Chinese history is not the oldest in the world. But peoples and languages have changed out of all recognition in those other centers of early civilization. Chinese civilization, by contrast, has remained recognizably the same in essentials is thus the oldest, continuous, homogeneous, major culture in the world today.
The Chinese culture is one of the most ancient cultures in the world. In the 3rd millennium B.C., the Chinese learned to make the ceramics of red, white, and violet colors, covered with rhombuses, spirals, the well-known thin-walled black cups and bowls, and amphoras. In the 2nd millennium B.C., the first state Shang Yin was formed. The art of bronze molding allowed making various bowls, covered with complex images: dragons (a water symbol) and birds (a wind symbol).
The same pattern also covered the bowls of opaque white clay. The entrances to the underground burials were protected by stocky human tigers (scaring off the evil spirits). The totem names of tribes were found on the fortune-telling dice. A swallow was considered to be the totem of the Shang tribe. Moreover, the concept of god appeared as the emperor asked consent of the God for the laying of the city.
The culture of China came from the ancient times and has very deep roots. It is considered that the Chinese culture is transferred to the mankind by the gods. It is confirmed by the five-thousand-year history of China, which is the inexhaustible source of spiritual force of the Chinese nation and, probably, of the whole mankind. If culture is a soul of the nation, it is possible to imagine how long the soul of each Chinese has been forming and becoming stronger.
The myths and legends of the ancient China, which reached us today, comprise the stories how Pangu, the founder of all alive, created the Sky and Earth, and the goddess Nyuyva created the mankind; the divine farmer Shen Nong discovered hundreds of herbs, and the legendary mythological character of ancient China Tsyan Tse invented writing. All these facts are thoroughly kept by the inexhaustible history of China.
“A person follows the Earth, the Earth follows the Sky, the Sky follows Dao, and Dao follows naturalness” — this principle about the unity of the Sky and a human being was stated for the first time in “Daodetszin” — “The book of a way and its force” — written by the teacher of Daoism, Lao Zi. It is necessary to mention this author, because the culture of China has been formed by the principles, stated in the main canon of Daoism — “Daodetszin”.
The respectable teacher of Daoism Lao Zi (he was mentioned in the treatises of the ancient China) lived in the 6th century B.C. in Chu’s state of the Zhou’s dynasty. Lao Zi was a court registrar and advised Confucius concerning rituals and court ethics. His well-known treatise is considered to be a literary monument of the Chinese thought, which left its mark on the history of China and the whole world.
The principle of the unity of the Sky, the Earth and the Person, stated in the literary collection of Confucianism (the book of songs) opens this way by saying, “The great doctrine induces to virtue perfection”. The history of China took and presented these principles to the society from time immemorial. Humanity, justice, observance of rules of behavior, culture and devotion were vitally confirmed by wise governors and emperors of various dynasties of the ancient China. The culture of China has been formed and developed owning to these values.
Buddhism, which came to China in the 1st century, added color to the Chinese culture with the ideas of compassion and salvation of all live beings. The great value was given to the principle “good will be given the due for it, and evil will be punished” in Buddhism. The culture of China in its stories constantly reminds of it and explains that if a person prays to God and asks for something, God looks at the heart of this person and knows his every thought. God will not allow the person to receive something illegally, breaking the above-mentioned principle. In the story about the teacher Yuda, the Chinese culture shows how this principle works. The culture of China uses this story, teaching people to be kind and sympathetic and not to commit bad acts. Following the above-mentioned principles, people were afraid to commit to the evil. Thus, the Chinese culture, having included Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism, which were the main dogmas of the ancient China, led the dynasty Tan to glory and prosperity.
Ordinary Chinese people revered the Sky, the Earth, the emperor, relatives and teachers. It was reflected in the culture of China, in its deep traditions: honor of the God, devotion to the country, respect for a family and friendship, for teachers and seniors. The traditional Chinese culture aspired to the harmony of a person and the Universe, and a special attention was paid to the morality of a person. It was based on Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, bearing tolerance, social progress, moral and just belief of the Chinese people.
The ethics of family values have naturally influenced public morals. The filial duty was considered as fidelity to a wise governor. Therefore, speaking of the devotion and patriotism, people remember the great commander. The history of China has “The Legend about Yue Fae”, in which the hero, the commander-in-chief of army, postponed all the affairs if he saw the approach of his mother and kneeled in front of her, asking for blessings. He thought that receiving mother’s blessings was a great honor and a filial duty before a battle.
The concept about the devotion in the culture of China never meant blind worship. In the opinion of the people, the emperor was “the son of the Sky”, above whom there was only the Sky. The emperor could not be always right. Therefore, there was a need for the protests in case the emperor was mistaken. The history of China kept chronicles, which also contained the historical records of the words and acts of the emperor. The men of science could become the teachers of wise governors, and the behavior of the emperor was estimated according to Confucianism. If the emperor was immoral and did not accept Dao, people could rise in rebellion and dethrone him. The followers of Confucianism believed that according to Mencius, “People are the most valuable in the country, and the governor — the least”.
The political framework is conventionally divided by dynasties. Traditionally, Chinese historians have viewed their history from the angle of Confucian moralism. It is family history, determined by family succession in dynasties, and it is personal history, determined by the character of the ruler and his officials at the apex of the vast autocratic government pyramid.
The original Chinese culture as a state began about 5,000 years ago when the legendary emperor Juan-Di, who is considered to be the earliest governor in the history of China, came to the throne. Actually, the name of the emperor Juan-Di is connected with the basis of the school of Daoism which Lao Zi called a “thought school”. The territory of China was often ripped by separate tribes after the dynasty Qin (221-207 BC). It occurred, mainly, at the time of the dynasties Suy (581-618), Tan (618-907), Yuan (1279-1368), and Tsin (1644-1912), but also happened during the whole history of China. These ethnic groups completely assimilated with a way of life of the radical Chinese people. It shows the uniting power of the traditional culture of China.
As it is known from the history of China, the traditional Chinese culture reached its blossom at the time of the dynasty Tan, having coincided with the peak of the power of the Chinese nation in time. The science also developed by its unique way, thereby deserving the recognition of other nations. Many doctors and men of science from Europe, the Middle East, and Japan came to study in Changan, the capital of the dynasty Tan. The countries, bordering on China, perceived it as a sovereign state. Many countries paid a tribute of respect to China, receiving the generous attitude in reply.
Buddhism and Daoism were a part of the Chinese culture and were based on the idea of “renunciation of ordinary life”. The influence of Buddhism and Daoism can be seen how deeply they impregnated all spheres of the life of people.
The Chinese medicine, feng shui, and vision of the future have their deep roots in Daoism. These practices, and also the Buddhist concepts about of heavenly kingdom and hell, about karmic requital for the good, and punishment for the evil created a complete essence of the traditional culture of China together with Confucianism.
This ethical system gave the basis for stability, peace, and harmony in society. The moral belongs to the spiritual sphere; thus, it is often perceived as something abstract. The Chinese culture carried out a mission in the history of China, consisting in expression of the abstract moral system by the easily understood language.
Having analyzed the Chinese culture, it is possible to say that it has really influenced the development of the most world countries. Although the destiny is defined by heavens, the result depends on one’s own efforts. However, it is necessary to understand many things and sincerely believe in the divine. Such is the wisdom of the Chinese culture. There is no wiser law, operating people, their life and behavior, than the culture of China. All Chinese governors and officials observed the virtue and moral principles, did not pursue personal benefits, and encouraged their people in self-improvement and education of virtues and control over the soul by means of the culture of China.