Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chinese ancient wisdom... the forbidden city

Recently I read a book written by Richard Nisbett "The geography of thought: how Asians and Westerners think differently... and why". There was one research done by given children 3 pictures of "grass", "chicken" and "cow". The children were ask to group and categorize them. And most of the children from China will group "grass" and "cow" together. In contrast, the kids from US categorized "chicken" and "cow" as one group.

The result above indicated that the kids from China tend to see things from the relations perspective (wholeness), whereas, US kids tend to see things as individual (an item itself). It was a quite an interesting research, but it might not suitable for now because most of the Asians are now influenced by Western and Asians education. But I do agree that it represented the traditional Chinese culture.

When I travel in Beijing, I noticed that the ancient applied the "harmonize" and "wholeness" principle well and it was reflected in their architecture. For example the forbidden city, the design of the building and structure are very symmetric. Even the staying place for their governance are well arranged in the forbidden city. Another well known principle is "fengshui" which emphasize the harmonize of the surrounding. Although I am not delved in "fengshui', but I am amazed with the Chinese ancient wisdom.

Jade in front of Empress Dowager Cixi 慈禧太后 palace

Most of the gate are decorated with 9 x 9 array golden door nails, 9 is the biggest number in yang, therefore it symbolic highest imperial status
Cranes symbolize longevity

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