- CNTV English - CCTV News

Peculiar Chinese kneeling salutes

09-06-2010 15:35 BJT

In the plays and films about ancient history, we often see people kneel and give salute. How did these common manners come into being? We have to begin with the ancient people’s material conditions and living habits.

Before the Han dynasty, there were no formal chairs. When eating, discussing business or reading, people usually sat on a mat knitted from reeds and bamboo skins. If they invited guests to their homes, they would usually add another layer of mat to express their respect. Even the supreme ruler also sat on the mat, except for their mats had a better quality than that of common people. For example, in the Zhou Dynasty, when officials came to meet with the emperor, there was a screen with a black and white axe pattern beside the mats where the wives of the emperor sat. Before the screen, there was a mat knitted from water sedge and covered with a colorful rush mat and a peach bamboo mat. There was also a jade armrest on both sides of the mat for the emperor to rest his arms on.

Peculiar Chinese kneeling salutes

The so-called “sitting” position in history is completely different from sitting today. When seated, an ancient man’s two bent knees were on the floor and his hips were on his heels, with the soles of feet remaining outwards and backwards. The “sitting” position in history is virtually the kneeling position today. During the reception of guests, if the “sitting” host wanted to express his gratitude to guests, he often straightened the upper part of his body before bending over in order to show his respect, which became the prostration ceremony in daily life over time.

The ancient people believed that without kneeling, it is not saluting. The Chinese word “Bai” meant saluting in the ancient times. The etiquette of the Zhou Dynasty formulated strict regulations on the actions and objects of worship. Three kinds of worships namely the Jishou, Dunshou and Kongshou were considered as “official salutes.” The Jishou required the person saluting to kneel on the ground with their left hand on their right hand touching the ground before they slowly kowtow to the ground for some time, while maintaining the posture of hands in front of the knees, and the head behind hands. This is the highest etiquette among the “nine types of salutes” and was generally used for officials to meet the emperor or to salute their ancestors. (Afterwards, this etiquette was used by monks and was called the “Jishou.”)

The Dunshou is the same as the Jishou except the person saluting was required to quickly kowtow and their foreheads should lightly touch the ground when doing so. This etiquette was generally used for people of lower status to salute people of higher status. (The “Dunshou” was later used at the beginning or ending, or both beginning and ending of a letter to show respect to the recipients.)

Hot Videos view more

The celebrations are still continuing as the victorious coach, Joachim Loew, has been honored for his achievement in his hometown of Freiburg.
Germany coach Loew honored in hometown of Freiburg

Chinese men´s national team continued its preparations for next year´s Asian Cup, as they managed a one-all draw against visitors Jordan during a football friendly in Harbin, the capital city of Northeast China´s Heilongjiang Province.
China held to 1-1 draw by Jordan

The defending world champs came into the contest with a perfect 6-and-oh record, but they would be in for a tough first half before opening things up in the second.
USA beat Slovenia 119-76 in quarter-finals

Hot Stories more

UK authorities believe killer of James Foley is a British national

Across the UK the hunt is on for James Foley’s killer, who authorities believe is a British national. As Richard Bestic reports from London, Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his summer break to lead his government’s response.

Israeli war jets renews Gaza strike as truce talks stalled

Three Palestinians were killed and 40 others wounded in the intensive Israeli war jets´ airstrikes on the Gaza city on Tuesday night, shortly before an end of a 24-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip,

Missouri police arrest dozens after violent night

As the protests in the town of Ferguson, Missouri turned violent with police facing ´heavy gunfire´ from some ´criminal elements´, cops fired tear gas, stun grenades and arrested 31 demonstrators on Monday night.

Picture in news more

More Video News

Choose TV Program