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  • 1. China Lesson 2 Chinese New Year Recommended for Middle School Celebrations This lesson helps students understand important cultural values that INTRODUCTION underlie the celebration of Chinese New Year. Students will conduct research using videos, PEM Art Cards, interview transcripts, and a visit to the Yin Yu Tang house at PEM. We have provided charts to help students integrate their findings from this lesson with what they are learning from their school texts. Resources that will help students fill in the left side of the worksheet are identified by the Art, History, and Philosophy symbol AHP. Resources that will help students fill in the right side of the worksheet are identified by the Chinese New Year symbol CNY. Some answers are also provided as examples for teachers. Kongzi (ca. 551–479 bce), often romanized as Confucius, was a teacher and RESEARCHING ANCIENT TEXTS philosopher. His writings embody and influence cultural values of correct AHP behavior and relationships. Doctrine of the Mean by Kongzi These excerpts from the works of Kongzi help identify cultural values reflected in Chinese philosophy (the left side of the research worksheet). By the ceremonies of the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth they served God, and by the ceremonies of the ancestral temple they sacrificed to their ancestors. He who understands the ceremonies of the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, and the meaning of the several sacrifices to ancestors, would find the government of a kingdom as easy as to look into his palm! The duties of universal obligation are five and the virtues wherewith they are practiced are three. The duties are those between sovereign and minister, between father and son, between husband and wife, between elder brother and younger, and those between friends. Those five are the duties of universal obligation. From The Internet Classics Archive by Daniel Stevenson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1994), http://classics.mit.edu. 1 Lesson Plan 2 | China
  • 2. INTERVIEW RESEARCH Huang Xiqi (b. 1941) was born and raised in Yin Yu Tang, in Anhui CNY province, China. Much of what he remembers about Chinese New Year celebrations is still practiced today. Sacrifices were offered in front of the pictures of the ancestors, and people would kowtow to them. In the evening, all the members of the family ate their New Year’s Eve dinner together. There were so many dishes that the leftovers would not be gone until the third day of the first month of the new year. This food was called the “crossing the year extras,” and it symbolized that there had been a surplus in the past year and would be more in the new year. After the New Year’s Eve dinner, children would greet the seniors and receive from them money believed to safeguard their lives in the coming year. People would not sleep until midnight, and firecrackers then ushered in the new year. The first day of the new year was the beginning of the Spring Festival. In the morning of that day, both adults and children would wear new clothes and worship ancestors in front of their pictures. The worshippers would be arranged from the eldest to the youngest. Then they would drink “good business tea” and eat “long life noodles” and “gold ingots” (boiled eggs with tea flavor and salt), along with cakes and red bean soup. The male members of the family would go out to worship in the Huang ancestral hall. On that day, when people met one another, they would offer best wishes. Using knives, scissors, and needles was not allowed. They would also not cook stir-fried foods, because in the Chinese language, the pronunciation of “stir-fry” is the same as that of “quarrel.” They would not touch brooms, so as to avoid sweeping away good luck. They would pay great attention to their utterances to avoid any unlucky word or words with similar pronunciations. From Yin Yu Tang: the Architecture and Daily Life of a Chinese House by Nancy Berliner ( Tuttle Publishing, 2003), p.105. RESEARCHING USING Chinese New Year’s Dragon is the story of how one family celebrates SECONDARY SOURCES Chinese New Year. Each page documents important aspects of the CNY preparations, traditions, and legends that mark this important event. Chinese New Year’s Dragon Sing, Rachel. Chinese New Year’s Dragon. New York: Simon & Schuster by Rachel Sing Children’s Publishing Division, 1992, cover. Lesson Plan 2 | China 2
