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Introduction: The Monkey King’s quest in “Journey to the West,” with his different stops along the way, teaches us about the geographic and ethnic di ersity in !hina" Background Information: Geographic Diversity in China: !hina not only has the world’s largest population #o er $"% billion&, but it also is an e'tre(ely large country #(ore than )"* (illion square kilo(eters& with i((ense geographic and cultural di ersity" +n fact, !hina should be iewed as an asse(blage of pieces (uch like ,urope" To teach about !hina and !hinese culture, it is essential to understand the geographic and ethnic di ersity in !hina in order to a oid creating or strengthening the stereotypes of !hina" +t is i(portant to understand that not all !hinese are alike or eat the sa(e foods or talk the sa(e way, or e en think the sa(e" -ncient !hina was an isolated land because of the nu(erous (ountains, dangerous deserts, and ast seas" +n fact, thousands of years passed before o erland and sea routes to the West gradually connected !hina to !entral -sia, +ndia, and ,urope" The .acific /cean to the east of !hina also pre ented foreigners fro( reaching !hina" The 0obi 1esert in ancient !hina is one of the driest deserts in the world" The Takla(ankan 1esert, the na(e of which (eans 2enter and you shall ne er return,2 is in the northwest" !hina also has so(e of the highest (ountain ranges in the world" /ne of these (ountain ranges is known as the 3i(alayas" Mountains occupy about forty4three percent of !hina5s land area" /nly about twel e percent of !hina5s land is plains and (ost of that is in the eastern part of !hina" -ncient !hina had two (a6or ri er syste(s that generally flowed in a western to eastern direction7
the 3uang 3e, which is also known as the 8ellow 9i er the 8angt:e, which is also known as the !hang Jiang
The 3uang 3e ri er syste( is about %,;;; (iles long" This is about the distance fro( !alifornia to <ew 8ork" The ri er e(pties into the 8ellow =ea" This ri er syste( pro ided fertile soil, and far(ers were able to grow plenty of food" The ci ili:ation of ancient !hina de eloped along this
ri er" This ri er has also caused (uch heartache because when it floods the land. an earnest effort to in estigate and categori:e (inorities began" -lthough o er ?. leading the( to stay and assi(ilate" -t the sa(e ti(e. the ** ethnic (inorities. (aintain their own rich traditions and custo(s. year period. after the !o((unist .arty of =un 8at4sen" 1r" =un hi(self saw !hina as a 29epublic of Ai e <ationalities2 #indeed. )>? (iles long" +t also e(pties into the 8ellow =ea" The ri er passes through so(e of !hina5s best far(land and (any of its towns and illages" -t its lowest point. and separation and fusion of cultures" The product of the inter(ingling of (any tribes. established %. the Mongols. the 3an people were a(ong the first to settle down and de elop an agrarian society" -s their culture flourished. it can rise to $>. en though the (odern concept of *> ethnic groups is often considered an arbitrary and conser ati e su((ary of the hundreds of di erse peoples in !hina. it pales in co(parison to the si(plicity by which the ancient 3an people distinguished their no(adic neighbors" Aor the(44 the tribe occupying the !enter of the World44 the only distinction was direction.. during the winter or early spring. though after his death. and the third longest ri er in the world" +t is about %. and non43an were called 21i2 #northern&. or si(ply (o ing as burgeoning populations strained resources. the 3an were also following (igratory patterns" =eeking to a oid the in asions.. years before by the Manchu (inority. the <ationalists denied the e'istence of different ethnic groups" 3owe er. one enduring the(e of !hinese history re(ains the stability of 3an !hinese !ulture" +n $)$$. the (ore conte(pt they felt for the (igrant hunter4 gatherers that lay 6ust beyond the hori:on" . !hina5s history is a story of an i((ense land with se eral di erse tribes" +t is also one of (igrations and conflict. !hina ser es as ho(e to *> official ethnic groups" The largest group. it kills (any people and destroys crops" The 8angt:e ri er is the longest in !hina. and it is the ele(ents of 3an ci ili:ation that the world considers 2!hinese culture"2 8et.eople5s 9epublic of !hina reflect this idea&. the !hinese (o ed southward" -nd here. the last +(perial 1ynasty. the 8angt:e is about @* feet deep" -fter the snow (elts. nestled away on !hina5s ast frontiers.. wa es of in aders breached the 0reat Wall and poured into the !hinese heartland" The 3uns. the 3an.arty ca(e to power in $)?). they beca(e the en y of the hearty horse(en of the north" / er a @. the fi e stars on the national flag of the . (inority groups answered a call . feet" The ancient !hinese built their ho(es and towns high abo e the ri er" Ethnic Diversity in China: Aro( the hinterlands of the north to the lush 6ungles in the south. and 2Man2 #south&" -s the 3an prospered.. these peoples ad(ired what they saw. they (et with an enor(ous di ersity of cultures" =o(e would be pushed further south. and Manchurians all ca(e" Cnlike the plunder and destruction characteri:ed by the barbarian in asions of 9o(e. 28i2 #east&. others would stay and assi(ilate" <o (atter what the story. 29ong2 #west&. was unseated by the <ationalist . (ake up o er )@B of !hina5s ast population.. and all are part of !hinese culture" General History Aro( the dawn of ti(e. fro( the (ountains of Taiwan in the east to the top of the world in the west.
