Chinese is the principal language of China, but it is not the only language and, more importantly, it is not even one single language. The official language of the country is known today as Putonghua, which translates as the ‘common language’ or lingua franca and which purists tend to call Standard Chinese. In Taiwan, it is still known as Kuo-yu (in pinyin, Cuoyu) which translates as the national language, a term that was common on the mainland in the 1930s and 1940s. Standard Chinese is almost universally known in the English-speaking world as Mandarin, an even more old-fashioned term than Kuo-yu and one which was used as the court language of the Qing period (1644 ~ 1911). At the time this was known in Chinese as Guanhua, ‘official language，.
Mandarin, or Standard Chinese, is, in fact, a standardized form of the spoken language of the region of northern China that includes the capital, Beijing. It is not, however, spoken universally, even in the capital itself where there is a dialect (Beijing tuhua) used by the local people and which can take some time for even seasoned speakers of Standard
Chinese to get used to. Mandarin is the official spoken language of television and radio and it is taught in all schools: in theory，everyone in China should understand Putonghua even if they are more comfortable speaking a dialect of Mandarin or one of the southern variants of Chinese.
There are various dialects of Mandarin throughout the north and northwest of China, with the most noticeable difference being between the northern and southern dialect areas, but anyone who has ventured far from the major urban centers will have become aware of the great variations in pronunciation within the rural population of the Mandarin-speaking area. Because of the awareness of the existence of dialects within Mandarin, it has become more usual to see the other varieties of Chinese, which were once referred to as ‘dialects’，now promoted to the status of ‘languages’. This recognizes the linguistic reality since they are as different from each other as the languages of, say, the Romance family in Europe—Portuguese and Romanian, for example. Regional forms of speech that are spoken a great distance apart, especially in the rural areas, are mutually incomprehensible, have quite distinct vocabularies and to some extent different grammars.
The most important non-Mandarin Chinese languages are: Cantonese, which is spoken in Guangdong province and in Hong Kong and is also used very widely as a lingua franca among the communities of the Chinese diaspora in Europe and North America; the Shanghai or Wu language of eastern China; and Fujianese or Hokkien from the southeastern province of Fujian, which is also spoken by a majority of the population of Taiwan, whose ancestors migrated from Fujian in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In Taiwan, this form of Chinese is often referred to as Taiwanese to distinguish it from the Mandarin or Kuo-yu spoken by the ruling mainlander elite. Technically it is Minnan or Southern Min: both Northern Min and Southern Min are spoken in Fujian on the mainland. Fujianese is also important in the Chinese communities of Indonesia, Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia.
What is unusual about the condition of language in China is that, while each of these regions has its own distinct spoken vernacular, they all use one single form of written Chinese (based on the grammar and vocabulary of Mandarin Chinese) for most practical purposes. This is possible because Chinese characters are essentially non-phonetic. There are in existence variant written forms which are used in certain circumstances to represent the local idioms, for example, popular regional drama, but newspapers, magazines, books (including textbooks for schools) and the internet all use the standard written language.
This standard written language appears in one of two forms of the script: the older form which is retained in Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as in many expatriate communities, and the simplified script which was adopted in the People’s Republic of China as part of a programme of language reform in the 1950s. This reform was part of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) efforts to grapple with the serious problem of illiteracy. Simplified Chinese characters, which are based on the original characters but with a reduced number of brush or pen strokes, are disliked and even rejected by many Chinese who live outside of the mainland. In particular, they are avoided in Taiwan because of their association with the CCP, although these objections are often couched in terms of aesthetics and readability rather than politics. Written styles also vary: Taiwan and Hong Kong favour prose styles that have echoes of the classical Chinese tradition and tend to be terser and arguably more elegant, whereas writing on the mainland has deliberately remained closer to the spoken vernaculars as part of a policy of popularization and in the hope that this would help to improve the spread of literacy.
As China has opened culturally to the rest of the Chinese world, there has been greater contact between these styles. Writers on the mainland have felt able to use more complex styles of writing that would once have looked out of place. In Hong Kong, the simplified script is used alongside the traditional version.
Chinese is not unique in this separation of standard written and local spoken forms: the near universal use of a standard form of written Arabic throughout the Middle East disguises the fact that there exists a variety of very different and often mutually unintelligible spoken vernaculars, but the separation between spoken and written Chinese is much greater than that between spoken and written Arabic.
1. Cantonese (粤语)：It is a Chinese dialect spoken in and around the city of Guangzhou in Southern China, by the majority population of Hong Kong and Macau, and as a lingua franca of Guangdong province, eastern Guangxi province, and some neighboring areas. It is used in Hong Kong and Macau as the official spoken language of government and instruction in schools. It is spoken by some of the overseas Chinese communities in Canada, the United States, and Australia, as well as throughout Europe and Southeast Asia, is the most widely spoken dialect and a lingua franca in many of these communities.
2. Mandarin (国语)：It is an official standardized language of China based on the Beijing dialect, one of the four official languages of Singapore, and one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
3. Hokkien (闽南语)：A group of mutually intelligible Min Nan Chinese dialects spoken by many overseas Chinese throughout Southeast Asia. It originated from the same dialect in southern Fujian and is mutually intelligible with the Hokkien in Taiwan. It is closely related to Teochew, through mutual comprehension is difficult, and somewhat more distantly related to Hainanese. The Amoy and Taiwanese prestige dialect are considered standards.
4. Middle East (中东)：A region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to the Far East. The history of the Middle East dates back to ancient times, and throughout its history, the Middle East has been a major center of world affairs. The Middle East is also the historical origin of major religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In modem times the Middle East remains a strategically, economically, politically, culturally and religiously sensitive region.
Cantonese, a dialect from southern China that has dominated the Chinatowns of North America for decades, is being rapidly swept aside by Mandarin, the national language of China and the lingua franca of most of the latest Chinese immigrants.
The change can be heard in the neighborhood’s lively restaurants and solemn church services, in parks, street markets, and language schools. It has been accelerated by Chinese-American parents, including many who speak Cantonese at home, as they press their children to learn Mandarin for the advantages it could bring as China’s influence grows in the world. (how to learn Chinese and learn Chinese online in CCHATTY)
But the eclipse of Cantonese—in New York, China and around the world—has become a challenge for older people who speak only that dialect and face increasing
isolation unless they learn Mandarin or English. Though Cantonese and Mandarin share nearly all the same written characters, the pronunciations are vastly different; when spoken, Mandarin may be incomprehensible to a Cantonese speaker, and vice versa.
Mr. Wong, a retired sign maker who speaks English, can still get by with his Cantonese, which remains the preferred language in his circle of friends and in Chinatown’s historic core. A bit defiantly, he said that if he enters a shop and finds the staff does not speak his dialect, “I go to another store.”
Like many others, however, he is resigned to the likelihood that Cantonese—and the people who speak it will soon become just another facet of a polyglot neighborhood. “In 10 years,” Mr. Wong said, “it will be totally different.”
With Mandarin’s ascent has come a realignment of power in Chinese-American communities, where the recent immigrants are gaining economic and political clout, said Peter Kwong, a professor of Asian-American studies at Hunter College.
“The fact of the matter is that you have a whole generation switch, with very few people speaking only Cantonese,” he said. “The Cantonese-speaking populace，，，he added, “is not the player anymore.”
The switch mirrors a sea change underway in China, where Mandarin, as the official language, is becoming the default tongue everywhere.
In North America, its rise also reflects a major shift in immigration. For much of the last century, most Chinese living in the United States and Canada traced their ancestry to a region in the Pearl River Delta that included the district of Taishan. They spoke the Taishanese dialect, which is derived from and somewhat similar to Cantonese.
Immigration reform in 1965 opened the door to a huge influx of Cantonese speakers from Hong Kong, and Cantonese became the dominant tongue. But since the 1990s, the vast majority of new Chinese immigrants has come from mainland China, especially Fujian Province, and tends to speak Mandarin along with their regional dialects.
In New York, many Mandarin speakers have flocked to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Flushing, Queens, which now rivals Chinatown as a center of Chinese-American business and political might, as well as culture and cuisine. In Chinatown, most of the newer immigrants have settled outside the historic core west of the Bowery, clustering instead around East Broadway.
“I can’t even order food on East Broadway，,” said Jan Lee, 44, a furniture designer who has lived all his life in Chinatown and speaks Cantonese. “They don’t speak English; I don’t speak Mandarin. I，m just as lost as everyone else.”
Now Mandarin is pushing into Chinatown’s heart.
For most of the 100 years that the New York Chinese School, on Mott Street, has offered language classes, nearly all have taught Cantonese. Last year, the numbers of Cantonese and Mandarin classes were roughly equal. And this year, Mandarin classes outnumber Cantonese three to one, even though most students are from homes where Cantonese is spoken, said the principal, Kin S. Wong.
Some Cantonese-speaking parents are deciding that it is more important to point their children toward the future than the past~their family’s native dialect even if that leaves them unable to communicate well with relatives in China.
