Cultural tips

Chinese Gardens and Parks
The history of Chinese gardens and parks dates back more than 3,000 years. Conforming with traditional Chinese aesthetics, their creation was inspired by classical literature and fine arts. They form a poetic harmony that combines hills and water, flowers and trees and exquisite, elegant wooden architecture. The Summer Palace, located 15 kilometers northwest of downtown Beijing was a famous imperial garden, often frequented by emperors and their royal families. It covers 290 hectares of land and encompasses Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake which have over 3,000 buildings. The Gardens in Suzhou are regarded as the embodiment of private gardens in China. The designs of these gardens include concepts such as dividing up space, making use of the natural landscape and creating pictures that use contrast to highlight the natural conditions, leading one scene to another. There are usually different sized ponds and rockeries that create a beautiful picture of nature.

Chinese Silk
It is well known around that world that silk, discovered in China, is one of the best materials for clothing. It has a look and feeling of richness that no other materials can match.

Silk was discovered during the 30th Century BC when Huang Di (Yellow Emperor) came into power.

The business of raising silkworms and unwinding cocoons has been well documented. It takes an average of 25-28 days for a silkworm, which is no bigger than an ant, to grow old enough to spin a cocoon. Once they are old enough, women farmers will gather them and place them on straw. The silk worms will attach themselves to their straws and will begin spinning their cocoons.

The next step is unwinding the cocoons. This process is done by "reeling girls". First, the cocoons are heated to kill the pupae. This must be done at the right time or else the pupas will turn into moths and will burrow out of their cocoons, making them useless for reeling. The next step is putting the cocoons in a basin filled with hot water. Once in the water, the loose end of the cocoon can be found and connected to a small wheel that will unwind the c

ocoon. When this is complete, two workers cut the unwound strands to a standard length and then twist them together. The raw silk is then dyed and woven into cloth.One cocoon, fully unwound, spans over 1000 feet! Nevertheless, about 111 cocoons are needed to make a silk tie, and 630 cocoons are needed to make a woman's blouse.

Chinese people were the first to manufacture silk clothing, which became an immediate hit. Emperor Wu Di of western Han Dynasty decided to use these silk products for trading purposes.

Silk trade led to the creation of the Silk Road. Developed during 60 years of war, the world famous ancient Silk Road was expanded at the cost of many losses of life and treasures. It started in Chang'an (now Xi'an), and crossed through Middle Asia, South Asia and West Asia. Many countries throughout Asia and Europe were connected by the road.

From then on, Chinese silk, along with many other Chinese inventions, were passed to Europe. Romans, especially Roman women, were crazy for Chinese silk. Before discovering Chinese silk, Romans used to make clothes from linen clothe, animal skin and wool fabric. Now they all turned to silk. It was a symbol of wealth and high social status to wear silk clothes.