Introduction To China Since 1911 Cultural Studies Essay

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In 1911, thousands of years of dynastic r rule came to an end when the Republic of China was established with Dr. Sun Yat-Sen as its first president. It was unstable from its inception. Sun quickly turned the presidency over to General Yuan Shi Kai, whose death in 1916 led to a period of weakened centralized government with regional control by warlords. The next decades were times of great upheaval, as Dr. Sun's Guomindang Par ty vied with the Communist Party of China (CCP) to unify and govern the nation. At times, the two par ties would stand together to combat warlord's and the encroaching Japanese army, but more often they were in direct, bloody competition. In 1949, the civil war between the CCP and the Guomindang Party ended. The CCP established the People's Republic of China (PRC), headed by Chairman Mao Zedong on the mainland. General Chiang Kai-shek (pinyin: JiangJieshi) and the Guomindang Party evacuated the Republic of China (ROC) government to the island of Taiwan.During the 19 60s, Chair man Mao became worried that the vitality of the communist nation was growing stale. In 1966, he initiated a radical reform movement aimed at the upper middle class and intelligentsia called the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. This movement focused on empowering the younger generations as fervent revolutionaries (Red Guards) by overthrowing senior Communist Party officials and all "bourgeois-reactionaries." Schools were closed, hundreds of thousands of people died, and millions of people from China's urban centers were "reeducated" by being relocated to rural areas where they performed manual labor alongside the farmers. Red Guards destroyed many cultural monuments and artworks associated with the previous regime to help rid the country of the "Four Olds": old ideas, old culture, old habits, and old customs. Members of the Huang family of Yi n Yu Tang smashed tiles of opera scenes above the entrance to their home to indicate solidarity with the movement. The Cultural Revolution came to an end in 1976 with the death of Chairman Mao. Since 1978, the PROC government has been reforming its economy from Soviet-style socialism to a market-oriented capitalist economy, resulting in a hybrid called "socialism with Chinese characteristics" by former president Deng Xiaoping. This period in China's history, however, has had its share of turmoil. In 1989, the government deployed the People's Liberation Army to quell civil unrest fomented by student-led pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square that had been going on for weeks. While official statistics are not known, it is believed that hundreds if not thousands of people were killed and thousands more were wounded as army tanks made their way through the city to the square. These extreme actions were met with i international outrage, but the government defended them as necessary to combat the "counterrevolutionary rebellion" that threatened to over throw the country's socialist system. Despite this event, the 1990s saw the continued growth of the Chinese economy, making trade and diplomatic relations with China a top priority for many nations, even those that had denounced the Chinese government's role in the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The astounding growth of the Chinese economy in the first decade of the 21st century (9.5 percent in 2004 alone) is an indication that China will earn the title of super power before long. Not surprisingly, the art of China from the last quarter of the 20th century is very diverse, Chinese classical and folk art, Western architecture, Modernism, Social Realism, and international contemporary avant-garde art movements. Since the 1980s, a growing number of Chinese avant-garde artists have lived and worked outside of China.

Importance of Chinese Art and culture:

China is one of the world's largest countries and home to some of the world's most ancient and advanced cultures. Familiarity with Chinese art and culture is essential for preparing students for the global future that we will all share. This knowledge is also important to understanding the changing characteristics of American neighborhoods.

For example, the Chinese population in Boston increased 57 percent between 1990 to 2000 and has continued to increase since then. For many American students, China can appear dauntingly foreign. The written and spoken languages of China have different linguistic roots than English or other European languages, and the written characters look different as well. China's culture has traditions and practices that are very different from those found in the United States.

American culture and the media, which emphasize the "mysterious" and "exotic" elements of Chinese culture without context or explanation. At the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, we are fortunate to have Yin Yu Tang, the only freestanding Qing dynasty Chinese home on exhibition in a U.S. museum.

This house and the museum's collection of Chinese art and culture provide many opportunities to learn about China from authentic sources and highlight artistic accomplishments ranging from architecture, poetry, and philosophy to porcelain and painting.

The first day of the first lunar month is regarded as the New Year of the Chinese - the Spring Festival. It is the most important and ceremonious traditional festival in China, just as Christmas Day to the westerners. 