“I figure if they have to acquire a language, I wanted them to have Mandarin because it makes it easier when they go into the workplace，，，said Jennifer Ng, whose 5-year-old daughter studies Mandarin at the language school of the Church of the Transfiguration, a Roman Catholic parish on Mott Street where nearly half the classes are devoted to Mandarin. Her 8-year-old son takes Cantonese, but only because there is no English- speaking Mandarin teacher for his age group.
“Can I tell you the truth?” she said. “They hate it! But it’s important for the future.” Until recently, Sunday Masses at Transfiguration were said in Cantonese. The church now offers two in Mandarin and only one in Cantonese.
At the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, which has been the unofficial government of Chinatown for generations and conducts its business in Cantonese, the president, Justin Yu, said he is the first whose mother tongue is Mandarin to lead the 126-year-old organization. Though he has been taking Cantonese lessons in order to keep up at association meetings, his pronunciation is sometimes a source of hilarity for his colleagues, he said.
“No matter what，，，he added，laughing, “you have to admire my courage.”
But even his association is being surpassed in influence by Fujianese organizations, said Professor Kwong of Hunter College.
Longtime residents seem less threatened than wistful. Though he is known around Chinatown for what he calls his “legendarily bad” Cantonese, Paul Lee, 59，said it pained him that the dialect was disappearing from the place where his family has lived for more than a century.
“It may be a dying language,” he acknowledged. “I just hate to say that.，，
But he pointed out that the changes were a natural part of an evolving immigrant neighborhood: Just as Cantonese sidelined Taishanese, so, too, is Mandarin replacing Cantonese.
Mr. Wong, the principal of the New York Chinese School, said he had tried to adjust to the subtle shifts during his 40 years in Chinatown. When he arrived in 1969，he walked into a coffee shop and placed his order in Cantonese. Other patrons looked at him oddly.
“They said, ‘Where you from?，，，He recalled. “‘Why you speak Cantonese?，，，They were from Taishan, he said, so he switched to Taishanese and everyone was happy.
“And now I speak Mandarin better than Cantonese,” he added with a chuckle. “So, Chinatown—it’s always changing.”
1. Hunter College (亨特学院) It is a senior college of the City University of New York, located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Hunter was founded in 1870 by Irish immigrant and social reformer Thomas Hunter as a teacher-training school for young women. It remained a women’s college through the 1960s. Today, Hunter is a coeducational liberal art and sciences college that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 100 fields.
2. Pearl River Delta (珠江三角洲)：It is in southern People’s Republic of China. It is the low-lying area alongside the Pearl River estuary where the Pearl River flows into the South China Sea. Since economic liberalization was adopted by the Chinese government in the late 1970s, the delta has become one of the leading economic regions and a major manufacturing center of China and the world.
3. Taishanese (台山话)：It is a dialect of Yue Chinese, and thus a sister dialect of Cantonese. It is mainly spoken in and around Taishan, a county-level city situated southwest of Guangzhou on the coast of Guangdong province.
4. Sunset Park (落日公园)：Sunset Park is a neighborhood in the western section of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, USA.
5. Brooklyn(布鲁格林) It is the most populous of New York City’s five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. It is also the westernmost county on Long Island. Brooklyn was an independent city until its consolidation with New York City in 1898 and continues to maintain a distinct culture, independent art scene, and unique architectural heritage. Many Brooklyn neighborhoods are ethnic enclaves where particular ethnic groups and cultures predominate.
6. Flushing (法拉盛)：Founded in 1645，it is a neighborhood in the north-central part of the City of New York borough of Queens, 10 miles (16 km) east of Manhattan. Flushing was one of the first Dutch settlements on Long Island. Today, it is one of the largest and most diverse neighborhoods in New York City. Flushing’s diversity is reflected by the numerous ethnic groups that reside there, including people of Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, European, and African American ancestry, as well as Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Sephardi, and Bukhari Jewish communities.
7. Queens (皇后区)：The easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City. The largest borough in area and the second-largest in population, it is coextensive with Queens County, an administrative division of New York state, in the United States. Located on the western portion of Long Island, Queens is home to two of the three major New York City area airports, JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
8. East Broadway (东百老汇大街)：It is a two-way east-west street in the Chinatown and Lower East Side neighborhoods of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The western portion of the street is primarily populated by Chinese immigrants (mainly Foochowese from Fuzhou, Fujian), while the eastern portion is home to a large number of Jews.
9. New York Chinese School (纽约华併学校)：It is a non-profit school located in Chinatown, New York City, that was established in 1909 for overseas Chinese children. It initially opened with 20 students. Today, there are more than 3,000 students in grade levels ranging from kindergarten to high school and it has a faculty of approximately 50 people.
10. Mott Street (莫特街)：It is a narrow but busy thoroughfare that runs in a north-south direction in the borough of Manhattan in New York City in the United States. It is best known as Chinatown's unofficial “Main Street”.
11. Church of the Transfiguration (显圣荣堂)：A Franciscan church located on Mount Tabor in Israel. It is traditionally believed to be the site where the Transfiguration of Christ took place, an event in the Gospels in which Jesus is transfigured upon an unnamed mountain and speaks with Moses and Elijah.
12. Roman Catholic (罗马天主教)：Also known as the Roman Catholic Church, it is the world’s largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity. The Catholic Church is among the oldest institutions in the world and has played a prominent role in the history of Western ccivilization
13. Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (中华会馆)：It is a historical Chinese Association established in various parts of the United States with large populations of Chinese. It is also known by other names such as Chong Wa Benevolent Association in Seattle, Washington and United Chinese Society in Hawaii. The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) is the oldest community organization in Chinatown. The CCBA has represented and served the needs of Chinese Americans in New York City ever since founded. Historically it has performed a quasi-ggovernmentalrole in the Chinese
community. Today there are local CCBA agencies in 26 cities with substantial Chinese populations across North America.
Tea and the Chinese People
Chinese tea culture refers to the methods of preparation of tea, the equipment used to make tea and the occasions in which tea is consumed in China. Tea culture in China differs from that of Europe, Britain or Japan in such things as preparation methods, tasting methods and the occasions for which it is consumed. Even now, in both casual and formal Chinese occasions, tea is consumed regularly. In addition to being a drink, Chinese tea is used in traditional Chinese medicine and in Chinese cuisine.
China is the home country of tea. Before the Tang Dynasty, Chinese tea was exported by land and sea, first to Japan and Korea, then to India and Central Asia and, in the Ming and Qing dynasties, to the Arabian Peninsula. In the early period of the 17th century, Chinese tea was exported to Europe, where the upper class adopted the fashion of drinking
tea. Chinese tea—like Chinese silk and china—has become synonymous worldwide with refined culture. At the heart of the art of tea^the study and practice of tea in all its aspects—is the simple gesture of offering a cup of tea to a guest that for Chinese people today is a fundamental social custom, as it has been for centuries. China traces the development of tea as an art form to Lu Yu, known as 4tthe Saint of Tea” in Chinese history, who lived during the Tang Dynasty and who wrote The Book of Tea, the first ever treatise on tea and tea culture. The spirit of tea permeates Chinese culture, and throughout the country there are many kinds of teas, teahouses, tea legends, tea artifacts and tea customs. Better-known places to enjoy a good cup of tea in China include Beijing noted for its variety of teahouses; Fujian and Guangdong provinces and other places in the southeast of China that serve gongfu tea, a formal serving of tea in tiny cups; the West Lake in Hangzhou, also the home of the Tea Connoisseurs Association，noted for its excellent green tea; and provinces in southwest China like Yunnan where the ethnic groups less affected by foreign cultures retain tea ceremonies and customs in original tea-growing areas.
The Chinese people, in their drinking of tea, place much significance on the act of “savoring.” “Savoring tea” is not only a way to discern good tea from mediocre tea, but also how people take delight in their reverie and in tea-drinking itself. Snatching a bit of leisure from a busy schedule, making a kettle of strong tea, securing a serene space, and serving and drinking tea by yourself can help banish fatigue and frustration, improve your thinking ability and inspire you with enthusiasm. You may also imbibe it slowly in small sips to appreciate the subtle allure of tea-drinking, until your spirits soar up and up into a sublime aesthetic realm. Buildings, gardens, ornaments and tea sets are the elements that form the ambience for savoring tea. A tranquil, refreshing, comfortable and neat locale is certainly desirable for drinking tea. Chinese gardens are well known in the world and beautiful Chinese landscapes are too numerous to count. Teahouses tucked away in gardens and nestled beside the natural beauty of mountains and rivers are enchanting places of repose for people to rest and recreate themselves.
China is a country with a time-honored civilization and a land of ceremony and decorum. Whenever guests visit, it is necessary to make and serve tea to them. Before serving tea, you may ask them for their preferences as to what kind of tea they fancy and serve them the tea in the most appropriate teacups. In the course of serving tea, the host should take careful note of how much water is remaining in the cups and in the kettle. Usually, if the tea is made in a teacup, boiling water should be added after half of the cup has been consumed; and thus the cup is kept filled so that the tea retains the same bouquet and remains pleasantly warm throughout the entire course of tea-drinking. Snacks, sweets
and other dishes may be served at tea time to complement the fragrance of the tea and to allay one’s hunger.
