Modern Chinese Architecture

On July 22, 2011, in Beijing, Featured China Stories, by Jack Li

China – a land where new is constantly meeting and merging with old. Nowhere is this more evident than in Chinese architecture. Humble hutong homes, grandiose gates, tremendous temples, and picturesque palaces often sit only a few minutes away from, if not right next to, soaring skyscrapers and seemingly impossible-to-construct masterpieces of architecture. Witness these […]

China – a land where new is constantly meeting and merging with old. Nowhere is this more evident than in Chinese architecture. Humble hutong homes, grandiose gates, tremendous temples, and picturesque palaces often sit only a few minutes away from, if not right next to, soaring skyscrapers and seemingly impossible-to-construct masterpieces of architecture. Witness these works of art for yourself – fly to China with China Flights and take a tour with China Tours today!

Here is a sampling of Chinese architectural masterpieces:

Central Chinese Television (CCTV) Towers, Beijing

The CCTV Tower’s design is so novel that it required approval by a special review panel. The two leaning towers of the building connect at the top and bottom at 90-degree angles to form a continuous loop.

Beijing International Airport, Beijing

Covering more than 1 million square meters, the vast Beijing Airport is housed under a single roof. Passengers of up to 43 million a year are guided through the terminals with the aid of colored skylights. The building also boasts environmental control systems to reduce its carbon footprint.

Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai

The architects of this 101-story skyscraper had one major issue on their minds when designing the Shanghai World Financial Center – wind pressure. To alleviate the problem, they added a rectangular cut-out at the top of the building to reduce the building’s sway and double as the world’s highest outdoor observation deck.

National Swimming Center (Water Cube), Beijing

The Water Cube is made of lightweight Teflon panels, the panels’ shapes modeled off of research into the structure of soap bubbles by Dublin’s Trinity College. The structure is thoroughly energy-efficient, the swimming pools being heated by solar energy and reusing old pool water that is usually simply discarded.

Olympic Stadium (Bird’s Nest), Beijing

The iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium is a novel take on the traditional sports-arena layout. Each unit of this “eco-friendly” stadium is an independent facility, making it possible to encase the entire complex with an open grid for natural air circulation. A layer of translucent membrane fills any gaps in the lacy exterior.

Linked Hybrid, Beijing

Housing 2,500 people in 700 apartments covering 1.6 million square feet, this site features one of the world’s largest geothermal cooling and heating systems. The innovative water-circulation system eliminates the need for boilers to supply heat and electric air conditioners to supply cool air – water flows through all of the buildings, serving as a giant radiator in the winter and cooling system in the summer. Each of the eight buildings is connected at the 20th floor by a “ring” of service establishments (cafes, dry cleaners, etc.).

Donghai Bridge, Shanghai/Yangshan Island

20-mile, six-lane Donghai Bridge stretches across the East China Sea to connect Shanghai with Yangshan Island. This S-shaped cable-stay structure is not open to private vehicles, but those wishing to traverse it may take a public bus across.

National Grand Theater, Beijing

This 485 square-foot theater made of glass and titanium appears to float above a man-made lake. The public nature of the building is realized through the semi-transparent skin of the building, giving passerbys a peek at any performance taking place inside one of the three auditoriums.

Impressed? Seeing as most of these architectural marvels are located in Beijing, check out Beijing Tours and see these masterpieces for yourself!

 

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The Four Great Inventions

On July 21, 2011, in Featured China Stories, by Jack Li

What civilization can claim to be the birthing place of four transformational objects? China! The concept of “four great inventions” is an entirely Western one, but it was adopted by the Chinese after scholars like Francis Bacon and Karl Marx pointed out the importance of such inventions. You can see their impact in your own […]

What civilization can claim to be the birthing place of four transformational objects? China! The concept of “four great inventions” is an entirely Western one, but it was adopted by the Chinese after scholars like Francis Bacon and Karl Marx pointed out the importance of such inventions. You can see their impact in your own life overseas thousands of years after the fact! Hop on a flight by China Flights today and take a tour of Beijing to visit some museums and experience this land of innovation for yourself.

