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Asian History: Most Popular Articles

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A Comparison of Japanese and European Feudalism
Comparison of feudalism in Japan and Europe. How did Japanese feudalism differ from European feudalism, and how were they similar?
What You Should Know about China
Profile of the People's Republic of China, including facts about China's people, geography, culture, and history.
What Was the Mandate of Heaven?
In China, an emperor could lose the gods' support - which meant it was time for a new dynasty. Learn more about this process, known as the Mandate of Heaven, here.
The True Story of the 47 Ronin
The 47 Ronin, or masterless samurai, avenged their lord's death and became some of the most famous Japanese samurai in history. Learn about them here!
How Qin Shi Huang Became China's First Emperor
Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of a unified China. He is famous for the terracotta army that is buried with him, as well as for beginning construction on the Great Wall of China.
How India and Pakistan Were Created
What was the Partition of India, and why did it happen? Learn more about this critical fracture in the subcontinent, just as it achieved independence from the crumbling British Empire.
Who Was Akbar the Great?
Biography of Akbar, the third emperor of India's Mughal Dynasty, born Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar. Famed for his religious tolerance, empire-building and patronage of the arts, he is known as Akbar the Great.
What to Know About India's Caste System
The caste system in India has ordered society both for Hindus and even non-Hindus over thousands of years. Learn more about the history of India's complex system of castes.
True History of the Ninja
Ninjas dart through movies and comic books, but what is the historical reality behind the pop culture icon of The Ninja?
Learn About The Four-Tiered Class System of...
Feudal Japan had a four-tiered class system based on Confucian logic, with samurai warriors on top and merchants on the bottom.
Learn About Jose Rizal, A National Hero of the...
Biography of Jose Rizal, hero of the Philippines. Rizal was a genius and polymath who advocated for human rights during Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. He was executed at the age of 35.
What Was the Indian Revolt of 1857?
What was the Revolt of 1857, also known as the Sepoy Rebellion or the Sepoy Mutiny, all about? Learn why Indian soldiers rebelled against the British East India Company, leading to the downfall of the Mughal Dynasty and the East India Company.
How China Invented Gunpowder
Describes the invention of gunpowder by Tang Dynasty Chinese alchemists, around 850 A.D.
Learn About Samurai Suicide or Seppuku
What is seppuku? Why did samurai commit seppuku (also called harakiri)? How did they perform this ritual suicide in feudal Japan? Find answers to these questions here.
Why Did Han China Collapse?
The Han Dynasty ruled China during one of the country's golden ages, but it collapsed at roughly the same time as the similarly illustrous Gupta Empire in India, and the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean. Why did Han China fall?
How Did the Mongols Impact Europe?
What effect did the Mongol Empire's expansion have on Europe? Learn more here about how Genghis Khan and his descendants impacted Europe, directly and indirectly.
Learn About Mughal Rule in India over 300 Years
India's Mughal Empire ruled the subcontinent from 1526 to the beginning of the British Raj in 1858.
How Genghis Khan Created History's Largest Empire
Brief history of the Mongol Empire, founded by Genghis Khan, which was one of the largest empires in human history.
Why Did the US Enter the Vietnam War?
Why did the US enter the Vietnam War? Learn the answer to this Asian History FAQ.
True History of the Samurai
Profile of the samurai, medieval Japan's warrior class. Includes information about the history of the samurai, samurai swords, other samurai weapons, samurai armor and samurai culture.
Learn About Ashoka the Great (and Terrible)
Biography of Ashoka the Great, emperor of India's Mauryan Empire during the third century BCE.
Map of the Ancient Indian Ocean Trade Routes
Map and brief history of the Indian Ocean Trade network, which linked China and Indonesia with India, the Arab world and East Africa for thousands of years.
What Happened During China's Cultural Revolution?
Under Mao Zedong, Communist China underwent a spasm of violence known as the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. Learn more about it here.
Learn About British Rule in India
Britain ruled India from 1765 to 1857; India was called the crown jewel of the British Empire. The Raj comprised modern day Pakistan and Bangladesh, plus India proper.
