Chinese culture (simplified Chinese: 中华文化; traditional
Chinese: 中華文化; pinyin: Zhōnghuá wénhuà) is one of the
world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The
area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical
region in eastern
Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly
between provinces, cities, and even towns as well. With
one of the earliest ancient civilizations,
Chinese culture is
extremely diverse and varying, and it has a profound effect in the
philosophy, virtue, etiquette and traditions of
Asia to date.
Chinese culture is considered the dominant culture in East Asia
historically. Chinese language, ceramics, architecture, music, dance,
literature, martial arts, cuisine, visual arts, philosophy, business
etiquette, religion, politics and history have a profound impact on
the world, while its traditions and festivals are also celebrated,
instilled and practiced by people around Asia.
3 Society and structure
4 Spirituality and values
4.2 Philosophy and legalism
4.3 Hundred Schools of Thought
Poetry in Tang dynasty
7.2 Ci in Song dynasty
7.3 Qu in Yuan dynasty
7.4 The novels in
Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty
8 Fashion and clothing
9.1 Chinese lantern
9.2 Carved lacquer
9.3 Folding screen
9.4 Chinese jade
10 Music, instruments and dancing
11.1 Chinese palace
11.3 Chinese garden
12 Martial arts
14.2 Food culture
15 Major subcultures
17 See also
20 External links
Qin Dynasty to the late
Qing Dynasty (221 BC-AD 1840), the
Chinese government divided
Chinese people into four classes: landlord,
peasant, craftsmen, and merchant. Landlords and peasants constituted
the two major classes, while merchant and craftsmen were collected
into the two minor. Theoretically, except for the position of the
Emperor, nothing was hereditary.
Han Chinese are an East Asian ethnic group and nation. They
constitute approximately 92% of the population of China, 95% of
Taiwan (Han Taiwanese), 76% of Singapore, 23% of Malaysia,
and about 17% of the global population, making them the world's
largest ethnic group, numbering over 1.3 billion people.
In modern China, there are 56 officially labelled ethnic groups in
China. Throughout history, many groups have merged into
neighboring ethnicities or disappeared. At the same time, many within
the Han identity have maintained distinct linguistic and regional
cultural traditions. The term
Zhonghua Minzu (Chinese:
中华民族，中華民族) has been used to describe the notion of
Chinese nationalism in general. Much of the traditional identity
within the community has to do with distinguishing the family name.
Main article: List of regions of the People's Republic of China
During the 361 years of civil war after the
Han dynasty (202 BC –
220 AD), there was a partial restoration of feudalism when wealthy and
powerful families emerged with large amounts of land and huge numbers
of semi-serfs. They dominated important civilian and military
positions of the government, making the positions available to members
of their own families and clans. After the Tang dynasty's
yellow[clarification needed] emergence, the government extended the
imperial examination system as an attempt to eradicate this
feudalism. Traditional
Chinese culture covers large
geographical territories, where each region is usually divided into
distinct sub-cultures. Each region is often represented by three
ancestral items. For example,
Guangdong is represented by chenpi, aged
ginger and hay. Others include ancient cities like Lin'an
(Hangzhou), which include tea leaf, bamboo shoot trunk, and hickory
nut. Such distinctions give rise to the old Chinese proverb:
"十里不同風, 百里不同俗/十里不同風": "praxis vary
within ten li, customs vary within a hundred li". The 31
provincial-level divisions of the People's Republic of
by its former administrative areas from 1949 to 1952, which are now
known as traditional regions.
Society and structure
Nine Dragons (九龍璧/九龙璧) Stone in Imperial Temple. It was a
symbol and representative for the Son of Heaven, the Mandate of
Celestial Empire and the
Chinese Tributary System during
the history of China.
Main article: Social structure of China
Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors
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. From the
Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE) onwards, 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
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 which drafted exam graduates into government as
scholar-bureaucrats.This led to the creation of a meritocracy,
although success was available only to males who could afford test
preparation. Imperial examinations required applicants to write essays
and demonstrate mastery of the Confucian classics. Those who passed
the highest level of the exam became elite scholar-officials known as
jinshi, a highly esteemed socio-economic position. A major
mythological structure developed around the topic of the mythology of
the imperial exams. Trades and crafts were usually taught by a shifu.
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
Taoist sexual practices
Taoist sexual practices are some of the rituals and
customs found in society.
With the rise of European economic and military power beginning in the
mid-19th century, non-Chinese systems of social and political
organization gained adherents in China. Some of these would-be
reformers totally rejected China's cultural legacy, while others
sought to combine the strengths of Chinese and European cultures. In
essence, the history of 20th-century
China is one of experimentation
with new systems of social, political, and economic organization that
would allow for the reintegration of the nation in the wake of
Spirituality and values
Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha (乐山大佛/樂山大佛) – The largest Buddha
in the world.
Main articles: Chinese spiritual world concepts, Chinese Buddhism, and
Most spirituality are derived from Chinese Buddhism,
Confucianism. The subject of which school was the most influential is
always debated as many concepts such as Neo-Confucianism,
many others have come about.
Reincarnation and other rebirth concept
is a reminder of the connection between real-life and the after-life.
In Chinese business culture, the concept of guanxi, indicating the
primacy of relations over rules, has been well documented. While
many deities are part of the tradition, some of the most recognized
holy figures include Guan Yin, the
Jade Emperor and Buddha.
Chinese Buddhism has shaped
Chinese culture in a wide variety of areas
including art, politics, literature, philosophy, medicine, and
material culture.The translation of a large body of Indian Buddhist
scriptures into Chinese and the inclusion of these translations
together with works composed in
China into a printed canon had
far-reaching implications for the dissemination of
the Chinese cultural sphere, including Korea, Japan, Ryukyu Islands
Chinese Buddhism is also marked by the interaction
between Indian religions, Chinese religion, and Taoism.
Taoism died the Chinese Dragon, imperial guardian lions
(石獅子/石狮子) and joss stick comprise three symbols within
traditional Chinese culture.
Main articles: Religion in China, Taoism, Chinese folk religion, and
Fortune-telling § Eastern fortune telling
Chinese religion was originally oriented to worshipping the supreme
Shang Di during the Xia and Shang dynasties, with the king and
diviners acting as priests and using oracle bones. The Zhou dynasty
oriented it to worshipping the broader concept of heaven. A large part
Chinese culture is based on the notion that a spiritual world
exists. Countless methods of divination have helped answer questions,
even serving as an alternative to medicine. Folklores have helped fill
the gap between things that cannot be explained. There is often a
blurred line between myth, religion and unexplained phenomenon.Many of
the stories have since evolved into traditional Chinese holidays.
Other concepts have extended to the 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 mogwai and jiangshi 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.