There are several special circumstances in which tea is prepared and consumed.
• As a sign of respect
In Chinese society, the younger generation always shows its respect to the older generation by offering a cup of tea. Inviting and paying for their elders to go to restaurants for tea is a traditional activity on holidays. In the past, people of lower rank served tea to higher ranking people. Today, as Chinese society becomes more liberal, sometimes at home parents may pour a cup of tea for their children, or a boss may even pour tea for subordinates at restaurants. The lower ranking person should not expect the higher rank person to serve him or her tea in formal occasions, however.
• For a family gathering
When sons and daughters leave home to work and get married, they may seldom visit their parents. As a result, parents may seldom meet their grandchildren. Going to restaurants and drinking tea，therefore, becomes an important activity for family gatherings. Every Sunday, Chinese restaurants are crowded, especially when people celebrate festivals. This phenomenon reflects Chinese family values.
• To apologize
In Chinese culture, people make serious apologies to others by pouring tea for them. For example, children serving tea to their parents is a sign of regret and submission.
• To express thanks to your elders on one’s wedding day
In the traditional Chinese marriage ceremony, both the bride and groom kneel in front of their parents and serve them tea. That is a way to express their gratitude. In front of their parents, it is a practice for the married couple to say, “Thank you for bringing us up. Now we are getting married. We owe it all to you•，’ The parents will usually drink a small portion of the tea and then give them a red envelope, which symbolizes good luck. Another variant is for the bride to serve tea to the groom's parents, symbolizing that she is to become a part of the latter’s family.
• To connect large families on wedding days
The tea ceremony during weddings also serves as a means for both parties in the wedding to meet with members of the other family. As Chinese families can be rather extended, one or two hundred people, it is entirely possible during a courtship to not have been introduced to someone. This was particularly true in older generations where the patriarch may have had more than one wife and not all family members were always on good terms. As such, during the tea ceremony, the couple would serve tea to all family
members and call them by their official title. Drinking the tea symbolized acceptance into the family. Refusal to drink would symbolize opposition to the wedding and is quite unheard of since it would result in a loss of “face”. Older relations so introduced would give a red envelope to the matrimonial couple while the couple would be expected to give a red envelope to younger, unmarried relations.
Chinese painting, the flower of Chinese culture, is distinguished by a spirit and an atmosphere all its own, entirely different from Western painting. It is as different from Western painting as Chinese poetry is different from western poetry. That difference is hard to grasp and express. It has a certain tone and atmosphere, visible in Western painting, but essentially different and achieved by different means. It shows a certain economy of material marked by the many blank spaces, an idea of composition determined by its own harmony and marked by a certain “rhythmic vitality,” and a boldness and freedom of the brush which impress the onlooker in an unforgettable manner.
Somehow a piece of Chinese painting before us has undergone an inner process of transformation in the artist’s mind, shorn of its irrelevancies, its disharmonies, and giving us only a completely satisfying whole, so true to life and yet so different from it. The design is more obvious, the elimination of material more rigidly carried out, the points of contrast and concentration easier to trace, and we decidedly feel that the artist has interfered with the material reality and presented it to us only as it appears to him, without losing its essential likeness or intelligibility to others. It is subjective without the latter*s unintelligibility to us common men. It manages to achieve a decidedly subjective appearance of things without making contortions. It does not try to paint all before one’s eyes, and it leaves a great deal to the onlooker’s imagination, without degenerating into a geometric puzzle. Sometimes the concentration on the immediate object is so intensive that only the tip of a plum branch is given in the whole picture and left there as perfect. And yet, with all this subjective interference with the material reality, the effect is not a jarring assertion of the artist’s ego, but a complete harmony with nature. How was this achieved? And how did this peculiar tradition grow up?
This artistic tradition did not come by chance or by an accidental discovery. Its characteristics may be most conveniently summed up, I think, in the word lyricism, and this lyricism came from a certain type of human spirit and culture, for we must remember that
Chinese painting is closely related, in spirit and technique, to Chinese calligraphy and Chinese poetry. Calligraphy gave it its technique, the initial twist which determined its future development, and Chinese poetry lent it its spirit. For poetry, painting and calligraphy are closely related arts in China. The best way to understanding Chinese painting is to study these influences which went into the building of that peculiar tradition.
Briefly stated, this peculiar tradition, which we have called it lyricism, is the result of two revolts which modem Western painting is going through, but which came to the history of Chinese painting in the eighth century. They are the revolt against the subjection of the artist’s lines to the painted objects, and the revolt against a photographic reproduction of the material reality. Chinese calligraphy helped it to solve the first problem, and Chinese poetry helped over the second.
Chinese painting developed and was classified by theme into six genres: Figure painting, Landscape painting, Flower and bird painting, Court painting, Literati painting and Dan Qing.
> Figure painting:
It includes portraits, story painting and genre painting with figures as the main subject. Lines are the key point in the portrayal.
> Landscape painting:
Chinese landscape paintings can be divided into blue-and-green landscape, gold-and-green landscape, light-purple-red landscape and water ink landscape according to the colors used.
> Court painting:
It refers to work by those professional painters employed by the royal court or imitations of their works by other painters.
> Literati painting:
It generally refers to paintings by intellectuals and officials, emphasizing more the scholarly execution of brush strokes and ink colors in expression than the painting’s likeness to real images.
> Flower and bird painting:
Flowers, rocks and birds are usually the main subject of this kind of painting. Technically, it is an elaborate style with colors and free style with ink.
> Dan Qing (traditional Chinese painting)
The Chinese water ink painting actually developed from early “contour lines with filled-in colors” painting. “Dan Qing” literally means the mineral colors of cinnabar and azurite that were used in early paintings. So, people today use this term for traditional Chinese painting.
The tools used in traditional Chinese painting are paintbrush, ink, traditional paint and special paper or silk. Chinese ink is a wonderful substance, capable of an immense range and an extraordinary beauty of tone. The painter uses a pointed-tipped brush made of hair of goat, deer, or wolf set in a shaft of bamboo. He paints on a length of silk or a sheet of paper, the surface of which is absorbent, allowing no erasure or correction. Color is sometimes added to make the effect more true to life, but the ink-drawing remains almost always the foundation of the design. Cooler is not a formal element in the design as in Western art.
Chinese paintings are usually in the form of hanging pictures or of horizontal scrolls, in both cases normally kept rolled up. The latter paintings, often of great length, are unrolled bit by bit and enjoyed as a reader enjoys reading a manuscript. A succession of pictures is presented, though the composition is continuous. Thus, in the case of landscape, for which this form has been used with most felicity, one seems to be actually passing through the country depicted.
Chinese technique admits no correction, and the artist must therefore know beforehand what he intends to do. He closely observes and stores his observations in his memory. He conceives his design, and having completed the mental image of what he intends to paint, he transfers it swiftly and with sure strokes to the silk. It is said that in a master’s work the idea is present even where the brush has not passed. This, however, demands confidence, speed, athe nd a mastery of technique acquired only by long practice.
In early times, such as the Shang and Zhou dynasties, Chinese paintings were made chiefly for sacrifices to Heaven and to the spirits of clan ancestors, who were believed to influence the living for good. Chinese society has always laid great stress on the need for man to understand the pattern of nature and to live in accordance with it. The world of nature was seen as the visible manifestation of the workings of the Great Ultimate through the generative interaction of yin and yang. As it developed, the purpose of Chinese painting turned from propitiation and sacrifice to the expression of man’s understanding of these forces through the painting of landscape, bamboo, birds and flowers. This might be called the metaphysical, Taoist aspect of Chinese painting.
Chinese painting also had social and moral functions. The earliest paintings referred to in ancient texts depicted on the walls of palaces and ancestral halls benevolent emperors, sages, virtuous ministers, loyal generals, and their evil opposites as examples and warnings to the living. Portrait painting also had this moral function, depicting not the features of the subject so much as his character and his role in society. Therefore, it is said that it had the same merits as each of The Six Classics. This was typical Conflician function of paining.
Monday, May 21, 2018
During the 400 years from the late Eastern Han Dynasty to the early Sui Dynasty, the reunification of the forces in China had been growing. This indicated that the Chinese nation, with the Han nationality at the core, had become a relatively stable community. Thus, the Sui’s reunification was a historical trend.
In 581, Yang Jian usurped the throne of the Northern Zhou and established the Sui Dynasty. Yang Jian reigned as Emperor Wendi of Sui. In 589, the Sui conquered the Chen Dynasty and reunified the northern and southern parts of the country. In 618, a peasant uprising brought about the end of Sui, with the death of Emperor Yangdi. During the peasant uprising, Li Yuan, a powerful Sui official, and his sons seized the opportunity to revolt and established the Tang Dynasty. The period from the reign of Emperor Taizong, Wu Zetian, and to the early part of the reign of Emperor Xuanzong is called the time of the “Benign Administration of the Zhenguan Reign Period” and the “Flourishing Kaiyuan Reign Period.” The territory ruled by the Tang Dynasty was broader than that of any of the previous dynasties. It reached the East China Sea in the east, extended to the islands in the South China Sea in the south, bordered Lake Balkhash in today’s Kazakhstan in the west and extended as far as the Outer Hinggan Mountains in the northeast. The minority ethnic groups inhabiting the border were gradually developed, and the country was very powerful.