  • 3. DK Eyewitness Book of Ancient China provides a spectacular and RESEARCHING USING informative guide to the history of the great Chinese empire and the SECONDARY SOURCES customs and traditions of its people. Stunning real-life photographs and AHP lifelike models offer a unique “eyewitness” view of life in imperial China, DK Eyewitness Book of Ancient China from its earliest beginnings in the Bronze Age to its final days in the early years of the 20th century. DK Eyewitness Book of Ancient China. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2000, cover. RESEARCH USING VIDEO Guo Nian: Passage into a New Year (DVD) CNY Directed by Carma Hinton and Richard Gordon Guo Nian DVD Long Bow Group, created for PEM, 2003 Yin Yu Tang Web Site Running time: 16 minutes 38 seconds New Year festivities in China last two weeks and entail days of preparation. Take a closer look at contemporary celebrations in the rural region of Huizhou, and hear reminiscences of New Years past. RESEARCH USING WEB SITES Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home Web Site CNY, AHP www.pem.org/yinyutang Yin Yu Tang Web Site The Yin Yu Tang Web site is comprised of five thematic sections that provide a unique lens through which the house can be examined, including Orientation, Construction, Ornamentation, Belongings, and Preservation. Content is segmented into distinct “scenes” within each theme. As visitors navigate between scenes, a persistent 3-D model view of Yin Yu Tang reacts to reveal different features of the house. A visual interactive family tree, dozens of audio interviews, hundreds of historical and contemporary photographs, and many videos are sprinkled throughout the experience to make this Chinese home a “living house.” 3 Lesson Plan 2 | China
  • 4. RESEARCH USING PEM ART CARDS Art objects can provide information about a topic in some of the same ways that primary and secondary sources can. Look at each card and read about the images below to help fill out the Cultural Values and Traditional Practices worksheet. Lattice screen with vase image, detail Art Card C4 AHP The vase images that appear on the large outer lattices of the first-floor bedrooms of Yin Yu Tang are emblems of peace and harmony. The word for vase in Chinese, ping, is a homonym for peace. Ancestor portraits, detail Art Card C5 AHP, CNY Ancestral portraits would have been hung in the main reception hall and venerated by family members during the New Year festivities. Created after the ancestors’ deaths, these portraits would have been likenesses of individuals, couples, or multiple generations of family members. In general, we didn't hang up the ancestor portraits. We’d hang them at New Year’s. Before we’d eat we’d put the chicken, the fish, the meat, etc., all arranged on the table, and light the candles and burn the incense, and receive the ancestors back into the house. Then we would send them off. Only after we had sent them off did we eat. Huang Xiqi From Yin Yu Tang: The Architecture and Daily Life of a Chinese House by Nancy Berliner ( Tuttle Publishing, 2003) p.105. Lesson Plan 2 | China 4
  • 5. Yin Yu Tang courtyard skywell Art Card C3 AHP, CNY Water was considered a symbol of prosperity, and the inward-sloping roofs enabled the flow of good fortune into the families’ hands [and lives]. According to the teachings of our masters, the direction that a house faces is decided by its geomantic location. Where we live, when we build a house, on the first day, before the construction, before breaking ground and laying foundation, a geomancy would be invited to look at the feng shui of the location to determine whether or not there were contradictions between the location and the zodiac signs of the owner. He would determine the foundation according to your surname, age, and time of birth, and the animal representing your birth year, to ensure that the house was located in harmony with the environment. From Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home (Peabody Essex Museum, 2002), www.pem.org/yinyutang. Yin Yu Tang entrance with couplets, detail Art Card C2 CNY A chun lian is a special type of two-line poem used for temporary decoration on the doorway of a house for Chinese New Year (known in China as the Spring Festival). Each