The HAN CHINESE, HAN PEOPLE or simply HAN (漢族; pinyin :
Hànzú, literally "Han ethnicity" or "Han ethnic group"; or 漢人;
pinyin: Hànrén, literally "Han people" ) are an ethnic group native
East Asia . They constitute approximately 92% of the population of
China , 95% of
Han Taiwanese ), 76% of
Singapore , 23% of
Malaysia and about 18% of the global population .
Han Chinese are
the world\'s largest ethnic group , numbering over 1.3 billion.
* 1 Terms and etymology
* 2 Distribution
* 2.1 People\'s Republic of
* 2.3 Southeast
* 2.4 Others
* 3.1 Prehistory
* 3.2 Early history
* 3.3 Imperial history
* 4.2 Names
* 4.3 Dress
* 4.4 Family
* 4.5 Food
* 4.6 Literature
* 4.7 Contributions to humanity
* 4.8 Religion
* 5 Historical southward migration of the Han people
* 6 DNA analysis
* 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
TERMS AND ETYMOLOGY
The name Han was derived from the
Han dynasty , which succeeded the
Qin dynasty , and is historically considered to be the
first golden age of China's Imperial era due to the power and
influence it projected over much of
Asia . As a result of the
dynasty's prominence in inter-ethnic and pre-modern international
matters, many Chinese began identifying themselves as the "people of
Han" (Chinese : 漢人; pinyin : Hàn Rén), a name that has been
carried down to this day. Similarly, the
Chinese language also came to
be named the "Han language" (simplified Chinese : 汉语; traditional
Chinese : 漢語) ever since. In the
Oxford Dictionary , the Han are
defined as "The dominant ethnic group in China". In the Encyclopedia
of the Peoples of
Asia and Oceania, the Han are called the dominant
population in "China, as well as in
Taiwan and Singapore." According
Merriam-Webster Dictionary , the Han are "the Chinese peoples
especially as distinguished from non-Chinese (such as Mongolian)
elements in the population."
The Han dynasty's founding emperor, Liu Bang , was originally hailed
as the king of the
Hanzhong region after overthrowing the Qin dynasty,
a title that was later shortened to "the King of Han" (漢王) during
Chu-Han contention . The name "Hanzhong", in turn, was derived
from the Han River , which flows through the region's plains. The
river, in turn, derives its name from expressions such as Tianhan
(Chinese : 天漢, "the heavenly river"), Yinhan (Chinese : 銀漢,
"the silver river"), Xinghan (Chinese : 星漢, "the star river") or
Yunhan (Chinese : 雲漢, "the cloud river"), all ancient Chinese
poetic nicknames for the
Milky Way and first mentioned in the Classic
of Poetry .
Prior to the Han dynasty, ancient Chinese scholars used the term
Huaxia (simplified Chinese : 华夏; traditional Chinese : 華夏;
pinyin : Huá Xià, "the magnificent Xia ") in texts to describe China
proper as an area of illustrious prosperity and culture, while the
Chinese populus were referred to as either the "various Hua" (諸華)
or the "various Xia" (諸夏). This gave rise to a term commonly used
nowadays by overseas Chinese for ethnic identity – Huaren
(simplified Chinese: 华人; traditional Chinese: 華人; pinyin: Huá
Rén, "the Hua people"), as well as a literary name for
Zhonghua (simplified Chinese: 中华; traditional Chinese: 中華;
pinyin: zhōnghuá, "the central Hua").
Among some southern
Han Chinese varieties such as
and Minnan , a different term exists –
Tang Chinese (Chinese :
唐人; pinyin : Táng Rén, literally "the people of Tang"), derived
from the later
Tang dynasty , regarded as another zenith of Chinese
civilization. The term is used in everyday conversation and is also an
element in the
Cantonese word for
Chinatown : "street of the Tang
Jyutping : tong4 jan4 gaai1, pinyin: Táng Rén
Jiē. The phrase Huá Bù 華埠 is also used to describe the same
PEOPLE\'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
The vast majority of
Han Chinese – over 1.2 billion of them –
live in areas under the jurisdiction of the People\'s Republic of
China (PRC), where they constitute about 92% of its population. Here,
Han Chinese are the majority in every province, municipality, and
autonomous region except for the autonomous regions of
in 2010) and Tibet (8% in 2014), where Uighurs and Tibetans are the
Han Chinese also constitute the majority in
both of the special administrative regions of the PRC—about 95% and
96% of the population of
Hong Kong and
Macau , respectively.
