Just as Washington Irving once wrote, '...had I been merely a lover of fine scenery, I should have felt little desire to seek elsewhere its gratification, for on no country have the charms of nature been more prodigally lavished. … but Europe held forth the charms of storied and poetical association. Europe was rich in the accumulated treasure of age. Her very ruins told the history of times gone by, and every moldering stone was a chronicle.'
China is a large country with time-honored history. From the ancient times, the ancestors of Chinese laboured, lived, and multiplied on this vast land and have created splendid culture. As one of the four cradles of world's earliest civilizations, it has a recorded history of nearly 4,000 years. Throughout the history of Chinese civilization, its agriculture and handicrafts have been renowned for their high level of sophistication. During these 4,000 years, China has nurtured many great thinkers, inventors, statesmen, strategists, men of letters and artists, yielding a rich cultural heritage and fine cultural traditions.
Chinese Kung Fu
Chinese Kung Fu is a commonly used term for all the martial arts styles in China. In fact, Wushu is the correct traditional term to use to describe Chinese Martial Arts. The word Kung Fu was first used by a western Jesuit Missionary named Pere Amoit after witnessing exercises and training regimen in China. He called it "Cong Fou" in his personal journals. (he probably confused the Chinese descriptive words, Kung Fu, meaning expert or skilled as a result of dedicated training, thinking that it was the name of the martial art he was observing. Literally, the term kung fu can be applied to the description of the work of an expert in any field, like a skilled painter, a master chef or a craftsman wood carver.)
The term "Kuo-Shu" was popular in China until about 1930. This term has since been popularized by Taiwan to describe Chinese Martial Arts.
Kung Fu describes numerous forms of External and Internal styles including those using bare hands or weapons. Generally speaking, they are divided into two schools: the South school and the North school.
The North school originated from Shaolin Temple, the Holy Land of Buddhism, and is called the Shaolin Sect, with its boxing called Waijiaquan. The South school originated from Wudang Mountain, the Holy Land of Taoism, and is called the Wudang Sect, with its boxing called Neijiaquan. Thus Wudang and Shaolin are recognised as the two main and important sects of Chinese martial artsas they have been practiced in China for thousands of years. Some of the well known external styles are Shaolinquan, Changquan, Hongquan and Fanziquan, while some well known internal styles are Taichi, Bagua, Xingyi and Water Style. With the promotion of Chinese movies and expansion of Opening and Reforming Policy in China, Kung Fu has become a popular international sport that all people can learn and use to attain its inherent benefits. Aside from a method of self-defense, Kung Fu has been developed into a sport capable of improving a participant's health and fitness; improving their reaction time, jumping ability, balance, flexibility, coordination, power and speed. Even athletes for other sports are taking up Kung Fu training to complement their physical pursuits and to improve the quality of their performance.
Shaolin Kung Fu
Shaolin KungfuShaolin Kung Fu emphasizes Ch'an Buddhism. Ch'an derives its name from the Indian word Dhyana, which simply means 'Meditation'. Dhyanna was an Indian form of Buddhist meditation stressing sitting meditation and other forms of meditation to help bring about enlightenment in its practitioners. Dhyanna is essentially meditation practice, as part of Buddhist practice.
Indian martial techniques and exercises predate their counterparts in China, just as Indian Buddhism and Dhyanna meditation practice does. However, the martial arts were known for the most part formed, shaped and cradled by the Shaolin Temple throughout history, just as Ch'an and Zen today are a result of Chinese influence. So Shaolin Kung Fu is the Granddaddy of all Asian martial arts, with an Indian uncle.
Tai Chi Chuan
Taichi ChuanToday if you take an early morning walk in the cities or towns of China, you'll see people practicing Tai Chi Chuan in parks, on the sidewalks and open-air areas. Why it is so deeply loved and widely practiced by Chinese people? Let's find out.
