Nationalism has been a key driver behind the rise of China to military policies and global performance in the 20th century (Chinese Art Timeline, 2016). Presently, China has developed technologically, politically and economically its nationalism is characterized by feelings of disappointment, pride, and hope as a nation. Many observers are concerned about nationalism in China and its role in shaping the rise of China. The history of Chinese represents a continuous struggle to unify its territories as a diverse and vast since China-based their authority on something bigger than ethnicity. The dynasties in China were thus measured based on the Chinese civilization. Therefore, nationalism is a widely shared value in China from the government to the masses. It has materialized itself over time through the works of art and literature. The cultural sphere in China has led to investments in art to safeguard their cultural traditions and economic weight and status. Washu/Kung Fu, a traditional art in Chinese culture symbolizes the pride and strength of Chinese in their history. The Yangge dance as art is a folk dance in North China that involve spirited dance, loud music, and rhythmic movements. Lion dance is another form of a folk dance that mimics the movement of a lion in Chinese culture. Thus, these form of arts are significantly linked to nationalism by helping to construct national identity and as a simple of their virtue within their cultural and political significance. Moreover, there is a rich and old tradition in visual arts and literature. The early writings were in the manner in which people needed to act and how the political system and society were to be operated and organized. Art and literature are essential in Chinese culture and have shown the important place and the influence it had in Chinese nationalism. This paper, therefore, seeks to describe how nationalism aroused through various form of art and literature in early 20th century in China.
How Arts influenced Nationalism
Wushu/Kung Fu is a form of martial art in Chinese culture. Kung Fu symbolizes pride and strength in Chinese culture. Kung Fu is substantially linked to nationalism in China after many defeats by the foreign imperialist powers in the 20th century. Meaning, nationalism has to the greatest extent been strengthened by the use films in a martial art. National identity was constructed by the use of martial arts in the first half of the 20th century. It also facilitated Kung Fu as a symbol of strength and virtue in Chinese culture. In 1960, a nationalism defensive strain was influenced, and filmmakers began adopting new approaches to the manner in which Washu was portrayed (Li & Moreira, 2007). Martial arts started influencing cultural and political significance and as a presentation that is unique, it evolved as a Chinese nationalism. Presently, there is a strong representation of martial arts among the Chineseness. From the films by Bruce Lee and Donnie Yen, martial arts in Chinese culture has shown the important place of Kung Fu in Chinese nationalism.
Renan believes that a nation is a soul and a spiritual principle that involve a will of remembering important heritage and a legacy of remembrance (Jarvie, Hwang, & Brennan, 2008). In 1980, the increasing network of Kung Fu united the people in China against aggressors leading to the development of the Boxer rebellion (Jarvie, Hwang, & Brennan, 2008). The rebellion continued till 1911, making Wushu be portrayed as a way of preserving the nation and race. Educationists, the public, and the government supported the promotion of Wushu as a way of encouraging national defense and people fitness (Jarvie, Hwang, & Brennan, 2008). The development of Wushu showed the extent in which the spiritual and national soul were preserved and valued by individuals. In decades, Wushu became reinforced as an essential cultural image of the Chinese. Martial art relationship with nationalism in China is highly fortified. The print media were the forerunner in facilitating the construction of national consciousness and nationalism. Influenced by nationalism, martial arts has relied majorly on Chinese tradition and Wuxia literature.
Washu is traced back to Xia dynasty as a part of military training. Development of hand to hand combats, military and technology tactics and weapon skills were use in military training (Meissner, 2006). Sima Qian, a Chinese historian, is the only person that saw Wushu in a literal manner. Wushu has since been seen in the Chinese literature, like the Tang Dynasty poetry.
China was established in 1912 after the First World War and influenced by social Darwinism; Wushu was seen as a way of achieving the salvation of the nation (Gao, 2011). To the people of China, it meant promotion of their culture. Wushu was incorporated in universities and schools making it flourish. Societies like Jingwu Society were created and flourished to become one of the sports organization in the nation. Classic stories and novels of Wushu became essential themes for filmmakers, and the films gained popularity. Lee Fee, the heroin was the first film of the Chinese martial arts in 1925 (Li & Moreira, 2007). The film was produced by Tanya in Shangai and included swordplay and period costume martial arts. The foci included the exploration of Chinese social norms and values and the reflection of religion and philosophy, including Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The heroes in the films had more advanced skills of Kung Fu fought with evil spirits to promote traditional norms and values like altruism, righteousness and honesty.
