China Culture and Art
In the space of a few short years, we have learned a lot about Chinese Art and Culture. When we began the paperchase for Hannah, Snow Wu, the Agency Director for Great Wall China Adoptions, encouraged us to learn more about China. In particular, she recommended that we visit Beijing and tour many of the historic sites and museums. On both of our adoption trips, we did take the time to visit Beijing and to learn from our knowledgeable guides.
At home, we have tried to add Chinese art, crafts, and sculptures to our rooms. We hope that our daughters will feel comfortable with their dual heritage and will appreciate and be proud of their Chinese background.
The websites that we have listed here provide excellent information, photographs, and articles about Chinese art and culture.
The Palace Museum, Beiing
This well-designed site offers online tours of the incredible masterpiece collections of the National Palace Museum – popularly known as the Forbidden City – in Beijing. Most of the paintings are from the Ming and Qing dynasties – but some date back much further. Informative explanations accompany each painting or artifact. Check out the free gift sections for classic wallpapers, screensavers, and greeting cards.
The National Palace Museum, Taipai
Why two Palace Museums? The answer has to do with events that took place in China between the fall of the last Qing Emporer, Pu Yi, in 1924 and the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. During this quarter century, substantial portions of the imperial art collection were removed from the Forbidden City, stored, and occasionally exhibited in other cities – principally Nanking. The collection was eventually transferred to Taiwan where it is housed currently in a collection of magnificent buildings near Taipai. This website offers extensive online tours of the collections, a gift shop with free screensavers, wallpapers, and other downloads. The site also contains extensive resources for children including creative deptictions of a children’s playground, a scholar’s pavilion, the emperor’s quarters, and an online gameroom – all designed to help children learn about Chinese art and culture.
We had the pleasure of touring this museum during our 2002 trip to China and it is magnificent! Situated at the foot of Kowloon Penisula about three blocks from the Star Ferry terminal, the museum offers some of the best views of Hong Kong harbour and the skyline on Hong Kong Island. The galleries and exhibits offer quite a range from ancient paintings to more modern collections. Their website offers representative tours of the exhibits and collections. If you are visiting Hong Kong, be sure to visit this museum. Admission is free every Wednesday.
Nan Rae is an American artist based in Los Angeles who has mastered the art of Chinese Brush Painting. Her website provides a wealth of information about Chinese Painting. Be sure to check out her book recommendations.
Zhejiang Province Museum, Hangzhou
This basic website offers a glimpse of the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts. As capital of the southern Song dynasty, Hangzhou is an historic and beautiful city. The museum captures much of the history of this vibrant area of China.
Is your knowledge of technological history limited to Newton, Copernicus, Gallileo, Einstein, and Edison? Then you will be amazed to find out how much these gentlemen learned from Chinese scientists. A common stereotype is that the Chinese traditionally lack scientific and technological ability, although, somehow, they stumbled upon paper making, printing, gunpowder, and the mariner's compass. Modern Chinese, themselves, sometimes are surprised to realize that modern agriculture, shipping, astronomical observatories, decimal mathematics, paper money, umbrellas, wheelbarrows, multi-stage rockets, brandy and whiskey, the game of chess, and much more, all came from China. This excellent ThinkQuest site will bring you up to speed.
Want to learn more about Chinese history? Can’t figure out who’s who in the Han, Ming, or T’ang dynasties? Ever wonder what Winnie the Pooh might know about Taoism? Then this site is for you. Thousands of years of Chinese history explained in a creative and interesting way.
Sponsored by the University of Washington, this site offers a scholarly collection of lectures, dissertation abstracts, maps, newsletters, and photographs of the Silk Road. Topics include Silk Road history, art, religions, people, famous travelers, and culture.
Creatively built upon the metaphor of Ancient Chinese Chess, this ThinkQuest site contains a wealth of information on Chinese culture, history, and religion. To become a scholar in China, students are expected to master the intellectual aspect of life. A well-rounded scholar must also master the four major arts: Qi (Chess/strategy games), Qin (Music), Hua (Brush Painting), and Shu (Calligraphy). Spend some time “rounding out” your education by visiting a Temple, a School, a Library, a Museum, and even a gift shop. Junior high age and older children will enjoy this site.
In the past, foot binding was a cultural practice that affected the lives of Chinese women. Fortunately for today's Chinese women, China made this practice illegal in 1912. Click the link above to learn more about this practice and how it affected Chinese life in the past. Many thanks to Mrs. McVey's 5th grade class for sending us this excellent link!