Tsin or Chin (both: jhĭn) [key], dynasty of China that ruled from 265 to 420, after the period of the Three Kingdoms. It was divided into two phases: the Western Tsin (265–317) and the Eastern Tsin (317–420). The dynasty was founded by the Wei general Ssu-ma Yen, who by 280 had completed the conquest of China. But after his death in 290, the empire fell apart again in the dynastic struggle known as the Revolt of Eight Kings. Meanwhile the northern nomadic Xiongnu (Huns) attacked the Chinese frontier and, in the 310s, destroyed the two capitals of the Western Tsin in Northern China. In 317, a prince of the Ssu-ma family established the Eastern Tsin dynasty, one of the Six Dynasties, at Nanjing, in Southern China. A series of dynasties, mainly of barbaric origin, ruled N China for about 250 years. The Eastern Tsin relied on the support of great northern families, who brought Chinese culture to the southeast. A large number of Buddhist texts were translated into Chinese from Indian or Central Asian sources as Buddhism gained popularity. Its art, architecture, and philosophy greatly influenced the culture of both Western and Easter Tsin. Some of the best-known Chinese cultural figures lived in this period, such as the poet T'ao Ch'ien (T'ao Yuan-ming, 372?–427), the artist Ku K'ai-chih (344–406?), and the calligrapher Wang Hsi-chih (321–379). In the period between the division of the Tsin and the founding of the Sui dynasty, China was never united.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Chinese, Taiwanese, and Mongolian History: Biographies