Traditions Quiz 1Starter level quiz all about Chinese traditions
1. What is Dimsum?
stuffed boiled dough
Dimsum literally means 'dot on the heart' which is boiled dough with a variety of spicy and savory fillings; it is a form of the more general 'small eats' .
2. In the Dragon dance, the dragon(s) typically chase what?
The pearl is represented as a largish decorated ball held in front of the dragon on a stick. It may represent the moon or the 'pearl of wisdom'.
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3. An ink stone is used for what?
The ink stone is traditionally of fine grained slate on which the ink-stick is ground with water to make ink. Anhui province is considered one of the best sources of good ink-stones. The stone has to be fine grained to create a smooth ink.
Part of a memorandum from a high official with a vermillion ink note added by Emperor Qianlong.
4. Firecrackers are usually which color in China?
Red is the luckiest color and is associated with many Chinese celebrations. After a festival the firecrackers leave a mass of red plastic to be cleared up.
Lantern Festival, Daoist parade of gods (Ngi?ng-s?ng) in Luoyuan, Fuzhou. Image by LuHungnguong available under a Creative Commons License ➚
5. Which astrological animal heads the sequence of twelve?
The legend for why the rat is first is that theastrological animals formed an orderly queue before the God of the Golden Star ready to be named but the rat jumped onto the back of the ox so it could be named first.
The Garden of the Chinese Zodiac features twelve carved animals in the gardens of Kowloon Walled City Park, Hong Kong
6. Which would you NOT expect to find in a Chinese garden?
An expanse of green grass would not only upset the color balance of a garden but be difficult to maintain in most parts of China.
Chinese bridge. Apremont Gardens, France. Image by Parc floral available under a Creative Commons License ➚
7. Confucius and Lao Zi are both said to have lived how long ago?
Confucius is believed to have lived 551 to 479 BCE while Laozi (founder of Daosim) Lao Zi 604 to 531 BCE. There is a rather unlikely account of their meeting.
Statue of Confucius at the Imperial Academy (Guozijian) Beijing
8. Where might you find a man riding a hen?
on a roof
at Qing Ming festival
in a Chinese chess set
More than one legend attempts to explain the end figure of the set of glazed clay figures on the ridge of a roof. The man riding on a hen probably symbolizes 'impossibility' as a man can't ride a hen, and a hen can't fly; so the figure is therefore doubly rooted there and protects the roof and house.
9. Which plant is mentioned in the Buddhist mantra 'Om mani padme hum'?
?Om mani padme hum? or 'an ma ni ba mi hong' in Chinese can be very roughly transliterated as 'May I become like the jewel of the Lotus. Amen' ?padme? ('ba mi') is the Tibetan name for the lotus.
Golden palace at the top of Mount Emei, Sichaun with the world's highest status of Pǔxián Púsà 普賢菩薩.
10. The chrysanthemum represents which season?
Chrysanthemums represent autumn (fall) and so contrasts with the plum which is the flower of spring.
Chrysanthemum design motif (Plate 92) available under a Creative Commons License ➚
11. The Chinese pipa is a type of what?
The Pipa came to China from Central Asia at about the time of the Han dynasty and is a kind of lute.
Guzheng is a traditional Chinese musical instrument belonging to the zither family of string instruments
12. Which was traditionally NOT added to tea as a flavoring?
Many additional flavorings have been used in Chinese tea. Milk and sugar was needed in Europe to cover the rather strong bitter taste that developed during the long voyage from China, Chinese teas have much subtler flavors and do not need sweetening.
13. The Yi Jing (I Ching) system of fortune telling has a system of how many hexagrams?
A Yi Jing divination can generate all binary combinations (yin or yang) of six lines. This gives a total of 64 combinations (2 to the power of 6).
A page from a Song Dynasty (960-1279) printed book of the I Ching (Yi Jing, Classic of Changes or Book of Changes) , 17.7x11.9cm, printed book, in the National Central Library in Taipei. Image by Song era print artist available under a Creative Commons License ➚
14. When is the next dragon astrological year?
The dragon is considered the most auspicious astrological year with couples choosing to wait so their child can be born as 'dragons'. Dragon years include 2000, 2012 and 2024.
15. Losing what is considered a disaster in China?
The Chinese have a long standing tradition of maintaining their social standing, which has been very loosely translated as face 面子 miàn zi. In everyday life this means that taking criticism in front of other people ?loses face? 丢脸 diū liǎn and is not acceptable.
Walking on the Taklimakan desert sand dunes near Dunhuang, Gansu
16. The Erhu is the most common traditional stringed instrument, how many strings does it have?
The 二胡 èr hú means literally two whiskers and has two strings between which the bow is tied. At the base of the erhu is a small sound box.
17. What is an 'eye' in mahjong?
run of four
In a winning hand, an eye is a pair of tiles that is independent of the other sets so a pair of 5 characters would be an eye only if 5's and characters do not feature in the other sets.
18. How many types of dragon are there in mahjong?
There are three different types of dragon in Mahjong: red; green and white and there are four copies of each type making 12 in all.
19. Which color was reserved for the roof tiles of Imperial buildings?
Yellow is a very auspicious color in China, it is probably best translated as ?golden? as that gives to a non-Chinese a better idea of its attributes. Yellow was the color of Qing dynasty Imperial robes and the roofs of Imperial buildings.
Beijing park pavilion roof
20. Dowager Empress Cixi was very fond of which dog breed?
The Pekingese was the 'Lion Dog' of Imperial China. Dowager Empress Cixi had 200 or more at the Imperial palaces.
A pottery dog from the Chinese Han Dynasty. Image by Gary Lee Todd available under a Creative Commons License ➚
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