13 Modern Angles Representing ‘China’s Big Four’

Smoke rises from the funerary pyre of the monkey king Vali. (Image Credit: via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)
Smoke rises from the funerary pyre of the monkey king Vali. (Image Credit: via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

China is an old and profound culture. It has a long history of novels and historical legends. Among these classic pieces are four very essential novels that have inherited the name “China’s Big Four” among Chinese.

But besides China’s Big Four, there are a number of other historical entities that come in the power of four, like the four talented women.

This holds true even in modern times in regard to expressing the greatness of a selected variety of things, even those greater than four in number.

In the spirit of “China’s Big Four,” Chinese Netizens got the ingenious idea to go through China’s entire history and culture, weighing each aspect of it against their criteria that would make it a “Big Four.”

The following list shows 13 areas, each bearing 4 aspects, which Chinese Netizens believe would qualify to be regarded as “China’s Big Four.”

Here is the list:

(1) Four most talented women:

  • Cai Wenji
  • Ban Zhao or Shangguan Wan’er
  • Zhuo Wnjun
  • Li Qingzhao
Image Credit:(By He Dazi (赫達資) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

This painting depicts Cai Wenji (蔡文姬). The full album is known as Gathering Gems of Beauty (畫麗珠萃秀). (Image Credit: By He Dazi (赫達資) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

(2) Four great classical novels:

  1. Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  2. Journey to the West
  3. Water Margin
  4. Dream of the Red Chamber

(3) Four beauties of ancient China:

  1. Xi Shi
  2. Wang Zhaojun
  3. Yang Guifei
  4. Diaochan
(Image Credit:I, Sailko [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Wang Qiang (Wang Chiang; 王牆, also 王檣 and 王嬙), more commonly known by her stylistic name Wang Zhaojun (Wang Chao-chun; 王昭君), was known as one of the ‘four beauties’ of ancient China. (Image Credit: Sailko [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

(4) Four ancient operas that depict tragedy:

  1. Writer Guan Hanqing’s Snow in Midsummer
  2. Ma Zhiyuan’s masterpiece Han Gong Qiu
  3. Bai Pu’s Indus Rain
  4. Ji Junxiang’s The Orphan of Zhao

(5) Four legendary stories:

  1. The Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet, known as the Love Story of  Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai (Butterfly Lovers)
  2. Da Yu Controls the Great Flood
  3. The Cowherd and the Weaving Girl
  4. Lady Meng-Jiang’s Tears Made the Great Wall Collapse

(6) Four famous Buddhist mountains:

  1. Mount Wutai in Shanxi
  2. Mount Emei in Sichuan
  3. Mount Putuo in Zhejiang
  4. Mount Jiuhua in Anhui
Sunrise at Mount Emei in Sichuan Western China.(Image Credit: By Staceynyx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Sunrise at Mount Emei in Sichuan Western China.(Image Credit: By Staceynyx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

(7) Four great inventions:

  1. Compass
  2. Gunpowder
  3. Printing technique
  4. Geomantic compass

(8) Four ancient capitals:

  1. Xi’an
  2. Luoyang
  3. Beijing
  4. Nanjing

(9) Four major cuisines:

  1. Lu (Shandong)
  2. Chuan (Sichuan)
  3. Su (Jiangsu)
  4. Yue (Guangdong)

(10) Four traditional festivals:

Dragon Dance in Chinatown NYC Lunar New Year(Image Credit: By Patrick Kwan from New York City, USA (Dragon in Chinatown NYC Lunar New Year) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Dragon Dance in Chinatown, NYC, Lunar New Year (Image Credit: By Patrick Kwan from New York City, USA (Dragon in Chinatown NYC Lunar New Year) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

  1. Lunar New Year
  2. Mid-Autumn Festival
  3. Dragon Boat Festival
  4. Ching Ming Festival

(11) Four major regional operas:

  1. Beijing Opera also known as Peking Opera
  2. Huangmei Song originally known as “Caicha Opera”
  3. Cantonese Opera
  4. Yue Opera

(12) Four famous mountains:

  1. Yellow mountain, (absolute)
  2. Hua mountain(danger)
  3. Lu Mountain (popular)
  4. Tai Mountain (scholar)

(13) Four famous wines:

  1. Maotai
  2. Fenjiu
  3. Luzhou Lao Jiao Tequ
  4. Xifeng

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