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Customer Care > China Guide > Chinese Culture

Chinese Culture:

China is wonderous and awe-inspiring. It has a history of five thousand years. It is the only continuous ancient civilization. It is mysterious, even inscrutible. Chinese culture is rich and profound. It has the richest historical records. Chinese have been most historically-minded. Perhaps, China has more historical records than the whole world put together. This guess will not be far from truth. She has a great deal of historical records from the pre-Christian era.

The Chinese Dragon:

To Chinese, the Imperial Dragon (or Long), is considered to be the primary of four benevolent spiritual animals, the other three being the phoenix, the unicorn and the tortoise. IChinese Dragont is believed that the Celestial Chinese Dragon is comparable as the symbol of the Chinese race itself. Chinese around the world, proudly proclaim themselves "descendents of the dragon". Dragons are referred to as the divine mythical creature that brings with it ultimate abundance, prosperity and good fortune.  

The Chinese Dragon is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious, symbolizing power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. Having such unrivaled characteristics, the dragon symbolized the Emperors of China themselves, who were actually called dragons. China's first emperor was said to have a dragon's tail. Shen Nung, his successor was supposed to have been fathered by a dragon. The Chinese Emperor sat on a dragon throne, rode in a dragon boat and slept in a dragon bed. To distinguish the Chinese Imperial Dragon from all other dragons, only the Imperial Dragon bore five claws.

Unlike the negative energies associated with Western Dragons, most Chinese Dragons are beautiful, friendly, and wise. They are the angels of the Orient. Instead of being hated, they are loved and worshipped. Temples and shrines have been built to honor them, for they control the rain, rivers, lakes, and seas. Many Chinese cities have pagodas where people used to burn incense and pray to dragons.  

Everything connected with Chinese Dragons is blessed. According to the Chinese calendar, the dragon is the animal for those who were born in the year 2000 and every 12 years before or afterwards. The year you are born is believed to influence your personality. Thus, for the dragons, they are softhearted, healthy, respected, energetic, and eccentric. 

The Nine Entities (parts) of A Chinese Dragon

As imagined by the Chinese, the Chinese dragon has a serpentine body, four legs, and is usually without wings. It is said to be composed of various other animals on the Earth-the body of a snake, the antlers of a deer, the talons of an eagle, the soles of a tiger, the scales of a carp, and the eyes of a demon. It is believed that Chinese dragons have 117 scales.

 

There are two different views about the origin of dragons:

Origin One

The origin of the Chinese dragon is not certain, but some scholars believe that it originated from totems of different tribes in China. Some have claimed that it comes from a stylized Chinese dragondepiction of existing animals, such as snakes, fish, or crocodiles. For instance, the Banpo site of the Yangshao culture in Shaanxi featured an elongated, snake-like fish motif. However, the theory of snakes or fish as the origin of the Chinese dragon is not widely accepted.

He Xin suggested that the early dragon depicted a species of crocodile. Specifically, Crocodylus porous is the largest living reptile. The crocodile is known to be able to accurately sense changes in air pressure, and be able to sense coming rain. This may have been the origin of the dragon's mythical attributes in controlling the weather, especially the rain. The association with the crocodile is also supported by the view in ancient times that large crocodiles are a variety of dragon. For instance, in the Story of Zhou Chu, which talks about the life of a Jin Dynasty warrior, he is said to have killed a "dragon" that infested the waters of his home village, which appears to have been a crocodile.

Others have proposed that its shape merged from totems of various tribes as the result of the merger of tribes. The coiled snake or dragon form played an important role in early Chinese culture. Legendary figures like Nüwa and Fuxi are depicted as having snake bodies. Some scholars have noted that a myth arose that the first legendary Emperor of China Huang Di (Yellow Emperor) used a snake for his coat of arms. According to the myth, every time he conquered another tribe, he incorporated his defeated enemy's emblem into his own, which may explain why the dragon appears to have features of various animals.

 

Origin Two

There is another belief that the Long is based on the Indian Naga.

The Nagas were dragon like beings, semi-divine snakes with human faces and serpents' tails who occupied palaces (Patala), in the watery region under the earth. They are divided into four classes: heavenly, divine, earthly, and hidden, depending upon their function in guarding the heavenly palace, giving rainfall, damming rivers, or guarding treasures. In Burma, the Nagas combine elements of the dragon, snake, and crocodile, and give rubies to those they favor; in addition, they guarded and protected royalty. Chinese Dragon Kites were even known to be used in warfare.

 

Types of Dragons

It is known that there are nine major types of Chinese dragons. They are as follows:

1. Tianlong, the Celestial Dragons are the celestial dragons who pull the chariots of the gods and guard their palaces. 

2. Shenlong, the Spiritual Dragons, control the wind and the rain. 

3. Fucanglong, the Dragons of Hidden Treasures, are underworld dragons which guard buried treasures, both natural and man-made. Volcanoes are said to be created when they burst out of the ground to report to heaven. Chinese dragon

4. Dilong, the Underground Dragons, are earth dragons whose task it is to preside over rivers and streams. According to some accounts, they are the female counterpart of the Shenlong and they fly only in order to mate.

5. Yinglong, the Winged Dragons, are the oldest of all eastern dragons and the only kind with wings.

6. Qiulong, the Horned Dragons, are considered to be the mightiest dragons.

7. Panlong, the Coiling Dragons, are water dragons believed to mostly inhabit the lakes of the Orient.

8. Huanglong, the Yellow Dragons, once emerged from the River Luo and presented the legendary Emperor Fu Hsi with the elements of writing. They are known for their scholarly knowledge.

9. Lóng Wáng, the Dragon Kings, which actually consists of four separate dragons, each of which rules over one of the four seas, those of the east, south, west, and north.

 

The 4 Dragons: A Chinese Tale

Once upon a time, there were no rivers and lakes on earth, but only the Eastern Sea, in which lived four dragons: the Long Dragon, the Yellow Dragon, the Black Dragon and the Pearl Dragon.

One day the four dragons flew from the sea into the sky. They soared and dived, playing at hide-and-seek in the clouds.

"Come over here quickly!" the Pearl Dragon cried out suddenly. 

"What's up?" asked the other three, looking down in the direction where the Pearl Dragon pointed. On the earth they saw many people putting out fruits and cakes, and burning incense sticks. They were praying! A white-haired woman, kneeling on the ground with a thin boy on her back, murmured: "Please send rain quickly, God of Heaven, to give our children rice to eat.."
for there
had been no rain for a long time. The crops withered, the grass turned yellow and fields cracked under the scorching sun. Chinese Tale

"How poor the people are!" said the Yellow Dragon. "And they will die if it doesn't rain soon."

The Long Dragon nodded. Then he suggested, "Let's go and beg the Jade Emperor for rain."

So saying, he leapt into the clouds. The others followed closely and flew towards the Heavenly Palace.

Being in charge of all the affairs in heaven, on earth and in the sea, the Jade Emperor was very powerful. He was not pleased to see the dragons rushing in. "Why do you come here instead of staying in the sea and behaving yourselves?"

The Long Dragon stepped forward and said, "The crops on earth are withering and dying, Your Majesty. I beg you to send rain down quickly!"

"All right. You go back first, I'll send some rain down tomorrow." The Jade Emperor pretended to agree while listening to the songs of the fairies.

"Thanks, Your Majesty!" The four dragons went happily back.

But ten days passed, and not a drop of rain came down.

The people suffered more, some eating bark, some grass roots, some forced to eat white clay when they ran out of bark and grass roots.

Seeing all this, the four dragons felt very sorry, for they knew the Jade Emperor only cared about pleasure, and never took the people to heart. They could only rely on themselves to relieve the people of their miseries. But how to do it?

Seeing the vast sea, the Long Dragon said that he had an idea.

"What is it? Out with it, quickly!" the other three demanded.

"Look, is there not plenty of water in the sea where we live? We should scoop it up and spray it towards the sky. The water will be like rain drops and come down to save the people and their crops."

"Good idea!" The others clapped their hands. 

"But," said the Long Dragon after thinking a bit, "We will be blamed if the Jade Emperor learns of this.
"I will do anything to save the people," the Yellow Dragon said resolutely.
"Let's begin. We will never regret it." The Black Dragon and the Pearl Dragon were not to be outdone. 

They flew to the sea, scooped up water in their mouths, and then flew back into the sky, where they sprayed the water out over the earth. The four dragons flew back and forth, making the sky dark all around. Before long, the seawater became rain pouring Chinese Tale down from the sky.
"It's raining! It's raining!" "The crops will be saved!"

The people cried and leaped with joy. On the ground, the wheat stalks raised their heads and the sorghum stalks straightened up.

The god of the sea discovered these events and reported to the Jade Emperor.

"How dare the four dragons bring rain without my permission!" The Jade Emperor was enraged, and ordered the heavenly generals and their troops to arrest the four dragons. Being far outnumbered, the four dragons could not defend themselves, and they were soon arrested and brought back to the heavenly palace.

"Go and get four mountains to lay upon them so that they can never escape!" The Jade Emperor ordered the Mountain God.

The Mountain God used his magic power to make four mountains fly there, whistling in the wind from afar, and pressed them down upon the four dragons.

Imprisoned as they were, they never regretted their actions. Determined to do good for the people forever, they turned themselves into four rivers, which flowed past high mountains and deep valleys, crossing the land from the west to the east and finally emptying into the sea. And so China's four great rivers were formed -- the Heilongjian (Black Dragon) in the far north, the Huanghe (Yellow River) in central China, the Changjiang (Yangtze, or Long River) farther south, and the Zhujiang (Pearl) in the very far south.

Symbols of Rain and Water

The Chinese dragon is as a symbol of auspicious power in Chinese folklore and art, it is the embodiment of the concept of yang [male] and associated with the weather and water as the bringer of rain.

Chinese dragons are believed to be the rulers of moving bodies of water, such as waterfalls, rivers, or seas. They can show themselves as water spouts (tornado DragonKingor twister over water). There are four major dragons, one representing each sea,for instance the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea, Dragon King of the Western Sea, and so forth.

Because of this association, they are seen as "in charge" of water-related weather phenomenon. In pre-modern times, many Chinese villages (especially those living close to rivers) had temples dedicated to their local "dragon king." In times of drought or flooding, it was customary for the local gentry and government officials to lead the community in offering sacrifices and conducting other religious rites to appease the dragon, either to ask for rain or a cessation thereof.

Tianjin Cuisine:

Tianjin cuisine is derived from the native cooking styles of the Tianjin region in China, Shiba Jie Mahua
and it is heavily influenced by Beijing cuisine. The city is famous for preparing a wide variety of snacks both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Goubuli Baozi (steamed stuffed bun) is one of the oldest snacks served in the city. The snack has grown so much in popularity that now it is found in almost all the eating out places in other parts of China. Shiba Jie Mahua (fried dough twist) is a sweet smelling and crispy snack that can also be stored for few months. Another traditional featured Tianjin snack is the fried cake. The snack has a distinct flavor with crispy outer surface and inside having soft thin bean feeling that is sweet in taste.


Another characteristic of Tianjin cuisine is its utilization of Tianjin preserved vegetables, which is similar to the salt pickled vegetable, or yancai of Guizhou cuisine, but the former takes much longer to prepare than the latter, usually half a year. Another clear distinction between the two is that instead of having two separate steps of salt pickling and then fermentation, the salt pickling and fermentation is combined in a single step that takes a much longer time: Chinese cabbage is mixed with salt and garlic together and then fermented, which creates the unique garlic flavor and golden color. In order to preserve the unique taste, Tianjin preserved vegetable is often used for soups, fishes, and stir fried and directly eaten.

Caoji Donkey Meat
Caoji donkey meat, acquired fame because the founder was named Cao, and has around more than a 200-year history. Caoji donkey meat, selects fresh high quality donkey meat, and is matched by the many kinds of spices, added to the pot on a slow fire to boil for seven to eight hours. Caoji donkey meat, which richly contains the protein and has a crisp taste, is easy to chew and has a tasty flavor. It is renowned near and far.
 

 The "Goubuli" Steamed Stuffed BunGoubuli Baozi
The Steamed Stuffed Buns or Goubuli Baozi, an old all time favorite snack of Tianjin, is a steamed bun with a twist on top. With a history spanning over 150 years Goubuli Baozi is not only sold at the restaurants of Tianjin, but has even swarmed into countries like Korea, Japan and America.

 

The Palace Snack -"the Fruit Kernel Opens"
“The fruit kernel opens” takes the shelled peanut, the cashew kernel, the walnut kernel, the melon seeds and nuts, the almond, the loose seed kernel and the many kinds of legumes as its main ingredients. With various spices and other fragrances added, it has a robust appearance and flavor.

Chinese Wine:

A Brief Introduction about the Development of Chinese Wine

Chinese wine, as a special form of culture, has a history of more than five thousand years and has developed a unique style. Wine has a close connection with Chinese culture both in ancient and modern times. According to the book “The Spring and Autumn in the Cup” by Lin Chao, wine drinking is something of learning rather than eating and drinking.  

Wine permeates into every field of life: law, philosophy, ethics, morality and social customs. Wine became a part of political life due to the fact that most emperors and ministers in ancient China were fond of wine, playing an important role of moderation and destruction. The story, how Emperor Taizu of Song deprived a military commander of his command by serving him wine, is just one case.

The functions of wine were divided into three main categories by the Chinese people - to cure diseases, for longevity and for the practice of etiquette. For several thousand years, however, the functions also include drinking wine drinking wine to bring joy, to forget worries and to boost one's courage. Wine can be harmful to people’s health if they drink too much. To put it simply, wine is a sign of social civilization with rich connotations.
 

Alcohol Classification

White Liquor

Chinese white liquor is the traditional distilled alcohol.Maotai Liquor Its brewing history can be traced back to the Yuan Dynasty. White liquor is made from various ingredients rich in starch like grains and potatoes through complex fermentation and distillation.Chinese white liquor often contains over 40% alcohol.  Chinese liquor, characterized by clear fluid, pure content, lingering aroma and strong pungent flavor, is widely produced around the country. Among them, white liquor in these three regions is quite famous - Shanxi, Sichuan and Guizhou. The most well-known Chinese white liquor includes the Maotai Liquor, Five Grain Liquor, Xifeng Liquor and Shuanggou Liquor.

 

Yellow Liquor

Yellow liquor derives its name from the yellow or brown color of the fluid, which is brewed from grain like sticky rice. Its process of braising, fermentation and compression is complex. The most distinct feature of yellow liquor is that its taste is influenced by the aging process. Generally, the longer the aging process, the better the flavor. Yellow liquor contains a high content of amino acids, sugar and vitamins, and it is nutritious. It is light with about 15% -18% alcohol. The lower region of Yangtze River is the most famous area producing yellow liquor.

 

Rice Wine

Rice Wine, made from rice, is a fermented beverage. Generally, it is clear and somewhat sweet, with alcohol content ranging between 12% and 20%.Rice wine is usually drunk warm and also used in cooking. It is produced in both mainland China and Taiwan.

 

Beer

Among the liquor family, beer is the most popular of all, with the largest number of consumers.Qingdao Beer Beer has the lowest alcohol content of about 2.5% - 7.5% when compared with other alcoholic beverages. At present, the annual output of beer ranks second in the entire world. Qingdao Beer is the most famous brand in China, which is produced in the city of Qingdao, where an annual beer festival is held offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy its fragrant taste.

 

Drinking Rites

New Year Wine of the Korean Nationality

This type of wine is the most famous for the Korean New Year Festival “Rosh Hashanah”. The main ingredient of the New Year Wine is rice, while the supplementary ingredients are several Chinese traditional medicinal materials such as root of balloon flower, parsnip, mountain pepper and cassia bark. It is known to have the effects of expelling the evil and prolong life span and used for self-drinking and entertaining guests during the Spring Festival.

 

New Grain Wine of the Hani Nationality

The New Grain Alcohol is a kind of home-made wine. Every year,prior to the autumn harvest, the Hani nationality, who lives in Yuanjiang in Yunnan Province, holds a sumptuous ceremony according to customs of drinking new grain wine to celebrate the joyous harvest of bumper grain and the safety of people and livestock.

 

Chinese Drinking Vessels

Bronze drinking vessels

During the Western Zhou dynasty, drinking vessels reached their historical peak, driven by the bronze boom. Various shape of drinking vessels appeared in the Western Zhou Dynasty, with various functions according to the occasion and the user. The design and the shape of the vessel usually symbolized the social status. Vessels with the design of tigers and dragons were often used by people with higher status.

 

Lacquer vessels

After the fall of the Western Zhou Dynasty, lacquer quickly replaced bronze and became the main material to make drinking vessels. Both the use and appearance of the wine-storing vessels and the drinking vessels were different. The most well-known drinking vessels were those ear-shaped lacquer cups.

 

Clay Vessels

The quality of the clay is superior to lacquer, thus, clay was chosen to make drinking vessels later. The on-table vessel was necessary and possible due to the appearance of tables for dining. A kind of stoup-like vessel with beak and handle became the main wine container at that time. Other materials sometimes used to make wine containers include gold, silver, ivory and jade.

Ancient Education in China:

Private Schools Thriving in the Spring and Autumn Period

In the Spring and Autumn Period(770 B.C. – 476 B.C.), private schools prevailed.Confusius At that time, many scholars of different schools of thought spread their teaching in this way. Confucius, the great educator, devoted all his life to the private school system and instructed most students. Confucianism was established at that time. Besides that, other schools such as Taoism also taught widely and this led afterwards to 'a hundred schools of thought' in the Warring States Period.

 

Recommendation through Observation in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.)

In 136 B.C. during the reign of Emperor Wudi (156 B.C. - 87 B.C.),the government introduced a system which was named 'taixue', under which students were required to study the classical Confucian books and take examinations. Those with good marks would directly be given official titles. In the Han Dynasty, the most prevalent method was merely through observation, without any system for testing a person’s ability. The Officials would see who was intelligent and recommend individuals to their superior, which obviously restricted the source of talented people, leading to nepotism and corruption.

 

The Nine Grades of Rank in the Regime System in the Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties

The Nine Grades of Rank in the Regime System (or Jiupin Zhongzheng system), employed the following method: in each state and county there was an official acting as 'Zhongzheng' with authority to decide how people were ranked in the local precincts according to ability. Although it had no relationship originally with family background, the 'Zhongzheng' was himself invariably a member of the upper class. Thus the disadvantages gradually became apparent and the system was abolished before long.

 

Imperial Examinations as the Main Form of Education

Keju (the system of the Imperial Examinations), which began to be put into practice in the Sui Dynasty and lasted for more than 1,300 years, became the method by which talented people were recognized and selected for future positions. The imperial examinations comprised two parts namely an arts exam and the wushu exam. The arts examination included composition, study of books, laws, calligraphy, paintings and so on, while the wushu examination was used for selecting military officials but was not subject to the same degree of importance as the arts examination. Under this system, children from poor families had opportunities to attend the examination and bring honor to their families. Despite the significant effect of promoting Confucian culture and education, it also influenced education systems in many other countries like Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, and similarities can be found in the personnel selection methods employed in France, America and Britain. Today's education system is surely its successor.

 

Radiation in the Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty adopted the personnel selection system and gradually refined it. The main subjects of the examinations were writing and study of classical books, Empress Wu Zetianwhich were the most popular, as well as mathematics, law, calligraphy, etc. Most prime ministers during that feudal period were titled 'jinshi', and were good at writing. Candidates who passed the highest imperial examination held by the Board of Rites would have a promising future as court officials. The most successful scholar was then granted the title of 'zhuang yuan', the second 'bang yan', and the third 'tan hua'. When the results were declared, there would be much celebrating among these joyous people. During the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, she asked questions of candidates herself in the imperial hall. This was the initialization of the interview. She also created the form of Wushu examination in subjects such as the use of firearms.

 

Innovation in the Education System

In the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279) subjects raised by the government had been much fewer than that in the Tang Dynasty, but the examination for 'jin shi' was still fashionable. Meanwhile, regardless of form and content, the system underwent great innovation. Firstly, the extension of matriculation was broadened. Secondly, the frequency of exams was limited to a fixed 'once every three years'. Thirdly, so far as content was concerned, while the earlier examinations laid much stress on the ancient classical texts, the great reformer Wang Anshi (1021 - 1086) advocated an innovation which was much more practical. Finally, to prevent the practice of favoritism, examinees' names were closely covered on their papers, which were then exchanged among different local examiners. In the Song Dynasty, few governmental schools were erected, but it was the vogue for scholars to set up numerous private educational organizations - 'shu yuan' which were to cultivate talented people, to encourage a devotion to learning, as well as to spread culture. Scholars were invited to give lectures and students were provided with dormitories, desks and food while studying on their own. Subsequently, most of these institutes became places where students prepared for exams.

 

Full-Bloom in the Ming Dynasty

With the coming of the Ming Dynasty, the imperial examination system reached its period of full bloom. The provincial and metropolitan examiners tested only 'eight-legged' essays. They were required to write in a fixed style with a fixed word count - it had to be eight paragraphs, while imitating the tone of the classics. Eventually, it was realized that this method was harmful as it stifled both creativity and imagination. Once these bookworms had passed their exams, they could go further to take the simpler test set by the emperor. There were no failures during the Ming Dynasty, but each candidate's placing on the pass list was decided personally by the emperor.

 

Declination in the Qing Dynasty

As the tight hold on affairs held by the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) became more and more unpopular, the education system also needed fresh ideas and input as it was a disservice to the country. A trend appeared towards the way in which the positions of court officials could be purchased and this sometimes even gave rise to unlawful pass to the degraded system.

Chongyang Festival:

In China, the number 9 is regarded as a yang number, as opposed to 6, which is a yin number.Chrysanthemum So, on the ninth day of the ninth month (Chinese lunar calendar) every year since ancient times, the Chongyang festival has been celebrated. Chongyang is principally an outdoor festival, and people's activities on that day ainclude walking, hill climbing, eating chongyang cakes, appreciating chrysanthemum blooms and drinking chrysanthemum wine and wearing cornels.


Climbing Hills

People started to climb hills in honor of the Chonyang festival in ancient times and the practice continues strongly today. There are no rules on how high people should climb; just reaching some altitude is enough. For example, many people climb hills or high pagodas on this special day.

Eating Chongyang CakesChongyang cakes

Another custom that has been preserved since ancient times is the eating of Chongyang cakes, which are also known as flower cakes, chrysanthemum cakes, five-color cakes and some other names. Nowadays, all of the soft cakes eaten in honor of the Chongyang Festival are all called Chongyang cakes.

Appreciating Chrysanthemums and Drinking Chrysanthemum Wine

It is said that Tao Yuanming, a very famous poet in the Jin Dynasty loved looking at chrysanthemums and drinking chrysanthemum wine very much. Poets and high-level officers who were influenced by Tao Yuanming’s beautiful poetry accompanied Chongyang feasts by appreciating chrysanthemums and drinking chrysanthemum wine since they felt it brought them closer to the great man. This lead to the popularization of the tradition and so it as has been passed down the generations ever since.

Middle Autumn Festival:

According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the 15th of the eighth month /Chang'e flying to the moonis the date for the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. The reason for celebrating the festival during that time is that it is the time when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. Almost every traditional Chinese festival has a connection with legends. The best known stories of the Mid-Autumn Festival are Chang'e flying to the moon, Jade Rabbit making heavenly medicine, and Wu Gang chopping the cherry bay. Those stories have been passed down from generation to generation alongside the celebrations of the festival itself. Today for young children, listening to the stories is still an important part of their way to celebrate the Moon Festival.

 

Gazing at the Moon

Gazing at the Moon is an ancient tradition from the Zhou Dynasty (around 500 BC) when people held ceremonies to welcome the full moon, with huge outdoor feasts of moon cakes, watermelons, apricots, apples, grapes and other fresh fruits. The popularity of this ancient tradition began to grow during the Tang and Song Dynasties when people of high rank held banquets in their big courtyards. They drank fine wine, watched the moon and listened to music. Common people who could not afford as big parties as the rich would lay some food such as moon cakes and fruits on a table in the courtyard and pray to the moon for a good harvest. This underwent a great rise during the Song Dynasty, and historical documents tell about mid-autumn night in the capital, where people would stream to the night markets and together with their families admire the beauty of the full moon. There are also many classic songs and well-known verses about this tradition.

 

Eating Moon Cakes

Moon CakeEating moon cakes while gazing at the full moon is a central part of the mid-autumn festival throughout China, and it is a symbol of family unity. At the very beginning, the moon cakes were served as a sacrifice to the Moon. The words "moon cake" first appeared in the Southern Song Dynasty, even though, at that time, the moon cakes were not round. Nowadays, moon cakes are given as presents to loved ones and they represent people’s wishes to be together during the mid-autumn festival.

Chinese Festivals:

Traditional Chinese festivals are colorful and rich in content, most of which are based on the Chinese lunar calendar.
 
Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year)
For Chinese people, the Spring Festival is the most important occasion. No matter how far they are away from home, Chinese people are eager to go home and get together with their families for this special festival. The Spring Festival begins on the first day of the first lunar month and lasts for 15 days.
 
Legends of the Spring FestivalNian
The Spring Festival is also called Guo Nian in Chinese. Guo in Chinese means "pass over", and the Nian in Chinese refers to a mythical beast which will bring bad luck.According to an ancient Chinese legend, a big horned monster called Nian, who lived at the bottom of the sea all year, would come out on the eve of the Spring Festival. Prior to the appearance of Nian, all the people would flee from their home to remote mountains to escape the danger, since Nian would devour livestock, crops and even villagers, especially children.
 
One Spring Festival Eve, as the villagers of Taohua (Peach Blooms) Village were preparing to flee, an old beggar came here with a stick and a bag in his hands. However, no one in the village had time to care about the beggar except for an old woman who gave him something to eat and suggested that he flee to the remote mountains to escape the dangerous Nian. But the old beggar refused to do so, and he said with a smile “If you let me stay in your house for one night, I will do you a favor and get rid of Nian.” The old woman doubted what he said, and tried to convince the old beggar to escape the danger, but he only smiled without reply. Under such circumstances, she fled to the mountain leaving the old beggar in her house.
 
As midnight fell, the monster Nian rushed into the village, and found something different. The old woman’s house was well illuminated, and her door was decorated with red paper. Seeing these, the monster Nian quivered all over and howled fiercely to throw himself at the house. As he approached the door, Nian heard fireworks exploding. At that moment, the door was opened and the old beggar in red came out, bursting into laughter. Nian turned pale with fright and escaped with great haste.
 
Next day, the villagers came back and were astonished to find that everything was in good condition. Suddenly, the old woman recalled what the old beggar had said and told the other villagers.
Then the villagers rushed to the old woman’s house and found the door was decorated with red paper, fireworks in the yard were still exploding and all candles were alight. At that moment, they realized that the monster Nian was afraid of the color red, the sound of fireworks exploding and the light from the candles. Wild with joy, the villagers celebrated the coming of the New Year and the good fortune it brought. From then on, each Spring Festival Eve, every family would glues red paper beside their doors with couplets written on them, and stays up late or all night (Shousui) to wait for the New Year's coming, lighting lanterns and exploding fireworks.
 
Spring Festival Celebrations
Chinese people may celebrate the Spring Festival in slightly different ways with almost the same wishes, that is, they wish their family members and friends to be healthy and lucky during the coming year. The celebratory activities include Chinese New Year Feast, firecrackers, giving lucky money to children, ringing the New Year bells and Chinese New Year Greetings.
 
House Cleaning
It is a very old custom to clean houses in the days before the Spring Festival, which can be traced back to thousands of years ago. According to the customs, the dust is associated with “old”, thus, cleaning houses means bidding farewell to the “old” and ushering in the “new”. Days before the Spring Festival, Chinese families clean their houses, sweeping the floor, washing daily household items and cleaning away the spider webs, in the hope of a good coming year.
 
House Decoration 
It is one of the house decorations to post couplets on the doors, on which good wishes are expressed. Spring Festival couplets are usually posted in pairs for the consideration of the connotation of even numbers, which are associated with good luck and auspiciousness in Chinese culture. XI
 
In northern China, people are used to posting paper-cut on windows, meantime, they post on the door a red "(Xi)" which means good luck and fortune. Thus it is customary to post "(Xi)" on doors or walls on auspicious occasions like wedding ceremonies.
 
New Year Feast
Spring Festival offers a chance for family reunion. The New Year’s feast, with all the family members getting together, is a “must” banquet. The food for the banquet varies according to regions. In south China, it is customary to eat “niangao” (New Year cake which is made of glutinous rice flour) means “higher and higher every year” .In north China, “jiaozi”(dumplings)is a traditional dish for the feast.
 
Shousui—Staying Up Late
Shousui means to stay up late or all night on New Year's Eve. After the New Year Feast, families sit together and chat happily to wait for the New Year’s arrival.
 
Setting Firecrackers
Lighting Firecrackers used to be one of the most important customs in the Spring Festival celebration. However, the government has banned this practice in many major cities due to the danger and the deafening noise from lighting firecrackers. In small towns and rural areas, people still hold to this custom. Right as the clock strikes 12 o’clock at the midnight on New Year’s Eve, cities and towns are lit up by the glitter from fire, with deafening sound. Families stay up for this joyful moment.
 
Bainian: New Year Greeting
On the first day of the New Year or shortly thereafter, everyone wearing new clothes greets relatives and friends with Gongxi (congratulations), wishing each other good luck and happiness during the New Year.
On the first day of the Spring Festival, it is customary for the younger generations to visit the elders and wish them good health and longevity.
 Lucky Money
Lucky Money
Lucky money refers to the money given to children from parents, grandparents, or others as New Year gift. It is believed to bring good luck and ward off monsters. Money is put into red envelopes since Chinese people consider red a lucky color.
 
Spring Festival Taboos
Typical Spring Festival taboos are the following: A married daughter is not allowed to pay a visit to her parents’ house on the first day of the Spring Festival for a visit from a married daughter on this day is believed to bring bad luck to the parents, leading to economic hardship for the family. Sweeping on this day is associated with sweeping wealth away.
 
During the New Year Festival season (from the 1st to 15th day of the Lunar New Year) the following taboos are apply: Crying is believed to bring bad luck to the family. Breaking tools or other equipment during this period is associated with a loss of wealth for the year ahead. A visit to the hospital in this period is believed to bring illness for the coming year. Thus visits to the hospital in this period are avoided except for extreme emergency.
 
Spring Festival Greetings
Happy New Year!
Wishing you a prosperous New Year!
May you always get more than you wish for!
Peace all year round!
Good luck in the New Year!
Wishing you health and longevity!
May fortune smile upon and favor you with many blessings in the coming year!
 
Traveling during the Spring Festival
Traveling in China during the Spring Festival time has both advantages and disadvantages.
 
The main advantages are: 
1. There will be fewer people at tourist attractions since most of the Chinese will be at home with their families.
2. It is a great chance to observe the local customs.
3. It enables you to see authentic celebrations such as fireworks, Dragon Dancing, Lion Dancing, NiuYangge(traditional dance in northern China)and other interesting celebrations.
 
Disadvantages
1. Public transportation is quite crowded.
2. Northern China is extremely cold, and most of China is cold.
 
Some tips on traveling China during Spring Festival 
1. Try to avoid trains and buses, but use private car or bus as means of transportation in cities.
2. Bring warm clothes.
3. Make flight and hotel reservation in advance.
 
Lantern Festival
According to the Chinese calendar, the night of January 15 witnesses the first full moon of the New Year and marks the end of the Spring Festival.
 
LanternIn the years of Yongle (58—75 A.D) in the Han Dynasty, the Ming Emperor strongly supported Buddhism, which was a newly emerging religion in China at that time. The emperor sent Cai Yin ( famous Buddhist monk) on a pilgrimage to India to locate Buddhist scriptures. The emperor ordered to build a temple to house the scripts after he did so successfully. Buddhists believe that the aura of Buddha can dispel darkness, thus to symbolize this, the Ming Emperor ordered his people to light lanterns in the court and temples on 15th of January according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Chinese people have lit lanterns on January 15 ever since to celebrate the Lantern Festival.
 
Customs of the Lantern Festival
1. Eating Yuan XiaoYuan Xiao
Yuan Xiao is a dish consisting of stuffed dumplings of glutinous rice flour stuffed with all sorts of things like sesame seeds, bean paste, sugar, walnut kernels or jujube powder. Literally, “Yuan Xiao” is Chinese for Lantern Festival. In some parts of China, it also called Tang Yuan. Enjoying Yuan Xiao with family during the lantern festival is an important tradition that symbolizes unity and happiness within the family.
 
2. Lantern riddles
Since the Tang Dynasty, Guessing lantern riddles has become a popular addition to the Lantern Festival. The game is to write riddles and have other people to guess them, which is a popular part of the Lantern Festival and provides great exercise for the brain.

 

Western Festivals in China:

Christmas Day in ChinaChristmas

Although it is not a public holiday in China, Christmas Day enjoys great popularity in China. Especially in urban areas, Christmas trees, lights, and other decorations permeate on the streets and in department stores. Children hang up muslin stockings in the hope of Christmas gifts delivered by Dun Che Lao Ren, the Chinese Santa Claus. Attendance at Christmas Eve Mass has also become popular in recent years.

 

In China, though the commercial aspect of the holiday is spreading, it is mainly Christians who celebrate Christmas, and only a small part of the Chinese population is Christian since Christianity is not an officially sanctioned religion in China.

 

Preparation

1. Set up Christmas tree, usually an artificial tree, and decorate it with paper chains, paper flowers and paper lanterns.

2. Help children hang muslin stockings for Christmas gifts from Santa Claus.

3. Participate in local festivals (like Hong Kong’s Ta Chiu Festival), which may or may not be directly associated with Christmas.

4. Go to church. Midnight Mass is popular with the small Catholic population.  

 

Valentine’s Day in ChinaValentine's Day

Chinese convey their extraordinary romance and tender love to their lovers in a unique way on Valentine’s Day, a traditional western festival. On that day, thousands of pairs of lovers send gifts (such as flowers and chocolate) to each other, symbolizing love, even their marriage.

 

Valentine’s Day is also a golden business opportunity for commercial businesses that are iattempting to create romance. Delicately packed boxes of chocolate in supermarkets and department stores, red, yellow and white roses in follower shops, lovers walking along the street with roses in hands, all these add more romance and sweetness.

 

Varied opinions towards Valentine's Day

A pair of college students in love said the festival gave them a chance to express love. However, it would not be as exciting for the older people as they do not know what Valentine’s Day is and the festival is for the young in their view.

 

Most people consider, it an occasion to express love. Valentine’s Day has become increasingly celebrated in China as globalization has become increasingly intense. "Such a romantic festival may improve the exchanges of feelings among lovers.” said a translator from China, “Our love is still young though we are in middle age.” said a lady in her 40s, who chose a tie and a bundle of roses for her husband.

Qingming Festival:

The Qingming Festival, a very old festival, usually comes on between Aperil 4 and 6 of according to the lunar calendar. Qingming is a good time to be outdoors as plants are returning to life after the severe winter.The Qingming Festival has many colorful and interesting customs, of which the most important one is“Saomu” (meaning "sweeping tombs"). Other customs includes taqing (a spring trip away from home), tree planting, and kite flying.

 

Saomu

Saomu, which means commemorating the dead at their graves,zhiqian is most commonly practiced among the Han nationality, as well as some other ethnic groups in China.According to custom, people should take wine, food, fruits and “zhiqian” (paper made to resemble money for the dead) to the graves. The food, fruits and wine should be placed before the grave and zhiqian should be burned at the grave as an offering to the dead. People also add some fresh soil and cover the grave with tender tree branches.

 

Taqing

Taqing means “Spring Trip”. As nature comes to life at this time of year, taking trips away from home is a very pleasant and popular activity.

Tree Planting

Since ancient times, people have planted trees during the Qingming Festival to mark the start of spring. In 1979, tMarch 12 was designated as Tree Planting Day in China.

Kite Flying

People like flying kites in spring, whether in the daytime or at night. Sometimes, small lanterns are tied onto the kite string, or to the kite itself. The lanterns light up the night sky and look very romantic.

Festival Features:

Traditional Chinese festivals are colorful and rich in content, which are of great importance in Chinese culture. Most of the traditional festivals in China are based on the Chinese lunar calendar. 

There are also three key national holiday periods in China--Chinese New Year in February; International Labor Day-the first week of May, and National Day-the first week in October. At these times, many people plan to travel, thus all travel bookings are extremely tight. Therefore, hotels generally increase their prices and flights and trains can be very crowded.

Dragon Boat Festival:

The traditional Dragon Boat Festival in China is on May 5, which has a history of more than 2,000 years. On that day, people hold dragon boat racing, eat Zongzi and hang calamus and Chinese mugwort to celebrate this festival.

