On Chinese Cultural Object

· Consider volunteer at the Tacoma Moon Festival

· In lieu of class on Monday (9/23), please attend the Festival for at least one hour.

· Investigate on one of the Chinese cultural objects you might encounter at the Festival at the Chinese Reconciliation Park (moon cake, dragon, moon, folklore figure, lantern, paper cut artwork, opera makeup/face, costume, Beijing opera, martial arts, stone lion, pavilion, architectural design element (garden, roof top, etc.), or another traditional Chinese cultural element that you would like to research more about.

· Write an informative essay on your chosen Chinese cultural element, due Tuesday before class and post your essay, below under Comments, in English (500 words) in three paragraphs:

Introduction with topic
Main body

19 thoughts on “On Chinese Cultural Object

  1. Out of several Chinese cultural elements on display at the Moon Festival, the rich and diverse musical performances stood out as the most intriguing. Chinese music has many qualities which separate it from western music, most notably the array of unique instruments, an emphasis of folklore, and the uniqueness Chinese opera in comparison to traditional European opera.
    Beginning with popular instruments used in Chinese music, the primary mode of creating sound is through strings and percussion. Some instruments combine these two modes of sound production, as tightly bound strings are forcefully plucked or struck. An example would be the Guqin, a seven-stringed instrument, with the strings bound across a large plank of wood. Often used to mimic the sounds of rushing water, the Guqin is one of many Chinese variations of the zither instrumental family. The strings are all plucked by hand in fast-paced, flowing motions, creating large waves of blended sound. Another instrument similar to the Guqin is the Yangqin. The Yangqin has several strings bound across a rectangular block of wood and is struck with Chinese styled dulcimers or mallets. Rather than create the flowing sound waves of the Guqin, the Yangqin amplifies percussive vibrations, with a much more twangy timbre. While there are hundreds more variations of Chinese string instruments, these two stood out as the most fascinating and unique from Western musical innovation.
    It is equally important to discuss the standout themes of Chinese music and instrumentation. Chinese music is built with an emphasis on polyrhythm and a connection to Chinese daily life. Preceding the performances at the Moon Festival, the introductions highlighted periods of history, natural vistas of China, or the motivation behind each song’s creation. Some examples include folk stories of forbidden marriage or a picture of a gorgeous Chinese river valley. As for the polyrhythmic style of Chinese music, joint performances of string instruments demonstrated the potential for overlapping chords and rhythms. The overlap created rich waves of sound and striking timbres, which effectively told these folk stories in a musical language. In this sense Chinese music is less aesthetic than Western music and focuses more on imagery and storytelling.
    Finally, Chinese cultural music can not be discussed without mentioning the incredible Chinese opera. Chinese opera, rather than focus on the pure operatic song, requires performers to be skilled actors, singers, dancers, speech, makeup, and even martial arts. Interestingly enough, Chinese opera was fostered within the poorer classes of China, who were much more skilled than the royal families. The artform grew mostly among the amateur royal families, who invested their free time to perfecting and growing the craft. Performers would wear lavish costumes and makeup and sing songs of sorrow and moral struggle. The elaborate operas stand out today as a staple of Chinese performing arts.
    Chinese music was first introduced when the Chinese came to America in search of work but quickly disappeared as a result of the Chinese exclusion act. Each of these rich Chinese musical elements flourishes today, and luckily are practiced outside of China in the states despite its decay in the late 1800s.

  2. Beijing Peking Opera Masks

    The Beijing Peking Opera, 京剧(pinyin: Jīngjù) in Chinese, has been around since the late 18th century, and became fully developed in the mid-19th century. In order to appeal and present a story dramatically, Beijing Opera utilizes four main artistic methods: singing, dialogue, dancing, and martial arts. The extravagant performances and storytelling has proven to be very influential in spreading traditional Chinese culture. Almost every province in China has more than one Peking Opera troupe, and the most notable ones being in Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai. Opera is so popular among Chinese people, especially seniors, that even “Peking Opera Month” (June) has been declared. In ancient times, Peking Opera was performed mostly on stage in the open air, teahouses, or temple courtyards. Since the orchestra played loudly, the performers developed a very loud sound so that the opera could be heard by everyone.

    There are several types of masks that the actors wear, most of which correlate with the color and appearance of the mask. Every color has a different meaning and provides context about the character being displayed. The Red Mask represents Guan Yu (关羽- 红 色). Guan Yu was the general of the Three Kingdoms (from 220-280), and at some point, he became known as a god of war. He was famed for his faithfulness to his emperor, Liu Bei, and was deified as early as the Sui dynasty. The character that wears this mask indicates devotion, courage, bravery, uprightness, and loyalty. The Black Mask represents Zhang Fei (张 飞-嘿色). Zhang Fei was also a military general who served under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty and early Three Kingdoms period. The character that wears this mask symbolizes roughness and fierceness, and is a bold character or has an impartial and selfless personality.

    The Yellow Mask represents Tu Xingsun. (土行孙-黄色) . Tu Xingsun was a dwarf general with special powers in the opera “Three Mountain Pass”. He served under Deng Jiugong, a Shang general who guarded Three Mountain-Pass. The character that wears this mask represents fierceness, ambition, and cool-headedness. The Purple Mask represents Hou Yi. (后羿- 紫色). Hou Yi was a grain officer versed in black magic in the opera “Green Dragon Pass”, and is sometimes portrayed as a god of archery whose mission is to aid mankind. The character who wears this mask indicates uprightness, sophistication, and a just and noble character. The Blue Mask represents Xiahou Dun (夏侯惇-蓝色). Xiahou Dun was a military general serving under the warlord Cao Cao in the late Eastern Han dynasty. In “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, he yanked the arrow out of his eye and devoured his eyeball. The character who wears this mask symbolizes fierceness and astuteness.

