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Culture of China
China History
中國歷史
中国历史
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Culture of China

For contemporary culture after 1949, see Culture of the People's Republic of China.

The Culture of China is home to one of the world's oldest and most complex civilizations covering a history of over
5,000 years.. The nation covers a large geographical region with customs and traditions varying greatly between
towns, cities and provinces. Chinese culture is a broad term used to describe the cultural foundation, even
among Chinese-speaking regions outside of mainland China.
A Chinese Opera (Beijing Opera) performance in Beijing, one of the many aspects of traditional Chinese
culture
People in imperial China - Qing dynasty
People in the culture

Identity

Main articles: Ethnic groups in Chinese history and
Ethnic minorities in China
Many ethnic groups have existed in China. In terms of
the numbers, however, the pre-eminent ethnic group is
the Han Chinese. Throughout history, many groups
have been assimilated into neighboring ethnicities or
disappeared without a trace. At the same time, many
within the Han identity have maintained distinct linguistic
and regional cultural traditions. The term Zhonghua
Minzu has been used to describe the notion of Chinese
nationalism in general. Much of the traditional cultural
identity within the community has to do with
distinguishing the family name.


Regional

Traditional Chinese Culture covers a large geographical
territories, each region is usually divided into distinct
sub-cultures. Using modern names, here are some
distinction:

The Yangtze River areas include Sichuan, Yunnan,
Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, Zhejiang and
Jiangsu.
Gold detailing on a throne used by the Qianlong Emperor. Chinese dragon was a
symbol reserved for the Emperor of China or high level imperial families during
the Qing Dynasty
Society

Structure
Main article: Social structure of China

Since the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors period, some form of Chinese
monarch has been the main ruler above all. Different periods of history have different
names for the various positions within society. Conceptually each imperial or feudal
period is similar, with the government and military officials ranking high in the
hierarchy, and the rest of the population under regular Chinese law.[1] Since the late
Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BCE), traditional Chinese society was organized into a
hierarchic system of socio-economic classes known as the four occupations.
However, this system did not cover all social groups while the distinctions between all
groups became blurred ever since the commercialization of Chinese culture in the
Song Dynasty (960–1279 CE). Ancient Chinese education also has a long history;
ever since the Sui Dynasty (581–618 CE) educated candidates prepared for the
Imperial examinations that drafted exam graduates into government as scholar-
bureaucrats. Trades and crafts were usually taught by a sifu. The female historian
Ban Zhao wrote the Lessons for Women in the Han Dynasty and outlined the four
virtues women must abide to, while scholars such as Zhu Xi and Cheng Yi would
expand upon this. Chinese marriage and Taoist sexual practices are some of the
customs and rituals found in society.
Values

Main articles: Chinese philosophy and Religion in China
Most social values are derived from Confucianism and Taoism with a combination of conservatism. The subject
of which school was the most influential is always debated as many concepts such as Neo-Confucianism,
Buddhism and many others have come about. Reincarnation and other rebirth concept is a reminder of the
connection between real-life and the next-life.
Chinese calligraphy written by Song Dynasty (1051-1108 CE) poet Mi Fu
Language
Main articles: Chinese language and History of Standard Mandarin

Spoken Chinese has consisted of a number of Chinese dialects and languages throughout history. In the Ming
Dynasty standard Mandarin was nationalized. Even so, it wasn't until the Republic of China era in the 1900s when
there was any noticeable result in promoting a common unified language in China.

The ancient written standard was Classical Chinese. It was used for thousands of years, but was mostly
reserved for scholars and intellectuals. By the 20th century, millions of citizens, especially those outside of the
imperial court were illiterate[1]. Only after the May 4th Movement did the push for Vernacular Chinese begin. This
allowed common citizens to read since it was modeled after the linguistics and phonology of a spoken language.
A Luohan, one of the spiritual figures shared between Chinese and Indian culture
across different types of Buddhism.
Mythology and spirituality
Main articles: Chinese spiritual world concepts, Chinese mythology, and Chinese folk religion

A large part of Chinese culture is based on the notion that a spiritual world exists. Countless methods of
divination have helped answer questions, even serving as an alternate to medicine. Folklores have helped fill the
gap for things that cannot be explained. There is often a blurred line between myth, religion and unexplained
phenomenon. While many deities are part of the tradition, some of the most recognized holy figures include Guan
Yin, Jade Emperor and Buddha. Many of the stories have since evolved into traditional Chinese holidays. Other
concepts have extended to outside of mythology into spiritual symbols such as Door god and the Imperial
guardian lions. Along with the belief of the holy, there is also the evil. Practices such as Taoist exorcism fighting
megwai and jiang shi with peachwood swords are just some of the concepts passed down from generations. A
few Chinese fortune telling rituals are still in use today after thousands of years of refinement.


Health

A large part of traditional Chinese culture is about finding the balance of Yin and Yang in relation to Qi, health and
the meridian system in order to find harmony. Traditional Chinese medicine consists of a number of treatments
including Chinese herbology and acupuncture. Other less intrusive forms of health improvement include qigong
and meditation.
Sūn Wùkōng in Journey to the West.
Literature
Main article: Chinese literature

The extensive collection of books that have been preserved since the Zhou Dynasty
demonstrate just how advanced the intellectuals were at one time. Indeed, the era
of the Zhou Dynasty is often looked to as the touchstone of Chinese cultural
development. The Five Cardinal Points are the foundation for almost all major
studies. Concepts covered within the Chinese classic texts present a wide range of
subjects including poetry, astrology, astronomy, calendar, constellations and many
others. Some of the most important early texts include I Ching and Shujing within
the Four Books and Five Classics. Many Chinese concepts such as Yin and Yang,
Qi, Four Pillars of Destiny in relation to heaven and earth were all theorized in the
dynastic periods.

