A senior scholar and professor of the Chinese history and civilization at Princeton University wrote: “Suzhou drew to it and fostered the arts of China, the literary arts above all, but also music and painting, calligraphy, the craft arts, the decorative arts, and the minor arts that contributed to the elegant life. Also, Suzhou sustained learning, the mechanism for achieving social status and official careers, and the prestige affectation of all who could afford it. It lavished wealth on gardens and art collections and religious institutions; its citizen’s dress, their mansions, their delicate foods, their pleasure boats and pleasure houses and theatricals and festivals were reputed to be the finest in all China. If some of those statements were also made about other places... it only proves that Suzhou was the first among many rivals in the multi- centered urban life of China.”
I. Language and Art 1.Suzhou Dialect 2. Pingtan 3. Kunqu Opera 4. Wumen Painting School
1.Suzhou Dialect the style of Suzhou lies in “the softness”, like the tone of the Wu dialect, which also sums up the character in feminine beauty, tenderness, subtlety and elegance. The Wu language is one of the major divisions of the Chinese language. It is spoken in most of Zhejiang Province, the municipality of Shanghai, southern Jiangsu Province, as well as small parts of Anhui, Jiangxi and Fujian Provinces. The traditional dominant dialect of the Wu is the Suzhou dialect, though considerably due to its large population.
Expert’s Voice China National Language Academic Society Vice-chairman Dai Qingxia said: “a species' vanishing only lets us lose one moving scenery; One language's vanishing actually lets us lose one beautiful culture for good.”
Saves the dialect, saves the local culture started the pilot work in Suzhou to construct a database for the language resources. Suzhou becomes the national first experiment site to have the database construction city. "Standard Suzhou Sound Handbook" pronunciation compact disc has included Suzhou local dialect’s pronunciations for 6000 Chinese characters.
Questions for group discussion: Why is the use of local dialects decreasing and becoming less widespread? The importance of rescuing the dialect. How can we strike a better balance between the spread of the Standard Chinese Putonghua and Suzhou dialect? Your suggestions to protect and to inherit the Suzhou dialect.
2. Local Performing Art: Pingtan Suzhou Pingtan has become one of the nation’s top four operas, using the local dialect as its performance language, and impressing the audience in the form of storytelling and singing to the accompaniment of stringed instruments. Suzhou Pingtan is a generic term for Suzhou Pinghua (story-telling) and Suzhou Tanci (ballad-singing).
Pinghua is mostly performed by a narrator who holds a fan and a piece of wood while telling historical, judicial, heroic and epic stories. Pinghua
Tanci ：余红仙 Suzhou Pingtan Tanci is mostly performed by two singer narrators, and occasionally by one or three narrators, accompanied by a three-string zither and a pipe lute, telling and singing stories ranging from daily life to love affairs
3. Local Performing Art: Kunqu Opera called “the King of the Chinese Operas”; the Kunqu Opera originated from Suzhou; The stage performance of the opera is captivating and its “dancing and singing” is extremely expressive of emotions.
History back Originated in the Kunshan, with a history of about 600 years. In Ming Dynasty, Wei Liangfu contributed to the development of Kun Opera.
Two schools Kun Opera The Southern KunThe Northern Kun back
Position --the ancestor of all kinds of operas back It is a bridge between the former opera and the latter. It plays an important rule in the history of the development of Chinese literary, drama, music and dance.
A list of plays Escorting Jingniang Home(Qianli Song Jingniang) Fifteen Strings of Coins(Shiwu Guan) The Peony Pavilion(The Return of the Soul) The Hall of Everlasting Life (Changsheng Dian) The Peach Blossom Fan (Taohua Shan)
Museum of Suzhou Folk Customs 耳机. 听听苏州的声音. 按键. 吴歌. 叫卖声. 童谣. 民歌. 评弹. 昆曲
4. Wumen Painting School Being the source land of the Wu Culture, Suzhou plays an important role in the national cultural history, where great names in history appeared one after another. The Wumen Fine Arts School, represented by the Wumen Fours of Shen Zhou, Wen Zhengming, Tang Yin and Qiu Ying, whose poems, calligraphies, and paintings might be named as “the three incredibilities of the Wumen”, is was famous in the fine arts circle. Nowadays, in Suzhou fine arts circle, promising young painters not only inherit the traditional styles, but also learn from their predecessors. They then extensively absorb their mentor’s strong points, and combine them into their own new styles, assisting the Wumen Fine Arts School to develop and prosper in the fine arts circle.
明代 " 吴门画派 " 鼻祖沈周 Shen Zhou-originator of "Wu Men Painting Group" of the Ming Dynasty Shen Zhou (1427-1509), a famous painter of the mid-Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), was the founding father of the Wumen School. Shen styled himself after (Qi)nan, with sobriquet Shitian and later Baishi Weng, or Yutian Weng. People referred to Shen as Baishi Xiansheng.
