The Qing Dynasty 1644 - 1911
lasted for almost 300 years and the duration of the regime was divided into two periods by the Opium War 1840.
In its early years, the Qing Dynasty witnessed a flourishing that was unprecedented by any other age. By the mid-18th century economic development reached a height. With this new prosperity power became more centralized, national strength increased, a well- maintained social order and a population that amounted to some 300 million by the end of the century.
In the realm of literature several large works such as the Encyclo- pedia of Chinese Writings (Confucian classics, history, philosophy and belles-lettres), Kangxi Dictionary, and a collection of books ancient and modern, were compiled; which with other works made an important contribution to Chinese history and culture.
After the mid-Qing period, the dynasty failed to adjust as new problems arose. Rampant corruption, a steady decentralization of power, warfare, rebellions, overpopulation and economic disasters plagued the once glorious empire.
In 1840 the Opium War, an armed invasion of China by foreign capitalists, broke out. The Qing government was forced to sign a series of unreasonable treaties, which demanded China to cede territories, pay indemnities and/or open trading ports.
Through its corrupt politics and conservatism, the Qing Dynasty rapidly declined. In the end the Revolution of 1911 enabled the Chinese people to overthrow the Qing imperialists who had ruled China for 268 years.
Many basic patterns established during the Song dynasties continued to mature throughout the Yuan and Ming periods into beautiful well-rounded and robust forms that were smoothly finished with thick lacquer coatings and finely detailed with painted decoration.
During the late Ming and early Qing periods, furniture of a minimal classical style was abundantly produced in durable tropical hardwoods after a ban on imports was lifted in 1567.
The use of these hard, dense woods spawned advancements in joinery techniques permitting the creation open, elegant forms previously unattainable in softer woods. This popularity of
furniture, which often reflected the restrained, elegant tastes of the official’s class also spread through the rising nouveau-riche merchant class.