Compass

The earliest reference to magnetism in Chinese literature can be found in a 4th century BC book called Book of the Devil Valley Master: “The lodestone makes iron come or attracts it.” For most of Chinese history, the compass of choice was in the form of a magnetic needle floating in a bowl of water. According to Joseph Needham, noted British biochemist, historian, and Sinologist who devoted the later part of his life to studying the science and civilization of ancient China, the Chinese began to use a dry compass in the Song and continuing Yuan Dynasty, but this type never became as widely used as the wet compass.

Gunpowder

Gunpowder, a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate, is classified as a low explosive because of its relatively slow decomposition rate and consequently low brisance. It is believed that gunpowder was discovered by Chinese alchemists searching for an elixir of immortality in the 9th century. By 1044 AD, various Chinese formulas for gunpowder held levels of nitrate in the range of 27% to 50%. By the end of the 12th century, Chinese formulas of gunpowder had a level of nitrate capable of bursting through cast iron metal containers in form of hollow, gunpowder-filled grenade bombs. Also in the 12th century, fireworks (an extension of gunpowder) were invented to scare away evil spirits.

Papermaking

The invention of paper can be traced back to about 105 AD when an official of the Han Dynasty Imperial court created a sheet of paper using plant fibers, fish nets, old rags, and hemp waste. However, a recent archaeological discover was made near Dunhuang in which paper with writing on it was dated to 8 BC.

Paper was originally used only for wrapping and padding, gaining its use as a writing medium only in the 3rd century. By the 6th century, there is evidence that sheets of paper were being used for toilet paper as well. The Song Dynasty was the first government to issue paper currency.

Printing

Woodblock printing, invented sometime before 868 (the first dated book), produced the world’s first print culture. Woodblock printing was better suited to Chinese characters than moveable type, another Chinese invention. Western printing presses, invented in the 16th century, were not widely used in China until the 19th century.

These inventions are of indubitable importance as modern society is founded upon them. Now that you know your basic facts about the Four Great Inventions, visit China with China Travels to find out more!

 

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Traditional Chinese Clothing

On July 20, 2011, in Featured China Stories, by Jack Li

Images of flowing silk, immaculately braided hair, and bound feet… where do they come from? None other than dynastical China! Fashion in China has grown in innumerable ways throughout the centuries, each dynasty heralding the arrival of a different style in order to cut ties with its predecessor. Don’t wait another day! Fly with Air […]

Classic Hanfu


Images of flowing silk, immaculately braided hair, and bound feet… where do they come from? None other than dynastical China! Fashion in China has grown in innumerable ways throughout the centuries, each dynasty heralding the arrival of a different style in order to cut ties with its predecessor. Don’t wait another day! Fly with Air China and find a local, traditional hutong-style hotel to stay in via China Hotels to take a step back in time and learn more Chinese fashion in an authentic setting.

Classic Hanfu

In the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC – 1000 BC), the hanfu consisted of a simple, gender-neutral tunic and sash. The following Western Zhou Dynasty established a precedent of using clothing as a status marker in strict hierarchical society. Those of higher class would wear hanfu of different skirt length, sleeve width, and degree of ornamentation. In addition to the garments, hats and hairpieces could be worn by men and women. Commoners wore a cap different from that worn by the privileged, which was different still from that worn by officials and academics. White socks and black cloth shoes were the norm.

Qipao

Over time, hanfu clothing evolved to consist of at least two or three layers in different colors. Styles for men and women began to diverge with women’s clothing accentuating the body’s natural curves. Different dynasties introduced new trends, such as decoration with floral patterns and use of metal buttons.

Manchu Qing

Silk robes were the historical dress of the Han Chinese people for thousands of years until conquest by the Manchus in 1644 and the establishment of the Qing Dynasty. At this time, a new style called tangzhuang was introduced. This included the changshan worn by men and the iconic qipao for women.

Queue

Furthermore, the Manchu hairstyle known as the “queue” was forcefully introduced to the Han Chinese as a symbol of submission to Qing rule. The Qing slogan was: “Keep your hair and lose your head, or keep your head and cut your hair.” Resistance to the queue was bloody. It was not until the early 1910s, after the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and establishment of the Republic, that the Chinese no longer had to wear it.

Modern Day

Today, Han Chinese clothing is only worn as part of festivals, rite of passage ceremonies, historical reenactment (common in hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners), or hobby. There exists a hanfu subculture, a movement created to reintroduce traditional hanfu styles that were banned by the Manchu Qing Dynasty.