Nationalism was the primary reason there were a success and the rise of the self-strengthening movement. With the increasing resentment that was caused by Qing corruption in the government, the rising ethnic nationalism and the inability of defending themselves from the foreign aggressors led to an uprising against the government in the late 1990s.Machu monarch was overthrown in 1911, resulting in the establishment of China Republic in 1912 (Li & Moreira, 2007). Through the 1920s, the influence caused by nationalism by film directors and filmmakers created the promotion of the national spirit and a sense of consciousness (Li & Moreira, 2007).
During the 1917 revolution, the communists in China had already employed art media in their campaigns in the rural areas in China (Jarvie, Hwang, & Brennan, 2008). The most common among the art media that was used was Yangge dance that promoted communists success and its success in the early days lead to Chinese communist revolution. The dance is mainly performed in North China and combines garish dance, spirited dance and loud music with rhythmic movements. The dance involves New Year celebration and rituals that dispel evil and ensure a good harvest in the following season.
In 1942 after the influential talks of Mao Zedong on art and literature, called for their use in as a political tool (Chinese Art Timeline, 2016). This led to the development of Yangge movement that infused with some socialist elements. Many Yangge dances were created with symbols for the communist party that extols hard work and heroic deeds. During the civil war, communist forces promoted other Yangge dances in North China with distinct variations in movement and style. Pamphlets on Yangge were printed, and communists taught the dance in campuses. The nationalists saw the dance as a conspiracy that the communists were using to destabilize the government. As a result, the dance was banned. Through this, the dance was transformed into a celebratory art that was seen as a vehicle of propaganda.
Later in 1912, the dance was linked to the military campaigns leading to a close correlation between Chinese communist revolution and rural art (Meissner, 2006) (Tingjiang, 1998). Yange was thus seen as a symbol and a way of celebrating a change in the political system with people dancing in the streets to mark a victory for the communists. The dance has continued to be used in celebrating a special occasion and to be an essential part of the political culture of the communists. In 1950, the dance was used as a propaganda tool for supporting the American resist and helping Korea campaign (Li & Moreira, 2007). The Yangge made the communists achieve the liberation war, commemoration of the victory of people and the development of a socialist country. Thus, Yangge was both a political symbol and captivating dance in the 20th century that led to nationalism among Chinese people.
The Lion Dance
The art of lion dancing began in China before the 20th century. The Chinese people found it hard to meet lions thus they had a very vague sense and impression. With the Cultural Revolution, the influence of diverse religions and historical changes sports and art led to the evolution in different characteristics of culture that resulted in further revolution and nationalism. Based on the writing in the Chow dynasty, lion dance was developed many years ago. In the Tang Dynasty, Qi Yi Bai described by depicting the manner in which people use masks of fake lions that are made of woods with golden eyes and silver teeth(Chinese Art Timeline, 2016). The lion in Buddhism is seen as a holy guard. Thus, all the culture of Chinese people was influenced by lion dance movements. The dance stressed the skills in martial arts which during the 20th century was already popular. The dances influenced and motivated the spirit of nationalism among the Chinese people. This occurred due to the various rebellions and unsatisfactory Qing government. Through nationalism, the lion dance spread to vast areas of China.
Among all nations, Chinas literature is written in one language. The use of written language had an implication in Chinese literature. In print or handwriting, their writings have visual appeal there has been a factor in maintaining and shaping the continuity of their culture. The Chinese people for years have had a rich but old culture in literature and the visual and dramatic arts. The writing mostly depicted the manner in which people needed to act and how the political system and society needed to be operated and organized. The history of writing evolved from one dynasty to another. In addition to historical, religious and philosophical writings, China had literature on dramatic writings, novels and poetry. Literature was well established in the Tang Dynasty. The literary culture and tradition have remained, but in the 20th century, there were concentrated writings on efforts that influenced nationalism in China.Based on communism, writers had socialist values and actively promoted the teaching and restoration of classics. During 1830, literature flowered and pros forms and poetry flourished. Using Tang Confucian doctrines, he advocated for a straightforward and free prose (Tingjiang, 1998). The Ching Dynasty in 1911 was overthrown when China was in turmoil until the communist succeeded in 1949 (Li & Moreira, 2007). Political revolution during this period led to literary revolution. The youth magazine assisted in developing the intellectual revolution and the article by Ch'en on rebellion against classical and traditional ideas and literary forms. Lu Hsun, another writer in 1918, published a short story on the first Western-style short story. The story is seen as a revolution one in the present China. Speeches and political writings were more prominent in the 20th century. Many literary works were produced and reflected he policies of communist and social realism. Ting Ling as a communist during this period wrote a novel on land reform and another r novel about rebellious peasants who took power from their landlor...
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