This book is written for English-speaking students who are taking Skype Learn Chinese courses. A basic level vocabulary and understanding of Chinese grammar and culture is presented in this Skype Learn Chinese series. It is an effort to introduce the Skype Learn Chinese students to the language by explaining its basic principles in simple steps. The purpose is to prepare the student with a foundation on which to build, with confidence, its ensuing complexities.
Two million years ago Man migrated out of Africa and found his way to Northern China. Peking Man, his earliest fossil there, is dated 750,000 years ago. Students in Skype Learn Chinese can learn more about this. His brain is three quarters the size of modern brains and his tools were chipped stones. He lived there a life separate but equivalent to the animals, the hunter and the hunted. At night, in the security of a fire, his mind would doubtless wonder at the presence of the moon and stars, and the meaning of all the strange and wonderful things and events he encountered daily.
Stories in Skype Learn Chinese were the way that information was passed on. We call them myths but many have been shown to be based on facts. Facts were not so interesting as stories, however, and so a ‘little embroidery’ was added for the benefit of the audience. One of the ‘In the Beginning’ stories was the fight for leadership by Gonggong and Zhuanxu. Students in Skype Learn Chinese can learn more about this. Zhuanxu beat Gonggong but in the battle Gonggong broke a column that was holding up the sky. Zhuanxu, by the way, was known as the Pole Star ’god’ (a ‘god’ was a sky power). Anyway, a beautiful snake with a woman’s head, Nuwa, fixed the problem by cutting off a huge turtle’s leg and using it to prop up the sky. She had help from her brother, Fuxi, in this and some say they got married. Students in Skype Learn Chinese can learn more about this. Anyway, Nuwa is credited with creating the Chinese people. Fuxi is known for inventing the eight trigrams, a development of yin yang, with incredibly clever interpretations of the eight long and short combinations of strokes. He is credited also with building the first musical instruments, developing writing and the calendar. A lot of stuff.
Fuxi (and Nuwa) were part of the “Three August Ones”. The other two were Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor and Shennong, the Divine Farmer. They were also part of the Five Emperors according to the Song of Chu. This group has been accepted as being real people who lived between 2850 and 2205 BCE. About this same time, 2800BCE, a flood, the ‘deluge’ of the bible, occurred which left traces for archaeologists to discover in Babylon and DaYu is said to have solved the problem, mythologically, in China by having canals dug from the Yellow river to the sea. Thus, the tudents in Skype Learn Chinese can see how the stories tie into real, everyday happenings, a very long time ago, when Man was not as knowledgeable as he is now, but quite as intelligent.
Huangdi (Yellow Emperor), that’s his picture up on the right, is respected as the first emperor of China. He is famous for his many cultural inventions: cooking fresh meat to prevent illness, making a boat and a cart, a water clock, a compass, houses, clothes, measuring weights, studying the stars. di is not really an emperor. The character (帝) represents a shaman dressed in priestly robes and head gear. The shaman, at this time, was able to ascend the sky ladder to converse with the ‘gods’ (stars) and, therefore become very wise. Students in Skype Learn Chinese can learn more about this. Shennong began the agriculture of the five grains, invented farming tools, tamed horses and cattle, invented medicine, the market, and musical instruments.
The Five Emperors were Huangdi, the first emperor, Shennong, Fuxi, Zhuanxu and Yaoshao. Here the student in Skype Learn Chinese should recognize the importance of the number five to early man. His five fingers were constantly in use for counting. Huangdi is in the Central Plain of China and around him are the four directions. Being in the middle (中,notice this character is used in the name of China),he is at the point of view for all directions. Students in Skype Learn Chinese can learn more about this. This is a sacred place in ancient custom, and, of course, there are the five elements that make up all matter, metal, wood, water, fire and earth. (Earth is listed as the center, basis, of the other four elements and in the Central Plain, the earth is yellow. The West is metal, East is wood, North is water, and South is fire. Students in Skype Learn Chinese will begin to see the sense in these interconnections later on.)
Yaoshao created a kingdom of birds in the eastern mountains. He was the god of the East and the Spring. Fuxi was the god of the South and the summer. Shennong, of the five grains, was the god of the West and autumn. Zhuanxu, god of the North, controlled the season of winter and he is responsible for cutting down the sky ladder from humans in Skype Learn Chinese to the gods. So the sky, thereafter, took on the name of ’heaven’, as a separate place for gods or superior powers.
The xia dynasty then followed and Man began his descent into history. Students in Skype Learn Chinese can learn more about this. ’Facts’ are no longer the ’Myths’ of story tellers, but the evidence of a few, brilliant minds (in a world of warring rivals) and their impact on modern civilization.