Taoism is a religious or philosophical tradition of Chinese origin
which emphasizes living in harmony with the
Tao (道, literally "Way",
also romanized as Dao). The
Tao is a fundamental idea in most Chinese
philosophical schools; in Taoism, however, it denotes the principle
that is the source, pattern and substance of everything that
Taoism differs from
Confucianism by not emphasizing
rigid rituals and social order. Taoist ethics vary depending on
the particular school, but in general tend to emphasize wu wei
(effortless action), "naturalness", simplicity, spontaneity, and the
Three Treasures: 慈 "compassion", 儉/俭 "frugality", and 谦
"humility". The roots of
Taoism go back at least to the 4th century
Taoism drew its cosmological notions from the School of
Yinyang (Naturalists), and was deeply influenced by one of the oldest
texts of Chinese culture, the Yijing, which expounds a philosophical
system about how to keep human behavior in accordance with the
alternating cycles of nature. The "Legalist"
Shen Buhai may also have
been a major influence, expounding a realpolitik of wu wei. The
Tao Te Ching, a compact book containing teachings attributed to Laozi
(Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ; Wade–Giles: Lao Tzu), is widely
considered the keystone work of the Taoist tradition, together with
the later writings of Zhuangzi.
Philosophy and legalism
Temple of Confucius
Temple of Confucius of Jiangyin, Wuxi, Jiangsu. This is a wénmiào
(文廟/文庙), that is to say a temple where
Confucius is worshipped
as Wéndì (文帝), "God of Culture."
Main articles: Chinese philosophy, Confucianism, and Legalism (Chinese
Confucianism, also known as Ruism, was always being the official
philosophy throughout most of Imperial China's history, and mastery of
Confucian texts was the primary criterion for entry into the imperial
bureaucracy. A number of more authoritarian strains of thought have
also been influential, such as Legalism.There was often conflict
between the philosophies, e.g. the
Song Dynasty Neo-Confucians
believed Legalism departed from the original spirit of Confucianism.
Examinations and a culture of merit remain greatly valued in China
today. In recent years, a number of New Confucians (not to be confused
with Neo-Confucianism) have advocated that democratic ideals and human
rights are quite compatible with traditional Confucian "Asian
Confucianism is described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a
humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing, or simply a
way of life.
Confucianism developed from what was later called the
Hundred Schools of Thought
Hundred Schools of Thought from the teachings of the Chinese
Confucius (551–479 BCE), who considered himself a
retransmitter of the values of the
Zhou dynasty golden age of several
centuries before. In the
Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE),
Confucian approaches edged out the "proto-Taoist" Huang-Lao, as the
official ideology while the emperors mixed both with the realist
techniques of Legalism.
Hundred Schools of Thought
A bamboo book (汉书/漢書) of the Art of War.
Main articles: Hundred Schools of Thought, Mohism, The Art of War, and
School of Naturalists
Hundred Schools of Thought
Hundred Schools of Thought were philosophies and schools that
flourished from the 6th century to 221 BC, during the Spring and
Autumn period and the
Warring States period
Warring States period of ancient China. An
era of great cultural and intellectual expansion in China, it was
fraught with chaos and bloody battles, but it was also known as the
Golden Age of
Chinese philosophy because a broad range of thoughts and
ideas were developed and discussed freely. This phenomenon has been
called the Contention of a Hundred Schools of Thought
(百家爭鳴/百家争鸣; bǎijiā zhēngmíng; pai-chia cheng-ming;
"hundred schools contend"). The thoughts and ideas discussed and
refined during this period have profoundly influenced lifestyles and
social consciousness up to the present day in East Asian countries and
the East Asian diaspora around the world. The intellectual society of
this era was characterized by itinerant scholars, who were often
employed by various state rulers as advisers on the methods of
government, war, and diplomacy. This period ended with the rise of the
Qin Dynasty and the subsequent purge of dissent. A
traditional source for this period is the Shiji, or Records of the
Grand Historian by Sima Qian. The autobiographical section of the
Shiji, the "Taishigong Zixu" (太史公自序), refers to the schools
of thought described below.
Mohism was an ancient
Chinese philosophy of logic, rational thought
and science developed by the academic scholars who studied under the
ancient Chinese philosopher
Mozi (c. 470 BC–c. 391 BC) and embodied
in an eponymous book: the Mozi. Another group is the School of the
Military (兵家; Bingjia) that studied warfare and strategy; Sunzi
Sun Bin were influential leaders. The
School of Naturalists
School of Naturalists was a
Warring States era philosophy that synthesized the concepts of
yin-yang and the Five Elements;
Zou Yan is considered the founder of
this school. His theory attempted to explain the universe in terms
of basic forces in nature: the complementary agents of yin (dark,
cold, female, negative) and yang (light, hot, male, positive) and the
Five Elements or Five Phases (water, fire, wood, metal, and earth).
Range of Chinese dialect groups according to the Language Atlas of
Chinese language and History of Mandarin
The ancient written standard was Classical Chinese. It was used for
thousands of years, but was mostly used by scholars and intellectuals
which forms the "top" class of the society called "shi da fu
(士大夫)". It is difficult but possible for ordinary people to
promote his class by passing written exams.
Calligraphy later became
commercialized, and works by famous artists became prized possessions.
Chinese literature has a long past; the earliest classic work in
I Ching or "Book of Changes" dates to around 1000 BC. A
flourishing of philosophy during the
Warring States period
Warring States period produced
such noteworthy works as Confucius's
Analects and Laozi's
Ching. (See also: the Chinese classics.) Dynastic histories were often
written, beginning with Sima Qian's seminal Records of the Grand
Historian, which was written from 109 BC to 91 BC.The Tang Dynasty
witnessed a poetic flowering, while the
Four Great Classical Novels of
Chinese literature were written during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Printmaking in the form of movable type was developed during the Song
Dynasty. Academies of scholars sponsored by the empire were formed to
comment on the classics in both printed and handwritten form. Royalty
frequently participated in these discussions as well.
Chinese philosophers, writers and poets were highly respected and
played key roles in preserving and promoting the culture of the
empire. Some classical scholars, however, were noted for their daring
depictions of the lives of the common people, often to the displeasure
of authorities.At the start of the 20th century, most of the
population were still illiterate, and the many mutually-unintelligible
languages spoken (Mandarin, Wu, Yue (Cantonese),
Min Nan (Ban-lam-gu),
Jin, Xiang, Hakka, Gan, Hui, Ping etc.) in different regions prevented
communication with people from other areas. Nevertheless, the written
language keeps the communication open and passing the official orders
and documentations throughout the entire region of China. Reformers
set out to establish a national language, settling on the
Beijing-based Mandarin as the spoken form. After the May 4th Movement,
Classical Chinese was quickly replaced by written vernacular Chinese,
modeled after the vocabulary and grammar of the standard spoken
Chinese calligraphy written by the poet Wang Xianzi (王羲之) of the
Main article: Chinese calligraphy
Chinese calligraphy is a form of aesthetically pleasing writing
(calligraphy), or, the artistic expression of human language in a
tangible form. This type of expression has been widely practiced in
China and has been generally highly esteemed in the Chinese cultural
sphere (including, historically, for example, Japan, Korea, Taiwan,
and Vietnam). There are some general standardizations of the various
styles of calligraphy in this tradition.
Chinese calligraphy and ink
and wash painting are closely related: they are accomplished using
similar tools and techniques, and have a long history of shared
artistry. Distinguishing features of
Chinese painting and calligraphy
include an emphasis on motion charged with dynamic life. According to
Calligraphy is sheer life experienced through energy
in motion that is registered as traces on silk or paper, with time and
rhythm in shifting space its main ingredients."
also led to the development of many forms of art in China, including
seal carving, ornate paperweights, and inkstones.
