Ancient Chinese Civilization

Ancient China was one of the oldest civilizations in the world and continues to the present day. It has its origins in the Yellow River Basin, where the first Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties emerged. Let’s dive into its development, culture, society, religion and more.

Ancient Chinese Civilization
Ancient Chinese Civilization

Ancient Chinese Civilization

1. Formation of The Chinese Civilization

The history of the Chinese is a story of the gradual settlement of large valleys and Chinese River Plains, and of the expansion and development of its people in their own part of Asia and beyond, on the continent and in the Islands next to the coast.

Between 100,000 and 500,000 years ago, according to recent estimates, a pre-human species called the hominid appeared in Northern China. Fossils of these hominids, something more primitive than other fossils of the same age found in other parts of the world, have been discovered in close association with thousands of tools of stone, bone, or horn, in the company of charred remains and ashes, residues of food intact and fossils of many animals, some of which have become extinct. These hominids such as Peking man knew how to walk on two feet and keep their bodies upright, they were shorter in stature: on average 1.558 meters (5.1 ft) for males and 1.435 meters (4.7 ft) for the females; their eyebrows stood out on the edge of their eyes like the eaves of a house. His cranial capacity (850-1220 CC) was as the double that of the of the gorilla, the chimpanzee, and other higher primates, but somewhat lower than that of the modern man (1350 cc. (On average). They had flat, defined cheekbones and their nasal bone was very wide, indicating that her face and nose were flat. The bones of the legs of the man from Beijing are of similar size and form to those of the modern man. The remains of skulls and teeth of hominids show five characteristics that are common in the modern man of East Asia, but much less common in men from other areas. Homo Sapiens from Asia seem to have evolved slowly from the pre-human type to which is commonly called the Mongoloid race.

Fossils Ancient China
Fossils Ancient China

100 thousand years ago, Chinese culture entered the Palaentrophus stage. The fossils of this stage are widely dispersed in the country, of which the following are famous: the man of Maba discovered in the District of Qujiang, Guangdong, in southern China, Changyang man in the District of the same name in Hubei; in Northern China, and the man of Dingcun in the District of Xiangfen, Shanxi.

40 thousand years ago, this culture entered the Neoanthropus  stage. From that time, fishing and hunting advanced significantly, and matriarchal society was being formed. Traces of people from this time have been found in our vast territory; in Southern China in the homonymous district, Liujiang man and the Qilishan man in the district of Laibin, in the autonomous region of Guangxi Zhuang. The Ordos man on the banks of the Sjara-Osso-gol river. In Northern China, the Zhiyu was discovered, district of Shuoxian, Shanxi whose history dates back 28,000 years.

The continuity of human evolution in Northern China and in the wide terrains to the North and to the West was interrupted during the ice age of the Pleistocene environment. A tremendous coat of ice, of an average thickness that ranged between 6,500 feet in Europe and 2,300 in the Ural Mountains and it leveled gradually towards Mongolia, it triggered hurricanes with greater velocities than all those known since then. Traveling from a colder climate to a warmer one, these hurricanes carried parts of regions such as the Tarim and the plains of Gobi and deposited them along the entire basin of the Yellow River, from Kansu almost to the Gulf of Peichihli. These conditions made life more difficult, if not impossible and threw man elsewhere for some time.

The continuity of human evolution in Northern China and in the wide terrains to the North and to the West was interrupted during the ice age of the Pleistocene environment. A tremendous coat of ice, of an average thickness that ranged between 6,500 feet in Europe and 2,300 in the Ural Mountains and it leveled gradually towards Mongolia, it triggered hurricanes with greater velocities than all those known since then. Traveling from a colder climate to a warmer one, these hurricanes carried parts of regions such as the Tarim and the plains of Gobi and deposited them along the entire basin of the Yellow River, from Kansu almost to the Gulf of Peichihli. These conditions made life more difficult, if not impossible and threw man elsewhere for some time.

