Skinning is the act of skin removal. The process is done with animals as a means to prepare the muscle tissues beneath for consumption or for use of the fur or tanning of the skin; the skin may be used as a trophy, sold on the fur market, or, in the case of a declared pest, used as proof of kill to obtain a bounty from a government health, agricultural, or game agency. Two common methods of skinning are open case skinning. Large animals are open skinned and smaller animals are case skinned. Skinning, when it is performed on live humans as a form of capital punishment or murder, is referred to as flaying. Case skinning is a method; this method is used if the animal is going to be stretched out or put in dry storage. Many smaller animals are case skinned, leaving the skin undamaged in the shape of a tube. Although the methods of case skinning individual animals vary the general steps remain the same. To case skin an animal, it is hung upside down by its feet. A cut is made in one foot, continued up the leg, around the anus and down the other leg.
From there the skin is pulled down the animal as though removing a sweater. Open skinning is a method; this method is used if the skin is going to be tanned or frozen for storage. A skin removed by the open method can be used for wall rugs. Larger animals are skinned using the open method. To open skin an animal, the body is placed on a flat surface. A cut is made from the anus to the lower lip, up the legs of the animal; the skin is opened and removed from the animal. The final step is to scrape the excess fat and flesh from the inside of the skin with a blunt stone or bone tool. Dorsal skinning is similar to open skinning, however instead of making a cut up the stomach of the animal, the cut is made along the spine; this method of skinning is popular among taxidermists, as the backbone is easier to access and cleaner than the stomach and between the legs. A dorsal incision is made by laying the animal on its abdomen and making a single cut from the base of the tail to the shoulder region; the animal's skin is easier to remove.
Cape skinning is the process of removing the shoulder and head skin for the purpose of displaying the animal as a trophy. Native Americans used skins for many purposes other than decoration and blankets. Animal skin was a staple in the Native Americans' daily lives, it was used to make tents, to build boats, to make bags, to create musical instruments such as drums, to make quivers. Since Native Americans were practiced in the means of acquiring and manipulating animal skin, fur trading developed from contact between them and Europeans in the 16th century. Animal skin was a valuable currency which the Native Americans had in excess and would trade for things such as iron-based tools and tobacco which were common in the more developed European areas. Beaver hats became popular towards the end of the 16th century, skinning beavers was necessary to acquire their wool. In this time, the beaver skin drastically rose in value. However, the high number of beavers being harvested for their pelts led to a depletion of beavers, the industry had to slow down.
To raise animals for the purpose of collecting their skin is called fur farming. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleges that fur farmers are involved in skinning live animals. Killing tactics deemed brutal by PETA are a concern. Many fur farms skin animals alive to keep the pelts intact from damage that could occur while killing them. To avoid bullet holes, tears or slits from a knife, fur farmers use methods such as beating the animal, electrocuting them, using poison to paralyse them, or breaking their necks. Although these methods ensure an undamaged pelt, they are sometimes not enough to confirm the death of the animal, leaving the creature to be skinned alive; the fur trade, insists that the only evidence of a fur animal being skinned alive was certainly staged by animal rights activists. This was a video taken in a Chinese market of a raccoon dog being skinned alive, released in 2005 by Swiss Animal Protection; the fur trade furthermore insists. Aside from the inhumanity and illegality of such an act, it says that skinning an animal, still alive would expose the operator to the risk of infection from the animal's claws and teeth, as well as to the risk of being cut with their own knife.