Chinese clothing styles have changed incredibly over the centuries. What are you waiting for? Come to China with China Travels and learn more about this astounding evolution for yourself!

 

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Traditional Chinese Medicine

On July 19, 2011, in Featured China Stories, by Jack Li

Traditional Chinese medicine — science or superstition? That question depends largely on whether you ask a Western or Eastern practitioner. But don’t just read about it, hop on a flight by China Flights today and experience it for yourself in China with China Travels! Western doctors, staunch believers in the power of pathogens and biological actions, […]

Traditional Chinese medicine — science or superstition? That question depends largely on whether you ask a Western or Eastern practitioner. But don’t just read about it, hop on a flight by China Flights today and experience it for yourself in China with China Travels!

Western doctors, staunch believers in the power of pathogens and biological actions, frown upon Taoism-founded belief in a bodily imbalance of qi, or universal energy made up of opposing yin and yang forces. Nonetheless, increasing numbers of Westerners are approaching the conclusion that there may be value in Eastern medicine.

Since ancient times, all that has been needed for a Chinese doctor to diagnose his patient was a look at the tongue and a pulse reading. From this, the doctor could determine the nature of the imbalance – too much yin or too much yang. The doctor could then write out a prescription for any of thousands of medicinal substances, including herbs, animal parts, and minerals.

More than a million tons of herbs are used in China each year, with licorice topping the list at 86,000 tons. A relatively well-stocked pharmacy stocks about 450 different herbs, and a clinical herbalist modifies about 250 standard formulas to fit a patient’s individual diagnosis. But it is not herbal medicine that has sparked the most controversy among Western observers; rather, it is the use of dried animal parts. Use of tiger bone, rhino horn, turtle shell, and bear organs raise the ire of conservation groups who argue that many of these treatments are ineffective and detrimental to the preservation of endangered species.

Acupuncture is another fundamental therapy within traditional Chinese medicine. 1997 marked a watershed moment for proponents of Eastern medicine when the U.S. National Institutes of Health recognized acupuncture as an effective treatment for a number of ailments, including chemotherapy-related nausea, menstrual cramps, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma. Acupuncture can also play a pivotal role in reversing addictions. Opium, cocaine, and nicotine addicts have benefited from what was once considered superstitious folk medicine. One variation of acupuncture is known as electroacupuncture, a form of acupuncture in which the needles are attached to a device that generates continuous electric pulses.

Moxibustion makes use of moxa, or mugwort herb. Suppliers age mugwort and grind it up to a fluff, then practitioners burn the fluff or process it further into a stick that resembles a cigar. They can use it with acupuncture needles or burn it on a patient’s skin. Moxa is used to warm acupuncture points to stimulate circulation and induce a smoother flow of blood and qi.

Now that you know about some of the different methods traditional Chinese medicine uses, travel to Beijing and experience it firsthand!

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Top 10 Chinese Universities

On July 18, 2011, in Featured China Stories, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

Attention, students! Thinking about studying abroad? Book an affordable flight with China Flights and come study in the Orient! Here is a list of China’s top 10 universities to help you narrow down your choices. To enhance your experience abroad, check out some China Tours and do some sightseeing! The following list was compiled based […]

Attention, students! Thinking about studying abroad? Book an affordable flight with China Flights and come study in the Orient! Here is a list of China’s top 10 universities to help you narrow down your choices. To enhance your experience abroad, check out some China Tours and do some sightseeing!

The following list was compiled based on researcher Wu Shulian’s matrix of findings by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Chinese University Alumni Association, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and other academic organizations.

