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Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest cultures.[1][2]

The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large

geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between provinces, cities, and even

towns. Important components of Chinese culture include

literature, music, visual arts, martial arts, cuisine, etc.

Today there are 56 distinct recognized ethnic groups in China.[3] In terms of numbers however, Han Chinese is by far the largest group. Throughout history, many groups have merged into neighboring ethnicities or disappeared. At the same time, many within the Han identity have maintained distinct linguistic and regional cultural traditions. The term Zhonghua Minzu has been used to describe the notion of Chinese nationalism in general[citation needed]. Much of the traditional identity within the community has to do with distinguishing the family name.

Chinese cuisine is any of several styles originating from regions of China, some of which have become increasingly popular in other parts of the world from Asia to the Americas, Australia, Western Europe and Southern Africa. The history of Chinese cuisine stretches back for many centuries and produced changes from period to period and in each region according to regional climate, imperial fashions, and local preferences. Over time, techniques and ingredients from the cuisines of other cultures were also integrated into the cuisine of the Chinese peoples due both to imperial expansion and from the trade with nearby Asian nations states in ancient times as well as the Europeans during the modern period. This led to a variety of dishes and preparation in what

could be called traditional Chinese food, leading Chinese to pride themselves on eating a wide
range of foods..


Traditional Chinese Culture covers large geographical territories, where each region is usually divided into distinct sub-cultures. Each region is often represented by three ancestral items. For example Guangdong is represented by chenpi, aged ginger and hay.[4][5] Others include ancient cities like Lin'an (Hangzhou), which include tea leaf, bamboo shoot trunk and hickory nut.[6] Such distinctions give rise to the old Chinese proverb: ", /," (Sh l btng fng, bi l btng s), literally "the wind varies within ten li, customs vary within a hundred li."""

~Since the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors period, some form of Chinese monarch has been the main ruler above all. Different periods of history have different names for the various

positions within society. Conceptually each imperial or feudal period is similar, with the
government and military officials ranking high in the hierarchy, and the rest of the population under regular Chinese law. From the late Zhou Dynasty (1046256 BCE) onwards, traditional Chinese society was organized into a hierarchic system of socio-economic classes known as the four occupations.

~However, this system did not cover all social groups while the distinctions between all groups became blurred ever since the commercialization of

Chinese culture in the Song Dynasty (9601279 CE). Ancient Chinese

education also has a long history; ever since the Sui Dynasty (581618 CE) educated candidates prepared for the Imperial examinations which drafted exam graduates into government as scholar-bureaucrats. ~This led to the creation of a meritocracy, although success was available only to males who could afford test preparation. Imperial examinations required applicants to write essays and demonstrate mastery of the Confucian classics. Those who passed the highest level of the exam became elite scholar-officials known as jinshi, a highly esteemed socio-economic position.

Those who passed the highest level of the exam became elite scholar-officials known as jinshi, a highly.Trades and crafts were usually taught by a shifu. The female historian Ban Zhao wrote the Lessons for Women in the Han Dynasty

and outlined the four virtues women must abide to, while scholars such as
Zhu Xi and Cheng Yi would expand upon this. Chinese marriage and Taoist sexual practices are some of the rituals and customs found in society.


Values ~Most social values are derived from Confucianism and Taoism. The subject of which school was the most influential is always debated as many concepts such as Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism and many others have come about. Reincarnation and other rebirth concept is a reminder of the connection between real-life and the after-life. In Chinese business culture, the concept of guanxi, indicating the primacy of relations over rules, has been well documented.

~Confucianism was the official philosophy throughout most of Imperial China's history, and mastery of Confucian texts was the primary criterion for entry into the imperial bureaucracy. A number of more authoritarian strains

of thought have also been influential, such as Legalism.

~There was often conflict between the philosophies, e.g. the Song Dynasty Neo-Confucians believed Legalism departed from the original spirit

of Confucianism. Examinations and a culture of merit remain greatly valued

in China today. In recent years, a number of New Confucians (not to be confused with Neo-Confucianism) have advocated that democratic ideals and human rights are quite compatible with traditional Confucian "Asian values".

~With the rise of European economic and military power beginning in the mid-19th century, non-Chinese systems of social and political organization gained adherents in China. Some of these would-be reformers totally rejected

China's cultural legacy, while others sought to combine the strengths of

Chinese and European cultures. In essence, the history of 20th-century China is one of experimentation with new systems of social, political, and economic organization that would allow for the reintegration of the nation in the wake of dynastic collapse.

