as maritime commerce throughout Asia and facilitated the first direct Chinese contacts with Europe. Chinese and Mongol travelers to the West were able to provide assistance in such areas as hydraulic engineering, while bringing back to the Middle Kingdom new scientific discoveries and architectural innovations. Contacts with the West also brought the introduction to China of a major new food crop–sorghum–along with other foreign food products and methods of preparation.

            元朝

                  13世紀中期,蒙古征服了古代中國北部,韓國和中亞地區的大部分穆斯林國家,并兩次入侵歐洲。憑借自己帝國的豐富資源,成吉思汗(1167?-1227)的孫子-忽必烈(1215-1294),蒙古族的大統領,開始發動對南宋的進攻。在宋朝正式滅亡前,忽必烈就首次建立起另一個政權-元(1279-1368),來統治整個中國。

                  雖然蒙古試圖沿用中原文化來統治整個中國,任用漢族的官員,但是也沒達到他們的目的。漢族在社會和政治中都受到歧視。所有重要的中央和地方的職位都被蒙古人占據,他們也喜歡聘用一些從中亞,中東,甚至是非洲來的異國人擔任官員,而這些職位中沒有一個是蒙古人。漢族也更多的被派往異域去任職。

                  和其它異族統治中國的其他時期一樣,在元朝期間,文化多元化得到了發展。主要的文化成就是戲曲及長篇小說都得到了發展,書面語也得到了廣泛的應用。蒙古和中亞及歐洲接壤,從而使雙方的文化得到了相當廣泛的交流。西方的樂器被引進來豐富中國的表演藝術。從這個時期開始,由中亞地區的穆斯林傳入的伊斯蘭教開始盛行,西北和西南地區的漢族越來越多。景教和羅馬天主教享受了一段時期的繁華。喇嘛教空前興盛,但是土生土長的道教卻受到了蒙古人的封殺。

                  儒家政治實踐和考核是建立在古典基礎上的,它在中國分裂時期的北方地區漸漸被疏于使用,而蒙古人為了維持漢朝的統治秩序,又恢復了它的使用。旅游文獻,繪圖法,地理學和科學教育的重要性被提上日程。一些重要的中國發明,如印刷術,制瓷術,紙牌和醫學文獻被引進歐洲。與此同時,輕玻璃和瓷器制品在中國開始流行。
                  
                  第一份由外國人寫的游記是從這個時期開始的。這個時期最有名的游客是馬可波羅,他記錄了他到達元朝的首都“大都(現在的北京)”的過程及在這里的生活,讓歐洲人都為之向往。蒙古了承擔了大量了社會工作。道路和水利都得到了休整和改善。為了抵御饑荒,政府下令在帝國境內修建谷倉。北京城被重新修葺了,宮殿也翻新了,有了人工湖,假山和公元。在元朝統治時期,北京成為重新開鑿后的大運河的終點。這些商業動向的改善,推動了整個亞洲地區陸上及海上貿易的發展,同時,也便利了中國人首次與歐洲交往的嘗試。到西方去的漢族和蒙古族,提供了水利工程援助,同時也帶回去了新的科學發明和建筑創新。與西方的交流,也為中國引進了一種新的事物品種-高粱,同時還有一些其他的外國食品和加工方法。

             

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