Tai Chi meaning the great ultimate, one of the essential concepts of the ancient Chinese philosophy on the world system, first appeared in the Book of Change. Where there is Taichi, there is peace and harmony between the positive and the negative. Taichi theory holds that everything in the world is composed of two opposing but complementary aspects, Yin and Yang. The Yang is described as masculine in character, active, warm, dry, bright, procreative and positive. While Yin is the female or negative principle in nature, fertile, breeding, dark, cold, wet, secret and mysterious. This theory has been demonstrated in the famous Taichi Chart, which is known as the illustration of the motion of the world, shows symbolically the balance and coexistence of these two energies, Ying and Yang. The black in the chart stands for Yin and the white for Yang. The coexistence of the black and the white fishes in the same circle indicated that the Yin and Yang forces are present in everything.
QigongMysterious and wondrous, Qigong is an outstanding legacy of Chinese culture as well as an important part of traditional Chinese medicine. As a form of traditional breathing exercise, Qigong has been practiced by the Chinese for thousand of years. Literally, qi means air or breath, in fact, it refers to the body's physiology functions. Qingong experts call it the internal qi or datian qi which generate life. In ancient Chinese cosmology, qi is closely tied in with spirit as distinguished from physical substance. The Taoist philosophy regards man's qi as part of the universal qi or man's, life force. Gong refers to Kungfu. Therefore, Qigong is a kind of self-training method by which the practitioner use the initiative to train the body and mind, providing a holistic training for self-reliance, self-adjustment, body building, prophylaxis, curing disease and strengthening the constitution, resisting premature aging and prolonging life.
Chinese Festivals & Celebrations
In China, 5000 years of history has seen the creation of many festivals. According to their origins, China's festivals mainly fall into three categories, agricultural, religious and social festivals. According to their contents, Chinese festivals can be divided into five kinds, including agricultural, sacrificial, commemorative, recreational and celebratory festivals.
The lifestyles of the Chinese people have changed, but the importance of traditional festivals in their lives has not faded. Along with these major festivals, many other traditional festivals are observed in modern China that demonstrate the important place that tradition and longing for times past occupy in the life of the people. Besides the ethnic, geographic, historic, and linguistic ties that unite them, traditional festivals are one of the strongest bonds reinforcing the cultural identity of the Chinese nation.
The time of this festival According to the Chinese Agricultural Calendar, Chinese Spring Festival begins with the New Moon and ends on the Full Moon, which is from the first day to the 15th day of the first month. The last day of the New Year is known as the Lantern Festival.
The Lantern Festival
The time of this festival The Lantern Festival is one of the most traditional festivals. Falling on the 15th day of the first Lunar Calendar month, it is a ‘festival within a festival', that considered as the end of Spring Festival. The history of this festival According to the historical records, the festival began to prevail during the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.- 24 A .D.) and flourished during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 A .D.).
Pure and Bright Festival
The time of this festival Qingming in Chinese means the weather pure and bright in spring days. The date usually turns out to be the fourth, fifth, or sixth of April, thus people go out to celebrate the coming of the new season. Visit ancestors' graves It is also a Tomb Sweeping Day for some Chinese people, on which people visit their ancestors' graves, pay respects to the dead and hold memorial ceremonies in honor of their ancestors.
Dragon Boat Festival
The time of this festival The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the 5th, May each year according to Chinese traditional Lunnar calendar. The origin of this festival During Dragon Boat Festival, people eat Zongzi and hold Dragon Boat race in honor of the great poem Qu Yuan during the Warring States Period (475 B.C.- 221 B.C.). Qu was upright, loyal and highly respected when he was the minister of Chu State.
Chinese Valentine's Day
The time of this festival Chinese Valentine's Day falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. Looking up at the sky this day, you will find the romance is going on in the dark blue. The origin of this festival According to the celestial phenomena, the ancient Chinese people created this love story, and the record can be dated back about 1500 years ago. In the east of the Milky Way, there is the Star Vega that is believed the weaving girl.
The Mid-autumn Day
The time of this festival The festival is celebrated at the 15th day of the eighth lunar month in China. On this day, the moon is extremely bright and perfectly round. The festival represents the unity and leisure of the people, as well as the harvest of the nature. The legend of this festival There are many legends about this festival. The most popular one among the Chinese people is ‘Hou Yi Shooting the Suns'. The story goes that during the time of Yao (abou... More
The Double Ninth Festival
The time of this festival The festival is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. The cultural background It has the history more than 1500 years. According the traditional YIN&YANG Dichotomy, YIN represents the elements of darkness and negative, while YANG brightness and positive. In China, the number ‘9' is regarded as YANG, so the ninth day of the ninth month is the double YANG's day. Custom of this festival In addition, the ninth mon... More
Chinese EmbroideryTraditionally, girls in towns and cities learned the skill at their early age, which will give them an advantage when they are going to marry.