 

Dragon Boat Racing

Dragon Boat Racing is a main activity in the Dragon Boat Festival. It is said that in the past, a famous minister named Qu Yuan suicided through jumping into the Miluo River. People felt very sorry about his death and they rowed their boats to rescue him. They tried their best to catch up with him, but when they arrived at Dongting Lake, Qu Yuan's body could not be found any more. This is said to be the origin of Dragon Boat Racing. In different places, the tales about dragon boat racing are different.

 

Eating ZongziZongzi

Eating Zongzi during Dragon Boat Festival is an old tradition in China. Zongzi is a kind of pyramid-shaped mass of glutinous rice wrapped in leaves. The most outstanding representative is the Zongzi in Jiaxing of Zhejiang Province. Zongzi is not only popular in China, but also has been spread to Korea, Japan and some other countries in Southeast Asia.

 

Hanging Calamus and Chinese Mugwort

Hanging calamus and Chinese mugwort is an important activity during the Dragon Boat Festival. Even in today, Chinese families follow this to celebrate this traditional festival.

Water Splashing Festival:

The Water Splashing Festival is a celeberation of the New Year in the Dai Calendar. It is not only the first Buddhist festival at the beginning of a new year but also the most important festival of the Dai, De-ang and A-chang ethnic groups. 
The Water Splashing Festival usually lasts for three days. Water Splashing FestivalAll people in a village will take a bath and wear new clothes, and then go to worship Buddha on the first morning. As well as this, in the first two days, people hold dragon-boat competitions to say farewell to the old year. On the last day, they carry out the "lucky" activities welcoming the New Year.  People assemble in the Buddhist temple, building a tower with sand. All people sit around the tower and listen to the chanting of Buddhist scripture. Then a Buddhist statue will be carried out into the yard and splashed by all women in the village, which is so-called bathing for the Buddha. After such religious rite, all young people will go out of the temple and splash water on each other for pleasure. All passers-by are involved in water splashing, and congratulations are expressed to each other. Spray flies everywhere, and everyone is shouting for fun. The water splashing brings good luck and happy cheers to all the villages around.

Tibet Shoton Festival:

The Shoton Festival, a traditional Tibetan festival, is held annually in late June and early July in theTibetan calendar (about August in the Gregorian calendar). Thousands of Buddhists flock to Lhasa from all over the world and prostrate piously for their pilgrimage during the festival. In Tibetan language, Shoton Festival means a festival to drink yoghourt.
  
Buddha Exhibition Ceremony 
The Buddha exhibition in Drepung Monastery is the prelude of the Shoton Festival tangkawhich is held at the foot of the Gebeiwoze Mountain. The quiet valley becomes filled with excitement. With the sound of the sutra bugle reverberating through the valley, about 100 lamas will carry the large-scale tangke portraying Qamba Buddha (or Maitreya) out of the Coqen Hall of the Drepung Monastery and step toward the west of the monastery where a special platform is set up for the Buddha picture exhibition. At this moment, the mulberry smoke arises from all directions and bugles resound. The large tangka then will be slowly opened up. People rush up to offer white hada. Countless hada fly in front of the Buddha picture, forming a great scene. In no more than two hours, the tangka will be rolled up again and carried back. People cannot see it again until the following year.
 
An Opera Performance 
Starting from the following day of the Shoton Festival, Tibetan Opera is performed from 11:00 a.m. to dusk every day at Norbulingka and the Longwangtan Park opposite from the PotalaPalace. Tibetan OperaDue to limited time, those performances are parts of Tibetan Opera, otherwise, only one opera can last for several days. Then people go to the courtyard of Gandain Phodrang to watch Tibetan Opera. In the afternoon, the activities centre moves to Norbulingka. In the following week, the major activity is watching the Tibetan Opera. During the Shoton Festival, the Tibetans bring along the old and the young and call on relatives and friends to the Lingka gardens. Thus, the Norbulingka and other parks of Lhasa are dotted with colorful tents.

March Fair of Bai Ethnic Group:

Lasting for 21 days, from March10 to March 21, the March Fair, Bai Ethnic Groupalso known as the Kwan-yin Fair is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Bai Ethnic people in Dali ancient town in southwest China’s Yunnan province. During the March Fair, the streets in Dali town are full of temporally stalls selling a great number of items. Nowadays the March Fair has become a prosperous commercial fair with tens of thousands of participants and a total volume of trade of over ten millions each year. Besides the Bai ethnic people, other minority groups such as the Yi, Tibetan, Naxi, Nu, and Hui in that region will all throng to the fair that day.
 
Currently there is no reliable record about the start of the March Fair. A local legend goes as follows: at the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, a devil called Luocha occupied the territory of today’s Dali and persecuted the people. During the Zhenguan Period, Kwan-yin from the west (today’s India) punished the devil and saved people from their suffering. From then on, people would gather in the ancient town, offering vegetables to Kwan-yin.

The Differences between Coffee and Tea:

Origin Place:
Coffee: EthiopiaTea leafCoffee bean
Tea: China
 
Origin Period:
Coffee: 9th Century AD
Tea: 2737 BC
 
Binomial Name:
Coffee: Coffee Arabica, Coffee Benghalensis, Coffee Canephora, Coffee Congensis, Coffee Dewevrei, Coffee Excelsa, Coffee Gallienii, Coffee Bonnieri, Coffee Mogeneti, Coffee Liberica, Coffee Stenophylla
Tea: Camellia Sinensis
 
Cultural Connotation:
Coffee: Fast Paced
Tea: Genteel
 
Types of Consumption:
Coffee: Drip Coffee, Espresso, Brewed, Instant, Decaf Brewed, Decaf Instant
Tea: White Tea, Green Tea, Oolong Tea, Black/Red Tea, Post Fermented Tea, Yellow Tea, Kukicha
 
Properties Related to Fighting Cancer:
Coffee: None of the ingredients in coffee have been associated with fighting disease or enhancing health. Research is still undergoing on whether the high content of caffeine in coffee is a risk or not.
Tea: Tea contains Tannin and Catechin related to preventing cancer and heart diseases.

The Origin of Chinese Tea:

Tea originated from China. It was in the southwest part of China that Chinese tea was first found. Southwestern China, with a large coverage of primeval forest, is located in the tropical and sub-tropical climate zone. The warm and moist climate is the perfect cradle for tea trees. Ancient wild tea trees with 2,700 years of history and ancient planted tea trees with 800 years of history can still be found there.

The following are probably the earliest records of Chinese tea.
Shen Nong Shi, God of Agriculture, was one of the prehistoric representatives of the Chinese people. It is said that he invented agriculture, medicine and that he found tea.

Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (the God of Agriculture's Book of Herbs) recorded, “The God of Agriculture personally tasted hundreds of herbs. As a result, he was hit by 72 poisons in a single day. Fortunately, he found the tea trees and used the tea leaves to neutralize all poisons.”
 

The Important Role of Chinese Tea:

In China, the Chinese drink tea at every meal for good health and simple pleasure. The beverage is considered one of the seven necessities of Chinese life, along with firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce and vinegar. Chinese tea, as an important part of the Chinese traditional culture, has played an important role in boosting the development of economy. Moreover, it has gradually developed into splendid tea culture and become a bright pearl of the spiritual civilization of the society. The Chinese tea not only embodies the spiritual civilization, but also develops the ideological form. It is beneficial in enhancing people’s cultural accomplishment and art appreciation. There are not only books specially discussing tea, but also a large number of records about tea life, tea history, tea law and production technology of tea in historical books, local records, notes, textual studies and ancient books of calligraphy.

The Development of Chinese Tea:

Historically, the origin of tea can be dated back to around 2,700 B.C. Tea was originally regarded as a detoxifying medicine. It grew to great social prominence during the Tang (620—907 A.D.) and Song (960—1279) Dynasties. Tea was appealing to people both at home and abroad due to its contribution to good health. Since the fifth century A.D., tea has been exported by land and sea throughout Asia, reaching Europe in 1610. It was Dutch traders that first brought tea to Europe, but it was the British who greatly developed it, transplanting it to India in the early 1800s.

The Custom of Drinking Tea:

Drinking Morning Tea in Guangdong

Drinking tea has become a habit for Guangzhou residents, especially morning tea. When they meet in the morning, Morning Tea in Guangdongthey meet in the morning, they usually greet each other by "Have you drunk tea?" indicating their love for tea. As a popular saying goes: “A cup of tea in the morning, no need for consulting a doctor.” Guangzhou residents like to drink tea in the teahouse, where they not only drink tea but also eat pastry as breakfast. In addition to morning tea, they drink afternoon tea and evening tea as well. Their habit of drinking tea in the teahouse not only means drinking but also means people want to spread news, enhance friendship and negotiate business. From these we can see that drinking tea is a mode of social exchange, which has become an important factor for the long history of prosperous teahouses in Guangzhou for centuries. Tea drinkers in Guangzhou can be classified into two categories: One is the regular tea drinkers who will go to a fixed teahouse each morning and have "One bowl" (spareribs rice) and "Two pieces" (pastry). These groups of people are usually elderly retired people. Another kind is Sunday tea drinkers who go to drink tea on holidays. They usually eat various kinds of pastry and taste tea in an easy and comfortable manner instead of taking only "One bowl and two pieces".

 

Teahouses in Sichuan

Teahouses are very common in Chengdu. Many civilian teahouses with abundant local characteristics are located in famous resorts, busy streets or narrow lanes.Tea Houses Teahouses to Sichuan people are a lifestyle. Every morning, at about 5:00 or 6:00 am, teahouses open for their customers. Some people even wash there, and then drink tea and have breakfast, which is a special scene in Chengdu. Many people pay 10 Yuan and spend a whole day in the teahouse, enjoying tea, reading newspapers and playing with birds in cages. In addition, you can enjoy wonderful services like massages, thus you not only relax your body but also your mind. Mah-jongg is an indispensable part of the local people’s life. Most old men play mah-jongg with their peers in teahouses Middle-aged people play mah-jongg with neighbors or family members at home after work or in teahouses at the weekend. Young people will choose elegant decorated teahouses as their meeting place and play mah-jongg with friends.

 

Teahouses in Beijing

Most teahouses in Beijing are expensive, and the burgeoning coffee houses and bars become more attractive to young people. In Beijing, the teahouse has become a symbol of luxurious enjoyment Lao She Tea Houseand taste. Lao She Tea House is one of the famous teahouses in Beijing. Every day, at about 9 am, the Lao She Teahouse opens to customers. Lao She Tea House, founded in 1989, was named after Mr. Lao She, a famous artist in China. It occupies an area of more than 2,600 sq m and provides an antique-flavor and Beijing-styled environment. In the Lao She Tea House, you can watch wonderful performances by celebrities from folk arts and drama on any given day while enjoying famous tea, palace snacks as well as traditional Beijing flavors. It has been a window for exhibiting the national culture and a bridge that connects China with the world.

Tea Snacks:

All tea snacks may be divided into four groups: substantial snacks, light snacks, sweet snacks, and fresh snacks.

 

The first group of snacks includes the dishes that  are pies and pasties with substantial fillings: pastiesmeat, duck, eggs, cabbage, fish, rice, mushrooms, potatoes, cottage cheese, etc. or with combinations of these fillings: meat and mushrooms, rice and eggs, and so on. Basically, barankas (short pastry of a wheel-form) can be ascribed to substantial snacks — if you spread them with butter, they become a very substantial food. Crepes with fillings are substantial snacks, of course, in the case when the fillings are meat, chicken (with mushrooms and horse-radish), vegetable mix, and other pleasant tastes.

 

The second group of snacks (light) consists of dishes which can be alternated with substantial snacks, and which are convenient to eat. Convenient is not only at the table. If tea drinking is informal, one can walk around or stay at the window with light snacks, plunged in thought. Light snacks include, first of all, different sandwiches — they are so nice to eat during a conversation and they do not distract.

The third group of snacks (sweet) consists of sweets and delicacies, of course. These snacks are normally served after substantial and light snacks — and after a sound pause, when guests relax after all previous dishes and converse meditatively with each other. Sweet snacks include any sweet pastry, chocolate, jam, honey, nuts, and crepe with sweet fillings.

Finally, the fourth group of snacks (fresh) is similar to light snacks but is used to alternate it with sweet snacks, and not substantial. When guests are unable to eat crepe with jam any more, they can be substituted with fresh or canned foods. Better fresh, of course. Apples, pears, grapes, slice of melon or watermelon, peaches, apricots, strawberries, raspberries — anything your heart desires. You may serve it with whipped cream, if you want.

The order in which the abovementioned snacks should be served is self-evident. Start with substantial and light snacks. After the guests have eaten (that is the first time they have become full), make a pause — satiety disposes to leisurely conversation, and such a pause will afford the guests pleasure and relaxation. The duration of the pause is arbitrary, depending on circumstances. An experienced host will easily know the coming of the psychological moment for serving the second portion of snacks — sweet and fresh.

Ideally, you should eat all the snacks on the table — if not all of them have been eaten yet, just put them aside. On the contrary, leave light snacks on the table, you can even add some more — they combine well with sweet snacks. Basically, this very set of snacks (light, sweet, and fresh) should stay on the table until the end of tea-drinking. But if one of the guests wants to have ‘those wonderful cabbage pies’ again — just bring them back.

 

Tea Snacks and Tea Feast:

Tea snacks refer to the food that is mixed with tea. 

 

Tea mixed with other food for human consumption is an extension of the ancient tea law. According to investigation, such cakes have a history of more than three thousand years. Tea can be mixed with food to enhance the nutrition value of food and medicinal functions since some ingredients contained in tea will not be dissolved in water and beneficial to health. Tea snacks are not only suitable for middle-aged and elderly people, but are also suitable for the young. For cancer patients who have just experienced surgery and radiotherapy, it may reduce the side effects of radiotherapy.

  the Tea Garden of Phoenix Mountain

A tea feast is delicious and healthy novelty for gourmets. The feast is to infuse tea into dishes by diversified cooking methods. Stir-fried prawns with Phoenix Mountain Tea is a typical delicacy. Permeated with the aromatic and highly prized Phoenix Mountain Tea, this dish pleases one's palate with the lingering fragrance of the tea and the crunchy texture of the shrimp.

The portion is not big, but the taste is excellent. The food presentation and table setup are elegant and full of cultural flavor.

 

Tea Feast Menu:
Combination of Jellyfish, Sliced Goose, Cuttlefish and Beef Shin
Deep Fried Prawns with Phoenix Mountain Tea
Braised Bird's Nest Soup with Green Tea "Bi Luo Chun" Dongting Lake
Sautéed Scallops with "Mao Jian" Green Tea, Xing Yang
Baked Scallops with Green Tea "Mao Feng", Yellow Mountain
Baked Cod Fish with "Long Jing" Tea, HangZhou
Fried Glutinous Rice and Diced Preserved Meat with Jasmine
Baked Pastry with Green Tea
Steamed Shrimp Dumpling with "Guan Yin" Tea
Seasonal Fresh Fruit Platter

Tea and Health:

Tea is a natural and healthy drink. People have enjoyed drinking it for thousands of years, and this tradition has developed and remained popular until now. Modern research indicates that tea contains many nutrients that help to build up good health.

Tea is refreshing and helps you work efficiently, and it is a thirst quencher and helps digestion of food. Tea is helpful for disinfecting and alleviating inflammation; also helpful for urinary output and to purge toxins. Tea makes nutrition sense and is good for health. Tea helps fitness and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

The relationship between tea and health has been examined ever since the first infusions of Camellia sinensis about 4700 years ago in China.

 

ShennongThe legendary emperor, Shennong, claimed in The Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic that Camellia sinensis infusions were useful for treating conditions including tumors, abscesses, bladder ailments, and lethargy. The possible beneficial health effects of tea consumption have been suggested and supported by some studies, but others have found no beneficial effects. The studies contrast other claims, including anti-nutritional effects such as preventing absorption of iron and protein, usually attributed to tannin. The vast majority of studies have been of green tea; however, some studies have been made of the other types of tea derived from Camellia sinensis, such as white, oolong black tea and green tea. Tea is helpful for prevention of atherosclerosis, LDL cholesterol, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, liver disease, weight loss, neurodegenerative diseases, and even halitosis.

Introduction of Tea Wares:

Different kinds of tea wares serve different categories of tea. Green tea goes with white porcelain or celadon without a cover, while scented tea with celadon or blue and white porcelain with a cover. Black tea goes well with purple clay ware with white inside glaze, or with white porcelain or warm colored wares or coffee wares. Purple clay ware is the best choice for Oolong tea. In a word, the harmonious combination of function, material, and color of tea ware is quite essential to taste the essence of tea.

Tea wares mainly include ovens, teapots, cups, tea bowls and trays, etc...

How to brew Kong Fu Tea:

You are probably most familiar with the Chinese words Kung Fu due to its reference to the martial arts. Kong Fu TeaHowever, by association, these words actually have other meanings in Chinese. Kong Fu actually refers to hard work, labor, and dedication toward any task or any goal. The process of brewing Kong Fu tea well demonstrates this meaning. Here’s how to indulge in the beauty and warmth of Kong Fu tea in the comfort of your home.

Step 1: Prepare a tea set. A tea set includes a tea tray (hollow tray with a container inside which can contain all the water that will be spilled during the process), teapot, fair cup (a separate tea vessel), tasting cups, and aroma cups (sniffer cups).
Step 2: Prepare the tealeaves in advance, so that they are ready to be placed in the pot as soon as it has been warmed.
Step 3: Rinse all vessels with hot water. It also warms the vessels since the hot water is then poured into the serving pitcher and from there into the tasting cups. This is done because at room temperature. Ceramic tea ware is usually quite cold and unsuited to brewing fine teas whose temperature must be carefully controlled. After rinsing, the water should be discarded into the draining tray or a wastewater bowl.
Step 4: Prior to infusion, pour hot water over the leaves and then quickly pour it off, which removes any dust from the leaves. This step prepares the palate to appreciate the full flavor of the tea.
Step 5: Use pure or mineral water to brew the tea. Tap water should be avoided, since its chemical treatment will impart undesirable flavors and odors, which may interfere with the delicate aromatics of tea.
Step 6: Fill the pot to the top with hot water and cover it. Pour water over the top of the pot, drawing the stream over the air hole until a little water comes out the spout. When this occurs, you know that the pot is full and heated to the right temperature.
Step 7: Pour the water into the fair cup to heat it.
Step 8: Add tea leaves
Oolong Tea: As for light oolongs, such as Bao Zhong and Imperial Green, use 70°-80°C (158°-176°F) water and an infusion time of 3 to 5 minutes is enough, while for darker styles, including Tieguanyin and Yan Cha—between 80° and 90°C (176-194°F) again steeping 3 to 5 minutes.
Black Tea: Water between 85° and 95°C (185°-203°F) and a three-minute infusion works best for black tea.
PureTea: Use hot water and infuse the tea for 3-5 minutes.
Step 9: When the leaves' essence has come out, pour the tea out into the pitcher (fair cup).
Step 10: Distribute the tea from the fair cup to the aroma cups, keeping the pitcher close to the cups and pouring slowly, which reduces the movement of the tea and maintains its temperature.
Step 11: After the aroma cups are filled, position one tasting cup upside down over each aroma cup. After tasting cups are positioned, take each cup pair and quickly flip it: this is a very delicate step since the cups are becoming hot on the outside. After this is done, each guest will lift the aroma cup and drink the scented tea.
Step 12: At this moment, the aroma cup can be brought near the nose to appreciate the fragrance of the tea.
Step 13: After smelling it, drink the tea from the tasting cups. Drink by taking small sips that allow us to fully enjoy the taste, aromas and qualities of the tea.
Step 14: A green tea of good quality will allow up to four or five brews. Add water to the teapot and start again from point 10 to your will.

Chinese Tea Categories:

Famous Chinese tea can be categorized into six main categories: green tea, black tea, Oolong tea, white tea, compressed tea and jasmine tea.
 
Green Tea
Green Tea is a type of tea made solely with the leaves of Camellia sinensis, which has undergone minimal oxidation during processing.
With the new shoots of appropriate tea trees as raw materials, it is made by adopting the typical techniques of inactivation, rolling and drying. According to different ways of drying and inactivation, generally it can be divided into stir-fried green tea, roasting dried green tea; sun dried green tea and steamed green tea. The Green Tea is characterized as "green leaves in clear soup with a taste of strong astringency". The production areas are mainly distributed in provinces such as Zhejiang, Anhui and Jiangxi.
 
Famous Green Tea
West Lake Dragon Well Tea is usually called Dragon Well for short, which is produced in the mountainous West Lake Dragon Well Tearegions around Longjing Village to the southwest of West Lake in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. Dragon Well tea is famous for several wonders - fragrance wonder, flavor wonder and shape wonder. With such elements as amino acid, catechu and vitamins, Dragon Well Tea has the effect of stimulating the production of body fluid, quenching thirst, refreshing the body, benefiting thinking, digesting food, removing greasiness, diminishing inflammation and detoxification.
 
Xinyang Maojin, produced in Xinyang County in the Dabie Mountain in the south of Henan Province, is reputed as being” the first of Huainan teas”. It is picked before the grain rain of every year. Its appearance is slender, round and straight. It has emerald green color and bright and clear liquid.
 
Biluochun is produced in the eastern and western mountains of Dongting in Wu County, Jiangsu Province. The appearance of the finished product is tight and slender. The liquid is green and clear, with a sweet aftertaste. It has the effect of stimulating the production of body fluid and is refreshing.
 
Black Tea Yixing Black Tea
Black tea, which is also called fermented tea, takes as raw materials new shoots of tea trees that are suitable for making this tea. The typical processing techniques are wilting, rolling, fermentation and drying. Short and long-term black tea consumption reverses endothelialvasomotor dysfunction in patients with coronary artery disease.
 
Famous Black Tea
The dried tea is black with extremely obvious golden hair. The liquid is brilliant and bright, thick and with lasting fragrance and a refreshing taste.
 
Yixing Black Tea ,
With tight appearance, it has small tender shoots. The color is black. The soup looks like red wine with fragrance and thick flavors of flower and fruit. It can endure repeated infusions.
 
Oolong Tea
Oolong Tea is a traditional Chinese tea somewhere between green and black in oxidation. Oolong Tea, also called blue tea, and is a kind of semi-oxidized tea. Dongding Oolong TeaIt has both the quality of green tea and black tea, enjoying a good reputation as green leaves with red edge. There are several sub varieties of oolong, like those produced in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujian and in the central mountains of Taiwan. The pharmacological effects of the Wulong tea are profoundly manifested in reducing weight and keeping fit, etc.
 
Western Baozhong Tea, a light half-fermented Oolong tea, is produced in Taibei City and Taoyuan County in the north of Taiwan Province. It has the effects of strengthening the heart, promoting the discharge of urine, dispelling fatigue, controlling cholesterol and preventing the hardening of arteries.
 
Anxi Tieguanyin, belonging to the highest grade of Oolong tea, is produced in Yaoyang Town of Anxi County, Fujian Province. It is harvested four times a year, of which the spring tea is the best. It has long enjoyed a good reputation as the king of teas. Its effects include purifying the heart, brightening the eyes, preventing arteriosclerosis and reducing fat and weight.
 
Dongding Oolong Tea is produced in the Dongding Mountain, which is the branch range of the Phoenix Mountain in Nantou County, Taiwan Province. The soup is orange yellow and tastes pure, thick, sweet and moist. The spring tea is the best.
 
White Tea 
White tea is the uncured and non-oxidized tea leaf. It is a specialty of the Chinese province Fujian. The leaves come from a number of varieties of tea cultivars.
 
Pekoe Silvery NeedleWhite Tea
It is also called silver needle for short and also named pekoe. Pekoe tea is the only one that belongs to the highest grade of the white tea category. The light fragrance appears once taken in the mouth. It is cold in property. Its effects include relieving internal heat, keeping a fever down and reducing pathogenic fire. It is regarded as a good medicine for curing measles.
 
White Peony
White Peony is fragrant and tippy with fresh and pure taste. The liquid is apricot yellow or orange yellow and clear. It is cool and refreshing, with the effects of keeping down a fever and reducing pathogenic fire.
 
Jasmine Tea (Scented Tea) 
Scented tea is made by mixing and fumigating tealeaves and scented flowers, letting tea assimilate the fragrance of flowers by taking advantage of the absorption of tealeaves. JasmineThere are such categories as Jasmine Tea, Pearl Orchid Scented Tea, Rose Tea and Sweet-scented Osmanthus Tea, etc. while processing the scented tea, pile up tea dhool and fresh flowers giving off fragrance layer upon layer so that the tea can assimilate the fragrance. After the fragrance of flowers is absorbed, replenish with new fresh flowers and fumigate the tea according to the above method. Scented tea has a strong fragrance. It gives out a fragrant smell and presents a feeling of getting one’s ideas straightened out after being drunk. It is quite popular in Huabei and Northeastern areas of our country. In recent years, it is also sold abroad.
 
Compressed Tea (Tea Bricks)
A compressed tea (also called pressed tea, or tea brick) is made up of fresh tea leaves through primary processing traditionally, kneading, Tea Bricksdrying to 18-40% water content, compressing, fixation of shape, further drying and packing,and features a simple preparing process. Tea bricks are blocks of whole or finely ground tealeaves that have been packed in molds and pressed into block form. Brick tea often contains high levels of fluorine compounds, since it is generally made from old tealeaves and stems, which accumulate fluorine.
 
Pu Er Tea
Pu Er Tea, produced in Xishuangbanna and Simao in Yunan Province, has a long history. The fresh leaves of Yunan broad-leaf tea trees are taken as the material. Pu Er TeaAfter being steamed and pressed, Pu Er Tea can be made into Pu Er Tuo Tea, Seven Son Cake Tea and Pu Er Brick Tea. Its various effects include reducing cholesterol , reducing weight, promoting digestion, sobering up and relieving internal heat, etc. After taking wine and meat, people often infuse a cup of Pu Er Tea to promote digestion, sober up and refresh themselves. It enjoys a good reputation of beauty tea, slimming tea and longevity tea.
 
 
Lei Tea and Oil Tea Oil Tea
Besides the famous brands of tea in China, there are special kinds of tea among the minority people - Leicha (Pounded Tea) in Hunan and Oil Tea in Guangxi.
Lei Tea, with a history of more than 1,600 years, can stimulate body energy and be good for the liver and stomach.
Oil tea, popular among the Miao and Dong minority nationalities in Guangxi, has a similar procedure as the Leicha. The local people often entertain their guests with oil tea on festivals and holidays.

 

Development of Chinese Literature:

Chinese literature developed differently in various times. Following are introductions to Chinese literature in the early Qin Dynasty, Qin and Han Dynasties, Tang Dynasty, Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty.

 

Early Qin Dynasty

The Early Qin Dynasty saw the birth of Chinese culture and the dawning of Chinese literary development. The literature  that developed through this period was in fact very primitive, built on ancient fables and legends that had been passed on from generation to generation through word of mouth since ancient times, but its cultural spirit exerted a strong influence on Chinese literature for many generations to come.

 

The Analects of Confucius

The Analects, also known as the Analects of Confucius, aConfuciusre considered a record of the words and acts of the central Chinese thinker and philosopher Confucius and his disciples, as well as the discussions they held.

 

Written during the Spring and Autumn Period through the Warring States Period (ca. 479 B.C.- 221B.C.), the Analects is the representative work of Confucianism and continues to have a tremendous influence on Chinese and East Asian thought and values today.Chapters in the Analects are grouped by individual themes. However, the chapters are not arranged in any sort of way so as to carry a continuous stream of thought or idea. In fact, the sequence of the chapters could be said to be completely random, with the themes of adjacent chapters completely unrelated to each other.

 

Since Confucius' time, the Analects have heavily influenced the philosophy and moral values of China and later other East Asian countries. For almost two thousand years, the Analects had also been the fundamental course of study for any Chinese scholar, for a man was not considered morally upright or enlightened if he did not study Confucius' works. The imperial examination, started in the Jin Dynasty and eventually abolished in the dying years of the Qing Dynasty, emphasized Confucian studies and expected candidates to quote and apply the words of Confucius in their essays.

 

Shi Jing (Book of Songs)

Shi Jing, translated variously as the Classic of Poetry, the Book of Songs or the Book of Odes,Book of Songs is the earliest existing collection of Chinese poems. It comprises 305 poems, some possibly written as early as 1000 BC. It forms part of the Five Classics.The poems are written in four-character lines. The airs are in the style of folk songs, although the extent to which they are real folk songs or literary imitations is debated. The odes deal with matters of court and historical subjects, while the hymns blend history, myth and religious material.The three major literary figures or styles employed in the poems are fu, bi and xing. Fu means straightforward narrative. Bi means explicit comparisons. Xing means implied comparisons

 

Qin and Han Dynasties

Fu is a type of descriptive prose interspersed with verse and is a unique form of Chinese literature. It originated during the Han Dynasty, which was the first unified and prosperous dynasty in Chinese history. Fu is an artistic literature form that facilitated outstanding development in this period. In combining poetry with prose, this literary style is very forceful and expressive. The most influential representative of this literary style is Sima Xiangru, and his greatest works are Zeus fu and Shanglin fu.

 

Shi Ji (Records of the Grand Historian)

The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji, written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Shi JiYellow Emperor until his own time. (The Yellow Emperor, traditionally dated ca. 2600 BC, is the first ruler whom Sima Qian considers sufficiently established as historical to appear in the Records.) As the first systematic Chinese historical text, the Records profoundly influenced Chinese historiography and prose. In its impact, the work is comparable to Herodotus and his Histories.

 

Joseph Needham wrote in 1954 that there were scholars doubting that Sima's Records of the Grand Historian had contained accurate information about such distant history, including the thirty kings of the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600–c. 1050 BC). While many scholars argued that Sima could not possibly have had access to written materials that detailed history a millennium before his age, Needham has another conclusion. Actually, the discovery of oracle bones at an excavation of the Shang Dynasty capital at Anyang matched twenty-three of the thirty Shang kings that Sima listed. Needham writes that this remarkable archaeological find proves that Sima Qian "did have fairly reliable materials at his disposal—a fact which underlines once more the deep historical-mindedness of the Chinese."

 

Yuefu Songs with Regular Five-Syllable Lines

This book contains 24 Yuefu songs, including "the Peacock Flew to the Southeast," and "the Ballad of Mulan".Yuefu Songs In China "poetic education" in the original meaning is learning The Book of Songs. This is the first comprehensive anthology of Chinese poems including including 305 poems of the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256 B.C.). It was originally called Shi (Poems) and Shi Sanbai (Three Hundred Poems). Each poem in The Book of Songs was set to music and could be sung. The compilers classified the 305 poems into folk songs, ceremonial songs, and sacrificial songs, according to their contents and the style of the music. Folk songs, which were popular among the people, made up the best part of The Book of Songs, while ceremonial songs and sacrificial songs were used mainly on sacrificial or ceremonial occasions to eulogize the merits and virtues of the Son of Heaven and of his forefathers.

 

Tang Dynasty

China is a country of poetry and Tang poetry represents the pinnacle of excellence in the entire history of Chinese classic poetry. In the early Tang Dynasty, poets like Shangguan Yi, Shen Quanqi, and Song Wenzhi established the form of lüshi, which has a strict structure comprising of eight lines containing five to seven characters adhering to a strict tone and rhyme scheme.

Bai Juyi

Bai JuyiHe is most notable for the accessibility of his work. It is said that he rewrote any part of a poem which one of his servants was unable to understand. He tried to use simple language and direct themes. Two of his most famous works are the long narrative poems Song of Eternal Sorrow, which tells the story of Yang Guifei, and Song of the Pipa Player. Like Du Fu, he had a strong sense of social responsibility, and is well-known for his satirical poems, such as The Elderly Charcoal Seller. Bai Juyi's accessibility made him extremely popular in his lifetime in both China and Japan, and he continues to be so today.

 

Du Fu

Du Fu was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. Along with Li Bai (Li Po), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His own greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and the last 15 years of his life were a time of almost constant unrest. He has been called Poet-Historian and the Poet-Sage by Chinese critics. His works include The Chariots Go Forth to War"The Fireflies" and “The Parrotetc..

Li Bai

Li Bai or Li Po was a Chinese poet.Li Bai He was part of the group of Chinese scholars called the "Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup" in a poem by fellow poet Du Fu. Li Bai is often regarded, along with Du Fu, as one of the two greatest poets in China's literary history. Approximately 1,100 of his poems remain today. Li Bai is best known for the extravagant imagination and striking Taoist imagery in his poetry, as well as for his great love for liquor. Like Du Fu, he spent much of his life travelling, although in his case it was because his wealth allowed him to, rather than because his poverty forced him.

One of Li Bai's most famous poems is Drinking Alone by Moonlight, which is a good example of some of the most famous aspects of his poetry -- a very spontaneous poem, full of natural imagery and anthropomorphism. Li Bai actually wrote several poems with the same title.

 

Song Dynasty

Lu You

LuYouLu You wrote over ten thousand poems, in both the shiand Ci forms, plus a number of prose works. In his poetry he continues to articulate the beliefs which cost him his official career, calling for reconquest of the north. Watson identifies these works as part of the legacy of Du Fu. Watson compares a second body of work, poems on country life and growing old, to those of Bai Juyi and Tao Qian. Lu You had written a lot of poems in his whole life, more than 10000, still having 9300 after erasing some of them himself. Lu You wrote many poems. Among his most famous are "To Son", “Rainstorm on Nov. 4”, “Mei Flower”, “Phoenix Pin”, etc.

 

Wang Anshih

Wang An-shih (1021-1086) was the most famous reformer in Chinese history, a poet, and a scholar. He developed a program of far-reaching reforms, which was vigorously attacked in his own day and has been controversial ever since.

The 11th century in China was a period of rare intellectual brilliance, the most creative phase of the Confucian revival, which imparted new force and vitality to old values and produced lasting achievements in philosophy, history, and literature. Yet, China was troubled by the military threat of the Khitans and Tanguts in the North and Northwest, economic problems associated with the growth of population and increasing economic complexity, acute fiscal problems, an expensive and ineffective military establishment, and a bureaucracy which was far removed from the ideal of competent, devoted, and disinterested service. Concerned scholars widely supported the reform attempts undertaken by Fan Chung-yen in the 1040s, but the more extensive program of Wang An-shih in the 1070s in the end antagonized most of his illustrious contemporaries.

 

Wang Anshih was a noted poet. He wrote poems in the shi form, modeled on those of Du Fu. He was traditionally classed as one of the Eight Great Prose Masters of the Tang and Song.

 

Su Dongpo (Su Shi)

Su Dongpo was a writer, poet, artist, calligrapher, pharmacologist, and statesman of the Song Dynasty, and one of the major poets of the Song era.

Around 2,700 of Su Dongpo's poems have survived, along with 800 written letters. Su Dongpo excelled in the Shi, Ci and Fu forms of poetry, as well as prose, Su Dongpocalligraphy and painting. Some of his notable poems include the First and Second Chibifu (The Red Cliffs, written during his first exile), Nian Nu Jiao: Chibi Huai Gu (Remembering Chibi, to the tune of Nian Nu Jiao) and Shui diao ge tou (Remembering Su Che on the Mid-Autumn Festival). Su Shi also wrote of his travel experiences in 'daytrip essays', which belonged in part to the popular Song era literary category of 'travel record literature' that employed the use of narrative, diary, and prose styles of writing. Although other works in Chinese travel literature contained a wealth of cultural, geographical, topographical, and technical information, the central purpose of the daytrip essay was to use a setting and event in order to convey a philosophical or moral argument, which often employed persuasive writing. For example, Su Shi's daytrip essay known as Record of Stone Bell Mountain.

 

Yuan Dynasty

During the Yuan Dynasty, drama and novels became the mainstream of artistic creation and Poetic Drama Set to Music emerged as the most popular literature form. Local Classical Opera in South China also reached further development at the same time. On the other hand, poetry and prose, which were previously recognized as the orthodox form of literature, gradually declined, although San Qu, a kind of poetic drama, was a new form established in this period. While San Qu took the form of poetry, it was more forceful in expression.

