Are you a student of the history of Asia or do you consider yourself well-versed on your definitions of important aspects of Asian history? Why not quiz yourself? Can you provide a definition of the following terms from the history of Asia without reading the full answer?

Asian History Definition #1 : Tale of Genji

Definition / Importance of the Tale of Genji: The Tale of Genji is often considered to be one of the world’s premier novels. It was written by Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese woman, during the Heian period. The Tale of the Genji follows an Emperor’s son throughout his life, dealing with the issues of his search for a wife and the death of his lover. This book is critically significant because it shows the impressive development of the Japanese language. Japan had proved itself economically, and with the writing of this book, the Japanese were proving themselves intellectually as well. The novel also allows a personal look into courtly life, as written by a noblewoman who had experienced all that the court had to offer.

Asian History Definition #2 : Shinto

Definition of Shinto: Shinto is an indigenous Japanese religion that involves invoking the spirit of kami, who are said to live in certain places or areas. Shinto greatly resembles Buddhism, and for a long while, Shinto was the official religion of Japan. During the Nara period, Confucianism and Buddhism became more popular amongst the elite in Japan, and for a short while, Shinto was no longer considered a major religion. However, people who converted to Buddhism and Confucianism continued their Shinto practices, which significantly increased the religious tolerance in Japan. Even though Buddhism replaced Shinto in popularity, it continued it’s spread in large because of the opportunities afforded to the Japanese travelers.

Asian History Definition #3 : Tang Dynasty

Definition / Importance of the Tang Dynasty: The Tang Dynasty began in the seventh century and lasted through the tenth century. It was begun by a rebel, Tang Taizong, who had a short but surprisingly prosperous reign. The Tang dynasty improved many aspects of daily life, including transportation, land distribution, relations with China and a reward system for civil servants. In the eighth century, the rebellion of An Lushan marked the beginning of the end for the Tang Dynasty. Eventually, many of the reforms that had been implemented began to decay, and a large rebellion of peasants sealed the fate of the dynasty in the late ninth century.

Asian History Definition #4 : Monasticism

Definition of Monasticism: Early Monasticism started with Early Buddhism. After Siddhartha became the Buddha and renounced his old life, he became one of the very first monks. He then went on to organize his followers into monastic communities where they could meditate until they reached Enlightenment, without interruption. However, the monastic groups were not just good at enlightening themselves, but they also took it upon themselves to take over the task of making sure that others were enlightened. Buddhist monks were especially good at teaching doctrine and winning conversions, which in turn sped along the spread of Buddhism and the teachings of the Enlightenment throughout the world.

Asian History Definition #5 : Genghis Khan

Definition / Importance of Genghis Khan: Genghis Khan was the founder and premier emperor of the Mongol Empire. He united many tribes in Northeastern and Central Asia. He also began the invasion of East and Central Asia with the assistance of the nomadic tribes who willingly joined him. Genghis Khan started the Empire that would one-day stretch through a large portion of Eurasia. Genghis governed under a militaristic code, and he supported the promotion of people based on their merit, not their race or ethnicity. His Empire was one of the most racially and ethnically diverse of it’s time, as well as very religiously tolerant, in relation to other Empires of its time.

Asian History Definition #6 : Kublai Khan

Definition / Importance of Kublai Khan:  Kublai was the last of the Khan dynasty and the grandson of Genghis Khan. Due to a civil war with his brother regarding succession of the throne, Kublai founded the Yuan Dyansty and dissolved the unification of the Mongol Empire. As the Emperor of Yuan, Kublai made a serious attempt to unify China by destroying the Song Dynasty. He succeeded, and proceeded to help the country flourish economically, although there was frequent conflict over his Mongol values and the values of traditional Chinese. Important because he unified China and also brought it to an economic success, even going so far as to introduce the concept of paper money, despite it’s failings at first.

Asian History Definition #7 : Tamerlane

Definition / Importance of Tamerlane: Tamerlane founded the Timurid Empire in Central Asia and was a 14th century conqueror of western and central Asia. He was Turkish, but he desired to restore the Mongol empire. Tamerlane was militaristically light years ahead of his counterparts, and although he had much power, he never let his ego run away. He is a very controversial figure, due to his intense contradictions in philosophy and action. Also, besides being a great military leader, Tamerlane was also a wonderful patron of the arts, which he cared about deeply. Tamerlane is important because he helped central Asia expand and flourish, however he also let other Turkish cities fall as he villainized their citizens and slaughtered thousands.

How did you do? Were you able to define these important terms from Asian history?

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