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Chinese Traditional Culture

Chinese Culture

When defining culture, many people have different views. According to the “the critical study about the conception and definition of culture” written by Kroeber and Kluckhohn, two American cultural anthropologists, there are more than 160 academic definitions of culture worldwide. The word “culture” originated from the Latin term with the original meaning including, the cultivation, fostering, education, development and respect in western society. In 1871, “Primitive Culture” written by Edward Taylor, a British anthropologist, described culture as a combination of abilities and behaviors that people possess such as knowledge, belief, art, morality, law, among others.   

In China, the word “culture” which is “wehua” in Chinese has existed since ancient time. The original meaning of “wen” referred to the weaving of colors, ornamentation and articles and “hua” is defined as variation, formation and creation. There is a saying that, “all things on earth are given birth and foster growth,” so the meaning of “hua” extended to transformation, indoctrination and cultivation. The conception of “culture” in ancient China can be categorized into spiritual civilization, often corresponding to “armed force,” “Kungfu” and others. These definitions contain positive idealism that demonstrate the gentle and strict way the country is governed, embracing politics and ethics. In addition, ancestors used the word “culture” as a verb, symbolizing a method and proposal of governing society. It was not only opposed to but also linked to the conquest of armed forces, which included the strategy of “trying fair means before using force” and “making policy and military achievements.” Some definitions also include the traditional culture of China which include food, customs and various traditions.

Characteristics

The traditional culture of China is representative of the development of Chinese civilization and the ideas that have governed society throughout history. It is considered a culture that was created by all Chinese people living in China since its inception. There are many characteristics of Chinese culture highlighted below:

1. Inheritance: Passed down from generation to generation, traditional Chinese culture has changed in the past few centuries, but has continued without significant change. The people have inherited a distinctive way of thinking throughout generations despite the changes in the environment.

2. National characteristics: Chinese traditional culture is often considered peculiar to others as it is  different from other cultures.

3. Long history: Chinese traditional culture has a long history that spans 5,000 years.

4. Extensive and profound culture: The term “extensive” refers to the amount of information and cultural artifacts available to trace the long history of the country, while “profound” explains the culture’s effect on observers. Although a visitor cannot truly see all of China’s history through visiting some areas, they will gain more understanding of Chinese culture through their interactions and connection with the people and the places they go.