A monthly quiz of general history, traditions, geography questions for December
1. China grows roughly what proportion of the world's rice?
China can only grow rice in the south and there is limited suitable land and so it is perhaps surprisingly a net importer of rice. The more efficient rice producers in neighboring Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Cambodia can out-compete China and so it is likely that China will be the leading importer of rice in the world for many years to come.
2. Which number is traditionally associated with the Emperor?
As three is a yang number the square of 3, nine, is an even more potent yang number and so associated with the Emperor. The strong yang association of 9 was used heavily in Imperial design, the Forbidden City was reputed to have 9,999 rooms and its large entrance doors are fitted with 9 rows of 9 columns of brass studs. There are 9 dragons on the Nine Dragon Wall in the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven has nine concentric rings each made up of a multiple of nine slabs. A dragon is a yang creature made up of 9 parts and 81 (9x9) scales.
3. Chengde (aka Jehol) was built as a summer resort for the emperors of which dynasty?
In 1703 the Qing Emperor Kangxi built a mountain resort at Chengde in Hebei province to escape the summer heat of Beijing. It was called 避暑山庄 Bìshǔ Shānzhuāng, literally ?Mountain villa to avoid the heat?. It took 87 years to complete.
4. Mandarin ducks represent what in Chinese artwork?
Mandarins are native to China and nest in trees, the male is far more colorful than the female. It symbolizes loyalty as the ducks are said to mate for life and that when one dies its mate will pine away and also die.
5. 雨 Yǔ is a common character what does it mean?
A word of universal importance, particularly ages ago when almost everybody worked the land, is the one for rain. It is a picture of little drops falling downwards from the sky.
6. In traditional medicine Goji berries were traditionally used to treat what?
high blood pressure
Goji or wolfberries are now eaten as a healthy food worldwide but the berries have been eaten in China for many centuries as a medicine for high blood pressure and fever.
7. “It doesn't matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice” is a famous saying of which Chinese leader?
Back in 1962 Deng Xiaoping’s famously made this remark. In this coded message, he bravely questioned whether Chairman Mao’s brand of politics was the only way to bring benefits to the people, opening the door to capitalism when Deng eventually came to power (1978-92). Deng chose cat (Māo) to make his point as a not so subtle reference to (Máo Zédōng).
8. The 'Hundred Schools of Philosophy' period occurred when in Chinese history?
Eastern Zhou dynasty
Western Zhou dynasty
The great schools of Chinese thought all began in the period leading up to the Qin dynasty. The Eastern Zhou dynasty is normally divided between the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods.
9. The Long March of 1934-35 started from which province?
The Jiangxi Soviet founded in October 1927 was under Zhou Enlai's leadership that they came under a series of determined attacks by the GMD. In October 1934 they were threatened by a full annihilation campaign and broke out to head towards Sichuan.
10. Which country briefly conquered the island of Taiwan in 1884?
The Sino-French War (1884-85) saw conflicts in Tonkin and Taiwan as part of the expansion plans of French Indo-China from its Vietnamese stronghold. The French occupied Keelung on 1 October 1884, but were repulsed from Tamsui a few days later. This was a rare defeat of European power in this region. The Chinese government moved administration to Fuzhou soon afterwards.
11. The game of 'go' was a Chinese invention, what is its name in China?
围棋 Wéi qí is the Chinese name; the English name 碁 ?Go? comes from its Japanese name. Like many Japanese traditions it was adopted from China during the Tang dynasty when Chinese influence was at its peak.
12. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is located in which city?
The TV tower was built in the Pudong district of Shanghai in 1991.
13. The ‘Elephant Game’ is the Chinese name for which pastime?
Chinese chess is known as 象棋 Xiàng qí meaning literally elephant game. ‘Xiang’ sounds the same as 想 which means ‘think’ or ‘ponder’ which is very appropriate. The elephant is a defensive piece as it can only move two steps diagonally, it can not leap over other pieces or cross the river. These restrictions mean that there are only seven places that an elephant can occupy on the board.
14. The tomb of the First Qin Emperor is located in which province?
The tomb of Qin Shihuangdi, the unifier of China, is the must-see tourist destination in Shaanxi. The tomb took 36 years to build with about 500,000 slave laborers; and only a tiny proportion of the vast tomb area has been excavated.
15. The number of the year in China is counted from the following event?
Birth of the Yellow Emperor
Founding of the Republic of China
Foundation of the Han dynasty
In 1912, at the foundation of the Republic of China, it was decided to count the years since the birth of the Yellow Emperor Huangdi. It is based on the 'lunar' year so the year number advances on the day of the Chinese New Year (Spring) festival. So February 12th 2021 is the start of Chinese year 4719.