At the end of the glacial period, a new type of human reappeared, because their remains have been found on the surface of the primary clay field, throughout northern China, Mongolia, Manchuria and Siberia. It was at that time, (20,000 years ago) when the man began to emigrate to North America and possibly to Japan. His ability to create tools, some in the form of a needle, was great. He often brought stone from long distances. He lived in small communities and undoubtedly acquired a considerable knowledge of the roots and the leaves of the field, fishing, and wild animals running through the Plains. A find suggests that man began to investigate the surface of iron ore for its powder red. Around six or seven thousand years ago, the clans and tribes lived scattered across the vast territory of the country. From the North of the NorthEast China, crossing the autonomous regions of Inner Mongolia and Ningxia, up to those of Xinjuang and Tibet, microlithic objects, and their cultures are spread out: Yangshao culture in the middle of the Huanghe River and the Majiayao culture up-stream.

At the end of the glacial period, a new type of human reappeared, because their remains have been found on the surface of the primary clay field, throughout northern China, Mongolia, Manchuria and Siberia. It was at that time, (20,000 years ago) when the man began to emigrate to North America and possibly to Japan. His ability to create tools, some in the form of a needle, was great. He often brought stone from long distances. He lived in small communities and undoubtedly acquired a considerable knowledge of the roots and the leaves of the field, fishing, and wild animals running through the Plains. A find suggests that man began to investigate the surface of iron ore for its powder red. Around six or seven thousand years ago, the clans and tribes lived scattered across the vast territory of the country. From the North of the NorthEast China, crossing the autonomous regions of Inner Mongolia and Ningxia, up to those of Xinjuang and Tibet, microlithic objects, and their cultures are spread out: Yangshao culture in the middle of the Huanghe River and the Majiayao culture up-stream.

Ancient Chinese hut
Ancient Chinese hut

In that time, man was living in houses dug into the ground, and in larger communities, had domesticated at least one animal, pig, and began some crude sort of the pottery, some of whose pieces were eighteen inches tall and had a dotted base. Their main agricultural tool was a sharp stone hoe. Their main defensive and offensive weapon was probably the bow and arrow.

With the passing of the century, the dog was added to their home. Millet became their main harvest and also they were able to cultivate something resembling low quality rice and wheat. When the land became less productive, they moved to another area, burned trees, dried the land, and planted crops. The use of fire provided them with cooked food reducing the digestive process and thus improving the assimilation of nutrients and accelerating the development of their physical condition more and more. At the same time, fire could protect him from the cold, prevent attacks by the ferocious animals, and effectively assist in hunting. Hunting and gathering were the main productive activities, the discovery of a large quantity of deer, bull, or burned bones in the caves confirms that the deer was the main object of their hunts. It’s possible that their most effective weapons were sticks and torches.

With the passing of the century, the dog was added to their home. Millet became their main harvest and also they were able to cultivate something resembling low quality rice and wheat. When the land became less productive, they moved to another area, burned trees, dried the land, and planted crops. The use of fire provided them with cooked food reducing the digestive process and thus improving the assimilation of nutrients and accelerating the development of their physical condition more and more. At the same time, fire could protect him from the cold, prevent attacks by the ferocious animals, and effectively assist in hunting. Hunting and gathering were the main productive activities, the discovery of a large quantity of deer, bull, or burned bones in the caves confirms that the deer was the main object of their hunts. It’s possible that their most effective weapons were sticks and torches.

They continued fishing. Clothes made of skins, bark, and maybe hemp kept them bundled up. They decorated their women with pierced shells. In certain areas, particularly in the central valley and up-stream of the yellow river, and in the North, the production of pottery developed; You can use this winch. They made vessels of different shapes, some of them painted, monochromatic or polychromatic. Some of these forms of vessels are similar to those in West Asia, Russia and India. But one that is characteristic of China has a tripod of hollow feet, in which one could start a fire to heat things. The Kauri was used for purposes of trade and exchange, and also as an amulet. It was a small shell that perhaps came from a place as distant as the Maldive Islands, Southeast of the Indica peninsula.

1.1 Matriarchal Society of the Yangshao Culture

After long years, primitive humanity moved gradually from gregarious groupings to communities of clans. In many places of the Chinese nation, traces of activities from the time of clan communities have been found. 6000 – 7000 years ago, the matriarchal culture of Yangshao began. In that period, man could already grind stone and bone instruments, make bows and arrows, manufacture ceramics; He knew from conception about agriculture and animal husbandry and knew how to weave and build houses. All of this led to the adoption of a sedentary lifestyle. The ruins of the village of Banpo, near Xi’an, are typical of that era. In this culture the women occupied a high position within the clan.

