You are here: Home > Sichuan Guide > Sichuan History

Sichuan History

Sichuan began to have, in about 25,000 years ago, human civilization, and formed in the late Neolithic the Ancient highly advanced Shu Civilization characterized by Sanxingdui Ruins and Jinsha Ruins. So the Shu Civilization, along with the Huaxia Chinese Civilization, and Liangzhu Civilization are known as China's three major civilizations of the remote ages.

In the Periods of Shang and Zhou, in Sichuan area the Shu Kingdom has been established with the Ancient Shu People as the center, and the Ba People has established the Ba Kingdom in east end of the Sichuan Basin, therefore Sichuan is also called "Bashu”, the Bashu Culture of which has left its impact even until today. Then around the Periods of Xia and Shang, Shu tribes have migrated from today’s Mao County area to the Chengdu Plain.

In 316 BC, the Qin State conquered the Shu and the Ba Kingdoms, setting up in Chengdu the Prefecture of Shu. In 256 BC, the governor of Shu Prefecture, Libing and his son, was absorbing predecessors' experience of water controlling, presided over the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project. Since then, people in the Chengdu Plain have been able to control the flood and drought, thus fertile soil covers thousand square kilometer of land, which has become the granary of the Qin State, which eventually unified the six countries, and also opened the beginning of richness and stability of the Chengdu Plain.

During the period of the Western Han Wu Emperor, the southern Silk Road has been explored with Sichuan as its starting point, connecting the central plains and southwest, enabling the cultural communication between India and China, India and Myanmar, which has created the conditions for fusion. All kinds of cultures such as Bashu Culture, Bronze Culture, and Buddhist Culture have yielded sediment and accumulation in the process of the communication, forming the unique Ancient Silk Road Culture. At the end of Han, Liu Bei relied on the assistance of zhuge Liang and established in Sichuan the Shu Kingdom, which was a close competition to Northern Wei and Eastern Wu, forming in Sichuan a unique Three Kingdoms Culture and influencing all the time up to now.

Starting from the Sui and Tang Dynasties, China's national strength has been growing; in the Tang Dynasty, the open ethnic policies enabled closer exchanges between various nationalities, facilitating cultural exchanges and integration with each other. As the starting point of the Ancient Tea Horse Road and the Southern Silk Road, Sichuan has further strengthened the economic transactions with domestic nationalities, and even with other Asian areas, Europe and Africa, contributing to the prosperity of economy. To the Northern Song Dynasty Years, Jiaozi, the earliest paper money in the world has appeared in Sichuan, and Sichuan had once become the country's most prosperous region, thus there was a saying that "Yangzhou was the most prosperous city and Chengdu ranks next”. During the Tang and Song Dynasties, literati succession has carried forward the traditional cultures, leading to the blooming in both cultural and artistic fields; among them, Chen Zi-ang, Li Bai, Du Fu, Su Dongpo have become the representatives of the Shu Culture.
In A.D. 1279, the Southern Song Dynasty perished, before the Mongolian cavalries formally entered the central plains. It has been the first time that all parts of China were under an ethnic rule. In order to consolidate the monarchy, the Mongolian rulers categorized the people across the country into four levels. Originally, the Sichuan were within the scope of the Southern Song Dynasty territory, but because of the important strategic position and the multi-nationality, the Sichuan People have been categorized as Han Chinese, as the third level people, different from the people were in other parts of the Southern Song Dynasty, who had been divided as the Southern Chinese, the bottom level. 23 years (in 1286) of the Yuan Dynasty, the imperial court established Sichuan Province for short, which is the beginning of "Sichuan”. The Sichuan Provincial Government set office in Chengdu. At the same time, adjusting of the provincial administrative divisions, since then the basic pattern had been formed as today how counties and cities have been set respectively. Starting from the Song and Yuan period, many large-scale peasant uprisings had taken place in Sichuan Province, especially at the beginning of Yuan, when half a century of conflict occurred, making huge destruction to the Sichuan economy, with a large number of soldiers and civilians slaughtered and hence a dramatic decline in population.