Among many campaigns, one of PETA’s goals is to enforce animal rights so that animals will not be used in any way as tools for humans. This includes utilizing their skin for clothing or decoration, hurting the animals in any way. Therefore, regardless of the method used for animal skinning, PETA is against the industry in general. Animal trapping methods: Skinning animals Scalping Burch, Monte; the Ultimate Guide to Skinning and Tanning: A Complete Guide to Working With Pelts and Leathers. Guilford: The Lyons Press, 2002. Print. James E. Churchill; the Complete Book of Tanning Skins and Furs. Mecanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1983. Print. Pritzer, Barry. A Native American Encyclopedia: History and Peoples. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print. Triplett, Todd. Big-Game Taxidermy: A Complete Guide to Deer and Elk. United States of America: The Lyons Press, 2006. Print
In law, treason is criminal disloyalty to the state. It is a crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign; this includes things such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor. In common law countries, treason covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife or that of a master by his servant. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a lesser superior was petty treason; as jurisdictions around the world abolished petty treason, "treason" came to refer to what was known as high treason. At times, the term traitor has been used as a political epithet, regardless of any verifiable treasonable action. In a civil war or insurrection, the winners may deem the losers to be traitors.
The term traitor is used in heated political discussion – as a slur against political dissidents, or against officials in power who are perceived as failing to act in the best interest of their constituents. In certain cases, as with the Dolchstoßlegende, the accusation of treason towards a large group of people can be a unifying political message. Treason is considered to be different and on many occasions a separate charge from "treasonable felony" in many parts of the world. In English law, high treason was punishable by being hanged and quartered or burnt at the stake, although beheading could be substituted by royal command; those penalties were abolished in 1790 and 1973 respectively. The penalty was used by monarchs against people who could reasonably be called traitors. Many of them would now just be considered dissidents; the words "treason" and "traitor" are derived from the Latin tradere, to hand over. Christian theology and political thinking until after the Enlightenment considered treason and blasphemy as synonymous, as it challenged both the state and the will of God.
Kings were considered chosen by God, to betray one's country was to do the work of Satan. Many nations' laws mention various types of treason. "Crimes Related to Insurrection" is the internal treason, may include a coup d'état. "Crimes Related to Foreign Aggression" is the treason of cooperating with foreign aggression positively regardless of the national inside and outside. "Crimes Related to inducement of Foreign Aggression" is the crime of communicating with aliens secretly to cause foreign aggression or menace. Depending on a country, conspiracy is added to these. In Australia, there are federal and state laws against treason in the states of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. To Treason laws in the United States, citizens of Australia owe allegiance to their sovereign, the federal and state level; the federal law defining treason in Australia is provided under section 80.1 of the Criminal Code, contained in the schedule of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995. It defines treason as follows: A person commits an offence, called treason, if the person: causes the death of the Sovereign, the heir apparent of the Sovereign, the consort of the Sovereign, the Governor-General or the Prime Minister.
A person is not guilty of treason under paragraphs, or if their assistance or intended assistance is purely humanitarian in nature. The maximum penalty for treason is life imprisonment. Section 80.1AC of the Act creates the related offence of treachery. The Treason Act 1351, the Treason Act 1795 and the Treason Act 1817 form part of the law of New South Wales; the Treason Act 1795 and the Treason Act 1817 have been repealed by Section 11 of the Crimes Act 1900, except in so far as they relate to the compassing, inventing, devising, or intending death or destruction, or any bodily harm tending to death or destruction, maim, or wounding, imprisonment, or restraint of the person of the heirs and successors of King George III of the United Kingdom, the expressing, uttering, or declaring of such compassings, inventions, devices, or intentions, or any of them. Section 12 of the Crimes Act 1900 creates an offence, derived from section 3 of the Treason Felony Act 1848: 12 Compassing etc deposition of the Sovereign—overawing Parliament etc Whosoever, within New South Wales or without, imagines, devises, or intends to deprive or depose Our M
Lu Xun was the pen name of Zhou Shuren, a leading figure of modern Chinese literature. Writing in Vernacular Chinese and Classical Chinese, he was a short story writer, translator, literary critic, essayist and designer. In the 1930s, he became the titular head of the League of Left-Wing Writers in Shanghai. Lu Xun was born into a family of landlords and government officials in Zhejiang. Lu aspired to take the imperial civil service exam, but due to his family's relative poverty he was forced to attend government-funded schools teaching "Western education." Upon graduation, Lu went to medical school in Japan but dropped out. He became interested in studying literature but was forced to return to China because of his family's lack of funds. After returning to China, Lu worked for several years teaching at local secondary schools and colleges before finding a job at the Republic of China Ministry of Education. After the 1919 May Fourth Movement, Lu Xun's writing began to exert a substantial influence on Chinese literature and popular culture.