What to Know about Tamerlane, Conqueror of Asia
Biography of Tamerlane, more properly known as Timur, the Central Asian conqueror. His empire stretched from Turkey to the border of Tibet, and from southern Russia to Oman.
How Chandragupta Maurya Conquered India
Biography of Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of India's ancient Mauryan Empire, and grandfather of the famous Ashoka the Great.
Who Was Andres Bonifacio of the Philippines?
Biography of Supremo Andres Bonifacio, rebel leader of Katipunan, and national hero of the Philippines.
Genghis Khan Rose From Slavery to Rule the World
Biography of Genghis Khan, leader of Mongolia and one of history's great rulers, who conquered most of Eurasia in the early thirteenth century.
What You Should Know about the Philippines
The Philippines is an island nation in the western Pacific. Learn about the history, geography, and people of this fascinating country.
How the Black Death Started in Asia
Although the Black Death, probably bubonic plague, is usually associated with Europe, it began in Asia, and devastated cities there first. Learn more about the Black Death in Asia here.
Learn About Great Chinese Explorer Zheng He
Biography of Zheng He, the famous Muslim eunuch admiral of Ming China's treasure fleet, who lead one of the greatest armadas in human history on seven voyages around the Indian Ocean world. Learn about Zheng He's life and accomplishments here.
How Korea Ended Up Split in Two
How did the Korean Peninsula end up split into North and South Korea? Learn about the almost accidental creation of the divided Koreas here.
Facts to Know About Japan
A profile of Japan, including information about its history, culture, people, and land.
Who Are the Brahmin Caste?
Who are the Brahmins? Find out in this glossary definition from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
Was Tibet Always Part of China?
Is Tibet part of China? History of the interactions between China and Tibet, including the unclear relationship between the two over time. Was Tibet really part of China before 1949, or was it an independent country?
Learn About the Tragic Great Leap Forward in...
What was the Great Leap Forward? Find out about this tragic event in Chinese history.
Differences Between Communism and Socialism
Answer to the frequently asked question, What is the difference between communism and socialism?
How Kublai Khan Invaded Japan
In 1274, the Mongol emperor of China, Kublai Khan, sent an armada to invade Japan. This invasion was repelled by the samurai, and a typhoon which sank the Mongol ships. The Mongols invaded again in 1281, but a second typhoon (called a kamikaze - divine wind) once more destroyed their armada after seven weeks of fighting.
7 Famous Ninjas of Asian History
Learn about seven of the most famous ninja of all time.
Learn About Ruthless Emperor Aurangzeb
Biography of Emperor Aurangzeb of the Mughal Empire in India, who ruled during the first half of the seventeenth century. A ruthless man, he imprisoned the maker of the Taj Mahal - his own father, Shah Jahan.
Why Did China's Qing Dynasty Fall in 1911?
Why did China's final imperial dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, fall early in the twentieth century?
Why Did Ming China End the Treasure Fleet...
Why did Ming China stop sending out the treasure fleets in 1433? How would world history have been different, if the Ming Dynasty had continued its Indian Ocean presence? These are some of the great questions of Asian history.
Kublai Khan
Biography of Kublai Khan, founder of China's Yuan Dynasty and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, who hosted Marco Polo at Xanadu
A Magnificent Monarch: Suleiman the Magnificent...
Biography of Suleiman the Magnificent, the most famous sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Learn more about The Lawgiver here.
What Effect Did the Crusades Have on the Middle...
What effect did the Crusades have on the Middle East? Learn about it here.
How Ferdinand Marcos Became Dictator
Biography of Ferdinand Marcos, the tenth president of the Philippines. His reign was known for corruption, the imposition of martial law, and his wife Imelda's shoe collection.
Learn About the Hashashin, Original Assassins
History of Persia's Assassins, or Hashashin - an Ismaili sect who used targeted killings of political and religious leaders.
What to Know about Gandhi
Mohandas Gandhi, also known as the Mahatma, led the non-violent independence movement in India that called an end to the British colonial government. Learn more about this pivotal 20th century leader here.