    The White Mask represents Cao Cao (曹操-白色). Cao Cao was a warlord and the penultimate Chancellor of the Eastern Han dynasty who rose to great power in the final years of the dynasty. The character that wears this mask represents sinisterness and treacherousness. This is a powerful villain, and highlights all the bad in human nature. The Green Mask represents Zheng Lun (郑伦-绿色). Zheng Lun was the Officer and Door Guardian, as well as the Investiture of the Gods. He is the deity of Heng Ha Erjiang, and plays a general in the opera “Green Dragon Pass”. The character that wears this mask represents impulsiveness and violence, with a total lack of self restraint. The Petty Painted Face represents Jiang Gan (蒋干- 小花脸). Jiang Gan was a debater and scholar who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty. The character who wears this mask shows a mean and secretive character, and is used for clowns or traditional drama. This mask is also used to enhance a character’s wit and humor.

    In conclusion, Beijing Peking Opera has been around since the mid-19th century, and has accumulated its popularity from traditional Chinese folklore. These performances highlight Chinese culture, traditions, and universal themes. Each character wears special makeup or masks. The decision behind the appearance is intentional, because very mask provides a backstory and creates meaning to which the mask represents for the character being displayed.

  3. The Tacoma Moon Festival is an annual celebration of the rich diversity of culture in Tacoma today. It is hosted at the Chinese Reconciliation Park, a site dedicated as reconciliation for the Chinese expulsion that occurred in 1885. Its construction and design portray its Sister City relationship with the Fuzhou city in China, and the festival showcases various cultural elements, such as music, theatrics, painting and calligraphy, tea tasting, and sampling mooncakes in order to introduce Tacoma’s current community to Chinese customs and lifestyle.

    This year, I had the privilege of playing the role of the Moon Princess. According to legend, ten suns had risen into the skies, leaving the earth scorched. This caused hardship for the people as it was difficult to continue carrying out everyday tasks with immense heat. Hou Yi, commonly known as the Lord Archer, descended from heaven to answer the people’s call. When Hou Yi arrived at earth, he shot down nine of the suns, leaving only one left in the sky. As a reward, Hou Ying received the elixir of immortality. Rather than drinking the entirety of the elixir, he gave it to his wife, Chang’e, as he did not want to become immortal without her. One night, when Hou Yi was out hunting, his apprentice Feng Meng, broke into his house and tried to steal the elixir of immortality. According to legend, Feng Meng was envious of Hou Yi’s skills in archery. Out of fear, Chang’e drank the elixir before Feng Meng took it for himself. Afterwards, Chang’e ascended toward the heavens, and decided to reside on the Moon, for it was the object closest to Hou Yi’s place on the Sun. Because the Moon became her new home, she would always be close to her husband. As a result, they would always be able to share the gift of immortality together.

    The purpose of the Moon Princess is to share a personal tale of bravery, sacrifice, cleverness, betrayal, love, and remembrance. Throughout the festival, I walked around with two other volunteers who acted as my translators. Because the Moon Princess is sent from above, I was not able to speak. As they led me around the Reconciliation Park, many younger kids asked to take pictures with me since the Moon Princess is seen as a celebratory figure in Chinese culture. Afterwards, I ended the event with a ceremonious walk. Kids gathered around the Fuzhou Ting stage with their handcrafted lanterns and waited for me to lead them towards the famous Chinese bridge. Once reaching the bridge, we took one final picture and I waved goodbye, signaling the end of the festival and return to the Moon until next year. Through this experience, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of an important symbol of Chinese culture, the tale of the Moon Princess. Not only was I able to wear a beautiful red and yellow Chinese costume, but I also participated in an immersive and social opportunity outside of the classroom to learn more about my cultural background.

  4. Note: I’m bummed I was not able to come to the Tacoma Moon Festival, but I hope it was a great event! I just wrote about a component of Chinese culture – moon cakes!
    It is a special time in the fall when the mid-autumn festival arrives. Excitement is in the air as family members, friends, business colleagues, and acquaintances greet each other and exchange the boxes of moon cakes that they each took the time and care to choose. Beautifully wrapped, the moon cakes are round with different fillings. Some of the most popular fillings include lotus seed, red bean, and salted egg yolk. Actually, salted egg yolk is the one that my family traditionally eats and loves! Upon further research, I understand why now because this is considered the Cantonese-style, and my family is from Guangdong Province. There are also Beijing, Suzhou, Chaoshan, Yunnan, and Hong Kong style moon cakes. Further, each box comes with four individually wrapped moon cakes. Usually when serving, one cuts each moon cake into quarters. This represents the four phases of the moon. What I find interesting is that four in Chinese superstition is a very bad luck number (si = death), but in this case, it is a “must” that the moon cake is cut into fours when being served (at least, in my family!).

    The mid-autumn festival and moon cakes are linked to the folklore tale of the Moon Goddess of Immortality, Chang’e. There are several different versions of this story, but this is the one my mother told me when I was young. Ten suns rose in the sky and scorched the earth, and the people suffered. An archer named Yi shot down nine suns so was given an elixir of immortality. One day his apprentice broke into his house when Yi was out in order to steal the elixir. Chang’e refused to give it to him and drank the elixir instead, which caused her to float up toward the heavens. She chose to reside on the moon to be as close as possible to her husband. After learning what happened, a heartbroken Yi offered fruit and cake to the moon, and his neighbors and community did the same.

    The mid-autumn festival and moon cakes exchange happens once per year when the moon is fullest. It is based off the lunar calendar, which is why the date is never the same every year. The event symbolizes family reunion and overall togetherness and wholeness. Moon cakes have greater significance than just being food or a gift; it is a spiritual feeling and expression of best wishes toward each other. Moon cakes can actually be quite expensive, typically because of the elaborate and luxurious moon cake packaging and gift boxes! This is important to note because one may find the same type of moon cake in a small side street store and in a nicer supermarket, but packaged and priced differently. However, the more attractive packaging of moon cakes in the supermarket gifted to others helps to gain face or maintain honor. Overall, this Chinese cultural tradition is dear to people in so many ways, and it signifies the end and beginning of a year.