Like many leaders of the May Fourth Movement, he was a leftist. He was acclaimed by the Chinese government after 1949, when the People's Republic of China was founded, Mao Zedong himself was a lifelong admirer of Lu Xun's writing. Though sympathetic to socialist ideas, Lu Xun never joined the Communist Party of China. Lu Xun was born in Zhejiang; as was common in pre-modern China, Lu Xun had many names. His birth name was "Zhou Zhangshou", his courtesy name was "Yushan", but he changed that to "Yucai". In 1898, before he went to the Jiangnan Naval Academy, he took the given name "Shuren"—which means, figuratively, "to be an educated man"; the name by which he is best known internationally, "Lu Xun", was a literary pseudonym that he chose when his fiction novel "A Madman's Diary" was first published, in 1918. By the time Lu Xun was born, the Zhou family had been prosperous for centuries, had become wealthy through landowning, by having several family members promoted to government positions, his paternal grandfather, Zhou Fuqing, was appointed to the Imperial Hanlin Academy in Beijing: the highest position possible for aspiring civil servants at that time.
Lu's early education was based on the Confucian classics, in which he studied poetry and philosophy—subjects which, he reflected, were neither useful nor interesting to him. Instead, he enjoyed folk stories and traditions: local operas, the mythological creatures and stories in the Classic of Mountains and Seas, the ghost stories told to him by an illiterate servant who raised him, Ah Chang. Zhou's mother was a member of the same landed gentry class as Lu Xun's father, from a smaller town in the countryside; because formal education was not considered appropriate for girls, she did not receive any, but she still taught herself how to read and write. The surname "Lu" in Zhou Shouren's pen name, "Lu Xun", was the same as his mother's surname, "Lu". By the time Lu was born, his family's prosperity had been declining, his father, Zhou Boyi, had been successful at passing the lowest, county-level imperial examinations, but was unsuccessful in writing the more competitive provincial-level examinations.
In 1893 Zhou Boyi was discovered attempting to bribe an examination official. Lu Xun's grandfather was implicated, was arrested and sentenced to beheading for his son's crime; the sentence was commuted, he was imprisoned in Hangzhou instead. After the affair, Zhou Boyi was stripped of his position in the government and forbidden to again write the civil service examinations; the Zhou family only prevented Lu's grandfather from being executed through regular, expensive bribes to authorities, until he was released in 1901. After the family's attempt at bribery was discovered, Zhou Boyi engaged in heavy drinking and opium use, his health declined. Local Chinese doctors attempted to cure him through a series of expensive quack prescriptions, including monogamous crickets, sugar cane that had survived frost three times and the skin from a drum. Despite these expensive treatments, Zhou Boyi died of an asthma attack at age 35 in 1896, he might have suffered from dropsy. Lu Xun half-heartedly participated in one civil service examination, in 1899, but abandoned pursuing a traditional Confucian education or career.
He intended to study at a prestigious school, the "Seeking Affirmation Academy", in Hangzhou, but was forced by his family's poverty to study at a tuition-free military school, the "Jiangnan Naval Academy", in Nanjing, instead. As a consequence of Lu's decision to attend a military school specializing in Western education, his mother wept, he was instructed to change his name, some of his relatives began to look down on him. Lu attended the Jiangnan Naval Academy for half a year, left after it became clear that he would be assigned to work in an engine room, below deck, which he considered degrading, he wrote that he was dissatisfied with the quality of teaching at the academy. After leaving the school, Lu sat for the lowest level of the civil service exams, finished 137th of 500, he intended to sit for the next-highest level, but became upset when one of his younger brothers died, abandoned his plans. Lu Xun transferred to another government-funded school, the "School of Mines and Railways", graduated from that school in 1902.