How the Meiji Restoration Ended Shogun Rule
The Meiji Restoration in Japan signaled the end of the shogunate system and the beginning of modern Japan.
What To Know About the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu...
Tipu Sultan, also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was the last ruler in India strong enough to dictate terms to the British East India Company.
How the Tokugawa Shoguns Controlled Japan
For more than 250 years, the Tokugawa shoguns ruled Japan as the heads of the bakufu, or military government, based at Edo (Tokyo). They relied on samurai warriors and their daimyo lords to keep Japan's complex feudal-style social system in order, up until the Meiji Restoration of 1868.
History of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea
The Joseon dynasty ruled the Korea Peninsula from 1392 until the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1910. The Joseon era solidified the importance of Confucianism in Korean culture; saw the invention of hangul, the Korean alphabet; witnessed the first Korean tea ceremony; and left lasting monuments such as the Gyeungbokgung Palace.
Pakistan Facts and History
Facts and history of Pakistan, including information about its culture, geography, economy and peoples.
Babur, Founder of the Mughal Empire
Babur founded one of India's great empires - the Mughal Empire. Learn more about this pivotal figure in the history of India here.
Learn about the Seven Voyages of the Ming...
In the early fifteenth century, Admiral Zheng He led the Ming Chinese Treasure Fleet on seven voyages around the Indian Ocean, traveling as far as Arabia and East Africa. Learn more about the seven voyages of Zheng He and the Treasure fleet here.
Who Was Marco Polo?
Biography of Marco Polo, the young Venetian merchant who traveled to Kublai Khan's court in Yuan China during the 13th century.
The Huns Bring Down Classical India's Gupta...
The Gupta Empire in India marked one of the high points of Indian history, the pinnacle of classical India. Why did the Gupta Dynasty collapse in 550 CE?
Learn About the Real Shaolin Monks
The monks of China's Shaolin Monastery are known for their fighting prowess, particularly in their own Shaolin style of kung fu. Learn more about this ancient monastery and its inhabitants.
Learn about Japanese Shoguns
Glossary definition of the term shogun from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
How to Be Beautiful in Heian Era Japan
In Heian-era Japan (794-1185), beauty standards were quite different from those of modern-day Japan. Learn here about makeup and fashion in ancient Japan.
Why Did Hong Kong Belong to Britain?
Why did China lease Hong Kong to Britain? Find the answer here, in the About.com Asian History FAQs.
What Really Happened at the Tiananmen Square...
In 1989, the Chinese government cracked down on protests in Tiananmen Square killing between 250 and 7,000 people in the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Hu Jintao
Biography of Chinese Premiere Hu Jintao, from his early childhood through his tenure as head of the People's Republic of China.
Biography of Emilio Aguinaldo
Biography of Emilio Aguinaldo, independence leader of the Philippines, who fought against the Spanish and also lead his fellow Filipinos in the Philippine-American War at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Who Were the Daimyo?
Glossary definition of the term daimyo from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
What You Should Know about Afghanistan
Profile of Afghanistan, including facts about its geography, government, culture, people, and history.
Zheng He's Treasure Ships
Zheng He's treasure fleet included ships of unprecedented size. How big were they, and how did the Ming Dynasty's builders create the Treasure Fleet?
Bangladesh Facts and History
Bangladesh is a relatively new country - it declared independence from Pakistan in 1971. The Bengali culture is one of the most ancient, however. Learn more about this new yet old country here.
Who Was Attila the Hun?
Biography of Attila the Hun, who was called the Scourge of God by the Romans. His army helped to hasten the Fall of Rome. Find out about the life and times of this most famous of the Huns.
Meet the Samurai Women of Asian History
Depiction of one of the earliest samurai women of Japan, the Empress Jingu, who lead an invasion of Korea in the second century CE.
North Korea Facts and History
Profile of North Korea, including information about its people, government, climate, history and economy.
Learn about Japan's Geisha
The geisha of Japan were highly trained and talented entertainers, adept in the arts of music, dance, poetry and conversation. Geishas were distinct from prostitutes, and usually did not perform sexual favors for their customers.