Peking University

    1. Tsinghua University – Beijing, China. Est. 1911. Known as the “MIT of China.” Distinguished for excellence in natural sciences. Many members of the CCP are Tsinghua alumni.
    2. Peking University – Beijing, China. Est. 1898. Distinguished for excellence in social sciences and producing movements of intellectual freedom. Beautiful Chinese architecture on campus.
    3. Zhejiang University – Hangzhou, China. Est. 1897. Emphasis on interdisciplinary education. Library collection of 6.9 volumes makes it second largest academic collection in mainland China (behind Peking University).
    4. Shanghai Jiao Tong University Shanghai, China. Est. 1896. Well-known for coordination between industry, academy, and research. Medical school affiliated with 12 different hospitals.
    5. Nanjing University – Nanjing, China. Est. 1902. First Chinese modern university with combination of education and research. In 2009, over 2,000 students chose to study abroad at Nanjing University with the largest number of students from the U.S. among Chinese universities.
    6. Fudan University – Shanghai, China. Est. 1905. Known for its 10 teaching hospitals integrating medical service, medicine education and research. Member of Universitas 21, association of leading universities worldwide.
    7. University of Science and Technology of China – Hefei, China. Est. 1958. Focus on scientific and technological research with some expansion into humanities and management. Frequently takes on national, ministerial, and provincial research projects.
    8. Sun Yat-sen University – Guangzhou, China. Est. 1924. Emphasis on interdisciplinary education. Univeristy motto: “Study extensively; Enquire accurately; Reflect carefully; Discriminate clearly; Practice earnestly.”
  1. Huazhong University of Science and Technology – Wuhan, China. Est. 1907. Major focus on eng
  2. ineering disciplines. From 1988 to 2000, led series of pivotal reforms among technical schools by establishing non-technical departments and hosting nation-wide lectures in humanities.
  3. Wuhan University – Wuchang, China. Est. 1893. Key university of liberal arts and sciences. Widely regarded as one of China’s mostbeautiful universities, especially for springtime cherry blossoms.

 

(Italicized names indicate membership in the C9 League, a 2009 association of nine government-determined top Chinese universities.)

Whether your interests lay more in the natural or the social sciences, you can find your niche at these wonderful Chinese universities. Travel with China Travels for your next academic year and experience it for yourself!

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One city, one Wall, 6 different destinations

On July 14, 2011, in Adventure Trip, Beijing, Cool Places, Must-sees, Tours, by Jack Li

I don’t have to remind you that a visit to the Great Wall is a must when travelling to China. If you’re staying in the bustling city of Beijing, a trip to the Great Wall – though one of its kind – can be a spiritual, but also a troublesome experience. The majestic scenery of […]

I don’t have to remind you that a visit to the Great Wall is a must when travelling to China. If you’re staying in the bustling city of Beijing, a trip to the Great Wall – though one of its kind – can be a spiritual, but also a troublesome experience. The majestic scenery of sublime and unique beauty will certainly put you in awe. However, the crowds in certain sections may lessen the joy of your visit, especially on weekends and during summer months. Around Beijing, there are 6 sections currently available to tourists. Read and pick the best one for you before travelling with China Travel and Beijing Tours!

Badaling section

Known as the essence of the Great Wall, it is the first choice for the majority of tourists. Located 70km from Beijing, it is a popular half-day trip, recommended especially for those who are not willing to do a steep climb. Many combine it with a visit to Ming Tombs nearby. It’s called a must-see section, but be prepared for massive crowds! Check out our blog for all the practical info.

Huanghuacheng section

The secluded section is said to be the most beautiful, but also the steepest one. It is physically demanding and requires appropriate
clothing, footwear and previous hiking experience. Located 65km from the city, it stretches over the area of 10km. The entry fee is 25RMB (20RMB cheaper than Badalling) and is recommended for adventurous tourists looking forward to experiencing the most intact part of the Wall.

Mutianyu section

This section, situated around 90km from Beijing, is renowned for exceptionally beautiful views. Less crowded, it is a good alternative to Badaling. The trail is over 2.2km long. Rarely encountered, the so-called branch cities – a few yard wide constructions built on a hill ridges for additional protection – are scattered around the Great Wall here. The admission fee is same as for the Badaling section, that is 45RMB.

Jiankou section

A recent photographic hotspot, the Jiankou section is known for its picturesque location and steep peaks. As in Huanghuacheng, remember about the outfit suitable for climbing. 30km away from Beijing, the section is 15km long. The famous Nine-Eye Tower is located in here. It is connected to the Beijing knot, where 3 walls coming from different directions meet. Entry costs 20RMB. Be careful, as the site is quite dilapidated and stones are loose!

Gubeikou section

Situated around 100km away from Beijing, the section is over 40km long. Many of the 157 towers along this trail have been recognized as cultural relics. Gubeikou is one of the best preserved part of the Wall in its original state. The admission fee is only 20RMB, however getting there will take longer than to more popular sections.