Han Taiwanese ,
Taiwanese people , and Demographics of
There are over 22 million
Han Chinese in Taiwan; they began
migrating from the southeastern coastal provinces of mainland China
Taiwan during the 13th to 17th
century. At first, these migrants chose to settle in locations that
bore a resemblance to the areas they had left behind in mainland
China, regardless of whether they arrived in the north or south of
Taiwan. Hoklo immigrants from
Quanzhou settled in coastal regions, and
Zhangzhou tended to gather on inland plains, while the
Hakka inhabited hilly areas. Clashes between these groups over land,
water, and cultural differences led to the relocation of some
communities, and, as time passed, varying degrees of intermarriage and
assimilation took place.
Overseas Chinese § Southeast
Of about 40 million "overseas Chinese" worldwide, nearly 30 million
live in Southeast Asia. They are collectively called Nanyang Chinese.
According to a population genetic study,
Singapore is "the country
with the biggest proportion of Hans" in Southeast Asia. Up until the
past few decades, overseas Han communities originated predominantly
from areas in southern
China (especially the Guangdong, Fujian, and
Christmas Island has a Chinese majority at 70%;
large Chinese populations also live in
Malaysia (25%) and Thailand
(14%). Prior to the 1965 split ,
Singapore used to have
the largest overseas Chinese population in the world, in terms of
absolute numbers. This position has since been taken by Thailand.
Elsewhere in the world, 3 million people of Chinese descent live in
United States (about 1% of the population), over 1 million in
Canada (3.7%), over 1.3 million in
Peru (4.3%), over 600,000 in
Australia (3.5%), nearly 150,000 in
New Zealand (3.7%), and as many as
Because of the overwhelming numerical and cultural dominance of Han
culture in China, most of the written history of
China can be read as
"a history of the Han Chinese", with only passing references to the
ethnic minorities in
The prehistory of the
Han Chinese is closely intertwined with both
archaeology, biology, historical textual records and mythology. The
ethnic stock to which the
Han Chinese originally trace their ancestry
from were confederations of late neolithic and early bronze-age
agricultural tribes known as the
Huaxia that lived along the Guanzhong
Yellow River basins in northern China. Also, numerous ethnic
groups assimilated and were absorbed into Han culture at various
points in China's history. Writers during the
Western Zhou and Han
dynasties derived ancestral lineages based on
Shang dynasty -era
legendary materials, while the famous Chinese historian
Sima Qian 's
Records of the Grand Historian places the reign of the Yellow Emperor
(Chinese : 黃帝; pinyin : Huáng Dì), the legendary leader of
Youxiong tribes (有熊氏), at the beginning of Chinese history. The
Yellow Emperor is traditionally credited to have united with the
Shennong tribes (神農氏) after defeating their leader,
Flame Emperor , (Chinese : 炎帝; pinyin : Yán Dì) at the Battle of
Banquan . The newly merged
Yanhuang (Chinese : 炎黃) tribes then
combined forces to defeat their common enemy from the east, Chiyou
(Chinese : 蚩尤; pinyin : Chì Yóu) of the Jiuli (九黎) tribes,
Battle of Zhuolu , and established their cultural dominance in
the Central Plain region. To this day,
Chinese people refer themselves
as "Descendants of Yan and Huang " (simplified Chinese : 炎黄子孙;
traditional Chinese : 炎黃子孫; pinyin : Yánhuáng Zǐsūn).
Although study of this period of history is complicated by the
absence of contemporary records, the discovery of archaeological sites
has enabled a succession of neolithic cultures to be identified along
the Yellow River. Along the central reaches of the
Yellow River were
Jiahu culture (ca. 7000 to 6600 BCE), the
Yangshao culture (ca.
5000 to 3000 BCE) and the
Longshan culture (ca. 3000 to 2000 BCE).
Along the lower reaches of the river were the Qingliangang culture
(ca. 5400 to 4000 BCE), the
Dawenkou culture (ca. 4300 to 2500 BCE),
Longshan culture (ca. 2500 to 2000 BCE), and the
Yueshi culture .
Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors
Early ancient Chinese history is largely legendary, consisting of
mythical tales intertwined with sporadic annals written centuries to
millennia later. Sima Qian's
Records of the Grand Historian recorded a
period following the Battle of Zhuolu, during the reign of successive
generations of confederate overlords (Chinese : 共主) known as the
Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors (c. 2852–2070 BCE), who,
allegedly, were elected to power among the tribes. This is a period
for which scant reliable archaeological evidence exists—these
sovereigns are largely regarded as cultural heroes . Main article: Xia
The first dynasty to be described in Chinese historical records is
Xia dynasty (c. 2070–1600 BCE), established by Yu the Great
Emperor Shun abdicated leadership to reward Yu's work in taming
the Great Flood . Yu's son, Qi , managed to not only install himself
as the next ruler, but also dictated his sons as heirs by default,
Xia dynasty the first in recorded history where
genealogical succession was the norm. The civilizational prosperity of
Xia dynasty at this time is thought to have given rise to the name
"Huaxia" (simplified Chinese : 华夏; traditional Chinese : 華夏;
pinyin : Huá Xià, "the magnificent Xia"), a term that was used
ubiquitously throughout history to define the Chinese nation.
