The history of traditional Chinese culture extends over a span of five millennia and is renowned for its enormous diversity and variety. In fact, the complex Chinese civilization was characterized by arts and sciences, elaborate printing and painting techniques, and delicate sculpture and pottery. Chinese architectural techniques are much renowned and respected worldwide. In addition, Chinese language, literature, religion, politics and philosophy have left a lasting impression of the culture to this day. The philosophies of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism continue to shape Chinese beliefs and culture immensely. This paper highlights significant contributions of the Chinese culture to the United States by elaborating on geographic location, population, and cultural traits.
Today, Americans of Chinese descent consist the largest group of Asian Americans, at a population of 3.8 million people. They are also the largest Chinese community overseas that resides out of Asia. As the third largest community in the Chinese diaspora, Chinese Americans only fall behind Chinese communities in Malaysia and Thailand in number. Americans with a Chinese ancestry constitute 1.2% of the American population. As of 2010, half of Chinese-born Americans resided in the states of New York and California(Census Bureau 18). Even so, a larger part of Chinese in the US live in five states namely Hawaii, Texas, Illinois, New York, and California.
The Chinese are heterogeneous with regard to religion, language, and socioeconomic status. As far as religion is concerned, the Chineseculture embraces traditional philosophies of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and ancestry worship(Giddens, Owen, and Sandra 12). Approximately a quarter of people practice Confucianism, Taoism, and traditional ancestry worship, although there are small numbers that identify with Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Very few Chinese have converted from traditional Chinese philosophies to catholic and protestant ministries. Indeed, many continue to follow Confucian values of “li” (rituals) and “love”, indicating respect for social hierarchy and society.
With regard to language, the Chinese culture adopts two major dialects, each of which has its own variations. The majority speak the Mandarin dialect while the others utilize Wu, Yue, Xiang, Min, Hakka, and Gan(Wang, William, and Chaofen 156).These dialects are considerably different owing to the fact that the Chinese language is perceived as a familylanguage rather than a single language consisting of different regional forms. In actual fact, the language is analogous to the Roman language family of Europe. For example the dialect of Peking, which is commonly used in Beijing, is much different from the dialect of Chaozhou in the same way French is different from Italian(Mullaney, Thomas, et al. 2). It is important to note, however, that the official language dialect in China is Pŭtōnghuà, a type of Mandarin dialect that is mainly spoken by residents of Beijing. Many chinse who reside in America are also fluent in the English language.
Just like other aspects of the Chinese culture, Chinese cuisine is heavily inspired by ethnic diversity and geography. The main styles of cuisine include Cantonese, which is mainly characterized by stir-fried dishes, and Szechuan, which depends heavily on the use of sesame paste, peanuts, and ginger(Shurtleff, William, and Akiko Aoyagi 569). The latter is mostly known for its spiciness. The Chinese culture is mainly affiliated with rice, which is not only a major food in mainland china but also a major factor that helped shaped the Chinese society. Notably, the Chinese word for rice isFan, which also denotes “meal”(Perkins 187). Rice is more of a staple diet like bean sprouts, scallions, and cabbage(Kuiper 42). It is also important to note that the Chinese do not consume a lot of meat. Occasionally, they take chicken and pork but largely prefer tofu (bean curd) as the main source of protein.
When it comes to art, the Chinese culture is influenced by China’s rich mystical and spiritual history. Many Chinese paintings and sculptures depict figures of Buddhism, Confucianism, and noble figures in ancient Chinese history. Several musical instruments are fundamental to Chinse culture, including the guqin(Jin 60) and the flute-like xun (Jin 11), which is categorized in the zither family of string instruments. Another major artistic trait of the Chinese culture is the eastern-style martial arts, which were originally developed in china, the birthplace of kung Fu(Active Interest Media, Inc. 94). The fighting style is based on animal movement and was invented in the 1600s. It is also worth noting that the Chinese culture is affiliated with writing and philosophy and this is reflected by the rich liturgical history.
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Although modern Chinese do not stringently follow the traditional system of Chinese clothing, their clothes vary by religion and time. Traditionally, each social class, depending on status in the society, had a different sense of fashion(Yang 4)Most men wore black cotton shoes, but people from higher classes wore tough black leather shoes especially when attending formal occasions. The rich and the wealthy would wear beautiful and bright silk shoes with leather on the inside. On the other hand, women would wear silk and lotus shoes. By the same token, civil and military officials adopted different styles of clothing. These dressing customs are no longer prevalent in todays’ society and Chinese communities seem to have been influenced by world trends since the republican era.
In conclusion, the Chinese culture is white analogous when it comes to language, religion, arts, and other traits. Nevertheless, the culture is rich in many customs, particularly with regard to religion, philosophies, and way of life. Contemporary Chinese culture is an amalgam of westernized lifestyle and old world traditions. Still, the Chinese cultures is among the oldest cultures in the world.
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