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Chinese Culture: Tradition and Change ()

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Chinese Culture: Tradition and Change
Marina Kravtsova, Maria Andrade, Anthony England, Whitney Haney
Honor’s Colloquium, Oklahoma City University,
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Which aspects of Chinese culture have
remained constant? Which have changed?
Four Aspects of Study:
An Artistic & Scientific View
Chinese view on food is deeply rooted in Confucianism and Taoism.
• Elevated cooking to an art
• Established standards and
appearance of cooking.
• Established proper table
• Responsible for the development
of the hygienic aspects of food
and cooking.
• Concerned with the nutritional
attributes of various foods.
• Focused on the medical value of
Western Influence
Although there has been an increased in American fast-food chains in
Chinese cities, traditional cuisine still remains an important part of
Chinese society and primarily family life.
Unlike some Western affairs that require people to eat quietly and
quickly, Chinese gatherings are lengthy, noisy, and hospitable.
Regional Cuisine
China has many distinct styles of food based on geography,
climate, resources, cooking methods, and lifestyle.
Distinct Chinese cuisines are loosely divided into eight
regions or “Eight Great Traditions”:
• Anhui
• Cantonese
• Jiangsu
• Shandong
• Fujian
• Hunan
• Sichuan
• Zhejiang
• Chengyu: four-character phrases with culture-unique
• Taught in schools to help students learn to write the
• Not influenced by other cultures
• Chinese people take pride in preserving own culture
Examples of Chengyu
Chinese Idiom
English Translation
з“њз”°жќЋдё‹ (guЕЌ tiГЎn lЗђ xiГ )
“Melon Field Under Plums”
дёЂжЇ›дёЌж‹” (yД« mГ o bГє bГ )
“Not Pull One Hair”
对牛弹琴 (duì niú tán qín)
“Play an Instrument for a Cow”
Story of з ґй‡њжІ‰и€џ
(pГІ fЗ” chГ©n zhЕЌu)
Chronological Progression of Traditional Styles
Traditional Poetry
“Night Thoughts” by Li Bai
(730 BCE)
I wake and moonbeams play around my bed
Glittering like hoarfrost to my wondering eyes
Upwards the glorious moon I raise my head
Then lay me down and thoughts of home arise
Contemporary Poetry
“The Answer” by Bei Dao
Debasement is the password of the base,
Nobility the epitaph of the noble.
See how the gilded sky is covered
With the drifting twisted shadows of the dead....
...Let me tell you, world,
If a thousand challengers lie beneath your feet,
Count me as number one thousand and one.
I don't believe the sky is blue;
I don't believe in thunder's echoes;
I don't believe that dreams are false;
I don't believe that death has no revenge.
Contemporary Poetry
• From examining example of poetry, change is clearly evident
• Reasons for change:
– Entrance of English Romantic poetry in the 1920’s
– Demise of Dynastical system towards communist structure
– Intellectuals against the government’s actions begin to use
poems to speak out against wrongs rather than create a
form of art.
Early Chinese music was Confucius based. Music was viewed as a means of
calming the passions and of dispelling unrest and lust, rather than a form of
Traditional Chinese believed sound influenced the harmony of the universe.
Older instruments were long zithers, flutes, panpipes, sheng (mouth organs), and
percussion instruments such as clappers, drums, and gongs.
Chinese music is as old as Chinese civilization. Instruments have been
excavated from sites in all but not limited to the Shang, Chou, and Qin
Shang Dynasty (1027 BCE) artifacts found: stone chimes, bronze bells, panpipes,
and the sheng.
Chou Dynasty (1027-256 BCE) music was one of the four required subjects of
the sons of noblemen and princes.
Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) Music was seen as a wasteful past time.
Timeline of Events
Dynastic times: Chinese opera, yayue (classical, elegant music of the
imperial courts)
1900: English popular and Western classical music grew along with
British influence over Chinese music
1920: Shidaiqu is started by Li Jinhui in the Republic of China. (Chinese
folk, European jazz fusion)
1930: Shidaiqu converts to C-pop
1940: Communist Party of China labels c-pop as “yellow music” which
meant obscene, sexual, pornographic, etc. Government censorship and
control begins
1950: C-pop converts to mandopop and cantopop
1970: Mao Zedong and CPC evolve patriotic music into revolutionary
1990: Prison song becomes Chinese Rock (Cui Jian initiated genre).
Karaoke culture beings
2000: Punk Rock and Hip Hop begin to emerge in China.
Three Major Schools of Chinese Music
1. Aimed at reviving the old thousand piece orchestra
that once delighted ancient princes and sages and
resisted the influence of Western music.