 

Guan Hanqing

Guan HanqingGuan Hanqing, "the Old Man of the Studio", was a notable Chinese playwright and poet in the Yuan Dynasty.Guan was born in the capital city of the Yuan Dynasty, Dadu and produced about 65 plays, mostly in vernacular Chinese of the time. He has been considered as one of the Four Great Yuan Playwrights, the other three being Ma Zhiyuan, Bai Renfu, and Zheng Guangzu. Fourteen of his plays are extant, including:

The Injustice to Dou E a.k.a. Snow in Midsummer

Saving the Dusty-windy a.k.a. saving the Prostitute a.k.a. Rescued by a Coquette

The Conference of a Single Dao a.k.a. Meeting the Enemies Alone a.k.a. Lord Guan goes to the Feast

The Pavilion of Moon-Worship

The Butterfly Dream

The Wife-Snatcher

The Riverside Pavilion

The Jade Mirror-Stand

 

Ming and Qing Dynasties

During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the development of the novel in China went through three important stages. These were Xiantang Note Novel, Legend Novel in Tang Dynasty, and Huaben Novel in Song and Yuan Dynasties. These three stages culminated in a booming period for the novel as an artistic form of literature during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

The six most famous novels in this period were Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Naian, Pilgrims to the West by Wu Chengen, Plum in the Golden Vase by Lanling Xiao, Scholars by Wu Jingzi, and A Dream of Red Mansions by Cao Xueqin. The first four of these listed books were honored as the "Four wonders of Books" in the Ming Dynasty and the "Four Classic Novels of China", and the lasy two were the most representative creations of the saga novel during the Qing Dynasty.

 

Journey to the WestSun Wu Kong

Journey to the West is a household legend and myth throughout East Asia, especially China, and among Chinese throughout the world. It is based on the real life monk Xuan Zang's (also known as Tripitaka or Tang San Zang) pilgrimage to India, to fetch back some Buddhist scriptures. Nonetheless, this fictional retelling focuses on San Zang's first disciple, the monkey king, Sun Wu Kong, who captured readers' hearts and imagination with his bold, daring, and mischievous personality. He was also very rebellious. As a matter of fact, Wu Cheng En wrote Journey to the West to criticize China's political system and society.

Dream of the Red Chamber

Dream of the Red Chamber, originally The Story of the Stone, is a masterpiece of Chinese literature and one of the Chinese Four Great Classical Novels. It was composed in the mid 18th century during the Qing Dynasty, attributed to Cao Xueqin. The work has brought about the field of Redology and is generally acknowledged as the highest peak of the classical Chinese novels. The novel is remarkable not only for its huge cast of characters (most of them female) and psychological scope, but also for its precise and detailed observation of the life and social structures typical of 18th-century Chinese aristocracy.

The Water Margin

Attributed to Shi Naian Luo Guanzhong, this novel depicts the joining of heroes to a bandit group in the Liangshan swamps. The earliest editions date from the early 16th century and there is evidence of the historicity of the Shi Naianmain heroes during the Song period. Song Jiang, Wu Song and their followers were forced by bad officials, defamation and their own violent temper to go underground. Every one of them has his own story, and this shows that the novel is composed of many small parts and traditions, that are even themes for theatre plays. The bandit group promises to help Song emperor, Huizong, fight against the intruding Liao armies and therefore is given grace in spite of their crimes. Most popular editions do not describe the final battles against the Liao Empire in the north. The political content of the novel made it the object of occasional banishment during the Qing Dynasty for glorifying bandits, and of an example of a peasant uprising under a revolutionary leadership during the Maoist era. There exist a few sequels and continuations of this novel, that has been very popular for describing the brotherhood between honest men and thus also is given the title "All men are brothers".

 

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Myths from the Three Kingdoms era existed as oral traditions before any written compilations. In these popular stories, the characters typically took on exaggerated characteristics, often becoming immortals or supernatural beings with magical powers. With their focus on the history of Han Chinese, the stories grew in popularity during the reign of the foreign Mongol emperors of the Yuan Dynasty. During the succeeding Ming Dynasty, an interest in plays and novels resulted in further expansions and retelling of the stories.

 

The earliest attempt to combine these stories into a written work was Sanguozhi Pinghua, literally "Story of Sanguozhi", published sometime between 1321 and 1323. This version combined themes of legend, magic, and morality to appeal to the peasant class. Elements of reincarnation and karma were woven into this version of the story.

 

This novel reflects the Confucian values that were prominent at the time it was written. According to Confucian moral standards, loyalty to one's family, friends, and superiors are important measures for distinguishing good and bad people. In the novel, characters that were not loyal to the collapsing Han Dynasty are portrayed as bad people; on the contrary, modern mainstream ideology in Communist China would say that the deeply suffering masses were trying to overthrow the ruling feudal lords.

Chinese Zodiac:

The Sheng Xiao, better known as Chinese Zodiac, are 12 animals which are representative of years in some East Asian countries. Each year of the 12-year cycle is named after one of the original 12 animals. Each animal has a different personality and different characteristics.
Despite being called “Chinese zodiac”, it is not a variation of zodiac. The Chinese zodiac refers to a pure calendrical cycle; there are no equivalent constellations like those of the occidental zodiac.
 
Legend
According to Chinese legend, the twelve animals quarreled one day as to who was to be the head of the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide and they held a contest: whoever was the first to reach the opposite bank of the river would be the head of the cycle of years, and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish.  
 
All the twelve animals gathered at the riverbank and jumped in. With the ox's unknowing, the rat had jumped upon his back. As the ox was about to jump ashore the rat jumped off the ox's back and won the race. The pig, which was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second and the pig last.
 
1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996,2008 (ect)Rat
For the opposite sex, people born in the Year of the Rat are noted for their charm and attraction. They are likely to be perfectionists, working hard to achieve their goals and acquire possessions. However, they are basically thrifty with money and easily angered and love to gossip. With great ambitions, they are usually very successful. They are most compatible with people born in the years of the Dragon, Monkey, and Ox.
 
1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009 (ect)OX
People born in the Year of the Ox are patient, speak little, but they have fierce tempers. They get angry easily and tend to be eccentric and bigoted. They are mentally and physically alert and can be remarkably stubborn. They are most compatible with Snake, Rooster, and Rat people.
 
1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998 ,2010(ect)
TigerPeople born in the Year of the Tiger are sensitive and capable of great sympathy. They can be extremely short-tempered. Other people have great respect for them, but sometimes they come into conflict with older people or those in authority. They may result in a poor, hasty decision or a sound decision due to the fact they cannot make up their minds. They are suspicious of others, but they are courageous and powerful. Tigers are most compatible with Horses, Dragons, and Dogs
 
1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011 (year)Rabbit
People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, with excellent taste. Besides, they are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. Although they are fond of gossip, they are tactful and generally kind. They seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and never back out of a contract. They are most compatible with those born in the years of the Sheep, Pig, and Dog.
 
1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012 (ect)Dragon
People born in the Year of the Dragon are healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered, and stubborn. They are also honest, sensitive, brave and trusted. They neither borrow money nor make flowery speeches; instead, they tend to be soft-hearted which sometimes gives others an advantage over them. They are compatible with Rats, Snakes, Monkeys, and Roosters.
 
1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013 (ect)
People born in the Year of the Snake say little and possess great wisdom. They never have to worry about money, since they are financially fortunate. SnakeBut they are often quite vain, selfish, and a bit stingy. Yet they have tremendous sympathy for others and try to help those less fortunate. They have doubts about other people's judgment and prefer to rely on themselves, thus they tend to overdo. They are usually good-looking and sometimes have marital problems because they are fickle. Although calm on the surface, they are intense and passionate. They are most compatible with the Ox and Rooster.
 Horse
1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014 (ect)
People born in the Year of the Horse are popular. They are cheerful, skillful with money, and perceptive. Sometimes they have a weakness for members of the opposite sex though they are wise, talented. They are impatient and hot-blooded about everything except their daily work. They are very independent and rarely listen to advice. They are most compatible with Tigers, Dogs, and Sheep.
 
1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015 (ect)Ram
People born in the Year of Ram are elegant and highly accomplished in the arts. They are often shy, pessimistic, and puzzled about life, but they are deeply religious. They are always passionate about what they do and what they believe in. They are wise, gentle, and compassionate and compatible with Rabbits, Pigs, and Horses.

1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004
, 2016 (ect)
MonkeyPeople born in the Year of the Monkey are clever, skillful, and flexible, remarkably inventive and original and can solve the most difficult problems with ease. They have a disconcerting habit of being too agreeable. If they cannot get started immediately when they want to do things, they become discouraged and sometimes leave their projects. Although good at making decisions, they tend to look down on others. They have excellent memories. They are most compatible with the Dragon and Rat.
 
1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017 (ect)Rooster
People born in the Year of the Rooster are deep thinkers, capable, and talented. They like to be busy and are devoted beyond their capabilities. They always think they are right and usually are! People born in the Rooster Year are often a bit eccentric, and often have rather difficult relationship with others. They can be selfish and too outspoken, but are always interesting and can be extremely brave. They are most compatible with Ox, Snake, and Dragon.

1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
(ect)Dog
People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty and are honest. But they are somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn, and eccentric. They care little for wealth, yet somehow always seem to have money. They make good leaders. They are compatible with those born in the Years of the Horse, Tiger, and Rabbit.
 
1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019 (ect)
People born in the Year of the Pig are chivalrous and gallanPigt. Whatever they do, they do with all their strength. They have tremendous fortitude and great honesty.  They are extremely loyal, with a great thirst for knowledge. Although they are quick tempered, they hate arguments and quarreling. No matter how bad problems seem to be, they will try to work them out honestly. They are most compatible with Rabbits and Sheep.

 

Chinese Medicine:

What is Chinese Medicine?
Chinese herbal medicine is one of the great herbal systems of the world, with an unbroken tradition going back to the 3rd century BC. Yet throughout its history it has continually developed in response to changing clinical conditions, and has been sustained by research into every aspect of its use. This process continues today with the development of modern medical diagnostic techniques and knowledge.
 
Because of its systematic approach and clinical effectiveness it has for centuries had a very great influence on the theory and practice of medicine in the East, and more recently has grown rapidly in popularity in the West. It still forms a major part of healthcare provision in China, and is provided in state hospitals alongside western medicine.
Chinese medicine includes all oriental traditions emerging from Southeast Asia that have their origins in China. Practitioners may work within a tradition that comes from Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan or Korea. It is a complete medical system that is acupuncturecapable of treating a very wide range of conditions. It includes herbal therapy, acupuncture, dietary therapy, and exercises in breathing and movement (tai chi and qi gong). Some or several of these may be employed in the course of treatment Chinese herbal medicine, along with the other components of Chinese medicine, is based on the concepts of Yin and Yang. It aims to understand and treat the many ways in which the fundamental balance and harmony between the two may be undermined and the ways in which a person's Qi or vitality may be depleted or blocked. Clinical strategies are based upon diagnosis of patterns of signs and symptoms that reflect an imbalance.
 
However, the tradition as a whole places great emphasis on lifestyle management in order to prevent disease before it occurs. Chinese medicine recognizes that health is more than just the absence of disease and it has a unique capacity to maintain and enhance our capacity for well being and happiness.
 
Herbal Medicine and Modern Pharmacology
There is a growing body of research that indicates that traditional uses of plant remedies and the known pharmacological activity of plant constituents often coincide. However, herbal medicine is distinct from medicine based on pharmaceutical drugs. Firstly, because of the complexity of plant materials it is far more balanced than medicine based on isolated active ingredients and is far less likely to cause side effects. Secondly, because herbs are typically prescribed in combination, the different components of a formulae balance each other, and they undergo a mutual synergy, which increases efficacy and enhances safety. Thirdly, herbal medicine seeks primarily to correct internal imbalances rather than to treat symptoms alone, and therapeutic intervention is designed to encourage this self-healing process.
 
What can Chinese Medicine treat?
Chinese medicine is successfully used for a very wide range of conditions. Among the more commonly treated disorders are:
Skin disease, including eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, urticaria
Gastro-intestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, ulcerative colitis
Gynecological conditions, including pre-menstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis, infertility
Hepatitis and HIV: some promising results have been obtained for treatment of Hepatitis C, and supportive treatment may be beneficial in the case of HIV
Chronic fatigue syndromes, whether with a background of viral infection or in other situations
Respiratory conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, and chronic coughs, allergic and perennial rhinitis and sinusitis
Rheumatological conditions (e.g. osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
Urinary conditions including chronic cystitis
Diabetes, including treatment and prevention
Psychological problems (e.g. depression, anxiety)
 
Are herbs safe?
Chinese herbal medicines are very safe when prescribed correctly by a properly trained practitioner. Over the centuries doctors have compiled detailed information about the pharmacopoiea and placed great emphasis on the protection of the patient. Allergic type reactions are rare, and will cause no lasting pharmacopoeia damage if treatment is stopped as soon as symptoms appear.
 

Tujia Ethnic Minority:

More than 2,000 years ago, the Tujia ethnic group began to live in Guizhou.Tujia Ethnic Minority They live in mixed communities with the Han and other ethnic groups. The Tujia people in Guizhou are mainly found in the Yinjiang Tujia-Miao Autonomous County, the Yanhe Tujia-Miao Autonomous County and the Yanhe Tujia Autonomous County. Tujia people have their own spoken language, but no written language, so they use the Han language. Most Tujia people build their houses in various styles by rivers and streams. They like to plant fruit trees and flowers around their houses. Tujia women wear collarless long, loose-fitting jackets that button up on the left side with decorative laces around the edges. Below this, they wear loose-fitting trousers and pointed embroidered shoes. They wrap their heads with white kerchiefs and wear silver ornaments. For men, the traditional dress is collared jackets with large front pieces buttoning up on the right. Nowadays, the young people like to wear short jackets buttoned in the front and white or patterned turbans. The Tujia people worship ancestors and believe in spirits. Their main festivals include the Spring Festival, Fourth Month Eighth Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Double Sixth and Double Ninth Festival.

 

Life
Tujia people like singing. They have love songs, crying songs sung at weddings, hand waving songs, labor songs, and Pan Songs. Their traditional dances include the hand waving dance, Ba Bao bronze bell dance, and Mao Gu Si, in which people dance and sing. Tujia musical instruments are the so-na, mu ye, dong-dong-kui, and da-jia-huo. The women are master the art of weaving and embroidering. The other traditional handcrafts of the Tujia people are carving, drawing, paper-cutting, and wax printing. The Tujia brocade is called Xi Lan Ka Pu and is one of the three most famous in China.

Language
The Tujia ethnic group possesses its own language, but most can speak Mandarin Chinese. At present, the Tujia language is used only in a few areas; it lacks written characters, so Chinese characters are used instead.
 

 

 

Tujia Marriage Customs

Tujia girls will cry to welcome their marriage day. The shortest number of days brides might cry is about 3 or 5 days. Tujia people judge a girl's intelligence and virtue by how well she can sing crying songs in the wedding.

Tujia WeddingTen Sisters’ Accompanying is a unique form that a Tujia girl takes when she cries over her marriage. The day before the bride's marriage day, her parents will invite 9 unmarried girls in the neighborhood to their home, and they sit with the bride around the mat singing songs for the whole night, which is called Ten Sisters’ Accompanying singing. Ten girls sit around the table, and then the bride cries 10 times, which is called a Put. At each interval, the cook will put a dish on the table. When the bride finishes there are 10 dishes at the table. When all 10 dishes are at the table, the 9 unmarried girls will take turns to cry. After the 9th girl cries, the bride will cry 10 times, called Collects, and the cook collects 10 dishes in turns. That ends Ten Sisters’ Accompanying.

Tibetan Ethnic Minority:

Origin of Tibetan people
In the ancient time, the ancestors of the present Tibetans lived along both sides of the Yarlung Tsangpo River. Princess WenchengIn the 6th century, the chieftain of the Yarlung tribe conquered several nearby tribes to become king. He was known as Zanpu (king), and he established the Po Dynasty. In the early 7th century Songtsen Gampo (his grandson) unified the whole of Tibet and shifted the capital to Lhasa. This is known in Chinese history as the Tupo kingdom. In 641, Songtsen Gampo married Princess Wencheng, of the Tang Dynasty, and was given the title of "the King of China's west". In 710, Xidezuzan (a king of Tibet) married Princess Jincheng of the Tang Dynasty. The contacts between Tibet and central China had a strong influence on Tibetan society in the fields of politics, economics, and culture. During the Yuan Dynasty of the 13th-14th centuries, the central government appointed a department to manage affairs in Tibet and brought Tibet under their direct management. The Ming Dynasty set up a local government in Tibet, and the Qing Dynasty subsequently appointed a ministry to deal with affairs in Tibet and Mongolia. The central government officially approved the title of Dalai Lama in 1653 and the title of Panchen Lama in 1713. In 1728 a resident minister in charge of Tibetan affairs was appointed, followed by the creation of the "Gexia", or Tibetan local government, in 1751. In 1934 the Government of the Republic of China set up a resident agency to administer affairs in Tibet, and in 1959, the Tibet Autonomous Region was established.
 
Costume
Tibetan people have very characteristic clothes. Generally speaking,Tibetan Costume they wear short upper garments made of silk or cloth with long sleeves inside, wide and loose robes outside and long boots of cattle hide. For the convenience of work or labor, they usually expose their right shoulder or both arms by tying the pair of sleeves around their waist. Both men and women have pigtails, but the man always coils up the pigtails over his head while the woman combs her hair either into two or many small pigtails flowing down onto the shoulders, at the end of which some beautiful ornaments are tied. The woman prefers to wear an apron with beautiful patterns. 
 
Language
Tibetan people have their own spoken and written language. Tibetan language belongs to the Cambodian branch of the Sino-Tibetan language system. It can be divided into three dialects, namely, Weizang, Kangfang, and Anduo. Today's Tibetan language is based on pinyin characters according to Sanskrit and Xiyu Characters of the early seventh century. The boom period of Tibetan culture was from the 10th century to the 16th century.
 
Tibetan Medicine
Tibetan Medicines is a very important component of Chinese Medicines. It is especially famous in veterinarian medicine. A famous medical book is Four Materia Medica. In addition, Tibetan divination can predict eclipses and weather conditions in the local area.
 
Customs
Presenting Hada
Presenting hada is to show purity, loyalty, faithfulness and respect to the receivers. Hada is a long piece of silk used as a greeting gift. In Tibet, it is a custom to present Hada hada to the guests at weddings and funerals. Hada expresses different meanings in different circumstances. At festivals or holidays, people exchange hadas to wish a happy holiday and a happy life. At weddings, people present hadas to the bride and bridegroom to wish them love for each other forever. At receptions, people present hadas to guests to wish the Buddha to bless them. While at funerals, people give hadas to express condolences to the dead and comfort to the grieved relatives of the dead. It is also common when people visit senior people, worship Buddha statues, and bid farewell to guests. The ways to present hada are quite different from person to person. The following is what people usually do to present a hada: take the hada with their both hands, lift it up to same level as the shoulder, stretch out the hands, bend over, and pass it to the guest. Make sure that the top of one's head is on the same level with the hada. Only in this way, can you express your respect and best wishes. For the receiver, he should receive it with both hands. To seniors or elders, you should lift the hada up over your head with your body slight bent forward, and put it on the place in front of their seats or feet. For your counterpart or subordinates, you can hang the hada around their necks.

 

Prostrating
On the roads to Lhasa, from time to time you can see Buddhists prostrating. They begin their journey from their home and keep on prostrating all the way to Lhasa.Prostrating They wear hand pads (protective appliances on their hands), kneepads, and a protective leather upper outer garment. With dusts on their faces, with the innumerable hardships, slowly they move forward by prostrating for every three steps, for months, or for years, toward the holy city - Lhasa. The prostrating Buddhists are very scrupulous. The prostrator follows these procedures: first, stand straight upright, chant the six-character truth meaning "merciful Buddha", put the palms together, raise the hands up over the head, and take a step forward; second, lower the hands down in front of the face, take another step forward; third, lower the hands down to the chest, separate both hands, stretch them out with the palms down, kneel down to the ground, then prostrate with the forehead knocking the ground slightly. Stand up again and repeat the whole procedure. Another way is to walk around the monastery in a clockwise direction and prostrate. Starting from the front gate of the monastery, Buddhists also prostrate once for every three steps, chanting the six-character truth and some Buddhism scriptures.

Nu Ethnic Minority:

The Nu Ethnic Minority has a population of only 28,759. More than 95% of Nu people live in Lushui, Fugong, Gongshan, and Lanping counties in northwestern Yunnan Province. A small number of Nu live in Weixi (in Diqing Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan) and Zayul counties.
 Nu Ethnic MinorityReligion
The Nu people believe in primitive religion and they worship nature. They believe that everything in the world has its own spirit. Objects such as the sun, moon, stars, mountains, rivers, trees and rocks are all worshiped. After the Lama Religion, Catholicism and Christian religion were introduced into the region, some Nu people began to believe in those three religions. It is also common for family members to believe in different religions.

Customs
Naming the Babies: Nu names are simple. They name their sons and daughters separately according to the order of their births from the eldest to the eighth. The eldest son is named Penggou, the second eldest son is named Jinduli, the third son Kun, the fourth son Zeng, the fifth son Dian, the sixth son Ran, the seventh Lan, and the eighth Baliyi. The eldest daughter is named Nakele, the second eldest daughter is named Nitai, the third daughter Jianggele, the fourth Na, the fifth Nianguo, the sixth Ranluo, the seventh Da'en, and the eighth Ying. If they have a ninth child, they name him or her after an object they like, for example, crossbows or bows.

Funeral Customs: As far as the burial is concerned, Nu people have adopted several burial forms, such as sarcophagus (stone coffin) burial, bamboo coffin burial, wood coffin burial, cremation burial, rock cave burial and so forth. Some people bury the dead in the ground, with the graves being knoll-shaped or flat. After a Nu person dies, his family will blow bamboo trumpets to announce his death. When people hear the bamboo trumpet, they will stop whatever they are doing; take some meat and wine to visit the bereaved to express their condolences. The dead body will be put in a temporary shelter before burial. People hold memorial ceremonies three times a day, each time with different sacrifice, which are then put in a bamboo tube or bamboo basket and buried with the dead.

Miao Ethnic Minority:

The Miao ethnic minority group is one of the few minority nationalities that Miao Ethnic Minorityhave an extensive population existing in and out of Mainland China. People often refer to Guizhou Province as “the base of the Miao nationality.” Inside Guizhou, the majority of the Miao population resides in the Southeastern Guizhou Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture. Tai County has the highest concentration of Miao ethnicity at 97% and is referred to as “the number one county of the Miao nationality.” The remaining population is distributed among less concentrated counties in the province.

 

Customs

The Miao nationality pays great attention to etiquette, especially with respect to the treatment of guests. For instance, when a guest visits, the host kills a chicken or a duck to entertain and feed the guest. If the guest comes from afar or has a long journey, the host will first invite the guest to drink an alcohol called Horn spirit. When the chicken is eaten, the chicken head is presented to the senior member of the feast, while the senior himself presents the youngest with a chicken leg.
Another common tradition steeped in etiquette is a chicken/duck heart sharing custom unique to the Miao. The eldest person of the family uses chopsticks to pick up the chicken/duck heart and presents it to the guest. However, the guest cannot eat the whole chicken heart. He or she must share the chicken heart with the elder that has just presented him or her with the gift. If the guest has a low alcohol tolerance or does not like eating fatty meat, he or she can explain the reason to the host. While the host surely will not look down upon a guest that requests minimal refreshments, they do regard gluttony or over-indulgence as an insult to the host.

 

FestivalsLusheng Festival

Lusheng Festival
The Lusheng Festival is the most influential festival of the Miao minority. It lasts for five days from the 16th to 20th day in the first lunar month. It is popular throughout Guizhou, Yunnan, and Sichuan provinces. The Lusheng Festival in Kaili, the famous tourist hub in Guizhou province, is considered one of the grandest celebrations of the Miao.

 

Sisters' Meals festival
This lasts for three days from the 16th to 18th day in the third lunar month. The Sisters' Meals festival is for the celebration of love (similar to the western Valentine’s Day). It is celebrated by the Miao people in Guizhou province, especially in Taijiang and Jianhe Counties along the banks of the Qingshui River. It is the oldest Asian Valentine’s Day.

 

New Year of Miao Ethnic Group
According to Miao custom, the 10th lunar month is the beginning of a new year. Therefore the Miao New Year festival, the most important festival for Miao people, is usually celebrated around this time. However, the exact date varies each year and is only disclosed one or two months in advance. The celebration of the Miao New Year in Leishan, Guizhou Province is the grandest among Miao festivities. During the event, tourists can enjoy watching enchanting Miao customs come alive through various kinds of ethnic activities. These include the festival parade that features Miao girls and women in traditional Miao dress, the traditional music of the Lusheng (a kind of musical instrument made of bamboo), bullfights, horseracing, and of course, lots of singing and dancing.

Jinuo Ethnic Minority:

The Jinuo (alternatively, Jino) ethnic minority, are also known as the Youle folk due to their homeland in the Youle Mountains. (The Youle Mountains are a sparsely-populated, densely-forested, mountainous region of Yunnan Province not far from Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve) The Jinuo live in a number of small enclaves in and around the village of Jinuo in Jinghong County (but with some scattered about in Mengla and Menghai Counties), about 40 km - as the crow flies - east-northeast of the city of Jinghong, capital of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture. 

Livelihood
The Jinuo are farmer-hunter-gatherers. They plant tea (their trademark tea is the Puer "brand"), rice, maize, bananas, papayas, and even cotton. Jinuo men, however, remain at heart hunters, being proficient with poisoned arrows, traps, crossbows, and - today - rifles and shotguns. 
 

Costume

What Jinuo women wear includes: a white, pointed, cape-like hood, or cowl, that reaches the shoulders at the back; a short, collarless, embroidered tunic made of cotton that buttons Jinuo Ethnic Minorityin front, and typically has horizontal stripes in eye-catching bright colors on the front and an embroidered image of the moon on the back; a wrap-around black skirt hemmed with a broad red-lace border; and leggings, or heavy stockings, that go from the ankle up to just below the knee. Jinuo men wear a collarless, long-sleeve tunic similar in form to that worn by Jinuo women, except that the man's tunic is of white cotton with a band of narrow, horizontal stripes - usually in muted shades of brown and black - near the mid-section, and with similar but vertical stripes on either side of the front opening. There are also a couple of broad bands of narrow, horizontal stripes on the sleeves of the tunic, in the same color scheme as the stripes on the body of the tunic. The back of this tunic either is of the same motifs as in front, or embroidered with an image representing the sun. Jinuo men wear knee-length, broad-legged trousers made of flax or cotton, dyed black or blue.

 

Religion

The Jinuo are animists (animists believe that all things on earth have souls, or spirits, whereas non-animists distinguish between the animate, which can have a spirit, and the inanimate, which cannot) .The Jinuo are especially sun worshippers. The sun-drum is a sacred musical instrument in Jinuo culture. Each Jinuo village has two sun-drums, the Father Drum and the Mother Drum, which are the embodiment of the divine spirits and which therefore may not be handled except during sacred ceremonies, or festivals, where villagers pay homage to the divine spirits and entreat them to bless the Jinuo with a bountiful harvest, ward off disease, etc. The Sun-Drum Dance is performed during such ceremonies.

Drung Ethnic Minority:

The Drungs mainly live in the Dulong River Valley in the Gongshan Dulong and Nu Autonomous County in the Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Canton of Yunnan Province. There are also a small number of them, numbering around 7,400, distributed in the areas along the Nujiang River in the north of Gongshan County. 

Language
The ethnic group uses the Drung language, which belongs to Tibetan-Burmese group of the Chinese-Tibetan language family. It is basically communicable with the Nu language of Gongshan. However, they have no characters of their own.
 

Marriage Customs

Marriage Persuasion: Marriage persuasion of the Drungs is civilized and interesting. When a young man takes a fancy to a girl, he will send a married man who good communication skills Drung Ethnic Minorityand prestige in the stocked village as the matchmaker. If the matchmaker accepts the task, he will take a teapot in hand and carry a varicolored bag on back with tea, cigarettes and an urn inside from the young man's home to the girl's home. When he arrives at the girl's home, no matter whether the girl's family are warm to greet him or not, the matchmaker will put down the teapot, fill it with water, make the fire in the fireplace burn fiercely, put up the tripod and then place the teapot on it in a smart way. Then he brings out the tea and the urn from the bag and fetches the bowls, each for one and without reference to age or sex, to make ready for making tea. At this moment, no matter whether the girl’s family consents to the marriage persuasion or not, and no matter whether they are delighted or not, they will draw up around the fireplace. When the water is brought to a boil, the matchmaker will start to make tea. After a while, he will pour the tea into the bowls and put the bowls in front of them in the order of father, mother, elder brother, elder sister, younger brother, younger sister and the last one, the girl before talking about the marriage. If the girl's father or mother finish the tea and the others follow him or her to drink up the tea, it means the marriage persuasion is a success. If the tea turns from hot to cold and from cold to hot until 11 or 12 o'clock and there is still no one drinking the tea, and if the second evening and the third one remain the same, this means the marriage persuasion is unsuccessful. If the young man wishes to, he has to send a matchmaker again one year later.

 

Weddings

At the wedding ceremony, parents of both sides will introduce the circumstances of their own son or daughter, encourage them to show loving care for each other, run their home through hard work and thrift and get along in harmony, Weddingand admonish them not to get divorced even if one of them will get disabled or blind. After that, they will forward a bowl of rice wine to the bride and bridegroom. The couple will take the wine over and indicate in front of the guests to their parents that they will comply with the admonition of their parents to show respect for each other and take good care of each other for a lifetime and never to be separated. Finally, they will scoop up the wine bowl and drink up together the wine, which is called "wine of one heart".

The wedding banquet is quite simple. Most of the foods are fried noodles, buns, rice wine, and the like, which are made by the couple's families or brought by guests. The masters hand out the food, each share for one guest and add one piece of meat to show respect for them. On the wedding day, people of the whole village come to send congratulations. After the ceremony,

Dong Ethnic Minority:

The Dong people, a Chinese ethnic minority who number about 2,514,000 individuals according to the 1990 Chinese state census, are found mainly in the provinces of Guizhou and Hunan, as well as in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
 
LanguageDong Ethnic Minority
The Dong speak a variety of local dialects. Their language is divided into two main, mutually incomprehensible dialects, a southern and a northern dialect. The spoken language of the Dong is in the same phonetic family as that of the Tai/ Dai language (as is Cantonese, according to the experts). The Dong has not traditionally had a written language, which probably explains how Dong dialects can diverge so significantly from locality to locality.
 
Customs
Marking : Marking is often done with grass or other plants which are pulled up and knotted, then placed in a conspicuous place (alternatively, in a particularly relevant location) in order to serve as a sign of love (alternatively, as a sign of warning). As the multi-mark name suggests, marking can convey any of several different meanings, generally depending on where the multi-mark is placed. Besides signaling love, the multi-mark may signify danger such as a hazardous spot on a bridge, a slippery precipice, the presence of hunting traps (e.g., on a forest path) that have been set, etc. The multi-mark may also signify scorn, and as such is a form of punishment.
 
Bridge Picnicking: According to Dong folklore, the dragon (who can either bring luck by showering its attention on  the villagers or leave the villagers to their own fate by ignoring them), raises its head on February 2. On this day. family members, together with relatives, bring delicious foods such as meat, eggs, fish, and rice cakes to be eaten as a sacrificial picnic on the bridge in expectation of an abundant harvest in the coming season. In accordance with Dong folklore, the Gnome (a deity) in charge of agriculture is offered a sacrifice on the bridgehead on February 2, so people come to the bridge on this day to share their best food with the Gnome - and to drink him a toast - in the hope of being rewarded with a bumper crop during the upcoming harvest. While bridge picknicking is a custom specifically designed to pay homage to the Gnome in charge of agriculture, the act of observing the custom on February 2 indirectly pays homage to the dragon.

 

Buyi Ethnic Minority:

The people of the Buyi mainly live in Qiannan, Qianxinan and some parts of Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Buyi people had been using Mandarin Chinese because of having no characters of their own until the Chinese government created phoneticized words made up of Latin letters for them in 1956.
 
Religion
Historically, Buyi Ethnic Minoritythe Buyi people believed in polytheism, gnome-worship and ancestor-worship,
homage to, among others, the following: oddly-shaped rocks, trees, mountains, rivers, springs, mountain caves and copper drums. "The divination by chickens, eggs, couch grass and copper cash" are widely accepted. In addition, the person engaging in divination and sacrifice is called 'old Mo' while the women are known as "Mila". In times of disease, natural disaster or omens of hoodoo, such people are asked to exorcise and sweep the village clean in order to get rid of disasters and pray for blessings.

 

Customs

Clothing:Men wear a short garment, long trousers and wrapping turban, and women wear a wide front garment with buttons on the right, long trousers or plaited skirts, and jewelry such as silver bracelets, earrings and chaplets, etc. Buyi people like to live in places beside hills and close to water. Generally, one village is made up of one or several decades of families, and even a 100 or several 100 families.

Marriage customs: Many single young men and women get engaged by blowing wood leaves or singing songs, and then the family of the young man asks a matchmaker to the woman’s house to propose. Once they get engaged, the woman’s family should call for relatives and friends to have an engagement dinner. Two or three days ahead of the wedding, half a pig, a rooster, a duck and a pot of water are needed for the bridegroom to send to the bride's house. And the bride's family must entertain the guests with a banquet to celebrate it.
 

Blang Ethnic Minority:

The Blang people mainly live in the Menghai and Jinghong counties in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southwestern China's Yunnan Province, with a small portion scattered around Shuangjiang, Yongde, Yunxian and Gengma counties in the Lincang prefecture, as well as the Lancang and Mojiang counties in the Simao prefecture. It has a total population of about 91,882.

 

Religion

They believe that men's production, lives, happiness and miseries are all governed by ghosts or gods and that all living things have souls. There are also those people who practice Shamanism and Totemism and have similar customs to those of Dais.

 

Culture

The rich oral literature includes legends, folk tales, stories, poetry, riddles and ballads.Blang Ethnic Minority Most of these are about the origin of human beings. Among them, the most famous ones are "Yanbu Lingga", "the legend of the birth of humans from gourds.  In addition, there are myths about the creation of the world, such as "The Myths of God Gumiya" and "The Story of How the Rhinoceros Created the World". Besides these, there are stories about "The Elephant and the Swan", telling how brave the Blang are, and how they fight against evil. All these are how the Blang tell their history, impart their knowledge and express their feelings.

The Blang also like singing and dancing. Young people like a courting dance called the "circle dance." Young women are in the inner side of the circle while young men are at the outer side. The girls dance gracefully while moving in an anticlockwise direction while the boys will dance like tigers in the circle. Yong men sing love songs to those they love. The Circle Dance is the most popular among young people. The Blang men like Wushu very much. They reveal their energy in the "knife dance." In this, dancing is mixed with Wushu , where they can use long swords, single sticks or short sticks. From these, their spirit of bravery is shown.

 

Handicrafts
Bamboo products: Most of the Blang men are able to make bamboo products by hand, such as bamboo baskets, buckets, dustpans, mats, tables, and workboxes.

 

Textile goods: The Blang women are good at spinning and weaving. Raw materials like cotton, ramee and hemp are used to make into textile products of damask and brocade. This kind of cloth is thick, lasting, and therefore favored by the local residents.
 

Bai Ethnic Minority:

People of the Bai Ethnic Minority mainly live in Dali, Lijiang, Bijiang, Baoshan, Nanhua, Yuanjiang, Kunming, and Anning in Yunnan Province, Bijie in Guizhou Province, Liangshan in Sichuan Province, and Sanzhi in Hunan Province. The population of the Bai nationality is around 185,800.

 

Costume

Bai clothing is usually adorned with camellia flowers because they view these flowers as a symbol of beauty. Bai Ethnic MinorityThe Bai enjoy their lives and love flowers. They like to wear a red scarf on their shoulders and a white outer upper garment, a combination that resembles blooming camellias. White is the favorite color of the Bai. They believe that white represents dignity and high social status, and this can be seen in their clothes. It is typical for men to wear white outer upper garments and white trousers. Girls and women have more choices of colors. They like to wear white, light blue or pink outer upper garments and rosy, purple or black waistcoats. An unmarried girl always combs her hair into one pigtail, tied with a red string at its end, and then coils it over her head. She also likes to wear an apron with embroideries. In general, girls enjoy dressing up like beautiful camellia flowers. The scarf on a girl's head is special and has a special name, "the flower in the wind and the moon on a snowy night." The overall shape of the scarf on a girl’s head is that of a crescent. The upper part of the scarf is as white as snow. The embroideries on the lower part are of flowers. The tail of the scarf falls down naturally on one shoulder, waving back and forth in the wind.