Ancient Chinese burial site
Ancient Chinese burial site

Patriarchal society of the Longshan culture and the disintegration of primitive society

5,000 years ago, approximately, the clans and tribes that populated the basins of the Changjiang and Huanghe (yellow) rivers were integrated gradually into patriarchal communities. The culture of Longshan is the main representative of the aftermath of the Neolithic Era. Man, at this historic stage, employed fundamental stone tools, knew how to forge copper, increased the varieties of agricultural crops and performance, knew how to ferment some beverages made from grains and had already domesticated six different animals: horse, cow, sheep, chicken, dog and pig. Pottery took a big step forward with the creation of varieties of black, white such as egg shell, and crafts found its expression in jade carvings and animal tusks.
All of them brought forth, consequently, the development of production and the improvement of living standards. The social division of labor and the growth of trade accelerated the development of private ownership and the emergence of classes that gradually encouraged the disintegration of primitive society and the growth of civilization.

2. Evolution through time

2.1 Xia Dynasty (1994 – 1776 BC.)

The tradition says that the Xia (1994-1766 BC) were the first Chinese hereditary dynasty, that only disappeared when its last ruler was expelled due to the tyrannical rule that he exerted on his people. However, there is no archaeological remains which confirm this story; and the first dynasty of which there is historical evidence is the Shang dynasty.

2.2 Shang Dynasty (1776 – 1027 BC)

Shang dynasty
Shang dynasty

The Shang dynasty ruled the territory occupied by the current provinces of Henan, Hubei, Shandong and the northern part of Anhui, in Central and North China. The capital, from around 1384 BC onwards, was located in Anyang near the northern border of Henan. The economy was based on agriculture: millet, wheat, barley and possibly rice. Also, silk worms were utilized along with pigs, dogs, sheep and oxen. Bronze, weapons and other tools have been found indicating knowledge of metallurgy and the existence of the arts. The society created by the Shang was aristocratic. The King, who presided over a military nobility and chose the territorial rulers, who were obligated to help in its military business. Between this aristocratic class and the commoners, there was a class of priests who dealt with government documents and were responsible for divination. The Shang worshipped their ancestors and a crowd of gods, the main of which was known as Shang Ti, ‘ The Lord on High ‘.

The story of the fall of the Shang dynasty, appearing in Chinese traditional stories follows the legendary model of the defection of the Xia. The late monarch Shang, a cruel tyrant and libertine, was ousted by an energetic Zhou of a State in the Valley of the Wei River. Located on the fringes of the Northwestern regions of the domain Shang, the culture of the Zhou was a synthesis of the basic elements of the Shang civilization and certain martial traditions characteristic of the non-Chinese people of the North and of the West

2.3 Zhou Dynasty

Under the Government of the Zhou dynasty, the Chinese culture was extended towards the South until the Valley of the Yangtze and towards the east until the sea. The first capital of the dynasty was Hao, near the current Xi’an.

In 771 BC, nomadic tribes, along with disgruntled feudal princes, invaded the Wei Valley, destroyed the capital, and killed the King. The dead King’s son founded the capital of the Eastern Zhou dynasty in Luoyang. The Zhou sought to weaken the power of this dynasty that lasted until the year 221 BC
The Zhou dynasty is divided into two periods: the period of spring and autumn (771-475 BC) and the period of the Kingdom Fighters (475-221 BC). The Zhou emperors were now simply decorative figures; local chiefs enjoyed great independence. For this reason, different wars were perpetuated among them. It is in this period when several philosophies and religions begin to dominate China such as Confucianism and Taoism.

2.4 Qing Dynasty

Ancient Chinese Qing Dynasty
Ancient Chinese Qing Dynasty

The state of anarchy, due to the weakness of the Zhou dynasty, overcame the entire territory. From the continuous struggles arose a short-lived dynasty, which takes the name of one of the Kingdom Fighters from the North, Qin (221-207). The most important Emperor of this dynasty was Shi Huangdi, the first emperor who unified the Empire. He moved the capital to Xianyang, west of the current Xi’an. This dominated the fighting factions and seized the power, turning it into a centralized territory. Thanks to the Legalists, the feudal system was eliminated. At this time, the writing system was unified along with the system of weights and measures, the monetary unit and the imposition of certain laws. For this, Shi Huangdi attacked the leaders of Confucianism and ordered them to burn the Chinese literature and philosophy classics. But memory and the hidden pieces were responsible for the survival of these arts. To defend against nomadic tribes, in 215 BC, the construction of the great wall in North China began.

