Qin dynasty

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The Qin dynasty (C. 秦朝) was the first dynasty of Imperial China. Named for its heartland in Qin state, the Qin dynasty arose as a fief of the Western Zhou and endured for over five centuries until 221 BC when it founded its brief empire, which lasted only until 206 BC.

Despite its short reign, however, the lessons and strategies of the Qin shaped the Han dynasty and became the starting point of the Chinese imperial system that lasted from 221 BC, with interruption, development, and adaptation, until 1912 (with a brief restoration in 1917).

The dominant religious belief in China during the reign of the Qin, and, in fact, during much of early imperial China, was focused on the shen (roughly translating to "spirits" or "gods"), yin ("shadows"), and the realm they were said to live in. People offered animal sacrifices in an attempt to contact this other world, which they believed to be parallel to the earthly one. The dead were said to have simply moved from one world to the other. The rituals mentioned, as well as others, served two purposes: to ensure that the dead journeyed and stayed in the other realm, and to receive blessings from the spirit realm.[1]


  1. Lewis, Mark Edward (2007). The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han. London: Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0-674-02477-9.  p. 178, 186
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