  5. 羅青山
    2019 九月 二十一號
    中文的課 201
    Food at the Tacoma Moon Festival
    The Tacoma Chinese Reconciliation Park is located right next to the train tracks in downtown Tacoma. Laughing, music, and the noises of cooking could be heard through the commotion of the cars on the track. Entering the Moon Festival, protected within the park, felt like a change of pace from the hectic hustle and bustle of Tacoma and the streets that weave through it. A picturesque bridge, the smell of Cantonese food wafting through the air, and smiles; heard as laughs, set the scene.
    The beauty of the park does well to please the eyes, but informative friends and pamphlets allow for a deeper understanding of the pain and sadness that has existed here. The Reconciliation Park was built as reconciliation for the export of Chinese immigrants in the 1800s. Chinese immigrants, having experience building major railways, were hired to finish the Northern Railroad stop in Tacoma. After completing the job, then mayor, Jacob Weisbach and several other prominent town members lead the expulsion of the Chinese 1885. The uprooting of neighbors was largely supported by Tacoma residents. The Tacoma 27 were a group of 27 people that helped lead the expulsion happening. None of them were ever indicted. In 1993 Dr. David Murdoch supported the building of the park as reconciliation for the inhumane acts of the past.
    The simple building of a park does not make up for an action of horrendous exclusion upon a group of people. Entering the Moon Festival and eating food, dancing, sharing, and laughing with new and old friends allows us to connect though. This connection leads to the sharing of ideas and perhaps may be lead to sharing of resentment or sadness that still exists in the Chinese community of Tacoma today. Sharing and hearing these feelings, thoughts, and beliefs is one way to heal. Having a space to do that is important. The presence of community seemed obvious in the Reconciliation Park on Saturday.
    The community gathers around food. Pan-fried noodles, rices, lumpias, and steamed buns are scattered throughout the festival. This center-piece of food is reminiscent of the story that the moon festival is based off of. Chang’E, the wife of Huo Yi sacrifices herself by drinking an elixir to save Huo Yi from a villain named Peng Meng. Drinking the elixir forces Chang’E to float up to the moon. Food was given by Huo Yi to Chang’E after she moved up to the moon. This is why food is such a central part of the Moon Festival. In Tacoma food not only honors traditional tales, but also brings people together in a community to learn and to heal.
    Eating, sharing stories, and learning more about Chinese culture and Chinese American history is beneficial to the individual. In order to gain a grasp of what has taken place where one lives, they must experience more. Events that are organized to bring people together is a beautiful way to do this. Especially when the knowledge of the past is challenging to hear.

  6. Mooncakes are shaped to represent the full moon and are an essential part of the Moon Festival, where families come together to celebrate. The food tradition has been a custom since the Ming dynasty in (1368-1644) and is commonly used as gifts to others (Dzidzovic). They have even become political with mooncakes being used as bribery towards government workers (Ives). Currently, because of the Hong Kong protests, a bakery in Hong Kong that sells mooncakes to mainland retails has come under fire for supporting the protests (Zhuang). In recent years the industry brought in a profit of $1.42 billion (Ives). Most of these mooncakes are thrown away, in Hong Kong in 2016 it is estimated 1.6 million mooncakes were thrown away (Dzidzovic)! Mooncakes are a significant part of the fall festival and quite a delicious treat as well.
    In modern times mooncake flavors have evolved and geographically types of mooncakes vary. In Vietnam, mooncakes are usually found with meat in it, like beef, the Vietnamese say they are best eaten three days after being baked so the oil can seep in (Ives). In Beijing, one can find nutty mooncakes, while in Suzhou province mooncakes are extra-flaky (Ives). Traditionally, mooncakes are filled with red bean paste or lotus bean paste with egg yolks in the middle. In recent years mooncake bakeries have become more creative with fillings. One is chocolate mooncakes that are made of a chocolate crust and filled with a variety of fillings, such as “oats, berries, Oreo flavor, etc” (China Highlights). Another popular flavor is green tea mooncake, based on the popular drink in China, which is filled usually with green tea leaves and a variety of ingredients including lotus paste (China Highlights). A more creative mooncake is a frozen mooncake filled with ice cream with a chocolate crust (China Highlights). A more savory mooncake is seafood, which can be filled with seaweed or a variety of seafood. These delicious treats though are not the most healthy treat in the world, one mooncake has 800 calories, more than a big mac (Dzidzovic)!
    Mooncakes have become an integral part of the Moon Festival, but trying to keep the younger generation interested in this classic food, bakers have been changing flavors. Like many things in China, traditions are changing to reflect the ideals of the new generation of Chinese. The festival though is still celebrated in China, with families coming together and coming home for the holiday. Although the kinds of mooncakes have changed, it is still an important part of the festival.

    Work Cited
    Zhuang, Pinghui. “Controversial Hong Kong mooncakes ‘to be
    destroyed’ in mainland China”. Inkstone News.
    Dzidzovic, Arman and Zhou, Viola. “The Great Mooncake Debate: What
    You Need to Know”. Inkstone News, Sep 24. Sep 22, 2019.
    https://www.inkstonenews.com/food/all-y ou-need-know-
    The Top 10 Mooncakes in China — Delicious Chinese/Western Flavors”.
    China Highlights. Sep 22 2019. https://www.chinahighlights.co
    m/festivals/top-10-mooncake-fla vors.htm

