The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (太平天国) was an oppositional state in China from 1851 to 1864, supporting the overthrow of the Qing dynasty by Hong Xiuquan and his followers. The unsuccessful war it waged against the Qing is known as the Taiping Rebellion. Its capital was at Tianjing (present-day Nanjing).

A self-proclaimed convert to Christianity, Hong Xiuquan led an army that controlled significant part of southern China, with about 30 million people. The rebel kingdom announced social reforms and the replacement of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Chinese folk religion by his form of Christianity, holding that he was the second son of God and the younger brother of Jesus. The Taiping areas were besieged by Qing forces throughout most of the rebellion. The Qing government defeated the rebellion with the eventual aid of French and British forces.

Feng Yunshan (冯云山) formed the Society of God Worshippers ( 拜上帝会), in Guangxi after a missionary journey there in 1844 to spread Hong’s ideas.[2] In 1847 Hong become the leader of the secret society. The Taiping faith,inspired by missionary Christianity, says one historian, “developed into a dynamic new Chinese religion… Taiping Christianity”. Hong presented this religion as a revival and a restoration of the ancient classical faith in Shangdi, a faith that had been displaced by Confucianism and dynastic imperial regimes.

The Taiping Rebellion began in 1851 in Guangxi. In 1853 the Taiping forces captured Nanjing, making it their capital and renaming it Tianjing (“Heavenly Capital”).

Ranked below the “King of Heaven” Hong Xiuquan, the territory was divided among provincial rulers called kings or princes.

In its first year, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom minted coins that were 23 mm to 26 mm in diameter, weighing around 4.1 g. The kingdom’s name was inscribed on the obverse and “Holy Treasure” (Chinese: 聖寶) on the reverse; the kingdom also issued paper notes.

Within the land that it controlled, the Taiping Heavenly Army established a theocratic and highly militarized rule.

  • The subject of study for the examinations for officials changed from the Confucian classics to the Bible.
  • Private property ownership was abolished and all land was held and distributed by the state.
  • A solar calendar replaced the lunar calendar.
  • Foot binding was banned. (The Hakka people had never followed this tradition, and consequently the Hakka women had always been able to work the fields.)
  • Society was declared classless and the sexes were declared equal. At one point, for the first time in Chinese history civil service exams were held for women. Some sources record that Fu Shanxiang, an educated woman from Nanjing, passed them and became an official at the court of the Eastern King.
  • The sexes were rigorously separated. There were separate army units consisting of women only; until 1855, not even married couples were allowed to live together or have sexual relations.
  • The Qing-dictated queue hairstyle was abandoned in favor of wearing the hair long.
  • Other new laws were promulgated including the prohibition of opium, gambling, tobacco, alcohol, polygamy (including concubinage), slavery, and prostitution. These all carried death penalties.

Edited from Wikipedia


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