Culturedescribes the art, belief system, and customs among other aspectsthat can be associated with a certain group, society, or individuals.Almost every society has its own culture that can be identifiedthrough its different elements such as language, customs, food andartifacts among other things. This is critical in identifying theculture. Artifacts emerge as critical elements that help to tell moreabout the cultural practices and beliefs of a certain group,community, or society. As a Chinese, there are so many things thatgive identity to the culture of the Chinese society. For example,there are cuisines that can only be associated with the Chinese,Chinese tea, Kungfu, and art work (Alon106). Also, in china, there are different artifacts that can be usedin identifying with the cultural practices and cultural beliefs ofthe Chinese society. One of the artifacts that identifies with theChinese culture is the Temple of Heaven. In this assignment, thisartifact will be discussed in relation to its importance to theChinese culture and how Chinese cultural values are embedded to theartifact.
Templeof Heaven is located in Beijing, China. The artifact was first builtduring the period of Ming Dynasty and later became rebuilt orexpanded by the emperors of the Qing Dynasty. The region it covers isalmost square two southern corners are right-angled while thenorthern corners are rounded. This represents symbolizing of theearth as being square and heaven being round according to the beliefsof the ancient Chinese. The temple has a partition of inner and outerwalls. The most significant buildings in the Temple of Heaven are theHall of Prayer for Good harvest, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, andthe Circular Mound Altar. The Circular Mound Alter is the place,where emperors used to offer sacrifices to the Heaven as they prayedfor rain. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest entails the mostimportant building in the temple (Renard58). It is the place, where emperors used to offer prayers in orderto have good harvests. On the other hand, the Imperial Vault ofHeaven entails another important building inside the Temple ofHeaven. This building was utilized in housing the tablet of the Godof Heaven they also housed the tablets of the ancestors of theemperors.
Howthe Artifact Relates to the Chinese Culture
TheTemple of Heaven relates to the culture of the Chinese in differentways. First, the artifact indicates that the ancient Chinese had thebelief that the earth is square while the heavens are round (Guillain74) and the God is powerful. This is well depicted in the designingof the artifact. It is through the design of the Temple of Heaventhat one can be in a position to learn this belief. God is depictedas powerful since the ancient Chinese prayed to God with faith thatHe is a powerful God that will hear them and grant them their wishes.
Besides,the artifact shows Chinese to have a belief in sacrifices. The Templeof Heaven has a place, where emperors used to offer their sacrificesto the Heavenly God and God of Earth. This shows that the culture ofthe Chinese constituted offering sacrifices to the God in order tohear their supplications. In addition, the artifact also relates tothe culture of the Chinese since the sacrifices were made in order topray for rain and good harvest. Therefore, sacrificing to God was asignificant practice in the belief system of the Chinese.
Furthermore,the artifact also relates to the culture of the Chinese since ithelps people in understanding how the Chinese perceived theiremperors and the roles that they were designated to perform. TheChinese had a belief that it is their leaders (emperors during theancient time) that should be involved in offering sacrifices to God.In the ancient Chinese society, the emperors used to offer sacrificesin the Temple of Heaven as a way of pleasing God. This is anindication that the Chinese used their leaders in establishing aconnection amid the heavens and the earth. Therefore, the emperorswere given the role of maintaining the relationship amid the heavensand the earth.
CulturalValues Embedded to the Artifact
Differentcultural values associated with the Chinese are depicted through theTemple of Heaven. One of the Chinese cultural values depicted by theartifact is righteousness. The value of righteousness shows peopleleading a life that pleases God. This value is depicted in the Templeof Heaven since the artifact was built with the chief aim of offeringsacrifices to God (Renard113). Offering sacrifices to God can be viewed as one way of pleasingGod, which may show Chinese to lead a life of righteousness. It is inthe Temple of Heaven that emperors worshipped God, which makes theartifact associated with the value of Chinese righteousness.
Benevolenceis another Chinese cultural value embedded in the Temple of Heaven.Benevolence describes a quality that shows the desire to help others.The Temple of Heaven was built with a purpose of doing good toeveryone within the Chinese society. This is because through thesacrifices, the emperors were in a position to plead God, on behalfof the Chinese people, to bring big harvests and rain (Renard128). It is through the sacrifices that everyone was to benefit fromrain and bumper harvests. Therefore, the Temple of Harvest has thecultural value of benevolence embedded to it.
Inaddition, another Chinese cultural value embedded to the Temple ofHeaven is filial piety. Filial piety is the virtue of showing respectfor parents, elders and ancestors. In the Temple of Heaven, there isa show of respect for ancestors since the artifact housed the tabletsof the ancestors of the emperors in the Imperial Vault of Heaveninside the Temple of Heaven.
Useand Importance of the Artifact to the Culture
TheTemple of Heaven is of great importance to the Chinese culture. Thisis because it helps in bringing out the relationship amid the earthand the heaven. This is indicated by the depiction of the artifactbeing used to house God’s tablets and the tablets of the ancestorsof the emperors. This shows that there is a relationship of heavenand earth. The artifact is also used for offering sacrifices andprayers to God, which brings out the connection between the earth andheaven. Besides, the artifact has been used by the Chinese culture inshowing the unique role played by emperors within the society inconnecting the heavens and the earth (Renard154). The Chinese emperors are depicted to play the role of offeringsacrifices in order to supplicate to God to offer bumper harvests andprovide rain this role helps in making a connection between theheaven and earth. This is a role the emperors are seen to take with alot of seriousness because they first offer prayers, then sacrifices.The Temple of Heaven is also used by the Chinese culture to show howthe Chinese showed respect to their ancestors. The ancestors aredepicted to be approached with respect since the Temple of Heavenhoused the tablets of the ancestors of the emperors. In addition, theChinese culture used the Temple of Heaven to show how important itwas in ensuring that there was rain to support the agriculture in thesociety.
TheTemple of Heaven is one of the Chinese artifacts that can relate wellwith the culture of the Chinese. The artifact is of importance sinceit showed the creation of a relationship between the earth and theheavens through Chinese leaders offering prayers and sacrifices toGod in the artifact. Different Chinese cultural values have beenembedded to the Temple of Heaven for instance, loyalty,righteousness, benevolence, and filial piety. Besides, through thisartifact, the role of emperors in the Chinese culture has beenidentified as providing guidance and offering sacrifices that help inconnecting with the heavens. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvestentails the most important building in the temple. It is the place,where emperors used to offer prayers in order to have good harvests.Therefore, the Temple of Heaven is an important artifact in theunderstanding of the Chinese culture.
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Renard,John. 101Questions and Answers on Confucianism, Daoism, and Shinto.New York: Paulist Press, 2002. Print.