In China, calligraphy is referred to as Shūfǎ (書法/书法),
literally: "the way/method/law of writing"; Shodō (書道/书道)
Japan (literally: "the way/principle of writing"); and Seoye
(서예; 書藝) in
Korea (literally: "the skill/criterion of
Chinese calligraphy is normally regarded as one of the
"arts" (Chinese 藝術/艺术 pinyin: yìshù) in the countries where
it is practised.
Chinese calligraphy focuses not only on methods of
writing but also on cultivating one's character (人品) and
taught as a pursuit (－書法; pinyin: shūfǎ, "the rules of writing
Main article: Chinese literature
Zhou dynasty is often regarded as the touchstone of Chinese
cultural development. 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 the
I Ching and the Shujing within the
Four Books and Five Classics. Many Chinese concepts such as Yin and
Four Pillars of Destiny in relation to heaven and earth were
theorized in the pre-imperial periods. By the end of the Qing dynasty,
Chinese culture would embark on a new era with written vernacular
Chinese for the common citizens.
Hu Shih and
Lu Xun would be pioneers
in modern literature. After the founding of the People's Republic of
China, the study of Chinese modern literature has gradually been
increased over time. Modern-era literature has formed an aspect in the
process of forming modern interpretations of nationhood and creation
of a sense of national spirit.
Poetry in Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty era copy of the preface to the
Lantingji Xu poems
composed at the Orchid Pavilion Gathering, originally attributed to
Wang Xizhi (303–361 AD) of the Jin dynasty
Main article: Tang poetry
Tang poetry refers to poetry written in or around the time of or in
the characteristic style of China's
Tang dynasty (June 18, 618 –
June 4, 907, including the 690–705 reign of Wu Zetian) or follows a
certain style, often considered as the
Golden Age of Chinese poetry.
Quantangshi includes over 48,900 poems written by over 2,200
authors. During the Tang dynasty, poetry continued to be an important
part of social life at all levels of society.
Scholars were required
to master poetry for the civil service exams, but the art was
theoretically available to everyone. This led to a large record of
poetry and poets, a partial record of which survives today. Two of the
most famous poets of the period were
Li Bai and Du Fu.
Tang poetry has
had an ongoing influence on world literature and modern and
quasi-modern poetry. The
Quantangshi ("Complete Tang Poems") anthology
compiled in the early eighteenth century includes over 48,900 poems
written by over 2,200 authors. The Quantangwen (全唐文,
"Complete Tang Prose"), despite its name, contains more than 1,500 fu
and is another widely consulted source for Tang poetry. Despite
their names, these sources are not comprehensive, and the manuscripts
discovered at Dunhuang in the twentieth century included many shi and
some fu, as well as variant readings of poems that were also included
in the later anthologies. There are also collections of individual
poets' work, which generally can be dated earlier than the Qing
anthologies, although few earlier than the eleventh century. Only
about a hundred Tang poets have such collected editions extant.
Another important source is anthologies of poetry compiled during the
Tang dynasty, although only thirteen such anthologies survive in full
or in part. Many records of poetry, as well as other writings,
were lost when the Tang capital of
Changan was damaged by war in the
eighth and ninth centuries, so that while more than 50,000 Tang poems
survive (more than any earlier period in Chinese history), this still
likely represents only a small portion of the poetry that was actually
produced during the period. Many seventh-century poets are
reported by the 721 imperial library catalog as having left behind
massive volumes of poetry, of which only a tiny portion survives,
and there are notable gaps in the poetic œuvres of even
Li Bai and Du
Fu, the two most celebrated Tang poets.
Ci in Song dynasty
The study house of
Li Qingzhao (李清照), who was a famous Chinese
Ci writer and poet in the Song dynasty.
Main article: Ci (poetry)
Ci (辭/辞) are a poetic form, a type of lyric poetry, done in the
Classical Chinese poetry. Ci use a set of poetic meters
derived from a base set of certain patterns, in fixed-rhythm,
fixed-tone, and variable line-length formal types, or model examples:
the rhythmic and tonal pattern of the ci are based upon certain,
definitive musical song tunes. They are also known as Changduanju
(長短句/长短句, "lines of irregular lengths") and Shiyu
(詩餘/诗馀, "that which is beside poetry").Typically the number of
characters in each line and the arrangement of tones were determined
by one of around 800 set patterns, each associated with a particular
title, called cípái 詞牌/词牌. Originally they were written to
be sung to a tune of that title, with set rhythm, rhyme, and tempo.
Song dynasty was also a period of great scientific literature, and
saw the creation of works such as Su Song's Xin Yixiang Fayao and Shen
Kuo's Dream Pool Essays. There were also enormous works of
historiography and large encyclopedias, such as Sima Guang's Zizhi
Tongjian of 1084 or the
Four Great Books of Song fully compiled and
edited by the 11th century. Notable Confucianists, Taoists and
scholars of all classes have made significant contributions to and
from documenting history to authoring saintly concepts that seem
hundred of years ahead of time. Although the oldest surviving textual
examples of surviving ci are from 8th century CE Dunhuang
manuscripts, beginning in the poetry of the Liang Dynasty, the ci
followed the tradition of the
Shi Jing and the yuefu: they were lyrics
which developed from anonymous popular songs into a sophisticated
literary genre; although in the case of the ci form some of its
fixed-rhythm patterns have an origin in Central Asia. The form was
further developed in the Tang Dynasty. Although the contributions of
Li Bo (also known as Li Po, 701 – 762) are fraught with historical
doubt, certainly the Tang poet
Wen Tingyun (812–870) was a great
master of the ci, writing it in its distinct and mature form. One
of the more notable practitioners and developers of this form was Li
Yu of the Southern
Tang Dynasty during the Five Dynasties and Ten
Kingdoms period. However, the ci form of
Classical Chinese poetry is
especially associated with the poetry of the Song Dynasty, during
which it was indeed a popular poetic form. A revival of the ci poetry
form occurred during the end of the
Ming Dynasty and the beginning of
Qing Dynasty which was characterized by an exploration of the
emotions connected with romantic love together with its valorization,
often in a context of a brief poetic story narrative within a ci poem
or a linked group of ci poems in an application of the chuanqi form of
short story tales to poetry.
Qu in Yuan dynasty
A mural of Yuan Qu performance.
Main article: Qu (poetry)
The Qu form of poetry is a type of
Classical Chinese poetry form,
consisting of words written in one of a number of certain, set tone
patterns, based upon the tunes of various songs. Thus Qu poems are
lyrics with lines of varying longer and shorter lengths, set according
to the certain and specific, fixed patterns of rhyme and tone of
conventional musical pieces upon which they are based and after which
these matched variations in lyrics (or individual Qu poems) generally
take their name. The fixed-tone type of verse such as the Qu and
the ci together with the shi and fu forms of poetry comprise the three
main forms of
Classical Chinese poetry. In Chinese literature, the Qu
(Chinese: 曲; pinyin: qǔ; Wade–Giles: chü) form of poetry from
Yuan dynasty may be called Yuanqu (元曲 P: Yuánqǔ, W:
Yüan-chü). Qu may be derived from Chinese opera, such as the Zaju
(雜劇/杂剧), in which case these Qu may be referred to as sanqu
(散曲). The San in Sanqu refers to the detached status of the Qu
lyrics of this verse form: in other words, rather than being embedded
as part of an opera performance the lyrics stand separately on their
own. Since the Qu became popular during the late Southern Song
Dynasty, and reached a special height of popularity in the poetry of
the Yuan dynasty, therefore it is often called Yuanqu (元曲),
specifying the type of Qu found in
Chinese opera typical of the Yuan
dynasty era. Both Sanqu and Ci are lyrics written to fit a different
melodies, but Sanqu differs from Ci in that it is more colloquial, and
is allowed to contain Chenzi (襯字/衬字 "filler words" which are
additional words to make a more complete meaning). Sanqu can be
further divided into Xiaoling (小令) and Santao (散套), with the
latter containing more than one melody.