  7. There were mooncakes at the Tacoma Moon Festival on Saturday 9/21. Like many Chinese festivals, the Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the Moon Festival) has its own special food. Moon cake is sort of like an in-between of cookie and bread, with different fillings and artistic designs on the outside. Generally, these food items are round. And it is said that the word “round” sounds similar to “reunion”. In this essay, I will talk about the history and various features of a mooncake.
    Around the reign of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, there was a special type of “cookie” that was considered the ancestor of the moon cake. In the Han Dynasty, these “cookies” were filled with different ingredients. Finally, the term “moon cake” was coined during the Tang Dynasty. However, it was only after the Ming Dynasty that eating moon cake became a popular event and ultimately became a culture. And it was around this time that the moon cakes were imprinted with designs, which made moon cakes more popular during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
    Traditionally, there are 4 types of moon cakes. They are Guangdong, Suzhou, Beijing, and Yunnan styles. The Beijing style is representative of the northern moon cakes. The biggest feature is the large use of sesame oil. The outer layer is crispy, but the inside is soft and not too sweet. The Guangzhou style uses thin crusts and a lot of fillings. And they even put Guangzhou style sausages or roasted porks, and salted eggs and sweetened fat meat. The Yunna style moon cake is mild in the sense that there are Yunnan style sausages as fillings, and the crust is soft and the fillings are not too salty nor too sweet. The fillings inside are usually kernels, lotus paste, sweet bean paste, jujube paste, and egg yolk. The Suzhou style is sweeter than the other styles, and it has a very soft crust. Nowadays, more and more styles are being created based on place of origin, fillings, shape, crust, flavors etc. The Bamboo Charcoal moon cake is a new style of moon cake that has sprung up in recent years. They are generally black because they use edible bamboo charcoal during the cooking process. This style of moon cake has low amounts of sugar, is low in calories, and not greasy.
    Personally, I was intrigued by the vast variety of moon cakes and styles of moon cakes. Korea also has special food items for different festivals, but the variety does not extend as far as moon cakes do in Chinese culture. Learning about them, and more importantly, eating them, was interesting.

  8. The Tacoma Moon Festival flourished with tons of Chinese culture spread throughout the Chinese Reconciliation Park. Walking around during the festival, I noticed face paints, dragons, lanterns, dancers, among other works of art. However, I came upon the less noticed piece of Chinese culture. One that is constant and permanently standing amidst the pedestrians’ flow of traffic. One that is protected by threatening lions, staring as you approach. A pavilion. Simple in nature, but constructed with great care and significance. Instantly, I was taken back to the hundreds of steps I climbed to a Budhist temple in Yunnan Province, China, last year. We stopped and rested in one of these pavilions. However, when I came across one in the park, I wondered, ‘How can these exist in two very different places?’

    Well, it turns out these pavilions occur throughout a large variety of geographic features and have a variety of different purposes. For instance, in Ancient China, there were pavilions used for governmental purposes like hosting guests or parades, and to boast the city’s power. Also, during the Song dynasty, China’s economy grew to the point where more people could enjoy leisure time, so recreational pavilions were built. People could use them for festivals, picnics, or even rituals.

    However, the pavilions that I ran into were most likely built for the purpose of rest, design, and observation. Firstly, the pavilion on the temple was at an extreme elevation on the way to the temple. Now, at first glance, this pavilion offers a place of rest for religious people making their way up the steep terrain. But, this pavilion is multi purposed. It also likely functioned as a tactical point of observation. One can onlook the entire landscape from such a high point, so if something was amiss in the town or city, it could be observed from this pavilion.

    The last and most interesting pavilion to me, is the one most likely situated in a park. During the Moon Festival, many of the tents and stands hid the crafted beauty of the Chinese Reconciliation Park. But, like other Chinese parks, it was created with intense thought and artisanship. Through the winding pathways, beautiful decor, surrounded by nature, meticulously placed, sits a small pavilion. It’s beauty and stature complete the feng shui of the entire park. A centerpiece and last finale for an onlooker to sit in the shade, both hidden and enclosed by the sun or rain, to enjoy the scene as a whole.

    As you sit, you know you are protected by the male and female stone lions. Likely, the male holding a ball, representing power; and the female holding a cub, representing prosperity. A final touch completing the artisanship and sacrality of the entire site.

    Works Cited
    Allie. Exploring Chinese Culture, 12 Apr. 2016, https://rampages.us/garstai/2016/04/12/chinese-arts-and-crafts-stone-lion/.

    Chinese Architectures – Pavilions, Terrace, Storeyed Building, Waterside Pavilion, https://www.chinaodysseytours.com/chinese-things/architecture-pavilions.html.

    Mao Huasong. Study on the Chinese Historical City Pavilion and Its Cultural Core Connotation. UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress, 2017.

  9. 莫娟怡
    Tacoma Moon Festival Reflection
    (540 words)
    The Tacoma Moon Festival is a community wide event in the city of Tacoma, Washington, in which people from all over the county come and celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival. At this exciting ceremony, people eat, make arts and crafts, watch performances, listen to music, and purchase mooncakes. This kind of ceremony really brings the community of Tacoma together, and educates the surrounding people on the history behind the Chinese in Tacoma and the rest of the city a long time ago. Many families and individuals come out to celebrate together, and leave with a new interpretation of Chinese culture. This year I attended the festival, and on my way in and out, I noticed many people carrying lanterns and strings of them hanging near the entrance of the event and all around the Chinese Reconciliation Park. This made me wonder, what is the significance of lanterns during the Mid-Autumn Festival?
    Lanterns originated from the Han Dynasty, and were mainly used as lamps in ancient China. These lamps were mostly made out of red silk and paper, as well as bamboo, wood, or metal to hold them up. The paper or silk usually had designs on the outside, such as Chinese characters or paintings. During the Tang Dynasty, people lit lanterns to celebrate a peaceful life, as well as the prosperous and strong country they lived in. From here on out, lighting lanterns and hanging them became a very popular tradition. The most popular time for common people to hang up lanterns is from the eve of the Spring Festival until the Lantern Festival. Before this festival, many lanterns are sold among the streets and many light up the sky during the night. Lanterns signify good luck and prosperity for many. Lanterns began being used during the Mid-Autumn Festival during the Song Dynasty with the tradition of floating them in a river. There are no shows for these lanterns, they are just shared between family and close friends. Lanterns are hung up during the Moon Festival in order to create a happy, positive environment that invokes plenty of wishes for good luck and festivity. These lanterns also signify the need for a reunion with family members, as does the entirety of the moon festival. The whole point of the festival is to bring people together once again. In some areas of China, a mother will send a Moon Festival lantern to her daughter who has been recently married in hope for the daughter to have good luck in settling down for a family. It sets the bar for the young woman to have a “bright” future.
    I think it is very interesting that lanterns mean so much to so many people in Chinese culture, especially around a special time like the Chinese Moon Festival. As a symbol of good luck and prosperity, these lanterns are a reliable source of a happy and festive environment during many traditional celebrations. Due to the tradition of hanging these lanterns, or floating them in a river, it is very important that this process is carried out through more generations and that the tradition is popular and carried on.