The school was Lu's first exposure to Western literature, history, a
Fur is a thick growth of hair that covers the skin of many animals. It is a defining characteristic of mammals, it consists of a combination of oily guard hair on thick underfur beneath. The guard hair keeps moisture and the underfur acts as an insulating blanket that keeps the animal warm; the fur of mammals has many uses: protection, sensory purposes and camouflage, with the primary usage being thermoregulation. The types of hair include definitive. Hair length is negligible in thermoregulation, as some tropical mammals, such as sloths, have the same fur length as some arctic mammals but with less insulation; the denseness of fur can increase an animal's insulation value, arctic mammals have dense fur. Some desert mammals, such as camels, use dense fur to prevent solar heat from reaching their skin, allowing the animal to stay cool. Aquatic mammals, trap air in their fur to conserve heat by keeping the skin dry. Mammalian coats are colored for a variety of reasons, the major selective pressures including camouflage, sexual selection and physiological processes such as temperature regulation.
Camouflage is a powerful influence in a large number of mammals, as it helps to conceal individuals from predators or prey. Aposematism, warning off possible predators, is the most explanation of the black-and-white pelage of many mammals which are able to defend themselves, such as in the foul-smelling skunk and the powerful and aggressive honey badger. In arctic and subarctic mammals such as the arctic fox, collared lemming and snowshoe hare, seasonal color change between brown in summer and white in winter is driven by camouflage. Differences in female and male coat color may indicate nutrition and hormone levels, important in mate selection; some arboreal mammals, notably primates and marsupials, have shades of violet, green, or blue skin on parts of their bodies, indicating some distinct advantage in their arboreal habitat due to convergent evolution. The green coloration of sloths, however, is the result of a symbiotic relationship with algae. Coat color is sometimes sexually dimorphic, as in many primate species.
Coat color may influence the ability to retain heat, depending on. Mammals with a darker colored coat can absorb more heat from solar radiation, stay warmer, some smaller mammals, such as voles, have darker fur in the winter; the white, pigmentless fur of arctic mammals, such as the polar bear, may reflect more solar radiation directly onto the skin. The term pelage – first known use in English c. 1828 – is sometimes used to refer to an animal's complete coat. The term fur is used to refer to animal pelts which have been processed into leather with their hair still attached; the words fur or furry are used, more casually, to refer to hair-like growths or formations when the subject being referred to exhibits a dense coat of fine, soft "hairs". If layered, rather than grown as a single coat, it may consist of short down hairs, long guard hairs, in some cases, medium awn hairs. Mammals with reduced amounts of fur are called "naked", as with the naked mole-rat, or "hairless", as with hairless dogs.
An animal with commercially valuable fur is known within the fur industry as a furbearer. The use of fur as clothing or decoration is controversial; the modern mammalian fur arrangement is known to have occurred as far back as docodonts and eutriconodonts, with specimens of Castorocauda and Spinolestes preserving compound follicles with both guard hair and underfur. Fur may consist of each with a different type of hair. Down hair is the bottom—or inner—layer, composed of wavy or curly hairs with no straight portions or sharp points. Down hairs, which are flat, tend to be the shortest and most numerous in the coat. Thermoregulation is the principal function of the down hair, which insulates a layer of dry air next to the skin; the awn hair can be thought of as a hybrid, bridging the gap between the distinctly different characteristics of down and guard hairs. Awn hairs begin their growth much like guard hairs, but less than half way to their full length, awn hairs start to grow thin and wavy like down hair.
The proximal part of the awn hair assists in thermoregulation, whereas the distal part can shed water. The awn hair's thin basal portion does not allow the amount of piloerection that the stiffer guard hairs are capable of. Mammals with well developed down and guard hairs usually have large numbers of awn hairs, which may sometimes b
The Last Judgment (Michelangelo)
The Last Judgment is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance painter Michelangelo covering the whole altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. It is a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity; the souls of humans rise and descend to their fates, as judged by Christ, surrounded by prominent saints. Altogether there are over 300 figures, with nearly all the males and angels shown as nudes; the work took over four years to complete between 1536 and 1541. Michelangelo began working on it twenty-five years after having finished the Sistine Chapel ceiling, was nearly 67 at its completion. Michelangelo accepted the commission from Pope Clement VII, but it was completed under Pope Paul III, whose stronger reforming views affected the final treatment. In the lower part of the fresco, Michelangelo followed tradition in showing the saved ascending at the left and the damned descending at the right. In the upper part, the inhabitants of Heaven are joined by the newly saved.