 

Sandao Tea Ceremony

The Sandao tea ceremony is well known at home and abroad. . In China, the tea ceremony is called Sandao tea, meaning “tea services of three times.” It is also called "thunderous tea" because it makes a loud sound when people add water to the baked tea in the pot for the first time. There are two types of tea ceremonies. The first serves baked tea. People put tea with large leaves or tea from a place called Xiaguan into a very small pot and bake it over a charcoal fire. They shake the pot at all times to avoid the leaves from burning. When they can smell the fragrance of the tea, they pour a little boiled water into the pot and immediately sense the aroma. After a while, they add more boiled water into the pot and then the tea is ready. Normally, the hosts pour the tea into guests' cups three times. The first time lets the guests smell the aroma, the second time lets them taste the tea, and the third time lets them satisfy their thirst.

Achang Ethnic Minority:

According to statistics of the fifth nationwide census conducted in the year 2000, the population of the Achang nationality was 33,936, most of whom were living in Longchuan county and Lianghe county of Dehong Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province, and there are a few others living in the counties of Luxi, Yingjiang, Tengchong and Yunlong. 

Language
The Achang people have their own language but with no written words. The Achang language belongs to a kind of Burmese language, which belongs to the branch of Zang and Burmese, Han and Zang language system. In addition, there are three kinds of dialects in the Achang language, such as the Lianghe dialect, Longchuan dialect, and Luxi dialect.

The main musical instruments of the Achang people are Bamboo Lyre, Vertical Flute, Bottle Gourd Flute, March Flute, Bronze Jew's Harps, Three--Stringed Flute, Elephant Foot Drum, and gongs. A Bottle Gourd Flute is made of a gourd connected with three bamboo strings, which has seven tones, and which are usually in low volume and also slow and mellow. This instrument is usually used at night. A March Flute is made of one piece of bamboo, which also has seven tunes as well as a high volume, and an exquisite and bight melody. These kinds of musical instruments are usually used in the daytime. Both of the two types of musical instruments aforementioned are not only the Achang people's favorite, but also the mediums transmitting love between young men and women.
 

Clothing

Men mostly wear blue, while, or black front opening jackets, and black trousers with a wide and short bottom. Achang Ethnic MinorityWhile the young men usually like to wear white headdresses, but they will change into black ones after getting married. The elderly people like to wear fur hats. Whenever the young men wear their headdresses, they like to make a forty centimeters long ear of grain at the back of their head. Whenever the men go out to the market or attend festival activities, they like to take with them a satchel as well as an Achang knife, which will make them look more handsome and natural. The women wear different clothes depending on how old they are and whether they are married. The unmarried young girls usually wear side opening and front opening jackets, black long trousers with a bellyband on their waists as well as black headdress on their heads. The young girls in Lianghe regions also like to wear straight skirts. The married women like to wear blue--black front opening jackets, and have their lower legs bound by leg wrappings, and they also like to make high headdresses with black cloth , which  looks similar to peaked caps , with four to five colorful silk balls hanging from the top.

 

Marriage Custom
The Achang people usually have small monogamous families. The young men and women like free and independent love. Usually there are activities conducted by the young men such as going into the girls' families and talking with them to see if they fit each other. But the marriage is at last fixed by the parents from both families. In the past, there was no marriage between people sharing the same family names. However, they have intermarried with the Han and Dai people very frequently for a very long time. Levirate marriage is very popular among the Achang people. Widows can marry other men but they cannot take away any property from their original husbands. Moreover, the children still belong to their fathers' families.
At the wedding banquet of the Achang people, the bride's maternal uncle will be first invited to sit at the most important position of the table, and a cold dish of food made from the brains of pigs should be served. At the end of the banquet the bride's uncle will give her a piece of back leg of a pig with its tail, which is called Pork from the Bride's Family, indicating that the bride will never forget and always appreciate the fostering and deep affection from her parents.

 

Funeral Customs

Some of the people dying from cachectic diseases, or women dying from dystopias , should first have cremation and then burial. People who die outside their villages should not be taken back into the village. Achang Ethnic Minority's FuneralAfter the death the corpses should not be stepped across by human beings, cats, dogs or other animals. The deceased can be buried with their favorite things, but metals are not allowable, as a result the metal false tooth has to be taken out . During the funerals, the ceremony is usually held by a special wizard, chanting sutras all night long accompanied by funeral music, gong beating, and filial songs. After the funeral no gongs or funeral tools should be touched, otherwise it would be believed that there will be more death in the village. Generally speaking, burial is held after people's death. However, people dying from unnatural causes should be cremated.

Chinese Pottery:

Ceramic manufacturing enjoys a long history,Pottery(Neolithic Age) starting 7,000-8,000 years ago in the Neolithic Age by our ancestors who started the craft of making and using pottery. Pottery is made by baking clay. After humans learned how to start a fire and use it to cook, they tried many different methods to cook hunted animals and vegetation, and then store the remaining food and water. After a long period of attempts, humans finally learned to make pottery by baking clay mixed with water. Pottery includes the process of baking, forming, and drying clay or a mixture of clay, feldspar and quartz. Ceramics represent the artistic features of the baking and forming techniques, as well as the color of the glaze and its decorative features.

 

Yixing Violet Sand Earthenware

Yixing violet sand earthenware is the most famous pottery made using violet sand, a local material with a hard and fine texture, dark colors and exquisite workmanship. Different mixing techniques and baking temperatures create a variety of colors, such as azure, chestnut, dark red, pear yellow, vermillion purple, crabapple red, light grey, greenish black, and more. Yixing violet sand earthenware boasts varied shapes and delicate combinations of lines and planes. Two major designs exist, including imitations with certain variations on natural objects, such as fruits or flowers. Major products include tea sets, flower pots and others, with tea sets being the most famous, as they maintain the scent of the tea while infusing and the color during storage. Traditional techniques include engraving, bass-relief, printing, appliqués, and others.

 

Luoyang Tang Tricolor Pottery

Tang tricolor pottery is pottery painted with three colors of glaze, such as yellow, green and white or yellow,Tang Tricolor Pottery green and blue. Luoyang is located in the northern province of Henan, and is known as the Eastern Capital of the Tang Dynasty. The finest quality Tang tricolor potteries unearthed so far are mainly from Luoyang. They are vivid and exquisite, and have been named Luoyang Tang tricolor pottery. The making of Tang tricolor pottery is complex yet inconsequential. First, the base is placed into the kiln and heated to around 1100 deg.C. It is then removed, colored and heated again to around 900 deg.C. The major ingredient of tricolor glaze is aluminum silicate, and the color generation toner consists of various metallic oxides, such as ferrum or antimony in light yellow, ferrum in ocher yellow, bronze in green, copper, cobalt in blue and manganese in purple.

 

Qingzhou Nixing Pottery

Nixing pottery of Qinzhou in Guangxi Province, one of the four famous types of pottery, has a history of over one thousand years, and the oldest pieces were produced around 618 AD.

Through the unique quality of the clay and its delicate craftsmanship, Qinzhou Nixing pottery appears archaic, with a bronze or liver color. It displays a flambé glaze and turns azure after being fired in high temperatures. Moreover, it becomes smoother with polishing. The assortment of Nixing pottery items is over 600, with the major ones being tea sets, stationery, tableware, vases, coffee utensils, incense tripods and antique imitations. Nixing pottery is also popular because of its peculiar functions. It can withstand strong acids and bases, keeps things fresh against the dampness and is non- toxic. It also maintains the taste and color of tea for days, and even in hot weather, tea stored in the pottery does not spoil. This also applies to food. Moreover, a tea scent remains in the pot after it has been used for a long time, and the scent exists, even without tea, by pouring hot water into the pot.

Chinese Silk:

The culture of silkworms began in China about 5000 years ago. SilkThe ancient Chinese were the first to discover that the cocoons of a lowly caterpillar could be unwound and the filaments woven into some of the most beautiful fabrics. Silk was so highly prized that the lustrous fabrics were reserved exclusively for the royalty of China. The secrets of silk production were closely guarded by the Chinese for thousands of years. It was not until about 300A.D.that sericulture spread to Korea and from there to Japan. In 552 A.D. two Nestorian monks, under orders from the Emperor Justinian, smuggled silkworm eggs from China and brought them to Europe. This was the beginning of the silk industry in the West. Sericulture spread rapidly throughout Europe and Asia during the following centuries. 

Silk moths lay eggs on specially prepared paper. The eggs hatch and the caterpillars (silkworms) are fed fresh mulberry leaves. After about 35 days and 4 moltings, the caterpillars are 10,000 times heavier than when hatched, and are ready to begin spinning a cocoon. A straw frame is placed over the tray of caterpillars, and each caterpillar begins spinning a cocoon by moving its head in a "figure 8" pattern. Two glands produce liquid silk and force it through openings in the head called spinnerets. Liquid silk is coated in sericin, a water-soluble protective gum, and solidifies on contact with the air. Within 2–3 days, the caterpillar spins about 1 mile of filament and is completely encased in a cocoon. The silk farmers then kill most caterpillars by heat, leaving some to metamorphose into moths to breed the next generation of caterpillars. 

Silk fibers have a triangular cross section, which reflects light at many different angles, giving silk a natural shine. It has a smooth, soft texture that is not slippery, unlike many synthetic fibers. Silk is one of the strongest natural fibers but loses up to 20% of its strength when wet. It has a good moisture regain of 11%. Its elasticity is moderate to poor: if elongated even a small amount it remains stretched. Silk is a poor conductor of electricity and thus susceptible to static cling. 

Silk's good absorbency makes it comfortable to wear in warm weather, and its low conductivity keeps warm air close to the skin during cold weather. It is often used for clothing such as shirts, blouses, formal dresses, high fashion clothes, negligees, pajamas, robes, skirt suits, sun dresses and underwear. Silk's elegant, soft luster makes it perfect for many furnishing applications. It is used for upholstery, wall coverings, window treatments (if blended with another fiber), rugs, bedding and wall hangings.

Chinese Embroidery:

Embroidery is the art of decorating fabric or other materials by stitching designs using thread or yarn and a needle. Often, other materials such as metal strips, precious and semi-precious stones, and sequins are used to add to this decorative stitching technique. Hand embroidery involves stitching embroidery designs by hand on the fabric. This process is time-consuming and painstaking, but produces amazing outcomes.
Embroidery as an art form has origins that can be traced far back to the Iron Age. Since man began to wear clothes, the use of embroidery to decorate clothes has been around. A method of decorating, embellishing clothing and embroidered designs came about as a result of hard work and care. It began when primitive man discovered that he could use thread to join pieces of fur to make clothes. As a natural progression, he also discovered that the same thread could be used to make decorative patterns on the clothes. Embroidered clothing was also considered to be a symbol of wealth. Many scenes from history are often found embroidered onto fabric – a wonderful example is the Bayeux Tapestry. This is 231 feet long and portrays the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Following are 6 famous  types of Chinese embroidery:
Su EmbroiderySu Embroidery
Su embroidery has a history of over 2000 years. It is very elegant, with simple designs highlighting a main theme. The stitching is smooth, dense, thin, neat, even, delicate and harmonious. The thin threads are divided into numerous strands that are barely visible to the naked eye. Double-sided embroidery has the same patterns on both sides and uses an embroidering method that shows no seams in the stitches.
 
Xiang Embroidery
Xiang embroidery was initiated in the Chu Kingdom of the Warring States Period. The stitching is loose and not as neat as those of other embroidery styles. Designs on  Xiang embroidery were derived from traditional Chinese paintings of landscapes, human figures, flowers, birds and animals. The most common designs on Xiang embroidery are lions and tigers. Xiang embroidery won the best award in the Torino World Fair in Italy in 1912 and the First Award in the Panama World Fair in 1933.
 
Shu Embroidery 
Shu embroidery is also known as “Chuan embroidery”, which was developed in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province. The products themselves, made with soft satins, include quilt covers, pillow covers, back cushions, tablecloths, scarves and handkerchiefs. Designs on Shu embroidery feature traditional Chinese paintings of landscapes, human figures, daily articles, flowers, birds and animals.  
 
Yue Embroidery
Yue EmbroideryYue embroidery has a history of over 1000 years and was popular in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Yue embroidery has a wide range of designs, the most common ones being birds worshipping the sun, dragons and phoenixes.  The workmanship is elaborate and meticulous. Ancient Chinese craftsmen used peacock feathers twisted together as the embroidering thread to stitch the ornamental designs; horse hairs were used to stitch the outline to make the work more expressive.
 
Gu Embroidery
Gu embroidery originated from the Gu family in Shanghai during the Ming Dynasty. Many celebrities’ daughters like to receive this embroidery as gifts before their marriage.
Gu embroidery uses figures, mountains and rivers as themes. The threads used are light and plain, giving the finished work a feeling of tranquility and elegance. Meticulous and fine stitching leaves no trace of needle mark. Gu embroidery combines the skills of painting and embroidery. This technique has exerted great influence on Chinese embroidery development.
 
Miao Embroidery
Miao embroidery is a unique art of the Miao minority people. It has its regional characteristics and techniques. The stitches are unique and varied. The designs involve propitious animals such as kirin, dragon, phoenix, insect, fish, flowers and fruits. Profuse colors are used, for instance, scarlet, pink, purple, dark blue, Cambridge blue, bottle green, orange, and yellow.

Chinese Ancient Architecture:

City Walls

Among the more than 200 cities which have been capitals of China throughout its long history, the ones that have experienced many dynasties and have had more influences are the Seven Ancient Capitals in China, namely, Anyang, Xi'an, Kaifeng, Luoyang, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Beijing. In addition, Pingyao old town in Shanxi and Lijiang old town in Yunnan were registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997 for their unique folk cultural characters.

 

Xi’an Old City WallXi-an Old City Wall
Xian City Wall was erected in the 14th century Ming Dynasty, under the regime of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. When Zhu Yuanzhang captured Huizhou, long before the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, he was admonished by a hermit named Zhu Sheng, who told him to "build high walls, store abundant provisions and take your time in proclaiming yourself emperor." This advice Zhu Yuanzhang heeded. The current city wall is an enhancement of the old Tang Dynasty structure, as a result of the emperor's wall building campaign.

 

The first city wall of Xi'an was built of earth, rammed layer upon layer. The base layer was made of earth, quick lime, and glutinous rice extract, tamped together. It made the wall extremely strong and firm. Later, the wall was totally enclosed with bricks. A moat, wide and deep, ran around the city. Over the moat, there used to be a huge drawbridge, which once lifted would cut off the way in and out of the city. Xian's city wall, after its enlargement in the Ming Dynasty, stands 12 meters high. It is 12-14 meters across the top, 15-18 meters thick at bottom, and 13.7 kilometers in length. There is a rampart every 120 meters. The ramparts are towers that extend out from the main wall. The ramparts were built to allow soldiers to see enemies trying to climb the wall. The distance between the ramparts is within the range of arrows fired from either side. This allowed soldiers to protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. There are altogether 98 ramparts; each has a sentry building on top of it.

 

Nanjing Old City Wall

The ancient city wall in Nanjing was constructed during the Ming Dynasty, taking 21 years to be completed. The design and construction of the wall were strictly controlled with every brick applied being inscribed with a name to guarantee its quality. A stupendous total of 35 million bricks were used in the construction.

 

The Great Wall

The Great Wall is the world's greatest man-made structure. The Great WallIt is a Chinese fortification built from the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period. When the First Emperor of Qin unified China, the walls were connected. This majestic project of heavy expenditure is still a wonder of world. Time has witnessed vicissitudes but the great project still remains. When you climb up the Wall, you can not only admire the majestic appearance of the Great Wall among the lofty mountains and high ranges, but also feel the great intelligence of the Chinese people.

 

Ancient Capitals of China

The Ancient Capital Beijing

Beijing was first named Ji in literature. In the 11th century BC, Ji was a nation from the Dynasty of West Zhou governing the north of China. In the middle of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC),Yan, another nation to the southwest of Ji, merged with it and the capital was moved there. After that, Ji was the capital of Yan until Yan was extinguished by the great Qin in 226 BC. Archaeologists have proved that Ji of that time is in the southwest of the city zone of current Beijing.

 

In the year 938, Ji became the second capital of Liao. Liao was set up by the Pidan minority from the northeast of China. Since Ji was in the south of its domain, Ji was renamed Nanjing, and then Yanjing. More than one century later, another minority, Nvzhen, extinguished Liao, set up Jin, and moved the capital to Yanjing in 1153. It was renamed Zhongdu. In 1214, Jin was forced by the Mongolian army to leave for Bianjing.

 

The new city, which was finished in 1258, is the unparalleled Yuan Capital in the itinerary by Italian traveler Marco Polo. Since then, Beijing replaced Chang'an, Luoyang, Bianliang and other old capitals and become the political center of China tothe Temple of Heaven the Ming and Qing Dynasty. Beijing, a famous city with a long history, is a masterpiece of the development of science, technology, culture and art of ancient China. Emperors of all dynasties conducted their rein in this precious royal place which epitomizes all Chinese civilization, and in succession they built those famous constructions such as the grand Ba Da Ling Great Wall; the Winter Palace, which epitomizes the merits all the gardens all over the country and is credited with the honor of "the garden of all gardens"; the Summer Palace, which was constructed by all the skillful craftsmen all over the country; and the world famous art showcase the Temple of Heaven. In a word, Beijing, the famous ancient capital of thousands of years of history and culture, is the zenith and apotheosis of the Chinese royal gardens and palace constructions It is also the world's cultural heritage of China which epitomizes the soul of Chinese civilization.


On Oct 10th, 1911, the demographic Bourgeois Revolution broke out in China. The emperor of the Qing Dynasty was forced to claim abdication in the February of the following year. After that, the last feudal dynasty was extinguished. The history of Beijing as the emperor’s capital finished. On Oct. lst, 1949, the People's Republic of China was established, and Beijing became the capital of the new Republic. A new page in the history of the ancient city unfolded.

 

The Ancient Capital Xian

Xian is an important center for the origin of ancient civilization in the drainage basin of the Yellow River.Bell Tower Xian, together with Athens, Rome and Cairo, are called the world’s four great ancient capitals. It was called Chang’an in ancient times. It has 3000 years of recorded history. From the Western Zhou Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty, Xi’an was the capital of 12 dynasties spanning 2000 years. The Han and the Tang dynasties are considered the zenith of Xian. Four great attractions are located in Xian, including the Great Islamic Mosque which was built during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the Bell Tower which was built in the Ming Dynasty (1384), the Drum Tower which was established in 1380, and the Provincial Museum which has a rich collection of cultural relics.   These relics include the famous Forest of Tablet Stones, which has over 2,300 stone tablets from the Han, Wei, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. These are truly treasures of calligraphic art of the world.

 

The Ancient Capital Nanjing

Nanjing witnessed the triangular balance of power of the Three Kingdoms (220-280), the ups and downs of six dynasties, and the insults inflicted on contemporary China, such as the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 and the War of Resistance against Japan (1937-1945). Nanjing has a long history. The six dynasties of the Wu, the Eastern Jin, the Song, the Qi, the Liang and the Chen, chose Nanjing as their capital. Later on, the Southern Tang Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1852-1864) and the Republic of China also made Nanjing their capital. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Nanjing became the capital of Jiangsu Province and the largest comprehensive industrial city of this province.

 

The Ancient Capital Luoyang

The ancient capital Luoyang also boasts rich humanistic cultures. The fables about Fuxi, Nuwa, the Yellow Emperor, Tangyao, Yushun, and Xiayu in ancient China mostly originated from here; the generation and development of traditional ChineseLongmen Grottoes cultures, Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, are closely linked with Luoyang; the Book of Changes and The Eight Diagrams were generated here; Laotze wrote the Taoism here; Confucius once asked the ceremony here; the Historical Book of the Han Dynasty and the Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government were complied here; Zhang Heng invented Armillary Sphere and Seismograph here; and the great poets Du Fu and Li Bai left their ever-lasting poems here. The rich and abundant historic culture of Luoyang has done its contribution to the Chinese nation and also leaves endless wealth and relic sites for following generations to visit and ponder on the past. Luoyang Longmen Grottoes is one of the three art treasures of the Chinese stone inscription; the first temple Baima Temple was the first temple built after the introduction of Buddhism into China and reputed as "Shiyuan" and "Zuting" of China's Buddhism; the Mangshan in the north has the largest ancient tomb cluster in China shaped since East Zhou Dynasty and more than 400,000 precious cultural relics have been excavated here and the first ancient tomb museum in the world has been built here. In addition, Luoyang is also famous for its three colored glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty, Luoyang peony, Heluo Peculiar Stone (Yellow River Peculiar Stone), Luo embroidery and the Guanlin, one of the three famous Guandi Temples in China. 


Ruins

Sanxingdui Ruins

Sanxingdui Ruins (Three Stars Pile) is located in Nanxing Town of Guanghan City, Sichuan Province, China. A local peasant found some exquisite jade wares while digging the ditch in the spring of 1929.  The ruins of this ancient Sichuan cultural remains site depict a culture 3000 to 5000 years old relics of the Bronze Age. The area covers about 12 square kilometers and is one of China’s most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. 

 

Banpo Ruins

The Banpo RuinsThe Banpo Ruins, not far from the city of Xi'an, are divided into three areas: a residential area, a pottery manufacturing area and a cemetery, with the residential area being the body of the ruins. The Banpo Ruins relates to visitors the history of the ancient Chinese people with genuine artifacts from that period. In the Yellow River valley, the Banpo Village Ruins are a typical representation of the Neolithic Yangshao Agricultural Village. The ruins date back 5600—6700 years. It is the earliest known agricultural village in China. The term "Yangshao culture" is used because the first example was found near Yangshao Village. The oldest Yangshao-type village is Banpo. The Banpo Village Ruins were discovered in 1953 with a 50000 sq. meter built-up area. From 1954 to 1957, the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Science Academy organized five excavations, which obtained a great number of precious relics. The Banpo people, who lived during the Neolithic period, used wooden or stone tools in their time. The women were the dominant force in that society; they took responsibility in pottery manufacturing, weaving, raising poultry and the many household chores. The men were responsible for the job of hunting and fishing and bringing home the food to feed the family. 
 

Famous Ancient Buildings

Imperial Palaces

In order to consolidate the emperors' control, highlight the dignity of the imperial power, and satisfy their extravagant material lives, grand palaces were always built in large scale. For thousands of years, successive emperors spared no labor, material or money to build majestic palaces for them. Those solemn and magnificent palaces fully exhibit the wisdom and creative power of the Chinese people.

 

The Forbidden CityThe Forbidden City

As the biggest and most integrated existing building complex in China, it was the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In 1988, the Imperial Palace was listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

 

Altars and Temples

Altars and temples occupy an important place in ancient Chinese Architecture. They are ceremonial sites between religious and non-religious buildings and served to offer sacrifices to the heaven, the earth, the sun, the moon, the country, mountains, emperors and scholars of the past, as well as to ancestors.

 

The Temple of Heaven

Located several kilometers to the southeast of the Imperial Palace, the Temple of Heaven is a huge altar for the heaven covering an area of 2.7 million square meters, four times as large as the Forbidden City.

 

The Confucian TempleThe Confucian Temple

The Confucian Temple, located in the center of Qufu City (Shandong Province) is famous for its oriental architectural features and large scale. The Confucian Temple is one of three great building complexes in ancient China, together with the Imperial Palace in Beijing and the Mountain Resort in Chengde, Heibei Province.

 

The Temple of Guanyu

The Temple of the God of Warriors is also called the Temple of Guanyu. It is a place to worship Guanyu, a famous warrior in the Three Kingdoms Period. Guanyu was greatly praised and was granted titles by many emperors after the Song Dynasty .He was regarded as a good example of man with faith, filial piety, justice and moral integrity. So he is called the God of Warriors.

 

Mausoleums

Mausoleums are the most majestic and also the biggest building complexes in ancient China. These mausoleums are always built back on the mountains; some of them are also on the plains. There is usually a paved path leading to the tomb with stone persons and stone beasts on both sides. Many trees, usually pines and cypresses, are planted around the mausoleums, which add to the atmosphere of solemnity, respect and quiet. In ancient times, people in China believed that the sprit did not die with the body. They attached importance to the funeral so much so that every class of society designed elaborate mausoleums.

 

The Mausoleum of Qinshihuang

Tomb of the First Emperor (Qin Shihuang) stands at the foot of Mount Lishan, Qinshihuang30km east of Xian. This authoritative emperor left behind great achievements and a mysterious royal mausoleum as well. The huge tomb integrates with the Lishan Mountain, offering a unique landscape for sightseeing. The Tomb of Qin Shihuang boasts a Chinese history museum; therefore, it's well-known to the outside world. In 246 BC, after Qin Shihuang (which means "the first emperor of the state of Qin" in Chinese) ascended the throne of Qin (a state in that period), he ordered his final resting palace built. The construction lasted 38 years, using the labor of over 720000 wagons and prisoners. Modern surveys of the site show that the mausoleum is indeed divided into an inner sanctuary and outer city.

 

The Ming Dynasty Tombs

The Ming Dynasty Tombs are located in a small basin of 40 square kilometers at the foot of Mount Tianshou in Changping County, Beijing Municipality. The most famous tombs are the Chang Tombs for their majestic buildings, and the Ding Tomb, whose underground palace has been excavated. The Ming Tombs were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in August 2003.

 

The Thirteen Ming Tombs

The Thirteen Ming Tombs are located in a mountainous area which forms part of the Taihang Mountain Range. Each tomb could be an independent unit. They are all located in front of the mountains, adjacent to one another. Under the guideline of Chinese traditional theory of geomantic omen, the choice of location and layout of these Ming Tombs both emphasize the harmony and integration between mountains, rivers, and plants as well as that between nature and humans. The Ming Tombs reveal the deep and sophisticated conception of Chinese traditional culture, as represented in ancient Chinese royal tombs.  In 2003, the Thirteen Ming Tombs were placed on the World Heritage List. 

 

The Siheyuan Compound

The Siheyuan compound dates back to the Western Zhou (1027-771BC) Dynasty. Most attempts at describing a Siheyuan compound fall miserably short of conveying an intelligible image, via words, of how such a compound is actually laid out. It The Siheyuan Compoundreally is true that a picture (or diagram) is worth a thousand words in this case! The following is an attempt to give a brief verbal description of the Siheyuan compound, in the hope that the reader will finally "get it" the next time s/he runs across the term.  It is built for good reason: with its walls on all four sides, it offered protection both from intruders, whether animal or man, and from the wind (and windborne dust, snow, etc.); it offered ample space for a hierarchy of different buildings with different functions, from the utilitarian to the social, the latter reflecting the social status of the individual; it offered space for smaller, more intimate gardens, including kitchen gardens where vegetables could be grown, as well as space for the larger, communal, center courtyard.  In short, the Siheyuan compound met all the needs of a feudal lord, a bourgeois merchant, or an extended Chinese family in the way of a private residence, where privacy could be enjoyed when desired, and where communality could be pursued when broader social interaction was the order of the day.

 

Tulous

Tulou means 'earth building'. It is named from its outer walls, which are made from rammed earth. They appear on the perimeters of Hakka and other ethnic groups or around locations where Hakka fast developed after the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Tulous in Fujian Province are divided into three types, Wufeng, Rectangular, and Round. Wufeng are located mainly in Yongding, and Rectangular and Round Tulous are distributed in Nanjing, Pinghe, Zhaoan West and Yongding East. In most of the villages, Round and Rectangular Tulous are mixed together. Among the three kinds of tulous, the Rectangular Tulous were the original ones.

 

Wufeng Tulous

'Three halls and two side rooms' are a feature of the Wufeng Tulous. The side rooms are the heightened wing-room of the Chinese courtyard. The center hall in the back yard becomes a multi-storey building. The earth walls in the four sides are enclosure. This was not only for defense reasons, but also as an expression of traditional Chinese architectural forms.

 

Rectangular Tulous

In reality, the Rectangular Tulous were built earlier than round ones. In the northern part of the Guzhu, Yongding, the Rectangular Tulous, named Wuyun Tulous were built five or six hundred years ago, while the round shape, Chengqi, had only been built for three or four hundred years.

 

Round Tulous

The Round Tulou has distinct characteristics. It is high, gigantic, and complex. Generally speaking, Round TulousRound Tulous can be divided into small, medium, and large types. Small Round Tulous are normally two or three storeys and consist of a single ring; medium Round Tulous are three or four storeys high and have wide diameters or two rings; large ones are four or five storeys with two rings or even three rings. A large number of Round Tulous are of medium size. The Tulou is occupied normally by a kinship group. As a result it is more like an apartment or a small village rather than a single building.

 

Dujiangyan Irrigation System

The Dujiangyan Irrigation System is a historical Chinese irrigation and flood control system constructed around 250 BC by the governor of Shu, Li Bing, and his son, and is located 56 km west of present day Chengdu, which it still supplies with water. This irrigation system diverts part of the Minjiang River into an aqueduct leading to Chengdu.

 

Buddhist Pagodas

Pagodas in China were constructed after Buddhism was introduced to China. The pagodas, generally known as the vehicle of Buddhist culture, found its integration in the traditional Chinese architecture and the design was greatly changed. The nationalization of the Indian pagoda demonstrates the good virtues of the Chinese of both high intelligence and willingness to incorporate things of diverse culture. The most well-known Buddhist Pagoda is the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian.

Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, also known as the Grand Canal of China, is the largest ancient canal or artificial river in the world.

 

Storeyed Buildings (Lou)

When the Chinese speak of a Lou, they refer to any building of two or more storeys with a horizontal main ridge. The erection of such buildings began a long time ago in the Period of the Warring States (475-221BC), when Yueyang TowerChonglou ("layered houses") were mentioned in historical records. The art of constructing tall buildings was already highly developed in China during ancient times. Many multiple-storied towers of complex structure had wholly wood frameworks fixed together with dougong brackets without the use of a single piece of metal. Yueyang Tower in Hunan and Huanghelou (Tower of the Yellow Crane) in Wuchang are masterpieces among ancient towers. Ancient buildings with more than one storey were meant for a variety of uses. The smaller two-storeyed buildings of private homes generally had the owner's study or bedroom upstairs. The more magnificent ones built in parks or at scenic spots were galleries from which to enjoy the distant scenery. In this case, it is sometimes translated as a "tower". A Tang Dynasty poet upon his visit to a famous riverside tower composed a poem, two lines of which are still frequently quoted "To look far into the distance, go up yet one more storey".

 

Storeyed Pavilions (Ge)

The name Ge is also used to describe the towers which shelter the colossal statues one finds in some great monasteries. The Chinese Ge is similar to the Lou in that both are buildings of Wenyuangetwo or more storeys. The difference between them is that the Ge has a door and windows only on the front side with the other three sides being solid walls. Moreover, a Ge is usually enclosed by wooden balustrades or decorated with boards all around. Such storeyed pavilions were used in ancient times for the storage of important articles and documents. Take Wenyuange as an example, in the Forbidden City of Beijing, which was in effect the imperial library. Kuiwenge in the Confucius Temple of Qufu, was devoted to the safekeeping of the books and works of painting and calligraphy bestowed by the courts of various dynasties. Some of the Ge, notably those erected in parks, like other pavilions or towers (ting, tai and lou), were used for enjoying the sights.

 

Old Bridges

Zhaozhou Bridge, Hebei Province

This bridge has withstood 10 floods, 8 battles, and many earthquakes including a 7.2 degree earthquake in 1966 since it was built. Yet, the support structure remains intact and the bridge is still in use.

 

Lugou Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge), near Beijing

Lugou Bridge has a history of more than 800 years. It was constructed in the 29th year of the Dading Era in the Jin Dynasty (1189) and completed in the 3rd year of the Mingchang Era (1192). The bridge is 266.5 meters long. It has 11 arches and 501 stone lions (another report saying is that it has 502) on the balustrades.

The History and Development of Ancient Chinese Architecture:

In the Paleolithic Age, people lived by fishing and hunting, and were sheltered in trees and caves. A Fang PalaceIn the Neolithic Age, men engaged in raising animals and farming, and settled down by digging caves and by building simple houses with twigs and lumber, thus commencing their architectural activities. During the 3,000 years of feudalist society, ancient Chinese architecture formulated gradually its unique system, coupled with a considerable progress in urban planning, garden design, and house construction technique. In 221 B.C., the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty mobilized the resources of the country to do construction works on a massive scale, including A Fang Palace, the Emperor’s Mausoleum, the Great Wall and the Dujiangyan Water Conservation Project. From then on, many more massive construction works of lasting fame were carried out in the history of China.

Features of Ancient Chinese Architecture:

Structural Flexibility

Wood is the chief building material of ancient Chinese buildings. dougongThe components are mainly columns, beams, and purling that is connected by tenons and mortises. Thus, the wooden structure is quite flexible. The ancient Chinese wooden building possesses a unique design that can only be found in China, termed a dougong (i.e., a system of brackets inserted between the top of a column and a crossbeam), and it constitutes one of the most important features in ancient Chinese architecture.

 

Beautiful and Elegant Appearance

Ancient Chinese architecture is highly praised for its elegant profile and intricate structure. For example, the quintessential Chinese roof with its overhanging eaves characterized by upturned corners and colorful tiles whose shape varies from building to building contributes to an effect of architectural balance and proportion. These qualities, combined with the roof's unique and colorful tiled exterior, not only satisfy a functional need, they also contribute to the overall effect of the quintessential Chinese roof as a thing of charm and beauty.

 

Rich Color and Ornamentation

The architects of ancient China used different colors in accordance with particular needs or local customs. Some buildings employ multiple, bold colors to make a strong contrast, while others employ softer colors to make a statement of elegant simplicity. Besides the stress on colors, ancient Chinese buildings are characterized by an emphasis on the careful choice and form of interior furnishings as well as internal and external ornamentation, the latter to include gardens.

Chinese Kung Fu:

The origins of Chinese martial arts can be traced over 3,000 years ago to self-defense needs, hunting activities and military training in ancient China.

 The founder of the Shang Dynasty

During the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, martial arts evolved into a kind of dancing. Usually the dancing movements in martial arts were utilized to train soldiers and increase morale. During the Zhou Dynasty, martial arts dancing was designated as a component of education. The application of wrestling techniques on the battlefield received much attention from various states during the Spring and Autumn Period. The emperor held twice yearly wrestling contests, in spring and autumn, to select the best exponents of martial arts. At the same time, skill and technology in sword forging was increasing and the sword ceremony developed rapidly.

 

During the Qin and Han Dynasties, wrestling, swordplay, and martial arts dancing were very popular. A well-known instance was Xiang Zhuang‘s Sword Dancing in the Hongmen Banquet of the same period. The style of his performance was very close to today‘s martial arts. Spear play reached its summit in the Han Dynasty when many techniques for spear usage were practiced. The Five-animal-style exercise was another innovation of Hua Tuo in the development of Chinese martial arts.

 

Kung Fu examinations were proposed and implemented during the Tang Dynasty. The best combatants would receive titles and awards through the examination thereby propelling the development of martial arts. By this time martial arts had evolved to be an artistic form and an independent genre and they were gradually introduced to many countries in Southeast Asia. Today Kung Fu is honored as the ancestor of kickboxing, karate, aikido, and judo.

 The Costume of Song Dynasty

The Song and Yuan Dynasties was one highpoint Kung Fu‘s development and the practice of Kung Fu by civil organizations became more and more popular. Some organizations or clubs centered on the use of spear play and cudgel, and they were called Yinglue Organizations; while others majored in the practice of arching and therefore called Arching Organizations. Performers were called Luqi .People made a living by performing martial arts all over the country. Usually the performances were carried out by one or two people only.

 

Chinese Kung Fu thrived during the Ming Dynasty. The Ming Dynasty saw many genres came into being and numerous books on martial arts were published. The Emperors of the Qing Dynasty banned the practice of martial arts, and the adherants had to set up clubs or societies to pass down the secrets of the art. Many schools sprang up, examples being taiji, xingyi shadowboxing and eight–diagram shadowboxing. The Qing Dynasty also saw the integration among genres. Wrestling techniques were introduced into martial arts, facilitating its improvement and maturing it. This period was a watershed shed between genres for appreciation and those for actual combat.

 

The present view of Chinese martial arts is strongly influenced by the events of the Republican Period (1912–1949). In the transition period between the fall of the Qing Dynasty as well as the turmoil of the Japanese invasion and the Chinese Civil War, Chinese martial arts became more accessible to the general public as many martial artists were encouraged to openly teach their art. At that time, some considered martial arts as a means to promote national pride and build a strong nation. As a result, many martial arts training manuals were published, a training academy was created and two National examinations were organized. As well as this, demonstration teams traveled overseas and numerous martial arts associations were formed throughout China and in various overseas Chinese communities. The Central Guoshu Academy established by the National Government in 1928 and the Jing Wu Athletic Association founded by Huo Yuanjia in 1910 are examples of organizations that promoted a systematic approach for training in Chinese martial arts. A series of provincial and national competitions was organized by the Republican government, starting in 1932, to promote Chinese martial arts. In 1936, at the 11th Olympic Games in Berlin, a group of Chinese martial artists demonstrated their art to an international audience for the first time. Eventually, those events lead to the popular view of martial arts as a sport.