  10. While volunteering for the Tacoma Moon Festival, I noticed a significant amount of lanterns being used for decorations. There were many that were yellow or red in color, and a few were more decorative and detailed than the rest. There was a particular one that I was interested in– it was hexagonal in structure and had several Chinese characters hanging from the lantern. It was also adorned with drawings of happy children. Furthermore, in one of the booths they were selling paper lanterns in packaging where you could construct one on your own. The differences between these lanterns intrigued me. I was curious and fascinated by the characteristics and significance of lanterns in Chinese culture and decided to do some research on this topic.
    Lanterns originated during the Eastern Han Dynasty and were mainly made up of materials such as silk and paper. Historically, they were utilized mainly by monks on the twelfth day of the first lunar month in order to honor and worship the Buddha. This practice was later reinforced through Emperor Liu Zhuang’s term, as he ordered citizens and palace inhabitants to additionally adopt this practice. This practice was later standardized and transformed into a magnificent festival amongst citizens. During the Tang Dynasty, the lantern’s purpose shifted into celebrating people’s lives and their country. Following this, the custom of lighting lanterns became highly popularized. Regarding different types of lanterns, there were two main categories: palace lanterns and gauze lanterns. Palace lanterns consisted mainly of a wooden framework and were generally geometric in shape. They were often decorated with silk and glass that depicted graceful and courtly patterns. Gauze lanterns were typically comprised of a bamboo frame (today, constructed with wire frames instead) and covered using gauze. Red gauze is most widely used on gauze lanterns, as red lanterns signify prosperity and flourishing life. Red lanterns are common in many celebrations of Chinese culture, such as during the Lantern Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Chinese New Year.
    The Lantern Festival is held on the fifteenth day of the first Chinese lunar month and is considered one of the best times to view Chinese lanterns. The Lantern Festival marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations and generally involves the release of flying and floating lanterns. During Chinese New Year, lanterns are also hung because it is believed that they scare away the Nian monster (Chinese mythology).
    In conclusion, lanterns hold an important meaning in Chinese culture. Although used primarily for religious purposes (honoring the Buddha), today they serve mainly as decorations and a way to celebrate festivals. They can vary in size and color, however they all serve a similar overall purpose.

  11. On Saturday, September 21, I volunteered and attended the Tacoma Chinese Moon Festival at the Chinese Reconciliation Park. Although I have learned about the moon festival in the past, it was an incredible experience to see, hear, and interact with the many cultural elements which made up this special day. One of the key elements of the moon festival decoration is lanterns. At the Tacoma moon festival long strings of red lanterns welcomed visitors into the park, as well as countless others hung up over booths, stages and pavilions. Although the lanterns are an integral part of the moon festival itself, lanterns are a very important object throughout Chinese culture.

    The history of lanterns is debated but scholars estimate that the origins of lanterns fall somewhere from 25-220 in the Han Dynasty. At this time lanterns were solely used for practical purpose of lighting. The body of the lanterns were made out of either silk or paper to provide wind cover for the candles. As time progressed lanterns became an object for religious Buddhist worship. Monks as well as other devote citizens would craft and light lanterns to honor the Buddha every month. Apart from religious worship, lanterns were also used to symbolize family status by being displayed at the entrance to a home. Traditional designs of the natural world and symbols of fertility were used to represent wealth and abundance. Transitioning to the more modern cultural significance, lanterns are now a very common symbol which is shared by everyone. Generally, lanterns represent reunion and togetherness with one’s family. There are three main types of lanterns which exist today: hanging lanterns, flying lanterns, and floating lanterns. Hanging lanterns abundantly adorn houses and buildings, where flying and floating lanterns are used more during specific festivals such as 仲秋节,元宵節,and 端午节. Lanterns are often lit during the moon festival because of its affinity to spend time with one’s family and go back home. Even more significant than the moon festival is the Lantern festival which represents the peak of Chinese New Year. During this festival, millions of lanterns are lit and flown to represent reunion and a fresh start to the new year. Similarly to the function of lanterns, the symbols which embellish the lanterns have drastically changed over time. In contrast to the natural figures, lanterns now have ranging decorations with stylized characters, cartoon drawings, etc. Specialized lanterns, like those for the lantern festival, display riddles or puzzles which viewers guess in return for small prizes.

    In conclusion, lanterns have been an important Chinese cultural element for thousands of years. It is rewarding now to be able to look back at all the beautiful lanterns I saw at the festival and have a better understanding of the history behind them. Although the lanterns themselves have stayed relatively similar in construction, it is hard to believe the vast changes in function, symbolism, abundance, and type which have occurred in the last two thousand years.

