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In ancient China,Guo referred to city or state.Zhonguo (now it means China) meant the central city or the central state. According to historical books, Zhongguo had five connotations: fist, the capital city; second, the state ruled by the emperor; third, the Central Plains; fourth, the upland region and last, the region dwelled by Han and Xia nationalities.

Since the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), people often referred the state established by the Han nationality as Zhongguo; however, other nationalities also call their own states as Zhongguo. Neither of them would acknowledge other Zhongguo.

Strictly speaking, Zhongguo in ancient times was an adjective rather than a proper noun. None reigning dynasties tookZhongguoas their name, and they all had their own titles.

After the 1911 Revolution (the Chinese bourgeois democratic revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen which overthrew the Qing Dynasty), Zhongguo was taken as the shortened form of Republic of China. And in 1949, Zhongguo became the shortened form of the People’s Republic of China.

Now, the only one Zhongguo in the world is thePeople’s Republic of China with its capital in Beijing.

The China National Silk Museum, opened to the public in February 1992, is located in Hangzhou City of East China’s Zhejiang Province. It is a special museum dedicated to the exhibition of China’s more than 5,000 years of silk culture and history.

The museum completed renovation in September 2003 and has been open to the public for free since January2004.

 The “Display of Chinese Silk Culture” is the museum’s main display, divided into the Prelude Hall, the Display of Silk Stories, the Display of Silk Craft, and the temporary exhibition hall.

 The “Display of Chinese Silk Culture” won the Prize of Elaborate Works in the Sixth National Top Ten Museums (2003-2004) competition.

In the early 1900s, the Shikumen lanes were considered among the younger generation as the ultimate examples of dilapidated, crowded and wretched urban living. Luckily for the generations to follow, a few literary masterpieces were written by writers infatuated with the lane’s architecture which introduced people to the hidden beauty of Shikumen.

The Stone-hooped doors and Shikumen

In the Shanghai dialect, wrapping or bundling is called ‘hooping’, giving rise to phrases like ‘hooping a bucket’, so doors ‘hooped’ by stone bars were called Stoned-hooped doors, and later the name changed to Shikumen. Generally, the Shikumen-style buildings have long bars of stones as doorframes and burly wooden planks as doors, each fixed with a huge bronze ring.

The origin of Shikumen buildings can be traced back to the 1860s. In 1860, the Taiping Revolution led by Li Xiucheng advanced east, conquering a string of important towns in easternChina, causing an influx of refugees from southernJiangsuand northernZhejianginto the foreign settlements inShanghai. To accommodate this inflax of refugees, local merchants were encouraged to invest in housing for these people. To use the limited land more efficiently, the houses built were in most cases rows of Shikumen-style buildings

These buildings reflect a mix of Chinese and foreign styles of architecture. Shikumen-style buildings have certain elements of the west, but most of the design and layout is in line with that of the “Jiangnan” area of easternChina. Behind the Shikumen door is a courtyard, and further inside is a living room, locally known as a parlour, and then there is the back courtyard, kitchen and back door. To the sides of the courtyard and the parlo
ur are the right and left wing rooms. The layout of the second storey is similar to the one below, but above the kitchen is the garret, above which is a flat roof. The typical buildings of the Shikumen style can be seen within Xingrenli – an area of 1.33 square kilometers defined by the east side of Henanzhong Road, Ningbo Road and Beijing Road; and also within Dunrenli, Mianyangli and Jixiangli, all near the Xinmatou Street close to Zhongshannan Road.

After the early 1900s,Shanghai’s households became smaller in size and the residents’ living patterns underwent major changes. The structure and layout of the Shikumen-style houses also changed as a result. Smaller units, without wing rooms and suitable for small households, appeared, together with somewhat larger units with one parlour and one wing room. These new two-or-three-storey Shikumen houses were separated by lanes four meters wide. Humble “Tingzijian” rooms were found at the turn of the staircases while verandahs were added to the facades. After the 1920s, sewerage systems were installed. Typical examples of such Shikumen buildings are the Jingan Villa onNanjingxi Road, and the Daluxin Villa onShanyin Road.

After the 1930s,Shanghaifaced a housing shortage, so the owners of Shikumen-style buildings rented out some of the rooms. Since then most Shikumen-style buildings have had their original layouts altered and became mansions housing more than one family.