Jinshanling section

For a full Great Wall experience, you can join the hike along Gubeikou section with the Jinshanling one. Plan an overnight stay in one of the villages nearby, as the total walk can take as much as 14 hours! It leads via the Simatai section, closed for renovation till 2012, which is known for its harsh conditions for climbers. The Jinshanling trail alone is around 10km long. The admission fee in top season is 50RMB.

If you have an opportunity, do stay in the Great Wall area overnight. However, if you’re planning only a one day trip, make sure you book a hotel with Beijing Hotels.

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Chinese Fruits

On July 14, 2011, in Featured China Stories, Restaurants & Food, by Jack Li

Most of us can go to our local supermarket and easily identify all of the fruit in the produce section. However, such may not be the case if we travel to China with China Travels. China covers such a large area that it even includes tropical regions! Additionally, China is in close proximity to the […]

Most of us can go to our local supermarket and easily identify all of the fruit in the produce section. However, such may not be the case if we travel to China with China Travels. China covers such a large area that it even includes tropical regions! Additionally, China is in close proximity to the East Indian tropics, a fact that has greatly influenced its selection of fruits. Fly with China Southern Airlines to taste some of this yummy tropical fruit for yourself!

Lychees

Lychees (lìzhī)

Lychees are known for their distinctive, red-brown shell and sweet taste. With high levels of fundamental nutrients and vitamins, they were widely used in ancient Chinese medicinal practice.

Durian (liúlián)

The durian, “king of the fruits,” is native to Southeast Asia. Proponents love it for its taste, which can be likened to almond-vanilla-garlic-onion custard. Detractors will vilify its smell and incredibly tough, spiky skin that often draws blood if not handled properly. In Southeast Asia, the pungent smell of ripe durian is so distracting to humans that there are signs in hotels, hospitals, and public transportation sites prohibiting people from carrying the fruit there.

Waxberries

Waxberry (yángméi)

Waxberries, or China Bayberries, come from the wax myrtle tree. They have been collected for thousands of years and used for medicinal purposes. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals of the waxberries have been shown to keep the body healthy. Waxberries are also known for their extreme digestive cleansing power.

Longan (ǎnggēn)

Also known as the “Dragon’s Eye,” longans are about the size of a large grape with a yellow-brown skin enclosing a translucent white pulp. The fruit is extremely sweet and juicy, and can be found in both fresh and dried varieties.

Pomelo

Pomelo (yòuzi)

Did you know that a grapefruit is the result of a pomelo-orange cross? In China, cooks use the pomelo in various dishes, but primarily in desserts. This sweet, thick-skinned fruit is the largest member of the citrus family.

Chinese Quince (mùguā)

The Chinese Quince is hard and astringent, giving off an intense, sweet smell when ripe. The tree of the fruit is prized for its slow, elegant growth and no-fuss care regime.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen (shān zhú)

Legend holds that Queen Victoria offered a 100 pounds sterling reward to any subject who could bring her a mangosteen in prime condition – no one succeeded. But thanks to her quest, the fruit achieved the title, “Queen of Fruits.” The mangosteen is known for its reddish purple rind and sweet, tangy, juicy, fibrous endocarp.

Chinese food therapy holds that over-consumption of any food may set the body’s yin and yang off balance. Eating foods high in yang will cause a buildup of body heat (increased metabolism), possibly translating to acne or bad breath in the long-term. Examples of yang foods include mangoes, lychees, pineapples, peppers, and cherries. Over-consumption of foods high in yin may lead one to become lethargic or anemic. Examples of such foods include watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and green tea.

What are you waiting for? Join China Tours today and ask your expert tour guide about these wonderful fruits!

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Bamboozled!

On July 13, 2011, in Featured China Stories, by Jack Li

What grows up to 100 cm (39 inches) per day and thrives in any climate? What can be used in every aspect of Chinese culture ranging from musical instruments to weaponry to textiles?  You guessed it: bamboo! Bamboo, the largest member of the grass family, is of great economic and cultural importance all across Asia, […]

What grows up to 100 cm (39 inches) per day and thrives in any climate? What can be used in every aspect of Chinese culture ranging from musical instruments to weaponry to textiles?  You guessed it: bamboo! Bamboo, the largest member of the grass family, is of great economic and cultural importance all across Asia, serving both as a food source and a versatile raw product. See this amazing plant in abundance! Book a China Flight today and sign up to join a Guilin Tour to see a province in Southern China with a fantastic natural landscape. Below is just a sampling of the ways in which bamboo is used in China:

Cuisine

It’s not only pandas that eat bamboo – the Giant Panda of China (among many other animals) voraciously consumes soft bamboo shoots, stems, and leaves – humans can, too! All parts of the bamboo plant are edible in some form to some creature. In China, bamboo can be found sliced and either fresh or canned at local supermarkets. Bamboo leaves are used as wrappers for steamed dumplings. A sweet wine called ulanzi can be fermented from the sap of young stalks. The empty hollow of large bamboo stalks can be used to compress tea leaves and produce Pu’er tea.