The fresco is more monochromatic than the ceiling frescoes and is dominated by the tones of flesh and sky. The cleaning and restoration of the fresco, revealed a greater chromatic range than apparent. Orange, green and blue are scattered throughout and unifying the complex scene; the reception of the painting was mixed from the start, with much praise but criticism on both religious and artistic grounds. Both the amount of nudity and the muscular style of the bodies has been one area of contention, the overall composition another. Where traditional compositions contrast an ordered, harmonious heavenly world above with the tumultuous events taking place in the earthly zone below, in Michelangelo's conception the arrangement and posing of the figures across the entire painting give an impression of agitation and excitement, in the upper parts there is "a profound disturbance and commotion" in the figures. Sidney J. Freedberg interprets their "complex responses" as "those of giant powers here made powerless, bound by racking spiritual anxiety", as their role of intercessors with the deity had come to an end, they regret some of the verdicts.
There is an impression that all the groups of figures are circling the central figure of Christ in a huge rotary movement. At the centre of the work is Christ, shown as the individual verdicts of the Last Judgement are pronounced, he is beardless, "compounded from antique conceptions of Hercules and Jupiter Fulminator" in particular, the Belvedere Apollo, brought to the Vatican by Pope Julius II. However, there are parallels for his pose in earlier Last Judgments one in the Camposanto of Pisa, which Michelangelo would have known. To the left of Christ is his mother, Virgin Mary, who turns her head to look down towards the Saved, though her pose suggests resignation, it appears that the moment has passed for her to exercise her traditional role of pleading on behalf of souls. Preparatory drawings show her standing and facing Christ with arms outstretched, in a more traditional intercessory posture. Surrounding Christ are large numbers of the saints and other saved souls. On a similar scale to Christ are John the Baptist on the left, on the right Saint Peter, holding the keys of Heaven and offering them back to Christ, as they will no longer be needed.
Several of the main saints appear to be showing Christ their attributes, the evidence of the martyrdom. This used to be interpreted as the saints calling for the damnation of those who had not served the cause of Christ, but other interpretations have become more common, including that the saints are themselves not certain of their own verdicts, try at the last moment to remind Christ of their sufferings. Other prominent saints include Saint Bartholomew below Peter, holding the attribute of his martyrdom, his own skin; the face on this is recognized as being a self-portrait of Michelangelo. Many others of the larger saints, are difficult to identify. Ascanio Condivi, Michelangelo's tame authorized biographer, says that all of the Twelve Apostles are shown around Christ, "but he does not attempt to name them and would have had a difficult time doing so"; the movements of the souls reflect the traditional pattern. They arise from their graves at bottom left, some continue upwards, helped in several cases by angels in the air or others on clouds, pulling them up.
Others, the damned pass over to the right, though none are quite shown doing so. A boat rowed by an aggressive Charon, who ferried souls to the Underworld in classical mythology, brings souls to land beside the entrance to Hell. Satan, the traditional Christian devil is not shown, but another classical figure, supervises the admission of the Damned into Hell, he is agreed to have been given the features of Biagio da Cesena, a critic of Michelangelo in the Papal court. In the centre above Charon is a group of angels on clouds, seven blowing trumpets (as in the Book of Rev
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is the world's largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design, as well as sculpture, housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects. It was named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; the V&A is located in the Brompton district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in an area that has become known as "Albertopolis" because of its association with Prince Albert, the Albert Memorial and the major cultural institutions with which he was associated. These include the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall and Imperial College London; the museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture and Sport. As with other national British museums, entrance is free; the V&A covers 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America and North Africa. However, the art of antiquity in most areas is not collected.