2.5 Han Dynasty

They were in power from 206 BC to 220 AD. The first emperor was Liu Bang, who had the capital moved to modern-day Xi´an. Two dynasties were distinguished: the West (206 BC-24 AD) and the East (25 AD-220 AD) whose capital was Luoyang. This was the time of territorial expansion, but more importantly political and cultural development. One of the most important discoveries of this era was paper.

The era of splendor took place under the reign of the emperor Han Wudi (140 BC – 87 BC), when the Empire extended to the North, keeping the border against the nomadic tribes of the Huns, conquering the territory of modern-day Korea, increasing trade with the West through Turkestan, and by opening trade with central Asia through the famous silk road. In the South, the territories of Guangzhou are dominated.

Also, Confucianism and the Chinese classical teachings were reestablished. Buddhism was blooming at this time. It had penetrated China, from India, through the silk road.

But this dynasty was weakened in its later years. From the end of the Han dynasty (220 BC) until the beginning of the Sui dynasty, several periods came to pass: The Three Kingdoms and The Western Jin dynasty and the Eastern Jin Dynasty, the Sixteen Kingdoms and the Northern Dynasties and Southern Dynasties.

2.6 Sui Dynasty

Ancient Chinese Sui Dynasty
Ancient Chinese Sui Dynasty

In 581, The Sui Dynasty took power, and although it reigned for a short time, it was able to reunify the Empire and reorganize the administration. The North and South are no longer divided, and with the start of the construction of the Grand Canal they exchanged goods. The dynasty was overthrown by a popular uprising. A former general of this dynasty founded the Tang dynasty in the year 618.

2.7 Tang Dynasty

The borders stretched to the West; This was a period of cultural flowering with the emergence of poems like Chu-ci. They maintained contact with Japan, Korea, and the Arabs. But this dynasty, like the previous ones, also had moments of weakness, being interrupted by the reigns traditionally called the Five Dynasties and the Ten Kingdoms

2.8 Song Dynasty

Thenn in the year 960, the Song dynasty rose to power, which was divided into a dynasty of the North and of the South. They promoted the arts and renewed the culture. This is considered the time of absolute splendor of the Chinese civilization. Also, they had its period of fights with the Steppe people; in 1127 the Nuzhen conquer Kaifeng and founded the Jin Dynasty. The Song retreated to the South. In the year 1279, the Song Dynasty of the South disappeared.

2.9 Yuan Dynasty

In the XIII century, China is invaded by the Mongols. In 1234, they demolished the Jin, and in 1271 conquered the Southern Song. China, in 1279, with the conquest of the province of Guangdong, becomes part of the Mongol Empire, linking parts of Europe and Asia for the first time.
Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, founded the Yuan dynasty. The vast expanse of the Mongol Empire encourages contact with the western and southern regions.

2.10 Ming Dynasty

Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty

Zhu Yuanzhang expelled the Mongols and founded the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), rising to power as emperor Taizu in 1368. He moved the capital to Nanjing, driving out the emperor of the Yuan Dynasty out of Beijing. The third Ming emperor returned the capital to Beijing. The old borders recovered and they started maritime activity, reaching the coast of Arabia and Africa. The fine arts flourished, but mainly porcelain and architecture.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Portuguese settled in Macau. At the end of this century, the Jesuits promoted contact between China and Europe.

2.11 Qing Dynasty

The Manchures, a new tribe of the North, entered China at the beginning of the 17th century. They were requested by a group of Chinese, and in 1644, the son of a Manchu Chief is established as the emperor of the last Chinese dynasty, the Qing emperor.

The borders were widened and the Chinese Empire reached its peak in some respects. In 1662, they conquered Taiwan, incorporating Tibet and the Turkestan Oriental (Xinjiang).