 

Shaolin Kung Fu

haolin Kung FuBeing an important part of Chinese traditional martial arts, Shaolin martial arts are considered to be the authentic Chinese kungfu. Originally, Shaolin Kungfu was developed from the Shaolin Temple, in the region of Songshan Mountain in Henan province. While cultivating in the thick forest of the high mountains, monks created a set of body-building exercises by learning the postures of flying, jumping and running from birds, beasts and fish. Gradually, these body-building exercises developed into a sort of boxing through long practice and improvement, which is generally called ‘Shaolin boxing‘.

Shaolin Kung Fu is comprised of shadowboxing, armed combat, free combat, hitting vital points, and grappling. Shaolin Kung Fu became popular in the Sui and Tang Dynasties, and soon grew stronger by absorbing techniques from many schools. It became the largest school of martial arts in China with branches all over the country.

 

Shaolin Temple                                                                                                                                         

Shaolin Temple,is located at the foot of Songshan Mountain and got its name from its location, It is China‘s most famous temple and of the Chan sect.

 

Shaolin Temple has a reputation for its Zen Buddhism and Shaolin Gong Fu, which is the main attraction of the scenery spot. Shaolin Temple was built for the Indian monk Patuo in A.D.495, on the 19th year of the Yaihe year under the reign of Xiaowen Emperor in the Northern Wei Dynasty .

 

Shaolin Temple was built against a backdrop of hills. In the period of its great prosperity, seven buildings lined the central line of the temple, but in the war among warlords in the period of Kuomingtang, some main buildings were burnt by Shisanyou, including the Hall of the Heavenly King, the Abbot‘s Room, the Hall for Preaching the Buddhist Doctrines, and the Bell Tower when many precious Buddhist sutras and pugilism charts were destroyed as well. In the late 20th century, Shaolin Temple was rebuilt to the old design. The stone tablets in Shaolin Temple are also well known, which are mainly in the Ciyun Hall, or the Tablet Passage. About 120 pieces of handwriting works are stored here, dating from the Northern Qi Dynasty. Many famous masters, such as Caijing, Mipei, Zhao Meng Fu and Dong Qichang, once left their handwriting here.

 Tower Forest

Tower Forest is where the monks were buried. The one in Shaolin Temple is the biggest in China, 232 all together. It is of great value in the study of Buddhist scriptures, buildings and Zen Buddhism. Besides, some other famous places include the Buddhist Convent, built in memory of Damo Buddhist meditating facing the wall; Damo Cave and the Sweet Dew Tower, where Batuo, the founder for the Shaolin Temple, translated the sutras.

 

In addition to the visit to the historic buildings, Shaolin can give performances of Shaolin Kung Fu, which will broaden your outlook and let you have a taste of the charm of Shaolin martial arts.

 

Influence

Shaolin, in popular culture, has taken on a second life. Since the 1970s, it has been featured in many films, TV shows, video games, cartoons, and other media. While much of this is a commercialized aspect of Shaolin, it is also widely credited as keeping the 1500 year old temple in the consciousness of the world, and from vanishing into obscurity like many other ancient traditions. The Abbot of Shaolin, Shi Yong Xin, has decided to embrace modern day pop culture and has used it to the advantage of the temple to keep the temple prominent on the world stage.

 

Some lineages of Karate have oral traditions that claim Shaolin origins. Martial arts traditions in Japan and Korea, and Southeast Asia cite Chinese influence as transmitted by Buddhist monks. Recent developments in the 20th century such as Shorinji Kempo practiced in Japan‘s Sohonzan  Shorinji  still maintains close ties with China‘s Song Shan Shaolin Temple due to historic links. Japanese Shorinji Kempo Group‘s financial contributions to the maintenance of the historic edifice of the Songshan Shaolin Temple in 2003 received China‘s recognition.

 

Wudang Martial ArtsHuang Zongxi

The name Wudang refers to the Wudang Mountains of Hubei Province. Chinese legends say that Zhang Sanfeng created Tai Chi Chuan there. The word "quan" translates to English as "boxing" or "fist." In 1669, Huang Zongxi was the first to describe Chinese martial arts in terms of a Wudang or "internal" school versus a Shaolin or "external" school. However, this classification did not become prevalent until 1928 when Generals Li Jing Lin, Zhang Zi Jiang, and Fung Zu Ziang organized a national martial arts tournament in China; they did so to screen the best martial artists in order to begin building the Central Martial Arts Academy.

 

At that time, Sung Wei was the apparent grandmaster of the Wudang Sword. He taught Wudang Sword to General Li (who was nicknamed "God Sword Li") and to Fu Chen Sung. General Li also taught Wudang Sword to Fu Chen Sung, and would later employ Fu to train the Chinese army.

 

The two major lineages of Wudang Chuan were passed down from General Li Jing Lin. These lineages went to Fu Chen Sung and Li Tian-Ji.Fu Chen Sung worked the rest of his life to develop Fu Style Wudang Fist. The basis of the system was to train the mind and body for optimal performance, gradually working the martial aspects into the training. The system included exercises, empty hand and weapons sets in Tai Chi, BaGua, Hsing-Yi-- and Fu Chen Sung‘s signature form, Liang-Yi Chuan. In his lifetime, Fu had many notable students, including General Sun Pao Gung and Lin Chao Zhen. In 2008, there still remain two living students: Liang Qian-Ya in San Francisco and an unknown man in Hong Kong. Fu‘s oldest son, Fu Wing Fay (Fu Yong Hui), became Fu‘s prodigal son. Wing Fay grew up among many of the greatest martial artists in the Golden Era of Martial Arts in China. Wing Fay learned well from his father and the other great masters. Wing Fay practiced hard, and began developing Fu Style Wudang Fist even more. Wing Fay had two top students: his son, Fu Sheng Long and Bow Sim Mark.

 

Wudang Mountains

The Wudang Mountains are a small mountain range in the Hubei Province of China, just to the south of the manufacturing city of Shiyan.

 

In years past, the mountains of Wudang were known for the many Taoist monasteries to be found there, monasteries which became known as an academic centre for the research, teaching and practice of meditation, Chinese martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, Taoist agriculture practices and related arts. As early as the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220A.D.), the mountains attracted the Emperor‘s attention. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907A.D.), the first site of worship - the Five Dragon Temple - was constructed. The monasteries were emptied, damaged and then neglected during and after the Cultural Revolution of 1966–1976, but the Wudang Mountains have lately become increasingly popular with tourists from elsewhere in China and abroad due to their scenic location and historical interest. The monasteries and buildings were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The palaces and temples in Wudang, which was built as an organized complex during the Ming Dynasty (14th–17th centuries), contain Taoist buildings from as early as the 7th century. It represents the highest standards of Chinese art and architecture over a period of nearly 1,000 years. Noted temples include the Golden Hall, the Nanyan Temple and the Purple Cloud Temple.

 

Tai Chi

Tai Chi (Taiji Quan in Chinese Pinyin) is a unique and powerful art, for both internal power and longevity. The logo of Tai ChiTai Chi is a martial art which embodies Taoist philosophy. When Tai Chi was developed, the martial arts were very aggressive. One‘s proficiency was measured by the strength and aggression of attack, in terms of the Taoist principle of Yin and Yang this was a purely "Yang" conception of martial arts. What was revolutionary about Tai Chi was the incorporation of the Yin element to fighting. In Tai Chi one uses a balance of Yin techniques with Yang techniques, a balance between yielding and attacking. It is for this reason that Tai Chi is described as "a needle hidden in cotton" or "hardness concealed in softness".

 

Presently Tai Chi is rapidly growing in popularity for the tremendous health benefits which come through practice. Clinical studies have shown that Tai Chi practice can lower blood pressure, reduce nervous tension, and benefit the immune, digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory systems. At this time, over one hundred million people practice Tai Chi on a regular basis.

 

The heart of the Tai Chi system is the practice of the single Tai Chi form. The form practice of Tai Chi is the foundation of the training. Though Tai Chi is done slowly, the movements are very difficult and strenuous. Regular practice of Tai Chi greatly improves the functioning of the bodily systems.

 

Influence

The Wudang monasteries figure prominently in Chinese martial arts films, especially the genre known as Wuxia film and popular literature. For example, an ending scene of the famous movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, by Taiwanese director Ang Lee, was set at the Wudang monastery, although not actually filmed there. In some Wuxia films about the Shaolin Temple, characters employing Wudang martial arts are featured as Shaolin‘s competitors. It is in reference to this type of film that the American hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan named themselves. In many martial arts movies, however, actors portraying Wudang practitioners are also found in heroic or neutral supporting roles.

 

Li Xiaolong (Bruce Lee)

Li Xiaolong (Bruce Jun Fan Lee) was an American-born, Hong Kong Chinese martial artist, philosopher, instructor, martial arts actor and the founder of the Jeet Kune Do combat form. He is widely regarded as the most influential martial artist of the twentieth century and a cultural icon. He was also the father of actor Brandon Lee and of actress Shannon Lee.

 

In 1969, Lee made a brief appearance in his first American film Marlowe where he played a henchman hired to intimidate private detective Philip Marlowe (played by James Garner) by smashing up his office with leaping kicks Bruce Leeand flashing punches, only to later accidentally jump off a tall building while trying to kick Marlowe off. In 1971, Lee appeared in four episodes of the television series Longstreet as the martial arts instructor of the title character Mike Longstreet (played by James Franciscus). According to statements made primarily after Bruce‘s death by his widow, Linda Lee Caldwell, Bruce would later pitch a television series of his own tentatively titled The Warrior. According to Caldwell, in which Lee‘s concept was retooled and renamed Kung Fu, but Warner Bros. gave Lee no credit. Instead the role of the Shaolin monk in the Wild West, known to have been conceived by Bruce, was awarded to then non-martial artist David Carradine because of the studio‘s fears that a Chinese leading man would not be embraced by the public. Books and documentaries about the show "Kung Fu" dispute Caldwell‘s version. According to these sources, the show was created by two writers and producers, Ed Spielman and Howard Friedlander, and the reason Lee was not cast was in part because of his ethnicity, but more so because he spoke English with a thick Chinese accent.

 

Not happy with his supporting roles in the U.S., Lee returned to Hong Kong and was offered a film contract by legendary director Raymond Chow to star in films produced by his production company Golden Harvest. Lee played his first leading role in The Big Boss (1971) which proved an enormous box office success across Asia and catapulted him to stardom. He soon followed up his success with two huger box office successes: Fist of Fury (1972) and Way of the Dragon (1972). For Way of the Dragon, he took complete control of the film‘s production as the writer, director, star, and choreographer of the fight scenes. In 1964, at a demonstration in Long Beach, California, Lee had met karate champion Chuck Norris. In Way of the Dragon Lee introduced Norris to moviegoers as his opponent in the final death fight at the Coliseum in Rome, today considered one of Lee‘s most legendary fight scenes.

 

In 1973, Lee played the lead role in Enter the Dragon, The Poster of Enter the Dragonthe first film to be produced jointly by Golden Harvest and Warner Bros. This film would skyrocket Lee to fame in the U.S. and Europe. However, only a few months after the film‘s completion and three weeks before its release, the supremely fit Lee mysteriously died. Enter the Dragon would go on to become one of the year‘s highest grossing films and cement Lee as a martial arts legend. It was made for US/$850,000 in 1973 (equivalent to /$4 million adjusted for inflation as of 2007). To date, Enter the Dragon has grossed over /$200 million worldwide. The movie sparked a brief fad in the martial arts, epitomized in such songs as "Kung Fu Fighting" and such TV shows as Kung Fu.

 

Robert Clouse, the director of Enter the Dragon, and Raymond Chow attempted to finish Lee‘s incomplete film Game of Death which Lee was also set to write and direct. Lee had shot over 100 minutes of footage, including outtakes, for Game of Death before shooting was stopped to allow him to work on Enter the Dragon. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a student of Lee, also appeared in the film, which culminates in Lee‘s character, Hai Tien (clad in the now-famous yellow track suit) taking on the 7‘2" basketball player in a climactic fight scene. In a controversial move, Robert Clouse finished the film using a look-alike and archive footage of Lee from his other films with a new storyline and cast, which was released in 1979. However, the cobbled-together film contained only fifteen minutes of actual footage of Lee (he had printed many unsuccessful takes) while the rest had a Lee look-alike, Tai Chung Kim, and Yuen Biao as stunt double. The unused footage Lee had filmed was recovered 22 years later and was included in the documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior‘s Journey.

 

Shanghai Cuisine:

Shanghai cuisine is the youngest among the ten major cuisines in China though with a history of more than 400 years.Traditionally called Benbang cuisine, it originated in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1840). Shanghai dishes usually look red and shiny, for they are often pickled in wine and their cooking methods include baking, stewing, steaming, deep-frying, etc. In the later part of 19th century after Shanghai became a major domestic and international trading port, Benbang dishes underwent some substantial changes by adopting certain merits of other cuisines. They formed complex flavor structures, cooking styles and techniques. They stress using condiments and keeping the original flavors of the materials and have features of being fresh, smooth and crispy. Shanghai dishes aim at lightness in flavor, and beauty in decoration.
tangcu xiaopai
The use of sugar is common in Shanghainese cuisine and, especially when used in combination with soy sauce, effuses foods and sauces with a taste that is not so much sweet but rather savory. Non-natives tend to have difficulty identifying this usage of sugar and are often surprised when told of the "secret ingredient." The most notable dish of this type of cooking is "sweet and sour spare ribs" ("tangcu xiaopai" in Shanghainese)."Red cooking" is a popular style of stewing meats and vegetables associated with Shanghai.

Facing the East China Sea, seafood in Shanghai is very popular. However, due to its location among the rivers, lakes, and canals of the Yangtze Delta, locals favor freshwater produce just as much as saltwater products like crabs, oysters, and seaweed. The most famous local delicacy is Shanghai hairy crab.
 Da Zha Xie
Da Zha Xie
Chinese mitten crab (Da Zha Xie) is a kind of crab found in Yangcheng Lake. It is normally consumed in the winter (September and October every year). The crabs are tied with ropes/strings, placed in bamboo containers, steamed and served.
Crispy Chicken
One of the local favorites in Shanghai is Shanghai crispy chicken. Crispy chicken is made by first boiling the body of a chicken until its flesh is tender and then roasting it for long periods of time or until the skin goes dry and crispy.
Steamed Crab 
Late autumn is the best time for eating crabs in Shanghai. During that time, the best-quality Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs with green shells and white bottoms, rich in fat and ovary, are shipped to restaurants. When the crabs are properly cooked, the fragrance appeals to diners' palates. There are such famous dishes like the Crab Meat Bean Curd, Lily Fruit in and Crab Fat, Rice Cake in Crab Meat, all of which are delicacies much appreciated by diners. The most popular one is the steamed crab, which maintains the original flavor of the crab. It focuses on bringing out the natural crab flavor. The meat is tender, juicy and delicious.
Squirrel-shaped Mandarin FishSquirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish
This dish uses very fresh mandarin fish. The fish is deep-fried and has a crispy exterior and soft interior. Yellow and red in color, it is displayed in the shape of a squirrel on the plate. Hot broth is poured over it. It sounds like a squirrel crying when the broth is poured. Sweet and sour flavors are harmonized quite well in this dish.
Shrimp with Colorful Vegetables  
This is a stir-fried shrimp dish. The shrimps are peeled and then stir-fried with Chinese bean sauce. The dish looks beautiful and tastes tender. There will be no grease remaining on the plate when finished.
 

Yunnan Cuisine:

Yunnan cuisine, also named Dian cuisine, consists of local dishes from Kunming, Northeast Yunnan, Western Yunnan and Southern Yunnan. The characteristics of Yunnan cuisine lie in a moderate balance of sour and hot tastes mellow in deep oil, fresh and tender with sweetness, striving for their original tastes. Most of the ingredients are green, fresh and natural, including vegetables, fruit, bamboo and flowers. The dishes are not too spicy but have excellent flavor.

 

Guoqiao Rice Noodles are a dish that has long been famous in Yunnan. It came from a story in southern Yunnan. A scholar, preparing for the imperial examinations, isolated himself on an island in a lake to concentrate on his study. Guoqiao Rice NoodlesHis devoted wife was dismayed that the meals she took to him always arrived cold after crossing a long, wooden bridge. But by chance, she discovered the way to keep soup boiling hot -- to top it with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Of course, her husband passed the exams. Soon it got quite popular and was named Guoqiao Rice Noodles. The dish is made of soup, sliced meat, rice noodles and seasonings. A big china bowl will be served with boiling soup and a cover of oil. The soup is made of boiled chicken and pork bone and the clearer, the better. Chicken, pork, liver, kidney, fish and pickled pork are cut into slices. Seasonings are made of boiled vegetables. The raw sliced meat should be the first to be put into the soup. After a few minutes, noodles and seasonings follow. The smell and the taste never fail the gourmands. No visit to Yunnan is complete without trying this unique and delicious dish.

 

Other typical dishes include: Steamed-pot Chicken, Earthen Pot Fish, Xuanwei Ham, Spiced Squab, and Chicken Wing with Goat Stomach and Local Fungus.

Xinjiang Cuisine:

The cuisine of Xinjiang is the food of the Uyghurs (Uyghur Yemekliri), known for its fiery lamb kebabs and homemade noodles. As Uyghurs are Sunni Muslim Turks, the food is predominantly halal.
 
Uyghur food is characterized by mutton, beef, camel, chicken, goose, carrots, tomatoes, kebabonions, peppers, eggplant, celery, various dairy foods and fruits. The primary dishes include lagman, boiled handmade noodles with beef, lamb or vegetables, soups made of lamb or chicken, shish kebabs of lamb or beef, and polos, rice platters also known as plov, with lamb or chicken. Beverages include Chinese black tea. Spices include cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and the fat of the meat is used for flavoring. Bread is the crispy, tasty, and nutty Central Asian-style baked flatbread known as naan, using sesame seeds, butter, milk, vegetable oil, salt, and sugar. Kebabs, seasoned with chili powder, salt, black pepper, and ziran (cumin), are eaten with the skewer parallel to the mouth, gripping the kebab closest to the end with one's teeth and sliding it off the pointed edge into one's mouth. Lagman are especially handmade noodles, made from flour, water and salt. The dough is divided into small balls and then stretched by hand. The noodles are boiled until very soft and then served topped with stir-fried meat vegetables (bell peppers, hot peppers, cabbage, onion, tomatoes) in meat stock.Another popular Xinjiang dish is Dapanji, which is literally translated as 'Big plate chicken.
 
Uyghur-style breakfast is tea with home-baked bread, cheese, olives, honey, raisins and almonds. Uyghurs like to treat guests with tea, naan and fruit before the main dishes are ready. Sangza are crispy and tasty fried wheat flour dough twists, a holiday specialty. Sumsa are lamb pies baked using a special brick oven. Youtazi is steamed multilayer bread. Guxnan are pan-grilled lamb pies. Pamirdin are baked pies with lamb, carrots, and onion inside. Xurpa is lamb soup. Other dishes include Tohax, a different type of baked bread, and Tunurkawab.
 
Roast Meat
Xinjiang roast mutton is as famous as roast duck is in Beijing and crispy suckling pig is in Guangzhou. A two-year-old sheep is slaughtered and skinned, daubed with salt inside and outside, and then coated with a mixture of eggs, chopped ginger and scallions, and pepper. The sheep is put into a stove to roast for about an hour until it turns golden brown. 
 

Nang (Pancake)Nang (Pancake)

Nang is a staple food for the Uygurs, just like steamed buns in northern China, rice in southern China and bread in Western counties. Making a nang is similar to making a pancake. The materials include wheat flour, corn flour or sorghum flour, with such seasoning as sesame seeds, onions, eggs, vegetable oil, butter, milk, salt and sugar. With a golden yellow surface, nang are crispy and delicious.
 
Stewed Mutton Cubes
This is a Xinjiang dish prepared especially for festivals. Cut mutton into cubes of 500 grams apiece and boil them in a big pot. When they are half done, remove the foam; and when they are 80 percent done, add onions, pepper, ginger slices, carrots, turnips and tomatoes. Then remove and place on a big plate. Put some salt in the stock and transfer it to a bowl. Before eating the mutton, dip it in the stock.

 

 

Taiwan Cuisine:

Taiwanese food, at its heart, is a simple, rustic cuisine which makes the best use of the most naturally abundant ingredients. It has enjoyed somewhat of a revival in the past few years. Two basic influences have driven the development of Taiwanese cuisine: the unique geography of Taiwan, and international influences.
 Taiwan Moon Scallop
Natural resources have always been limited in Taiwan. The island's population density of 582 people per square kilometer is even more staggering considering that only 20% of the land is arable, with the rest being mountainous terrain. With such limited farmland, people rely on the sea to provide the essential proteins. The dominant role of fish and other seafood continues in contemporary Taiwanese bill of fare. To give you an idea of the importance of seafood, Taiwan's fisheries harvested 1.46 million metric tons of it in 1990.
 
Taiwan's cuisine has also been influenced by its geographic location. Living on a crowded island, the Taiwanese had to look aside from the farmlands for sources of protein. As a result, seafood figures prominently in their cuisine. This seafood encompasses many different things, from large fish such as tuna and grouper, to sardines and even smaller fish such as anchovies. Crustaceans, squid, and cuttlefish are also eaten.

Shanxi Cuisine:

Shanxi cuisine is derived from the native cooking styles of the Shanxi region in China, Dao xiao mianand it is famed for noodles, its fried flatbread ("da bing"), and its sour taste. The cuisine is also famed for utilizing its locally produced vinegar, just like the Huaiyang cuisine, but the flavor is totally different. The main diet reflects its crop (agriculture): millet, sorghum, and wheat, while pork, mushrooms, potatoes and turnips are frequently used in dishes.
The cuisine comprises three styles:
The Northern Shanxi style, represented by dishes from Datong and Mount Wutai, emphasizies on color and oil.
The Southern Shanxi style, represented by dishes from Linfen and the Grand Canal regions, specializes in seafood, despite the fact that Shanxi is a landlocked province.
The Central Shanxi style, represented by dishes from Taiyuan, is the mixture of both the Northern Shanxi style and the Southern Shanxi style. The region is especially famous for its hand shaven noodles (Dao xiao mian).
 
Traditional Snacks

Steamed Doughball Made from Naked Oats

The Shanxi people make the flour of the naked oats grown on northern cold highlands in the province into small dough balls with boiling water, and then steam them. They are extremely delicious when eaten together with mutton and chili oil.

Chopped Noodle

The willow-leaf shaped Chopped Noodles are garnished or fried. It has a delicious taste.

Cat Ear

It is called this because its shape resembles a cat ear. Cat Ear is made of dough stewed in boiling water and then garnished or fried.

Eight-Delicacy Soup

Also called Tounao, the syrup contains three fatty pieces of mutton, and tonic vegetables. Its aroma combines the smell of liquor, herb and mutton.

Shaanxi Cuisine:

Shaanxi cuisine is derived from the native cooking styles of northwestern China. Shaanxi cuisine makes elaborate use of ordinary materials, and is best known for its pork and lamb/mutton dishes. The flavor is strong and the taste is heavy. There is an emphasis on savory flavors such as salt, garlic, onion, and vinegar; sugar is seldom used. Cooking methods are mainly steaming, frying, and stir-frying.
 Bottle Gourd Chicken
Due to its geographical location between the provinces of Shanxi and Sichuan, the taste of Shaanxi cuisine resulted in both sour and spicy, in addition to a salty taste. In comparison to other Chinese cuisines, noodles are used more widely than rice, but in contrast to noodles of Beijing cuisine, and to a certain degree, Shanxi cuisine, the noodles of Shaanxi cuisine are nearly always wider, thicker, and longer.
 
The cuisine includes three regional styles.
Northern Shaanxi style is characterized by the wide use of steaming as the method of cooking. The most common meat is pork, although lamb/mutton is also popular.
Guanzhong style, the most popular Shaanxi cuisines, uses pork and lamb/mutton equally with heavy flavors and tastes. Hanzhong style, similar to that of nearby Sichuan province, is characterized by its spicy taste.
 
Famous dishes include: Bottle Gourd Chicken, Mustard and Upper Part of Pork Leg, Mushrooms, Walnut Kernels and Two Kinds of Crisps, Three Kinds of Shreds, Guozi Fish in Milky Soup, Chicken Rice and Sea Cucumber, Tomato Juice and Ox Tongue, and Steamed Mutton.

Macanese Cuisine:

Macanese cuisine is unique to Macau, China, and consists of a blend of southern Chinese and Portuguese cuisines, with significant influences from Southeast Asia and the Portuguese-speaking world. Many unique dishes resulted from the spice blends that the wives of Portuguese sailors used in an attempt to replicate European dishes. Its ingredients and seasonings include those from Europe, Latin America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, as well as local Chinese ingredients.

Common cooking techniques include baking, grilling and roasting. The former, seldom seen in other styles of Chinese cooking, speaks to the eclectic nature of Macanese cooking. It is renowned for its flavor-blending culture, and modern Macanese cuisine may be considered a type of fusion cuisine.Bacalhau
 
Typically, Macanese food is seasoned with various spices including turmeric, coconut milk, cinnamon and bacalhau (dried and salted codfish), giving special aromas and tastes.
 
Famous dishes include Galinha à Portuguesa, Galinha à Africana (African chicken), Bacalhau, Macanese Chili Shrimps and Stir-fry Curry Crab. Other dishes might include Pig’s Ear and Papaya Salad, Rabbit Stewed in Wine, Cinnamon and Star Anise. Tapas are also an integral part of Macanese cuisine.
 
The most popular snack is Pork Chop Bun. The most popular dessert is Ginger Milk and Pastéis de Nata.
 
The famous restaurants of Macau include the Restaurante Porto Interior, Restaurante Litoral, and Restaurante Espao.

Henan Cuisine:

Henan cuisine, also known as Yu cuisine, has the accolade of being one of China's most traditional and oldest cooking styles. As the representative of culinary civilization of Central China, Henan cuisine has preserved traditions and made great innovations. With ingredients from all over the country, Henan cuisine is characterized by meticulous preparation and is especially known for delicious soup. No matter whether a dish is prepared by frying, stewing, braising or boiling, it is well received by customers because of its taste, shape, aromas and container. It is moderately sweet and salty, tender and palatable, crispy but not fragmentary.
 
Henan cuisine is mainly represented in Luoyang and Kaifeng. The Gulou Night Market in Kaifeng which started in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) is crowded with people every evening. Luoyang has a good selection of the varieties of Henan cuisine and the best way to sample them is by settling in for the night with some friends and the many courses of the water banquet. The Luoyang Water Banquet (Luoyang Shuixi) is a local custom that has been around for over a thousand years.
 Shaolin Vegetarian Food
The Shaolin Vegetarian Food is one specialty standing out among the varieties of Henan cuisine. Chinese Buddhist belief has for centuries prohibited the eating of animal flesh and the monks here have spent an age perfecting the cooking of all types of vegetarian food. Although not rich in fat or protein, this cuisine is packed full of nutrition and is healthy.
 
Famous dishes and snacks include Peony and Swallow Vegetable, Fried Purple Crisp Pork, Lightly Fried Bean Curd, Jadeite Shredded Fish, Scallion Stewed Sea Cucumber, Fruit Juice and Shrimps, Stuffed Bun Steamed in Small Bamboo Utensils, Sweet and Pleasant Buns, Egg Cakes (which are crisp outside and tender inside), Steamed Ravioli, Hand-stretched Noodles and Braised Cakes.

Hebei Cuisine:

Being the leading agricultural province in China (mainly wheat, cotton and sunflower oil), eating in Hebei is never a problem. There are many local specialties waiting for you as well as various other provincial and imperial cuisines.
 
Hebei Cuisine
The Hebei Cuisine (also known as Ji Cuisine) Family has three branches, Middle and South Hebei Cuisine, Chengde SChengde Summer Resort Royal Cuisine(braised pork)ummer Resort Royal Cuisine and East Beijing Seafood Cuisine.
Middle and South Hebei Cuisine is the most typical cuisine of Hebei and is primarily based upon Baoding dishes. It features a wide selection of raw materials and utilizes mountainous wild game, fish from Baiyangdian, shrimps and crabs. The dishes taste strong and savory and are always served with soup.
Chengde Summer Resort Royal Cuisine is based on Chengde dishes.
East Beijing Seafood Cuisine is based on Tangshan dishes and is renowned for using fresh seafood as its basic ingredients. It features refined cutting skills with a light and fresh taste which stresses the spraying of starch on to dishes cooked with light oil (such oil is pure and clean and not mixed with starch or any other flavorings) and its dishes are uniquely displayed in fine Tangshan porcelain trays.
 
Ji Cuisine excels with the use of various seafood, poultries and livestock, emphasizing the balance between color, smell, fragrance, shape, quality and presentation. The selection of raw ingredients is very strict and the cutting skills are very refined requiring the chefs to cut various patterns and slice the meat into very thin pieces. Ji Cuisine pays special attention to the cooking time, focusing on fresh, salty and delicate flavors. Its dishes taste salty but slightly sweet, tender and crispy. Various cooking techniques are employed, such as stir-frying, quick-frying, sautéing, braising, stewing, baking, steaming and caramelizing. The braised and fried dishes use pure and light oil to spray onto the finished dishes, whereas the baked and quick-fried dishes use cooked oil (such oil mixed with starch and fat could make the finished dish more colorful and delicious). The cooking techniques are refined and the appearance of the dishes looks nice and fresh, rich in color and Braised Plaicesavory.
Typical Ji dishes are Sautéed Tender Chicken Breast, Sautéed Chicken Breast with Green Peppers and Carrots, Braised Chinese Cabbage with Chestnuts, Sautéed Pork Kidneys, Deep Fried Prawns, Braised Plaice, Braised Chub with Fermented Bean Curd, Chang Style Prawns, Chicken Stewed with Chestnuts, Sautéed Shredded Pork, Tofu Stewed with Bean Sprout, Deep Fried Pancake Made with Green Bean, Deep Fried Chicken Legs and Quick-fried Crabs.

 

Guizhou Cuisine:

Guizhou cuisine is derived from the native cooking styles of the Guizhou region in China. Guizhou cuisine is similar to Sichuan cuisine and Hunan cuisine, but it's unique in that its dishes emphasize the mixed taste of sour and spicy, similar to that of Shaanxi cuisine of Shaanxi province, another neighbor of Sichuan. Despite both sharing sour and spicy flavors, Guizhou cuisine can be distinguished from Shaanxi cuisine in lacking the salty taste that is present in Shaanxi cuisine (and which is a common characteristic in most northern Chinese cuisines).
Sour Dishes
Guizhou Cuisine is also known for sour dishes. There is a folk saying: "Without eating sour dishes for three days, folks will stagger forward with weak legs." Each family in Guizhou makes sour pickles which can help promote the secretion of saliva, whet the appetite and digest food. Sour pickles are good ingredients for preparing hot pot, with a special sour smell. Famous sour dishes include Sour Pickles and the Uppermost Part of a Pork Leg, and Hot Pot with Sour Soup.

Guizhou offers a wide variety of hot pots, such as Huajiang Dog Meat Hot Pot, Kaili Fish Hot Pot with Sour Soup, and Guiyang Green Pepper Young Chicken Hot Pot with each having its own strong local flavor. Guizhou hot pots enjoy a high reputation in the country because of meticulously selected ingredients, and a unique smell due to an excellent combination of various main and supplementary ingredients and seasoning. After the pot is boiled, a sweet smell greets people.
 
Fish in Sour SoupFish in Sour Soup
Fish in Sour Soup is a staple of the local Guizhou people's diet. It can be found at almost every meal. It is a dish very popular with visitors. The more you eat, the more you will want it. The Fish in Sour Soup comes from Kaili, a minority area in Guizhou's southeast. The soup broth is the most important part of the broth and it is made with sticky rice, wild tomatoes, peppers, shallots, ginger, and other vegetables.
 
Crackling Fish with Zao Pepper
Another famous dish and one that should not be missed is Crackling Fish with Zao Pepper. Zao Pepper is a condiment only found in Guizhou. The dish is made with fresh carp breaded in a mix made from flour, eggs and salt. The fish is then fried. Ginger, Zao Pepper, and water is added to the pan to make a sauce. The fish is crispy on the outside, and tender and moist on the inside, and the aroma is irresistible.
 
Gongbao Chicken (KongPao Chicken)Gongbao Chicken (KongPao Chicken)
Gongbao Chicken, commonly found in Chinese restaurants under the name KongPao Chicken, has a history of more than 100 years. First created by an official in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) named Ding Shaobao, the dish was originally created to entertain his guests and once the recipe got out, its popularity took off. The main ingredient in the dish is obviously diced chicken. The chicken is fried with peppers, sauces, salt, vinegar, ginger, and garlic. It is a spicy stir-fried dish.
 
Huaxi Beef Rice Noodles

The Huaxi Beef Rice Noodles is named after the area of Huaxi where it originated. The dish is unique and quite complicated to create. The dish is basically rice noodles in a broth, but it is much more than just that. It is spicy, and sour in taste. It is made from diced beef, handmade rice noodles, coriander, Chinese prickly ash, hot peppers, pickled cabbage and ginger. The pickled cabbage adds the sour taste to the dish and many locals like to add sesame oil or spicy oil to the broth before eating it.

Guangxi Cuisine:

Guangxi Cuisine
Guangxi cuisine is light, but not as light as Cantonese food; it is spicy, but not as spicy dog hot-potas Sichuan cuisine. Guangxi cuisine combines the virtues of other Chinese cuisines. Special dog hot-pot is also available in some cities such as Guilin, Liuzhou and Nanning. In China where canine consumption is practiced, the dogs which are eaten are not the same ones which live side by side with their human masters. Most are a "breed" of dog commonly referred to in China as “tu gou”, which means "earth" or "wild" dog. These dogs have been mixed between so many breeds that even referring to them as a "breed" would be a misnomer. They are not cute. They do not give affection. And they will not sit, heel, or roll over. Rather, they are raised on farms, and though domesticated, they are domesticated as farm animals, not pets. While it is not completely unheard of for pet dogs to mysteriously disappear in the Middle Kingdom, the vast majority of dog meat comes from these special dog farms, not the neighbor's back yard.
 
Five Different Flavors of the Guangxi Cuisine
Cuisine of the Southeastern Guangxi Flavor
This includes the local cuisines of Nanning, Wuzhou and Yulin,which pay much attention to the freshness and tenderness of the food, and diversification of the ingredients.

Cuisine of the Western Guangxi Flavor
This is made up of the local cuisines of Baise and Hechi, and features a strong national flavor. It is a good combination of various flavors, elaborately made with ordinary ingredients and full of variety. The dishes are light, hot, tender, crisp and delicately fragrant.

Cuisine of the Coastal Guangxi Flavor
This comprises the local cuisine of Beihai, Qinzhou and Fangchenggang. It puts emphasis on the flavor and color of the dish, and is good at cooking seafood. Dishes made of freshwater fishes and poultry are quite special.

Cuisine of the Ethnic Minority Flavor
This comprises cuisines of different ethnic minorities. It shows a special love of mountain vegetables, fungus in the mountains, edible wild herbs, and chicken and duck in the villages. It is characterized by freshness and purity in taste.
 
Guangxi Snacks
Fried Tea

Fried tea is a unique diet of the ethnic minorities in Guangxi.

To make fried tea, first pop the cooked sun-dried sticky ricewith oil, then put a handful of polished round-grained rice andtea into a wok and stir-fry them, and then add some water. Afterthe water is boiled, filter the tea, and add some salt in thewater. After that, put the popped rice or fried soybeans into thewater. Thus tea is ready. The fried tea can also be made sweet,which depends on individual taste.


Guilin Rice-flour NoodlesGuilin Rice-flour Noodles
This is the most famous snack food in Guilin and all over Guangxi. The rice-flour noodles are pure white, delicate, softand pliant. The mixed ingredients are odorous, the meat and the vegetables are soft, and the thick gravy delicious.
 
Wuzhou Fried Paper-wrapped Chicken
The chicken has a freshness and delicacy of its own. It tastesdelicious, smooth but not greasy. It is a famous traditional dish in Wuzhou.
 
Rolled Rice Pancake
Put the ground thick liquid rice into a tray, spread it out into a thin pancake, cast some minced meat and chopped green onionsover it. After it is cooked, roll it up and put it onto a plate,mix it with paste-like thick sauce and sesame oil. It tastes soft, smooth and delicious.

