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Cultural icons in Beijing Olympics opening ceremony
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The following are some of the Chinese cultural icons in Friday's Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

Confucius and Lunyu

Performances at the opening ceremony opened with a well-known saying of Confucius, "Friends have come from afar, how happy we are." And 2,008 performers beat the ancient Chinese percussion instrument, the Fous, and sang to welcome friends from all over the world.

Some of the much quoted lines from his Lunyu, or the Analects, were chanted during the performances, including "All those within the four seas can be considered as brothers."

Confucius (551 BC-479 BC) was a famous educator and thinker in ancient times. He was also founder of Confucianism, a mainstream school of thought that deeply influenced later generations.


Apsaras is an image in the mural paintings of Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang in northwest China's Gansu Province, and the synonym of Mogao Grottoes.

During the Olympics opening performances, 20 graceful Apsarases fell from the sky and clustered around the Olympic rings, manifesting beauty and romance.

The four treasures of the study

These refer to the brush, ink stick, paper and inkstone, and appeared in a short film before the art performances.

Chinese ink and wash painting

The performances began with the black and white tone of Chinese ink and wash painting, and the unique body language of the performers contained its charm.

Bamboo slips

These were a kind of books with scripts carved on the stringed bamboo slices, an ancient book form.

"Disciples" of Confucius held bamboo slips during the performances.


Ancient Chinese characters of "He", meaning harmony, appeared several times during the "writing" part of the performances. It echoes Confucius idea of humanism, meaning "Harmony is precious".

Taiji/unity of man and nature

Taiji, meaning the supreme ultimate, was used by ancient Chinese to refer to the chaotic state of the world before the separation of heaven and earth. It was thought that Taiji was the origin of the universe and that people and all things were constituted by the interaction of the two poles (yin and yang) and the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth).

Taijiquan is a typical form of shadow boxing in Chinese martial arts, characterized by the "combination of the dynamic and static, and the interdependence of hardness and softness".

The performances demonstrated the Eight Diagrams of Taiji, symbolizing eight natural phenomena, including heaven, earth, thunder, wind, water, fire, mountain and swamp and bringing out the changes of all things on the earth.

During the performances, children colored the ancient Chinese paintings of nature green, expressing the idea of environmental protection which is also the key concept of Taiji -- unity of man and nature.

(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2008)

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