line is written vertically on a strip of red paper. The first line is placed on the right side of a doorway, and the second line is placed on the left. Sometimes there is also a short line written horizontally for the top of the doorway. These poems are happy, uplifting messages describing the beauty of spring and conveying good wishes for the coming year. Along with the meaning of the words, the form of the beautifully written characters conveys celebration and happiness. They also ward off evil spirits with their red paper and auspicious words written in black ink. Students will learn about daily life in rural China through a visit to Yin Yu MUSEUM VISIT LESSONS Tang, a 200-year-old house. They will also explore galleries that will help them understand the art and objects inside the house. Students should bring their Cultural Values and Traditional Practices worksheets. 5 Lesson Plan 2 | China
  • 6. ART ACTIVITY 1 Nianhua convey good wishes for the coming year. These characters are Nianhua written in the finest calligraphy on diamond-shaped red paper that is sometimes speckled with gold. Front doors of homes are decorated with nianhua characters during New Year celebrations. Materials ◆ 8 x 8 in. piece of paper ◆ black acrylic paint ◆ ¼ inch-wide paintbrush or a thick black marker Instructions 1. Select one of the following characters: a. Gong He Xin Xi Happy New Year b. He Ping Peace c. Fu Good fortune and prosperity d. Zhen Truth 2. Using paint or a black marker, write the character on red paper. 3. When the work is dry, hang it on a door. 4. Create one for a friend or neighbor. Based on Simonds, Nina, et al. Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities, and Recipes. San Diego: Harcourt Inc., 2002. Lesson Plan 2 | China 6
  • 7. 7 Lesson Plan 2 | China Gong He Xin Xi HAPPY NEW YEAR
  • 8. He Ping PEACE Lesson Plan 2 | China 8
  • 9. Fu GOOD FORTUNE and PROSPERITY 9 Lesson Plan 2 | China
  • 10. Zhen TRUTH Lesson Plan 2 | China 10
  • 11. Door god prints come in pairs and are placed each on each side of the ART ACTIVITY 2 main entrance of a household, guarding the entranceway from malevolent Making Door Gods spirits with their fierce stares and bright colors. As early as the Han dynasty (206 bce – 220 ce), people started decorating their doors with words or images carved on peach wood. These images of the fierce-looking legendary warriors Shentou and Yulei were gradually replaced by actual historical figures such as Yuchi Gong and Qin Shu Bao, military generals who played important roles in the first Tang Emperor’s court (626–649). Materials ◆ Door god worksheets ◆ Crayons, markers, and colored pencils Instructions Have students color a pair of door gods, emphasizing that it should be one of each, not two matching figures. They can then take these home and post on both sides of the door to their homes. 11 Lesson Plan 2 | China
  • 12. DOOR GOD WORKSHEET 1 Yu Chi Gong Lesson Plan 2 | China 12
  • 13. DOOR GOD WORKSHEET 2 Qin Shubao 13 Lesson Plan 2 | China
  • 14. MASSACHUSETTS FRAMEWORKS English Language Arts Strands: 4, 8, 9, 10, 13, 24, 26 Foreign Languages Curriculum Standards: 4 Social Studies Standards: Grade Six Concepts and Skills: 3, 7 NEA:1 Grade Seven Concepts and Skills: 4, 5, 6, 7 Visual Arts Learning Standards: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 BIBLIOGRAPHY DK Eyewitness Book of Ancient China. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2000. Berliner, Nancy. Yin Yu Tang: The Architecture and Daily Life of a Chinese House. Boston: Tuttle Publishing, 2003. Guo Nian: Passage into a New Year. Dir. Carma Hinton and Richard Gordon, Long Bow Group. DVD. Peabody Essex Museum, 2003. Sing, Rachel. Chinese New Year’s Dragon. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 1992. Simonds, Nina, et al. Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities, and Recipes. San Diego: Harcourt Inc., 2002. Stevenson, Daniel. The Internet Classics Archive. 1994. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. http://classics.mit.edu. Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home. Dec. 2002. Peabody Essex Museum www.pem.org/yinyutang/. Design by Second Story Inc. Lesson Plan 2 | China 14
