The cultures of the east have always intrigued me, especially that of the Chinese people. There are billions of Chinese people around the globe. China towns have been built wherever there is a significant number of Chinese people in the area. These towns are oozing with Chinese culture. The architecture of the place is very distinct with bright red paints, statues of dragons, temples, and those Chinese characters written all over the place.
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Chinese culture is famous for its authentic cuisine. Chinese food has always been among the top focus of many people in the culinary industry. Spices have been played out to cook mouth-watering dishes. I had been very curious about the Chinese population and their culture. I find Chinese society very conservative but I don’t seem to fully understand the importance of understanding their society which is crucial in this paper.
Mandarin is one of the most spoken dialects around the world. This is the language that is spoken by the Chinese people. Language is part of a culture’s traits. In this paper, the religious beliefs and myths will also be discussed to fully understand the culture.
Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are one of the most famous Chinese movie stars in the world. They are known for their martial art skills. Martial art by the name itself is one of the most famous arts of the Chinese which is not only taught for self-defense but more is presented as art, thus martial arts! Chinese literature is one of the oldest in the world. This will also be tackled in the said paper. This paper will serve as an introduction to Chinese culture. A brief analysis of the said culture’s components will be provided, as well as the analysis of culture as a whole.
In Chinese history, since the reigning periods of the three sovereigns and five emperors, China had developed a meritocracy society where government officials and social statuses were earned through objective means. Men who were considered intelligent due to test results were given social statuses and positions, thus the Chinese culture highlights the importance of hard work and education. Men are trained to study hard and increase their IQs to uplift their family statuses.
As for Chinese women, they have always been trained to be the best wives for their husbands. To determine the most capable and desirable wife, tests were conducted. Even today, women are trained to master the arts and virtues of women in ancient China. Though in modern times, such a society no longer exists in China, the mindset of working hard is still present among Chinese people. They believe that through good education they will be able to uplift their social statuses in life.
In Chinese society, the husband and wife are the basic units of the family. The importance of Chinese marriages highlights the significance of Chinese marriages. Chinese families would arrange marriages between a man and a woman with different surnames. In the Confucian sense, the importance of marriage is the cultivation of virtues. Incest is considered to be the marriage of two people with the same surnames since in the said school of thought; a valid marriage is the union of two people from different families to continue the paternal clan’s family line. Chinese families with sons enjoy the benefits and demerits of marriages.
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In China, such belief has been practiced to an extreme of one-child policy where daughters were disowned or thrown away because the family preferred a son. The pressure of marriages also brings about the disowning of children when they fail to obey their parents’ wishes in marriage. Romantic love is permitted in Chinese society but the choice of partners in life and marriage involves the decisions of the whole family members not just the couple.
The Chinese language, mandarin is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. They have preserved the language from ancient times. In the past, China’s provinces had different languages and dialects but during the era of Mao Zedong, Mandarin was mandatory to everyone. In ancient times, scholars, writers, and philosophers were the only privileged ones who can both speak and write about Chinese characters. These men were highly respected in society as they were the key people who recorded the history of China, helped flourished the arts in terms of poetry writing and calligraphy, and later on, some daring individuals depicted the lives of the common people which often gave displeasure to some authorities.
The Chinese language has been present for a long time. The spoken languages in the different provinces of China are not the same but the written characters are the same. I find it amazing that each clan has a different way of speaking the characters but how such are written and the understanding it brings about is the same.
Religious Beliefs and Myths
The Chinese have always believed in the presence of heaven and spiritual beings. Taoism as well as Buddhism are common religious practices in China but events and things that cannot be explained by human logic or by the said religious beliefs are explained by folklores. Just like in any religious setting, the Chinese had synced their calendar of events with the religious and mythical beliefs of their society.
The Moon Cake or the Mid-Autumn festival is one popular holiday based on the legendary myth of Houyi and Change. Buddhist and Taoist temples are the most prominent in China. Some Chinese even build their altars at home where the burning of incest is a common practice among Chinese homes and families. Ceremonies are held to honor religious figures such as Guanyin, the Jade Emperor, and other deities. Religious and mythical beliefs also influenced Chinese medicine where the importance of the yin and yang energy, as well as the chi, are a focus.
Though some have already converted to Christianity, the core values of such religious practices and beliefs such as the cultivation of the mind and body, the seeking of inner peace, and filial piety are still instilled among the Chinese core values. Buddhist and Taoist teachings still prevail in Chinese homes and culture as a whole even in modern Christian families.
Arts and Crafts
Chinese arts and crafts are influenced by society, as well as the religious and mythical beliefs of the people. Commonly in paintings, artists present works of art in the form of high ceilings of temples and palaces were stories of the deeds of religious figures and/ or deities. are told These paintings are still available in many historic places in China where ancient encounters and stories are told through works of arts. Drama is quite popular in the Chinese culture where actors wear heavy and elaborate make-ups to depict the characters of religious stories or myths. Music was played to set the moods. The Beijing opera is one of the most famous theatrical performance where stories of ancient China are retold.
Porcelain pottery was one of the prominent forms of art in Chinese culture because it was one of the first ones. Painters in the early days painted images using blue ink on jars, plates, cups, and the like. These are considered artifacts now and are placed in Chinese museums. Chinese paintings are the most prominent forms of art as they are the records of Chinese histories and preserve legends of mythical folklore.
Another form of art is martial arts where the use of the body is key. Martial art is a physical demonstration of skills. This can be called Kung Fu or in some Wushu. Initially, the martial art was considered a form of self-defense for survival but over time it became more of an art where monasteries teach to achieve health benefits by increasing the energy level of the individual.
Chinese literature began as a form to keep records and documents of the current events of the ancient era. Later on, as the educational system of China improved and teaching methods advanced, writers, experimented with writing stories, poetry, and even philosophical beliefs. Chinese literature developed and flourished as the number of scholars in ancient China grew. Common writings include poetry, astrology, astronomy, calendar, constellations, and religious and mythical stories.
Chinese cuisine was developed through the countless party planning of emperors. About a hundred people were involved in food preparation, whenever an emperor would host a banquet. As the future progressed and societies became civilized such dishes became part of ordinary people’s everyday dishes. Another culture under the cuisine bracket is the tea culture where tea ceremonies are considered the be an art.
Unlike the tea culture in Europe (Britain) or Japan, the one in the Chinese culture is different. Methods in preparing and tasting tea are different in Chinese culture. In Chinese society, tea drinking is associated with respect. Such a ceremony is also used in family gatherings when sons or daughters are leaving home to work in a foreign place or get married. It can also be used to apologize or express gratitude.
When I was asked to choose a culture I couldn’t think of any other than that of the Chinese. I find their culture to be very rich. The Chinese culture made me realize that culture can never be built overnight but it would take centuries. Reading about the Chinese culture made me define it as a set of common social beliefs and practices associated with the history of a group of people. Before beginning this project, I thought that the Chinese acted in the way they were acting because they were told to do so and no questions could be asked but after that, it came to my attention that there were reasons why they acted the way they did. Now I know that such actions were influenced by their own culture.