Conclusive archaeological evidence predating the 16th century BCE is,
however, rarely available. Recent efforts of the Xia–Shang–Zhou
Chronology Project drew the connection between the
Erlitou culture and
the Xia dynasty, but scholars could not reach a consensus regarding
the reliability of such history. Main article:
Xia dynasty was overthrown after the
Battle of Mingtiao , around
1600 BCE , by
Cheng Tang , who established the
Shang dynasty (c.
1600–1046 BCE). The earliest archaeological examples of Chinese
writing date back to this period – from characters inscribed on
oracle bones used for divination – but the well-developed characters
hint at a much earlier origin of writing in China.
During the Shang dynasty, people of the Wu area in the Yangtze River
Delta , were considered a different tribe, and described as being
scantily dressed, tattooed and speaking a distinct language. Later,
Taibo , elder uncle of Ji Chang – on realising that his younger
brother, Jili, was wiser and deserved to inherit the throne – fled
to Wu and settled there. Three generations later, King Wu of the Zhou
dynasty defeated King Zhou (the last Shang king), and enfeoffed the
descendants of Taibo in Wu —mirroring the later history of
where a Chinese king and his soldiers ruled a non-Han population and
mixed with locals, who were sinicized over time. By the Tang dynasty,
however, this area had become part of the
Han Chinese heartland. Main
Battle of Muye , the
Shang dynasty was overthrown by Zhou
Ji Fa ), which had emerged as a western state along the Wei
River in the 2nd millennium BCE. The
Zhou dynasty shared the language
and culture of the Shang people, and extended their reach to encompass
much of the area north of the
Yangtze River . Through conquest and
colonization, much of this area came under the influence of
sinicization, and this culture extended south. However, the power of
the Zhou kings fragmented not long afterwards, and many autonomous
vassal states emerged. This dynasty is traditionally divided into two
eras – the
Western Zhou (1046–771 BCE) and the Eastern Zhou
(770–256 BCE) – with the latter further divided into the Spring
and Autumn (770–476 BCE) and the Warring States (476–221 BCE)
periods. It was a period of significant cultural and philosophical
diversification (known as the
Hundred Schools of Thought ) and
Taoism and Legalism are among the most important
surviving philosophies from this era.
Warring States period
Warring States period of the Eastern
Zhou dynasty came to
an end with the unification of
China by the western state of Qin after
its conquest of all other rival states under King
Ying Zheng . King
Zheng then gave himself a new title "
First Emperor of Qin " (Chinese :
秦始皇帝; pinyin : Qín Shǐ Huángdì), setting the precedent for
the next two millennia. To consolidate administrative control over the
newly conquered parts of the country, the First Emperor decreed a
nationwide standardization of currency, writing scripts, and
measurement units, to unify the country economically and culturally.
He also ordered large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Great
Wall , the
Lingqu Canal and the Qin road system to militarily fortify
the frontiers. In effect, he established a centralized bureaucratic
state to replace the old feudal confederation system of preceding
dynasties, making Qin the first imperial dynasty in Chinese history.
This dynasty, sometimes phonetically spelt as the "Ch'in dynasty",
has been proposed in the 17th century by
Martin Martini and supported
by later scholars such as
Paul Pelliot and
Berthold Laufer to be the
etymological origin of the modern English word "China". Main article:
Han dynasty A female servant and male advisor dressed in silk
robes , ceramic figurines from the Western Han era
The reign of the first imperial dynasty was to be short-lived. Due to
the First Emperor's autocratic rule and his massive labor projects,
which fomented rebellion among the populace, the
Qin dynasty fell into
chaos soon after his death. Under the corrupt rule of his son and
Huhai , the
Qin dynasty collapsed a mere three years later.
Han dynasty (206 BC–220 CE) then emerged from the ensuing civil
wars and succeeded in establishing a much longer-lasting dynasty. It
continued many of the institutions created by the Qin dynasty, but
adopted a more moderate rule. Under the Han dynasty, arts and culture
flourished, while they expanded militarily in all directions . Many
Chinese scholars such as
Ho Ping-ti believe that the concept
(ethnogenesis ) of Han ethnicity, though an ancient one, was formally
entrenched in the Han dynasty. This is considered one of the greatest
periods of Chinese history, and the
Chinese people have since taken
their ethnic name from this dynasty. Main articles:
Three Kingdoms ,
Sixteen Kingdoms ,
Southern and Northern Dynasties ,
Sui dynasty , and
The fall of the
Han dynasty was followed by an age of fragmentation
and several centuries of disunity amid warfare among rival kingdoms.