The novels in
Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty
A piece of novel called Dream of the Red Chamber. It recorded the
highest level of Chinese literature. This image is a series of brush
Qing Dynasty artist Sun Wen (1818–1904), depicting a
scene from the novel.
Main article: Four Great Classical Novels
The Four Great Classical or Classic
Novels of Chinese
literature[a] are the four novels commonly regarded by Chinese
literary criticism to be the greatest and most influential of
pre-modern Chinese fiction. Dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties,
they are well-known to most Chinese either directly or through their
many adaptations to
Chinese opera and other popular culture media.They
are among the world's longest and oldest novels and are considered
to be the pinnacle of China's achievement in classic novels,
influencing the creation of many stories, plays, movies, games, and
other forms of entertainment throughout countries in East Asia,
including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
Chinese fiction, rooted in narrative classics such as Shishuo Xinyu,
Sou Shen Ji, Wenyuan Yinghua, Da Tang Xiyu Ji, Youyang Zazu, Taiping
Guangji, and official histories, developed into the novel as early as
the Song Dynasty. The novel as an extended prose narrative which
realistically creates a believable world of its own evolved in China
and in Europe from the 14th to 18th centuries, though a little earlier
in China. Chinese audiences were more interested in history and were
more historically minded. They appreciated relative optimism, moral
humanism, and relative emphasis on collective behavior and the welfare
of the society.
The rise of a money economy and urbanization beginning in the Song era
led to a professionalization of entertainment which was further
encouraged by the spread of printing, the rise of literacy, and
education. In both
China and Western Europe, the novel gradually
became more autobiographical and serious in exploration of social,
moral, and philosophical problems. Chinese fiction of the late Ming
dynasty and early
Qing dynasty was varied, self-conscious, and
experimental. In China, however, there was no counterpart to the
19th-century European explosion of novels. The novels of the Ming and
early Qing dynasties represented a pinnacle of classic Chinese
fiction. The scholar and literary critic
Andrew H. Plaks argues
that Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, Journey to the West,
The Golden Lotus
The Golden Lotus collectively constituted a technical breakthrough
reflecting new cultural values and intellectual concerns. Their
educated editors, authors, and commentators used the narrative
conventions developed from earlier story-tellers, such as the episodic
structure, interspersed songs and folk sayings, or speaking directly
to the reader, but they fashioned self-consciously ironic narratives
whose seeming familiarity camouflaged a Neo-Confucian moral critique
of late Ming decadence. Plaks explores the textual history of the
novels (all published after their author's deaths, usually
anonymously) and how the ironic and satiric devices of these novels
paved the way for the great novels of the 18th century. Plaks
further shows these Ming novels share formal characteristics.
Fashion and clothing
Main articles: Chinese clothing, Hanfu, and Qipao
China's fashion history covers hundreds of years with some of the most
colorful and diverse arrangements. Different social classes in
different eras boast different fashion trends, the color yellow was
usually reserved for the emperor during China's Imperial era.
Zhu Youyuan (A
Chinese Emperor of Ming Dynasty) wore Han Chinese
clothing – Hanfu.(汉服，漢服)
From the beginning of its history, Han clothing (especially in elite
circles) was inseparable from silk, supposedly discovered by the
Yellow Emperor's consort, Leizu. The dynasty to follow the Shang, the
Western Zhou Dynasty, established a strict hierarchical society that
used clothing as a status meridian, and inevitably, the height of
one's rank influenced the ornateness of a costume. Such markers
included the length of a skirt, the wideness of a sleeve and the
degree of ornamentation. In addition to these class-oriented
Chinese clothing became looser, with the
introduction of wide sleeves and jade decorations hung from the sash
which served to keep the yi closed. The yi was essentially wrapped
over, in a style known as jiaoling youren, or wrapping the right side
over before the left, because of the initially greater challenge to
the right-handed wearer (people of Zhongyuan discouraged
left-handedness like many other historical cultures, considering it
unnatural, barbarian, uncivilized, and unfortunate). The Shang Dynasty
(c. 1600 BC – 1000 BC), developed the rudiments of Hanfu; it
consisted of a yi, a narrow-cuffed, knee-length tunic tied with a
sash, and a narrow, ankle-length skirt, called chang, worn with a
bixi, a length of fabric that reached the knees. Vivid primary colors
and green were used, due to the degree of technology at the time. Some
research claim that historical records in Tang, Song and Ming
dynasties also used this term "Hanfu" to refer the traditional dress
of Han people, yet scholarly research indicates that
the modern definition of "Hanfu" was created on
Baidu Baike and other
Chinese websites by internet users, and the various styles of clothing
during the Tang, Song, and Ming dynasties were referred to by their
own names during their respective time periods.According
to Zhang Xian (張跣), a professor of
China Youth University of
Political Studies, the modern definition of "Hanfu" is a problematic
concept publicized by advocates of
Hanfu movement. These advocates are
mostly students, who created a non-academic, non-official standard of
Hanfu that refers to the historical dress of the
Han Chinese before
Qing dynasty and published it on Baidu Baike.
Chinese Emperor of Qing Dynasty) wore Manchurian Chinese
clothing – Qipao.(旗袍)
During the Qing Dynasty, China's last imperial dynasty, a dramatic
shift of clothing occurred, examples of which include the cheongsam
(or qipao in Mandarin). The clothing of the era before the Qing
Dynasty is referred to as
Hanfu or traditional
Han Chinese clothing.
Many symbols such as phoenix have been used for decorative as well as
economic purposes. Among them were the Banners (qí), mostly Manchu,
who as a group were called Banner People (旗人 pinyin: qí rén).
