Posts Tagged ‘china’

Yanzi – The Swallow Song

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Yanzi, The Swallow Song, is a traditional Chinese/Kazakh song, sung by two lovers separated by the border between Kazakhstan and Western China. Here, enjoy Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble performing this piece. Folk music is a vital part of the Chinese culture. Today, groups like the Silk Road Ensemble are partnering with Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to preserve and continue these traditions. In China, students attend classes at The Children’s Palace in Shanghai, where they learn all manner of traditional dance, music, and arts.

If you want to see the traditional arts of China in situ, please join us on Smithsonian’s Classic China and Tibet tour, where you’ll travel to Asia for an insider’s look at Chinese and Tibetan culture.

April is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Click here to find out more about people, events, and exhibits at the Smithsonian and nationwide.

What’s your favorite kind of folk music? Please share.

Video: A Palace with 9,999 Rooms

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Most of us are lucky to have a home that might have three bedrooms and one bathroom. But imagine living in a place that has 9,999 rooms! There is such a home which boasts the name “The Forbidden City,” and it can found in the middle of  Beijing, China.

But why 9,999? Why not 10,000?

There’s a perfectly good reason, but you’ll have to watch this video to find out. If you want to learn more, China’s Forbidden City can be seen on the Smithsonian Channel. This summer, students who travel on our new Smithsonian Studies Abroad program in Beijing will have the opportunity to see the Forbidden City and explore some of these rooms. They may come back wanting to redecorate their own bedroom, or possibly the entire house.

Would you want to live in a home with 9,999 rooms?

Smithsonian Studies Abroad is filling up fast for this summer! Will you go to China, Italy or Spain?

World Heritage: China’s Great Wall

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

June Teufel Dreyer is Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. Her research work centers on ethnic minorities; the Chinese military; Asian-Pacific regional relations; cross-strait relations; and Sino-Japanese relations. She will be leading the March, 2010, departure of our Classic China and the Yangtze tour. Here, she tells us a bit about China’s Great Wall.


The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China.

First built in the sixth century and located northeast of Beijing, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China is one of the best preserved.

My first glimpse of the Great Wall was through a chilly gray mist early one fall morning. Standing on the ramparts gazing at the vast expanse of parched land beyond, it was easy to imagine the concern of Chinese rulers with destruction of their sophisticated culture by hordes of mounted warriors they regarded as barbarians.

I’d read about the wall from childhood–that it began at the sea in Shanhaiguan in the northeast, weaving dragonlike across fifteen provinces before ending we knew not where, in the sands of Central Asia. And that it was the only man-made structure that is visible from outer space.

Much of this proved untrue. The wall is not visible from outer space. And scientific advances have enabled us to track the end of the wall with far greater accuracy. Surprises still occur: in fall 2009, a new section was discovered near the Yalu River that borders present-day North Korea. The wall did not start out as a single structure, but as a series of fortifications built by different kingdoms, the first dating back to 500 BC Stitched together under the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 AD), it had not, nor had the walls before it, been able to prevent barbarians from entering China. The Ming itself was overthrown by a Manchu invasion that came through a crucial pass; the barbarians then founded the Qing dynasty. By mid-Qing the wall, in recognition of its deficiencies as a barrier, had fallen into disrepair.

When the government of the People’s Republic of China began to value China’s ancient heritage in preference to Marxist ideology, it made the shocking discovery that local peasants had been dismantling pieces of the wall, brick by brick, to use in constructing homes and pig sties. The wall, now repaired and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is again a symbol of pride. And the claims of revisionists and debunkers notwithstanding, it truly is a great wall.

What World Heritage Site would you most like to visit? The list is here. Share below.

See the Great Wall for yourself with Dr. Dreyer in March, 2010.

Click for all of our tours to China.

Video: Terra-Cotta Warriors

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Part of a monumental necropolis dedicated to China’s first emporer, the Terra-Cotta Warriors were rediscovered in 1974 by Chinese farmers digging a well. Since 1974, more than 600 pits have been unearthed over a 22-mile area; in addition to the clay soldiers, Qin Shi Huangdi’s underground royal court included bronze waterfowl, terra-cotta musicians and acrobats for entertainment, as well as clay officials to keep everyone on track.

Today’s video comes straight from China, thanks to YouTube user MartialArtsCinema.


What would you take with you to the afterlife, whatever form it may take? Share below.

Read more about the Terra-Cotta warriors in Smithsonian magazine.

Click for our tours to China. We also have Study Abroad opportunities in China for High School Students.

Travel Hit List: China

Friday, September 18th, 2009

China is one of the world’s most talked-about destinations. Full of wonder, history, and culture, we can’t wait to go back soon. For the first-time travelers (and die-hard fans), here’s a taste of fascinating China:

Cyclist in Lijiang, China. Photo: Fredrik Stai, Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

Read: How some of Xi’an’s famous Terra-Cotta Warriors are leaving China for a while, and discover more about Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s lasting legacy.

Listen: Chinese Classical instrumental music.

Watch: Learn about the secrets to the design of China’s Forbidden City (courtesy of Smithsonian Channel).

Eat and Drink: Bird’s nest soup, anyone? Learn more about this highly prized Chinese delicacy.

Check out: A fascinating timeline of Chinese history, courtesy of the Institution’s Freer and Sackler galleries.

Travel: Now is a great time to book a journey to China.

Next Summer: Looking for a great Study Abroad oppportunity? Smithsonian now offers Study Abroad programs for high schoolers in China. Click to check it out.

Join: Smithsonian Journeys is on Facebook. Become a fan today.

Where in China would you most like to visit or revisit?