The Ming Dynasty, which ruled China from 1368 to 1644, was founded by a low-born Buddhist monk, Zhu Yuanzhang (Chu Yuan-Chang, 1328-98), who led a peasant army to victory over the Mongols. Bracketed in history by alien dynasties–the Yuan of the Mongols and the Qing (Ch’ing) of the Manchus–the Ming Dynasty was purely Chinese, and its period of rule brought economic and social stability as well as cultural elaboration.
Peace and economic expansion were accompanied by a flowering of intellectual and cultural life. Among those active in this period were the philosopher Wang Yangming; the painter and art theorist Dong Qichang (Tung Ch’i-Ch’ang); the dramatist Tang Xiandu (T’ang Hsien-Tsu), who wrote the Peony Pavilion; and the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci. The painted porcelain of the Ming Period is regarded as a high point in Chinese ceramics. This is a coin of that time.