First off, as promised, some of the more clear (and English) maps I was able to find regarding this period…
Here’s what Asia looked like as of 400 CE – i.e. smack-dab in the middle of the 16 Kingdoms Period:
Also note the locations of the Ruan-Ruan and Tuyuhun Khannates to the North and West of China, respectively.
Next, China in 410. This one I felt does a particularly good job of showing just how far off Northern Liang (light green) is, which is one of the reasons it managed to evade Northern Wei’s interests for so long:
Finally, here’s what China would have looked like by the end of our episode:
General Tan Daoji, epic badass of Jin and Liu Song wrongfully condemned by his treacherous monarch, Emperor Wen:
Next up, some impressions of what fashion and war-gear in Northern Wei likely looked like. It is an interesting blend of Chinese and Xianbei elements; silks and furs, form and function:
Laozi, progenitor of Daoism and ascended Celestial Master… quite possibly the Eternal Dao itself in human garb:
Monk Kumarajiva: traveling Buddhist scholar from Kuqa, who brought Buddhism more fully into Chinese culture by beautifully translating the holy Sutras into a readable, relatable form.
Lastly, Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei… as rendered in stone by adherents to the Northern Way of the Celestial Masters Sect. I include this only to point out how quintessentially “Buddhist” the nominally Daoist art, manner, and teachings had become.