the friend online
06 June 2008


Quaker traditions and Chinese cultural icons - preview

Phil Dahl explores the parallels

China's economic growth promises to be a significant world influence over coming decades
  • Concerns about human rights in Tibet have been raised again
  • The Sichuan earthquake has brought its people into our hearts
  • The First Emperor exhibition at the British Museum sparked huge interest in China's panoramic history
  • Deep, rich and intriguing, China's culture stretches back well over 5,000-6,000 years
  • Our western fascination is hardly surprising

  • To grasp such continuity, try this challenge
  • Imagine we still knew the language and belief systems of the builders of the Avebury and Stonehenge ritual complexes
  • Picture that our visual arts drew on their archetypal images, as well as classical symbols
  • Figure a common inheritance that stood in humbling monuments, its cosmology recorded in age-old scripts
  • Rather than seeking the original purposes of a few structures abandoned on bleak moorlands, their experience might have been elaborated over successive generations
  • Such is the character of China's cultural inheritance

  • Phil Dahl

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