The Culture of China (simplified Chinese: 中国文化; traditional Chinese: 中國文化; pinyin: Zhōngguó wénhuà) is one of the world’s oldest and most complex cultures. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces.
People in the culture
People in imperial China during silk production – Qing dynasty
Today there are 56 distinct recognized ethnic groups in China. In terms of numbers, however, the pre-eminent ethnic group is the Han Chinese. Throughout history, many groups have been assimilated into neighboring ethnicities or disappeared without a trace. At the same time, many within the Han identity have maintained distinct linguistic and regional cultural traditions. The term Zhonghua Minzu has been used to describe the notion of Chinese nationalism in general. Much of the traditional cultural identity within the community has to do with distinguishing the family name.
Main article: Three ancestral treasures
Traditional Chinese Culture covers large geographical territories, where each region is usually divided into distinct sub-cultures. Each region is often represented by three ancestral items. For example Guangdong is represented by chenpi, aged ginger and hay. Others include ancient cities like Lin’an (Hangzhou), which include tea leaf, bamboo shoot trunk and hickory nut.. Such distinctions give rise to the old Chinese proverb: “十里不同風,百里不同俗/十里不同风,百里不同俗” (Shí lǐ bùtóng fēng, bǎi lǐ bùtóng sú), literally “the wind varies within ten li, customs vary within a hundred li.”
Gold detailing on a throne used by the Qianlong Emperor. The Chinese dragon was a symbol reserved for the Emperor of China or high level imperial families during the Qing Dynasty
Since the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors period, some form of Chinese monarch has been the main ruler above all. Different periods of history have different names for the various positions within society. Conceptually each imperial or feudal period is similar, with the government and military officials ranking high in the hierarchy, and the rest of the population under regular Chinese law. From the late Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BCE) onwards, traditional Chinese society was organized into a hierarchic system of socio-economic classes known as the four occupations. However, this system did not cover all social groups while the distinctions between all groups became blurred ever since the commercialization of Chinese culture in the Song Dynasty (960–1279 CE). Ancient Chinese education also has a long history; ever since the Sui Dynasty (581–618 CE) educated candidates prepared for the Imperial examinations which and made people get drafted exam graduates into government as scholar-bureaucrats. Trades and crafts were usually taught by a shifu. The female historian Ban Zhao wrote the Lessons for Women in the Han Dynasty and outlined the four virtues women must abide to, while scholars such as Zhu Xi and Cheng Yi would expand upon this. Chinese marriage and Taoist sexual practices are some of the customs and rituals found in society.
Most social values are derived from Confucianism and Taoism. The subject of which school was the most influential is always debated as many concepts such as Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism and many others have come about. Reincarnation and other rebirth concept is a reminder of the connection between real-life
- ^ “Chinese Dynasty Guide – The Art of Asia – History & Maps”. Minneapolis Institute of Art. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
- ^ “Guggenheim Museum – China: 5,000 years”. Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation & Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 6 February 1998 to 1998-06-03. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
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- ^ Huaxia.com. “Huaxia.com.” 廣東三寶之一 禾稈草. Retrieved on 20 June 2009.
- ^ RTHK. “RTHK.org.” 1/4/2008 three treasures. Retrieved on 20 June 2009.
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- ^ a b Mente, Boye De.  (2000). The Chinese Have a Word for it: The Complete Guide to Chinese thought and Culture. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 0-658-01078-6
- ^ Alon, Ilan, ed. (2003), Chinese Culture, Organizational Behavior, and International Business Management, Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers.
- ^ a b Kong, Foong, Ling.  (2002). The Food of Asia. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-7946-0146-4
For contemporary culture after 1949, see Culture of the People’s Republic of China.