  12. One of the cultural elements that I found most interesting while at the Moon Festival was the calligraphy stand, where two professors wrote on paper fans people’s zodiac signs, birth years, and Chinese names. Seeing them, reminded me of my Survey of Asian Art class, and how we are learning about the cultural significance of script within Chinese artwork. Dating back since the Han Dynasty, calligraphy has had a long and respected presence within Chinese culture.
    Ever since the Shang dynasty, when the first written language, that would eventually evolve into classical Chinese, came about, script has had a central place within Chinese society. Some of the earliest forms of writing occurred as “divination scripts” which were carved on to oracle bones that recorded forecasts of the future (Chin-ching).
    In addition, characters during the Shang dynasty made active appears within bronze vessels, which were one of the most important forms of artwork at the time. This was to foreshadow the gradual appearance that writing would have on bronze pieces. For example, in the Zhou dynasty, bronze vessels gradually contained larger engravings of characters that recorded important historical events, such as the Li Gui which narrates the Zhou’s conquest over the Shang Dynasty. This idea of recording, and integrating information, into a pieces of artwork, reminded me of the way that the professors were integrating my personal information onto a fan, which in the process added beauty and furthered its artistic quality.
    Although many of the inscriptions from the Neolithic, Shang, and Zhou dynasties still lacked the artistic refinement that would lead to Chinese calligraphy, they provided a framework that not only constituted two of the six main styles within Chinese scripts (Oracle-bone and Seal) they would eventually lead to others that were more consciously stylized such as, Clerical, Cursive, Semi-cursive, and Standard script (Asian Art Museum). Around late Han dynasty, Chinese script began to gain gradual traction and branch into numerous styles that were formed by various calligraphers and artists at the time (Ching-ching). In fact, calligraphy was highly regarded, described by Confucius to be one of the “‘six arts’” (Ching-Ching).
    In my class, we discussed that the element of crafting and portraying words was an artform that allowed one to express their uniqueness and presence within the piece. This presence of the artist becomes more evident as calligraphy became more abstract and expressive. One can see this gradual stylization through famous calligraphers, such as Wang Duo from the Qing Dynasty (Ching-Ching).Yet, even within this tendency towards abstraction, there persists a pattern and set of rules that dictates the artwork, such as stroke order and layout (Asian Art Museum).
    However, what is most fascinating about Chinese calligraphy is the relationship it has between form and function. Not only does calligraphy provide a semantic meaning, each character’s individual rendering provides an opportunity for further enjoyment. Calligraphy allows beholders to stop and witness the inherent beauty within the Chinese script, a script that has evolved and persisted over thousands of years.

    Works Cited

    Asian Art Museum. “Word With Art As Words: An Introduction to Chinese
    Calligraphy.” PDF file.

    Ching-Ching Sze. “A Brief Talk on Chinese Tradition Calligraphy and Enlightenments About Cultivation Through Calligraphy.” 2011. PDF file.

  13. The Moon Festival is an annual festival held in Tacoma’s Chinese Reconciliation Park, a small but humble Chinese-themed park sandwiched to the north by Commencement Bay and to the south by the BNSF southbound railroad lines. The festival is both a celebration of the mid-autumn festival (although it may not fall on the exact day) and a showcase of Tacoma’s history. A central theme to the festival is that of the Moon Princess, played each year by a student from the University. The Moon Princess, also known as Chang’e, is a mythical character from Chinese folklore and central to the celebrations of the Moon Festival.
    The story of Chang’e begins with her husband, Houyi. One day, instead of one sun, ten suns rose above the Earth. The ten suns were far too hot, and began to scorch the earth, causing disaster. Houyi saw the suffering of the Earth and decided to act. Being an excellent archer, he was able to shoot down nine of the ten suns, leaving just one to keep the Earth warm and lit. An immortal found this extremely impressive, and as such bestowed a gift of immortality potion to Houyi and his wife. However, Houyi did not want to become immortal without Chang’e, so he left the elixir with her. One day, when Houyi left home to go hunting, his apprentice attempted to steal the elixir to become immortal. However, Chang’e discovered the apprentice attempting to steal the elixir, and, to prevent him from getting away with it, drank the entire bottle herself. However, this was too much for one person, and she began to float away, into the sky, eventually landing on the moon to become the Moon Princess. On the moon, Chang’e was very lonely. However, there was one companion, the jade rabbit, who lived on the moon with her to keep her company. The Moon Princess was very sad on the moon, knowing her husband was stranded, mortal, back on the Earth. Houyi, still in love with his wife, presented many of the fruits and cakes that his wife loved so much on his yard. This became the origin of the festivities, as other compassionate people began to also produce cakes and fruits to display on the anniversary of Chang’e’s flight to the moon.
    The mooncakes, lanterns, and paper cutting festivities of the festival all reference the Moon Princess in some way. The mooncakes are the cakes that Chang’e loved, the paper cutting often includes the jade rabbit that lived on the moon with her, and the lanterns are supposed to help guide the Moon Princess, or perhaps help her see her home and the many snacks left for her by her loving husband and those who sympathize with him. The festival, in modern days, has also come to symbolize family and returning home to reunite with loved ones and enjoy good food.

  14. 李思靖

    Exploring Lanterns at the Tacoma Moon Festival
    Upon exploring this past weekend’s Moon Festival, it is certainly hard to miss the dozens of lanterns placed with prevalence throughout Tacoma’s Chinese Reconciliation Park. One may chalk these up to being mere decorations, a source of light, a means of protecting a flame. Indeed, they are a stunning sight, however their significance goes beyond that.
    It is difficult to specify when exactly lanterns came about, especially given China’s extensive legacy, although historians believe they first manifested during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD). Lanterns were initially invented when commonfolk grew tired of the wind constantly extinguishing the flames of their light sources. As a result, lanterns from there on stood as a barrier that prevented the elements from leaving China’s people in darkness.
    Further along during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), lanterns became not only practical but ornamental. They soon gained a position as a symbol of status. Those who adorned their homes with lanterns were known as the wealthy. They also came to represent the ascension of Buddha, and as such, were used in his worship. Notably, one of China’s former emperors was a devout buddhist. He ordered that everyone light lanterns in recognition of Buddha, which later became known as the Lantern Festival. Since then, lanterns have been used in celebrations as a symbol of festivity. The Chinese most prominently feature the decorations in celebrations such as Lunar New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the Lantern Festival.
    These days, lanterns are displayed in three primary forms throughout China: hanging, floating, and flying. The most common variation, hanging lanterns, can be found in both homes and public spaces, especially around the holidays. Next are flying lanterns, which are typically associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival. At night, groups of people will gather to release their lanterns into the sky, which are carried by the rising hot air generated by the flame within. These ones are a special sight to behold, if you ever get the chance to investigate. Lastly, there are floating lanterns, which are specific to the Dragon Boat Festival. In addition to dragon boat racing, this celebration features lanterns, typically of a lotus theme, that are lit and set onto the water to create a stunning visual effect at night.
    There is a certain craft that goes into making these lanterns. Often made out of rice paper or silk, lanterns may be decorated with anything from calligraphy to embroidery. The words that decorate these lanterns often emulate sentiments of luck, wealth, and happiness. Historically, organic materials like bamboo or rattan were used as the frame of the lanterns. However, nowadays many are structured by metal wire or plastic. A great majority of lanterns are red and gold, representing wealth, fame and prosperity, however there are some other, rarer varieties. Yellow is indicative of royalty, whereas black symbolizes equality and righteousness and green demonstrates the harmony and balance of nature.
    Be it a symbol of religion, wealth, festivity, or a mere light source, lanterns have always posed themselves as a deeply meaningful emblem throughout China. Just like we saw at the Tacoma Moon Festival, where paper lanterns embellished the fronts of many stalls.

