A Bit of Chinese Culture

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China is one of the four ancient civilizations. It boasts a vast geographic expanse of 3,600 years written history as well as a rich and profound culture. Many aspects of Chinese culture can be traced back many centuries ago. Chinese culture is so diverse and unique yet harmoniously blended, and presents itself an invaluable asset to the world.

China is an extremely large country, more than 1.3 billion people live in China representing 56 ethnic minority groups, and the customs and traditions of its people vary by geography and ethnicity. The largest group is the Han Chinese, with about 900 million people. Other groups include the Tibetans, the Mongols, the Manchus, the Naxi, and the Hezhen which is smallest group, with fewer than 2,000 people. Individuals within communities also create their own culture, influenced by religion, food, style, language, marriage, music, and morals.

 

Chinese Language

The Chinese language is the most common language in the world. The official national language in China is Pŭtōnghuà, a type of Mandarin spoken in the capital Beijing, which is also spoken in most of northern China and part of western China.
In fact, there are seven major groups of dialects of the Chinese language, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Wu,  Min, Xiang, and Gan. Each having their own variations in pronunciation and grammar but share a common writing system (Chinese characters) and have a common cultural background. Even though people may not be able to verbally communicate in different provinces, they are able to understand each other in writing.

The Chinese language is the oldest written language in the world with at least six thousand years of history. Chinese character inscriptions have been found in turtle shells dating back to the Shang dynasty (1766-1123 BC), proving the written language has existed for more than 3,000 years. The Chinese written language uses single distinctive symbols or characters to represent each word of the vocabulary. The vast majority of characters are written versions of spoken sounds that have meaning. Although the written system has been altered over time due to revolutions and political changes, the principles of the language along with the symbols and characters have remained basically the same.

 

Authentic Chinese Food

Chinese cuisine is characterized by its special seasoning, featured cooking methods, diversified cooking material and distinctive flavor, which makes it highly-favorable among gourmet domestic and abroad.

Like other aspects of Chinese life, cuisine is heavily influenced by geography and ethnic diversity. China can be divided into many geographical areas, and each area has a distinct style of cooking. The ingredients used in the food are based on the natural agricultural products of the region.

Chinese cuisine has a number of different styles, which makes the Eight Culinary Traditions of China: Guangdong (Cantonese) cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Jiangsu cuisine and Sichuan cuisine, Fujian cuisine, Hunan cuisine, Anhui cuisine and Zhejiang cuisine. Cuisines of different styles have their own features, both in cooking methods and seasonings.

In Northern China, for example, wheat is eaten more than rice as a staple food. Food using wheat as its main ingredient, such as noodles and dumplings is prevalent there. China's Southern cuisine uses far more rice, with such staples as rice noodles and zongzi - sticky rice wrapped in leaves. Southern food, is typically more spicy, and many minorities eat chilies every day.

 

Chinese Arts and Crafts

With the history of more than 5000 years, China boasts profound arts and traditional crafts. It is an important aspect of Chinese culture.  They were greatly influenced by the country's rich spiritual history and represent great treasures to the world.

Of all the Chinese arts and crafts, the most representative are Bronze Vessels, Folk Toys, Embroidery, Calligraphy, Music, Opera, Painting, Cloisonne, Jade, Kites, Lacquer Ware, Paper-Cuttings, Porcelain, Pottery, Seals, and Silk. They are not only a vivid reflection of the culture of China but also the embodiment of both the local people, and of the nation itself.

 

Chinese Festival

With time-honored history of more than 5000 years, China enjoys many traditional festivals, like Spring festival, Lantern Festival, Tomb-sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-autumn Day, all of which are the great reflection of profound Chinese culture. Each festival has its own significance , feature and celebration forms.

The largest festival — also called the Spring Festival — marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year. It falls between mid-January and mid-February and is a time to honor ancestors. During the 15-day celebration, the Chinese do something every day to welcome the new year, such as eat rice congee and mustard greens to cleanse the body. The holiday is marked with fireworks and parades featuring dancers dressed as dragons.

 

Chinese Kung Fu

Chinese kung fu, also known as Wushu or Chinese martial arts, is one of the most well known examples of traditional Chinese culture. It is probably one of the earliest and longest lasting sports which utilizes both brawn and brain.

The theory of kung fu is based upon classical Chinese philosophy. It is usually practiced with bare hands, while sometimes with some simple weapons like cudgel. It is estimated that Chinese Kung Fu can be dated back to primeval society. Over its long history it has developed as a unique combination of exercise, practical self-defense, self-discipline, and art. Actually , there are many different sects of Chinese Kong Fu, the most-known are Taichi, Xingyi Quan and Baguan Quan.