2.12 End of the Dynasties

The threat to the Qing dynasty dynasties came from Europe. European trade in the 18th century was concentrated in Macao and was growing; this is when they begin to demonstrate military and physical superiority in Europe. In 1840, the Opium Wars between China and Britain were triggered. They ended in August of 1842 with the Treaty of Nanking, through which Hong Kong was given to Britain and opened to trade with Guangzhou and other cities. In 1844, the United States and France signed treaties that recognized the right of extraterritoriality of Europeans. In 1858, Another Opium War explodes. In 1860, the Summer Palace is destroyed, signing a new, very advantageous, treaty for the European powers. In 1900, foreign powers crush The Boxers movement. Finally, in 1911, the Qing dynasty is overthrown by the Revolutionary Republican League, thus ending the reign of The Sons of the Sky that had begun in 2000 BC.

2.13 The People’s Republic of China.

Modern China
Modern China

October 1, 1949, 300,000 inhabitants of Beijing gathered at the Tian’anmen square to celebrate the proclamation of the Republic. Mao Zedong declared solemnly from the Presidential podium of Tian’anmen the foundation of the People’s Republic of China.

In the early years of the new Republic, they were devoted to the restoration of the national economy. They built a group of basic industries that didn’t exist in the past and that are crucial for State industrialization, including the manufacturing of aircraft and automobiles, machinery, heavy and precision, power generation, iron and steel industry and facilities for mining equipment, as well as high quality steel, foundries of non-ferrous metals, etc. The system of public ownership of the means of production was established. The socialist transformation was completed.
During the period from 1957 to 1966, industry, agriculture, science, and technology progressed quickly, despite the fact that the party and the Government committed serious mistakes in the beginning, putting the national economy in great difficulties for some time.

The “cultural revolution”, between May 1966 and October 1976, caused to the national economy the most serious setbacks and losses known since 1949.

In October 1976, the “cultural revolution” ended with the crushing of the Gang of Four, led by Jiang Qing, who took advantage of the mistakes made by Mao Zedong at the end of his life and led a large number of acts that were detrimental to the State and the people.

At the end of 1978, the Communist Party of China convened the third plenary session of its eleventh Central Committee, which approved a reformation of policy made by Deng Xiaoping and opened its borders to the outside. During the last few years, the country has experienced profound changes. China’s economy has been developing faster, and the integrity of its national power has been reinforced considerably. This last period is the best since the founding of the Republic.

3. General Characteristics

3.1 Language and Writing

The Chinese have enjoyed a written language for more than 3,000 years.

Ancient Chinese script
Ancient Chinese script

The Chinese language is monosyllabic. It consists of 450 syllables, approximately, in turn, there are more than 1200 words due to the different intonation with which they are pronounced. Many of these words tend to have about 50 meanings, that is why their writing is made up of more than 80,000 signs.

Although the Chinese language is made up of more than one dozen spoken dialects, all the writing systems use the same characters. This literary unit has been important to the historical unity of the Chinese people since the Shang dynasty (1766 – 1027 BC) the invention of Chinese writing system is attributed to Fu-Shi, a legendary emperor who lived 5 millennia ago.

3.2 Clothes

China is a multinational country which has a long history and a brilliant civilization. If we approach the culture of dress, we can have a clear idea of its development and evolution.

From thousands of years ago, the people and their styles from different eras have expressed their great beauty. The transformation of dress, that originally served only to cover parts of the body, became an important component of their developing artistic manifestation.

Formerly the Chinese clothing (Qing dynasty) was used to differentiate social situations and the social class of their wearer, a system imposed by Emperor Shi Huangdi; Before the year 265, clothing developed under the influence of various philosophical doctrines giving a conception of dress based on the person and the search for their natural style; The dresses of the Tang dynasty represent the brightest page in the history of the Chinese dress. The clothes of the Song dynasty are simple and elegant, these were appreciated for their comfort; The Yuan dynasty rose to power over a nomadic group of Mongols, so the dress of this period has Mongolian features. The Ming dynasty created a new aesthetic covering characterized by a free and natural style.

Chinese dress today has a rich heritage of clothing. An example of this is the Qipao, an elegant dress that is open on the sides, which highlights the beauty of women.

3.3 Chinese traditions

The Chinese people have a lot of traditions. Including the custom that women should not let their feet grow and they practiced bandaging and the use of minimalist shoes that caused major deformities.

