Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese

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Brill’s Encyclopedia of China Online is based on the originally a thousand-page reference work on China with a clear focus on the modern period from the mid-nineteenth century to the 21st century. Written by the world’s top scholars, Brill’s Encyclopedia of China is the first place to look for reliable information on the history, geography, society, economy, politics, science, and culture of China.

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Games and Pastimes

(1,386 words)

Author(s): Greatrex, Roger
Leaving aside activities such as dog-racing, cock-fighting and the like, the games of bo and yi were the most widespread amusements in ancient China. They are mentioned together in the Lunyu , and a passage in the Zuozhuan pointedly refers to the decisiveness required by a player of yi. Where Confucius mentioned the two games without disapprobation, Mencius saw them as social evils leading to unfilial behavior and spoke of yi as "an art of little consequence". Of the two games, yi is by far the easier to describe. It was the forerunner of the game of surrounding chequers ( weiqi), perhaps bett…


(1,023 words)

Author(s): Ståhlberg, Sabira
Gan, Long Lanzhou 86 counties, 16 cities 26.06 million inhabitants 454,300 km² 57 inhabitants per km2 The province of Gansu in northwestern China borders on the autonomous regions of Xinjiang, Ningxia, and Inner Mongolia, as well as on the provinces of Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Qinghai. Since 1949, the capital is Lanzhou (3.2 million inhabitants). In the west, the Qilian Mountains, covered with woods and snow, reach an altitude of 5500 m. The Gobi and Alashan deserts are located in the east and the north. South of …


(716 words)

Author(s): Hennig, Karl
Chinese gardens differ substantially from the European gardening traditions. In Europe, the central notion is the contrast between man and nature in the Biblical sense of "replenish the earth and subdue it". The main idea of the Chinese garden, on the other hand, is that man and nature are not opposites but parts within a larger unity. A European gardening tradition developed with the kitchen gardens of medieval monasteries, while its origins can be traced back to the strictly geometrical garden…

Gender and Gender Roles

(1,065 words)

Author(s): Davin, Delia
Traditional Chinese society, was characterized by a system of sharply differentiated gender roles. Women looked after the inside affairs of the household and were confined as much as possible to the home while men were responsible for outside affairs. In peasant families this meant that men did most of the work in the fields and dominated in clan and village affairs. Women tended pigs and poultry, made clothes, fetched water, and prepared food. Men controlled commerce, business, and the governme…


(731 words)

Author(s): Hahn, Thomas
The geosciences have a long-standing tradition in China. In accord with the (obvious) orientation towards military geography and the resulting early forms of cartography and toponymy (study of place-names) of the Spring and Autumn period, the central areas of today's China had been surveyed to a great extent. An extensive postal system and traffic network, which was at least equal to that of the Roman Empire, further facilitated the transfer of distance parameters and topographic features to official documentation. Pre-Christian literary sources such as the Shujing ( Book of Histo…


(729 words)

Author(s): Hahn, Thomas
In the guise of petrography and mineralogy, Chinese geology has a long-standing tradition. The relation between the economy and local mineral resources is discussed in numerous chapters of the book Guanzi (approximately 1st century BCE). The terminological instruments for the classification of geodetic deposits were systematically developed over the centuries. Ding Wenjiang (1887-1936) is generally recognized as the founding father of modern Chinese geology. He studied geology and zoology in Glasgow, returned to China in 191…


(4,881 words)

Author(s): Mühlhahn, Klaus | Leutner, Mechthild | Trampedach, Tim
1. 1860-1918 During the "long" 19th century until World War I, the structures and changes in international politics largely shaped the German-Chinese relations. The rivalry between the European colonial powers and China's increasing loss of territorial and economic self-determination were the dominant factors. Although German missionaries and merchants occasionally came in contact with China since the 17th century (Christianity), German countries established formal relations with China only at a relatively late date in comparison to othe…

Germany, images of

(1,710 words)

Author(s): Felber, Roland
Until the 1860s, Chinese did not know anything specific about Germany. It merely appeared on Chinese maps of the world from the 14th and 16th centuries and in geographical accounts of the first half of the 19th century. Chinese became interested in Prussia and the German Reich (state) established under its lead only in the wake of the Sino-Prussian Treaty in 1861, and especially after the military victory over France in 1870-71. At this early stage, the image of Germany was characterized by two factors: (1) Chinese esteem for German militar…