now in china, the 92% of chinese population belongs to the han nationality. but do you know why are majority of chinese called han people?
by all accounts, the han dynasty between 206bce and 220ce is considered the greatest period of chinese history, the great wall of china was built and the arts and culture flourished. it's just the reason why chinese call themselves as ethnic han.
especially during an emperor named han wudi, there was a big improvement in all kinds of social fields including policy system, economy, culture, music, etc, even the national territory. if my english is good enough, i assure you must fall in love with my description about this period of chinese history very much.
at that time, for the chinese emperors in the han dynasty, they faced a huge threaten from the huns lived in the norther part of the present china and mongolia country. the huns used to go down south to the han borders, plundering the wealth and killed the han people. the han emperors had no ability to deal with the strong and savage norther hun's army, in order to exchange the temperory peace in the han borders, they were submitted to dedicate the princesses (the han emperor's daughter) to the hun's chief called "chanyu" every few years. however, those han princesses all were reluctant to marry to such a remote and cold northern place where huns lived. it's said that the natural condition in the north was very harsh and unbearable, the huns just wore the thick clothers, eating the big block of raw meat, living in the humble tent made of the blankets and poles. since most of han national territory just lied in the center of the present china where the weather was rather suitable for people, not too cold, not too hot.
the young emperor han wudi had seen by himself the fact that his beautiful and delicate older sisters had to marry to the north, far away from their parents and hometown for ever, which gave him a great impression. he felt this was a big humiliation. so when he grew up and ascended the throne later, he refused to dedicate any han women to the hun leader--chanyu. he proposed to fight against the hun army, giving them a heavy lesson. so a war between han and hun began and lasted for decades.
due to the war, it's natural that han wudi needed a lot of talented people to help him. so a powerful social reform was born at the right time. in political field, he accepted the assertion--"oust others doctrines, the overwhelming Confucianism" from the famous confusion scholar named dong zhongshu. from then on, the chinese began to believe in the confucianism as a national religion, which had become a main area of practise under the chinese feudal ruling and its superiority was never changed later. confucius also got to be entitled "saint" till now. people can say that if without the advocation of the emperor han wudi, the confucianism can't be popularized in china. and the chinese history would be a different look.
in military, oh, it's really a brilliant era of heros coming forth in large numbers. the famous han senior generals fighting huns such as weiqing,huo qubing,li guang, etc are just the familiar names for the common chinese till now. you can say, in the chinese mind, they're just the vivid figures, instead of the ancient dead people.
in literary, there's a famous writer named sima xiangru. he created a special poem writing style named "fu". according to the history records, one of his poems "fu" was worth a lot of gold which the han wudi enjoyed very much. and even there's a famous poem sentence by another ancient chinese poet in the song dynasty "it's still difficult to ask to buy a poem "fu" from sima xiangru even with a thousand liangs (liang is a unit of weight in china. a liang is equal to 50 grams now.) of gold." every sentense in peom "fu" was orderly and full of the soaring rhetorics, which was fit for reciting aloud.
at the same time, the chinese most traditional and classical food---beancurd was just invented in han dynasty. now there're a variety of cuisines about beancurd in china, served as the fried beancurd, fermented beancurd, beancurd jelly, etc.
among those stories taken place in the han dynasty, the famous "zhang qian to adventure to the west" is the one which i'm most interested in. since han wudi always went to war with the huns in the north, he desired to make friends to the other countries in the west (which lie in the present western part of china--Sinkiang) as the alliance to oppose the northern huns together. so he decided to dispatch a young envoy named zhangqian to adventure westward. why do we say it's a big adventure? since at that time, there's no any connection between the han and the western regions, where the spreading mighty desert was a huge natural barrier preventing people to know each other. so zhang qian must be brave enough to travel to those unknown small countries or tribes scattered in the desert. for the first time, zhangqian guided a small group of nearly 100 han people to go west, according to the han wudi's will. they all didn't know how their fate would be. were those people lived in the west desert friendly enough? as a result, zhangqian was betrayed by the huns, he was retained in a small western country in detention when he returned to the han dynasty. nevertheless, zhangqian had visited a lot of western places and countries, he even arrived in the present Afghanistan.
at last, zhangqian got a chance to flee away from this west country to his native country--han dynasty, pitifully the former group of 100 people now were just becoming 2 people---zhangqian himself and the only attendent. and the whole 13 years have passed from he left the han dynasty's territory at the start, he just turned from a youngster into a middle aged person.
decades later, han wudi sent him on mission to the west again. this time, he acheived a great victory. he brought back a lot of western plants and fruits, and music, etc in the han dynasty, opening the famous "silk road". the capital chang'an of han dynasty also changed into an open, prosperous international city, gathering a lot of western businessmen and the beautiful western female dancers (oh, han people just called them as hu people at that time.) at that time, the fruits such as the grapes, walnuts, pomegranates,etc for the central people(oh, han people also called themselves as central people. they just thought they lived in the middle of earth.) were just very fresh and unheard of. i still remember being a child, once a time when we ate the pomegranate planted in our yard, my mother told our children that the pomegranate was one of the fruits just from the west, which was introduced by zhangqian in han dynasty.
so i feel that the capital chang'an of han dynasty is absolutely a charming city which any foreigners to china should have a visit. now its name is xi'an in the shan'xi province with a large number of cultural relics and scenic spots. (in the meantime, it has ever been the capital of tang dynasty--another thriving
period of the chinese history. so in the mind of the overseas chinese, the chinatown just means the tang people's street. the chinese traditional clothes are called tang suits.)