15 February 2022 ·

The Chinese culture is a religious culture

A visit to the National Palace Museum in Taipei makes you laugh about attempts at forced atheism against the Chinese.
Taipei (BC) - The Chinese culture is a religious culture from the very beginning. This is the great evidence that appears from Chinese art exhibited at the National Museum of Taipei. Located on the northern hills of the city, the museum collects over 600,000 pieces of art: bronzes, jades, calligraphy, paintings, statues, etc., which cover millennia of Chinese history. Transferred by Chiang Kai-shek whn he escaped from the continent, for many in the People's Republic of China these pieces have been "stolen"; for many art lovers and for many Taiwanese, they were "saved" from the iconoclasm of the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, when they burned and destroyed every element of the past, especially religious ones. The point is that - as perhaps in all cultures - it is religion itself, the sacredness of life that produces art.
I was able to visit the Museum a few days ago with some friends, accompanied by an exceptional guide, prof. Jack Wu. We dwelt on some early finds from the Bronze Age (about 3500 years ago) and coincidentally, among the beautiful things exhibited there is a vase (ding) that was used to cook the food for the offering to the god, which was then distributed - as for a communion - also to the faithful. The impressive fact is that vases, precious chalices, and decorated plates were not for everyday use, but for the liturgical service! One reason is also because perhaps no one could have all the money necessary to cast a bronze vase, work it, decorate it, ... The liturgy was the experience which motivated and strengthened the work in the mines to obtain minerals, the technology to learn how to mix metals to make alloys, sculpture to melt bronze in models….
Then there are the jades, a symbol of immortality, which are carved, chiseled, modeled for prayer and to accompany the dead in their eternal life. Pieces of jade were used in the Han period (206 BC - 220 AD) to cover the faces of the deceased, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, so as not to let the soul "escape" from inside the body. If there is the soul and immortality, then it means that life is not just business, things that can be touched and seen, but also spirit.
A thought accompanies me: the attempts - even current ones - to make the culture of the Chinese atheist, materialistic, aren't perhaps a violence against Chinese culture? When we demand the "sinicization" of religions, that is, submission to a man, to the Party, we are actually working to destroy religion and its essence, even if we proclaim that we want to save traditional culture. I am reminded of what prof. Richard Madsen, sociologist of religions at the University of San Diego (California). According to him, the Chinese people are among the most religious people: at least 80% of them believe in some form of spirituality. And this happens despite all the campaigns of atheism and the persecution of religions.
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In evidence