Timeline of Mao Zedong's Life
A compact timeline of Mao Zedong's life, from a humble birth through the founding of the People's Republic of China, to the disaster of the Great Leap Forward and beyond.
The First and Second Opium Wars
What were the Opium Wars, and why did they happen? Learn more about the First and Second Opium Wars between China and Great Britain.
Biography of Corazon Aquino
Biography of Corazon Aquino, who went from shy housewife to leader of the People Power movement and first female president of the Philippines, after leading the movement to oust dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Learn more about her in this biography.
3 Gunpowder Empires of Asia | Ottoman, Safavid,...
At the dawn of the modern era, three empires in Asia established and maintained themselves thanks to their advantage in firearms and artillery. The so-called
What Is the Taj Mahal?
Glossary definition of the term Taj Mahal from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
Facts on the Korean War | A Quick Guide
A quick guide to facts on the Korean War: When did it happen, who was involved, who won the Korean War, and how many people died?
Who Were the Mujahideen of Afghanistan?
Glossary definition of the term mujahideen, as applied in Afghanistan, from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
King Sejong the Great of Korea
Biography of King Sejong the Great of Korea. This famous king of Korea invented the Korean script, hangul.
How Indira Gandhi Became India's Iron Lady
Biography of Indira Gandhi, India's third Prime Minister, also known as the Iron Lady of India. She was the first woman elected to head a democratic country, following in the footsteps of her father, India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Myanmar Facts and History
Profile of Myanmar (Burma), Southeast Asia, including information about the country's government, population, geography, and economy. Also covers briefly the country's history from the Paleolithic Era to the troubles of the present day.
Learn about Queen Seondeok of Ancient Korea
Queen Seondeok of Korea's Silla Kingdom was the first reigning queen of Korea, 606 - 647 CE.
Invention of the Stirrup
Invention of the stirrup, a key piece of horse tack for warriors and other riders. The subject of where stirrups were invented is surprisingly controversial; Mongolia, China, Korea and Japan all have supporters in the debate.
How China Invented the Crossbow
Learn more about the invention of the crossbow, probably in China or nearby parts of Central Asia, here.
Who Were the Viet Cong?
Glossary definition of the phrase Viet Cong, an important term from the Vietnam War.
What Was the Golden Horde?
Glossary definition of the phrase Golden Horde from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
Vietnam War Facts
A quick guide to facts on the Vietnam War: when did it happen, who was involved, who won the war, and how many people died?
14 Fun Facts about Class Identity in Feudal Japan
Fourteen facts and examples about class identity and the four-tiered social system in feudal Japan. See examples that show the inner workings of Tokugawa Japan's social structure.
What Is a Harem?
Answer to the question, What Is a Harem? from your About.com Asian History Guide.
The Ceramic Wars: Hideyoshi's Japan Kidnaps...
In the sixteenth century, Japan invaded Korea twice. Although Japan did not conquer Korea in the Imjin War, also called the Ceramic Wars, it did kidnap tens of thousands of Korean artisans, including potters.
What You Should Know About the Pashtun People
Glossary definition of the word Pashtun from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
What Does the Modern Japanese Emperor Do?
The current Emperor of Japan, Akihito, has little political power. So what does he actually do? Description of the official functions and daily life of the current Emperor of Japan.
50 Amazing Asian Inventions
Links to information from 10,000 BCE to 2000 CE, from silk cloth to the PC sound card.
South Korea Facts and History
Facts and history of South Korea since the end of World War II.
5 Haunted Asian Historical Sites
These historical sites are world-famous for their architectural beauty, their historical significance, or their spiritual power. If you visit after dark, however, you may find that spirits from the past truly do linger. Learn about five of Asia's spookiest sites here!
What You Should Know about India
Profile of the Republic of India, including information about its government, history, economy and geography.
The Very First Sultan in History, Mahmud of...
Biography of Mahmud of Ghazni, the Muslim ruler who between 997 and 1030 CE conquered much of what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India, and eastern Iran from his base in Ghazni, Afghanistan.
