Northern and Southern dynasties

The Northern and Southern dynasties (Chinese: ; pinyin: Nán-Běi Cháo) was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589, following the tumultuous era of the Sixteen Kingdoms and the Wu Hu states. It is sometimes considered as the latter part of a longer period known as the Six Dynasties (220 to 589).[1] Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spread of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism. The period saw large-scale migration of Han Chinese to the lands south of the Yangtze. The period came to an end with the unification of all of China proper by Emperor Wen of the Sui dynasty.

Northern and Southern dynasties (386–589)
Northern dynasties Southern dynasties
Northern Wei 386–535 Liu Song 420–479
Southern Qi 479–502
Liang 502–557
Western Wei 535–557 Eastern Wei 534–550
Northern Zhou 557–581 Northern Qi 550–577 Chen 557–589 Western Liang 555–587
Northern and Southern dynasties
Approximate territories of the Northern Wei (blue) and Liu Song (maroon) states in 440
Northern and Southern Dynasties by 560
Neolithic c. 8500 – c. 2070 BC
Xia c. 2070 – c. 1600 BC
Shang c. 1600 – c. 1046 BC
Zhou c. 1046 – 256 BC
 Western Zhou
 Eastern Zhou
   Spring and Autumn
   Warring States
Qin 221–207 BC
Han 202 BC – 220 AD
  Western Han
  Eastern Han
Three Kingdoms 220–280
  Wei, Shu and Wu
Jin 266–420
  Western Jin
  Eastern Jin Sixteen Kingdoms
Northern and Southern dynasties
Sui 581–618
Tang 618–907
Five Dynasties and
Ten Kingdoms

Liao 916–1125
Song 960–1279
  Northern Song Western Xia
  Southern Song Jin Western Liao
Yuan 1271–1368
Ming 1368–1644
Qing 1636–1912
Republic of China on the mainland 1912–1949
People's Republic of China 1949–present
Republic of China in Taiwan 1949–present

During this period, the process of sinicization accelerated among the non-Chinese arrivals in the north and among the indigenous people in the south. This process was also accompanied by the increasing popularity of Buddhism (introduced into China in the 1st century) in both northern and southern China and Daoism gaining influence as well, with two essential Daoist canons written during this period.

Notable technological advances occurred during this period. The invention of the stirrup during the earlier Jin dynasty (266–420) helped spur the development of heavy cavalry as a combat standard. Historians also note advances in medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and cartography. Intellectuals of the period include the mathematician and astronomer Zu Chongzhi (429–500), and astronomer Tao Hongjing.