The ancient written standard was Classical Chinese. It was used for thousands of years, but was mostly reserved for scholars and intellectuals which forms the "top" class of the society called "shi da fu (". Calligraphy later became commercialized, and works by famous

artists became prized possessions. Chinese literature has a long past; the earliest classic work in
Chinese, the I Ching or "Book of Changes" dates to around 1000 BC. A flourishing of philosophy during the Warring States Period produced such noteworthy works as Confucius's Analects and Laozi's Tao Te Ching. (See also: the Chinese classics.) Dynastic histories were often written, beginning with Sima Qian's seminal Records of the Grand Historian, which was written from 109 BC to 91 BC.

Chinese philosophers, writers and poets were highly respected and played key roles in preserving and promoting the culture of the empire. Some classical scholars, however, were noted for their daring depictions of the lives

of the common people, often to the displeasure of authorities.

By the 20th century, millions of citizens, especially those outside of the "shi da fu" social class were still illiterate.[7] Only after the May 4th Movement did the push for written vernacular Chinese begin. This allowed common citizens to read since it was modeled after the linguistics and phonology of the standard spoken language. Nowadays there are many different dialects among different regions. These dialects are just like "local codes". People could not understand each other if they are not from related areas.



On the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, the moon is round and the Chinese people mark their Moon (or Mid-autumn) Festival.


Far and away the most important holiday in China is Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year


The 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar year is an important day for the Chinese people.

Chinese religion was originally oriented to worshipping the supreme god Shang Di during the Xia and Shang dynasties, with the king and diviners acting as priests and using oracle bones. The Zhou dynasty oriented it to worshipping the broader concept of heaven. A large part of Chinese culture is based on the notion that a spiritual world exists. Countless methods of divination have helped answer questions, even serving as an alternate to medicine. Folklores have helped fill the gap for things that cannot be explained. There is often a blurred line between myth, religion and unexplained phenomenon.

While many deities are part of the tradition, some of the most recognized holy figures include Guan Yin, Jade Emperor and Buddha. Many of the stories have since evolved into traditional Chinese holidays. Other concepts

have extended to outside of mythology into spiritual symbols such as Door

god and the Imperial guardian lions. Along with the belief of the holy, there is also the evil. Practices such as Taoist exorcism fighting mogwai and jiang shi with peachwood swords are just some of the concepts passed down from generations. A few Chinese fortune telling rituals are still in use today after thousands of years of refinement.


In Western countries, a Chinese school is a school established explicitly for the purpose of teaching the Chinese languages and dialects (Mandarin and Cantonese are the most commonly taught) to Americans with Chinese ancestry, Canadians with Chinese ancestry, Americans with Taiwanese ancestry, Canadians with Taiwanese ancestry, Australians with Chinese ancestry and Australians with Taiwanese ancestry. Typically, American, Canadian and Australian children attend Chinese school either

after school (that is, elementary or middle school) on weekday afternoons, or on

weekend mornings and afternoons.


Anglo Chinese School

Chinese literature began with record keeping and divination on Oracle Bones. The extensive collection of books that have been preserved since the Zhou Dynasty demonstrate just how advanced the intellectuals were at one time. Indeed, the era of the Zhou Dynasty is often looked to

as the touchstone of Chinese cultural development. The Five Cardinal Points are the foundation for
almost all major studies. Concepts covered within the Chinese classic texts present a wide range of subjects including poetry, astrology, astronomy, calendar, constellations and many others. Some of the most important early texts include I Ching and Shujing within the Four Books and Five Classics. Many Chinese concepts such as Yin and Yang, Qi, Four Pillars of Destiny in relation to heaven and earth were all theorized in the dynastic periods.


The Song Dynasty was also a period of great scientific literature, and saw the creation of works such as Su Song's Xin Yixiang Fayao and Shen Kuo's Dream Pool Essays. There were also enormous works of historiography and large

encyclopaedias, such as Sima Guang's Zizhi Tongjian of 1084 AD or the Four

Great Books of Song fully compiled and edited by the 11th century. Notable confucianists, taoists and scholars of all classes have made significant contributions to and from documenting history to authoring saintly concepts that seem hundred of years ahead of time. Many novels such as Four Great Classical Novels spawned countless fictional stories. By the end of the Qing Dynasty, Chinese culture would embark on a new era with written vernacular Chinese for the common citizens. Hu Shih and Lu Xun would be pioneers in modern literature.

The music of China dates back to the dawn of Chinese civilization with documents and artifacts providing evidence of a well-developed musical culture as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1122 BCE - 256 BCE). Some of the oldest written music dates back to Confucius's time. The

first major well-documented flowering of Chinese music was for the qin during the Tang
Dynasty, although the instrument is known to have played a major part before the Han Dynasty. There are many musical instruments that are integral to Chinese culture, such as the Xun (Ocarina-type instrument that is also integral in Native American cultures), Guzheng (zither with

movable bridges), guqin (bridgeless zither), sheng and xiao (vertical flute), the erhu (alto fiddle or
bowed lute), pipa (pear-shaped plucked lute), and many others.