Learn about China's Fierce Red Guards
Glossary definition of the term Red Guards from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
Mongolia Facts and History
Profile of the nation of Mongolia, including information about its people, landscape, economy, and history.
Napalm and Agent Orange in the Vietnam War
The US used napalm and Agent Orange in vast quantities during the Vietnam War. How were these chemical weapons used, and what are their lingering effects on Vietnam?
Asia's Great Conquerors
Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, and Timur or Tamerlane. They each came from the steppes of Central Asia, striking fear into the hearts of the settled peoples of western Asia and Europe. Learn more about them here.
Who Was Sukarno, First President of Indonesia?
Biography of Sukarno or Soekarno, Indonesia's first president after it gained independence from the Netherlands.
The Ottoman Empire | Facts and Map
Map of the Ottoman Empire at its greatest extent, c. 1700 CE.
Where Is Mesopotamia?
Where is Mesopotamia? Find out more about this amazing region in Iraq, one of the cradles of human civilization.
Emperors of Shang Dynasty China
List of the Shang Dynasty Emperors of China, according to information from the oracle bones and historian Sima Qian.
Arabs Fought the Chinese Back in 751 at the...
The little-known but pivotal Battle of Talas River in 751 A.D. pitted the expanding Arab Moslem army against the forces of the Tang Dynasty Chinese Empire. China was defeated, which resulted in Central Asia becoming part of the Islamic world, and the diffusion of paper-making technology to the West.
Learn About Korea's Tragic Queen Min
Biography of the Joseon Korean Queen Min, also known as the Empress Myeongseong, who was assassinated by the Japanese in 1895.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand
Biography of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Asia's longest-serving monarch.
The Assassination of Ninoy Aquino
Biography of Benigno Ninoy Aquino, opposition leader in the Philippines during the dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos. Ninoy was the husband of later president Corazon Aquino and father of current president Benigno Aquino III, called Noynoy.
Traditional Korean Masks
Carved wooden masks with exaggerated features and bright paint are one of the characteristic elements of Korean culture. Korean masks were originally used in shamanist rituals; today, they appear most often in cultural festivals. Learn about the origin and meaning of the masks, and see some of the dozens of mask designs here, as well as pictures of mask-dancers performing.
Asian Nobel Peace Prize Laureates
Since 1973, twelve Asian people have won Nobel Peace Prizes. See the prize winners, and learn more about the reasons they were honored with Nobel Prizes.
Why Was Qin Shi Huangdi Buried with Terracotta...
Why was Qin Shi Huangdi of China buried with an army of terracotta soldiers?
What Role Has the Yellow River Played in...
What role has the Yellow River played in Chinese history?
Genghis Khan | Pictures from the Exhib
Photograph of a Mongolian trebuchet, a type of siege machine used by the army of Genghis Khan. Page 8.
Thailand Facts and History
Profile of the Kingdom of Thailand, including information about the country's government, population, geography, and economy. Also covers briefly the country's history from the Paleolithic Era to the present day.
Learn About Vietnam’s History
Photo of a Vietnamese civilian woman with a gun to her head during the Vietnam War, 1969. Page 17.
The Tibetan Uprising of 1959
In 1951, the People's Republic of China overwhelmed Tibet, and brought it under Chinese control. Five years later, a Tibetan Uprising began. When China moved to crush the Uprising in 1959, the young Dalai Lama barely escaped with his life. He fled into exile in India.
Who Are the Taliban, Really?
Learn more about the group who ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s and continue to fight the US-led coalition today.
Than Shwe of Myanmar (Burma)
Biography of Than Shwe, military dictator and head of the ruling junta in Burma (Myanmar), including his life story and a description of his rule.
History and Facts about Malaysia
The area that is now Malaysia has a rich history stretching back millennia. The country itself, though, is quite young - it was created only in 1963, after throwing off British colonization. Learn more about this fascinating country's history, economy, people and landscapes.
Indian Castes and Feudal Japanese Classes
India's caste system was based on Hinduism, while feudal Japan's four-tiered class structure sprang out of Confucian thought. Nonetheless, the two were remarkably similar in some ways. Compare India's caste system and Japan's four-tiered class structure.