Gansu Cuisine:

Lanzhou dishes are representative of Gansu cuisine, which features the roasting, steaming, and braising of beef and mutton. Lanzhou people enjoy many tastes including salty, fresh, tart, and spicy. Typical dishes include Jincheng Baita, Jincheng Babao Melon Carving, Baihe Tao, and albino leeks with chicken and roasted pork.

 

Baihe Tao (Lily Peach) is so named because the dish is shaped like peaches. The washed fresh lily - a specialty of Lanzhou - is steamed for about 15 minutes. The lily is then stuffed with sweetened bean paste so that it looks like a peach. The peach is braised in a bamboo steamer for about twenty minutes and then served with a white sugar sauce.Jincheng Babao (Eight Treasures) Melon Carving

 

Jincheng Babao (Eight Treasures) Melon Carving is a traditional food of Lanzhou. The carved melon peel is used as a bowl to hold white fungus, pineapple, cherry, longan, waxberry, and other delicacies. The carving is exquisite and the food is fresh and sweet. This dish will satisfy not only your palate but also your eye.

 

Quick Fried Camel Hump, a dainty dish, has a history of 1,500 years.

 

Jinyu (Golden Fish) Facai (a kind of fungus that grows in the desert near the Yellow River) is a classic dish in the Gansu Province. Its name comes from the shape. The Fa Cai is soaked in water until it is soft and then kneaded until it is round. Minced chicken flavored with salt, egg white, sesame oil, and cooking wine is used to stuff the Fa Cai so that it looks like a golden fish. The fish is steamed until it is cooked and then served in a dish surrounded with beer, giving the look of a golden fish swimming in water. This popular Lanzhou dish goes well with wine.

 

Local Delicacies

Lanzhou Beef Noodles (Stretched Noodles) is the most famous local dish in Lanzhou. It was first created during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1875 - 1908) of the Qing Dynasty (1616 - 1911) and it is now popular all over Lanzhou Beef NoodlesChina. This dish has five main features: clear soup, white radish, red pepper, green caraway and yellow noodles. The noodles can be wide or slim to meet different preferences. Boys like Er Xi (a little wider) while girls like slim ones, the middle-aged and the old like Jiuyezi (leek leaf) and Maoxi (slimmer) and scholars prefer slim and Jiuyezi. Farmers, soldiers and workers prefer wide or even wider. If a girl or an old man asks for wider noodles or a boy asks for Maoxi noodles, it would be rather strange. The noodles have gone beyond food to become a culture.

 

Niang Pi Zi cannot be missed among the local delicacies. Flour paste is steamed for 3 - 4 minutes, then cut into strips and served with mustard, garlic, sesame butter, chili oil, vinegar, and soy sauce.

 

As many Hui people live in Lanzhou, barbequed mutton, boiled mutton, and lamb with wide vermicelli are local delicacies among the various ethnic groups.

Beijing Cuisine:

Beijing cuisine is the cooking style in Beijing, China, which is also formally known as Mandarin cuisine. There are numerous dishes that have been developed and have evolved with the history that some may prefer to call Traditional Beijing cuisine. There are also a number of new dishes developed since the recent economic take-off that many people call New Beijing cuisine or New Chinese cuisine.

 

Traditional Beijing CuisineSesame Qaste
Since Beijing has been the Chinese capital city for centuries, its cuisine has been influenced by culinary traditions from all over China, but the cuisine that has exerted the greatest influence on Beijing cuisine is the cuisine of the eastern coastal province of Shandong. Beijing cuisine has itself, in turn, also greatly influenced other Chinese cuisines, particularly the cuisine of Liaoning, the Chinese imperial cuisine, and the Chinese aristocrat cuisine.


Beijing cuisine can be characterized as follows: Foods that originated in Beijing are often snacks rather than full courses, and they are typically sold by little shops or street vendors. There is emphasis on dark soy paste, sesame paste, sesame oil, and scallions, and fermented tofu is often served as a condiment. In addition to the ingredients, many different cooking methods are also applied to make different tastes. These processes include pan-frying, sautéing, steaming and deep frying. There is a lesser emphasis on rice as an accompaniment than in many other areas of China, as local rice production is limited by the relatively dry climate.

 

Well Known Mandarin DishesPeking Duck

Peking Duck (usually served with pancakes)
Hot and Sour Soup
Peking Barbecue
Upper Parts of the Pork Hand/Leg
Three Non-Stickiness
Wood Shavings Meat
Peking Dumpling
Fish Cooked with Five Spices
Shrimp Chips with Egg
Fish Soaked with Soup
Fried Wheaten Pancake with Meat and Sea Cucumber Fillings
Fried Cake with Fillings
Fried Sesame Egg Cake
Pork Fat with Flour Wrapping Glazed in Honey
Noodles with Thick Gravy
Zhajiang Mian
Naked Oats Noodles
 
 
Vegetarian

Mustardy Chinese CabbageMustardy Chinese Cabbage

Beijing Preserved Fruit

Beijing Candied Fruit

Hawthorn Cake

Fuling Pancake Sandwich

Pancake

Baked Sesame Seed Cake

Purplevine Cake

Crisp Fritter

Crisp Fritter with Sesame

Crisp Noodle

Fried Ring

Pease Pudding

Jellied Bean Curd

Almond Tofu

Glutinous Rice Ball

Kidney Bean Roll

Sugarcoated Haws on a Stick

Tangyuan

 

New Beijing Cuisine

GuzhengSince China's economic boom, local consumption in Beijing has evolved quickly to accommodate increasingly diversified new tastes among Beijingers as well as travelers. The creative ideas that feed into the recent development in Beijing come from other cuisines. As a result, non-traditional ingredients and processing methods have been introduced or developed into Beijing Cuisine, which is now commonly referred as New Beijing Cuisine. These new ingredients include pepper, onion, cheese, pepper oil, and salad dressing. Baking, which is not popular among the Old Beijing Cuisine, has become increasingly popular. In addition to innovative dishes, New Beijing Cuisine restaurant tends to carry some Beijing or Chinese culture components such as Chinese antiques, Chinese tea, Chinese music performance such as Guqin and Guzheng, and folk culture displays to entertain the diners.

 

Popular Dishes of the New Beijing Cuisine

Sea Food

Fresh Abalone Pumpkin Soup

Spicy & Fermented Crab

Crispy & Spicy Shrimp

Pork, Chicken and Beef

Cumin Roast Pork

Deep Fried Pork with Tea Leaves

Roasted Pork

Fried Pork Ribs

Vegetarian

Vegetarian Spicy & Sour Fish Fillet Soup

Fried Mushroom with XO Sauce

Fried Vegetable Barbequed Pork

Fried Dried Bean Curd Chilies 

Snacks

Spicy Codfish Puff

Durian Puff

Fresh Cream Tart

Steamed Green Tea Cake

 

History of Chinese Cuisines:

The history of cuisines in China can be traced back some 400,000 years to when the Peking Man used fire and invented "cuisine". As for the history of Chinese cuisine, there exist some other accounts which take the beginning of the history of Chinese cuisine to the Chinese Stone Age, when the cultivation of rice and the production of noodles began. Both of these typically represented the Chinese cuisine as we know it today.
 
Chinese cuisine, originating from the various regions of China, has spread widely to many other parts of the world—from Asia to the Americas, Australia, Western Europe and Southern Africa.

Features of Chinese Cuisine:

Chinese culinary art enjoys a high reputation in the world. In recent years, connoisseurs of Chinese cuisine have also sprouted in Eastern Europe and South Asia. American Chinese cuisine and Canadian Chinese cuisine are popular examples of local varieties.aniseed

Chinese dishes appeal to the senses through color, shape, aroma and taste. In the process of preparing dishes, in order to achieve a stronger fragrant aroma to stimulate one's appetite, ingredients such as scallion, fresh ginger, root garlic, chili pepper, wine, aniseed, cinnamon, peppercorn or sesame oil are used . Complementary nuances are added. Soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and other seasonings may be used discreetly.

All Chinese chefs, professional or in the home, strive for the harmony of sight, smell, taste and texture, so that each individual dish has its unique features highlighted. The flavors must not overpower, yet they must be subtle enough to meet the tastes of those dining.

Tips about Eating Chinese Cuisines:

Once the meal is ready, it is served all at once to the family, who eats it with chopsticks and drinks the soup with a wide spoon.
 
Chopsticks, which were called "Zhu" in ancient times and are called "Kuaizi" now, Chopstickshave been used as one of the main table utensils for more than 3,000 years. It was recorded in Liji (The Book of Rites) that chopsticks were used in the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC - 1100 BC). It was mentioned in Shiji (the Chinese history book) by Sima Qian (about 145 BC) that Zhou, the last king of the Shang Dynasty (around 1100 BC), used ivory chopsticks. Experts believe the history of wood or bamboo chopsticks can be traced back to 1,000 years earlier than ivory chopsticks. In the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100 BC - 771 BC), bronze chopsticks were invented. Later in Mawangdui in China, lacquer chopsticks from the Western Han (206 BC - 24 AD) were discovered. Gold and silver chopsticks became popular in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). It was believed that silver chopsticks could detect poisons in food.

There are a few taboos when using chopsticks. It is not allowed to beat bowls while eating since the behavior used to be practiced by beggars. Also, don't insert chopsticks in a bowl upright because it is a custom exclusively used in sacrifice.

If you are really interested in chopsticks, you may want to visit the Kuaizi Museum in Shanghai, since over 1,000 pairs of chopsticks are on display in the museum.

The common dinner includes a starch like rice, noodles, bread, or pancakes, and a meat dish, vegetable, and soup, which serves as a beverage. For formal meals and banquets, many successive courses are served in a strict traditional order.

Chinese Eight Grand Cuisines:

Regional culture varies greatly within China, which gives rise to different styles of food.

There are Eight Grand Traditions—Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan and Zhejiang.
 
Shandong Cuisine (more commonly known as Lu Cuisine)
Shandong cuisine, which consists of Jinan cuisine and Jiaodong cuisine, is clean, pure and not greasy. It Bird's Nestis characterized by its emphasis on aroma, freshness, crispness and tenderness. Shallots and garlic are frequently used as seasonings so as to make Shandong dishes taste pungent. Soups are greatly emphasized in Shandong cuisine. Thin soups are clear and fresh, while creamy soups are thick and taste strong. Jinan chefs are adept at deep-frying, grilling, pan-frying and stir-frying, while Jiaodong chefs are famous for cooking seafood with a fresh and light taste.
Representative menu items: Bird's Nest Soup, Yellow River Carp in Sweet and Sour sauce
 
Sichuan Cuisine
Sichuan Cuisine, which is known as Sichuan Cuisine in the West, is one of the most famous Chinese cuisines in the world. Sichuan cuisine is generally spicy and contains food preserved Doubanjiangthrough pickling, salting, drying and smoking. The Sichuan peppercorn is commonly used, which has an intensively fragrant, citrus-like flavor and produces a "tingly-numbing" sensation in the mouth. Also common are garlic, chili, ginger, star anise and other spicy herbs, plants and spices. Broad bean (in Chinese Doubanjiang) is frequently used as seasoning in Sichuan cuisine.
Preparation techniques, which are commonly used in Sichuan cuisine, include stir frying, steaming and braising. Beef is somewhat more common in Sichuan cuisine than it is in other Chinese cuisines, perhaps due to the widespread use of oxen in the region. Stir-fried beef is often cooked until chewy, while steamed beef is sometimes coated with rice flour to produce very rich gravy.
Representative menu items: Tea Smoked Duck (in Chinese, Zhangchaya), Twice Cooked Pork (in Chinese, Huiguorou),Mapo Tofu, Sichuan Hotpot, Spicy Deep-fried Chicken (in Chinese, Laziji) and Bon Bon Chicken (in Chinese, Bangbangji).
 
Guangdong Cuisine (Cantonese Cuisine)
Of all the regional varieties of Chinese cuisine, Cantonese is the most well-known outside China, and most "Chinese restaurants" in Western countries serve Cantonese cuisines and dishes. Guangdong cuisine tastesChar Siu clean, light, crisp and fresh. The flavors of a finished Cantonese dish should be well-balanced and never cloying or greasy. Also, modest amounts of spices should be used to avoid overwhelming the flavors of the primary ingredients, in turn; these primary ingredients should be at the peak of their freshness and quality. The typical cooking techniques in Cantonese cuisine include roasting, stir-frying, sautéing, deep-frying, braising, stewing and steaming, of which steaming and stir-frying are most frequently used to preserve the natural flavors of the ingredients.
Representative menu items: Cantonese Fried Rice, Sweet and Sour Pork (in Chinese, Gulurou) Dace Fish Balls, Cantonese Sea Food Soup, Snow Fungus Soup, Steamed Fish, Steamed Scallops with Ginger and Garlic, Char Siu (in Chinese, Chashao) and Roasted Pork.
 
Fujian Cuisine (Min Cuisine)
CombiningFuzhou Cuisine, Quanzhou Cuisine and Xiamen Cuisine, Fujian Cuisine is renowned for its choice seafood, beautiful color Buddha Jumping Over the Walland magical tastes of sweet, sour, salt and savory. The most distinct feature is their "pickled taste".
Fujian cuisine consists of four styles:
Fuzhou style: The taste is light and often with a mixed sweet and sour taste. Soup is famous here.
Western Fuzhou style: The dishes taste slight spicy, and the cooking methods include steaming, frying and stir-frying.
Southern Fujian style: spicy with a sweet taste
Quanzhou style: It is the least oily but with the strongest flavor of Fujian cuisine, and places great emphasis on the shape of the material for each dish.
Representative menu items: Stuffed Fish Balls, Wucai Zenzhuko, Buddha Jumping Over the Wall; Snow Chicken; Prawn with Dragon's Body and Phoenix's Tail
 
Jiangsu Cuisine (Su or Yang Cuisine)
Jiangsu Cuisine is popular in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. In general, Yang cuisine is Crystal Meatcharacterized as soft, but not too much so. For example, the meat tastes quite soft, but it cannot be separated from the bone when picked up. Other characteristics include the careful selection of ingredients according to the seasons, emphasis on matching the color and shape of each dish and using soup to improve the taste. Its cooking techniques include stewing, braising, roasting, and simmering.
Jiangsu cuisine consists of several styles:
Nanjing cuisine: Its dishes emphasize an even taste and matching color, and the excellent dishes incorporate river fish, shrimps and duck.
Suzhou cuisine: Its taste is stronger than Nanjing cuisine. It suggests a tendency to be sweeter than the other varieties of the cuisine, and is made with a strict selection of ingredients.
Wuxi cuisine: It is famous for various types of congee.
Representative menu items: Stewed Crab with Clear Soup, Long-boiled and Dry-shredded Meat, Duck Triplet, Crystal Meat, Squirrel with Mandarin Fish, and Liangxi Crisp Eel
 
Zhejiang Cuisine
Longjing Shelled ShrimpZhejiang cuisine enjoys a reputation of freshness, tenderness and smoothness of its dishes. Food made in the Zhejiang style is not greasy but has a mellow fragrance. The Zhejiang cuisine consists of at least three styles. The Hangzhou style is characterized by rich variations and the use of bamboo shoots. The Shaoxing style specializes in poultry and freshwater fish. The Ningbo style emphasizes freshness and salty dishes and specializes in seafood. Wenzhou style, as a separate subdivision, specializes in the greatest source of seafood and poultry and livestock.
Representative menu items: Sour West Lake Fish, Longjing Shelled Shrimp, Beggar's Chicken 
 
Hunan Cuisine (Xiang Cuisine)
Hunan cuisine enjoys a high reputation for its hot spicy flavor, fresh aroma and deep color. The cuisine Dongan Chickenincludes three styles. Hunan cuisine is well-known for being dry hot or purely hot, the opposite of Sichuan cuisine. Xiang River style is represented by the dishes of Changsha. Dongting Lake style is represented by the dishes of Hengyang. Western Hunan style is represented by the dishes of Xiangtan. The typical cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising and smoking.
Representative menu items: Dongan Chicken, Peppery Hot Chicken, Beer Duck
 
Anhui Cuisine
Anhui cuisine is famous for its use of wild game and herbs and simple methods of preparation. Anhui cuisine chefs are quite good at braising and stewing. Huangshan Braised PigeonFrying and stir-frying are used much less frequently in Anhui cuisine than in other Chinese culinary traditions. Anhui cuisine consists of three styles: Yangtze River style, Huai River style and southern Anhui style. Anhui has large areas of uncultivated fields and forests, so wild birds are readily available to be used in the region's cuisine.
Representative menu items: Stewed Snapper, Huangshan Braised Pigeon.

Minority Cuisines:

Hui Cuisine
Well-known throughout China, Hui Cuisine, also named Muslim food, is both nutritious and distinctive. Uygur food is also a form of Muslim food, and the most famous foods of the Uygur people include finger rice, nang, roasted whole lambmutton shashlik and roasted whole lamb. Hui Cusine, called Qingzhen (pure and true) in Chinese is refined in the quality and selection of the materials. The Hui minority prefer to eat ruminant animal meat, vegetarian animals and poultry which must be butchered by a Muslim priest, called Ahong in Chinese. The Hui people also live on cooked wheaten food which is used to indulge their guests and celebrate the various Chinese festivals. Beef and mutton also comprise a great part in their life. In addition, tea served in a set of cups is also a customary staple of the Hui people's diet. The common characteristics of the Hui cuisine and of their restaurants, food stands and tea houses are the Muslim boards or blue cloth strips hung in front of the doors, and also all packages of the Hui foods are printed with Muslim characters, patterns or scriptures.
However, the Hui people have their own strict food taboos. They don't eat the meat of pig, dog, mule, horse, donkey, cat, mouse nor drink the blood of animals. In addition, they are forbidden to drink alcohol. The Hui Minority's most famous cuisine includes steamed lamb, lamb eaten with the hands, fried beef, deep-fried food, Hand-Pulled Noodles with Beef, Xian Mutton and Bread Pieces in Soup and so on.
 
Tibetan Cuisine
tsampaTibetan cuisine is quite distinct from that of its neighbors, since only a few crops (not including rice) grow at such high altitude. The most important crop is barley. Dough made from barley flour, called tsampa, is the staple food of Tibet. This is either rolled into noodles or made into steamed dumplings called momos. Meat dishes are likely to be yak, goat, or mutton, often dried, or cooked into a spicy stew with potatoes. Mustard seed is cultivated in Tibet, and therefore features heavily in its cuisine. Yak yoghurt, butter and cheese are frequently eaten, and well-prepared yoghurt is considered something of a prestige item.
Other Tibetan foods include Balep korkun - a central Tibetan flatbread that is made on a skillet rather than in an oven. Momos - a type of steamed ravioli, a heavier version of the Chinese jiaozi Thenthuk - a type of cold-weather soup made with noodles and various vegetables.
In larger Tibetan towns and cities many restaurants now serve Sichuan-style Chinese food. Western imports and fusion dishes, such as fried yak and chips, are also popular. Nevertheless, many small restaurants serving traditional Tibetan dishes persist in both cities and the countryside.
 
Miao Cuisine
Miao people live on rice, and they also like deep-fried foods like deep-fried stuffed buns.sour dishes The meat they eat is mostly from the poultry they raise, and the most common vegetables they eat are soybeans, melons, green vegetables and carrots. Most Miao people are especially good at cooking dishes made of soybeans. Besides animal oil, they also eat tea oil and vegetable oil. Hot pepper is the main seasoning they use, and there is a saying in some places that it can't be a real dish without hot pepper.
Most Miao people like to eat sour dishes, and every family has sour soup which is made through fermenting rice or tofu water in a crock for three to five days. Sour soup can be used for cooking meat, fish or all kinds of vegetables. In order to keep the food in good condition, Miao people usually salt the vegetables, chicken, fish and meat in a crock. The Miao people in western Hunan Province are very hospitable. Butter tea is a must which they use for entertaining their guests who have to drink four bowls without stopping, representing being alive and well in all four seasons.
However, Miao people have their taboos. Whenever it is dry and doesn't rain for a long time or people are suffering from illness, Miao people will kill cattle or pig to offer sacrifices to the Thor, and they can only eat the boiled food without salt. In addition, Miao people are forbidden to eat the meat of fish, shrimp, chicken, duck, turtle and crab, but they can eat pork, beef and mutton during days of fasting.
 
Mongolian Cuisine
Mongolian Cuisine mainly includes dairy, also named "white food", and beef, mutton and other meat called "red food". Meanwhile, parched ricecheese also plays an equal role along with the "white food" and the "red food" in the Mongolian people's daily diet. Besides cow's milk, Mongolian people also drink the milk of goat, horse, deer and camel. Only a small part of the milk is made into fresh milk beverages, and the majority part is manufactured into milk products such as cheese, dried milk cake, cream, milk powder and so on. Milk products are the most common foods used to treat guests, and if the guest is a child, the host will put the cream on the child’s forehead to show the host's best wishes.
Mongolian people often eat beef and the meat of sheep, goats, camels and horses. They have over 70 common mutton dishes such as roasted whole lamb, fried lamb tripe, mutton eaten with fingers, deep-fried mutton and so on. They usually eat beef in winter, and there is also beef soup, baked beef and braised beef. Some experienced chefs can even cook the tendons of the sheep, cattle, deer and horse into some medicinal foods. In addition, Mongolian people also dry or salt the beef and mutton for storage purposes.
 
Zhuang Cuisine

As an agricultural ethnic group, Zhuang people do not only plant rice, corn, soybeans, potatoes, melons and fruits, but also raise pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, ducks and other poultry. As a result, Zhuang people have many distinctive foods, including tender boiled chicken with soy sauce, stewed snails, five-color glutinous rice, rice rolled in lettuce, steamed rice in bamboo mug, and so on.
 
Bai Cuisine
The Bai people are good at making salted ham, sausage, fish, fried pork liver, oily chicken and snail sauce. Bai women excel in preparing preserved fruits, such as candied plums. The Bai people are especially hospitable. Whenever a guest comes, he or she will be invited to take the seat of honor and be entertained with tea, eight bowls of dishes and three plates of fruits.

Famous Restaurants around China:

Fangshan Restaurant, Beijing
Beijing Fangshan Restaurant probably serves the most typical Man Han Quan Xi. This restaurant's history dates back to 1925 when Zhao Renzai, one of the imperial chefs of the Qing Court, with many of his friends, Fangshan Restaurant, Beijinglaunched this restaurant inside the Beihai Park. Originally called Fangshan Teahouse, the restaurant was noted for its real imperial cuisines and ding sung. Now the restaurant maintains its old positive reputation of choosing the best ingredients and strictly following the original preparation expertise. Currently on the menu 134 hot courses and 48 cold courses are listed. If you come in a small group and do not want to be "an extravagant emperor" you do not have to order all. Order the mini Man Han Quan Xi instead; you will obtain a general idea about this fabulous feast.

 

Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant, Beijing
Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant, established by previous chef of Quan Ju De, Mr.Zhang Liqun in his quadrangle in 1902, has attracted people all over the world even national VIPs to taste the fantastic delicacy. With its genuine traditional decoration, creative cuisine and superior service, Liqun Restaurant makes customers fully enjoy themselves there.

 

Oriental Pearl Revolving Restaurant, Shanghai
Located on top of Shanghai Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the Oriental Pearl Revolving Restaurant is consideredOriental Pearl Revolving Restaurant, Shanghai to be the highest one in Asia, with its unique views, outstanding cuisine and leisurely environment it is a giant in Shanghai. Hundreds of Chinese and western foods are placed on marvelously decorated buffet tables, while the view from the restaurant changes on a two-hour revolution, definitely leaving you with a deep impression while dining there.

 

Dai Jia Cun Restaurant, Shanghai
Delicious foods blend with cheerful songs and conversation interspersed with hearty laughter, beautiful scenery and wonderful music. The unique dining atmosphere will make you appreciate heartily the peculiar culture of the Yunnan Dai people. Sights nearby: Jade Buddha Temple.

 

Lianxiang Restaurant, GuangzhouLianxiang Restaurant, Guangzhou
Lianxiang Restaurant, located in western Guangzhou, was opened in 1889. It is known as "the best Lotus-seed-Paste" because the lotus-seed-paste there is smooth and luscious. The famous specialties are sweetheart cake (wife cake), almond biscuit with lotus-seed-paste, chicken cake with lotus-seed-paste and all kinds of moon cakes. The products are well known in the market and loved by both domestic and overseas customers for their attractive design and delicious taste.

 

Guangzhou Restaurant, Guangzhou
Guangzhou Restaurant, which was founded in the 1930s, is known as "the best paradise of gourmets". It is representative of traditional Cantonese cuisine. The specialties include Wenchang Chicken, Three-Color Lobster, and Braised Duck’s Web with Flowers.

 

Guilinese Goodluck Restaurant (A La Carte), GuilinGuilinese Goodluck Restaurant (A La Carte), Guilin
Its good location at the Zhengyang Pedestrian Street, a famous commercial street in the center of the city, delicious food as well as the cozy atmosphere make this restaurant one of the most popular eating places for the locals. It mainly serves local food and snacks. Traditional Chinese music is played in the dining room.

 

Haodama Food Plaza, Guilin
This is one of the biggest restaurants in Guilin with the most kinds of food. The branches are mainly located in the food plaza of Bagui Mansion and the food plaza of Niko Niko Do. They can accept 2000 guests at the same time. The main foods there are the Guilin local snacks, snacks from all over the country, special local dishes in Guilin, western food and Japanese food. All the cooking materials are visible to the customers.

 

Dongxinjie Night Food Street, Xian
It is one of the biggest night food streets in downtown Xian with nearly more than 50 food stands selling local delicacies and flavors from all over China.
Recommended food: Jinan Rinse Ox Belly, Xiaoliu Roasted Meat and Grilled Fish, Xiaoli Family's Steamed Bun, Xie Family's Casserole of Rice Noodle, and An Family's Dumpling.

 

Xian Dumpling Banquet Restaurant, Xian
The dumpling banquet has 180 varieties which formed into Flowers Banquet, Dragon and Phoenix Banquet, Xian Dumpling BanquePalace Banquet, Eighth Precious Banquet, and has 15 different series of banquets. The dumpling varieties include chicken, duck, fish shrimp, pork, beef, mutton and rabbit meat and also sea food, vegetables and fruits. Various preparation methods are used including steaming, frying, braising and roasting and the use of various tastes such as fresh, salty, sweet, spicy as well as using unique shapes such as flowers, butterflies, golden fish or pearls. It is thus said "one dumpling one shape, a hundred dumplings a hundred tastes". This banquet is a good combination of ancient and modern, of court and local dumpling skills.

 

Nanning Nanhu Fish Cafe, Nanning
The fish café is on the Nanhu Lake on Binhu Road, which specializes in cooking fish dishes. It can cook more than 100 kinds of dishes and the most famous one is the "Fresh Fish". Other famous dishes are steamed Siniperca Chuatsi, Carp with Brown Sauce, and Sliced Fish with Garlic and so on. Furthermore, the café can also cook delicious seafood and wild animals.

 

Yaxianglou Restaurant, Luoyang
Yaxianglou Restaurant-the Restaurant of Elegance and Fragrance - is the first joint-venture food and Yaxianglou Restaurant, Luoyangbeverage enterprise in Luoyang. The position of the restaurant is excellent. It deals mainly in Cantonese foods and dishes, Cantonese breakfast, top-grade edible birds' nest, sea-ears, shark fin and other seafoods, etc. The area of the newly-decorated restaurant is more than 2,000 square meters .The layout of the restaurant is elegant and its decoration exquisite. The luxurious private rooms, dining halls, and reception room are all in various styles which have fully reflected that the restaurant is refined and top-grade.

 

Lianhu Sweet Foods Restaurant, Nanjing
Lianhu Sweet foods restaurant has a long history in selling traditional cakes. Among them the most famous ones are Osmanthus Stuffing Dumpling and Five-color Cake. Both of these are soft and delicious with beautiful colors, for which they are popular with nearly all the people.

 

Yongheyuan Restaurant, NanjingYongheyuan Restaurant, Nanjing
Yongheyuan Restaurant was built in the Emperor Guangxu period of the Qing Dynasty. It sells hundreds of kinds of pastries, among which the most famous ones are Huangqiao Baked Roll and Kaiyang Shredded Dried Bean Curd. Huangqiao Baked Roll got its name because it originated from Huangqiao Town in Taixing. It looks like the shape of a crab shell, and tastes crispy with two tastes, sweet and salted. Another specialty, Kaiyang Shredded Dried Bean Curd is slender but tough. Especially with the fresh chicken soup, it tastes more delicious.

 

The first Chain of Biewang Emperor Mansion, Taiyuan
The restaurant is not very large, but it is favored by many customs. The rice with juice is especially delicious.

 

Haoqingxiang Restaurant, Xiamen
With a long history of over 60 years, Haoqingxiang Restaurant enjoys a high reputation both at home and abroad for its original Southern Fukien dishes and Xiamen-flavored snacks. Located near a picturesque lake, it has excellent surroundings. With an area of 2000 square meters, it can accommodate nearly 1000 people, which makes it an ideal place for banquets, parties, celebrations and for the tourists to dine.

 

Jiali Seafood Restaurant, Xiamen
Located on Gulangyu Island which is known as the island of music, it is a high-class restaurant famed for original Fujian cuisine and delicate Cantonese cuisine. As soon as you walk into the restaurant, you can feel that you are in a paradise of delicious food. It has a noble and elegant dining atmosphere with over 40 separate luxurious rooms with 500 seats in all. It is an ideal place for the business luncheons, parties and banquets.

 

Caixiangyuan Restaurant (Set Menu), Chongqing
Caixiangyuan Restaurant, founded in early 1999, is the initiator of a new style of Sichuan Cuisine. Based on Caixiangyuan Restaurant (Set Menu), Chongqicolor, smell, flavor and form of traditional Sichuan Cuisine, the restaurant adds three more fashionable elements: music, health and utensils. By using and branding new principles, the cultural, technical and ordinary Sichuan Cuisine is combined into a new style of Sichuan Cuisine. The restaurant has created a "New Concept of Sichuan Cuisine". There are many specialties in this restaurant, including Glutinous Rice Duck with Matsutak, Duck Tongue with Chilli, and Salty Crispy Chicken with Chilli, and so on.

 

Kanglong Prince Restaurant, Wuhan
Serving up a mixture of flavors from around China is Kanglong's specialty. Cooking traditions stem mainly from the Hubei region but are influenced by Sichuan cuisine and Hunan cuisine. Steak, chicken breast, salmon and other western style dishes on the menu also are strongly recommended. Local specialties like Wuchang Fish (once immortalized in a Mao Zedong poem), Sliced Duck, Salt and Pepper Spareribs and Griddle Cooked Shredded Chicken shouldn't be missed. The food is usually delicate and consistently good, with acceptable prices and friendly and courteous staff.

 

Huamei Western Restaurant, Harbin
Huamei Western Restaurant is located at No.142, Central Avenue, Lidao District in Harbin. It has a long Huamei Western Restaurant, Harbinhistory. The restaurant assembles all the elite of the authentic Russian dishes. It mainly offers Russian cuisine. British Cuisine, French Cuisine, Italian Cuisine and some other cuisines can be found here. There are more than 40 famous dishes, such as, Pork Fillet with Milk, Chicken Stewed in Pot, Shrimp, Beef, Mutton, or Fish Roasted with Milk, Mixed Shrimp, Baked Mutton in Bunch, and Chicken Cooked on Iron Plate.

 

Apricot Flower Village, Dali
The atmosphere of the Apricot Flower Village is full of the ethnic style of the Bai People. There is classical furniture with carved flowers in every room. Furthermore, the environment of the restaurant is so quiet and beautiful that it makes you feel comfortable. The restaurant has more than 100 kinds of food. Most are the traditional foods of the Bai People. For example, Sand Pot Fish, Stewed Chicken, Pawpaw Fish, and so on. Some of foods are potherb. In the Apricot Flower Village, you can find every single type of Chinese cuisine here—Shandong Cuisine, Sichuan Cuisine, Cantonese Cuisine, Fujian Cuisine, Zhejiang Cuisine, Hunan Cuisine and Anhui Cuisine. When you eat here, you not only feast on delicious food, but also enjoy the wonderful landscape of Dali.

 

Blue Marlin West Restaurant, Suzhou
The Blue Marlin provides orthodox school European continent western-style food, whose main clients are foreigners. It is a good place to have a meal, relax or chat. The Blue Marlin was a pioneer back in the day when it was hard to get something other than local food. The restaurant has a good customer base around town, which allows it to organize exciting events and trips.

 

Chaotai Beef Restaurant , Shenzhen
The beef broth of the Chaotai Beef Restaurant, which is stewed for many hours every day, is a nutritious soup full of the flavor of beef. The sirloin tastes tender, the beef tastes delicate, the tripe tastes refreshing and the Chaotai Beefbeef meatballs taste soft. Then, try the vegetables in hot broth and drink the thick broth. You will find that the taste of beef has penetrated into the radish, the dried rolls of bean-milk cream, the lettuce and the dried bean curd. Meanwhile, the fragrance of vegetables dissolves in the beef broth. The mixture of beef and vegetables makes them taste better. The thick broth, which combines the flavors of beef, sirloin, tripe and the vegetables, has been stewed thoroughly. It is a supreme feast to drink the broth. The famous dish of this restaurant is the Beef Chafing Dish. You can taste the delicious beef meatballs in it and drink the thick broth. The restaurant pays a lot of attention to stocking the ingredients. All the dishes here are made from high-quality ox in China, which tastes great.

 

Jixin Yunnan Food Palace, Kunming
Jixin Yunnan Food Palace, founded in 1994, redecorated then reopened for business in 2003. The architectural styles of three nationalities, Han, Bai and Dai, were used throughout the entire building when decorated. The ancient and traditional Chinese gate, the overhanging palace lights, and the royal style of the interior decoration, give customers elegant and graceful feelings. In the Jixin Yunnan Food Palace, you not only can enjoy the old Dian dishes, but also enjoy the new Dian dishes cooked with the latest ingredients and cooking skills. Here, you can taste different delicacies and snacks, as well as Bridge Mixian, the most famous food in Yunnan.

 

Yunxiao Lu Seafood Street, QingdaoYunxiao Lu Seafood
Yunxiao Lu Seafood Street, with all seafood restaurants on both sides, is the most famous seafood street in Qingdao. The seafood there is noted for its freshness, good taste and low price. Alorcha (Macao Peninsular), Macau Paella, and the Portuguese Seafood Rice and Clams Stir-fried with Garlic have all earned this street a great reputation. For dessert, try Serradura.


 
Hangzhou Lily Hotel Restaurant, Hangzhou
Situated at the side of West Lake, Lily Hotel Restaurant brings you a terrific opportunity for seeing a panoramic view of the lake. The restaurant is decorated in the style of this southern city  of the Yangtze River, mainly offering Hangzhou cuisines that are prepared to please your palate as well as your eye. Visit this restaurant and you will enjoy a wonderful dining experience while traveling in Hangzhou.

Chinese Imperial Cuisine:

Chinese Imperial cuisine is derived from a variety of cooking styles of the regions in China, mainly Shandong cuisine and Jiangsu cuisine. The style originated from the Emperor's Kitchen and the Empress Dowager's Ting Li GuanKitchen, and it is similar to Beijing cuisine which it heavily influenced. The characteristics of the Chinese Imperial cuisine are the elaborate cooking methods and the strict selection of ingredients, which are often extremely expensive and rare. Visual presentation is also very important, so the color and the shape of the dish must be carefully arranged. The two most famous Chinese Imperial cuisine restaurants are both located in Beijing: Fang Shan in Beihai Park and Ting Li Guan in the Summer Palace.
 
Chinese imperial food dates back to slave society. Ever since there were emperors and palaces, there has been imperial food, which was served mainly to the emperors, their wives and concubines, and the royal families. Emperors used their power to collect the best delicacies and called upon the best cooks to make delicious food for them. Imperial food represented the dynasty's best cuisine. Although imperial food was made exclusively for the royal family, generals, ministers, and nobility, it was the peasants, herders, and fishermen who provided the raw materials, craftsmen who made the kitchen utensils, the cooking staff who provided the service, civil officials who named the dishes and protocol officials who drafted the dietary and culinary rules. Imperial food comprised the dietetic culture of the Chinese palaces and it is part of China's valuable cultural heritage.
 