Manchu women typically wore a one-piece dress that retrospectively
came to be known as the qípáo (旗袍, Manchu: sijigiyan or banner
gown). The generic term for both the male and the female forms of
Manchu dress, essentially similar garments, was chángpáo
(長袍/长袍). The qipao fitted loosely and hung straight down the
body, or flared slightly in an A-line. Under the dynastic laws after
Han Chinese in the banner system were forced to adopt the
Manchu male hairstyle of wearing a queue as did all
Manchu men and
Manchu qipao. However, the order for ordinary non-Banner Han
civilians to wear
Manchu clothing was lifted and only Han who served
as officials were required to wear
Manchu clothing, with the rest of
the civilian Han population dressing however they wanted. Qipao
covered most of the woman's body, revealing only the head, hands, and
the tips of the toes. The baggy nature of the clothing also served to
conceal the figure of the wearer regardless of age. With time, though,
the qipao were tailored to become more form fitting and revealing. The
modern version, which is now recognized popularly in
China as the
"standard" qipao, was first developed in
Shanghai in the 1920s, partly
under the influence of
Beijing styles. People eagerly sought a more
modernized style of dress and transformed the old qipao to suit their
tastes. Slender and form fitting with a high cut, it had great
differences from the traditional qipao. It was high-class courtesans
and celebrities in the city that would make these redesigned tight
fitting qipao popular at that time. In
Shanghai it was first known
as zansae or "long dress" (長衫—Mandarin Chinese: chángshān;
Shanghainese: zansae; Cantonese: chèuhngsāam), and it is this name
that survives in English as the "cheongsam". Most Han civilian men
eventually voluntarily adopted
Manchu clothing while Han women
continued wearing Han clothing. Until 1911, the changpao was required
clothing for Chinese men of a certain class, but
Han Chinese women
continued to wear loose jacket and trousers, with an overskirt for
formal occasions. The qipao was a new fashion item for Han Chinese
women when they started wearing it around 1925.The original qipao was
wide and loose. As hosiery in turn declined in later decades,
cheongsams nowadays have come to be most commonly worn with bare
legs.While this development fixated the cheongsam as a one-piece
dress, by contrast, the related Vietnamese áo dài retained trousers.
Chinese painting with the detail of The Emperor's Approach showing
the Wanli Emperor's royal carriage being pulled by elephants and
escorted by cavalry (full panoramic painting here)
Further information: Arts of China
Chinese art is visual art that, whether ancient or modern, originated
in or is practiced in
China or by Chinese artists. The
Chinese art in
the Republic of
China (Taiwan) and that of overseas Chinese can also
be considered part of
Chinese art where it is based in or draws on
Chinese heritage and Chinese culture. Early "stone age art" dates back
to 10,000 BC, mostly consisting of simple pottery and sculptures.
After this early period Chinese art, like Chinese history, is
typically classified by the succession of ruling dynasties of Chinese
emperors, most of which lasted several hundred years.
Chinese art has arguably the oldest continuous tradition in the world,
and is marked by an unusual degree of continuity within, and
consciousness of, that tradition, lacking an equivalent to the Western
collapse and gradual recovery of classical styles. The media that have
usually been classified in the West since the
Renaissance as the
decorative arts are extremely important in Chinese art, and much of
the finest work was produced in large workshops or factories by
essentially unknown artists, especially in Chinese ceramics.
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, and the Chinese poet and statesman Qu
Chinese painting became a highly appreciated art in court circles
encompassing a wide variety of
Shan shui with specialized styles such
Ming Dynasty painting. Early
Chinese music was based on percussion
instruments, which later gave away to stringed and reed instruments.
Han dynasty papercutting became a new art form after the
invention of paper.
Chinese opera would also be introduced and
branched regionally in addition to other performance formats such as
Red paper lanterns for sale in Shanghai, 2012
Paper lantern and Sky lantern
The Chinese paper lantern (紙燈籠, 纸灯笼) is a lantern made of
thin, brightly colored paper.
Paper lanterns come in various
shapes and sizes, as well as various methods of construction. In their
simplest form, they are simply a paper bag with a candle placed
inside, although more complicated lanterns consist of a collapsible
bamboo or metal frame of hoops covered with tough paper. Sometimes,
other lanterns can be made out of colored silk (usually red) or vinyl.
Silk lanterns are also collapsible with a metal expander and are
decorated with Chinese characters and/or designs. The vinyl lanterns
are more durable; they can resist rain, sunlight, and wind. Paper
lanterns do not last very long, they soon break, and silk lanterns
last longer. The gold paper on them will soon fade away to a pale
white, and the red silk will become a mix between pink and red. Often
associated with festivals, paper lanterns are common in China, Korea,
Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia,
Malaysia and, similarly, in Chinatowns, where they are often hung
outside of businesses to attract attention. In
Japan the traditional
styles include bonbori and chōchin and there is a special style of
lettering called chōchin moji used to write on them. Airborne paper
lanterns are called sky lanterns, and are often released into the
night sky for aesthetic effect at lantern festivals.
The Chinese sky lantern (天燈, 天灯), also known as Kongming
lantern, is a small hot air balloon made of paper, with an opening at
the bottom where a small fire is suspended. In
Asia and elsewhere
around the world, sky lanterns have been traditionally made for
centuries, to be launched for play or as part of long-established
festivities. The name "sky lantern" is a translation of the Chinese
name but they have also been referred to as sky candles or fire
balloons. The general design is a thin paper shell, which may be from
about 30 cm to a couple of metres across, with an opening at the
bottom. The opening is usually about 10 to 30 cm wide (even for
the largest shells), and is surrounded by a stiff collar that serves
to suspend the flame source and to keep it away from the walls. When
lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern, thus lowering its
density and causing the lantern to rise into the air. The sky lantern
is only airborne for as long as the flame stays alight, after which
the lantern sinks back to the ground.
Box with the character for "Spring" (春),
Qianlong period, Qing
Dynasty. Nanjing Museum
Main article: Carved lacquer
Carved lacquer or Qīdiāo (Chinese: 漆雕) is a distinctive Chinese
form of decorated lacquerware. While lacquer has been used in China
for at least 3,000 years, the technique of carving into very thick
coatings of it appears to have been developed in the 12th century CE.
It is extremely time-consuming to produce, and has always been a
luxury product, essentially restricted to China, though imitated
in Japanese lacquer in somewhat different styles. The producing
process is called Diāoqī (雕漆/彫漆, carving lacquer).Though
most surviving examples are from the Ming and Qing dynasties, the main
types of subject matter for the carvings were all begun under the Song
dynasty, and the development of both these and the technique of
carving were essentially over by the early Ming. These types were the
abstract guri or Sword-Pommel pattern, figures in a landscape, and
birds and plants. To these some designs with religious symbols,
animals, auspicious characters (right) and imperial dragons can be
added.The objects made in the technique are a wide range of small
types, but are mostly practical vessels or containers such as boxes,
plates and trays. Some screens and pieces of
Chinese furniture were
Carved lacquer is only rarely combined with painting in lacquer
and other lacquer techniques. Later Chinese writers dated the
introduction of carved lacquer to the
Tang dynasty (618–906), and
many modern writers have pointed to some late Tang pieces of armour
found on the
Silk Road by
Aurel Stein and now in the British Museum.
