Early Chinese Culture
The Ancient Chinese civilization was highly advanced and contributed many important aspects of culture to the world. Ancient China was a very independent civilization. Its formidable land lacked easy travel routes and made it very difficult for hostile invasions. This allowed early Chinese culture to develop aspects such as filial piety, religious beliefs, and writing that influenced and shaped a strong Chinese culture and society.
The Chinese language is one of the oldest in the world. Some of the oldest Chinese script was found on Oracle bones that were used to tell people’s fortunes. Writing was an important part of early Chinese culture. It was used for historical record keeping, art, literature, and education.
The Chinese written language was used by the government to unify a large and diverse land and made control much easier. People in all parts of China could learn the same system of writing even if their spoken languages were very different. The Chinese system had an enormous number of characters and scholars who studied it were highly respected.
Confucianism was a popular and dominant philosophy in Chinese history and many emperors adopted its principles. Filial piety is an important principle practiced in early Chinese culture that comes from Confucianism. It is the idea of putting the family’s needs above one’s own with deep respect for elders, ancestors, country, and leaders. It determines the moral value of people in society. Filial piety was and still is a value based on strict principles of hierarchy, obligation, and obedience.
Early Chinese worshiped gods of nature. They believed that the gods had the power to affect things like the weather, harvests, warfare, and the health of the king. As religion became more established the gods were given names and rituals were developed to honor them. Shang Kings consulted the gods through the use of oracle bones, animal bones, and tortoises. Later in China, family became closely linked to religion with the rise of ancestor worship. The Chinese believed that the spirits of family ancestors had the power to bring good fortune or disaster to living members of the family. Every family paid respect to the father’s ancestors and made sacrifices in their honor.