During the Sui and Tang dynasties, the economy of China prospered, exchanges with the outside world were frequent, and glorious scientific and cultural achievements appeared. Calligraphy, painting, and sculpture flourished in the Tang Dynasty. In particular, Tang Dynasty poetry is regarded as the acme of this genre, represented by the greatest poets Li Bai and Du Fu. In the field of prose literature, Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan were outstanding. Tang was one of the richest and most powerful countries both in ancient China and in the world at that time. During the period of Sui and Tang dynasties, Western countries were splitting, and politics was in chaos: The economy and culture were in laggard development. In contrast, Asia was thriving. In Asia, two empires were very strong. One was the Arab Empire which crossed the European, Asian and African continents, and the other was the feudal societies of China’s Sui and Tang dynasties. The burgeoning economy and culture of the Sui and Tang dynasties influenced the countries around China, especially the countries in East Asia such as Japan and Korea. At that time, Japan especially sent people to study the system and culture of China. Chang’an (today’s Xi’an, Shaanxi Province), the capital city of the Tang Dynasty, was not only the political center of China at that time, but it was also one of the centers for economic and cultural exchanges for the whole Asian region. Because of the Tang Dynasty’s enormous international influence, Chinese people were called the “People of Tang” by their neighbors. Until now, the overseas place where Chinese community in a foreign land is still called “Tangrenjie” (Chinatown).
The Grand Canal of the Sui Dynasty
China’s major rivers, such as the Yellow River and the Yangtze River, all flow from west to east into the ocean. But there is a river which joins up the north and the south. It is a man-dug waterway, known as the famous Grand Canal.
From 605 to 610, in order to strengthen his control of the country and to transport the materials more accessible from the area south of the Yangtze River to the north, Emperor Yangdi of the Sui Dynasty gathered several million workers to construct this Grand Canal. It took them about six years to complete. Some sections were the former canals which workers only repaired, broadened and deepened them, and some natural rivers and lakes were also included in the project.
The Grand Canal went throughout the country and took Luoyang as its center. It was originally some 2 000 km long, and the width of the water surface was from 30 to 70 m. The canal reached Zhuojun County (in today’s Beijing) in the north and extended to Yuhang (today’s Hangzhou) in the south. It was connected to big rivers like the Huaihe, the Yellow River, the Huaihe, the Yangtze River and the Qiantang River. The canal flows through today’s Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Therefore, it is one of the greatest projects in China’s history.
The opening of the Grand Canal helped to transport grains and materials from south to north continuously and thus played a very important role in promoting the economic and cultural development of the whole country and in maintaining political unity.
In the Yuan Dynasty, on the model of the old Grand Canal, people dug the Shandong Canal and the Tonghui River, which extended from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south and became the main north-south communication waterway in China.
Today, China is planning to restore the Grand Canal, not only for the convenience of transportation between the north and the south but also to transfer water from the south to the north to solve the problem of water shortage in the north.
Emperor Yangdi’s Extravagant Trip to Jiangdu
Emperor Yangdi was a talented politician but abandoned himself to sensuous pleasures without any mercy to his people. Jiangdu (Yangzhou City in Jiangsu Province) was the political, economic and cultural center in the southeastern region. The Grand Canal had hardly been completed when Emperor Yangdi boarded his four-floored dragon boat with thousands. accompanying boats, and nearly 200 000 in his retinue, and sailed downwards to Jiangdu for his extravagant traveling. Excessively material and labor resources were splurged for his enjoyment. For instance, the honor guard had extended as long as 10 km. Endless forced labor aroused the resentment among the people along the banks of the canal. Continuous revolts had eventually overthrown the government of the Sui Dynasty. In 618, Emperor Yangdi was put to death in a mutiny launched by his subordinates.
The Benign Administration of the Zhenguan Reign Period
Emperor Taizong, Li Shimin, enjoys a prestige which is quite high. When he was young, he assisted his father in establishing the Tang Dynasty. Very talented as a general in the war, he wisely employed capable persons to assist him in governing the country. He named the period of his reign “Zhenguan” (627-649). Drawing lessons from the downfall of the Sui Dynasty, Emperor Taizong carried out many enlightened policies and measures beneficial to the country and died, people, which consolidated the state power of the Tang Dynasty, restored social stability and boosted the economy. Therefore, the reign was termed “the Benign Administration of the Zhenguan Reign Period” by historians.
Emperor Taizong knew that a well-ordered administration needed capable people and a wide range of expert opinions. So he made good use of capable people no matter what their backgrounds were. He once said that using a bronze mirror; one could tidy one’s clothes; using history as a mirror, one could know the way of governing a country; using people as a mirror, one could tell right from wrong.
Emperor Taizong implemented many measures that enjoyed the support of the people, such as joining counties and prefectures together to reduce expenditure; letting peasants have a certain amount of land and reducing the burden of corvee labor to ensure that peasants had time to work on their land. Citing an ancient saying, Emperor Taizong said that the emperor was like a boat and the people were like water; water could carry the boat, but it could also capsize it.
Emperor Taizong won the support of all the minority peoples by adopting relatively enlightened policies toward them. The ethnic groups in the north called him “Great Khan.” The emperor sent Princess Wencheng to the king of Tubo, in Tibet, which made the relations between the Han and Tibetan people closer and contributed to the stability of China as a multi-ethnic country.
Wu Zetian, China’s First Female Monarch
Wu Zetian (624-705) was the first and the only female monarch in the history of China and, an outstanding politician.
She was a smart, courageous, and beautiful girl; she knew literary history in her childhood. At the age of 14, she was taken into the imperial palace by Emperor Taizong as a concubine. After Emperor Taizong died, she was sent to a temple and became a nun. Emperor Gaozong, son of Emperor Taizong, was fond of Wu Zetian when he was crown prince. Two years after he succeeded to the throne, he had Wu Zetian brought back to the imperial palace. Then he demoted his consort and made Wu Zetian his empress.
Wu Zetian soon became involved in affairs of state and palace intrigue, including getting rid of officials who opposed her. Emperor Gaozong, not being in good health, often let her handle his duties for him. At that time, Emperor Gaozong and Wu Zetian were called the “Two Saints” by the people, which meant they had two emperors.
When Emperor Gaozong died in 683, Wu Zetian administered the country as the Empress Dowager. In 690, Wu Zetian changed the name of the dynasty to Zhou and became the Empress herself. She carried on die policy of developing production initiated by Emperor Taizong. She also promoted many talented people in defiance of protocol, especially members of her own clan. She was a devout Buddhist and spent money lavishly on the construction of temples. Eventually, Wu Zetian was forced by her senior ministers to hand over the power to her son, Zhongzong.
Di Renjie, the Prime Minister
In order to reinforce her regime, Wu Zetian valued preeminent figures. Heard that Di Renjie (630-700) enjoyed great prestige for justly handling affairs, and strictly enforcing the law, she nominated him as the Prime Minister (the highest level of an official in ancient China). Even when Di Renjie was the Prime Minister, he spared no efforts to recommend many standouts to the government. Those who were appreciated by him, such as Zhang Jianzhi, became a couple of well-known ministers later. Someone said to him, “The elitists in the country are all your honor’s pupils.” Di Renjie replied, “Nothing is more important than recommending the capable people for our country.”
The Flourishing Kaiyuan Reign Period
Kaiyuan (713-741) was the earlier reign title of Li Longji, Emperor Xuanzong (712-756). Through over 100 years of development from the beginning of Zhenguan reign of Taizong to the end of Kaiyuan reign, the Tang Dynasty became unprecedentedly prosperous. So this period was referred to as the “Prosperous Kaiyuan Period.”
Emperor Xuanzong was the grandson of Wu Zetian, but he modeled his rule on that of Emperor Taizong. He made use of capable people, listened to his ministers1 advice and devoted himself to state affairs. He demonstrated his capability with prompt measures one year by combating a plague of locusts in northern China and saved the people from starvation.
The renowned poet Du Fu described the prosperity of that time in his poem Remembering the Past: “Remember the good old Kaiyuan days/When even a small county had ten thousand households/The rice shone, and the corn was white/And granaries of state and people burst with grain alike.” During the Kaiyuan Period, the society was stable and peaceful, and commerce and transportation were highly developed. Yangzhou, located where the Grand Canal meets the Yangtze River, was a bustling city where merchants from all over China and abroad converged. Chang’ a capital of the Tang Dynasty, was then one of the world’s great metropolises. Envoys, merchants, scholars, and artisans of many countries flocked to Chang’an to trade, and to study the advanced culture and technology of the Tang Dynasty.