These are red and black lacquer on camel hide, but the lacquer is very
thin, "less than one millimeter in thickness", and the effect very
different, with simple abstract shapes on a plain field and almost no
impression of relief.The style of carving into thick lacquer used
later is first seen in the
Southern Song (1127–1279), following the
development of techniques for making very thick lacquer. There is
some evidence from literary sources that it had existed in the late
Tang. At first the style of decoration used is known as guri
(屈輪/曲仑) from the Japanese word for the ring-pommel of a sword,
where the same motifs were used in metal, and is often called the
"Sword-Pommel pattern" in English. This style uses a family of
repeated two-branched scrolling shapes cut with a rounded profile at
the surface, but below that a "V" section through layers of lacquer in
different colours (black, red and yellow, and later green), giving a
"marbled" effect from the contrasted colours; this technique is called
tìxī (剔犀/剃犀) in Chinese. This style continued to be used up
to the Ming dynasty, especially on small boxes and jars with covers,
though after the Song only red was often used, and the motifs were
often carved with wider flat spaces at the bottom level to be
Chinese folding screen used at the Austrian imperial court, 18th
century, the Imperial
Main article: Folding screen
A folding screen (屏风，屏風) is a type of free-standing
furniture. It consists of several frames or panels, which are often
connected by hinges or by other means. It can be made in a variety of
designs and with different kinds of materials. Folding screens have
many practical and decorative uses. It originated from ancient China,
eventually spreading to the rest of East Asia, Europe, and other
regions of the world. Screens date back to
China during the Eastern
Zhou period (771–256 BCE). These were initially one-panel
screens in contrast to folding screens. Folding screens were
invented during the
Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). Depictions
of those folding screens have been found in Han-era tombs, such as one
in Zhucheng, Shandong Province. Folding screens were originally
made from wooden panels and painted on lacquered surfaces, eventually
folding screens made from paper or silk became popular too. Even
though folding screens were known to have been used since antiquity,
it became rapidly popular during the
Tang dynasty (618–907).
During the Tang dynasty, folding screens were considered ideal
ornaments for many painters to display their paintings and calligraphy
on. Many artists painted on paper or silk and applied it onto
the folding screen. There were two distinct artistic folding
screens mentioned in historical literature of the era. One of it was
known as the huaping (simplified Chinese: 画屏; traditional Chinese:
畫屏; literally: "painted folding screen") and the other was known
as the shuping (simplified Chinese: 书屏; traditional Chinese:
書屏; literally: "calligraphed folding screen"). It was not
uncommon for people to commission folding screens from artists, such
as from Tang-era painter Cao Ba or Song-era painter Guo Xi. The
landscape paintings on folding screens reached its height during the
Song dynasty (960–1279). The lacquer techniques for the
Coromandel screens, which is known as kuǎncǎi (款彩 "incised
colors"), emerged during the late
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
and was applied to folding screens to create dark screens incised,
painted, and inlaid with art of mother-of-pearl, ivory, or other
Chinese jade named
Neolithic cong(囪), 3rd millennium BC
Main article: Chinese jade
Chinese jade (玉) refers to the jade mined or carved in
Neolithic onward. It is the primary hardstone of Chinese
sculpture. Although deep and bright green jadeite is better known in
Europe, for most of China's history, jade has come in a variety of
colors and white "mutton-fat" nephrite was the most highly praised and
prized. Native sources in
Henan and along the
Yangtze were exploited
since prehistoric times and have largely been exhausted; most Chinese
jade today is extracted from the northwestern province of Xinjiang.
Jade was prized for its hardness, durability, musical qualities, and
beauty. In particular, its subtle, translucent colors and
protective qualities caused it to become associated with Chinese
conceptions of the soul and immortality. The most prominent early
use was the crafting of the Six Ritual Jades, found since the
3rd-millennium BC Liangzhu culture: the bi, the cong, the huang, the
hu, the gui, and the zhang. Although these items are so ancient
that their original meaning is uncertain, by the time of the
composition of the Rites of Zhou, they were thought to represent the
sky, the earth, and the four directions. By the Han dynasty, the royal
family and prominent lords were buried entirely ensheathed in jade
burial suits sewn in gold thread, on the idea that it would preserve
the body and the souls attached to it.
Jade was also thought to combat
fatigue in the living. The Han also greatly improved prior
artistic treatment of jade.These uses gave way after the Three
Kingdoms period to Buddhist practices and new developments in Taoism
such as alchemy. Nonetheless, jade remained part of traditional
Chinese medicine and an important artistic medium. Although its use
never became widespread in Japan, jade became important to the art of
Korea and Southeast Asia.
Music, instruments and dancing
Chinese instruments called Guzheng.
Music of China, List of Chinese musical instruments,
and Dance of China
Music and dance were closely associated in the very early periods 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). The earliest music of the Zhou
Dynasty recorded in
ancient Chinese texts includes the ritual music called yayue and each
piece may be associated with a dance. Some of the oldest written music
dates back to Confucius's time. The first major well-documented
Chinese music was exemplified through the popularization
of the qin (plucked instrument with seven strings) during the Tang
Dynasty, although the instrument is known to have played a major role
before the Han Dynasty.
There are many musical instruments that are integral to Chinese
culture, such as the Xun (Ocarina-type instrument that is also
integral in Native American cultures),
Guzheng (zither with movable
bridges), guqin (bridgeless zither), sheng and xiao (vertical flute),
the erhu (alto fiddle or bowed lute), pipa (pear-shaped plucked lute),
and many others.
China is a highly varied art form, consisting of many modern
and traditional dance genres. The dances cover a wide range, from folk
dances to performances in opera and ballet, and may be used in public
celebrations, rituals and ceremonies. There are also 56 officially
recognized ethnic groups in China, and each ethnic minority group in
China also has its own folk dances. The best known Chinese dances
today are the
Dragon dance and the Lion Dance.
Chinese garden scene in snowy weather
Main article: Chinese architecture
Chinese architecture is a style of architecture that has taken shape
East Asia over many centuries. The structural principles of Chinese
architecture have remained largely unchanged, the main changes being
only the decorative details. Since the Tang dynasty, Chinese
architecture has had a major influence on the architectural styles of
Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. Chinese architecture, examples for which
can be found from more than 2,000 years ago, is almost as old as
Chinese civilization and has long been an important hallmark of
Chinese culture. There are certain features common to Chinese
architecture, regardless of specific regions, different provinces or
use. The most important is its emphasis on width, such as the wide
halls of the
Forbidden City serve as an example. In contrast, Western
architecture tends to emphasize height (though exceptions such as
pagodas in Eastern architecture also focus on height). 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
Feng shui has played a very important part in
Chinese architecture also have a huge
influence on the architecture of East Asia, and to a lesser extent,
Asia as well. The
Chinese garden is a landscape garden style
which has evolved over three thousand years. It includes both the vast
gardens of the
Chinese emperors and members of the imperial family,
built for pleasure and to impress, and the more intimate gardens
created by scholars, poets, former government officials, soldiers and
merchants, made for reflection and escape from the outside world. They
create an idealized miniature landscape, which is meant to express the
harmony that should exist between man and nature. A typical
Chinese garden is enclosed by walls and includes one or more ponds,
rock works, trees and flowers, and an assortment of halls and
pavilions within the garden, connected by winding paths and zig-zag
galleries. By moving from structure to structure, visitors can view a
series of carefully composed scenes, unrolling like a scroll of
Hall of Supreme Harmony, Forbidden City, Beijing
Main article: Chinese palace
Chinese palace is an imperial complex where the royal court and
the civil government resided. Its structures are considerable and
Chinese character gong (宮; meaning "palace")
represents two connected rooms (呂) under a roof (宀). Originally
the character applied to any residence or mansion, but it was used in
reference to solely the imperial residence since the
Qin Dynasty (3rd
century BC). A
Chinese palace is composed of many buildings. It has
large areas surrounded by walls and moats. It contains large halls
(殿) for ceremonies and official business, as well as smaller
buildings, temples, towers, residences, galleries, courtyards,
gardens, and outbuildings. Apart from the main imperial palace,
Chinese dynasties also had several other imperial palaces in the
capital city where the empress, crown prince, or other members of the
imperial family dwelled. There also existed palaces outside of the
capital city called "away palaces" (離宮/离宫) where the emperors
resided when traveling. Empress dowager Cixi (慈禧太后) built the
Summer Palace or Yiheyuan (頤和園/颐和园 – "The Garden of
Nurtured Harmony") near the Old Summer Palace, but on a much smaller
scale than the Old Summer Palace.
