A monthly quiz of general history, traditions, geography questions for April
1. The poet Su Shi is quoted as saying 'You can live without eating meat but you can not live without what'?
Bamboo was the favorite subject for many artists in China, it has drooping leaves and straight stems that give it an architectural image.
2. Who of these is NOT a Tang dynasty poet?
Su Shi (Su Dongpo)
Although the Tang dynasty is considered the golden age of Tang poetry the Song dynasty had some fine poets too, of which Su Shi is the most famous.
3. How many neighboring countries have a land border with China?
China together with Russia has 14 land borders with neighboring countries. They are (running anti-clockwise from the East) : Korea (North), Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.
4. Which Emperor commanded that the books should be burned?
Emperor Qin Shihuangdi
The first emperor to unify all of China brought in many far-reaching reforms. One was to impose a common writing script (the Qin script) all over China. To ensure that this reform was followed he ordered many historical books to be burned so that knowledge of the different scripts would be lost. It is claimed that he did this to suppress scholarship but in fact he built up a huge Imperial library.
5. Which province is the coldest in winter?
Heilongjiang is the most northerly province and has bitterly cold winters - it borders Siberia after all.
6. What is at the famous site of Leshan, Sichuan?
Leshan has the the Giant Buddha ?Dafo? 233 feet [71 meters] high carved into a cliff during the Tang dynasty - the largest Buddha in the world.
7. The Hui minority people belong chiefly to which religion?
The Hui ethnic people are mainly Muslims. There are Muslims in most cities but there are also a significant proportion in the western provinces of Ningxia, Xinjiang and Qinghai.
8. The Gang of Four were put under arrest in 1976 under the orders of which Chinese leader
The short leadership of Hua Guofeng is often seen as a continuation of Mao's legacy but he did act swiftly to arrest the Gang of Four and put them on trial for their part in the cultural revolution.
9. Zhuangzi is an important person in what tradition?
Zhuangzi is considered the second most important sage of Daoism after Laozi.
10. The old Wade-Giles spelling of Guizhou is what?
The Wade-Giles system often used the local dialect pronounciation for placenames rather than how it sounded in the official Beijing dialect.
11. How long was the Communist's Long March through western China?
The route was not direct and took many turns from its start in the Jiangxi mountains all the way to Yan'an in Shanxi.
12. According to the yin-yang categories of food which of these foods are considered the 'yang' (hot)
A good meal should have a balance of 'yin' and 'yang' foods. Beef steak and peanuts are other 'yang' foods.
13. Compared to English how many people speak Chinese as their first or second language?
Many people speak Chinese as a second language in Asia and so there are about twice as many speaking Chinese than English.
14. Where might you expect to see 'water sleeves' in China?
at a resturant
at the opera
in a garden
Water sleeves are the very long sleeves worn by women it traditional opera. They are used to great effect in dances and gestures.
15. The mark of veneration was the traditional kowtow. How many times did you have to knock your head on the ground to the Emperor?
Nine was the imperial number. The set of nine kowtows was split into three sets of three between kneelings. Three is a very yang number and so 3x3 is even more yang and Imperial.