The holdings of ceramics, textiles, silver, jewellery, medieval objects, sculpture and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world. The museum owns the world's largest collection of post-classical sculpture, with the holdings of Italian Renaissance items being the largest outside Italy; the departments of Asia include art from South Asia, Japan and the Islamic world. The East Asian collections are among the best in Europe, with particular strengths in ceramics and metalwork, while the Islamic collection is amongst the largest in the Western world. Overall, it is one of the largest museums in the world. Since 2001 the museum has embarked on a major £150m renovation programme. New 17th- and 18th-century European galleries were opened on 9 December 2015; these restored the original Aston Webb interiors and host the European collections 1600–1815. The V&A Museum of Childhood in East London is a branch of the museum, a new branch in London is being planned.
The Victoria and Albert Museum has its origins in the Great Exhibition of 1851, with which Henry Cole, the museum's first director, was involved in planning. It was known as the Museum of Manufactures, first opening in May 1852 at Marlborough House, but by September had been transferred to Somerset House. At this stage the collections covered both applied science. Several of the exhibits from the Exhibition were purchased to form the nucleus of the collection. By February 1854 discussions were underway to transfer the museum to the current site and it was renamed South Kensington Museum. In 1855 the German architect Gottfried Semper, at the request of Cole, produced a design for the museum, but it was rejected by the Board of Trade as too expensive; the site was occupied by Brompton Park House. The official opening by Queen Victoria was on 20 June 1857. In the following year, late night openings were introduced, made possible by the use of gas lighting; this was to enable in the words of Cole "to ascertain what hours are most convenient to the working classes"—this was linked to the use of the collections of both applied art and science as educational resources to help boost productive industry.
In these early years the practical use of the collection was much emphasised as opposed to that of "High Art" at the National Gallery and scholarship at the British Museum. George Wallis, the first Keeper of Fine Art Collection, passionately promoted the idea of wide art education through the museum collections; this led to the transfer to the museum of the School of Design, founded in 1837 at Somerset House. From the 1860s to the 1880s the scientific collections had been moved from the main museum site to various improvised galleries to the west of Exhibition Road. In 1893 the "Science Museum" had come into existence when a separate director was appointed; the laying of the foundation stone of the Aston Webb building on 17 May 1899 was the last official public appearance by Queen Victoria. It was during this ceremony that the change of name from the South Kensington Museum to the Victoria and Albert Museum was made public. Queen Victoria's address during the ceremony, as recorded in The London Gazette, ended: "I trust that it will remain for ages a Monument of discerning Liberality and a Source of Refinement and Progress."The exhibition which the museum organised to celebrate the centennial of the 1899 renaming, "A Grand Design", first toured in North America from 1997, returning to London in 1999.
To accompany and support the exhibition, the museum published a book, Grand Design, which it has made available for reading online on its website. The opening ceremony for the Aston Webb building by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra took place on 26 June 1909. In 1914 the construction commenced of the Science Museum, signalling the final split of the science and art collections. In 1939 on the outbreak of World War II, most of the collection was sent to a quarry in Wiltshire, to Montacute House in Somerset, or to a tunnel near Aldwych tube station, with larger items remaining in situ, sand-bagged and bricked in. Between 1941 and 1944 some galleries were used as a school for chil
The Ming dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China – known as the Great Ming Empire – for 276 years following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese. Although the primary capital of Beijing fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng, regimes loyal to the Ming throne – collectively called the Southern Ming – survived until 1683; the Hongwu Emperor attempted to create a society of self-sufficient rural communities ordered in a rigid, immobile system that would guarantee and support a permanent class of soldiers for his dynasty: the empire's standing army exceeded one million troops and the navy's dockyards in Nanjing were the largest in the world. He took great care breaking the power of the court eunuchs and unrelated magnates, enfeoffing his many sons throughout China and attempting to guide these princes through the Huang-Ming Zuxun, a set of published dynastic instructions; this failed when his teenage successor, the Jianwen Emperor, attempted to curtail his uncles' power, prompting the Jingnan Campaign, an uprising that placed the Prince of Yan upon the throne as the Yongle Emperor in 1402.
