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Chinese Culture

Chinese Culture. At the time of “ Yeh-Shen ”. Chinese culture. “It is time for this heroine’s Asian identity to be recognized and the evocative story motifs understood in their Asian contexts” (Beauchamp 1) What was the culture of Yeh-Shen , also known as Yexian ?. Dynasties!.

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Chinese Culture

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  1. Chinese Culture At the time of “Yeh-Shen”

  2. Chinese culture • “It is time for this heroine’s Asian identity to be recognized and the evocative story motifs understood in their Asian contexts” • (Beauchamp 1) What was the culture of Yeh-Shen, also known as Yexian?

  3. Dynasties! • Ch’in and Han dynasties: 221 B.C.E.-220 C.E. • Saw the end of feudalism and the development of the imperial system • Focused on the practice of rites and ceremonies for the spirits • First Cinderella story written down in 950 A.D. but set during this time period

  4. Family life at the time • Children were sometimes used as slaves • “Polygamy was practiced among the Zhuang [ancient Chinese people] in the late Tang Dynasty, and children were supposed to be treated equally” (Beauchamp 14). • Women enjoyed high status because of their ability to weave. • Freedom came with this status; they could pick their own husband!

  5. Family of Yeh-Shen • According to Beauchamp, “Yexian’s father was a leader to his group, the family appears marginalized economically, and Yexian’s menial work seems a harsh extension of a child’s workload” and then, “the story rewards Yexian by making her the first wife of a king, but it seems ambivalent about the founding of a divinely sanctioned royal line, and it does not value hierarchy, obedience, and duty” (472).

  6. Island Kingdoms • “Tuohan was an island country that sent embassies to Tang China in 645 and 648” (Jameson 1932:77-78). • The island could be modern day Sumatra. Note how far it is from mainland China! Map image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2e/LocationSumatra.svg/800px-LocationSumatra.svg.png

  7. Fish in the Chinese Culture • Fish have long been symbols of “abundance and wealth” in the Chinese culture The fish in the story is believed to be a red carp with golden eyes.

  8. Caves • In a specific area of China, there are literally thousands of caves! • “inscriptions in the caves date from the Tang Dynasty” (Beauchamp 456). • Some scholars believe that “cave” in Chinese could simply mean a “sheltered location” (456).

  9. Festivals… • Many of the Chinese subcultures had festivals where young men and women would mingle to find their mates…

  10. Wise old man from the sky… • Some researchers believe this being symbolizes ancestor worship • He could also represent either the dead father or the dead mother • His long hair? Symbol of a WITCH! (Beauchamp 456) • Can also be seen as a guardian figure

  11. Pavilion • “Chinese pavilions are covered structures without surrounding walls and are a traditional part of Chinese architecture” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_pavilion). Central watchtower, architectural model, Eastern Han dynasty (25–220), 1st–early 3rd centuryChina Source; http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1984.397

  12. Tiny feet as a symbol of beauty • “Foot binding was seen as a sign of beauty and attractiveness” (Mao). • “also a symbol of identity and virtue” (Mao). • Small feet were considered beautiful. Source: http://www.ispub.com/journal/the-internet-journal-of-biological-anthropology/volume-1-number-2/foot-binding-beauty-and-torture.html

  13. What is a kingfisher? “Kingfishers are native to watery Southwest China, including the Nanning area, and to Southeast Asia, where they were hunted in Cambodia to supply a Chinese market with feathers for jewelry” (Beauchamp 457). Photo source: World Book Encyclopedia

  14. The shoes! • How can a shoe with soles of solid gold enable her to walk “lighter than air”? • The answer: TRANSLATION ISSUES! The shoes were most likely embroidered with gold colored silk threads on the soles and heels.

  15. Culture and “Yeh-Shen” • Questions to think about: • How big of a role does the culture play in this story? • How could the story change for other cultures based on your understanding of cultural elements?

  16. Works cited Animal Symbolism - Chinese Customs: www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/Chinese.../animals_symbolism.htm Beauchamp, Fay. "Asian Origins of Cinderella:TheZhuang Storyteller of Guangxi." Oral Tradition 25.2 (2010): 447-96. www.journal.oraltradition.org. Web. http://journal.oraltradition.org/files/articles/25ii/10_25.2.pdf . Bolen, Eric G. "Kingfisher." World Book Student. World Book, 2012. Web. 19 July 2012. “From Classic to Tradition: Ch’in and Han Dynasties”: http://www.npm.gov.tw/exh95/chinhan/brief_en.html Mao, J. “Foot Binding: Beauty And Torture. “The Internet Journal of Biological Anthropology. 2008 Volume 1 Number 2. DOI: 10.5580/11bb

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