At the end of Ming Dynasty, peasant rebel army leader Zhang Xianzhong entered Sichuan and established a short-living "Grand West" Regime in Sichuan. During the 2 years of the regime, Chengdu had been set as the West Capital. After that, the Eight Banners of the Qing Dynasty entered Sichuan to suppress the insurgents, and then almost all people in Sichuan had been slaughtered. In the first thirty years of the Qing Dynasty, Sichuan had been plagued by all sizes of the peasant uprising wars, until Kangxi Twenty Years, when it gradually began a period of stability. In this case, since Kangxi Twenty-four Years, central and Sichuan local governments have adopted a series of measures to attract immigrants, the majority of which came from Hunan and Guangxi, the most populous provinces. So the Sichuan People have combined the strong points of both the North and the South. Such as in the ancient town of Luodai, in which more than 90% of the residents are Hakka People, who immigrated here between Late Ming Dynasty and Early Qing, following the immigration movement of the government. They have gone through hundreds of years, and the reservation of the tradition of unique Hakka customs and Hakka cultures can be seen in Luodai Ancient Town today.

A new army was established in the late Qing Dynasty. In Chengdu, quite a few military schools were built, producing, in the various periods, for Sichuan a large number of military personnel. Late Qing Dynasty and early Republic of China, in opposition to the rule of the Qing Dynasty and Beiyang warlords, the Kuomintang (KMT) in Sichuan, local public powers and military school students had been growing continuously, forming the breeding ground for a wide range of the warlords. Power shift between warlord factions witnessed long-term waxing and waning, until 1933 Liu Wenhui was beaten by Liuxiang, who became the "King" in Sichuan, putting an end to the long-term warlords’ conflicts. But in 1935, on the eve of Kuomintang’s confrontation against the Communist Party for over ten years, Chiang Kai-shek took the chance of encirclement and suppression of the Red Army, and reorganized the Sichuan Army. In 1937, the Anti-Japanese War broke out; the Sichuan Army had been organized as army group in fighting against the enemies. They advanced courageously wave upon wave, and their sacrifice were gigantic: the number of soldiers joining battle and the casualty were both the highest in the nation. During the Anti-Japanese War, among the Sichuan Army emerged out many characters of extraordinary military capabilities, such as Marshal Zhu De, Marshal Chen Yi, Marshal Liu Bocheng, General Nie Rongzhen, General Luo Ruiqin, Chairman Deng Xiaoping, etc. During which, Chiang Kai-shek moved the capital to Chongqing, until 1946, at the end of the war of resistance, Chongqing's historical mission as the wartime capital had finally ended. After the Liberation War broke out in 1945, the various parts of the Sichuan Army were subject to the Central Army of Jiang Kai-shek, and were forced to join the battle and suffered high casualties. To the eve of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the heads of the Sichuan faction warlords began leading the uprisings, or joined the Chinese people's Liberation Army (PLA) sequence, or were sent to dissolve, when the half-a-century-long’s warlords which had brought Sichuan countless disasters have eventually come to an end. In Anren Ancient Town, Dayi County, near Chengdu, the Liu Wencai and Liu Wenhui Mansion could be found, where a visit of the neighborhood buildings enables a review of the warlords life scenes during the warlord period. There is also the Jianchuan Museum set up by private entrepreneur Fan Jianchuan, introducing the Sichuan Army’s history of resistance, as well as the Red Army Long March of twenty-five thousand Li.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the People's Liberation Army entered and has been stationed in Chengdu, and the Sichuan region has been divided into 4 administrative offices: Western Sichuan, Eastern Sichuan, Northern Sichuan and Southern Sichuan, as well as Xikang Province. In 1952, the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China canceled the four offices, and recovered the administrative system of Sichuan Province. The People's Government of Sichuan Province was founded in Chengdu. In 1955, revocation of Xikang Province occurred. In 1997, the original Chongqing City, Fuling City, Wan County City, Qianjiang City were lined out from Sichuan Province to build Chongqing Municipality. Since then, Sichuan and Chongqing are ruled separated under the central government and the administrative system in Sichuan Province of today has been formed.