Li Bai and the Tang Dynasty

We’ve written about the Tang Dynasty before, on That is because the Tang Dynasty is regarded as one of the most culturally developed periods of Chinese history.


Even today, the events of the Tang Dynasty affect Chinese culture and contemporary Chinese life.


“Well, what, then?” we can hear you asking. Take the Chinese word for ‘Chinatown’. That is「唐人街」. Literally, it means the streets of the people of Tang. This Tang「唐」refers to the Tang Dynasty, which is officially called「唐代」, translated as the time of Tang. During the Tang Dynasty there was a very famous Chinese poet, named Li Bai「李白」. Li bai has written many poems over the years. There are thousands of poems that are officially seen as being written by him.

Li Bai’s poems

Li Bai’s poems are like a diary of his life. In his writings, he tells where he has traveled to, what he has done, and the friends he met. Often, his poems have a sad tone, because he was never sure if he would see his friends again. In his time, traveling across the country was extremely far and could be notoriously difficult. A simple war could just mean the end of a friendship.


Li Bai was a traveler. He was born in Suyab, which is a city that is currently Kirgizstan. He traveled all around China. When he was in his twenties, he lived in Sichuan (the part of China that’s famous for its spicy food). After that, he traveled to Chang’an, the capital of the Tang Dynasty. Chang’an is now called Xi’an, also famous for the Terra Cotta Army and the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang. Li Bai’s journey to Chang’an wasn’t straightforward. He traveled by boat over the Yangze River, crossed the lake of Dongting and went all the way to Nanjing.

The effects of the Tang Dynasty on the modern world

During the Tang Dynasty, the old Silk Road got reopened again. The Silk Road was the most important trade route of its time. Not only because goods were transported across it. Philosophical ideas, all kinds of inventions, but also diseases moved along the road. The Silk Road remained open during nearly the entire Tang Dynasty. Only when the Tibetans took over a valley, the route was closed briefly.


An important development during the Tang Dynasty was Daoism. This is the official religion of the Tang Dyansty. In Daoism, harmony and peace are very important. People live and go with the ‘flow’ of the world. This ‘flow’ is referred to as Dao「道」. As this character also translates to ‘road’, you can see Dao as the road of life, of all events, developments, and the visible world, that in one way or another affect someone’s life.

More about Daoism soon

The idea behind Dao is quite complicated, especially if you haven’t grown up learning about the ideas and philosophies associated with it. Soon, we’ll post another article that will explore Daoism a little more in-depth. So, keep an eye out and come back to read more stories about Chinese culture and China’s history.