who tra eled to +ndia in the Dth century to seek Guddhist scriptures. such as Wu !h5eng4en5s fa(ous no el of the $>th century. and -ustronesian" Twenty4one ethnic (inority groups ha e unique writing syste(s" . a (inority language is not si(ply a dialect" 9ather. Turfan. Tashkent. and so forth" . it is a language with distinct gra((atical and phonological differences fro( !hinese" Eanguage fa(ilies include =ino4Tibetan. +ndo4. =a(arkand. and a significant nu(ber of groups that clai(ed to be separate were actually the sa(e with different na(es" -fter four years of detailed research and field work.9ecogni:ed +ndigenous 3o(eland 4 .uropean. Gactria. along with historically percei ed friends and ene(ies a(ong other groups" • • More infor(ation and details of the *> distinct ethnic groups in !hina can be found in so(e of the useful links" Journey to the West and diversity in China: The !hinese Guddhist (onk and translator Huan:ang. *? ethnic groups were officially recogni:ed as independent nationalities" . fro( which the group originated" <ati e history and (ythologies are interwo en into this nati e land" 1istincti e !usto(s F These include dress. religion. (arriage rituals.**th was added in $)D)" What determines an ethnic group? • • 1istinct language 4 While hundreds of !hinese dialects are spoken across !hina.to register. which were used in plays and no els. -ltaic. was tra eling across the Tari( basin ia the northern route of the =ilk 9oad #see (ap below&. Kucha. then o er the 3indu Kush to +ndia" 3e returned ia the southern route of the =ilk 9oad" 3e spent his re(aining life translating sutras into !hinese" 3is tra el and story beca(e fantastic legends. studies found that there was a lot of o erlapping. cuisine.territory within the national boundaries of !hina. -ustro4-siatic.=trong =ense of +dentity F The sense of relatedness to other (e(bers of the group. Journey to the West #please refer to the strand Journey to the West7 The Monkey King&" .
and all of the( ha e their ery different and rich cultures" +n the no el Journey to the West.rincess happened in Ala(ing Mountains. Hin6iang" The Ala(ing Mountains run $. people (ay ha e the chance to see a bit of the geographic and cultural di ersity in !hina" 3ere are two regions isited in The Monkey King7 Journey to the West7 1.The Journey to the West was full of challenges and dangers" Huan:ang went across se eral deserts and (ountain ranges" 3e also passed a lot of ancient countries that ha e beco(e parts of (odern !hina. kilo(eters #@?I (iles& east of the city of Turpan and I%$" . kilo(eters #>@ (iles& along the northern edge of Turpan 1epression #Gasin& fro( east to west with its e'tre(e width of $. the story of +ron Aan . Iron Fan Princess in Xinjiang (now Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region) +n Journey to the West. kilo(eters #>"@ (iles&" +ts highest peak is ?. stories took place in arious cultural settings. and by reading so(e of the stories..