During this time, areas of northern
China were overrun by various
non-Han nomadic peoples , which came to establish kingdoms of their
own, the most successful of which was
Northern Wei (established by the
Xianbei ). Starting from this period, the native population of China
proper began to be referred to as Hanren, or the "People of Han", to
distinguish them from the nomads from the steppe. Warfare and invasion
led to one of the first great migrations of Han populations in
history, as they fled south to the Yangtze and beyond, shifting the
Chinese demographic center and speeding up sinicization of the far
south. At the same time most of the nomads in northern
China came to
be sinicized as they ruled over large Chinese populations and adopted
elements of their culture and administration. Of note, the Xianbei
Northern Wei ordered a policy of systematic sinicization,
adopting Han surnames , institutions, and culture.
The Sui (581–618) and Tang (618–907) dynasties saw the
continuation of the complete sinicization of the south coast of what
China proper, including what are now the provinces of Fujian
Guangdong . The later part of the Tang era, as well as the Five
Dynasties period that followed, saw continual warfare in north and
central China; the relative stability of the south coast made it an
attractive destination for refugees. Main articles:
Song dynasty ,
Yuan dynasty ,
Ming dynasty , and
Han Chinese man
wears a queue in compliance with Manchu custom during the Qing dynasty
The next few centuries saw successive invasions of Han and non-Han
peoples from the north. In 1279, the
Mongols conquered all of China,
becoming the first non-Han ethnic group to do so, and established the
Yuan dynasty . The
Mongols divided society into four classes, with
themselves occupying the top class and
Han Chinese into the bottom two
Emigration , seen as disloyal to ancestors and ancestral
land, was banned by the Song and Yuan dynasties.
Han Chinese rebels drove out the
Mongols and, after some
infighting, established the
Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Settlement of
Han Chinese into peripheral regions continued during this period, with
Yunnan in the southwest receiving a large number of migrants.
In 1644, the Ming capital,
Beijing , was captured by
Li Zicheng 's
peasant rebels and the
Chongzhen Emperor committed suicide. The
Manchus of the
Qing dynasty then allied with former Ming general Wu
Sangui and seized control of Beijing. Remnant Ming forces led by
Koxinga fled to
Taiwan and established the
Kingdom of Tungning
Kingdom of Tungning , which
eventually capitulated to Qing forces in 1683. Taiwan, previously
inhabited mostly by non-Han aborigines, was sinicized during this
period via large-scale migration accompanied by assimilation, despite
efforts by the Manchus to prevent this, as they found it difficult to
maintain control over the island. In 1681, the
Kangxi Emperor ordered
construction of the
Willow Palisade to prevent
Han Chinese migration
to the three northeastern provinces, which nevertheless had harbored a
significant Chinese population for centuries, especially in the
Liaodong area. The Manchus designated Jilin and Heilongjiang
as the Manchu homeland, to which the Manchus could hypothetically
escape and regroup if the
Qing dynasty fell. Because of increasing
Russian territorial encroachment and annexation of neighboring
territory, the Qing later reversed its policy and allowed the
consolidation of a demographic Han majority in northeast China.
In the 19th century, Chinese migrants went in large numbers to other
parts of the world, including South
Asia , Southeast
Asia , Australia,
North America .
China is one of the world's oldest and most complex civilizations ,
whose culture dates back thousands of years.
Han Chinese maintain
cultural affinities to Chinese lands outside of their locale through
ancestor worship and clan associations, which often identify famous
figures from Chinese history or myth as ancestors of current members.
Such patriarchs include the
Yellow Emperor and the
Yan Emperor , who
according to legend lived thousands of years ago and gave Han people
the sobriquet "
Descendants of Yan and Huang Emperor " (炎黃子孫;
炎黄子孙), a phrase which has reverberative connotations in a
divisive political climate, as in that between mainland
Zhang Zeduan 's painting Along the River During the
Qingming Festival captures the daily life of people from the Song
period at the capital, Bianjing, today's
Throughout the history of
Chinese culture has been heavily
influenced by Confucianism. Credited with shaping much of Chinese
Confucianism was the official philosophy throughout most of
China 's history, institutionalizing values like filial piety
, which implied the performance of certain shared rituals . Thus,
villagers lavished on funeral and wedding ceremonies that imitated the
Confucian standards of the Emperors. Mastery of
provided the primary criterion for entry into the imperial bureaucracy
, but even those degree-holders who did not enter the bureaucracy or
who left it held increased social influence in their home areas,
contributing to the homogenizing of
Han Chinese culture. Other factors
contributing to the development of a shared Han culture included
urbanization and geographically vast but integrated commodity markets.
Han Chinese speak various forms of the
Chinese language that are
descended from a common early language; one of the names of the
language groups is Hanyu (simplified Chinese: 汉语; traditional
Chinese: 漢語), literally the "Han language". Similarly, Chinese
characters , used to write the language, are called Hanzi (simplified
Chinese: 汉字; traditional Chinese: 漢字), or "Han characters".