Imperial foods often were improved dishes invented by the common people. The inventors were not princes, dukes, or ministers, but cooks and commoners. The original model for a dish might have been similar to a dish you once prepared for Sima Qianyourself. Food preparation is impossible without cooks, so emperors in ancient times cherished excellent cooks. The Historical Records by Sima Qian, a famous historian of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220), reports that Yi Yin, the first famous prime minister in known Chinese history, helped Tang (the first ruler of the Shang Dynasty, enthroned 1766 BC – 1760 BC) destroy Jie (the last ruler of the Xia Dynasty, enthroned 1818 BC – 1766 BC). Yi Yin had been a famous cook before he became prime minister. Yi Yin, whose original name was Ah Heng, was a slave of the Youxinshi family. He wanted to convince Tang of his good ideas, but lacked a way, so he brought his kitchen utensils with him and won Tang's trust by demonstrating his cooking skills. Tang described him as cooking delicious dishes and having the ability to govern the country, so he appointed Yi Yin as his prime minister. Later cooks also participated in politics. Peng Zu, who is called the founder of Chinese cooking, was chef to Emperor Yao around the beginning of the 21st century BC Yi Ya of the Qi State in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC – 476 BC) won the trust of Prince Huan of Qi by being good at cooking and identifying flavors. Shao Kang, the seventh emperor of the Xia Dynasty, had been an official in charge of the kitchen service for Youyushi before the Xia Dynasty was founded.

The imperial drinks were known as the six clears, five qis, and three jius.Sweet Wine
The six clears were water; thick liquids, such as vinegar and sour wine; sweet wine, a wine made from cooked rice; mellow wine, a wine thinned by adding cold water; yi wine, a wine made from yeast and rice porridge; and ye wine, a wine made from thin porridge.
The five qis were five wines residue made from rice, sorghum, and millet. They were fan qi, a sweet wine with thick, floating matter; li qi, a very mild, sweet wine made soaking half liquid and half grain overnight; ang qi, a turbid; slightly clear; sweet wine; ti qi, a red wine with more clarity than ang qi; and shen qi, a wine with bottom sediment and clear liquid above.
The three jius were wines that had been filtered to remove the residue, and which differed from the five qis. The qis were used for sacrificial rites, while the jius were used for drink. The three jius referred to the categories of wine. Shi jiu, also known as occasion wine, was made immediately whenever there was a special occasion. Xi jiu was an aged wine that took longer to make. It usually was made in winter and matured in the spring; its liquid was clear and mellow. Qing jiu was aged even longer and its liquid was even clearer than Xi jiu. It was made in winter and became mature in the summer.
The four drinks were clear, which referred to the clear wine that remained after the li qi of the five qis was filtered; mellow, which was a wine made from rice porridge after yeast was added; thick; which was a sour, vinegary wine; and yi, which was a wine made from thin porridge. (Some history books say yi was made from millet porridge.)
 
To some extent peoples' food and drink are influenced by regional divisions, but the primary influences are peoples' income, education, culture, and religious beliefs. For these reasons, China developed several dietetic cultures. These include the imperial, aristocratic, literati, market, and temple cuisines. Especially during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, imperial food and drink were closely tied to preserving health, which led to the development of unique imperial food.

Famous Chinese Cuisine Quotes:

An Original Version
A famous saying about Chinese cuisine, which is apt to summarize the entire Chinese cuisine in one sentence, has been in Chinese culture for some time, though its exact origin is unknown: East is sweet, South is salty, West is sour, and North is spicy.
 
A Popular Online Version
It is well accepted that Chinese cuisine has gone through numerous transformations through the different dynasties all the way up to modern times. Various versions of quotes of the Chinese cuisine exist on the internet today. "East is spicy, South is sweet, West is sour, North is salty".Hunan cuisine
Some differences exist between the original version and the online one. The original phrase suggests that South is salty, which fits Cantonese cuisine and Hakka cuisine because southern styles are largely dominated by salty tastes. However, the online version suggests south is sweet instead. This may be true due to the fact that sweet Tong Sui is the main export from southern regions. Nowadays, the Sichuan and Hunan cuisines are widely known for their spicy dishes. The two versions of quotes can be debated literally down to the individual dish. 
 
A Lifestyle Quote
Eat in Guangzhou; Die in Liuzhou; Play in Suzhou; Live in Hangzhou.
The above popular quote suggests Cantonese cuisine from Guangzhou is the standout in Chinese cuisine. As for Liuzhou, this is where the best wood grows which is suitable for death and coffins. In Suzhou, the most beautiful women live there and the most comfortable environment for living is in Hangzhou.

Chinese Life and Death:

China's Economy
Since the founding of the new China in 1949, the economy of China has seen fairly rapid development. Especially since China initiated reforms and opening up to the outside world, China's economy has been China GDP Growth Rate(1978-2008)advancing healthily and has achieved a sustained annual growth of around 9 percent. In 2005, the GDP of China was more than US/$ 2,200 billion and the average per-capita GDP was US/$ 1,703. At present, China's GDP comes fourth in the world. Its share of the world economy is 5 percent and it is only next to America, Japan, and Germany. The average per-capita GDP only comes 110th in the world.
 
Population Control and an Aging Society
China is also one of the countries which has a high density of population in the world. The average population density of the nation is 135 people for every square kilometer. Moreover, the population of China is spread unbalanced all over the country.
The last population census shows that fairly great changes have taken place in the age structure of China's population. People from 0 to 14 number 289.79 million and make up 22.89% of the total population, and has reduced by 4.8 percent, compared with the population census in 1990. People aged from 15 to 64 number 887.93 million, and makes up 70.15% of the total population.  The number of people over 65 is 88.11 million and makes up 6.96% of the total population, and has increased by 1.39 percent, compared with the population census in 1990. This data shows that, since the reform and opening up of the country, with the rapid development of the economy and society, the great improvement of people's standard of living and medical conditions, and especially the rapid decrease in population growth, these have
caused the quickened progress of the aging of the population.
 
Public Health
A number of the larger cities have western style medical facilities with international and local staff. Some other hospitals in major Chinese cities have “gaogan bingfang” -wards which are equipped with reasonably up-to-date medical technology and physicians who are both knowledgeable and skilled. Many of these wards will provide medical services to foreigners and have English-speaking doctors and nurses.  There are also some foreign-operated medical providers who cater to expatriates and visitors.
Almost all hospitals have emergency rooms to provide emergency assistance to needy patients. When foreigners need emergency ambulance, the hospitals can pay medical costs for the foreigners in advance and provide emergency treatment and medical rescue, escort abroad and other foreign medical services. There are "120" in many cities to give emergency first-aid. You may call "120" to request this type of first-aid.
The technical level of public health has improved greatly, and the management and supervision of medical work have been strengthened. An urban and rural medical insurance system combining state planning and fee paying has been established. Traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine have been promoted simultaneously. The incidence of many epidemic diseases has dropped considerably, and some endemic diseases are now under control. Rural health work has been improved, greatly contributing to the overall health of the population. The average life expectancy of Chinese people, the death rate of infants and childbirth death rates have almost reached the levels of developed countries.
 
Marriage Customs
In China, marriage is considered to be one of the three most important things in one's whole life. Traditionally, a whole wedding consists of 6 different steps in advance and then the wedding ceremony. The Chinese perform the formal Chinese wedding ceremonywedding ceremony first began at the end of the Prehistoric Times (1.7 million years ago – 21st century BC) perhaps with an engagement proposal with a complete deerskin in ancient times. In the Xia and Shang Dynasties (21st – 11th centuries BC), the 'Meeting the Bride' ritual was formalized. During the Zhou Dynasty (11th – 221 BC) the more complex and ceremonial tradition of 'six rites' was recognized: presenting gifts to the girl's family, knowing the girl's general background, engagement, presenting betrothal gifts to the bride's family, asking the fortuneteller to choose an auspicious day, and meeting the bride. This established the traditional Chinese marriage customs. Thereafter, the wedding ceremony becomes even more colorful and lively.
Along with society's progress and the transformation of people's thinking, pre-marital sex has become increasingly popular in China, thus current Chinese marriage customs are not as complicated as the traditional ones. They primarily involve the engagement and wedding ceremony. Betrothal gifts are usually gold or diamond jewelry, with the wedding ring different from the engagement ring. The dowry has been changed into some modern electrical appliance such as a fridge or washing machine or TV set, or perhaps a sofa set or even an apartment. On the wedding day the bride wears both a white wedding dress and festive red clothes, while the bridegroom still wears a special suit; a bridesmaid and a groomsman attend the new couple at the wedding; the bridegroom takes a decorated car to meet his bride instead of a carriage or sedan chair; hotels have become the favorite place to hold the wedding feast, the whole wedding ceremony is often organized by a master of ceremonies in the hotel; and the new couple will also attend the feast together and propose toasts for the guests; after the wedding, some new couples will even have a honeymoon .
 
Funeral Customs
Funerals have many superstitious customs. But most of them emphasize expensive coffins and grand burial ceremonies. The dead person should be bathed before encoffined. The rites of burial can be divided into simple ones and grand ones. In a simple burial ceremony, the dead will be covered with new clothes; while in a grand one, the dead should be laid into a coffin. The Coffin should be well made, and for rich families the coffin is made of rare woods and painted with colored paintings. Burial ceremonies should be solemn. After that there is the memorial ceremony which usually lasts ten days or more. Sometimes monks or Taoists are invited to chant scriptures because local people believe it can help the dead to reach paradise earlier.

Chinese Language:

The Origin and Development of Language
Human language may have emerged by the transition to behavioral modernity, which occurred some 50,000 years ago at the latest, in the Upper Paleolithic Era. A common assumption is that behavioral modernity and theTortoise Shells emergence of language coincide and are dependent on each other. Others would push back the origin of language to some 200,000 years ago, the time of the appearance of archaic Homo sapiens (Middle Paleolithic), or even into the Lower Paleolithic, to some 500,000 years ago. This question significantly depends on the view taken of the communicative skills of Homo neanderthalensis. A lengthy stage of pre-language, intermediate between the vocalizations of non-human primates and fully developed human language, is assumed by some scholars, while others (e.g. Richard Klein) view the acquisition of language and behavioral modernity as sudden, possibly linked to a genetic mutation (for an overview see Kenneally 2007). Chinese characters are used to record the Chinese language. Since the discovery of inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells of the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th-11th century BC), the Chinese language has a history of about 6, 000 years. Most of the 55 ethnic groups in China have their own languages, and 30 of them have their own written languages.
As the most widely spoken language on earth, Chinese is, strictly speaking, a series of dialects spoken by the dominant ethnic group within China, the Han. Indeed, the term most commonly used by the Chinese themselves to refer to the language is Hanyu, meaning "Han-language". 
 
Mandarin
Standard Mandarin, or Standard Chinese, is the official modern Chinese spoken language used in mainland China and Taiwan, and is one of the four official languages of Singapore. The phonology of Standard Mandarin is based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin, a large and diverse group of Chinese dialects spoken across northern and southwestern China. The vocabulary is largely drawn from this group of dialects. The grammar is standardized to the body of modern literary works written in Vernacular Chinese, which in practice follows the same tradition of the Mandarin dialects with some notable exceptions. As a result, Standard Mandarin itself is usually just called "Mandarin" in non- academic, everyday usage. However, linguists use "Mandarin" to refer to the entire language. This convention will be adopted by the rest of this article.
The Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) and the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) began to use the term Guanhua, or "official speech", to refer to the speech used at the courts. The term "Mandarin" comes directly from the Portuguese. The word "mandarin" was first used to name the Chinese bureaucratic officials (i.e., the mandarins), because the Portuguese, under the misapprehension that the Sanskrit word that was used throughout Asia to denote "an official" had some connection with the Portuguese word mandar (to order somebody to do something), and having observed that these officials all "issued orders", chose to call them mandarins. From this, the Portuguese immediately started calling the special language that these officials spoke amongst themselves (i.e., "Guanhua") "the language of the mandarins", "the mandarin language" or, simply, "Mandarin". The fact that Guanhua was, to a certain extent, an artificial language, based upon a set of conventions (that is, the various Mandarin dialects for grammar and meaning, and the specific dialect of the Imperial Court's locale for its pronunciation), is precisely what makes it such an appropriate term for Modern Standard Chinese (also the various Mandarin dialects for grammar and meaning, and their dialect of Beijing for its pronunciation). The People's Republic of China, established in 1949, continued the effort. In 1955, the name Guoyu was replaced by Putonghua, or "common speech". Since then, the standards used in mainland China and Taiwan have diverged somewhat, especially in newer vocabulary terms, and a little in pronunciation.
 
Dialects
Within China, it is common perception that these varieties are distinct in their spoken forms only, and that the language, when written, is common across the country. Therefore even though China is home to hundreds of relatively unique spoken languages, literate people are usually able to communicate through written language effectively.
 
Main dialects
Large differences exist between dialects. Dialects include Wu, Kan, Hsiang, Guangzhou (Cantonese), Min, and Hakka.
Wu Dialects: in the south of Jiangsu Province and the majority of Zhejiang Province;
Kan Dialects: mainly in Jiangxi Province;
Hsiang Dialects: in the majority of Hunan Province and north of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region;
Guangzhou Dialects (Cantonese): in the major part of Guangdong Province and southeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region;
Min Dialects: in Fujian, Taiwan and Hainan Provinces as well as Chaozhou and Shantou Cities of Guangdong Province;
Hakka Dialects: in Taiwan, east and north of Guangdong Province, west of Fujian Province as well as south of Jiangxi Province.
 
Cantonese
In the Qin Dynasty Chinese troops moved south and conquered the Baiyue territories, and thousands of Han people began settling in the Lingnan area. This migration led to the Chinese language being spoken in the Lingnan area. After Zhao Tuo Armour of Qin Dynastywas made the Duke of Nanyue by the Qin Dynasty and given authority over the Nanyue region, many Han people entered the area and lived together with the Nanyue population, consequently affecting the livelihood of the Nanyue people as well as stimulating the spread of the Chinese language. Although Han Chinese settlements and their influences soon dominated, some of the indigenous Nanyue population did not escape from the region. Today, the degree of interaction between Han Chinese and the indigenous population remains vague.
Cantonese is spoken in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong, Macau, parts of Southeast Asia and by Overseas Chinese with an ancestry tracing back to the Guangdong region. Used by linguistics, "Cantonese" covers all the Yue dialects, such as Taishanese, though the term is also used to refer specifically to the Standard Cantonese of Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Similar to Wu and Min, not all subgroups of Cantonese are mutually intelligible. Some dialects of Yue have intricate sets of tone compared to other Chinese dialects, with up to seven or eight tones. Yue keeps a full complement of Middle Chinese word-final consonants.
Historically, the majority of the overseas Chinese have originated from just two provinces; Fujian and Guangdong. This has resulted in the overseas Chinese having a far higher proportion of Fujian and Guangdong dialect speakers than Chinese speakers in China as a whole. More recent emigration from Fujian and Hong Kong has continued this trend. The largest number of Cantonese speakers outside mainland China and Hong Kong are in South East Asia, however speakers of Min dialects are predominant among the overseas Chinese in South East Asia. The Cantonese spoken in Singapore and Malaysia is also known to have borrowed substantially from Malay and other languages.
 
Chinese Characters
According to legend, Chinese characters were invented by Cangjie (c. 2650 BC), a bureaucrat under the legendary emperor, Huangdi. The legend tells that Cangjie was hunting on Mountain Yangxu (today Shanxi) when he sawCangjie a tortoise whose veins caught his curiosity. Inspired by the possibility of a logical relation of those veins, he studied the animals of the world, the landscape of the earth, and the stars in the sky, and invented a symbolic system called Zi — Chinese characters. It was said that on the day the characters were born, the Chinese heard the devil mourning, and saw crops falling like rain, as it marked the beginning of the world.
Seal script, which had evolved slowly in the state of Qín during the Eastern Zhou dynasty, became standardized and adopted as the formal script for all of China in the Qín dynasty (leading to a popular misconception that it was invented at that time), and was still widely used for decorative engraving and seals (name chops, or signets) in the Hàn dynasty onward. But despite the Qín script standardization, more than one script remained in use at the time. For example, a little-known, rectilinear and roughly executed kind of common (vulgar) writing had for centuries coexisted with the more formal seal script in the Qín state, and the popularity of this vulgar writing grew as the use of writing itself became more widespread. By the Warring States period, an immature form of clerical script called “early clerical” or“proto-clerical” had already developed in the state of Qín based upon thus vulgar writing, and with influence from seal script as well. The coexistence of the three scripts, small seal, vulgar and proto-clerical, with the latter evolving gradually in the Qín to early Hàn dynasties into clerical script, runs counter to the traditional beliefs that the Qín dynasty had one script only, and
that clerical script was suddenly invented in the early Hàn dynasty from the small seal script. The Chinese script spread to Korea together with Buddhism from the 7th century (Hanja). The Japanese Kanji were adopted for recording the Japanese language from the 8th century AD. The Vietnamese Han Tu were first used in Vietnam during the millennium of Chinese rule starting in 111 BC, while adaptation for the vernacular Chữ Nôm script (based on Chinese characters) emerged around the 13th century AD.
 
The Strokes of Chinese Characters
Chinese characters are written with twelve basic strokes.  If you want to learn about them, you can check with Google or other search engines on the Internet.

 

Chinese Classical Literature:

Pre-Qin Literature

Book of Songs

The book was composed during the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100-770 B.C.) Book of Songsand the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.), making the beginning of China's 3,000 years of literature history. Edited by Confucius, it is an anthology of about three hundred poems. Some of them are folk songs from the feudal states of early Zhou while others are songs used by the nobles in sacrificial ceremonies or at banquets. The poems are written in four-character lines. The airs are in the style of folk songs, although the extent to which they are real folk songs or literary imitations is debated. The odes deal with matters of court and historical subjects, while the hymns blend history, myth and religious material. The collection is divided into three parts according to their genre, namely feng, ya and song, with the ya genre further divided into "small" and "large”. The three major literary figures or styles employed in the poems are fu, bi and xing.
Analects
Since Confucius' time, the Analects have heavily influenced the philosophy and moral values of China and later other East Asian countries as well. Together with the other three volumes of the Four Books, it taught the basic Confucian values including propriety, righteousness, loyalty and filial piety, all centered about the central thought of Confucius – humanity .It is the most important work of the Confucian literary heritage. Complied by Confucius' disciples, it recorded the master's activities and conversations, the only reliable source about the life and teachings of this great teacher. The book contains 20 chapters and 497 verses. From the time when Confucianism became widely accepted, the laconic and provocative sentences of this work have exercised a profound impact upon the thought and language of Chinese intellectuals. For the last 800 years, it has become a basic textbook in schools.
 
Literature of Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C. -220A.D.)
 
Records of the Grand Historian
The book is a model of prose writing which was studied and inherited by writers of the Tang and Song Dynasties. The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji, written from 109 B.C. to 91 B.C., was the magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time. (The Yellow Emperor, traditionally dated ca. 2600 B.C., is the first ruler whom Sima Qian considers sufficiently established as historical to appear in the Records.) As the first systematic Chinese historical text, the Records profoundly influenced Chinese historiography and prose. In its impact, the work is comparable to Herodotus and his Histories.
 
Flight of the Phoenix to the SoutheastFlight of the Phoenix to the Southeast
There appeared a new kind of poetry called Yuefu in the Han Dynasty. Originally it was an official constitution for collecting folk songs and composing music for them. Later it became the general term for the folk songs collected. According to the Book of Han there were 138 folk songs of Han Yufu. Yufu is another peak of Chinese classical poetry after Book of Songs and Chuci, Qu Yuan's poems. Among them, the most famous one is a long narrative poem called Flight of the Phoenix to the Southeast, telling a tragic romance of a young girl.
 
Literature of the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties (220 A.D. -581 A.D.)
 
Collected Works of Tao Yuanming
Poems and prose were contained in the book by Tao, a master of the Poetry of Yinyi School. Disillusioned by the darkness of society and vicissitudes in politics, he retired form his government post and chose to live in seclusion. His well-known prose The Peach Garden paints a vivid picture of a fictitious land where the people are well-clad and well-led. Most of his poems are idyllic lyrics written in his days of seclusion, such as Return to Rural Life and Memory of the Rural Life. The lyrics describe the rural scenery and the poet's engagement in farm work to support him.
 
Literature of the Tang Dynasty(618 A.D. -907 A.D.)
The Tang Dynasty was of both economical and cultural prosperity. Its poetry reached a zenith in history. The Complete Collection of Tang Poems, edited in the early Qing Dynasty, comprises 48,977 poems by 2,208 poets, of which the most well-known two are Li Po and Du Fu.
 
Li Po
Li is the greatest romantic poet in ancient China after Qu Yuan. His poems, permeated with romanticism, are vigorous, enthusiastic and lucid. His anthology contains about 1,000 poems, covering a wide range of subjects from the exposition of corruption of the court and the hard life and suffering of the common people, to the description of magnificent scenery of the country as well as the eulogy of true friendship and the expression of his ideals and feelings. Li Po is best known for the extravagant imagination and striking Taoist imagery in his poetry, as well as for his great love for liquor. Like Du Fu, he spent much of his life traveling, although in his case it was because his wealth allowed him to, rather than because his poverty forced him. He is said to have drowned in the Yangtze River, having fallen from his boat while drunkenly trying to embrace the reflection of the moon. One of Li Po's most famous poems is Drinking Alone by Moonlight, which is a good example of some of the most famous aspects of his poetry -- a very spontaneous poem, full of natural imagery and anthropomorphism.
Du Fu
Du FuDu was the greatest poet of realism in ancient China. He has been called Poet-Historian and the Poet-Sage by Chinese critics, while the range of his work has allowed him to be introduced to Western readers as "the Chinese Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Wordsworth, Béranger, Hugo or Baudelaire". As a mirror of the times, his poems faithfully and profoundly reflect the social realities of the Tang Dynasty in decline, thus they are called ‘history in poems'. In 759, Du gave up his official post and went to Sichuan Province, making his abode in a thatched hut on the outskirts of Chengdu. More than 1,400 of his poems are retained to the present-day, covering various aspects of the society of his time. Many if them are penetrating exposures of the iniquities of the ruling class and the sufferings of the people.
 
Literature of the Song Dynasty (960 A.D. -1279 A.D.)
The literature of this period is renowned for Ci. Ci is a form of poetry consisting of lines of different lengths. In its early period, Ci described mainly the sentiments and sorrow between a gentleman and his beloved. At the end of the Northern Song Dynasty there appeared writers who used Ci to describe natural scenery and expressed emotions of grief and indignation.
 
Li Qingzhao
Li is the first outstanding female Ci poet in China. Her works are strong and sincere in emotion and pain, fresh and graceful as well as restrained in style. She is good at expressing her joy and sorrow in simple but profound words and in a gentle and fluent tone. Only around a hundred of her poems are known to have survived, mostly in the Ci form and tracing her varying fortunes in life. In addition, a few poems in the Shi form have survived the hou shu and a study of the Ci form of poetry. She was regarded as a master of wanyue pai, "the delicate restraint".
 
Lu You
Having witten more than 9,300 poems, Lu is an outstanding patriotic poet in the Southern Song Dynasty. Among his poems, those that express the poet's love for the country are just more than outstanding. His poems not only reflect the wishes of the people for a united country but also criticize the surrender and submissiveness of the rulers. Lu also expressed his firm determination to join the army and sacrifice for the country as well as his unfulfilled ambitions. Lu You wrote over ten thousand poems, in both the Shi and Ci forms, plus a number of prose works. In his poetry he continues to articulate the beliefs which cost him his official career, calling for reconquest of the north. Watson identifies these works as part of the legacy of Du Fu. Watson compares a second body of work, Poems on Country Life and Growing Old, to those of Bai Juyi and Tao Qian.
 
Literature of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 A.D. -1368 A.D.)
Zaju or drama, was the greatest achievement in the literature of the Yuan Dynasty, and had a far-reaching influence on the later development of play writing and acting as well as in the rise of various forms of operas.
Collected Works of Guan HanqingGuan Hanqing
The Yuan Dynasty ushered in a golden age of Chinese drama. Among the numerous playwrights of that time, Guan Hanqing was definitely the most outstanding representative. He has been considered as one of the Four Great Yuan Playwrights, the other three being Ma Zhiyuan, Bai Renfu, and Zheng Guangzu. His works lay the foundation for the development of Chinese drama. Guan's drama represents a variety of artistic styles. There are tragedies that pave the way for Chinese tragedy play writing. Full of grief and indignation, the sad story usually end with the failure of the evil force and the victory of the good. Among them Injustice of Dou E is a model.
 
Romance of the West Chamber
Written by Wang Shifu, Romance of the West Chamber is the best ancient love play in China. It eulogizes the true love between Cui Yingying and Zhang Sheng???and has been called "China's most popular love comedy" and a "lover's bible". Wang fighted against the feudal marriage system and sat out to reveal the deep-rooted conflicts in China’s feudal society. In characterization, the play reveals the delicate and complicated inner activities of the characters in meticulous and subtle way to figure out their personality. Linguistically, it's resplendent and natural.
 
Literature of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368A .D. -1840 A.D.)
Zaju or drama, was the greatest achievement in the literature of the Yuan Dynasty, and had a far-reaching influence on the later development of play writing and acting as well as in the rise of various forms of operas.
 
Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Naian Shi Naian
The story, which takes place in Liangshan Mountain in a peasants' revolt during the reign of Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty, tells of 108 outlaws under the green wood headed by Song Jiang. The greenwood men were of different social backgrounds such as officials, low rank officers, peasants, the urban poor, peddlers, as well as Buddhist and Taoist monks. The dark rule of the Song Dynasty had forced them up the LiangshanMountain a Shuipo Marsh under the banner of brotherhood. Under the slogan of ‘enforcing justice on behalf of Heaven, safeguarding the land and protecting the people', they challenged the forces of the court and local authorities. The author created over 108 figures in the novel by showing their different features, clothes, gestures, voices, countenances and motions with their distinct characters.
 
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong
It is a 120-chapter historical novel with its subject drawing from the history between the last years of the Eastern Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms Period. Special emphasis is laid on Liu Bei and Cao Cao, two antagonistic figures in the ruling class. Liu was portrayed as an ideal ruler, while Cao was a famous political leader and strategist. Taking the conflicts and struggles as a major clue and wars as plots, the writer strung hundreds of tales together with distinct cause and effect, and combined facts with imagination, details with sketches, creating a masterpiece that is surpassed by few in Chinese history. Regarding this novel and another Chinese classic, Water Margin, there is a popular saying in China that goes: "The young shouldn't read Water Margin while the old shouldn't read The Three Kingdoms." The former depicts the lives of outlaws and their defiance with the established social system. Depicting frequent violence, brawls, passionate brotherhood and an emphasis on machismo, it could easily have a negative influence on young boys. The latter presents all kinds of sophisticated stratagems, deceptions, frauds, trickeries, traps and snares employed by the three kingdoms and their individual characters to compete with each other, which might tempt the experienced old readers (the elderly are traditionally well respected, trusted and considered wise and kindhearted in Chinese society) to use them to harm other people. Also, old people are supposed to "know the will of the heavens" (says Confucius). They should not exhaust or strain themselves with always having to consider how to deceive others.
 
Journey to the West by Wu Chengen
Unlike other ancient Chinese novels, this novel incorporates both myths and fairy tales. Wu ChengenHowever, it is still based on folk tales and stories that have long been popular among the people. Religion is an object of mockery in the novel. Pig Bajie pokes fun at the three Gods, and Monkey King jeers at Buddha Rulai to his face. The rebellious spirit of the hero Monkey King is eulogized through the account of his storming the heavenly peace and ravaging the nether regions. The novel is a fictionalized account of the legends around the Buddhist monk Xuanzang’s pilgrimage to India during the Tang dynasty in order to obtain Buddhist religious texts called sutras. The Bodhisattva Guinyin, on instruction from the Buddha, gives this task to the monk and his three protectors in the form of disciples - namely Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing - together with a dragon prince who acts as Xuanzang’s horse mount. These four characters have agreed to help Xuanzang's atonement for past sins.

Modern Education System in China:

Pre-school Education

Pre-school education is an important component of education cause in China. Pre-school Education In urban areas, pre-school education is mainly kindergartens of 3 years, 2 years or 1 year which could be full-time part-time, boarding or hour-reckoned. Following the policy of providing pre-schooling education by the state, collective bodies, citizens and individuals and developing through multiple channels in various forms, pre-school education in China has made significant progress. By the end of 1998, China had more than 180,000 kindergartens with the enrollment of 24,000,000 pupils and the participant rate of one-year pre-school education had reached 70%. Pre-school education had been generally universalized in large and medium-sized cities. During recent years, pre-school education in the mass rural areas, particularly in remote, poor and minority areas, has developed rapidly. In 1998, among the 11 provinces in the southwest and northwest part of China, 39.9% of children in the 22 poverty stricken counties authorized by the state participated three-year pre-school education and 66.7% participated in one-year pre-school education. The kindergartens combine childcare with teaching so that the children will develop physically, morally, intellectually and aesthetically in a harmonious way to get ready for their formal school education.

 

Primary Education

Children usually entered primary school at seven years of age for six days a week, which after regulatory changes in 1995 and 1997 were changed to five and a half and five days, respectively.Primary Education The two-semester school year consisted of 9.5 months, and began on September 1st and March 1st, with a summer vacation in July and August and a winter vacation in January and February. The primary-school curriculum consisted of Chinese, mathematics, physical education, music, drawing, and elementary instruction in nature, history, and geography, combined with practical work experiences around the school compound. A foreign language, often English, is introduced in about the third grade. Chinese and mathematics accounted for about 60 percent of the scheduled class time; natural science and social science accounted for about 8 percent. Under the Law on Nine-Year Compulsory Education, primary schools were to be tuition-free and reasonably located for the convenience of children attending them; students would attend primary schools in their neighborhoods or villages. Parents paid a small fee per term for books and other expenses such as transportation, food, and heating. Previously, fees were not considered a deterrent to attendance, although some parents felt even these minor costs were more than they could afford. Under the education reform, students from poor families received stipends, and state enterprises, institutions, and other sectors of society were encouraged to establish their own schools.

 

Middle-school Education

By 1986 universal secondary education was part of the nine year compulsory education Middle-schoollaw that made primary education (six years) and junior-middle-school education (three years) mandatory. Chinese secondary schools are called middle schools and are divided into junior and senior levels. Junior, or lower, middle schools offered a three year course of study, which students began at twelve years of age. Senior, or upper, middle schools offered a two or three year course, which students began at age fifteen.

The regular secondary-school year usually had two semesters, totaling nine months. In some rural areas, schools operated on a shift schedule to accommodate agricultural cycles. The academic curriculum consisted of Chinese, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, foreign language, history, geography, politics, music, fine arts, and physical education. Some middle schools also offered vocational subjects.

In China a senior-middle-school graduate is considered an educated person, although middle schools are viewed as a training ground for colleges and universities. And, while middle-school students are offered the prospect of higher education, they are also confronted with the fact that university admission is limited. Middle schools are evaluated in terms of their success in sending graduates on for higher education, although efforts persist to educate young people to take a place in society as valued and skilled members of the work force.

 

Higher Education

By the end of 2004, China had 2,236 schools of higher learning, with over 20 million students; the gross rate of enrollment in schools of higher learning reached 19 percent. Postgraduate education is the fastestTsinghua University growing sector, with 24.1 percent more students recruited and 25.9 percent more researchers than the year before. This enrollment growth indicates that China has entered the stage of popular education. The UNESCO world higher education report of June 2003 pointed out that the student population of China's schools of higher learning had doubled in a very short period of time, and was the world's largest. The contribution to China's economic construction and social development made by research in the higher education sector is becoming ever more evident. By strengthening cooperation among their production, teaching and research, schools of higher learning are speeding up the process in turning science-techology research results into products, giving rise to many new and hi-tech enterprises and important innovations. Forty-three national university sci-tech parks have been started or approved, some of which have become important bases for commercializing research.

Particular attention has been paid to improving systems in recent reforms. Many industrial multiversity and specialist colleges have been established, strengthening some incomplete subjects and establishing new specialties, e.g., automation, atomic energy, energy resources, oceanography, nuclear physics, computer science, polymer chemistry, polymer physics, radiochemistry, physical chemistry and biophysics. Merging schools of higher learning has produced far-reaching reform of higher education management, optimizing of educational resources allocation, and further improving teaching quality and school standards.

 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Modern Chinese Education

Advantages

In high school (and even junior high school), the majority of Chinese students study hours on end. They are very used to going through hard times, as this prepares them for the rough work world that faces most Chinese workers, professional and blue collar alike. Years of night study sessions turn into a lifetime of overtime once the typical Chinese person begins their working life. Studying in tight quarters somewhat prepares Chinese students to eventually work in extremely cramped spaces.

 

Disadvantages

The students are under pressure too heavy to broaden their horizons, which is not good for the students' development. It is therefore hard for students to foster various abilities.

Legend of Ahshima:

Ahshima is a legend of the Sani people, a branch of the Yi national minority in Yunnan Province, and she is the heroine in the long folk narrative poem- "Ashima". The story of Ashima hasAhshima been narrated or sung with oral poem language by Sani people generations by generations. The beautiful, kind, clever, and diligent Sani girl, Ahshima, fell in love with a brave and good-natured shepherd called Ahei . Azhi, the son of a headman also admired Ashima, but was resolutely refused by Ahshima. Then, Azhi sent someone to compel her to marry him. However, again he was refused firmly. So Azhi sent some people to rob Ashima when Ahei was away from home. Later, Ahei heard of the news, rushed home, and saved Ashima. Azhi proposed to hold a song competition with Ahei, thereby determining who the winner was. The result turned out that Azhi failed. However, he was still not willing to admit the failure. Taking advantage of the chance when Ashima and Ahei rested by the side of a stream, he raised the floodgate and drowned Ashima. Ahei sadly called the name of Ashima, but she had become a lofty stone statue, and remained in the Stone Forest forever. From then on, Ashima became an echo which "doesn't disappear even if the sun disappears, and doesn't stop even if clouds stop", and reverberates in the lofty ridges and towering mountains of the Sani region forever. Now, the legend has become a part of the daily life, wedding and funeral ceremonies and other customs of the Sani people, thus, sung from generation to generation among the people.

The long poem Ashima adopts romantic poetic technique and rich figures of speech to highlight the Ahshimakindness and beauty, wisdom and power, diligence and bravery of the character. It is affectionately called by the Sani people as "the song of our ethics", and Ashima even becomes the antonomasia of the women of the Yi ethics. It demonstrates the human ideal that light will finally substitute darkness, and kindness and beauty will eventually triumph over infamy. It reflects the national character and spirit of pursuing freedom of the Sani people of the Yi ethnics.

At present, the story of Ashima has been translated into more than 20 languages and published at home and abroad. In addition, the story was adopted and shot into Ashima, the first color film of the People's Republic of China.

 

Chinese Painting:

Chinese painting has its origins in the pictographs inscribed on bronze during the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties. Paintings on silk, possessing linear effects, had appeared during the period of the Warring States (475-221BC) and by the late Western Han era (206BC-AD24), paintings in rich colors were being done, such as the murals discovered in Han tombs.

In the history of Chinese painting, figure painting was the first genre to appear. The earliest examples, during the Warring States period, were on silk. (Paper began to be manufactured only in the first century AD.) By the prime Tang (AD740-70), figure painting was already well advanced. Mountains, rivers, flowers and birds served only as the background or embellishment of a painting; they developed into independent genres at a much later date. In time, however, landscape painting became the most important genre and numerous schools, theories and techniques relating to it evolved. The earliest extant Chinese landscape is Spring Excursion by Zhan Ziqian of the Sui (581-618 A.D.)an artist who paid special attention to brushwork and used dots and lines as his principal method of expression.

 

Wu Daoxuan (Wu Dzaozi)

During the Tang Dynasty,Wu Daoxuan was a renowned painter. Wu Daoxuan (Wu Dzaozi)Wu Daozi had started painting in the previous ruling period, that of Emperor Xuan Zong (at the close of the 7th Century/ the beginning of the 8th Century).The painted figures by Wu Daozi are images of immortals and monsters and of birds and beasts as well as representations of terraces and pavilions, which were seen as exquisite works of art. He was considered as a "Master of Painting" and an honored "Ancestor of Painting". The painting style of Wu Daozi exhibited power, vigor, boldness, and variation. The bold brush strokes of Wu Daozi became famous for their ability to convey a sense of motion and rhythm. The artist's bold style caused others to refer to him as "flying sleeves" Wu Daozi. Wu Daozi is perhaps best known as a great saint painter.

 

Xu Beihong (1895 - 1953)

Xu Beihong was in the forefront of the reform of Chinese painting, believing that only by bringing to Chinese art the realist approach of contemporary Western art would Chinese art regain its former prominence as a serious contemporary art form, rather than a glorious relic from the past. As a young man, Xu travelled abroad, initially to Japan. Later, in 1919, he went to Europe on a government scholarship, studying in France and in Germany where he mastered the technique of European oil painting. Xu Beihong himself came to specialize in painting horses, especially dramatic "snapshots" of what can only be wild horses in motion, or poised on the verge of bolting, Yet Xu's works, which are prized the world over, retain a distinctive Chinese flavor, which, from a distance – except for the motif, of course – might resemble any classical Chinese inkwash drawing.