Embroidery was first developed by local women to decorate their clothes, pouches and bedclothes. With its designs rich in life and full of colors, it has gradually developed into a national art. What's more, China's large production of silk has promoted the development of embroidery and brocade art.
Early embroidery had the design and patterns only on one side, while the reverse side had irregular stitches and threadends. Later the skills of the double side embroidery evolved. Both sides of embroidery can be displayed in the same design and different colors. For example, a peony design would be red ion one side and yellow on the opposite side.
Chinese Paper Cutting
PapercutsChinese paper cutting is rich in content from the animals and plants to the vividly daily life scenes. Some of them even are created into a series to telling you an interesting Chinese mystique. Some are cut into many creatures in the world on one sheet with great imagination.
According to the unearthed relics, paper cutting appeared during the Northern Dynasty (386 A.D. - 581 A .D.) at least. Hence, it has the history more than 1,500 years.
At first, Paper cutting was only popular among the countryside, and the masters were farmwives. They might do it for their whole lives from teenagers to the grey hairs, creating hundreds of vivid pieces.
Today, the art has developed into art forms that can fully represent Chinese traditional folk culture. As the paper cutting combines many folk art forms such as painting and cutting, it can serve as the window for one who wants to know the traditional Chinese folk art.
Chinese lanternChinese lantern is a traditional handicraft that once you see it, you will know it is a symbol of China. The fascinating and warm light provided by a Chinese lantern will make you understand why they're so popular and well known.
Started from the East Han Dynasty (25 A.D. - 220 A.D.), Chinese lantern reached its peak during Tang Dynasty (618 A.D. - 907 A.D.) and Song (960 A.D. -1279 A.D.) Dynasty.
Originally, Chinese people hung lanterns in front of their doors to drive away evil spirits. As to today, the lantern has become a symbol of traditional Chinese culture, playing an important role in celebrations and ceremonies.
KiteKite is a symbol of the Chinese handicraft. Flying a kit is a very popular activity in all generations in China. It is easy to find the scene that when in the holidays, there are large numbers of people gathering to the squares and holding lines to control beautiful kites in the blue sky.
Chinese kite originated from the Warring States Period (476 B.C.-221 B.C.). The deft craftsman Lu Ban was said to be the inventor. His invention had the bird' s name of ‘Yuan', a kind of bird of hawk family with a long, often forked tail and a long pointed winds. He made the kite out of the thin wooden or bamboo strips.
After the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. -220 A .D.), paper was introduced into the kite-making and replaced the wood and bamboo. Hence, the kite got the name ‘Zhi Yuan', as ‘Zhi' in Chinese means paper. And during the Five Dynasties Period (907 A .D. -960 A .D.), people tied the bamboo whistle to the kite. When the kite is flying, the airflow can make the whistle sounded like Kucheng playing, hence the name ‘Fengcheng'.
Traditional Chinese wedding customs are considered as the foundation of rites in traditional Chinese culture. A wedding is usually a grand occasion with overly-elaborate formalities. There are eight major procedures of a wedding, including proposal making, birthday matching, marriage divination, betrothal gifts presenting, wedding date fixing, dowry urging, welcoming the bride to the wedding and performing the formal wedding ceremony.
The procedure of birthday matching was the process in which the boy's family asked the matchmaker to go to the girl's family to enquire about her name and date of birth. Then, the boy's parents would send the girl's and their son's names and birthdates to a sorcerer or fortune teller for divining to see if the marriage between the two would be appropriate. The foretelling of the luck of the marriage was what was called "marriage divination".
If according to Chinese astrology the couple was compatible and both families agreed to the marriage, the boy's family would then send betrothal gifts to the girl's family. The betrothal gifts mainly included clothes, jewelries, gold, silver and cash etc. In addition, a gilded silver coin bearing the word "qiu" (meaning "proposal") was among the gifts. The girl's family would send back another coin bearing the word "yun" (meaning "agreed") among their gifts presented in return. Thus, the marriage was confirmed.