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Beijing: A Museum to Past, A Host to Present and A Gateway to Future

10 August 2008
 

The Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony is an epic show that introduces the Chinese civilisation to the world. It is a great story told by great contemporary Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, and the following are some images of the show:

 

历史的足迹
Footprints of history

More than a thousand years ago during the highly intellectually-oriented Song Dynasty (960-1276), Chinese invented fireworks to celebrate happy occasions. On 8 August 2008, the feast of light was displayed in the most spectacular way ever seen before, started by illustrating 29 giant footprints in the night sky representing each of the modern Olympics. The shining footprints marched with the sound of thunder along the central axis from the Front Gate via the Forbidden City to arrive at the Olympic Stadium, the Bird's Nest.

 

友朋自远方来,不亦乐乎?
Welcome friends from afar

For thousands of years, Chinese beat drums to echo the pulse of the cosmos as a way to achieve a harmonious relationship between people and the world around. At 8pm of 8 August 2008, drums were once again pounded by 2008 men when a tuneful and soulful voice chanted aloud verses to welcome the visitors from afar and to express an ancient Chinese wish for the world to share the same dream: all humanity is one family.

 

孔子弟子三千
Confucian's three thousand disciples

The Chinese writing is the voice and the soul of the Chinese civilisation which in the beginning weighted heavily as the books were produced by bounding the written bamboo slips together with strips.

 

孔夫子搬家净是书
When an ancient Chinese scholar traveled with his books, imagine ...

During the heavy weighted bamboo book period, the cultural heavyweights, from Confucian, Lao Tzu to Sun Tzu and numerous other towering figures, wrote extensively on bamboos, which helped to pass down Chinese cultural heritage from one generation to another until this very day.

 

水墨画
Ink painting

When paper invented, also by the intensely scholarly people of Song Dynasty, Chinese culture, in particular the literature and arts, flourished.

 

写意画
Abstracted painting

While the Western painting tradition largely focuses on portraying the visual splendours of the material world that is tangible and external, Chinese-style arts of painting and calligraphy are executed in a more subtle and abstracted manner, striving to articulate intangible concepts and internal feelings.

 

山水画
Landscape painting

This is a Chinese landscape painting recreated in a grand scale on the floor of the Beijing Olympic Stadium.

 

人物画
Portrait painting

This is a Chinese portrait painting recreated in a grand scale on the floor of the Beijing Olympic Stadium

 
     

活字印刷
Typographic printing

Again, it is during the brilliant Song Dynasty, typographic printing was invented by a Chinese named Bi Sheng. The invention stands as another milestone in the development of the Chinese civilisation - since then, books became easily accessible for ordinary Chinese people.

 

和为贵
Harmony - the essence of Chinese culture

A human matrix representing a typographic printing machine displays a Chinese character "和", meaning harmony, which is the high aspiration and core concept of Chinese civilisation.

 

庙堂之上
A traditional Chinese court

The quintessence of Chinese civilisation is to achieve harmony between people, between individuals and states, and between humanity and environment.

 

礼乐之邦
A typical state rites

Chinese civilisation believes that a fair and effective social system should strike a sound balance between rights and obligations of individuals and states.

 

君君臣臣父父子子
Do your best on your position

Humanitarian study has always been the central focus of Chinese civilisation.

 

将相本无种,男儿当自强
Do your best to improve your position

A highly sophisticated traditional Chinese system worked hard to maintain a relative stable social order while providing an equal opportunity for every man to raise up in social position through a peaceful and knowledge-based assessment mechanism: the scholar examination.

 

宫廷音乐
Court music

It is an cultural exercise aiming at soothing and purifying the spirits of the players and audience.

 

民间戏曲
Local operas

There are countless opera forms based on different local dialects, providing a light entertainment experience to people from all walks of life. Of all Chinese operas, Kunqu (昆曲, Suzhou Melody) is reputed as the most classic and stylish.

 

郑和七下西洋
Admiral Zheng tours the world

Apart form silk road across the deserts, there was also a silk path across the oceans. The highly developed shipping technology during the Song era allowed the Ming Dynasty to build the biggest fleets ever existed in human history to reach as far as the land in Africa, and possibly in America. Yet not one inch of foreign soil was taken as China's colony.

 

海上丝绸之路
A silk road on water

Ever since the Song Dynasty, Confucius teachings on universal humanity has penetrated deed into the collective Chinese psyche, to the point that the urge to conquer and occupy foreign land is no longer in Chinese cultural DNA. It is the sign of a mature civilisation that fully understands how the collective karma works.

 

天圆地方
A square earth and round heavens

A Taichi matrix with a scroll in the middle expresses the conventional Chinese view on the cosmic order: a square earth under circular heaven.

 

天人合一
A harmonious integration between man and cosmos

Unlike competitive sports, a typical Chinese kung fu does not aim at conquering others, but strives to overcome oneself through achieving balance within and attaining harmony externally.

 

高瞻远瞩
Explore the heavens

Chinese are one of the first peoples on earth to probe the world beyond Earth, and today the exploration is continuing ...

 

脚踏实地
Stand firmly on earth

The giant holding the Chinese national flag is basketball star Yao Ming, and the little guy walking side by side with him is 9-year old Lin Hao who saved the lives of his mates in the deadly Sichuan earthquake

 

和平卫士
The guardians of peace

It is an army who is capable of protecting its people...

 

正义之师
Army of justice

... and honouring the nation.

 

夸父追日
Dare to dream and chase the dream

China's three-time gold medallist for gym Li Ning walks high up on the stadium wall to light the fire for Beijing Olympics.

 

凤凰涅磐
Put on wings

Bird's Nest shall prove to be a new cultural cradle nurturing a generation who is eager to reach out to the outside world.

Pre: I'll Be Watching the Opening Show
Next: The Incarnation of a City

 
 
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A History Lesson

Father: Now you tell me, why you failed your history subject again!

Son: 'cause the teacher kept asking me the things that happened long before I was born. How was I suppose to know?

Baby: Oops China, I didn't realise you're 5,000-year old. I thought the world didn't exist before I was born last year.

 

 

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