Life in the Lanes

Shikumen-style houses formed the basis of the “Li Long” (lane) community where private spheres and public spaces overlapped. In this community, everyone knew everyone else’s business. As the density of the community rose, some family activities were often moved to public spaces.

A valuable Architectural Legacy

At their peak, the Shikumen-style neighbourhoods numbered more than9000 inShanghaiand took up 60 per cent of the total housing space of the city. The Shikumen style, which has survived for more than a century, is however no longer suitable for modern urban living. Since the 1990s,Shanghaibegan a new wave of renovation and development, demolishing many Shikumen-style buildings. It was only when more and more of these houses were replaced by skyscrapers that people began to realize such monuments of Shanghai’s past deserve to be preserved.

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HeilongjiangProvinceis a popular destination, if you’re after tourism combined with a little bit of history. As the birthplace of many ethnic cultures,Heilongjiang is taking advantage of its rich cultural legacy to attract curious visitors. Let’s head to a museum inChina’s northernmost province, to check it out.

TheJinShangjingHistory Museum in Harbin is the only museum inChinahousing cultural relics from the Jin dynasty.

Among the over 2,000 exhibits, 19 are category one National historical Relics.

For many young visitors or students on vacation, the exhibition offers something they can’t find in textbooks.

Wang Yue, visitor, said, “There are many excavated relics, showing what the capital city of the Jin Dynasty was like and the people’s customs. It’s very interesting.”

In around 1000 AD, nomads in northernChinastarted gathering in small tribes, eventually growing together to build the Jin Dynasty.

The Jin people are said to be the ancestors of the Manchu, who hundreds of years later founded the Qing Dynasty and ruled the whole ofChina.

Wang Yongnian, director ofHarbinIntangibleCulturalHeritageCenter, said, “The main feature of Jin culture is persistance and progress, bravery and modesty. Many aspects of our modern life actually date back to Jin nomadic culture.”

Cao Xiao, college student, said, “I know Jin culture is very good, so I come here to learn something about it.”

During last year’s Qingming Festival, the museum received 15 hundred visitors. Now, with a free ticket policy in museums all over the country,JinShangjing History Museum is expecting to see those numbers rise by around 20 percent.

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Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is a traditional and statutory holiday associated with Chinese and other East Asian and Southeast Asian societies. It is a public holiday in the Chinese mainland.

It falls on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

 The Duanwu Festival is believed to have originated in ancient China. A number of theories exist about its origins as a number of folk traditions and explanatory myths are connected to its observance.

 Today the best known of these relates to the suicide in 278 BCE of Qu Yuan, poet and statesman of the Chukingdom during the Warring States period.

The best-known traditional story holds that the festival commemorates the death of poet Qu Yuan (c. 340 BCE – 278 BCE) of the ancient state ofChu, in the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty.

 A descendant of theChuroyal house, Qu served in high offices. However, when the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu was banished for opposing the alliance.

 Qu Yuan was accused of treason. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry, for which he is now remembered.

 Twenty-eight years later, Qin conquered the capital of Chu. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in theMiluoRiveron the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.

 It is said that the local people, who admired him, threw lumps of rice into the river to feed the fish so that they would not eat Qu Yuan’s body.

 This is said to be the origin of zongzi. The local people were also said to have paddled out on boats, either to scare the fish away or to retrieve his body. This is said to be the origin of dragon boat racing.

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The Great Wall museum is the first one to exhibit the Great Wall culture in a comprehensive and systematic way.

Its main building takes a shape of a typical signal fire tower on the Great Wall. Inside the museum there are seven exhibition halls. The basic part of the exhibitions, titled “the Great Wall”, is divided into four sections: the Great Wall in the spring and Autumn Period and the Warring Period, the Great Wall in Qin Dynasty and Han Dynasty, the Great Wall in Sui, Tang, Liao and Jing Dynasty, and the Great Wall in Ming Dynasty. It tells the visitor the history of the Great Wall over the time of 3,000 years.

