Chinese cultural traditions include Chinese shadow puppetry, the use of chopsticks, foot binding and colorful festivals. These traditions offer insight into China's rich 5,000-year history.
Chinese shadow puppetry originated as a form of storytelling during the Han Dynasty. Its inventors sought to use it to console a heartbroken emperor, whose favorite concubine had died from an illness. His court officers made a puppet out of donkey leather bearing her likeness. Using an oil lamp, they made the shadow puppet move and cheered the emperor up. Shadow puppetry remains in use to tell traditional fairy tales and myths.
Thousands of years ago, the original Chinese chopsticks consisted of twigs and were considered extensions of fingers. Throughout time, bamboo and animal bones took the place of twigs, and as the culture evolved, wooden, ivory, jade, silver and gold chopsticks came into use.
Foot binding was created centuries ago to demonstrate the social status of rich women who did not need to work. The aristocratic woman's purpose was to serve her husband and direct her servants. Her bound feet symbolized her freedom from manual labor. As time passed, the painful practice became a cultural tradition adhered to by Chinese women regardless of social status. By the turn of the 20th century, however, foot binding largely became abolished.
The Chinese celebrate a number of elaborate festivals throughout the year. Some of the more well-known festivals include the Qing Ming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.