The Revolt of An Lushan and Shi Siming
In the second half of his reign, during the Tianbao Period (742-756), Emperor Xuanzong was obsessed by his favorite concubine, Lady Yang. He neglected his duties and the court was corrupt, and the army weak. A Lushan (703-757) wormed his way into Emperor Xuanzong’s confidence and took command of a great part of the armed forces. In the year of 755, An Lushan and 5hi Siming staged a revolt in Fanyang with an army of 150 000, marching toward Chang’an. This was known historically as the Revolt of An Lushan and Shi Siming. It is until the year 762 that the revolt was finally suppressed. This revolt did serious damage to the economy of north China and marked the decline of the Tang Dynasty.
The Heyday of Chang’an
Chang’ a capital city of the Tang Dynasty is now called Xi’an. The city of Chang’an was built in the Sui Dynasty and called at that time Daxing. The city took nearly 100 years to build. During the Tang Dynasty, Chang’an was almost 11 times as big as today’s Xi’an and was a metropolis of international renown.
The emperor lived and ruled in the imperial palace in Chang’an. To the south of the palace, there was the so-called Imperial City, where the government offices were located. The streets and residences of Chang’an were designed like a chessboard, with the neat and symmetrical layout of the east and west. The width of many streets and avenues inside the city was over 100 m (Zhuque Avenue was the widest street). The city of Beijing in the Ming and Qing dynasties was modeled on the pattern of Chang’an.
The residential areas and commercial areas inside the city were located separately. In the commercial areas, there were many shops: meat shops, fish shops, medicine shops, silk shops, iron shops, gold and silver shops, etc. There were said to be over 200 kinds of shops in the eastern commercial area. All kinds of precious and rare goods were available there.
Chang’an was also the cultural center of China at that time, with rich and colorful recreational activities, such as music, dancing, cockfighting, tug-of-war, swing-playing, etc. The most famous painters, calligraphers, and poets of the Tang Dynasty usually gathered in Chang’an, and their creative activities added much glory to the city. Students came from Japan and Korea to study in Chang’an, and merchants flocked there from Central Asia. Among the population of around one million in Chang’an, there were over 10 000 foreign households.
Songtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng
The Tubo people were the ancestors of the Tibetan people. They appeared on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at a very early period. They were farmers and herders. In the early seventh century, Songtsen Gampo united the various Tubo tribes and made Luoxie (today’s Lhasa) the capital of the Tubo kingdom.
Songtsen Gampo admired the culture of the Tang Dynasty and was eager to form an alliance with that powerful empire. In 641, Emperor Taizong sent Princess Wencheng to him as his bride.
The Tubo people used to live in tents. It is said that a gorgeous palace was built specially for her, which was the predecessor of today’s Potala Palace.
Princess Wencheng took with her to Tubo medicines, books on science and technology, grain and vegetable seeds, and exquisite handicrafts of the Tang Dynasty. In addition, people who were proficient in raising silkworms, making wine and paper, and weaving and embroidering accompanied her, to teach these arts to the people of Tibet. Princess Wencheng was an ardent believer in Buddhism. It is said that the location of the Jokhang Temple was chosen by her.
Princess Wencheng lived in Tubo for 40 years, making great contributions to the friendship between the Han and Tibetan peoples. She is still remembered and loved by the Tibetans. Statues of Princess Wencheng are preserved in the Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace. There are many beautiful legends told about Princess Wencheng among the Tibetan people.
Records on the Western Regions of the Great Tang Empire
After he returned to China, Xuanzang wrote a book titled Records on the Western Regions of the Great Tang Empire. The book records in detail the different traditions and customs, products, climates, geographical conditions, histories, languages, and religions of over 100 countries and areas in the Western Regions at that time. Most of the contents were what he saw and heard on his journey, which are very important materials for research into the geographical and historical conditions in ancient Central and South Asia. Now this book has been translated into many languages and enjoys worldwide fame.
Xuanzang’s Journey to the West
In the classic novel Journey to the West, a monk entitled the Tang Priest, goes on a pilgrimage to India to fetch the Buddhist scriptures back to China. Together with his disciple's Monkey, Pig, and Friar Sand, he overcomes 81 hardships, and his mission is successful. The novel is a collection of legends, but in history, there really was such a monk. His Buddhist name was Xuanzang.
Xuanzang (602-664) renounced the world and became a monk when lie was young. He acquired a good command of the Buddhist classics, and he found that there were a great many errors in the translated Buddhist scriptures. Therefore, he decided to go to Tianzhu (today s Indian Peninsula), the birthplace of Buddhism, to study and bring back authentic scriptures.
Xuanzang started his journey to the west in 627. He crossed mountains and deserts, overcoming numerous hardships, and finally reached Tianzhu alter a journey of a whole year.
Xuanzang studied in Tianzhu (today’s India) and stayed there for as long as 15 years, rendering homage to six Buddhist Holy Lands successively. His sincere commitment to Buddhism and unswerving determination moved many Tianzhu people. Some kings even sent several people to copy Buddhist sutra for him. In return, Xuanzang introduced them some Buddhist scripture that had been lost. Xuanzang also learned the language of Tianzhu, attended huge gatherings concerning Buddhist learning and delivered speeches on many occasions. Xuanzang’s erudition won the respect of the Tianzhu people.
At the age of 42, Xuanzang returned to Chang’an, bringing back 657 Buddhist scriptures. He then commenced the work of translating the Buddhist scriptures. He translated 74 Buddhist scriptures altogether, amounting to about 1 305 volumes.
Xuanzang was not only an eminent monk but also a great translator and an envoy for friendship between China and India. He made great contributions to the development of Chinese culture, and for cultural exchanges between China and India and other countries.
Jianzhen Crosses the Ocean to Japan
Almost 100 years after Xuanzang returned to Chang’an Jianzhen, another eminent Buddhist monk of the Tang Dynasty, crossed the ocean eastward to Japan, to spread Buddhism.
Jianzhen was born in Yangzhou. As the abbot of the Darning Temple in that city, he received envoys sent by the ruler of Japan in 742, who requested that teachers of Buddhism be sent to their homeland. Jianzhen decided to go by himself. However, the crossing was fraught with hazards, yet he said deceivably: “How can I give up my faith in order to protect my body?” It was only on his sixth attempt that Jianzhen arrived in Japan. At that time, he was already 66 years old, and blind. He, with his 23 disciples had brought a great number of books, the image of Buddhism, Buddhistic scripture, and some other treasure.
Jianzhen lived in Japan for 10 years. He not only spread knowledge of Buddhism, but he also made prominent contributions to Japanese architecture, medicine, and art. He designed the Toshodai Temple in Nara, which was treasured as a “bright pearl.” He had also exerted great influence on Japanese medicine; he was praised as the Founder of Medicine. Jianzhen died in Japan.
Envoys Sent to the Tang Empire
During the Tang Dynasty, China was the most advanced country in the East. On a dozen occasions, Japan sent groups of 500 to 600 students at a time to study in China. After these people returned to Japan, they spread knowledge of Chinese social institutions and culture, which did a great deal to promote the friendly relations and cultural exchanges between China and Japan.
The Three Famous Grottoes
Buddhism originated in India and spread into the hinterland of China around the first century. In the Southern and Northern dynasties, grottoes were carved in cliffs to house statues of Buddha and sacred murals. In the Sui and Tang dynasties, grotto art made great strides. The three most famous groups of grottoes are the Yungang Grottoes in Datong, Shanxi Province, the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, Henan Province, and the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Gansu Province. They are world-famous for their great number of rich and colorful Buddhist frescos, sculptures and statues.
The Yungang Grottoes are the most eminent among the Buddhist artistic works of the Northern Wei Dynasty. They are cut into the foot of a mountain and stretch 1 000 m from east to west. They contain thousands of Buddhist sculptures of various sizes, among which the biggest one is 17 m high.
The largest cave in the Longmen Grottoes was hollowed out during the Tang Dynasty. The Buddhist statues in these grottoes show the influence of the aesthetic concepts of the people of India and Central Asia.
The Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang used to have over 1 000 caves, but nowadays there remain only a few hundred, of which 60 to 70% were made in the Sui and Tang dynasties. The walls and ceilings of the grottoes are covered with colored frescos, including works of many famous painters such as Wu Daozi, Yan Liben, etc. totaling more than 45 000 m2. The frescos depict Buddhist stories. Many of them reflect the prosperity of the Tang Dynasty. The Mogao Grottoes boast over 2 400 statues, almost half of which date from the Sui and Tang dynasties.
The Great Statue of Buddha at Leshan, Sichuan Province
The Leshan Buddha is the biggest stone seated statue of Buddha in existence. Construction of the statue started in the first year (713) of the Kaiyuan reign period of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, and it was completed in the 19th year (803) of the Zhenyuan reign period of Emperor Dezong. It is a seated statue of Maitreya (the Buddha of the Future). It is 70.8 m high, and the shoulder width is 24 m. When the statue was completed, it was painted in colors all over, and a seven-story tower 60 m wide was erected above it. This tower was destroyed in a war. There is a saying about the Leshan Buddha: the mountain is a Buddha, and the Buddha is a mountain.
The Imperial Civil Examination System
Starting in the Sui Dynasty, the imperial government selected its officials from the ranks of the successful candidates in the imperial civil examinations.