A decorated southern style
Paifang in Shanghai.
Main article: Paifang
Paifang, also known as a Pailou, is a traditional style of Chinese
architectural arch or gateway structure that is related to the Indian
Torana from which it is derived.The word paifang (Chinese: 牌坊;
pinyin: páifāng) was originally a collective term for the top two
levels of administrative division and subdivisions of ancient Chinese
cities. The largest division within a city in ancient
China was a fang
(坊; fāng), equivalent to a current day precinct. Each fang was
enclosed by walls or fences, and the gates of these enclosures were
shut and guarded every night. Each fang was further divided into
several pai (牌; pái; "placard"), which is equivalent to a current
day (unincorporated) community. Each pai, in turn, contained an area
including several hutongs (alleyways). This system of urban
administrative division and subdivision reached an elaborate level
during the Tang dynasty, and continued in the following dynasties. For
example, during the Ming dynasty,
Beijing was divided into a total of
36 fangs. Originally, the word paifang referred to the gate of a fang
and the marker for an entrance of a building complex or a town; but by
the Song dynasty, a paifang had evolved into a purely decorative
Jichang Garden in
Wuxi (1506–1521), built during the Ming Dynasty,
is an exemplary work of South Chinese style garden.
Main article: Chinese garden
Chinese garden is a landscape garden style which has evolved over
three thousand years. It includes both the vast gardens of the Chinese
emperors and members of the imperial family, built for pleasure and to
impress, and the more intimate gardens created by scholars, poets,
former government officials, soldiers and merchants, made for
reflection and escape from the outside world. They create an idealized
miniature landscape, which is meant to express the harmony that should
exist between man and nature. A typical
Chinese garden is enclosed
by walls and includes one or more ponds, rock works, trees and
flowers, and an assortment of halls and pavilions within the garden,
connected by winding paths and zig-zag galleries. By moving from
structure to structure, visitors can view a series of carefully
composed scenes, unrolling like a scroll of landscape paintings. The
earliest recorded Chinese gardens were created in the valley of the
Yellow River, during the
Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC). These gardens
were large enclosed parks where the kings and nobles hunted game, or
where fruit and vegetables were grown. Early inscriptions from this
period, carved on tortoise shells, have three Chinese characters for
garden, you, pu and yuan. You was a royal garden where birds and
animals were kept, while pu was a garden for plants. During the Qin
Dynasty (221–206 BC), yuan became the character for all gardens.
The old character for yuan is a small picture of a garden; it is
enclosed in a square which can represent a wall, and has symbols which
can represent the plan of a structure, a small square which can
represent a pond, and a symbol for a plantation or a pomegranate
tree. According to the Shiji, one of the most famous features of
this garden was the Wine Pool and Meat Forest (酒池肉林). A large
pool, big enough for several small boats, was constructed on the
palace grounds, with inner linings of polished oval shaped stones from
the sea shores. The pool was then filled with wine. A small island was
constructed in the middle of the pool, where trees were planted, which
had skewers of roasted meat hanging from their branches. King Zhou and
his friends and concubines drifted in their boats, drinking the wine
with their hands and eating the roasted meat from the trees. Later
Chinese philosophers and historians cited this garden as an example of
decadence and bad taste. During the Spring and Autumn period
(722–481 BC), in 535 BC, the Terrace of Shanghua, with lavishly
decorated palaces, was built by King Jing of the Zhou dynasty. In 505
BC, an even more elaborate garden, the Terrace of Gusu, was begun. It
was located on the side of a mountain, and included a series of
terraces connected by galleries, along with a lake where boats in the
form of blue dragons navigated. From the highest terrace, a view
extended as far as Lake Tai, the Great Lake.
Shaolin monks demonstrating the Chinese kung fu
(中国功夫/中國功夫) at Daxiangguo Monastery, Kaifeng, Henan.
Chinese martial arts
Chinese martial arts and List of Chinese martial arts
China is one of the main birth places of Eastern martial arts. Chinese
martial arts, often named under the umbrella terms kung fu and wushu,
are the several hundred fighting styles that have developed over the
centuries in China. These fighting styles are often classified
according to common traits, identified as "families" (家; jiā),
"sects" (派; pài) or "schools" (门/門; mén) of martial arts.
Examples of such traits include Shaolinquan (少林拳) physical
Five Animals (五形) mimicry, or training methods
inspired by Old Chinese philosophies, religions and legends. Styles
that focus on qi manipulation are called "internal
"(內家拳/内家拳; nèijiāquán), while others that concentrate
on improving muscle and cardiovascular fitness are called "external"
(外家拳; wàijiāquán). Geographical association, as in
"northern"(北拳; běiquán) and "southern" (南拳; nánquán), is
another popular classification method.
Chinese martial arts
Chinese martial arts are collectively given the name
Kung Fu (gong)
"achievement" or "merit", and (fu) "man", thus "human achievement") or
(previously and in some modern contexts) Wushu ("martial arts" or
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. Over
time, some art forms have branched off, while others have retained a
distinct Chinese flavor. Regardless,
China has produced some of the
most renowned martial artists including
Wong Fei Hung
Wong Fei Hung and many others.
The arts 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. Martial arts
schools also teach the art of lion dance, which has evolved from a
pugilistic display of
Kung Fu to an entertaining dance performance.
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.
Weiqi and xiangqi are also
popular. Ethnic games like
Chinese yo-yo are also part of the culture
where it is performed during social events. Qigong pronounced (Chi
Kung) is the practice of spiritual, physical, and medical techniques.
It is as a form of exercise and although it is commonly used among the
elderly, any one of any age can practice it during their free time.
With its combination of physical flexibility and movement, breathing
technique, and constant state of focus and mediation, it has also been
a way to cleanse and heal the body and helps get in touch with your
inner-self. Qigong has continuous rhythmic movements that help reduce
stress and build stamina as well as to improve certain functions of
the body such as cardiovascular and digestive.
Spring rolls are a large variety of filled, rolled appetizers or dim
sum found in Chinese cuisine.
Spring rolls are the main dishes in
Festival (Chinese New Year).