In the late imperial period, more than two-thirds of the Han Chinese
population used a variant of
Mandarin Chinese as their native tongue.
However, there was a larger variety of languages in certain areas of
southeast China, like
Guangzhou , and
Guangxi . Since the
Qin dynasty, which standardized the various forms of writing that
existed in China, a standard literary Chinese had emerged with
vocabulary and grammar that was significantly different from the
various forms of spoken Chinese . A simplified and elaborated version
of this written standard was used in business contracts, notes for
Chinese opera , ritual texts for
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion , and other
daily documents for educated people.
During the early 20th century, written vernacular Chinese based on
Mandarin dialects, which had been developing for several centuries,
was standardized and adopted to replace literary Chinese. While
written vernacular forms of other varieties of Chinese exist, such as
Cantonese , written Chinese based on Mandarin is widely
understood by speakers of all varieties and has taken up the dominant
position among written forms, formerly occupied by literary Chinese.
Thus, although residents of different regions would not necessarily
understand each other's speech, they generally share a common written
From the 1950s,
Simplified Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese characters were adopted in
China and later in
Singapore and Malaysia, while Chinese
communities in Hong Kong, Macau,
Taiwan and overseas countries
continue to use
Traditional Chinese characters
Traditional Chinese characters . Although significant
differences exist between the two character sets, they are largely
mutually intelligible .
Chinese name and
List of common Chinese surnames
List of common Chinese surnames
Chinese names are typically two or three syllables in length, with
the surname preceding the given name . Surnames are typically one
syllable in length, though a few uncommon surnames are two or more
syllables long, while given names are one or two syllables long. There
are 4,000 to 6,000 surnames in China, of which about 1,000 surnames
are most common.
In historical China, the notion of hundred surnames (百家姓) was a
crucial identity of Han people. Besides the common culture and
writings, common origins rooted in the surnames was another major
factor that contributed towards
Han Chinese identity.
Chinese clothing A
Song Dynasty Chinese
painting Night Revels of Han Xizai showing scholars in scholar's robes
and musicians dressed in a
Hanfu variant, 12th-century remake of a
10th-century original by
Gu Hongzhong .
Japan and the
Korea were influenced by
Han Chinese clothing . The Vietnamese
Ao dai bears similarities
with the Chinese
Cheongsam but ultimately descends from the áo tứ
thân , which was influenced by the fashion of China's imperial court.
In Vietnam, the court attire or royal clothing worn by the Nguyen
dynasty descended from Ming clothing with some influence from the Qing
dynasty. However, the most popular one-piece traditional Chinese
clothing worn by many women on important occasions such as wedding
banquets and New Year celebrations is qipao .
Han Chinese families throughout
China have had certain traditionally
prescribed roles, such as the family head (家長, jiāzhǎng), who
represents the family to the outside world, and the family manager
(當家, dāngjiā), who is in charge of the revenues. Because
farmland was commonly bought, sold, or mortgaged , families were run
like enterprises, with set rules for the allocation (分家, fēnjiā)
of pooled earnings and assets.
Han Chinese houses differ from place to place. In Beijing, the whole
family traditionally lived together in a large rectangle-shaped house
called a siheyuan . Such houses had four rooms at the front—guest
room, kitchen , lavatory , and servants\' quarters . Across large
double doors was a wing for the elderly in the family. This wing
consisted of three rooms: a central room where the four tablets –
heaven, earth, ancestor, and teacher – were worshipped, and two
rooms attached to the left and right, which were bedrooms for the
grandparents. The east wing of the house was inhabited by the eldest
son and his family, while the west wing sheltered the second son and
his family. Each wing had a veranda ; some had a "sunroom" made with
surrounding fabric and supported by a wooden or bamboo frame. Every
wing was also built around a central courtyard that was used for
study, exercise, or nature viewing.
The cuisine of the Han people varies from
Sichuan 's famously spicy
food to Guangdong's
Dim Sum and fresh seafood. Analyses have revealed
their main staple to be rice. During China's neolithic period,
southwestern rice growers transitioned to millet from the northwest,
when they could not find a suitable northwestern ecology – which was
typically dry and cold – to sustain the generous yields of their
staple as well as it did in other areas, such as along the eastern
Han people have a rich history of classical literature dating back to
three thousand years. Important early works include classic texts such
as Classic of Poetry,
Analects of Confucius ,
I Ching ,
Tao Te Ching ,
and the Art of War . Some of the most important
Han Chinese poets in
the pre-modern era include
Li Bai ,
Du Fu , and Su Dongpo . The most
important novels in Chinese literature, otherwise known as the Four
Great Classical Novels , are:
Dream of the Red Chamber , Water Margin
, Romance of the
Three Kingdoms , and
Journey to the West
Journey to the West .
CONTRIBUTIONS TO HUMANITY
List of Chinese inventions and
List of Chinese discoveries
Han Chinese have played a major role in the development of the arts ,
sciences , philosophy, and mathematics throughout history . In ancient
times, the scientific accomplishments of
China included seismological
detectors , multistage rockets , rockets for recreational and military
purposes, gunpowder , firearms , the fire lance , the cannon ,
landmines , naval mines , continuous flame throwers , fire arrows ,
trebuchets , crossbows , fireworks , pontoon bridges , matches , paper
, printing , paper-printed money , insurance , civil service
examination systems, the raised-relief map , biological pest control ,
the multi-tube seed drill , rotary winnowing fan, blast furnaces ,
cast iron , petroleum and natural gas as fuel , deep drilling for
natural gas, oil drilling , porcelain , lacquer , lacquerware , silk
fabric, dry docks , the pound lock , the Grand Canal , the magnetic
compass , south-pointing chariots , odometers , fishing reels , the Su
Song water-driven astronomical clock tower, chain pumps , escapements
, sliding calipers , trip hammers , kites , sunglasses , the
toothbrush , inoculation , etc. Paper, printing, the compass, and
gunpowder are celebrated in
Chinese culture as the Four Great
Inventions . Chinese astronomers were also among the first to record
observations of a supernova .
Chinese art ,
Chinese cuisine ,
Chinese philosophy , and Chinese
literature all have undergone thousands of years of development, while
numerous Chinese sites, such as the Great Wall of
China and the
Terracotta Army , are World Heritage Sites . Since the start of the
program in 2001, aspects of
Chinese culture have been listed by UNESCO
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity .
Throughout much of history, successive
Chinese dynasties have exerted
influence on their neighbors in the areas of art, music, religion,
food, dress, philosophy, language , government , and culture . In
Han Chinese form the largest ethnic group in China,
while an overseas
Chinese diaspora numbering in the tens of millions
has settled in and contributed to countries throughout the world.
In modern times,
Han Chinese have continued to contribute to
mathematics and sciences. Among them are
Nobel Prize recipients Steven
Samuel C. C. Ting ,
Chen Ning Yang ,
Tsung-Dao Lee , Yuan T. Lee
Daniel C. Tsui ,
Roger Y. Tsien , and
Charles K. Kao (known as the
"Godfather of Broadband" and "Father of Fiber Optics"); Fields Medal
Terence Tao and
Shing-Tung Yau , and
Turing Award recipient
Andrew Yao .
Tsien Hsue-shen was a prominent rocket scientist who
helped to found
Jet Propulsion Laboratory .
Chien-Shiung Wu ,
nicknamed the "First Lady of Physics" contributed to the Manhattan
Project and radically altered modern physical theory and changed the
accepted view of the structure of the universe.
Ching W. Tang was the
inventor of the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) and
hetero-junction organic photovoltaic cell (OPV) and is widely
considered the "Father of Organic Electronics ". Others include David
Ho , one of the first scientists to propose that AIDS was caused by a
virus, thus subsequently developing combination antiretroviral therapy
to combat it. Dr. Ho was named
Time Magazine Person of the Year in
Min Chueh Chang was the co-inventor of the combined oral
contraceptive pill and is known for his pioneering work and
significant contributions to the development of in vitro fertilization
Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology .
Tu Youyou is
a prominent medical scientist and chemist who became the first native
Chinese in history to receive the
Nobel Prize in natural sciences when
she received the 2015
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for
discovering artemisinin (also known as qinghaosu) and
dihydroartemisinin, used to treat malaria, which has saved millions of
lives across the world.
Choh Hao Li discovered human growth hormone
(and subsequently used it to treat a form of dwarfism caused by growth
hormone deficiency ), beta-endorphin (the most powerful of the body's
natural painkillers), follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing
hormone (the key hormone used in fertility testing , an example is the
ovulation home test).
Joe Hin Tjio was a cytogeneticist renowned as
the first person to recognize the normal number of human chromosomes,
a breakthrough in karyotype genetics .
Yuan-Cheng Fung , is regarded
as the "Father of modern biomechanics " for pioneering the application
of quantitative and analytical engineering principles to the study of
the human body and disease. The geometer
Shiing-Shen Chern was one
of the leaders in differential geometry of the 20th century and was
awarded the 1984
Wolf Prize in mathematics. China's system of
"barefoot doctors " was among the most important inspirations for the
World Health Organisation
World Health Organisation conference in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan in 1978,
and was hailed as a revolutionary breakthrough in international health
ideology emphasizing primary health care and preventive medicine .
Main article: Religion in
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A traditional representation of
The Vinegar Tasters , an
allegorical image representing Buddhists, Confucianists, and Taoists
Chinese culture has been long characterized by religious pluralism
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion has always maintained a profound influence.
Taoism share aspects of being a philosophy
or a religion, and neither demand exclusive adherence, resulting in a
culture of tolerance and syncretism , where multiple religions or
belief systems are often practiced in concert with local customs and
Chinese culture has for long been influenced by
Buddhism , while in recent centuries
Christianity has also gained a
foothold among the population.
Confucianism, a governing philosophy and moral code with some
religious elements like ancestor worship, is deeply ingrained in
Chinese culture and was the official state philosophy in
the Han Dynasty and unto the fall of imperial
China in the 20th
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion is a set of worship traditions of the ethnic
deities of the Han people. It involves the worship of various figures
Chinese mythology , folk heroes such as
Guan Yu and
Qu Yuan ,
mythological creatures such as the
Chinese dragon , or family, clan
and national ancestors. These practices vary from region to region,
and do not characterize an organized religion, though many traditional
Chinese holidays such as the Duanwu (or Dragon Boat) Festival ,
Qingming , and the
Mid-Autumn Festival come from the most popular of
Taoism, another indigenous religion, is also widely practiced in both
its folk forms and as an organized religion, and has influenced
Chinese art, poetry, philosophy, medicine , astronomy , alchemy and
chemistry, cuisine, martial arts , and architecture .
Taoism was the
state religion of the early Han Dynasty, and also often enjoyed state
patronage under subsequent emperors and dynasties.
In the Han Dynasty,
Confucian ideals were the dominant ideology. Near
the end of the dynasty,
Buddhism entered China, later gaining
Buddhism alternated between periods of state
tolerance (and even patronage) and persecution . In its original form,
Buddhism was at odds with the native Chinese religions, especially
with the elite, as certain Buddhist values often conflicted with
Chinese sensibilities. However, through centuries of assimilation,
adaptation, and syncretism, Chinese
Buddhism gained an accepted place
in the culture.
Buddhism would come to be influenced by Confucianism
and Taoism, and exerted influence in turn—such as in the form of
Though Christian influence in
China existed as early as the 7th
Christianity did not begin to gain a significant foothold in
China until the establishment of contact with Europeans during the
Ming and Qing dynasties. Chinese practices at odds with Christian
beliefs resulted in the
Chinese Rites controversy , and a subsequent
reduction in Christian influence.
Christianity grew considerably
First Opium War , after which foreign missionaries in
China enjoyed the protection of the Western powers and engaged in
HISTORICAL SOUTHWARD MIGRATION OF THE HAN PEOPLE
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The term "Huaxia" was used by Confucius's contemporaries, during the
Warring States era, to describe the shared ethnicity of all Chinese;
Chinese people called themselves Hua Ren. Southern Han people –
such as the Hoklo,
Hakka – all claim northern Chinese
origins from ancestors who migrated from Northern China's Yellow River
Valley during the 4th to 12th centuries. Hoklo clans living in
southeastern coastal China, such as in Chaozhou and
Quanzhou–Zhangzhou, originated from northern China's Henan province
during the Tang dynasty.
There were several periods of mass migration of Han people to
southeastern and southern
China throughout history. The ancestors of
Cantonese are said to be northern Chinese who moved to Guangdong,
while the Yue (Baiyue) descendants were indigenous minorities who
practised tattooing, as described in "The Real Yue People" (Zhen
Yueren 真越人) essay by Qu Dajun (屈大均), a
who extolled his people's Chineseness.
Vietnam, Guangdong, and
Yunnan all experienced a major surge in Han
Chinese migrants during
Wang Mang 's reign. :126 Hangzhou's coastal
regions and the Yangtze valley were settled in the 4th century by
Northern Chinese families from the nobility. :181 Special
"commanderies of immigrants" and "white registers" were created for
the massive number of
Han Chinese of northern origin who moved south
during the Eastern Jin dynasty. :182 The southern Chinese aristocracy
was formed from the offspring of these migrants; Celestial Masters
and the nobility of northern
China subdued the aristocracy of southern
China during the Eastern Jin and Western Jin, particularly in
Jiangnan. With the depopulation of the north, due to this migration
of northern Chinese, the south became the most populous region of
Different waves of migration of aristocratic Chinese from northern
China to the south at different times – with some arriving in the
300s–400s and others in the 800s–900s – resulted in the
formation of distinct lineages. During the 700s (Tang dynasty), Han
migrants from northern
China flooded into the south. Hong Kong
history books record migrations of the Song and Tang dynasties to the
south, which resulted in Hong Kongers that are descended from ethnic
Han settlers that originated from northern China. Since it was during
Tang dynasty that
Guangdong was subjected to settlement by Han
people, many Cantonese,
Hokkien and Teochew call themselves Tang.