The imperial civil examination in the Tang Dynasty was classified into two types: the regular one and the irregular one. The regular examination was held every year. It had many levels, such as Xiucai, Minting, and Jinshi. The Jinshi degree was the most difficult to attain. Every year hundreds of men took the Jinshi examination, but only one or two passed. Those who passed the Jinshi examination would attend a lavish banquet held by the Qujiang Pond, and their names would be announced under the Greater Goose Pagoda in the Ci’en Temple. The irregular examination was set spontaneously by the emperor himself, who acted as the chief examiner. However, it was of less importance than the regular one.
There were two kinds of people who took the imperial civil examination. One consisted of students chosen by academics, who were called Shengtu; the other kind, called Xianggong, consisted of those who had passed the examinations held by prefectures and counties. The imperial civil examination in the Tang Dynasty was usually presided over by the Board of Rites. Those who passed the examination would be reexamined by the Board of Rites, and then receive various kinds of official positions according to their examination results.
The imperial civil examination system was the method used until the late years of Chinese last feudal dynasty, the Qing, which fell in 1911, to choose talented men for official positions. Many historians thought that the imperial civil examination system was an excellent system for selecting civilians and it has been the guarantee of the sound development from the Sui and Tang dynasties to the Ming and Qing dynasties for more than 1 000 years. However, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the imperial civil examination system, which stressed knowledge of the Confucian classics exclusively, became a rigid and stultifying institution which kept China from adopting modern scientific methods.
Story of Chinese history - Three Kingdoms, Two Jin Dynasties and the Southern and Northern Dynasties
The period of the Three Kingdoms, the Western and Eastern Jin Dynasties and the Southern and Northern Dynasties is also called the period of Wei, Jin and the Southern and Northern Dynasties. It started in the year of 220 when Cao Pi claimed himself emperor of the Kingdom of Wei and ended in 589 when the Sui Dynasty wiped out Chen and united the whole country once more, and it was prolonged more than 360 years.
In 221, the year after the setting up of the Kingdom of Wei by Cao Pi, Liu Bei established the Kingdom of Shu, and in 222 Sun Quail founded the Kingdom of Wu, which formed a situation of tripartite confrontation. The capitals of these three kingdoms were located in today’s Luoyang, Chengdu, and Nanjing, respectively.
In 263, Wei wiped out Shu. In 265, Sima Yan, a Wei minister, seized the throne of Wei, declared the founding of the Jin Dynasty and chose Luoyang as his capital. This is known as the Western Jin Dynasty. In 280, Sima Yan conquered Wu, ending the Three Kingdoms Period, but the Jin Dynasty itself was overrun by nomadic people in 316. China fell into disruption again.
In 317, Sima Rui, a descendant of the royal family of the Jin Dynasty, proclaimed himself emperor of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, whose capital was today’s Nanjing. At the same time, several minority ethnic groups in the Yellow River basin also established many states. For more than 130 years, northern China was chaotically divided, this period is called the period of the Sixteen States.
In 439, the Northern Wei, established by a minority of people, united the north. Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei conducted reforms, decreeing the adoption of native Chinese institutions, language, and costume. This resulted in a great intermixing of different ethnic: groups in the north. Later, the Northern Wei split into the Eastern and Western Wei, and then the Northern Qi replaced the Eastern Wei, and the Northern Zhou replaced the Western Wei. The above five northern dynasties are known as the Northern Dynasties. During the 170 years from 420 to 589, following the fall of Eastern Jin, there appeared four dynasties in succession, namely, the Song, Qi, Liang, and Chen, whose capitals were all situated in today’s Nanjing. These four dynasties are called the Southern Dynasties. The period when the Southern Dynasties and the Northern Dynasties co-existed is called the Southern and Northern Dynasties.
During the Three Kingdoms Period, the social politics, economy, and diplomacy all achieved its unique style, and there emerged a great number of outstanding statesmen and generals, the foremost of whom were Cao Cao and Zhuge Liang. The Three Kingdoms Period, the two Jin dynasties and the Northern and Southern Dynasties, produced many famous thinkers, strategists, scientists, literary figures, painters, and calligraphers. Also, a large number of famous works were produced which had a positive influence on the development of the social and natural sciences. These scientific and cultural achievements are gems of the Chinese cultural heritage.
During the Three Kingdoms Period, the two Jin dynasties and the Northern and Southern Dynasties, the powerful European Rome Empire fell into parts, and the Western Rome Empire drew its last breath as well. The Teutons established their Kingdom in Western Europe, and since then Europe stepped into the feudal society.
Controlling the Emperor and Commanding the Nobles
Xie means “to control,” Tianzi refers to “the emperor” and Zhuhou refers to “dukes” or “nobles.” Toward the end of the Han Dynasty, the imperial family was very weak. In 196, Cao Cao invited Emperor Xiandi to his headquarters at Xudu (today’s Xuchang, Henan Province), where he was put under the protection of Cao Cao’s army. From then on, Cao Cao effectively controlled the state power and issued orders to the other nobles in the name of the emperor. This was what people called “controlling the emperor and commanding the nobles.”
Cao Cao (155-220), who named himself Mengde, was an outstanding statesman, strategist, and man of letters of the late Eastern Han Dynasty.
He was born in today’s Anhui Province. He built up a powerful army in the course of suppressing peasant uprisings.
As a strategist, Cao Cao found great interest in studying military works and believed that one should act according to changing conditions in wars. Devoted to the theory of military strategy, Cao Cao had some resounding successes in warfare. At the Battle of Guandu, he properly analyzed the situation between the enemy and his own forces, thus, with only 20 000 men, he soundly defeated Yuan Shao’s force of 1 000 000 and strengthened his troops. A strong army needed more food. Between campaigns, Cao Cao made his soldiers cultivate the land to supply themselves with food. This policy of “garrison fields” not only solved the army’s food supply problem, but it also improved the economy in the north.
On the political stage, Cao Cao saw the rise of powerful landlords in the late Eastern Han Dynasty as a threat to the unity of the country. Therefore, he paid much attention to the control of the powerful landlords. He once made the local authorities put some big rods in front of the government office and encouraged them to punish magnates who bullied the weak and gave government posts to anti-landlord elements. This was proved to be effective for strengthening his dominion.
In the placement of personnel, Cao Cao held the principle of “employing whoever is a talent.” In fact, Cao Cao insisted on promoting any person of talent, no matter what his background was. Therefore, under his domination, a lot of talented people found their positions in the government. Those people contributed a lot to Cao Cao’s unity of North China.
Because of these advantages, added to the fact that he had the Han emperor Xiandi under his control, Cao Cao put down all the warlords one after another in the north after the Battle of Guandu in 200 and ended the fissioning condition in North China. This not only was advantageous to the social economy restoration in the Central Plains but also built the foundation for the subsequent Western Jin Dynasty as a unified nation.
Then famous litterateur Xu Shao appraised Cao Cao as an able official in governing the country and an insidious hero in the tumultuous times. In the traditional drama, Cao Cao continuously appeared as a disloyal image on the stage. Cao Cao once said, “In this chaotic time, without me, who knows how many people would want to dominate and claim to be the emperor!”
Cao Cao also attached importance to culture. As a multitalented man, he wrote the “The Burial Ground,” “Gazing at the Ocean,” “Short Songs” and “Despite the Tortoise’s Longevity,” and many other immortal epics. His two sons Cao Pi and Cao Zhi were well-known writers as well.
Three Visits to the Thatched Cottage
Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei swore to be brothers, and with a small military bloc, they attached themselves to Liu Biao, the governor of Jingzhou. To expand his influence, Liu Bei began his quest for talents. Liu Bei had heard about Zhuge Liang, knowing he was an outstanding talent, so, together with his sworn brothers, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, Liu Bei visited the thatched cottage in Longzhong where Zhuge Liang was living in obscurity. Zhuge Liang refused to meet Liu Bei the first two times he called, but on the third occasion he was touched by Liu Bei’s sincerity and agreed to meet him. Finally, Liu Bei found a talented adviser.
Zhuge Liang (181-234), who named himself Kong Ming and Wo Long, was an outstanding statesman and strategist.
He was born in Yangdu, Langya (today’s Yinan, Shandong Province), and later settled in Longzhong where he devoted himself to acquiring knowledge, and his reputation for wisdom spread far and wide. Zhuge Liang did not concern himself with doing textual research into every sentence or chapter like most people did at that time, but to grasp the gist of the articles. Through great efforts, he was familiar with astronomy, geography, and well-versed in the tactical arts. He ambitiously hoped to reunify the nation with his own strength. Zhuge Liang also paid great attention to social observation and analysis and accumulated a wealth of experience in running the country.
Meanwhile, after uniting the north, Cao Cao prepared to march south for the dream of a completely united China. At that time, Sun Quan controlled the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and Liu Bei, the weakest of the three antagonists, was stationed in Jingzhou. Liu Bei went to visit the twenty-seven-year-old Zhuge Liang three times to ask for the latter’s assistance. Zhuge Liang analyzed the situation in the country in detail for Liu Bei and recommended that he ally with Sun Quan against Cao Cao. By listening to Zhuge Liang’s incisive analysis, Liu Bei became suddenly enlightened. He thought that Zhuge Liang was a talent hard to come across, and therefore, he earnestly requested Zhuge Liang to go with him, helping him to complete the great cause of vitalizing the Han Dynasty.