It also shows the results of the study on the Great Wall and archaeological findings of the last 50 years. There are different exhibiting forms: charts, models, diagrams, texts, and pictures. They, on the one hand, provide rich information for researchers on the Great Wall; on the other hand, provide integrated and direct knowledge for visitors. The museum is really a textbook on the Great Wall culture.

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Which kind of costume do you think deserves such adjectives? Qipao, the classic dress for Chinese women. Definitely. As a combination of the elaborate elegance of Chinese tradition and unique elements of style, Qipao is one of the most versatile costumes in the world. It can be high-necked or collarless, long or short, some with full, medium, short or even no sleeves at all – to suit different occasions, weather and individual tastes.

Though straight tailoring from top to bottom, the Qipao can fully display all women’s modesty, softness and beauty. A suitable Qipao is like an intimate friend of a women, from which you can know her temperament, her graceful and refined manner. Qipao is a tale of elegant and gentle.

 The cheongsam, or Qipao in Chinese, is evolved from a kind of ancient clothing of Manchu ethnic minority. In ancient times, it generally referred to long gowns worn by the people ofManchuria,Mongoliaand the Eight-Banner.

In the early years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), long gowns featured collarless, narrow cuff in the shape of a horse’s hoof, buttons down the left front, four slits and a fitting waist. Wearers usually coiled up their cuff, and put it down when hunting or battling to cover the back of hand. In winter, the cuff could serve to prevent cold. The gown had four slits, with one on the left, right, front and back, which reached the knees. It was fitted to the body and rather warm. Fastened with a waistband, the long gown could hold solid food and utensils when people went out hunting. Men’s long gowns were mostly blue, gray or green; and women’s, white.

 Another feature of Manchu cheongsam was that people generally wore it plus a waistcoat that was either with buttons down the front, a twisted front, or a front in the shape of lute, etc.

When the early Manchu rulers came toChinaproper, they moved their capital toBeijingand cheongsam began to spread in the Central Plains. The Qing Dynasty unifiedChina, and unified the nationwide costume as well. At that time, men wore a long gown and a mandarin jacket over the gown, while women wore cheongsam. Although the 1911 Revolution toppled the rule of the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty, the female dress survived the political change and, with succeeding improvements, has become the traditional dress for Chinese women.

 Till the 1930s, Manchu people, no matter male or female, all wore loose-fitting and straight-bottomed broad-sleeved long gowns with a wide front. The lower hem of women’s cheongsam reached the calves with embroidered flower patterns on it, while that of men’s cheongsam reached the ankles and had no decorative patterns.

 From the 1930s, cheongsam almost became the uniform for women. Folk women, students, workers and highest-tone women all dressed themselves in cheongsam, which even became a formal suit for occasions of social intercourses or diplomatic activities. Later, cheongsam even spread to foreign countries and became the favorite of foreign females.

 After the 1940s, influenced by new fashion home and abroad, Manchu men’s cheongsam was phased out, while women’s cheongsam became narrow-sleeved and fitted to the waist and had a relatively loose hip part, and its lower hem reached the ankles. Then there emerge various forms of cheongsams we see today that emphasize color decoration and set off the beauty of the female shape.

 Why do Han people like to wear the cheongsam? The main reason is that it fits well the female Chinese figure, has simple lines and looks elegant. What’s more, it is suitable for wearing in all seasons by old and young.

 The cheongsam can either be long or short, unlined or interlined, woolen or made of silk floss. Besides, with different materials, the cheongsam presents different styles. Cheongsams made of silk with patterns of flowerlet, plain lattices or thin lines demonstrate charm of femininity and staidness; those made of brocade are eye-catching and magnificent and suitable for occasions of greeting guests and attending banquets. When Chinese cheongsams were exhibited for sales in countries likeJapanandFrance, they received warm welcome from local women, who did not hesitate to buy Chinese cheongsams especially those top-notch ones made of black velour interlined with or carved with golden flowers. Cheongsam features strong national flavor and embodies beauty of Chinese traditional costume. It not only represents Chinese female costume but also becomes a symbol of the oriental traditional costume.

 Patterns on Qipao

 Blossom peony

 The peony, also known as (fuguihua) “flower of riches and honour” , is one of the smallest living creature national emblems inChina. The peony is usually patterned on Qipao, not only because of its splendid blooms but also its mysterious connection with the renowned Chinese ancient Beauty Xi Shi. Xi Shi sacrificed herself for her beloved Yue people, who finally turned their back on her and discarded her cruelly. There is a similarity between peony and Xi shi, the same holy, brave and sympathetic beauty. The peony ranks a unique place in all flora, just like Xi Shi in all ancient belles. As a famous peot in Dang Dynasty, Bi Juyi, put it, only Xi Shi deserves the crown of Beauty, and peony of flora. When a women wear peony Qipao, doesn’t it have a feeling of irreplaceable sense of beauty?

 Dragons

The dragon is a legendary creature of which some interpretation or depiction appears in almost every culture worldwide. The physical description and supposed abilities of the creature vary immensely according to the different cultures in which it appears. However, the unifying feature of almost all interpretations is it being a serpentine or otherwise reptilian monster (or at least possessing a serpentine, reptilian part or trait), and often possessing magical or spiritual qualities.

 Chinese Myth

Chinese dragons, and Oriental dragons generally, are usually seen as benevolent, whereas European dragons are usually malevolent though there are exceptions.

 Dragons are particularly popular inChinaand the 5-clawed dragon was a symbol of the Chinese emperors, with the phoenix or fenghuang the symbol of the Chinese empress. Dragon costumes manipulated by several people are a common sight at Chinese festivals.

 Phoenix

 A phoenix is a mythical bird with a tail of beautiful gold and red plumage (or purple and blue, by some sources ). It has a 1,000 year life-cycle, and near the end the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. The new phoenix is destined to live as long as its old self. In some stories, the new phoenix embalms the ashes of its old self in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in theEgyptcity ofHeliopolis(sun city in Greek). The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible—it is also said that it can heal a person with a tear from its eyes and make them temporarily immune to death; a symbol of fire and divinity.

 How to wear

As for daily casual wear, in summer, you can choose some thin fabrics such as pure cotton delaine printed with little flowers, sack and yarn cloth, silk, and poplin.

In spring and winter, there is chemical fiber or blended cloth like gleaming silk and thinner woolen cloth.

If for formal affairs like ceremonies or performances, in summer, you should select pure silk crape de Chine, thin silk, which are soft, light and cool since it won’t stick to your body.

For spring and winter, satin and velour are the best: tapis, treasures, crape and spun gold damask.

Qipao is about imagination, characterized by estern mysterious culture. It tightly fitted women’s figure, just like a gentle watery eastern belle. The texture of silk implies the softy glossy skin of the beauty. When you feel it with your heart, you can even sense the body temperature.

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The Yellow River is the second longest river in China and the fifth longest in the world at 5,464 kilometers (3,398 miles).

 Originating in theBayankalaMountainsinQinghaiProvincein westernChina, it flows through nine provinces of China, namelyQinghai,Sichuan,Gansu, Ningxia,Inner Mongolia,Shaanxi,Shanxi,Henan, and Shandong Provinces and empties into the Bo Sea.

 TheYellow River gains its name for its major color that is the color of sand, because the river is the highest sand-capacity one in the world.

Part1 History & Culture 

As the Chinese regard yellow as an emblem of loess land, the emperor, the yellow skin and the legendary Chinese Dragon, the Yellow River is referred as not only a river, but also “the MotherRiver” and “the Cradle of the Chinese Civilization”.

 30 million years ago, ancient Chinese started to live by the shore of theYellow Riverand played the overture of the ancient Chinese civilization. It is the birthplace of the ancient Chinese civilizations and is the most prosperous region in early Chinese history. Six thousand years ago, as a representative of the matriarchal culture, Banpo Clan had existence on the Loess land of northChina.

 The reign of Chinese ancient emperors of several dynasties promotes the development of ancient Chinese civilizations to the peak. Gunpowder, compass, paper making, printing, poetry, Song of the Song Dynasty , all of these inventions and scientific achievements not only promote Chinese culture development, but also spread it to the rest of the world, making an important contribution to the cultural development of human beings.

Part2 Distribution

It is commonly considered that theYellow Rivercan be divided into the three following reaches.

 The upper reaches of the yellow river is referred to the area above theHekouTowninTuoketuoCounty, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The river in this section goes rushing and carries for nearly 50 percent of water resource ofYellow river.