Various techniques can be seen in Shen Zhou's paintings. As the leader of theWumenSchool, he developed the techniques of freehand brushwork of landscape painting and flower-bird painting. By Shen Zhou
Wen Zhengming (1470-1559) 文征 明 Famous calligrapher, especially good at walking script( 行书 ) and regular script( 小楷）
Wen's works can be divided into two types: bold black ink landscape paintings, such as Mountain Rain and Old Trees By A Cold Stream; and refined and elegant green landscape paintings in a meticulous style, such as Innumerable Mountains and Valleys. He lived for more than 90 years, and many people came to him to ask for his paintings when he was old. Some even made a living by pirating his paintings. By Wen Zhengming
Tang Yin （ Tang Bohu ） 唐寅 Tang Yin was a native of Wu County and a student of Shen Zhou. He was accomplished in poetry, prose and calligraphy, and excelled especially in painting. He had an un-restrained personality, experienced many hardships in life and was poor and frustrated in his later years.
He noted for his meticulous and precise style painted exclusively with traditional themes. He was skilled in drawing blue-and-green landscape and sketching characters with delicate brushwork and rich coloring. Qiu Ying was a native of Taicang. His green-color landscape paintings, are marked by vigorous strokes and bright colors. His figure paintings, meticulously executed, are bright in color, accurate in portrayal, and vivid in expression. 玉洞仙源图 By Qiu Ying Qiu Ying’s Work
II. Handicraft 1. Kesi Silk 2. Embroidery 3. Woodblock 4. Fan
1. Kesi Silk Kesi, or engraved silk, is an ancient silk-weaving technique using raw silk as the warp and colored scouring silk as the weft. It involves meticulous craftsmanship and time-consuming labor to weave the colored silk on a 2000-thread loom by running the shuttle back and forth in a small area and then cutting the threads at each end. Producing Kesi silk is rather like embroidering and carving out patterns and figures directly on the warp. This highly detailed and valuable fabric is formed throughout the woven textile industry for its intricate and artistic designs.
3. Woodblock The block-printed Chinese New Year pictures are a traditional form of folk art in China. These pictures are printed from wood blocks into which both the texts and the illustrations have been carved by hand. The prints are used to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. As a form of folk art, Suzhou Taohuawu Woodcutting New Year Pictures from the Peach Blossom Castle are very popular with their rich contents, lively plots, and art styles of images and bright colors.
4. Fan Suzhou fan is famous for its many exquisite designs and elegant handicraft. The most reputable ones are silk palace fans, folding fans, and sandalwood fans. The elegant fans of Suzhou combine the techniques of design, painting, engraving, inlaying, and lacquering.
III. Cuisine 1. Popular Dish 2. Restaurant 3. Snack 4. Bi Luo Chun Tea
1. Popular Dish As part of Huaiyang Cuisine, Suzhou style of cooking is closely related to the local culture and characterized by the natural flavor, beautiful presentation, light and palatable taste, and seasonal varieties. The selection of ingredients has much to do with the water country. Dishes and pastries traditionally served aboard pleasure boats remain the principal forms. Seasonal foods are water mallows, gorgon fruits fish, shrimp, crabs, and other aquatic products. Taihu Lake Boat Dish. snack booths
2. Restaurant Suzhou could be a paradise for gourmets. Fresh seasonal vegetables, fish and a slight sweetness are the main features of Suzhou cuisine. Quite a number of quality restaurants of the region are one’s choice.
3. Snack Snacks became popular for their flavors in early times and gradually formed their own particular styles. Suzhou snacks feature in taste sweetness, fragrance, tenderness, glutinousness, and smoothness.
4. Bi Luo Chun Tea Suzhou’s Bi Luo Chun Tea is locally known as “Fearful Incense”. Teahouses are located in main and side streets or along the riverside. A teahouse is a place not only for people to drink tea, but also to settle disputes, hold business discussions and for old friends to get together. It is also an unofficial information center, where one can hear over a cup of tea all the important news about the political situation, social affairs and even idle gossip.
IV. Festival 1. Winter Solstice 2. Ya Shen Xian 3. Hanshan Temple Bell Ringing
1. Winter Solstice Around December 22nd annually, people of Suzhou have reunions of the whole family, eat the winter solstice evening meal, and drink Dongniang (a type of rice wine) wine. According to historians, the local people had started to make wine in winter way back in the Spring-Autumn Period. According to the old rules, people visit the elders in the winter solstice like they do in the New Year, because the winter solstice is the beginning of a year.
2. Ya Shen Xian The most notable festival in Suzhou is Ya Shen Xian, which falls on April 14th in the Chinese lunar calendar. Ya Shen Xian is also known as “immortal seeking” temple fair, which is one of Suzhou’s first cultural heritages have applied for a national level heritage.
Old Lifestyle of Suzhou The daily life of the people and activities of town dwellers engaged in many different trades in Suzhou in the different periods of the 20th century As people’s lifestyle has greatly changed, some of the trades have gradually faded away or even completely disappeared, but many of them are still indispensable.
Summarization and Assignment The responsibility university students bear in inheriting culture After-class group work: experience local culture （ old lifestyle, craftwork, cuisine, local performing arts, etc)