Later, Liu Bei adopted Zhuge Liang’s suggestion and defeated Cao Cao in the Battle of the Red Cliff, his forces emerging as a much stronger power.
Not long after he proclaimed himself the emperor, Liu Bei died of illness in Baidicheng. Before he died, he handed over the state power of Shu to Zhuge Liang, to be wielded on behalf of Liu Bei’s son, Liu Chan, the new emperor. The southwestern minorities exploited the situation to start an armed revolt. In 225, Zhuge Liang led an army south and pacified the rebellious tribes there peacefully with his outstanding wit. The leader of the local tribes thus had faith in him. His strategy was to govern through the local chieftains, which greatly improved relations between the Shu government and the minority peoples. Meanwhile, he also carried out far-reaching internal reforms employing people with ability, stressing agricultural production and the construction of irrigation works, and strengthening discipline in the army, which helped Shu quickly overcome a series of crises.
Later, Zhuge Liang launched six expeditions northward in an attempt to overthrow Wei and unify the country but failed. On his last northern expedition, he died of overworking in the Wuzhangyuan military camps (in today’s Qishan County, Shaanxi Province).
In the eyes of the Chinese people, Zhuge Liang is the incarnation of it, and his stories are widespread.
Sun Quan Rules the Roost in Jiangdong
Sun Quan (c.182-252) was born in today’s Zhejiang Province and named himself Zhongmou. After his elder brother Sun Ce’s death, he took over his rule over the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River area. At that time, there were people who looked down on him and rebelled publicly against him. Sun Quan dispatched troops quickly and killed the rebels. Seeing he was so courageous and resourceful, people all admired him very much. Later, Cao Cao proposed that as long as Sun Quan sent one of his sons to Cao Cao as a hostage, Cao Cao would promise to keep good relations with Sun Quan. Adopting Zhou Yu’s advice, Sun Quan did not listen to Cao Cao’s proposal. Instead, he developed and expanded his own power relying on the geographical advantages in Jiangdong (roughly the areas south of the Yangtze River), which finally led to the situation of tripartite confrontation.
The Battle of the Red Cliff
After Cao Cao united North China, he had only two rivals, Sun Quan in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and Liu Bei in what is now the area of Hubei Province.
In 208, Cao Cao led an army of 200 000 men (claimed to be 800 000 men) south. Liu Bei retreated to Wuchang, Hubei. At that time, he only had an army of about 20 000 men. Based on the military strategist Zhuge Liang’s suggestion, he decided to make an alliance with Sun Quan to fight together against Cao Cao. Zhuge Liang argued before Sun Quan that, although Cao Cao outstripped them in the quantity of die army, about 70 000 to 80 000 of his men were soldiers surrendered from Jingzhou. These people were mainly navy soldiers and were the operational main force, and they had no certain loyalty to Cao Cao. Furthermore, the northern soldiers were not good at the battle on the water, and many fell into a bad illness after their long-distance advance. This analysis caused Sun Quan to clearly see the situation, and he agreed to send his senior general Zhou Yu to lead 30 000 sergeants to fight against Cao Cao together with Liu Bei.
Cao Cao anchored at a place called the Red Cliff (in today’s Chibi City, Hubei Province, although it has been alternately located in the northeast of today’s Jiayu County in Hubei). He chained his ships together so that the northern soldiers could walk steadily on them. Both Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu decided to attack Cao Cao with fire. One night, when there was a favorable southeastern wind, Zhou Yu dispatched the general Huang Gai with 10 ships to sail toward the enemy, pretending to be surrendering. The ships were loaded with firewood soaked in oil. When they were near enough to Cao Cao’s fleet, they set their ships on fire and left them to drift into the enemy ships. Because Cao Cao’s ships were chained together and were hard to unite in such a short time, Cao Cao’s fleet was immediately caught in a sea of fire. Later, the fire expanded to the land, and Cao Cao’s troops were severely destroyed.
After the Battle of the Red Cliff, the situation of China changed. Cao Cao retreated back to the north. In 220, after Cao Cao’s death, his son Cao Pi dethroned Emperor Xiandi of the Han Dynasty and proclaimed himself emperor, renaming his territory Wei, with Luoyang as its capital. Following his victory in the Battle of the Red Cliff, Liu Bei occupied most of Jingzhou and then spread his power to the west. In 221, he also proclaimed himself emperor, and named his state Shu, with the capital in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Sun Quan consolidated his power in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and proclaimed himself emperor in 222. He named his state Wu and made Jianye (today’s Nanjing) as his capital. The situation of tripartite confrontation lasted until 280 when the Western Jin Dynasty wiped out Wu.
Eight Kings’ Insurrection in the Western Jin Dynasty
In 265, Sima Yan forced Emperor Weidi to give up the throne and proclaimed himself the emperor. Sima Yan was the Emperor Wudi of the Jin dynasty. The state was called which is known as the Western [in Dynasty history with its capital at Luoyang. The Western Jin Dynasty’s troops wiped out Wu and reunified the country. In the early years of the Western Jin Dynasty, the government implemented a series of policies to encourage farmers’ enthusiasm in farming, raising silkworm, reclamation of wasteland, and increasing production. Over a period of more than two years, the number of households and the total population increased by more than 1 300 000 over two years, and brief prosperity occurred.
In order to keep the world of Sima family, Emperor Wudi of the Jin dynasty reinstated the ancient system of enforcement, and 27 kings from the Sima family were stationed around. Shortly, internal strife arose among the Sima family. The eight kings including Lun (King of Zhao), Wei (King of Chu) and others were fighting for imperial power from 291 to 306, which lasted as long as 16 years. In order to strengthen their own power, the eight kings made use of the northern minority forces. Thus, the Huns, the Xianbei, the Jies and other military forces pushed deep into the Central Plains, and the northern regions experienced unprecedented upheaval.
In 304, Liu Yuan, leader of the Huns, started a war and gradually took control of most of the land of Bingzhou. In 308, Liu Yuan proclaimed himself emperor in Pingyang (today’s Linfen, Shanxi Province), and sent troops to attack Luoyang. In 316, the Hun army overran Chang’an, captured emperor Mindi of the Jin Dynasty. In less than 40 years, the Western Jin Dynasty perished after a brief reunification.
The Origin of “Every Bush and Tree Looks like an Enemy”
During the Feishui campaign, the Former Qin army and the Jin army paddled across the Feishui river, preparing for a decisive battle. One day, Fu Jian boarded the defense wall of Shouyang city to observe the situation of the Jin army. Glancing afar, he found that the Jin army’s tents were arranged in an orderly fashion, studying further, the bushes and trees on opposite Bagong Mountain were shaking, which did not allow one to know how many Jin soldiers were hidden there. He said to his brother, who was just beside him that this was a powerful enemy, how could people say they were weak. After saying that, his face showed an expression of fear, and he ordered the Qin army to keep a close watch. This is the origin of the Chinese idiom of “Every bush and tree looks like an enemy,” which is a metaphor for extreme timidity when one is in extreme fear.
The Battle of Feishui
In 317, Sima Rui, a member of the royal clan, was proclaimed emperor under the support of Wang Dao and set up his capital in Jiankang (today’s Nanjing, Jiangsu Province). This is known as the Eastern |in Dynasty ill history. In the north, the minorities who had moved inward and the Han set 16 authorities in the Yellow River basin, which is called the “16 States”.
In the latter half of the fourth century, Fu Jian, the ruler of the Former Qin Dynasty, united the north. In 383, Fu Jian led an army south hoping to wipe out Eastern Jin in one attack. Before the war, some people firmly advised against Fu Jian doing so, arguing that the Eastern Jin Dynasty, with the Yangtze River as a natural barrier, was very difficult to attack. Fu Jian insisted and said, “We will overwhelm with numerical strength, so long as every one of us throws a whip into the Yangtze River, its water cannot keep flowing!”
Facing the attack from the Former Qin Dynasty’s army, the Eastern Jin Dynasty decided to make concerted efforts to fight against the enemy. At that time, the leaders of the Jin army were Xie Shi, Xie Xuan, and Liu Laozhi. They had an army of only 80 000 men. In the 10th lunar month, Fu Jian’s army captured Shouyang (today’s Shouxian County, Anhui Province). Fujian sent Zhu Xu, a Jin general captured by the Former Qin army, to the Jin army to induce them to capitulate. Seizing the chance of going to the Jin camp, Zhu Xu told Xie Shi that there were only 250 000 Former Qin soldiers in the front line, and he suggested the Jin army launch an attack first.
