Home / Yangtze River / Culture

Yangtze River Culture

The green riverMany amazing civilizations are based around great rivers. Like other famous rivers all over the world, Yangtze River, with fantastic sceneries and a long history, has nurtured brilliant civilization in south China. This river, together with Yellow River - the mother river in north China - forms importation influence on Chinese culture. Further reading on this part before a Yangtze River cruise enables tourists to be informed with useful Yangtze culture knowledge, including the culture evolution, crafts and folk customs along the Yangtze, as well as celebrities and legends related to the river.

Yangtze River is endowed with abundant cultural relics. The Wushan Man discovered in Wushan County in Chongqing City is the earliest Homo erectus yet found in China, who lived about two million years ago, about 300,000 years earlier than Yuanmou Man discovered in Yunnan. This has proved that human activities was already started at that early time in the Three Gorges Area of the river and has triggered the debate of the origin of Chinese people. The following Yuanmou Man, Tangshan Ape Man, Yunxian Man, Changyang Man and Ziyang Man successively left footprints by the river, forming a complete human evolution lineage.

Yangtze water fertilized the land on the two banks. Rice thrives in the Yangtze River Basin, in which 95% of the ancient rice cultivation sites are located. The discovery of the Pengtoushan Site in Li County of Hunan Province and the Hemudu Site in Yuyao City in Zhejiang Province proves that Chinese ancestors was the first mastering the rice planting techniques 8,000 years ago.

Fengdu Ghost City
Fengdu Ghost City
During the long history of ancient China, this river had nurtured the brilliant Liangzhu Culture in Zhejiang area, Bashu Culture in Sichuan, Jingchu Culture in Hubei and Hunan, and Wuyue Culture in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai. The culture center was gradually transferred to the south from the Yellow River area in north China because of the political crises and wars in history. A lot of people moved to the south Yangtze area, bringing a boom in the economy and culture development. In modern times, Yangtze culture appeared in new look characterized by the two main genres – Huxiang Culture of Hunan and Haipai Culture of Shanghai. Huxiang Culture, rooted in the traditional Chinese agriculture, emphasizes practicalness, braveness and diligence. Haipai Culture, influenced much by the western industry, commerce and culture, is a representative of Chinese modern urban civilization.

Bamboo Weaved Products
Bamboo Weaved Products
Crafts circulating about Yangtze River have a long history and numerous varieties. One of the most remarkable craft achievements is the bronze ware. Compared to the north China symbolized by Yellow River Culture, the Yangtze River basin is richer in copper mine and advanced in mining technology, which laid the foundation of unbeatable advantage of the development of human civilization in the region. The excavation of Sanxingdui (Three-Stars Piles) Site has shifted the history of ancient Shu (today's Sichuan Province) culture to 5,000 years ago. The pieces of weird and delicate bronze works discovered from the site show to the modern people the old and marvelous ancient bronze craft. Other crafts rose and developed along the river include carving works, painted pottery, bonsai, embroidery, bamboo-and-straw-woven products, shipbuilding and woodprint.

Yangtze River traverses China from the west to the east, embracing various cultures and folk customs rooted in its two banks. Many ethnic minorities living along the river have glorious culture and folkways, which also attract many tourists. A cruise on the river is a way to discover the distinctive local residences, the various delicious foods and interesting dining and drinking customs, the different calendars and amazing festivals, the colorful clothes and accessories, as well as the characteristic wedding and funeral rituals.

Yangtze River Trackers
Yangtze River Trackers
For thousand years, the Yangtze River has nurtured numerous ancient and modern celebrities.
 Ideologists: Lao-Tzu and Chuang-Tzu, the forerunners of Daoism.
 Scientists: Li Bing, the designer of Chengdu Dujiangyan Irrigation Project in the Warring States Period (476BC – 221BC); Li Shizhen, one of the greatest physicians and pharmacologists from Hubei in Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644); Hua Luogeng, a great mathematician born Jiangsu in the 1910s; Qian Xuesen, a scientist who was born in Hangzhou and made important contributions to the space programs of both the US and China; Yuan Longping, a Chinese agricultural scientist known for developing the first hybrid rice varieties in Hunan in the 1970s.
 Litterateurs and Artists: Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet who was born in the Xiling Gorge area of Yangtze River in the Warring States Period (476BC – 221BC); Wang Xizhi, a famous calligrapher who spent most of his life in Zhejiang in the Jin Dynasty (265–420); Lu Xun, who was born in Zhejiang and was one of the major Chinese writers of the 20th century.
 Modern Revolutionary Heroes: Mao Zedong, a Chinese revolutionary and Communist leader from Hunan, was the first chairman of the People's Republic of China. Zhou Enlai, born in Jiangsu, is the first Premier of the People's Republic of China.
 Legendary Figures: Luozu, wife of the Yellow Emperor and mother of the Chinese people.

Many fascinating legends and stories spread along the river in thousands of years. Genesis mythologies and myths of nature, society and life abounds, making the river more lively and appealing.