Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, period of Chinese history between the fall of the T'ang dynasty (A.D. 907) and the establishment of the Sung dynasty (A.D. 960). It is named for the five successive short-lived dynasties and the ten dominant kingdoms that existed during this period. Characterized by anarchy and national disunity, the period is one of the bleakest in Chinese history. Warfare and official corruption were endemic, and barter replaced the monetary system in many parts of the country. Northern China was particularly affected; its canal and dam system fell into disrepair, causing extensive flooding and famine. The period, however, was marked by one major accomplishment—the widespread development of printing. Many Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist classics were printed, including the first complete set (130 vol.) of the Confucian writings.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.