In the 11th month, Liu Laozhi attacked the Former Qin army with 5 000 crack soldiers and wiped out 50 000 Former Qin soldiers. Xie Shi and other generals advanced on the crest of the victory and confronted the Former Qin army with each army on one side of the Feishui River. One day, Xie Xuan proposed that it was not convenient for the two belligerent parties to fight on different sides of the river, and asked the Former Qin army to draw back. Fu Jian had planned to attack the |in the army with his cavalry when they crossed the river, so he ordered his army to retreat. However, his soldiers did not know the real meaning of the retreat, and many of them thought that they had lost the battle. Just at that time, Zhu Xu shouted loudly, “The Qin’s army has lost the battle! The Qin’s army has lost the battle!” This threw the Former Qin’s soldiers into great confusion at once. The Jin army took advantage of the occasion and crossed the Feishui River. Fu Jian's soldiers fled desperately, and Fu Jian himself got wounded by an arrow. At last, Yu Jian returned to Chang’an with only a little more than 100 000 soldiers.
This was the famous Battle of Feishui in history, in which a small army defeated a big one. After the Battle of Feishui, the Former Qin Dynasty fell, and North China was again rent by independent regimes. Eastern Jin ensured stability in the south. Later, Jin’s authority was taken by the general Liu Yu who founded the Song Dynasty. During the 170 years from 420 to 589, the south went through four dynasties, namely, the Song, Qi, Liang, and Chen, historically known as the Southern Dynasties. In 439, the Northern Wei Dynasty unified the northern regime and entered into a confrontational situation with the Southern Dynasties. Thus, the history entered a period known as the Northern and Southern Dynasties.
The Reforms of Emperor Xiaowen
The Tuoba tribe, who had established the Northern Wei Dynasty and reunified in the north, was an outstanding Xianbei ethnic group. The early Touba tribe lacked housing, language, and the law. During the period of the Wei and Jin Dynasties, they traveled to the nomadic grassland south of the Yinshan Mountains and became the leader of 36 Xianbei tribes, and began to settle in agricultural production and grow up. In 386, Tuoba Gui inherited the crown and changed the name of the country to Wei. In 439, Emperor Taiwu Tuoba Tao unified the north and ended the state of separation that had existed for over 100 years. However, the early Northern Wei Dynasty’s reign was in an unstable condition, and the key to consolidating their ruling was to accelerate the reform of the Xianbei’s customs and learn from the Han people.
Emperor Xiaowen Touba Hong of the Northern Wei was a prominent statesman. He realized that it was necessary to absorb the advanced culture of the Central Plains and reform the Xianbei1 s backward customs in order to consolidate the reign. In 490, Emperor Xiaowen reigned. He continued the reform measures which were put forward by his mother, which speeded up the pace of changing the Xianbei5 sold customs and the comprehensive sinicization.
In 494, Emperor Xiaowen moved the capital from Pingcheng (today’s Datong, Shanxi Province) to Luoyang.
After moving the capital city, Emperor Xiaowen implemented a series of reform measures. The main reform measures included: reforming the civil service system, requiring all the Xianbei people to wear Han clothing, requiring officials under 30 years of age to speak Chinese, requiring the Xianbei people to adopt Han surnames, and encouraging marriage between the Xianbei and the Han people.
Emperor Xiaowen liked reading and advocated the use of Confucian thought to govern the country. Emperor Xiaowen conferred the Confucian offspring and students at the St. Hugh Zonta. He went to the Confucius Temple in Qufu to offer sacrifices, promoted Confucianism and established schools, which won the support of the Han people.
Emperor Xiaowen was very firm in implementing the policy of sinicization, he resolutely suppressed the rebellion against the reform and strictly inspected the implementation of the reform measures. Once in the street, he saw a woman sitting in a coach wearing Xianbei dresses. He blamed the governor Touba Cheng of Rencheng for failure to fulfill his duty as an inspector, and let the historiographer document it.
Emperor Xiaowen’s reform accelerated the localization process of the Xianbei and promoted national integration in the north. Many wastelands near Luoyang were farmed, and the political and economic situation of the Northern Wei Dynasty was greatly developed, and the Northern Wei regime was also consolidated.
Hua Mulan Joined the Army in Place of Her Father
“Click, click, click. Mulan wove cloth in the house. Yet we could not hear the sound of the shuttle, but the sound of Mulan’s sighs…” This is the opening of The Ballad of Mulan, a well-known folk song in north China. The heroine of this ballad was a heroic woman in the north named Hua Mulan. The song tells how Hua Mulan disguised herself as a man and joined the army in place of her father.
It is said that Mulan lived in the Northern Wei Dynasty and that people in the north were fond of practicing martial arts. When Mulan was about ten years old, her father, an ex-soldier, taught her military skills, including martial arts, horse riding, archery, and swordsmanship. Hua Mulan also read her father’s books on military science in her spare time.
After Emperor Xiaowen’s reform, the Northern Wei Dynasty saw a picture of socio-economic development and more stable lives. To ward off incursions by the Rouran nomads, the ruler of the Northern Wei ordered that every household provide a man to join an expedition against them. Mulan’s father was old then, and her younger brother was too young to go and fight. So Mulan decided to join the army instead of her father. Mulan spent 12 years in the army. Fighting at the border is even hard for many men, let alone a girl such as Mulan because she had to conceal her identity while fighting against the enemy together with her partners But Hua Mulan finally completed her mission and returned home with a victory 12 years later. In view of her exploits on the battlefield, the ruler of the Northern Wei offered Mulan a high official position, but she refused it.
Hua Mulan, for her braveness and purity, has been highly respected as a filial daughter by the Chinese people for hundreds of years. In 1998, her story was adapted into an animated cartoon by Disney in the United States, to the acclaim of viewers young and old.
The Inventor of Regular Script
During the period from the end of the Han Dynasty to the beginning of the Wei Dynasty, there was a famous calligrapher named Zhong Yao who gained full mastery of the regular script. He was the first master of the regular script in Chinese history, and his calligraphy helped the transition from official script to the regular script as the ordinary writing system. He also helped set the style of Chinese characters. His representative works Include Statement of Proclamation and Statement Recommending Jizhi.
Wang Xizhi, the Saint of Calligraphy, and Gu Kaizhi, the Matchless Painter
Wang Xizhi (c.303-361) was born in today’s Shandong Province. He was a great calligrapher of the Eastern Jin Dynasty and was called by later generations the Saint of Calligraphy.
Wang Xizhi studied calligraphy under the calligraphy master Madame Wei in his youth. Then he traveled widely to study tablet inscriptions executed by famous calligraphers of older generations. It is said that he used to practice calligraphy by the pond beside Lan (Orchid) Pavilion in Shaoxing, in today’s Zhejiang Province. He worked day and night until the clear pond water turned black from his dipping his inky brush into it so many times. At last, He had finally formed his own unique style. Wang Xizhi’s unique style in both the running hand and cursive script had a great influence on later generations of calligraphers. His famous rubbings of stone inscriptions include the Preface to Orchid Pavilion and the Kuaixueshiqing Rubbing. Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty admired Wang Xizhi’s calligraphy and chose 1 000 characters written by Wang Xizhi, which he included in a book titled Ancient 1 000-Character Text to be used as a guide for students of calligraphy.
Gu Kaizhi (c.345-409) was an outstanding painter in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. Later generations grouped him together with Lu Tanwei, Zhang Sengyao, and Wu Daozi, and called them the “Four Ancestors of Painting.” Gu traveled all over south China accumulating rich materials for his paintings.
Gu Kaizhi was especially good at figure painting, and he stressed the “spirit by describing.” He maintained that a subject’s heart could be read through looking deep into his or her eyes. He once worked in a temple on a mural, but he did not finish the figure’s eyes until visitors came. He painted the eyes, and viewers said that the figure’s face suddenly filled with energy and seemed like a real person. Gu Kaizhi’s works have long been lost. What remains today are only facsimiles of his Picture Scroll of Female Scholars, Picture Scroll of the Luoshui River Nymph and the Picture Scroll of Virtuous Ladies.
Zu Chongzhi, the Remarkable Mathematician
Zu Chongzhi (429-500) lived in the period of the Song and Qi of the Southern dynasties. He devoted himself to study in his youth, being especially fond of mathematics. He also liked ancient astronomical research.
Zu Chongzhi’s greatest achievements lay in maths. He calculated a more precise ratio of the circumference of a circle. Pi is the ratio between the diameter and circumference of the circle. The ancient Chinese understood this concept very early, but not too accurately. Zu Chongzhi summed up the experience and decided to use the way of “Cut Circle” pioneered by Liu Hui, who lived in the period of the “Three Kingdoms,” to seek pi. However, the computation tools at that time were bamboo sticks. For the nine-digit arithmetic, 130 times of computation were needed, which was prone to error. Zu Chongzhi repeated each count at least twice until a few calculations got the same results. After working hard on the calculation, he finally reached the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter at between 3.1415926 and 3.1415927.
Zu Chongzhi was the world’s first scientist operator to put pi seven digits after the decimal point. And it was not until the 15th century that an Arab mathematician named Al-Kashi and a 16th-century French mathematician Vieta surpassed him by projecting it to 16 digits after the decimal point. In addition, Zu Chongzhi compiled his major achievements in mathematics into a book called Zhuishu, which became the main textbook on mathematics in China during the Tang Dynasty.