Chinese ancient traditions
Chinese ancient traditions

Also, the Chinese people have a great number of festivals which are still practiced today. Among the oldest in China are the Spring Festival and the Festival of Lanterns.

At first, it was called Celebrations of the New Year. Already in ancient times, Chinese civilization had a highly-developed agriculture and the party was concerned, obviously, with agricultural production. At the start of every year, people made offerings to the gods of heaven and Earth and their ancestors, praying for a rich harvest of grains and wished for the wind to carry them from behind.
The second began 1000 years in the Tang Dynasty, celebrating the 15th day of the first lunar month and this corresponds with the first night of the full moon after the Spring Festival. Many activities such as dragon dances were performed.

3.4 Economic Organization and Social Organization

In the beginning, the organization of the Chinese was based on agriculture, but industries were subsequently created, including metallurgy (especially bronze) from times close to that of Christ. Other important industries were porcelain and silk, so they had great trade relationships.

In regards to the social and political organization accurate from the Chou Dynasty has been uncovered. Subsequently, the Tsing established absolutism, but this didn’t last since they have returned to a system of feudal organization.

Social classes in China were integrated: the first by an aristocracy that dominated the political and religious functions, the second by officials of the State bureaucracy that degenerated into a mechanical routine. The third was made up of craftsmen and farmers. In addition, the Chinese villages counted on slavery very much.

3.5 Religion

Religion was very important in the Chinese civilization (currently, there are more than 16,000 temples and churches scattered in the region).

Chinese society dominates Taoism and Buddhism, as in almost all the primitive peoples, the first religion of China was naturalist, or worship of the unknown and the force above man that may have caused natural phenomena, but the Chinese related to the conduct of the individual with the phenomena of the universe. In short, they relied on human actions and natural forces. The second religion in china was that of Lao-Tse which is why it is founded in the rationalistic doctrines of the Tao.

Also, there are religious groups smaller than Islam and Christianity, but only in 1978 was the official development of these religions allowed. In addition, it was established that the Chinese population had the right to have religious beliefs and propagate “Atheism”.

3.6 Medicine

Chinese medicine
Chinese medicine

The Chinese have their own system of classification of diseases that differs widely from the Western. The philosophical doctrine that supports the Chinese medicine is that man lives between heaven and Earth, and constitutes in himself a miniature universe. The matter of which human beings are formed is considered belonging to the “yin”, the passive, recessive and female aspect of nature. On the other hand, the vital functions of these beings are considered belonging to the “yang”, male, active and dominant aspects. The functions of living organisms are classified by the following five body centers:

  • Heart or mind (hin)
  • Lungs or respiratory system (fei)
  • Liver (kan)
  • Spleen (p’i)
  • Kidneys (shen).

According to the Chinese civilization, the passing of the seasons and the change of the time can influence the human body.

Apart from medicines, another form of treatment used frequently in Chinese medicine is acupuncture. Its history dates back to times later than the appearance of the Chinese writing, but it didn’t reach its full development until after the Han Dynasty have.

3.7 Education

Education initially takes effect in the family. “The father has to educate his son from an early age, teach how you to move, to stand, to talk, to behave in society, to know the duties for the elderly and young people”. By the age of seven years, they begin learning to read.

On the other hand, children should more than repay their fatherly love. “No position or dignity relieves the sons of filial piety. The power of the parents is unlimited. The mandarin is obliged to punish the child about whom the father complains.

The great importance attached to family education, depending on the family, is considered as the basis for social organization.

3.8 Chinese Gastronomy

3.8.1 Guangdong Food (Cantonese food)

Chinese foodIt is based on dishes from places of Guangzhou, Chaozhou, and Dongjiang, that are known for a wide variety of ingredients, beautiful presentation, and attractive colors. They used snake, Wildcat, and other animals. The dishes are characterized by their freshness, delicacy and delicious taste. In summer and autumn, the local inhabitants prefer light dishes, and in winter and spring, the stronger delicacies. The condiments are varied, but they pay attention to the original flavor of the ingredients. The most famous dishes are Oiled beef, snake, pumpkin filled with steamed meat, shrimp and eel with Chinese onion.

