Han, dynasty of China that ruled from 202 B.C. to A.D. 220. Liu Pang, the first Han emperor, had been a farmer, minor village official, and guerrilla fighter under the Ch'in dynasty. During the period of civil strife that followed the fall of the Ch'in, he advanced from the Huai River valley, defeated his rivals for the throne, and then established himself in Chang'an (see Xi'an) near the old Ch'in capital. Under Liu Pang and the succeeding Han emperors the task of unification begun by the Ch'in was carried further. However, the harsh laws of the Ch'in were repealed, taxes were lightened, the absolute autocracy of the emperor was lessened, and, most importantly, Confucianism was made the basis of the state. The pyramidal bureaucracy of Ch'in administration was retained, and the Han period saw the beginnings of one of the distinguishing features of the Chinese educational and state system, the recruiting of members of the bureaucracy through civil service examinations. The dynasty attained its greatest territorial expanse under the emperor Wu Ti (reigned 140 B.C.-87 B.C.), who extended Han power W to Xinjiang and Central Asia, N to Manchuria and Korea, and S to Yunnan, Hainan island, and Vietnam. One of China's greatest historians, Ssu-ma Ch'ien, flourished during the reign of Wu Ti. The Han emperors ruled for 400 years with one interruption; in A.D. 8 an agrarian reformer usurped the throne and established the Hsin dynasty. This short-lived dynasty has come to mark the division between the Early, or Western, Han period and the Later, or Eastern, Han period, which began A.D. 25, when the Han capital was moved east to Luoyang. The entire Han era was one of political and cultural centralization and expansion. The writing brush and paper and ink came into wide use and the manufacture of porcelain had its beginnings in this period. Many classic texts were edited, and the first dictionary was compiled. The coming of Buddhism increased cultural ties with India and parts of the Middle East. Trade with border states was increased to pacify these regions and to gain their allegiance. The dynasty collapsed c.A.D. 220 and was followed by some 350 years of smaller political units, including the Three Kingdoms and the Tsin dynasty. China was eventually reunited under the Sui dynasty.

See P. Ku, The History of the Former Han Dynasty (tr., 3 vol., 1938-55); Ssu-ma Ch'ien, Records of the Grand Historian of China (tr., 2 vol., 1961); M. Loewe, Everyday Life in Early Imperial China (1968); J. Gernet, Ancient China from the Beginnings to the Empire (tr. 1968); Tung-hsi Ch'u, Han Social Structure (1972).

Han. 1 River of S China, 210 mi (338 km) long, rising in W Fujian prov. and flowing S through Guangdong prov. to the South China Sea at Shantou; navigable for about 100 mi (160 km) upstream. The densely populated delta is a rich agricultural area; two crops of rice are grown annually. Manganese and tungsten are mined in the upper valley. 2 River of central China, c.700 mi (1,130 km) long, rising in SW Shaanxi prov. and flowing E between the Qinling and the Daba mts., then SE through Hubei prov. to join the Chang at Wuhan; navigable for about 300 mi (480 km) upstream. The river floods its fertile lower valley in summer. There is a hydroelectric power station near Xiangfan, Hubei prov.
Han may refer to:


  • Chinese (漢), an abbreviation or adjectival modifier for things Chinese.
  • Han Chinese (漢族 Hanzu, 漢人 Hanren), the dominant majority ethnic group of China and overseas Chinese.
  • Chinese language (漢語 Hanyu) or Chinese characters (漢字 Hanzi) or Chinese written language (漢文 Hanwen).
  • Han Dynasty (漢朝 Hanchao) (202 BC - 220 AD) of China, also known as Han China.
  • Kingdom of Han (韓國 Hanguo), one of seven powerful kingdoms during the Chinese Warring States Period.
  • Han Zhao (漢趙), one of the Chinese Sixteen Kingdoms, founded by the Liu family.
  • Cheng Han (成漢), another of the Sixteen Kingdoms, founded by the Li family.
  • Southern Han (南漢 Nanhan), a kingdom during the Chinese Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms,
  • Northern Han (北漢 Beihan), a kingdom during the Chinese Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
  • Type 091 Han class submarine, the first nuclear powered submarine class (SSN) deployed by the People's Liberation Army Navy.
  • Han (汗) or Kehan (可汗), the Chinese transliteration of Khan (title) or Khagan.
  • Han, Haan, Hahn or Hann, the Romanized spelling of many Chinese family names: 韓, 韩, 邗, 罕, 寒, 憨, 漢, etc.


  • Han (administrative division) (藩), a term for a feudal clan or fief in Japan.
  • Han, a wooden board hanging throughout a temple complex in a Zen monastery to alert monks of mealtime when out of range of the umpan.


  • Korea, an abbreviation for Hanguk (한국, 韓國), the South Korean name for Korea.
  • an archaic Korean root meaning "great" or "leader"; transliterated into hanja as 韓, 幹, or 刊; see Names of Korea
  • Samhan, three confederacies of chiefdoms on the southern Korean peninsula in the Proto-Three Han Kingdoms Period
  • Han (surname), a Korean surname (한, 韓 or 漢) also romanized "Hahn."
  • Han (cultural), a Korean cultural concept of lament
  • Korean language (한국어 Hankugeo) or Hangul (한글 Hangul)





  • Han unification (Chinese character glyph unification) in Unicode
  • Alternative spelling of title Khan (title), notably in Turkic languages
  • Han, a type of Central Asian inn, similar to caravanserai
  • Han, an episode of The West Wing, named for the Korean cultural concept Han

See also

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