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Jin Dynasty

Jin Dynasty (1115–1234), also known as the Jurchen dynasty, was founded by the Wanyan clan of the Jurchen, the ancestors of the Manchus who established the Qing Dynasty about 500 years later.

What were the ups and downs of Jin Dynasty?

The Jin Dynasty was established by the Jurchen tribal chieftain Wanyan Aguda in 1115. In 1125, it successfully annihilated the Liao Dynasty which had held sway over the northern China, including Manchuria and part of the Mongol region for several centuries.

On January 9, 1127 Jin forces sacked Kaifeng, capital of the Northern Song Dynasty, capturing both Emperor Qinzong, and his father, Emperor Huizong, who had abdicated in panic in the face of Jin forces. Following the fall of Kaifeng, Song forces,under the leadership of the succeeding Southern Song Dynasty continued to fight for over a decade with Jin forces,eventually signing a peace treaty in 1141, and ceding all of North China to the Jin in 1142 in return for peace.

 Map of Jin Dynasty

After taking over North China, the Jin Dynasty became increasingly Sinicized, moving its capital from Huining Fu in northern Manchuria (south of today’s Harbin) to Zhongdu (now Beijing).
Starting from the early 13th century the Jin Dynasty began to feel the pressure from the north- Mongols. In 1214 the Jin Dynasty then moved its capital to Kaifeng (the old Song capital) to evade the Mongols. But under the forces of the Mongol Empire led by Ögedei Khan, the third son of Genghis Khan, as well as their allies in the Southern Song Dynasty, the dynasty crumbled in 1234.

What were the achievements of Jin Dynasty?


Agriculture was of great importance for nourishment and for the income of the state household. Although the Jurchen themselves had been a nomadic cattle breeding ethnic, most of their subjects were peasants, not only the Han, but also the Khitan and Xi.
As a pastural people that often undertook rides to the neighboring states and communities, the Jurchen employed slaves as an important source of their economical output. During the course of the signification, the slavery system was given up, especially in the southern parts of the Jin Empire where it was impossible to further exert a slavery system within an environment that traditionally was characterized by a free peasantry.
The second reason for the abolishment of slavery system was that the Jurchen imperium, which had expanded very quickly within only a decade, had to be governed by a more sophisticated administration system that ensured a larger state income, while the slavery system only served the interests of the single Jurchen warriors.
Peasants had to pay a poll tax after the foundation of the empire. With the adaption of the Song Dynasty administration system the double-tax system was introduced, and peasants had to pay tax in summer and in autumn, according to the size of their land. The use to lease fields to tenant farmers became normal under the rule of Emperor Shizong.
The experience of the Tang and Song rulers had been that there was a tendency for peasants to sell their land and to engage as tenant farmers that were not tax liable. Therefore, the Jin rulers several times undertook land reforms to redistribute fields and estates, and to restrict the size of the land acquired by the Jurchen warriors. Laws stimulated the Jurchen landowners to open untilled fields and to engage in agricultural activities. Of course, horse breeding still was an important issue of farming activities of the Jurchen nomad people.


Iron casting and producing was an important industrial field of the Jin Empire, and people were stimulated to dig iron, silver and gold ores, but were not allowed to cast metal tools by themselves. The state had the monopoly of iron processing, and the most famous iron products of the Jin Empire were made from "blue" refined iron. Later, a digging tax was imposed on the collection of ores.

For iron production, and for heating during the cold northern winters, mineral coal became a crucial raw material during this historical period. The printing technology became more advanced during the Jin period, as can be seen in the printing of numerous Buddhist sutras. During the conquest of the northern part of the Song Dynasty territory, fire weapons like bombs were in use and demonstrated the high level of military technology. Quite advanced handicraft technologies were weaving, porcelain, and papermaking.


The Central Capital (modern Beijing) had three large markets where products came from all over the country. Emperor Jin Shizong had reconstructed some old canals to the Central Capital because he knew that waterways were an important transportation tool. With the neighboring states, like the Southern Song, merchants traded through border markets. The valued import goods were tea and coin metal from Song China, and horses from the Tangut empire of Western Xia.
At the begin of the Jin empire, only old coins of the Liao and Song realms were used as currency, but from the 1150es on paper money was introduced, and the Jin emperors had casted their own coins, like the and the coins. From 1197 on a silver currency was in use.
Three large inundations of the Yellow River at the end of the 12th century devastated large areas in modern Shandong province. In order to finance the military activities against the Tatars and the Mongols, the Jin court issued more paper currency and thereby fastened the tendency of inflation.

Mahāyāna Buddhism was first widely propagated in China by the Kushan monk Lokakṣema, who came from the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhāra. Lokakṣema translated important Mahāyāna sūtras such as the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, as well as rare, early Mahāyāna sūtras on topics such as samādhi, and meditation on the buddha Akṣobhya. These translations from Lokakṣema continue to give insight into the early period of Mahāyāna Buddhism.

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