Entertainment and Games
History >> Ancient China
Most people in Ancient China spent the majority of their time working. For much of the year they worked all day long with no days off. However, there were festivals throughout the year where they had the chance to play games and be entertained.
Man playing the guqin
Songhuizong8 by Zhao Ji
Music was an important part of Ancient Chinese culture. Early instruments were bells and chimes. Over time, new instruments were developed including flutes and string instruments (like the guqin). Music was often intertwined with philosophy. For example, in some ages, music was said to bring harmony to nature through the yin and yang of Taoism.
Dance and Acrobatics
Dance was an important art form since the earliest Chinese dynasties. It reached its peak during the Tang Dynasty. Acrobatics was also a popular form of entertainment since at least the Qin Dynasty in 207 BC. Acrobatics and dance were often combined with other forms of entertainment such as juggling, martial arts, and music.
Around the end of the Zhou Dynasty, music, acting, and dance became combined into Chinese opera. In Chinese opera, performers wear elaborate costumes and tell stories of famous Chinese legends and heroes through song and dance. Chinese opera is still a popular form of entertainment today.
The kite was invented in China around 500 BC. At first the kite was mostly used for military purposes. During the Tang Dynasty, however, kites became a popular form of entertainment. Kites were made from paper or silk with bamboo frames. Many kites were decorated to the point that they were works of art as much as toys.
The Chinese enjoyed playing a variety of board games. One of the most popular was Go (also called weiqi). Go was invented sometime around 500 BC. Over time, Go became so popular that it became one of the Four Scholarly Arts that were to be mastered by all Chinese gentlemen. Go is a game of strategy. It is played on a grid with small black and white pieces called "stones."
Playing cards were invented in China during the Tang Dynasty. The typical pack of cards contained 30 cards. The cards had suits and values. The Ancient Chinese developed a wide variety of card games that they played using these cards.
Many wealthy people in the latter dynasties of Ancient China enjoyed to read for entertainment. Poetry was very important throughout much of Ancient Chinese history. People would recite and write poetry for pleasure. Novels became more popular during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The "Four Great Classical Novels" of Chinese literature were written during these dynasties. They are Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber.
Interesting Facts about Entertainment and Games in Ancient China
- The sport of jiju was an early form of polo played by the Ancient Chinese. It reached its peak during the Tang Dynasty.
- Fireworks were invented in China around 7th century. They were used during festivals to ward off evil spirits and for entertainment.
- Gambling using dice, cards, or gambling sticks was a very popular form of entertainment.
- The Chinese developed one of the earliest forms of football (soccer) called cuju around 200 BC.
For more information on the civilization of Ancient China:
History >> Ancient China