information for global expats

Arts and Culture for Expats in China

Submitted: August 2013

China’s culture and arts have been bred from an ancient civilization and have evolved uniquely over time. As a result, arts and culture in China have many diverse and mysterious elements. Art forms made available by the Chinese culture includes: calligraphy and painting, sculpture and carving, architecture, opera and theatre, music and dance, and physical artwork. If you are an art enthusiast, you are very likely to enjoy your assignment in China.

If you are interested in visual art, you will be pleased to know that China is the home of over 3,500 museums and art galleries, in which are housed more than 20 million items and 8,000 exhibitions are hosted each year. Most museums are in China’s major cities; some, such as the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi’an, are international tourist attractions. For an overview of the museums and galleries in China, the following guide includes some of the more popular options. - https://www.chinamuseums.com/

China also hosts numerous traditional annual festivals which reflect the country’s rich culture and long history. The most common are the Chinese Spring Festival, Moon Festival and Dragon Boat Festival. Note that these festivals managed to survive Chariman Mao’s atttempts to destroy them in the ‘Cultural Revolution’ of the 1960s.

Chinese Spring Festival – this festival is often regarded as the most important in China, which features family members coming together as they would for Christmas in the West. This occurs on the first day of the new lunar month and features many activities in the city leading up to midnight.

Moon Festival – this annual festival is celebrated throughout the country. it often contains both a day and night component; during the day, there are various dances such as the dragon lantern dance, and at night there is a display of lanterns of various sizes and shapes and the ‘guessing lantern riddle game’.

Dragon Boat Festival – this day is observed everywhere in China with numerous legends explaining its origins. In many places along rivers and the coast, the day features many races in dragon-themed boats.

You should note that there are many other festivals with Qingming Festival, Double Seventh Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival and Double Ninth Festival being examples. Additionally, although these festivals tend to have long history in China and cultural ties, they are becoming increasingly fused together with Western festivals. Many Chinese citizens are starting to recognise western celebrations and festivals such as Christmas, Father’s and Mother’s Day.

If you are interested in the performing arts, you will pleased to know that this is an important part of China’s culture and history, and has helped to shape its society. Many daily options are available such as going to see:

  • Opera – this features a collection of action, singing, dialogues and mime, acrobatic fighting and dance to represent a story or different characters and their emotions. Of all, Peking Opera is commonly regarded as one of the most significant.
  • Folk dance shows – these come in two main types: Dragon Dance and Lion Dance, which both have deep ties with culture and history.
  • Puppet shows – this is featured by several Chinese puppet theatres, at which puppets are used to stage dramas, comedies and added musical entertainment. Puppets theatres vary based on the types of puppets used, with the four forms being: marionettes on strings, rod puppets, shadow plays, and hand manipulated glove-type puppets.

Notably, if you are interested in learning aspects of Chinese culture such as kung fu, there are many schools available which will cater to you. If you interested in obtaining in-depth knowledge of China’s Arts, Culture, History and Tradition, the Cultural China website (https://www.cultural-china.com/) may prove useful.



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