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Three Kingdoms

Jade cup of the Wei Kingdom in the Three Kingdoms Period
The Three Kingdoms Period, where rival states of the Wei, Shu and Wu existed side by side, lasted approximately from 189 to 265.

Porcelain eared cup
Around 220 at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the Yellow Turban Uprising shook the regime to its foundations. Warlords around the country seized this opportunity to expand their own forces and influence, breaking away from central control. After a tangled warfare among various local feudal lords, the regimes were divided and ruled by the Wei, Shu and Wu.

The three kingdoms strived to develop under each regime. After overthrowing the Han and setting up the Wei Kingdom, Cao Pi adopted a system of nine ranks of officials selected by appointed governmental officials, which became the tool of the gentry's monopoly and was replaced by the imperial examination system in the Sui Dynasty (581-618).

Celadon incense burner
In the Shu Kingdom, Emperor Liu Bei and Prime Minister Zhu Geliang actively promoted the development of the local economy, such as the mass production of the Shu brocade. Zhu ordered several northern expeditions, all of which failed. He died on his sickbed in the cantonment during the last expedition. The Wu Kingdom also paid attention to economic development with its high-level shipbuilding technology.

After the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316) overthrew the Wei Kingdom, the country gradually became unified. Later, the Western Jin defeated the Wu and unified the China that had remained divided since the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty.