China has 1.2 billion people with different racial, social, economic and cultural background. Therefore, here we can only speak about the traditional or dominate lifestyle which is more or less typical of the Chinese nation as a whole. Generally speaking, the Chinese people live a life distinct from other peoples in that they pursue such qualities as conformity to nature, harmony, and plain living as opposed to conquest of nature, individuality and material luxury. A pretty flower or a full moon can mean alot of things for Chinese people, depending on the circumtance.
In connection with their ethics, the Chinese people's lifestyle is characterized by two considerations: Harmony between humans and nature, and harmony among humans.
This preoccupation with nature permeates all aspects of the Chinese people's life. For example, even on an outing , the Chinese people seek to integrate themselves into nature. In springtime, they admire the new-grown greenery in the summer, they appreciate the lotus in the autumn, they climb up a hill for a view of the golden season; and in the winter, they feast their eyes on the first snow.
Festivals occupy an important position in the Chinese's life. Although they offer sacrifices to gods on festivals, the gods are actually of secondary importance. Interpersonal harmony, in contrast, is of primary importance. The most important of all the festivals, of course, is the "spring festival." And even on this day, the offerings are intended for people to consume, and the gods are believed to raise no objection to this.
Chinese Culture is omnipresent. Qin ( a Chinese stringed instrument somewhat like zither), qi (Chinese chess or go), shu (calligraphy) and hua (painting) are the four most popular traditional forms of entertainment. The point is not how good you can get; rather, it is the mood and atmosphere these activities build up for the player. It is a tempering of the character. There is a dao (literally , way or path; norm, principle for everything. Playing Chinese chess or go, for example, is not just for winning . In the processing of playing. One can learn the art of self-composure and the spirit of detachment to fame and gain.
Another major element in the ordinary life of the Chinese is staying good health. Qigong is the most popular form of exercise By coordinating breathing and other physical as well as mental conditions, qigong reflects the traditional thinking of integrating humans into the universe. In connection with qigong, most people can play some taijiquan or some other "kung-fu." Chinese Martial Arts aim primarily at strengthening the body and cultivating the mind. It is a means of making friends not enemies.
Culture & Tradition
China is considered to be the oldest civilizations of the world. It is assumed that ancient China existed about 5000 to 500,000 years ago. The first Chinese civilization is believed to have originated in the Yellow River valley, in the Neolithic era.
Ancient Chinese culture has made many contributions to the field of science. The ancient Chinese were responsible for four major inventions, namely, compass, gunpowder, paper and printing. The world's oldest record of continuously used writing systems is Written Chinese. In fact, many of the Chinese characters that are used currently have been traced back to about 1500 BCE. The modern Chinese culture and tradition is an amalgamation of political and cultural influences, contributed by the immigrants from various parts of Asia. Speaking about the ancient Chinese culture, let's take a look at the arts, architecture, clothing, food, festivals and martial arts in those times.
Chinese Arts: The Chinese traditional arts represents the country's rich heritage.Notable Chinese arts were prevalent since the Neolithic period. In those times, jade and pottery formed the basis of Chinese arts.Bronze was introduced only in the Shang dynasty.
Chinese porcelain (a form of ceramic ware), which is famous worldwide was used during the Imperial era. The Yuan dynasty is a remarkable phase of Chinese culture, marked by great paintings of Zhao Mengfu and beginning of Chinese opera. With the advent of Imperial era, performing arts like theater and dances were introduced in China.
Chinese Architecture: Ancient Chinese architecture is the most magnificent and splendid aspect of Chinese culture. One architectural wonder is the Great Wall of China that was completed during the Ming dynasty. The Imperial Mausoleum (built by thousands of architects), another such feature, are monuments built at the burial site of the emperors. They are usually built on the sides of hills and mountains. Emperors from different ruling dynasties built varied styles of imperial palaces. These palaces are examples of architectural excellence. Since, the number nine was regarded lucky; the architecture was designed in such a way that the palaces had nine sections; the size of each section was in multiples of nine. Dragon (Long) and Phoenix (Feng) are very important in Chinese mythology. The palaces and walls were carved with symbols of the dragon, believed to be a representation of the emperors.
Clothing: Another important aspect is ancient Chinese clothing. Archaeological evidences have shown the presence of bone sewing machines, ornamental shells and stone beads as early as 18,000 years ago. The three traditional Chinese clothing are the pien-fu (two piece ceremonial costume), the ch'ang-p'ao (long dress), and the shen-i. Embroidered designs were a unique feature of traditional Chinese clothing.
Wearing a qūjū shēnyī
Chinese Food: In China, millet and rice was harvested around the fourth and fifth millennium BC. It was believed that rice was the staple food in ancient China since 5000 BCE. It was divided into northern and southern styles of cooking. The northern style represented oily foods with the flavor of garlic and vinegar, whereas southern Chinese foods were more spicy and cooked with chili and peppers. Nutrition along with color, aroma and flavor were the principles followed in the preparation of ancient Chinese food. The Chinese had a traditional belief in the medicinal importance of food. This formed the basis of traditional Chinese medicine. According to ancient Chinese culture, there were certain rules for eating, for eg. food was consumed while being seated in a sequence, for example, the men first, then the women and children.
Chinese Festival: Traditional Chinese festivals like Chinese New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival have been celebrated since ancient times. The Chinese New Year begins on the first day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar. According to Chinese folk tales, the festival started with a fight against Nian (a mythical beast). The ancient Chinese had a belief that Nian will not attack them, if food was offered to it. Since then, Chinese put food in front of their doors on the starting day of the festival. People prayed to the 'God of Wealth' with the hope that He will bring good fortune to the family. The Duanwu Festival (Dragon Boat Festival) was believed to have originated in ancient China. It was celebrated to honor the death of Qu Yuan, a renowned poet and minister to the King of Chu in 278 BC. As Chu was conquered by Qin, Qu Yuan committed suicide on the fifth day of the fifth month by drowning himself in the Milou river. The local villagers, who admired him, fed the fish so that they would spare the body of Qu Yuan, they also paddled out on boats to retrieve his body. This marked the beginning of the Dragon Boat Festival. Traditional Chinese festivals were celebrated with the aim of spreading good wishes and happiness.
Chinese Martial Arts (Kung Fu): In ancient China, board games and movement games were common, both of which originated from war training. Generals were given training in board games, whereas movement games or martial arts were instructed for the purpose of fighting. In those times, the most popular board game was 'Go', which originated around 2000 BC. It was believed that Yellow Emperor had invented martial arts for the first time in about 2600 BC (much before the Shang dynasty). By around 550 BC, Sun Tzu wrote "Art of War", describing the techniques of martial arts. It was around the same time, when Taoists started practicing Tai Chi. During the time of the Han dynasty (about 50 AD), Pan Ku wrote a book about Kung Fu. The theory behind kung fu fighting styles was rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy. There were two categories under Kung Fu - internal and external. The former involved training the spirit (shen) and mind (xin); whereas in external Kung Fu, one needed to exercise muscles, tendons and bones. It was played as a unique combination of art, exercise, self-defense and self-discipline.
Chinese Kung Fu Picture
It was believed that ancient China was isolated from other countries, which was evident from the creation of the Great Wall. The customs and traditions of ancient Chinese differed greatly from one region to the other. About the ancient Chinese poems, who could forget the mysterious poems and statements of Confucius and Tao Te Ching. Till today, the three teachings - Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism influence the life of people worldwide. Be it literature or music, the ancient Chinese culture represented its uniqueness over other cultures of the world.