Chinese Art and Culture

Art and Culture has always been a big part of China, and it still is today. It continues to reflect China's individuals, society, and government. The Culture of China is ancient, well-established, and brilliant. For example, the Cultural Revolution was an event that drastically changed the lives of the Chinese, mostly for the worse. Moying Li feels, "Thirty years have passed since the end of the Cultural Revolution, but that dramatic time, and the many historical events leading up to it, still feel so close, so personal" (foreword xi). Whether the Chinese like it or not, the events of the Cultural Revolution will always be a part of them. They will carry that tragedy with them forever. This time period had broken up many individuals' families, had changed the way society looked at Chairman Mao, and lastly, had shaped the form of the Chinese government today.

China Culture Revolution - Public Execution and Impact


Another example of Chinese Art and Culture was that women had to have their feet bound because it reflected the Chinese culture that women should be small and quaint. They actually broke the woman's arch of the foot at a young age to stop the foot from growing. This was done because it was more desirable for the girls to have smaller feet and more attractive to the Chinese men. This process was very painful. Moying Li explains the process, "Suddenly, Auntie reached out and bent Lao Lao toes under, one after another, hard, and started to wrap the linen bandage around Lao Lao's tiny foot, each round of cloth tighter than the last. The pain came so fast and was so sharp that Lao Lao burst into tears" (25). Lao Lao was lucky enough to never have her feet bound because her father could not watch his daughter suffer. Lao Lao's natural beauty and her natural feet were shocking to people.

A Chinese woman's bound feet

Another Chinese woman's bound foot

X-Ray of bound feet

A Chinese woman's small feet due to binding them

During the time of Lao Lao's childhood, education was not very common. Though Lao Lao had a good Baba and was lucky enough to be educated. Moying Li reflects, "...and he wanted his daughter to be educated, too. But it was not popular at the time for girls to attend public schools. Most of the education they acquired was at their mothers' knees - sewing, cooking, and housekeeping" (26). Then when the Cultural Revolution came around, it was very unlikely for any child to receive an education. Many schools and universities were shut down due to students devoting all of their time to Red Guard activities. The Red Guards were a spontaneous group of students who accused school authorities of departing from Chairman Mao's teachings. They destroyed the fun and exciting part of learning, they took away innocent teachers and beat them, and later they banned all books. Like Lao Lao, Moying Li was very lucky to receive a full education. Both their father's were very determined to make sure their daughter's were properly educated. Moying Li grew very passionate of literature. Herself and Baba shared a deep and special love for books. Even though education was pretty much forbidden during the Cultural Revolution, Moying Li continued her will to learn by reading a list of books her Baba had given her. This was what kept Moying Li going; reading, literature, and education was what gave her hope. Hope that everything would be okay and hope that someday everything would be normal again. When the Cultural Revolution ended in 1969, education in China fell back into place. Today, China's basic schooling includes pre-school, elementary and junior high school, and senior high school. There is also special education for disabled children, and education for those who are illiterate. The Chinese government's goal is to achieve the same basic education system as the moderately-developed countries today.

China's basic education
Modern technology being used for Chinese education

In any society, clothing is usually a reflection of the culture's values and beliefs. It represents a country's traditions and culture. People in China generally wore tunics (like long t-shirts). Women wore tunics long enough to touch the ground and men wore shorter tunics usually down to their knees. When the weather was cold, Chinese people would wear padded jackets over the tunics and sometimes pants under them. Aspects of clothing like the color, fit, and fabric also represented social class. Poor people in China made their clothes of hemp or ramie, rich people wore clothes made of silk. The length of one's hair was also a factor that reflects culture. Due to the slow growth of hair, the length of a woman's hair symbolizes her youth and health. Also, most men and women in China wore their hair long because their hair came from their parents, so they thought it was disrespectful to cut it. Though, during the Cultural Revolution, women's hair could not be any longer than their shoulders. This was very hard for Moying Li and other girls during that time period to cut their life-long length hair. Now, the modern styles of Chinese hair are very similar to our American hair styles.

Common Chinese men clothing

Chinese women clothing

Modern Chinese hair style
Selen Gomez hair style


music.JPGLike education, music was very important to the people in China. In ways, education and music were connected. Moying Li's Baba and Lao Lao's Baba felt that their daughters did not have a complete education without the knowledge of music and musical instruments. Not only was music educational, but it was also was a way for the Chinese to express themselves. It was a way for people to convey their feelings. When the Cultural Revolution rolled around, music was only used for participation in propaganda, such as Red Guardsdancing and singing revolutionary songs. The Red Guards, followers of Chairman Mao, were against any music other than revolutionary music. The time period of the Cultural Revolution was when many of China's revolutionary songs were written. They believed that pop music was a disgrace to the art and culture of China. Just as in many other cultures, styles and genres of music change over time.

Red Guards singing a Red Guard's song