Shandong, with Jinan as the provincial capital, is abbreviated as “Lu”, and its name refers to the province’s location to the east of the Taihang Mountains. Shandong is located on the eastern coastal areas of China, and in the lower reaches of the Yellow River and the mid-north of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. The whole province, spanning an area of 157,000 km2, consists of Shandong Peninsula and the inland.
Culture – Shandong has a long history and played a major role in the creation and development of Chinese civilization.
Shandong is the main origin of Eastern Yi culture, the culture created by Eastern Yi people in pre-Qin period). The history of Shandong can be traced back to 400,000 or 500,000 years ago when the earliest Shandong people – “Yiyuan People” lived. The Beixin culture (5,300-4,100 B.C.) developed 7,000 years ago was earlier than the Neolithic Age (4,500 and 2,000 B.C.) in Tengxian. And the world famous Dawenkou culture and Longshan culture in the end of the primitive society were also first discovered in Shandong, so were the earliest Chinese character “inscription on pottery of Dawenkou” and “terracotta characters of Longshan”, as well as the earliest city-state “Chengziya Ruins in Longshan Ancient City” , the earliest Chinese military defense project “Great Wall of Qi (1046 -221 B.C.)” and Luozhuang Han Dynasty Tombs” (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) listed as “10 Most Important Archaeological Discoveries” of China in 2000, etc.
Shandong is nicknamed as the “land of Qi and Lu”, and the traditional Chinese culture has also felt the decisive influence of the famous culture of Qi and Lu. People always conclude the culture of Qi and Lu as “one mountain, one spring and one saint”, of which, the mountain refers to Mount Tai, the most revered of the Five Mountains, and the “spring” means the Baotu Spring hailed as the “Best Spring in the World”, while the saint refers to Confucius, the founder of Confucianism.
Shandong has a total population of over 90 million, of which the Han nationality constitutes 90%. Hui nationality has the largest population among the minorities, constituting more than 95% of the total minority population. People from Shandong are simple, honest, bold, unconstrained, hospitable, which provide the basis for the nickname of the province, “Friendly Shandong”. And most of Shandong people are physically strong. “Shandong Da Han (Big guy) ” is the nickname to describe Shandong people’s nature and physique.
There appeared a great number of prominent persons influential to the Chinese culture in the history of Shandong. Confucianism by the great ideologist, educationist and politician Confucius (551-479 B.C.) is the backbone of Chinese culture. The Master Sun’s Art of War written by famous militarist Sun Wu (551-479 B.C.) in ancient China is now a classic appreciated by military and business circles at home and abroad. These extraordinary persons also include Mencius, Wang Hsi-Chih, Lu Ban, Jia Sixie, Bian Que, Sun Bin, Zhuge Liang, Li Qingzhao, Xin Qiji, Pu Songling, and so on. Their thinking, theories, wisdom and academic achievements constitute major parts of traditional Chinese culture and have imposed a profound and intensive influence on the development of Chinese culture.
There are many festivals throughout the year in Shandong, which offer the opportunity to come together with the local people and experience their joy of tradition. Come be a part of the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival, the Pure Brightness Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival or the Double Ninth Festival. You can also join the local people in the temple fairs, and attend folk celebrations such as land boat dancing, yangko dancing, walking on stilts, wick-carrying, and kite flying, etc. If you want to truly experience the Shandong lifestyle, you may stay with a local family, and learn how to make jiaozi, or eat zongzi (aka sticky rice dumplings – a traditional Chinese food, stuffed with glutinous rice and other fillings; all wrapped in bamboo leaves).
Unrivaled in scope and brilliance, the Lu Opera, the Liuzi Opera and Shandong Bangzi Opera combine complex musical themes with unique instrumentation and dramatic flair for a dazzling show which you will not want to miss. The famous martial arts and acrobatic ensembles, which perform across the province, are popular with locals and tourists alike.
Arts and Crafts
Time-honored traditional arts and crafts abound throughout the region, providing a mosaic of beauty and whimsy. Shandong is one of the origins of Chinese ceramics and silk. Here, you will also find amazing inner painting, an art form which involves glass bottles with a stunning miniature landscape, figurine or flower meticulously painted on the inside surface of the glass! Meanwhile, the kites, inkslabs, woodcut New Year pictures, and cloth toys are just a small sampling of the artistry being created daily here.
Weifang is known as the “Kite Capital of the World” and the headquarters of the International Kite Federation is found in the Kite Museum here.
Shandong Cuisine (Lu Cuisine)
Shandong cuisine, more commonly known in Chinese as Lu cuisine, is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese cuisine and is also ranked among the Four Great Traditions. Shangdong cuisine is representative of northern China’s cooking and its technique has been widely absorbed in northeast China.
Shandong dishes mainly taste delicious and salty, and local chefs like to use thick sauce, fermented soy beans, onions and garlic as seasonings to prepare dishes. Typical Shandong people are very fond of eating scallions and fresh vegetables after dipping them in thick sauce. Jinan, Jiaodong and Confucius Mansion cuisines, which are of variants of Shandong cuisine, each have their own unique style and characteristics but seem to shine more brilliantly in the others’ company.