Life Etiquette | Ancient Chinese Culture - Part 2

Archive for category Life Etiquette

Red Boiled Egg

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In China, when a baby is born, his/her family will announce the news via sending red boiled eggs to the family’s relatives and friends.

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Moreover, in some regions of China the number of eggs presented depends on the sex of the child. An even number, usually six or eight, with a black point dotted on one end will be delivered for a boy, while, an odd number, usually five or seven without black point for a girl.

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Coming of Age Ceremony

The ceremonies of Guan and Ji were the coming of age ceremonies for young men and women in ancient China. Originally, Guan referred to a kind of cap for men while Ji referred to a kind of hairpin for women.

When a man was 20 years old, there was a Guan Ceremony for him. The ceremony was held in his family’s ancestral temple. On that day, an important guest would bestow a Guan upon the grown-up man. Guan was believed to be the beginning of proprieties. It was believed that after the ceremony, the man may have proper behaviors, dignified expression and courteous words.

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Ji Ceremony was held for a woman when she reached at the age of 15. It was also held in the ancestral temple of her family. The woman’s hair would be fastened by a Ji on that day. The process of the ceremony was almost the same as the Guan Ceremony.

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For a woman, experiencing the coming of age ceremony meant that she had grown up and would be a virtuous and intelligent wife, while for a man, it meant that he would shoulder his responsibility for his family, his clan and even his country.

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Zhuazhou

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Zhuazhou is an ancient method for predicting a child’s future career. The earliest written record for this custom can date back to the Beiqi Dynasty (550-557 BC).

It is a ceremony held on the child’s first birthday. On that day, parents place an assortment of objects, each symbolic of a future career path, on a plate in front of the child. Then, without help or guide, the child is free to pick anything he or she likes. It is believed that the selected ones will not only reveal the child’s future career but also his/her personality and interests.

However, the objects laid out for boys and girls are different. For boys, the items will be swards, pens, books, etc. symbolizing the career of general, poet, scholar, etc. While, makeup, needles, thread, etc. will be placed on a girl’s plate since women are expected to be good at housework.

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Nowadays, some families still hold the custom. However, not for superstitious purpose, it is only considered to be a way to know the child’s interest and then conduct the enlightenment education.

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Hanging Coffins

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Hanging coffin was a mysterious funeral and sacrifice custom for some minority groups in southern China.

Most coffins were made of a whole piece of wood into various shapes. There are coffins which were placed on wooden beams projecting out from rocks; on the rocks themselves; merely placed in caves high up a cliff face; or suspended on wooden stakes above the ground or stuck into the cliff face.

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The earliest record for the funeral practice dated back to 2,500 years ago at Three Gorges. Nowadays, we still can find hanging coffins in this district.

Why the ancient people bury the dead with this funeral? How did they achieve some of the engineering feats such as placing coffins so high? These are still the unsolved mysteries.

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