China has a several thousand history of civilization. Chinese culture, one of the world’s oldest cultures, is rich in content and heritage. Important components of Chinese culture include literature, music and dance, Chinese opera, Chinese painting, traditional Chinese architecture, and Chinese cuisine etc.
The glorious history of Chinese literature is reflected in the Book of Songs, Songs of Chu, Poetry of Han Dynasty, Book of Jin, Poetry of Tang Dynasty, Ci (a poetic form) of the Song Dynasty, Dramas of the Yuan Dynasty, traditional Chinese novels of the Ming and Qing dynasties, and essays of the Republic of China.
Music and Dance
Bone flute, which firstly appeared in the Neolithic Age in China, is the earliest wind instrument known to the world. Chinese traditional music is generated and developed from the integration and communication of Central China music, four regions music and foreign music, including folk music, scholar music, religious music, and court music. Chinese traditional music has distinct characteristics. Common instruments are Guzheng, Qin, and Xiao. The temperament is based on five notes of the pentatonic scale, corresponding roughly to do, re, mi, sol, la.
The time-honored traditional Chinese dance reflects traditional Chinese culture and aesthetics. In addition, it is closely related to martial art, acrobatics, and traditional Chinese opera.
Traditional Chinese opera is a traditional Chinese stage art, consisting of various performance means including: singing, speaking, acting and acrobatic fighting. Traditional Chinese opera includes many types of dramas, such as Beijing Opera, Henan Opera, Hebei Clapper Opera, Shaanxi Opera, Pingju, Cantonese Opera, Yueju Opera, Kunqu Opera, Huangmei Opera, Chaozhou Opera, Jin Opera, and Flower Drum Opera.
Chinese painting is called Guohua in China. Writing brush, soft brush or fingers are mainly used to paint on silk or Xuan paper by ink and traditional Chinese painting color. Chinese paintings can be divided into bird-and-flower painting, mountain-and-water painting and figure painting according to the content, elaborate-style painting, freehand brush painting, heavy-color painting, ink and wash painting, line drawing painting in traditional ink and brush style, mural painting, and inner painting according to skills, concrete Chinese painting and abstract Chinese painting according to artistic levels. Chinese painting, good at freehand brushwork, emphasizes similarity in spirit, instead of similarity in form; emphasizes observation and summarization, instead of on-site facsimile; uses cavalier perspective, instead of focus perspective; emphasizes artistic conception, instead of scene.
Traditional Chinese Architecture
Chinese architecture, examples for which can be found from over 2,000 years ago, has long been a hallmark of the culture. The combinations of units of space in traditional Chinese architecture follow the principles of balance and symmetry. The main structure is the axis, and the secondary structures are positioned as two wings on each side. Another characteristic of traditional Chinese architecture is its use of a wooden structural frame with pillars, beams, and earthen walls surrounding the building on three sides. One of the special architectural features resulted from the use of wood material is the technique of building a structure on a platform, to prevent damage from moisture. The height of the platform corresponds to the importance of the building. A high platform adds strength, sophistication, and stateliness to large buildings. Timber framework also decides that color is the main ornament used on ancient Chinese architecture. In the feudal society, the use of color was restricted according to strict social status classification. The yellow was deemed noblest color, and it was often applied on palace buildings.
Feng shui (literally wind and water), a special Chinese tradition in architecture, has played an important part in structural development. Fengshui is the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space to achieve coexistence in harmony with the environment. The best orientation of a building is to face a river in the south and back against a hill in the north.
Chinese cuisine is a brilliant facet of Chinese culture, which is proven by the fact that Chinese restaurants are found everywhere in the world. China boasts several dozen schools of Chinese cuisine. It was in the long feudal society that China formed its unique culinary customs and culture, featuring “two places 10 li apart don’t share the same habits, and people 100 li apart don’t have the same customs. (one li equals to half a kilometer)”. Geographical conditions, climate as well as religious beliefs and ethnic customs all have exerted the important influence on the formation of the schools of Chinese cuisine. The four major schools of Chinese cuisine include Shandong Cuisine, Sichuan Cuisine, Cantonese Cuisine (Yue Cuisine) and Jiangsu Cuisine.
Scientific and Technological Achievements of Ancient China
China is one of the Four Ancient Civilizations. Ancient China had technological traditions different from western countries. Ancient China contributed to the world by means of numerous inventions and innovations and developed unique advancing achievements in various fields such as astronomy, math, medicine, mechanics, metallurgy, ceramic, spinning and architecture. Some Chinese inventions anterior to other countries include: the four great inventions (papermaking technology, printing, compass and gunpowder), seismograph, abacus, steel, umbrella (for current use, which can be opened and closed), toothbrush, stirrup, silk, rudder, porcelain, petroleum well, paper money, match, lacquer, kite, fire balloon, fishing pole, fan, crossbow, dock, mangonel and Chinese bronze ware. Among which, silk, porcelain and tea were once the main export goods in China. For example, the Silk Road was constructed for the transportation of silk. The porcelain is also called china in English.
In modern society, China learned from western civilization and constantly developed scientific research. Successful launch of the Shenzhou spaceships symbolizes that China has become the third country that is able to send mankind into the space besides the former Soviet Union and America.