  15. Chinese lanterns have been apart of my life for as long as I can remember. I remember my school, my grandparents house, and the local Chinese restaurants that I lived nearby always had them up during any festival, for Chinese New Year, or all year long to bring good luck. Despite how prominent they were in my growing up, I don’t actually know all that much about the history and meaning behind them.
    Traditional Chinese lanterns are said to have been first made in 25-220 BC in the Eastern Han Dynasty. They weren’t originally used a celebration decorations but were used as light sources because the decorative silk or the paper covering protected the candle from the wind. Historically, the frames were made of bamboo, wood, or wire. The silk or paper was also typically decorated with calligraphy in a golden paint, had paintings drawn on them or some even had embroidered designs on them. Most lanterns are typically made with red paper/silk and have golden decorations and/or tassels. Some lanterns are also made by children’s drawings. More modern uses for the lanterns are in Buddhist worship as well as Chinese national pride and decorations. There are typically three different types of lanterns. First is a hanging lantern which are the most common, and the most likely to be used as decoration in homes and public places. Hanging lanterns are also used during Chinese New Year to bring good luck as well as protection from the Nian. Second is a flying lantern that used the flame and to propel it up. These are typically seen during the Mid-Autumn Festival and are watched as a big spectacle with lots of people participating. The last lantern would be the floating lanterns that you are likely to see during an event such as the Dragon Boat Festivals. The floating lanterns can come in many different designs such as lotus flowers. These are also typically released in large groups and watched as the float down the river or further into the lakes.
    I love the lanterns. I would love to learn how to make all different kinds of lanterns and be able to attend all festivals to see the floating and flying lanterns. I would also love to be able to send my own designs to my home to decorate my house and decorate my dorm here on campus as well as my residential hall to bring more joy and good luck to those areas. I chose this topic because it was something that I really wasn’t informed about as a child and wished I learned more about my culture’s history and tradition meanings. Being on this campus has encouraged me to explore more of my own cultural history and identity in being Chinese American and why I did certain traditions back home that I took for granted. I hope to learn more about the history of different traditions I participated in back home to feel more connected to my heritage and be able to pass down this knowledge.

  16. Although I was unable to attend this years Tacoma Moon Festival, I remember the festival well. This is otherwise known as the mid-autumn festival, it is the time in which family members are to return home and reunite with their loved ones. One of the delicious delicacies that is given as a gift during the mid-autumn festival is Moon Cakes. Moon cakes are beautifully wrapped and placed in a bag, each bakery creates their own recipe and design for mooncakes. Moon cakes come in all different flavors, this includes red bean, egg yolk, and many more.
    There are many legends about the mid autumn festival, these stories passed down each generation. One of my favorites is the folklore of Chang E who flew to the moon, each story has many alternatives depending on the family that passes down the story. This one I know of is that Hou Yi an archer shot down nine suns in the sky as they were drying up the earth and killing all life on earth. Since Hou Yi saved the lives of many, he was gifted a powerful elixir which would grant him immortality. However, Hou Yi had no desire to become an immortal, thus when he returned home he gave it to his wife to hold onto (Chang E). On a specific day ( the mid autumn festival day), Peng Meng a friend of Hou Yi attempted to force Chang E to give him the elixir. Little did he know, Chang E was not one to give willingly this powerful elixir to grant immortality just to anyone, thus she swallowed it and immediately flew to the moon. Now since Change E is on the moon, she waits every year during the mid autumn festival to look down and see Hou Yi, and Hou Yi sets up a beautiful banquet in honor of his wife hoping to reunite with her. The overall point of the story is to emphasize the importance of being with our loved ones, and to cherish the time we have with our loved ones and family members. Hou Yi waits for Chang E every year, as not only does he miss her but he longs for her to return home.
    The Tacoma Moon Festival is always a staple as it not only brings the community together, but brings the meaning behind the mid autumn festival to light. I wish I could have attended this year, as I went last year and was a tour guide as well as helped set up not only the tents but for the placement of vendors. This year I heard it was a great success, as many showed up, moon cakes were given, and the performances brought my chinese class together and demonstrated the importance of the mid autumn festival. The food is not only amazing during this festival, but the people themselves are smiling, happy, and full of joy. That is the best type of festival, one in which people are truly happy and at peace.

