China History and Culture

China History and Culture


The beginnings of the city, which lies in an area that has been populated since prehistoric times (Peking man, Homo erectus), go back to the 12th century BC. BC back. Since the 10th century AD, when the Qidan conquered the region around Beijing and founded the Liao empire, the city, under different names, has been the seat of power as well as the commercial and administrative center of various state structures. As Daidu (“great capital”) or (Mongolian) Khanbalyk (“city of the ruler”, referred to as “Kambaluk” by Marco Polo , who according to his own account arrived there in 1275), Beijing was the main residence of the Mongols from 1264-1368. In 1421 it became the seat of the Ming, in 1644 of the Manchu emperors and the capital of China.

After the fall of the Manchu dynasty (1912) and the proclamation of the republic, Beijing was the center of the restoration tendencies that began with Yuan Shikai. In 1919, the “May Fourth Movement” started in Beijing, aiming for a renewal of China based on the European model. In 1928 the Guomindang troops led by Chiang Kai-shek captured Beijing. The Sino-Japanese War began with the “incident at the Marco Polo Bridge” near Beijing (July 7, 1937) provoked by Japan; 1937–45 the city was occupied by Japanese troops. After Beijing was taken by troops of the Communist People’s Liberation Army (January 31, 1949), the Communist Party leadership declared Beijing its capital. In this capacity it became the political center of the People’s Republic of China.

On the 3rd / 4th 6. In 1989 the army suppressed a v. a. student-borne peaceful democracy movement through bloody military action.


More than 7000 years ago a culture emerged on the soil of what is now China, which was groundbreaking in all areas and which had a lasting influence on its neighbors in East and Southeast Asia. This was especially true of the Chinese language and script, Chinese literature and Chinese art. But China itself also used the achievements of other cultures, often mediated by the northern steppe peoples. From the west, this has been done via the Silk Road since the mobile dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). This not only brought coveted luxury goods such as wine and horses to the “Middle Kingdom”, but also scientific knowledge (Chinese natural science) and instruments of the chinese music. Buddhism found its way to China from India as well as via Tibet (Tibetan Buddhism) and Central Asia. A particularly intensive exchange with non-Chinese cultures took place in the time of the Tang (618–907). Grave figures with a “foreign” appearance as well as pagodas and temples, for example in Dunhuang and Xi’an , bear witness to this.

The Europeans first came into direct contact with China during the Mongol rule (Yuan dynasty 1271–1368). They were particularly interested in skills that had already reached a high level in the pre-imperial period (until 221 BC) in the processing of ceramics (celadon), jade , precious metals (gold and silversmiths) and silk as well as lacquer art. Revolutionary technology such as the lock or the letterpress (printing process) and useful things such as the compass , the iron or the paper money also came from China. Popular Chinese goods in early modern world trade were porcelain and Tea , which according to a legend already existed in 2737 BC. Was first prepared.

China went its own way in art and literature, Chinese astrology , Chinese medicine, and Chinese philosophy and religion. Confucianism, which has been renewed again and again, not only regulated social coexistence and the relationship to the state, but also produced the first “classics” of Chinese literature. The first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi created a work of art on an almost industrial scale with his monumental tomb. In the early imperial period, poetry, music, calligraphy and painting formed the “four high arts”. During the Song Dynasty (960–1279) landscape painting and literary painting appeared in a fruitful competition with one another. The Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) shone with palaces like the Forbidden City and gardens like in Suzhou. The Ming emperors, who shielded their country from the outside world, also had the Great Wall of China completely renewed.

In literature, from the Tang period, the literary essay and the novella on poetry, which flourished at that time and became a model for subsequent generations. The Chinese theater , which mainly performed love dramas, advanced to become an art form in the Mongol period and was given permanent stages for the first time in the Ming period. That was also when the novel became popular. The best-known Chinese novels to this day include »The Robbers of Liang Schan Moor« (Shuihu zhuan). The role repertoire of the Peking Opera , a total work of art consisting of drama, music, dance and acrobatics, differentiated itself in the 19th century when the Manchu emperors discovered it for their court.

While the Qing (1644–1911 / 12) borrowed from European architecture for their buildings, Chinese literature only opened up to world literature in the republic with the May Fourth Movement (1919). The exchange broke off with the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (1949). From then on, culture had to bow to the ideological guidelines of Maoism. Chinese writers and artists went into exile, stayed there and found international recognition – the first Chinese winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (2000) Gao Xingjian lived in Paris from 1988. In the so-called Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–76), China brutally broke with its intellectual and cultural heritage. Countless cultural assets fell victim to the fury of the Red Guards.

With the reforms of the socialist market economy, according to paradisdachat, China opened up again from the 1980s. In this way, “Western” popular culture also gained a firm place in society. It created its own jazz, rock and punk scene based on Korean and Japanese models. Dealing with recent history with the trauma of the Cultural Revolution and dealing with rapid economic social change are still important topics in literature and art, but only of interest to a minority. The official cultural policy sets the limits of individual artistic expression. Private initiatives, such as the revitalization of the imperial porcelain factories in Jingdeshen, are quickly taken over by the state.

China History and Culture