Taiwan | Facts and History
An island in the South China Sea, Taiwan is a manufacturing powerhouse and a democratic nation. It stands in opposition to mainland China, which claims Taiwan as a lost province, but the two have been separate since 1895.
What Was Imperial China's Civil Service Exam...
What was the Chinese civil service exam system? How did this meritocratic system of Confucian study shape imperial China?
Why the Great Wall of China Is So Important
See facts and the more than 2000-year history of the Great Wall of China, one of the engineering marvels of the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What Was the My Lai Massacre?
Learn about the My Lai Massacre, one of the worst atrocities of the Vietnam War.
Learn About the Manchu People
Glossary definition of the term Manchu from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
Japanese Women's Hairstyles Through the Ages
Pictoral history of the evolution of hairstyles in Japan. Noble women throughout the ages followed many fashions in the court of the Japanese Emperor. See some of the different hairdos here.
What You Should Know about Vietnam
Facts about and history of Vietnam, Southeast Asia, from your About.com Expert on Asian History.
What Is a Ronin?
Glossary definition of the term ronin from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
Nepal | Facts and History
Facts and information about Nepal, including its history, people, geography and economy.
What You Should Know About Cambodia
The ancient land of Cambodia was a seat of Southeast Asian culture for centuries. During the 20th century, this nation was rocked by the horrors of World War II, the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge genocide. Learn more about the people, culture, and tragic history of Cambodia.
Timeline of India's Mughal Empire
Timeline of India's glorious Mughal Empire, which ruled the subcontinent from the time of Babar's conquest in 1526 until 1857, when the British Raj took over.
What Is a Sepoy?
Glossary definition of the term Sepoyfrom your About.com Guide to Asian History.
The Iranian Revolution of 1979
Brief history of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, in which Islamic clerics overthrew Shah Pahlavi and established the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Life of Apolinario Mabini, Conscience of...
Apolinario Mabini served as the first Prime Minister of the Philippines. He is called both the brains and the conscience of the revolution.
Chinese History Timeline
Timeline of Chinese History from Peking Man through the modern day.
What Does Bakufu Mean?
Glossary definition of the term bakufu from your About.com Expert on Asian History.
Iran Facts and History
Profile of Iran, formerly known as Persia, including facts about its people, geography, economy and history.
History and facts about Indonesia
The archipelago nation of Indonesia is renowned for its beauty, its arts, its geological instability, and its complicated political and religious life. Learn more about this fascinating country's people, lands, economy and history here!
What Is Bushido?
Glossary definition of the term bushido from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
The Yongle Emperor, Zhu Di
Biography of Zhu Di, a younger son who managed to take power as the Yongle Emperor of China's Ming Dynasty.
Images of the Samurai, Japan's Warriors
Images of samurai warriors and their armor, as well as some modern-day samurai imitators. Includes traditional wood-cut prints, as well as photos of an Edo-era samurai and museum displays of samurai gear.
Learn about India's Dalit or Untouchables
Glossary definition of the term Dalit from your About.com Guide to Asian History.
What Was Japan's Alternate Attendance System?
What was the alternate attendance system in Tokugawa-era Japan? Learn more about this system of social control and economic stimulus here.
Major Periods in Indian History
Timeline of Indian history, from the earliest civilizations to the modern day.
What Was the An Lushan Rebellion?
What was the An Lushan Rebellion? Why did it start, and how did it nearly bring down one of China's most glorious dynasties?
Invention of Paper
Learn more about the invention of paper, which took place in northwestern China around 2000 years ago.
Who Was Sun Yat-Sen?
Sun Yat-Sen is considered the Father of the Nation in both the People's Republic of China and in Taiwan.
The Battle of Badr, 624 CE
The Battle of Badr in March of 624 CE was small in scale, but it signaled the beginning of Islam's incredible expansion over the next two centuries. The Prophet Muhammad and his followers consolidated their position with a key victory over the people of Mecca.
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