3.8.2 The Food of Sichuan

This type of cuisine consists of Chengdu (capital of Sichuan province) and Chongqing dishes, and is characterized by its strong and spicy flavor. They use chicken, duck, beef, and vegetables as the main ingredients. They pay attention to condiments, which are complex and varied. In Sichuan culinary art, it is said that each dish has a unique flavor, and a hundred dishes have a hundred flavors. Among the most famous dishes are shark fins, sea cucumbers with sauce from soybeans, roasted pieces of meat, smoked duck with bits of camphor tree, spicy meat strips, Bangbang chicken, chicken Guifei, Taibai chicken, beef with steamed starch, chicken Gongbao, curds of soy Mapo, among others.

3.8.3 The Food of Yangzhou

Chinese foodThe culinary arts of the cities of Zhenjiang and Yangzhou is the best representative of the southern province of Jiangsu. Their selection of ingredients and preparation are extremely detailed. It’s light fare that highlights the flavor of the main ingredient brings so much joy to the inhabitants of the North of the country as well as the South. The most prestigious dishes are pork meat balls which are called “lion heads”, seafood and seafood products, carp wrapped in Lotus leaves, dried strips of meat, dry salted chicken, among others.

3.8.4 The Food of Shandong

The dishes tend to be thick and not heavy, light and tasty. They are aromatic, tender and fresh. The most famous dishes are Milky broth, “transparent” broth, soup of nests of barn swallow and sweet and sour carp.

3.8.5 The Food of Shanghai

The main dishes are prepared with soy sauce, steamed, stewed, fried, toasted with fermented, glutinous rice, or with other techniques and components. They are characterized by the broth perfumed with olive oil and red sauce served with fermented glutinous rice.

3.8.6 The Food of Beijing

In Beijing the ingredients are selected with great care. There are clearly marked dishes for the four seasons of the year, with colorful colors. Little salt is used, but the dishes do not lack salinity. The main flavors are sweet, salty, sour, spicy, “five perfumes”, soy paste, sesame paste, among others. Dishes are prepared fried, stewed, roasted, or toasted. The most famous delicacies are Beijing’s lacquered duck, fish with fermented rice, chicken in soy paste, cabbage with starch, among others.

3.8.7 Muslim Dishes

There are two different styles, the northern and the southern. In the northern region, ram and beef are mainly used. The most famous delicacies are Mongolian cauldron with sheep meat, roast, meat with soy sauce, meat cooked on intense fire, and stewed meat. In the south, they also cook with chicken and duck. Among the Muslim food, the Mongolian pot, or “Mongolian cauldron”, is the most interesting dish, suitable for winter.

3.8.8 Vegetarian food

Food prepared exclusively with vegetables is typical of Chinese cuisine and is related to Buddhist customs and vegetarianism. Shanghai-style vegetarian food has plenty of oil and a light color. Yangzhou-style dishes, using techniques for meat preparation, have darker colors and larger varieties. The most famous delicacies are Chaoerdong (mushroom stew and bamboo shoots), vegetarian prawns (prepared with vegetables in the same way as real prawns are cooked), Buddhist food, biscuits, and cakes with vegetable fillings.

In addition to vegetables, the basic ingredients include lily, edible fungi, and soy products. The dishes are carefully prepared with vegetable oils. They are nutritious, exquisite, easy to digest and healthy.

4. Contributions to Humanity

4.1 The Compass

The compass had its origin in China in the fourth century BC. Its adaptation and recognition in the West took place about 1500 years later.

Chinese compass
Chinese compass

The first Chinese compasses did not use needles. The “indicators” had the shape of a shell, fish or turtle, increased accuracy was introduced with the needle. It was at that time that the Chinese introduced the first markers and indicators, fundamental elements of modern science. This happened in the third century AD.

The compass with a magnetic needle was built in the seventh or eighth century with a needle floating on the water.

4.2 Gunpowder, Fireworks, and Rockets

The birthplace of fireworks is generally recognized as China, with the first explosive mixture found there and called “black dust”, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It is said that a cook from ancient China realized that a mixture of sulfur, saltpeter, and charcoal was very flammable and would explode if mixed in a small space. The first application of this technology was for hospitality. The Chinese are still the biggest producers of fireworks. Once the recipe for black powder was perfected, they found that it could be easily used as a rocket fuel, and made the wooden rockets carved by hand with dimensions to be placed in the mouth of a dragon, in the 6th century. These arrows flew out like rockets from the mouth of the dragon and were used against invaders from Mongolia in 1279. The operation of these rockets is still used today in fireworks.

