Most European audiences know this period from Oriental pop culture sources such as wuxia movies, or Japanese works such as the Dynasty Warriors series of games and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms anime, though most of these are based on much older Chinese novels, folk-stories and other source material.
Life in Imperial China, according to this view, apparently involved lots of politics and betrayal around the Emperor's solid gold palace, punctuated by battles featuring big hulky brocade-wearing brutes mowing down peasant soldiers by the thousands with their flashy musou attacks. When you met a fair maiden, either she was skilled enough with martial arts to kick your butt, or she was a supernatural creature in disguise.
Popular tropes from this time period are:
- Arranged Marriage
- Decadent Court
- The Emperor
- Eunuchs Are Evil
- Evil Chancellor
- Honor Before Reason
- Implausible Fencing Powers
- Improbable Weapon User
- Knight Errant
- Named Weapon
- Old Master
- Red String of Fate
- Reincarnation Romance
- Shapeshifting Lover
- Star-Crossed Lovers
- Supernatural Martial Arts
Chinese works set in this era:
- Most wuxia books, films, TV series etc.
- The Assassin
- The Burning of Red Lotus Temple
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
- Curse of the Golden Flower
- Detective Dee
- The Emperor and the Assassin
- Fearless (2006)
- Flowers of Shanghai
- The Great Wall
- Green Snake
- House of Flying Daggers
- Legend of the Black Scorpion
- Once Upon a Time in China
- The Promise 2005
- Red Cliff
- Tai Chi Master
- Warriors of Heaven and Earth
- For that matter, more Chinese historical dramas than you can shake a stick at, many of them set in the Qing Dynasty. If you see a queue (that distinctive long pigtail combined with shaved forehead), it's Qing.
- Most Chinese opera
Japanese works set in this era:
- The Favorite by Inoue Yasushi is about Yang Guifei.
Western Works set in this era:
- The Judge Dee novels and short stories, though the first is a translation of a Chinese story.
- Several novels by Pearl Buck, including The Good Earth and Peony.
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
- Bridge of Birds and its sequels appear in a version where All Myths Are True.
- L'Impératrice de la Soie trilogy by José Frèches.
- Lady of Ch'iao Kuo: Warrior of the South by Lawrence Yep, from The Royal Diaries series.
- Under Heaven and River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay.
- Interesting Times is an Up to Eleven parody of Imperial China (with bits of Japan thrown in) set in a Discworld context.
- Some parts of the first Kung Fu TV series.
- The stage play and later opera, Turandot.
- Season 4 Episode 4 of Escape the Night depicts ancient China as its setting.