Some species of bamboo contain cyanide, a toxin that when ingested in large quantities will kill a human.

Construction

The earliest mention of bamboo being used in Chinese construction can be found in writings dating back to 960 CE which speak of a simple bamboo suspension bridge in Qian-Xian. Bamboo has long been used as scaffolding, a practice which persists in Hong Kong but has been banned in China for buildings over six stories tall. Today, a number of institutions view bamboo as an eco-friendly construction material for its sustainability advantages. Mainstream construction depots stock bamboo as an option for flooring, furniture, and entire house building.

Ornamentation

If you’re looking to decorate your home with bamboo, think again before buying that ornamental plant marked “lucky bamboo”! It is actually Dracaena sanderiana, an entirely unrelated member of the lily family often associated with Feng Shui.

Perhaps “lucky bamboo” is commonly sold in place of real bamboo because a contained bamboo plant is difficult to maintain. Even concrete and special HDPE plastic barriers are sometimes not able to contain its aggressive roots! Furthermore, within a few years, the plant will be well on its way to deterioration with fewer culms growing each year, the root mass depleting the soil of nutrients, and the leaves curling up and turning yellow.

Legends

In China, it is said that spotted bamboo was born of the tears of bereaved wives. Emperor Yao gave two of his daughters to the future Emperor Shun as a test of his ability to rule. Shun was able to run his household with two wives, thus passing Yao’s test and assuming the throne in place of Yao’s unworthy son. When Shun drowned in the Xiang River, his wives’ tears fell upon the bamboos there, creating spotted bamboo. The women later became goddesses.

If your curiosity hasn’t been satisfied yet, China Travels welcomes you to discover more about the beautiful Asian landscape for yourself. Journey to China today!

 

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The Jade Emperor, Dragon and the creation of the world

On July 13, 2011, in Cultural Experience, Featured China Stories, by Jack Li

Immerse yourself in the world of Chinese legends! Tracing back to the 12th century BC, Chinese mythology concerns mainly the foundations of Chinese culture and state, as well as the creation myths and tales about Emperors and their achievements. Travel with China Tours and China Flights to the places when those legends were born. Meanwhile, […]

Immerse yourself in the world of Chinese legends! Tracing back to the 12th century BC, Chinese mythology concerns mainly the foundations of Chinese culture and state, as well as the creation myths and tales about Emperors and their achievements. Travel with China Tours and China Flights to the places when those legends were born. Meanwhile, familiarise yourself with the 3 most important Chinese legends.

The myths and legends were passed down in oral form for over a thousand years, before being written down books, imperial historical documents and philosophical canons. Many myths continued to be passed down through theatre and songs.

Many legends are based on the belief systems of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism and inform people of their culture and values.

Dragon

The Chinese dragon is one of the most important Chinese mythical creatures. It is considered the most powerful, divine creature and is believed to control all waters, hurricanes and floods. The dragon is a symbol of great power, strength and good luck and was very supportive of heroes and gods. Yellow or golden dragons with five claws on each foot symbolised the Emperor in many Chinese dynasties. The imperial throne used to be called the Dragon Throne.

One of the most famous dragons in Chinese mythology is Yinglong “Responding Dragon”, the god of rain. Many people all over China pray to Yinglong in order to receive rain. In Chinese mythology, dragons are believed to create clouds with their breath.

The significance of dragon to the Chinese is reflected in the term “Descendants of the Dragon” as a description of Chinese ethnic identity. In contrast to Europe, where dragons are considered evil, Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize auspicious powers.

 

The Jade Emperor

In Chinese folk culture the Jade Emperor is the ruler of Heaven, Earth and Hell. He is one of the most important gods of the Chinese traditional religion pantheon.