2. Exclusively Western Music
3. Pride in traditional Chinese music culture but
acceptance of Western techniques of composition and
Chinese Genres Since 1912
Pop music: C-pop began with Shidaiqu, founded by Li Jinhui, with Western jazz influence. Because
of the Communist Party’s censorship the mainland remained on the sideline of Pop music while
cantopop arose in Hong Kong, followed by mandopop in Taiwan. Despite China’s population, the
country is still not considered a lead producer of modern music. Since the end of the 20 th century,
pop music in mainland China has started to gain popularity and even many Chinese, Taiwanese, and
Hong Kong performers used their music for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Hip hop and Rap: Chinese Rap, Hong Kong hip hop, and Taiwanese hip hop
Rock and heavy metal: Rock music’s pioneer in Chinese culture was Cui Jian who first used the
electric guitar and became the most famous performer of his music’s generation. His music angered
the government causing many of his concerts to be banned or cancelled and in 1989 he participated
in the Tiananmen Square protests by playing with a red blindfold around his head as an action
against the government. Western influence is also exemplified in the “Black Panther’s” (Hei
Bao’s) first cd in which he used the English song “Don’t Break My Heart” as a template for his own.
Around 1995 Chinese metal/rock bands were influenced by groups like Korn, Limp Bizkit, and
Linkin Park.
Punk Rock: The first wave of punk rock in China came about in 1995, the second in 1997, both
centered in Beijing.
Revolutionary Music: Bordering cult status, this patriotic music has been the most government
supported genre especially under pro-Communist leader like Mao Zedong.
Music’s Significance on Chinese Culture
Because of mainland China’s Communist censorship over
music, piracy has become a huge issue in the music industry.
For many years music was pirated into the mainland from
areas like Taiwan because of the Communist bans and
cancelled concerts and because of this precedent the trend has
continued and now music is usually released first in Taiwan or
Hong Kong and then pirated into the mainland.
Works Cited
"China Guide". 2005. China Guide Corporation. 8 Nov 2008 <>.
Chinese Cooking.Ed. Xiaoniu SuChu Hsu. Reed Internal Books Limited. 1998. 26 Oct. 2008 <
“Chinese Culinary Culture.” Ethnic 2005. Kavita Mehta. 20 Oct. 2008 <
ChineseCulinaryHistory.htm>. Jazar 2008. 28 Oct 2008. <>.
“Food in Chinese Culture.” Radiant Solutions Corporation. 22 Oct. 2008 <>.
"History / Philosophy of Chinese Music in relation to the Yellow Bell Legend". Yellow Bell Music World. 4 Nov 2008
Liang, M. Y. (1985). Music of the billion: An introduction to Chinese musical culture. NY: Heinrichshofen. Scales & scores
scanned from pp. 85, 205.Parkinson, Rhonda. “Chinese Regional Cooking Styles.” About.Com. 2008. The New
Pei, Ming L.. "China the Beautiful". 2008. Ming L. Pei Inc.. 8 Nov 2008 <
Ratinor, Steven. "Reclaiming the Word: A Conversation with Bei Dao". AGNI Online 2008. 7 Nov 2008
"Rock in China". RIC. 3 Nov , 2008. <>.
York Times Company. 2 Nov. 2008 <>.
Works Cited
“Chinese Singer in Red.” No date. Online image. All Girl Band. 3 December 2008. <
Emperor Gaozong, “Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain.” No date. Online image. Poetry Central. 3 December 2008.
Li-Columeau, Xiaoqian and Jean Columeau. “Red Flowers.” No date. Online image. <>.
“Lily Pond.” Ursi’s Blog. 9 Nov 2008. Online image. <
“Logo.” Oklahoma City University. Oklahoma City University. Online image. 8 Nov 2008. <>.
“Map of China.” Accommodation Olympic Games Beijing 2008. HID Hellenic Info Destination. Online image. 8 Nov 2008.
May's Photo, “Battle Scene with 9 Figures.” 1920-1929. Online image. CaliSphere. 3 December 2008. <http://www.oac.>.
“Pumpkin Field.” No date. Online image. Julien’s List. 3 December 2008. <
“Red Leaves.” No date. Online image. Random City Photos. 3 December 2008. <>.
“Tasty Food: Blue Teapot, Shrimp, and Prawn.” No date. Online image. Asian Buffet. 11 November 2008.
“Tasty Food: Red Dinnerware.” No date. Online image. Asian Buffet. 11 November 2008.
“Three Chinese Pop Stars.” No date. Online image. Music. 3 December 2008. <
“Tree Blossoms and River Boat.” No date. Online image. Shang Gao. 3 December 2008. <
“Woman with Birds.” No date. Online image. Chinese Poetry 中文诗歌. 3 December 2008. <
We would like to thank Dr. Regina Bennett, Dr. Virginia McCombs, and the Honor’s
Department for giving us the wonderful opportunity to present our research to the
public and to gather valuable experience for our future endeavors. Your guidance and
encouragement has been greatly appreciated.
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