  17. 張必寧
    Chinese 201

    Paper Pig Hat

    This year I made a paper pig hat at one of the stands at the festival. This was my favorite activity from last year and I was so happy that I was able to do it again this year. I enjoy talking to the people who ran the paper hat stand because they are always laughing and having a good time. Laughing and having a good time is the best part about going to the Chinese Moon Festival. The festival takes place near the change of the season from summer into fall and this is the year of the pig.
    The pig is the twelfth animal in the zodiac. In Chinese astrology, each year belongs to a Chinese zodiac animal according to the 12-year cycle. The signs in order are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. The Chinese zodiac is known as “Sheng Xiao” and is calculated according to the Chinese lunar calendar.
    The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar and is formed on the movement of the moon. The calendar has a history that goes as far back as the Xia and Shang Chinese Dynasties. The calendar was used as a way to help govern agricultural schedules in ancient China. Each solar term would have a certain meaning that would help determine the kind of farming that should be taking place. However, now the most significant days of the twenty-four periods are the Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice, and the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes.
    The Chinese Moon Festival traditionally falls Autumn Equinox in the Chinese lunisolar calendar because in the past this festival was celebrated during the harvest time. Ancient Chinese civilizations, like the Xia and Shang Dynasties, would thank the moon for the harvest and celebrate the hard work that went into farming. Nowadays this festival is celebrated as a time for families to come together, but feasting is still a large part of the tradition.
    So, the Chinese calendar is split into Lunar cycles, but the years themselves are split into 12-year cycles. As I said earlier, this was the year of the pig and is why I crafted a pig hat at the stand. Those who are born in the year of the pig have been born in the recent years of 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031. (Everyone knows that those who are born in the year of the Ox are the most interesting.) According to my research, those who are born with the zodiac of the pig are diligent, compassionate, and realistic.
    The reasons for these personality traits may be because of the myth about the Chinese zodiac and the race the animals of the zodiac had. The myth goes that the Jade Emperor announced that the first animals to arrive at the palace would be selected as the zodiac signs. The pig wanted to be one of the zodiac animals, but it knew that it was very slow. So the pig began to walk to the palace at midnight. The pig met many obstacles along the way and by the time it made it to the palace the competition was over. All the animals saw how much effort the pig put into becoming a zodiac animal and pleaded with the pig to the emperor that he let the pig in. The emperor was moved by all the animals and the pig so he let the pig inside and the pig became the last of the zodiac.
    The time of year of the Moon Festival is where a lot of the festival’s meaning comes from. This year I will remember it is the year of the pig while I try to be more diligent, compassionate, and realistic. I look forward to making a rat paper hat at next year’s festival!

  18. The twin stone lions guard the entrance to Portland’s Chinatown, and to me are the most visible symbol of the presence of the Chinese community in the city. They are imposing and beautiful, gazing down at passerby from their pedestals beside the gate. It is no coincidence that a pair of similar lions guard the entrance to Fuzhou Ting in the Chinese Reconciliation Park and, like in Portland, they struck me as some of the most recognizable Chinese architectural creations.

    As Buddhism spread east into China in the 200s BC, it brought with it a depiction of the lion as the protector of Dharma, the order of the universe. Eventually during the Han dynasty, lions were incorporated into the Imperial symbols, being thought of as protector spirits and guardians. Lions were associated by the Han with earlier venerated creatures of the ancient Chinese, tying the lions into the pseudo-mythical history of ancient China. The styles of the stone lions, or 石獅; Shíshī, would change in early Chinese history before being standardized by the last two Imperial dynasties, the Ming and the Qing, into the form we see today. Traditionally, lions were reserved for the wealthy elites, not only because of the cost of building them but also the symbolic connection with the imperial dynasty, often being displayed by families that were notably wealthy or powerful. However, in modern times the availability of cheaper building materials for mass production have eliminated this restriction.

    There are always two lions, one female and one male, that represent the forces of yin and yang respectively. In his paw, the male holds an “embroidered ball,” or 绣球; xiù qiú, which is usually carved with a geometric pattern. In Imperial contexts this represents China’s supremacy. In a broader context, the male is the protector of the physical building itself. The female is depicted restraining a playful cub, symbolizing life and protection, and protects the people who work or reside within the building. Together, the duo keeps the balance between yin and yang and protects the structure and people therein from threats both mythical and physical. The style of the Chinese lions varies in the details, but keeps these core attributes and stresses the lions’ power and supremacy through their eyes, claws, and teeth. Chinese artists put a greater emphasis on the symbolism and style over presenting a realistic looking lion.

    In conclusion, the stone lions have a rich history of being included in Chinese architecture and encompass many traditional Chinese values and beliefs. Years ago they represented the might of Imperial China, and today they still communicate the resilience of Chinese traditions and culture.

  19. Conner Millison
    Chinese 201
    Chinese Moon Cakes
    While moon cakes seem like simply a thick and tender pastry containing a sweet and viscous filling, there is a lot more history and unique variation that is related to Chinese moon cakes than people know. The tradition of eating moon cakes during the moon festival dates to the Yuan Dynasty from 1279 – 1368. This dynasty was one where China was ruled by the Mongols and something Chinese people would often do is write messages placed in moon cakes that carried out directions or tasks to rebel against the Mongols. Since the Yuan Dynasty though, the tradition of moon cakes has remained, and techniques surrounding the making of these cakes has diversified and become quite incredibly unique.
    The average moon cake is about 4 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick and are usually accompanied by a sweet, thick filling. Originally when the moon cake was created, it was used to provide an offering to the moon god. The first evidence of the creation of moon cakes comes from the Shang period from 1600 – 1046 B.C. when a similarly structured cake called the “teacher’s cake” was created. As cultures and traditions changed over time, the moon cake became something that was more for enjoyment and for special occasions at festivals. Over thousands of years the moon cake has changed and evolved into something that has a lot of variety depending on where you look. Moon cakes have regionalized and developed characteristics like shell, crust, and filling that will change depending on the part of china where you are. For example, Beijing-style moon cakes feature a crispy brown shell that other moon cakes lack, while if you get a Suzhou-style moon cake, you will find that the cake has multiple layers of thin crust unique to moon cakes in this area. Historically the method for making moon cakes has remained fairly similar but with the emergence of advanced technologies, new types of moon cakes have become possible to make. Some new forms include, ice-shelled moon cakes that must be kept frozen, vegetable or fruit moon cakes, fish filled seafood moon cakes, and animal-shaped moon cakes. Also as moon cakes have become more of a delicacy over the years, the packaging for these cakes has become much more grand and luxurious too.
    Moon cakes started off as a pasty meant to be made for spiritual reasons and not made purely for enjoyment but over time the culture surrounding, as well as the cakes themselves have changed dramatically. Now not only being used in festivals, but also just as a food to enjoy, moon cakes have become a food that people take great pride in making. The making of moon cakes has almost become an art in most places with different design choices such as imprint on top, style of crust, filling inside, and packaging, it has become possible for people to make very fancy and unique moon cakes that represent where the creator is from and the traditions they represent.

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