BCE/CE: Acronyms for Before Common Era and Common Era. A system of dating which corresponds exactly with the Christian calendar. Unlike the written Christian dating system, both BCE and CE come after the year.
Examination System: A method of selecting civil servants by testing knowledge of the Chinese classics. It was employed in China (its country of origin), Korea, and Vietnam.
Kublai Khan: 1215-1294. Grandson of Genghis, Kublai became the Great Khan in 1260. Under his rule, the Mongol empire became the largest land empire ever formed.
Mahayana: (ma ha yah nah) Literally, "Greater Vehicle," implying it is the superior way to propagate Buddha's message. Mahayana Buddhism spread into China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and part of Southeast Asia. It emphasizes salvation through congregations, erection of temples, use of holy imagery, and chanting of short prayers.
Siddhartha Gautama: (sid heart tah gow ta ma) Circa 560-480 BCE. The name of the Indian prince who achieved enlightenment and became known as Buddha ("enlightened one).
Silk Road: From German Seidenstrassen ("silk roads"). The Central Asian trade routes which linked Asia and Europe. Trade along the Silk Road began during Han times; its peak was during the Tang dynasty-Art, philosophy, religion, and technology also travelled the Silk Road. Though individuals rarely travelled more than a short part of the route, goods went as far as Japan in the east and Britain in the west.
Son of Heaven: Derived from the Chinese term Tianzi, it is a traditional term for the Chinese emperor. The Vietnamese also used this term for their emperors, but it was never used in Japan.
Sutra: Buddhist holy text.
Theravada: (tare ah van dan) The form of Buddhism prevalent in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Older and more conservative than Mahayana, Theravada emphasizes individual effort towards salvation, particularly by becoming a monk or nun. Also known as Hinayana ("Lesser Vehicle"), although Theravada is just one sect of Hinayana Buddhism.
Yalu River Chinese for Amnok-kang, the 790 km-long river which forms the boundary between Manchuria and northern Korea.