 

The Difference between Chinese Painting and Western Painting

The unique appearance of Chinese Painting owes much to the use of the Chinese writing brush and Chinese paper. Four essential elements were implied in the creation of Chinese Painting, link stoneike the brush, ink, paper, and the ink stone. Lacking any one of them the job cannot be done. The most important factors for Chinese Painting are the special pedagogy, the close relationship with the painter’s personality and the unique Chinese philosophy. They are trained not only to convey the objects but also express the mood and the spirit of the subject. The Chinese also believe that painting is the expression of the painter’s knowledge and temperament. In this way, Chinese Painting becomes something much more than art. The most essential philosophy of China is the unity of Heaven, Earth and Human Beings. What the Chinese Painters are trying to express is not what meets the eye, but their attitude to the Great Nature. The Chinese painter has a profound love and admiration for nature. It is part of their culture, religious practices and their need to depend on nature to survive. The Chinese painter finds it offensive to contemplate and draw the human figure by itself. Human beings are part of the surrounding heavens and earth. They are all together. That is why Chinese paintings are simple in composition and full of harmony, overall balance and peace with all of creation. They are interested in the mood and spirit. 

 

The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity. Until the mid 19th century, it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor. African art, Islamic art, Indian art, Chinese art, and Japanese art each had significant influence on Western art, and, eventually, vice-versa. From the Middle Ages through the Renaissance painters worked for the church and a wealthy aristocracy. After the Baroque era artists received private commissions from a more educated and prosperous middle class. By the mid-19th century, painters became liberated from the demands of their patronage to only depict scenes from religion, mythology, portraiture or history. The idea "art for art's sake "began to find expression in the work of the Romantic painters like Francisco de Goya, John Constable, and J.M.W. Turner. During the 19th century, the rise of the commercial art gallery provided patronage in the 20th century. Western painting reached its zenith in Europe during the Renaissance, in conjunction with the refinement of drawing, use of perspective, ambitious architecture, tapestry, stained glass, sculpture, and the period before and after the advent of the printing press. Following the depth of discovery and the complexity of innovations of the Renaissance, the rich heritage of Western painting (from the Baroque to Contemporary art) continues into the 21st century.

Liu Sanjie - A Fearless Folk Song Singer:

Liu Sanjie (The Third Sister of the Liu Family) is a legend of the Zhuang people. Zhuang is one of the 56 ethnic groups in China. With a population of 15 million, Zhuang people are second LiuSanjieonly to the Han people, who account for more than 91 percent of the nation's total population of 1.3 billion. The story of Liu Sanjie became known throughout the country thanks to an eponymy movie, produced in color in 1961. With this instant hit, the movie also helped spread the legend to the entire Southeast Asia. 
The Zhuang people believe that the legendary Liu Sanjie actually existed. The MiddleJian Village on the LowerJian River at the foot of the LowerJian Mountain in the Yizhou Town of Guangxi Autonomous Region is professed to be her birthplace. Her original name is said to be Liu Shanhua. Since she was the third child of her family, she was given the nickname of "Liu Sanjie," meaning "Sister No. 3 of the Liu Family." Like an incarnation of a lark, as the Zhuang people believed, Sanjie started speaking eloquently when she was only one year old. At the age of three, she had already had a melodious voice. In her teens, she was regarded as the top singer of folk songs—songs in an antiphonal style, typical of the ethnic people in South China. Coveting her beauty and talent, a local tyrant named Mo Huairen wanted to have her as his concubine. Rejected, the angry Mo plotted to murder her. With the help of her boyfriend and fellow villagers, she managed to escape. The two lovers traveled as they sang, and eventually found their ultimate freedom by turning themselves into a pair of larks.
LiuSanjieToday, the people of YizhouTown claim that they still possess some of her relics, such as a shoulder pole in the crevice of a cliff, a spot she frequented to do her laundry and a site where she purportedly beat the local despot and his hired singers in a dramatic song contest.
The legend of Liu Sanjie was originally an oral tradition and later found itself in romance, drama scripts, and county annals in Guangxi. Studies show that the legend is not exclusively of the Zhuang people. Its spread turns out to be more ethnically and geographically diversified. For, similar stories can be found among the Miao, Yao, Buyi, Mulao and Han ethnic populations in Guangdong, Hunan, Yuannan and Guizhou provinces as well.
 
Impression Liu Sanjie
Based on the legend, a fantastic night entertainment show-Impression Liu Sanjie has been performed in the natural scenic setting in Yangshuo these years. It is renowned all over the world.

Chinese Calligraphy:

Chinese calligraphy has a long history, lasting about 1,000 years. It is a unique artistic form of the treasury of Chinese culture, representing Chinese art and reputed as the most ancient artistic forms in the history of oriental world. Calligraphy has exerted wide influence worldwide and has even been introduced to many neighboring countries. Picasso, the world famous master of art, once expressed that "If I had ever lived in China, I would have become a calligrapher rather than a painter".

 

Seal CharacterSeal Character

Seal Character is calligraphy of Han Character, which can be divided into Big Seal Character and Small Seal Character. The former appeared in Zhou Dynasty and evolved from oracle-bone inscriptions. The latter is more simple in form and standardized in structure and than the former. Small Seal Character, prescribed by Li Si after the unification of China by Qin Empire, is known as Qin Seal Character. Seal Character is very elegant in style and is widely favored by people today in the creation of calligraphy works.

 

Official Script

Official Script was originated from the East Han Dynasty, ushering in a new stage of the development of Chinese Calligraphy. It laid a solid foundation for Formal Script. Official Script features flat, neat, and refined structure. When the East Han Dynasty began, left-failing stroke and right-failing stroke bent upwards, other strokes were characterized by variations and beauty of calligraphy. The style of Official Script features diversification and it has high value for appreciation.

 

Formal ScriptFormal Script

Formal Script, also known as Zhengshu Script, or Zhenshu Script, evolved form Seal Character. It is simpler in structure and square in shape. The integral feature of Formal Script is neatness and orderliness. Formal Script became popular in the period of the Six Dynasties, and entered prosperity and boom in the Tang Dynasty. Yang Zhenqing, Liu Gongquan, and Ouyang Xun were famous calligraphers of the Tang Dynasty. Characterized by grandeur and strength, tablet inscription style is a very important component of the Formal Script system. Representative works of this style include the Twenty Articles of the Longmen School, the Stele of ZhenWengong, and the Stele of Zhang Menglong.

 

Running Script

Running Script, originating from late Han Dynasty, is the cursive form of Formal Script. The most representative works of this script is Preface of Lanting Pavilion by Wang Xizhi in the Jin Dynasty. It is reputed by ancient people as "The best Running Script under Heaven" due to its sturdiness and elegance. Manuscript for Memorizing My Nephew by Yan Zhenqing in Tang Dynasty is famous for boldness and strength, honored as "The Excellent Running Script only second to that of Yan Zhenqing".

 

Cursive Hand

Although it looks irregular, Cursive Hand has high artistic value beyond its practical worthiness. Cursive HandGenerally speaking, it can be divided into two categories: Zhangcao and Jindan. The former is a concise form of Seal Script written rapidly. Characters are not connected to each other and their strokes feature the style of Seal Character. Article Written in Rush is a famous work in Cursive Hand by Shi You in the East Han Dynasty. The latter is the concise form of Formal Script written rapidly. It is characterized by flying strokes connected to each other. The most representative works of this category are Seventeen Books by Wang Xizhi in the Jin Dynasty and List of Book by Sun Guoting in the Tang Dynasty. Zhang Xu and Huai Su in the Tang Dynasty are another two famous calligraphers whose scripts are bold, vigorous, and unstrained. Cursive Hand (also called Stretching Script) is hard to identify for average people and thus is reputed as Wild Script. Representatives of Wild Script include Four Books of Ancient Poems by Zhang Xu and Book of Bibliography by Huai Su.

The Legend of Love:

This is a beautiful story that has been narrated for thousands of years, and is also one of four top Chinese folk love stories.

It was said long time ago, there was an honest and kind-hearted young fellow, Niu Lang (cowherd), in the Niu Family village in Nan Yang city. Since his parents passed away when he was young, Later, his parents passed away and he lived with his elder brother and Niu Langbrother’s wife. But this couple treated Niulang badly, and separated the family with Niulang. They just gave Niulang an old ox and a broken wheelbarrow.

After that, Niulang led a life with this old ox. They worked hard to assert the wild land and do the farming as well as build their house. But actually, Niulang’s life was isolated and lonely except this speechless ox. In fact, he did know this ox was also a god of heaven, and it was a Gold-Ox Star. One day, the old ox suddenly mouthed and said to Niulang: Niulang, go to Bilian Pool; some fairies are having a bath there, and you hide the red clothes, because the fairy wearing red will be your wife. Niulang was shocked and asked Ox: “Brother Ox, you can speak! Is your word true?” Ox nodded, and Niulang arrived and hid in the reed of Bilian Pool to wait the arrival of the fairy. In a short time, these fairies flew down and took off their clothes to have a bath in the pool. Niulang quickly came out and took the red clothes away. The fairies saw him and suddenly put on their clothes and flew away like birds except the fairy without clothes, and she was Zhinv. Zhinv was worried and shy when her clothes were stolen. At this time, Niulang appeared and let Zhinv be his wife. Zhinv discovered this young man was indeed her Qianniu star. Hence, Zhinv became Niulang’s wife.

After they were married, Niu Lang farmed in the field and Zhinv weaved at home, both with great affection for each other. They even gave birth to two babies, one boy and one girl. The family lived a happy life. However, good times do not last long. The King of Heaven discovered their story, and the Queen came to earth to take Zhinv back. The couple would be separated and their happy marriage ruined.

As an ordinary man, Niu Lang could not go to heaven to look for his wife. At this time, again, the old ox helped him. He asked Niu Lang to use his skin to make shoes after he died, saying that those shoes could take him to heaven. Niu Lang followed the ox's word, and after he put on the shoes made of the ox's skin, he finally flew to the sky with his son and daughter. When they almost reached Zhinv in sky, the Queen of Heaven pulled off her hairpin, drawing a silver river to separate Niu Lang and Zhinv. The two cried sadly face to face on both sides of Zhi Nvthe river. Their loyalty to love touched thousands of magpies, and they flew to build a magpie bridge over the river. Niu Lang and Zhinv walked on to the bridge and met each other there. The Queen of Heaven was eventually moved, and from then on, she allowed the two to date on the magpie bridge every year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

 

 

Later on, girls came to flowers under the moon on the Niu Lang and Zhinv’s dating day - the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. They looked into the starry sky, looking for the stars of Niu Lang and Zhinv next to the Silver River. They wished to see the date of the two, praying for the aptitude and dexterity of Zhinv, as well as their hope for happy marriages. This is how Chinese Valentine's Day comes into being.

Four Treasures of the Study:

Four Treasures of the Study is an expression used to refer to the ink brush, ink stick, paper and ink stone used in Chinese calligraphy. The name stems from the time of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 AD). 

 

Brushes: goat, weasel and wolf hair have distinctive properties and are ideal for the brushes.

Ink: is made by burning pine or another wood in an earth ware container, mixing dense ash with glue, and compressing it into an ink stick, or another form. 

 

The traditional brush can be traced back to the Neolithic age,brush but became recognized during the Warring States Period, in 476 B.C. to 221 B.C. It was improved by Meng Tian, a general of the Qin Dynasty, in 221 B.C. to 206 B.C.; brushes are usually made of animal hair, with a bamboo shaft and its crafting has become complicated. Different kinds of animals were once used, such as goat, ox, rabbit, sheep, marten, badger, deer and wolf, each having certain properties. Hair of different animals can be combined to create different textures. 

 

The ink is solid, and commonly made by burning pinewood or another substance in an earthenware jar, and combining the densely packed ash with glue. An unusual antique piece of ink is shaped like a “ruyi”, a scepter tribute offering, that conveys wishes for happiness and good fortune.

 

By mixing ink with water, and then grinding it on the ink stone, the calligrapher or artist can create different densities and innumerable shades of black and gray.

A Tibetan Folktale from Sichuan Province:

The Story of the Three Genjias
Once upon a time in a certain place there lived three men who all had the same name -- Genjia. One was the tribal chief, the second a carpenter, and the third the chief's steward.
Genjia the carpenter was married to an exceptionally beautiful woman. Genjia the steward fancied her and dreamt day and night of having her for himself. But she Tibetan Folktalewas a very upright woman and would not let him get anywhere near her. Finally, he was driven to find some way of killing the carpenter in order to attain his end.
After a while, the father of Genjia the chief died. The steward saw in this a golden opportunity for eliminating the carpenter. Every day he secretly studied the calligraphy of the Buddhist scriptures and succeeded in reproducing the old-fashioned and esoteric style in which they were written. He then wrote a document in this style and handed it to the chief, saying, "Master, here is a document I came across the other day. I cannot understand a word of it and have brought it here especially for you to decipher."
Genjia the chief was baffled by the writing and passed it on to his secretary in charge of documents. After reading it, the secretary said, "This document claims to be from the old chief. In it he says that he has ascended to heaven and is now serving as an official there, but he doesn't have an official mansion. He asks you, Master, to send him a carpenter -- the most skilled you have -- to direct the construction of such a mansion."
Genjia the chief thought constantly of his father and was most concerned to hear that he had nowhere to lay his head in heaven. He sent for Genjia the carpenter, showed him the document and ordered him to go to heaven at once.
Genjia the carpenter was greatly startled. He dared not refuse, however, and could only plead for time, "How could I disobey your order, Master! But I need some time to prepare. Please allow me seven days. After that time, please hold a Twig Burning Ceremony in the hemp field behind my house to send me off. Then I'll be able to ascend to heaven to build the mansion for the old chief."
Genjia the chief considered this request reasonable and willingly agreed.
When Genjia the carpenter left, he went round making a few investigations. He wanted to find out where the chief had got this idea. He eventually discovered Tibetan_Folktalethat it had originated in a classical document found by Genjia the steward. He put two and two together and concluded that it must be a sinister plot against him hatched by the steward.
He went home and consulted with his wife. "The most absurd thing has happened. The chief wants me to go and build a mansion in heaven. He must have been tricked into it by Genjia the steward. I did not dare refuse, but asked him to hold a Twig Burning Ceremony behind our house before I go. It would be no use trying to disobey him now. There is only one way for me to get out of this alive. The two of us must dig a tunnel under cover of night leading from the field to our bedroom, and then you can hide me there later. In a year's time I will find some way to get even."
The wife was shocked by this tale. Hatred for the steward filled the very marrow of her bones. She was willing to do anything to save her husband. So every day when night fell, the two of them dug the tunnel in secret. On the seventh day it was completed. They sealed the entrance with a slab of stone and scattered soil on it, so that people wouldn't notice it.
The eighth day came, the day for the carpenter to ascend to heaven. At the head of a retinue of elders and stewards and with a great din of bugles and drums, the chief came to send him off. They made a pile of faggots in the hemp field and asked Genjia the carpenter to sling his tool-kit over his shoulder and carry his bag in one hand. They made him stand in the middle, lit the faggots and watched the smoke rise, "carrying him up to heaven".
Genjia the steward was afraid that as soon as the faggots were lit, the carpenter would spoil everything by crying out in terror. "Come on !" he shouted to the crowd. "Blow your bugles and beat your drums! Laugh and cheer! Genjia the carpenter is on his way to heaven to build a mansion for our old chief. Isn't that a wonderful thing!"
The chief came over to have a look. Genjia the steward pointed gleefully to the rising smoke and said, "Master, you see, there goes his horse. Genjia the carpenter is on his way to heaven."
The chief was delighted.
The moment the faggots were lit and the smoke began rising into the sky, Genjia the carpenter raised the slab and escaped through the tunnel back to his own bedroom.
He confined himself to his house for a whole year. His wife went to great lengths to find milk, butter and other nutritious food for him; and as he did no work, by the end of that year Tibetan Folktalehe was plumper and fairer-skinned than ever.
Meanwhile, Genjia the steward tried a thousand and one ways of seducing the carpenter's wife, and she tried a thousand and one ways of avoiding him. He failed completely to attain his goal.
While Genjia the carpenter was hiding at home, he diligently practiced the calligraphy of the Buddhist scriptures. He prepared a document written in the authentic style and kept it on his person. On the first anniversary of his "ascent to heaven" ,he went and stood on the very spot where he was supposed to have been burned, the same tool-kit on his shoulder and the same bag in his hand. He called out, "How is everybody? I've just got back from heaven."
His wife was the first to come out. She pretended to be extremely surprised and hurried over to report the news to the chief.
The chief was very happy when he heard that Genjia the carpenter was back. He gave him a hero's welcome with bugles and drums, and invited him to stay in his mansion. He wanted to find out how his father was faring in heaven.
On meeting the chief, Genjia the carpenter said in a very serious tone of voice, "When I was constructing the official mansion in heaven, the old chief treated me with exceptional kindness, just as you always do, Master. That's why I'm in such good shape! The mansion is finished, and what a magnificent building it is -- ten times the size of an earthly mansion! Only one thing is lacking: a steward. The old chief misses his old steward dearly. He very much wants the steward to go up to heaven and manage things for him. After a period of time he can come back." This said, he promptly produced the document and showed it to the chief, adding that it was the old chief who had asked him to bring it down.
Genjia the chief read the document and was totally convinced by the whole story. Presently he sent for Genjia the steward and asked him to go and work for the old chief in his newly built mansion in heaven.
When Genjia the steward saw Genjia the carpenter standing there and looking so well after his "ascent to heaven," and when he heard the vivid description of heaven given by the carpenter, he just didn't know what to think. "Perhaps I really possess some sort of magic power", he thought to himself. "It was my idea for him to go to heaven, and he actually seems to have done so! Perhaps it really is possible to fly to heaven, and the old chief really does have a new mansion there!"
He followed the carpenter's example and asked for seven days to get ready, and a Twig Burning Ceremony to be held in the hemp field behind his house to send him off to heaven. Tibetan FolktaleHe thought that since Genjia the carpenter could come back, he could too. On the eighth day, as on the previous occasion, Genjia the steward stood in the middle of the faggots with a box on his shoulder and a bag in his hand. As on the previous occasion, there was a great din of bugles and drums, and the chief gave the order to light the faggots and send him off to heaven.
But the outcome this time was somewhat different. One difference was that after everything was over, a pile of charred bones was found among the ashes. Another difference was that the steward never came back. He stayed on in heaven forever to help the old chief run his mansion.

A Uygur Folktale:

The Shepherd Aniz

Once upon a time, a landlord hired a shepherd boy whose name was Aniz. He was very well liked. What people liked most of all was to listen to him playing the flute. His flute looked Aniz the Shepherdvery simple, no more than a length of bamboo; but in his hands it became a wonderful instrument. Whenever they were free, people would sit around Aniz and entertain themselves by listening to him play. The landlord was heartily sick of both the boy and his flute. He was constantly finding fault with him and scolding him, "You little wretch! Do I pay you to sit there playing the flute?" In point of fact, Aniz' flute-playing did not interfere with his work in the slightest.

One day the landlord found some slight pretext to give Aniz a terrible beating. That was not enough; he was not content until he had driven him out and trampled his flute into little pieces. "Good! I should like to see you play the flute now!"

Poor Aniz left the landlord's house and, with tears trickling down his face, wandered through the streets.

He chanced to meet an old man. "Hello! What's the trouble, young fellow? Who are your parents? Why are you out here all on your own, crying?" the old man asked, stroking Aniz's head.

"Grandpa! I am a shepherd. My name is Aniz. The landlord beat me, drove me out and trampled my lovely flute to pieces..." Aniz began crying again.

"Don't cry, Aniz," said the old man kindly. "Come along and stay with me! I shall show you a way to avenge yourself." He took Aniz to his home. There he used a length of bamboo to make him a new flute that was much better than his old one. He taught him how to play it, and after his lessons with the old man, Aniz could play more beautifully than ever. This time it was not just people who enjoyed his playing; even the various animals in the forest came and sat round him, listening to him quietly and never wanting to leave. As time passed, Aniz and the animals became close friends.

One day the landlord summoned his sons and said, "Last night I dreamt of a beautiful rabbit, white as snow, with a black spot on the top of its head. I liked the look of it very much. You must try your best to catch it for me in the forest."

"Father, we have never even heard of such a rabbit!" his sons replied. "Where can we go to catch it for you?"

"You hopeless creatures! Didn't you hear what I said just now?" cried the landlord in a temper. "Go and look for it. Whoever finds it will inherit all I have when I die."

The eldest son thought to himself, "I am the eldest. I should inherit father's property anyway, whether I catch the rabbit or not. But supposing they..." He UygurFolktalestepped forward and said, "Brothers, let me go! I fear no danger, if only I can make father happy!"

He set off on his way looking around him carefully, and after a while an old man came towards him and asked, "Young man, where are you going?" The eldest son told him why he had come.

"Go to the forest then," said the old man, "and look for the rabbit! Aniz is tending my cattle there. Tell him what you want and he'll help you."

The eldest son went into the forest, found Aniz and asked him for his help. "Of course!" Aniz smiled, "I can help you to find the strange rabbit. Come and get it this evening. But you must bring with you a thousand strings of cash to pay for it."

The eldest son reckoned gleefully, "Compared with the property I am going to inherit, a thousand strings of cash are nothing!" In the evening he returned to the forest with the money and found Aniz sitting on a tree stump, playing his flute. All the little animals were squatting round him entranced, pricking up their ears to listen to the music. The eldest son saw the white rabbit among them at once. It really did have had a tiny black spot on the top of its head.

Aniz saw the rabbit too. He put down his flute, stretched out his hand, took hold of it by its long ears and handed it to the eldest son. "Here you are. Hold it tightly! If it escapes, it's none of my business."

The eldest son paid the money, thanked Aniz profusely and set off home with the little white rabbit. He was about to leave the forest when he heard Aniz playing the flute again. As soon as the rabbit heard the music, it burst from his hand and ran for all it was worth. The eldest son searched for it for a long time but could not find any trace of it. In the end he gave up and went to see Aniz again.

"The white rabbit has run away. What can I do?" he asked.

Aniz answered, "There is nothing I can do about it. Didn't I warn you a moment ago to hold it tightly? It's no use blaming me."

The eldest son had no alternative but to go home empty-handed and tell his story to the landlord.

The second son said, "Father, don't worry. I'll go and catch it tomorrow." Next day, the second son went to try his luck and met the same fate as his elder brother -- time wasted and another thousand strings of cash down the drain. On the third day, the youngest son went, but he fared no better.

It made the landlord very angry to watch his three sons lose three thousand strings of cash like this, without so much as a piece of fluff to show for it.

"You fools!" he cried. "You worthless pack of fools! Tomorrow I shall go and catch it myself!"

So the following day the landlord went into the forest. When Aniz spotted him, his eyes blazed with hatred. Before the landlord could open his mouth, Aniz took out his flute and began playing. All the beasts of the forest -- rabbits, bears, snakes, wolves, foxes and Uygur Folktalemany different sorts of birds -- came and encircled the landlord. Terror drove the last drop of color from his cheeks. He fell to his knees in despair and entreated Aniz, "My lord, save me ! Save me!"

"Landlord! Do you remember Aniz? At one sound from my flute, these animals will eat you alive!"

"Alas... Ah! My lord! Don't treat me as once I treated you!" He lay prostrate at Aniz' feet and sobbed, "I promise to give you anything you want. Don't let them... I'm so scared...."

"Very well. I will spare your wretched life this once. But you must never bully poor folk again! If you don't turn over a new leaf, I won't be so easy on you next time. And when you get home, you must give half of all your worldly goods to the poor villagers. Is that clear?"

"Yes! Yes!" The landlord rose to his feet and fled in abject terror. He followed Aniz' instructions and distributed half of his estate to the poor. That made Aniz more popular than ever.

A Korean Folktale:

The Magic Moneybag

Long, long ago there was a young couple who lived in a small thatched hut in a gully. They were so poor that every day they had to cut two bundles of firewood and carry them to market on their backs.

One day, the young couple came back from the mountain carrying the firewood. They put one bundle in the courtyard and planned to sell it at the market the next day to buy rice. The Korean Folktaleother bundle they kept in the kitchen for their own use. When they woke up the following morning, the bundle in the courtyard had mysteriously disappeared. There was nothing to do but to sell the bundle that they had kept for themselves.

That same day, they cut another two bundles of firewood as usual. They put one bundle in the courtyard for market and kept the other bundle for their own use. But the following morning, the bundle in the courtyard had vanished again. The same thing happened on the third and fourth day as well, and the husband began to think there was something strange going on.

On the fifth day, he made a hollow in the bundle of firewood in the courtyard and hid himself inside it. From the outside it looked just the same as before. At midnight an enormous rope descended from the sky, attached itself to the bundle and lifted it up into the sky, with the woodcutter still inside it.

On his arrival in heaven, he saw a kindly looking, white-haired old man coming in his direction. The old man untied the bundle and when he found the man inside it, he asked, "Other people only cut one bundle of firewood a day. Why do you cut two?"

The woodcutter made a bow and replied, "We are penniless. That's why my wife and I cut two bundles of firewood a day. One bundle is for our own use and the other we carry to the market. With it we can buy rice to make porridge."

The old man chuckled and said to the woodcutter in a warmhearted tone of voice, "I've known for a long time that you are a decent couple and lead a frugal and hardworking life. I shall give you a piece of treasure. Take it back with you and it will provide you with your livelihood."

As soon as he had finished speaking, there came seven fairies who led the young man into a magnificent palace. Its golden eaves and gleaming roof tiles shone so brightly that the moment he entered; he could no longer open his eyes. Inside the palace there were many kinds of rare objects on display that he had never seen before. Korean FolktaleMoneybags of all shapes and sizes hung in one room. The fairies asked him, "Which one do you like best? Choose whichever you please, and take it home."

The woodcutter was beside himself with joy, "I'd like that moneybag, the one full of precious things. Give me that round, bulging one." He chose the biggest one and took it down.

Just at this moment, the white-haired old man came in and, with a stern expression on his face, said to the young man, "You cannot take that one. I'll give you an empty one. Every day you can take one tael of silver out of it, and no more." The woodcutter reluctantly agreed. He took the empty moneybag and, clinging onto the enormous rope, he was lowered to the ground.

Once home, he gave the moneybag to his wife and told her the whole story. She was most excited. In the daytime they went as usual to cut firewood. But from then on, whenever they returned home after dark, they would close the door and open the moneybag. Instantly, a lump of silver would roll jingling out. When they weighed it on the palm of their hand, they found it to be exactly one tael. Every day one tael of silver and no more came rolling out of the bag. The wife saved them up one by one.

Time went slowly by. One day the husband suggested, "Let's buy an ox."

The wife didn't agree. A few days later, the husband suggested again, "How about buying a few acres of land?"

His wife didn't agree with that either. A few more days elapsed, and the wife herself proposed, "Let's build a little thatched cottage."

The husband was itching to spend all the money they had saved and said, "Since we have so much money in hand, why don't we build a big brick house?"

The wife could not dissuade her husband and reluctantly went along with his idea.

The husband spent the money on bricks, tiles and timber and on hiring carpenters and masons. From that time on, neither of them went into the mountain to cut firewood any more. The day came when their pile of silver was almost exhausted, but the new house was still unfinished. It had Korean Folktalelong been in the back of the husband's mind to ask the moneybag to produce more silver. So without his wife's knowledge, he opened the bag for a second time that day. Instantly, another lump of snow-white silver rolled jingling out of the bag onto the ground. He opened it a third time and received a third lump.

He thought to himself, "If I go on like this, I can get the house finished in no time!" He quite forgot the old man's warning. But when he opened the bag for the fourth time, it was absolutely empty. This time not a scrap of silver came out of it. It was just an old cloth bag. When he turned to look at his unfinished brick house, that was gone as well. There before him was his old thatched hut.

The woodcutter felt very sad. His wife came over and consoled him, "We can't depend on the magic moneybag from heaven. Let's go back to the mountain to cut firewood as we did before. That's a more dependable way of earning a living."

From that day on, the young couple once again went up to the mountain to cut firewood and led their old, hardworking life.

A Han Folktale:

The Gold Colt and the Fire Dragon Shirt

There once lived a landlord who loved money as he loved his own life. In his eyes the smallest coin seemed as large as a millstone. He was always on the lookout for some new landlordway of making money and was very mean to his peasant tenants. They all called him "Skinflint."

One year a long spell of drought devastated the area, ruining the entire crop. The peasants, who were used to living from year to year, and never had a reserve of grain to fall back on, were reduced to eating bark and roots to survive, and now even these were all consumed. Starvation drove them to ask for a loan of grain from Skinflint, whose granaries, big and small, were filled to overflowing. Although the grain was sprouting and the flour was swarming with maggots, he was such a miser that he wouldn't part with a single speck of either. His peasants went away seething with anger and resentment, and resolved to find some way to teach him a lesson.

They put their heads together and came up with rather a good plan. They collected together a few tiny silver ingots and also managed to procure a scraggy little horse. They stuffed the silver up the horse's behind and bunged it up with a wad of cotton floss. Then they selected one of their number, a peasant whose gift of gab had earned him the nickname "Bigmouth" and who was credited with the power of talking the dead out of their graves. They sent him to Skinflint with the horse. Seeing them enter, Skinflint flew into a rage. His whiskers bristled.

He glowered at Bigmouth, pointing at him angrily and shouting, "You damn fool! You have fouled my courtyard enough. Get out of my sight!"

"Please keep your voice down, Master," said Bigmouth with a cunning smile. "If you frighten my horse and make him bolt, you'd have to sell everything you've got to make good the damage."

"There you go, Bigmouth, bragging again!" said Skinflint. "What can this scraggy little horse of yours possibly be worth?"

To which Bigmouth replied, "Oh, nothing, except that when he moves his bowels silver and gold will come out."

In an instant Skinflint's anger evaporated and he hastened to ask, "Where did you get hold of this beast?"

"I dreamt a dream the night before last," began Bigmouth. "I met a white-bearded old man who said to me, 'Bigmouth, the colt who used to carry gold and silver ingots for the God of Wealth has been demoted and sent down to Earth. Go to the northeast and catch him. When he moves his bowels, silver and gold come out. If you catch him, you'll make a fortune.' Then the old man gave me a push and I woke up. I didn't take it seriously, thinking it to be nothing but a dream. I turned over and fell asleep again. However, as soon as I closed my eyes, the old man reappeared and urged me to hurry up. 'The horse will fall into another's hands if you delay!' he said, and gave me another push, which woke me up again. I put on my clothes and ran out. In the northeast I saw a ball of landlordfire. When I ran over, sure enough, there was the colt, grazing contentedly. So I led him home. The following day, I set up an incense burner and as soon as I lit the incense, the colt began to produce silver ingots from its behind."

"Did it really?" asked Skinflint eagerly.

Bigmouth replied, "There's an old proverb which says, 'The proof of the pudding is in the eating.' If you don't believe me, allow me to arrange a demonstration." He asked Skinflint to set up a burner and light some incense. Meanwhile, he himself held a plate below the horse's behind. He secretly pulled out the wad of cotton and the tiny silver ingots fell jingling onto the plate. On seeing the horse perform like this, Skinflint asked avidly, "How much does he produce a day?"

"Three or four taels a day for us less lucky folk," replied Bigmouth. "But the old man in my dream said that if he meets a really lucky person he produces thirty or forty."

Skinflint thought to himself, "I must be one of those. Supposing I get the horse, he is bound to produce at least twenty taels a day. That means six hundred taels a month and seven thousand two hundred taels a year."

The longer his sums became, the fonder he grew of the horse. He decided that he had to buy him, and talked it over with Bigmouth.

At first Bigmouth pretended to be unwilling. Skinflint tried again and again to persuade him and promised to pay any price he asked. In the end Bigmouth sighed and said, "Oh well, so be it. My luck is evidently worse than yours. I'll sell. But I don't want silver or gold, just give me thirty bushels of grain."

Skinflint considered the price very cheap and readily agreed. They made the exchange then and there.

Bigmouth hurried back with the grain and distributed it among his fellow peasants. They were all very happy to have it. Skinflint, for his part, felt even happier to have the horse, and just couldn't stop chuckling to himself. He was afraid of losing the horse, however, and tried to tie him up in a great many places, but none of them seemed safe enough. Finally, he tied him up in his own living room. He laid a red carpet on the floor and set up an incense burner. The whole family watched the colt in eager anticipation, expecting him any minute to start producing silver and gold.

They waited till midnight. Suddenly the horse opened his hind legs. Skinflint sensed that he was about to "produce." He quickly brought over a lacquered tray and held it right below the horse's behind. He waited for ages, but nothing happened. Skinflint was so anxious by now that he lifted the horse's tail, bent down and peered upwards to keep an eye on further developments. There was a sudden "splash," and before Skinflint could do anything about it, the horse had splattered him all over his face. The "liquid gold" ran down the back of his head and down his neck, covering his whole body. The stench was so vile that Skinflint started jumping and shouting and then felt nauseous and began to vomit again and again. Next the horse urinated in great quantity, ruining the lovely red carpet. The whole room stunk to high heaven. Skinflint realized that he had been cheated, and in a fit of rage, he killed the horse.

The following morning, first thing, he sent some of his hired thugs to track down Bigmouth. But the peasants had already hidden him away. Skinflint's men landlordsearched for him high and low but always came back empty handed, to his fury and exasperation. There was nothing he could do except send out spies and wait.

In the twinkling of an eye, it was winter. One day Bigmouth failed to hide properly and was caught by one of Skinflint's henchmen. When he came face to face with his foe, Skinflint gnashed his teeth with rage and without saying a word, had Bigmouth locked up in his mill. He had him stripped of all his padded clothes and left him with nothing but a cotton shirt, hoping to freeze him to death. It was the very coldest season of the year. Outside, snow was falling and a bitter wind was blowing. Bigmouth sat huddled up in a corner, trembling with cold. As the cold was becoming unbearable, an idea suddenly occurred to him. He stood up at once, heaved a millstone up off the ground and began walking back and forth with it in his arms. He soon warmed up and started sweating. He passed the entire night in this way, walking around with the millstone and occasionally stopping for a rest.

Early next morning Skinflint thought Bigmouth must surely be dead. But when he unlocked the mill door, to his great surprise, he found Bigmouth squatting there in a halo of steam, his whole body in a muck of sweat. Bigmouth stood up at once and begged him, "Master, take pity on me! Quick, lend me a fan! Or I shall die of heat!"

"How come you are so hot?" asked the dumbfounded Skinflint.

"This shirt of mine is a priceless heirloom," Bigmouth explained. "It's called the Fire Dragon Shirt. The colder the weather, the greater the heat it gives off."

"When did you get hold of it?"

"Originally it was the pelt cast off by the Lord Fire Dragon. Then the Queen of the Western Heaven wove it into a shirt. Later on, it somehow fell into the possession of my ancestors and became a family heirloom. It has been passed down from generation to generation until finally it came into my hands."

Seeing how unbearably hot he was, Skinflint swallowed the whole story. He was now set on getting hold of this Fire Dragon Shirt and had completely forgotten the episode of the gold colt. He insisted on bartering his fox-fur gown for the shirt. Bigmouth absolutely refused at first, but when Skinflint added fifty taels of silver to the price, he said with a sigh, "Alas, what a worthless son am I, to have thus lost my family's treasured heirloom!"

Having said this, he took off his shirt and put on Skinflint's fox-fur gown. Then he pocketed the fifty taels of silver and strode away.

Skinflint's joy knew no bounds. Several days later his father-in-law's birthday came round. In order to show off his new acquisition, he went to convey his birthday greetings wearing nothing but the Fire Dragon Shirt. In the middle of the journey, a fierce wind came up and it began to snow. Skinflint felt unbearably cold. The place was far from village or inn, and there was no shelter of any sort to be found. He glanced over his shoulder and saw a tree by the roadside, half of which had burnt away in a fire. It was hollow in the middle and the space was wide enough for a person to stand up in. landlordSkinflint hurried over and hid inside. Shortly afterwards his whole body became numb with cold, and soon he died.

Several days later the family found his body. They knew that he had been cheated again by Bigmouth, and sent men to seize him.

"My precious shirt burns whenever it comes into contact with kindling, grass or timber," explained Bigmouth. "The master must have been burned to death in this way. I am not to blame. I never told him to hide inside a tree. If you look, you will see that half of the tree has been burnt away." When the family examined the tree and saw that it was indeed as Bigmouth had described, they had no choice but to set him free.

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