akistan and +ndia in the southwest" Hin6iang is in the te(perate :one and the Mountain of Tian di ides Hin6iang into two parts7 south and north Hin6iang" The north part is relati ely dry and the south hu(id due to the (ountain5s obstruction of water apor" The a erage te(perature of Hin6iang of the whole year is around $$!" . econo(ic and cultural center of the region" Hin6iang was known as the western region in ancient ti(es and didn5t acquire its current na(e until Jing 1ynasty" Hin6iang was the hub on the ancient =ilk 9oad.ersian. is the political.urasian continent. wife of the /' 1e(on King #two fiction figures in the no el& and wa ed it ?) ti(es. Jiaohe and Eoulan" +n Hin6iang. deserts and oasis. ri ers and lakes. Ka:akhstan..rincess +ron Aan. including the ancient cities of 0aochang. . causing hea y rains to e'tinguish the fire" More anecdotes tell that to cross the Ala(ing Mountains.. Monkey burnt his tail.. Mongolia in the northeast. square kilo(eters. 0reek and 9o(an cultures. people can find snowy (ountains and glaciers.>. Hin6iang co ers an area of o er $.ro ince and Jinghai pro ince in the southeast and Tibet in the south" +t borders eight countries. and carpets" Cru(qi. and e er since then all (onkeys ha e had red botto(s" Hin6iang Cygur -utono(ous 9egion lies in the west inland of !hina and co ers an area of $"> (illion square kilo(eters" +t is the largest ad(inistrati e region in !hina" Hin6iang is fa(ous for its folk dances. Huan:ang and his disciples could not penetrate the fla(es and Monkey procured a (agical pal(4leaf fan fro( . lea ing behind large a(ounts of cultural relics.. 9ussia.D (eters #@D@I feet& abo e sea le el" +n the story. ge(s. and ast grasslands" +ts unble(ished natural beauty and its aried and colorful (inority custo(s attract tourists fro( all o er the world" =ituated in northwest !hina and center of the . . -rab. na(ely. Hin6iang5s capital city.. equi alent of one4si'th of !hina5s territory" Hin6iang neighbors 0ansu . a place where ancient !hinese culture (et +ndian. fruits. Kyrgy:stan and Ta6ikistan in the northwest and -fghanistan.
beco(ing a large (etropolis.nterer #$$$ G!&. 3an 1ynasty.lot of ca es. culture.2. years" +n the @nd year of 8uanding #$$*G!&. it was also an i(portant place for trade and culture. and (ore about =ilk 9oad" http7LLwww"china"org"cnLe4groupsLshaoshuL a co(plete list of the (inority ethnic groups in !hina. Monk Huan Kang got back to !hang5an ia 1unhuang" He pfu !inks: • • http7LLwww"silk4road"co(LtocLinde'"ht(l studies. 3an 1ynasty. then !hina was unified in =ui 1ynasty and as a result the =ilk 9oad was ensured unblocked and the Guddhis( in 1unhuang entered a period of great prosperity" . (aps. (urals and sculptures which were (ade in Tang 1ynasty had reached to a ery high artistic le el" +n the $) th year of Khenguan #>?* -1&. which was built in the >th year of 8uanding of Wu . they had beco(e ery prosperous.. with (ore infor(ation and their traditional festi als" • .. population. painting. after getting Guddhist scriptures fro( the Western 9egions. un!uang" #esert an# $ogao grottoes 1esert is one of the (ost se ere areas that (onk Huan:ang and his disciples had to go across" -nd 1unhuang is a ery i(portant hub on the =ilk 9oad" 1unhuang has a long history" -s early as the <ew =tone -ge there had been hu(an beings li ing on this land" 1unhuang !ounty. language and religion infor(ation" http7LLwww"tra elchinaguide"co(LintroLnationalityL*>list"ht( another co(plete list of the (inority ethnic groups in !hina. folklores. Khang Jian isited the Western 9egions as an en oy for the second ti(e and op ened up the =ilk 9oad" =o 1unhuang enter its thri ing stage for the first ti(e and de eloped stop by step into the northwestern (ilitary and political center. (a6or area of distribution. tra els. articles. with photos. Gesides.. which connected the people of 3an <ationalities with the tribes in the Western !hina" +n %>> -1. owns a history of o er @. Monk 8ue =eng opened up the Mogao 0rottoes for the first ti(e" -nd in <orthern Wei.
• http7LLwww"aasianst"orgL.ro6ect.ieces. an international collaboration to digitali:e the precious (anuscripts and other arts" • • . -n -sse(blage of .ilgri( of the =e enth !entury. by 9obert Mc!oll #$)))&.--L(ccoll"ht( Cnderstanding the 0eographies of !hina. by +r(a Mar' http7LLidp"bl"ukL +nternational 1unhuang . an useful and infor(ational article about teaching the geographies of !hina" http7LLwww"silk4road"co(LartlLhsuantsang"sht(l Tra els of 3suan4Tsang 44 Guddhist .
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