During the Spring Festival, every family is busy cleaning house in the hope of getting rid of defilements and preventing diseases. Also, they need to paste door-god, spring festival couplets, and the reversed Chinese character "福" (means blessing),and hang flags in the hope of praying for auspiciousness in the New Year. On the New Year's Eve, every family enjoys a grand dinner, shoots off firecrackers, plays dragon dance and lion dance, and stays up late or all night. People will pay a New Year call to one another from the first day, and it is not until the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, namely, the Lantern Festival, that the Spring Festival is ended.

On the New Year's Eve, people work far away from home will manage to come back, regardless of long-distance travel, so the "Grand Dinner on New Year's Eve" is also called "Family Reunion Dinner". Whatever the financial condition is, every family will make the dinner the most sumptuous and ceremonious one in the year. Hostesses will fetch out foodstuffs prepared in early time and all family members will sit together and make dumplings in jollification. At twelve o'clock, when a new year drives off the old, every family will shoot off firecrackers to greet new days and send off old ones. Following the New Year's Eve is the first day of the Spring Festival, a day for paying a New Year call (bainian), during which people will be busy in giving best wishes to one another by saying such auspicious phrases as "Happy New Year" and "May you be prosperous", etc. In New Year's days, elders will put some money in a red pocket (yasuiqian) and give it to children as a gift. It is believed that on New Year's Day attention should be paid to ensure not to break up anything, or else one will miss good fortunes in the whole year, and that sweeping the floor will sweep off wealth and drive away good luck .

Traditional food prepared for the Spring Festival varies with customs in different regions. However, those with auspicious names, meanings or shapes are favored, such as "New Year Cake" (niangao in Chinese, means "higher year", suggesting better fortune in the new year, and has the shape of gold and silver blocks), dumplings, the shape of which is similar to ingots, suggesting bringing in wealth and treasure, as well as fish symbolizing amassing fortune

Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival, also called Shangyuan Festival, is celebrated on January 15 of Chinese lunar calendar. It is the first full moon night in the Chinese lunar year, symbolizing the coming back of the spring. Lantern Festival may be regarded as the last day of Spring Festival, the new-year festival of China, in other words, the Spring Festival does not end until the Lantern Festival has passed. Lasting to Lantern Festival, the busy atmosphere of Spring Festival on that day shows new visions and amorous feelings. Lantern Festival is regarded as a good day for family gather-together. According to the folk custom of China, people on that night will lighten up fancy lanterns and go out to appreciate the moon, set off fireworks, guess riddles written on lanterns, and eat rice glue balls to celebrate the festival.

The tradition of appreciating lanterns on the Lantern Festival originates from the Eastern Han Dynasty, which has a bearing on the introduction of Buddhism into China at that time. It is a Buddhist convention that the monks would visit sarira and lighten up lanterns to show respect to Buddha on Jan 15. Therefore, Emperors of that dynasty, who were determined to promote Buddhism, ordered people to lighten up lanterns in both palaces and temples on that night to show respect to Buddha. Additionally, civilians were all requested to hang up lanterns on that night, which is why the festival is called "Lantern Festival". In the Song Dynasty, the custom of guessing riddles written on lanterns on Lantern Festival came into being and people at that time wrote riddles on paper strips and then pasted them on the colorful lanterns for others to appreciate and guess. In the Qing Dynasty, fireworks were set off to add fun, and the Lantern Festival by then witnessed a record-breaking grand occasion.

The traditional dim sum eaten on Lantern Festival is called "yuanxiao" (rice glue ball) or commonly called "tangyuan". A meaning of family reunion and happiness may be felt even only from such name. Yuanxiao has its exterior made into a ball shape and white sugar, sweetened bean paste, and sesame as the stuffing. Besides, walnut meat, nuts, and even meat can be used as the stuffing as well. Apart from the boiling manner, yuanxiao may also be prepared through deep frying and steaming manners.

As time goes by, the Lantern Festival has enjoyed more and more celebrating activities. Some places even add traditional folk-custom performances such as playing dragon lantern, Lion Dancing, stilting, striking land boat, doing the Yangko, and striking Peace Drum. The Lantern Festival, a traditional Chinese festival which has undergone a history of over 2,000 years, is still very popular both at home and abroad, and any place where Chinese people live will witness a busy occasion on that day

Lichun Festiavl

Since the Qin Dynasty, China's has been to spring as the beginning of spring. From the astronomical beginning of spring are divided up, and in nature, in people's minds, the spring is warm, flowers; the spring are the growth, cultivation sowing. Study in the climate, the spring is the pentad (5 days for one-designate) the average temperature 10 ℃ to 22 ℃ slots.

