7 April 2012
The Ming Dynasty’s Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is one of the most creative pieces of work known to mankind. The construction of the wall began more than two thousand years ago. The construction of the wall was constructed by at least twenty different dynasties. The main purpose of the wall was to stop barbarians from the north from invading China and the Silk roads. The Silk roads were the main ways of traveling and for trading. A combination of many walls, referred to as the Great Wall of China, were built since the 5th century BC. The most famous is the wall built between 220 BC and 200 BC by the ...view middle of the document...
After the Mongols were finally overthrown in 1368, when Zhu Yuanzhang drove the last Yuan emperor north into the Gobi desert and declared himself the first emperor of the dynasty known as Ming (“bright” or “brilliant”). China was once again ruled by the Chinese. The Ming emperors were in constant fear of a reinvasion by the Mongols and in defense they created what was arguably the most despotic government in Chinese history [Henry M. Sayre, pg. 267]. During the construction of the Great Wall, it has been estimated that somewhere in the range of 2 to 3 million Chinese died as part of the centuries-long project of building the wall. Many of the fatalities were from the cold weather and over exhaustion. To pay tribute to the fallen workers, their bodies were actually built into the wall as somewhat of a memorial to them and how they dedicated part of their lives to the construction of the Great Wall [“Great Wall – Origin of the Great Wall | History.” Great Wall of China, History, Gallery of Pictures, Travel Guide, News, Discovery and Research].
As the Ming emperors became wealthier, the lavish lifestyle of the Ming court ensured the production of vast quantities of decorative luxury goods. In addition, as trade flourished, many Chinese merchants became increasingly wealthy and began to collect paintings, antiques, finely made furniture and other quality objects for themselves. Lacquerware was extremely popular. Made from the sap of the Chinese Rhus vernicifera tree, lacquer is a clear, natural varnish that, when applied to wood, textiles, or other perishable materials, make them airtight, waterproof, and resistant to both heat and acid. Lacquerware furniture, bowls, dishes, and other small articles were very desirable. One of the commodities most prized by the Chinese themselves and by those who traded with...