4.3 Paper money

Chinese money
Chinese money

Among the many inventions that we owe to the ingenuity of the Chinese, we should also consider paper money. From the most ancient times, the Chinese traded on the basis of barter. Until the middle of the second century BC. The so-called “cowries” were used as means of exchange. These are small shells that have remained in use in some parts of Asia and Africa until a few decades ago.

In the fourth year of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (119 BC), the aristocrats paid a tribute to the court, made up of fragments of deer skin of various shapes and colors.

Between 200 and 600 AD, for high payments, silk rolls of standard sizes were often used. The Chinese were the first to make use of the thin layer between the bark and the trunk, from which a type of paper, that was otherwise not very resistant, was extracted.

The first “monetary” use of this paper was for bank receipts that began to be used as means of payment. Obviously, there were no proper banks. These were private shops that accepted deposits of precious metals, for which they received remuneration, committing themselves to transfer sums at distances.

The method of papermaking in ancient China involved preparing a dense suspension of vegetable fibers obtained by taxing mulberry bark and ramie stems (and also of fibers extracted from rice and bamboo plants). Said suspension was then submerged in a rectangular screen of very fine meshes on which the fibers were deposited and mixed.

They were then stacked and pressed in order to remove the water and then stretched out in the sun to dry. Each leaf duly adhered to a surface in order to prevent the ink from flowing when typing.

4.4 Paper

It was around the year 105 when Cai Lun or Tsai-lun, known as the eunuch of the Eastern Han court of the Chinese emperor Hedo or Ho Ti, made paper using materials such as mulberry bark, silk fabrics and cloths Old and a mold made of bamboo strips for the first time. The emperor had given him the task of finding new writing materials.

The earliest records are from the year 150. For 500 years, the technique of making paper was only known in China.

4.5 The Printing Press

Ancient chinese printing press
Ancient chinese printing press

As early as the second century AD, the Chinese had developed and implemented, in general, the art of printing texts. As with many inventions, it was not entirely novel, since the printing of drawings and images on fabrics took at least a century of advantage in China to the impression of words.

Two important factors that favorably influenced the development of printing in China were the invention of paper in 105 AD. And the spread of the Buddhist religion in China. The common writing materials of the ancient Western world, papyrus, and parchment were not suitable for printing. The papyrus was too brittle as a printing surface, and the parchment, a tissue extracted from the skin of freshly skinned animals, was an expensive material. Paper, on the other hand, is quite resilient and economical. The Buddhist practice of making copies of prayers and sacred texts favored mechanical methods of reproduction.

The earliest known examples of Chinese printing, produced before 200 AD, were obtained from letters and images carved into blocks of wood. In 972, the Tripitaka, the Buddhist sacred writings consisting of more than 130,000 pages, were printed in this way. A Chinese inventor from this age went from the wooden blocks to the concept of printing by moving types, that is, loose characters arranged in a row, just as in current techniques. However, since the Chinese language requires between 2,000 and 40,000 different characters, the ancient Chinese did not consider this technique useful and abandoned the invention.

4.6 The Great Wall of China; An architectural contribution

The principles of the construction of the Chinese Wall were to defend against the nomadic attacks of the northern peoples.

Although built in several stages, the first stage was built by instructions from Qin Shi Huangdi, also Shi Huangdi, or Ts’in She Huang-Ti (259-210 BC), the first Chinese emperor and founder of the Ch’in dynasty.

There were 400,000 people working in construction during the reign of Qin Shi Huanti and his descendants; however, the Great Wall continued to grow for more than 1500 years, with different materials and characteristics depending on the region. The rulers of the Han Dynasty continued conserving and extending the wall. Its construction ceased definitively in the XVII century during the predominance of the Ming dynasty.

It is said that a fifth of the Chinese population contributed at different times to the construction of the Great Wall and that many of the bodies of the workers who died, historical documents added, served to offset the weight of the stones.

The most famous part of the Great Wall, which is located near Beijing, in Badaling, was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 AD) and is considered part of the World Heritage.

Ancient Chinese Civilization
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