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Culture, is a way of heritage that transcends bloodline

13 April 2015

SOAS University of 

UK Research and Development Centre for Chinese Traditional Culture


School of Oriental and African Studies Chinese Student & School Association

In the early spring of 2015 in April, British Institute of Traditional Culture welcome Ms aRen Xiang, A well-known writer dedicated to the interpretation of Chinese cultural heritage, but also an extraordinary mother. In the past five years, she have been working on the accumulation of daily life encyclopedias, explored and discovered the changes in Chinese history and culture, and completed her work"Heirard" with more than 270,000 characters, which demonstrated the all-encompassing Chinese culture and the lives of Chinese people and their wisdom.

The symposium was arranged at the School of Asian and African Studies with the assistance of the Chinese Students’ Union. Before the event began, a large number of listeners had already entered the venue in advance. We can see how overseas Chinese have contributed to and engrossed by cultural communication with their expectation and enthusiasm. Before our discussion began, Xiang Xiaowei, Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom, gave a speech: "I used to read Chinese culture from a philosophical perspective in "The Art of Life" written by Mr. Lin Yutang. I hope that what we feel nowadays is different from the past. Define culture, interpret ourselves, and view our way of life with a perceptual, easy and practical attitude."

Then there was three-minute opening video with a famous song "Listen to Mother's Words" conveying the details of life in different seasons and the beauty of still life within a sense of sensation, fascination and immersion in nature. While the audience was still immersed in the story on the screen, the forum started. First of all, Ren Xiang described the original intention of writing the "Heirloom" series. On a macro level, it is to provide a realistic and vivid journal for the overseas Chinese who want to understand traditional Chinese culture in today's society. On a micro level, it is to offer individuals and families  a way of evaluating family lives and history. Then she explained that the Four Seasons Series of "Heirloom" consist of six chapters, including Family Unity, Ingenuity Craftsmanship, Health Preservation, Seasons of the Year, Food Culture and Life Notes, which were based on cultural roots from multiple angles.


She emphasised the reasons for the book’s four-season categorisation: "I hope that this division will be used to divide the family with sons as spring, summer as daughters, parents as autumn, and husbands as winter. The aim of the book is also to prevent children from being indecent caused by some negative influence of popular culture or poor-quality media products. Then Ms. Ren Xiang talked about traditional Chinese festivals such as the Tomb Sweeping, Dragon Boat Festival, Tanabata, Mid-Autumn Festival, and gave a speech around the sources of the festivals, cultural symbols and festival customs. Then Ms. Ren Xiang sang The Moon Represents My Heart and Water Melody, which embody the love of the moon and home laments and drove the event to a climax, arousing waves of applause. Then we saw the introduction of authentic Chinese cuisine, including the making of the Buddha Jumps Over the Wall, pineapple cakes, and antique handcraft furniture such as headdresses and ancient tables.

The whole speech was conducted by Ms. Ren Xiang bilingually and it also influenced many foreign audiences who loved Chinese culture. One of them who had been to China before asked a question: “Why didn’t I see them in a host family in China? How about studying our own culture like this?" Ms. Ren Xiang replied: "The Chinese have gone through the Cultural Revolution and Reform, and has just come to experience a stable and economically advancing society. Many families have only begun to focus on spiritual culture after solving financial and material problems. China is a country with massive  population, it needs to be passed on and improved from generation to generation."

An overseas Chinese mother expressed that she was deeply touched by the heirloom spirit and also expressed her confusion about the Chinese culture and education of her mixed-race child. Ms. Ren Xiang understood her difficulties and suggested to start with the basic etiquette training such as classics. In addition, another audience suggested that overseas Chinese parents could take their children back to their country to experience the culture in real life every year, so as to avoid their children being limited by academic or just verbal study of the culture. In this way, everyone exchanged their ideas and had enthusiastic discussions. After the question and answer session, there was a book donation ceremony. The recipients included Ms. Gui Qiulin, Dean of the British Institute of Chinese Traditional Culture, Qu Zheng, Chairman of the China Design Center, and Chinese Studies at the Institute of Asian and African Studies. Representatives of the association and the hospital. Then, as a respectable overseas Chinese leader and the honorary dean of the British Institute of Chinese Traditional Culture, Mr Shan gave his Chinese calligraphy writing to Ms. Ren Xiang. He highly praised Ms. Ren Xiang’s speech. The symposium concluded with an interview with Dean Gui Qiulin of the British Institute of Chinese Traditional Culture. Dean Gui said: Ms. Ren Xiang’s new book "Heirlooms-The Wisdom of Chinese Life" is an encyclopedia of the most classic Chinese traditional etiquette norms, condensing the laws of nature and the wisdom of the ancestors accumulated over five thousand years. Such an important treasure should be combined with the classic masterpieces such as Di Zi Gui, the Tang Anthology , and San Zi Jing. The collections bridge children to their cultural root and accompany the young generation’s upbringing with Chinese philosophy. Ms. Ren Xiang used her personal experience to talk about how she has educated her children who grew up in the Western culture, with Chinese traditional culture, value, wisdom, and the concept of being a Chinese.

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