  • 15. 15 Cultural Values and Traditional Practices Cultural Value: Family relationships are very important How is this value reflected in art, history, or philosophy? Cite your source. How is this value reflected in New Year’s practices? Cite your source. Lesson Plan 2 | China Cultural Value: Each family member needs to perform his or her role well in order for the family to succeed. How is this value reflected in art, history, or philosophy? Cite your source. How is this value reflected in New Year’s practices? Cite your source. Include book title code and pg. # in your reference. EWAC Cultural Value: Customs and rituals bring good fortune. Eyewitness Ancient China How is this value reflected in art, history, or philosophy? Cite your source. How is this value reflected in New Year’s practices? Cite your source. CNYD Chinese New Year’s Dragon HINT Interview with Mr. Huang PEMDVD Passage into a New Year video Cultural Value: “Double meanings” are enjoyed and understood to be significant. DOM How is this value reflected in art, history, or philosophy? Cite your source. How is this value reflected in New Year’s practices? Cite your source. Kongzi ‘s Doctrine of the Mean ART PEM Art Card YYTWEB Ying Yu Tang Web Site
  • 16. Cultural Values and Traditional Practices Cultural Value: Family relationships are very important. How is this value reflected in art, history, or philosophy? Cite your source. How is this value reflected in New Year’s practices? Cite your source. Large house contains extended family. Central placement of ancestor hall. ART CARD C3 Family writes from all over the world CNYD 2 Ancestor portrait indicates importance of family. ART CARD C5 Whole family plays games together. CNYD 13 Kongzi wrote that family bonds formed the basis of a stable society. ACEW 12 Family bows to ancestor portraits. HINT Kongzi emphasized familial duties as “universal obligations.” DOM Entire family gets together to celebrate. PEMDVD Cultural Value: Each family member needs to perform his or her role well in order for the family to succeed. How is this value reflected in art, history, or philosophy? Cite your source. How is this value reflected in New Year’s practices? Cite your source. Each family member has his or her own duties. DOM “Adults cooked all day and all night the day before New Year’s Eve.” CNYD 10 “Let the father be a father, and the son be a son” ACEW 12 Adults give red envelopes to children. CNYD 14 “Children should respect and obey their parents.” ACEW 42 Everyone needs to be careful not to say inauspicious things. HINT Each family member has specific duties that must be accomplished daily Everybody returns home to be together. If someone is missing, PEM Visit PEMDVD for the family to function. food is still served for them. Cultural Value: Customs and rituals bring good fortune. How is this value reflected in art, history, or philosophy? Cite your source. How is this value reflected in New Year’s practices? Cite your source. “He who understands the ceremonies . . . would find the government of a “Sacrifices were offered in front of the pictures of the ancestors, DOM HINT kingdom as easy as the look into his palm!” and people would kowtow to them.” “They would not touch brooms, so as to avoid sweeping away Ritual and ceremonial vessels date back to the Shang dynasty. ACEW 10 HINT good luck.” “Families used divination sticks . . . to seek advice from their ancestors on “Just like any other year, there were fu signs everywhere. ACEW 42 CNYD family matters.” Fu is the Chinese word for good luck.” Ancestor portrait indicates the importance of ritual. ART CARD C5 Everybody puts up “auspicious sayings.” PEMDVD Cultural Value: “Double meanings” are enjoyed and understood to be significant. How is this value reflected in art, history, or philosophy? Cite your source. How is this value reflected in New Year’s practices? Cite your source. “The top character is part of the First Emperor’s title. It conveys the idea “Each one has a special meaning. Melon and lotus seeds stand for ACEW 16 CNYD 9 of divinity, or divine favor.” having lots of children in the family.” Lesson Plan 2 | “Water was considered a symbol of prosperity, and the inward-sloping ART CARD C3 “Long noodles stand for long life.” CNYD 13 roofs enabled the flow of good fortune into the family’s hands [and lives].” China Bats were used to symbolize good fortune. PEM visit “Crossing the year extras” symbolizes having a surplus. HINT Vases were used to symbolize peace. ART CARD C4 “Then they would . . . eat “long life noodles” HINT 16