The Jade Emperor is known by many names, including Heavenly Grandfather, the Pure August Jade Emperor; the Xuanling High Sovereign. His full title, rarely used, is Peace Absolving, Central August Spirit Exalted, Ancient Buddha, Most Pious and Honorable, His Highness the Jade-Emperor, Xuanling High Sovereign.

The figure of Jade Emperor gave foundations to the legend and origin of Chinese Zodiac. The Jade Emperor decided that there should be a way of measuring time. On his birthday, he organised a swimming race for animals of Earth. The first twelve animals to cross the fast flowing river would be the winners and they would each have a year of the zodiac named after them.

Pan Gu

Pan Gu is believed to be a first sentient being and the creator of universe. He is usually depicted as a primitive, hairy giant with horns on his head. According to the legend, in the beginning there was nothing in the universe except a formless chaos, which later evolved into cosmic egg.. Within it, the perfectly opposed principles of Yin and Yang became balanced and Pangu emerged from the egg. He separated Yin from Yang with a swing of his giant axe, creating the Earth (murky Yin) and the Sky (clear Yang). To keep them separated Pangu stood between them and pushed up the Sky. After 18,000 years, Pangu was laid to rest. His breath became the wind; his voice the thunder; left eye the sun and right eye the moon; his body became the mountains; his blood formed rivers; his muscles the fertile lands; his facial hair the stars and milky way; his fur the bushes and forests; his bones the valuable minerals; his sweat fell as rain; and the fleas on his fur carried by the wind became the fish and animals.

 

To get the most of China, consult our experts at China Travel.

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Feng Shui

On July 13, 2011, in Featured China Stories, by Jack Li

What is feng shui? If China Travels has not yet brought you to the Orient, this may be an entirely unfamiliar term. Or, due to inadequate explanation of the subject, many Westerners may be of the belief that feng shui is the art of “rearranging your furniture”. Unfortunately, this belief is inaccurate. Only a small […]

What is feng shui? If China Travels has not yet brought you to the Orient, this may be an entirely unfamiliar term. Or, due to inadequate explanation of the subject, many Westerners may be of the belief that feng shui is the art of “rearranging your furniture”. Unfortunately, this belief is inaccurate. Only a small percentage of Westerners have a full understanding of what feng shui is, and those who do not tend to frown upon the practice. If you have not yet seized the opportunity to visit China, book a flight with China Flights and discover feng shui for yourself in itself birthplace.

History

Taoism is an ideology based on the belief that life-force, or qi, animates all the forms of the worlds. So Feng Shui, based on Taoist understanding of nature, is a body of knowledge that when utilized improves the well-being of the inhabitants of a given space. This is done by balancing the positive and negative energies of the space.

Feng shui literally translates to “wind water”, a cultural shorthand taken from a passage of the Book of Burial, Zangshu, by Guo Pu of the Jin Dynasty. “Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water.”

Wu Xing

Feng shui, along with many other ideologies and ancient bodies of knowledge, was suppressed after the founding of the PRC in 1949. It was deemed a “feudalistic superstitious practice” and a “social evil”. During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, persecution was especially harsh as feng shui was classified as one of the Four Olds to be eliminated. Even today with all its reforms, China has not reaccepted the practice. As recent as 2006, an art gallery converted into a feng shui site was shut down.

The Basics

Qi – Life-force. The concept of a life-force that animates the world, although known by different names, exists in a number of cultures outside China.

Yin and Yang – Polarity, similar to a magnetic dipole. Chinese medicine attempts to balance yin and yang in the body, and feng shui attempts to align a given space with yin-yang force fields. The development of the yin-yang theory has been linked to astronomical observations of sunspots and magnetic fields.

Bagua map

Bagua – Eight Trigrams. Trigrams consists of three lines, each one representing yin or yang. In modern feng shui, a bagua map is used to survey a location and determine how the different sections correspond to aspects of one’s life. Once areas lacking good qi are found, a feng shui practitioner can rectify them.

Wu Xing – Five Phases. The five elements necessary for life are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The phases are associated with colors, seasons and shapes. A practitioner is able to rearrange energy and “treat” his patient based on knowledge of the relationships among these phases.

What are you waiting for? Take a Guilin Tour today and experience some of the natural harmony that inspired the birth of feng shui!

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