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Y-chromosome haplogroup O3 is a common DNA marker in Han Chinese, as
it appeared in
China in prehistoric times. It is found in more than
50% of Chinese males, and ranging up to over 80% in certain regional
subgroups of the Han ethnicity. Other Y-DNA haplogroups that have
been found with notable frequency in samples of
Han Chinese include
O-P203 (15/165 = 9.1%, 47/361 = 13.0%), C-M217 (10/168 = 6.0%, 27/361
= 7.5%, 187/1730 = 10.8%, 20/166 = 12.0%), N-M231 (6/166 = 3.6%,
18/361 = 5.0%, 117/1729 = 6.8%, 17/165 = 10.3%), O-M268(xM95, M176)
(8/168 = 4.8%, 23/361 = 6.4%, 12/166 = 7.2%), and Q-M242 (2/168 =
1.2%, 49/1729 = 2.8%, 12/361 = 3.3%). However, the mitochondrial DNA
Han Chinese increases in diversity as one looks from
northern to southern China, which suggests that male migrants from
China married with women from local peoples after arriving in
modern-day Guangdong, Fujian, and other regions of southern China.
Despite this, tests comparing the genetic profiles of northern Han,
southern Han and southern natives determined that haplogroups
O1b-M110, O2a1-M88 and O3d-M7, which are prevalent in southern
natives, were only observed in some southern Hans (4% on average), but
not in northern Hans. Therefore, this proves that the male
contribution of southern natives in southern Hans is limited, assuming
that the frequency distribution of Y lineages in southern natives
represents that before the expansion of Han culture that started
two-thousand years ago. In contrast, there are consistent strong
genetic similarities in the Y chromosome haplogroup distribution
between the southern and northern Chinese population, and the result
of principal component analysis indicates almost all Han populations
form a tight cluster in their Y chromosome. However, other research
has also shown that the paternal lineages Y-DNA O-M119, O-P201,
O-P203 and O-M95 are found in both southern
Han Chinese and South
Chinese minorities, but more commonly in the latter. In fact, these
paternal markers are in turn less frequent in northern Han Chinese.
Another study puts
Han Chinese into two groups: northern and southern
Han Chinese, and it finds that the genetic characteristics of
Han Chinese was already formed as early as
three-thousand years ago in the Central Plain area .
The estimated contribution of northern Hans to southern Hans is
substantial in both paternal and maternal lineages and a geographic
cline exists for mtDNA. As a result, the northern Hans are the primary
contributors to the gene pool of the southern Hans. However, it is
noteworthy that the expansion process was dominated by males, as is
shown by a greater contribution to the Y-chromosome than the mtDNA
from northern Hans to southern Hans. These genetic observations are in
line with historical records of continuous and large migratory waves
China inhabitants escaping warfare and famine, to southern
China. Aside from these large migratory waves, other smaller southward
migrations occurred during almost all periods in the past two
millennia. A study by the Chinese Academy of
Sciences into the gene
frequency data of Han subpopulations and ethnic minorities in China,
showed that Han subpopulations in different regions are also
genetically close to the local ethnic minorities, meaning that in many
cases, blood of ethnic minorities had mixed into Han, while at the
same time, the blood of Han had also mixed into the local ethnicities.
A study on Armenian admixture in varied populations found 3.9%
Armenian-like DNA in some northern Chinese Han. A recent, and to date
the most extensive, genome-wide association study of the Han
population, shows that geographic-genetic stratification from north to
south has occurred and centrally placed populations act as the conduit
for outlying ones. Ultimately, with the exception in some
ethnolinguistic branches of the Han Chinese, such as
Pinghua , there
is "coherent genetic structure" in all
Han Chinese populace.
* ^ Source:
United States Central Intelligence Agency, 1983. The
map shows the distribution of ethnolinguistic groups according to the
historical majority ethnic groups by region. Note this does not
represent the current distribution due to age-long internal migration
Overseas Chinese include both Han and non-Han people (see
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Jia, Wei-hua; Li, Tao; Zhang, Furen; Seielstad, Mark; Zeng, Yi-Xin; et
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* ^ Gan, Rui-Jing; Pan, Shang-Ling; Mustavich, Laura F.; Qin,
Zhen-Dong; Cai, Xiao-Yun; Qian, Ji; Liu, Cheng-Wu; Peng, Jun-Hua; Li,
Shi-Lin; Xu, Jie-Shun; Jin, Li; Li, Hui (2008). "
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* Yuan, Haiwang (30 March 2006). The Magic Lotus Lantern and Other
Tales from the Han Chinese. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN
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* How the
Han Chinese became the world\'s biggest tribe – People's
Daily Online Sept 16, 2004
* Map share of ethnic by county of
Han Chinese subgroups
Cantonese (incl. Taishanese )
* Fujianese (Min) (incl. Fuzhounese , Putianese , Hoklo , Hui\'an
maidens , Teochew , Hainanese )