The Yongle Emperor established Yan as a secondary capital and renamed it Beijing, constructed the Forbidden City, restored the Grand Canal and the primacy of the imperial examinations in official appointments. He rewarded his eunuch supporters and employed them as a counterweight against the Confucian scholar-bureaucrats. One, Zheng He, led seven enormous voyages of exploration into the Indian Ocean as far as Arabia and the eastern coasts of Africa; the rise of new emperors and new factions diminished such extravagances. The imperial navy was allowed to fall into disrepair while forced labor constructed the Liaodong palisade and connected and fortified the Great Wall of China into its modern form. Wide-ranging censuses of the entire empire were conducted decennially, but the desire to avoid labor and taxes and the difficulty of storing and reviewing the enormous archives at Nanjing hampered accurate figures. Estimates for the late-Ming population vary from 160 to 200 million, but necessary revenues were squeezed out of smaller and smaller numbers of farmers as more disappeared from the official records or "donated" their lands to tax-exempt eunuchs or temples.
Haijin laws intended to protect the coasts from "Japanese" pirates instead turned many into smugglers and pirates themselves. By the 16th century, the expansion of European trade – albeit restricted to islands near Guangzhou like Macau – spread the Columbian Exchange of crops and animals into China, introducing chili peppers to Sichuan cuisine and productive corn and potatoes, which diminished famines and spurred population growth; the growth of Portuguese and Dutch trade created new demand for Chinese products and produced a massive influx of Japanese and American silver. This abundance of specie remonetized the Ming economy, whose paper money had suffered repeated hyperinflation and was no longer trusted. While traditional Confucians opposed such a prominent role for commerce and the newly rich it created, the heterodoxy introduced by Wang Yangming permitted a more accommodating attitude. Zhang Juzheng's successful reforms proved devastating when a slowdown in agriculture produced by the Little Ice Age joined changes in Japanese and Spanish policy that cut off the supply of silver now necessary for farmers to be able to pay their taxes.
Combined with crop failure and epidemic, the dynasty collapsed before the rebel leader Li Zicheng, defeated by the Manchu-led Eight Banner armies who founded the Qing dynasty. The Mongol-led Yuan dynasty ruled before the establishment of the Ming dynasty. Explanations for the demise of the Yuan include institutionalized ethnic discrimination against Han Chinese that stirred resentment and rebellion, overtaxation of areas hard-hit by inflation, massive flooding of the Yellow River as a result of the abandonment of irrigation projects. Agriculture and the economy were in shambles, rebellion broke out among the hundreds of thousands of peasants called upon to work on repairing the dykes of the Yellow River. A number of Han Chinese groups revolted, including the Red Turbans in 1351; the Red Turbans were affiliated with a Buddhist secret society. Zhu Yuanzhang was a penniless peasant and Buddhist monk who joined the Red Turbans in 1352. In 1356, Zhu's rebel force captured the city of Nanjing, which he would establish as the capital of the Ming dynasty.
With the Yuan dynasty crumbling, competing rebel groups began fighting for control of the country and thus the right to establish a new dynasty. In 1363, Zhu Yuanzhang eliminated his archrival and leader of the rebel Han faction, Chen Youliang, in the Battle of Lake Poyang, arguably the largest naval battle in history. Known for its ambitious use of fire ships, Zhu's force of 200,000 Ming sailors were able to defeat a Han rebel force over triple their size, claimed to be 650,000-strong; the victory destroyed the last opposing rebel faction, leaving Zhu Yuanzhang in uncontested control of the bountiful Yangtze River Valley and cementing his power in the south. After the dynastic head of the Red Turbans suspiciously died in 1367 while a guest of Zhu, there was no one left, remotely capable of contesting his march to the throne, he made his imperial ambitions known by sending an army toward the Yuan capital Dadu in 1368; the las