The Sui Dynasty (581–618 CE) was a powerful, but shortlived Imperial Chinese dynasty. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Wen of Sui who built a new capital at Daxing – renamed Chang’an under the Tang and today known as Xi’an. His reign ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes and saw the reunification of Southern and Northern China and the construction of the Grand Canal. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty. The Sui over-reached themselves with a series of massive and unsuccessful expeditions into the Korean Peninsula to invade one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.
The Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) was founded by the Li family who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire. The Tang Dynasty, with its capital at Chang’an the most populous city in the world at the time, is generally regarded as a high point in Chinese civilization, a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. The Tang Dynasty was largely a period of progress and stability but the An Shi Rebellion (755–763) destroyed the prosperity of the empire – from which it did not recover until the end of the century. Towards the end of the ninth century a further rebellion, the Huang Chao Rebellion (874–884 CE), terminally weakened the Tang.
The Tang dynasty was interrupted briefly by the Second Zhou Dynasty (690–705 CE) when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, becoming the first and only Chinese empress regnant, ruling in her own right.
The Tang Dynasty was a period of the strongest colours in Chinese history: besides colouring the forehead yellow and the eyebrows green a flower-patterned ornament made of oil-tea camellia seeds or gold foil was pasted between the two eyebrows.