China’s Top 3 Ancient Books

China’s Top 3 Ancient Books

China, known as one of the world’s four ancient civilizations, and the written history of China dates back to the Shang Dynasty which is over 3,000 years ago. In such a long history, literature has an important position at all times. Here are China’s top 3 ancient books, which all have historical significance and remain valuable today.

Three Character Classic

It served as a child’s first formal education at home from 13 century to even late 18 century. The text is written in triplets of characters for easy memorization. Among all the children primers in ancient China, Three Character Classic is a valuable heritage of ancient history and culture. Children learned many common characters, grammar structures, elements of Chinese history and the basis of Confucian morality, especially filial piety and respect for elders. Even nowadays, the first four lines of the book are very familiar to most youth in China. Though the work is no longer taught at public schools, some parents still use this classic to teach their young children to pronounce Chinese characters.

The Classic of Poetry

It is the oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry, comprising 305 works dating from the 11th to 7th centuries BC. It can be divided into three parts which are “Airs of the States”, “Hymn” and “Eulogy”. “Airs of the States” is the most famous part because it relates to the people deeply. It often speaks of love and courtship, longing for an absent lover, soldiers on campaign, farming and housework, and political satire and protest. It’s interesting that all the poems in ancient times can be sung as songs but the art is lost, unfortunately. Now, we can only find the written record.

The Analects of Confucius

This is a collection of sayings and ideas attributed to the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, and his contemporaries, traditionally believed to have been compiled and written by Confucius’s followers. It is believed to have been written during the Warring States period (475–221 BC), and it achieved its final form during the mid-Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). Though lots of emperors used this book as one of their governing tools in spirit, we can’t deny the advantages of it nowadays.

Wenchuan Hu
Wenchuan Hu
Assistant Digital Editor and Staff Editor

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