To spring, it is clear that the day is longer, the sun warming the. Temperature, sunlight, rainfall, which is often a turning point in the year, tends to rise or increase. Koharu crop up, rape and wheat jointing bolting when the increase in water consumption, topdressing should be timely watering, and promote growth. beginning of spring rain reminds people that get up early to bed late, "Spring has also started preparations for plowing and sowing. Although the legislation has been the spring, but in most areas of southern China is still very cold," Spring snow is too late for it to wear Chambers tree fly "scene. These climate characteristics at the time arrangements for agricultural production are to be taken into account.

Qingming Festival

Tomb Sweeping Day

Tomb Sweeping Day, also called "Cold Food Day", is the most important day for people to offer sacrifice to ancestors. It started from the Zhou Dynasty, with a history of over 2500 years. Qingming is one of the 24 solar terms in China, indicating the coming of late spring, thus the best plowing and growing time, while "Cold Food Day" is a day when folks sweep the ancestors' tombs and eat cold food. Qingming was adjacent to Cold Food Day, so later on they gradually became one festival, and thus "Cold Food" became another name for Qingming, and dusting the tomb and eating cold food turned into the customs of Qing Ming. Qing Ming has evolved into a culture-rich and meaning-deep remembrance day.

Since people with weak constitutions might get hurt by eating cold raw food on Qingming, when the weather is still cold, various activities were invented for body-building, like stepping-the-green outgoing, swing, Chinese football, polo, willow-planting, tug-of-war, and rooster-fighting, etc.

Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival, also named "Chongwu Festival", "Calamus Festival" or "Daughter's Festival", takes place in May 5 in the lunar calendar. It is a folk festival widely passed down with a history of over two thousand years, and one of the most important festivals as well. There are various celebrating activities on the day of Dragon Boat Festival, among which eating rice dumplings (zongzi, the steamed glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves) and dragon boat race are important customs.

There are many legends on the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival. Some people say it is to commemorate the poet Qu Yuan, while some people think it is to memorialize Wu Zixu, a famous official in the Warring States Period, still there are some others regarding May 5 in the lunar calendar as the date when the Wuyue people held a memorial totem ceremony in ancient times. However, the legend on Qu Yuan is the most widely spread. People praise highly the lofty sentiment and outstanding talent toward this patriotic poet and take more pity on the finale that he drowned himself in a river. In the mind of most Chinese people, the conventions of eating rice dumplings and Dragon Boat Race in the Festival are all closely related to the commemoration of Qu Yuan. Besides, there are also different conventions like drinking realgar wine and wearing sachet.

Double Seventh Festival

In China, the Double Seventh Festival, or Ingenuity-begging Festival (the festival to plead for skills) falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. The festival originates from the legend of the loyal love between Niulang (cowherd) and Zhinv (weaving girl).

On the festival, girls beg for bright heart and knitting and needlecraft skills from the goddess in heaven. There are various folk customs of ingenuity tests in ancient China. And the maids in palace also paid great attention to the activities, which are usually supported by the emperor. Celebrations are also held in the theme of the Double Seventh Festival everywhere in China, such as the customs of "seed plant for child", "catch dew" and "sworn sisterhood under the moon". In the romantic evening, girls prepare melons and seasonal foods under the moon before worship and prayers for skills and a good marriage.

The food customs in each place for the festival are not necessarily the same but are all called having propitious food. Dumplings, noodles, deep-fried twisted dough sticks and wontons are mostly included, among which the most famous is the Qiaoguo (Fried Thin Paste).

As China's Valentine's Day, the Double Seventh Festival is the most romantic one among all traditional Chinese festivals, and also a day most valued by girls in the past. Today, it is still one of our favorite festivals under evolvement and innovation based on the traditional culture.

Mid-Autumn Festival

The 15th day of every 8th lunar month is the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. It is the most important festival after the Chinese Lunar New Year. The moon on the night of the 15th day of lunar August is believed to be fuller and brighter than in other months. A full moon is a symbol of togetherness. As such, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for family reunion. It's also called "Reunion Festival". Those unable to get home to join the get-together miss their family even more on the festival. The origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival derived from the tradition of worshipping the Goddess of Moon. The festival is also a time to celebrate a good autumn harvest. It dates back thousands of years and the modern-day festive customs were gradually formed over the years. Generally speaking, eating moon cakes, enjoying the moon and lighting up lanterns are common traditions on the festival.