Different forms of art have swayed under the influence of great philosophers, teachers, religious figures and even political figures. Chinese art encompasses all facets of fine art, folk art and performance art. Porcelain pottery was one of the first forms of art in the Palaeolithic period. Early

Chinese music and poetry was influenced by the Book of Songs, and the Chinese poet and
statesman Qu Yuan. Chinese painting became a highly appreciated art in court circles encompassing a wide variety of Shan shui with specialized styles such as Ming Dynasty painting. Early Chinese music was based on percussion instruments, which later gave away to stringed and reed instruments. By the Han dynasty papercutting became a new art form after the invention of paper. Chinese opera would also be introduced and branched regionally in additional to other performance formats such as variety arts.


China is one of the main birth places of Eastern martial arts. Chinese martial arts are collectively given the name Kung Fu ((gong) "achievement" or "merit", and (fu) "man", thus "human achievement") or (previously and in some modern contexts) Wushu ("martial arts" or

"military arts"). China also includes the home to the well-respected Shaolin Monastery and
Wudang Mountains. The first generation of art started more for the purpose of survival and warfare than art. Over time, some art forms have branched off, while others have retained a distinct Chinese flavor. Regardless, China has produced some of the most renowned martial artists including Wong Fei Hung and many others. The arts have also co-existed with a variety of weapons including the more standard 18 arms. Legendary and controversial moves like Dim Mak are also praised and talked about within the culture.

Lion dance {} ~Lion dance (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: wsh) is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture, in which performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume. The lion dance is often mistakenly referred to as dragon dance. An easy way to tell the difference is that a lion is operated by two people, while a dragon needs many people. Also, in a lion dance, the performers' faces are covered, since they are inside the lion. In a dragon dance, the performers can be seen since the dragon is held upon poles.


The traditional Chinese dress for men has come a long way. Even today you will find men to be sporting a refined version of the traditional Chinese gown for social events. Amongst the variety of dresses native to China is the Chang pao which was most popular amongst the men


The cheongsam is a body-hugging one-piece Chinese dress for women; the male version is the changshan. It is known in Mandarin Chinese as the qpo ( ]) Wade-Giles ch'i-p'ao, and is also known in English ; pronounced [t p as a mandarin gown. The stylish and often tight-fitting cheongsam or qipao (chipao) that is most often associated with today was created in the 1920s in Shanghai and was made fashionable by socialites and upperclass women.


Chinese architecture, examples for which can be found from over 2,000 years ago, has long been a hallmark of the culture. There are certain features common to Chinese architecture, regardless of specific region or use. The most important is its emphasis on width, as the wide halls of the Forbidden City serve as an example. In contrast, Western architecture emphasize on height, though there are

exceptions such as pagodas.

Another important feature is symmetry, which connotes a sense of grandeur as it applies to everything from palaces to farmhouses. One notable exception is in the design of gardens, which tends to be as asymmetrical as

possible. Like Chinese scroll paintings, the principle underlying the garden's
composition is to create enduring flow, to let the patron wander and enjoy the garden without prescription, as in nature herself. Feng shui has played an important part in structural development.

Forbidden City

The overwhelmingly large variety of Chinese cuisine comes mainly from the practice of dynastic period, when emperors would host banquets with 100 dishes per meal.[10] A countless number of imperial kitchen staff and concubines were involved in the food preparation process. Over time, many dishes became part of the everyday-citizen culture. Some of the highest quality restaurants with recipes close to the dynastic periods include Fangshan restaurant in Beihai Park Beijing and the Oriole Pavilion.[10] Arguably all branches of Hong Kong eastern style are in some ways rooted from the original dynastic cuisines.

A number of games and pastimes are popular within Chinese culture. The most common game is Mah Jong. The same pieces are used for other styled games such as Shanghai Solitaire. Others include pai gow, pai gow poker and other bone domino games. weiqi and xiangqi are also popular. Ethnic games like Chinese yo-yo are also part of the culture.

The most common game is Mah Jong

The Chinese Dragon, Guardian Lions and incense comprise three symbols within traditional Chinese culture.

No. 4 of Ten Thousand Scenes ( ). Painting by Ren Xiong, a pioneer of the Shanghai School of Chinese art circa 1850

A koi pond is a signature Chinese scenery depicted in countless art work.