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A dynasty is a line of rulers from the same family, usually in the context of a feudal or monarchical system but sometimes also appearing in elective republics. The dynastic family or lineage is known as a house; this may be styled "royal", "princely", "comital", etc. depending upon the chief or present title borne by its members. The names of the dynasty and the house are not always identical: the Han dynasty of Chinese history, for example, was ruled by the Liu family. Historians consider many sovereign states' histories—particularly Ancient Egypt and Imperial China—within a framework of successive dynasties. As such, the term "dynasty" may be used to delimit the era during which the family reigned and to describe the events, trends, and artifacts of that period ("a Ming-dynasty vase"). The word "dynasty" itself is often dropped from such adjectival references ("a Ming vase").
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