Main article: Chinese cuisine
Chinese cuisine is an very important part of Chinese culture, which
includes cuisine originating from the diverse regions of China, as
well as from
Chinese people in other parts of the world. Because of
Chinese diaspora and historical power of the country, Chinese
cuisine has influenced many other cuisines in Asia, with modifications
made to cater to local palates.The preference for seasoning and
cooking techniques of Chinese provinces depend on differences in
historical background and ethnic groups. Geographic features including
mountains, rivers, forests and deserts also have a strong effect on
the local available ingredients, considering climate of
from tropical in the south to subarctic in the northeast. Imperial,
royal and noble preference also plays a role in the change of Chinese
cuisines. Because of imperial expansion and trading, ingredients and
cooking techniques from other cultures are integrated into Chinese
cuisines over time. The most praised "Four Major Cuisines" are Chuan,
Lu, Yue and Huaiyang, representing West, North, South and East China
cuisine correspondingly. Modern "Eight Cuisines" of China are
Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, and
Zhejiang cuisines. Color, smell and taste are the three
traditional aspects used to describe Chinese food, as well as the
meaning, appearance and nutrition of the food. Cooking should be
appraised from ingredients used, cuttings, cooking time and seasoning.
It is considered inappropriate to use knives on the dining table.
Chopsticks are the main eating utensils for Chinese food, which can be
used to cut and pick up food.
Chinese tea culture
Chinese tea culture (茶艺，茶藝) set and three
Main articles: Chinese tea,
Chinese tea culture, and History of tea in
The practice of drinking tea has a long history in China, having
originated there. The history of tea in
China is long and complex, for
the Chinese have enjoyed tea for millennia.
Scholars hailed the brew
as a cure for a variety of ailments; the nobility considered the
consumption of good tea as a mark of their status, and the common
people simply enjoyed its flavour. In 2016, the discovery of the
earliest known physical evidence of tea from the mausoleum of Emperor
Jing of Han in
Xi'an was announced, indicating that tea from the genus
Camellia was drunk by
Han dynasty emperors as early as 2nd century
Tea then became a popular drink in the Tang (618–907) and
Song (960–1279) Dynasties.
Although tea originated in China, during the Tang dynasty, Chinese tea
generally represents tea leaves which have been processed using
methods inherited from ancient China. According to popular legend, tea
was discovered by
Shen Nong in 2737 BCE when a leaf
from a nearby shrub fell into water the emperor was boiling. Tea
is deeply woven into the history and culture of China. The beverage is
considered one of the seven necessities of Chinese life, along with
firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce and vinegar. Around 771 BC
– 476 BC the
Chinese tea is used for medicinal purposes.This period
also known as the "Spring and Autumn Period", it is where Chinese
people first enjoyed the juice extracted from the tea leaves that they
Tea culture refers to how tea is
prepared as well as the occasions when people consume tea in China.
Tea culture in
China differs from that in European countries like
Britain and other Asian countries like
Japan in preparation, taste,
and occasion wherein it is consumed. Even today, tea is consumed
regularly, both at casual and formal occasions. In addition to being a
popular beverage, tea is used in traditional Chinese medicine, as well
as in Chinese cuisine. Green tea is one of the main worldwide teas
originating in China.
Songshu Guiyu, or mandarin fish in the shape of squirrel, is from the
cuisine of Suzhou, Jiangsu.
Manchu Han Imperial Feast and Customs and etiquette in
Imperial, royal and noble preference also plays a role in the change
of Chinese cuisines. Because of imperial expansion and trading,
ingredients and cooking techniques from other cultures are integrated
into Chinese cuisines over time.The overwhelmingly large variety of
Chinese cuisine comes mainly from the practice of dynastic period,
when emperors would host banquets with over 100 dishes per meal. A
countless number of imperial kitchen staff and concubines were
involved in the food preparation process. Over time, 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
Beijing and the Oriole
Pavilion. Arguably all branches of Hong Kong eastern style are in
some ways rooted from the original dynastic cuisines.
Manhan Quanxi, literally
Manchu Han Imperial Feast was one of the
grandest meals ever documented in Chinese cuisine. It consisted of at
least 108 unique dishes from the
Han Chinese culture during
the Qing dynasty, and it is only reserved and intended for the
Emperors. The meal was held for three whole days, across six banquets.
The culinary skills consisted of cooking methods from all over
Imperial China.When the Manchus conquered
China and founded the
Qing dynasty, the
Han Chinese peoples struggled for power.
Kangxi Emperor wanted to resolve the disputes so he held a banquet
during his 66th birthday celebrations. The banquet consisted of Manchu
and Han dishes, with officials from both ethnic groups attending the
banquet together. After the Wuchang Uprising, common people learned
about the imperial banquet. The original meal was served in the
Forbidden City in Beijing.
Chinese culture consists of many subcultures. In China, the cultural
difference between adjacent provinces (and, in some cases, adjacent
counties within the same province) can often be as big as than that
between adjacent European nations. Thus, the concept of Han
Chinese subgroups (漢族民系/汉族民系, literally "Han ethnic
lineage") was born, used for classifying these subgroups within the
greater Han ethnicity. These subgroups are, as a general rule,
classified based on linguistic differences.
Using this linguistic classification, some of the well-known
Cantonese culture (粵/粤)
Hakka culture (客)
Teochew culture (潮)
Hokkien culture (閩/闽)
Jiangxi culture (贛)
Hunanese culture (湘)
Sichuanese culture (蜀)
Wuyue culture (吳/吴)
Haipai culture (海)
Zhongyuan culture (豫)
Culture of Shandong (魯/鲁)
Jin culture (晉/晋)
Dongbei culture (東北/东北)
A traditional red Chinese door with
Imperial guardian lion
Imperial guardian lion knocker.
18th-century Chinese illustration of a scene from Journey to the West
(西遊記/西游记). Top left to right:
Tang Sanzang and Sun Wukong,
bottom left: Zhu Bajie.
No. 4 of Ten Thousand Scenes (十萬圖之四/十万图之四).
Painting by Ren Xiong, a pioneer of the
Shanghai School of Chinese art
A mask used in Peking opera.
Chinese opera performance in
Beijing known as Peking opera
Popular Chinese lion dance (舞狮) during
Wikimania opening ceremony
A fire dragon dance (舞龙/舞龍) during Chinese New Year
celebration in China
Taoism architecture in China.
Guan Yin wooden sculpture, Song dynasty, China, 12th century AD in
Ethnological Museum of Berlin, Germany.
Chinese stone-carved que pillar gates of
Chongqing that once belonged
to a temple dedicated to the
Warring States era general Ba Manzi
"Nine Dragons" handscroll section, by Chen Rong, 1244 CE, Chinese Song
Dynasty, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Traditional clothing from Ming dynasty
"Hair Ornament", China, ca. 19th century.
Men and women in xuanduan formal wear at a Confucian ceremony in China
Four Treasures of the Study
Four Treasures of the Study - brush, ink, paper and ink stone in
Chinese calligraphy traditions
A koi pond is a signature Chinese scenery depicted in countless works
Highest rank official's Mang Pao (蟒袍, lit. "The Python Robe". The
right to wear such dress was seen as a special honour that emperors
bestowed on officials who had done great deeds for the empire. Ming
Chinese meal in
Suzhou with rice, shrimp, eggplant, fermented tofu,
vegetable stir-fry, vegetarian duck with meat and bamboo.
Oolong tea leaves steeping in a gaiwan.
Manchu Han Imperial Feast displayed at
Tao Heung Museum of Food
The Ming table in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1425–1436
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Chinese proverbs
East Asian cultural sphere
Color in Chinese culture
Numbers in Chinese culture
Science and technology in China
Chinese units of measurement
Customs and etiquette in Chinese dining
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