Art and Culture of China

China, one of the world's oldest civilizations, has its cultural roots that date back to over five thousand years. It has a wealthy reserve of priceless ancient artifice that represents the artistic talent and diligence of Chinese people. The Chinese culture has fascinated and moved many people from all over the world, being so unique and exceptional as well as elegant and inspiring. Chinese art is full of rare beauty and charm. Long before history was even recorded, the Chinese had already manifested their elegant taste of art through various art forms. Pottery, paintings, calligraphy, ancient cartoons, folk arts, paper cut are just a few examples that vividly disclose the vision and imagination of the people from this venerable country. Chinese philosophers, poets and writers contributed greatly to preserving and promoting the Chinese culture. They were noted for documenting the suffering of the common people, who were often disadvantaged, much to the discontent of the authorities.

Traditional Culture

For over two thousand years, Chinese architecture has been inextricably linked with Chinese culture. There has been influence of Buddhist style in Chinese architecture and sculpture from the Sui and Tang dynasties and in its classical form it has been inspired by Indian art of the Gupta period. Chinese architecture emphasizes on symmetry in everything from palaces to farmhouses. Gardens, however, had an asymmetrical configuration. Gardens are poised to create lasting flow, to let the patron wander and enjoy the garden without direction, as in nature. Feng shui type architecture also plays an important role.

In early imperial China, porcelain was introduced and was developed to the point that in English the word china has become synonymous with high-quality porcelain. Chinese porcelain is mostly made using porcelain stone , china clay or a mixture of the both. It's green-fired or once-fired , which means that the body and the glaze are fired together. A few of the well-known low-fired and high-fired ceramics of the Sui and Tang periods are, Tang lead-gazed sancai (three colors) wares , the high-firing, lime-glazed Yue celadon wares and the low-fired wares from Changsha .

In imperial times, painting were the most highly treasured arts in court circles and were produced almost solely by amateurs, aristocrats and scholar-officials, who hadthe leisure time needed to perfect the technique and sensibility necessary for great brushwork. Painting of the Tang dynasty period mainly consisted of landscape which produced nature in its truest form. The 'rhythm of nature' was depicted in these works. Chinese art reached its climax and continued to the present in forms of the "Chinese painting".

Calligraphy, one of the highest and purest forms of painting is extensively practiced and admired in the East-Asian civilization that uses Chinese characters. The use of ink and wash paintings and brush writing is its special feature.

The Dragon Dance and the Lion Dance are the two dance forms of Chinese culture.

In Lion dance performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume. It originated in China nearly a thousand years ago. Traditionally the lion is regarded as a guardian creature and featured in Buddhist lore. The dance is traditionally accompanied by gongs, drums and firecrackers, representing the origin of good luck.

Like the Lion dance, the Dragon dance is usually seen in festive celebrations. Chinese people often use the term 'Descendants of the Dragon' as a sign of ethnic identity. Musical accompanies in the form of musicians with traditional drums, cymbals and gongs. The Dragon dance emphasizes the Chinese New Year celebrations held worldwide in Chinatowns around the world.

Chinese music dates back to the dawn of Chinese civilization. Documents and artifacts give evidence of a well-developed musical culture as early as the Zhou Dynasty in 1122- 256 BC. Early Chinese music was influenced by the Book of Songs , Confucius and the Chinese poet and statesman Qu Yuan . The music was based on percussion instruments, which later gave away to string and reed instruments.

The Chinese form of Folk Music thrives at weddings and funerals and usually includes a form of oboe called a suona and percussive ensembles called chuigushou . The music is diverse, jolly and sometimes sad.

Chinese Opera:
The Chinese Opera is a popular form of drama which has crossed boundaries to reach the international audience. Chinese Opera, especially the Beijing opera, has been extremely popular for centuries. The music is often guttural with high-pitched vocals, generally accompanied by suona , jinghu , and other kinds of string and percussion instruments. The acting is based on allusion like gestures, footwork, and other body movements which express such actions like riding a horse, rowing a boat, or opening a door. It dates back to the Tang Dynasty and the troupe mostly performed for the emperors' personal pleasure. Other types of opera include, Clapper Opera , Pingju , Puppet Opera , Kunqu , Cantonese Opera , Sichuan Opera, Qinqiang, Ritual Masked Opera and Huangmei xi.

China, with a very old and rich tradition in literature and the dramatic and visual arts, is the only country in the world with a literature written for more than 3,000 consecutive years. Early writings were derived from philosophical or religious essays such as the works of Confucius and Lao-tzu. It dealt with how people should act in society and how political system should be planned and operated. Historical writings also elaborated greatly on great traditions, as after a fall of a dynasty an impressive history of the late dynasty was commissioned and written by scholars in the next dynasty. There were also poetry, novels, and dramatic writings from an early date. 'Dream of the Red Chamber' is a famous example of Chinese drama.

The Chinese people are well-known for their traditional festivals. The Double Ninth Festival falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. According to Chinese tradition, 'nine' is a number belonging to the positive principle 'yang. ' Thus the day is also known as Chung Yang or Double Yang Festival. The Middle Autumn Festival is when the Chinese celebrate the mid-Autumn, which is in the middle of the eighth month and which falls on a full moon day. The Ghost Festival is the Chinese version of the western Halloween. Ghosts roam the world every year in the lunar month. Thus the Chinese have a holiday to fete the departed spirits of the underworld.

The Dragon Boat ('Tuen Ng') Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It combines a traditional celebration with an exciting, fast-paced sporting event in a boat. Besides the Chinese also celebrate a Spring Festival and The Seventh Eve Festival .

Modern Culture
Alongside Traditional cultures,0 China is also famous for the modern cultures it nurtured. Animation, Cinema , Manhua ( comic strips and comic books ) and Photography have all developed and flourished in the last century.


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