In addition, various parts of the country and all ethnic minorities have different Mid-Autumn Festival customs. In Nanjing, the festival coincides with the blooming season of sweet-scented osmanthus flowers. Local people like to pick fresh osmanthus flowers for delicious food preparing. They traditionally eat osmanthus flower ducks and drink the flower juice. In Zhejiang, the Mid-Autumn Festival is an ideal time for tide watching. Fire dragon dances are usually performed in Hong Kong on the festival and people in Anhui do a game called "pagoda building" and the Dai ethnic people pay tribute to the moon and the Gaoshan ethic people usually perform ball-holding dance. All these interesting customs are an indication of people's love of life and good wishes for a better future.

There are lots of Chinese legends about the moon. The story of Goddess Chang'e, Wu Gang and the Jade Rabbit living on the moon is still popular today. There have been numerous poems about the Mid-Autumn Festival since ancient times, the most famous piece being Shui Diao Ge Tou by the Northern Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo. Although he lamented by writing "Men have sorrow and joy, they part or meet again; the moon may be bright or dim, she may wax or wane. There has been nothing perfect since the olden days", he also expressed his wishes by writing "So let us wish that man will live long as he can; though miles apart, we'll share the beauty she displays.", reflecting how much those far away from home would like to reunite with their families and how deeply they missed their hometowns.

Double-Ninth Day

Each ninth day of September in Chinese lunar calendar is the Double-Ninth Day, a traditional festival of China. Having undergone a history of more than 2,000 years, the Double-Ninth Day was formally set down as a folk festival in the Tang Dynasty and both Emperors and civilians alike should celebrate the festival following the etiquette and custom. As time goes by, the Double-Ninth Day has gradually formed the celebrating conventions of going on a journey, ascending height, inserting cornel, appreciating chrysanthemum, eating Double-Nine cake, and drinking chrysanthemum wine. On that day, people always gather the whole family to spend the festival together, while those far from their homes will generally become more homesick on that day. As the figure "9" also stands for longevity and health in the traditional concept of Han people, the Chinese government set September 9 in the lunar calendar as "the Elder's Festival" in 1989. Now, the Double-Ninth Day has been enlisted as Intangible Cultural Heritage of China

Winter Solstice

Winter solstice is a solar term in Chinese lunar calendar and a traditional festival as well. It falls on December 22 or 23 (solar calendar) every year. It is the day when the Northern Hemisphere has the shortest daytime and longest nighttime in the whole year. After winter solstice, the daytime will grow increasingly longer. Early in the spring and Autumn Period over 2500 years ago, winter solstice was mensurated by the Chinese by observing the sun with a gnomon shadow template. It is the earliest among the 24 solar terms being stipulated. After winter solstice, the coldest period comes to the northern part of the globe, which is commonly called "JinJiu", suggesting that once winter solstice comes, we will meet the coldest time ahead.

Commonly known as "Potlatch", "Changzhi Festival" and "Yasui", etc., winter solstice is a rather big festival attached with great importance by the Chinese people, thus the saying "Winter solstice is as important as the Spring Festival". It is a custom to celebrate the arrival of winter solstice, which is regarded as worthy since it is the beginning of a solar term circulation. Also it is an auspicious day deserving celebration. It is said that winter solstice was considered as New Year's Day in the Zhou Dynasty. Such a saying is still going round in the south of the Yangtze River that "People will be one year older after finishing the winter solstice dinner", which is commonly called "tiansui" (growing older). In the Tang and Song Dynasties, it was on winter solstice that heaven and ancestor worship was performed. On this day, the emperor would hold a solemn heaven worship ceremony in the suburbs and common people would offer sacrifice to their late parents and ancestors

Little New Year

New Year (Chinese: Xiaonian), which falls about a week before the lunar New Year, is also known as the Festival of the Kitchen God, the deity who oversees the moral character of each household. In one of the most distinctive traditions of Spring Festival, a paper image of the Kitchen God is burned on Little New Year, dispatching the god's spirit to Heaven to report on the family's conduct over the past year. The Kitchen God is then welcomed back by pasting a new paper image of him beside the stove. From this vantage point, the Kitchen God will oversee and protect the household for another year. The close association of the Kitchen God with the Lunar New Year has resulted in Kitchen God Festival being called Little New Year. Although very few families still make offerings to the Kitchen God on this day, many traditional holiday activities are still very popular.