Notable confucianists, taoists and scholars of all class have made significant
contributions from documenting history to authoring saintly concepts that seem
hundred of years ahead of time. Many novels such as Four Great Classical Novels
spawned countless fictional stories. By the end of the Qing Dynasty, Chinese
culture would embark on a new era with Vernacular Chinese for the common
citizens. Hu Shih and Lu Xun would be pioneers in modern literature.
Music
Main article: Music of China

The music of China dates back to the dawn of Chinese civilization with documents and artifacts providing evidence of a well-developed musical culture as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1122 BCE - 256
BCE). Some of the oldest written music dates back to Confucius's time. The first major well-documented flowering of Chinese music was for the qin during the Tang Dynasty, though it is known to have
played a major part before the Han Dynasty.
Arts

For all major visual, performance or artistic categories, see Chinese art.
Different forms of art have swayed under the influence of great philosophers, teachers, religious figures and even
political figures. Chinese art encompasses all facets of fine art, folk art and performance art. Porcelain pottery
was one of the first forms of art in the Palaeolithic period. Early Chinese music and poetry was influenced by the
Book of Songs, Confucius and the Chinese poet and statesman Qu Yuan. Chinese painting became a highly
appreciated art in court circles encompassing a wide variety of Shan shui with specialized styles such as Ming
Dynasty painting. Early Chinese music was based on percussion instruments, which later gave away to string
and reed instruments. By the Han dynasty papercutting became a new art form after the invention of paper.
Chinese opera would also be introduced and branched regionally in additional to other performance formats
such as variety arts.
A Tang Dynasty tri-color Chinese glazed horse circa 700 CE
Demonstrating Kung Fu at Daxiangguo Monastery, Kaifeng, Henan.
Martial arts
Main articles: Chinese
martial arts and List of
Chinese martial arts

China is one of the main
birth places of Eastern
martial arts. The names of
martial arts were called
Kung Fu or its first name
Wushu. China also
includes the home to the
well-respected Shaolin
Monastery and Wudang
Mountains. The first
generation of art started more for the purpose of survival and warfare than art. Overtime, some art forms have
branched off, while others have retained a distinct Chinese flavor. Regardless, China has brewed some of the
most renowned martial artists including Wong Fei Hung and many others. The art have also co-existed with a
variety of weapons including the more standard 18 arms. Legendary and controversial moves like Dim Mak are
also praised and talked about within the culture.
Fashion
Main article: Clothing of China

Different social class in different time eras boast different fashion trends. China's fashion history covers hundreds of years with some of the most colorful and diverse arrangements. Fashionable but
questionable practices such as footbinding have also been part of the culture. Many symbols such as phoenix have been used for decorative as well as economic purposes.
A north corner of Forbidden City, featuring classic construction style
Architecture
Main article: Chinese architecture

Chinese architecture, examples of which can be found from over 2,000 years ago,
has long been a hallmark of the culture. There are certain features common to
Chinese architecture, regardless of specific region or use. The most important is its
emphasis on width, as the wide halls of the Forbidden City serve as an example. In
contrast, western architecture emphasize on height, though there are exceptions
such as pagodas.

Another important feature is symmetry, which connotes a sense of grandeur as it
applies to everything from palaces to farmhouses. One notable exception is in the
design of gardens, which tends to be as asymmetrical as possible. Like Chinese
scroll paintings, the principle underlying the garden's composition is to create
enduring flow, to let the patron wander and enjoy the garden without prescription, as
in nature herself. Feng shui has played an important part in structural development.
Chinese meal in Suzhou with rice, shrimp, eggplant, fermented tofu, vegetable
stir-fry, vegetarian duck with meat and bamboo
Cuisine
Main article: Chinese cuisine

The overwhelmingly large variety mainly comes from the emperors hosting a banquet of 100 dishes each
meal[2]. Countless number of imperial kitchen staff and concubines were involved in the food preparation
process. Overtime, many dishes became part of the everyday-citizen culture. Some of the highest quality
restaurants with recipes close to the dynastic periods include Fangshan restaurant in Beihai Park Beijing and the
Oriole Pavilion[2]. Arguably all branches of Hong Kong eastern style or even American Chinese food are in some
ways rooted from the original dynastic cuisines.
Leisure

A number of games and pastimes are popular within Chinese culture. The most common game is Mah Jong. The same pieces are used for other styled games such as Shanghai Solitaire. Others
include Pai Gow, Pai gow poker and other bone domino games. Go proverb and Xiangqi is also popular. Ethnic games like Chinese yo-yo are also part of the culture.
Gallery
The Chinese Dragon, Fu dog and incense comprise three symbols within
traditional Chinese culture.
No. 4 of Ten Thousand Scenes (十萬圖之四). Painting by Ren Xiong, a pioneer of the Shanghai School of
Chinese art circa 1850
A goldfish pond is a signature Chinese scenery depicted in countless art work.
"Nine Dragons" handscroll section, by Chen Rong, 1244 CE, Chinese Song
Dynasty, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
References

^ a b Mente, Boye De. [2000] (2000). The Chinese Have a Word for it: The Complete Guide to Chinese thought and Culture. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 0658010786
^ a b Kong, Foong, Ling. [2002] (2002). The Food of Asia. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0794601464
See also

External links





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