 The middle reaches runs fromHekouTownto Tao Huayu inZhengzhou,HenanProvince. The river passes through the longest series of continuous valleys on its main course, collectively called theJinshanValley. The large amount of mud and sand discharged into the river makes theYellow Riverthe most sediment-laden river in the world. And the abundant hydrodynamic resources stored in this section make it the second most suitable area to build hydroelectric power plants.

 The lower reaches of the Yellow River is recognized as the area below Tao Huayu inZhengzhou.

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JiayuPass, known as the “No. 1 Strategic pass in the world”, is the western end of the Great Wall.

 The existing Jiayu Pass walls were built in the time of Ming Dynasty. The construction of these walls began in 1372. It was not until 1539 that they became a complete defense system, which had three defense lines, the entrenchment, the outer wall, and the inner wall.

 There are many legends concerning the construction of the walls and the most widely spread one is“the Last Piece of Brick”. In the construction ofJiayuPass, the project official proposes a thorny request that the budget of materials must be precise. As a result, when the project was completed, almost all the materials were run out with only one piece of brick, thus this piece of brick was called the last piece of brick which is still laid on the platform of the gate wall now. Many visitors come here to take a look at the last piece of brick with the respect to the ancient artisans.

 

The term“tang suit”is originated from abroad. AChinatownis a section of an urban area associated with a large number of Chinese within a city outside the majority. The local people always named the Chinatown as“town of people from Tang Dynasty”(唐人街)and called these Chinese“people from Tang Dynasty”(in Chinese唐人) since Tang dynasty was the most thriving, prosperous, splendid, and glorious period of ancient Chinese. Thus, the clothing worn by the Chinese is called“tang suit”.

 Actually“tang suit”is not the clothing of Tang Dynasty. They are totally different. The origin of Tang suit or Tang jacket can be traced back to Qing Dynasty. It is evolved from Magua from Qing Dynasty, a traditional Chinese costume worn by males. It is a short tunic with high and round collars and lapels, which are fasten down the front. By the 1940s, what we now know as the Tang suit became prevalent for all classes inChina. Compared with the ancient style, the sleeves had become longer and wider. Patch pockets were added and the number of frog buttons became standard at seven. This jacket was worn with matching pants.  

 The unified and prosperous Chinawas established in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In China’s history, the Tang Dynasty was a period when the polity and economy were highly developed and the culture and art were thriving.

 Women’s dress and personal adornments of the Tang Dynasty were outstanding inChina’s history. The clothing materials were exquisite, the structure was natural, graceful and elegant, and adornments were splendid. Though the forms of garments were still the continuation of the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) and the Sui Dynasty (581-618), they were influenced by cultures and arts of the Western Regions. Especially, the national power of the High Tang was strong. The trades and cultural exchanges withKorea,Vietnam,Japan,Persiaand other countries gradually became frequent, and they mutually dispatched emissaries and accepted students of other countries. In this way, a special open and romantic style of dress and personal adornments was formed.  

 Because of communication with the Western Regions, the influence of dressing culture of other minorities on the Tang court also reflected the change of thoughts and concepts. The social status of ancient women was very low: they often served as Jileren (music performer), Guanji (official performer), Gongji (palace performer) and Jiaji (family performer), and were regarded as the playthings and goods that can be sold and bought by rich people. Some females had rebel spirit in the Tang Dynasty, so they climbed or jumped over the walls and went to the nature to view the beautiful scenes and/or go sightseeing in the spring by riding horses with men. Just as recorded by many historical materials, some girls therefore dressed as boys in order to go out.

 The garments in the Tang Dynasty also greatly affected the garments of neighboring countries. For instance, Japanese kimono adopted the elites of the dresses of the Tang Dynasty in terms of colors, and the Hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) also adopted the advantages of the dresses of the Tang Dynasty. The dresses of the Tang Dynasty were mainly made of silk, so dresses were famous for softness and lightness. The dresses of the Tang Dynasty boldly adopted the features of foreign garments in terms of forms and adornments; i.e. they mainly referred to the garments of other countries (such as the Central-Asia countries,India,Iran,Persia, northern countries and the Western Regions) and used them to improve the culture of the Tang Dynasty.

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